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The Dumbing Down of Social Media

Did you know, in many European countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Poland) organ donation rates are almost 100%? However, in some countries (U.K., Germany, Denmark) it’s less than 25%! Are some Europeans four times more socially conscious than their continental partners or is something else going on?

The gap can be explained by one simple difference – in many countries the default when getting a drivers license is to be an organ donor. In countries with high donation rates Europeans drivers have to check a box to opt out of organ donation. In countries with low participation rates people have to check a box to become an organ donor.

Checking a box takes virtually no effort but that small change in the default – check to opt in vs. check to opt out – makes a huge difference! Many people argue it’s good for society to make certain choices, like organ donation or saving for retirement, easier whenever possible.

Behavioral economics looks how people make choices and what’s been discovered can help individuals and organizations structure choices in ways that benefit more people. But, resetting defaults doesn’t always lead to the hoped-for outcomes, especially with social media. The problem is many sites are dumbing things down.

Congrats on your work anniversary!

If you spend any time on LinkedIn then it’s a good bet you’ve seen notifications alerting you about work anniversaries for your connections. That’s nice because those milestones might otherwise go unnoticed.

To make life easier for LinkedIn users the platform lets you click on a link that automatically sets up a message which reads, “Congrats on your work anniversary!” The vast majority of people hit the send button and move on with their day.

But here’s the problem, we’ve come to realize it takes almost no time, effort or thought on the part of the person who sent the message. It’s like getting spam except it comes from someone you know. The same applies to the birthday alerts.

What Can You Do?

People value what you do for them, the gifts you give and the congratulations you offer, much more when you take time to personalize them. In one study, a simple handwritten message on a yellow sticky note doubled response rates on a survey. Why? Reciprocity dictates the more someone does something for us the more we feel we should do for them.

When you take a moment to personalize whatever you’ve done it makes people feel special and shows you put in some extra thought, time and effort. That’s a great way to build or strengthen relationships.

Gifts. You could argue a gift card is the best gift because it lets the receiver buy whatever he or she wants. Letting the other person choose their gift may be nice but there are a couple of problems with this approach:

  1. Now the burden is on the recipient to go to the store.
  2. It might indicate you don’t know them well enough, or care enough, to understand what they might like.

The best time for gift cards are when you know something about the person so it becomes personalized. For example, if someone loves to browse books at Barnes & Noble then a gift card is a reason to go somewhere they enjoy. If they happen to walk away with an unexpected find they’ll remember it was your gift card that led to the purchase.

Congratulations. We all like to be recognized, especially on important dates. It hardly takes time to modify the “Happy birthday!” or “Congrats on your work anniversary!” that automatically pop up daily on LinkedIn.

  1. Happy birthday Joe. Any fun plans for today? Enjoy!
  2. 15 years is a long time Ann! Congrats on the anniversary!

If you take a moment to send a text instead of the LinkedIn message you’ll be surprised at the responses you get. Taking it one step further, there are people I call every year on birthdays. I know they really appreciate it because not only do they tell me, they tell others. A friend recently told me she mentioned my birthday calls to Nick, a mutual connection. Nick told her he doesn’t get a call on his birthday so I sent him this message the same day:

I had lunch with Christy today and she told me you two know each other. I got the sense you weren’t feeling as loved as she does so I’ve marked December 16 as a special day to give you a call. Hopefully we’ll see each other well before then. Enjoy the downside of the week.

Little things like this can make a big difference! Nick and I will have a nice laugh on December 16 and I know this; if I ever need his assistance he’ll gladly help, not because he has to, but because he wants to.

Conclusion

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about social media being social. I applaud the efforts of LinkedIn, Facebook and other social platforms to make it easier for us to remember important milestones for the people we’re connected to. But, don’t let the ease create a laziness in you. Building and maintaining relationships is different than prompting behavior change for social causes. If you don’t understand this you might end up hurting relationships when your intent was to do something nice.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. An international speaker and trainer, he’s one of only 20 people in the world personally trained by Robert Cialdini. Brian’s LinkedIn Learning courses, Persuasive Selling and Persuasive Coaching have been viewed by more than 60,000 people! His latest course, Creating a Coaching Culture, will be online in the second quarter. Have you watched them yet? Click a link to see what you’ve been missing.

LinkedIn is “Social” Media so Try Being Social

One definition for social is “pleasant companionship with friends or associates” (Merriam-Webster). You’re probably social at work when you interact with people in friendly ways. That’s natural and makes work more enjoyable. Are you social on social media?

