Top 5 Twitter Errors

Twitter Error

I have been handling the majority of Gossett Marketing’s social media for about a year now, so I’m getting more comfortable blogging and interacting on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Having somewhat of a handle on the various sites has also allowed me to understand what not to do. So many self-proclaimed social media “gurus” make egregious errors that are so easily avoided! Because of its fast pace, I find that these mistakes stand out the most on Twitter, so I am going to focus on that networking site for this post. Here are the top 5 Twitter errors that hold people back:

  1. Having no biography. If you don’t have a quick, informative blurb about yourself, then I am simply not going to follow you. You can’t take the time to tell the Twitterverse about yourself, so why are you going to take the time to get to know me?
  2. Having a horrible biography. I’m constantly amazed by the number of bios that I read that contain profanity or are sexually explicit. I do not follow those people! And I tend to stay away from people who have huge spelling or grammatical errors – if they can’t pull together 140 characters correctly, then chances are they won’t share meaningful content.
  3. Not having a picture. Our Twitter account, @MarketngTidbits, has over 2,000 followers and we follow about that many people ourselves. I use other accounts’ pictures as a quick and easy way to identify them. Some people really like photos of the account holder, but I’ll take anything: your logo, your face, your dog, just something that helps me pick you out of a lineup.
  4. Tweeting the same thing all of the time. I understand that most of the Twitter accounts that I follow are business related, so they try to focus on that. I recognize that I can get very myopic and talk about marketing all day long! But I don’t tweet the exact same information 17 times in a row, and I don’t think you should either. I know that you’re proud of your latest blog post, but if you throw it into your followers’ faces continuously, then they will stop paying attention to you (they might even unfollow). Give us some useful and varied info about your subject of choice – it’s all about content!
  5. Not letting conversations end. OK, the key to successful Twitter networking is engagement, and I know that I love to talk to my Twitter friends. However, sometimes our conversations need to end! For example, when I give @faketwitter a #FF mention and he thanks me, I usually say something like “you’re welcome, have a great weekend!” To me, that should be that. @faketwitter does not need to respond with an emoticon! If @faketwitter and I were having a conversation in person and I said, “have a great weekend” and walked away, he wouldn’t tap me on the shoulder to give me a goofy smile – treat Twitter like you would a real conversation.

Actually, I think #5 is a good stopping point. Treat the people on Twitter like you would people at a typical networking event. Don’t beat them over the head with the same sentence, let conversations stop naturally, and present yourself in a good light (both as a picture and in your biography). Basically, be a normal but engaging human being and you never know who you’ll meet or where your normal but engaging interactions will take you!

3 Tips to Foster Business Relationships

networking relationships

Of course the reason that any of us attend networking events is to build new business relationships. It’s easy to meet people at events, but it’s not necessarily so simple to turn those meetings into productive connections. It takes time and a good amount of follow-up to make yourself known and memorable to the people that you meet at an event, and even if you do put in the effort, there is certainly no guarantee that anything will come of it. So I’ve taken a poll of the Gossett Marketing team to see how this group of successful (and modest!) networkers does it. Here are 3 simple tips to foster the business relationships that begin at networking events.

  1. Have a reason to follow up with someone. After an event, it’s tempting to send out a generic “it was nice to meet you today” e-mail to everyone whose business card you received. Resist the urge! Instead, send a personal note that brings up the topics that you discussed. For instance, if you spoke with someone about a problem they are having, try presenting a solution in your e-mail. Not only will you look like a useful contact to have, but you will open up a dialogue that will help your relationship grow.
  2. Bolster your budding business association through social media. As Gossett Marketing’s blogger, I’m particularly fond of this idea – when I meet people in the real world, I like to then connect with them on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn because I find that it is a more casual, open way to connect than with them than by leaving stiff telephone messages. It’s amazing how quickly you can bond with someone via 140 word tweets!
  3. When all else fails, resort to snail mail. I think that everyone has been rejected when trying to build a business relationship with a new contact. You call, you e-mail, you tweet – all to no avail. At some point you have to throw in the towel (or else risk looking like a stalker). Before you do that, though, take the time to write the object of your business affection a quick note and mail it to him or her. Be sure to include your card, and just be honest about it. Say that you understand that he or she is busy, but that you wanted them to have your information. Everyone likes to get mail, so you know that he or she will read it, and perhaps it will move them to give you a call. If not, then at least they will have seen your name and company logo again – every bit of exposure counts.

