“Colleague” or “Competitor”?

To “Friend” or Not to “Friend”

A former client, now friend – we’ll call him Charlie – called me for some advice on an interesting dilemma:  Since Charlie’s recent TV interview has gained a good bit of online publicity, several people from within his industry have requested to connect with him via Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin (like many of us, he also has an active blog and YouTube channel). The thing is, Charlie works in an industry with loads of competition – in fact, in his town alone there must be 100 other companies that do what he does … and they’re all vying for the same local and regional clients. So in Charlie’s small world, “colleague” is often synonymous with “competitor.”

Here is Charlie’s concern:

  • “I’m very selective about whom I connect with on Facebook. I use it mainly for personal stuff. But what if I ‘friend’ someone who steals my business ideas?”

In this post I’ll address his concerns. I expect several of you will feel compelled to chime in. As always, I invite and value your comments.


Create Your World

In the social media universe, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and YouTube are the big four. Each has extensive privacy controls to make you highly visible to the world, completely INvisible/inaccessible, or something in between. Decide what’s right and best for you. We’ll use Facebook as an example here:

Make the choice:Join Driven to Excel on Facebook

a. my Facebook presence is strictly personal
b. my Facebook presence is strictly professional
c. my Facebook presence is rated “E” for everyone


If you choose to go fully public as a representative of your business, give some thought to creating a social media strategy that feels right for you and is aligned with your mission. You could post daily, weekly or monthly updates, sharing videos and articles like I do. Once you’ve made your choice, the path becomes clear and moving forward will be easier. For a live example of these easy-to-follow guidelines, CLICK HERE.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s move on to Charlie’s main concern.


I don’t wanna give away my best stuff!

Top SecretSocial media has created an interesting dilemma for many of us, especially [Read more…]

Great Photos … Taken by Us Amateurs

A “Focus” on Impeccability

8 Easy Tips for Taking Your Photos from Good to Great

Have you ever given your camera to someone, asked them to take a picture of you (and perhaps your significant other) only to watch them walk nearly a block away from you before snapping the shot? Okay, maybe a block is an exaggeration but I’ve noticed so many things we could all discover – very simple things – in order to take better shots.

Whether you’re taking photos for business use or pleasure, the following tips are designed to help you make the most of every shot.

1. Get a good zoom lens

The Magic of Zoom

Candid shots are the most admired and often complimented. Perhaps the magic lies in the innocence and authenticity. The further away you can get, the more candid your shots will be since your subjects are less likely to notice you and your camera.

Walk … don’t zoom: For non-candid shots it’s always better to get physically closer to your subject(s) than to do it artificially, via zoom. In other words, don’t walk away only to zoom in. (I see this all the time.)

What IS that?

2. Composition

Framing your shot properly means making sure it won’t look like a tree is coming out of someone’s head. Decide what subject  your main focus is upon, and then be sure you look further – above, below and beyond – to ensure there are no distractions or intrusions.

3. Don’t just smile … laugh

Don't smile ... LAUGH!

The photos that seem to get the most compliments aren’t usually the ones with the obligatory smile. It can be difficult for some people to smile without that smile looking contrived or forced. For an authentic smile that radiates joy every time, do something to make your subject laugh. Our friend Nancy likes to request that people say, “Fuzzy Pickles.” I like to make funny faces or speak in funny voices. Do whatever works for you.

4. Know when to turn off your flash

On most cameras, your flash will automatically fire when there’s not enough light. The problem is when you are trying to take a picture of something that is more than 20 feet away, since that’s about as far as your flash will reach. You end up with a well-lit foreground and darkened (or invisible) background. Be sure you know how to manually turn off your camera’s flash.

5. Use both hands (and the wrist lanyard)

Are you getting lots of blurry shots? There’s a good chance that you may be jerking the camera each time you press the button that snaps the photo. Use both hands for more stability and press slowly. Also, get into the habit of placing the [Read more…]

Business Leadership & Social Media

Understanding, Harnessing and Leveraging the Power of Social Media for Business Leadership

If 80% of success is showing up, then how are you and your company showing up … online? Do you keep hearing about “leveraging social media for business” but see challenges in connecting the dots? And what’s your social media policy for the workplace: do you discourage it or embrace it? Does your website fall into the category of static … or is there some level of freshness and interaction?

Social Media is not the future of business leadership … it’s the now.

The Compelling Numbers

300,000 = the number of new Twitter users EACH DAY!
400,000,000+ = the number of Facebook users
60,000 = the number of people you are 2 degrees from, on Linkedin, with only 250 connections
70% = the number of Facebook users outside of the United States
2,000,000,000 = the number of YouTube Videos viewed EACH DAY
24 = Hours of Video uploaded to YouTube each MINUTE
35+ = Fastest Growing Age Group on Facebook and Twitter [Read more…]

How “Warm” is Your Company?

Do your clients want to do business with a person, place or thing?

In last month’s article, I included the phrase “… referrals are where it’s at!” A loyal reader replied to me with an e-mail that read, “Not that I’m knit-picking, but it should be ‘referrals are where it is!’ … Unless you are writing colloquially, which it appears to be the case.” Maybe that guy was onto something …

There are two schools of thought on the topic of business etiquette. One school tells us to remain completely professional at all times, while the other says, “C’mon man, loosen up a little!” Is it possible to be friendly and warm while remaining professional? Absolutely! Why is this important? Because by and large, “loosening up” (a.k.a. “warming up”) is becoming a requirement if you want to attract and retain more business.


4 Tips on Warming Up Your Brand

1. People do business with people they like AND people like people like themselves.
Who are your clients? Perhaps more important, what type of client do you want to attract? If your clientele is completely “buttoned up,” then the loosened up approach may not be the best. (This should only apply to a few of you.) The rest of us, however, are dealing with everyday people; people who want to deal with … everyday people. So how can you be perceived as more of a “real” person?

2. Be Accessible
In a recent video message, the wildly successful (and always-charismatic) wine expert and branding guru, Open Door Policy (Humorous)Gary Vaynerchuk, shared his insights on “consumer expectations” and advises that your clients want to know and feel that you are accessible.

Here’s an example we can all relate to: Just a few years ago, it was a big deal to have contact with your favorite author. Now, personal replies from famous writers are becoming the norm (I’m in touch with several). If your clients can reach out to their favorite author and receive a response, shouldn’t they be able to reach you? Gone are the days of burying your phone number and e-mail address in the basement of your [Read more…]

It’s All About Me!

With all the “me,” where’s the “we” and the “you?”

“…but enough about me, lets talk about you…what do you think about me?”

The share of adult Internet users who have a profile on an online social network site has more than quadrupled in the past four years — from 8% in 2005 to 35% in 2008*

Have you noticed? Social media is blowing up these days and I believe one of the biggest reasons for that, is that [Read more…]