What the F**k is Social Media? The Basics.

30 11 2009

As a printer… I often wonder why I spend so much time with twitter, my blog, linkedin, and all those other social media sites.  I  mean really… doesn’t that completely COUNTER what I am trying to do as a printing sales rep?

This engaging little online book reminded me why online networking is important…

What the F is Social Media?

So I guess Social Media is here to stay.  I don’t know about you all, but I definitely have gotten myself lost inside the more “social” aspect of social networking.  I can spend HOURS tweeting away about my favorite facial product or the Steelers’ game (ugh) last night.  But in reality, how to we use these sites to advance our BUSINESS?  That seems to be the million dollar question these days.

For me, I am starting out by simply using these to augment what I already do in non-online life.  Or NonLine. if you will.  I still do my cold-calls.  I still do my emailing and prospecting.  But I am trying to build up my online credibility.  Clients will check up on you, and they like seeing who you are as a person.  These outlets need to be seen as an opportunity for you to have touch-points with clients.  And you don’t have to do ANYTHING to get them! 

First, get a good-looking  photo of you in professional clothing.  Non of this half-cropped face at the bar stuff.  You need to look online the way you would present yourself in person.

Next, set up a LinkedIn page.  This is as easy as uploading a picture and your resume to begin.  There are much more complicated and intricate things that you can do on LinkedIn but I’ll save those for later.  To start – just get your page up and going.

After this, I recommend getting into Twitter and also starting a blog.  These things can all complement each other and feed leads back and forth. 

Finally, set up an established time each day that you will dedicate to updating these sites.  For me, I try to do Twitter once in the morning for 10 minutes (UGH… I can get so carried away with this!) and once in the afternoon for the same amount of time.   Don’t just write about work – write about your personal life in a professional way.  For example “Can’t wait to go see that Twilight Movie tonight!  Anyone been there yet??”  This is an awesome way for you to find out your client’s interestes and what THEY do on their personal time.  DO NOT Tweet about questionable late-night activities or bar-top dancing.

Blog: I recommend blogging 2 times a week to start.  Not that I have been able to keep up with that.  Blogging takes a lot of time and you really DO need to have a topic.  But for all intensive purposes, I’d recommend you use WordPress as your blog host if you are inexperienced (like me) and blogspot if you know what you are doing.  WordPress is easy, dummy-proof, and shows you clearly where your traffic is coming from.  Blogspot is great, but takes more time to set up and has fewer domain names available.  For your entries, pick a topic and start it on the spot.  I sometimes take 2-3 days to complete writing a blog that I started just because new ideas occur to me all the time.  Also because I have to run spell-check, but that’s beside the point.  Finally, think of a catchy title that people will want to click on and insert an interesting picture that people will want to look at.  Simple. 

The final step is to post a link to your latest blog on Twitter and on LinkedIn.  Be sure to give it a humorous tag line like “What the F**k Is Social Media??” (pat on the creator of that book’s back here) and off you go.

The plus side of having these many different outlets is that you can “advertise” for yourself and cross reference people.  I track hits to this blog from PrintJunkie.Net, Twitter, Facebook, AND LinkedIn and I can see where the majority of my web-traffic comes from.  I am testing my network to show a pattern that will help me to promote my business when the time arises.  Next time we have a special deal, sale, or if I need information on a particular project – I know which network upon which I have the most influence.  Also, I am connecting with clients, strangers, and potential new clients in an entirely new way.  I mean you, reading this, you probably feel like you know a little bit about me having read some of my blogs.  You may want to be my friend and (hopefully) would be interested in doing business with me should, should the opportunity ever arise.  Or maybe you are just looking at my posts for laughs and giggles with your co-workers over the ideals of a sales rep still wet behind the ears.

Look, none of this is an exact science and I am definitely still working the kinks out.  Regardless, this is a great place for you to start if you are new to the social media world.  Get a good picture and then hit up Twitter, WordPress or BlogSpot, and LinkedIn.


Making Sure the “Margin of Error” Happens to Someone Else

24 11 2009

Last week a fellow sales rep was complaining about another job of hers had been screwed up in production and wouldn’t deliver on time.  She may lose this client because this is not the first time there have been errors with their account.  I listened and expressed the appropriate amount of concern.  All sales people understand that quality control is one of the most frustrating parts of our job – we literally have no control over the quality of the product that is produced.  Or do we?  

I am not knocking my production staff.  I would NEVER do that.  The guys that I work with are AMAZINGLY meticulous, thoughtful, and detail oriented.  But no matter what industry you are in or how talented your team is, there is a margin of error.  This article will tell you how to make as sure that those errors happen with OTHER people’s jobs, not yours.

So how do you effectively  implement a quality-control program when you actually have nothing to do with the production process?  You become a part of the production process.  Duh.

Now before you get all “but it’s not my job” on me, you need to stop your whining.  If you want to get results you need to change your perspective.

So here is my 5-Step “Oops!” Factor Reduction Process:

  • Never Eat Alone:  Nothing helps you develop a strong relationship with your production team like regularly breaking bread with them.  I recommend spending at least 2 lunches per month with them if not more.  This will help you learn more about them as well as make you available if they have questions about a job of yours they are working on.
  • The “Good Morning” Factor: This one is super simple but I can’t tell you how many people have told me that they appreciate it.  Say “good morning” to people and mean it.
  • Roll Up Dem Sleeves: It’s common sense to walk around the production area to check in on your jobs at least once a day.  But it is NOT common sense to ask if you can help.  Instead of nagging and rolling your eyes about a missed deadline, ask if there is anything you can do.  If they ask you to do something, DO IT and SMILE.  Remember that they wouldn’t ask if it wasn’t needed.  Be available to pick up, deliver, and in general be of service for your jobs.  If your support team sees that you are engaged on the same level they are, they will care more about your jobs and you will be one of the first to know if there is an issue.
  • Over-Appreciate Overtime: If you know the production guys are working over a weekend or is being burdened with a lot of overtime- you know they are stressed.  Do something to show you care.  Show up unexpectedly (when you are supposed to be off) bearing beer or some baked goodness.  Walk around with the case/plate and tell them how much you appreciate their hard work.  Even if they came in to complete someone elses’ job – you are showing them you notice the extra effor they are putting in to make the whole shop thrive. 
  • Ask For Input: These individuals are most-often experts in their fields.  Our Bindery Manager has been in the industry for 37 years.  That is longer than I have been alive!  When you ask for their opinion on the best way to produce something, you are simultaneously showing them how valuable their endless knowledge is and giving your client the benefit of the years of experience these people have.  I know that my production team has saved my booty MANY times with issues I never even knew existed simply because I asked a question.

Look – I know you can’t get involved in every step of the production process or it will inhibit your sales.  So don’t get involved in every step.  Just get a little bit involved.  A lot of the stuff I have done has been on my free time – deliveries after hours, taking cards home and collating them while I watch TV, and coming in on Saturday to bring my favorite guys a few ice-cold beers as they are finishing up an arduous extra shift.

Maybe this process won’t help you at all, but I will tell you from experience that the jobs I sell are consistently delivered ahead of time and with the highest quality.  I genuinely care about the people who help make me look good to my clients, and in turn they care about the jobs that they produce on my behalf.