What a Business Can No Longer Afford to Neglect

The Facebook post went something like this:

“I’m looking for a good eye doctor in [insert city].  Can anybody recommend one to me?”

Within a matter of minutes, the replies started flying in.  Having once lived in her city, I also contributed my own two cents.  The nice thing for the doctor that I recommended was that I was not alone in my suggestion…others had echoed the same sentiment about this really great individual and doctor.

I hope she chose him.  He really does rock.

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I bring this up to reinforce and to impress upon you the idea that social media is a powerful tool for not only communicating with your friends and family, but also for business owners.  This might be the “duh” moment of the hour, but there are still far too many businesses who just don’t understand the importance and relevance of social media.  It’s not just about SEO, it’s about WHO YOU ARE and HOW PEOPLE PERCEIVE YOUR BUSINESS.

Once upon a time, it might take me hours and days to get the word out about a business I really enjoy (or didn’t).  Now, due to my 800+ Facebook friends, 500+ Twitter followers, and near 400 LinkedIn connections, I can use my keyboard and mouse to transmit my thoughts and feelings to an audience of over 1,000.  Oh, and that’s at the minimum…those 1,000 can also turn around and share my thoughts with thousands of their own followers.

If you don’t think social media has changed the landscape of business, you might want to check back in with the 1990’s.  The game has been forever changed.

Business owners, entrepreneurs, and professionals – if you still haven’t done anything in the way of social media, allow me to offer these three quick suggestions:

1.)  Begin your social media presence.  Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are great starters.  Over time, think about incorporating YouTube, Pinterest, and maybe even Google+.

2.)  Don’t just start it, USE it.  Start posting content that will grab your viewers’ attention.  And don’t make it a constant barrage of “you” pieces hocking your wares and services.  Make the majority of your content about issues relevant to your audience.  (I recommend a 90/10 split when it comes to industry content vs. promotional content.)  Post at least once daily, but don’t vomit all over social media throughout the day.  Once is good for each platform.

3.)  Engage with your audience.  Listen to them, invite them to participate in dialogue (notice the word I used…in other words, make it a two-way street).  Make it about them, not about you.

And one last thought…if somebody offers a recommendation about you, please do the right thing and say thank you.  That alone can go a long way in getting repeat referrals.

Never, ever underestimate the power of social media for business.  Get active with it…or get left behind.

QUESTION:  If you have a social media presence as a business, how have you been successful in engaging your audience and have you increased sales as a result?  Reply with a comment below.

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How a 12 Year Old Sees Failure

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I had a conversation this evening with my fiancee’s 12-year old while on our drive home.  We talked about school and we talked about Doctor Who (our household’s latest obsession).  He’s the creative sort that likes to imagine and create, and he’s pretty sharp.  As a trainer at heart, I relish “teaching moments,” so I posed the question:

“Why is failure a good thing?”

Without missing a beat came his answer:

“Because that’s how you know where you have to improve and do better.”

My mind began to immediately race.  Was this something I had shared with him at a previous time, or was this wisdom he picked up elsewhere.  I decided to set my ego aside and bask in the fact that this young kid had grasped the concept that has escaped most adults.

We tend to believe that failure is both fatal and final; that it is something to be feared and is the proof of flaws within ourselves.  The reality is that nothing could be further from the truth.   Failure is the world’s built-in mechanism to tell us that something didn’t go right.  The problem for most is that we tend to stop the movie there and shut it off, rather than to rewind and review what went wrong and the to apply critical thinking into what adjustments can be made so that next time it’ll go right.

So as we continued down the road, I pointed out the light bulbs on the buildings and street lights around us.  I asked the boy if he knew how many times it took Edison to invent the light bulb.

“About one thousand.”  He, at least, knew how the story went.

So I ask you this: which will you do when confronted with the notion that something didn’t go as planned.  Will you simply stop the story, or will you rewind and review?

QUESTION: How do you face failure and setbacks?  What could you do differently or better?  Please reply in a comment below.