Art of Networking

Have you ever come across that person that just seems to "know everyone"? I'd bet dollars to dimes that they have mastery with the art of networking.

Like communications and public relations, I also believe that there is more art than science, when it comes to networking. There are those who are introverts and those that are extroverts. Those who feel at ease with striking up a conversation with just about anyone are most likely to be a natural networker. There are those that find that small talk flows easily for them. Any topic can spark a conversation. Those are the natural artists of social networking.

There are several basic steps to getting grounded in networking. Whether you are a natural conversationalist or not, this fundamental framework will undoubtedly serve you well in establishing a network for success:

Pick Your Channels - Start Somewhere

Oh my goodness; where does one begin to turn on channels for communication. I actually use a platform called EClincher to help me manage across my various networks. I also have maintained a Buffer account for similar reasons. Within those platforms, I network through Twitter, LinkedIN, Instagram, Facebook and Google+. I also maintain home base with my web/blog at www.thedevinsntwork.ca. I also maintain my "contacts" within my Google accounts. If you are just starting out in establishing your network, start with one or two and build strength during those early stages for you.

Communicate through Dialogue

If you are one who researches blogs, articles and posts; I would hope that you are turning that into a two-way opportunity for communication. By adding your voice to social networks, you will gain notice and awareness for you and your brand. If you are merely lurking and observing on the sidelines, your time on research may be well spent, but you will not be building a network through conversation. Step into a conversation with authority and opinion. You need not be controversial to strike up a conversation and be recognized through dialogue. Offering supportive comment and building on posts by others is a good place to start.

Build Your Lists

Start to develop an update contact list. Whether this is on your own mobile or desk top system, Facebook friends, Twitter followers, Instagram community, Pinterest likes, LinkeIN connections or Google+ interests - you have a natural community with whom you connect. They are fundamentally your initial "list" of contacts and the base of your network. Once you've got your lists built you can determine how you might initially connect with these contacts. You can do this via email, through your LinkedIN connections or choose an email relationship management tool like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp.

Post

As mentioned earlier, lurking and observing can be quite informative. Actively engaging in social networking can will be more impactful. Take the time to plan, schedule and generate posts that demonstrate to your followers and the world through social media just who you are and what you stand for. Over time your posts will generate a followership. You will see that people will agree and re-post. Or, perhaps people will have a different opinion to share in contrast to your post. All of this will bring attention to you and your business or interest. Get active and learn through your posts. You will also learn through posts that images and video will generate more interest and engagement. Take the time to consider what image to associate with your post. There are lots of platforms to share your ideas.

Engage

Keep your contact and network "hot". By "hot" I mean keep them engaged. Ensure that you are in touch and engaged with your contacts by keeping in touch, liking their posts, and retweeting their tweets. You can also build up your social network assets by joining various interest groups on Facebook and LinkedIN. You will then be in groups with like minded people, sharing insights and ideas on topics important and of interest to you. By keeping in touch you will be top of mind and valued within their network - which will bring value to your network.

The Art

The "art" is that all of this is done from the heart of a genuine authentic "you". There will be obvious tricks on timing, when to post/not to post, length of post etc. However, the strength of your art of networking will be solidly found in the authenticity of your communication. When people understand what you stand for - they will follow and support you in your endeavours. Create your own posts, tell your own story, post your photos, link to things of interest to you. One caution is not to just become a stream of "re tweets or re-posts". Create your own voice for content in your channels.

Wishing all you network artists much success out there. Cheers !  @FergDevins

 

 


Consider Blogging

A @ChrisBrogan Nudge

In Chris Brogan's weekly newsletter February 12th , I was reminded of the wonderful early days of exploring social media in 2007. It prompted me to suggest that you consider blogging. 2007 was a time when blogs were exploding. If you couldn't get traditional media to tell your story; you could develop your own media and shout your story out as loud as you wanted. Well, that said; you could create and post it - the level of sound and noise was up to you. In fact you had to follow through with your integrated and well-defined communications plan.

You Are In Control

They were the best of times. Brands were "early adopting" and exploring social channels. Marketing practices and long-standing media planning was put to the challenge. A community was unfolding and growing as people sought out social networks as channels for communication.

