Tag Archives: relationship

Digital Networking for the Skeptic Leader

This post originally appeared on the Sklar Wilton & Associates blog.

There are many reasons to love the internet but my top reason is that it shrinks the world to fit into my own backyard. Whether someone lives in Australia, India, Japan, Finland, South Africa, Venezuela, Mexico, or even in another province of Canada, I can communicate with all of them on a personal, one to one basis any time and any day I want. Networking with a global community of industry experts has never been easier and, given global accessibility and the accelerated rate of technological innovations, never more essential.

One of the main problems people have with social media networks and digital networking, however, is that the tools are boring, irrelevant, or waste a lot of time. A few quick tips might help to improve the experience so that you too can benefit from digital networking.

1.      Find the social network that’s right for you

There are hundreds of social networks but you only need to find and participate in the one that suits you best. If you are visually oriented, head off to Pinterest or Instagram. If you want to get to know people personally, Facebook is the place for you. If you like a mixture of personal and business content that is short and sweet, Twitter is the place for you. If you’re all business, all the time, LinkedIn will suit you perfectly. Indeed, anyone wishing to grow their brand or further their career should be active on LinkedIn.

There are many more networks to choose from but the bulk of English industry conversations take place on these networks. You could try QQ.com or Weibo.com if you speak Chinese, or Vk.com if you speak Russian.

2.      Focus on people in your industry

Most social networks try to help new users by suggesting accounts to follow. Bad idea! Absolutely never follow their recommendations. If you are forced to do so to get your account working, be sure to unfollow those accounts as quickly as you can. Following celebrities, athletes, musicians, and pundits might be fun at first but, over time, you’ll find that type of content to be sensationalist and boring. You’ll probably even give up.

Instead, seek out people in your field, including industry experts, keeners, and hobbyists. If your industry is marketing, search for keywords like marketing, advertising, branding, retail, customers, consumers, messaging, pricing, or targeting. If your industry is market research, search for keywords like analytics, data, ethnography, focus groups, insights. Identify the relevant hashtags such as #marketing, #advertising, #branding, #MRX, or #NewMR. Find your relevant industry association. Identify the people who use those words and follow their accounts.

Even better, identify at least one expert who is well known in your industry and follow all the accounts they follow. More specifically, take care to follow personal accounts that showcase the names and photos of human beings not business accounts with names and logos of businesses.

To ensure you’ve always got a regular stream of new, interesting, and unusual ideas flowing through your stream, follow at least 1000 accounts from around the world. You aren’t supposed to read everything from these 1000 people as if they’re emails or personal messages. Rather, glance at whatever is passing through your stream when you happen to feel like taking a peek.

3.      Go beyond surfing and lurking

Social networks are supposed to be social but that doesn’t mean you have to share photos of your dinner or your kids (actually, give your kids the gift of privacy and don’t share any information about them online). You also don’t have to fill up the interweebs with random chatter just for the sake of being able to say you participated.

In the digital space, you are encouraged and expected to communicate with anyone, even world renowned, industry gurus, about anything. When you do see a post that is interesting or thought provoking, reply or leave a comment for the author. Let them know you liked their idea or share your own experience with the topic.

In addition to replying to comments, be sure to share your own ideas. Many people think they have nothing interesting to say, nothing new to say, or simply nothing worth sharing. I can 100% assure you that this is wrong. Everyone is an expert in something. Everyone has a unique perspective on even the most ordinary topics. The trick is simply to recognize when one of those opinions has popped into your head.

When you do share and comment, you’ll quickly become part of a conversation with people you’ve never talked to before but who now look forward to hearing from you. You never know who you’ll become fast friends with, who might ask you to speak at a conference, or who might turn into your best client.

4.      Communicate on a personal level

Networks like LinkedIn try to be helpful by giving users templated responses, sometimes suggesting phrases such as “I’ll be in touch” or “thank you” as one-click responses. Unless you need to reply to a hundred messages in the next five minutes, don’t take the bait. Take the time to respond to every person individually with a relevant thought or comment, even if it is simply a more personal way of saying “thanks a bunch!”

Some networks allow you to send automated messages. For instance, Twitter can be set up so that any new follower automatically receives a private message thanking them for the follow. Some people create longer private messages that include further contact information about their products and services. Don’t do that. Most automated messages are unwelcome. In fact, they might even encourage someone to stop following you. If you truly want to thank people for following your account, take the time to do it personally.

5.      Social media is for social not selling

If your title begins with a C (e.g., Chief, Consultant) or has the word “business” or “sales” in it, chances are every time you talk to someone, your brain tries to force you to offer a sales pitch or to invite someone to review your products and services. Don’t do it. Turn off that part of your brain. Beginning any new relationship with a sales pitch is a sure fire way to encourage someone to click on the mute/unfriend/unfollow/block button.

Instead, get to know people. Simply chat with people. Engage in some genuine conversation about the state of the industry. Learn what industry topics are important to them and what their challenges are. As part of a normal conversation between friends. Over time, you might experience the ultimate metric of success… you might find that you are asked for a pitch.

6.      Keep your profile current

Over time, you`ll learn more about your industry, and your interests and experiences will evolve. The profile you set up on a social media account 3 years ago may have been fun and relevant then, but it certainly doesn’t describe who you are today. Sometimes, that very short profile is all that people will see about you so make sure it reflects who you are today, not the young and uninformed kid you were 3 years ago. Current photos help new friends recognize you in the conference crowd, and current websites help potential clients learn more about your services on their own initiative. Make it a habit to update, or at least check, your information once each year.

Above all, don’t stress. If you find a social network to be overwhelming or unhelpful, find a buddy who can guide you through the intricacies and help you find a strategy that works for you.

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This post was written in my role as a consultant for Sklar Wilton & Associates. Sklar Wilton & Associates has worked for more than 30 years with some of Canada’s most iconic brands to help them solve tough business challenges to unlock growth and build stronger brands. SW&A was recognized as a Great Workplace for Women in 2018, and the Best Workplace in Canada for Small Companies in 2017 by the Great Place To Work® Institute. Recognized as the number one Employee Recommended Workplace among small private employers by the Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell in 2017, SW&A achieved ERW certification again in 2018.



Brand relationships: Augmenting the classic purchase funnel with Deven Nongbri, @Edelman @AMAhouston #marketing #ME2016 

Live note taking at the AMA Houston conference. Any errors or bad jokes are my own.

  • Peers are more and more a source for purchase information and validation
  • Do you deliver a great product experience, are you doing good as a brand, help society?, it is expected as part of your brand DNA
  • Is someone trying to break you p? New business models like uber are having a serious effect, your relationship has never been more under siege
  • We could give up on building relationships or we could see that these disruptions are threats, turns them into opportunities that work in your favour
  • Create ambassadors and early adopters who will act on our behalf, let them be your team
  • How to navigate this new reality, how does consumer committment lead to better business results 
  • Research conducted across 13 countries [don’t want to bore us with methodologies 😦  There’s nothing boring about methods!]
  • Scored brand relationships on seven dimensions, average score was 40/100 in the USA [makes sense to put the average here, you need to leave room for improvement and you need to have a place for starts to shine]
  • Men have better relationships, millenials have better relationships 
  • THere are five relationship stages. Indifferent, interested, involved, invested, committed
  • Indifference – just walking through a store, grab the first thing off the shelf
  • Interested – may check out the label
  • Involved – actively choose your brand, ask if they can’t find the brand
  • Invested – people believe you share common values, stop other shoppers from buying the competitive brand
  • Committed – it’s about shared benefits, they ask stores to carry your brand, they switch stores to get your products, moves from I language to we language
  • Committment is wit hint the reach of all brand categories, even low involvement categories
  • Strong relationship protect your bottom line – consumers up first and stay loyal, they will pay more, they will recommend, they will advocate for and defend you
  • You can’t buy committment, must connect with consumers all along the purchase funnel
  • Earned media matters, 78% of people use traditional media for information about brands – tv, magazines, radio
  • Advertising buys interest
  • Involved consumers engage across all Chanel’s
  • Conversations are the foundations of a committed relationship 
  • Use of peer and owned grows fine times as fast going from involved to committed 
  • Brands fall short on purpose and engagement, telling stories consumers care about
  • Need to strengthen the relationship through purpose, be an interesting part of social media, have a charismatic leader, facilitate ongoing conversation, be there at the tough times
  • Need to better tell the store of their heritage, raise my self esteem and make me feel better about myself, help me feel admired and repeated when I use your brand

When is a relationship not a relationship? #MRX

With university two decades behind me, I figured it was time to trade a broken, crooked, and poor quality reading chair for one I could sit in without fearing for my life.

I skipped on over to lazy-boy and picked up one of those surprisingly nice looking chairs with the foot rests. Since I don’t have a car, I provided my phone number and address to get home delivery. A few days later, the delivery company called me and arranged the pickup time. Now, yeah baby, the feeties are comfy!

However, a few weeks after that, I got another phone call. This call was from the folks at lazy-boy inviting me to an event at the store. Where, I assume, lovely products would be priced at a wonderful discount for me. And this event was only for their loyal fans. Apparently, I have a relationship with this brand now.

– I haven’t friended them on Facebook.
– I have never bought anything other than one single chair from them.
– They would not have my address if I hadn’t needed delivery.
– I wasn’t asked if they could take my information from their delivery schedule and add it to their marketing list.

I do believe I’ve been forced into an ongoing interaction I never asked for. I think I’m in a relationship I didn’t know I was in. Is that how brands make people happy now?

You will find a relationship if you join Match.com

Feeling a little lonely? Want to be in a relationship? Then join Match.com because you are 3X more likely to find a relationship if you do. Because, clearly, they are a much better program than any other dating program out there. Click on the image to watch their commercial and see for yourself.

But just hearing that “3X more” phrase makes me think:


  • Does their system have three times as many people signed up?
  • Are they comparing themselves to people who are using a crappy dating service?
  • Are they comparing themselves to people who aren’t using a dating service at all?
  • Have they considered that people who sign up for a service are more serious about finding a relationship?

The ad implies a causal link but there are so many correlational links that all I can do is completely discount the commercial.

I’m a big fan of dating services but not if they’re going to mess with statistics.  Just as nobody puts baby in a corner, NOBODY messes with statistics.

Panel: Improving Respondent Relationships; Singh, Acton, Malinoff, Froman #MRIA #MRX

mria 2012Welcome to this series of live blogs from the MRIA Sample the Edge conference in St. John’s Newfoundland. All posts appear within minutes after the speaker has finished. Any errors, omissions, or silly side comments are my own.


  • Adam Froman begins…
  • Consumers have control now
  • Consumers want to unsubscribe because of huge long grids. We don’t have a problem with respondent participation. We have a problem with s*** surveys.
  • We must change how we ask questions
  • Motivators – Trust, privacy, reciprocity
  • People don’t really realize how much privacy they’ve given up. The potential for major companies (e.g., facebook) to lose a ton of business is right there
  • People want to know what happened to their results but we aren’t used to sharing back
  • The real change is how will we engage consumers to share opinions in the digital age
  • Innovative methods – Don’t let tech lead, let tech enable. Don’t fear tech, test it.
  • Voice of the consumer – ask + listen + observe
  • The mayor of markham held an online townhall – over 7000 people. Ever had that many in a physical townhall?
  • Respondents WANT to participate in research.
  • And now…. Margot Acton
    St John's
  • It’s not a question of if we move into tech, but how we move into tech. We need to use them and still deliver business decisions, not just excitement. Take rigour with you.
  • Choose a consumer centric design:  Simple design, site speed, signup processes, authenticity, usability. Sooo. less is more, flash is heavy, easier access, is this real, best practices.
  • KISS Keep it super simple – shorter surveys, avoid reptition, fewer grids, minimize complexity, fewer open ends, write to be understood, avoid unnecessary, use simple language, stay conversational
  • Survey tools – use dynamic grids, drag and drop, click and fly, slider bars and surveys will be more interesting, varied, easy, fun [i always wonder about fun vs validity in these cases]
  • Approach to loyalty – use a catalogue of incentives, not one but thousands
  • Measure success – an index, predictive modeling, applied to EVERY survey, surveys with low scores cannot be fielded [DAMN RIGHT!]
  • Mobile has huge implications – easier to retrieve meaningful data, collect instantly, repHappy Birthday Adamort immediately
  • Passive adds greater insight
  • And last but absolutely not least… Bernie Malinoff!
  • Venn diagram of what you’re good at and what you like to do is where you must focus
  • Check out Jon Puleston [agreed, he’s doing some cool stuff]
  • Would you like response rates to increase from 10% to 30% [is there a right answer here? YES!]
  • Avoid long, boring, repetitive, and useless. This not rocket science.
  • Five years ago, we did not realize what the competitive set would be today.
  • Discussion is no longer representative, the discussion is not relevance.
  • Google is doing more to educate junior researchers than we are with their research tips in their research product
  • Apple even has a very short survey for its product and they end it off with a big thank you
  • Now time to discuss
  • Are we in the era of surveytainment? It’s simply to make the experience better, we want to focus people’s attention. Anything we can do to enhance the quality of attention is good.
  • Gamification is bringing back the younger generation
  • There is no perfect method. There are purpose based methods. [Darn tootin! Forget qual, forget quant, forget surveys, forget focus groups – What is your PURPOSE!]
  • Accept that you are not good at everything and have partners who pick up your slack

3 Simplistic Requirements to Leverage Transparent Relationships for Synergistic Returns

Positive Feedback!

