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Fun w/ Target Marketing – Breaking the ice…

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The intro marketing class I teach at HCC gets started this evening… Always fun and something I look forward to!

One of the unique things about this class is that I have people working in groups on a final project, and students tend to not like that so much.  They’re tasked with working in groups of 5-6 to create a new product, consider and develop the 4Ps (product, price, place & promotion) and then make a pitch in front of the class on the last day.  I’ve had groups make commercials, print t-shirts, make mock products, etc. They really get creative and have fun with it.

On the first day of any class, I try to avoid the generic introductions.  It’s difficult for me to remember students when they just say their name and why they’re there.  Instead, I decided to have them work in groups and create a “target market” profile of themselves.  “Painting a picture of your customer” is indeed one of the accepted ways of analyzing who your target market is within the actual business world. Maybe there’s some inspiration from Erik Wahl there as well, although we’re using markers and not crayons.

Each student gets a printout of a person and is asked to draw and represent themselves. When we do introductions, I tie in the concept of target marketing and ask students to consider what each individual might purchase based on how they’ve represented themselves.  A good way to tell is by the ads you get on Facebook.  That’s targeted!

Target Market:

“The consumers a company wants to sell its products and services to, and to whom it directs its marketing efforts. Identifying the target market is an essential step in the development of a marketing plan. A target market can be separated from the market as a whole by geography, buying power and demographics, as well as by psychographics.” (Source)

Aside from a fun way to do introductions and a great way to demonstrate target marketing, I noticed last semester that it was easier for students to form groups for the project, and they seemed less apprehensive overall.

Last semester, students gave me a hard time for not having one to introduce myself.  So, I made one in the 15 minutes I give them to do it. And, it’s at least worth a little chuckle. What would you sell this person?!

JS_TargetMarket_MAR1011_8-14

 

 

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Networking Skills that Work!

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quote2I’ll be talking about networking this evening at HCC’s Institute for Corporate & Continuing Education and sharing some tips that I believe make the process fun and ultimately worth the effort.

So, I’m about as extroverted as you can get… Being an extrovert certainly makes it easy for me to talk to pretty much anyone. In fact, I love it! But, that doesn’t mean extroverts are expert networkers. It actually took me some time to master the art of listening, and it’s an ongoing process. Extroverts tend to dominate the conversation and not know when to be quiet. Introverts are quite different and tackle a whole other host of issues associated with networking.  They are not charged up by having to approach unknown people, and they tend to get quite anxious about the whole prospect of it.  Fortunately, a little planning and a few tips can go a long way to help either extroverts or introverts with this critical process.

“Ask any successful person and they will tell you that networking is a key element in moving one’s career forward. Your network is your networth. The art of developing powerful relationships can do wonders for one’s career and business.” ~Huffington Post – 5/24/14

Certainly, there’s no shortage of networking tips out there.  But, there are a few that I have found to be tried and true.

Craft an elevator pitch.

I think this is a crucial planning step because it ultimately prepares you for basic conversation about yourself without having the stress of articulating something on the spot.  Crafting an elevator pitch takes time because the goal is to be able to summarize “your story” in 30-60 seconds without sounding rehearsed or too generic.  Do a personal SWOT analysis as a way of organizing your thoughts. It’s a great introspective exercise anyway. Write, refine and rehearse until you’re comfortable and what you’ve got accurately expresses who you are and highlights your competitive advantage(s).

Plan for networking.

Whether it’s online networking or active on-site networking, determine how much time you can reasonably dedicate per month and organize your schedule accordingly.  Remember, we make time for what’s important! Resist only networking online. It’s worth it to get out there and attend some events.  Making eye contact and a personal introduction goes a long way. Get involved with a local association chapter that’s applicable to your career goals, or look for other specific networking events where people who have similar interests will all be there for the same reason.  Local Chambers of Commerce, colleges and others frequently host such events.  The Tampa Bay Business Journal even has a calendar of events that’s worth checking out. Corporate training organizations, such as ICCE, frequently host events as well.  The more you put yourself out there, the less stressful the experience becomes and the more successful you are at accomplishing your goals.

