Three Social Media Tips for Building Your Network

By Wendy Lalli

Building a strong professional network is essential for every career. There are, of course, many ways to develop this essential career tool. Joining and actively participating in organizations like the Chicago AMA is one thing you can do. You can also go to business events and socialize with colleagues, vendors and even competitors out of the office.  Of course, you should do all of the above but social media provides you with another way to deepen the contacts you make face-to-face and connect with people you may never meet in person.

LinkedIn is the gold standard for professional networking.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. are all useful networking venues but none of these channels has the reach or the power of LinkedIn. The fact is, having a fully functioning LinkedIn profile is as important as having an up-to-date resume. Moreover, when you meet new people at networking events, asking them to link in with you is the easiest and most effective way to connect with them immediately and in the future.

To take full advantage of LinkedIn, fill in all the sections of your profile and include a professional looking photo. Then make your profile as public as possible. Add updates to your profile several times a week including networking events, educational events, blogs posted, etc. Join appropriate LinkedIn groups and comment on discussions within these groups. Even better, initiate discussions of your own. Blog for Pulse on topics of general interest or personal insights and experiences that can help others with their careers. Post links to articles on your update section that will reflect your expertise in your industry and your willingness to share your knowledge.  LinkedIn isn’t about connecting with old school chums and family members but adding weight to your professional presence online.

Here are three tips to keep in mind to help achieve that goal:

  1. Networking is a numbers game. Play it to win. The more people you can connect with who are in your industry or in industries related to yours – the better. However, this is NOT the same as just adding more names to your LinkedIn contact list. For example, if you’re a copywriter, adding plumbers, waiters and insurance reps to your professional network probably won’t help you find a new job or learn more about the latest trends in your industry. On the other hand, connecting with art directors, media specialists, account executives and other writers will help you do all of the above.
  1. Help others to help yourself. The real secret to building a business network is proactively helping others whether or not you immediately get something back in return.  This assistance can take many forms. Telling someone about a job, passing on the contact information of an appropriate hiring manager, advising someone on their resume, writing a blog to share what you know or just giving moral support to a job hunter when they didn’t get the job.  If you have a solid social media presence, these interactions can take place even with people you’ve never met who live thousands of miles away!  Here are two examples of how to network via social media:

Example 1: One night about six years ago, I opened up my LinkedIn account to find an invitation from Henry B. I had never met Henry – he lives in Los Angeles and I’m in Chicago. When I looked at his LinkedIn profile, I discovered that, like me, he blogged frequently for Pulse. (In fact, I think that’s how he found me.) It turned out that Henry had held senior leadership positions at some of the biggest ad agencies in the country and now was a consultant to major corporations on new business development. I was extremely flattered that someone at his level of experience would be interested in connecting with me and accepted his invitation as soon as I could. A few months later Henry sent me a message via LinkedIn that Sally, his college-age daughter was coming to Chicago to start a career in marketing. Knowing from my profile that I taught copywriting at Columbia College and had previously been a recruiter, he asked if I would be willing to advise her about her resume and then pass it on to my contacts in the city.

After an email exchange with Sally, I suggested some changes to her resume and then gave her the names and contact information of about 15 recruiters in town. I also alerted these recruiters that she would be in touch with them shortly. A few weeks later I was pleasantly surprised to receive a check for $100 from one of these agencies as a finder’s fee. It seems that Henry’s daughter was a dynamite candidate and the recruiter had been able to place her immediately in a full time job.

Since then, Henry has coached me at various times via email on creating new business proposals and he also sent me a DVD of one of his speeches. (He’s a well-known motivational speaker on business presentations and networking for corporations and universities.) Although we’ve still never met or even talked on the phone, I am very proud to be connected to Henry and I think he feels the same way about me.

