7 Ways to Maximize Long Distance Business Relationships

building relationships, Building trust, Networking as a marketing strategy, online networking No Comments

Technology and the global mindset are prompting more and more companies to increase their reach into new cities, markets and countries. Whether because of an expansion strategy, merger/acquisition opportunity, or some other innovative marketing concept, long-distance relationships are becoming the norm.

Being dropped into a leadership role where the team is scattered across different time zones can be difficult enough; when you add geographic disparities and culture, it can be quite overwhelming. The key to success is focusing less on results and more on relationships.

1. Do your homework. Whether it’s a colleague in a different country or a team spread across a continent, technology (e.g. LinkedIn) offers a number of options to gain more insight into their background, competencies and interests. This is a quick and easy way to get a head start on relationship-building, no matter where the other person is located.

2. Expand context. Even though business is the launch pad for your relationship, it’s not enough. Exploring and expanding areas that you both have in common and finding areas of complementary interest will always accelerate the relationship process. This is even more important because of the lack of a face-to-face interaction.

3. Balance communication frequency. Early on in a relationship, more communication is better. Once the relationship stabilizes, it can be sustained with less frequent contact. Take charge of the communication process by making sure that every interaction includes a next-contact component. It’s your primary measure of relationship growth.

4. Humanize communication. Long-distance communication is often technology-based, which can be curt, cold and over-structured. Learn to craft messages that reflect emotional content. Take the time to incorporate a personal perspective. Review your email or text message to ensure the other person feels a personal connection.

5. Emphasize communication quality. When it comes to a long-distance relationship, the quality of your conversation will determine the trust level. Wherever possible, try to expand electronic communication by adding other options (e.g. phone, Skype) that allows you replicate the live interaction experience. Doing so will exponentially drive communication quality and have a positive impact on trust.

6. Over-deliver. In a business-focused long-distance relationship, delivering on your commitments and obligations is the main way to earn trust. The lack of human contact needs to be counter-balanced with a strong sense of professional competency. Professional trust is the precursor to personal trust in a long-distance relationship.

7. Contribute. Long-distance relationships require more time, investment and energy. It’s easy and convenient to simply focus on getting the job done and moving on. But this unique environment can open doors to new experiences and opportunities. Why not embrace this brave new world and seek to contribute the lives of those you connect with?


Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. Find out more about him at www.NetworkingForResults.com and download a complimentary copy of his 12-page ebook Managing the Networking Experience.

9 Ways to Double te Size of Your LinkedIn Network

Business-building, Job or career search, Networking as a marketing strategy, online networking No Comments

Expanding your network is paramount to increasing business or accelerating your career. Introducing yourself to new contacts at a local networking event makes perfect sense and is something most of us are comfortable with.

Yet many professionals agonize over approaching others on social media. Here’s the bottom line: if you’re on the network, you’re by default open to connecting with others; and it works the same way for every other member.

The size of your online network has a direct impact on your credibility (yes, online, size does matter). Here are a number of techniques and strategies that allow you to dramatically drive your network in a short period of time.

1. Have a powerful profile. Simplistic as this seems, a powerful profile is the foundation of network growth. Your profile page is the first place a visitor lands when researching you (by design or by default). You must clearly and consistently communicate your target demographic and your value. As your online avatar, your profile will, in many cases, dictate whether a visitor agrees to connect with you.

2. Invite your contact list. Most professionals do not take the time to invite their professional network to connect when first joining LinkedIn. These contacts represent great value and are waiting to hear from you. Your pre-existing relationship means that these people will be happy to connect with you. Many will actually thank you for inviting them.

3. Invite networking contacts. Your on-going business development activities allow you to connect with new contacts on a daily basis. When you follow up with them, make it a point to reach out to them on LinkedIn. This gives them the chance to check out your profile which can add to your credibility. You also gain access to their profile and can use this valuable information to discover how you can contribute to their success.

