#CMplaybook – Official Launch!

By perksconsulting |

Happy Community Managers Appreciation Day! It’s a great day to recognize the hard work that it takes to build a thriving community and those who are dedicated to the craft of cultivating them.
The Perks Consulting team is celebrating in the best possible way… by officially launching: The Community Managers Playbook by our founder (and author) Lauren Perkins. It is now available to everyone in both digital eBook and paperback format (finally!). Since we’ve been rolling out the book throughout 2014, all you early adopters that bought the Alpha book on Apress.com should be sure to refresh your book for the official final content.
The Playbook is about why organizations of all sizes must treat community management as a central component of their overall brand and marketing strategy, and how to do it. As you know, there is no brand strategy without a community strategy. Companies that are not developing communities and engaging their network are handing over control of their brands to their customers and stakeholders, and even worse, missing opportunities to optimize their marketing investments.
Join us in celebrating #CMAD with our community expert, Lauren, by sharing the book on Twitter using #CMPlaybook, and by sending a shout out to the great Community Managers in your life.

Please consider picking up a copy of the book, and use the code LPCMPB for 30% off the eBook version on Apress.


CMX Summit + Lauren Perkins

By perksconsulting |

Community  has always been a big part of the Perks Consulting approach. Whether we are “baking in” customer insights or listening for feedback, we take a very customer-centric approach to our engagement.  That is why we were so excited to have our our CEO Lauren Perkins speak at the CMX Summit in NYC on the business value of community in June. The CMX Summit was a 2 day event centered around community builders, and already has created an amazing following (the hashtag “#cmxsummit” was actually trending at #2, right behind the World Cup, for the 2 days it occurred.)

The roster of speakers represented amazing companies known for their communities such as Meetup.com, Etsy, Creative Mornings, Behance, Organizing for Action, and TEDx. Over 200 digital community managers came to hear talks from these leading experts who shared their best practices, innovations in the field, and inspirational stories of creating community in unexpected and creative places. We are happy to finally be able to share Lauren’s talk, which was just released.

Check it out and let us know what you think in the comments!


Are You a Good Business Date? 4 Ways to Manage Expectations

By Perks |

Getting to know someone new can be daunting, especially when you don’t know the other person’s intentions. It takes time to peel back the many layers that may reveal a sweet heart or rotten core, alike. Many of us have learned — the hard way — to keep our guard up and set realistic expectations for a first date. And when it comes to business, being ready for a first date is equally important as it is in a romantic setting.

This article was originally published on Forbes.com. To view the full article, click here


How to Prioritize When Everything is a Priority: 5 Tips

By Perks |

It’s easy to be overwhelmed when the to-do list gets too long. Here’s how to cut things down to size.

I’m sure you know the feeling of getting up for work in the morning with the feeling of having so much to do that you don’t know where to start. Oftentimes, everything that you have to do seems like a priority, which makes it tough to figure out where to begin.

First things first! In order to move the ball forward you need to start somewhere. Here are some planning tactics that I’ve found helpful when you need to set your mind on immediate execution. Although long-term prioritization and planning is also essential, these techniques help me to make progress on the micro-level, day-to-day basis.

This was originally published on Inc.com by Lauren Perkins. To view the full article, click here


Fail Fast: A Guide To Iterative Strategic Planning And Testing

By Lauren |

(Originally posted on Young Entrepreneur, by Lauren Perkins)

As 2011 speeds to its conclusion, now is the time to reflect on your company’s current performance and establish priorities moving into 2012. In order to set the stage for a productive year, it’s important to think about your top objectives as well as some tactical ways that you can test them. These two components should be the foundation for your strategic plan and execution roadmap.

In order to get a startup off its feet, it’s essential to quickly identify and course correct when something isn’t working. This is the core of the #failfast mentality. It can be hard to predict what’s going to evoke a response from your target audience, so why not mix it up and commit to trying new tactics until something works?

Fail Fast is a focused process, for those with a sense of urgency and the need to move swiftly from strategy to execution. You don’t want to continue investing time and money into something that isn’t working for your company. Sometimes you just need to try different things – if one thing doesn’t work or isn’t gaining momentum the way you think it should, then move on and test out your next strategy or tactic.

This tactic sounds simple enough to implement, but in order for it to be effective you must be able to realize when things aren’t working. If you catch a failure early, it’s much less likely to cause detrimental and irreversible damage to your company. If you don’t fail quickly, then congratulations! You’ve gained traction and you’re succeeding. Keep moving forward with the tactic that you tested.

