This past Sunday morning, I had to get up at 5:00 AM and drive in the snow to a seminar. It was not your everyday business seminar which I attend frequently. It was a USA Hockey Certification and Coaching Seminar. As you might imagine, not many of us were thrilled to be there on a Sunday or frankly any other day.
About six hours later, when I left, I felt like I really got a lot out of it and that I could do a better job helping and guiding the kids. In addition, I was pleasantly surprised about the business value that I got out of the session as I had the opportunity to think about the things we generally do not consider unless we have some dedicated time to focus.
There were 7 points made about coaching beginners that I believe business professionals in commercial real estate, can use to help ourselves, our employees, and our companies. Here they are:
1) You might be the first business person a new hire has ever worked with - remember that you have an important job to do. You just might be the leader that shapes their understanding of how business works (and they will be working way longer than they will be playing a sport).
2) When you stop learning new things-you stop leading
3) There are 8 principles of effective communication - always keep them in mind
4) Don't focus on coaching by telling them "what not to do to correct it, instead focus on "what you would like them to do" to get the right results. If you focus on the negative, then that is what the employee will think about (not screwing up) instead of the desired end result (finishing a project on time).
5) Avoid lengthy, complicated instructions - 3 things maximum at one time (for those of you who know me, you know this one is near and dear to me)
6) What you see is what you coached. Look in the mirror if you don't like the results
7) Fundamental abilities are the natural result of repetition.
There are academic viewpoints that state that to truly become an expert in something; it requires 10,000 hours which in many cases translates to 3 hrs a day for nearly 10 years.
There are a lot of experts out there who have involved in CRE, Phase I's, and environmental due diligence that meet this criteria or come real close. If you are in a leadership position, I would just like to pass along the reminder I just received. Make sure that you share your knowledge and wisdom to ensure the next generation of professionals continues to move the market forward.
I suspect you might be pleasantly surprised at what you will learn from them, how appreciative they are for your time, and what you get out of it both personally and professionally.
For those of you who regularly participate on social networking sites, and those of you who have just started, you probably have noticed a number of different types of member personalities and patterns. In the social networking circles, you can search and find various explanations of the many types of participants as they really don't vary all that much across social communities and also real life.
The three types of members of social networks that we run into regularly include
The members that often can have the most positive impact are the trouble makers - believe it or not. Why? Well it is simple.
When I talk about these types with members, employees, and partners, the question often comes up - "then, how do we know if an answer or content is correct or credible?" I would encourage you to take the following into consideration when you are determining if there is any question about the credibility of the member and their contributions:
In the end, you should always use your best judgment when deciding about the credibility of a post. Most credible social networks provide access to information about the contributor, so it is easy to check the above recommendations, but always use your best judgment like you would with anything else.
Should any of you feel that there are folks who do not meet the standards of the community and violate the rules of engagement and terms of service, I would always encourage that you let the community administrator for the community and other community members know.
The past two months have given me a completely new perspective on the past and future. I won't bore you with too many of the details. Let's just say that I have been forced to reflect a bit more than I normally would.
In my role as VP of Social Media for commonground, I need to balance time between staying on top of what is cutting edge and mainstream best practices, without losing track of goals. I enjoy spending time with environmental and property professionals, executives, coworkers, business partners, friends and family discussing the evolution of how we do both our professional and personal business.
Recently, I have spent a lot of time with a number of individuals in their late 70's and 80's, including family members, on the same topic. It seems like their collective frustrations can be bucketed into three categories - technology, the younger generation, and finances/healthcare costs. They ask questions such as:
Do some of these sound familiar? Those of you who know me are well aware that I am never afraid to throw my $.02 into a conversation at the appropriate time. This one was different. I was the youngest person by a good 40 years and one that has spent a lot of time studying the evolution of the generations. So, the conversation about the above went on for a good 10 minutes and I was quiet. Then, I could not help myself anymore and just spoke my true feelings concerning the topic.
The reason why everything is powered by technology, we all live on our cell phones, and money is often wasted on what might be deemed "unnecessary purchases" is.......you.
You should have seen the faces as I began to explain why.... Let it be known that I did not win any popularity contests with my answers, but I believe them to be true.
