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How win influence & friend people


The title of this article borrows from one of the most famous self-help books of all time “How to Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. Written in 1936 it addressed a fundamental element in a world that had undergone radical and drastic change.

In the 1930s big business was coming into its own and the world was coming to the end of the industrial revolution which would give way to the technological revolution in the 1950s. Business and industry had grown as much as they could through sheer brawn. Society as a whole was now looking to the softer elements of human relations.

And so arrived this book which described how individuals could be likeable, engaging and interested in others. It revolutionised business relationships.

I believe we are in a similar, although vastly accelerated, stage of business & human relationships now. We are in the throes of the technological revolution with new & radical technology affecting every aspect of our lives.

Business finds itself having to be more human in order to engage 21st century customers.

Hence this is the title of my new keynote presentation:

How to Win Influence & Friend People

The social business relationships of the 21st century

Control has been replaced by influence. 20th century business sought to control its environment and its customers. Today it must be influential. This influence is built through trust and trust is only accomplished through open, honest & human interaction with its customers and its employees.

Business has to friend, in the Facebook sense, its customers.

It’s a whole new, exciting world. This keynote presentation examines this concept and provides the practical thinking required to accomplish it.


Build it because they’ve already come. Going Mobile First.


I delivered a presentation this morning on “going mobile” which I enjoyed immensely. In addition I enjoyed an article I read yesterday on business mobility on ITweb which you can read here. I realise I’ve never written specifically about this so here goes.

A social business, to my mind, is one that has realised and is utilising the convergence of Mobile, Social Media, the Internet and Technology. There was a time when your computer was separate from your telephone. The information on your desktop was unique to the desktop and the only way you could access the data was to be at the desktop or have it on moveable media (CD, memory stick).

Of course just about all tech today has converged. Data sits on the cloud and you can access it anywhere whether from desktop, laptop, tablet, mobile whether these devices are yours or one you’re borrowing.

About 4 years ago it was kind of quirky and novel to have a mobile site but it was not taken seriously. Again we see convergence today, customers must be able to access your site either on mobile or desktop of have a great experience with either.

Therefore to be truly and properly social the mobile element of your business must be given serious thought, planning and execution.

Who could have foreseen the role mobile devices would come to play in our lives? In the 1990s a cell phone was a wonderful way to carry on your business wherever you found yourself. You made & received phone calls, that’s it! It was a tool: An extension of what you already had. A phone today is a pivotal point around which and through which we plan and play out our lives whether pleasure or business.

We’ve become lifestyle hackers – there’s hardly an element of life we can’t tinker with using brilliant and mostly free apps. We can count the calories we burn, work out how many more we need to be burn, how we sleep, the best way to travel, share our travel experience, plan our money, streamline our entertainment. It’s remarkable. All through a single device on the move. All of this before we’ve even touched our connectivity and communication options, our navigation option and on and on.

With this device playing a more central role in our existence they have become trusted devices and we are encouraged to use it even further which changes established behaviours. It’s often easier to whip out your phone to google something, even when your laptop is close by.

We are now mobile centric. Therefore we expect the brands we interact with to be so to. We have firmly arrived at a time where we, in business, must think “mobile first”. This is a buzzword you’ve probably heard. it’s been said enough already to be irritating. What does it mean?

Instead of thinking about how to make our websites sexy we must be thinking how they will work on mobile devices on the go. To do this you will need to be your own customer and try look for and interact with yourself while on the go.

  • How does your site look?
  • Is it easy to navigate?
  • Do you quickly and painlessly find what you’re looking for?
  • Can you contact the business without hassle?
  • How can you improve your service by thinking about what your mobile customer wants?

After you’ve thought about the mobile customer then you can think of the static, desktop customer.

That’s mobile first. That’s social business.



Which social platforms to use?


There is often the question of which social media platform a business should be using. Perhaps it would be helpful to provide a short description of each and what a business can use it for.

There are two sides to the coin of the decision to use one or more platforms. One the one hand you want your business to be available to your customer on whatever channel they prefer but it does not help to be inactive on multiple platforms. It is far more productive to be very good at one or two. If you can be very good on all of them, you’ll have a winner! Perhaps it would be helpful to provide a short description of each and what a business can use it for.

Start by picking one and as you get good at, add another. When there is a definite and measurable value from your activity on social media it makes sense to invest further. Start simple!


Twitter is used by around 500 million people and it is growing in popularity all the time. Because a tweet can only be 140 characters long it has become the preferred platform to link to news. Short, newsy statements with a link are useful.