I recognize that we aren’t reinventing the wheel with these tips, but sometimes networking – or the time spent following up after an event – can be frustrating. Rather than give up, try some different approaches. You never know, they could help you build new business relationships that could be profitable to both parties.

Remember Your Customers so They Remember You

photo from danoah.com

photo from danoah.com

Ever find a blog that you really like, read it religiously for a while and then totally forget about its existence? I hate to say it, but I’ve definitely done that on several occasions. It’s no one’s fault but my own – I read a lot of articles every day and some just slip through the cracks, even if I follow the blog’s author/company/the blog itself on Twitter and/or I’m connected on LinkedIn. Sometimes I miss new posts, and when that starts happening I simply lose track of the site. Fortunately for me, it is easy to not miss a post and therefore not forget about a particularly good blog: simply subscribe to it! That way new posts are automatically routed to your inbox where you can read them at your convenience.

I’m sure that you know all about the magic of subscribing to blogs, but do you do it? You should! Especially if your customers or people who you want to be your customers are its authors. By subscribing and thus reading what they write, you can easily get to know them better and ultimately better anticipate their needs. For instance, Gossett Marketing is a promotional products distributorship, so let’s say that I’ve subscribed to my customer Sally’s blog and she posts about an event that she is planning. A good idea for me would be to write her an email saying something along the lines of, “I read your blog and I think that giving away imprinted favors at your event would be a strategic marketing move. Here are my suggestions…” That type of email is a proactive way to get a sale or to at least remind my customer as to who I am and what I do.

Don’t limit yourself to just subscribing to your customers’ or potential customers’ blogs. Keep in mind their YouTube channels, Tumblrs, Spotify playlists…whatever! If you want to do business or expand your business with someone, be sure to stay in touch with them on as many social media platforms as possible. Keep their sites top of mind to help yourself stay on the top of their minds as well.

Networking at the Keyboard

photo from therealdeal.com

photo from therealdeal.com

There’s a reason why summer is Miami’s off-season: it’s gross outside. Tourists do not want to be here during the hot, humid months between May and October because it’s rainy, there could be a hurricane, you sweat upon walking outside, the mosquitoes are relentless, and it is impossible to have a good hair day. Gosh, did I sell my hometown to you there or what?! Anyhow, much like how tourists don’t enjoy our climate in the summertime, nor do many Miamians. It’s pretty annoying to get dressed for work only to get rained on or to perspire – yuck! But life goes on and so do we (we just keep rubber flip flops at our desks in case of downpours). Work doesn’t quit just because of our climate; however, I do find that networking tapers off a bit during the sweatier months of our year.

I think it’s pretty understandable that businesspeople in Miami aren’t rushing out to networking events when it’s steamy or stormy out, and I just use that as an excuse to ramp up my online networking during this time of year. If I’m trapped inside, then it’s a perfect time to check out my LinkedIn connections and maybe shoot a few emails to individuals with whom I’ve lost touch. I also like to take rainy days to focus on expanding my Twitter reach. I check out the people I follow to see who they follow and start connecting to other people that way.

Summer is the best time of year in some parts of the country. If you live in one of those idyllic climes, then by all means continue to pound the pavement and hit any and all in-person networking events that you can. Surely there is a less-fun season during which you can hunker down and do your networking from your desktop. But for me, this is when I give myself a bit of a pass as far as events and look at it from another angle – summertime is prime time for my networking at the keyboard.

Call Me Crazy but I Like Meetings

photo from www.vapartners.ca

photo from www.vapartners.ca

I know that a lot of you will disagree with me when I say this, but I believe that there is value in having face-to-face meetings with people. Yes, I know that we live in a digital age and believe me when I tell you that I am working my hardest to embrace it. I’ve met new customers through our blog, built relationships with people around the world via Twitter, and enhanced connections on LinkedIn. And I have no problem doing business with people who I’ve never met in person; however, given the opportunity, I really do like being able to shake someone’s hand and sit across the table from her to really get to know her.

It’s probably safe to say that for most businesspeople, their primary form of communication is email. I love email, but it can produce a lot of back-and-forth: quick notes asking for clarification that can become quite tedious and confusing. When that starts happening, the next step is usually a phone call and that generally clears things up because it is a little easier to convey ideas and feeling by talking instead of writing. Taking that one step further, in a meeting where you can see someone’s facial expressions, hand gestures, outfits, décor in their office, etc. then you can really connect with them more deeply.

