Stop Trying to be so MAGICAL & Just Relax

magic-kidJust stop it already! That is what I keep saying to myself anyway. Two weeks ago, I wrote an article on saying no more often to our children and it is something that I am continuing to make ends with in regards to raising a kid that is not spoiled beyond belief. Within this timeframe, I have also been asking myself why it is and more importantly, why it is I continue to catch myself saying yes, and trying to make my kids life so magical.

While I spend most of my time as a contractor for FedEx now a days, in the past I have been (still involved but not nearly as much) a blogger, consultant, teacher, and mentor that helped(s) to inspire others, their businesses, families, and children. Through these interactions and the continued evolution in my own life, I have had a front row seat to some good and bad behaviors others are and/or have exhibited in their own personal and business lives. These behaviors regardless of whether they are good and bad have allowed my own personal and business life to evolve. More importantly, I am continually learning that in business and life we do not need to hold some sort of magical halo over others and especially our children (i.e. trying to create some sort of MAGICAL world), as this usually doesn’t allow others (especially children) the opportunity to thrive or gain independence just like saying yes so often. Does that make since?

“We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all of the power we need inside ourselves already.” ― J.K. Rowling

As my time passes at becoming a better parent, my own parenting model also continues to take shape. What I mean most by that is what I (we) need to do more of is focus on the little things in our lives and not on all those magical moments others would lead you to believe are so important. I remember growing up in a world that was less connected online and more connected in real life. Not that it’s bad to be connected through social media but let us not use this as a median to compare ourselves with others all while trying to outduel each other. Additionally and as great as sites such as Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, etc are we should not let these and other social sites dictate to our young ones that there is some magic in doing things in excess to create some sort of magical childhood. Instead (this is especially important in a business acumen) let us get back to basics. Let us all do a better job at stretching our own child(ren’s) imaginations alongside ourselves by laying on the couch, taking a walk, or just sitting next to your little one(s) while you share a giggle or two. This my friends would be getting back to basics in a business since, while helping to create a more magically childhood for our children, not to mention relieving the stress of trying to keep up with the so called Benjamin’s (i.e. others on your friends list that consistently are trying to outduel everyone else on their friends list).

“Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen.” ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

magical-childhood

Long story short and what I am trying to say here is whether you are going it alone or in a relationship with another person while trying to raise a little one or ones remember that us parents can easily make our child’s growing up magical by being simple. We do not have to take continuous vacations, throw extravagant parties, or take our kids places often. However, what we all should do a better job at is focusing on creating a magical childhood for a kids by simply being there for them, talking to them when times are tough, and simply hanging out. There are an excessive amount of parents out there that don’t even make an attempt to spend time with their children, even call them, or provide any type of support (financial or mental). Do not be one of those parents and simply take the time today, tomorrow, or the next day to spend a few minutes enjoying your child or children because time goes by way to fast for us not to. Don’t be like some of those other parents out there that overdue everything, simply do something, just a little something to create a real magical childhood for your child(ren). Until next time my friends have fun, creating real magical moments not made up ones. Oh ya and don’t forget to KEEP SMILING (͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Why Do We Need to Say NO Anyway?

No!

Have you ever asked yourself what the true meaning of NO is? According to the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, they define no as “a negative answer or reply to a question, request, or offer.” Doesn’t this definition seem pretty simple and straight forward? Why then do most people (especially parents) have such a tough time saying no to certain situations, others, and most importantly to their kids? Let’s face it saying no is probably one of the hardest things to say because most of us don’t want to hear it ourselves or be considered the bad guy especially when it comes to parenting our children, yes?

If you have been a reader or follower of mine for any length of time, you know that for as many years as I can remember (or you have read) I have been involved in sales/service throughout my career. With that comes a lot of NO’s. I have heard no told to me in just about every situation. The good… I no longer let a no get me down. The bad… I’m not completely sure that I am a good teacher to my kid in the no category, as I find myself saying “yes” to him quit often. Why is this? Why can I take a no but not dish out enough no’s in the parenting arena? Well the only way I figure I can combat my own weaknesses with the word no is to actually put into writing a couple ways to use no in a positive manner to actually help myself (more importantly) my kid grow up with a better idea of what no can lead to in the future for himself.

