Community creation

People love to be a part of a community.
What exactly constitute a community changes from one person to another, but most people will agree on the functionality: it should provide you with something you need.

·        For some it’s a sense of belonging.

·        For others it provides tangible benefits- knowledge, tips.

·        For others it’s a network itself.

Regardless of the motivation- it seems that people like to belong. What people aren’t very good at is creating a community.

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On Taking time off

This fall, for the first time in what seems like forever, I’ve taking some time off. Not one or two days, but some serious time off. I went on a surf trip for 10 days. Ten days without work-related calls, almost no emails, and mostly, with very little other than surf and rest.

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It was challenging, I must admit. It takes time to adjust to a the rhythm- getting up in the morning, doing some yoga, eating a leisurely breakfast, surfing all day long, doing some yoga again, eating dinner, watching some photos of us surf and hitting bed early to do it all again the next day. The only big changes between days were dictated by the weather gods- some days a certain beach would have good surfing conditions, other days we had to travel to a distant beach to surf, other days had no waves so we relaxed or went to the local market instead.

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The power of a hand-written note

Recently I’ve prepared and delivered a bunch of hand-written cards to celebrate Jewish New Year. This is nothing new of course. It’s rather a traditional custom, even considered antiquated by some.

I mean- why go through all the trouble of going to the shop, buying a printed card, writing a personal note, mailing it and waiting for the recipient to respond?

I think that most people underestimate the power of personalization. It’s true that in today’s work this is common knowledge, and every marketer knows that to achieve maximum impact she should try to personalize the message to the client. But how personal does and email or text message feels? My guess is that most of us get these “Happy holiday” emails now and then, and just gaze at them and delete. The truth is that people understand the effort you’ve put into delivering them an actual, physical object. Even if it’s just a card, and even if it just says “Thank You”, it’s much more meaningful than any form of electronic correspondence. More than what is written in the note, it actually says to the recipient- “I’ve been thinking of you”. And that is greatly appreciated.

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What to do when a client fires you?

A client of mine called me the other day. Said they won’t be needing my services anymore.
Ouch.
No matter how much you train yourself to deal with rejection, the initial feeling you feel is a kick in the stomach. And this was a good client, one I’ve been working with for over a year. A client with whom I’ve had great working relations, where I known many team-members. Even worse- a client for which I’ve delivered great value. So the first reaction is always one of shame and misery- why did he “fire” me? What have I done wrong? And why do I deserve this treatment?
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I took a few deep breaths, and decided to be the professional I aim to be. I thanked him for the opportunity to work together. I told him I’ve learnt a lot from him (the CEO) and from his team. I also told him I appreciated the fact he took the time to call me from abroad and notify me in person.

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How to make the best use of conferences B2B platform – 8 easy hacks

As much as we marketers would hate to admit it, not all marketing is digital (here’s a great example of such offline marketing strategy: https://owntrepreneurship.com/2016/12/21/for-real-marketing-impact-go-offline-and-old-school/).

Conferences, trade shows and expos still bring in large crowds, and as marketers we simply cannot ignore the possibility to engage with our target audience. However, conference have become so commercialized that it is impossible to make an impact without spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on lavish booth, VR experiences and raffles.

 

But there is still one tool in your toolbox that most underutilize. This is the online B2B platform. Using this in an intelligent way can lead to scheduling multiple meetings with relevant people regardless of your ability to spend (sometimes without even having to have a booth at all!). Let’s start.

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1.     Set your profile 
Just like on any other social platform, you need to have a decent profile which includes a headshot, short description and contact details. Don’t be lazy and add links to your website, social media accounts and phone number.

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2.    Choose areas of interest

Make sure you list your areas of interest and make them visible to others. It ensures people can check if you have any relevancy to them and that if they do agree to meet you it would be a productive meeting.

3.    Search for relevant people
This is the real deal.
You must take the time to search various combinations of key words to identify relevant people you might like to engage with. Copy all the names to a spreadsheet and start to go one by one and contact them.

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4.   Contact

This is the tricky part- some B2B platform do not allow for direct contact without the approval of the other person. Some are only used to set meetings at a designated area at specific times. Whenever possible, complement any meeting request with a short written note, explaining who you are and why you would like to meet them.