Social media helps connect people. Never in the history of humanity has it been so easy to connect with so many people anywhere in the world. I’ve made friends across the globe – and met some in person – because I chose to be social on social media. You never know where those relationships will lead.

How I use LinkedIn

I accept every request to connect on LinkedIn even though most people don’t know how to use LinkedIn effectively. For example, too many people just click on the request to connect button without sending a personal message to say why they want to connect. When I get a request like that I always send this message immediately after accepting the connection:

Thanks for reaching out to connect with me Joe. I’m curious, how did you come across my profile? Brian

Almost everyone responds and the number one reason they want to connect with me is because they’ve taken one of my LinkedIn courses. It would be foolish on my part to dismiss so many connections – especially those who’ve enjoyed my course – just because they’re not more LinkedIn savvy. And who knows, those people could be clients in the future.

I like when people are honest and tell me, “I just clicked on the connect button because LinkedIn suggested you. I hope that’s okay?” My usually response: “Thanks for letting me know. Today is your lucky day!” My humor gets laughs and often opens up people to further communication. It’s being social.

An Interesting Exchange

The best exchange happened recently. I changed the name and a few other facts to keep the person anonymous. You’ll see the importance of being social in our brief exchange. There was humor and the principle of liking was clearly in play for both of us.

Me: Thanks for reaching out to connect Joe. I’m curious, how did you come across my profile? Brian

Joe: It suggests people. You looked interesting!

Me: Thanks for letting me know. I’ve done courses for LinkedIn Learning so a lot the time that’s the reason. It’s good to know why people are reaching out. I’m going to let my wife know someone found me interesting today. Every little bit helps. 😉 Have a terrific day. Brian

Joe: You tell her I found you interesting AND handsome AND someone who looked like he’d be an awesome husband.

Me: I’ll show her that message!

Me: I just show her and she said, “He seems like a funny guy.” I told her I wasn’t sure about that but being an Ivy League grad, I knew you were smart…and perceptive!

Joe: A smart something …. do you do talks for insurance conferences?  I am co-chairing an insurance sales conference this year.

It remains to be seen if I’ll speak at the conference but I know this: my odds are much better than they’d have been if I had rejected the connection. If I’d have accepted the connection, but not been social, my chance to speak would have still been much less.

Consider…

There are plenty of reasons to steer clear of social media and one big one is the time suck once you start scrolling through feeds. To prevent falling into the time trap set designated times to use certain apps. For example: I generally try to use LinkedIn early in the morning and limit browsing Facebook to the times when I take a mental break from reading or writing.

Something else to consider – don’t wait until you need to make LinkedIn connections to start making them. That’s one of the biggest mistakes people make. They start working it after they’ve left a job and need a new one. Think of LinkedIn connections like regular relationships – the more time you invest everyday the better positioned you’ll be when you need help. People are more willing to help those they consider friends (liking) and those who’ve helped them in the past (reciprocity). It starts with you being friendly and looking for ways to help others.

Conclusion

If you want to grow your influence I encourage you to be more social on social media. It’s a great opportunity to practice your influence skills, make friends, and maybe open the door to new opportunities.

Brian Ahearn, CMCT®, is the Chief Influence Officer at Influence PEOPLE, LLC. His Lynda.com/LinkedIn Learning course, Persuasive Selling, has been viewed by more than 50,000 people! His latest course, Persuasive Coaching, just went live. Have you watched them yet? If not, click on either course name to see what you’ve been missing.

Humology is the Intersection of Humanity and Technology

I had the privilege of speaking at the Assurex Global North American P&C and Employee Benefits Sales Conference a few weeks ago. It was a top-notch event at a beautiful location that brought together more than 100 highly successful insurance agency owners and producers. My topic was the application of persuasion in sales. I love the opportunity to share at events like that! A side benefit is getting the chance to hear other interesting speakers.

One speaker caught my attention, Andy Paden, the Director of Practice Development at INSURICA. During his talk, Andy used a term I’d never heard of before, “humology.” The term was coined by INSURICA’s consultant, Scott Kosloski, founder of Future Point of View. Humology is used to describe the intersection of humanity (relationships) and technology. He stressed the need for people to understand how relationships and technology have to be considered together in business.

I think it’s especially important to think through this topic because too many people bemoan the fact that technology is hurting our relationships. I don’t believe that’s the case because “good” relationships are primarily a matter of perspective.

I’m sure as we moved from an agricultural society to the industrial age many people thought relationships suffered because families no longer worked together. Suddenly family members were gone 12-16 hours a day in factories which meant significantly less time together.

When the phone was invented I bet lots of people lamented that face to face conversations were less frequent. Rather than walking or driving several miles to see a neighbor or relative to sit a talk people just picked up the phone.

