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Showing posts from 2013

Why Nearly Everyone is Wrong About Smartwatches

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Every review of smart watches like Samsung’s Galaxy Gear that I have read so far concludes that smartwatches do not offer anything new. You can take a picture with a smart watch, boast the makers. We can do that already with a smartphone, respond the critics. 
But they are all wrong and it wouldn't be the first time. Nobody will need a computer in the home, they argued in the 1970s and nobody will use a blogging site that limits you to 140 characters, they said in the noughties.  And they were wrong then, too.
Where they go wrong this time is that they compare a smartwatch and a smartphone side by side on a table; in this scenario, yes, I would agree that the watch doesn't do anything that the phone cannot. But that is not a fair comparison. To understand why smartwatches will be useful you have to compare a watch on your wrist with a phone in your pocket – a much more realistic scenario.
The watch on your wrist can take a photo; the phone in your pocket cannot; The watch on …

Why Payforward Networking is More Effective Than 'Tit for Tat'

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One of the cornerstones of relationship networking is the concept of helping the people in your network with no expectation of a direct return. To people unfamiliar with this approach this can seem odd. Many times in workshops people have asked me if this proactive aid isn't just a way to force someone to do something for you by creating an obligation to reciprocate. But it isn't and the reason why this "payforward" mentality works is very interesting.

If you are in a position to help someone you should do so anyway, and not wait until they can help you. Helping someone so that they help you, the 'tit for tat' approach both makes people feel uncomfortable and at the same time it is not the most productive way. It is much more effective and satisfying to simply reach out to help people in your network when you can without even thinking what they could do for you. This payforward approach does not give you an immediate return, though it does strengthen your re…

Three Ways to Break the Ice with an Audience Before You Start to Speak

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Most advice about breaking the ice with audiences concentrates on what you do once you start to speak. But if you prepare in advance you can make sure that the ice is at least partly broken even before you step up to the microphone. Here are three ways to do this.

1. BE KNOWN TO THE AUDIENCE.  If you are a Malcolm Gladwell the audience already knows you so the ice is effectively broken before you even open your mouth. Maybe you are not going to be as well known as he is, but you can certainly move in the right direction. Make sure that you are visible to the audience through social media, traditional media, promotional materials for the event and any other channel that you can find. Start months in advance if you can. At the very least you must have a clear online presence so that when people Google your name they see something reassuring. If the audience already knows who you are they do not spend the first five minutes wondering who you are and why they should listen to you, and thi…

The Coming Age of "Deep" Reputation

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For a decade personal "reputation management" has mostly meant online reputation. People have been creating online content with the aim of appearing more visible in search engines like Google, usually with some success. I have written myself about this in posts like Five Simple Steps To Improve Your Online Reputation. But now changes in search technology mean that in a few years the text search as we know it, basically unchanged since the 1990s, will be replaced by alternatives that are less easy to manage, bringing n a new age of "deep" or "fundamental" reputation management.

You see this trend already when you search for famous people, companies and so on. Google puts an answer box on the right, next to the search results. Their aim is to give you the answer to your question, not just a list of possible sources. In part this shift is driven by technology -- it couldn't be done in 1998 when Google started -- and partly by the shift to mobile devices…

Why You Should Personalize LinkedIn Connection Requests (and How)

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Since this was written LinkedIn has changed the site again so this post is now moot. For the latest on this topic see How to Personalize LinkedIn Connection Requests of 2 February 2015.

For many years I have been telling everyone who attends my networking and influencing workshops that you should always personalize the message in LinkedIn connection requests.  This is one of the tips in my post LinkedIn Etiquette: How to Approach People You Don't Know.

Personalizing messages is important because it shows that your request is personal -- that you didn't just send out a mass connection request blindly to all of your contacts. It is also an opportunity for you to remind me how we know each other, or why we should connect.

But updates to LinkedIn are making it harder and harder to personalize your invitation as the old forms are replaced with quick CONNECT buttons that often don't allow messages to be personalized.


At the time of writing the only place where you could still be…

Three Ways to be More Confident at Networking Events

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Even in the age of online networking you can't beat face-to-face meetings for meeting and building relationships with strangers. But for many people a networking event can be an intimidating experience: One of the most common questions I hear in networking workshops is how you deal with this problem.