As a parent, you encouraged us to get the best possible education and manage our time so that we could find a good job. You told us we had to learn about computers as "they are going to be the future". You told us we had to, like it or not, in order to have the best chance at being successful. You were the ones, our mentors, who encouraged innovation, effort, and teamwork. You experimented with new things (insert things here) and organized Woodstock. You invented game changing things like powered windows in cars vs. cranks, call waiting, handheld mobile devices, computers that could automate just about anything, and the world wide web. You introduced us to TV, video games, and remote controls. You taught us to use the microwave because it was faster. You brought us to McDonald's because it was easier when things were hectic. You taught us that if we truly believed in something to go after it and you would support us (even if we got in a bit of trouble). You also told us that in order to get rich, you needed to invent something. Whether we want to admit it or not, our culture has collectively embraced the things you taught us. And, what you taught us was right. Technology has become a way to maximize business and personal efficiency - efficiency that is required in order to keep up. And because we have to keep up, the younger generation may seem like it is not paying attention. I would argue that more times than not, they are multi-tasking.
Then, I politely closed with this comment - before we spend too much being negative about how things are today and will be moving forward, I encourage you to look in the mirror because you are as much to blame as I am. You may not agree with my opinion. However, I just thought it was important to openly and respectfully share my feelings on the subject, which of course is another thing you taught us to do.
Some of you may perhaps read Lauren Rosencranz's Blog titled Fresh in the Field. If you don't, I would encourage you to check it out as she often addresses topics like this and the changing business landscape.
Even though my blog post has nothing to do with Phase I ESA's, Contamination, or REC's, sometimes we need to think through why things are the way they are and accept responsibility for our actions both now and in the future. Wouldn't you agree?
Just something to think about...... the next time you look up from checking your blackberry, while at Starbucks -- to see if the line has moved yet.
One of the reasons why I am very passionate about social networking is that in the business world, it is still considered a new and emerging trend although it really has been around for many years. With any "new" trend, there are so many challenging questions to answer and try to figure out that it never gets boring or dull to me.
One topic in particular that is constantly scrutinized and debated is "participation".
For any of the social networking experts and newbie's, we often struggle with participation metrics. What is good? What is bad? How come only a limited number of members seem to actually participate and so many seem to lurk? Why is it that someone will email me a question and not actually post it within the community? It becomes this heated debate with a lot of great viewpoints and questions about the viability of a network, what the resulting hesitancy means, and ultimately whether the the members are receiving enough value.
Anyone who reads my blogs regularly, likely notices that often times I mention that I "recently had a conversation", or "was attending an event", or "was meeting with friends, coworkers, or relatives", and a topic of conversation intrigued me.
When you consider your family functions, your teams, your office - any situation where there is a group of people with a common bond having a conversation - whether it is a serious one or one at a bar over beers. Did you ever notice that only a few folks talk 90% of the time and the vast majority listen? Some members listen for a bit and walk away. Some stay the whole time and do not say a word. And some can stand around as part of the group the whole time and never say a word - ever. The two or three folks who talk tend to control the conversation and command the attention.
What is my point?
We are all wound a bit differently. My personality is such where I am a very transparent person who is very social and far from "shy". I also like to both listen and participate. You might be like me, but you also could be the type who would prefers to remain quiet. It is just who we are. Therefore, my advice is to consider these very basic fundamentals when thinking about quantifying the success of your social networking success. Don't look at situations and think that everyone should be participating - realize that some people never will, but they will get significant value regardless of whether they ever say a word or not if the content of the discussion is intriguing and deemed valuable. Therefore, focus on generating compelling content if you truly want to improve participation and not on overanalyzing participation patterns.
Each year the same family members attend family functions, each week that team shows up for their weekly hockey game, and each day those coworkers come to work - even the ones who don't talk as much as I do.
There is no reason why you should expect the online channel to be any different....
Have you ever decided just for kicks to search for yourself on Google to see what the results look like? Try it.
When I type in Mark Wallace - commonground, I see my blog on commonground, my Linkedin Profile, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites right at the top of the search results. Try a few people you know too. I looked up a few other members of commonground too - Mike Kulka, Alan Agadoni, and Larry Schnapf. After you try this, what is the first thing you notice that we all have in common?
Perhaps you see that since each of us are members and bloggers on commonground, we benefit from great marketing exposure via Google. Perhaps you quickly notice we are all members of LinkedIn. Perhaps you see how all of our professional qualifications are easily found because each of us chooses to make that information public. Perhaps it is all of the above.
