Principles to Live By? Oh, Really? What Little Wonders?

truthholdingDo you ever wake up in the morning and ask yourself what events have or will have the most impact on your life whether today or in the future? Do you agree that some stories in our lives are like tiny ripples that do not carry much weight, while others are like large waves that hit harder, deeper, and with more impact? My story like your story is no different from a million others out there and it is no sadder, brighter, or glorious than that of someone else’s. Therefore, we all need to wake up and remind ourselves that it is just life and no matter what it (life) throws at you (us), it’s you… that ultimately sets the course of future events. Haha so what is the point? What am I trying to say here?

What is the story?

If you have been a reader of mine for any time, you know that my story is that much like a bag of mixed marbles. The more strange things that could happen will happen or the more marbles played the more different the results. Who said that anyway? Is that like Murphys Law? What may go wrong, will go wrong? After many difficult relationships (mostly cause of me) I spent many years as a single dad trying to figure out the who, what, when, and where of this single dad thing and trying to make my kids life as memorable as possible. WOW, that sucked! Actually, and while it may have sucked, I have had the opportunity to experience life as what life truly should be…fun, full of enrichment, love, and meaning.

Single Dad to Engaged Dad

Yes, and that’s right I have decided to take the next step in my life and marry the greatest woman that I have ever met. Not to mention that my kid is just one year ahead of her kid and they are like best friends. And, Yes… this is the woman of my dreams.  Needless to say and whether you’re in a relationship or going it alone you can benefit from what I have learned and the following the steps below in order to create your own healthy relationship(s).

betruthful

1) Be courageous…

…about realizing who you are. Many of us at some point decided that we would map out our lives—this could be as simple as where you’re going to live, how many children you will have, or what career you want now or in the future. This could also be encouraging or devastating to the point where you may not question whether it’s what you truly want or what life truly wanted for you. Therefore, when something unexpected happens that changes your life plans, shake it off, become vulnerable and encourage yourself to do more and then you can feel very more comfortable, brave, and ride those feelings (waves)because you may have just discovered what it is that you are truly in search of?

2) Be truthful…

…with yourself and others that you have contact with. Even though life hasn’t turned out the way you had planned or maybe it has, it does not mean that you have failed. There is no need to make excuses, judge yourself (others), or shy away from this truth. And YES… it’s okay to feel and hurt, as these are natural feelings and are a part of being honest with yourself. Accept what is and learn… it is what it is. The sooner you realize this the sooner you will be able to think clearly and take the next steps in the right direction with a positive mindset whether in a relationship or going it alone.

3) Be open…

…to an unusual life and to new understandings. There’s no point hanging on to what could’ve, should’ve, or would’ve been, because it will only make you (us) feel bitter and offended. With an open mind you can truly let new experiences into your life. You never know what exciting events may come your way, but that’s the beauty of it (watching waves whether peaceful or dangerous).

4) Be calm and kind…

…with yourself. Much like #2 and whether you believe what’s happened in your life is your fault or not, you must be gentle with and forgive yourself along with others.  It serves no one, especially not you, if you don’t “talk” to yourself or others encouragingly or lovingly. To create a life of purpose, we must first love ourselves then others, because only then can our actions come from the heart. And when your actions come from the heart, you will be able to see clearly, feel strong, and are sure of your choices.

5) Be trusting…

…of yourself and all others in the universe. All you can do is your best and go with the flow—and trust that your life is turning out as it should be. Going with the flow can be challenging, especially if you’re someone like me who likes to be in control (damn Leo’s). So remind yourself constantly that even when you try so hard to create a life that you want, the laws of nature may decide otherwise. And how you choose to respond to it is what matters most—that’s really what life’s all about anyway isn’t it?

truthandtrusting (2)

If you flow with the nature of life (waves), you will have the strength to handle everything that comes your way. I always wish that… I would have never heard of the saying, had I had known then what I know now… Why, well because if I hadn’t done what I did and met those people who I did, I wouldn’t be where I am today! Happy, satisfied and for once looking forward to more of what life has to throw my way only this time, as a family not as a single parent. How much more truth can that provide? Embracing a new relationship or riding/watching a new wave roll in can be downright scary but being courageous, truthful, open, calm, and trusting can help you roll in not crash into the beach. Now that summer has arrived get out there and catch a few new waves yourself and enjoy those memorable sunsets.