1) Honesty is the Best Method– I often hear other parents being talked into different items at different stores by their children even if they know they can’t afford it. Even if it’s a pack of gum or candy bar, more of us need to do a better job explaining to our children that even an extra dollar spent isn’t/wasn’t in the budget. A little honesty in saying no can/should go a long way and I would like to believe later in life my kid (yours too) should be more equipped to purchase things that he/they really need, not things he/they merely want. Be honest with them now and they will be honest with themselves and us later.

2) Find Replacement Words (Phrases) – Who doesn’t want to use other words that mean the same thing? Using alternative words or phrases for a simple no is a good way to mix things up, yes? We just mentioned that honesty with our children goes a long way perhaps instead of consistently saying no let us try to use more phrases like “maybe another time,” “let’s think about it,” or a simple as “not today!” These phrases are not a clear-cut no and give all us parents different ways to say no without be dishonest.

3) Keep It Simple Stupid (K.I.S.S.) – One of my favorite phrases throughout my sales career has always been KISS. This basically means that the more you talk the less people are going or be willing to buy. Why not use this same approach with our children when saying no? Instead of telling our kids no over and over again or using lengthy explanations, why don’t we try shorter explanations like “it is not okay to take the snack, controller, or toy away from that kid,” then simply give your kid an alternative like another snack, controller, or toy. This eliminates the use of no and replaces it an alternative explanation… KISS!

No-Alternative

Saying no to anyone, especially our children is hard. However, most people and more importantly children need to hear it and if they don’t then more times than not you’ll end up with a spoiled rotten brat, friend, or relative. I know this is a work in progress for my little family but I will continue to use my own strategies suggested earlier as well as others y’all might suggest. Until next time, thanks for stopping by and remember to keep smiling regardless of the circumstance.

Why Every Family Needs an “AUNT” and/or “UNCLE”

 

 

I love all my aunts & uncles

When looking back on my own life and now my kid’s life, I can’t help but think about how important an aunt or uncle maybe? Moreover, and yes, this also includes all of those aunts and uncles that we used to or now our own children refer to aunt or uncle because they are around so much just like a real aunt or uncle. Do you have or remember those family members or friends that treated you like they were your own aunt or uncle?

I am not too sure if this gives away my age or not? But do you remember Endora from Bewitched here is a refresher if not…


or the movie Uncle Buck?

If you remember either of these thanks in advance for not pointing out my age and I hope you had/have a chuckle on me for this reminder, as both of these characters in these television/movies are priceless. Do you think every family needs an Aunt Endora or Uncle Buck character in their lives? Again, I have to say YES, as these characters or actually people in many cases help our children with emotional and/or physical transitions. In fact, I mentioned these two (show/movie), as they are prime examples of how my own sister and other impressionable women (Endora) and several other men and friends (Uncle Bucks i.e. y’all know who you are) who have helped me and are helping my own child with answers to many overlooked questions. Yes, this also includes those simple questions that I personally don’t often ask or others that my son may and/or may not feel comfortable asking or even listening to me to come up in his own personal life answers.

As for my family, I am completely appreciative of my aunts (Endoras) and other friends/family (Uncle Bucks)  that continue to be a huge support for me and my kids life. Even though I am sure that I will continue to stumble upon topics and interests that I was/will not be able to address and/or handle as graceful as my aunts or uncles, I wanted to make sure y’all know how grateful I am for your support/continued support and advice.

aunt-and-uncle-happy

So my question to you this Sunday morning is, “Do you also have an Endora and/or Uncle Buck in your family, if so who and if not why do you think that is?” I hope posing this question makes you or others realize how important this role is in are young-in’s growth. Moreover, if you personally don’t have and Endora or Uncle Buck in your own life, I hope you at least consider enrolling one or more in your own or children’s life now (i.e. it’s never too late to start something new) in order to help fill those often difficult or overlooked gaps between you and your children (subjects and/or conversations).

Happy Sunday everyone and make sure you take a moment to tell someone close to you or others involved in your or your children’s life how important they are to you today. Until next time remember to keep smiling, as you know it really does look good on you!

Parenting: How Old is too Old or How Young is too Young?

parents-make-the-difference Do you ever ask yourself the question… how old is too old or how young is too young? What I mean by that is do you ever find yourself asking this/these questions in your personal, business, or children’s life? Think about it. How old is too old? Or how old is too young to play games or act like a child, how old or young do you have to be to make important business decisions, or how old does your child have to be in order to sit in the front seat of the car, sleep alone, or walk home from school?