Example 2: A year and a half ago I posted a blog on Pulse offering advice on networking and Victor D., a project manager at Dell, wrote a nice comment about it. Checking out his LinkedIn profile before I responded to his comment, I saw that he worked in Austin, Texas. At that time, I was considering relocating to Austin if I found a suitable position. In thanking him for his kind remarks, I mentioned that I was considering relocating to Austin myself.

Within a few days, Victor sent me several job descriptions from his company’s internal job board along with the names and direct phone numbers of the department managers responsible for filling these positions. Of course, I thanked him for his efforts on my behalf but since the jobs were above my level of experience, I was reluctant to send off a resume. Victor responded to my reluctance by sending me two more job descriptions a little lower on the food chain that had not yet been posted publicly. As it turned out, due to family considerations I decided that relocation was just not an option. But if it had been, I’m sure Victor would have helped make it happen! It goes without saying that if Victor wants my help in the future, he’s got it!

  1. Stay in touch to get ahead. Networking, like any activity involving personal interaction, takes work and constant attention. To stay connected to your contacts you need to know where they are and what they’re doing, and then let them know the same about you. Fortunately, LinkedIn makes this relatively easy even if your contact list, like mine, is over 700 people. If someone is having an anniversary, congratulate them on it. If they’ve been promoted, send them a little LinkedIn message acknowledging their achievement. If someone endorses you, thank them for their recognition of your skill sets. Keep these messages short, cheerful and to the point, but send them as often as you can.

Is there someone you haven’t connected with for a while who you’d like to be closer to? Post a recommendation for them on LinkedIn based on your previous experience with them. Hopefully, they’ll return the favor and write a recommendation for you. But even if they don’t, you’ll have reminded them of your work together and why you’re worth staying in touch with.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful. Remember, networking is always about giving whatever and wherever and to whomever you can. Concern for others allows you to build bridges – making the world a smaller and much friendlier place.

Using Google Analytics in a Few Clicks

On March 22nd, Chicago AMA members and guests gathered at 1871 to hear from Google Analytics expert, Andy Crestodina. In addition to being the Co-Founder and Strategic Director at Orbit Media, he also serves as a mentor at 1871, an Adjunct Professor at Loyola; and was named in the “Top 10 Online Experts I’m Following in 2015” by Forbes Magazine. The night’s topic was “Applied Google Analytics: Insights and Actions,” a presentation that he will be giving as a keynote speaker at an upcoming conference–and we were lucky enough to hear it first!

A well-seasoned speaker, Crestodina breezed through his slides with the ease of a professor teaching his most passionate subject. In fact, he joked that if his soon-to-be-born child could learn one thing, he hoped it would be Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). His over-arching statement is this: Traffic times your Conversion Rate is what will equal success for your website.

Let’s take a look at how he illustrated this throughout the evening. The broad topics covered were:

  • Reporting vs. Analysis: How most marketers get Analytics wrong
  • Turning ideas into questions
  • Analytics Insights
  • Audience Insights: WHO is visiting?
  • Acquisition Insights: WHERE are they coming from?
  • Behavior Insights: WHAT are they doing here?
  • Conversion Insights: WHICH pieces of content are successful?

Before diving into the tips and tricks of Google Analytics, Crestodina ensured that the group was on the same playing field by quizzing the audience on the difference between data (pages of reports) and analytics (words written about those reports).

Analytics are KEY to your business, and he likened them to being the driving wheel of your company–you wouldn’t just hand that over to anyone, would you? He encouraged each of us to take the driver’s wheel and learn to run these reports, perform the analytics and cautioned against outsourcing the analytics 100% to an outside firm.

Additionally, once you have the analytics in front of you, he encouraged the asking of questions, putting the answers into actionable tasks and performing a series of tests to ensure the path taken was helpful, fruitful and profitable to your company.

The reports sections included and discussed in his presentation were: Audience, Aquisition, Behavior and Conversion. These four sections of Google Analytics contain reports that can unlock the mystery of who is visiting your website, where they are coming from, what they are doing once they are there, and which content is getting them to stay. Let’s take a look at a small sample of the reports discussed.

