Using LinkedIn to Reach the Right People at the Right Time – Free Webinar 11/30

3229285946_e2e1391972 Wouldn’t it be great if you could connect with your ideal clients before they needed your product or service?  And wouldn’t it be even more amazing if you knew immediately when something occurred that triggered their need for your service?  Imagine running an appliance repair service and receiving an email any time someone in your service area has a broken appliance – before they start the process of finding someone to fix it. Or running a Chinese restaurant and knowing any time one of your regular customers gets a craving for Chinese food.

Science fiction?  Well, yes.  But the reality of what’s currently possible may be closer to that than you think.

Most marketing is focused on creating a message that matches the prospect’s need and attracts them…after they’ve started the buying decision process.  But there’s a window of opportunity before that, between the time that something occurs that causes the need – the "trigger event" – and the time they start the buying process.  If you can connect with people during that window, you can establish yourself as a trusted advisor and perhaps even block out the competition entirely.

image This is known as "trigger-event selling", and Craig Elias, coauthor of SHiFT!  – Harness the Trigger Events That Turn Prospects into Customers, is the world’s leading expert on the topic. He’s also, like me, a very early adopter of LinkedIn and uses it as one of his core business tools.  With in-depth profiles of more than 80 million professionals, LinkedIn is one of the best tools for directly identifying and connecting with people who match your ideal client profile.  It’s also a great place for identifying trigger events – new hires, promotions, new projects, and other company news that may not make it to the usual public channels.

Craig and I will be conducting a free webinar next Tuesday, November 30, at 2pm EST on using LinkedIn to connect with your ideal clients, monitor for trigger events and establish yourself as a trusted advisor to them before they even start the buying process. This webinar will be jam-packed with practical how-to information that you can put into action immediately. Register now to reserve your spot.

P.S. – This is seriously advanced stuff.  I’ve used it with a handful of my high-end clients, but this is the first time I’ve taught it to a group. If you’re serious about using LinkedIn to improve your sales process, you don’t want to miss this.

Top image: Anders Ljungberg

What Makes an Idea Go Viral?

Viral marketing is a hot buzzword these days. It’s a simple enough concept – get others to spread your idea and before too long, thanks to the beauty of exponential math (“I told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on.”), you’ve reached a lot of people.

The challenge is, how do you get people to want to tell two friends? Or two hundred? Or two thousand?

Seth Godin shared 20 ideas on this on his blog yesterday. Here are a few of my favorites:

I spread your idea because.

.because I feel smart alerting others to what I discovered.

.because there’s a financial benefit directly to me (Amazon affiliates, mlm).

.because both my friend and I will benefit if I share the idea (Groupon).

.because if everyone knew this idea, I’d be happier.

.because I care about someone and this idea will make them happier or healthier.

.because I’m in awe of your art and the only way I can repay you is to share that art with others.

14 more at Seth’s Blog

Why do people spread your idea? What compels them to tell two friends, and so on? If you can’t answer that, don’t expect them to.


Long Tail Keyword Research 101


I’m on a panel tonight at Social Media Club Austin talking about the connection between SEO (search engine optimization) and social media. I’ll be focusing on long tail keyword research, an essential core strategy for businesses looking to use social media to bring targeted traffic to their website (which, let’s face it, really should be one of the major goals of any social media initiative).

I’ve put together a presentation, a keyword research spreadsheet template and detailed instructions for using it. I know I should probably repurpose it all as a blog post, but I have to walk out the door in an hour, so this’ll have to do for now. 🙂

Image credit: Carol Foil

Facebook Misses the Mark with Places

Yet again, Facebook has demonstrated their utter lack of understanding for personal boundaries and any sense of appropriate privacy. One of the things you can do with Facebook Places that you can’t with Foursquare, Gowalla, etc., is check your friends in.

Bad idea. Really bad idea. If I choose to tell the world where I am 24/7, that’s my prerogative. I can even live with people tweeting things like “I’m at #BATHH with @ScottAllen @LaniAR @KateBuckJr & other cool peeps.” But the idea of people creating structured, archived data about my location is just really unnerving. The potential for misuse is staggering.

I echo Laurie Ruettimann’s sentiment:


More on what’s wrong with Facebook Places at Social Media Today.

