How to create an effective social media profile

If you are anything like me, the information you post on social networking sites is hastily cobbled together with very little thought.  While I quite understand why this happens, to get the best from your on-line presence I believe this approach should be re-evaluated. In your work, social media sites can help you build relationships with customers, generate feedback and market your business. Often your social media profile is the first thing potential contacts will read about you.  It will be an excellent investment of your time to think through the image you want to project – so don’t rush it.  Think of your on-line profiles as an electronic CVs and give it due care and attention.

Here are a few suggestions to help you put together the best possible:

1. Look at the profiles of people you admire.  What draws your attention and what pushes you away? Who do you want to connect with? Learn from what others are doing!

2. Get the essentials right. Tell your reader who you are and what you do as succinctly and clearly as possible – ideally in two short sentences. Include a link to your website.  Don’t write your life story. You will get the chance to elaborate as you get to know people.

3. Use the language of the medium. Don’t be jokey on a serious business networking platform such as LinkedIn, and don’t be wordy and self-important on a personal networking platform like Facebook. Adjust your tone to the medium as each site is different.

4. Tell them where you’ve been and where you’re going. Mention at least one professional achievement. People will want to know how credible you are. Goals are important too – people who see these may be able to help you achieve your aims.

5. Let a little personality through. It should not be all about work – your interests can open doors with others who share them. Balance work and personal information sensibly, though, and think about who you want to connect with.

6. Post a picture. Photographs are more immediate than words, but a picture must be right for the medium and your desired connections. On a business-focused platform, use a good-quality image of yourself looking professional. On Facebook, it is acceptable to include holiday snaps.

7. Brand your profile. Most platforms allow you to change colours or add background images. Use your company livery to reinforce your viewer’s connection with your firm’s brand. Be discreet about logos though – get people to connect with you personally first.

8. Do not be boring. Don’t use your profile to offer a lengthy dissection of your industry, to rant, to outline your company history in detail or to talk about your products, except in passing. Your reader wants to be able to scan your profile and pick out critical information easily.

9. Keep it fresh. Update your profile regularly. If your goals change, or you’ve got a great success story, add that in. If people can see that you have been recently active on a profile they will be more inclined to connect with you.

10. Don’t sell, engage. Never use your profile to try to sell to people – they will leave immediately.  There are other channels you can use to talk about your product or service. The aim of your profile is to give people a reason to connect with you, rather than with your business.

Written by:

JANE DELORIE   |    Principal Consultant

www.evolutionafrica.com

PROSPECTING FOR CLIENTS

REFLECTING AND REFOCUSING

Do you think of clients as an alien species?

Even though I work in what is referred to as a “service” industry, my colleagues and many of the other people I come across think of prospecting for clients as some sort of nightmare they would do anything to avoid.  At best it is viewed as a necessary evil – something unpalatable but unavoidable. I have often wondered why?  Have their past experiences been so unpleasant?  Are they just scared of being rejected?  Do they think of clients as an alien species?

And rather surprisingly I have discovered that indeed they do think of potential clients as some sort of breed apart that has to be carefully unearthed and ‘handled’.  But potential clients are in fact just people that you need to get to know.  They do all the things that you and your colleagues do and can be found wherever normal people hang out.

I know some of you still suspect this is not quite true, but let’s agree for a moment that clients are indeed professionals or managers who work for an organization. The starting point in prospecting for them is simply to place yourself in the same places.  So, where are you at any given moment?

  1. Working at your desk
  2. Attending a meeting
  3. Talking to someone in the office
  4. Talking to someone on the phone
  5. Corresponding with someone by email (or postal mail)
  6. Commuting to or from work
  7. At the gym
  8. Eating at restaurant
  9. Having a drink at coffee shop or bar
  10. Attending a business function
  11. Taking a class
  12. Participating in a sports or leisure activity
  13. Going to church
  14. Attending an entertainment or cultural event
  15. At home with your family
  16. At the home of a friend or relative
  17. Driving somewhere

I am sure you will be able to think of a few others places and activities but the point is that your potential clients will be doing exactly the same things.