Chris' Sunday newsletter wasn't so much about challenging readers to write blogs, but it was a nudge to embrace what we have in our command. I see his nudge as a challenge to stand in a place of action, rather than contemplation. How many times have you seen a post and let it pass? Have you ever read a blog and considered commenting, but didn't? Now more than ever, it is time to engage.

Channels are Open - Start Communicating

We have more social networks and media channels at our fingertips today than ever before. Many traditional media outlets have opened up their journalists and reporters to comment and debate. Unfortunately, some members of the public have been hiding behind trollish profiles and crass comments, compromising this dialogue in some areas. Respect is key, in creating meaningful dialogue. Mutual respect and appreciating and valuing that there are differing opinions, is critical to meaningful engagement.

Tell Your Story

What opportunity are you missing by letting others tell stories about you, your brand, your cause, your business or your community? Why let someone else lead that conversation?  You can embrace the opportunity to jump into the dialogue and bring your voice to the discussion, or sit in the stands and watch the play go back and forth. There's more fun in the heat of the action, isn't there?

Choose a Channel

For me, I like to be in the conversation. You need not be a techno expert to get into social media and generate a conversation. There are so many platforms options to consider blogging. Platforms today are built for any and all levels of comfort with technology. Gosh, if you can type or use a key board - you can create media for yourself, your brand, your cause, your business or enterprise. If you've got a solid idea or concept then write, click, drag and drop - you're ready to roll. Personally, I'm active across many different social channels - Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. Obviously, this "blog" is also part of my footprint. I use a few tools to keep it all singing together. These include but are not limited to EClincher, Promo Republic, Commun.it, Buffer and Co-Schedule. I utilize CisionPoint, for media outreach, and Constant Contact for CRM. Canva is wonderful for developing photo assets. Filmora is terrific for video editing and pulling together quick video clips. Lots of resources to discover once you start exploring.

Naturally, it is not just about posting the story and they will come. It will take some planning and targeting of an audience. These channels are also wide open and easy to access and use.

Happy to Assist

If I've sparked something here for you let's chat further. If you've got a story but don't know where to start, connect with me and I'd be glad to talk about your business or peronal brand or cause purpose and where you might begin.

Truly, the first step is really up to you. If you don't consider blogging, at least consider what network might help you get in a conversation with your community.

Let's get that story out there now. @FergDevins 

PS - If you'd like some terrific ongoing coaching from a couple of guys that "get it", check out @ChrisBrogan and @RobHatch and all that they've got going on at Owner Media Group.


Get Your Network Working

A Network

This visual from the Sunnybrook Trails in Toronto reminded me of our structure of social networks. Roots that sink deeply into the forest bed, paths that wind in different directions. Branches that spread out in many directions with various twigs and buds emerging. Some branches overlapping, interchanging, seemingly collaborating. In the distance, blue skies of opportunity. All held together in its own eco system and community networks.

Have Purpose

The social networking world can seem to some to be very ominous. I'm also convinced that, regardless of age or stage of life, everyone can benefit from the right social network designed for the individual with a purpose in mind.

If you think of your current role and how you might benefit from a stronger use of social network, you might be pleasantly surprised at what nuggets of opportunity arise. Even if there is not a "role" for you in a formal context. Think of your interests, your passions, your dreams, your travel, former friends and colleagues, the old home town.

Let's think of a few examples of purposeful social networking

Possibilities of Purpose

Professionals, Business Folks, Not for Profit Leaders, Students seeking a new job opportunity in the work force, Mid-Career changing Individuals, Community Leaders; the one sure place that you need to be networking is LinkedIN. LinkedIN offers a world of connectivity and an opportunity to lay your profile out in a very professional setting. You have the ability to join groups, search conversations and interests and even take a peek at their constantly updated job boards. A sure bet for professional networking.

If you travel, TripAdvisor is just such a wonderfully rich catch of information, reviews, suggestions, photos and interesting insights from those who have gone before you. Once you've seen the power of TripAdvisor you might like to add your own reviews to help others in the pursuit of travel insights.

