There are a very small number of Internet experts whose blogs and material I read consistently and conscientiously. One of them, Internet Psychologist Graham Jones also has an unswerving belief in posting regularly – several times a day if possible.
You’d think that blogging on a daily basis is a tough ask - let alone posting quality material which people look forward to reading, but Graham achieves it and has done so for a long period of time.
And Graham’s right; when I manage to post regularly I get more site visits, more enquiries and more speaker bookings. I appear higher in Google results for certain keywords and I see an unexpected knock on effect with more views on my LinkedIn profile page – which in itself leads to more connections.
Some would argue there is quite enough noise on the Internet as it is without people being encouraged to blog as often as possible. Many people believe that information overload on the Internet is a big problem because it makes it harder for people to find and filter what they are looking for.
Whatever way you look at it, the Internet is a cacophony of noise – much of it valuable and pleasant to ‘listen’ to – and much of it of little or no value. The competition for who can be the loudest online is at fever pitch.
So what an agreeable, shocking yet satisfying surprise it was recently to walk into a book shop in London, to be met by complete silence. Yes, complete and utter silence – broken only by my footsteps on the wooden floor and the occasional beep beep of the shop assistant tapping items into the till.
There was no background music, no roaring heater over the door, no incessant chit chat, no traffic noise coming through from outside – just silence. When the assistant said ‘Good morning’ to me, I all but whispered my reply and made a conscious effort to move around the shop more quietly in reverence.
And it wasn’t that this was a traditional old London book shop with roots going back hundreds of years; this was a modern, striking, brightly painted (white everywhere), friendly, attractive and welcoming store. After the initial shock of the soundless environment contrasting with the daily explosion of noise of a London street, the shop became more and more appealing, and before I knew it I’d spent forty minutes inside.
In fact, I’d only gone in it to buy a birthday card (I could see a rack of them through the window), but ended up purchasing two books. When I went to pay at the till, it was all I could do to stop myself asking the assistant if she wanted the radio on to break the silence, but somehow that felt silly.
Soon I was back out on the street, once again to be wrapped in a familiar but uncomfortable blanket of noise, but my moment of stillness and hush stayed with me for the rest of the day. I can’t wait to go back again.
As I write, it’s 7.18am on Monday morning and a new week is starting. I can see people I know tweeting feverishly about this and that, about footballers biting people, reflections on the Boston and London Marathons, photos of their early morning dog walk, train delays on the way into London, conferences that are just about to start, client meetings that they are looking forward to, news, more news, job advertisements, retweets from celebrities – and more and more and more noise.
My inbox is filling up with links to Blog posts, Google+ posters are gushing wisdom on every topic under the sun, and people on LinkedIn are sharing content as though today was our last day on Earth. And that’s just the potentially useful material; scattered throughout it is a wealth of adverts and spam and junk, which whilst it might be of value to some people, is of no value to me.
And in reality I’m no better. It won’t be long before this Blog post will be winging its way around the Internet, in the hope that someone will find it useful during their day. In addition to my website, it will be tweeted, posted on LinkedIn, added on Google+ and it will also find its way onto my Facebook page and elsewhere no doubt.
I’m sure we’ve all looked at Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn and other sites, and just occasionally wondered how people have the time to post, not just daily but seemingly every minute of every day. Whilst Graham Jones often posts several times a day, his material has a theme, has focus and has value. And he knows when it’s better to be quiet and to say nothing – to be silent.
The fact that we have access to multiple steams of information via the medium of the Internet is something to be treasured and valued. Experts, authors, commentators, business owners and people with value to add have a wonderful and powerful outlet with which to communicate. But just occasionally, the person who shouts the loudest is not always heard. There is value in silence and reflection.
Since my wonderful experience in the book shop, I for one will be making more of an effort to be conscious of whether the material that I post just adds more noise to people’s day or whether it adds value to it.