When you refocus and look at prospecting in this way the many opportunities for you to find prospect just jumps out!  Your prospective clients spend a significant percentage of their time either talking to other people or gathering in public places. When they are not doing one of those things, they are usually at their home or office and even these places can be “found” with a little detective work.

So, finding these people called clients really boils down to three possible activities:

  1. Talking to people who can put you in touch with clients.
  2. Going to places where clients gather so you can meet them in person.
  3. Getting names, phone numbers, and email addresses of clients you can call or write.

None of these are difficult and they do not deserve the loathing that prospecting for clients attracts.  If you want to improve your prospecting start the process with a simple description of who your ideal clients are. The more specific you can get, the better. For example:

  • HR Managers in growing midsize companies
  • Marketing Directors for health care providers
  • Small business owners in the Nairobi CBD
  • Midlife professionals in career transition

Then use your description to ask everyone you know these three questions:

  • Do you know any _____ you can introduce me to?
  • Do you know someone who knows lots of _____?
  • Do you know any places where many _____ go?

For many professionals, just that one step will provide you with enough names and places to keep you busy for quite some time. Just keep talking to people and going to places where clients gather. As long as you keep asking the same three questions of every person you meet, your prospect list will continue to grow.

And remember – clients are people like you and me.

Written by:

JANE DELORIE   |    Principal Consultant

www.evolutionafrica.com

Philanthropy

MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE

To give away money is an easy matter and in any man’s power. But to decide to whom to give it, and how large, and when, and for what purpose and how, is neither in every man’s power nor an easy matter.” ~Aristotle

Very few people in Kenya describe themselves as philanthropists. Indeed few can even define what the word means. But all seem able to agree that it somehow applies to people such as Bill Gates or Oprah Winfrey and definitely not to them. Yet when we look at the definition of the word we find many of us are undeniably philanthropists.

The word philanthropy is thought to have been coined some 2500 years ago by the ancient Greeks and quite simply refers to ”effort or inclination to increase the well-being of mankind as by charitable aid or donations”. In reality philanthropy is simply about people giving their time, help and care to a cause they support in order to make the world a better place to live in.

According to recent qualitative research conducted on behalf of KCDF almost all of us are instinctively philanthropic, no matter our wealth or background. The research sought to identify attitudes towards philanthropy and explore the resulting behaviours in order to understand how best to tap into and grow philanthropic activities in Kenya.

Recognizing that distinct cultures may have differing exposures and opportunities, and respond differently to need, the research explored the attitudes and behaviours of Africans, Europeans and Asians separately. The results show that while all cultures believe in “giving back to society” their method of giving and the pay-back expected is indeed quite different by culture. But while how we give and what we give may differ significantly, our reason for giving is unwaveringly consistent – we want to improve the lives of people less fortunate than us! [read more – Philanthropy by Jane Delorie – 132K – PDF]

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Overview of African Research Industry

ESOMAR Global Market Research Study 2010

Since it began publishing annual industry reports, the year 2009 was the first time that ESOMAR recorded a global industry decline. Compared to the previous year, the market research industry shrank by 4.6%. The least affected region was Asia Pacific, with a moderate decline of 2.2%; while Europe recorded a massive 5.9% loss.

At first glance, the Middle East and Africa region appears to have been the worst affected with a decline of 10.2% against the previous year. Actually, however, there are many positive developments in the Africa region to qualify that negative first impression.

On the global scale, Africa remains a minor player in the market research industry, with a market size of 265 million in 2009, which accounts for less than 1% of the global industry (28.9 billion).

Developments in Africa
The ESOMAR Industry report covers only a handful of African markets; country data are available for only South Africa and Nigeria. So, it is important to bear in mind that ESOMAR coverage of Africa remains fragmentary at best.