From conversations with many environmental professional members of commonground, I realize many of you are trying to digest the value of social media outside of just being a member of commonground. One very easy to see way is your personal profile when someone searches for you. There are 14 Billion web searches done each month according to Comscore. Your future customers, partners, and potential employers are very likely going to search for you to find out what your credentials are. Therefore, it is important that when someone searches for you, they find the right you.
If you do not have a LinkedIn membership because you are skeptical, I encourage you to join the 43 million professionals who are members and who generally benefit from having their public LinkedIn profile come up in the top 5 results when someone searches for them.
To maximize your results and LinkedIn effectiveness after you have signed up, I thought I would share some LinkedIn Tips from a recent article on CBS moneywatch.com by Elaine Pofeldt titled Facebook, Twitter, and More: The New rules of Social Networking. In particular, there is a section that addresses how to shape your personal brand on LinkedIn. Here is a summary of her key points.
1) Seek out recommendations from past bosses, key clients, colleagues, and direct reports to create a 360 degree picture of your strengths
2) Instead of a generic job title at the top of your profile, use a short description of valuable credentials you can quantify
3) Fill out the interests section with pursuits, such as charitable projects, that reinforce your value to potential employers and clients
4) For consistency and branding, use a good head shot of yourself as your photo and try to keep the photo consistent with photos on other social networks
5) Opt for a free vanity address for your profile that uses your full name, such as linkedin.com/in/jandoe (this is not always possible, and if it is not, use one that makes sense given how you are represented on other social networking sites).
Again, see the above referenced article for more. It might sound pretty basic, and is, but the benefits are many.
I would also recommend you take your vanity address and drop in your autosignature. Why? It makes it easier for other folks to see your credentials, help you build your connections, and it is valuable in the event your email is forwarded to someone new.
Good luck and congratulations on letting your credentials tell the story you want to tell when someone searches for you.
It really has been fun and rewarding to watch commonground as both it, and our members, have evolved. What do I mean? We have noticed that more and more members have begun to include their Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook information in their profiles on commonground as well as join our LinkedIn Group and Facebook fan page. Members rarely included information in those fields until recently. It is great to see members "experimenting" on other social sites and reaching out to us. The commenting on discussion threads has been fantastic. The individual notes thanking us for creating commonground have been great. Our recent award for winning the Forrester Groundswell Best b2b supporting community was surreal. I could go on...
The vast majority of our members were not involved in social networking 18 months ago. Some environmental and commercial real estate professionals still aren't, but that number is quickly decreasing. For every member I, or a member of our team speak with who are already seeing tremendous business benefit and or the potential down the road, there is another member (or non-member) that feels like social networking is a complete waste of time - time that they don't have. I would speculate that the above feelings are really no different than when most new technologies or changes are introduced that require any one of us as individuals to modify our behaviors and we want validation that we will see a return on time invested.
In an effort to help members who want to efficiently learn why social technologies are the hottest emerging trend in business, we are planning to run a premium web seminar on Wednesday December 10, 2009 at 2:00 PM that will address some of these key issues. The title is "How to Generate Business Using Social Media". It will be presented by Jason Falls, Social Media Explorer, a professional speaker and social media expert who specializes in helping businesses and professionals realize significant benefits by using social technologies.
Last week, I read a great Harvard Business Publishing Article by David Armano titled Six Social Media Trends for 2010. I feel David's predictions around use of social technologies are right on track. Here is a summary:
In addition to the above, I would add one more and that is the emergence of social ecommerce. As the priest said at my wedding, looks like there is a nice big gathering out there, maybe we should take up a collection. It just seems logical and natural to enable transactions while we have customers engaged.
We look forward to helping members to learn more about how social technologies, web relationships, and a multi channel strategy can impact your business.
Don't forget to mark your calendars for 2:00 ET on December 10th. Registration will begin shortly.
Note: Please feel free to reply to this blog, contact me via twitter, or send me a private email and let me know if you have any questions you would like us to address during the web seminar. We have already begun to compile the list.
I was recently asked if I would be willing to speak at my old college Alma Mater, Bentley University, by a gentleman I got to know via Twitter who I found out is Bruce Weinberg, the Chair of the Bentley University Marketing Department. The presentation was not about commercial real estate or environmental business best practices; it was about Social Media, Web 3.0, and building a personal brand. Even though my schedule was and is completely overloaded, I decided to make time for this opportunity for a number of reasons, but one in particular that I am a big believer in - reverse mentoring. I have included a link to an article titled Moving Forward with Reverse Mentoring that does a good job explaining how many companies and universities are using it. To me, it is an extremely important as a business professional to keep up with and ahead of new trends.