So why is it important to get to know someone with whom you’d like to do business? Shouldn’t a business transaction be pretty cut and dried? Yes it should be, and if you take the time to get to know someone a little more than at the surface level, then you will probably be able to streamline that transaction. Take what I do, I sell promotional products. This involves searching a database of over a million items and finding just the right one for my customers, which can be a daunting task. But by being very familiar with the people I work for makes it a heck of a lot easier on me. Rather than just taking a shot in the dark, I can say to myself, “I know that Suzy is really into tech items – I should focus on those and hopefully make the sale.” And yes, I can probably glean that type of information about Suzy if she and I interact online, but to me it’s just easier to get a clear picture of an individual if we actually have a face-to-face meeting.

What do you think? Am I crazy to live in an age of digital interactions and still take the time to drive to a customer’s office to meet with him or her?

When Networking Mix It Up!

photo from smallbiztrends.com

photo from smallbiztrends.com

It always strikes me as odd when businesspeople network exclusively with other people from their own industry. I understand making some contacts within your own profession because you can turn to them for advice or simply use them to vent; however, if you are only meeting people who do the same thing that you do, then you’re only associating with your competition. While it’s great to know who you’re up against, don’t waste too much time at networking events that are industry-specific. Mix it up!

How do you mix up your networking? Well, the most obvious answer is to participate in events that attract a wide variety of people from different businesses. Chambers of commerce are particularly good for this – whether you join your community’s chamber or go with one geared towards minority businesses or the like, you’re sure to encounter a wide number of people with whom you can do business.

OK, so what if chambers of commerce aren’t your thing? Well, then it’s time to look at your life and how you can use your day-to-day for networking. If you have kids, then I’ll bet you meet fellow parents at school or sporting events. You probably see those parents frequently, which makes it rather easy to build a relationship with them. Ultimately, you’ll learn what they do, and potentially start to refer business back and forth. Easy!

If you don’t have kids or if you’ve built your parental network up as much as you can, then what? Well, think about your hobbies. If you like building model trains, then I’m sure you’ve met someone who shares your passion at the train store – network with him. Do you see the same people at the gym day after day? Take out your headphones and talk to them. And if your hobby is just streaming Netflix? Well, I love that too, but unfortunately it’s not ideal for networking. However, all hope is not lost! If that’s you, then head to LinkedIn and Twitter and meet people online. Networking problem solved!

Long story short, when networking mix it up!

Blogs Can a Useful Networking Tools

photo from inneractionmedia.com

photo from inneractionmedia.com

When I write my weekly article for this, the networking portion of the blog, I always focus on going to events and meeting people that way. Call me old fashioned, but when I think “networking” that is what comes to mind. Which is kind of a silly thing to admit as I write a blog post because I think that all of our interactions online can now be considered networking.

Saying that a blog can be for networking is probably strange, but I do believe that it’s true. I wrote about guest blogging as networking a while ago – check out that article by clicking here. In addition to that, though, writing a blog post is like starting a conversation. I write something, you read it, you agree or disagree strongly, and you comment, I comment back, etc. That can quickly foster a relationship even if we live on opposite sides of the country or the world.

When I write a blog I also have Danette tweet it out from her account @Marketngtidbits. She has over 4,000 Twitter followers, many of whom tend to retweet or share links back to the article. Very often she will end up having 140-character-at-a-time discussions with them about the post. Again, that is spreading her network.

Posts from this blog are also automatically channeled to Danette’s LinkedIn profile, so the people with whom she has connected with on that platform can read articles on InterestingMarketingTidbits. Her connections on that network are mainly people that Danette knows personally, not just from behind the keyboard, and when they reconnect in the real world they very often mention articles from this blog and SalesPromotions.org. That means that this online conversation starter has worked in real life as well as within the confines of the internet.

By no means is a blog the only online networking tool – in fact, it might be the least effective one out there – but for us, it does work. Do you blog? Do you think of it as a way to expand your business network? Whether your answer is yes or no, go ahead and tell me about it in the comments and maybe we can start to do business together!

Blogging Ideas

photo from ideachampions.com

photo from ideachampions.com

This category of the blog is called “Everyday Life Vignettes,” meaning that I can write about anything rather than having to stick to our usual topics. Because it’s so open I can usually come up with tons of topics – just not this week. As always when I run out of blogging ideas I was rooting around online to see what I could come up with, which is when I came across an article on LinkedIn in which Darren Rowse shares tons of excellent ideas for business blogs. I am certainly going to use his suggestions the next time I have writer’s block (so…next week), but I thought I’d share the entire post with you today.

Click here and check it out!

