Back to the Future!

Relationships — Back in Business

Business Relationships

Authentic Relationships

Social Media provide new, and perhaps more efficient, tools for communication, but remember what they are for! Social media is bringing relationships back to business.

An interesting article in Search Engine Guide reminds me of the movie, Back to the Future. In her post, “How Social Media (Didn’t) Change Business,” Jennifer Laycock points out that “Smart Companies are in it for the People.” She says:

Social Media is not some amazing new concept that’s changing the way we do business. It’s simply amazing new technology that’s allowing us to return to the way people USED to do business. In the last fifty years we’ve gone from business being done the way my grandfather did it, to business being run by multi-national corporations who view you as a billing number and who you pick based on price. In the last five to ten years, the Internet has opened things back up.

Social Media gives you, as a small business owner, the tool to make and build relationships with people all over the world. The trick, is to focus on the relationship and not the sale. People are happy to buy from people they like and trust.


How to Create Effective Business Relationships

Credit for the image above goes to the blog, “,” in which authors Randie Rabideau and Marisa Ferrara wrote:

“Relationships of all kinds are often perceived as very delicate. The ability to create and/or maintain positive and effective business relationships requires extra effort. For example each member in a group or organization, has a different set of skills and beliefs based on their past experiences. This has a direct impact on the expectations they have regarding how they feel other members of the group “should” fulfill their individual roles and function as a team.”


Leverage is the Key to Success

The key to success in any business is LEVERAGE. Leverage comes in many forms. Leveraging “social capital” is my favorite! When you leverage relationships, we call it  ”networking.”  Through networking you can also leverage knowledge, resources, and contacts. Most importantly, you can leverage trust and influence!

Leveraging  “social capital” is a safer bet than leveraging money. In many situations it is “who you know that counts.” I always add that it is also “how they feel about you that counts!”

It takes time and attention to cultivate a relationship, like growing a garden. The wise person invests deposits in emotional bank accounts proactively well before the need to withdraw!

I am NOT suggesting that you invest in a cold and calculating way. The best (and most valuable) deposits are made without any thought of personal gain. Don’t keep score! Sincere compassion and interest in other people is most effective. The way to earn social capital is to simply care and share what you have to give. It also  makes you happy. “Make someone happy, and you’ll be happy too!”

Centers of Influence

Kevin Hogan writes about “The Center of Influence” in his blog called “The Resource Center of InfluenceCenter.” Here is an excerpt from his provocative article: (image credit to Kevin Hogan)

What most people who try to “be influential” miss is that they often tend to focus solely on the “Value Model” of Marketing or Selling. In other words – that people buy for value. This, of course, is a useful model. But in the strictest sense, it breaks down.

In my previous post, “Social Media ROI and Influence Marketing,” I quoted Danny Brown and Sam Fiorella.  In their upcoming book on “Influence Marketing,” they point out that “marketing efforts developed with a focus on generating profits often fail to consider the customer experience (italics mine) and ends up negatively impacting the generation of revenue and/or profit.”

Social influence occurs when one’s emotions, opinions, or behaviors are affected by other Influencershuman beings. Some people are more influential than others, both in terms of the quantity of people in their sphere of influence and the personal power of their affect on others.

Way back in 2008, a long way in internet time, Paul Gillin wrote the book pictured on the right.  Paul was a visionary who understood that the marketing game had changed.  The Canadian blog, “One Degree,” described connecting with social media influencers as “The Internet Marketer’s Secret Weapon.”

Relationships with leaders who are “centers of influence,” can empower us to take social networking to a higher level.  The “No-Nonsense Networking” blog says,

“One of the most important concepts in business networking is the idea of “Centers of Influence.” What is a Center of Influence or “COI”? A COI is a person who is in a position or business that tends to have great influence with prospects in your target market. These people have great potential to be among your best referral sources.


 Acquiring Influence with Influential People

After connecting with “influencers”, remember to make a friend, be a friend.

The Senior Market Advisor blog has a helpful post about “Finding Your Centers of Influence,” including the following advice:

“To produce a meaningful, steady stream of referrals, you need 12 “core” COIs and about 100 potential COIs. A center of influence is a person who sees or knows a lot of people, must like you, and is willing to help you succeed. Those core COI people are the ones you’ll take to lunch regularly.

In his excellent blog, Personal Development for Smart People, Steve Pavlina wrote:

To escape mediocrity requires that you surround yourself with the exceptional. Steal time from your mediocre relationships, and invest it in building new relationships with people you find extraordinary. Join clubs and organizations you’re just barely qualified to join.


