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Connect Cooperatively through your social & old fashioned networks

When Bonnie Hohhof, SCIP’s editor of Competitive Intelligence Magazine asked me to write about social networking etiquette, I was totally overwhelmed since there is reams of information on this topic.  How could I make it meaningful to SCIP members?  I found my answer in Chris Brogan‘s blog entry of Jan. 27, 2009 entitled, “You’re All Doing It Wrong.”

I loved this post so much that I copied it below and invite you to check out all the comments that this short provocative post attracted, 111 as this post is published.

• “You follow too many people on Twitter.
• You don’t allow blog comments.
• You add people to LinkedIn that you don’t know very well.
• You have ads on your blog.
• You use partial RSS feeds.
• Your blog posts are too short (too long).
• You shoot really long videos and don’t edit.
• You don’t follow people back.
• You swear.
• You talk in LOLcat speak.
• You aren’t using FriendFeed.
• You are using FriendFeed.
• You push the same updates to every platform.
• You don’t use Creative Commons.

Guess what? We’re all doing it wrong. Because we’re all doing it our own way, and it’s not always going to match the way you think it works best.”

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People’s objectives in using social networks are very individual and are influenced by our gender, background, culture and Internet savvy.

In my field of competitive intelligence I notice there are two camps: those who want to find data about their competitors and don’t want to be found– mostly corporate managers and consultants who collect competitive data; and those who want to be found– management and research consultants looking for their next gig.  I notice many of my colleagues – I’m one of those shameless consultants — will only connect with people they know personally on LinkedIn and other networks.  I feel they are missing the opportunity for synchronicity to connect with people they would never meet except through connecting via strangers.  As we conduct cold calling to collect competitive intelligence, we often experience a similar synchronicity as one contact leads to another and another…the same thing happens in social networking when you connect with “strangers” if you are open to it.  Since you talk with so many people at one time through social networking the synchronicity is multiplied.

The point is with social networking, as with in-person networking you have to decide what works best for you based on your objectives for social networking, your ethics and philosophy and recognize that everyone you connect with has their own standards which might be different from yours.  Remember there is a person behind that electronic connection who has feelings in the same way that person has when you shake their hand physically.  Thus it takes time to build a successful social networking presence just like it does using the old fashioned way through meetings and phone calls.  Relationships take time to develop, and the best way to nourish them is through a real communication, such as a customized communication when you first connect and by being a generous giver.

At the end of the day, you create and tweak your brand and your personality through the various forms of connecting in cyberspace which includes social networks, blogs, your website, videos, podcasts, e-mails and text messages.  Just remember you can’t retract what you have written, and each communication leaves a permanent record in cyberspace.

Don’t forget that old fashioned marketing over the telephone, in-person meetings and personal notes still work too.  In fact I find they work great since so many have jumped into the social networking bandwaggon and have forgotten the value of personal connections the old fashioned way.  What’s been your experience with connecting on social networks versus traditional marketing? What works for you?

Integrate Competitive Intelligence and Marketing: Jazz Up Your Presentations!

Last week I shared a book list which we used to supplement our AMA (American Marketing Association) course on Integrating Competitive Intelligence into Marketing. In the cooperative spirit, this list continues with 3 books to help you spruce up your communication and presentation skills.

I love Advanced Presentations by Design: Creating Communication that Drives Action by Dr. Andrew Abela, associate professor of marketing at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. He was the founding managing director of the Marketing Leadership Council, and is a former McKinsey consultant.

I had the good fortune to attend Dr. Abela’s full-day training session at the SCIP’s (Society of Competitive Intelligence Professionals) Annual Conference in 2006.  It is one of the most practical workshops I have ever attended and I couldn’t wait to use my new found skill as I re-wrote my SCIP presentation based on what I learned right away!

Professor Abela goes through 10 steps that are guaranteed to help you write a persuasive presentation.  He starts out by making you think about the motivation, personality and communication preferences of those who will be in your audience and thus tailor your message and style accordingly.

As we went through his 10 steps to create an “extreme presentation,” I realized that I would have to re-think my presentation look to be more audience-centric.  I had been creating Power Point decks to help me remember the points I wanted to convey rather than considering how my audience might want to be communicated with.  And heavens my slides were laden with bullet points and lacked life!