With Every Ending there is a NEW Beginning?

What is it they say? “With every beginning, there comes an end” or “with every ending new-beginningcomes a new beginning.” Just like I mentioned in a previous post “everything happens for a reason” or “it is what it is” I have to say that this so called all good things must come to an end also has to be true? Or is it? How do we know when things are coming to end then? What are the signs? Does this also apply to our relationships, education, career, etc.? Or is this saying just the cycle of life and products? Over the last week and if not the entire year, I have been asking myself this and many similar questions. Why? Well over the last year, I have started to pay greater attention to detail and the shelf life of many things including that of my relationships, career objectives, milk, groceries, vehicle, etc. Why if this saying isn’t true, do most things we purchase and consume have an expiatory date? It seems that YES, most things (if not all) have a beginning and an end? Or all good things must come to an end?

So how do we determine what exactly the beginning and/or end is? The obvious is we are born and then we die… YES? How about relationships or your career? If you are young or old you have probably noticed that, most relationships and your job, regardless of how you meet or the job you’re in all have trends. These trends usually go something like this… awesome beginning (honeymoon), an okay middle (comfort zone), and really bad endings (the dreaded unknown). In my life and regardless of whether in a relationship or career these trends seem to always go the same way but unlike the cycle of life (ending in death), I am still alive, kicking, and in the end have come out the other side as better person. I am a better father, a better man with the woman I love, and I am a better man in the job I am in. Does this then mean that we all should embrace change, new beginnings, and endings to things? Or is it just me? Do we need to give more chances to others, our partners, and career paths fostering and/or focusing more on the middle stage(s)?

uptown-girls

Let’s face it, the beginning of anything is downright scary just like my kid changing schools this year. On the flipside, the end is just as scary if not more! Starting something new or letting go of something you care about is extremely hard whether it is a relationship or your career. However, what I have learned over the years (especially raising my son, in relationships, and jobs) is that both beginnings and endings are a necessity of life, just as we are born and we die. In order for us to remain active, happy, and healthy, we must allow ourselves the opportunity for new beginnings in our relationships and jobs, just like we must allow ourselves the opportunity for endings, so we can create more beginnings. This my friends is what we must do because if nothing ever came to an end, nothing could ever begin. Without scary endings and new beginnings, I wouldn’t be the same person I am now just like I know you are. In fact, I couldn’t be happier at how things have turned out in my life with my son, my relationship, and career. Although I can’t say for sure how long I will be in this NEW middle part of my life (hopefully until I die), I can honestly say… For every ending, there is an even greater beginning. Don’t be afraid of endings and surely don’t let yourself be afraid of new beginnings.

Thoughts? If you have any, please feel free to leave your comments here, reach out to me online or in person, and/or through any of my other online mediums. Until next time my friends keep smiling, embrace those you’re with, do away with things stressing you out, and for heaven’s sake create some new beginnings already.

Inbound Sales is ALL About Outbound Social Media? Or is it?

As the world changes, so does the way(s) we all continue to communicate with one another. According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, “communication” originated in the 14th century (WOW) and is defined as “the act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc., to someone else.” So then why do most people NOT consider SOCIAL MEDIA and SALES communicative and social tasks? What I mean by that is why do marketers, as well as other professionals think that social media isn’t the best tool available to communicate with others, thus increasing sales (i.e. inbound selling). In fact, I believe that customers take joy in being social over the web and would rather buy online at their own pace versus someone else’s or in-person. Am I being naive or do you agree or disagree? Whether you agree or disagree, one thing is certain and that is if you understand the role(s) of communicating and social media in general that these two combined can be paramount and vital to your personal or long-term business success(es).