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5.    Connect using other channels
Don’t rely Solley on the B2B platforms inmail. Connect with the person on LinkedIn as well. Sometimes these platforms include a link to the person’s profile, but even it it’s not listed, it should be fairly easy to find on LinkedIn. Once found you can use the same approach note for the request to connect. Once connected you can send an inmail with a request to meet at the conference.

6.   Try their personal email or phone.

If a person connects with you on LinkedIn but does not answer the inmail meeting request you still have two more options- you can extract their email from their LinkedIn profile and email them, or, if they have a phone number listed on their profile- you can even try the odd cold call.   

7.    Hack the app- nowadays every event has its own mobile app. And while I wouldn’t suggest to conduct all these activities using the mobile app, but you can certainly use it for certain tasks. For instance, Some desktop B2B platforms do not allow messaging / inmail option, while the same B2B mobile does allow it. Mobile app also shows you people around you at any given event or talk- which makes for even more focused targeting (e.g. you can see everyone who’s attended a session about a specific area and target all of them as qualified leads).

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8.   The gift that keeps on giving:
The conference has ended? There are still people you need to connect with? Fear not! Oftentimes the B2B platform will stay online for many days after the conference has ended, allowing you the same access to information as before.

In summary- Using B2B platforms requires very little skill, and a lot of diligence. Done right it can increase the effectiveness of participating in a conference tenfold.

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Bonus- all B2B platform require registration but most don’t actually check you are registered to the conference itself. This means you can try to set meetings and only after you’ve verified enough interest you can actually register to the event. It also means you can get real marketing value without presenting.

Bonus II- always complement your B2B activities with notifications on social media before, during and after the event. It might remind people who are not listed on the B2B platform of your existence an push them to set a meeting with you.  

How to use Quora for inbound marketing

Recent funding round of Quora left no doubt- it means business. Raising round D of $85 million Series meaning Quora is now worth around $1.8 billion.

With 190 million monthly users, most of which are active and considered quite intelligent, this is a great source for inbound marketers.

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I have been using for some time now and find it surprising not many do. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Find answers to questions that bother you
    This may seem trivial, as it’s the goal of this platform. But if you have any marketing or market related question, Quora would be the best place to get professional answers. This could be very helpful as a marketer in general, as well as provide specific insights you may need for a campaign.
  • Market research- This isn’t as obvious, but you can learn much about the market, potential users’ behavior and sentiment on this platform. All you need to do is ask
  • Competitive analysis- Here you’ll need to be more subtle, but in many areas people discuss pros and cons of specific products, which you can learn a lot from.
  • Content research: you can easily understand what’s bothering people and which topics are left unanswered by searching for a answer and seeing how many people asked such questions, how many people follow these questions and topics and what it the general quality of these answers. Generate your content accordingly and don’t forget to ask/ answer and link back to it. You’d be helping people get the information they crave and gain traffic to your publication.
  • Thought leadership
    Quora has an option to host a blog, but it could be difficult to maintain in parallel to the blog of a brand you are trying to promote. Instead, be an authentic voice and position yourself as an
     authority on topics which are relevant to your business.
  • Traffic- Answer questions:
    This is what we’re really here for. If you can answer someone’s question, provide helpful details AND link back to your site you can create a constant traffic stream back to your site. Be helpful and subtle, Quora forbids you from simply pasting post written elsewhere or simply pasting links to external sites.
  • and some more traffic- ask questions
    Asking questions drives traffic, engagement and positions you as a thought leader.
    Here’s one example of a question I’ve asked on Quora that keeps sending people to my site, 2 years later:
    https://owntrepreneurship.com/2016/05/16/how-one-post-generated-tremendous-traffic-to-my-blog/
  • Incorporate Quora search, question and answering into your routine content creation process:
    I’ve incorporated it into my social media published routine- I ask a “leading” question regarding every new post I publish, and add the post link in the questions’ details.
  • Don’t forget to share on social media
    Quora answers and questions are easily shared on Social media, and these tend to get nice traffic (don’t forget to include .@quora and #Quora in your tweets).

 Beware of one caveat- Quora does not allow to open company profiles, so all this activity will be conducted under your own name. Make sure you adhere to Quora rules and etiquette (yes- there’s an answer for that as well: https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-major-policies-and-guidelines-on-Quora)

 BTW- here’s my Quora profile: https://www.quora.com/profile/Yotam-Gutman-2

Communication preferences for the busy entrepreneur

You get this every day as a freelancer/ entrepreneur – bombardments of emails, messages and calls. It used to be though but manageable, but nowadays it’s become worst. Not because there is more of, but because these messages are distributed across multiple communication channels.