Audience & Acquisition – Mobile vs Not

Within three clicks in Google Analytics, you can discover what percentage of your website traffic is fed from mobile devices. That’s interesting. Take it a step further. Combine Traffic data with a CRO analysis and you can find out if your mobile audience is less or more engaged than your non-mobile audience. Now you have somewhere to start, questions to ask and answers to test.

Behavior – “The Report of Broken Dreams”

Again, with just a few clicks within Google Analytics, you can see the terms that users searched for and then the amount of people that left your website because they couldn’t find what they were searching for. The insight? Write about that topic! Crestodina says to think about your website as if it were a city.  Put your “Billboards” where your “Traffic” is. Know your most popular road (or paths, on your site) and load it up with your best and most searched for content.

Towards the end of his presentation, Crestodina quoted Barry Feldman: “Your website is a mouse trap, your content is the cheese.” He asked the audience: “Are you writing content that your audience desires?” And added, “Strong websites have a conversion rate of 1-3%. Below that, you aren’t going to make any money; over that, you’re going to be a millionaire.”

The message was clear: Traffic times Conversion Rate equals success. Crestodina provided clear steps on how to run a good set of reports that any business owner can start with to help he or she analyze why a piece or a side of that formula is not working for his or her business. The presentation ended a joyful applause and a few whispers of “I wish I could go work on these reports right NOW!”

About the Author

Ms. Ramsey is the owner of Besty Bash, LLC, a creative social media & digital marketing firm in Chicago. In her free time, she enjoys listening to live music and chatting about it on her blog, www.LaurenIgnited.com.

Twitter: @TweetsByBetsy / @LaurenIgnited
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/laureneramsey

Connecting Ideas to Drive Results: A Brandsmart Recap

By Jessica Schaeffer, Director of Marketing, LaSalle Network

A clear theme emerged at 22 West Washington Street on April 28th as some of the biggest minds in marketing gathered to share insights around the brands they manage. The theme: the new wave of marketing: the power of storytelling to build relationships and trust with your consumers and clients.

Chicago American Marketing Associaton’s BrandSmart offered a smattering of perspectives from not-for-profits, ad agencies, big brands and up and coming brands.

Here’s a peek at the day in case you missed it, or just want to compare notes.

Session 1: Marketing for Tomorrow Starting Today – First Session

The day kicked off with a tag team effort by Ron Bess of Havas Worldwide and Zain Raj of Shapiro + Raj. Their message? Great brands (both your personal brand and an organization’s brand) build enduring bonds by fulfilling relationship expectations and sharing brand control.

Raj highlighted eight actionable relationships a consumer has with a brand – the best being a devoted relationship and the worst being a passable relationship. While every brand should strive to achieve devoted relationships with their customers, a mere 12% of customers say they have a devoted relationship with a brand.

So how do you deepen attachment and improve the experience? Raj shared five tips:

  1. Create a new focus: Begin with your most devoted customers to convert your most attractive prospects. Stop going after customers who don’t LOVE your brand.
  2. Try a new approach: Treat customers with respect, trust and loyalty
  3. Adopt a new mindset: Brands need to be perpetually evolving and try to improve
  4. Build a new model: Every company needs to be focused on cutting costs and producing faster
  5. Solve a new equation: Values x Authenticity: The strongest brands know they have to have commendable values, and LIVE those values

Bess closed out the session by drawing parallels between Raj’s presentation and personal branding. Just like a company’s brand, your personal brand is tied to the results you produce and the relationships you build. As a professional, you need to be focused on building trust, respect and loyalty.

Session 2: Transforming the Cubs Brand

Director of Marketing at the Chicago Cubs, Allison Miller, gave attendees a glimpse into the challenges the Cubs’ brand has faced during her tenure. Chief among them understanding and honing in on their target market.