Like other skills, face-to-face networking is a learnable skill and anyone can do it with practice, but there are a few tips and techniques you can use to make it easier, especially at the beginning while you build up confidence. Here are three of them:

1. ARRIVE EARLY. If you have time to learn only one thing it should be this: if you are not comfortable about face-to-face events always arrive early. If you arrive an hour later the crowd has already coalesced into tightly-bound mingling groups that are difficult to penetrate. If you are the first to arrive then the second person has to talk to you, then the third joins you and so on. If you are lucky some of the early birds are also …

Debranding: Why Painting Over Your Logo Isn't Enough

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When a Thai Airways plane skidded off the runway after a landing gear failure last week the airline moved quickly to cover up their logo on the damaged aircraft. This is standard practice in the airline industry and, as a Thai Airways spokesperson explained to The Guardian, it is also required by the Star Alliance crisis communication guidelines.

Removing your corporate branding from a damaged aircraft or other asset seems a sensible thing to do. It will reduce the number of photos circulating that tie your brand to a negative event and -- specifically for airlines -- it is probably better for nervous flyers.  But just painting over the logo with black paint is not the best way to go about it. Even after the black paint was hastily applied anyone familiar with the Thai Airways livery could immediately recognize it from the colors. This is the irony of effective branding. When it is well done people can recognize your product just by the colors, the shape or some other small design de…

How to Deliver Impromptu Speeches Without Anxiety

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Even people who are very good at delivering prepared speeches are often nervous about being asked to do an impromptu talk with little or no warning. This is something that comes up regularly both when I coach speakers and in online forums.

But dealing with this anxiety is actually very simple. What causes the problem is just the uncertainty and you can eliminate this uncertainty by preparing. The secret is to anticipate what you might get asked to talk about, prepare short talks on these topics and practice them.

Being asked to speak should not come as a surprise. If you are a leader, politician, hero, inventor, startup founder or whatever sooner or later someone will ask you to speak about your experience, idea, business or invention. And since there are only a limited number of situations where speaking is possible you also know more or less when the request is likely to come. You also know more or less what people might expect you to talk about. If you founded a startup people wan…

Why Being a Connector Makes Your Networking More Effective

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One of the keys to good networking is to help the people in your network. Often this help is some specialist knowledge or the answer to a question, but another very powerful technique is to help people by connecting them to someone you know who could help them. Maybe one day you meet me and you learn that I am interested in more speaking opportunities. Next week you meet someone who is looking for a speaker just like me so you connect us. We both benefit because we get something we are looking for; you benefit by having two more people who are grateful to you for the introduction.

This approach is especially useful for helping people who know more about your own field than you do. Even if they are at the top of their specialty you can still help them by introducing them to someone else that they don't know. But connecting other people in your network is also very important for three other reasons:

ENHANCES YOUR REPUTATION. When you are a top technical expert you can build a reputa…

Why You Should be Networking Even If You Aren't Looking for a Job

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You don't need to be looking for a job or trying to sell something to find networking useful. In fact if you wait until you are looking for a job then it is probably too late. There are many reasons why you should be networking whatever you do, but here are the top three:

1. NETWORKING IS A LONG-TERM ACTIVITY. Networking is not something you can start today and expect results by the evening. It is a long-term activity where the best results can come months or even years after your initial effort. And it's not something you can buy ready made, since every network is personal. To build a solid network takes time and effort and the sooner you start this effort the sooner you will have the benefits. If you start building a network today when maybe you are not looking for work that network will help you a few years into the future when you decide to change or someone else decides for you.

2. NETWORKING HELPS YOU IN YOUR EVERYDAY WORK. There are many ways in which your network can he…

What Abba Can Teach About Social Media

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In the social media course I teach each year at the IAE Aix Graduate School of Management I am pretty sure that I have never once mentioned Abba, the iconic Swedish pop group that peaked in the 1970s before my students were born. But this year I will be adding a case study about the interesting way that their new museum in Stockholm connects interactive exhibits so that visitors can save and share to social media their experiences.

I visited Abba The Museum and interviewed CEO Mattias Hansson in early April, researching an article for Eye for Travel -- Mamma Mia: Look What Happens When a Museum Harnesses Social Media. At the time the museum was still in construction but already it was clear that this is going to be a cutting edge development and an inspiration for other museums and attractions.