How buying is changing online

With the advent of online sites such as Google, Ebay, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter, FourSqaure, EmpireAvenue, Pinterest, Tumblr, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, Quora, etc people have more say “dictating the buying/selling processes” and can voice their opinions as little and/or as often as they want, thus dictating what customers/businesses ultimately buy and sell. In fact, (I believe you already may know this) but it is no longer about what a salesperson/company says or presents but instead about what a buyer says online or in person that dictates what they truly want in a (B2C business-to-consumer or B2B business-to-business) competitive environment.

Forrester, which is a leading research company recently reported that over 90% of the time B2B (in this case B2B IT buyers) are involved in some form of social media, not so much as actual purchasers but as purchase spectators. What this actually means and maybe the case more times than not in any industry is that 90% of the people or businesses that are looking for IT services or ‘YOUR services/products” are on some form of social media site. Regardless of the industry, you and/or your company cannot afford to ignore these statistics if you want to continue increasing sales over the long run. Yes, this also means that even though these people are online (i.e. social media) they maybe just there to see how you and/or your company is perceived, so they also can adjust their business strategy around what people want (i.e. again inbound selling adjustments) throughout an industry not just your company. Yes?

Not just for the traditionalists

While not too long ago and perhaps even to this day (you have more than likely experienced this) many people have/did enter(ed) into the online social sphere of things with the whole “get rich quick scheme or multi-level marketing” but as time passed we all have voiced our opinions thus we are seeing a dramatic decline in this category. That is a big relief huh? Personally, over the years I have grown to hate all these multi-level marketing schemes and am very pleased to see them fading into the night just as the typewriter of several years past. Since these multi-level schemes were and never will be credible ways of making money or advancing sales online (instead only making a few people rich) while making other people more skeptical of online buying/selling. Having a tremendous amount of prior B2B and B2C sales experience, I came into social media marketing (social media selling) with a determination to grow a community and eliminate the hard sell, since generating awareness and need for a purchase are at the forefront of sales and have always been my way of producing sales not the other way around. Let’s face it who likes that nagging sales person that calls 10 times a day or week trying to sell you something you don’t necessarily need but instead trying to sell you something they think you need in order to increase their own sales numbers, while making their boss(es) happy. Social media selling gives the customer what they need and that is relevant information that they can use to create their own need; thus, calling you (INBOUND) when they are actually ready to buy on their own terms and not yours. So, let’s say bye to all those bait and switch techniques of the past and hello to transparency of the present “gifts” that help you and your prospects make good buying decisions. An honest conversation online thorough social media and other like platforms that make your phone ring not you ringing others, thus increasing sales and creating more long-term partnerships.

Social Sales

If what I have mentioned so far hasn’t convinced you that social media is/has changed the way everyone communicates, then I ask you to think about all the people you and/or your company reach daily, weekly, or yearly to create awareness, while maintaining one-on-one contact. Do you see how or perhaps create some of the most important relationships that you or your company has/can develop online? Have you or your company closed any accounts or sales online without actually even talking to another person? If you are like most others the answer to this question should be YES (even in the lowest form you surely have purchased from EBay or Amazon)and if not then you really need to get or build your online presence immediately. If you are in sales and also answered NO to this question, you also need to start building your own online presence as well as your companies since you cannot or will not be able to rely on in person or personality only to seal more deals moving into the future.

As social media helps to continue to shaping sales by changing the old mantra of “who you know” by “what you actually know” especially what you know about others (i.e. communicative spectators). The new age of selling should demand online communication of every one of its employees regardless of position in order to enhance other purchasing decisions by adding value to an online conversation. Needless to say and long story short is that I ask you to stop convincing yourself or business that social media cannot help you and instead embrace how communication/social media can help you leverage your personal or business goals. Those people and companies that understand these concepts most and are willing to forge forward into this new business space of sales will be the ones that I will be still writing about 20 years from now.

David Dandaneau is a Consultant at [SevenTimesSeven]. He specializes in helping business owners “manage their business and not their processes!” For more connect with him via Twitter @ddandaneau or any of the other social platforms you may find him on.