Dr. Abela suggests two presentation styles: Ballroom for large groups of 100 or more, and Conference room, a 1-3 page handout for smaller groups.  The Ballroom look is mostly pictorial and is a one-way communication, whereas the Conference room is more like an architectural drawing and is designed to engage and persuade your audience and to change their behavior.

I use both of Dr. Abela’s styles with a large audience at SCIP conferences since SCIP attendees tend to be analytical and like to take notes.  I’ll present using the Ballroom style and give each attendee a one-page handout summary in Dr. Abela’s Conference room style so attendees can take notes.

Dr. Abela’s presentation book concentrates on the back room operations of presenting–that is planning and presentation creation—not delivering the talk.  However, if you follow his format of either a Ballroom or Conference room format, you better know your material.  In Ballroom, you are not reading bullet points, but showing pictures that tell the story.  In Conference room, you have 1 or 2 handouts for a meeting which might run an hour.  Again you better know your material since you can’t cram it all on a page or two.

The second book I recommend is: Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery by Garr Reynolds and is endorsed by none other than marketing guru Seth Godin. “Please don’t buy this book! Once people start making better presentations, mine won’t look so good. (But if you truly want to learn what works and how to do it right, Garr is the man to learn from.)”

The third book is The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures by Dan Roam. The premise behind Roam’s book is that anybody with a pen and a scrap of paper can use visual thinking to work through complex business ideas. This book is recommended by Dan Heath of Make to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Other Ideas Die who says, ““Inspiring! It teaches you a new way of thinking in a few hours — what more could you ask from a book?”

Remember you can still attend this AMA workshop in Chicago on March 12.

Happy Reading!

Cooperative Leadership: The White House Has a Blog!

Just in case you missed President Obama’s inaugural address, here it is!

Wow, the White House has a Blog!  Our new President reaches out to all of us through various means of communication as he has embraced social networking in a big way in addition to traditional media.

I particularly enjoyed the commentary of President Obama’s speech by Lee Iacocca, former president and CEO of Chrysler, in today’s Wall Street Journal.  I still like getting the printed version of the WSJ, even though I’m on-line most of my waking hours!

“President Obama got it right in his inauguration speech. He did the one thing that I believe is the most important: he asked everyone to join the team in service to the country.  He is smart enough to know that the presidency in not a one-man show. It’s a team effort, and in this case, the team is millions strong. A true leader has the humility to understand that when he’s at the top, he’s standing on the shoulders of the people. We all have our work cut out for us.”

President Obama’s attitude embodies cooperative leadership, which stresses that through cooperation, reaching out and listening, we are effective both as self-leaders and leaders of others.

President Obama inherits a wounded America, and he is determined to bring us back, if we help!  Many people are out of work, have no healthcare benefits, our education system needs reform, and our collective cash flow has declined.  However, I hold great hope for this new administration due to its grassroots-level support in communities across American which continues even past the campaigning season. Yes we can.  And he is surrounding himself with such a talented staff!  Witness the approval of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State!

In closing, a colleague shared this poem which talks to me, especially in tough times:

Your Goal

Ships sail East, and ships sail West,
While the selfsame breezes blow,

It’s the set of the sails, and not the gales,
That determine the way they go.

Like the winds of the sea,
Are the ways of fate,

As we journey along through life,

It’s the set of the soul,
That determines the goal,
And not the calm nor the strife.

Author Unknown

Integrating Competitive Intelligence and Marketing: Boost Your Interviewing & Elicitation Skills

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golden gate bridge san francisco,
originally uploaded by mbell1975.

Last week I traveled to San Francisco to help instruct an AMA (American Marketing Association) course on Integrating Competitive Intelligence into Marketing. In the cooperative spirit, I shared this book list to supplement our teaching which I am sharing with you. If you have other books to suggest I would like to hear from you!

1. What Every Body is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-Reading People by Joe Navarro. Joe is a professional reader of body language and shares some of the tricks to this skill, not the least of which is keen, unobtrusive observation. I think there is even more pressure to be good at reading body language today since most of our communication is electronic. Thus, we get less practice at being with people, so we need to be all the more observant during in-person meetings.