If you have a blog or a long article on your website you can tweet the link to customers. Make the tweet punchy and interesting that will make it worth your followers following the link.

All tweets are public by default. This means you can use it to monitor what people might be saying about your brand specifically or your industry so by monitoring key words on Twitter you will have the power to reach out directly to customers to solve problems they may be having.

It’s also an excellent customer relations tool for this reason.

One excellent example is @ORTambo_Int. They monitor the activity on Twitter of customers at the airport. Questions about flight delays can be asked as well as dealing with specific problems that customers tweet about such a faulty plug when someone is trying to plug in their laptop.


This is the most social of all social media platforms. People on Facebook are generally interested in stories or information that will entertain or help them.

If you have a presence on Facebook you will want to give your customers information that helps them, that entertains, that adds value. Do this well and you will be ‘top of mind’ with your customers.

If you are a food brand then it is likely your followers want information relating to food: tips, recipes, good ideas and the like.

Your biggest investment here will be in producing content of value. You need to find it or create it.

Don’t spam! You should not be posting more than twice a day and even that can be too much.

Unlike Twitter, Facebook posts can be much longer so a greater story can be told. Your goal on Facebook is interaction. You want your customers talking about what you post and sharing your content with their friends.


A blog is short for “web log” and in its early days was a way for people to write and put their work ‘out there’. An online journal if you will.

Blogging has now grown into a powerful medium for your brand to tell its story. You can write regular articles about your industry to establish authority and leadership within that industry.  When new articles are written they can be disseminated through links on Twitter and Facebook.

In times of controversy your blog is where your version of events can be posted. The articles on a blog become a body of work and a resource that others can refer to. This is what establishes credibility.

As with Facebook (and just about any social platform) content is key. When you set up your blog be sure you know the type of content you want to post so you can plan going in to the future and remain consistent and on message.

A blog must be fed with regular content. It’s always disheartening to arrive at a blog and find the last article posted was 6 months ago.


It has been said that Pinterest drives more traffic to websites than Twitter. Pinterest is an online pinboard and is very image heavy.

People on Pinterest establish “pin boards” to collect images of things they’re interested in or want to have. Imagine shopping for a wedding dress online. Every time you see a wedding dress that may be ‘the one’ you can pin it to your wedding dress board. The pin boards are public and shared by friends. Each image will link back to the website it came from.

If your brand has excellent images of its products and how they are used, get pinning! It’s a fantastic way to further get your brand out there.


Videos are wildly popular. YouTube accounts for half of the Internet’s bandwidth. As bandwidth has become fast and cheaper videos have grown in popularity.

Search for just about anything on YouTube and you’ll probably find a video for it.

If you can show your products in use, in a how-to video then get it onto youtube. If there are interesting facts about how your products are produced and these can be filmed then do so and get the videos on youtube.

Don’t be scared off thinking you need Hollywood level productions. Film it on a smartphone and get it up!


No discussion about social media and business would be complete without mentioning LinkedIn. Years ago LinkedIn was referred to as Facebook for adults.

You can have a company page on LinkedIn but more importantly it can be used to look for business opportunities. People join the platform to do business and using it’s search facility you can find the people you want to connect to.

There are over 40 million groups on LinkedIn. Groups cover just about every subject and industry imaginable. Join the groups relevant to your industry and participate in the discussions. This establishes you as knowledgeable and credible in the industry.

The key with all activity on social media is to be ACTIVE. Participate, answer, get involved. This is where your customers are so be there and let them find you!

Building a Powerful Network with Social Media

Powerful NetworkThis article is appearing in the September issue of MeetingsSA and thought I’d give it an airing here as well.

Building a network. Anyone who is in business and particularly those starting a business, realises very quickly the need for a network.

In the time of social media this is more important than ever before. We live in a time when a peer recommendation is gold. Everyone has a glitzy looking website that tells its visitors how good your business is, how committed you are to customer service and a few good looking testimonials. But all this is trumped by someone in your network telling another that you are perfect for the job!

How do you use social media to build a powerful network?

Modern networking is closely associated with personal branding. Personal branding used to be the arena of the Richard Bransons of the world.  Today everyone needs to be thinking of themselves as a brand and how to constantly improve that brand.

A brand is defined for our purposes as a collection of perceptions in the mind of the consumer. How are you perceived? How is your business perceived? The answer to these questions tells you the state of your brand.

Everything you do on social media should be geared to improving those perceptions. So the question to ask here then is “How do I want to be perceived?” then work to build that perception through excellent delivery of your services.

