Open Doors

When you start talking about social media in the business world, you quickly begin to bump into the ROI question (and if you do, get the insight you’ll need from Olivier Blanchard and buy his book, Social Media ROI).

ROI matters. But for many individuals, consultants, entrepreneurs, small businesses – and yes, even larger businesses – that’s not the only measure of value. There’s another factor to weigh in the balance.

Is this activity likely to produce new opportunities? Potential referrals? Broader awareness? Open doors?

Much of what I – and many others – do via social networking is driven by this long-term view, which is based, not on immediate hard returns of dollars-tied-to-specific-efforts, but by what we might call natural human and marketing principles.

Building deeper human bonds with quality people will, in ways both direct and indirect, lead to increased business opportunities. Do you believe this? I do. And I think it’s true for the solopreneur as well as the biggest brand. That means networking – whether the digital/social variety, or good old-fashioned pressing the flesh (note: I believe in both, together).

An example from my own experience: #LeadershipChat on Twitter. Very little direct revenue has come to the co-hosts (Lisa Petrilli and me) for all the time and effort we’ve put in. HOWEVER – the expansion of our networks, the quality contacts with some very influential people, the collaborations that have occurred, not only for us, but among others in the community – these are worthwhile returns, and the future opportunities yet to come as a result of this initiative will, I’m quite convinced, impact business on multiple levels.

I will trade immediate resources of time and effort for open doors tomorrow and next year. Not only for me, but for others.

Speaking of LeadershipChat, this coming Tuesday (April 10), we’ll welcome John Jantsch, Mr. Duct Tape Marketing himself, talking about referrals and small-business marketing in a networked world. Join us for some new thinking, new network contacts – and, who knows?, maybe some new open doors!

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Recent posts on Connection Agent:

>> Customers Walking Past You

>> Four Questions for your Future

Work-Life Merger

For the next two weeks of dynamic discussion on #LeadershipChat (on Twitter, 8 pm ET, Tuesday nights), we’ll be talking about work-life balance.

This is a complex topic and there are very smart people who have put a lot of thought into it. So, why not make it more complex? Let’s think a bit about work-life merger.

Have you ever watched Little House on the Prairie? During the pre-industrial age in our country, the whole distinction between work and life was probably little discussed. Life was work, work was life. As transportation became more efficient, however, and as goods began to be manufactured in large-scale ways (as opposed to, say, an agrarian society and localized work), work became a distinct entity apart from the rest of one’s “life.”

Yes, I know that’s a bit of an oversimplification, but bear with me a bit.

What many of us are now asking, in the knowledge/network era, is this….is such a distinction as meaningful as it once was?

As long as we are working for someone else – some larger corporation or entity – we are trading certain levels of our expertise for money in a format that separates us, somehow, from home, family, and personal time. Hence the work-life balance.

But now, many of us work for ourselves – work on project basis instead of employee basis – we trade our expertise for money in a fashion that allows us to not necessarily be away (in some rigid 9-5 fashion) from “home.” The digitally-networked world enables this.

For some, this opens up an even larger Pandora’s box – are we ever off the clock, then? Are we bound to our work 24/7 because we’re always only a smartphone ping away?

I prefer to think of it in a more positive fashion. Like the farmer of old, my work is my life. It’s my field, I work it in the way that I choose to. I work whenever, and from wherever, I wish. If I am inspired at 5 in the morning to write, I write. If I take a few hours in the afternoon (as I did yesterday) to assemble a trampoline with my boys, I do so. I don’t really think much about work-life balance, because it’s just living and working with a lot more freedom to make choices.

Not everyone has this luxury – yet. Or is it a luxury? Maybe it’s part of what we’re looking for, with this elusive work-life balance. Yes, I am a strong advocate of entrepreneurship. Because I think that people are happier working their own field, and living on their own farm.

