Yes, Facebook Generates Referrals. How Does Your “Refer-ee” get the Gig?

Referrals on Facebook

Referrals on Facebook

 

“I need help! You got someone good?”

I see it happen every single day. Friends, people in community Facebook groups, posting pleas for help when they need a service provider or are interested in gathering opinions on a choice of products.

Why do people do this?

Well, instead of calling your 15 most insightful friends, or aimlessly Googling unknown business names, isn’t is easier to gain attention of all those people with one post? And people LOVE to help, especially when it is easy. Paste URL or email, submit. Boom. Helped a buddy in need and possibly got my friend some business in under 3 seconds!

Why does it work?

I trust my friends. I trust my business partners. I trust my family. When they respond with a referral, I listen. If they have a quick anecdote of success preceding it, even better.

What happens next?

This is the less considered question. I see referral activity every day on Facebook, rarely do I see a “Who did you go with?”, or “Did you get your problem resolved?” and I’ve NEVER heard someone say “How can I help my friend get the business when I refer them on social media?” Tweet This Well here’s that next step, because understanding the thought process that typically takes a millisecond or two, will help you help them.

Facebook Post on Mac WoesRecently I posted my own woes with a service provider request on Facebook. My Facebook post generated 17 referrals for small business owners in my local area within an hour of my question.Tweet This This time, I decided to remain highly aware of my own thought process as I reviewed responses & ultimately chose one.

My first filter as I looked at the comments:

  1. The trust & relationship currency I had with that friend.
  2. The proximity of the service provider to my home (I found it interesting that this was indicated a few times in the comments, which is helpful, thank you).

Now for the real decision making:

  1. Enter Google. Typed in the name of the person or business.
  2. If they had no website OR LinkedIn profile- off the list.
    If they had only a LinkedIn profile that lacked an image or recent content- off the list.
  3. Who won? The person who was clearly a solid expert in the field, quick concise website home page indicating services, exceptional list of services.

So yes, this is why I advise people to do this for a living, because this happens. As shocking as it may be even to me, when it comes to this stuff, I am like most people!

How can you help your friends get business when you refer them?

1. Tell your business owner friend to make sure their LinkedIn profile is up to date, and when they do, pop THAT url into the Facebook comments section where you are recommending them. Make it easy for the person in need to get right to the point.

2. Tell your business owner friend to update their website, and if they don’t have one, at least get a polished one pager up with relevant, recent experience and testimonials. It’s so easy these days!  Look at sites like Wix, Weebly or Moonfruit.

3. Also keep in mind that for everyone asking for a referral, there are several more in need. It is highly likely that someone else watching the thread also needs that kind of help.  An outsider is much more likely to click to go visit a website or LinkedIn profile than hang onto an unknown person’s name and email address to use at a later date.

Any more thoughts on how to best help a referral get business? Share in the comments!

Breaking Best Practice as Brand Building

If you follow me on Facebook or have seen me speak, you know I like to share lessons in best practice and typical “dos and don’ts” around using social media successfully. One topic I find very important is the use of photos in social media profiles.

Too many people still do not have a picture of themselves on their LinkedIn profile, and it really is of utmost importance these days. More than likely, if you don’t have a photo, the viewer who found you will move onto the next profile if they can’t see your smiling face along with all those great credentials.

So, what if you can’t afford a professional headshot? Well, you really don’t need to hire a professional photographer. I’m sure you already know how easy it is these days to get a professional looking picture in a relevant setting with your mobile device. Make sure you have great lighting, and you can easily get a usable headshot. You want to avoid the following:

1. Using a picture where you look great but your ex’s elbow or shoulder is still making an appearance.

2. Using a picture so outdated when a prospect meets you, they aren’t sure it is you.

3. Party pictures including beverages, bar backgrounds or other people.

4. Vacation pictures or other images that may be featuring a beautiful background instead of you as the feature.

5. Animals, unless you are in the pet industry.

But wait- what about exceptions to the rule?

Absolutely! I was recently working with a client and her story of earning business from someone who found her online was a great example of why breaking best practice can sometimes be a brand booster.

Libby Proctor, Acupuncturist and owner of Azara Health and Wellness was very excited to share news that a new client had found her via a Google search.

When she asked what stood out to him when selecting her, he said that in addition to her story and experience, her picture looked very warm, welcoming, and that he was a dog lover. He appreciated that her photo also showcased her love for dogs.

