LinkedIn: A Crash Course In Professional Networking

Do you dread the idea of networking groups? Does the idea of being asked “what do you do?” make your skin crawl?

You might not be a professional networking guru, but that’s okay! Social media has dramatically changed the way we connect with other professionals. There are tools out there that allow business owners to network and build connections without throwing them in a room with a funky little plastic name tag.

One of our favorite tools for networking is through the largest online professional networks, LinkedIn. LinkedIn allows business owners of all shapes and sizes find leads, employees, promotional partners and much more.

Ready to start connecting and making game-changing connections? Then check out these 3 steps for LinkedIn success.

Step 1 – Getting Started

At this point, you may have a LinkedIn profile that needs some love, or maybe you haven’t created an account yet. If you haven’t registered, it’s a quick and easy process. With just a few clicks you can have your profile up and running.

Once you have that out of the way, LinkedIn will walk you through the remaining steps. It may be tempting to just create your page and worry about filling out all the details later. But why wait? Take care of all the nitty details, so that you don’t miss any of the important elements of your profile later on down the line.

Pet professionals are selfless people. They are compassionate and put their clients, pets and everyone first. So sometimes it can be a little hard for them to talk about themselves. But don’t be afraid to brag a little on LinkedIn. Be proud of your accomplishments and skills!

Step 2 – Finding The Right People

There are a few avenues you can take in order to start finding contacts. The easiest is to import your email contacts. Doing this will send a quick email saying “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” From there, you can personalize your message or keep it short and simple.

Looking for even more contacts? Use LinkedIn’s search tool and look for previous colleagues or co-workers, classmates, or find new contacts by joining one of the thousands of LinkedIn professionals groups.

Step 3 – Start Building Connections

Try writing a recommendation, or a short blurb about someone else’s work on their LinkedIn profile. They may just return the favor. This is an excellent profile booster because it shows up under the position for which the person is writing the recommendation. You can also be direct and ask for recommendations. But you need to have a relationship with the person you’re asking.

This kind of support can really impress connections, especially as our LinkedIn “online resume” takes shape. You know how the best publicity is word of mouth? The same goes for LinkedIn. When someone endorses you or recommends you for a certain skill, the whole LinkedIn world gets to see just how talented you are!

Twitter 101: How To Promote Your Next Event The RIGHT Way

Event marketing and public relations has come a long way in the last 15 years. It used to be that if you were running an event you’d have to know people in the media and cough up the cash to purchase TV ads. Not only was this time consuming and expensive, there was very little feedback as to if people were hearing your message.

Fortunately, times have changed.

Social media tools like Twitter have allowed business owners to get the word out on their events and promotions without spending an arm and a leg on marketing.

So if you’ve been scratching your head trying to figure out how to get people talking about your upcoming event, here’s a crash course on getting your event in front of the right people with the help of Twitter.

1 Determine Your Goals

Before you can start marketing, you need to have a solid plan. This means asking yourself, what do I want to accomplish with this event? Who is your audience? Where will you send attendees after the event? Whether you’re hosting an in-person event or an online event, having goals are critical. Without goals, you run the risk of getting off track with your marketing and wasting valuable time and money.

2 Join The Conversation

The great thing about Twitter is that you can jump right in and start chatting. Unlike Facebook, Twitter conversations, hashtags and tweets are out there for everyone to see and be a part of.

So if you’re new to the world of Twitter and you’re not sure how to get up and running, start with something easy like piggybacking popular hashtags.

How can you do this?

Log into Twitter and see what people are talking about in the trends column. Next, find topics that relate to your business or event. Then start creating tweets that include those popular hashtags.

If you want to go deeper, browse keywords and hashtags with the help of Twitter’s search feature. Then browse through topics that relate to your industry and event to see what kinds of questions people are asking, and strike up a conversation. Just don’t be too pitchy!

3 Find Influencers

The more people you get talking about your event the better. But the more influencers you get talking about your event, or people with a lot of Twitter followers, the better(est).

Don’t know who the movers and shakers are? It’s time to do a little homework. Start researching the big trade events and conferences to see who will be speaking. Then follow them on Twitter to see what they’re all about – who they mention, what content they share, what they talk about, etc. Keep an eye on influencers by creating lists which include all the biggest names in your niche or industry.

Creating partnerships with influencers is a relationship building process. So don’t reach out and ask them if they can promote your event right away. As time goes on your relationship will grow, and in no time they’ll be asking how they can help you.

4 Don’t Just Be A Salesperson

People don’t want to be sold to. They fast forward through TV commercials, throw away junk mail and leave their phone books out on the porch until they turn into garden mulch.

Same thing goes for marketing on Twitter.

If you’re getting amped up for your event you’re probably sending out tweets to get your followers excited. But if each of your tweets is the same boring message your followers will eventually start to ignore it.

