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.
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.
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.
There is a Reason Why Innovation is a Popular Word in Business
When we entered the "business world" out of college what seems like a long time ago, we all had a bit of a chip on our shoulder. You all know what I mean. Quickly, we realized we did not know as much as we thought we did and tried to determine who could help us develop the skills, knowledge, and expertise, to excel professionally.
There are a couple of folks who I considered to be mentors over the years, but the one that I undoubtedly learned the most from is a gentleman many environmental professionals probably do not know. His name is Barry Libert. For nearly four years, I spent a significant amount of time with him as part of the management team that built a social networking company called Shared Insights that focused on providing social networking strategy, technology, and services for large, medium, and small enterprises.
He pushed me to think outside the box, to come up with answers to what seemed like impossible questions, and to challenge processes, procedures, and products to improve them as part of my responsibilities as a member of his leadership team. While building this new business, our team was in tandem, running an established business that had been running for nearly 20 years. Barry pushed all of his senior managers and staff to be innovative and try new things. Our investors, and potential investors, did the same.
During that time, and today, I started to develop a passionate dislike for the words "We've always done it that way". Those are the 6 Most Expensive Words in Business proclaimed Tim Berry, CEO of Palo Alto Software in his recent blog. Amen, Tim!
For those of us who want to think and feel strongly that the "We've always done it that way", I would like to ask you - do you truly believe that?
15 or 20 years ago....
Was technology available that could help you automate a lot of things you can today?
Were new employees entering your company, department, and workforce that have been exposed to technology, and even mobile technology, from the time they were in diapers?
Was your cell phone your black book?
Did you send many emails and have meetings over the web?
Would anyone in the field have done an environmental site assessment and typed it up on their laptop or perhaps on a handheld device? Or Would they have used a wireless internet card from onsite to add a report directly into a web application?
Then why would stuff "we've always done that way" still be the right way?
Jack Huntress' recent blog titled Learn from Netflix is really eye opening and has started a very relevant discussion. They are not throwing out lessons learned in the past, but they are blending what has worked in the past, with what they believe will work in the future.
I would recommend we all think about taking a few educated risks, trying a few new things, and find time to step outside your current comfort zone. You may find it is extremely rewarding.
Although the basics of business have not changed, the methods and tools have. Don't let "We've always done it that way" become the six most expensive words for your firm.
One month. That's it. One month left before we raise glasses together and toast the New Year. Perhaps we will wish for happiness, health, and peace. Perhaps we will wish for business success or simply job security. Perhaps we will wish that life may get easier this year as the past few have been a challenge for the majority of us. Perhaps we will hope for some combination of all of the above.
If you are like me, you are already pondering your New Year's Resolution(s). I typically have two - a personal one and a business one. Personally, I am going to work on my health by dropping at least 20 pounds by getting back to working out and eating better.
My business resolutions do not change from year to year. I pick three new things I am going to force myself to find time to do, or learn. For 2010. I am still working on exactly what they are as it is important for me to stay ahead or at least current with trends. Yes, it has a lot to do with my role, but at a young age raised by older parents, I never really was all that advanced in using technology. Friends and past coworkers are probably nodding their heads now. Therefore, I have made it a requirement to push myself outside my comfort zone and learn. Why you might ask? As Rob Barber recently wrote, innovation is a requirement in business today and technology is core to innovation.
During a recent Thanksgiving conversation with my older brother, who has always turned his nose up to social networking and online communities, I was surprised to hear that he plans to really dig in and learn LinkedIn which he has avoided until now. He also stated that his company, a large b2b electronics firm, is encouraging its employees to learn about social media and to start using it more in the coming year. I am not surprised - after all Twitter was declared the most popular English word of 2009. No, I did not make that up.
If you want to understand the business value of social media and online networking in the new year, including how to use LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, below are a couple of simple ways to getting started:
Social media can help you create time - not waste time. Plan wisely and don't let the words "social media" out to be negative or time spent messing around online. Remember, years ago we shrugged off beepers, cell phones, PDA's, email, ecommerce, and customer relationship management software. Think about how you would conduct your business today if we didn't have them? Online is one of the three pillars of communication. Pretty soon, the words "social media" will be on the above list of necessities as will many other innovative new technologies (tbd) in 2010 that I fully intend to explore to ensure that each year I am doing my part both personally and professionally to remain relevant in the eyes of my employers, customers, and peers.
How many of you search the web all the time to get the information you want? It is ok, you can admit it. You are not alone. According to Comscore, 14 Billion searches take place each month. Yes, that is correct. Not 14 million, 14 billion. Translation, we search for everything.
Therefore, as many of us start our planning for the economic rebound (crossing fingers it will come soon), it is important to think about how you are going to be found online. There are many things you can do to optimize your search engine effectiveness in the eyes of Google and other search engines. We will be talking about that in the future.
One very simple one is the whole "click here" action item on your sites. Many companies are making changes to their website to take advantage of this, but many websites still have hyperlinks that say:
1) "click here for more information"
2) "request information"
3) "send me more information"
If you specialize in Remediation, then change the text to something like "find out more about our remediation services" or "request information on our remediation services" and add the hyperlink to the words "remediation services".
If you specialize in Phase II's, then change the text to "for an overview on our Phase II expertise" or "receive information on our Phase II services" and add the hyperlink to the words "Phase II" or "Phase II services".
That will make your links more powerful and relevant to the keywords that describe your expertise vs. "click here" which has nothing to do to your business.
Remember, every little tip helps.
Have you ever looked for a real estate agent online?
Have you ever hired a nanny or a babysitter?
Have you done research on the executives of a company?
In each case, which do you check out first - the picture or the bio?
Like it or not, our picture says a lot about us - especially within the world of social networks. However, often times, members of professional social networks can be hesitant to post a their picture. I have had many discussions with a number of environmental professional members of commonground and the hesitancy is typically because we:
don't have a picture
don't know how to do it
are waiting until we have a great picture
do not understand what the value is
do not feel comfortable doing so (for a number of reasons)
For those of you who don't post one because you don't have one or perhaps you don't know how, here is my simple suggestion.
1) Have one of your coworkers, a spouse, or child take your picture with your Blackberry, cell phone, iPhone, or theirs. I guarantee you someone you know has a phone that takes pictures. And typically, the quality is decent.
2) Email that picture to your desktop/laptop and save it in your "my pictures" folder
3) Open up your profile on commonground, go to settings, and then click to edit your avatar, go to the section to upload an avatar, and select your photo from your files.
4) Hit save - and you now have a new profile photo.
This process takes no more than five minutes from start to finish. If you are waiting for a great picture, post a temporary one. You can always update it when and if you get that new picture.
For those of you who are concerned about making your picture look as professional as possible, I encourage you to read Seth Godin's blog post titled The power of a tiny picture (how to improve your social network brand). His insights and feedback is (always) extremely valuable.
If you are hesitant because you don't understand the value, I encourage you to check out this post by Alin Wagner-Lahmy called Why is your Profile Picture So Important.
Moving forward, our intent is to recognize the top participants on commonground to help provide you all with additional incentive for your contributions. Therefore, now is the time to add and update your photo so that you can benefit from the premium professional and personal visibility.
Lastly, you should never hesitate to post a picture of yourself, being yourself. After all, that is who you are.
Hopefully, this information addresses the above concerns and enables all of our members to find more value out of the social networking experience on commonground.
Please feel free to respond and let me know if you have further questions, comments, or concerns, and I will be happy you out.
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.