The Personal Aspect of Collaboration

networking, relationships, collaboration, business development, personalEmail, cell phones and web-based platforms have made global collaboration as common as using an ATM. It has definitely redefined our models of business efficiency and what can be accomplished in a day, with the limitations of geographic borders and time zones essentially eliminated.


But, there’s something to be said for meeting up face-to-face, and we’re not just talking Skype here. Relationships are still a critical part of business, so how are they really built?


Through networking. Yes, that networking…having lunch with a prospect or sitting down over coffee with a colleague to catchup on the latest industry events (and personal updates, too!)


Do you really want to be defined solely on how you are viewed online? What about those elements of your personality that can’t be conveyed electronically?


Make Your Connections Count

Forums like LinkedIn give people a common ground to connect with people in the industry, share ideas and voice support for one another. And there are valid reasons to foster such a community.


But think about when you first joined LinkedIn. You probably reached out to friends, family and business colleagues that you had relationships with offline. The ones you trusted.


And for those people who you’ve connected with that you haven’t personally met—how substantial is the relationship or are you merely padding your profile to get to the coveted 500+ connections status.


But ask yourself–how many of your 500 would you truly call upon if you were asked to make a personal recommendation (or needed one!). Who would be on the list if you wanted valid insights on how to handle a difficult situation or needed to bounce project ideas off someone?


Chance are, the list is far less than triple digits. And those on the list—how do you know them?


Build Quality, Not Quantity

Relationships hold value and they can certainly be defined in different ways. There will be people you’ve connected primarily online with whom you have a wonderful repoir, and will consider trusted colleagues. But the majority will still come from the people you work directly with, the ones you talk to at an industry event and the people you hve been able to interact with on a more intimate level.


Personal interaction will always be a part of business, no matter how automated or efficient electronic technology makes communications. There is a different, deeper relationship formed in traditional networking, so get up and get out—go network!

Create a Compelling Webinar by Following the 3 Ps….

Oct2.webinarWe all know what a webinar is…but, do we all know how to prepare and present a compelling webinar?


The truth is, many of us, at one time or another, have suffered through a poorly planned and even more poorly executed webinar—whether it was ill-conceived, the graphics just weren’t enticing, the connections were spotty, the moderator droned on or the topic you were anticipating wasn’t covered in the manner in which you thought and hoped it would be.


To avoid these all-too-common mistakes, it is very important to remember that engaging and educating your vast audience is vital. In order to ensure a successful webinar, the 3 Ps must fall into place – plan, prepare and practice.

By following a few simple rules, following the 3 Ps should be a snap.

  • Be mindful of your audience. Ask yourself, ‘What is it that my audience wants to learn and gain from my presentation?’ Never prepare a presentation without asking yourself this question.Go a step further and consider what their past experiences are with the topic you are going to discuss, what are their attitudes and emotions towards the topic as well as what areas of resistance will the audience likely have regarding the topic. Once you have answered these questions, your preparation can begin.
  • Timing is everything. This little adage holds true for webinars and for many different reasons. It is important to remember that the length of your presentation means everything. Your audience is not in front of you, they are in front of an electronic device, so it is easy for them to become distracted.Research suggests that every 10 or 12 minutes during your presentation, you should incorporate a time to have questions asked, switch speakers, review graphics, etc. Keep it moving.


It is also important to remember that not everyone is in your time zone. So although it may be 9 am where you are and you are up and at ‘em, people across the county or on the other side of the world have already worked a half or full day. Use your time wisely.

  • Test the technology. As simple as this tip seems, time and time again we’ve seen webinars where people are cutting in and out, the presentation isn’t working properly, the presenter is stumbling over himself/herself and the technology they are using. Always test the technology ahead of time and rehearse your presentation while using it. Make sure all phone lines, internet connections, etc. are in working order before webinar day.
  • Be the hostess with the mostest. Cheesy, yes. But true. When planning a party, you want guests to attend and not leave once there. So plan accordingly. When sending out the invite to your webinar be sure to include all the details – date, time, topic, access codes, etc. Also let your attendees know what they should expect during the webinar, just like you would if you were sending out an invitation to a party.


Once the webinar begins, you need to make sure your audience stays with you. Have good transitions like paraphrasing and ask questions that signal what is coming next, for example ‘have you ever thought about XYZ’.