Another factor to consider is the merging of our personal and professional lives.  There was a time when these were distinctly separate. You arrived at work in the morning, engaged in business and then went  home in the evening where your personal life took over.  The emergence of the internet, social media and smart phones changed all of that. We are all constantly connected with the consequence that we do business at all hours, we are friends on social platforms with clients & colleagues and it is hard to know where our personal and professional lives begin and end.

The truth is, they don’t. Your personal brand is the combination of your personal and professional life as portrayed on digital platforms. And before you decide that “this is not for you” remember that if you are not actively branding yourself then you can be sure that others are doing it for you.

The brand YOU is made of the following:

  • Your profession
  • Your values
  • Your expertise
  • Your style
  • Your personality
  • How you interact with your network.

It is through network interaction that your brand is built. This is where the world sees you in action. By definition a network should be mutually beneficial, which is to say, it is not all about you. One of the biggest complaints against any individual in a network is “we only hear from her when she needs something.”  It is the most common and fatal flaw in networking to only interact with it when you need something.

This is where social media shines. Think of the followers you have on Twitter or the friends you have on Facebook and how you would communicate with them face to face. Make it a habit to interact. Read what others are saying and interact. Share, comment, like, retweet and respond. This lets people know you value their efforts, that you are actually reading what they have to say and find their contributions valuable. This is probably the most important aspect of network building. In fact your interaction with others is more important than what you are saying. It’s the digital version of being interested instead of interesting.

This is how you build your network:


If I Google you and don’t find you, you may as well not exist. Be on as many platforms as you can comfortably deal with. Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn are a must. If you can manage it then have a blog and a YouTube channel.

On your website, link to your social accounts.  On your social accounts, link to your website.

Make it EASY for people to find you.


Be proactive about linking up with people you want in your network. Follow potential and current clients on Twitter or Facebook or Linked In. Find out what their preferred platform is and connect with them there.

Networking is not a passive sport. Meet, greet, interact!

You should be looking to connect with

  • Colleagues
  • Leaders in your industry
  • Friends
  • Clients
  • People you meet at events


The fastest way to kill your network is to sell on the platforms. You don’t like it when you see it so don’t do it to others. Instead look to help. When you see people tweeting or facebooking  that they need assistance, provide it if you can. Offer suggestions or guidance.

This helps to brand you as an expert, makes you approachable due to your willingness to communicate and interact, and in your area of expertise you become top of mind for your network.

Always be looking for ways to help others. It really will be the most powerful weapon in your arsenal. This might be as simple as writing LinkedIn recommendations for people you’ve worked with. This is enormously helpful for them.


You are not trying to be the most popular person out there. Where you approach networking with that view, you will struggle. Get into your mind that you are there to learn and to share. Learn from your network and share what you learn.

This is what makes you popular and makes you valuable within your network.


We all know Facebook or Twitter people who always seem to be negative. It drains energy so don’t  do it yourself.

Look to be positive. When someone comments or posts negatively about you do not respond angrily. Take a breath, write your response, take a walk and then re-read what you wrote BEFORE you post it. And even when dealing with negativity try to be positive. Sometimes negativity is there to help you learn more about yourself and to grow or expand as a person. Try be objective, take the positive and ignore the blatantly negative.

The way you interact when you are angry or upset will do more to define your brand than what you say when everything is good.


The global nature of social media means you will be connected with people all over the world. However, where possible meet up with people you’ve connected with online.

If you’re travelling to Cape Town or New York, look to meet up with your connections in that area.  It’s a wonderful way to strengthen bonds.

Most importantly, be there on social platforms, be you, interact and enjoy the socialness of social.

Good luck!

Is friction slowing your business?

MatchTechnology, Mobile, the Internet and Social Media have removed so much friction in the business/customer relationship.

If we take the music industry as an example: Their business model in the 20th century was fairly straightforward – produce music and then tightly control and regulate its distribution. If you wanted to own a song you had to wait for it to be available on CD and then go a music shop and buy the whole CD just so you could own that one song. That’s a lot of friction, barriers that slow you down in getting what you want.

15 years ago the music industry went through tumultuous change when a teenager by the name of Shawn Fanning started a service called Napster that allowed people all over the world to connect to each other and share their music libraries. Almost overnight the friction involved in owning music was removed.

The music industry went to war! They took on individuals and they took on Napster.  They won the battle against Napster since it ceased to exist a few years later but ultimately they lost the war. The music industry was forever changed. We know this when we see the size and success of iTunes and similar services.

Friction today is anything that makes it difficult or slows down your customer’s interaction with your business. And today when we talk about a business “going social” we don’t just mean putting up a Facebook page or getting a Twitter account. We mean changing the way you perceive the relationship with your customers. What are you doing that gets in the way of your customer interacting (buying) with you?