Perhaps one of the hardest parts of being a single parent, life, or business in general is asking yourself questions that you may or may not have the answers to, hence another reason why I started blogging in the first place. The how old or how young questions and answers have been really been weighing on me lately, not because of my own decisions but instead because my child is now at the age I believe (he hasn’t mentioned this to me) that he is asking himself some of these same questions.

More importantly and one of the toughest things about being a parent (especially a single parent) is learning when not to become an over-bearing mom or dad by asking yourself the same questions every day. Let’s face it if you have kids or not who hasn’t watched the Pixar movie Finding Nemo? Remember at the beginning of the movie when Marlon (Nemo’s Dad) was thrown into the role of a single dad when a large barracuda ate his wife? Although this movie is fictional, I think that it portrays a good storyline of real life. In fact, this movie shows how parents (especially single parents) can struggle letting go of their children just like Marlon or as simple as when we finally have to let our own kids cross a road by themselves, drive a car, or leave the nest headed off to college.

Relating Marlon and Nemo’s story to real life, can you see the foreseen or unforeseen danger of letting your kids go? If you are like me… Probably not but one thing should be clear and that is if we don’t loosen up the reins on our kids more times than not they will start to rebel against us much like Nemo did when he intentionally sets out to rebel against his father for being so controlling. How old is too old or how young is too young to swim alone? With this in mind, I wanted to take a moment and share some of my own thoughts about how old is too old or young with all of you that perhaps we can all learn from or expand upon them even further.

  1. First and for the last eight years as a dad, I have learned (consistently learning) that we cannot prevent most of the mistakes our kids will make, however we can prepare for the mistakes our children will make by providing them with honest advice as they grow. This does not mean that we lie to our children either whatever the case. It simply means that we tell them the truth even if the truth hurts, as we do not want them to make the same mistakes as we or others in our lives have or did make, right? The simple what is right and what is wrong should suffice. Don’t be like Marlon in Nemo and be to over protecting or make up stories if you want to have an open and honest relationship with our/your children.
  2. Secondly, we all need to do a better job (i.e. parents, family, friends, teachers, etc.) at helping ours and other children become the people they are capable of becoming. Instead of consistently labeling one another as over-bearing, insecure, needy, show-off, helpless, timid, confident, etc., what we should be turning these labels (in marketing terms or in my point of view) “weaknesses” into “strengths” or in Marlon’s case swimming on your own.  Example– A couple of weeks ago my son (8 yrs old) and I were outside throwing the football back and forth to one another just like watching other older students or professionals on television. After a few throws, I realized that my son was having a difficult time throwing overhand and catching the ball (lots of pouting), so I decided to throw underhand and cradle the ball as he threw it to me (just like Marlon cuddling Nemo). Problem solved, right? Wrong, after a couple more throws like this I realized that if I continued to throw and catch this way (over protecting him from disappointment) he would give up trying to become better. So, instead I switched back to overhand, threw the ball up and made several catches to myself, and he got pumped up about the bigger, higher, faster is better approach. By leading instead of catering to him in just this simple game of catch, he realized that if he keeps trying with encouragement from me anything is possible. He now asks to play catch almost every day (positive reinforcement or strength), which is good and bad from an over worked 30 something year old man-lol.
  3. Lastly, we all need to do a better job at giving ourselves credit when credit is due. In other words stop asking how old is too old or how young is too young and start giving yourself/ourselves more pats on the back for being good parents because let’s face it there are a lot of parents that are not so good and involved in their children’s lives. Way to many times in our lives or parenting ventures we all become our own biggest critics or worst enemies. Being a parent is by far one of the hardest thing I done (ya and I have a DBA/PhD) but we don’t have to continually fight ourselves or over complicate things do we? Do we really have to listen to all the negative feedback by others personally in their lives or on Facebook and let that affect our own lives, careers, and parenting? Absolutely not! Lets stop being so hard on ourselves/yourself and start smiling more, admit to our past mistakes, and pass on our real-life past experiences of positivity to others and especially our children. Like social media and its ability to connect others, parenting should also be about connecting but instead of connecting with others we should be connecting more with our kids to show that we are there in whatever capacity (physically, mentally, or emotionally) for them. Today and every day forward, pat yourself on the back, give your kid/kids a hug, and tell yourself and others what a good job you/they are doing in whatever capacity.