So how can you put the Fail Fast mentality to work in your company? Follow the process below as part of your 2012 strategic planning process.

  • Determine and define your top 3 business objectives for Q1 2012
  • Choose one of the three objectives that will have the biggest, measureable impact on your business performance (awareness, leads, sales, etc)
  • Define Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) for the chosen objective
  • Develop a list of tactics that are specific and easy to implement
  • Prioritize your list of tactics in the order you will deploy them with the tactics that you expect will have the largest and/or fast impact on the chosen objective
  • Begin the #FailFast testing process with the first tactic on your list
  • Track the tactic’s performance against the KPI’s set earlier in the process
    If the tactic proves to have a positive effect on the KPI, look for ways to build this tactic into your regular business practice and repeat.

  • If you are seeing no movement, assess whether the KPI’s you selected were the right benchmarks
  • Adjust the positioning or execution of selected tactic and test again
  • Still no traction? #FailFast and move on to the next tactic in your deployment list

Haven’t started the strategic planning process for 2012? No worries, many of you are probably hustling to close the year out right. This process is great for the procrastinator in all of us or a busy founder that needs to work quickly to reach important business and marketing objectives. If you use this process to plan for the New Year, then you’re setting yourself up for success.

Good luck!


2011 Sharing Statistics Holiday Card Infographic

By perksconsulting |

Last year we created a playful video based on How The Grinch Stole Christmas. This year we thought we could still keep that playfulness by incorporating our signature design elements to create a fun and informational holiday greeting. There’s been so much growth in online sharing that we decided to create an infographic about social media network sharing and general online digital sharing statistics. From Facebook and Twitter to Wikipedia and Youtube, online sharing in 2011 has exploded.

We hope our holiday greeting makes you smile and gives you something to think about over your holidays. Seasons Greetings, from the Perks team!

 

2011 Social Digital Online Sharing Statistics Holiday Infographic

2011 Social Digital Online Sharing Statistics Holiday Infographic


End of year round-up: Must-have apps & accessories – The 11 things for your business you didn’t know you couldn’t live without

By Lauren |


(Originally posted on vator.tv)

Most of us have figured out the go-to, day-to-day gadgets we rely on for our work – a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. But the array of accessories and apps out there for the enterprise user can be an overwhelming one.  Here’s a quick list of the on-the-go apps and tech accessories that have now become must-haves in the entrepreneur’s arsenal.

Accessories

Mophie – for iPhone (case) and PhoneSuit Primo Cube Battery Pack – Android (snap on)

It seems that the better battery life gets on newer devices, the more we use our phones since subconsciously we know we can. To help fight battery drain every entrepreneur should have a quick back up to reach for in their pocket or bag that will allow them to go on and at least finish out the day without needing to run to the nearest Starbucks for an inconvenient power pick-me-up.

No one wants to be caught without any power at a crucial moment – whether trying to pull up an email for reference or finding directions for the next destination.

Square

Not every entrepreneur needs a Square attachment but for those who do need instant payment options for clients and customers, Square is revolutionary.

Think of the time that’s saved not waiting for a check to come in the mail once papers have been signed in person or taking in business for a quick turnaround with deposits in hand instantly.

Square has proven to be fruitful for those needing payment options on site and immediately without the entire setup of a point-of-sale terminal.

 

Mifi and Personal Hotspots – Prepaid plans

If you travel a lot you probably already know that internet service can be spotty at best, and security is a concern when connecting through open wifi access points. A MiFi portable personal wifi access point will wipe these concerns away. Having a monthly plan may not be the most logical depending on your travel frequency but luckily there are a couple of prepaid plans out there with various service providers.

 

Neat Receipt 

Neat Receipt is a fantastic addition for anyone who has to expense or keep track of receipts for tax purposes. It allows you to scan these paper documents and then saves them in a format that is accepted by the IRS. Bonus – your now scanned and digitized information can be imported to Salesforce easily!

 

 

Dockable Keyboard

If you’re going to be doing any sort of writing that goes beyond a myriad of notes then you absolutely need a keyboard that docks your iPad or tablet, essentially turning it into a notebook. Anyone who has tried to type out long documents on the touchscreen knows that our wrists just weren’t built that way. Do yourself a favor and get one.  Fellow Vator.tv writer Krystal Peak shared her favorite one here.