Apply for a job where you’ll be surrounded by highly competent people. Join a gym that intimidates you. Volunteer for assignments that allow you to work with higher caliber people, even if you do it for free.

Once you meet such people, find ways to do favors for them. Give, expecting nothing in return. Build the relationship first, even if it seems very unbalanced in the beginning.



Beyond “Contact Management”

Contact Management Provides a Frame of Reference

“Contact Management” is like accounting. It helps to keep records, but we hope it serves to guide our performance. CRM software and web sites for organizing contacts in the cloud can help. However, actual engagement and interaction with our contacts is what really counts.  Contact ManagementCredit for the image here goes to Zoho, which offers an internet based contact manager.

My definition of networking is: ”leveraging trust and influence.”  We need to gain trust before we can leverage it. It takes a long time to make an old friend! Trust and influence are cultivated over time and are based on experience with the friend’s past performance. It is like building credit. Sometimes difficult challenges help you find out who your real friends are!

If all we did at a live “speed networking” event were to collect business cards, we might be better off with the Yellow Pages directory. It would save us time and money, and it would have an organized index! Have you ever looked at your stack of business cards and wondered who were those people? Do you realize that they’re wondering the same thing about your business card?

Can the Internet Accelerate Influence Development?

Certainly the internet enables us to contact many more people than we could possibly contact in “real life.” My question relates to how we can build trust and cultivate relationships and influence with those contacts.  

Relationships are based on shared experiences, reciprocal value exchange, and emotional rewards. I wrote a previous blog post about “Social Media Deposits in Emotional Bank Accounts,” in which I said, “it is wise to be proactive in making deposits before the need to withdraw arises, because emotional “withdrawals” are often unexpected accidental emergencies!” When you need a friend who “has your back,” it may be too late to make an old friend.

Engage and Interact

In my post called, “Engage and Interact to Build Relationships Online,” I wrote,

Relationships online are formed by engaging in conversations and interacting. Commenting on another person’s posts or status updates is just as important as posting your own content. Following up and responding to the comments of others gives them attention and recognition, which are important human needs.

If you want to win friends and influence people, it is actually more effective to be interested than to be interesting! Listening and “paying” attention is a usually a profitable investment. Commenting on blogs, like this one, is another good investment! 😉   Notice the  “Comment Luv” plugin below. We might become real friends and allies!

Alliances, Tribes, and Social Syndication

InterdependenceInternet Tribes

Alliances, tribes, and virtual teams are currently popular among internet marketers. SEO has incentivized reciprocal tribe syndication beyond the normal reasons to cooperate.  A Like for a Like, etc.  Personally I have been wrestling with my entrepreneurial tendency to focus on my own creative projects, rather than to contributing a lot of time as a team player.

Please don’t get me wrong; I love helping people as much as the Lone Ranger did. And I have always understood the values of synergy and leverage (the essence of networking), but I was usually the team leader or the “Chief of the Tribe,” if you will. I have never been inclined to be a groupie, and yet I respect the power of tribal alliances.  For me, joining someone else’s tribe “takes some getting used to.” I try to do my part…

Synergy and Leverage

The whole internet itself is a giant showcase of synergy. It began as a “free-world” defense network, evolved into a free global information resource, and then in the nineties was colonized (no pun intended) by individual enterprise. By 1998 eCommerce was the next big thing. In the gold rush of the dot-com bubble, competition was king. I think the 21st Century has brought more appreciation for the synergy of social alliances.


On my other blog I wrote about, “Interdependence vs. Independence Reconsidered.”

In his best-selling book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr. Stephen R. Covey wrote:

Independent thinking alone is not suited to interdependent reality. Independent people who do not have the maturity to think and act interdependently may be good individual producers, but they won’t be good leaders or team players.”

Examples of Interdependent Relationships

Entrepreneurs need capital and capitalists need investments. Landlords and tenants need each other. Doctors need patients who need doctors. Teachers need students and vice versa. One of the hottest topics in the news is the creation or loss of “Jobs.” Employees need employers who need employees.  Sellers of houses need buyers who need houses. Leaders need followers who need leaders.

In network marketing organizations, the “downline” need “upline” for training and support and assistance with presentations. Upline leaders need downline followers to expand their network of contacts.