Personal and/or Business Use for Twitter Vine

[Image Credit: VineTwitter Account]
Well hello again and long time no talk fellow socialites! Needless to say, hope all is well and you are continuing to grow and prosper this New Year. As with most years that pass there are many new instruments, ideas, and strategies that are continuing to transform the way we communicate and if you have been a reader here for any amount of time you already know that! With that said, recently I decided to upgrade my old iPhone 3GS to the new iPhone 5, which to my surprise if extremely AWESOME. As with any upgrade (personal or professional), of course, my initial thinking was to get used to my new device (mentally) and discover some new apps to help make my life and business more organized, which I always love to share with all you. So far and just a couple weeks in with the new iPhone 5, I have discovered a new platform known as Vine(perhaps you have already discovered this application) to continue growing online via social media? Regardless if you are familiar or not with this particular application you’ll want to check it out and/or revisit it after you read the next few paragraphs.
From my research Vine for Twitter was just introduced in January of this year, which means many (perhaps you again) have discovered how valuable this new platform can be for increases in search, marketing, and sales purposes for yourself or business? Yes/No? Okay I know what you’re thinking and that’s… great now another social media site to manage? Well contrary to your thinking (open your mind already) this application is not just another app to fill up your Twitter stream but instead this app is a new way to create interesting stories using short video (i.e. 6 seconds or less) so you/your business can share your thoughts, ideas, and life changing personal or business stories. Just like many of the other social applications such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, FourSquare, etc. all the items (in this case videos) that you create can be publically or privately posted to your Vine followers and/or shared among your existing networks via Facebook or Twitter by recording a video with the push of a button on your iPhone, iPod, iPad or other device that may run this type of mobile application. Okay, so what does this all mean to me? Even though I am also still new to this app, here are three easy steps to take in order to find the who, what, when, and how to simply use this application to benefit you or company while staying ahead of the social media madness we often refer to in our postings.
1) Showcase what you have to offer
Have you or your company created a unique way to showcase your competences or unique qualifications yet? If not, use Vine to create a small one or multiple set of online videos (again 6 seconds or less) for others to see what EXACTLY you have to offer. This is especially important if you have decided to look for that new job (creating an online resume) or looking to bring a new product or service to market (give everyone a sneak peek into your old or new offering(s).
2) Take other people behind the curtain of your life or business
What if you don’t have anything to showcase? Well that’s okay because behind everyone showcase is a story of how you or your business was born, started, or operates right? Use Vine to create a picture of what everyday life is like for yourself or business by showing off your daily routines, friends, office, or other interesting things others in your life or place of work do on daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Give your audience a firsthand encounter of events that will get you found and/or noticed in the social cloud, or in other words, pull back the curtain on your life or business!
3) Let others help you succeed
If you are familiar with networking or use other social media sites, which have you already engaged with many of your followers, friends, and acquaintances let them know about your new personal or business plans with Vine. Once others become familiar with this new application ask them to help you achieve what it is you are looking to achieve. In fact, if you use other platforms such as Twitter or Instagram get a little more creative and create a NEW hashtag dedicated to your cause and ask other people in your network to share or use this hashtag to create additional push or buzz about yourself, company, and/or brand. The old help others and they will help you back approach to Marketing.
[Image Credit: TechCrunch Blog Post]
Obviously, these three things are not the only things you can use Vinefor but they are a good way to start or retool your account if you have already started down this road. Regardless of how you use this platform, I sure would like to hear from others (if you have already set up an account) about your successes or other techniques that you are considering if you haven’t already started. As always thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to wear that smile like you mean it today ((>>:-))
David Dandaneau is a Consultant at [SevenTimesSeven] and a Contractor at [FedEx]. He specializes in helping business owners “manage their business and not their processes!” For more connect with him via his About.Me Page or any of his other social platforms.
 

