Choose Your Lane

I have a confession to make: I have problems staying in my lane.

You know those views of a bunch of runners, all lined up for the 100 meter dash, the only thing separating them being the little white lines that show which lane is which? While I’m 24 meters into the race in Lane 4, I am itching to jump over to Lane 6. And then 7.

It’s not a winning strategy.

Focus. One race at a time. I have the speed and the drive to win, but am afflicted with Entrepreneur ADHD.

My core business – “matchmaking” pharma clients with optimal vendor/partners (plus some related consulting) – provides virtually all of my revenue. But I have dreams and goals that I can see and almost touch in those other lanes, and keep wandering outside the line. To change the analogy slightly, I see the 100-meter finish line, but figure I can also run a 220, a 440, and a marathon all at the same time.

Or, take the example of social networking. I’ve built pretty strong lanes in LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, but when Google+ came along, I was pretty intrigued like many others. In fact, however, G+ right now is of no help whatsoever in creating short-term business impact. It’s a distraction. Great platform, but not productive for the time being.

So, I’m scaling back in some areas of endeavor. Letting some things be more hobby-status while I run in the lane that matters most. Yes, I have these other dreams and ideals, and I trust that they will develop organically, in due time. But let’s run THIS race and then let nature take its course.

No-one wins running 3 races at the same time.

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Hire Steve Woodruff  if your identity and message need clarity (Business Identity Therapy)

Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> Selling You

>> ROI in Context of Business Value

ROI in Context of Business Value

The next time someone asks you, “what is the ROI of social media?“, I suggest the following reply:

We can project the potential ROI of specific tactics using social media, but first let’s talk about BV (Business Value).” Specifically:

BVER – Business Value of Embracing Reality

BVIO – Business Value of Ignoring Opportunity

Networked communications – the use of point-to-point communications via social networks, and particularly through mobile – are simply the new normal. People don’t ask about the ROI of the Internet or of a computer anymore (though you can look at the ROI of a specific initiative) – these things are simply assumed. That’s what social networks – and mobile computing – are rapidly becoming. Assumed.

You don’t do ROI on assumed. You use the assumed to do something specific that will generate ROI.

So, what is the business value of being able to connect with your customers? What is the business value of being connected in a connected world? What is the business value – and the opportunity cost – to staying static in a world where digital networking in growing inexorably?

Put negatively – what is the business value of keeping one’s head buried in the sand? Can we start attaching minus dollar signs to that strategy??

There is no calculable ROI to “social media”, just as there is no ROI to common sense or breathing. Ubiquitous digital networks are just reality. Mobile communications are simply the new normal. Only a very small subset of the population calculates the value of using a horse-and-buggy vs. using a car. You do your calculations based on which car, and for what type of use. You’ve already decided the overall business value.

What is the calculated ROI of doing (this) using social media as (part of) the approach? Now, you’re starting to ask the right question.

Seek to direct ROI discussions to tangibles that can be measured, not something do broad as social media. The “ROI of social media” is a question that, as so framed, cannot be answered.

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Hire Steve Woodruff  if your identity and message need clarity (Business Identity Therapy)

Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> Dynamite Presentations: Start Here

>> Breaking Free of Powerpoint

Selling You

If you’re an entrepreneur, a consultant, or a professional salesperson/marketer, you’re continually selling. Whether you like it or not, promotion is a major part of your professional life.

Here’s the secret – the most important sale is you.

Often, you’ll see someone get in front of a client, and they will rush to pull out the sales collateral or the computer demos and start selling. This can be a big mistake. While there is a place for the pitch, your prospective client, perhaps in a completely unspoken and unconscious way, is looking to buy a person.

They want someone with expertise, with a service mindset, with trustworthiness, with humanity, upon whom they can lean. Not just for the next 45 minutes, but for years. Isn’t that the kind of customer relationship you want?

When you have those precious minutes in front of a prospect or customer, go in thinking about one thing – how can I help? Not, how can I get the most dollars out of their pocket in the shortest amount of time?

Believe me, they can smell the difference. You may have the best product or service around. But if the customer isn’t sold on you, they’re not buying.