The Art of the Email Introduction

6a00d8345189aa69e2011570172541970b-150wi[1] Guest post by Auren Hoffman

The Art of the Email Introduction
How to introduce two people so that they both benefit

Email introductions are a poorly-understand art and are often done too hastily without careful thought.  Making introductions the right way can be the best way to help two people and create a lot of value.  But doing it wrong can make one of the parties look bad and can alienate one or both parties from you.

Below are my tips on the best ways to make an email introduction between two people.

Before we go through the mechanics, let’s first define your objectives as the introducer. Your goal should be to benefit both people you are introducing. Both parties should be happy you made the introduction, glad they met the other person, and thankful to you. You should not bother making an introduction if it will only benefit one of the parties. 

Now for the tips on the proper way to make introductions:

1. Take the time
Good introductions require careful thoughtful and preparation. Take the time to really think why both parties will benefit from each other and spell it out in an email.  Hasty introductions can have minimal or even negative impact.  I’m sure we’ve all been victims of hastily written email intros.  I recently got one that said "Auren/John – you two just HAVE to meet each other. You two take it from here." – I’d like to know who John is and why we should meet.

2. Ask for permission
A good way to start the introduction process is to first email the people and ask them for permission.  Make the case of why they should meet the other party and ask them if it would be ok for you to introduce the two.  Usually it will work well, but occasionally someone will say that they are too busy.  If that’s the case, you just saved both friends a lot of trouble.

3. Make sure there is a quick follow up
You never want to make an introduction where both parties don’t immediately respond to each other.  To prevent this from happening, make sure that the weight of your email encourages both people to quickly arrange a time to talk. 

4. Take the time of each person into account

Be clear in your email introduction what the next action for the two parties should be. Suggest whether they should meet for lunch, coffee, over the phone, or just exchange emails.  Often people should just have a quick phone call and you don’t want to waste the time of one or both people by suggesting a lunch.   

Rarely introduce your friend to someone just because your friend wants to meet her.  There needs to be an exchange of value between the two people and both parties need to come away with more value than their time is worth. To find a worthwhile introduction, you may need to proactively suggest people who your friends might want to meet. 

5. Clearly give the location of each person
Location is one detail that is forgotten all too often but can save a lot of back and forth communication. If one person is in LA and the other is in NY, let them know.  If they are going to be the same city in two weeks, they can now meet in person. If they are going to arrange a call, they will now know what time zone they are in. 

6. Be sure to give their first and last name and a quick bio of the person
I often get intros from people to – so I know the first name of the person is "Jim" but don’t know their last name and it makes it difficult to save the person’s contact information.  And a quick bio will go a long way in giving context.

7. Mention if two people have met before
If you know the two parties have met before, even if only briefly, be sure to mention it in the introduction. Often people forget brief meetings so you can save them from embarrassment.

8. Include all necessary parties
If the people use their assistants, then copy the assistants of both parties if appropriate.

9. Only forward emails that make the originator look good

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been introduced to someone by an introducer who forwards me a semi-confidential email chain that I probably shouldn’t see. Forward only positive emails and, if you have to, edit the email before forwarding to make both sides look good.  

10. Make intentions of your introduction clear

If you are introducing single people of different genders, make sure that the purpose of your introduction is clear and that there is no misunderstanding.  Being clear about whether the introduction is a business or a personal one will preclude embarrassing situations where people have misaligned intentions. 

As an introducer, your goal should be for both parties to be glad that you made the intro.  If only party one gets value from the meeting, you have failed. But when you succeed, you have the potential to massively increase the happiness of both people.

(Special thanks Michael Hsu for his help and edits.)

Auren Hoffman is the CEO of Rapleaf. Rapleaf helps B2C companies give their consumers a better experience by providing automated search services for each consumer. Re-published with permission. You can see more comments and leave your own on the original post at Summation.

For more ideas on effective email introductions, check out Chapter 13 of The Virtual Handshake (free download).

Writing Great LinkedIn Invitations

Idliek2addu2 Great LinkedIn invitations? Are they really that big a deal? Sure, canned messages are lame, but inviting someone to connect via LinkedIn (or any other social networking site) is just a simple matter of record-keeping. What’s wrong with just, “Hey, let’s connect?”