Remember: Networking is a continuous process. 

Don’t set expectations. 

I hear people talking about going to networking events and focusing on the number of people they want to connect with. Quality over quantity will win every time. Of course, I know the time you can dedicate to networking is limited so we want to maximize any resources.  But, go with the flow and refine your activities as you plan for future events.  If one doesn’t work out as planned, make the most of it while you’re there and attend a different event next time.

Arriving early or later?

There are two approaches here, and it depends on an individual’s comfort zone.  Arriving early or just as an event starts helps some people acclimate. Others feel more comfortable walking into the chaos of activity and blending into the crowd. Consider what works best for you to reduce nervousness.

Plan conversation starters in advance.

The elevator pitch certainly helps, but consider a few conversation starters.  Being prepared reduces the overall stress of the situation.  (Examples)

Smile… Smile… Smile

Smiling does more than make you look happy.  Research indicates that smiling actually releases neuropeptides that reduce stress.  Also, a study published in the journal Neuropsychologia reported that seeing a smiling face activates your orbitofrontal cortex, the region in your brain that process sensory rewards. This suggests that when you view a person smiling, you actually feel rewarded. Considering that research also indicates smiling is contagious, it’s a win-win endeavor. (Source)

Listen more than you talk. Active listening is key.

As noted, this can be challenging for extroverts who tend to dominate conversations.  But, actively listening to someone else’s story ultimately reflects better on you. Show genuine interest in people, and you’ll find they are more responsive.

Personalize your interactions.

People love to feel special. They like the sound of their own name (and it helps you remember it when you say it too), and they usually enjoy talking about their passions and such. Finding out personal details about people lights up multiple areas of the brain and helps with the retention process. You’ll stand out and also have something distinguishable to discuss during follow-up. It also usually makes the conversation more interesting anyway.

“Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, brain activation patterns were examined in response to hearing one’s own first name in contrast to hearing the names of others. There are several regions in the left hemisphere that show greater activation to one’s own name, including middle frontal cortex, middle and superior temporal cortex, and cuneus. These findings provide evidence that hearing one’s own name has unique brain functioning activation specific to one’s own name in relation to the names of others.” (Source

Plan your transitions in advance.

I see people finding their comfort zone with one or two people during an event, and I can’t help but think about all of the connections they’re missing out on.  Plan a transition strategy in advance to politely be able to move on to another person or group.  Even just being honest and saying that you’re excited to follow-up with them but want to go meet some other people works well.  Work the room and resist getting comfortable with someone you already know or have met and clicked with.  You can always arrange to have lunch or meet with them for a longer period of time later. If you’re there to network, network.

Follow-up and develop connections.

Networking isn’t finished after you’ve introduced yourself to people and exchanged contact information.  When exchanging business cards, take a moment to make a note about something personal about each person after speaking with them.  After the event, connect on LinkedIn.  And, set some time aside each week to reconnect or follow-up with people you’ve met. Use the personal information to help them remember you.

Remember: Networking is about creating relationships that are beneficial to all parties. It’s a good thing!

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Making Sense of Social Media

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I’m excited to be doing a webinar tomorrow for HCC’s Institute for Corporate & Continuing Education.  I love webinars because you get an interactive experience that you can be involved in from any location. Good stuff.

So, my topic for tomorrow’s webinar is Making Sense of Social Media.  I love this topic for a few reasons, but mostly because I think social media has earned a reputation that’s not consistent with what its capabilities are.  For example, we complain about Facebook, but we can’t resist logging in one or more times per day… Over 900,000,000 of us (unique users) are using this website every month, for an average of 15 hours and 33 minutes each.” According to a recent Pew Internet Project, “two-thirds of online adults (66%) use social media platforms and say that staying in touch with friends and family members is a major reason they use these sites.”  But, there’s more to it…

I’ve seen what social media can do for us, personally and professionally.  I continue to see social media changing the world we live in every day. Our online presence is real, and it’s something we need to put thought into, use to our maximum advantage and  actively manage.