Rigid externally-imposed work environments, by definition, will limit freedom of choice and the ability to find personal balance. I applaud individuals and companies that try to figure it out. But I really prefer life-work.

Join us tonight (July 26th) at 8 pm ET for #LeadershipChat on Twitter. We will focus on the topic of Work-Life Balance – and, be sure to read my  Lisa Petrilli’s post entitled Leadership in the Age of Work-Family Conflict.

Plus – we’re going to try something new this week and “chat” on Google Plus at the same time we’re on Twitter!

At 8:00 pm ET, 8:15 pm ET, 8:30 pm ET and 8:45 pm ET Lisa I will ask the same question on Google Plus that we’ll be asking on Twitter.  You can find me on Google Plus at www.gplus.to/connectionagent – Lisa is www.gplus.to/lisapetrilli.  Find us, Circle Us, and watch for our posts at those 4 times tonight!

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It’s Not About You

Almost two years ago, we sent our second son off to U.S. Marine Boot Camp. It is safe to say that, up until that time in his life, it was all pretty much about him – you parents of teens get my drift?

Thirteen weeks later, it wasn’t.

One of the first lessons of the military is that it is mission first. It is your teammates first. In fact, during the first stage of boot camp, the recruits cannot use the first person singular. They cannot say, “I….” – it has to be, “This recruit….”

We can rightly praise a number of leadership principles or practices, but nothing is more central than this other-centeredness. Disastrous leadership decisions based on short-term, selfish motivations take their toll every day in the arena of business.

I’ve just begun reading the highly-acclaimed book Reckless Endangerment, which takes the cover off the people and practices that lead to our recent economic meltdown. The me-first, greed-driven, short-sighted thinking described (and the book names names) is the exact opposite of genuine leadership – and some of these folks are still in positions of national influence.

Yes, some aspects of military leadership style need modification for the business world. But we’d be far better off if no company ever promoted an “all about me” individual into leadership, no matter how gifted or successful in other roles they may be.

We don’t need more recklessness. We need unselfishness. People who adhere to a higher mission than, “me first!”

Join us tonight (July 26th) at 8 pm ET for #LeadershipChat on Twitter. We will focus on the topic of “Military Leadership – Lessons We are Truly Meant to Learn” and will feature Guest Host, Wally Bock. Here is Wally’s summary post about tonight’s topics on his Three Star Leadership blog; also be sure to read my co-host Lisa Petrilli’s moving post entitled Leadership Lessons from Heroes, the Bravest of Men.

And, to make your chat experience even more enchanting, try out ChatTagged, a custom-made Twitter client for helping manage your on-line chat interactions!

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Do You See What I See?

Probably not. Because when it comes to vision, the best ones are homegrown.

This week, on #Leadership Chat (a weekly Twitter discussion group, Tuesday nights at 8 pm ET), we’re going to talk about vision. But maybe let’s not just talk about it, OK?

We all know that great leaders have vision, and if it’s a worthy vision, they rally others around it. That’s a given. But let’s assume that everyone in the growing LeadershipChat community is actually looking ahead at 2011, not just with goals and resolutions in mind, but with bigger picture visions.

What’s yours? Here’s mine: My Declaration of Independence.

Fact is, we’re not going to refine and implement our big dreams without the help of others. So let’s give our missions some thought ahead of time, band together to share, and discuss how we can put feet to vision. And, be sure to read the thought-provoking blog post by co-host Lisa Petrilli on The Secret Engine Behind Empowered Visions. <—We are of one mind in our thinking here.

Because I’m going to follow my vision, but I’d also like to see what you see. Maybe we’re heading in the same direction together!

Please join us tonight, Tuesday January 4 for our first #LeadershipChat of 2011 (hint: one very easy way to participate is by using a client like Tweetchat. Just log in, read the stream of thoughts that are being shared, and feel free to chime in with your reactions and questions). You’ll find a warm welcome and a thoughtful community of friends who not only think different, but also seek to “do different”!

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