4. Invite profile visitors. Do you check who has visited your profile? Just about everyone does. Have you thought about inviting visitors to be part of your network? Since they’ve already checked you out, they know who you are and are likely to want to connect. You can use the “colleague” invitation option when you invite them. After all, you do have history together.

5. Invite from the “people you know” section. LinkedIn promotes, as part of its infrastructure, the opportunity to reach out to others. In the top right-hand corner of your newsfeed page is a widget showing you who LinkedIn thinks you may want to connect with. Go ahead and reach out to the people on this list, especially since there is usually a pre-existing context (think past employer, academic institution or interest area).

6. Invite those who respond to LI notifications. LinkedIn is continuously scanning your profile info and highlighting certain elements for others. It could be a new job, an anniversary or some other life category, but LinkedIn will surface these milestones to others. When people respond or comment, make it a point to reach out to them.

7. Invite blog post commenters. Posting updates and creating blog posts on LinkedIn is a great way to increase your visibility and credibility. You also get to see who has viewed and commented on your post; and so if they’re not already part of your network, why not invite them to connect? You already know they like you and your content; they’re probably waiting for you to ask. Use the “colleague” invitation option to facilitate this connection.

8. Invite group members. Many LinkedIn members belong to groups. These communities are filled with like-minded individuals and/or potential clients. Being part of a LinkedIn group means you have additional context for the relationship and a stronger connection. As well, the group membership option includes the opportunity to communicate directly with other members inside the group. You can use this to start a conversation and invite someone to connect with you.

9. Don’t get hung up on protocol. There is an on-going debate about what is, and what isn’t permissible when it comes to a LinkedIn invitation-to-connect. My experience has been that most professionals are quite open to receiving a standard Linkedin request-to-connect, especially when the sender has a solid profile and there is a reason to do so (the reason could simply be that you want to connect.)

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Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. His “Making Money with Linkedin” program is a proven resource for turning Linkedin into a profitable business development strategy. Find out more about him at www.NetworkingForResults.com.

7 Strategic Ways to Grow Your Linkedin Connections (and one to avoid at all costs)

Generating referrals, Networking as a marketing strategy, Networking for sales success, online networking No Comments

As I approach 3,500 Linkedin connections, I’m more aware than ever that online, size does matter. What is your first thought when you visit a profile that has only 35 connections? Having a high number of connections represents not only connectivity, but perceived credibility and power.

Having said that, growing your connection list randomly isn’t the answer. There’s no value in random connections. The key is growing your network strategically through a proactive approach that puts you in contact with high-value connections. How are you doing in each of the categories below?

1. Target List

It sounds simple, but creating a target list of your highest-value prospects and clients is the foundation for strategic connection growth. By identifying the markets, industries, companies, demographics, associations, and people who best align with your value, you will know who to add to your connection list.

2. Profile Visitors

People don’t visit your Linkedin profile by accident. They either see something that draws them to it; get prompted to visit it by Linkedin; or receive a suggestion from someone to view it. Reviewing your profile visitor list and reaching out to those who fall into your high-value contact list is an easy way to leverage their interest in you, your product/services, or your company.

3. Newsfeed

People who are active on your newsfeed get it. They grasp the concept of online networks and are open to connecting with others. When you review your newsfeed (I suggest 2-3 times daily) and see someone who is on your target list, you can quickly and easily reach out. You’ll find that many of these professionals will readily agree to connect with you.

4. Blog Posts

Your connections want to know your value. One of the best ways to do this is to share information, news, and stories related to the value you provide. Doing this builds your credibility and, when your connections like and share your posts, often gets your name and message to people outside your network. The simple act of being visible creates profile visits and growth opportunities.

5. Updates

Many professionals don’t feel comfortable writing blog posts, but know that being active has an impact. Writing short updates is an ideal option that can have great impact but doesn’t take a lot of time or effort. Your updates will travel across people’s newsfeeds, which creates interest in you and your profile. The caveat here is that the update should relate to your value (rather than a quote, joke or random news item).