Earn the opening. Then worry about closing.

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Hire Steve Woodruff  if your identity and message need clarity (Business Identity Therapy)

Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> Dynamite Presentations: Start Here

>> Breaking Free of Powerpoint

Please feel free to subscribe to the Connection Agent blog via Reader (RSS) | via e-mail

Twitter: @swoodruff | @ConnectionAgent

Esprit de Corps

In preparation for this week’s LeadershipChat (8 pm ET Tuesday on Twitter – use hasthtag #LeadershipChat), I read, as did my co-host Lisa Petrilli, the book Get It On by Keni Thomas (who will be our guest host/author this week – thanks, Keni!)

Keni served with the U.S. Army Rangers during the famous Black Hawk Down incident in Somalia, and now has a burgeoning career as a country singer. This book is about the leadership lessons learned during his time in the military.

Lisa has written a superb summary of the book on her blog – I’d urge you to read it to get the overview of leadership lessons.

The book is an engaging first-person account of what happened on that day of chaos and combat, and much of its value lies in telling the very personal stories of the men involved in the operation. Dedication and leadership in the midst of the “fog of war” is not some abstraction – this book gives names, backgrounds, specific actions, and the very personal impact of courage on the battlefield.

Underneath all of the specific lessons of leadership, I was left with one pervasive theme fueling all the courageous actions of that day: esprit de corps.

You lead, you fight, you sacrifice, you risk – for your brothers in arms, and for the mission. No surrender, no turning back, no man left behind.

My son is a Marine. He’ll moan and groan with the best of them about the inefficiencies and snafus of the military, but if he’s put in a hot zone with his buddies, I have no doubt that he’ll have their back – and they’ll have his. Esprit de corps.

It’s in the culture of the military, especially its elite units. It’s not an optional add-on. It’s the fuel that drives the organization, and the mission, forward.

And, today, that leaves me scratching my head. How can we replicate this in non-military life? How can this powerful force be a foundation stone of leadership in education, and business – let alone government?

How many companies and organizations have this kind of unity of purpose? Not in theory, but in reality?

I don’t know. Somehow I don’t think a few training programs on leadership, and some team-building exercises, are going to cut it. Let’s discuss during LeadershipChat on Tuesday night, and maybe Keni (and you!) can give us some insight.

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Hire Steve Woodruff  if your identity and message need clarity (Business Identity Therapy)

Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> Dynamite Presentations: Start Here

>> Breaking Free of Powerpoint

Please feel free to subscribe to the Connection Agent blog via Reader (RSS) | via e-mail

Twitter: @swoodruff | @ConnectionAgent

Dynamite Presentations: Start Here

Every time I go to a conference, there is a wide spectrum of quality in the speaker presentations. We all know the drill – some speakers hold our attention and draw us into the content, others leave us cold and drifting.

There are many elements that go into effective presentation design and delivery, but I’d like to suggest that you start right here:

Speaker Perspective 1: I am not here to re-hash facts and stats. That is Google’s job. I am here to provide context, insight, and motivation to change.

Speaker Perspective 2: I need to tell a story. Slides are background to help tell the story. The slide deck is not the presentation. I am.

Speaker Perspective 3: The audience will be able to retain and act on one or two clear messages. Maximum impact, not maximum content, is the goal.

Now, embracing those perspectives, here are your first four steps.

1. What’s the point? For the moment, put aside all materials, including prior slide decks. What is the ONE THING you are trying to get across to your audience? Summarize it in ONE SIMPLE SENTENCE. You are not ready to progress with presentation design until you can clearly articulate the point of the whole exercise.

2. How can I turn this into a story? Remember, you’re not there to do a data dump. The attention – and memory – of your audience members is going to be captured by a story line.

3. What do I want my audience members to do after this presentation? Fast forward to the end of your presentation – as people walk out of your session, what is the clear call to action that needs to be ringing in their ears? The entire presentation needs to aim at that.

4. What resources and advice can I bring forth to enable that action? Motivate, and equip. Inform, yes – but with a purpose.