2. Take the Cold out of Cold Calling by Sam Richter. Sam Richter was President of the James J Hill Reference Library which mostly serves individuals and small business. As such, this book is geared to help anyone learn more about their customers by researching them on the Internet, and he shares many tippers on how to do this.

3. Basic Interviewing Skills by Raymond L. Gorden. This is the best interviewing structure I have read anywhere which Professor Gorden calls, “Skill Learning Cycle,” which involves developing 12 skills to achieve a high quality interview. He presents a solid structure for conducting and assessing your interview and includes exercises for practice. He also includes some great tippers on how to read body language and tone of voice while conducting an interview.

4. Confidential: Business Secrets – Getting Theirs, Keeping Yours by John Nolan. This is a classic in the competitive intelligence community for John’s discussion around developing elicitation skills and how to protect your company’s secrets and sensitive information.

5. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout. This is a must read for anyone in public relations and brand management. Even a small business person will benefit by learning how to develop and position their brand.

6. The Discipline of Market Leaders by Michael Treacy. This is a favorite of Matt Kelly’s of Strategy Software, another instructor at our AMA course. Mr. Treacy argues that companies should focus on leadership in one of three areas for a sustainable competitive advantage: operational excellence, product leadership or customer intimacy.

7. Competitive Intelligence: How to Gather, Analyze, and Use Information to Move Your Business to the Top by Larry Kahaner. Mr. Kahaner describes the value of competitive intelligence and how to use it very clearly as he is a trained journalist, and writes exquisitely.

If you are interested in attending this AMA course on Integrating Competitive Intelligence into Marketing, we will be giving it in Boston on Feb. 12 and Chicago on March 12.

I also put together a book list on social networking and presentations for this course, the topic for a future blog.

Connecting Networlding and Cooperative Intelligence

I recently spoke with a very generous person, Melissa Giovagnoli, CEO and Founder of Networlding, the same title of her best selling book back in 2000. In some ways the book was ahead of itself, since you can be an even better Networlder today with all the ways to connect and help people through social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

42-16074004Networlding relationships start when you clearly express your intent in the broad sense of the word. Quickly and convincingly, you communicate your goals and value, and when you do so, people who resonate to your intent will respond. If someone responds positively and you are able to establish a Networlding relationship, you can reap tremendous benefits. Your new partner will not only do more for you in terms of opportunities but in providing an empathetic ear and a source of fresh ideas.

42-15599160In contrast, many treat networks transactionally rather than relationally. So they use networks for a limited time for a specific purpose and leave new, ongoing opportunities on the table. When networking, people are bound together because one person needs another to do a deal or create a sale. One particular situation binds them together, and as soon as this situation disintegrates or disappears, there’s nothing left of the relationship to keep it strong enough to survive.

Networlding is a lot like cooperative connection, a component of cooperative intelligence.  Networlding is cooperative: networking is often collaborative. This is an important distinction.  People know when you are giving to get. They also know when you are giving to give.

The book discusses seven steps to Networlding:

1. Figure out your values
2. Assess the connections you have for their consistency with your values
3. Increase the number and strength of your connections with people who meet your values
4. Initiate relationships where important benefits are exchanged
5. Grow and nurture these relationships
6. Work with these people to create opportunities you can explore in common
7. Re-create your Networld

In Networlding, relationships with people, especially in your primary circle, must involve common intent, trust and values; a mutual exchange of ideas, resources and emotional support; and a commitment to pursue opportunities together.  This level of relationship does not happen instantly and requires considerable effort.  Share your projects, relevant contacts, new knowledge and skill you’re developing with those in your primary circle.  Be selective about who is in your primary circle: the quality of those relationships is much more important than the quantity.  Fewer quality sources are easier to manage and maintain.  According to anthropologist, Robin Dunbar, the human brain is hardwired to handle a maximum of about 150 active social connections.

To help identify those people who are in your primary circle, organize your relationships according to frequency of contact, level of exchange, responsiveness and type of opportunities developed.  You should be spending 80% of your time with those individuals in your primary circle, and only 20% of your time with those in your secondary and tertiary circles.