 

 

Applications

Cardmunch

Linkedin recently purchased Cardmunch to further build out their offerings for professionals everywhere. Cardmunch allows you to scan someone’s business card with your smartphone camera and then converts the image to the appropriate text. It automatically searches LinkedIn for their profile in order to connect right away.  What better way to keep in touch than to socially connect on the professional social network? Your new contact will find your follow-up to be refreshing and thoughtful.

Gist & Rapportive

Gist and Rapportive both keep you up to date with all of your contacts’ updates, like a personal CRM tool. The Gmail plugin for Rapportive keeps you in the loop about the person that you’re emailing with. From this sidebar you can find out their latest social network updates, recent email interactions, vital contact info extracted from signatures, and other social network links so you can connect further. Gist offers a similar feed of your address book all at once on a dashboard or organized by your tags and preferences.

 

Evernote & Dropbox

Don’t trust documents and platforms to save your original work? You can use Evernote for syncing your thoughts, ideas and bits of  information. Evernote recently launched Evernote Hello so you can remember those you met and organize the context of how you met them.

For small companies, Dropbox has the added benefit of supporting your hardware server and backup so it is accessible and constantly synced no matter where you are. Besides using Dropbox as cloud storage, documents can be accessed remotely and accidentally deleted items can be restored.

 

QuickOffice Pro

While we wait for the next iteration of the netbook and tablet hybrid to be able to fully compute on-the-go, QuickOffice Pro bridges the divide with the much needed document creator and editor compatible with Microsoft Office.

Investing a little bit of money into this app will go a long way for your business; integrating your mobile experience with the productivity tools offered here frees you from the burden of the laptop.

Think of how much a desktop version of Office costs and then relate that here. It’s well worth it. 

 


Networking 101: Being a Good Date

By Lauren |

The following article was originally written by Lauren Perkins on ForbesWoman.

from HA! Designs - Artbyheather via flickr

Networking events are a fantastic way to meet new business prospects, potential partners, and leverage relationships within your existing network for referrals. These events can certainly seem intimidating if you don’t have an action plan to keep you focused and on task. To make the most of networking opportunities, business women can treat each event as they would treat a date. Following the same rules that you would typically follow on a date provides some guidance for how to prepare for the event, what to do while there, and actions to take post-event to take advantage of any prospects.

Primping for your Date

The first step toward an engaging experience at a networking event is preparation. When you go on a date, there are certain rituals you do to get ready. These same rules apply to preparing for a networking event to be the best-prepared date you can be:

  • Research the event host and the demographics of the attendees. If there’s someone going to the event you want to be introduced to, ask a mutual contact for an introduction ahead of time. LinkedIn is a great resource to discover mutual contacts.
  • Have a stack of business cards ready to go.
  • Prepare your elevator pitch and main talking points, then practice a few times!

Be a Good Date

A good date qualifies as someone who makes you feel comfortable. This person listens to you and asks questions based on what you are saying. Networking works the same way. To be a networking queen and get the most from your experience, you should:

  • Ask other attendees about their purpose for attending.
  • Make conversation with people you have the most business interest in. While you should be friendly to everybody, don’t waste more than two minutes chatting with someone who you know you have no business interest in.
  • Listen to who they are and what needs they have that your business may be able to fulfill.
  • Ask strategic questions to direct the conversation- play to their needs, offer helpful hints, and suggest your business as a solution.

Exit Strategies

In any dating situation, you always need a good exit strategy. Even if you’re having a great conversation and are interested in working with someone, you don’t want to spend too much time with one person. The more people you meet, the better chance you have at acquiring business. Think of it as speed dating! You want to handle these situations with great care because you never want to leave a bad taste in someone’s mouth about you or your company.

Excuses to Exit:

  • To use the restroom: “Excuse me, I have to use the restroom. It was a pleasure meeting you!”
  • For a phone call: “Pardon me, I have a phone call to make. Enjoy the rest of the event!”
  • To meet a colleague: “Please excuse me, I have to meet a colleague. It was a pleasure speaking to you.”

If the conversation went well and you’ve procured their contact information, you may also need to excuse yourself for the above mentioned, but remember to:

  • Tell them next steps (“I’ll be in touch tomorrow to continue our discussion!”).
  • Exchange business cards.

The Morning After

Who wants to be the first one to get in contact after a date? YOU DO! Never wait for them to contact you first. In the dating world this may seem desperate, but in business we call this eager, smart and strategic. The day after the event, you should:

  • Add the person on LinkedIn. Include a friendly message in the invitation that recaps the conversation and next steps.
  • If the person doesn’t use LinkedIn, you can also send them an email with the same type of message. Also, make sure to download Rapportive, which is a social tool allowing you to view all of a contacts footprint on twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Networking events may seem intimidating at first, but the above strategic tactics alongside your natural abilities will ensure that you make the most of the opportunity both personally and professionally. If you think about networking the same way that you would think about being a good date, you’re sure to come out with a broader professional network and a rolodex of untapped business prospects.