Try mixing it up by sending out fun facts, pictures, videos and other content relating to your event. If you need ideas, check out a few summer music festivals to see how they promote their events. Even if your event is educational it doesn’t mean it can’t be fun!

Long Story Short

Interested in learning about how to use Twitter at events to increase exposure and position yourself as industry expert? Stay tuned for a future blog post on using Twitter during your next event to increase exposure and audience participation.

4.5 Social Media Campaigns Proven To Work For Small Businesses

You don’t have to be one of the big guys on Facebook to create a successful social media campaign. After extensive research and going through our own trial and error, we’ve compiled a list of our 4.5 favorite social media campaigns that actually work.

These campaigns require different degrees of work behind the scenes. But many can easily be done with the help of third-party Facebook app building software like Shortstack. So don’t let tech fear stand in your way. It may be easier and much more affordable than you think.

1 Coupons

These have been around forever but they’re still a fantastic way to market your business, especially online. Offer your social media followers exclusive coupons for your products/services in exchange for liking your Facebook page, following you on Twitter, retweeting, sharing your page with friends, or signing up for your newsletter.

2 Sweepstakes

If you’re new to social media campaigns this can be a fantastic place to start. It works by allowing fans to enter to win something cool. All you have to do is collect their name and email address and randomly pick a winner. It’s straightforward and can be done with a simple set up or template campaign. You can give away something like one of your products or services, but the bigger the giveaway the better the response will be.

3 Instant Win Contests

Think of this as a fast paced mash-up of coupons and sweepstakes. Visitors become fans and enter their name and info, just like the sweepstakes campaign. But instead of waiting for a set amount of time, then announcing 1 winner, participants get to see if they’re a winner right away, like with coupons. These types of campaigns spit out prizes right away so the coolness factor of the campaign doesn’t have the time to fade like with sweepstakes. You can have a lot of small prizes, discounts and other freebies being randomly given out, or opt to give out only 1 big prize. This exciting campaign can leave quite the impression, which makes it easier for fans to share with their friends.

4 Fan Competitions

Create a friendly competition between Facebook fans to keep them coming back and bringing their friends as well. With this campaign, fans can submit photos, text, videos, ect. but instead of a random winner being chosen, they enlist the help of friends and family to vote for their submission. You can make it so anyone who votes or submits needs to be a fan, so in no time flat you can see your fan count skyrocket. The trick to this campaign is to make sure that the prize is super valuable and that you’re constantly marketing it. If not, participation will suffer.

4.5 Follow The Leader

With your next social media contest try adding a leaderboard so participants can see how they’re doing. Explore ways you can add to the leaderboard to get some extra exposure, such as bonus points for each time fans share the contest. This is more of an add-on to the other campaigns mentioned, but it’s still an effective element you should consider adding to your next social media campaign.

Long Story Short

It took a lot of debate to narrow this list down to only 4.5 campaigns! Thanks to third-party apps like Badgeville, Gigya, Shortstack and the dozens of others out there, it’s easier than ever before to build campaigns like a pro. Just remember, all successful social media campaigns start with fun, creative and unique ideas. You don’t want to do exactly what everyone else is doing. Take those ideas and add your own special flair to create something new and fresh fans will love.

5 Content Marketing Laws You Should Live By

You know the car guy commercials that come on in the middle of the day between episodes of Jerry Springer? Unofficial Law #0 of content marketing–don’t be like that guy.

Why? Besides the obvious reasons, you don’t have to throw money into general ads and cross your fingers and hope for a response. Instead take the smarter route and move your business towards content marketing.

The term content marketing can mean different things to different people, but broken down to its simplest form it means creating something cool that your leads will love, such as blog posts, podcasts or online videos. The ultimate goal of content marketing is to trade something really, really cool like ebooks, white sheets or other high quality downloads, in exchange for a lead’s email address. Once you have that, you can send them all sorts of things via email all the while gently nudging them towards a buying decision.

Traditional marketing on the other hand, focuses on sending out a quick 1-time sales message. If people don’t buy right away, then that’s a good chunk of money lost. Content marketing works to create a connection, so if a lead doesn’t buy right away it’s not really a loss. You can send them more information as time goes on that may help convince them to buy.

Content marketing can grow your business leaps and bounds–if you know its special sauce, or as we like to call it, the 5 content marketing laws.

1 Know The Truth About Social Media

There are 2 things you need to ‘get’ when marketing with social media.

  • 1. Social media has an ultra short shelf life.
    Be sure to diversify where you’re posting (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) in order to expand the reach of your content. And not only that, you need to keep up with social media in order to get it to work for you. With Facebook in particular, the less you post and the less fans engage with your page, the harder it is to get them to see your content. It’s a vicious cycle.
  • 2. Content is always top dog.
    In the world of online marketing, content is the head honcho, the big cheese. Social media, email, and PPC ads should be used to get viewers to your content or lead generation pieces. Cutting out website content creation and just posting on social media will result in fans not having anywhere to progress to in your marketing funnel. They will only ever be Facebook fans, and fall into the dreaded lead limbo.