Letting GO!

In the end of Finding Nemo, Marlon seemed too had learned from his mistakes and looked at parenting in a completely new light, I even believe they made another movie. Instead of being a parent that is consistently trying to secure your/our children, let’s all try to encourage and also not be such an over bearing insecure one. As parent’s we all must ask the difficult how old is too old or how young is to young but more times than not we need to ask these questions less (or at least I do). In other words, we need to water our seeds less and let them grow more, as they were intended to grow with moderate water and sunshine. These my friends are the trees (our children) that will grow into long lasting landscape that we are really trying to create, yes? Ask but not too much and plant but not too much water in order to maintain those landscapes of our future generation.  As always, I look forward to your opinions and like usual don’t forget to KEEP SMILING, as it really does look good on you!

Quantity vs. Quality Family Time

Quantity Time vs. Quality Time (What is it ANYWAY)

Quantity-vs-Quality

Lately I have been thinking about all the work, school, and personal responsibilities I have committed to and it made me ask the question… how much quantity time should we spend on these things versus spending quality time with our kids? And what do we need more of quantity or quality time with our children?

If you find yourself asking yourself this or similar questions, I truly believe that the answer could be a combination of both, YES? In fact, last week, I wrote about spending nights around the dinner table with one another (quantity) and this week I think I need to address the (quality) part of spending time with our children, as I think people all too often think that just having their children around would suffice? Is going to a friends, letting your kids run around in the street, or watching television really quality time spent with one another?

 Why Quantity Time IS or IS NOT Quality Time

There are a million and one reasons to spend time with your kids whether that time is in quantity or quality right? Just think about everything you do on a daily basis instead of spending time with your children. Obviously, these things are different from person to person but they often include things such as working, going or talking to friends, letting your kids run around in the street, or watching television like the one(s) I just previously mentioned. Typically, these things are not bad and they are in fact things that others would consider quantity times. However, having a kid or children in your care requires a lot more than just these few things. My little niece just turned 15 yesterday and it made me realize that she has just a couple years left at home before she ventures off on her own (WOW where has the time gone), so like her and many other children they are only in their parent’s care for a limited time. Just think about it, if you want to spend quality time with your kids, you had better do it now. Needless to say, pick up a book, pull out some paper and pencils, take your children shopping (i.e. you don’t have to actually buy anything) and/or just lay down next to those kids of yours who need you by their side. Those my friends are quality activities not just quantity activities.

 Quality Time is more Satisfying than those Other Activities

family-time

Over the years, I have often found myself taking my kid over other friend’s houses but often allow my kid to run a muck, while I chat with the adults my age (how selfish). Granted this is time spent with one another in or at the same location, I also think you would agree that this is not quality time spent with one another, yes? Almost every time that I do hang out with others and my kid does his own thing with other kids, after I almost always realize that this was not the quality time that my son deserves to spend with his dad. Let’s face it there are tons of reasons that the time we spend with our children makes us genuinely feel good. Most of the time our interactions with one another are priceless even if they are just at someone else’s house, playing video games, watching movies, or shopping because these things deepen our relationships with each other. However, at the end of the day our children love us unconditionally, so this/these times spent with one another can/should be more satisfying in the long run. Even though it may be easy to walk away from things in your life like a job, it isn’t so easy to walk away from things in your life like your children. Therefore, let us make sure this week that we all do a better job at spending quality time with our little ones, so we can create more value, enjoyment, and long-term love with those we truly care about (i.e. kids) and not necessarily others in the end. Trust me friends, this quality time spent with our children will not only make a difference today but will continue long after we are gone (if you don’t make changes or break the chain now… no one will).

You Decide in the End

 I realize that your personal, business, and life demands cannot be ignored but spending both quantity and quality time with our kids is something that also cannot be ignored. We are all limited in the amount of time we have to spend with one another daily, weekly, and monthly, so let us all do a better job at focusing are time(s) more appropriately. Long story short and what I am trying to say here is that just because my son and I eat together every night that’s not all I need to do to strengthen our relationship. Of late, I have consciously put forth an effort to spend the most amount of time with my son versus with others (yes, friends and family may or may not agree with this) but in the end, I am led to believe that this time will make a difference between the good and bad decisions my child will later make. None of us wants to be let down by those we love but if we show those we love (especially our kids) perhaps they will be less inclined to let us down later in life. We cannot change fate but we can help it along the way. What do you think? Are there any repercussions later in life or does it matter whether we spend quantity or quality time with our kids? Please comment below or drop me a line if you agree or disagree and until next time… remember to KEEP SMILING EVERYONE!