Some Helpful Mobile/Computer APPs to Stay Organized in 2013

[Image: Entrepreneur Blog Post] 
Can you believe that we are closing in on the end of another month of 2013? As such, I guess it’s time to look ahead to another successful month of learning, sharing, and taking advantage of all the latest technology (i.e. mobile applications/devices, social media, CRM, etc), huh? Speaking of have any of you discovered how easy apps (especially via our cell phones) have allowed us to do most of this learning and sharing, while allowing us to stay organized, track other things such as our finances, schedule appointments, prospect, buy, sell, etc? The best part about all this (so they say or as I have experienced) is that it frees up time for us to do other things, save money, and reduce stress… or do they?
It is no secret that mobile devices/computers are changing every day with the introduction of better, faster, and more accessible applications. Now enter marketing (YES, even mobile marketing), which believe it or not is also continuing to change just as fast, which in turn is slowly becoming a must have for any business or person that has access to a cell phone or internet connection and is looking to sell, purchase, or even just browse online (do people really still just browse?) Needless to say and according to eDigitalResearch these people (YES maybe even YOU) or roughly 54% of all cell phone users are now using their smart phones to access websites, while an additional 38% of these users actually BUYing with their respected phone. Crazy huh? In other words, that is… over half of smart phone users use their phones to browse, while another 4 out of 10 actually purchase via their phone, wow are you surprised? If not you shouldn’t be since most people don’t actually think about how often they actually use their devices for such purchasing activities, instead only think about how enjoyable it is to have such convenience now-a-days. However, this is a HUGE opportunity for almost any small business with a small budget to create a big impact if you truly want to grow your business, while providing consumers with a fast, effective, and transparent way of shopping online (i.e. this also goes for all you B2B sales professionals as well).  
Nonetheless I have talked about many of the social media sites and CRM programs in previous posts (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Empire Avenue, FourSqaure, Sugar, Salesforce, Zoho, etc). So, in this post I wanted to provide you with 3 additional applications (must haves this year) that I believe will not only help you but also marketers looking to expand business the opportunity to do so while staying organized. Yes, I did just say “organized,” as organization is a vital part of not only your personal success but also you businesses success. Agree?
1. On that note, the 1st application that you must have this year is EverNote, which allows you to capture anything, find things fast, while accessing your information from just about anywhere. Sounds good huh? What’s more is that you can do this for yourself or business from one spot, while saving links and reminders so you can access them anytime from anywhere on almost any device! What are you waiting for and if you’re not sold here is a screen shot with more since seeing is believing!
 [Image: EverNote Blog Post] 
               [Image: IFTTT Blog Post]
2. Next up is something that I have been using both personally and professionally for the last year plus and that is the online application that automates almost any task (mostly social media related) by a simple process (perhaps you may have heard this in school before)… If This Then That, hence IFTTT? Basically this application, which you can organize online “IFTTT” connects all your personal and/or business networks together and allows you to automate what tasks you want to relay or not. Example, I often use this application for tasks such as a check-in on FourSquare (one that I took a picture), which I want to rely to my Twitter followers. Make since? One thing with this wonderful app is that you do not want to over complicate things with too many if this, then that scenarios; otherwise, this may cause more headaches then enjoyment for you. However, if you strategically plan (personal or professional) connection scenarios then you will find that this app is well worth your investment time especially if you integrate all your networks and use it with others such as HootSuite or use the EverNote app as previously discussed.
[Image: WIRED Website] 
3. Lastly, if you have been a reader here for some time you may have heard me mention the many different location based services on social media platforms such as Instagram, FourSqaure, and Facebook? However, as for staying organized or especially marketing purposes new apps are becoming even more important to your long-term success online (especially small businesses). Since location based services allow you or your customers to share, I believe that they also have a place in staying organized (especially in the B2B or B2C world), as most of these programs rely on GPS data and user interaction. Since you are or maybe checking into places personally or on even on business purposes, while looking to target others with the “right message at the right time,” then ByteLight might just be the app that you are looking for to spend less while becoming more specific… organized, YES? ByteLight actually uses GPS (i.e. location based services) through a unique light bulb setting, which sends waves of unique patters only visible on a cell phone to actually determine where a consumer is in a particular store. If you are a business or part of a business that is looking for a unique way to stay organized, while targeting certain customers who reach certain parts of your store or other establishment, then you have to check out the site and/or watch the videoto see if this is something that might keep safe and/or more organized.
Obviously (and again if you have been here before) you know that these three applications are only the tip of the iceberg in my arsenal but awesome to say the least, hence why I had to share, Nonetheless, I highly recommend that you get involved NOW with these as I continue to put other lists together for you this New Year (e.g. don’t fall behind!) Additionally, I would also love to hear from others how you or your business is staying organized and/or what predictions you are excited about using next? Once again, thanks for stopping by and until next time… Keep SMILING! 