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Multi-channel communication stress

So every time you think you are done replying to all the import emails you check your Facebook and see your inbox is full there. Skipping to LinkedIn – again, many unread messages. And your phone only makes it worse- WhatsApp, text messages and an odd (perhaps a tribute to the 90’s ? ) voice mail you haven’t checked in 3 months.

Oh, and there’s that thing the phone is actually made for. Calls. But most of the come in at a time you are unable to answer, so they become missed calls which you should now return.

And there’s a different etiquette for each communication channel, too.  It’s ok to respond to an email a few hours after you got it, but if you start a WhatsApp/IM conversation and queue for some time the other side gets pissed- why aren’t you answering.  

And Even Email, the form of communication invented to save time and make communicating across the globe effortlessly, is difficult for us freelancers, who use anything between 2-5 email address at a time.

Do it like the Navy

So after battling with this difficulty for a while, I decided to go back to my root. Back when I was at the Naval Academy we were taught how each in operational includes a Communication chapter. It lists all the frequencies, participating units and code names. It also list the Communication preferences for each entity during the different phases of execution.

For instance- a Surface vessel should try to communicate first using SATCOM (less chance of it being intercepted), then other means and finally HF frequency, which can be triangulated and disclose the vessel’s location to the enemy (don’t worry, this isn’t top secret stuff, it’s common knowledge since WWII). For us tactical officers, in charge of our ship’s communication, this little table was like a bible. We would memorize it, copy it and paste it around the comms room, bridge and literally anywhere where someone could pick a handset and send a transmission.

And since everyone in the fleet knew these rules, you had no misunderstanding and grief over who contacted who and in what channel.

Communication preferences for contacting me

So here’ my Communication preferences. If you want to reach me, please start from the top and if you don’t get a response quick enough move to the next option.

  1. Email
  2. WhatsApp
  3. LinkedIn messenger
  4. Text Message
  5. Call
  6. Tweeter IM
  7. Google Hangouts
  8. Skype IM
  9. Voicemail (only if older than 40)

And if you really want my attention – let’s meet Face to Face (but make sure you schedule it via Email. It listed right here : Yotam’s email

 

How to create and distribute content when you have no blog?

Conventional wisdom tells us that a blog is an anchor for all content marketing activities. It is where you publish content with the hope of driving traffic to your site- which will somehow miraculously convert into signups or leads.

But sometimes, a blog is not available. The company’s website might not have a blog, or it could be under construction. I’ve had the misfortune of working with companies where this was the state throughout my entire engagement. So what do you do then? Giving up on content as a strategy seemed lazy and shortsighted, so I improvised. And I’ve learnt some helpful tips that might help others too.

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When in doubt, use a social network as your blogging platform

Pick an alternative blogging platform

No Blog? No problem? Medium is an excellent blogging platform, that allows to start blogging right away and enjoys an in-house crowd and as easy to distribute or share as any native blog. In addition, there are industry- specific blogging sites (for instance- InfosecIsland , informationsecuritybuzz) that are vying for guest writers (sometime they allow only novel content, which means that even if you have a blog you can only publish original content there). These do not require any setup- you simply submit the text (via email) or upload it an that’s it. These sites enjoy very relevant traffic and also share and promote your content via their social channels.  

 

Use Social as your blogging platform

LinkedIn Pulse allows to publish very long, content-rich (visuals, videos, links) posts. In addition to being extremely easy to edit and publish they also guarantee native audience and exposure that most blogs can only dream of. Easy to share within and outside the platform, this ensures very good visibility and reach.

Some people use Facebook in the same manner, and enjoy similar benefits (although the target audience is different and long text posts on Facebook are not as appealing to read as on LinkedIn).

Leverage guest blogging and partners blogs:

If you work with partners you can provide them with content they can post on their blog- they will be more than happy to from two reasons- they need quality content and you will help them sell your product, which is what they ultimately desire. Similarly, many industry blogs accept guest post and provide with backlinks and credit, and they will be willing to reciprocate once you have a blog.