The Family that Eats Together

digital world

What is the Whole… The Family that Eats Together, Stays Together Anyway?

Last night while out to eat at a local restaurant with my son, I looked around and seen several other families eating together as one unit on a Friday night. Is this also strange to you or is this still normal now days for families to eat together? Nonetheless, have you bothered lately to have a look around your house or a restaurant and noticed yours or other families actually still eating and engaging one another in this day and age filled with technology, social media, and life stress(es)? (i.e. and I’m not talking about all those families or yours that sit next to each other but are completely detached from one another either). Notice how many of you do this but also take notice of how many of you actually engage your other family members not merely sitting together while each of you operate in your own world(s) on your own digital devices or watching television. Now I ask… “does the family that eats together, stay together?” Do you think that this old saying is still relevant today?

Connected or Disconnected Family: What is the Right Recipe?

By no means am I an expert in parenting but I truly believe that this (eating together but not actually communicating with one another) is growing problem in America and throughout the world. Does it make sense if families have any chance of sustaining themselves long-term just like a business, they need to spend more time together especially during dinner. When I was growing up, I can remember dinner was one of the few times that our family actually connected with one another because we didn’t have many distractions. Let’s face it who wanted to watch television in black in white anyway. Now as a single dad I wanted to address why eating together (and YES I mean actually talking to your other family members) is still important to your family’s long-term success). Boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen I must admit if you follow this recipe you will not only put food on the table but you will be back on the right track of putting your family back together.

disconnected

Take stock of what you have

Each morning when you wake up the man or woman that you see in your mirror is actually you. I hate to tell you but YES that person is you! There are a million and one reason(s) why when you look in the mirror you continue to make excuses for the life you have created. However, if you think hard about the things in the past that have lead you to this point (whether you are happy or not), I bet you can equate almost if not all of your positive/negative feelings to a point in your life that involved other people… especially family members, YES? My point is, we are all far from perfect but if you surround yourself with others that positively affect you and/or your family, you can begin to take stock of what you actually have or what actually matters most to you. This is especially important if you have kids since they look or are looking for that special leader in their life. So, how can you have a positive effect on your children? This is as simple as putting down all those electronic devices and creating REAL conversation with your kids well sharing a meal together and not sharing a meal together while everyone in your family is engaged with others in the digital world.

the journey

A brief look back

It wasn’t long ago that I discovered that technology was/is changing the relationship I have with my son. This is both good and bad. Therefore, after dinner last night I decided to take a step back to think about the days I spent with my family growing up to help shed some light on what I could do to be the leader in my son’s life much like my dad was in mine. My dad worked extremely hard when I was young mostly at night, so we didn’t get to see him that often and likewise with my mom but the only difference was she worked the day shift. Split parenting at its finest. However, one thing my parents did was make sure that we all came together over a nice family dinner every night (i.e. whether we had to go to my dad’s work, eat in a car, or at a restaurant), which I can remember being special even to this day. Do you have any early memories? Do most of the things you remember about your childhood include dinner with the/your family?

How about grandma and grandpa…

Having lost all my grandparents at an early age (all before I was out of elementary), I am not 100% but I truly believe that children without any thought are given the natural ability to love and cherish the time they spend with their grandparents. Does that sound about right? In fact, grandparents in most families = a long time lasting memory regardless of how significant just like having dinner together. Yes again? Like I mentioned I lost all my grandparents early in life but I remember breakfast each morning cooked by my mom’s mother and other dinners cooked by my dad’s mom, especially Holiday dinners…. Boy, were those fun! One reason I believe that I remember these things (all before age 8) is because we were not engaged in our electronic devices but instead engaged with one another. Therefore, if you are a complete family unit or a single parent and you want to disconnect the young’ins then I highly recommend calling in the grandparents as an added resource because more than likely they will tell REAL stories (extremely important over breakfast or dinner) not digital stories thus bringing your family closer together.

