Thursday, April 19, 2012

Why Everyone Should be on Social Media

I was honored to be one of the speakers in the Social Media Lounge at Coverings 2012 this week.  I thought I would post the speech on my blog too.
Per Wikipedia social is anything relating to human society and its members.

I have heard a lot of people ask - why should I care about Social Media, isn't just people posting what they had for breakfast?  It can be, but it can also be much more.  As a few former governments discovered when Social Media contributed to their regime being toppled by their citizens.

Here is a question for you - What is the first thing you do when you meet a perspective client?   (I threw out some peppermint patties to anyone that answered)

In my opinion Social Media is the handshake of 2012.

It is the way to introduce yourself, your product and your services. Business owners, sales staff, and really every single employee can incorporate Social Media into their business life.  Joining Social Media provides you the ability to be included in the global conversation.

Before the internet finding customers was a bit of a challenge and it was limited to the community where businesses were located.  I wonder how much time was consumed attending the Moose Lodge or Rotary Club meetings on a weekly or monthly basis.  A lot of bad dinners were eaten for the opportunity of establishing just one or two new accounts. Once the business relationship was cemented communication was sustained by letter, telephone or on the road driving for the face to face meetings.  Being on the road meant a lot of wasteful in-between time and more bad dinners.

Who here remembers handwriting an order? (more peppermint patties tossed out.)  How many of us groan when there was a backorder because it meant more writing.  Thank goodness word processors were invented to make our business world easier.

On March 4, 1955 the first radio fax transmission was sent across the continent and yet it wasn't until the 1980's that the fax machine revolutionized the office.  We were able to receive a customer's purchase order and ship out the material the very same day!

By 1999 computers and the internet became part of the mainstream world and we were promoting our business online and reaching more than just our local network.  Business became global.

We incorporated email as another form of communication.  Another way to ask questions; finalize information quickly and concisely.  A way to reach out to our customer with a hello, how are you today, is there anything I can help you with?  Another way to shake hands.

Fast forward to 2012 and 50% of the world is 30 years of age or younger.  That age group communicates, both personally and professionally, differently than the way I learned.  Many consider email passe'.  My job as a salesperson is to establish relationships with my customers and if I don't speak their language how can it?  If I moved to Italy I would certainly need to learn to speak Italian in order to conduct business.  Every single employee is a salesperson so all of us need to learn how to communicate with our customers.

I don't know about anyone else here but these past few years have changed how I conduct business and also how many more years I will be in the business world, certainly long past 65.  I will need to stay sharp.  Stay engaged.  Stay relevant to the times and be able to communicate with the up and coming generations.

Like all tools Social Media as positive and negatives.  The positive: Social Media is instantaneous and forever.  The negative: Social Media is instantaneous and forever.  Do not write anything you may regret in your lifetime or after.  Common sense applies and the choice of taking a breath before replying is an option.

For me, Social Media is an extension of going to those monthly Chamber of Commerce meetings, an extension of driving door to door.  I read about Twitter in an article on the internet.  At the time my business was in sharp decline and most of my customers had had their budgets slashed.  I needed to reach further than  my local customer base.  So on September 2, 2008 I joined Twitter.  To be honest I lurked for a while to see what was what.  I learned how to search on Twitter for other people in my industry and potential customers.

Through one of those searches I found Paul Anater and he was the first "tweep" I met in real life.  Since then I have joined LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and become more active on my Facebook page.  Twitter is my personal favorite and I recommend you find the medium that works best for you, connects you with your customers, and be the best at it.  A tweet is limited to 140 characters and many people think what the heck can I do with that?

It isn't just 140 characters, it is the first 140 characters of a conversation!

Yes you can have a conversation on Twitter!  I have had many great conversations.  From a talented hardware designer in Lithuania @DoorHardwareLux to learning about the latest code changes from a fellow door and hardware professional @LoriGreeneAHC in New England.  Every day I learn something new.

With several Twitter friends encouragement I started this blog a year ago and it has provided another platform in which to connect and engage in conversations.  Surprisingly the blog has helped me become more creative both in writing and how I look at things.  Now it's -- what can this situation teach me and how can I convey this experience to others?

I found an amazing support network with other building industry professionals on Social Media - several which also spoke at Coverings2012.  As the economic bottom fell out we supported, suggested, created and are surviving with each others help.  Sharing ideas on a daily basis is what makes the social media relationships so much stronger than those monthly or weekly meetings.

