Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Media Coach Radio Show pick of the Year

The Media Coach Radio Show pick of 2010 - the best music and interviews of the year - plus the MediaMug and MediaMaster of the year too!

Have a great 2011.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

11 ways to improve your communication in 2011

Great communication is a real business asset. Here are some ways to raise your game in the coming year.

1) Keep your “I”s down

Here’s an exercise. Take any form of communication you have delivered. It could be a speech or an article. Go through it and count all the times you use the word “I”. Then count how many times you use the word “you”. If the former exceeds the latter, you are talking about yourself too much. In fact, the “you” count should be much higher, since communication is all about your audience, and what they are interested in.

2) Tell your story

Use stories that have happened to you, not stories involving others. If you keep a lookout, there will be plenty of incidents you can use to make your point. It’s easier to remember your stories, and they will not have been heard before. Never, ever use a story from someone else and pretend that it happened to you. Remember to tell your story, emphasise the point, and then give a practical example your audience can use.

3) Be original

People are fascinated by originality. Your ideas are unique to you, and though they may have been influenced by others, will be yours alone. That’s what people want to hear - your take on the world. There are no bonus points for plagiarism.

4) Be controversial

Make yourself stand out by going against conventional wisdom, or delivering a rarely-heard point of view. If you agree with everyone else, why communicate at all? There’s no need to be critical of others, but giving solid reasons why you take another view is good copy.

5) Give advice, not instruction

Pay respect to your audience by giving them suggestions about how they might change, not ordering them to do so. If you tell people they must act in a certain way, a likely reaction is that they will decide not to. Of course, you don’t have to take this advice...

6) Provide evidence

Always back up your ideas with evidence, and make sure that you quote the source of the information so that it can be verified. If you can’t find any evidence, you can either fall back on the old phrase “in my long experience” or drop the idea. I’d advise the latter.

7) Get out of the elevator

The “elevator pitch”, a short speech about what you do, used to be a fashionable way of opening a dialogue at a networking event. However, talking to people for up to two minutes without a break is hardly a way to encourage people to warm to you. Instead, try offering a simple, intriguing phrase to start a conversation.

8) Show you care

People love to see passion in communication, If you care about something, share your passion and people will respond. Even if they don’t initially agree with you, they will appreciate your feelings about the subject, and may even be persuaded.

9) Drop the cliché

Using phrases like “It’s not rocket science” or “change is the only constant” won’t have as much impact as normal speech. Alas, some people find it impossible to speak without using a cliché. You should avoid those people like the plague.

10) One message at a time

I know, there are eleven messages here, but it’s a tip sheet, not a speech. SInce your audience will recall only one thing, it makes sense to concentrate on your key message throughout, and repeat it at the end too.

11) Only say it if you really mean it

Authenticity is essential to good communication. If you lack conviction, or worse still, don't believe what you are saying, it will be obvious. Stick to content that you are confident about.

Bonus rule (12) Occasionally, try breaking the rules, as I have done in several instances above...

Good luck in 2011.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

10 low-cost tips for getting more business in 2011

2010 was a tough year for many businesses. However, when you ask a fellow business owner, “How are things?” they will often reply “Good thanks – and you?” It may be true, it may not. It doesn’t really matter. I’ve rarely met a business owner who doesn’t want more work at higher rates. So here are a few tips that you can try immediately. Since they cost little or nothing except a little of your time, why not try a few of them in 2011?

1) Know what you are selling

This seems blindingly obvious. After all, you know what you do, don’t you? In that case, try to explain it to someone who has no idea (members of your immediate family work well as subjects for this one). It’s not what you are; a “leadership coach” or a “motivational speaker”. It’s what you do for people. Once you’ve captured that, it’s much easier to offer yourself to others. The most obvious people to tell you what you do are satisfied customers, so ask them.

2) Ask for referrals

Always, always, ask your best clients to refer you on to someone else. If you have done a good job for them, they will be happy to recommend you, since it makes their judgment look good too. Have an arrangement with your network to cross-refer each other. I’m always being asked to recommend people, but I only do it if they are good, and I know what they offer (see point 1).

3) Use the power of your networks

There are some great networking experts around. Talk to them and buy their books. My best business opportunities come through networking, both online and offline. Of course, the reach of your network goes far beyond your immediate contacts. Ask your network “Who do you know that…?”, and you will find many opportunities. Be respectful of your network too - always give more than you take (see point 10).

4) Make use of free online tools

There are hundreds of online tools that can help you bring in more business, and most of them are free. Google supplies free news alerts (useful for keeping on top of your topic), and can show you trends in markets, so that you can change your offer. There are online communities which offer help and support. There is Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc, etc. Pick one you enjoy using and really learn how to use it.

5) Find out who is buying (and not buying) from you

If you have a website, and don’t analyse your traffic, you are missing a huge opportunity. Google Analytics (free, of course) can be added to your site, and will provide masses of information about where your visitors come from, how long they stay, and what path they take through your site. This intelligence is invaluable in refining your site, and encouraging more visitors to buy from you. Use Google Insights on your videos too.

6) Travel

OK, travel can be expensive, but many of us have to travel to clients. When you travel, make use of your time to meet prospective clients (use networks such as Linkedin to find likely clients where you are going, and contact them to ask for a twenty-minute chat). Use your travel time to read books and become more knowledgeable about your topic or buy something you would not normally read, and use it to stimulate your creativity.

7) Become a broadcaster

Use video, audio and online article to get your message out. Many sites (including YouTube) allow you to create your own TV channel. There are many hosting sites that let you make your own radio station. Blogger and Wordpress allow you to become an online publisher. You need to keep at it, and deliver a regular stream of content, and if you do, you will quickly gain a loyal following of people who will one day do business with you.

8) Listen to your customers

Customer feedback is invaluable, even if it is critical. A customer will only contact you if they care about your product or service. You should take note of what they say, particularly if several customers say the same thing. They may not always be right, but they probably tell you something you need to know.

9) Keep in touch

It’s tough to keep in touch with a huge network of people. But do your best. Even a brief response to an email is better that no response at all. A general “thanks to all” message is the least you can do. One day, that person you met five years ago may offer you a huge piece of work, just because you kept in touch.

10) Be helpful

If there’s only one piece of advice that you use, it should be this one. Help people whenever you can. Don’t expect anything in return. You’ll be amazed at what comes back. Good luck and have a great 2011.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The seven X Factors of social media

You may not be Matt or Rebecca (or even One DIrection), but you can get the X Factor from your social media activities. Here are a few ideas.

1) eXperiment. Try things out. Look at new social networks, and software tools. Not everything will work, or will suit you, but if you don't try it you will never know.

2) eXcite. Delight your followers and friends with your comments, insights and advice. Let your enthusiasm show through, and it will become infectious.

3) eXpertise. You have a unique set of skills which you can use to help people and demonstrate how you can help others.

4) eXtraordinary. Think what you can post online that will amaze people. That's your comments, not simply links to other's content.

5) eXplain. Answer people's questions and offer to show how to do things that you understand well.

6) eXpand. Increase the size of your network by organic growth, not software robots. Social media is about personal contact.

7) eXpext. Don't expect anything in return for what you give. But do expect to enjoy and benefit from your investment in social media.

I wonder if Simon Cowell knows that?