[read more – ESOMAR Global Market Research Study 2010 by Jane Delorie & Margit Cleveland – 262K – PDF]

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Strategic Planning

A ROAD MAP FOR SUCCESS

Strategic Planning is a process by which we can envision the future and develop the necessary procedures and operations to influence and achieve that future“. ~Clark Crouch

At its simplest, strategic planning is the process of documenting for your organization (or even department) 3 basic elements:

  • Where are you now?
  • Where do you want to go?
  • How do you go about getting there?

It is perhaps easiest to envisage your strategic plan as a road map … before you set out on a journey you need to establish first where you are and then where you want to go. After identifying both these points on the map you will be able to trace the various routes that are possible and decide on which best suits your purpose.

For most journeys there will be a wide range of options open to you – mode of travel, who will travel with you, what route you will take, speed, detours, etc. You must make choices and adjust along the way to accommodate unexpected obstacles. Strategic planning is exactly the same. It is simply the process of planning how you will take your organization from where you are now to where you would like to be in the future. Your strategic plan is your road map for this journey.

If you don’t know where you are going, you are certain to end up somewhere else.” ~Yogi Berra

The result of planning should be effective, efficient, and economical…that is, suitable for the intended purpose, capable of producing the desired results, and involving the least investment of resources“. ~Clark Crouch

There are many different models for developing strategic plans and managing the implementation process. [read more – Strategic Planning by Jane Delorie – 158K – PDF]

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The Balanced Scorecard

A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE

The Balanced Scorecard (BSC) was first articulated by Robert Kaplan and David Norton in a 1992 Harvard Business Review. As a management tool it has evolved quite significantly since then. The basic principle however remains intact – you can’t manage a business by looking only at the financials, you need to take a much more holistic look. The BSC requires managers to look at four key elements of their business:

The financial perspective or “how we look to shareholders”.
An organisation’s financial performance is fundamental to its survival and to satisfying its shareholders. As such, few organizations suffer from any lack of financial data however it is not always organized or presented in a useful manner and there is sometimes too much of it. Further, financial data by definition is historical. It tells us what happened previously and is silent on what is happening now or what the future might hold. So, while undoubtedly useful and necessary, the financial perspective is just one of the views of the business that a manager should be looking at.

The customer perspective or “how we look to customers”.
In most businesses, it costs a lot more to find new customers than to keep the existing ones. It is important therefore to view the organization from the customer standpoint. Measurement here includes customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and image and perceptions. An organization cannot satisfy customers if it does not first seek to understand them.

The business process perspective or “how effective are we internally”
This looks at internal processes and systems, measuring how well we perform on key business drivers. The measurements themselves depend on the nature of the business but include product quality, time to market, distribution, etc. Keeping on top of how you do things allows your company to be responsive and react quickly to changes in the marketplace. It also allows you to make the most of your resources.

The learning and growth perspective or “how can we change and improve”
This perspective focuses on what must be done to develop the organization and its people. It directs our attention forward and gives a measure of future performance. Your people represent your organization, if the organization is to grow and prosper your people must also grow and prosper.

Bringing together the answers to these four different questions provides the “balanced” view of your organisation the Balanced Score Card management tool promises. Feedback from the scorecard should inform management actions and indeed strategy development.

Written by: JANE DELORIE | Principal Consultant
www.evolutionafrica.com

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Branding

PERCEPTION IS EVERYTHING

It is better to be first in the mind than to be first in the marketplace. Marketing is not a battle of products; it’s a battle of perceptions” ~Al Ries & Jack Trout

The word brand originally referred to the mark burned onto livestock to set the animal apart as being the property of a particular owner. It this instance it provides a unique identifier, often in the form of a symbol, that protects the rights of the property owner. On some ranches and farms this form of branding still occurs but the marketing profession has effectively hijacked the term and made it their own.