6. Update/Blog Post Feedback

Blog posts and updates will generate activity. When others like, comment, or re-post your information, they are identifying themselves as people who see value in you. Your natural next step is inviting them to connect. Linkedin makes this easy by showing you who has commented on your blogposts and updates.

7. Groups

Groups can be both a boon and a bane. They can take up a lot of time and, too often, are dominated by overt sales pitches. The real benefit to groups is that they give you the opportunity to contact non-connections who belong to the same group. Use groups to identify high-value contacts, then leverage the group context when you request to connect.

8. Don’t Do This

One of the worst ways to grow your number of connections is to comb the connections of your high-value contacts. It seems natural, quick, and easy to use your high-value connections to build your network. But without a solid reason or the proper context, a request-to-connect comes across as insincere, gets perceived as spam, and labels you unprofessional. Is that what you want?

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Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. Find out more about his programs and services at www.NetworkingForResults.com

7 Linkedin Strategies that Drive Online Relationships

Networking as a marketing strategy, Networking for sales success, online networking No Comments

Linkedin represents an enormous opportunity when used effectively. Unfortunately, most professionals have no idea how to leverage this invaluable resource for optimal results. Here are my most powerful and productive strategies and tactics.

1. Focus on your highest-value connections.

For the longest time, I felt overwhelmed and intimidated every time I opened my Linkedin newsfeed. My eyes would wander endlessly and I’d wind up confused and confounded about what to do and where to go.

To help me focus I created a one-page list of the primary markets I wanted to connect with and now use this list to drive my efforts every time I visit Linkedin. This list represents the top companies I want to connect with and a profile of the typical decision maker for my services. It acts as a compass that points me in the right direction.

P.S.: It only takes five minutes to create.

2. Put your avatar on steroids.

Every time I receive a request-to-connect, the first thing I do is look at the person’s profile. It takes no more than five seconds to do, but is the basis for not only whether I will accept or reject their request, but also how I feel about them as a person. Don’t you do the same?

Your Linkedin profile is your online avatar. It shapes the perception of your professionalism and your value. Use the inverted writing style to help visitors zero in on who you do business with and what your value is to them. They should be able to do this without scrolling down.

P.S.: Most won’t.

3. Reach out.

In the past, when I received a request-to-connect, I’d usually accept if the requestor’s profile had any semblance of professionalism. What happened next was…absolutely nothing. Is that what you do?

I remember thinking “There has to be a reason why this person reached out to me.” So I decided to start asking. After agreeing to connect, I now send a brief message asking why the person invited me to connect. I’ve been amazed at the responses.

P.S.: I dare you to try it.

4. Reach in.

I use to think of Linkedin as a numbers game. I was singularly focused to building new Linkedin connections. After all, isn’t a key point of Linkedin creating new connections in specific markets and with new professionals?

Don’t be afraid to leverage your existing connections. Many of your connections end up being past contacts and clients. It’s inevitable we lose touch with some of them, but Linkedin lets you stay aware of their journey and progress. In fact, it can act as the perfect vehicle to re-connect.

P.S.: Who should you reach in to today?

5. Think strategy not sales.

The majority of Linkedin users are business and sales professionals. They understand and appreciate the culture of networking. Yet, when interacting online, many lose their sense of perspective and propriety, misconstruing a connection as a buying signal.

Whether online or face-to-face, a connection is not equal to a relationship. Online connections are simply the first step in building a relationship. Relationships take time, need to be nurtured and require investment.

P.S.: How long is your sales cycle?

6. Start conversations.

Too often, we want to jump right into sales mode after a brief introductory exchange with a new Linked connection. I know I used to. Then I realized that we buy people first, ideas next and things last. Now I focus on building a relationship first.

Online, there is lack of human dynamic. I call it relationship inertia. To move a relationship forward online, start by using Linked in for small information exchanges that get the relationship pendulum swinging back and forth. It doesn’t take long for momentum to build.

P.S.: Isn’t that the way it works?