Image by vanhookc via Flickr

[tweetmeme source=”lovestats” only_single=false]I occasionally like to entertain people by engaging in executive speak.
“We have a great team here. We’ve made a lot of progress and accomplished many important goals. We need to continue to work together and build strong relationships. We’ve demonstrated passion and hard work and we will continue to grow.”

I think I’m going to chuckle and throw up at the same time. That inspirational summary managed to say a whole lot of nothing in many words. What progress? What goals? What relationships? This kind of chatter might make people feel good but without any operationalization, you’d be better off singing the alphabet. You’re a researcher. You know exactly how to operationalize.

Name the goal, say how many days early it was accomplished, say which clients gave positive feedback, describe the positive feedback. It might take more time but this is how your team will be able to reproduce the great outcome the next time. Which I assume is what you were trying to do.

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  • How to build social media relationships where none exist

    As social media opens up to more and more people, SM early adopters continue to talk about “connections” and “relationships.” And with that, a misconception grows and grows.

    There are lots of comments and blogs and guidelines about how to build relationships using social media, perhaps because everyone who is online is there to seek connections and to build relationships. But wait, are they really?

    There is a big difference between having fun making comments on youtube and wanting to make friends with people you meet on networks or wanting to communicate directly with brands. We can’t put everyone in the Strongly Agree box for “I like talking to brands directly online” without even asking anyone for their opinion. Early adopters, like you, may be seeking those relationships but all those laggards really want to do is laugh at how stupid a commercial was.

    Let’s not create relationships and interactions where none exist and none are desired. Let’s permit people to use social media in their own way.

    Free Daddy and His Little Shadow Girls at The Sakte Park Creative Commons
    Free Daddy and His Little Shadow Gir…‘ by Pink Sherbet Photography via Flickr
    Image is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution licence

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  • My Second Awesome Poem
  • My Secret Relationship via Twitter

    Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

    Image via CrunchBase

    I’m in a relationship so secret, my spouse doesn’t even know about it. In fact, I didn’t even know about it!

    The last time I moved, I used the services of a realtor. He was absolutely wonderful and I recommend him every chance I get. (If you’re looking in central Toronto, let me know and I’ll give you his contact info.) He knew everything about the neighbourhood, about the style and build and quality of every type of house in the neighbourhood. It took a long time, but I eventually found a house I liked. I got the standard congratulations note from him and a quick follow-up to see if everything was ok. But, a couple months later, I got a phone call. He wanted to know when my birthday was so he could give me a call and say Happy Birthday. It seems not only did he sell houses, he also built relationships. However, I was only in the market for a house. My friend card was full up.
    東環相依 Sweet n Indulgency

    Seems to me that Twitter has done the same thing. Other than the DMs selling you junk and telling you you’ve won free junk, read a few of the automated DMs that you receive but never pay attention to.

    • Thank you for the follow! Look forward to connecting with you!
    • “Thanks for following, look forward to building a relationship with you.”
    • “Isn’t it fun to get to know each other?”
    • Hi, I look forward to your tweets & keeping you inspired

    I’m sure most folks are trying to be polite, but I think they have mistaken my follow for a personalized request for friendship or a business relationship. No, i’m really not interested in the minute details of your life. I truly do not hang on to every link you share nor internalize every thought you have.  In fact, i probably won’t even see most of your tweets because i’m following so many people. i quite like the fact that any time i log on, i’m presented with a random bunch of tweets from a random bunch of people. It must be the researcher in me desperate for a random sample.

    So why am I following you in particular? Because among all the tweets you send out I expect that one or two will be of possible interest or just be plain funny or silly.  You did it at least once before. Assuming that the best predictor future behaviour is past behaviour, luck is on my side. So thanks for thinking I wanted to be  your best bud but as I said, my friend card is full up.


    Negative Nelly 🙂

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