Frienships online can lead down many great roads and adventures. Today I am going to concentrate on a few people that I have met online. I met Thomas Prendergast back in 2009 as a result of me being a customer of his former company Veretekk. I had called in to his customer support line with a concern that I wasn’t doing something right. It was a weekend and I thought I would be leaving a message and wait for someone to contact me. To my surprise, Tom answered my call and I later found out that he was the CEO.
After explaining my frustration to Tom, and a long very friendly conversation Tom and I had a connection. Tom and I having similar back grounds and a lots in common. Tom offered to mentor me personally in SEO and internet marketing. Tom must have seen something in me that I myself had not yet seen.
He had offered to me a Platinum Control Panel free of charge to use as long as I was learning. ($500 per month) It was then that I knew Tom wasn’t offering to help me for the money, he really cares about other and their success.
So Tom and I have been friends ever since. It’s odd the relationships that you can create online. I have people that I have met through the internet and though we have never met face to face, I would consider them to be great friends of mine.
Case in point, Thomas Prendergast and I have never met in person however we are now business partners in Markethive. Kathy Keen and I met through a business venture 6 years ago, we again have never met in person and I feel that I know her very well. Kathy and I have worked on several projects since.
Michael Ralph whom I have just met the month of September, 2016 and I know already, that he and I are going to be great internet friends. Michael has many qualities that I admire about him and I see so much potential in his future regarding Internet marketing. I think he will build a very successful business. I see drive, passion, and a great attitude. Yeah I think it’s safe to say, I liked Michael right away.
I have many examples of some really great people that I have met online, so if I have not mentioned you in this post. I still love you.
Markethive allows me to connect on a much deeper level because our social network allows me to connect to all of their other social networks as well.
AI (Artificial Intelligence) and robots threaten to unleash mass unemployment, scientists warn
Intelligent robots threaten millions of jobs
Advances in artificial intelligence will soon lead to robots that are capable of nearly everything humans do, threatening tens of millions of jobs in the coming 30 years, experts warned Saturday.
"We are approaching a time when machines will be able to outperform humans at almost any task," said Moshe Vardi, director of the Institute for Information Technology at Rice University in Texas.
"I believe that society needs to confront this question before it is upon us: If machines are capable of doing almost any work humans can do, what will humans do?" he asked at a panel discussion on artificial intelligence at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Vardi said there will always be some need for human work in the future, but robot replacements could drastically change the landscape, with no profession safe, and men and women equally affected.
"Can the global economy adapt to greater than 50 percent unemployment?" he asked.
Automation and robotization have already revolutionized the industrial sector over the last 40 years, raising productivity but cutting down on employment.
Job creation in manufacturing reached its peak in the United States in 1980 and has been on the decline ever since, accompanied by stagnating wages in the middle class, said Vardi.
Automation and robotization have revolutionized the industrial sector over the last 40 years,
raising productivity but cutting down on employment
Today there are more than 200,000 industrial robots in the country and their number continues to rise.
Today, research is focused on the reasoning abilities of machines, and progress in this realm over the past 20 years has been spectacular, said Vardi.
"And there is every reason to believe the progress in the next 25 years will be equally dramatic," he said.
By his calculation, 10 percent of jobs related to driving in the United States could disappear due to the rise of driverless cars in the coming 25 years.
According to Bart Selman, professor of computer science at Cornell University, "in the next two or three years, semi-autonomous or autonomous systems will march into our society."
He listed self-driving cars and trucks, autonomous drones for surveillance and fully automatic trading systems, along with house robots and other kinds of "intelligence assistance" which make decisions on behalf of humans.
"We will be in sort of symbiosis with those machines and we will start to trust them and work with them," he predicted.
"This is the concern because we don't know the rate of growth of machine intelligence, how clever those machines will become."
The Pentagon has requested $19 billion for developing intelligent weapons systems
Will the machines remain understandable for the humans? Will humans will be able to control them? Will they remain a benefit for humans, or pose harms?
These questions and more are being raised anew due to recent advances in robotic technology that allow machines to see and hear, almost like people.
Selman said investment in artificial intelligence in the United States was by far the highest ever in 2015, since the birth of the industry some 50 years ago.