grandparents

The effortless approach

Some of you may or may not already know but late last year I lost my mother. Before she passed away, one thing my son and I did religiously was cook dinner for my mom and dad most Sunday afternoons, which allowed each of us the opportunity to share unfiltered stories with one another. Okay, maybe a lot of the stories coming from the grandparents were retold to me but not to my son. This/these stories and memories made these days extremely important since they created new memories for my son (he still talks about them over a year later and he is only 8), which made me realize  more that this was approximately the same age I can remember having similar memories over dinner with my own grandparents. As simple, as this may sound there is not any excuse for each and every one of us to help create these new memories with our own children over dinner even in this age of all the new digital communication. Even though it is just my son and I most evenings, the one thing that I have/continue to do is make sure that we have dinner together each night (without any television, internet, or other distractions), so we too can create long lasting memories. Even though my mother is gone now, my son and I still have dinner with my dad most Sundays. Yes my father still tells my son about all those things I did to piss him off when I was young but those/these times are about as valuable as gold is to most people/parents since the lasting memories continue on long after dinner or a visit has ended. As significant or as insignificant as this may sound, as my child grows older, I have to believe that these dinners (whether with me or the family) will become the ammunition for my sons own success because he knows how hard/long I work each day to have this time we spend together each night without interruptions. The moral of this story is that if I as a single dad can make time each night (i.e. on the weekends with my dad) to connect with my son over dinner, while sharing real life experiences you too can provide these valuable life lessons to your family and children over dinner. So, back to the question at the beginning of this article…do you find it strange these days for families to eat together?  My answer just like 30 years ago growing up is no, since these dinners provide the memories and fuel more of us need to tackle present and future challenges. If you haven’t given thought or perhaps have forgotten have valuable dinner is with your family I encourage you to continue on with eating together with your families and continue on with the old saying… “A family that eats together, stays together” my friends, as I am sure you won’t be disappointed that you did.

Inbound Sales is ALL About Outbound Social Media? Or is it?

As the world changes, so does the way(s) we all continue to communicate with one another. According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, “communication” originated in the 14th century (WOW) and is defined as “the act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc., to someone else.” So then why do most people NOT consider SOCIAL MEDIA and SALES communicative and social tasks? What I mean by that is why do marketers, as well as other professionals think that social media isn’t the best tool available to communicate with others, thus increasing sales (i.e. inbound selling). In fact, I believe that customers take joy in being social over the web and would rather buy online at their own pace versus someone else’s or in-person. Am I being naive or do you agree or disagree? Whether you agree or disagree, one thing is certain and that is if you understand the role(s) of communicating and social media in general that these two combined can be paramount and vital to your personal or long-term business success(es).

How buying is changing online

With the advent of online sites such as Google, Ebay, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, FourSqaure, EmpireAvenue, Pinterest, Tumblr, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, Quora, etc people have more say “dictating the buying/selling processes” and can voice their opinions as little and/or as often as they want, thus dictating what customers/businesses ultimately buy and sell. In fact, (I believe you already may know this) but it is no longer about what a salesperson/company says or presents but instead about what a buyer says online or in person that dictates what they truly want in a (B2C business-to-consumer or B2B business-to-business) competitive environment.

Forrester, which is a leading research company recently reported that over 90% of the time B2B (in this case B2B IT buyers) are involved in some form of social media, not so much as actual purchasers but as purchase spectators. What this actually means and maybe the case more times than not in any industry is that 90% of the people or businesses that are looking for IT services or ‘YOUR services/products” are on some form of social media site. Regardless of the industry, you and/or your company cannot afford to ignore these statistics if you want to continue increasing sales over the long run. Yes, this also means that even though these people are online (i.e. social media) they maybe just there to see how you and/or your company is perceived, so they also can adjust their business strategy around what people want (i.e. again inbound selling adjustments) throughout an industry not just your company. Yes?