So, does this warrant “breaking the rules”? I think so! Your brand is a reflection of you as a person as well as a business owner. What characteristics of your personality will engage your target audience and provide rapport builders to those who will be excited about working with you?

Relevance is important. Libby also knows how beneficial the pets in your life can be to your mental and emotional well being. She also can speak to Traditional Chinese Medicine as an alternative to heal the little furry loved ones in your life when in need.

So, go ahead and break the rules! Just make sure it is done in good taste, with relevance, and in a way that represents your brand.

How do I Find my Own LinkedIn Activity?

After my latest LinkedIn training class via Dabble, I was happy to see that my students were picking up their activity by doing status updates! I love to see people implement their new ideas.

Next, came the question- where do I see my own LinkedIn activity? Great question! We are used to seeing the LinkedIn activity of our connections going by on our feed, but what if we want to see a trail of our own? Below is my response to that question captured with a screenshot.

Note that you will not only see your latest status updates, but your most recent activity that your connections may have seen on their newsfeed. So this will include status updates you have liked, commented on, shared, new connections & profile updates you have made, etc. Have any other questions like this? Click below and share in the comments of the Facebook post!

Post by Soaring Solutions, LLC.

People Have Questions. People Trust Friends. Friends Like to Help. Facebook Works.

It amazes me how often I still hear “but Facebook is just for kids, I’m not wasting my time there.” Sure, back in the day, it was a platform of drunken frat photos, farm animals & angry birds, interactions using acronyms some of us couldn’t understand and never thought we’d use (..but do now, admit it).

Today, it truly is a powerful platform for brands and building an entrepreneurial foundation. What looks like childsplay is the painful history still in your mind, or what you see on your newsfeed (or child’s newsfeed) if that is your experience with it. There are many rooms, let’s open some new doors!

Times have changed, and if you aren’t using Facebook in some capacity, I tell you assuredly, you are behind. Companies from Fortune 100 to the local business down the street are amplifying their brand, getting leads, referrals & business on social media every single minute.

Facebook is only a suprising 2nd to LinkedIn for Attorneys getting leads on social media.* Why? Primary referral based business.

People have questions. People trust their friends. Friends like to help.

I’m quite certain client/vendor matches were made via these Facebook posts requesting solid business referrals. If that client is happy, they’ll tell their friends. Not the one friend on the phone, but the 600 on Facebook. Then more will come. It happens every day.

Referral examples from Facebook

Want numbers? I know, I like ’em too.

Stats on social media site users OVER 35!**

LinkedIn – 75%
Facebook – 65%
Twitter – 55%
Pinterest – 63%
Hmmmm, 65% of over 1 billion is… who cares!!

And we didn’t even talk brand pages here… Trix are still for kids. Facebook is now for everyone. (But I admittedly like Lucky Charms as a treat every now and again.)

Don’t worry, if you feel behind now, I can help you catch up!

Stat via www.rainmakerinstitute.com
**Stats via http://royal.pingdom.com/2012/08/21/report-social-network-demographics-in-2012/

A Lesson in Time Management & Prioritization From a Month of Pain & Suffering

OK, a little dramatic, but it sure felt that way! And I have an extremely high pain tolerance, so I can assure you, my entry into 2013 was most unpleasant. Now, since I always seek out the silver linings & lessons, I have some insights to share with you. Because, hey- you’ve gotta make it all worth something besides lost whiny time, right?

Like for example- After an hour of digging through every tissue & food item I’d used in 3 days of garbage to find my lost keys, I was grateful my sinus infection had stolen my sense of smell.

The grander gratefulness & lesson I share now however, is the realization that I have more time than I thought. LOADS. And I know you do too. It’s how we manage it. Isn’t that exciting!

Most days I work from early am into the wee hours (yes, that’s got to stop). But that’s the life of an early stage entrepreneur. What the last 5 weeks have reminded me is that I need to recalibrate on time management and that the expectations I have of myself are ridiculous. Sound familiar?

Where does this renewed awareness come from?

In short, after 3 weeks of painful surgery recovery, I was met with the worst sinus infection in the history of the world (yeah, I know, but that’s how it felt) the week following my return to near normalcy. During this time which included holidays, a move & lawsuit dealings (I’m the good guy), priorities shifted by force & I had many days of accomplishing big fat 0 because I simply couldn’t function. As a solo business owner, this is living hell. I’m sure many of you can relate.