Business giants like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Tesla, run by billionaire Elon Musk, are at the head of the pack.
Also, the Pentagon has requested 19 billion for developing intelligent weapons systems.
What is concerning about these new technologies is their ability to analyze data and execute complex tasks.
This raises concerns about whether humans might one day lose control of the artificial intelligence they once built, said Selman.
It's a concern that some of the world's great minds have raised too, including British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, who warned in a BBC interview in 2014 that the consequences could be dire.
"It would take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever increasing rate," he said.
"Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete, and would be superseded," he added.
"The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race."
These questions have led scientists to call for the establishment of an ethical framework for the development of artificial intelligence, as well as safeguards for security in the years to come.
Last year Musk—the owner of SpaceX—donated 10 million to resolve such concerns, deeming artificial intelligence potentially more dangerous than nuclear weapons.
For Wendel Wallach, an ethicist at Yale University, such dangers require a global response.
He also called for a presidential order declaring that lethal autonomous weapons systems are in violation of international humanitarian law.
"The basic idea is that there is a need for concerted action to keep technology a good servant and not let it become a dangerous master."
Veretekk invented Automated Marketing (in 1996), later to become known as Inbound Marketing (MarketHive). Veretekk’s traffic portal offers, auto responders, Broadcasting technology (The Hammer), Conference rooms and sales funnel process became the foundation that today is known as Inbound Marketing.
But let us digress some. Before the Internet; advertising and marketing were for the most part driven by Outbound Marketing:
Outbound marketing is buying attention, cold- calling, Direct paper mail, radio, TV, sales flyers, spam,
telemarketing and other forms of traditional advertising.
Inbound marketing is the most effective marketing method for doing business online. Inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time.
Simply concept really, execution is the challenge. (Just ask a few of your friends how often they blog) vs posting to Facebook newsfeeds, Skyping or texting back and forth. With a little understanding, some instruction and determination, any entrepreneurial motivated person can make a success with the right tools.
This is why it is important to know your “WHY” as that is what will drive your market base. What you love to do will attract others that share the same passion. And that is the “secret”.
Sharing is caring and inbound is about creating and sharing content with the world. By creating content specifically designed to appeal to your dream customers, inbound attracts qualified prospects to your business and keeps them coming back for more.
By publishing the right content in the right place at the right time, your marketing becomes relevant and helpful to your customers, not interruptive. Now that’s marketing people can love.
Create targeted content that answers prospects' and customers' basic questions and needs, then share that content far and wide. (Broadcasting)
Promoters don’t just materialize out of thin air: they start off as strangers, visitors, contacts, and customers. Specific marketing actions and tools help to transform those strangers into promoters. (Share the revenue “AFFILIATE”)
Tailor your content to the wants and needs of the people who are viewing it. As you learn more about your leads over time, you can better personalize your messages to their specific needs. (Build your sphere of influence)
Inbound marketing is multi-channel by nature because it approaches people where they are, in the channel where they want to interact with you. (Social Network connections)
Content creation, publishing and analytics tools all work together like a well-oiled machine — allowing you to focus on publishing the right content in the right place at the right time. (Tracking and measuring traffic, comments, responsive interaction)
The Four Marketing Actions
We don’t want just any traffic to our site, we want the right traffic. We want the people who are most likely to become leads, and, ultimately, happy customers. Who are the “right” people? Our ideal customers, also known as our buyer personas. Buyer personas are holistic ideals of what your customers are really like, inside and out. Personas encompass the goals, challenges, pain points, common objections to products and services, as well as personal and demographic information shared among all members of that particular customer type. Your personas are the people around whom your whole business is built.
Some of the most important tools to attract the right users to your site are:
Blogging– Inbound marketing starts with blogging. A blog is the single best way to attract new visitors to your website. In order to get found by the right prospective customers, you must create educational content that speaks to them and answers their questions.
SEO– Your customers begin their buying process online, usually by using a search engine to find something they have questions about. So, you need to make sure you’re appearing prominently when and where they search. To do that, you need to carefully, analytically pick keywords, optimize your pages, create content, and build links around the terms your ideal buyers are searching for.