That’s one way to look at it. But consider this: every communication you have with someone in your network is an opportunity to move that relationship forward, to make it stronger. It’s not that there’s anything “wrong” with treating a LinkedIn invitation as a simple mechanical action, but it’s a missed opportunity. A few extra seconds can transform it into a relationship-building activity.

There’s another reason your LinkedIn invitations matter: if too many (five or so, best guess – LinkedIn doesn’t publish the actual number) of your invitations are rejected (“I don’t know the sender”) by the recipient, your account may be temporarily suspended and you will lose the ability to invite people to connect without their email address.

One way to ensure having your LinkedIn invitations accepted is to email the person before sending them a LinkedIn invitation and ask them if they’d like to connect on LinkedIn. That’s not always possible, i.e., old friends/colleagues/classmates who you’ve lost touch with. I also don’t think I’d email somebody solely for that purpose. But if you’re having an email dialog with someone already, slipping it into one of your messages is a good way to grease the skids for an invitation.

Let’s look at the “stand-alone” invitation in three scenarios: 1) someone you know well, who you are confident will accept the invitation, 2) an acquaintance or colleague that may not immediately recognize your name, and 3) someone you don’t know personally, but are interested in connecting with.

The basic format is the same in all cases:

  1. Establish context. This is the main thing that will vary between the different scenarios. More below.
  2. Invite them to connect, in your own words.
  3. Suggest a next action. Coffee. A phone call. Sending them a link. Making an introduction. If you’re particularly interested in developing this relationship, make a commitment and then keep it. Otherwise, you can put the ball in their court.

[Read more…]

New tools: CompanionLink, SP400 Smart-Pointer

I want to make a quick plug for two new tools that I’ve been using.

CompanionLink Software gave me a trial copy of CompanionLink, which synchronizes PIM/CRM data with your phone or other supported desktop applications and web-based services (like Google, Act, Goldmine, etc.).  I use it to sync my iPhone with Act 2009 Premium.  I find that syncing tools are particularly hard to get working smoothly, but this product worked smoothly and consistently from my first use of it.


SP400 Smart-Pointer (Silver) 2.4Ghz RF Wireless Presenter with Mouse Function and Laser PointerI also recently purchased the Satechi SP400 2GB Smart-Pointer 2.4Ghz RF Wireless Presenter with Mouse Function and Laser Pointer.  Thanks to Taimur Hassan for his help researching this product category.  In a very small form factor, this product has a laser pointer, remote mouse, 2GB USB key, and standard presentation controls. If you make presentations regularly, this is a very small investment ($40) to help your audience absorb your material and reduce your risk that the host of your presentation will not have a functioning remote projection device available.

How to Protect Yourself and Your Company Against a Hacker Attack (Like Twitter's) — at No Cost

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Twitter’s security meltdown has done a fantastic job of publicizing how vulnerable a modern, cloud-based startup can be to a determined hacker

I have been surprised that in the numerous articles about how to protect yourself against hacking, I have seen very little mention of the powerful technique that we discussed in The Virtual Handshake.  Here’s a slightly updated version of what we wrote in the book:

Use a different user ID and password for all of the important sites you visit. If a thief knows your password on one site, it’s too easy for him to then use that password on many other sites. (That homogeneity is what broke down Twitter’s security.)  A good way to keep unique passwords for every site is to develop a standard method for creating a password from the name of the site. For example, to create a unique password for

1. Pick a standard word for use with all your sites.  We’ll use "jade."

2. Split it in half. In the middle, insert the number of letters in the domain name. "Orkut" has 5 letters, so we write "ja5de."

3. Add a letter at the beginning that is the first letter of the domain name. "Orkut" = "O," giving us "Oja5de."

Although this allows you to easily calculate the password, a hacker cannot readily deduce a pattern because each site has its own unique password. Of course, you need to create your own algorithm; do not use this one! To avoid confusion from an excessive number of passwords, it’s okay to use the same password on all Web sites for which security is not critical, e.g., newspaper sites.

One weakness in this approach is the use of a common word as a base.  Christopher Faulkner, CEO of C I Host, suggests pick a line from a song or popular phrase, and use the first letter of each word. For example, "Four Score and Seven Years Ago" becomes "4s&7YA" .

