How I Love Twitter, Let Me Count The Ways

When I first joined Twitter, I did not see the full value. I got on because a good friend of mine and early adopter, Jim Reynolds, told me about this new service. I started following some of my former coworkers and it was almost like a constant conversation between us five or six individuals.

Fast forward to last night, I went to the 2nd annual Twestival held in Rochester, NY. This made me look back over the past year or so since the first Twestival and evaluate what value Twitter has had on my life and I would like to share that with you.

  1. Crowd Sourcing and Knowledge Sharing- Once I started looking into increasing the value of my Twitter experience, I found out that other people were willing to connect and share information and experiences. I started following subject matter experts and thought leaders on topics that were interesting to me. I then started to post my own content, or link to interesting articles to share with others. The biggest benefit was able to directly ask questions, and get answers, from many people. Most of whom I have never met.
  2. Growing My Community- At the first Twestival that I attended, Chaz Broersma showed me this unique tool called TweetDeck. I have been using it ever since. The first group I created was a Rochester, NY group which allowed me to keep track of all of the people from my area. I started following many people from my city and looked for ways to engage and start conversations. I now call a majority of these individuals in the Rochester TweetDeck column friends.
  3. Create Online Relationships and Take Them Offline- Twitter has provided me with a powerful online networking tool. I have been able to meet many more people that I would have not met otherwise. I have made it a point to get out to Social Media Club of Rochester meetings and have coffee or lunch with many others whom I have met online. This kind of goes with the last point, but I think that this is important to find opportunities to make face-to-face connections.
  4. Establish a Personal Brand- One of the first people outside of Rochester that I started to follow was Dan Schawbel. Following him lead me to be conscious of my personal brand and helped me realize that using Twitter is a great way to establish my own brand. Twitter has helped with my search rankings for my own name, but also puts content next to my name as well.
  5. How To Develop a Pull Marketing Strategy- If you are marketing anything on Twitter, you can not use a push marketing technique. I am a business development professional, and I use Twitter at times to market things that I am working on. I mentioned in a few of my other posts how I use LinkedIn for biz dev (Part I, Part II). I also use Twitter to follow prospects of interest, and engage them in conversation. I quickly learned that if you are shouting on Twitter, you are not adding value and will get ignored quickly.

This is just a small list. Perhaps I will do a follow up post on other things that I have learned from Twitter in the past year. I’m interested in what others have learned; feel free to leave a comment to let me know.

What Sports Taught Me About Sales

Growing I always played sports. From tee-ball and Vince Lombardi (a.k.a. Pop Warner) all the way up through college where I played four years of lacrosse. Little did I know at the time, but all the time spent practicing and playing games has helped to prepare myself for a career in sales. The dedication, the camaraderie, the shared vision and goals, are necessary in both sports and sales.

So I wanted to share with where I think I was able to leverage my athletic upbringing into a successful career in sales.

  • You Snooze, You Lose: This was my motto for lacrosse. I never picked up a lacrosse stick until I was a sophomore in high school. I spent countless hours standing behind the brick church across the street playing catch against a wall. My fear was that if I was not working, someone else was. This is the same mentality for sales. If you are not working on a prospect, someone else is. If you’re not practicing your craft to get better, someone else is. Sales is a competition, the best sales person gets promoted, gets more money, gets a raise, so it’s always time to work.
  • Practice Makes Perfect: I could not imagine going into a football game in high school without practicing. Sure, we could draw plays in the dirt, but how long would that really work? Practice makes perfect with sales as well. At one point in my career, I spent an entire week memorizing a presentation so that I could talk to the presentation without it looking rehearsed. Many hours were spent in front of a mirror with a voice recorder in order to effectively practice this presentation. The end result was an increase in sales.
  • There is no “I” in “Team”, but there is a “Me”: My father, who coached me all through youth football, always used the acronym for TEAM; Together Everyone Achieves More. When you are playing in a team sport, this is very true. But there is also a “me” element. If you do not try your best, then the team suffers.  I was once in a position where the bonus structure was based on personal performance, office performance, and the company as a whole. Under this compensation plan, it was imperative for everyone to work as a team as much as possible. Different sales people have different strengths; do not be afraid to call in some help if needed.
  • Underclassman look up to Upperclassman: When I decided to go to college and play lacrosse, it was comforting to know that I had upperclassman to help me in my transition. These guys taught me what to expect when it came to pre-season, practice, and games. I looked up to these guys as they have already been there, knew what to expect, and had the ability to teach me.  I have been on both sides of this interaction in my sales career. There have been times where the senior sales reps have been gracious to lend a hand and have helped ease the transition into a new position. On the other hand, one time I had senior sales reps blow me off, and tell me that I do not have enough industry experience, and that they could not help me. Guess which one lead to a better working relationship? I’m sure it’s not that hard to figure out!