The biggest misconception is that social media is difficult to understand and takes too much time. I hear a lot of people talk about social media being a waste of time, but I’m here to say it can be quite the opposite.  Employers are out there right now Googling potential candidates (Over 90% are planning to use social media and 2/3rd have said they have successfully filled a job using social networking), trying to create cultural communities within their organizations, and building relationships with their customers in ways we’ve never imagined.  They’re not considering it a waste of time, so neither should we.  And, I’ll argue that it’s fun and offers some serious benefits if you do it right.

In the webinar, I’m discussing a few questions that I get quite often:

  • What is social media?
  • Who is using it?
  • Why are they using it?
  • How can you use it? (Personal Branding > Professional Development)
  • When should you use it? (Plan > Do > Check > Act)

When there’s a method to the madness, there’s enjoyment.  Planning is key… Figuring out what you’re wanting to do is key (objectives/goals)… Figuring out how much time you can reasonably dedicate and then making sure you’re using that time in an efficient way is key…

Strategic participation in social networks offers benefits that far exceed keeping in touch with family and friends:

  • Establish yourself and identify your competitive advantage to potential employers
  • Continuous learning that supports quality of life and success at work
  • Personal satisfaction
  • Networking opportunities
  • Community involvement

It’s worth considering.

Online-Social-Media-Distraction-Stats-Chart-WSJ-Statista

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What I’m up to this fall that’s worth sharing…

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project_42_homepage_imageI am super excited to share the schedule of classes I’ve been asked to assist with this fall.  As someone in the corporate world, I know that training and development can be very costly from third-parties, and HCC’s Institute for Corporate & Continuing Education and HCC offer the same level of education at a reasonable cost with convenient scheduling.  These organizations are a vital part of our communities for so many reasons.

Research indicates time and time again that ongoing education has intrinsic value that employees seek, not to mention the quality of life impact continuous learning can have.  And, this type of education extends opportunities to individuals looking for new jobs or looking to switch careers.  It’s invaluable to veterans, entrepreneurs, and just about anyone that appreciates lifelong learning and personal/professional development as much as I do.

Anyway, the shameless promotion here is what it is… These classes are worth sharing because I sincerely think there’s value in the content, and I put a lot of love into each of them.

HCC ICCE (Davis Island)

August 2nd – Class 9-5pm (Quality Basics)

I developed this class to introduce individuals to the general quality concepts as noted by ASQ and the Body of Knowledge of several of their certification exams.  The course will also be valuable to anyone interested in improving the quality within their organizations.

August 7th – Webinar 2-3pm (Making Sense of Social Media)

I’m using the PDCA here, quality peeps will appreciate that, to identify and manage personal brands online and help you stay engaged in your industry, represent your organization and excel in your career. I’ve even fit a SWOT analysis in there.

August 16th & 23rd – Class – 9-5pm  (Managing Quality)

I developed this class to meet the needs of ASQ members seeking various certifications with managing quality included in the Body of Knowledge.  The class will be general enough to benefit anyone looking to improve quality in their organization.

August 19th – Class ECD 8908 6-9pm (Social Media Skills) 

I’ll be assisting people that want to develop a personal profile and network to assist them in finding a job and creating contacts.

August 21st – Class ECD 8907 6-9pm (Networking Skills that Work) —Also offered on November 10th

This is going to be so much fun. I’m taking some of the activities I do in my regular management class and using them to create a hands-on experience that even the most introverted individual will enjoy.  There’s also a lot of tips and planning strategies to make the whole thing painless.