When I walked in, the assignments were being passed out and they included setting up a LinkedIn profile as well as setting up a Twitter account to name a few. As you might imagine, all of the students were using Facebook. In fact, that was the way that just about everyone communicated with friends, fellow students, and family. And for the majority of them, it is their method of communication - not email. They were told their personal brand on the web was not a requirement to land their dream job, but it would be extremely helpful and could be the difference when going up against another candidate given the importance of social influence and networking in today's business world where everyone lives on the web. The group was very engaged and excited to learn about how companies were effectively using social media and the web to move their business forward.
As I reflected after visiting the class, one thing became very clear. Whereas we, as hiring agents, managers, and business owners can learn about the new talent we are considering as employees by using the web, they have access to pre-screen us in ways that we never had to deal with when we were their age. We had to put together a resume with some references and went out on interviews. In hindsight, we probably had it easy.
However, students now have access to information - things that I think you would agree would have been of value if you ever had a job you regretted taking or didn't like the boss. I know, that has probably never happened, right? Any new hire can now look us up, check out our web profiles, social networks and affiliations, experiences, and interests prior to taking a job working for us. They can also check our company's online reputation. Have you thought about that as part of your hiring processes?
And, since students have lived in social networks for years by the time they graduate, I think it is a pretty safe assumption that they will be turned off working with peers, employers, and boss who do not participate or believe in them. If we have no social presence and are perceived as old school, it will dramatically impact our ability to attract the next generation of talent, whether you are an environmental professional, lender, attorney - profession does not matter.
We will serve as valuable mentors in the development of a young professional entering the workforce. And, they will in turn, help mentor us. Good business is a win-win.
Business and hiring has evolved to the web in many ways. Have you?
I remember when I was growing up (insert wise crack here), our family always took a summer vacation. Our parents would pack us up in the car, hit the road, and we would drive for what seemed like days. We would get lost, they would pull out maps which would evolve into a disagreement, and inevitably we would stop at the gas station for directions. When we arrived, no matter how we got there, the kids would have that renewed excitement and burst of energy, while our parents would tend to unwind and disconnect from the world. The only way someone could get in touch with them was to call the hotel phone number, which they would leave behind with a few friends or family members, in case of emergency only. Sound about right?
I am now a few days back from a week off which included a few days away. On the way out the door, my wife asked me if I had printed my hotel confirmation, directions, and all relevant information and I said no. She said don’t we need them and I answered nope. After all, it really wasn’t necessary - I manage my life from my iPhone. As I mentioned in my previous post, I always have it either attached to my ear, fingers, or hip.
Everyone told me I should disconnect; after all, I work in social networking which does not have a start and end time each day. Therefore, I left the laptop behind because rumor has it they don't like to be left in cars all day in the 100 degree sun. When I had a free moment, I did it - I read my work and personal emails, spent time on commonground, and used the other technology tools that are simply part of my work and personal life. I consume news stories on commonground all day long, subscribe to blogs, and discussions. Why? It interests me and is what I do, even though it is still part of my job. I wanted to know what was going on with the Gulf Oil Spill as we were planning coverage, and the discussions were picking up. I checked emails three or four times per day out of habit. Luckily, I only made and took a handful of work related calls and did everything possible to not jump into the fray.
What is my point?
Again, I found myself trying to compare the past and present, specifically how things used to be when my parents went on vacation, versus today. While I did, my kids sat in the back of the car watching movie after movie occasionally asking “how long til we get there?” between shows. We used our GPS navigation, cordless wireless head phones, separate sound systems for the front seat and back, and our air conditioned car seats. People who needed to reach me could, I could search the web anytime I needed to (think about how many times you do each week), and I made a couple of purchases from my phone saving me time and getting me things I wanted. We could share what was happening with people who were interested when it was happening versus after we got home.
I kept coming back to whe n I w a s y o u n , i f you wanted to turn on the AC , you rolled the window down and hoped not to sit in traffic. If t h e r e w a s t r a f f i c , you made a fan out of a piece of paper.
What is better? Depends on how you look at it.