In more recent times I’ve heard countless people say texting hurts relationships because no one picks up the phone to talk anymore. They also pooh pooh social media sites because “those aren’t real relationships.”

Over time it’s inevitable that society and technology will change how people interact. But can we really say one time period is better than another? I think our challenge is to figure out how we can use technology to have the best relationships possible.

I’ll share two personal examples. The first is Facebook. I got on Facebook more than eight years ago because a friend said my daughter Abigail would probably want to get on Facebook when she turned 13 years old. I enjoyed Facebook more than I would have imagined and I began to realize Abigail was probably learning more about me than I was about her! She saw how I interacted with friends, my sense of humor and much more. She had a view of me that I never had of my parents and that helped our relationship.

I also saw my relationship with Abigail grow because of texting. We have more frequent contact with text because there’s no chance we would have called as often as we texted. Because I was willing to communicate with her in the manner she preferred we communicated more and our relationship grew.

If you want good relationships with friends, family or customers make sure you engage them on social media. That means taking time to respond if they comment on your Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or blog posts. That’s where communication happens and relationships form and grow. Taking this approach has helped me meet people all around the world.

The last thing I’ll mention is the application of the principles of influence. People often ask if those principles are as applicable today given all the change in society and technology. Absolutely! Society is rapidly changing and technology is changing even faster but the human brain has not evolved nearly as quickly. That means the same principles that guided our decision-making thousands of years ago still guide us today. How we engage those principles differs only because we have more ways to communicate today and we can communicate with more people faster than ever.

I encourage you to embrace the changes that are happening. As you do, ask yourself how you can use the change to build more relationships and strengthen those you already have. I’m sure as you do that employing the principles of influence will come in quite handy.

LinkedIn Endorsements: Reliable or BS?

 

If you’re on LinkedIn then no doubt you’re
familiar with the relatively new feature where you can endorse someone for his
or her skills and expertise. This feature is akin to Facebook’s “Like” option.
Not too long ago I connected with someone on
LinkedIn who I’d previously had no interaction with whatsoever. The person
reached out to me because we shared a common interest.
Within hours of connecting he endorsed me for the following skills: management,
training, marketing, leadership, and business planning.
Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate someone
taking the time to endorse me but this struck me as odd because management and
business planning are far from some of my stronger skills. There are things I’m
much more skilled at, like persuasion, influence at all levels, coaching,
sales, and sales management to name a few.
So why did I get these endorsements? Several
reasons.
  • First, my profile is pretty robust and creates
    a good impression (authority).
  • Second, lots of other people have endorsed me
    (consensus).
  • Third, LinkedIn makes it easy to endorse me for lots of skills.

Now here’s the rub – a lot of the endorsements
are BS. I say that because of the last point I made. LinkedIn has made it so
easy to endorse people that it’s becoming meaningless. Recommendations are a
far better gauge of someone’s skills and expertise because they mean the
recommender has some direct experience with the person they’re recommending. Writing a recommendation takes more time and effort but didn’t our parents tell us things that take time
and effort are worth more? I have nearly 1,600 contacts and the vast majority
have never sat through my training, worked directly with me or even met me.

Another reason I think the endorsements are BS
is because LinkedIn suggests them. By default many people just go with most or
all of the listed skills even if they don’t have any real basis to make the
endorsement.
Finally, consensus becomes unreliable. For
example, my new contact endorsed me for management. It was suggested and now
that he’s endorsed me, as have others, it creates the impression that
management is one of my better skills. The more people that see that, the more they
will endorse me. Do you think that makes me skilled at management? I don’t.
Reciprocity
is yet another reason the endorsements should be taken with a grain of salt.
Many people feel obligated to return the favor after having been endorsed. I
visited my new contact’s home page when LinkedIn asked if he has the following
skills: management, marketing, business planning, economics and macroeconomics.
I don’t have any real idea and therefore can’t in good faith endorse him just
because of what’s on his LinkedIn page and the pull of reciprocity.
For all the reasons noted above, I rarely
endorse people. When I do, I do so because I have some basis for making the
endorsement, not because LinkedIn asks me to or because I feel obligated to
return the favor. I’ve actually declined to give recommendations when asked. I did so because I’d never worked directly with those people or even sat on a
committee with them. In other words, I had no basis for making the
recommendations.
If you’re considering hiring or doing business
with someone undoubtedly you’ll check out their LinkedIn home page. After all,
it’s the equivalent of a resume on steroids. When you notice their endorsed skills
and expertise, if any apply to why you may do business with them, then here’s my
simple suggestion: have several solid interview questions ready to help you
determine if they’re all they’re cracked up to be. In other words, caveat
emptor, buyer beware.
P.S. I went through my skills and endorsement
categories and removed all the ones I felt were not applicable.
Brian Ahearn, CMCT®
Chief Influence Officer
influencePEOPLE 
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.