I’m sure that there are more similarities between sports and sales. I just wanted to share a few that I truly believe in.

If you have some other similarities between sports and sales, I invite you to share them.

Maximize Shareholder Wealth or Corporate Social Responsibility?

Today I went back to the Rochester Institute of Technology E. Philip Saunders College of Business for a panel discussion on the ethical implications on “Maximizing Shareholder Wealth” that was put on by the Graduate Management Association. I initially went back to see some old friends, professors, and staff, but I walked out with my mind running. I wanted to share this experience with all of you and get you thinking as well.

The first class that I took when I was getting my MBA was an accounting course. The professor told us time and time again that the goal of any company is to maximize shareholder wealth. This statement was drilled into our minds and was even a question on the midterm. This seems pretty simple to understand. A business would not be started unless there were profits to be gained by entering the market. The business’s goal, in turn, is to generate as much profit as it can, thereby maximizing the shareholders wealth.

One of the last classes that I took was on the topic of Business, Government and Society. In this class we looked at the macroeconomic and microeconomic approach to how a business is run and how the government and society also plays a role in the corporate decision making process. Fifty years ago, any corporate donation, whether in-kind or monetary, would have been deemed as having direct negative effect on the shareholders’ wealth. The rise of Corporate Social Responsibility and the Triple Bottom Line truly reflects a change in thinking that a corporation has a responsibility to more than just his shareholders.

This is where the discussion got interesting. One professor used an example from a national retailer that had a mission statement that was focused on providing a better life for its customers. On the other hand, this national retailer also just shut down 10 distribution centers because of under productivity. Now this has a direct impact on society with the loss of hundreds, if not thousands of jobs, and the resulting drop in spending due to the lay offs. On the other hand, this also provides a way for a business to right size and maximizes shareholder wealth in the long run. Interestingly enough, you never see a company’s mission statement that states: “Our goal is to make our owners rich by increasing the stock price.”

So what is the point that I am getting to here? I am not exactly sure. I think that the topic of discussion is very timely and could result in some very high level thinking.

What are your thoughts on this topic? I would love to hear from you!

Time Is Not Money in Your Job Search

“Time is money.” We have heard this saying many times over. However, when out of work, time is not money. While in the process of looking for a new position, time is not revenue, it is an investment. This investment is called sweat equity. Sweat equity is the time spent adding value to a project or business. Using this analogy, a job search can be (and should be) looked at as starting a business.

Photo Cred:

If you are unemployed, your job is looking for one. You are the CEO, CMO, and CFO all wrapped into one. Just like any business, job seekers need to create a strategy, goals, and objectives. This part of the search takes time; this is your sweat equity. Talk to any business owner, and they will tell you that they put a lot of sweat equity into starting their business, but they will also tell you that they also had to invest capital.

Many people looking for a new position do not invest capital into their job search. Sweat equity is built spending hours on job boards, applying to positions via job sites, going to career fairs and networking events. These methods worked when unemployment was low, but in the current conditions, this is not enough. Job seekers need to invest in their job search.

I have gone to many personal branding presentations. I have also given many presentations on this topic myself. One common tip that presenters give is to buy your own domain name. Most, however, do not tell the individuals in the audience what to do once it is purchased. So here are some tips that I have used, and have given me some great results while looking for a new position.