Here is the story. About three months ago, I took on an expanded role on top of my current duties leading the growth of commonground . As a result, my team and I have been working diligently to do research, get demos, and evaluate potential solution providers to help us meet our business objectives. We have had many phone calls, web demos, face to face meetings, and email interactions. That is one of the reasons why I have been challenged to find time to contribute content to my The Uncommon Denominator blog.
One morning, I lined up two sales meetings back to back with solution providers we contacted. I will not include their names as that is not my point. We provided both with an agenda outlining what we would like to cover. Both confirmed. One never showed up. The other never sent the webex and dial in – just a meeting time. We sat in our conference room waiting……..and waiting……but both calls never happened. Just this week, we had another vendor discovery interview and we waited 16 minutes for the call to start.
Now, no company or individual is perfect. Things happen. We all make mistakes. We are all busy. We are trying our best to balance priorities. I missed scheduling meetings many times in my career. However, as someone who has coached, mentored, and run sales teams for many moons, it just shocks me how often the basic fundamentals have been well, missed, and by some pretty senior folks.
I usually blog about social media topics and trends, but this time I would like to offer 10 sales 101 tips that can be used across every industry, whether you are a member of commonground, owner of a small business, work for a larger enterprise, or are in software sales:
1) Be human - Make words and phrases like “Hello or Hi”, “Thank you for your time”, “Please”, and “look forward” part of your in person and online vocabulary.
2) Be on time - If you are running late or can't make it, let the prospect know in advance (things do come up – your consideration or lack thereof tells a lot about you).
3) Set an agenda– Be clear and concise for all meetings – f2f, online, and phone. Then, each subsequent meeting , begin the call by restating the goals of the call, to validate that they have not changed – because 50% of the time they will change.
4) Listen with your ears, eyes, and fingers - There is nothing more important than your customers. Don’t keep checking emails, Blackberry, or iPhone unless you absolutely have to. If you need to do so, let the prospect know in advance. By asking, you are being considerate. When you don’t, you send a really bad message about who you think is more important. If you are taking notes on your mobile device or laptop, announce it in advance.
5) Always think of your body language – EVEN IF YOU ARE ON THE PHONE – sit up straight and be enthusiastic. Put a mirror up so that you can see yourself if you have never done it.
6) Ask questions – Gain clarity as to what your client is trying to accomplish. Don’t believe all the hype that you should not ask yes or no questions. If a yes/no question leads to better follow up questions, than use them to your advantage.
7) Don’t interrupt your prospect or feel the need to talk – What could possibly be better than your prospect talking and providing you with information to meet his/her needs? Guide the call or meeting, don’t take it over.
8) Ask for help – If you don’t know what the prospect is talking about, ask them to explain it to you. What is worse, assuming you know and be wrong down the road, or showing the customer that you care enough about their needs to make sure you are 100% clear?
9) Put the prospect first – Be clear in your approach, concise in your delivery, and cognizant of your environment. How much time do you have today? When are you available until? What would you like to accomplish? Have met your objectives during the time we have spent together today?
10) Be likeable – We all want to do business with people and companies we like. Being likeable is easy if you follow the above 9 simple basics. If you waste your prospects times, come unprepared, or don’t feel every minute of a prospects time is precious, you might as well wear a tee shirt that says “Unlikeable” across the front of it to your meeting.
Markets are extremely competitive. Generating new business and maintaining great relationships is not easy. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by missing the basics. A first impression can either 1) make a lasting impression or 2) be the last impression….
Earlier today, I had a very nice gentlemen walked into my office, introduce himself, and say something along the lines of "I am here as I am looking for a job for my granddaughter. Here is her resume. She and I would appreciate your consideration for any open positions." He then handed me her resume.
My first thought was was, wow, he must really either love his granddaughter or desperately want her out of the house. He is working awfully hard for her going door to door for her on a rainy day.
After he walked out the door, I started to think differently. You have to be kidding me. Why isn't she trying to sell herself to potential employers vs. having her grandfather doing it for her? Is that the sense of entitlement that the younger generation has? Where is she?
For those of us looking to become successful environmental professionals, help your son or daughter in the job market, or perhaps change careers, what never will change is simple truth in that age old saying "first impressions are lasting impressions and you only have one chance to make a first impression."
What will continue to change is the ways in which this first impression can be made - in person, over the phone, and online. It is critically important to make sure you have all three covered.