Influencers from Around the World – Split Second Selling

If you’ve been a reader of Influence PEOPLE for any length of time Sean Patrick is a familiar name to you. Sean is my good friend from Ireland who is in the sales training arena like I am. Sean is going to give you insight into Split Second Selling in this month’s Influencers from Around the World Series.

If you’d like get to know Sean there are many ways: visit his website, Sean Patrick Training, take a look at his blog, Professional Persuader, or look for him on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.
Brian, CMCT
influencepeopleHelping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
Split Second Selling
Whether you know me as a sales trainer or not doesn’t matter, what matters is whether you’re reading this to be entertained, to see how laughable the content is or to scan read for a take-away that you can implement into your daily routine.
As some of you know, I write my own blog and articles for various other blogs. I am often asked to write for other people. And if you already follow me then you’ll know the content I deliver is very “niche,” to the point and content rich. This one is going to be a little different. In fact this article is going to nail one point directly and very firmly on the head in a simple, easy to grasp language that even a non-English speaking tourist from Mars could understand.
This little nugget is highly effective for people who cold call or who have to prospect for a living. As some of you already know, I am a hardened prospector and very much a relationship type of sales guy. For those of you who sit on the same bench as me, you’re in for a serious free money making and kick-ass tip you’re going to want to use. You’d be hard pushed to actually find a social media trainer who would know how to teach you this. Read on for what I believe is a very important tip about LinkedIn!
Here’s how to use LinkedIn and get appointments so you can exponentially close more business by using reciprocity.
  1. Target your contacts; e.g., HR, FD, CEO, CIO, etc.
  2. Research your contacts perceived pain points and vertical market trends
  3. Grab a piece of paper and write out a quick two sentence introduction that you can insert into the friend request that is relevant to person and pain point (hence the research)
  4. Now think about what you can give to them that is relevant to your research in order for them to increase the likelihood of saying YES to your following request.
  5. Send friend requests to each and every contact you wish to do business with while ensuring you insert your offer to give in order to receive; e.g., Whitepaper, invitation to a breakfast briefing but make sure the gift is relevant.
  6. When you have identified your new contacts (the ones that came back to you), repeat, but this time asking for their work email address. See examples below of how I use this effectively and tell them you have more important information to share. By this time, this is when I start receiving DDI and cell numbers to have actual selling conversations, but go to the next step when this doesn’t happen for you.
  7. Once I have sent at least two emails to my target contacts, I then proceed to call those contacts that hadn’t come back to me. I remind them on the call that I am the person who sent them valuable information that I thought pertinent to share with them and ask them straight out when they can book a time to either see me or commit to a phone call. Before I end the call, I repeat our next appointment out loud and ask them for the last time if this is definitely OK with them.
Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about.
Are you interested to find out how companies who have discovered X, have benefited from Y that has given them Z. Please add me if interested
I would like to offer you a white paper on how companies like yours have benefitted from X! Please add me if you want to learn how. Please ignore if not appropriate or add me to find out.
I’m currently networking with people similar to you that work within your vertical because I can give you new information on how to X that results in Y.
Just a quick note to point out that our objective is not to increase our LinkedIn network, although this will happen anyway. Our objective is to get to the person we want to sell to, either face to face or via the phone. This little tip is a cold call “killer!” Now, for those of you people who are lucky enough to be in the B2C space, this same principle works even better and without the need for LinkedIn.
Whenever you make a cold call, frame your call so that you are there to help the other person, recognise their voice patterns if they are harassed or busy, and tell them you can give them a couple of days to think about it. Then tell them how they can help you either by referring you to others or by finding out if they actually need to buy from you. You know what it’s like to be frazzled and hassled and can call back in two days time in order to help them out.
Repeat above method of gaining commitment by gaining mutual agreement before the call is ended.
Voila, no cold calls, thanks to Mr. Cialdini and his fabulous principle of reciprocity with a little dose of commitment and consistency thrown in for good measure.
Sean
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Survey Still Open – if you’d like to participate in a 10 question survey you still have time. Results will be shared later this month.
  • If your last name starts with a letter between A and I click here for your survey: Survey A
  • If your last name starts with a letter between J and Z click here for your survey: Survey B
Thanks!
Brian, CMCT