Don’t even think about firing up Powerpoint and dumping data into slides until you go through this exercise. Then, you will see that your slide design becomes the handmaiden of your presentation – you aren’t the handmaiden of your slide deck.

Those are my “start here” tips – what are yours?

(Image credit)

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Hire Steve Woodruff  if your identity and message need clarity (Business Identity Therapy)

Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> Breaking Free of Powerpoint

>> Trend Currents in Social Media

Please feel free to subscribe to the Connection Agent blog via Reader (RSS) | via e-mail

Twitter: @swoodruff | @ConnectionAgent

A Connection Agent High Five

It’s really hard to believe. Five years blogging about branding, social media, marketing, and entrepreneurial business.

865 posts. Make that 866 now.

But when I think about blogging, I don’t really think much about statistics. I think about friends. People I’ve come to met (or hope to meet) through this wonderful adventure of digital networking.

Thanks for joining me on the journey. This growing community of thinkers and doers means more to me than I can express.

- Steve

Who Leadership Chat Has Meant To Me

This is the one-year anniversary of #LeadershipChat on Twitter. Lisa Petrilli and I have been asking people what LeadershipChat has meant to them; some have posted on their blogs (click on the orange link above).

But as I think about my own experience co-leading the chat, I can only think about the WHO. Leadership Chat is about people – wonderful people – and here are some of my memories:

Long discussions and growing collaboration with Sean McGinnis.

Brainstorming and friendship with Fred McClimans.

Having coffee with Brandie McCallum, and speaking at an event she helped organize.

Sharing a drink and giving virtual Klout points to Sam Fiorella.

Finally meeting the irrepressible Meghan Biro after many Tuesday nights with “competing” chat (they finally moved #TChat. Heh.)

Marveling that overseas LC community members like Kenny Rose and Ali Handscomb stay up ’til all hours to participate.

Ongoing “banteraction” (that’s banter-interaction) with pals like Joe Cascio, Kirsten Wright, and Amy Fitch.

A spontaneous and wonderful Italian lunch in Boston with Lou Imbriano.

Moving beyond just pharma-connection into leadership-talk with Mike Capaldi and Kevin Glover.

Getting into friendly on-line debates with Dan Perez.

Seeing the Kneale Mann LC promo tweet. Every Tuesday. 8 pm ET.

Starbucks with Cheryl Burgess here in NJ.

Meeting young adventurer/entrepreneur Greg Hartle in Chicago.

Joking about shoes with Angela Maiers (finally met!) and Tobey Deys (still not met!).

Co-designing a chat client (ChatTagged) with Shannon Whitley, and having fans like Jessica Northey really enjoy it.

Gathering at SOBCon with LC community members like Jeanne Male, Darrell DeRochier, Lisa Diomede, Molly Cantrell-Kraig, Anthony Iannarino, Judy Martin, and others.

Getting a chance to highlight and interact with multiple authors as guests (Becky Carroll, Stephen Denny, Guy Kawasaki, Ann Handley, Steve Farber, Wally Bock, Lou Imbriano, Les McKeown) in order to gain new perspectives from thought-leaders.

Joking about dial-up modems and Dr. Pepper with Twitter chat pioneer and regular participant Mack Collier.

The Cannoli Crew.

And, of course, best of all has been the chance to work in partnership with the lovely and talented Lisa Petrilli in building this community. You see, Leadership Chat is not merely a virtual gathering of like-minded yet diverse people – we seek to grow into face-to-face relationships, gatherings, and collaborations. And that is just what is happening.

The danger, of course, with any list like this, is that at my age, I’m forgetting some folks. But even if the list is partial, you can see the very real, very tangible value of LeadershipChat. It’s not just the What. It’s really about the Who.

Will you celebrate with us Tuesday night, Oct 11, 8 pm ET? Here’s how you can participate! And be sure to read Lisa’s post on what Leadership Chat has meant to her!

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Hire Steve Woodruff  if your identity and message need clarity (Business Identity Therapy)

Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> Breaking Free of Powerpoint

>> Trend Currents in Social Media

Please feel free to subscribe to the Connection Agent blog via Reader (RSS) | via e-mail

Twitter: @swoodruff | @ConnectionAgent

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