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5 Reasons You Need LOTS of Twitter Followers NOW

By most people’s standards, I’m doing very well on Twitter. TwitterGrader currently gives me a score of 100% and has me ranked #265 out of nearly 2 million users it has analyzed.



I’m adding an average of a little over 30 followers per day, and have had days where I’ve added almost 100 new followers (#FollowFriday has been very good to me lately – thanks to all have included me in their lists).

I could toss up a bunch of other metrics here to convince you, but let’s just suffice it to say that, more or less, I’m “doing everything right” (I’m sure a few people will argue one or two points with me, but whatever).

But I want more followers. LOTS more followers. And so do you.and here’s why:

1. Only a handful of your followers are actually paying attention.

Some of your followers are heavy Twitter users. Guess what? They’re following a ton of people, and the odds of them actually picking any one of your tweets out of the noise of the thousands of people they’re following is very slim. Others are light Twitter users, and the odds of them actually being online and seeing your tweets in a timely manner is fairly slim also.

Even with nearly 4,500 “true” followers, I typically find that any one given tweet of mine generates less than 10 reactions – a reply, a retweet, a click-through to my blog, etc. [Point of clarification: I’m talking about first-order reactions, i.e., from my immediate followers. The network effect is typically much higher – anywhere from 20 to as many as 300-400 actions in the extended network after the retweets.]

That’s 0.2%!

That is a worse response rate than Google AdWords. It’s a worse response rate than cold calling. Heck, it’s a worse response rate than junk mail!!!

I’m not saying that means it’s ineffective for the time/effort you put into it, because it’s a) free and b) not terribly time-consuming. Still, point is, the response rate sucks. You need larger numbers if you want significant action in response to your Twitter activity.

2. More followers = more visibility = more “true” followers.

I couldn’t care less about my follower count for its own sake. It’s not a “badge of honor”. But there’s a basic truth about social media that Clay Shirky wrote about way back in 2003 in Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality: the sources who get more attention tend to get way more attention.

There are several reasons for this:

For one thing, psychologically, those with more followers are perceived by many to be more authoritative.

For another, there are dozens of tools out there that rank sources based on follower count (or at least that’s one of the metrics). So tools like TwitterGrader, TwitterCounter’s Top 100 lists, Twitterholic and others give more visibility to those with more followers. More visibility = still more followers.

And finally, if you have more followers, there are more people re-tweeting your posts, replying to you, etc. So their networks are exposed to you and more likely to add you.

Does it actually work? Anecdotally, yes it does. I had something I had posted about several times, even asking people for re-tweets. I got several – almost 20, in fact, but it took like 5 posts to get those 20 re-tweets. I then asked my friend @PerryBelcher to re-tweet it for me. At the time, Perry had a little over 10x as many followers as I did. Perry got 10 re-tweets off his one post. Now that’s obviously not proportional, i.e., he doesn’t have as much average attention per user as I do, but that just proves my point as to why you need larger numbers.

3. Even if you’re currently B2B or in a narrow niche, you don’t know what the future holds.

For the past six years, I’ve worked social media almost entirely from a B2B perspective myself. Some of my clients have been B2C, and I’ve advised them on strategies that I never implemented myself because I didn’t see them as a fit. My latest project, however, is a B2C play to a very broad potential market. Simply put, I can serve that project much better the farther my reach/influence is. Certainly, stronger relationships create all kinds of opportunities, but I also just simply need to raise awareness.

And relative to my goals, I’m practically starting from scratch. I want to have 10-15 times my current follower count on my personal account, and I’m starting from square one on the account I set up for that project, @AmerGuitarAcad.

Regardless of what your current job or business is, what does the future hold for you? And when suddenly you do find yourself in a position of needing a much larger network, do you want to be starting from scratch? Or already have a head start?

As Harvey Mackay says, “Dig your well before you’re thirsty.”

4. The celebrities are coming! The celebrities are coming!

Take a look at the Twitterholic Top 100. Everyone on there is a celebrity. Even if you don’t recognize their name, trust me, they are. They’re either a blogging celebrity, an author, a TV personality, a technology CEO or something. These people already have huge other platforms from which to announce their Twitter presence and rapidly grow their follower count. For example, my uncle, David Allen (@GTDGuy), has been on Twitter barely six weeks and already has about 175,000 followers.

