Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The 9 Reasons I Might Ignore That LinkedIn Invitation You Sent

A few weeks ago I spoke with a group  at a New York Women in Communications Digital Salon on the subject of digital profiles, their importance and how best to use them to our advantage. One of the questions I was asked was whether I accept every invitation to connect I get on LinkedIn.

My answer was a complicated no.

My general rule of thumb is that if our paths have crossed, I've met you at a function, worked with you, went to school with you, or are connected because of blood lines I will say yes.

But what if I don't? What if you are a complete stranger reaching out?  What do I do then?

There is no hard and fast rule. And while I generally do not like to ignore anyone, (I think it's rude and bad karma) in the digital world I sometimes do.

The question is, how do I make that decision?
The answer is, it's really pretty easy.

If I've ignored an invitation you sent to me the reasons are most likely one or a combination of those on this list:

  1. I've never met you.
  2. We have no connections in common.
  3. You don't have a picture in your profile.
  4. Your profile says nothing about you.
  5. You lied to me and to LinkedIn and said we were friends and then admitted to me you lied.
  6. You did not personalize your invitation.
  7. You personalized it with something to the tune of "I think it would be good to connect" without a reason why it might be good to connect.
  8. We share nothing in common. Not a group. Not a person. Not an industry.
  9. It's looking like the only reason you want to connect is to sell me something.

LinkedIn is about my business. I'm there to expand it, to network, to share useful information and to find information I might find useful. Which means I am going to be thoughtful - maybe even a bit choosy at times - about who I want in my circles.

So if you want me to connect with you and you're a stranger give me a reason to want to engage with you. Tell me who you are. Show me your face. Let me know why you think connecting will be a good thing. For both of us.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Not Business As Usual

Tuesday, April 16, 2013 and it is not business as usual. Nor should it be.

I don’t want to see your cheery tweet about the recap to the Fashion for PAWS runway show or the agony and ecstasy of book reviews. I am not interested in your ability to tune out tragedy and get on with what is most important to you. Whether you are an individual doing that or a brand not smart enough to pull those scheduled social media messages for just a little bit, I lose respect for you. You’ve shown me another side of who you really are and I don’t like it. PS. When given a choice, you won’t be getting my money anytime soon.

Don’t misunderstand me. I believe in moving on. I believe in moving past. I believe in getting on with life. And I understand the mentality behind such acts of terror is for us to not do that. Whoever was behind this wants to instill fear. Deep, abiding fear that makes us not want to leave our house and to alter our way of life. But that does not mean its okay to inundate me with Tweets asking me what books I like to read or taking me to articles on how to fire someone in a respectful manner. Not today.

Today is not about business as usual. Not just yet. Victims are lying in Mass General fighting for their lives. Men and women who were running a race with two legs yesterday are now being told they are missing a limb. And children. At the moment we know of at least one little boy who lost his life. 

The sun is shining today. Even brighter than yesterday but the world is much different.

I know that feeling. I know what it’s like to wake up one bright sunny morning when all seems right with the world and go to sleep knowing your city will never be the same place again. I am after all, a New Yorker. I was here on 9/11.  And while I have gone on and so has the city, I will never forget.

So I let my heart ache today. I let the tears well in my eyes when I listen to the accounts of horror mixed with the acts of heroics by those who raced to help. I am struck as I always am by the inherent spirit of humans to pull together in community in the face of such adversity.  I feel the pain of that city and remember that of my own.

Yes, I will be working today. I will make progress on projects in the cue and keep my business meetings. I will break to get an update. To see if they have found whoever was responsible for all this. I will pray and send love and light to those who need it.  But I will not fill my social networks with solicitations for business. I will not be sharing tips on digital strategy. Not today.

It’s not business as usual. Not yet. Not for me.

Yes, there are other tragedies that happen every day. Shootings and killings and acts of violence all over the world. But for me, this is not just any place.

This is Boston.

This is where my cousin JoJo and Ted grew up. The first city I visited outside of New York when I was a kid. A city that did not have a Central Park but a Boston Commons complete with Swan Boat rides that my Aunt Helen took us on. It is where I watched my best friend from college get married in a ceremony overlooking the Charles River. It is where a waiter at a restaurant in the North End  adamantly told me I was ruining my seafood pasta for asking him to put cheese on it.  It’s a city whose people I know. Good, solid people proud of their town and of their world famous marathon.  I’ve wandered up and down those shops on Newbury and Boylston Streets. I’ve traveled there for pleasure and for work. It’s a city with character, with soul and with a heart.