Pages– Your website pages are your digital storefront. So put your best face forward! Optimize your website to appeal to your ideal buyers and transform your website into a beacon of helpful content to entice the right strangers to visit your pages.
Social Publishing– Successful inbound strategies are all about remarkable content — and social publishing allows you to share that valuable information on the social web, engage with your prospects, and put a human face on your brand. Interact on the networks where your ideal buyers spend their time.
Once you’ve attracted website visitors, the next step is to convert those visitors into leads by gathering their contact information. At the very least, you’ll need their email addresses. Contact information is the most valuable currency there is to the online marketer. So in order for your visitors to offer up that currency willingly, you need to offer them something in return! That “payment” comes in the form of content, like eBooks, whitepapers, or tip sheets — whatever information would be interesting and valuable to each of your personas.
Some of the most important tools in converting visitors to leads include:
Forms- In order for visitors to become leads, they must fill out a form and submit their information. Optimize your form to make this step of the conversion process as easy as possible.
Calls-to-action are buttons or links that encourage your visitors to take action, like “Download a Whitepaper” or “Attend a Webinar.” If you don’t have enough calls-to-action or your calls-to-action aren’t enticing enough, you won’t generate leads.
Landing Pages– When a website visitor clicks on a call-to-action, they should then be sent to a landing page. A landing page is where the offer in the call-to-action is fulfilled, and where the prospect submits information that your sales team can use to begin a conversation with them. When website visitors fill out a form on a landing page for the first time, that visitor becomes a contact.
Contacts– Keep track of the leads you're converting in a centralized marketing database. Having all your data in one place helps you make sense out of every interaction you’ve had with your contacts — be it through email, a landing page, social media, or otherwise — and how to optimize your future interactions to more effectively attract, convert, close, and delight your buyer personas.
You’re on the right track. You’ve attracted the right visitors and converted the right leads, but now you need to transform those leads into customers. How can you most effectively accomplish this feat? Certain marketing tools can be used at this stage to make sure you’re closing the right leads at the right times.
Closing tools include:
CRM– Keep track of the details about all the contacts, companies, and deals in your pipeline, and easily get in touch with the right prospects at the right time. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems facilitate sales by making sure you have the right information at your fingertips to better engage with prospects across every channel.
Closed-loop Reporting– How do you know which marketing efforts are bringing in the best leads? Is your sales system effectively closing those best leads into customers? Integration with your CRM system allows you to analyze just how well your marketing and sales teams are playing together.
Email– What do you do if a visitor clicks on your call-to-action, fills out a landing page, or downloads your whitepaper, but still isn’t ready to become a customer? A series of emails focused on useful, relevant content can build trust with a prospect and help them become more ready to buy.
Marketing Automation– This process involves creating email marketing and lead nurturing tailored to the needs and lifecycle stage of each lead. For example, if a visitor downloaded a whitepaper on a certain topic from you in the past, you might want to send that lead a series of related emails. But if they follow you on Twitter and visited certain pages on your website, you might want to change the messaging to reflect those different interests.
The Inbound way is all about providing remarkable content to our users, whether they be visitors, leads, or existing customers. Just because someone has already written you a check doesn’t mean you can forget about them! Inbound companies continue to engage with, delight, and (hopefully) upsell their current customer base into happy promoters of the organizations and products they love.
Tools used to delight customers include:
Surveys– The best way to figure out what your users want is by asking them. Use feedback and surveys to ensure you’re providing customers with what they’re looking for.
Smart Calls-to-Action– These present different users with offers that change based on buyer persona and lifecycle stage.
Smart Text– Provide your existing customers with remarkable content tailored to their interests and challenges. Help them achieve their own goals, as well as introduce new products and features that might be of interest to them.
Social Monitoring- Keep track of the social conversations that matter to you most. Listen out for your customers’ questions, comments, likes, and dislikes — and reach out to them with relevant content.
The New Methodology
The Inbound Methodology covers each and every step taken, tool used, and lifecycle stage traveled through on the road from stranger to customer. It empowers marketers to attract visitors, convert leads, close customers, and delight promoters. The new methodology acknowledges that inbound marketing doesn’t just happen, you do it. And you do it using tools and applications that help you create and deliver content that will appeal to precisely the right people (your buyer personas) in the right places (channels) at just the right times (lifecycle stages).
