Is this the Rise or Fall of Social Influence?

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Online business chats are the reason I love (and stay) with Twitter. Today, I have the pleasure of moderating #smchat on the topic of Influence.

#SMCHAT

Has social media (and we as its masters) stripped away the meaningful value of influence?

Over the last few weeks that thought has nagged me until at last I threw it at my friend Chris Jones (@sourcepov) for a sanity check.

DM with SourcePOV

If you know Chris, then his reply to my pondering will come as no surprise. “OMG, how awesome. This is a conversation made for #smchat.” So that’s how easily we arrived at the Thought Du Jour for the December 17 edition of our online chat.

Here’s a little contextual framework for our conversation

Influencers – and influence – mean different things to different people.  But let’s run with the description I snagged from TheNextWeb that says “Influencers are the power users and authorities. They lend credence to products or services and they elevate conversations. Influencers are experts; the trusted voices with social capital.”

Fair enough, influencers are people in the know.

But what’s…

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What Do Marketers Need to Learn?

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Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

Marketers are a special bunch — sometimes creative, always colorful and occasionally maddening.

Weigh in on how marketers could do a better job of being meaningful at work (5 simple questions).

Survey: What Marketers Need to Learn

I will use the insight in an article for marketers who want to clarify (and improve) the value they bring to their organization.  The article will also appear here on the Dig Deep Thinker blog.

Thanks in advance for sharing your perspectives!

*Poll conducted with Survey Monkey. No personal information is gathered.

Bad Things Happen When You Ignore the Competition

Fade in…

A 20-something sales person and his manager sit across from Joan, a new prospect who holds the decision-making and spending power at her Fortune 1000 company.  Joan agreed to the meeting at the request of a colleague who knows the sales manager.

Unbeknownst to the sales duo, Joan has just finished a crisp, pointed conversation with a vendor that had screwed up for the last time. Her pain, though, is the sales guys’ lucky break. The vendor is a competitor.

Despite being overbooked and juiced on anger, Joan offers her full attention to her visitors.  Fifteen minutes into their slide deck, Joan cuts to the chase and asks the question that turns their golden opportunity into a burnt crisp: “Who’s your competition?”she asks.

She catches that classic flash of panic in the rep’s eyes — you know the kind…when the prospect asks a question that is to be answered with a well-rehearsed, canned response. To his relief (and their opportunity’s demise), the sales manager swoops in with this response:

Great question, and I’m glad you asked. We don’t have any direct competitors. In fact, we believe that we don’t have any true competition. What we do and how we do it is distinct from anyone out there.”

Ignoramous Interruptus.

You know where I’m going with this, right? Joan had lobbed the proverbial slow pitch, and the sales manager not only struck out but swung like a rookie.  He insulted an executive-level prospect by wasting her time with his answer. Continue reading

Practical Resources for Self-Employed Professionals

At last, the self-employed worker goes mainstream. It’s too soon to look fondly at the recession and give it credit for accelerating the process, but give it time. Until then, let go of the resentment and put your skills to work.

The freelance life is exhilarating, thrilling, and stimulating.  It can also be frustrating, maddening, lonely, and shocking (at tax time). If self-employment is new to you, take a deep breath and shore up your resources (in this case, information and people).   Here are some practical websites for starters:

Getting Started and Staying Viable

  • Hourly Rate Calculator — this hourly rate calculator helps you arrive at a sensible hourly rate based on your costs, number of billable hours and desired profit. It is a simple and time-saving way to look at what you should charge. (NEW)
  • Business.gov — Specifically geared toward self-employed citizens, this U.S. government site provides critical information if you’re contemplating self-employed status or already headed down that path.
  • Small Business Administration (SBA) — Free, online courses (each are 30 minutes or less) cover every stage of conceiving, launching and managing your(self and) business.
  • National Association of the Self-Employed (NASE) –Admittedly, this one is new to me, but it’s been thriving since 1981. NASE wants to be the go-to source  for micro-businesses and the self-employed.
  • WebWorkerDaily — The knowledge worker’s happy place. Tips, trends and advise on how to be more efficient, productive and successful.  Everything from how to find freelance clients, build your brand, maintain  work/life balance to dealing with isolation.
  • Brazen Careerist — You’ve got to think young to stay young! This Gen Y-powered social site transcends the notion that a paycheck, or a corner office, or a fancy title, will ever lead to a passionate life.
  • Women Entrepreneur — From the folks at Entrepreneur Magazine, a female-centric ezine. More down-to-business content than Pink.
  • Guerrilla Freelancing — The website dedicated to helping every freelancer still in the trenches, working as hard as they can to build up a solid freelance business. (NEW)
  • Freelance Radio Podcasts — Tune in for tips, tricks and news about freelancing. Downloadable through iTunes, FreelanceRadio won the People’s Choice for Best Blog Podcast of 2007. (NEW)

Managing Yourself and The Business

Copyright and Trademarks

  • Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) — Thought of a snazzy new business or product name but wondering if it sounds just a little too familiar? Start here to see if someone already staked his claim and owns the legal rights.
  • Creative Commons — One of the most promising (and productive) ideas to come along. This is a must-see site to learn how to share and build upon the work of others while honoring the rules of copyright.

Writing, Design, and Communication

  • Graphic Leftovers — A marketplace for designers, illustrators and other creative souls to sell their “leftover” artwork on the web (so that folks like you and me can buy it on the cheap).
  • Language is a Virus — Widgets (and more) to cure writer’s block!
  • The Writing Lab — Over 200 free (online) writing resources, from Purdue University
  • Ragan.com — Never fancied yourself a communicator? I assume that since you’re self-employed, you’ve since realized you ARE the mouthpiece of your company.  This website will keep you just close enough to the cutting edge of communication strategy and tactics.

Promotion

  • Blog Talk Radio — Check this out, if only to tune in and learn! This is a social radio network that enables anyone to create free, call-in talk shows using an ordinary telephone and computer. Cooler yet: each show is automatically archived and made available as podcasts.

And now for some articles: