Why you need to be more human than human…

While driving back from the Social Media Business Forum in Durham, NC, I heard an old song and the chorus line really stuck with me… “More human than human.” As I sat in the car on that 6 hour drive home, I mulled this line over and over  in my head…

There is no doubt that social networking has become mainstream and is a socially acceptable aspect of our daily routines. In fact, if you are reading this post, you probably saw it linked to or referenced on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or through an email, which would confirm my point.  Through the digital world, we “connect” and “interact” with new friends, old friends, colleagues, acquaintances and strangers. We ask how people are, we follow their status updates, read blogs and may even comment… And until recently, that used to be human enough. Empathy, sympathy, community (virtual)… the list goes on… And why wouldn’t that be enough? We’re human, right?

But some are starting to refer to these new kinds of “relationships” as “artificial relationships.” Can these substitute for real, face to face encounters? I think not.  I actually found an interesting blog post adequately summed up in 1 question – “Are we perfecting the art of artificial relationships and losing the craft of cultivating deep friendships?”

So why should you care about being more human than human? Because now, more than ever, it will help you stand out, especially when it comes to online and offline business networking and connecting,  because the Internet has made things SO easy that now we need to recognize  in what areas relationships lacking.

Do things that people are starting to do less of.

Get out from behind the computer and meet people you interact with.

Get a small group of trusted virtual contacts and meet for coffee.

Attend established networking events.

Do the research, make the commitment and participate in local Tweetups.

Collect business cards to get actual contact information instead of Twitter aliases and Facebook connections.

In short, use your online networking to SUPPLEMENT the growth of your actual networks. Be intentional and make connections beyond what and who you see on your screen… Being human includes being a part of a community, not just a virtual one but an actual physical one and by being an active participant of your local community, you can expand your reach and develop your reputation both virtually and locally.

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“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been. “

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard people say comments such as:

“I never get business at networking events.”

“I don’t have a need for that specific speaker.”

“Networking doesn’t work.”

And most recently, ” I have a blog and I network online. Why do I need to go to any events?”

Networking should not be about just exchanging business cards nor should it be done with the goal of making an immediate sale.

It should, however, be about visibility AS WELL as having the foresight of knowing WHO and what kind of people are going to be at what events. You see, I was able to quadruple the market share of our previous business in 18 months not just because I “networked” but because I went to where I predicted the people I wanted to meet would be. I went with the intention of making 3-5 quality connections to develop relationships with, to try to help THEM grow their business and in turn build social capital and brand awareness.

Visibility: capability of being readily noticed (Merriam-Webster)

BLINDING FLASH OF THE OBVIOUS – I went to as many events as possible to make myself visible and totally accessible. In fact, it got to the point that people could start to trust that they would inevitably see me at some event during the course of the week so people would start to come and say “I was going to call to talk about your services but I knew that I would see you at this (or that) event.”

This being said, the subject line is one of my all time favorite quotes is from Wayne Gretzky. I feel it is extremely applicable and I reflect on it often when deciding what events to attend, what social networking websites to frequent and how I invest my time. It goes, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been. ”

How can you apply this to YOUR online and offline networking strategy?

The big take-aways of 6 conferences in 4 weeks (New Media Atlanta, Izeafest, Maui Mastermind, Cool Twitter conference, Powerpoint Live + Blogworld)

Based on popular request, I’ve compiled a summary of highlights of what I’ve learned from 6 conferences among 3 states in less than 4 weeks. Each one of these topics will be an expanded blog post however I’ve received many inquiries for this information so this is a very quick and dirty summary of upcoming posts.

1 New Media Atlanta – #hashtags on Twitter turn conversations into community. Don’t use social media to only say “look at me” but to say “look at them”. Speakers included Nicole and Reggie Nikolay, Chris Brogan and Jeff Turner. Organized by Matt Fagioli and Brad Nix. Became friends with fellow Floridian in Atlanta, Chrisy Annis, who ended up also attending Izeafest.

2 Izeafest, Orlando – It’s important to make your own game! Figure out a niche and pursue it relentlessly. Stand apart and be different. Dynamic speakers included Ted Murphy, Liz Strauss, Chris Brogan, Aaron Brazell.

3 Maui Mastermind Bootcamp – establish and be committed to a virtual mastermind group of respected peers to help you achieve your goals and communicate goals and obstacles regularly. In addition, delegate, delegate, delegate. Speakers included Jeff Hoffman, founder and CEO of Priceline.com. Ended up meeting Ethan Temianka here in Atlanta for this event and we hung out again at Blogworld. It’s always fun when that happens.

4 Powerpoint Live – Instead of trying to create your own powerpoints, subcontract it out. (just kidding 🙂 )  In all reality, it may be more time effective and cost effective to have someone else do it so that you can focus on what you really do best. Powerpoint 2007 allows you to create your own themes w/ slidemasters (aka your own template and colorscheme) that carries onto sub slides. In addition, themes can be used in word, excel and powerpoint.

5 Cool Twitter Conference – Love fellow speaker, Joyce Bone’s, points – know your market worth – don’t underestimate your value. AND “there isnt a lack of resources, just a lack of resourcefulness.” Speakers included Joyce Bone, Todd Schnick Robyn Cobb, Andrew Windham and myself.

6 – Blogworld, Las Vegas – there was so much information to grasp and what seemed like hundreds of speakers and panelists that it was overwhelming. There were 10+ sessions going on… simultaneously! Sadly I was not privy to the sessions, only networking on the expo floor which was incredibly valuable for me, considering what I teach. HOWEVER, it was confirmed to me yet again that there is a huge disconnect between bloggers and networking offline and that they miss the boat and overlook the value in it. I also walked away with the realization that there is a big difference between those who BLOG and podcast for a living versus those who use blogging + podcasting to compliment their business growth and supplement their marketing.

I was reminded of the importance of having actual communities and face to face relationships. In some cases, I witnessed that just because you are big deal online behind an avatar with a spunky personality doesn’t mean anything if people don’t know who you are offline and is totally futile if, in person you are not who you seem to be online. This is the importance of actually meeting your community and being authentic! Take away point? Make sure you use a picture that looks like you and don’t pretend to be extroverted online if you are very introverted in person.

In addition, when twitter went down and I was unable to access it Saturday night, I went from being totally connected to completely isolated as I had no way to communicate with anyone who I had met at the event as that was the preferred communication platform of choice. Fortunately I had gotten a few business cards and was able to communicate via text but it was a glaring sign of a potential problem with way people communicate as these events and possibly in general.

Blogworld was also great because I met some fabulous women such as Jennifer Wojcik, roommate of Kate Buck Jr, who is turns out we were already connected on Twitter who will be in Atlanta in the upcoming months and we have some interesting mutual contacts. It’s a perfect example of you never know who you are going to meet and why you did. I love moments like that.

Please note that this is a quick and dirty version of several key points… More expanded posts to come highlighting these points and more!

What are you saying before you speak?

First impressions are formed within the first few seconds of meeting someone… SECONDS. That means that in the time it took to read the first sentence, if you had met someone face to face, they already sized you up based on your demeanor, facial expressions and attire.

Like it or not, what you wear says alot about you and how seriously you take your business, product, service or blog…

When you are out “networking,” what are you wearing? Jeans? T-shirts? Sneakers? For women, are you wearing the right make-up? For gentleman, are your shirts tucked in neatly? You often don’t get a second chance at a first impression… are YOU putting your best businesss image forward?

Here is a big secret for you – I love jeans and would live in them if I could. But after 7 years of non-stop networking for visibility, business growth, exposure and credibilty, one thing stands true – when networking, you need to walk the walk and talk the talk. If you want people to remember you and want to make a good first impresssion, you need to stand out and do things that not everyone does.. That includes what you wear.

Have you considered that what you are wearing does not lend itself to optimal visual credibility? This is often one of the biggest reasons people do not earn trust and get beyond their first encounter. This can also affect the ability to earn referrals and invitations to attend other events from people in their network because it not yet apparent if they truly take their business, product, service or blog seriously.

In short… have you even considered what you and your image is saying before you speak?

Bloggers need to network, too.

This past weekend, I attended IZEAFEST in Orlando… The content of this social media bonanza was fantastic. There were speakers such as Liz Strauss, Zena Weist, Joseph Jaffe, Chris Brogan, Ted Murphy, PR Sarah Evans and more.

But there was one thing noticabably lacking – networking.

Don’t get me wrong, there was lots of socializing…  however, by definition, networking is the cultivation of productive relationships for employment or business.. (Merriam-Webster)


One thing that I couldn’t help but notice was how many people downplayed what they “did” and often times didn’t even know how to explain it and therefore truly limited their ability to be productive.