Not just for the traditionalists

While not too long ago and perhaps even to this day (you have more than likely experienced this) many people have/did enter(ed) into the online social sphere of things with the whole “get rich quick scheme or multi-level marketing” but as time passed we all have voiced our opinions thus we are seeing a dramatic decline in this category. That is a big relief huh? Personally, over the years I have grown to hate all these multi-level marketing schemes and am very pleased to see them fading into the night just as the typewriter of several years past. Since these multi-level schemes were and never will be credible ways of making money or advancing sales online (instead only making a few people rich) while making other people more skeptical of online buying/selling. Having a tremendous amount of prior B2B and B2C sales experience, I came into social media marketing (social media selling) with a determination to grow a community and eliminate the hard sell, since generating awareness and need for a purchase are at the forefront of sales and have always been my way of producing sales not the other way around. Let’s face it who likes that nagging sales person that calls 10 times a day or week trying to sell you something you don’t necessarily need but instead trying to sell you something they think you need in order to increase their own sales numbers, while making their boss(es) happy. Social media selling gives the customer what they need and that is relevant information that they can use to create their own need; thus, calling you (INBOUND) when they are actually ready to buy on their own terms and not yours. So, let’s say bye to all those bait and switch techniques of the past and hello to transparency of the present “gifts” that help you and your prospects make good buying decisions. An honest conversation online thorough social media and other like platforms that make your phone ring not you ringing others, thus increasing sales and creating more long-term partnerships.

Social Sales

If what I have mentioned so far hasn’t convinced you that social media is/has changed the way everyone communicates, then I ask you to think about all the people you and/or your company reach daily, weekly, or yearly to create awareness, while maintaining one-on-one contact. Do you see how or perhaps create some of the most important relationships that you or your company has/can develop online? Have you or your company closed any accounts or sales online without actually even talking to another person? If you are like most others the answer to this question should be YES (even in the lowest form you surely have purchased from EBay or Amazon)and if not then you really need to get or build your online presence immediately. If you are in sales and also answered NO to this question, you also need to start building your own online presence as well as your companies since you cannot or will not be able to rely on in person or personality only to seal more deals moving into the future.

As social media helps to continue to shaping sales by changing the old mantra of “who you know” by “what you actually know” especially what you know about others (i.e. communicative spectators). The new age of selling should demand online communication of every one of its employees regardless of position in order to enhance other purchasing decisions by adding value to an online conversation. Needless to say and long story short is that I ask you to stop convincing yourself or business that social media cannot help you and instead embrace how communication/social media can help you leverage your personal or business goals. Those people and companies that understand these concepts most and are willing to forge forward into this new business space of sales will be the ones that I will be still writing about 20 years from now.

David Dandaneau is a Consultant at [SevenTimesSeven]. He specializes in helping business owners “manage their business and not their processes!” For more connect with him via Twitter @ddandaneau or any of the other social platforms you may find him on.

Social Media Selling! Say What?

Image via Flickr: Cambodia4kids.org
‘Social’ is the art of connecting, interacting, and engaging in a since. I like most others appreciate this broad definition of SOCIAL or in this discussion ‘Social Communication’…
So, with that being said, let’s talk about a less fashionable “S-word”: SALES.
As mentioned previously in many of my other posts, the new era of communication, engagement, sharing quality content, combined with the new social media approach makes ‘SALES’, along with its partner ‘SELLING’, a word(s) many people and organizations have started to discuss removing from the dictionary. Well maybe not that extreme but check out this article which seems a little contradictory since the author points out that social media can help with customer service, engagement and marketing (i.e. are these not part of the sales process anyway, so why not selling through these in the social space?)
Needless to say, whatever your viewpoint is of sales or selling online (i.e. through social media) almost every business (big or small) have/has to use these social medians now a days to make money, while promoting, networking, and marketing… I think others would refer to these along the lines of brand recognition, huh? Furthermore, believe it or not there are quite a few ways that you can insert yourself or business in this space in order to boost your reputation and/or revenue, while not disrespecting the developing social world, which I think is what most people are really talking about here. Yes?
In fact, I have identified a couple of techniques for you and or your team to use, so you can take advantage of engagement, networking, and referrals in the new social world.
1. Evaluation

The art of knowing everything you can about a particular product, service, and/or target market is just that… an art without proper evaluation of your network or your potential prospects. With all the online resources available to you/your business, you now have the ability to target just about anyone or any company anywhere for your ideal sale pitches… well this is assuming that you or your organizational leaders have used these tools before and you have them available to create detailed social accounts for your growth plans. If not try developing/development in this/these simple steps:

Create some saved searches based around keywords relevant to your business (Google is a good place to start, after all who doesn’t ask the Google Gods for just about everything?):
  • Your product/service offerings
  • Your company and competitors name(s)
  • Your and other related industry sector(s)