7. Let’s talk.

Online interactions can be cold, overly structured and one-sided. The lack of human dynamic tends to focus on a one-way communication style that can be misinterpreted. After all, you can’t see the other person so your words will always be filtered through the other person’s perspective.

One of the secrets to building powerful and productive relationships is the ability to bridge from the online environment to a live conversation, which exponentially drives the relationship process. When two humans connect and communicate, all is possible.

P.S.: Isn’t it about people?

Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To get more info about his services or to have him speak at your next meeting or conference, visit his web site at www.NetworkingForResults.com

7 Networking-Related Trends for 2014

building relationships, Networking as a marketing strategy, Networking for sales success, online networking No Comments

A new year brings with it new hopes, new dreams and new opportunities. After scouring the internet for what 2014 holds, here are my thoughts on how to successfully network for more and better results in the coming year.

1. Networking is alive and well. Most professionals have now returned to reality. The importance and value of face-to-face contact has never been stronger. In fact, surveys confirm that offline networking still accounts for the majority of time spent and results earned in marketing. 2014 Success Strategy: Invest more time and effort networking with your target market.

2. Blended networking strategy. Just as the lines between mainstream and mobile marketing are now becoming blurred, it’s essential that a networking strategy leverage both online and offline components. 2014 Success Strategy: Learn to maximize the compatibility factor that online and offline networking offers as one relationship-building strategy.

3. “Networked” Content marketing. Content marketing is being touted as the next big thing, especially online. The reality is that the marketplace is becoming so saturated with generic messaging and regurgitated , most of its impact is lost. 2014 Success Strategy: Content marketing can be quite effective, when its context and relevance match the client base. Be selective and strategic.

4. Online communication skills. Research confirms that social media will become the mainstream communication vehicle for up to 20 percent of professionals, yet very few understand the unique properties and characteristics of effective communication in this unique environment. 2014 Success Strategy: Prioritize the development of online communication skills

5. Influencer marketing. As more and more people gravitate to, and share information on social networks, so does the power and potential of Word of Mouth (WOM) and referral marketing. The ability to leverage connections, contacts and clients via online networks will continue to grow. 2014 Success Strategy: Leverage your network of choice for testimonials, referrals and brand-building.

6. Collaboration nation. The competitive business environment is forcing everyone to re-evaluate innovative options and exploit new opportunities. Networking connections must be explored more deeply to assess how they can help reduce costs of increase revenues. 2014 Success Strategy: See every contact as a potential for working with others to create growth and results. Your success depends on it.

7. The relationship factor. This is a word that is top of mind with everyone everywhere. The reality is that very few professionals encompass a relationship mindset. Trust, value and contribution are buzzwords that, when applied consistently, represent the linchpins to results. 2014 Success Strategy: Move from talking about relationship-building to implementing it as a core business-development component.

Let’s discuss how I can help you build better relationships. This philosophy and methodology is the cutting-edge success strategy in today’s complex and competitive business environment. Email me at info@NetworkingForResults.com. P.S.: I truly do want to be of service.

 

The Secret Fears That Block Online Network Success.

Job or career search, Networking as a marketing strategy, online networking, Uncategorized No Comments

Success in business and in life is based on relationships. Networking is to relationships what a down payment is to home ownership: an integral, necessary part, but only one link towards the outcome. It acts as a spark that ignites the relationship that evolves and expands as the process unfolds.

This is applicable for any network. During face-to-face contacts, we usually feel a little anxious, but most of us fare fairly well. Yet when it comes to networking online, we approach networking from a completely different perspective, one that limits our actions and our outcomes. There are three specific issues that complicate and impede both our ability, and our willingness to participate actively.

Technology: Often, we join an online network and never the time or effort to learn the mechanics or get familiar with the infrastructure of the platform, leading to a sense of overwhelm and intimidation every time we log on. Solution: embrace the technology; it’s here to stay. Take advantage of the many options available to learn how to manage your presence and commit to using the technology. But most importantly, start using it. This is the single most effective way to achieve online  network success. Do it!