Some examples of friction:

  • Sending an automated reply to email inquiries that says “We will endeavour to get back to you within 72 hours” tells your customer that you’re too busy for them.  They will go elsewhere because they have abundant choice. Why wait for you to be ready for them?
  • Sending a potential customer a 128 page PDF catalogue in which they struggle to find what they want.
  • Are your contact details easily accessible on your website? Or does your customer have to wade through 3 levels of menu options to find a phone number or email address for you?
  • Is your website mobile ready?  Can I comfortably and easily view your site from a mobile device (smartphone or tablet). This is becoming the preferred method of browsing websites so you have to available on these devices.
  • Having a presence on a social platform such as Twitter but not responding to people who tweet you!

These are just some examples and there are many more.  If you want your business to be relevant and available to your customer then you need to be social. If you are going to be social you need to find and remove the friction.

Get your senior team together, or if feasible, everyone. Break into smaller and manageable groups. Ask yourselves these questions:

  • What is the technology that is disrupting our industry? Do we understand that technology?

Like the music industry 15 years ago your industry, whatever it is, is being transformed by technology. Do you know what it is and do you understand it?

  • What is being tolerated?

“Well, that’s how we do things around here” is often said when we have to comply with a policy or procedure that we don’t understand. Yet we know it’s stupid but we just carry on doing it. We’re not even sure why we started doing it that way.

  • What is wasting time?

Perhaps your senior team is spending the whole of Friday doing reports. Are they necessary? Is it just wasting time? What else are we doing that wastes time?

  • Is there an easier way?

With technology today there is always an easier way. Find it.

  • What problem are we solving?

Policy and procedure is put in place to solve a problem. With change perhaps the problem you’re trying to solve doesn’t even exist anymore yet your still doing the things to solve it.

  • How do we build trust?

Brand and businesses have to get over the idea that they can control what is said and done with their brand. Social Media has put paid to that forever. The new control is trust. If you are open, honest, transparent your customers will trust you and if they trust you, you will establish some level of control. So everything you do should be in the direction of building trust.

By answering these questions honestly and making it safe for everyone to contribute honestly you will find the areas of friction that are slowing you down, that are getting in the way. Now you can work to eliminate that friction and win!

The Twitter Twilight Zone

Twitter is a platform of immediacy – it’s all about what’s happening right now so checking my timeline during the day is a pretty rush affair – during a couple of minutes between meetings, or while grabbing lunch. I try to keep abreast but this is often not possible.

I had a quiet moment tonight after a day of work which kept me away from the feed so I sat  down to catch up with 7 hours unread tweets. It was during this time that I was moved in a twilight zone sort of way.

The subjects covered through live tweets during the course of the day were:

  • Military coup underway in Egypt
  • Mandela family graves being exhumed
  • Andy Murray playing in Wimbledon
  • A teacher who wore the same outfit in yearbook photos for 40 years
  • Random tweets that were deep and mundane in equal measure

From the very important to the vapidly unnecessary, it was all there and I could get it all during a quiet moment in which I was not definitely not alone. When you’ve taken the time to get to know Twitter you feel it’s transformative power. What makes it out of the twilight zone is that the mundane and the important are presented on equal footing. Despite it’s power it’s that lack of differentiation that makes it disturbing.



The Road Ahead

Here is a clip of my new keynote presentation – The Road Ahead – which was developed in partnership with arguably South Africa’s best business speaker, Michael Jackson.

This was delivered at the Marketing Indaba in Johannesburg at the end of May this year. It is a presentation I hope to take to many business conferences over the next year.

I’d love your thoughts on it!



Being Social & Mobile

social mobile

This article originally appeared in the Jun/Jul 2013 issue of Franchise Warehouse

Almost every business is aware that something is happening, something big and they are aware in a rather vague way that it has something to do with them. Social & Mobile. They are big & getting bigger and it has everything to do with you and your business.

The good news is that it is far less complicated and far less scary than all the buzz words make it seem. Every new advance cloaks itself in mystery with new, complicated sounding words. It was like that when the Internet was becoming a standard platform and it is similar with social & mobile: Conversation, engagement, content curation, inbound marketing. These and other catch phrases give the appearance of a technical and complicated field.

But, at the base of it all, is the simple and ancient human relationship.