Miller joined the Cubs and realized quickly they were selling a bad product. The Cubs had an aging team, the third highest payroll in the league and amenities that were deteriorating. They had a large, diverse fan base, and yet they knew nothing about them. They were marketing to everyone, without a clear focus of who would really move the needle for the brand.

Miller began the process by segmenting their customers and creating a fan and brand promise. The Cubs took time to understand the different brand personas and talk with these customers. Then, they worked to develop a brand message, campaigns and experiences they wanted these customers to have.

The findings helped the Cubs narrow their marketing, target their messaging around changes within the organization and bridge what the community wanted to do with the stadium with what the Cubs needed to do to advance the organization.

Session 3: Redefining a brand through a cause partnership

Chuck Gitkin, SVP of Brand Marketing at Smithfield Foods gave attendees a glimpse into a strategic partnership with Operation Homefront. Operation Homefront assists military families during difficult financial times by providing food assistance, moving assistance and financial assistance among other things.

If you aren’t familiar with Smithfield Foods, Gitkin says you probably aren’t alone….packaged meats isn’t the sexiest or most well-known industry, and that’s one of the primary reasons behind partnering with Operation Homefront. Not only does Smithfield Foods believe in giving back and supporting those and their families who protect our country, but the partnership helps bring visibility to both organizations.

Gitkin explained that cause marketing has allowed the company, which has a limited marketing budget, to create more exposure for less. They’ve brought in spokespeople to help champion Operation Homefront, and by default, Smithfield Foods. They’ve also created special packaging that a portion of the proceeds is donated directly to Operation Homefront.

Session 4: Panel Discussion: Getting Creative with the B2C agency of the future

Maybe you’ve seen this commercial. What you may not know is that Wrigley and ad agency, Energy BBDO worked collaboratively to create it. The two companies, which have been working together for years, gave us a glimpse into their relationship with John Starkey, VP, Gum, Mints and Media at Wrigley talking with Lianne Sinclair and Andres Ordonez of Energy BBDO.

The trio shared how their relationship has evolved over the years – emphasizing the fact that Energy BBDO is an extension of the Wrigley team, and explaining that now Energy BBDO is brought in earlier in Wrigley’s process. Wrigley is also exposed to Energy BBDO’s “unfinished product” to gauge their temperature and get their input on a project before it’s nearly complete.

Session 5: Hear the Brand: The Rise of Audio Branding: How to get the Most from Your Sound

Colleen Fahey sang, hummed and tapped her way to her main message on Thursday: leave an earprint with every piece of brand communication.

Fahey runs Sixieme Son, an audio branding company that strives to express brand values through sound. The audio brand of a company, Fahey explained, is everything from its on-hold music, to its app sounds, TV and radio spots and sales presentations.

Fahey argued a few key reasons why every company needs to consider its audio DNA.

  1. Music is a language that is universally understood
  2. Music moves behavior
  3. Sounds lead to sales
  4. Sounds speeds search
  5. Audio branding builds brand value

Not convinced? Check out these great examples of audio branding successes Fahey shared: Samsung, Tropicana, and Michelin.

Session 6: Insurance Agents are Rock Stars

Assurance Agency has been recognized by Fortune Magazine as one of the Top 100 Places to Work in the Country. This is one of dozens of awards the company has won throughout its tenure, and VP of Marketing, Steve Handmaker argues it’s been good for business, too….but it hasn’t always been this way.

Assurance wasn’t always a great place to work. In fact, staff was disengaged and profits were suffering as a result. In 1998, Assurance brought on new leadership to right the ship. They decided to focus on people.

Their philosophy was simple. Happy employees = happy clients. Handmaker borrowed from fellow marketer Seth Godin’s theory of purple cows, explaining that Assurance’s culture was their purple cow, the one thing that makes them truly remarkable and sets them apart from competitors in the insurance industry.