Environment: One of the biggest issues with online networks is the lack of human contact. It is a one-way communication platform that can be cold and impersonal, and will be filtered by the recipient. Solution: overcome online “relationship inertia” by over-compensating the human dynamic. Use a reverse-perspective when communicating by asking yourself “what will this person read?” before sending. A positive by-product of the lack of personal connection is that the network context is much more powerful. Online, people actually feel more appreciative of your contact.

Fear: online, there is a huge amount of natural fear (rejection, embarrassment, failure) as well as some lack of understanding of proper online etiquette, which creates emotional resistance. Remember, everyone has this same problem! Solution: focus on past success (most people are happy to connect) and accept reality (some may not reply). Take responsibility for initiating contact. Make it easy for others. They’ll appreciate your proactive approach. When you’re not sure what to do online, ask yourself “what would I do at a face-to-face event?” It’s almost always the right answer.

In today’s wired world, it’s time to face your online fears by recognizing the power and potential of social networks. Build your technology skills, leverage the uniqueness of this environment, and embrace the unknown. Do you a question about networking for social network results? Email me at info@NetworkingForResults.com.

 

5 Secret Keys to Building Online Relationships

Networking as a marketing strategy, online networking No Comments

Too many professionals think of interacting on online networks as a series of technical and tactical activities. They fail to accept that the same strategies that apply in face-to-face networks are just as productive online. Here are the five proven strategies that, individually, can have a huge impact on accelerating the relationship process.

1.  Clarity. When it comes to online networks and the scope they represent, it’s essential to clarify objectives. Having a clear picture of what specific goals to achieve (network growth, visibility, connections), who to connect with (industries, companies, prospects), and how to measure progress will create outcome-based activity. Strategy: create a one-page summary that encompasses each of these categories. Keep it beside you when visiting your online network. As Jim Rohn says “If your purpose is not clear, you will not pay the price.”

2. Courage. Reaching out to others, whether initiating or responding to an invitation-to-connect, requires dealing with a number of personal demons. The more you know these are your highest-value prospects or contacts (see clarity), the more you will be motivated to reach out. Strategy: start with connections you already have to create a success pattern, then respond to those who invite you, and, finally, reach out to those names that represent opportunity. Remember, the definition of courage is not the absence of fear, but acting in spite of fear.

3.  Communication. This strategy is both the most difficult and the most effective. Your ability to leverage an initial contact and create conversations is the secret formula for online success. It is the test of both your attitude and your character. Strategy:  online networks supply a huge amount of personal information (via profiles). Use this as the basis for starting a conversation. Use sincere curiosity to get the “relationship pendulum” swinging by building context (the most powerful relationship glue). Make your entire focus on being of service and helping the other person appreciate your intent and integrity.

4. Commitment. Networking, whether online or face-to-face, is all about creating and building relationships. Relationships, by their very nature take time, need to be nurtured and require investment. Strategy: accept that you are embracing a process, not participating in an activity. The online environment may require additional trust, more clarification of value and confirmation of the contribution you represent. Strategy: The ultimate objective is to move from online to human communication (phone, face-to-face); a transition that exponentially drives the depth and scope of the relationship. When in doubt, ask yourself what the length of your sales cycle is, and link back to it.

5. Collaboration. One of the most self-defeating paradigms many professional have when it comes to online networking, is that it is a single-dimensional prospecting activity. Nothing could be further from the truth. The true value of an online network resides in its power and potential to access a myriad of information, insights, options and opportunities. Strategy: expand your thinking about your online network. Presume every new contact has the potential to help in some way. Your mission is simply to adopt a collaborative approach and explore how you can help one another. 

P.S.: want help with any of these? Simply email me at info@NetworkingForResults.com. Happy to add more detail in any area that is important to you.