By Philip Calvert
Ask LifeTalk - a new way to find an IFA or financial adviser
This week we launched a project where we use elements of social media to help people find a financial adviser or IFA (Independent Financial Adviser). It's called Ask LifeTalk and can be found at www.asklifetalk.com
Using the Internet to search, find and choose a financial adviser to help with your financial planning, financial products (e.g. pensions, investments, life assurance etc) and other personal finance questions can sometimes be a bit ‘hit and miss’. You often end up in an online directory of financial advisers, with little to differentiate one from another. "They all look the same - how do I choose someone and how do I know that I'll get on with them?"
is all too common a comment.
We launched Ask LifeTalk as a new way to find, assess and, if you wish, make contact with professional financial advisers. Call us old fashioned, but it’s based on the idea that ‘people buy people’.
Consumers can use the site to ask a question (in confidence) about personal finances, and financial advisers from the LifeTalk network of 9,000 professionals will answer it by offering you generic observations, remarks and comments – entirely free. And although people regularly use open forums on well-known money websites to ask personal finance questions, our research suggested that a lot of people would like to use the Internet but would rather have a layer of privacy. So we built that in too.
It’s likely that you’ll personally prefer one or more answers over the others, so you may then want to find out more about a particular adviser by checking out their profile page on the LifeTalk website. That way you’ll get to know them a little better and discover more about them, their experience, qualifications and expertise. We're also giving advisers a website badge which shows how many questions they've answered and how many of them have been 'Liked'.
If you feel that you’ll ‘click’ with a particular financial adviser, you’ll probably want to make contact to see how their services work and how they can help you.
We're encouraging people to 'Like' and favourite particular answers to their questions, and when they do, a tweet goes out on Twitter. It's a public recognition of the effort the adviser put in to helping - plus the tweet will also attract other financial advisers to make use of the site. A tweet also goes out when someone asks a question - again encouraging more advisers to sign up.
We're very excited about the project, because although the Internet is the place we all go to find service providers, it's vital that the 'people buy people' element is included if we are to really gel with service professionals and ultimately build trust.
By Philip Calvert
It never ceases to amaze me when I come across someone in business who doesn’t have any form of Internet presence.
I remember Ecademy co-founder Thomas Power telling me almost ten years ago “if you’re not on Google, you don’t exist”
. At the time, some people felt that was a slight exaggeration, but we all knew exactly what he meant.
In an era when in business most of us Google someone before meeting them for the first time, clearly it is important to be as visible as possible online, and it goes without saying that there are more than enough tools to help us to grow and build not only an impressive online presence but also to build a notable online reputation. (In fact, I tend to use LinkedIn more than Google when I'm looking to find people).
So twice in a couple of weeks I have felt physically disappointed not to have been able to find two people online – on one occasion when I was in a position to help them find a job and the other when I wanted to hire someone to do some computer repairs.
The former was, in her own words “a top financial planner for my company in Australia and in Singapore when we moved there”
. She added “I was also one of the company’s top performers in London when I was based at Canary Wharf”
I had no reason to doubt her, and given that she had recently been made redundant from her role with a major bank, I was in a position to introduce her to a number of financial planning firms who were looking for talented financial planners such as her.
Having taken her business card, I went straight onto LinkedIn to learn a little more about her. To my frustration, whilst I was able to find her profile, it showed only her name and her former company. No detail, no specialties, no skills, no testimonials and no contact details. In an age when you expect
to be able to find even the most basic career information about people – let alone photos and an insight into their interests outside work, I actually felt irritated.
True, not everyone is fully engaged with the Internet or Social Media. Indeed, none of it is compulsory. But surely everyone in business – whether employed or unemployed should by now have an appreciation that there is always someone ‘out there’ who is looking for a person like you; and if you don’t have even the most standard of online profiles, the assumption is that you don’t exist.
Having recently upgraded my PC to Windows 8, after an initial hatred of the platform I grew to quite like it. Then, after one week of using it, my PC decided not to start. It ran all the usual diagnostic and repair processes, tried to find a restore point etc., but all to no avail. And it still won’t start - somewhat ironic for Microsoft.