  • Engage, engage, engage. Remember, these folks are not sitting in front of you and more than likely they have several things around them that can become a distraction. To keep them engaged, be sure to have them participate throughout the presentation. Some suggestions are having them respond to a poll, discuss responses to a question you ask via a chat, use analogies to something they already know and understand and have them think about them.
  • Careful with your visuals. Don’t rely solely on your visual aids to sell your presentation. Content and its relevance are what is important, visuals are there to support, not carry the presentation.
  • Speak with expression. There is nothing worse than sitting through a presentation whether it is live or in a webinar with a presenter who has a monotone, drone-like voice. Be sure to put expression into it. Be passionate about your topic. Make it fun.

Remember you are there to serve your audience and guide them through a topic that they want to learn more about. By following the 3 Ps you are sure to do just that.

Today’s code word: Nimble—but what about tomorrow?

spy%201_jpgWe keep hearing it. Nimble, agile, responsive…it’s all the rage among marketing folks today.

From big companies to small, from email templates to lead automation, marketers are realizing that, in order to play the game, they need to be able to move quickly to tailor their message to the unique attribute of a prospect or customer.

Mechanical Messaging
Knowing how to be nimble and responsive isn’t really some secret code you need to crack to make the most of your marketing messages, it requires common sense and not forgetting that at the end of the day, it’s still a person you are talking to on the other end of the line.

Technology has made it very easy to set up an automated ‘thank you for registering!’; a follow up ‘did you get that white paper download?’; and an oh-so-sincere ‘we appreciate your recent order’ email. But using technology as the means instead of the method is going to leave people cold.  But the marketing machine is only the conduit. The real value your customer sees is in the usefulness of the information.

Real Communication
It comes down to not only the delivery, but the content and the tone—and that means connecting with your customer. What is going to resonate versus what is going to make them feel truly valued?

This is where the real relationship takes hold.

And let’s not forget the visual elements—good graphics inspire the viewer, even in the business to business realm. We aren’t building the fan bases of Coke and Pepsi, but your customers will still respond to the emotional element that makes them think of your company in a positive way.
Don’t forget about this often overlooked opportunity. You need to connect visually as well as verbally. And shock value holds no value—make your imagery relevant and meaningful.

A True Connection
This is real marketing communications. Just because the tools out there help you in your process doesn’t mean they’re equipped to replace the thought behind what makes a solid, successful, stable customer relationship.

So, what’s tomorrow’s code word? Well, that remains to be seen, but no doubt, it’ll still be based on solid communication and building strong relationships.

How to Build (and Sustain) a Successful Agency Relationship

stop collaborate and listenAccording to, ‘a good relationship is more than something we want—it’s something we need to be our happiest, healthiest, most productive selves. But at home or work, supportive, fulfilling relationships don’t come automatically. They take an investment in time and energy.’

Much holds true when it comes to the relationships between an agency and its clients and vice versa. These relationships, like those in your everyday life, can be complex. The need for collaboration, trust and hard work on both parts goes a long way in building a strong, long lasting bond.

But how do we get that bond? That sustainability? Well, think of your successful day-to-day relationships, then apply what you know.

• Treat each other well – No one should be a doormat. You know the saying, ‘do unto others, as you would have them do unto you’…live it!

• Be partners – Create a friendly atmosphere based on teamwork and collaboration. Not a dictatorship. Remember, you get more bees with honey.

• Establish clear expectations – Mean what you say, say what you mean. Define goals and follow through. Be transparent. Share all of the information needed. Put it all in writing.

• Be respectful – Sometimes things need to be a rush, but it shouldn’t be a rush on ‘every.single.project’. Be mindful that although the agency makes you feel like you are their only client, you probably aren’t. So be respectful of their time as they will be respectful of yours. And agencies, be flexible to the needs of your clients.

• Communicate regularly – Whether on the phone, via skype or in person, it is a good idea to schedule meetings regularly to make sure everyone is on the same page. But in turn, if there is nothing new to talk about, keep it short, but still consistent.

• Have fun – This is the most important thing to remember. You probably spend more time at your job than you do anywhere else. So when you have an opportunity to work with your agency, make it fun. Remember, you chose each other for a reason.

Good relationships are a two-way street, built on honesty, trust and teamwork. Cultivate your mutual investment of time and energy. In the end, all parties will benefit. Happy creating!