An Entrepreneurial Social Network integrated with an advanced Inbound Marketing platform is genius on steroids. Sharing up to 50% of the potential revenue with you is very generous and the potential of this combination is atomic!
Search Engine Optimization is a very hot topic on the World Wide Web. After-all, everybody wants to rank higher and come up on the first page of Google search and get more traffic.
Sometimes it is easy to get carried away with SEO though. In my opinion, the best technique is to keep it simple and apply a bit of common sense.
Most SEO plugins will take care of the common architecture related stuff for you. So in this article I will only focus on techniques that you need to do yourself (or be aware of).
I have identified and made a list of top 15 SEO practices that I tend to forget quite often. These simple SEO techniques, if practiced properly, can make a significant difference as to how my pages are ranked in the Search Engine Queries.
Use proper anchor text for inter-links. Don’t use “here”, “there” etc for the anchor text (if you can avoid it).
Optimize the images, always create alt tags and write description in the alt tag.
Use search engine friendly permalinks. Try not to have too many ‘&’, ‘?’, ‘!’ etc characters in the URL. Sometimes it is unavoidable but try to keep it to a minimum.
Use hyphens (-) between words to improve readability.
Do not use underscores (_) in URLs, use hyphens (-) instead.
Do not use session id in URLs. If you are using good hosting then you shouldn’t have to worry about this one.
Avoid using capital letters in URLs. Windows servers are case sensitive. Keep them lowercase so there’s no confusion.
Use internal linking when possible and appropriate.
Use sticky posts (if you can and if it applies to you).
Using Online Video Websites to Promote Your Business
Are you a small business owner? If so, how is your business doing? Despite businesses that are a success, there are many business owners who want more. If you are one of those individuals, it is likely that you would do just about anything in your power to improve your business, especially if you sell a particular product or service. When working to improve their businesses, many business owners spend thousands, if not millions, of dollars on advertising. How would you feel if you learned that there was a free way that you could promote your business?
A free way to promote your business? Unfortunately, many business owners believe that there is no such thing. If by chance it is believed, there are many who would automatically assume that it was a wasted effort. Although many free advertising methods can be deemed time consuming and not worth the effort, there is one that you should try. That method involves the internet and free online video websites.
If you are an avid internet user, there is a good chance that you are fully aware of what free online video websites are and what they do. If not, you will want to learn. Free online video websites are websites that allow internet users to watch videos that are hosted on their website, free of charge. What is nice about free online video websites is that most will also allow internet users, just like you, to make, upload, and share their own videos. Depending on the type of business you own and operate, you may be able to use these websites to your advantage.
When it comes to using free online video websites to your advantage, you will want to familiarize yourself with the websites that are currently available. You can easily do this by performing a standard internet search. Your search should produce a fairly large number of results, including Google Video and YouTube. Before making your video, you will want to examine any of the rules and restrictions that are set in place. When doing so, you will find that most video websites do not have any rules or restrictions concerning the use of online videos to promote your business; however, you will still want to make sure that your video is tactfully done.
If you are an online business owner, especially one that sells a particular product, you could make a video showcasing your product. For instance, if your specialty is photo blankets, you may want to show your samples or even go over the process of making them. It may also be a good idea to mention the overall cost of photo blankets and who should own them. If your product would make a great gift, it is also advised that you mentioned that. When doing your video, you will want to refrain from making your video seem like spam. Although you may want to mention the price, you will want to refrain from promoting your business too much. At the end of your video, you may want to offer directions on how to make a purchase or learn more information.
Although products are the easiest to showcase in an online video, you can also use your video to help promote a particular service that you sell. For instance, if you offer assistance to those that are in debt, you will want to provide an overview of what debt is, who it hurts, and how help can be obtained. Providing general information on debt is a great way to keep your video from appearing too pushy. As mentioned above, you may also want to include information on your business at the end of your video. This may help to increase the number of clients you receive, especially if you provide a service that is used and needed by many.