Since that decision, not only has Assurance invested in staff to build an incredible culture, they’ve also effectively marketed employee engagement programs to ensure the country knows they are a purple cow.

“Our culture doesn’t automatically mean we win, but its’ getting us to the finish line and helping make us a part of the conversation.” – Steve Handmaker

Session 7: Brand Building and Data Driven Demand Generation

Data paralysis.

Ad resistant.

Craig Greenfield, COO of Performics explained that in today’s world, marketers are overwhelmed by data, and consumers are resistant to our messages and skeptical of our ads.

How do we overcome this? We have to better understand our customers and what they want. We have to identify customer intent before they want express it. As marketers, we can do this by measuring time on site, bounce rates, coupon downloads, the list goes on and on….any piece of content that captures data about our audience.

If you don’t have the data you want, Greenfield says to identify needed data, then create audiences, design experiences and then plan, launch, test and learn.

Session 8: The Impact of Content Creativity with Always on Brands

In typical Leo Burnett fashion, Vincent Geraghty, EVP and Head of Production at Leo Burnett, wowed us showing some incredible campaigns, with one of the most poignant being the Runlikeagirl campaign created for Always.

This was about as conventional as it got though, as Geraghty discussed how his greenhouse team is changing the way Leo Burnett does business. The greenhouse content team is run like a newroom. They’ve adopted a “maker mentality,” where concepting is no longer good enough. They are executers, doers, creators.

This team has allowed Leo Burnett to streamline the approval process, execute on trending ideas quickly and efficiently.

The Greenhouse team is focused on telling great stories that are finely crafted full of human insights. Their goal is to deliver content that entertains, resonates, and weaves the brand into the insight and story.

Session 9: Panel: Getting Creative with the B2B Agency of the Future

According to Linda McGovern, SVP Global Marketing at USG, and Mike Hensley, President at Gyro, the B2B agency of the future is one that understands how to curate brand touchpoints, one that is able to expand and shrink based on the needs of its client, and one that is insanely focused on user experience and content creation.

Like speakers before them, McGovern and Hensley echoed the need to create experiences, not just compelling messages. They touched on the importance emotion plays in the decision making process, and how marketing today needs to connect with the customer.

Session 10: Think Differently: Opportunity Identification or Breakthrough Ideas

After Lindsay Avner stepped off the stage, there may not have been a dry eye in the house. Avner, who founded BrightPink, shared her story of undergoing a risk reducing double mastectomy at the age of 22 to help prevent a future seemingly inevitable diagnosis of breast and ovarian cancer.

As Avner shared her passion for education and getting one step ahead of cancer, it was clear that her powerful message was reaching the right audience because of unique marketing tactics.

Avner explained that she borrows the equity and brand recognition of powerful partners like Arie and Paul Mitchell to communicate BrightPink’s message. The not-for-profit has created highly visible campaigns around Mother’s Day, with the most recent being the #goaskyourmother campaign which urged young women to talk about family history of breast and ovarian cancer.

BrightPink created an online assessment that allows women to assess their risk of breast and ovarian cancer quickly and easily.

Avner’s philosophy is: awareness doesn’t save lives, action does…and all of BrightPink’s marketing efforts are judged based on that simple premise. Has our content, our partnerships caused people to make a change?

Session 11: LUV Lessons: Building a Brand from the Inside Out

He may be retired, but Dave Ridley definitely still has it….the former head of marketing at Southwest Airlines reminded the audience of our biggest brand advocates, our employees.

A few key quotes from his speech sum up his message:

  • “The business of business is people” –Herb Kelleher
  • To develop a great brand, start from the inside out.
  • “I still bleed canyon blue” – as marketers we need more of that diehard marketing. That commitment and dedication to our brands
  • It is a privilege to lead people – you get to invest in the hearts and minds of people
  • Everyone is a CEO…a chief encouragement officer, that’s the number one way to make a difference in people’s lives