Quilters may find great opportunities to connect via Pinterest or Instagram as they share the joys of the various works of art. Extend that to any number of artists and their communities.

Artists may also find the outlet of blogging a wonderful way to express their works of art and bring attention to their creative genius and works. I use Wordpress but there are many platforms to assess for blogging. There are also a lot of web design tools. Frankly, I'm just not that technically suited so I had the folks at JIB create my website.

Those in public service or community influence are likely to find that the news feed benefit and keyword search and #hashtags on Twitter is an easy wasy to keep an eye on what's new. It's no surprise that just about every news cast and newscaster has resorted to profiling their Twitter handles, when reporting the day's news.

I would suggest that anyone can find a purposeful advantage on Facebook. Facebook is just so large and far reaching. Who can deny that there might be a place with a number of different purposes to engage. Whether you create your own group, with specific interests and privacy - a page for a specific cause or undertaking - an event in your community where you can create a special event and invitation page - or perhaps a page for your business or cause. Facebook also provides a very reasonable "boost" to pay for advertising and targeting those within the Facebook world that you might like to reach.

Google+ is terrific for building a following and community and grouping within specific interests. Google has a wonderful set of applications and suite of business tools including a special drive, google alerts, YouTube etc. Google Apps for work is a great place to check out tools for your business.

Speaking of YouTube, you might well have your own collection of moments; or your own special stories to tell via video and collect them on your own YouTube channel. YouTube is also such a huge resource to find out how to do just about anything. From learning to play your favourite tune on the piano, to building something of interest for your home or cottage - you'll find it all on YouTube - get in there and search something out!

If you are just looking to "listen", you might find Blab or Periscope or Vine applications of interest to you on a given subject matter. You can participate, or just watch and listen. Video is just simply a powerful way to communicate. The one "caution" is not to make it too long. In my humble opinion, you'll lose the viewer after a few minutes max (if recorded, different if live streaming of course).

One more network that you will find is more youth oriented, for the time being that is. Until the parental units catch on to how much is being communicated via this platform (smiles)  SnapChat. SnapChat offers a quick, casual, easy way to keep in touch and share photos, collections or quick videos with friends "in the moment". There are also a number of ongoing features and newsfeeds through SnapChat.

In closing, don't forget that your email and contact list continues to serve as a critical foundation of your social network. Keep those contacts neat and tidy. Keep them updated with today's relevant information. Attempt to include social networks along with phone and address. You'll find fax numbers less important and Twitter Profiles more use today. Along with your email service there are a number of email tools to utilise for list outreach and campaigns. Mail Chimp and Constant Contact are just two of many services available.

Get Your NetworkWorking

All in this is just a nudge for you to get that network working.

Whatever your interest, passion, cause or focus - there is bound to be information, people and learning that you can find and network with, across the social channels.

Have fun engaging. If you need more direction or support, I'd be happy to chat further on some ideas best suited to you and your business or cause.  Ciao for now !  FERG @FergDevins @DevinsNetwork


Social Media Conversations - Which ones for You?

I call myself a "Chief Conversationalist" working with clients in developing their strategically tactical conversations. Social Media conversations are diverse. Based on my career past, these social media conversations could be in any one of the areas of government relations, public relations, word of mouth, social media, employee communications or community outreach. Regardless of the context, I always stop and ask "What Conversation do you want or need to be in?"

Strategically Tactical

At first blush, "strategically tactical" might seem as opposing fronts. They actually hang harmoniously, as you plan your communications plan. You will want to be on strategy for your business or entity. You will also want to be tactically oriented towards delivering something back to your business or entity. Thus on strategy for your business or intent and tactically on target for delivering a results. Strategy relates to your message, as well as the channels you choose to reach your audience. Tactically pertains to deployment.

What Conversation

It is very easy to get lost in social media. You could spend all day checking things out on line, seeing what's hot, what's not. You might be following the stream of social media conversations that are emerging via your twitter account, your newsfeed on twitter or the posts that are flowing through from your LinkedIN connections. STOP - the most strategic conversation is the conversation that you want to be in for your business or entity. What is important to you business or goals? Once you have that figured out, you can determine what conversation(s) you might decide to join. This fundamental question, related to what conversation you are in, is a critical first step. If you are in the business of tourism - you will want to ensure that you are in conversations related to tourism and all things related. You may get more focused if you are a tour boat operator, hence conversations related to tour boats. Choose leaders in your subject area and check out their conversations.