To make you video, whether or not you plan on using that video to promote your business, you will need a few pieces of equipment. Perhaps, the most important is a recording device. For the best results, you are urged to use a camcorder, but you can also use a webcam. Movie making software is important, as well. Most computers already come equipped with movie making software. After you have made and saved your video, you will have to follow the instructions of the free online video website you wish to use.
Inbound Marketing Tools that you can use to promote your business.
MarketHive Inbound Marketing Tools for Entrepreneurs
MarketHive is a social networking site designed for entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs, MarketHive isn't only a social networking website, in addition, it includes a blogging platform, plus some very effective online marketing tools to allow entrepreneurs to be successful marketing their Internet business, services and products.
Below you will find some of the marketing tools you will receive once you sign up for Markethive:
• E-mail Broadcasting
• Blogging Platform
• Capture Pages
• One Click Lead Generation System
• Conference Room and a whole lot more
To learn more about Markethive and to get access to free autoresponders click on the following link:
The importance of a mentor and where to find them can be one of the most important tasks a business professional can search for in their journey towards success.
I write about growth strategy, execution & financing
Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
Why Mentors Matter?
Mentors or business coaches are one of the most valuable resources an entrepreneur should tap into. The idea of launching a business should no longer be a scary or daunting experience, riddled with unknowns. It should be a collaborative experience accumulating the learnings of the hundreds of local entrepreneurs who have already built successful businesses, and can help you move faster and avoid known pitfalls based on their years of experience, as entrepreneurs themselves.
And, what is great about mentors or business coaches is that they come in all shapes and sizes that can handle the myriad of topics that you may be having a problem. So, search for the mentors who are expert on your specific business size, your specific industry, or your specific business problem (e.g., marketing issue vs. technology issue), on a case-by-case basis. Unlike finding a long term person for your formal board of directors or advisory board, as I have previously written about, mentors are more like “hired guns” on one-off topics that present themselves over time.
My Experience as a Mentor
Over my career, I have had the distinct pleasure of mentoring many startup entrepreneurs. Some of that has been via formal mentorship programs at startup accelerators like Techstars, Founder Institute or Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses. And, some of it has been informal conversations along the way, while guest lecturing university students or at entrepreneurial networking events. To me, there is nothing more invigorating than being surrounded by a bunch of excited and motivated entrepreneurs, and trying to help them achieve their goals of building successful businesses. And, I am happy to contribute learnings from my career to help them get up the learning curve faster and for me to give back to the entrepreneurial ecosystem, of which I am a part.
A Mentorship Case Study
As an example, one of the startups I met needed help in structuring a strategic partnership with the leading media company in their industry to assist them with promotion and building up an audience. And, modestly, who better to help them than me, who structured a very similar media-related strategic partnership with National Geographic, while I was building explore in the travel space. Having the benefit of hindsight of cutting a strategic deal with a big media company, I have first-hand experience of what the pluses and minuses of that relationship were after the ink was signed, and it was too late to change anything in the agreement. So, hopefully, this startup can benefit from my experience, and can write a better agreement in their deal, than I did in mine.
Do you have superpowers? If you want to be a powerful SEO master, you need them. The good news is that, to get SEO superpowers, you don’t have to be born on Krypton or get bitten by a radioactive spider (not that there’s anything wrong with that). No, in this case you must only apply yourself and equip yourself with knowledge and tools in order to beat your competitors. Let’s talk about the SEO superpowers you should develop inside yourself:
Lightning Fast Reaction
The faster that you can respond to a lead that has tapped on one of your exclusive Free Capture Page 1 click Widgets that you have crated within Markethive the higher the chance of you closing a sale. This is best attained with a well put together set of auto responders. Whats that? You've never created a set of well written auto responder emails? FEAR NOT
Its a good thing that we have set up an outstanding default auto responder for you in MarketHive. However if you want to really turn up some heat on your own auto responder SUPER POWERS we have free workshops to help you learn the skills to do just that.
You can have a All the great SEO content in the world, if you don't follow up its all useless. We invite you to come and learn to use the most advanced inbound marketing system put together by one of the greatest team of Internet marketing so that you too can learn to be an SEO INTERNET MARKETING SUPER HERO.
