“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…]

I know how they got your e-mail address

Your Hijacked E-mail Address

Recently, I received an e-mail that was addressed to me … and 750 other people! Have you ever received an e-mail with a header that looked like the one below?

Actual E-mail Header (names/addresses intentionally blurred)

Ever wonder how you end up on someone’s e-mail blast list? The sender could be closer to you than you realize … a friend of a friend, an acquaintance of an acquaintance, or even someone you’ve met. Here are two primary tactics, how it works, and how to prevent it from happening to you: [Read more…]

r u “There” ?

How “Human” is Your Customer/Client “Experience?”

4 Tips to Recapturing Some of the Good Ol’ Days

The mother of a 13-year-old told me a very interesting story. After she encouraged him to do so, her son wrote a thank-you card to his grandmother in response to a recent gift he’d received … he wrote it with pen and paper in text language!

“Tx grnma 4 the awesome new fone. Mus’ve cost u alotta $$. U rock!”

According to Nielsen*, “During the second quarter of 2008, a typical U.S. mobile subscriber placed or received 204 phone calls each month. In comparison, the average mobile customer sent or received 357 text messages per month.”

Did you know that we experience 1/20th the number of human interactions today, as compared to just 20 years ago? Put another way, Baby Boomers grew up with 20 times more human interactions than Generation Y (approximate current ages 9 to 29).

While this is certainly startling, it’s also clear as to why it’s so true. Often, when I hear a Baby Boomer say, “These kids today!” what I’m hearing is a frustration around a “disconnect” that they’re feeling.

How is it possible that we only have a twentieth of what we had just 20 years ago, with regard to human interaction? [Read more…]

It’s All About Who You Know

 5 Tips to discovering valuable connections

With only 130 connections on LinkedIn (at the time of this writing), I’m within 2 degrees of 9,800 people! (…3 degrees away from 864,000 people!)

In 2006, a former client invited me to join a leadership breakfast group that he’d founded 15 years prior. Within a few months of joining, I met my future co-founders of the YPLG (Young Professionals Leadership Group). By attending these monthly leadership meetings, I continue to meet like-minded professionals and always walk away with fresh ideas on training and business development.

I purposely did not use the word “networking” in the headline. Why not? For many people, that word carries a stigma, conjuring up images of a room full of “Me Monsters;” business-card-dispensing salespeople, all with dollar signs in their eyes, engaging in cheesy, superficial conversations.

While many of us have had awkward or even unpleasant experiences with networking, it doesn’t have to be that way. Whether you already make networking a part of your business development or it’s the last thing you feel comfortable doing (even though you know you should) here are five tips designed for making valuable connections:

1. Showing Up is 80% of Success

While online networking is important, nothing compares with face-to-face meetings. Sure there have been times that I didn’t feel like attending an event, but each and every time I reminded myself that I had nothing to lose and everything to gain and went anyway, I met some excellent people. If nothing else, it’s a nice way to remain top-of-mind within your locale.

2. Pitch That Elevator Pitch

You know the scene: Everyone is talking and no one is really listening. Fact is, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. You could theoretically deliver your elevator pitch to a hundred people in order to meet just one that would bring you new business, either directly or indirectly. Why play with those odds? Instead, here’s a way to engage in a conversation with a stranger and still make relevant points about your business:

Ask for a story and listen well. Say, “Will you share a story with me, about a client you’ve recently helped?” The other person will always oblige.

  • You’ll understand what they do and maybe even why they do it;
  • You’ll develop a much better sense of what type of person they are;
  • You’ll get them onto new conversational ground, and away from the same old script;
  • You’ll learn how to position your story, making it relevant for them.

3. There are no competitors, only partners

People are always asking me who my competitors are. My answer is always the same – “There are no competitors, only partners.” We live in an abundant world. There is enough for everyone. For example, it doesn’t matter that our Young Professionals Leadership Group includes two or three financial advisors as members. They can learn from each other … and do. Besides, any given member will connect with one of them more than the others, when it comes to doing business together or referring leads.

I’ve traded lots of great ideas with many people in my industry, butI’ve never considered any of them to be my competition. I’ve noticed that, in the end, we tend to attract clients that are just right for us.

4. Join Non-Networking Groups

Not a fan of structured networking groups? Do what I do. Join “non-networking” groups. I attend three separate monthly leadership breakfasts. We’re all there to share strategies for success. When you’re surrounded by dozens of like-minded individuals, networking occurs … naturally. Fact is, any time you’re surrounded by a group of people, it’s an opportunity to make valuable connections. As you attend those holiday parties and friendly gatherings, make an effort to talk with someone you don’t yet know that well. More often than not, you’ll be glad you did. What do you have to lose?

5. We Should Really Do Lunch

When you make a valuable connection, set up a follow-up appointment for coffee or lunch. This allows you to pursue more focused conversations than those had in large group settings, meet more people, and can lead to stronger associations.


Our world is a richer place for the many connections we make along life’s path. Like bestselling author Bob Burg always says, “All things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to those people they know, like and trust.”

[Originally posted 12/17/08]