So I searched online for a local computer repair service and was ready to give two firms a call – only for my wife to suggest that I get in touch with someone else – the father of one of my daughter’s school friends. Apparently he was a computer repair wizard and this sort of thing was right up his street. And anyway, it would be nice to give the business to someone with whom we were already vaguely acquainted.
Having searched for his name and various permutations on ‘PC repair’ keywords around where he lives, he too is completely invisible online - nothing on Google, nothing on Bing and nothing on LinkedIn. And no we don’t have his phone number or email address, and no I don’t want to wait until Monday to try and meet him in the school playground. The Internet is now my telephone directory and if you’re not in it, you don’t exist and you don’t get my business.
My background is in financial services, where I run a social networking site for financial advisers
. According to one set of figures, around 20% of financial adviser firms still don’t have a website. People from other industries find this unbelievable, and frankly I do too.
True, some people are far too
visible online! But better that we can see that they are live and kicking, engaging with other people online and in many cases adding value to everyone else’s online experience.
Being invisible online today is in my view no longer an option. Come out – show yourself!
Some of us might just want to help you, or heaven forbid - even purchase something from you!Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The last two days has seen LinkedIn taking further steps to put their site at the heart of your online business networking activities, with the launch of features which, in their own words “bring you new ways to access the most relevant professional information and insights to help you be even better at your job, everyday.”
Firstly, it’s important to remember that LinkedIn is no longer just a fancy job site. In many industries, it seems that very high percentages of people (often as high as 90+%) have no idea at all exactly why they are on the site in the first place or how to make the most of LinkedIn
When questioned more closely, most think they joined LinkedIn because they were at some point either looking for a job, or had heard that posting your CV or information about yourself might, in due course lead to a better job. Several people have told me that they joined LinkedIn because they had heard that that’s where all the headhunters hang out.
Whilst LinkedIn is indeed very much a ‘fancy job site’ with their revenue growth very much linked to their recruitment services, on the surface LinkedIn is in fact now a key business resource and should form part of your sales, marketing, communication and reputation building strategy – whether you are an employee or a business owner.
I would also go so far as to suggest that your LinkedIn Company page (you have got a Company page haven’t you?) should be viewed as a business asset (we’ll go into detail as to why this is in a future blog), it’s that important.
Because LinkedIn has become such a valuable and powerful business tool, they are doing everything they can to keep you on their site for as long as possible every day, and to make the features business tools in their own right. In short, they want to try and make sure everything you will ever need is available on just their site. Don’t forget, LinkedIn is a huge mine full of data about people and companies, and all the features the site provides are there to help you leverage that data
You would be forgiven for thinking that there’s not much that you can do on Facebook now, which you can’t also do on LinkedIn, and slowly but surely LinkedIn is transforming itself into a real-time business resource.
The latest evidence of this is yesterday’s launch of real-time updates on your home page, which will show you updates from your contacts, and when someone has liked or shared something that you have posted on LinkedIn, viewed your profile, accepts your invitation and more.
What’s more, LinkedIn tell us that 23% of unique visitors interact with the site through a mobile device, so they’ve also extended the new features to the iPhone, iPad and Android.
Even better, is that they have now added Company pages to the online experience, enabling you to keep up to date on companies that you are following.
And on the horizon, you’ll soon be able to edit your LinkedIn profile direct from their apps.
There still remains a robust discussion about the future of LinkedIn – or to be precise the future of online business networking. Some still feel that Google+ will eventually dominate. We’ll see, that’s for another day.
In the meantime, we could all take a leaf out of LinkedIn’s approach, and think seriously about ways that we can make our own websites more invaluable to our customers and visitors.
Is your site just an online brochure - or is it a valuable resource that people want
to return to time and time again?Looking for ways to leverage LinkedIn in your business?
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