Perks Consulting CEO Lauren Perkins Honored As Official G20-Y US Ambassador

By Lauren |

Recently I was honored to be invited to the G20-Y Summit in Paris France as an official US Ambassador for the “Innovation, Technology, Communication, Social Media and Wikileaks – Opportunities and Risks” committee. In addition to the committee I was a part of, other topics covered were: shadow banking; financial stability and regulatory issues in emerging markets; systemically important financial institutions (sifis) – resolution tools and regimes; climate change and green growth; integration of the perspectives of the Islamic countries into the G20’s mission and governance & regional conflicts 2011. The purpose of the G20-Y Summit is to inform the G20 delegates about major issues that are affecting all of us, especially the youth of today.

At Perks Consulting we know how important technology and social media is to all of us personally as well as on a business level. It’s now assumed that in addition to a website you should have a social media presence on at least Facebook and Twitter. The way we interact online is often indistinguishable from offline interactivity when it comes to human behavior and how it affects us emotionally and financially.

Innovation in technology and communication has fundamentally changed human behavior across the world. The pace of change and its potential impact, specifically in mobile and social media, continues to scale at an exponential rate. As a result, the world has become more interconnected. If harnessed correctly, innovation provides two solutions to current global challenges – GDP growth and job creation. If this isn’t addressed soon the existing divisions between ‘citizens and governments’ and ‘customers and corporations’ will continue to grow.

The solution lies in changing education, fostering innovation and improving the quality of access to and use of social media. To change this situation, the lack of understanding within government, business and other organizations of this technological revolution and its impact on human behavior need to be addressed.

We felt that G20 member countries should individually seek to understand their respective countries strengths and then collaborate to develop a global innovation policy. Once this is understood, G20 member countries should develop applicable frameworks for implementing education initiatives that foster innovation in a diverse, global economy.

From this point we proposed to build a G-20Y Summit Innovation Committee. The purpose of this committee is to identify and establish global best practices by leveraging experts across a variety of fields and to connect the components of entrepreneurial ecosystems across the world i.e. ideas, capital and markets. Providing all citizens with quality access is the pre-requisite to realizing the growth potential. Every 10% of broadband penetration results in 1.2% – 1.4% increase in per capita GDP growth (source: World Bank).

In order to take advantage of the opportunities at hand, it was recommended that the G20 set a timetable for the development of digital networks across the globe and define specific benchmarks for penetration rate, speed and quality of access. These solutions must be economically viable and environmentally sustainable. On a personal note, connectivity issues don’t just plague third-world countries. I had frequent connectivity issues while in France and Chile. You don’t realize how essential digital communication (email, social media, texting, etc.) is to your life until you don’t have access to it anymore.

With evolution across the technological landscape occurring vertically and inconsistently among cultures and borders, the open culture of social media networks has also brought economic and social disparities in full view. Movements of civil unrest have arisen, generating reactionary responses from government leaders, attempting to control and undermine access to such digital communication tools. As more of humanity comes to rely on technology as a part of their everyday lives, there will eventually be increasing ire towards governments that attempt to curb technological access or refuse to prioritize the development of digital infrastructure. This issue also extends beyond despotic countries, with governments lacking understanding in this revolution of communication norms and interaction, hoping to maintain the status quo and a powerful elite voice. Instead, social and mass media should be seen as a tool to engage, educate & connect with these communities to quell any issues and provide a more open forum for societal progress.

To address this we proposed that the G20 creates a Technology and Communication Board, to 1) maximize growth by identifying global trends that correlate to economic activity, measuring Key Performance Indicators and developing recommendations that capitalize on GDP growth opportunities and to 2) mitigate risks by creating a global policy on cyber security, privacy matters and the use of technology for criminal activity.

The world is only going to become more interconnected as time goes on. With an increasingly globalized trade system and lightning speed transactions, the lack of stable and accessible technological infrastructure needs to be addressed as a priority or major political, social, and economic consequences will arise for individual governments. Hopefully these suggestions from my G20-Y committee will be implemented in a timely manner in order to move forward effectively. I hope to maintain a commitment furthering the role of social media and technology across the board by staying involved in these issues, especially while engaging with Entrepreneur Week across the globe.