Early marketers used the word brand in much the same way as the livestock owner –referring merely to the trademark, logo or slogan associated with the product. Nowadays brand is a lot harder to define. It is more intrinsic than extrinsic, and its value is in the position it holds in the consumers mind rather than the physical attributes of the product.

Although today’s brand is intangible, just like the livestock of earlier days, it is an asset and can have great value, contributing to the overall worth of the company that owns it. Marketing managers who invest in developing their brand, create and build customer loyalty. This in turn creates demand and allows for higher margins – exactly what most producers are looking for.

Customers like brands because they believe they know what to expect from them. It makes choice easier and the consumer feels knowledgeable and more secure. This is particularly important in complex buying scenarios. [read more – Branding by Jane Delorie – 111K – PDF]

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Positioning

PERCEPTION IS EVERYTHING

In marketing, positioning has come to mean the process by which marketers try to create an image or identity in the minds of their target market for its product, brand, or organization.“ ~WIKIPEDIA

While branding and positioning are closely related they are very different animals. Branding is the place your company or product occupies in the mind of your customer. It is the emotional connection your customer has with your organization and as such belongs to the consumer even though you make have make great efforts to inform and shape it.

Positioning is what you own and control. It is the way you want your organisation or product to be perceived, relative to the needs of your target customers and the positions claimed by your competition. It is developed by you and it is up to you to communicate it to your audience. Good positioning is:

  • simple
  • focused
  • unique / differentiating (two objects cannot occupy the same space)
  • better to be first than best
  • translates into clever “tag lines”

[read more – Positioning by Jane Delorie – 120K – PDF]

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Mentoring

FOSTERING BENEFICIAL RELATIONSHIPS

In its general form the mentoring partnership is an agreement between two people, sharing experiences and expertise to help with personal and professional growth. Usually a mentor is someone of substantial experience, talent, or professional standing, who nurtures the career of a mentee.

There are many types of mentoring relationships, the following are just a few examples:

Informal mentoring is probably the most commonly known mode and typically takes the form of a senior giving the benefit of experience and acting as a role model. Such mentors usually have significant personal experience as managers although this may or may not be in the same field as the mentee.

Supervisory mentors are often line managers who share valuable information about the organization and provide meaningful work and developmental learning opportunities. They expose employees to the values of the organization and help employees position themselves with the skills necessary for the job.

Situational mentoring is the right help at the right time. It is built around spontaneous connections and offers just enough help to solve a particular problem or uncover a hidden talent.

Formal mentoring is usually a short-term relationship, based on clearly defined skills or behavioural issues. Here mentors use current situations to examine recurrent patterns and help the mentee explore their way of handling issues allowing them to gain insights and self-awareness.

The key to any successful mentoring relationship is for both parties to recognize and respect each other’s strengths and differences. Mentoring should be more than just an informal chat every so often. At the outset of the mentoring relationship both parties must clarify expectations and roles, establish clear goals and set out a mentoring action plan. [read more – Mentoring by Jane Delorie – 170K – PDF]

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Networking

FOSTERING BENEFICIAL RELATIONSHIPS

Networking is about creating a fabric of personal contacts that will provide you with support, feedback, insight, resources and information when needed. Successful leaders do not become successful all on their own – they learn to rely on others to help them achieve their goals. In the words of the Harvard Business Review, ‘Successful leaders have a nose for opportunity and a knack for knowing whom to tap to get things done. These qualities depend on a set of strategic networking skills that non-leaders rarely possess.’

In today’s professional and business circles, networking is an essential skill for successful leadership. Despite this, many managers still shy away from networking, claiming it is a waste of time that could be better spent on the operational part of their work, what they consider their “real job”. Others simply believe that networking is a polite form of exploitation that lacks sincerity. They believe all their efforts should be focused on “what they know” and not on “who they know” and find networking ethically distasteful thus want no part in it. Still others just can’t be bothered and consider networking work they should best avoid. [read more – Networking by Jane Delorie – 139K – PDF]

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