Today that heart has big crack in it. It deserves deference and respect.

I consider myself a digital evalengist of sorts. Which means I understand that our 24/7 world never really shuts down and trying to get it to is near impossible.

But it can slow a bit. It can pause. It can take some time to feel instead of spew. It can exercise sensibility. It can spread a conversation fitting of the day after such a horrific event.  

Not one soliciting me to sign up for your new five week class on how to build a better website or informing me  that Game of Thrones has slipped in their social rankings. Not today.

Today is not business as usual.  

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Simple Tool Guaranteed To Get You Noticed

It's noisy out there. Everyone wants to be noticed. Yet so many ignore this simple and easy tool that I guarantee will set you apart.

It does not involve jumping off the high dive in some silly reality show. It's not running through Central Park naked in an attempt to revive the streaking craze of the early seventies. It does not involve a marketing budget that requires you to get a second mortgage on your home. It does not involve flash and glitz or high end video.

It's simple and inexpensive.
It's called a thank-you.  

Thank-you for your note.
Thank-you for that nice mention on Twitter.
Thank-you for your comment on my blog.
Thank-you for commenting on my FaceBook page.
Thank-you for sharing my stuff.
Thank-you for taking the time to meet with me.
Thank-you for showing up to hear me talk.
Thank-you for your consideration.
Thank-you for doing business with us.
Thank-you for your wise advice.

It says you careIt engages. It establishes relationships. It says, no matter how busy and famous I am or might want to be, I am not too big to remember this simple measure of acknowledgement. It says your business or relationship is important to me and I want you to know it. It says I am happy you are part of my tribe. It makes a lasting impression.

Especially since so many people don't do it.
They think it doesn't matter.
They forget.
They say they will, but never do.
They think they are too important, too famous, too busy.

Which makes no sense.

Let's face it. It's easier than ever to say thank-you in a timely manner. (Immediacy is important to the art of thank-you.) All it takes is a click of the reply button on an email or a text.You don't even have to talk anymore. Although that is always an extra nice touch. Nicer still is going as far as to write a note, get a stamp and put the thank-you in an envelope. And as for being too important to take the time - the digital world has leveled the playing field in so many ways. Thank-you's are not exempt. No matter if you are one person or a big corporation.

The point is, it doesn't have to be elaborate or require setting the egg timer for. It's an easy, simple and budget friendly tool to differentiate you from the masses. 

Of course you don't have to say thank-you. Ever. You can forget it. You can live in the delusion that the more expensive tools to get your name out there will compensate. But they won't. Because when you never say thank-you - that gets noticed - and not in the way you want.

Thank You Cards by Tara Dixon of Gratitude Designs

This blog also appears on The Huffington Post

Monday, April 1, 2013

Authenticity: Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing

I follow a lot of people on social media networks. I've learned from many of them. When presented the opportunity I'll try to hear them speak live.

Which poses problems. Sometimes when I see them living and breathing in front of me I fall more in love. Like way back when I first admitted to a big crush on Seth Godin. I still have not gotten over it.  Even when I don't agree with him, I hold his opinions in high regard. It's his authenticity that does it. It's the real thing.

But there have been others it would have been better to have never met. They know who they are. 

In person they disappointed. The projection of who they were that was so live and vibrant in the words they wrote on their blog or the posts on their Facebook page fell flat in person. The energy was just not there. Which made me question who they really were. 

I mean, you can pretend to be authentic in social media, but in person, there is no hiding the real truth. If you can't pull off with genuineness and ease on stage in front of real humans what you have been conveying through your tweets and blogs and Instagram pictures, then you are nothing more than a cardboard cutout of yourself. 

Last Tuesday I got to hear Chris Brogan speak at ImpactNEXT. I was not disappointed. In fact, it was pretty similar to how I felt when I first met Seth Godin. I liked him even more than I did before. His online persona was no different than his real one. Smart, real, charming and pretty funny. Authentic. The real thing.

Which all leads me to this. A vibrant and robust digital profile is essential today.  But when you create yours, make sure it's yours. Not some made up, inauthentic version of you. 

If you don't, eventually you'll get caught. You'll find yourself standing face to face in front of someone you intrigued enough to want to meet you. And then they'll wonder where you are. Because you just don't seem like the image of you that your social presence created.

That may be okay with you. But it doesn't work for most of us. It's not smart marketing. It does not build relationships. It breaks them down. 

Authenticity rules. The real kind. The kind you can't pretend to be. Even on April Fool's Day.  There ain't nothing like it.