Inside the museum there are many interactive exhibits. You can record your own version of an Abba hit, singing along with a backing track in a replica of the original Polar Studios in Stockhol…

Why You Need to Suspend Scheduled Tweets When Disaster or Tragedy Strikes

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Last year I argued in this post about social media crisis management that when a PR crisis strikes your business you should suspend all scheduled tweets. This reflection was prompted by a case where Eurostar trains were blocked in the Eurotunnel for hours but the company was still tweeting invitations to take the train to Paris for Christmas. You can be entangled in a crisis that is nothing to do with your actions, so you need to be prepared for that, too.

This week we have seen that even this is not enough. One thing that the Boston Marathon bombing has highlighted is that you should also suspend all of your scheduled tweets when there is any sort of disaster or tragedy that could make your tweets appear tone deaf, insensitive or even inappropriate -- even when the incident is completely unrelated to your business.

Looking at some of the reactions on Twitter explains why. As soon as the news broke in Boston the focus of my twitter stream shifted to news about the tragedy, messages o…

PR Essentials for Early-Stage Startups

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If your startup is still at an early stage you probably can't even afford a PR consultant and an agency is out of reach. Maybe you also don't have any PR expertise yourself. But there are five simple things you can do yourself that don't take much time or expertise yet can make it much more likely people will talk about you. I learnt these things working on both sides of the business: I have worked both in PR and as a freelance journalist, writing often about startups.

BUILD A SOLID ONLINE PRESENCE. When someone googles your company name they should find at least several pages you control on the first page of search results. This is much easier than most people think. First of all make sure that your own website URL has been submitted to the top search engines. For example, you can submit a URL to Google using this Webmaster Tools page. When that's done create profiles in the name of your company on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn and so on. These will rank highly…

How Encouraging Networking Makes Your Workplace More Effective

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There are still some companies and managers who have mixed feelings about employees who use networking sites like LinkedIn. They fear either a loss of productivity or perhaps even losing the employee to a competitor. Neither risk should be a serious problem. You can easily avoid time wasting by better training and easier recruiting benefits your company, too.  But the upside of networking far outweighs the downside risk, so companies that encourage their employees to network internally and externally have an advantage over the others. There are many reasons for this, but here are the top three:

NETWORKING IMPROVES PERFORMANCE. Nobody can do their job entirely alone, so that an employee with average ability but a rich network can actually outperform a genius with a weak network. The reason for this is not hard to find. Whatever you do for a living you are going to get stuck from time to time and need help. A well-connected employee needing help just asks their network and they get that…

Reputation: Why Ford's Indian Ad Affair Hurts Their Brand Even If They Had Nothing To Do With It

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Images from a controversial Ford advertising campaign in India went viral on 22 March 2013, followed by a furious backlash against the company. Many people took issue with the image of people bound and gagged in the back of the car; others were upset by the image of Berlusconi during a period of difficult diplomatic relations between Italy and India.

Except that Ford didn't really have anything to do with it. The ads were created by employees at the JWT agency in India entirely on their own initiative without any input or approval from the agency or the client. The same individuals then uploaded them to adsoftheworld.com a site where people in the advertising business post their work to be seen primarily by their peers. The ad was never requested, seen or approved by Ford or even their agency. [Update: there are different versions of the story. Some say Ford knew more than they say in the official version. See Ford Mess: Ford, JWT and WPP Have Overeacted. ]

Most people agree that…

What to do When Someone Asks You to Create Their Presentation

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Earlier I wrote what you should do when someone asks you to deliver the presentation they have created (Seven and a Half Things to Do When Someone Asks You to Deliver Their Presentation). Now I hear more people asking what to do in the equally common situation where someone asks you to create a presentation that they will deliver. In most cases it is your boss who makes this request so assuming that this is the case what can you do? Here are three basic concepts you should focus on:

KNOW THEIR STYLE. Before you start you need to know something about their presentation style. It will not help to make a textbook perfect presentation if the boss feels uncomfortable presenting it or cannot deliver it in the way you expected. Personally I like to emphasize visuals and memorize what I need to say, but not everyone has the time or performing skills needed to do this so you might need to embed more of the content in the slides than is ideal.  Maybe you like to use "builds", where el…