  1. Build your own web page- Businesses have a web page, why shouldn’t you. A website is your online marketing brochure. It tells people who you are, what your interests are, what skills you have. It also provides you another way to market your personal value proposition (unique value proposition, elevator speech, whatever you want to call it). This is also a great way to use key words and your name to help you rank higher in search results. For a minimal cost, there are many hosting companies that can provide a tool that will help you get started. Cost: around $50.00
  2. Start a blog- If the position that you are going for would require you to write, why are you not writing? Blogging is a great way to get your name out and there are many cost effective ways to start a blog. Free tools like WordPress and Blogger would allow you to set up a blog at no cost. I would recommend using a hosted blog that would allow the blog to be under the domain name that you purchased, rather than using a “” URL. Hosted Blog Cost: around $50.00
  3. Create your own email- This is probably the most important part. Why would you go through the investment of getting your own domain name and then continue to use a Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail email account? Why help these companies extend their brand when your email can become a great marketing tool for you? Sending an email from “” shows recruiters that you have invested time in your search. This may also lead them to look at the website or blog that you set up since they see the domain name in your email. Most companies will set up one email address with the purchase of the domain name. Cost: free

Personally, these tips have helped me in my job search. In fact, 75%-80% of the interviews I go on, the interviewer mentions my website. I hope that these tips can help you in your job search and personal branding.

Why Customer Service is Important for Business Development

Sales is no longer about the transaction, it is about the relationship. Customer Service is no longer about solving problems; it is about enhancing the relationship. A good biz dev person should also have great customer service skills. Customer service can also lead to good business development opportunities.

Photo Cred: jm3

Every day that I am on Twitter or Facebook, I see people either praising or condemning companies for issues that they are having. If a person has a negative experience with a company, they no longer just tell their immediate contacts, they will extend their reach by using social sites. I have done it before, I am sure that you (the reader) may have done this in the past too.

Whether you are selling B2B or B2C, it is important to develop rapport with every person you meet. One bad experience may not lead to a letter written to your superior, but may be posted on Facebook or Twitter. The reach of this message could be worst if others comment or re-tweet the message. The results, even if minor, could have a lasting effect since they are now published on the web.

Some companies have great customer service running through their veins, look at Wegmans as an example. Wegmans culture is focused on the consumer, giving them what they want. I have watched Wegmans use social media to enhance their reach using Twitter. Rachel Barnhart of 13 WHAM just did a great piece on this. The outcome is that Wegmans’ social media team has been able to create negative experiences into positive ones. The result is many people thanking Wegmans for their help, which appeals to other consumers as this level of customer support enhances the “Wegmans experience.”

Even without the social media aspect of customer service, it is imperative to build a relationship with your customers. People buy from people they like, building a relationship with your customers is the best way to retain the business and get them to buy from you again. This does not just extend to sales or biz dev people, but service reps as well. So on your next call or client meeting; make sure to take interest in the buyer, influencer, and gatekeeper. Take notes, take a lot of notes and ask them questions about themselves and their business.

Have you had a bad experience with a company and posted it to your Facebook page or Twitter account? What was the result? I would like to hear your stories

Thank You From The Top Of Rochester!

I was driving home earlier today and I thought it would be great to do a quick video post from Cobbs Hill. The sun was out (actually right in my eyes) and snow was on the ground. I wanted to thank you all for reading my blog.

The Biz Dev Side of LinkedIn; Part II

In my first post on The Biz Dev Side of Linked In, I wrote about the ability to use LinkedIn search to find out who you should be looking to connect with and how you can use the information posted to create a relationship. Now, in this post, I will explain other methods of using this great social media and connection tool to drive your business development efforts forward.

LinkedIn allows people to join groups and professional associations right from their own computer. No need to go out to networking events, conversations and networking opportunities take place every day. As a sales professional, it is imperative to join groups that can help execute the business development strategy of the organization.

Many people on LinkedIn join alumni associations, or employer run groups. The real benefit comes from joining groups and associations related to the industry that you are selling into. Within these groups, conversations are taking place, conversations where you may be able to add value and gain exposure. These conversations will assist in letting you know the “pain points” that your target buyers are having. If you are able to provide assistance, that person may end up buying from you!

Joining these groups also provides another great benefit, increasing your prospect list. A quick view of the group members provides sales professionals with the ability to identify prospects, determine if they are a decision maker or influencer, and see if he or she is active in group discussions. Even more important, it provides a way to send a message directly to the prospect. Just be careful to abide by any rules in the group, and to make sure that the messages are conversational. Remember, building a relationship is more important than going right for the sale the first time.

I hope that this information is helpful. I would appreciate the feed back. As always, if you have any examples of how these tips have helped, please leave a comment. (On a side note, these tools also are valuable for job seekers as well)

Happy hunting!