 

The 5 Biggest LinkedIn Delusions (and How to Avoid Them)

Networking as a marketing strategy, networking tips, online networking No Comments

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’m a LinkedIn advocate. I’ve been active on the platform for almost seven years, and believe it’s a viable and valuable networking resource. Having stated this fact, I’m also frustrated that so many professionals can’t seem to get a grasp of how to maximize this worthwhile business development tool. Here are the biggest delusions that seem to affect many LI users and the realities they need to come to terms with.

`    My LinkedIn. As more and more professionals adopt LinkedIn as a marketing strategy, there is a tendency to invest more effort and resources on this platform. In fact, some are now questioning the need to have a web site. After all, isn’t it a redundancy when LinkedIn supplies more and more options and offers access to more and more contacts and prospects?

REALITY: LinkedIn a for-profit enterprise whose primary objectives are to build the network (networks must grow or die) and attract advertisers (it is about making money). They control all aspects of content and membership. It is dangerous, even suicidal, to over-invest in a platform where all your information and contacts are in someone else’s hands. Every activity should send people to your web site.

 Keyword-mania. Social media training programs are heavy on the tactical and technical aspects of using online networks like LinkedIn.” It’s as simple as creating the right profile,” they say. One of the most common recommendations is that seeding a LinkedIn profile with multiple keywords is the secret to attracting more visitors and getting tons of business.

REALITY: there are literally millions of LinkedIn members and profiles. No one magic-bullet tactic is enough to trigger an avalanche of results.  Your profile is your LinkedIn “avatar” and, as such, it should be crafted to appeal to your primary target market. Your mission is then to create activity that will send others to your profile initially, then to your web site.

 Dump & Dive Marketing. Too many professionals equate activity with visibility. Having this as their strategy, they dump a series of regurgitated information posts that, in their mind, serve to create a shock-and awe-impact that others will relate to them and their services. The same tactic is used when individuals dive into discussions with self-serving comments and information, designed to promote their products or services. 

REALITY: Re-posting the latest trendy or celebrity articles does nothing to build credibility. Neither do thinly-veiled prospecting efforts. Others immediately see it for what it is: a lack of professionalism. The most powerful strategy for building credibility online is to share value, often and unconditionally. Don’t you have ideas, information and insights that others should know about?

         Group grope. There is now a plethora of group activity on LinkedIn and other social networks. The tendency is to join as many as possible, struggling to keep up with the activity while trying to navigate the discussions,or connect with potential prospects. The group concept seems to make perfect sense, and many LinkedIn members play the group numbers game.

REALITY: Groups work the same way online as they do in real life: less is more. Why? Because credibility grows faster within a group than across groups. You’re better off joining fewer groups, even one, that is directly related to your target market, and become active within it. By maximizing your involvement and investment, you will quickly become the resource of choice for this network.

Connection Conundrum. Everyone, it seems, wants more connections. In the rush to appear more effective with online networks, we equate size with success. Seeing the numbers grow is a tangible barometer. It gives us the perception that network size equates to importance, value and impact. Besides, isn’t more, better?

REALITY: Connections are meaningless. Reaching out, or agreeing, to connect, without the courage or commitment to nurture and expand this tenuous link into a relationship is an exercise in futility. Without the spark of human contact, connections immediately die on the vine. Converting connections into conversations is the only way to achieve the online results you want need.

P.S.: want more info on these areas and how to maximize your online networks? Email me at info@NetworkingForResults.com. I’ll send you my Executive Summary: Secrets to Building Powerful, Productive and Profitable Online Relationships.

 

 

Just got this message from LinkedIn

Networking as a marketing strategy, online networking No Comments

 

 

 

Michael, congratulations!

You have one of the top 1% most viewed LinkedIn profiles for 2012.

LinkedIn now has 200 million members. Thanks for
playing a unique part in our community!

200 MILLION

Video Testimonial for Book: Million Dollar Web Presence

online networking, video blogs No Comments

If you want to dramatically drive your online results, check out Chad Barr’s new book. Here’s what I have to say about its value:

(c) 2012 Michael Hughes

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