Get into the Conversation

Many folks lurk about and see what social media conversations are unfolding. They take this on as research into areas of interest. My point here is to take the leap of faith and get into the conversation. Whatever your business or interest, I guarantee that you will find conversations taking place. By getting in, participating, engaging, sharing, opining - you will get into the conversation and build important credibility for you and your perspective. There is nothing gained by staying on the sideline with an open ear without actively engaging - unless of course your strategic intent is simply to be monitoring a conversation for insights.

Finding The Social Media Conversations to Join

Pick a social channel and search. It is not unlike picking a subject, a topic or an interest and searching in Google. Pick a social channel and search in the search bar to see what conversation of interest is unfolding. In just about any social network the #'s (hashtags) will take you to particular references of that word and conversation. In LinkedIN you might seek various groups to discover conversations of interest. In LinkedIN if you search a particular subject, it will likely pop up individuals who have used that word in their profile.  You are likely to find some interesting individuals of like minded interests.

If you subscribe or search any traditional media or on line publications, you will most likely find comments following an article allowing you to jump in those social media conversations. Another approach might be search blogs related to a specific topic or area of interest on google.

Avoid Political Ping Pong

In my opinion there is little to gain by engaging in political ping pong. Ping pong I say ?? Yes...ping pong. Have you ever experienced the situation where you or others share an opinion and the counter opinions start flowing. This can be enriching, if it is truly open perspective dialogue. If someone is actually open to anothers' perspective, and you are as well - it may end up in wonderful an arena of collaborative thinking. However, if you are just batting one opinion vs an opposing opinion back and forth, I'd suggest that you've entered a game of political ping pong. Perhaps this is entertaining for bystanders. From where I sit there is little to gain for you, unless you want to show that you can shout loudly about  your entrenched position. This would be similar to engaging with "trolls" who just have an mission to discredit or oppose everything you stand for. I am often amazed by folks that get trapped into twitter debates at #onpoli or #cdnpoli on twitter. Wonderful game but little gain.

Where to Begin

Begin by choosing your conversation of interest.

Search areas of interest via google or in your social networks.

Listen intently for conversation or topics of interest.

Take a shot at jumping into the conversation.

After all...this is social media. Conversations you find will likely be quite rewarding and there will likely be doors that will open to many opportunities to explore with those with whom you engage.

What Conversation are You In ? I'd love to chat further with you if need help getting started or evaluating where to begin. Feel free to comment or reach out to me at any time. Cheers !

FERG @FergDevins @DevinsNetwork

 


Networking

Since my "semi retirement" from Molson Coors in December of 2104 I have stepped up my "networking" activity substantially. When you are in the day to day stream of every day business there are natural limitations to the time that one can actually invest in networking. One advantage of setting up one's own shop is that the time command is somewhat more in my control.

One of the commitments that I made to myself was that I was going to get out and network more. In my 30 years at Molson Coors I always believed in an open door approach and willingness to meet with prospective candidates for jobs, on an informational basis. I can remember early days in my career pursuits where people extended that opportunity to me. While in the corporate world,  I felt that it was important to assist those in the career pursuits who may or may not have understood a job posting - or who may needed to ask more questions about their "fit" for a particular position. Networking introduced me to people interested in our business and connected us with our broader community.

I found great resources for networking through the IABC (International Association of Business Communicators) and the CPRS (Canadian Public Relations Society). From a professional communications perspective, these two "associations" are a great place to start for people interested in widening their network in public affairs.

In recent months I have had the opportunity to meet with a wide range of leaders, entrepreneurs, recent grads and current college, university and high school students. I have been truly intrigued by the entrepreneurial mind set that many of these "go getters" have demonstrated to me in our conversations. This networking has also helped me expand from my natural base.