So strong are these relationships in fact that when I attended the Door and Hardware Institute Convention in New York City last October I connected with a person whom I knew from Twitter.  Saxon Henry is a journalist, writer, author and consultant.  We had a fabulous dinner and the conversation was so inspiring.  I would have never met her without Social Media and I wouldn't be here now either.  Through Social Media I, as an individual, became global.

My goal, as a salesperson and person, is to meet people, online and off, who become collaborators in my life and I in theirs.  Social Media has brought me that and more.

Social Media has taught me that this world is a community with interesting people willing to share their knowledge, experiences and support.    That sentence was exactly 140 characters, an example of the sentiment that can be found on Twitter and all Social Media.

As much as I love Twitter I know something new is on the horizon.  A new way to  communicate and interact with the world.  I am ready to greet it with a handshake, are you?

I want to thank Paul Anater for inviting me to speak.  It was my first time and though it had some rough spots overall it went well.  The Coverings 2012 show was amazing and I will be writing additional posts on the fabulous tile I saw and the wonderful "tweeps" I met face to face.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Handing a Lead Lined Door

After 17 years in the door business I was pretty sure I knew everything there was to know about handing a door.  I was wrong.

This is a typical door swing chart:

And the picture below is why it is an outswing door for shielding purposes. (Sorry for the small print).

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Coverings 2012

Coverings is THE stone and tile convention of the year and it is being held in Orlando April 17-20th at the convention center.  You may well ask why - as a door person - do I care about stone and tile?  The answer is simple enough.  There will be many wonderful people that I know via Social Media attending and this is a chance to meet them face to face.  Orlando is only an hour away from Tampa so the drive would be easy.  Of course it doesn't hurt that stone and tile work is beautiful and it would give me the chance to learn about something other than doors.

At some point earlier this year Paul Anater, of the famed Kitchen and Residential Design blog, tweeted that he was providing the social media for the event. Since I know Paul and live in the area I asked if I could help in anyway.  His response was "would you like to give a 15 minute talk on social media?"  I think my heart stopped.  I have never given a speech before, not even an informal one and am not a fan of attention.  When I ask my question I really meant is there any behind the scenes duties I can help with.  Apparently the universe said time to get out in front! After 15 minutes of frantic texting to my BFF I responded to Paul of course, I would honored.  My brain was swirling.

A few days later I attended a cello concert with friends and was sharing the story.  One of those friends had been a speech coach in a former career and offered to help me.  The universe is kind and didn't want me to make a complete idiot out of myself. Of course I said yes, thank you!

The speech process has been interesting.  The majority of people I shared this new adventure with said they write out an outline of bullet points.  Well I tried that and even in my own home my brain had a white out.  What felt natural to me was to type as I talk - just like I do here.  So I typed.  I met with my speech coach and I think the first run through was 4 minutes.  I have 15 minutes to fill but that 4 minutes felt like an eternity.  Interestingly enough my speech coach isn't involved with any social media so the fact that my talk is geared to those folks not understanding it was perfect.  It took 4 meetings but I knew the exact moment when the speech was in the bag.  That is the right expression isn't it? When you know you have it?  

Since then it has been practice practice practice!  I learned if I have a glass of wine one night I still can not talk well 24 hours later.  No adult beverages for me for the next week!  

If you are attending Coverings and would like to hear my talk or any of the other fabulous speakers pop on over to the Coverings Social Media Lounge Tuesday at 1:00 pm.  I will be the one praying I won't lose my voice. 

Here are a few ways you can check out what Coverings has to offer:

                       Speakers                Facebook                   Twitter                    Google+         

Oh and did I mention all this wonder is free :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Flowers - It doesn't take much


Every two weeks Bloggers unite for a day to write about a communal topic. This week LetsBlogOff wanted to talk about flowers! 

I take care of a friends cat when she goes out of town and Easter weekend was one of those times.  I have written about her home before here.  Friday evening when I walked through her back gate I immediately inhaled a delightful whiff of jasmine.  Between the smell and the visual my whole body just relaxed.

Not just a pretty flower

When I arrived back home I saw this.  I have been walking past these dead mums since last November.   

How hard is it to go to a nursery or even a box store and pick up a flowering plant? 

It took a 3 day weekend but now I see this and it looks a lot better.  I bet my neighbors think so too!

Part of the issue is that my front porch faces West and the amount of sun it receives in the late afternoon wilts the best of plants.  After killing many many plants I now keep a watering can filled with water on the front porch.  Of course that didn't help the mums.  

Check out what my fellow LetsBlogOff gardeners have to say on the subject!