Basically, what I am saying here is that you need to search and develop ideas or anything that reflects on you and/or your business acumen, which offers you the best ability to engage with people who are showing an interest in creating offers you may be considering promoting yourself. Let us also not forget about some other key components in selling.
  • Listen and/or listening! Perhaps this is the most important part of any sales pitch but one in which many people ignore because most salespeople are tempted to jump straight to the sale in fear of rejection or needing a sale now. Whether you are in person or online remember not to take over a conversation or hijack a comment stream just for a sale, as this more times than not turn’s people off especially if you are complaining about your brand or another person or company. Instead feed people (prospects) information backed up by quantitative research in order to engage, add value, and educate people or companies in order to grow relationships that will lead to long-term partnerships and ultimately more sales and referrals- (this was a big part of my dissertation, so please email me if you would like more information on this).
  • After you have identified people and other businesses of interest, try assigning some sort of “lead/prospect rating” in order to categorize the who, what, and when of first contact in your networking strategy.

Lastly, keep records of your data, findings, and future plans for all new or potential sales leads, in your CRM system. If you don’t have a CRM it is about time you put away all the Excel spreadsheets and bought a program such as ACT or subscribed to another system such as Sugar, Salesforce, Zoho, etc if you want to really take on SALES in the new Social CRM world.
“Going viral is not an outcome; it’s a happening. Sometimes it happens; sometimes it doesn’t. Just remember, fans are vanity and sales are sanity.” Lori Taylor (@lorirtaylor) 

2. Engagement

Now once you have identified, rated, and perhaps even already engaged a person or business of interest about your product or service stop a minute and think about a few other things:
  • Depending on what social sites you are part of Facebook, Twitter, FourSqaure, EmpireAvenue, Pinterest, Tumblr, StumbleUpon, etc you need to start or continue to reach out and join other people or companies conversations who are talking about you, your product, service, or other similar products or services in order to showcase to others why they need you or why you or your company can add value to their life or future business plans.
  • Have you ever heard of the old saying… plan the work and work the plan? Well, this holds true online also as after you have planned your networks of engagement, you need to work your leads in order to nurture future sales. If possible let others start and drive the conversation (i.e. a great site(s) for this are LinkedIn or Quora), while you listen (remember this was spoken about earlier?) for the right opportunity/opportunities to add value to that conversation. Remember IT’s NOT ALL ABOUT YOU!  

Lastly, do not forget that in this new age of communicating and engaging that the customer is not 100% of the time correct but do remember that if you engage properly, while showcasing your skills that you can gain more control even over the most pesky customers. Perhaps you may also want to check out this article out about the shifting customer landscape, as it illustrates and highlights some things (tools) customers use now a days as they communicate (good or bad) online.
“Engage, Enlighten, Encourage and especially…just be yourself! Social media is a community effort, everyone is an asset.”Susan Cooper (@buzzedition) 

3. Now Get Social and Sell

After you have joined other networks and conversations, as well as engaging with others, it is now your chance to get social and start your own conversations. Remember that social media is a two way dialogue that starts with the construction of networks and builds into relationships that you and even your entire team can use to build target messages, which
  • Invite their own comments on particular topics thus building other(s) interest, potentially creating new customers especially if those who engage share with others in their network(s)
  • Take the time to share company news, highlights, and goals regularly whether they are about you, an industry, or other relevant sector
Image via Flickr: Fredrick Md Publicity

Don’t forget to develop a personal face or avatar that is the face of you or your business!

“People want to do business with you because you help them get what they want. They don’t do business with you to help you get what you want.” Don Crowther (@don_crowther) 

Now Go Get’em

If you use some if not all of these tips in developing your network, you, and your sales team will be light years ahead of others that still have not decided to take a social ‘online’ approach to selling. If you have or are considering a CRM system? Stop that nonsense already and get your CRM in check and take your socialCRM and sale efforts to a new level by combing them into one approach. If I can help you or your business please drop me a line or if you have any comments, please feel free to comment below. Otherwise, thanks for stopping by and until next time KEEP SMILING!
David Dandaneau is a Consultant at [SevenTimesSeven] and a Contractor at [FedEx]. He specializes in helping business owners “manage their business and not their processes!” For more connect with him via his About.Me Page or any of his other social platforms.