David Dandaneau is a Consultant at [SevenTimesSeven] and a Contractor at [FedEx]. He specializes in helping business owners “manage their business and not their processes!” For more connect with him via his About.Me Page or any of his other social platforms.

SocialCRM Revisited: The Continued Progression of Customer Relationship Management

Throughout the last decade, people and organizations have continued to adopt technology in order to enhance themselves and/or their businesses. In fact, with all the technological influxes we have all experienced over the years, it is no wonder that our brains also keep expanding or are you like me and finding your brain having a hard time keeping up? Needless to say… would you agree that these technological improvements and advancements, regardless of nature found in our lives and businesses are helping us run easier or do you think that they are bogging us down?
Customer Relationship Management (better known to many as CRM) is one such concept not only evolving in our own personal lives but also many of our businesses like I have mentioned many times in previous posts. This concept, which once only applied to us managing relationships in a personal setting, has now become an integral part of our online existences. Whether you look at CRM as a tool, in a business setting, or in your personal live, there are many CRM resources that are now available to us, which can help monitor SOCIAL activities (CRM systems), while providing quantitative (DATA) that you or your business can use to ultimately drive new relationships and increase sales by providing a personalized approach to your friends, colleagues, and potential friends or clients if used correctly.
[Image: CMS Wire]
It was one believed that only progressive or large corporations were the ones investing in CRM. However, most if it not all of these same organizations failed (are still failing) to accurately quantify what benefits they derived or are deriving from a CRM system, which many believe has halted their advances in dealing with customer issues and relationships through CRM. What’s interesting is if you look at these companies (many studies out there) you will almost always find that most of the time it was not the systems fault but instead the people and/or companies using these systems, as they never really figured out a way to clearly define what they wanted (will Want) out of these technologies… now enter SMALL BUSINESSES!
In today’s day and age (especially with the advent of social media) customer engagement has become/becoming a key emphasis in almost every business(es) long-term strategies (i.e. the whole who, what, when, where adage)… how to interact with customers, friends, and acquaintances in order to grow. One thing in certain and that is this integration of customer relationship management by anyone with access to social media is giving everyone regardless of size, location, age, gender, race, etc the ability to stay in touch while voicing their opinions about people, businesses, governance, etc. to name a few. Does this sound familiar?
Now enterSocialCRM. Although not 100% defined yet, SocialCRM is Customer Relationship Management in a traditional sense (personal communications) but instead of focusing on the system, more people and organizations are focusing on the channels that their friends and customers use to voice their concerns and opinions. In other words… ENGAGEMENT of the PEOPLE! In a nut shell, SocialCRM is not some new system, rather it is a new way for people and businesses to integrate social media into their customer relationship management practices to better predict behavior (personally or professionally) in order to enhance either your personal or professional brand. Make sense?
[Image: ViralBlog]
Needless to say, there are hundreds of examples now available to just about anyone with an internet connection of how they have and/or are using CRM strategies combined with SocialCRM to enhance relationships and monitor progress, while putting quantitative data behind their actions. In fact, I ran across this article Big Brands’ Journey Toward Social Business, which is what spurred me to re-visit this subject while providing our readers with yet another resource and basic explanation in order to help in understanding how other brands and businesses are successfully adopting SocialCRM strategies to connect with their audience(s), react to inquires, and give their customers what they want (I liken this to the saying, GET THE PEOPLE GOING by GIVING the PEOPLE WHAT they REALLY WANT) not what you or your company may think they want.  The important thing to remember about all this is that people and companies that include online with in-person relationships through technologies such as CRM and Social Media will be rewarded by their old and new acquaintances with new personal and professional relationships that hopefully spur growth and innovation… now that’s truly SocialCRM!

David Dandaneau is a Consultant at [SevenTimesSeven]. He specializes in helping business owners “manage their business and not their processes!” For more connect with him via Twitter @ddandaneau or any of the other social platforms you may find him on.

