Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Seven Habits of Highly Connected People

Social media and highly connected peopleThe late Steven Covey's famous habits for highly effective people have guided many people's personal and professional lives. They are based on timeless principles, not gimmicky practices. That's exactly the same approach you should take to online marketing and social media.

In fact, all seven principles can be applied just as effectively to your social media strategy. We'll look at each of the principles here, and I'll give you three practical ideas for each.

1. Be Proactive

Part of your social media activity will be to respond to other people's contributions - for example, sharing a photo, commenting on a blog post, "thumbs up" a YouTube video, or retweeting a comment. That's good, and an important part of building your network. But don't make it all about that. Take initiative and create original material as well. That's the first step to establishing yourself as a trusted authority.

Here are three key ideas:

  1. Publish a blog, and post to it regularly (at least once a week).
  2. Connect your blog to Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, so every blog post appears there automatically.
  3. Identify key people in your network and send them something of value regularly.

2. Begin With the End in Mind

Social media is - or will be - an important marketing piece for any business, so you do need to master it. But success in social media (as with any other relationship in your life) takes time. Start small, and focus on building relationships, not just getting a quick sale.

Here are three ideas if you're getting started on a social media platform:

  1. Look, listen and learn from others before you jump in and start contributing.
  2. Connect with people you know rather than trying to convince strangers to follow you.
  3. Do something nice for somebody every day.

Also keep in mind that social media influence is a process, not an event. Don't expect instant results, and don't give up too soon.

3. Put First Things First

Steven Covey puts it beautifully like this, "Don't major in minors". Unfortunately, many people don't follow this advice on social media, and waste a lot of time on unproductive activities. There's nothing wrong with using it for personal activities and fun (that's what most people use it for!). But if you're planning to use it for your professional life, make sure you focus on that as well.

  1. Choose one (maybe two) social media platforms, rather than spreading yourself too thin.
  2. If you can't help yourself with wasting time on social media, set a strict time and time limit (e.g. the 15 minutes before lunch every day).
  3. Know your business and professional goals, and always ask yourself, "How is this advancing my goals?"

4. Think Win-Win

Too many business people think of social media as a marketing tool, but in fact it's a relationship tool (think "social", not "media"). Think less about what you can get from it, and more about what you can give.

  1. Every time you contribute something, make it something of value to others (whether or not they do business with you).
  2. If you really want to promote something, do so - but make sure you've earned the right. The 80/20 rule is a good guide: At least 80% of your contributions should be value, and at most 20% promotional.
  3. Look for ways to work together with other people you meet - for example, interviewing them for your podcast, or writing a post for their blog.

5. Seek First to Understand – Then to be Understood

When you're involved in any online conversation, look at it from the other person's point of view first, and use that to tailor your response.

  1. Know your market's biggest problems, concerns, questions, issues and goals. That will help you to be relevant.
  2. Speak in their language, not yours.
  3. It's difficult to convey tone online. Re-read what you write to make sure it can't be misinterpreted and to be sure any words out.

6. Syngergise

Synergy is the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Social media gives you many opportunities to connect and form relationships, and the best relationships are more powerful than the individuals in them.

  1. Look for people with complementary skills - for example, where you have some expertise and they have a market that can use that expertise.
  2. If you know of somebody who might be a potential partner, approach them, but do it patiently and slowly.
  3. Join communities where the value you contribute can help many people at a time - for example, LinkedIn groups of colleagues or clients.

7. Sharpen the Saw

Social media for business doesn't always have to be about business and marketing. Take time to relax, enjoy yourself and participate for fun, not just for profit.

  1. Share funny things - such as photographs, videos and articles - but be sure the humour is appropriate.
  2. Allow yourself some time to "goof off" on social media each week.
  3. Use social media to connect with family and friends. This not only allows you to connect with loved ones, it also gives you an idea of how most people in the world use social media.