Choose Your Partners Carefully

On my other blog,, I suggested to carefully “Choose Your Partners.” I wrote:

Social media allow us to get to know each other before we decide to do business together. This is one of the things I like about network marketing too. We can choose to work with whomever we want.

“Partnering” for blog syndication, traffic generation, or for network marketing may be less risky than partnering in traditional business, but it still involves mutual commitments, expectations, and interdependence.

The 80/20 Rule

Even with the leverage of internet tools our time and energy is limited, so it is wise to consider the 80/20 Rule and be somewhat discriminating in choosing partners.

Realistically, do we have to sacrifice quality for quantity?

On my other blog I wrote about “Quantity vs. Quality in Social Media Relationships.”  I assume that most people would like to increase BOTH the quantity AND the quality of their relationships through the leverage of social media. This goal presents challenges, because time (life) and attention have finite dimensions.  Is there a limit to how much time and attention we can devote to relationships?

It is an understatement to say that the internet is full of examples of synergy and leverage. The image above is from the Interdependence Project blog. What are YOUR THOUGHTS about interdependence vs. independence? Please share your comments below. (Bloggers need commentators)   ;-)


Social Media ROI and Influence Marketing

Influence MarketingWill Influence Marketing Really Create ROI ?

Social networking cannot be ignored. It is the “800 pound gorilla” in the room.  However, there is much debate about whether investments of time and money in social media actually brings a profitable return.

In their upcoming book, Influence Marketing: How to Create, Manage and Measure Influence Marketing in Social Media Marketing, Danny Brown and Sam Fiorella propose “a model that demonstrates how the growing practice of influence marketing can measurably impact purchase decisions instead of simply driving brand awareness.”

They point out that “marketing efforts developed with a focus on generating profits often fail to consider the customer experience (italics mine) and ends up negatively impacting the generation of revenue and/or profit.”

Brown and Fiorella believe that their strategy will “help you manage the influence paths that lead consumers to buy.”  Here are some of their main points:

  • Put the customer—not the influencer—at the center, and plan influence marketing accordingly
  • Recognize where each prospect stands in the purchase life cycle right now
  • Clarify how your consumers move from brand preference to purchase
  • Identify key micro-influencers who impact decisions at every stage
  • Gain indispensable insights into the context of online relationships
  • Recognize situational factors that derail social media brand recommendations
  • Understand social influence scoring models and overcome their limitations
  • Re-engineer and predict influence paths to generate measurable action
  • Master the “4 Ms” of influence marketing: make, manage, monitor, measure
  • Transform influence marketing from a “nice-to-have” exercise into a powerful strategy

Connecting with Influencers

Nyerr Parham is Marketing Manager at Appinions. On the Appinions web site she posted a helpful article, in which she states:

The foundation of influence marketing is building relationships with individuals who are in a position to help your brand increase awareness, build reputation, connect with an audience, and make sales. The basis for all of these goals is the development of a relationship with an influencer.

So once you’ve decided to reach out to influencers, should you do so as a brand or as an individual? Just who owns (or should own) these influencer relationships?

Our answer: Influencers want to develop relationships with people, so it makes sense to reach out as yourself – a living and breathing person – rather than a brand.

Influence online

On his web site, Greg Fry wrote:

Companies have started to realise two things:

  1. People who traditionally had little influence offline have become very very influential online.
  2. Unless they engage effectively with their target audience online their numbers will have little or no ROI.

For this reason we are seeing the more social media savvy companies starting to focus on building more meaningful relationships with their communities online and spending more time identifying and engaging with the most influential online consumers in their industry.

Measuring Influence

Mark W. Shaefer studied the problem of measuring social influence intensively in preparation for his book, Return On Influence. In the year since that book was published Shaefer has attempted to keep current with the latest developments in the field. In his blog named “grow”, he writes:

1) This is a historically important time where personal power has been enabled through our ability to publish on the web.

2) The nature of power and influence in the online world is vastly different than what we are accustomed to in the offline world. It’s important for businesses and individuals to understand this — your paradigm has to shift.

Is Influence Marketing an Idea Whose Time Has Come?

Writing about the French Revolution against dictatorship by the monarchy, Victor Hugo famously said, “All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come.”

“Social Influence Strategy”

I believe that social influence has always been extremely important, and the explosion of social media is a game changer.  I intend to continue to research this issue and write about it on this blog.  If you agree that this is an interesting subject, please “stay tuned” for future posts, and please share your comments below.  I’ll be glad to reciprocate with “Comment Luv”