I’m not going to sugar coat it, sell you rainbows and unicorns or tell you that becoming an entrepreneur will make you instantly rich. And I’m definitely not going to tell you that it’s easy. Starting your own business is HARD. The biggest component to success is a high-risk tolerance.
I have repeatedly struggled to find my footing, pay bills and get everything set up before finally finding a workable formula.
The business itself is easy to create. I’ve written about how to quickly set up an online money-maker for yourself. I’ve even put together some ideas and specific examples for you to help you come up with an idea.
It’s the cultivation of the business that takes time and energy. No matter how great your idea is, it will not flower by itself. You have to nurture it.
And that’s the problem. Nurturing takes TIME. Lot’s and lot’s of time, attention, care and energy.
My goal is to help you harness the digital power to make yourself money with as little effort as possible. We all know the major themes: create products, share value with people, make income. But it’s not exactly a linear process, is it?
So how do you make a relatively smooth transition from corporate employee to automated/digitized entrepreneur without going destitute?
You have to start with the middle road: freelancing.
The bottom line is this — you need time to set up your business. Most corporate jobs have schedules that don’t really allow for the type of time you need to build content, products, relationships and skills.
What I did: In the transition period between quitting my job at Longhorn Steakhouse in Atlanta, making $2 an hour, to creating my digital empire out of my office in gorgeous Santa Monica, I worked as a contracted online freelancer. I got to create my own schedule, meet a bunch of interesting people, and do something that I loved (or at least liked a lot).
And the biggest perk of all? I could charge a LOT more money.
Most corporate jobs are salaried — so they’re going to max you out and overwork you for the same pay.
Hourly jobs can be low-paying by their very nature. The more money you make per hour, the less the company wants you to work. It’s a catch-22. But as a freelancer, none of this applies to you. You set your own schedule and you set your own rates.
Inevitably, this is where the objections start to crop up:
“I have no idea what I would do. I’m not good at coming up with ideas.”
“I don’t have any valuable skills. I just have my job-specific skills.”
“My market is already saturated. There are better people doing what I do.”
“Nobody will pay for what I know when they can just teach themselves.”
(These are exact copy and pastes from fans and readers who follow my work.)
What are your skills?
There are literally HUNDREDS of things you can do that are enjoyable and that other people will PAY you for. Start thinking about where you could mine your talent for freelance skill:
What do people consistently ask you for help or advice in?
Do you have any unique skills, talents, hobbies or abilities?
What areas of life have you excelled to an “advanced” or even “intermediate” level?
What skills ideas interest you enough to learn, and then teach to others?
Could you work independently doing what you do now at your current job?
Do you have any friends with talents that compliment yours? Maybe you could team up.
Best to learn by example, I think. Here’s how I did it.
When I first started freelancing, I was working at Longhorn Steakhouse (I’m basically a steak aficionado now). I was also working for Kaplan Test Prep.
My steak skills weren’t worth much. But my Kaplan skills were. I realized that people were paying $100+ per hour for me to tutor their student one-on-one. You won’t believe how much I was making…$18/hour!
And the worst part was…I THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD WAGE!!
Our perceptions are skewed because minimum wage is $7.25. So we think that anything significantly higher than that is good money. The reality is, $7.25 isn’t even livable. You probably need a minimum of $20/hour to make it out here.
But when I really sat down to think about it…I just got INFURIATED.
Here I was, doing all the teaching, grading, talking, communicating with parents, driving from school to school while Kaplan just sat back remotely and took 82% of my money.
Since I as the one with the skill, I needed to be the one making the money. I knew I could make this work on my own and cut out the middle man.
So I bided my time. I looked around, I made some calls.
I found a partner who was also interested in getting a freelance education business going. He was the consulting side, I was the teaching side. Together we knocked down doors, created classes and started making money. A lot more of it.
First, I quit Kaplan. Didn’t want any conflict of interest. Then, as soon as the restaurant started to get in the way of my new endeavor, I quit that as well.
When I quit both jobs, I wasn’t making quite as much with the new business…but the projections were giving me a solid indication that things would pick up quickly. So I just took the leap.