The more celebrities show up on Twitter, the harder and harder it will get for you to reap the benefits described in #2 above. Three months ago, the Twitterholic list looked completely different. I mean, consider this: @GuyKawasaki and @Scobleizer don’t even make the cut any more.

The window of opportunity is narrowing rapidly. If you want to be on the high side of that power curve, you need to get there NOW!

5. It doesn’t cost anything to have followers.

The incremental cost of adding one more follower is $0.00. Not only that, there’s zero (or near-zero) time cost. You can rapidly grow your follower count in just 15-20 minutes a day. Now sure, you may have to follow more people to grow your follower count rapidly, and they may create more noise in your Twitter stream, but there are tools like TweetDeck that will help you manage that (just create a “high attention” group of people whose tweets you absolutely don’t want to miss).

There’s simply no downside, that I can see. By all means, if you think there is, say so in the comments below.

So of course this begs the question:

“How do I get LOTS of followers?”<

If you’re interested in getting new followers at the rate of 20-30 a day, here’s what I’ve done that has achieved that:

  1. Create value for your followers by sharing excellent content – a mix of your own and from others.
  2. Follow new people “organically” by adding people who send you @ messages, people on the other half of a conversation with the people you’re already following, etc.
  3. Promote others on #FollowFriday. If you’ve done #1, many of the people you promote will reciprocate and promote you.
  4. Participate in hashtag chats as a way of meeting new people, some of whom may follow you.
  5. Use Twitter recommendation engines like Mr. Tweet and TwitterGrader to find relevant new people to follow. Again, many of them will reciprocate and follow you back.
  6. Promote your Twitter ID on your blog, social networking sites, your email signature, business cards, etc.

For many people, those practices will get them all the followers they think they would ever want. But as I said, I’m interested in accelerating even beyond that.

So I’ve been studying the practices of Twitter users who are not celebrities (or at least internet celebrities), and I’ve found one person in particular who really seems to know what he’s doing: Richard Bryda, aka @BigRichB.

Rich has over 75,000 followers. That makes him the most-followed non-celebrity on Twitter. And he built that following all since last November, entirely on Twitter, i.e., no blog, no YouTube videos, no TV/radio show, etc. I’ve been watching him the past few months, and what he’s accomplished is nothing short of amazing. I’ve also had the chance to meet him in person, visit with him, and talk about what he’s been doing. Simply put, he has devoted the past few months to scientifically researching how to get more followers on Twitter.

This past weekend, Rich launched his info-product, Brute Force Twitter, which spells out over a dozen tactics he has developed for rapidly growing your follower count. I can tell you I personally won’t use every single one of these, but only one of them is a technique I’ve ever used myself, and even then, not to full effect. The rest of them, I never would have thought of.

I could spill the beans and tell you these techniques, but hey – that would be enormously disrespectful of the intellectual property Rich has spent countless hours developing over the past few months. And besides, if everybody had access to these techniques, you (and I) couldn’t use them to get on the steep side of that curve, right? 😉

This is NOT a “how to get rich on Twitter” scheme. This is about helping you get more followers to support your business model on Twitter, whatever it may be.

Rich is offering his system for just $97. If you’d like to learn along with me how to get not just 20-30 followers a day, but dozens or even hundreds, you can get more information or order now.

How NOT to Launch a Social Media Marketing Agency

I’m not in the practice of being overly critical, and certainly not mean or snarky. But sometimes someone does something so completely, utterly incompetent or misguided that it’s worth pointing out, for their own good as well as being an example for the general public.

That happened yesterday. Short version of the story: an established PR and marketing agency is launching a new social media marketing agency – “Buzzphoria”. They announced themselves with an advertisement on HARO (Help A Reporter Out), an email newsletter with about 50,000 media-savvy subscribers.

Only problem is, they weren’t ready – not even close. Their blog (once you find it) still has the default WordPress “Hello, world!” post. They don’t have a Twitter account. They don’t have any social media links on their site to connect with them. They didn’t do themselves any favors with that ad.

For the full story, with screenshots, see Buzzphoria Social Media Reality Check on my personal blog.