I had to cancel client appointments.
I forgot stuff.
I couldn’t bear sound or the light of my laptop or iPhone. (Turned them both off, guess what, I lived!)
Some emails went unanswered for 48 hours.
Normally such things are completely unacceptable to me.

My fear sense kicks in – OMG my business will fail if I’m in this condition another day!

Well, I am not writing this blog from a box so that didn’t happen. I did, however, have a big light bulb smack me in the head. A bulb that’s always there, but turns off every now & again. So I write this in hopes it may turn others back on without the smack.

After 5 weeks of functioning at around 10-30% of my normal productivity, no client has left me, they don’t hate me for taking too long (my definition) to email them back. I actually even got a few more because they were still referring me.

When our life is uprooted, our prioritization skills go into an auto-pilot mode. You do only what you absolutely must to persist. Our instinct to protect & nurture ourselves or another, automatically takes priority over things we often feel compelled to do but aren’t as important. That, or simply a physical inability to do anything but just be still…

What if our prioritization practice always had an emergency mode? If you knew that for the next few weeks, you only had 30 minutes to be productive in a day, and then you’d shut down, what would you do? What are those income producing activities that absolutely must happen, to no exception?

What distractions would you resist as if they were intruders in your home to get that list done?

That’s your A list.

Then list everything else in similar chunks, those are your B, C, and on lists.

Now, time-block your schedule around these prioritization categories. I’m not saying don’t do B & C. Rather, it’s about focusing over multi-tasking. It’s about high payoff vs busy work.

Solely focus on “A“ without thinking about B or C until you are cleared for it. Block the intruders! You’ll find you have a ton more time for B & C when you get there. And, for YOU!

Oh yeah, and turn the damn TV off! When I hear someone say “I just don’t have time for “insert more income producing or health boosting activity here”!” And they’ve just told me about how great the 5 different TV series’ they watch every night are, I want to smack a person, and not with a light bulb. Reality check (not show) below…

“We need to focus. The average American watches 4 hours of TV per day. Over your lifetime that equates to 13 years, people! The cost to you is over $2 Million in lost wages. And if that money were invested, a way greater sum.” ~ Brendon Burchard

Share in the comments your tips for time management and prioritization, and finding your YOU time!

1. photo credit: demandaj via photopin cc 2. photo credit: inju via photopin cc

Why I Love Twitter for Customer Support

I’ve had many opportunities lately, with a move and other business related service changes or issues, to test out our many modes of customer service alternatives. I continue to have best success with Twitter. Why? A few rants and results:

1. Comcast Internet. I move, literally out one door & in the next, same building. They tell me my address doesn’t exist. Really? My last 2 years with Comcast internet in this unit were a dream? Finally get appointment, “someone will call first”, no one does. Phone calls and chats, I’m still using internet through the wall in my apartment for 2 weeks.

Move to Twitter- @ComcastWill to the rescue, escalates me to executive support. Shantae calls me immediately, admits Comcast screwed up, simply needed to add my new unit number to the database. Back in business!

Twitter: 2 days to technicians & live internet. A credit for my woes.
Phone and Chat: 2 weeks of irritation, no resolutions or follow up.

2. Adobe. I use an annual service. Going to update my CC info I realize they billed me at 6 months instead of 12 last year. I call, listen to bad music for 30 minutes. Go to chat while I wait. A paraphase of a chat that went from kind to livid.

Blah blah blah, about 30 minutes in, the pleasantries end…

Me: Let’s break it down. I paid for 2 years, I’ve had it for 1.5, you should not bill me again or give me 6 months credit against this bill to sync up the cycle.
Adobe: But you have 2.
Me: Yes, but 2 is 2 years, it has been 1.5 years since my account inception. I am one person with one account, one login.
Adobe: But then why did you pay for 2?
Me: Because you charged my card on file.
Adobe: But you have 2 so we billed you for two. (What?!)

(more circles, skip ahead….)

Me: Just give me a credit for 6 months and I’ll up my subscription again.
Adobe: We can’t, the system won’t allow it.
Me: You tell me your billing system doesn’t allow credits?
Adobe: No it is not possible.
Me: yes it does, I had a career in building these systems. Please escalate my issue as you are unable to help me.
Adobe: No it is not possible.

And it went on until the 5th time I asked to be escalated and they told me they wouldn’t be able to help me either.