The Biz Dev Side of LinkedIn; Part I

First and foremost, I am a salesman at heart. I can recite line after line from movies like Boiler Room and Glengarry Glen Ross, and yet I have never seen one episode of Mad Men. Now I do not endorse the ethical implications in either movie mentioned above, but I do appreciate the hunter mentality, the endless cold calls, and the numerous “no thank you” responses that salespeople get as they get closer to the one “Yes”.

Photo Cred: MarkHillary

LinkedIn has changed this process tremendously. Salespeople no longer have to go through endless conversations with gatekeepers to find out who they need to talk to; instead a quick LinkedIn search will provide the name and title of the person he or she is trying to reach. This changes the game dramatically. No more getting forwarded to a voicemail so that the name of the person can be recorded so it can be used at a later date. Instead, the persons name can be used on the first call, as long as the research is done ahead of time.

LinkedIn provides much more information than the name and title. People usually include past companies, professional associations, and where they went to college on their LinkedIn profile. There may be a mutual contact that can help make an introduction or something that can be a conversation starter.

Let me provide one specific example from my past. I saw on LinkedIn that the person I was talking to went to Hartwick College. When I was looking at colleges I took an overnight visit to Hartwick as I was being recruited to play lacrosse. At the end of a long night I went with some members of the team to get “cold cheese pizza”. I forgot the name of the establishment, but they took a hot slice of pizza from the oven and put a handful of cold mozzarella on it. As the call was going south, I mentioned the fact that I was familiar with Hartwick and my favorite part of my visit was the cold cheese pizza. The call took a complete 180 and I was able to move forward in the sales process with that contact. I am sure that I would not have even had a second call if I did not do my research.

Social media is a powerful prospecting tool. Look for specific contacts and find ways to relate with individuals that you plan on contacting before the call.

What examples do you have about using social media in the sales process? How has it changed your prospecting methods?

Social Media Is The New Green

Social media is the new green. Just like many companies jumped on the “environmentally friendly” workplace bandwagon a few years ago, many companies are doing the same for social media. However, social media is not as easy as putting a few blue bins around the office and adding a footer at the end of your email that asks not to print it.

I have spoken to numerous companies about social media, and my favorite comment is one that I have heard many times over, “We have a Facebook fan page and a Twitter account, we are fine.” Usually, the “we are fine” part was said with a little apprehension. I would usually follow this up with a question about how they got started.

I was surprised to learn that many companies called their youngest employees together, gathered them in a meeting room and picked their brain on social media. I could never come to understand how the new graduate from accounting, the sales guy that’s been out of school for two years, the girl from marketing with the iPhone, the recent MBA with a finance background, and the marketing director of 20 years can develop an effective social media campaign. The outcome of this would be a social media plan that has no strategy, goals, or objectives.

Social media is not as easy as instituting a company wide recycling program. It is more like looking at methods of energy reduction. You would not have the pimpled face noob from accounting look at different types of green energy, why would you let him design your social media plan?

What do you think is the best way to design a social media plan? Should companies rely on the knowledge of younger workers because they may use social sites for personal use?

How 2009 Changed My Life

So, my first blog post. I have to admit, I am pretty excited. I have had a few people tell me that I should start blogging on my own, so I have followed their advice and here we are!

As I start to prepare myself for 2010, I have realized many things in my life have changed. For instance, I realized the value of education and went back to school to get my MBA. I enrolled in a fast track MBA course which allowed me to complete my studies in 363 days. Yes, you read that correctly, 363 days. This decision has made a HUGE difference in my life. Let me explain how this one, single decision has changed my life all together.

First of all, I now look at the big picture for both my personal and professional life. I no longer live in the moment, focusing on what I want in the next three to six months. Instead, my focus is on the long-term. The same goes for my professional life. I no longer focus on my assigned task in a silo, but I now take a more strategic approach by looking at the corporate objectives as a whole.

Secondly, I found the real value of networking, both online and in real life. Online sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn have allowed me to make stronger connections not only in Rochester, but nationwide. The value that I have sought has changed tremendously. I went from a young man that is always looking to find people that can help me. Within the past year, I have found that looking for ways to help others is not only more rewarding, but a great way to create new relationships with people I would not have otherwise interacted with.

The last thought I will leave you with is the importance of continual self-education. I must read between 25-30 different blogs on a daily basis; each one teaching me new and exciting things that I can use in my daily life. The environment is constantly changing, and if you stand still, it will pass you by without a flinch.

I wish you all the best in 2010 and thank you for being a great friend!