2 Get SEO Working With Content, Not Against It

SEO is important to the success of your website. But sounding like a weird robot programmed to only regurgitate popular SEO phrases is going to kill your conversions. Even if you’re ranking first on Google, if your content isn’t relevant or engaging to readers, they’re not going to keep reading.

Find out what your customers want, and learn how they like to digest and share information. Then design your content especially for them. Lastly, garnish your content with SEO to help it get to the right people.

3 Salesmen Need Not Apply

Content marketing is a way to connect and engage with leads and customers. It isn’t a way to sneak in a straight-up sales pitch. Content marketing can be an excellent way to gently guide leads into your sales funnel, but only by focusing on building trust and credibility via education, engagement and expertise.

4 Strategy, Strategy, Strategy

Like any other type of marketing, you need to have an effective strategy in place, be able to track your results and work to improve things over time. But before sitting down to create your 6-month marketing plan, make sure you know exactly who your best customer is and that you understand:

  • What problems your leads are having.
  • What they want to see more of.
  • How they like to consume information.

By having a solid plan for your content, you’ll be able to save some serious time and money in the long run.

5 ABC (Always Be Creative)

There are millions, literally millions, of websites fighting for attention. And by always following the rules and doing what everyone else is doing, your content will disappear into the background. You can grab attention by putting out unique types of content or finding out what your competitors are doing and do it better. Even something as simple as just being yourself and letting your unique personality shine through content can take you a long way online.

Long Story Short

Content marketing isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Business owners are seeing that content marketing allows them to get more leads into their funnel for a fraction of the price of traditional marketing. Not only that, it allows businesses to connect and engage with leads on a much more personal level than ever thought possible.

Now we want to hear from you! Do you have any content marketing laws of your own? We’d love to see what you have to say in the comments below.

How To Attract Leads Online While Staying Uniquely You

Robots are creepy. They can be engineered to look, move, speak and even interact like humans. But no matter how lifelike they seem, they’re still awkward and stiff.

We like to chat, laugh and socialize with other humans, it’s just how we’re built. So why is it that so many small business owners still insist on acting like robots on social media, blogs and other lead generation content?

2015 is the year of connectivity. Social media, mobile technology, online gaming, Skype, there’s no limit to our ability to connect with people across town, or across the world. Even though technology has changed the means in which we communicate, some small business owners still stick to dated rules on how to interact with leads and customers. For example–speaking in non-personal, stiff language, much like robots do.

As a small business owner you have an opportunity to connect directly to potential customers through social media. But before you can start working this powerful piece of communication into your outreach or customer service plan, you have to understand how to be uniquely you on social media.

1 Be Authentic

In the age of social media, authenticity is one of the most important qualities to develop when creating content online. There’s nothing more annoying than businesses trying to latch onto trends or constantly posting click-bait to shock their followers.

And on the opposite side of the spectrum, we’ve all seen those posts which are jammed to the brim with SEO rich keywords. SEO is important, but there has to be balance. If your content doesn’t have personality or the touch of a real person behind it, all the SEO in the world won’t keep people engaged.

2 Be Relatable

It’s human nature to connect with those we have something in common with. But in order to do this, you need to understand who your best customer is, how to find them and how to connect with them. Then you can bring your unique perspective into your social media, content and other online marketing.

3 Be Conversational

I know my high school English teacher would hate this, but you don’t have to write perfectly on social media. Make no mistake–spelling errors and missing punctuation marks are a big no-no! But instead of writing for academia, write as if you’re talking to fans and followers in person.

Avoid Using:

  • Long sentences with hard to digest words.
  • Fluffy words to fill up space.
  • Industry jargon, buzzwords or overused cliches.

4 Be Friendly

Imagine you’re at a party, and you’re approached by 2 people. Person A introduces herself, asks how you are, then starts talking about a movie you both recently enjoyed. Person B (who by the way has food on his face) introduces himself by talking about his newest get rich quick scheme that you should get in on.

  • Who are you going to continue chatting with?
  • Who are you going to accidentally leave talking to himself by the hors d’oeuvres?

    Social media is about being social. If you’re only sending out tweets and status updates on your hot new products, you’re missing the mark. Mix in messages about fun things, your blog content, ask questions or post anything else your community will find interesting.

    Long Story Short

    We are living in an era of connections and personal relationships. Business owners can no longer hide behind a logo. They need to be talking, networking and fostering relationships in order to successfully attract leads online. So we want to know, how do you make your followers feel special on social media? Let us know in the comments.