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Marijean

Want Better Networking? Skip the Networking Groups

By | Communications | One Comment

I visibly cringe when someone invites me to something called a networking group. I’ve been to these gatherings, where there’s one representative of each kind of industry, where you’re expected to share your “elevator speech” and share leads. It’s formulaic, and it might very well work for those who rely on cold calls to build business when all other efforts fail, but it’s really not my style.

What I find much more valuable, is attending events that interest me, and that attract like-minded people. The people I have met at nonprofit events, or through volunteering in my community, or at educational opportunities like lectures, films, and panel discussions are far more interesting and likely to result in real work relationships than those brought together in a manufactured networking environment.

I know it’s hard for those just starting out to dive into unknown groups and start introducing themselves. But if you’re there for a mission, or to listen and learn, with the opportunity to share ideas afterward, it’s a much more authentic relationship-building experience that results.

If you’re looking for a networking alternative, feel free to ask me what I’m attending next.

Five Elements that Make a Reputation

By | Public Relations | No Comments

It’s not often I’m on the other end of the work that I do, playing the role of community member and answering questions posed by another PR firm about their client, but that’s exactly what I found myself doing this morning.

It’s a great experience to have, a reminder of what it feels like to be the call recipient, the survey-taker, or the person who is forming an opinion about the client in question. This is how firms like mine determine the reputation of a client: is it good? Is it bad? What IS the reputation, and how did it get that way?

Here’s How a Reputation is Formed

  1. Hearsay. Someone you know works at the company, or knows someone who does and you know from what they say how the company is as an employer, and may even know a little bit about what they do, professionally. Sometimes people call this word-of-mouth.
  2. Advertising. Have you seen an ad somewhere? Where? And what did it say?
  3. Strategic relationships. In my community, I know what companies have been openly, visibly supportive of certain nonprofit organizations. I can tell from that affiliation, something about their core values. So whether your company has no visible affiliation of that kind, or one I can’t identify, or one that’s very clear and obvious makes a difference. I know a little something about electronics retailer Crutchfield, based in Charlottesville, Va. and that they welcome pets into their company headquarters and that the company leadership if fond of animals, and, as a result is a long time, big supporter of the local SPCA. That information helps formulate the reputation of the organization through that relationship.
  4. Search Engine Optimization. This one takes work on the company’s part, and on the part of their public relations partner. What SEO means, is what you find when you google a company. What shows up on their online presence, the part they manage, including their website and social media channels, but also what’s been published about them, in the form of reviews, of news stories, and of other content outside of their control. Go deeper than that and look up the employees of the organization. The reputation of a company is only as strong as its members and if you find that there are people with really bad reputations collecting a paycheck from the company in question, that’s going to flavor your perception of the company’s reputation.
  5. Personal experience. It’s not easy to change a person’s perception of a company once they’ve had their own experience of it. Whether you’re a former employee, a disgruntled or even enthusiastic customer, or a vendor, that interaction creates a long-term imprint and puts you in the role of influencing others (see #1 above) through hearsay or word-of-mouth.

Those of us in the PR and reputation management business need first to understand the reputation of our client, and how that reputation has been formed, to begin the work of shaping it for the future.

 

How to Block Someone on LinkedIn

By | Social Media | 2 Comments

A conversation on Twitter evolved, in which someone expressed a wish not to see certain people suggested to them as possible connections on LinkedIn. It was merely a matter of a person having former colleagues she loathed, but it brought up an interesting idea.

Can you block people on LinkedIn? And if so, how?

You certainly can block people! If you are connected to them, you will disconnect and they will no longer be able to see your profile or updates nor you theirs. It’s like you’ve ceased to exist for them! Unless, you know, you run into them on the street or in a coffeeshop. I can’t help you with that.

But I can help you escape them on your social network for business. Here’s how:

  1. Navigate to the person’s profile. If you don’t want them to see that you have looked at their profile, first go to Settings –> Privacy –> then scroll down to How Others See Your LinkedIn activity and change Profile Viewing Options to Private Mode for the rest of this activity.
  2. When you’re on the person’s profile, click the More… box to the right of the Message box.
  3. Scroll down to select Report or Block and then a box will open, asking you what you want to do. Here’s where you can select Block, if that’s the most appropriate response.

Congratulations! You are now more free of that person than you were previously. Enjoy replacing them with a better, more worthy business connection.

Rubbernecking in the Wake of the #MeToo Movement

By | Communications, Social Media | No Comments

I used to think a person finds out who their true friends are during a divorce. I was wrong. The real friends stick around after you’ve met someone new and start dating and are happy and in love again. I was surprised at the people who were more interested in the falling apart of my life than the building back up. I thought about the way we share our lives on social media, though, and became less surprised.

There’s a perception that people create these carefully crafted, happy looking lives with great vacations and beautiful families. Everything, as seen in Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram posts looks just perfect. To me, that’s sharing only the shareable — not sharing what the user considers private. So yes, to some, that might look manufactured. And so, when a person’s life undeniably falls apart, we’re curious. Did we miss some clue in the photos on the Instagram account? Why were those last vacation photos all solo selfies?

We’re in the beginning of a movement that is going to have a lot of those online images crumbling. The #metoo movement, and today’s recognition of the Silence Breakers as the Person of the Year in Time Magazine is huge and will have an ongoing impact. It is only a matter of time before our colleagues, friends, friends’ husbands and partners lose their jobs or are called out publicly for sexual abuse or harassment.

I hope that we can refrain, as a culture, from social rubbernecking as peoples lives crumble around us. No, of course no one’s life is perfect, even if their social media would otherwise indicate. Victims will share what they wish and we should be respectful of that. Families of abusers are often collateral damage in these situations. Let’s let them be.

Let’s Talk About the Word Bitch

By | Communications | One Comment

When I was in sixth grade, Sister Edwardine, a tiny, ancient nun, got wind of some of the boys calling the girls “bitch.” Our teacher calmly gathered us and explained the origin of the word and why it was an insult when used, and why, exactly one should think twice before saying it. You could have heard a pin drop as this diminutive Dominican said, “if you call someone’s mother a bitch, you’re saying that woman is having sex with everyone in town.”

How we held it together, I’ll never know.

I don’t use the word bitch. I don’t swear much, but I’m not a prude, either. I just don’t use words that demean women. Funny how I just have a policy like that; odd little quirk of mine, being a woman and all. It was interesting to me, when only five years ago, in 2012 network television loosened the reigns and allowed “bitch” to slide. Suddenly, everyone from Betty White to Tina Fey was dropping the B-word.

Is normalizing a word the right approach? Do we “take it back” when we try to alter the meaning, and make it empowering? Does it make it hurt any less when someone uses it in a hurtful way, like when a man calls his wife a bitch in front of their children? I don’t think it does.

The sentiment is a bad one and in the upswing of women standing up to harassment, I think one small thing we can do is stop using words that demean women, even to be funny, even as a word of empowerment, even when it’s women using it with other women.

 

A major fail on Twitter this week began when user Nutella asked people to “name a bitch badder than Taylor Swift.” The backfire resulted in tweets like:

 

 

 

 

 

I think we need to use better words to describe the women we admire. Do you really want to call Malala a bad bitch? I certainly don’t.

When network television adopted the word, so did the workplace. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the word bitch in an office setting. NOT OK. It’s normalized so much that a middle school student casually used it in my presence to describe her own behavior. ALSO NOT OK.

You won’t hear the word “bitch” from me. I invite you to reconsider its use, yourself.