Invest Less & Network More in BUSINESS & LIFE (SOCIAL MEDIA MADNESS)

As many of you know people, businesses, and corporations are continually looking for new ways to engage with others online and in person in order to grow personally and professionally. However, if you are like most other people and companies, you may still be wondering what are the most effective ways of creating interaction without spending days, weeks, months, or years on experimentation(s)… whether online or at social networking events? Now if you own a business you definitely should have figured out that creating a mix between your personal and professional online and in-person presence is or might be ideal? Is it or better yet… how? Well, whether you agree or not social media sites such as (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Empire Avenue, FourSqaure, etc) and networking groups such as Business Networking International (BNI) is/are very cost effective tools to help you manage your personal and professional time while promoting, branding, and providing customer service whether you are interacting online or looking to chat in-person with friends, family, or clients.
In a recent study conducted by the wonderful folks over at VerticalResponse they found that 2/3’s of all small businesses (would wager this is even higher personally) are spending more and more time, energy, and effort on social media then they did a year ago. Nice huh? Agree or disagree? Needless to say, and again whether you agree or not that’s the truth! Although we (or most of us) have all come such a long way from thinking that this “Social Media” thing would become another fad and fade into the past. Just like the typewriter, beepers, or VHS you should not give up on any of these sites and if you do consider yourself warned like swimmers at the beach “swim at your own risk” or in our case “ignore social media at your own risk.”
Now back to the survey. VerticalResponse was able to identify (462 surveyed) that small business are spending a ton of time trying to stay current, while managing these social media sites much like people in general. An astonishing 42% of those surveyed said they spent 6+ hours or even more a week on social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Empire Avenue, FourSqaure, etc) and roughly 25% admitted they spend 10+ hours or more per week on these same sites.  Does this sound like you? Although this may sound excessive to many in reality, I think these numbers are low, since I see people navigating these sites along with attending networking events much more than that! Regardless of the circumstance these numbers illustrate the importance social media is playing in business as well as our personal lives and why businesses and people are spending more time and money increasing their budgets to increase their online presence thus increasing their in-person visibility.  
For all those people and businesses out there that remain skeptical, here are a few more reasons why social media makes/will make more sense to you!
·      RELATIONSHIPS– Social Media sites such as (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Empire Avenue, FourSqaure, etc) allow you to connect with others personally and professionally, while building strong bonds, which ultimately can/could turn into better customer service, increased sales, and more opportunities whether cross-selling or up-selling. VerticalResponsefound that Facebook is still the #1 site for personal of business building (some 90% are on it), while Twitter is close behind where (some 70%) or business/people are now engaging.
·      SERVICE– These social media sites allow you to inquire about other products or services, while providing others with answers to their own questions about your products and services saving you or your business time and money, which you can allocate to other money generating activities, thus quickly adapting before not reacting after a problem may occur.
·      SIZE & COSTs– These social media sites allow you to be found and get found easier “ECONIMIES of SCALE”, while helping you spend less time and money even if you hire an outside agency to help with your campaign.
These numbers are incredible and really show that people and businesses are remaining committed to interacting with others online and in-person.  Let’s face it… who isn’t strapped for time now-a-days and looking for more ways to network, while spending a little less time talking on the phone or in person? The fact is, I run a business, contract work at FedEx, am a full-time parent, Doctoral student, etc so long story short and if I can find the time you can too! Even though Facebook and Twitter remain the top two social media sites, half of the respondents admitted they also engage with others on LinkedInwhile others mentioned that they were also on Pinterest (some 29%) and Google+(some 32%), so click on the (MY) links and let’s CONNECT to grow and learn from each other even more! If you are anything like me or if I can help you or your business please don’t hesitate to connect with me here, personally, or through any of our business networking sites; otherwise I hope you enjoyed my analysis, review, and suggestions in regards to this Infographic and until next time… KEEP SMILING as it really does look good on YOU!

David Dandaneau is a Consultant at [SevenTimesSeven] and a Contractor at [FedEx]. He specializes in helping business owners “manage their business and not their processes!” For more connect with him via his About.Me Page or any of his other social platforms.