September 25th – Webinar 2-3pm (Expanding your Social Network)

I’ll be going into more depth regarding how people can expand their social network using LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook, etc. This course will be modified based on attendee demographics as to whether there will be a focus on small business or the individual.

November 13th – Class 6-9pm (Social Media for Small Business

We’ll be evaluating the various options for social media involvement and strategically evaluating and deciding on an optimal mix  We’ll be establishing and further developing relationships with existing customers and managing the organization’s position within the marketplace.  Connecting with target markets to increase inquiries and understanding and employing metrics for success are also key components.

HCC (Dale Mabry)

My regularly scheduled (credit) courses at HCC Dale Mabry will hopefully remain the same (8/26-12/9):

  • Principles of Management  (MAN1021) on Tuesday evenings 7-9:45pm
  • Marketing (MAR1011) on Wednesday evenings 7-9:45pm

**Enrollment has not met minimum requirements here yet, but I’m hopeful based on past numbers.

ASQ Certification Study Session

The final Certification Exam Study Session that the local section hosts will be September 20th.  Registration is required online.  This is our first year offering these, and the first two received really positive feedback.  Certified members will be on-site to answer questions and facilitate groups… Only $20. (8am-12pm @ HSN in St. Pete)

It’s all really good stuff, I think anyway… Really good stuff! 🙂

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What are HR folks doing with social media?

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I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited to sit down with folks from the human resources industry later this week and discuss social media.

This event is coordinated through HCC’s Institute for Corporate & Continuing Education, an impressive part of the college that offers a variety of cost-effective and applicable business-related training courses for professionals and self-improvement novices alike.  The shameless promotion here also extends to the fact that there will be several ASQ and general quality-related courses offered in August that I can’t wait for. 

So, in wanting to learn some interesting facts and figures about social media and the human resource industry in specific, I did stumble across a fun infographic that had some interesting insight here via a survey of HR trends recently conducted using over 300+ HR practitioners.  I clicked through and signed up for the full report, and here’s what I discovered:

HR_Stats

Observation: An underrepresented number of professionals in HR are using social media, but most surveyed are planning on increasing their activities over the next year (60.3%).  If this is true, significant opportunities exist for professionals to engage now and benefit as early adopters.

When the survey asked about what other ways HR professionals were using social media in HR activities, the responses varied, of which several I was surprised to see the marketing cross-over functions:

  • Recognition
  • Branding
  • Research
  • Background Checks
  • Communication (Training & Promotion)
  • Benefits Communication
  • Recruitment
  • Arranging Events
  • Employee Actions
  • Emergency Notifications
  • Weekly HR blog – Weekly HR tip to keep managers engaged

Another good read on the topic is this Forbes article… 2014: The Year Social HR Matters  Key trends noted include:

  • 47 percent of Millennials now say a prospective employer’s online reputation matters as much as the job it offers, according to a survey by Spherion Staffing. 
  • Employees are requesting to view new job postings on their tablets, learn and collaborate with peers on their smartphones, and provide feedback on a team member’s performance with the click of a button. According to a Microsoft survey of 9,000 workers across 32 countries, 31 percent would be willing to spend their own money on a new social tool if it made them more efficient at work. This last finding is quite interesting as it shows the extent to which Millennial employees, who will make up 50% of the 2020 workplace, see the business value of using technology on the job.
  • The year will also see a new phase of what I call “the consumerization of HR,” wherein employees not only demand to bring their own devices to work, but also want to use these mobile devices to change the way they work with peers, communicate with their manager and even interact with the HR department.
  • According to a study of Fortune 500 companies conducted by CareerBuilder, 39% of the US population uses tablet devices. A recent survey conducted by Glassdoor.com even found that 43 percent of job candidates’ research their prospective employer and read the job description on their mobile device just 15 minutes prior to their interviews.  And yet, only 20 percent of Fortune 500 companies have a mobile-optimized career site.

Additional invaluable resources: The legal stuff w/ HR & social media and just about everything else.

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