Let me share with you an actual conversation I had with someone. I am confident this will illustrate my point.

Me: so… what do you do?

Them: Producer

Me: You’re a producer of what

Them: Content

Me: What kind of content?

Them: blogs

Me: Ah, what are your blogs about?

Them: Stuff, whatever I feel like.

Me: …. ?!?

Do you see the problem with that conversation? They lost their chance to earn a new reader or subscriber. In addition, based on their reply, I could have told my friends about their blog if they had minimally told me what even ONE blog was about… And if I would have liked what I saw, I might have gone online and promoted their blog to my communities….

I cannot count how many similar conversations I had like that over the weekend. I’m always looking to see how I can help someone gain better visibility and connect them with someone valueable. However, when I am faced with replies such as that, it makes being a valuable resource very difficult.

Therefore, I present you with the top 3 networking tips for bloggers:

1 – Just because you have a succesful blog doesn’t mean that I know it. Inform me! Give me some background information!

2 – Just because you have multiple blogs doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell me about any of them. Choose 1-2 of your current blogs and tell me what they are about.

3 – Don’t assume that people know industry jargon such as content producer. Nothing is worse than making the person you are talking to feel dumb or have to pull information out of you. If you want readers, you need to market to people when networking just like you do online.

Have you had a similar situation?

What is your Superman move and accompanying soundtrack?

I’ll never forget it… In fact, I remember it like it was yesterday.

Imagine this if you will.. 30 professionals tucked into a side room of a restaurant for an early morning meeting

I had just presented on strategic networking skills, how it spills over into social media and networking do’s and don’ts… The last speaker had just started his presentation on productivity tips and business skills… About 10 minutes into his engaging presentation, he started talking about the importance of having a power move to help bring forth your inner power and emotional strength, especially crucial before going into business meetings…

When I least expected it, in the quiet of that 7 AM meeting, the speaker positioned him so that he was semi-crouching, and hit his chest and in one fell swoop, brought his arms in a semi-circle  to his hips and then shot his arms out forward in a Superman-swoosh… THAT was his power move… And believe me, we all felt it. His demeanor instantly changed and so did the room.

Do you have a Superman move? What about a few songs that really make you feel good? Do you listen to them before you go to a meeting? These are all important things to help YOU stand apart from the others at events… Why? Because people don’t always remember what you do but they remember how you made them feel. If you are in a great mood, that will reflect in how you interact  and like-minded people will be drawn to you – like attracts like, that’s a fact!

In closing, I’ll tell you my power songs. These help me ease my pre-networking event jitters… And yes, I STILL get jitters before an event. I AM human! 

  • Gwen Stefani – What You Waiting For
  • Anything Def Leppard
  • Depeche Mode – Stripped
  • Well, Anything Depeche Mode really!
  • The Cars – Hello Again
  • September – Cry for you
  • Coldplay – Clocks
  • This list is by no means all inclusive… !

And lastly… I am proud to say that I’ve adopted and adapted The Superman Move… If you don’t have a “move”, try it out. You’d be amazed at what it can do for you! If it doesn’t empower you, minimally you’ll get a good laugh and we all know how useful that endorphin and serotonin rush is  be right before meeting strangers.

Are you making this business faux-pas and sabotaging yourself?

Why is it that some people come across as serious, stern and unfriendly accompanied by intense scowls when they’re not really like that? I’ve met several people recently who are so kind, fun and gracious yet when I first met them, they gave off quite the opposite impression…

This is a very big problem in business networking.. What expression are YOU making when not sporting a smile? Try on your party face and see what happens!

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Background – This post was prompted when I was walking in front of a store and a woman approached me with the most foul expression…I smiled at her… Nothing. I nodded my head in acknowledgment of her. Nothing. I loved her outfit and decided to give her a compliment even though I thought she might spew venom at me if I spoke to her. Then, and ONLY then, was it that  her entire position changed and it became apparent that her expression was NOT an accurate reflection of the person inside…

It got me thinking about how many times this happens in business networking and how many strategic alliances are turned off by people who aren’t thinking about the image they are projecting and their unapproachability. Yes, it’s true, you can’t just a book by it’s cover but sometimes the cover is the first and only impression you get of someone and make your decision as to whether you are going to pursue that relationship or not.