Let’s first deal with the issues that make “going social” worrying. More than the mechanics or having and running a Facebook or Twitter account is the mindset that comes with social and the greatest shift in thinking is the issue of control. Brands, quite rightly, have always been obsessed with controlling the brand image. I’ve seen marketing people argue for an hour about where a logo should go on a T-shirt. In the social age we have to realise that we cannot control every aspect of our brand. Through social platforms consumers have the freedom to say what they want about any brand they wish, to as many people as they have access to.

Instead of control, brands must focus on building TRUST. Trust is the new control. If you are trusted by your community you will have at least some control. Trust is built through transparency and credibility. When you are seen to be actively engaging and transparently dealing with customer problems or complaints and when you provide value to your community they naturally come to trust you. If you try to just sell them they will run for the digital hills.

The next issue is one of resources. Yes, these platforms all free but employing people to look after your social presence is not and neither is the time it takes to build a community that trusts you. As much as possible have a person (or team) dedicated to the task rather than simply amending the Receptionists job description to include Facebook.

And probably the most important issue is ROI, Return on Investment. This continues to be the biggest discussion point of social media. What are we getting for all this effort? Very simply this comes down to measurement.  What will tell you if your efforts in social media are successful? It’s not just followers. What percentage of contacts are going to your website and how many of those are being converted to sales? Is your community sharing your content? These are just a few things that can be measured. Measuring progress is critical since it is how you tell if it’s been worth it.

But there is no getting around the fact that going social is an imperative. The longer any business delays the further out of touch they become.

We must understand that consumers (and that includes you & I) have changed the way they interact with commerce, the way they buy. We have all learned to dislike advertising and “being sold”. We want brands to be there when we need them and provide us what we need, at our convenience.  And more and more of this interaction is taking place on our mobile devices. Our smart phones are the key to the world; we literally have a world of knowledge in our hands and we are connected to that knowledge and our networks all the time. When we shop, we consult our friends and followers, when we buy we inform our friends and followers.

To put it simply you should be doing the following:

  • Be active on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter (as a minimum) and others as your confidence and results grow.
  • You must have a website that is optimised for mobile – your customers need full access to your website through their smartphones and devices.
  • By “active” is meant you are responding rapidly to customer enquiries and providing information about your brand to your followers.

Once you are there and actively engaging you will see the world of opportunity that exists in the social space and you will wonder how you ever did business any other way.

Image courtesy: KROMKRATHOG

Managing your Social and Media Reputation

Debora & Ryan


A deeper understanding of how to manage reputation on a personal and professional level has become increasingly important as communication channels become wide open and instant. With this in mind I am very pleased to announce the launch of this new service in partnership with Debora Patta.

Streamlined into a half day or full day workshop Reputation Management offers a unique inside view of the media locally, in Africa and internationally answering questions such as how the media works, understanding news rooms, how stories are assigned and how best to get your story into the media.

An in-depth look at how to cope with scandal, bad press and difficult questions, dealing with crises in the media, responding to tough questions and putting out potential fires. An overview of skills and tips needed in print media, how to give radio soundbites and TV interviews including voice projection to clothing to presentation skills and on-camera appearances.

A closer inspection into the world of social platforms and how the sheer pace and influence of technology demands that business become expert in managing reputation on social platforms on a personal and professional basis. Includes how reputation is managed on Social media, specifically during times of emergency and crises.

It also includes a practical hands-on experience for the participants in how to give a good interview.  The participants will actually experience first-hand an on-camera interview.  The interviews will be conducted by Debora who is widely regarded as one of the toughest television interviewers in South Africa.  All interviews are recorded with constructive feedback and giving participants a chance to put their learning into practice.

Changing the world, one idealist at a time

networkTomorrow I’m doing a keynote presentation for Ernst & Young’s Black Professional Network. The subject is brand building and network building on social media.

As I was researching and writing this presentation I was again impressed with how social media and technology have changed so much of how the world works, how business works and how we, as individuals navigate the world of work.

Much has been written about being a brand, the fact that individuals are brands and just as McDonald’s, Coke and others worry and fret about building their brands, so should we. It’s an almost incongruous thought – the faster the world gets, the more information there is the more individual action becomes important. You would think that with all this information and technology the individual would be less important, yet the reverse is true.

While it is overwhelming to consider how ‘little old you’ can change the world, it is quite realistic to consider how you can positively influence an industry or small part of an industry. Technology and social media has provided driven and talented individulas with the means to become influential in highly niched areas. In turn multiple acts of influence by many people add up to a changed world. I know, I’m terribly idealistic. But I have the most fun in idealism.

The key take away for those in the audience tomorrow will be this: Employers are caring less and less about your 4 page CV. What they will care more about is the quality of YOUR brand and the credibility of the network you can bring to their organisation.