What Not to Do After a Networking Event

robot
I write a lot about networking – heck our blog has a whole category dedicated to it – so I always wonder if our readers think that the Gossett Marketing team is obsessed with building our business network. In a word: yes. Networking takes a lot of our time, effort, and dedication, but we firmly believe that it’s worth the endeavor, as it helps us grown in our community and beyond. If you’re not already a dedicated networker, then it’s time to start so that you can expand your business’s reach (and ultimately its profitability).

Regardless as to whether you’re new to business networking or if it’s old hat to you, I think everyone can brush up on networking etiquette. Last week I discussed what not to do during an event, so this week I’m focusing on what not to do afterwards. Here we go…

1. Nothing – You went to a networking event, met new people, and took their business cards back to work with you. Don’t just leave that contact information on your desk, never to be viewed again; rather, follow up with the people you met! Send a quick e-mail, invite them to connect on LinkedIn, give them a call, or even tweet them. Reinforce the bond you made at the networking event so that you can begin to forge a real relationship.
2. Too Much – On the opposite end of the spectrum from those who do nothing post-event are those who do too much. These are the folks who send an e-mail, then give the recipient a call an hour later just to be sure that they’d gotten it. And who not only connect on LinkedIn but start filling your Twitter feed and continually comment on your blog posts. These people mean well, but it’s overwhelming and, well, feels a bit stalker-ish. Ultimately, this strategy backfires, as the person with whom they are so desperately trying to bond begins to avoid the avid follow-upper!
3. Be a Robot – Now that you know the right amount of follow up, be sure that you’re doing the right kind. Often after networking with someone I, get a form e-mail saying things like “it was nice to meet you at the recent Chamber of Commerce event.” What event? What did we talk about? Do I really want to build a relationship with someone who can’t take the time to write a personalized e-mail? Absolutely not! But if I get an e-mail saying something like, “it was wonderful to sit with you at lunch yesterday, I enjoyed learning about the promotional products industry…” then chances are I will respond to the sender. He has taken the time to absorb our discussion and write me a personal e-mail, which shows me that his networking effort was genuine – I’m happy to consider someone like that a part of my network!

What it all boils down to is that you need to behave like a normal human being both before and after a networking event. I know that sounds strange, but treat others as you’d like to be treated, don’t bother them, but also don’t ignore them, and connect with them. That’s really what it takes to successfully network!

How to get Yourself to Network if You Hate it

photo from notjustyogurt.com

photo from notjustyogurt.com

The government might be shut down for the time being, but as businesspeople we certainly cannot do the same! No, unlike our elected representatives, we have to keep our businesses up and running, and, ideally, growing. That growth, of course, comes from networking – expanding our web of business contacts by attending events, meeting people online, and, well, from a lot of hard work.

I know that there are people out there who positively despise networking. They find it awkward to go to an event, introduce themselves to a bunch of strangers, then to continue to follow up with those individuals in order to somehow gain business (from those people directly or via referrals). I get it – it can be weird to network at an event. I always suggest to people who are hesitant to attend such gatherings that they network online – LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+ are great resources through which they can connect with other professionals. However, I don’t necessarily think that doing all of your networking online is the best idea: sometimes, face-to-face interactions are more powerful than interacting through a computer screen.

If you are someone who positively hates attending networking events, but who knows that going to some might behoove you, what do you do? Well, to be perfectly honest with you, I’ve grappled with this in the past. It’s not that I totally abhor networking, but sometimes it interferes with my life. Frankly, there have been many an evening where I’d rather be at home binge-watching shows on Netflix than schmoozing with strangers, so I’ve had to really talk myself into attending events! One trick that helps me get to networking events when I really, really don’t want to go is to reward myself for going. I tell myself that if I go to a cocktail reception on a rainy day, then I get to have frozen yogurt for dinner. Or I’ll give myself a networking goal for the week – attend 3 functions and make 5 follow up calls – and give myself a treat when I accomplish it. A manicure/pedicure is always a nice gift to myself in that situation!

Networking takes effort, and for some people it gets easier and more comfortable as they go. Others – myself occasionally included – never get over that hump and learn to enjoy it. If you’d rather be on your couch watching TV, at the dentist, or even hanging around with your nagging mother in law than attend a networking event, then you might consider treating yourself for going. I know that I’d often rather watch Orange is the New Black than spend my precious evening talking business to total strangers, but by rewarding myself when I attend, I actually get myself to networking events! The present you give yourself might not be a frozen treat, but if it’s something that you love, then you might just get yourself to go out and network.

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