Markethive is Inbound Marketing combined with a dynamic vertical social network funded by advertising. Not only makes the entire Inbound Marketing system cost free, it also allows you to leverage huge results when you build groups to facilitate the platforms via the social network.
Markethive is next generation technology from a 20 year old Inbound Marketing platform called Veretekk. Built by the same entrepreneurs, innovation is our DNA.
Want to Be More Influential? Improve Your Social Skills.
Improving your Social skills is no longer a choice! It is a must if you want to be in marketing. Dale Carnegie got it right when he said that to win more friends and influence more people you need to improve your interpersonal skills. Twenty years of research on power and influence shows that people with superior social skills are substantially more influential than people with average social skills. These findings make sense when you realize that influence is not something you have; it’s something other people give you. In other words, you can’t be influential with people unless they allow you to be influential with them. So influence is in large part a function of your relationship with other people, and the rule of thumb on influence is that you are likely to be more successful if the people you want to influence know you, like you, respect you, and trust you.
It is significantly easier to influence people you know than people you don’t. So go out of your way to make yourself known. If you’re in an organization, this means increasing your visibility throughout the organization. Introduce yourself to people. As you get to know them, let them know who you are. My research shows that people are who highly skilled at being friendly and sociable with strangers and building close relationships are more than twice as influential as people who are less skilled at sociability and relationship building. People around the world instinctively understand this, which is why socializing is one of the most frequently used influence techniques globally. If you aren’t naturally good at socializing, then this is a key skill to build. Extraverts are often naturally good at socializing, but being an introvert is not necessarily a liability. You may just have to try harder to do something that does not come naturally to you.
Sometimes, you know the person you want to influence but aren’t as influential as you’d like with him or her because of bad chemistry. Many years ago when I was younger and single a friend introduced me to a young woman, and she and I dated for a while. She was a nice, attractive person, and we tried to be a couple but it just didn’t work. Somehow, we got on each other’s nerves and whatever either of us said or did was somehow wrong. There was no chemistry between us, and it wasn’t her fault or mine. We just weren’t a good match for each other. So it goes. In my three decades in business I’ve had similar situations with some colleagues and clients. Despite everyone’s good intentions, the plain fact is that there’s something about the other person each of you just doesn’t like.
I wrote in The Elements of Power(Amacom Books, 2011) that attraction can be a significant source of power, and it’s based partly on the psychological principle of liking. We are more inclined to say yes to people we like than to people we don’t, which is why friends are more likely to do favors for each other than they are for people they don’t know. So to be more influential, do what you can to be more likeable to the people you want to influence. Of course, we each have whatever physical gifts (or challenges) we were born with, but you should do the best you can with what you have. Good grooming, posture, dress, and manners go a long way toward making you more attractive to others. In business, as well as many other walks of life, these things matter. The same is true with interpersonal behaviors that people like:friendliness, generosity, warmth, caring, and acceptance. When we act with these qualities, people are more inclined to like us. Conversely, if we are pushy, arrogant, boastful, self-centered, rude, disrespectful, or otherwise annoying, people will be inclined to dislike us. Personality is a key component of likeability.
Being Respected and Trusted
Trust and respect are largely about character, credibility, and confidence. You build character through courage, integrity, reliability, and similar character traits; you build credibility through your knowledge, access to information, role, and reputation (of which work ethic, results, and contributions are a significant factor); and you build confidence by behaving self-confidently, achieving consistently superior results, making good decisions, and exercising sound judgment. If you are a member of a business or professional organization, people will also trust and respect you more if you are actively involved, engaged, and comitted to the enterprise. To become highly influential, it helps to be well-liked, well-regarded, and indispensable.
Fortunately, none of us is born with a fixed amount of power and influence. No matter who you are, you can become more powerful and more influential, and one of the keys is improving your interpersonal and social skills. For more tips on how to do this, see Elements of Influence: The Art of Getting Others to Follow Your Lead(Amacom Books, 2011) or my earlier book, What People Want (Davies-Black, 2006). Also see Dale Carnegie’s classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People, which he first published in 1936 but is still relevant today.