For the love of all that is sane!!! I built and managed customer service programs for over a decade. Anyone that reported to me will assure you, I understood their pain, the thick skin it takes to be on that phone or chat, the crazy nutjobs that call and swear at them at will. I am kind to customer service people. But after an hour of this nonsense I resorted to: “FOR CHRIST SAKE STOP REPEATING YOURSELF AND IGNORING THE LOGIC. YOU DON’T GET IT AND CLEARLY CAN’T HELP ME. I’VE ASKED FOR ESCALATION 5 TIMES NOW WHY WON’T YOU!”

He finally says someone will call me but won’t be able to do anything. End chat. The survey I am promised miraculously does not appear.

Now I need a ginormous glass of wine. Next day. Twitter. BOOM:

Twitter: Resolved in moments. Someone even called to make sure the credit hit my card.
Phone and Chat: Over 2 hours combined waiting for phone & dealing with chat insanity. Driven to drink. No resolution and failed promised follow up.

Now, I’m thrilled Twitter resolves with such ease. My greater question is however- why is it the Twitter team trained so differently than the phone team or the chat team? Should I have to announce my woes to the world of social media to get the service I deserve? Or are they so segmented that one team truly has no idea what the other is doing? Are they trained by drastically different management teams who have completely different policies and procedures? My interpretation of their training is this:

Twitter Team: Help the customer, make it quick and easy.
Phone/Chat Team: Hold on to every last dime the company has, resist the customer, refuse to help them, they probably need our software and can’t afford to leave us anyway. Frustrate them into submission!

I love how social media has brought more options to consumers, but there is clearly a need for more internal centralization of policy and training of staff to leave both sides content at the end of the discussion AND save both sides money and grief.

Have you experienced a Twitter support success? Share your experience in the comments!

LinkedIn Media Links are Live! Or Coming To Your Profile Soon

In the latest LinkedIn release, you can now add media links: files, images AND video, to your profile, under each segment. The caveat: If you had media on your profile before, you have the ability to use this now. If you did not have media on your profile before, you may not have had this portion of the update rolled out to you yet. Don’t fret, LinkedIn has you on the radar!

Feel free to take a look at my profile for examples of media in both the summary and experience sections. Here is a quick snapshot- while in Profile Edit mode, look for that square button in the middle. Once there, just add the URLs to your media rich content, and you’ve got a savvy profile featuring your great works and insights!

I’ll be sharing a how-to video on my membership site shortly!

Twitter Loves Visual Media Too!

As many of you already know, statistics show great results in the use of visual images, photography or video, in social media. Often people think this rule only applies to blogs, Facebook or Google Plus because of their presentation format.

What not as many realize the similar power that visual media can add to Twitter. “But Twitter is so small”! You say? In characters, yes… But Twitter has changed their user interface over the years, and also, keep in mind, there are many ways someone can view a Twitter feed. Here are some examples of how Tweets show up on different sites and in different formats.

1. I’ll start with a tip: As much as I LOVE Hootsuite, I must stray from it every now and again. Here is why – this is what Tweets look like in Hootsuite- Your standard Twitter handle, hashtags, links, etc. Great! But you need to be intrigued by the copy to click.

2. See that Tweet above from @BridgesCourt mentioning me with a link? Well it looks very different on my iPhone. One tap and I’m on YouTube watching a video!

3. Same idea with uploading pictures to Twitter. Here is one from Tim Ferriss, author of the 4 Hour Work Week, viewed on my iPhone. If you see the picture he references by the way, it should be reported!

4. What if you are the web on good ol’ Twitter.com? This first screen shot is a stream of Tweets. Notice where it allows you to click for more. Depending on the content you’ll see, expand, view summary, view photo, view media.

5. And when you click “view photo”, well, there it is!

So, always remember that if you are trying to create a strong presence on Twitter, to go beyond the quotes, articles, tips and such. Those things are great for Twitter, but keep that visual content coming on Twitter as well so you find ways to creatively stand out. At the end of the day, all social media love good, genuine, creative, insightful content.

Now, go Tweet something visually enticing!

The New Social Media Education & Our Future Leaders

I just had an experience that took me back to college, and pondering what I learned, who I learned from, and the people I had access to that would lead my future path.

While I look back fondly at the experience, I did not have a role model I looked to for career planning. I went to college for, and did what, I thought I was supposed to do. And followed suit for 16 long years…

As guest lecturer for one of the first Social Media Marketing Programs at the MBA level, led by the reknown JD Gershbein at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, I learned a lot about the power of social media.