Assess how well you manage your time with those in your primary circle, and recognize that relationships change over time.  So do your business goals.  At least once a year, analyze how you spent your time with your primary contacts.  Write down what you exchanged with each person: data, analysis, hot tips, referrals, opportunities and emotional support.

– Who are you spending the most time with?
– Who is providing you with the most productive exchange?
– Is any one person providing you with the best exchanges in the least amount of time?  How are you reciprocating?
– Who is providing you with the least or lowest quality exchanges over this period of time?
– Are you spending your networking time optimally to reach your goals?
– If not, what change will you make in your network to align with your goals?

Re-assess:

– Who is still in your primary circle?
– Is there someone who should be moved to your secondary circle?
– Is there someone in your secondary circle whose relationship with you warrants a move to your primary circle?
– Is there a new colleague who is now in your primary circle?

Happy Networlding!

Just Be Yourself

How’s your New Year started?  Here is are some attitudes and practices to keep you grounded.

This is a great message to live by in the new year…Just Be Yourself!
I don’t know who the author is, but I am grateful my friend Scott Brown forwarded it to me today.  Thank you Scott!

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Be understanding to your perceived enemies.
Be loyal to your friends.
Be strong enough to face the world each day.
Be weak enough to know you cannot do everything alone.
Be generous to those who need your help.

Be frugal with that you need yourself.
Be wise enough to know that you do not know everything.
Be foolish enough to believe in miracles.
Be willing to share your joys.
Be willing to share the sorrows of others.

Be a leader when you see a path others have missed.
Be a follower when you are shrouded by the mists of uncertainty.
Be first to congratulate an opponent who succeeds.
Be last to criticize a colleague who fails.
Be sure where your next step will fall, so that you will not tumble.

Be sure of your final destination, in case you are going the wrong way.
Be loving to those who love you.
Be loving to those who do not love you; they may change.
Above all, Be yourself.
Just be yourself.

Extend a Positive Attitude for 2009

boomerangsmallI have started 2009 with the birth this blog, Cooperative Intelligence, a concept I have developed over the years. Many people suggested I use the words, “Collaborative Intelligence,” but that isn’t the intention or spirit I want to extend. Collaborative means that you are giving to get.  Cooperative means you are giving to give.  It is the process of developing your network by finding ways to help others.  Reciprocity is the engine of networks.  You are helped because you help others: no strings attached.  Instead of focusing on self-interest, you are seeking the common good.  I like the analogy that Donna Fisher shares in Power Networking that like a boomerang, the help we give comes back to us, though often in a roundabout way.

Most of us are good at learning the skills of our trade, but can be challenged to get our company’s managers to take action based on our findings. Cooperative intelligence integrates generous leadership, connection and communication, which helps anyone to “Listen and Be Heard.”  Cooperative intelligence plays a major role in positioning, earning and gaining respect.

As we start a new year, I will share a cooperative intelligence practice that will improve your positioning with your company’s leadership and co-workers. As an added bonus, you will also feel better about yourself.

 Maintain a Positive Attitude

I picked this cooperative intelligence practice in light of our current, turbulent economic times.  No matter how dour your current circumstances, you always have a choice about your attitude.

 A book that inspires this enthusiasm is The Art of Possibility by Rosamund and Ben Zander. The Zanders share many ways to maintain a positive attitude. After all we invent our own perception of life and thus there is a universe of possibilities and choices.  I love the analogy they share of Michelangelo’s attitude as he viewed his sculpture projects, “Inside of each block of stone or marble dwells a beautiful statue.” Apply this positive attitude and vision to the relationships you develop in life!

Another Zander tip is to “Give an A,” even before it’s really earned. Give the other person a boost right at the outset of a relationship. This corresponds to a universal desire in people to contribute to others no matter how many barriers there are to its expression. Assume that people are good, fair and honest. Trust in the relationship. Such trust will be evident and felt by everyone since it’s infectious. Watch Ben Zander’s infectious possibilities and enthusiasm in this video.

In Whale Done, Ken Blanchard and his coauthors explain that people perform better when they accentuate the positive, catching people doing things RIGHT versus catching people doing things wrong. 

I hope these ideas help you get your new year off to a good start!

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