Use PR and media publications

If you are lucky enough to have a PR agency or access to media, you can use it to show your stuff to the world. Many industry media outlet accept guest post and thought-leadership pieces (they are more willing to do so via a PR agency they are familiar with then through cold email, but even if you don’t have one it’s worth a shot). The upside (other than seeing your pieces published by someone else, which is always nice) is that they are perceived as more prestigious and professional than self-generated posts.   

Guidelines and best practices 

However, posting on external platform is not the same as post on your home turf.  Here are some best practices you might like to consider:

 

  1. Speak in one voice
    On a company blog you can choose if you publish under “the company” or a specific function; CEO, VP Marketing, etc.
    When publishing elsewhere it will be usually done using a specific person- the company’s CEO LinkedIn account (you can read all his “posts” in the following link) , for instance. So the piece needs to be written in a first person voice and suite his personality. As the content creator you must make sure he or she are comfortable with the article they have “written” (this might sound funny, but I ghost-write for a startup CEO for many months and people were so certain it was his own work they applauded him frequently ).
  2. But consider some diversification
    A single person can only write (or have solid opinions) on so many issues, so, from time to time write as the head of sales, product or R&D. It will make things look more authentic (and they too, will reap the praises for your writing!)
  3. Amplify the same way you would for your own post
    That’s right, tweet it, FB it, post it in places like stummbleupon and Reddit . The same as any blog post.
  4. Consider the peculiar nature of the platform
    If your posting on LinkedIn, maintain a more professional and traditional approach than on Facebook.
  5. Engage
    People will “Like” and comment or your post (which they never will on your blog)- so use it to create real conversations and convert them into actual leads.

 Summary

 Publishing quality content without a blog is a challenge, but once you’ve mastered it you can use it even if you do have a blog. For instance, I publish mostly on Owntrerenuership.com, but from time to time will post on LinkedIn- it gets more exposure and helps build my audience.

  

Know your basics – LinkedIn privacy and security settings

New and proficient users of LinkedIn alike tend to overlook the potential privacy and security issues related to the platform. I’ve written extensively in the past about potential risks of fake profiles and social engineering, but I’ve never dived into the actual security and privacy settings.

But recently I’ve helped a friend to set up and account for the first time and was forced to take a closer look into my accounts’ settings. I did not like what I’ve found. On one hand, LinkedIn has made it very easy to access and configure these settings. On the other, the default option of most of these is “On”, or lesser security. But as we online security and privacy are our own responsibilities, I’d rather focus on explaining how to manage these better (I’ll save my criticism for LinkedIn for a later day, they can do a lot more in terms of securing their users and mitigating fraud).

What do I need to do?

Define a solid, unique password

Start with the basics- define a robust password, and make sure it a unique one (see this article about the risk of password re-use.

 

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Password change (mine hasn’t been changed in 2 years, so it was time to update it)

 

And change it from time to time

LinkedIn now tells you how long it has been since you last changed your password. Mine’s been the same for a little over 2 years, which means it badly needs a change.

Activate 2 factor authentication

It is highly recommended that you activate this feature, which mandates to use 2 step when trying to set up an account on a new device or recreate a forgotten password.

 

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2 Factor Authentication

 

See how many devices and locations are signed in

We access LinkedIn from multiple devices and locations. We often forget and might be logged in on some forgotten PC or device we no longer use. Check it and kill all devices you don’t use on a regular basis.

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Check how many Email addresses are associated with your account

If you are like me, you’ve accessed your account from multiple positions and companies, including some you no longer work for. Given that email addresses are often stolen and sold you are leaving the door wide open here- so cancel the association of unused email addresses with your account.

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Check which applications are associated with your account and limit data sharing with 3rd parties

Almost any application (web or mobile) asks our permission to connect to our account and is granted access to our entire data. We grant permission and forget about it, but the 3rd party can continue to access our data long after we’ve stopped using it.

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Remove applications you no longer use and block sharing of information with 3rd Party apps you did not specifically signed to.

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Decide which parts of your profile are showed as part of your public profile

LinkedIn profiled are searchable both from within LinkedIn and through Google, so you can decide which parts of your profile are shown to the world.

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Download a copy of all your activity

Thanks to data privacy laws, LinkedIn must provide you (up to 24 hours) a copy of all your data that reside within the system. Or you can simply download your contacts. You decide.

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Bonus Tip- Translate your profile

This is a nice little feature LinkedIn now offers- you can create multiple profiles in different languages (you do need to translate it yourself, though).

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