I have found that many of these networking opportunities have flowed through introductions on linkedIN. LinkedIN has proved to be a great resource for getting back in touch with people and connecting with people across a range of businesses. My Twitter feed and Facebook networks have also provided for some introductions and introductions.

I have also been intrigued and inspired by the work that is being done by the folks @10Kcoffees - Ten Thousand Coffees. When you search them you will see "Ten Thousand Cofffees - Unlock Opportunity". They call it "democratizing the coffee experience". It puts current business leaders face to face with future leaders and youth in pursuit of their dreams, or perhaps an answer about their interests and career pursuits. It brings two groups together that may not have necessarily found a natural networking moment. Take a look and join up, whether you are in pursuit or have some knowledge to share.

This past week I joined up with my associates at NATIONAL Public Relations in Toronto to host a "meet up" for #10kcoffees14 where we had a conversation over lunch (thanks David, Emily and Anne) about all things communications. We had people in the room interested in government relations, public relations, marketing and community engagement. It was a wonderful meet up to share ideas on these fronts, and most importantly, answer questions that these young aspiring leaders had on their minds. This networking forum, thanks to @10Kcoffees, has started some new conversations about opportunities for those in attendance. It has also broadened the network for those of us attending.

So...my musing here is simply to plant a networking seed with you in your continued or more active pursuit of networking in your community. Whether it is in pursuit of career opportunity, connecting with your community, getting involved in a political campaign or just pursuing an interest that has always been on your mind; I am sure that you will find it a rewarding experience. What is your favourite networking experience or forum ? @FergDevins @DevinsNetwork


First Week...Connecting a Network

First week in this new career stage and lovin it ! What's particularly gratifying is the wonderful community in which I live, work and play. It has been tremendous to re-connect with friends, former colleagues and advisors from years gone by, as well as new introductions to people that have reached out to TheDevinsNetwork Inc.

Some observations I think are worth sharing as it relates to my "social networking". While at Molson Coors I had used linkedin as a place to keep abreast of colleagues, university and college contacts and a link to the broader world of communicators, busines and community leaders. I am somewhat overwhelmed with how relevant and constant LinkedIn has become in my day to day. It's a tremendous place to connect and get informed with people and their ongoing projects and needs. Thus I've created a Devins Network group in LinkedIn as a placeholder in that channel.

Facebook has been a "personal network" for years. It's a place for private close and long term friends and colleagues to share more personal stories and experiences. However, I've been surprised at how much interest has showed up in Facebook, thus I've created a DevinsNetwork page in Facebook, in addition the ConeyMusicFest page that I manage in there as well.

Obviously MolsonFerg on twitter is no longer active and I was surprised at how easy I was able to convert to @FergDevins and maintain a solid following and dialogue. I still really enjoy the engagement and channel that Twitterville represents in my social networks. I have felt compelled to create @DevinsNetwork alongside @FergDevins. I'm not sure if that will continue but at this stage, I will keep them both alive and see how the Network brand unfolds. I recall my counsel to folks over the years...be careful not to create too many "phone lines" in your house because it will be impossible to answer them all !

I'm still learning and experimenting with google plus but have booted up there as well.

And right here at thedevinsnetwork.ca it has been an interesting experience of setting up a web profile, determining what services I might provide and being "open for business". I still think that I'm likely more open for conversation and opportunity than open for business at this stage. In time I would think that I'll find a "sweet spot" to focus on in communications but at this point it's just a great feeling to be wide open to whatever opportunities or possibilities might arise. It is really great to have a home base to point people towards when they are inquiring about "what's up".

Acknowledgements...Thanks to Kevin at Paper Ideas for the logo work. If you need a person knowledgeable in wordpress to help get your site set up, I suggest you check out Stacey Hood. Good ideas, easy access and a great sense of humour and straight talk.  Thanks to Richard Binhammer for the referal to Stacey. I'm also really looking forward to checking into the Human Business Works seminar on Mastering the Digital Channel later this month. I'll find out exactly how much I don't know about the wonderful world of social networks. Cheers ! ...now...what conversation should you and I be having? Cheers ! @FergDevins (Photo credit to Clark Devins Photography)