Yes, I learned about social media from that room of students, and I am excited!

I am excited for our future; how social media is enabling our future leaders, educators and entrepreneurs.

They were in that room and they were eager. Soaking in all they could about the research, career and relationship building power at their fingertips. Asking insightful questions and engaging with zest.

LinkedIn did not exist when I graduated college, but even as it grew in popularity several years into my career, I never would have considered I had the “permission” to connect to a CEO, business owner, speaker or educator. I didn’t even know what an entrepreneur was let alone that I had a choice to be one! I probably thought it would be an accompaniment to an expensive dinner.

“Yes, I’ll have an entrepreneur with my filet please, on the side…”

After my session, I came home to a series of Tweets, Facebook and LinkedIn connection requests from a roomful of mostly 20 somethings.

This is an enormous testament to how social media can accelerate the process of relationship, mentoring and shaping the future. JD is leading a powerful charge with his curriculum and empowering his students to make connections, learn and network in a way historically would not have occurred unless someone lost a job and found themselves in search. (And sadly often, this mindset persists.)

A roomful of bright students sat before me, who know they have a choice to create the career of their choice with dedication and hard work. They are exploring and using the tools available to them to make connections they never would have had the technical or physical capability to make with such ease, not too many years ago.

Think of the acceleration in education, experience and networking social media is providing them! There is so much talk of the ‘entitlement’ generation. I saw none of this attitude here.

What I saw was excitement about future potential, understanding not only technology but best practice, strategy and application. A desire to create a life and career of choice with all the new creative options before them. How powerful!

The fact is, whether you like it or not, social media is here to stay and ever changing. What this generation undertands is that it will touch every facet of their professional life in the future. They embrace it. They are creating a future of choice with it. And they are eager to learn more about how they can use it for profession, advanced education, social cause, creative expression and more.

This type of empowerment provided to such youth is thrilling to me! I am excited for them, and us, as they begin to lead us through the next social media revolution.

Thank you JD for the opportunity to experience your students! And thank you Reyna Hoerdeman for joining us to give these amazing students another role model to look to for entrepreneurship and a future in social media!

Keep track of their journey & send them some Twitter inspiration at #IITMAC516

Sale Detractors: 3 Website Lessons from a Brick & Mortar Retail

Just like staging a home for selling property, there are key aspect of store design related to clutter, color, space and more that can create or kill sales – whether online or brick and mortar.

www.flickr.com/photos/associatedfabrication/3555244468/

During some window-shopping today, I entered a store out of curiosity- I compared it immediately upon entry to how a poorly designed website can kill your business.

I’d be willing to bet that if this store owner hired a solid retail design consultant, her story might end differently. Instead- she is selling everything off at a 65% discount in a desperate attempt to recoup funds before closing the doors. An all too common, sad story, that can be prevented!

If your website meets the downfalls of this store, it may just be why you aren’t selling product. In the online world, these same factors may be why you aren’t seeing ROI on product sales.

1. Overdone, excess color: As I entered, I feared a mega box of crayons had recently puked. It prevented me from focusing on any one item to find what may have appealed to me as a customer. It was distracting, and I didn’t know where to begin. There was no sense of organization, branding or intention with respect to color scheme.

2. Lack of consistency: Oh look, a dress, and there are some pants, next to a tank, next to a T-shirt, or no, maybe another dress? Is that for a child? Bounce rate just increased again… If your customer is confused, they will go elsewhere. Time is money. Don’t make them waste it. Make it easy for them, and they are more likely to share some of it with you.

3. Don’t hide your products: If it isn’t in front of your customer’s face, it won’t get sold. A dividing line of clothing created a barrier to the back 20% of retail space in this store. If not for my curiosity on this very point, I never would have ventured into this space. Beyond the divide, there hung several $1000’s worth of clothing, that typical human nature (aversion to crossing a perceived line) would prevent most from ever viewing. Feature your top products, and create a clear path to the others.

This is an example of why I don’t appreciate blanket stats like “90% of businesses fail in the first 3 years”… This doesn’t explain why, and thus, many avoid exploring a dream.

They fail because the business owner doesn’t take steps to identify what they don’t know, and then learn from someone who does. They fail because they stay in a comfort zone and don’t make changes. They fail because they don’t ask for help.

What can you do differently TODAY so you have a better story? Where can you ask for help, and invest wisely to improve your ROI?