WHY CONNECTIONS MATTER

Phone, text, email, Twitter – this is how we communicate daily.

You can also throw Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, YouTube and Linked in into the equation.

And sometimes we even talk – gasp –  in person. 

Communication is natural.

Even before COVID-19 struck, social media platforms had taken on increased meaning in peoples’ lives. So when the pandemic enforced us to self-regulate our in-person contact with others for the sake of our health, we still had options to connect.

I am not downplaying theneed for  personal contact  – I consider it vital – but thank goodness the online world is providing some alternatives.

And even though communication has “shifted” in terms of execution with all these new variables, one unflappable constant remains:

Connections matter.

And keeping them up can be crucial for your wellbeing.

A 2019 Harvard’s Women’s Health article entitled, “The health benefits of strong relationships” states: “Good connections and social support can improve health and increase longevity.” 

The article referred to the commission of a substantial Swedish study involving people aged 75 and over. Those who enjoyed a variety of satisfying contact with friends and relatives were deemeda lower risk for experiencing dementia than those that didn’t.

Obviously, the social aspect of communication and connection is a healthy norm in any community.

But connections – especially in these technologically advanced times –  can be developed in different ways. 

If we don’t adapt, we perish!

Connections and Business Brands and Management

Brand engagement is all about connection.  We share, we recommend and we encourage others to use the brands that we connect with. 

And worth-of-mouth is still the most organic and natural form of information we employ, albeit casually: a 2013 brand engagement survey by Gensler reveals that  94% of respondents said they are very likely to recommend their favorite brand to loved ones.

Referralrock.com states that consumers casually discuss specific brands up to 90 times per week, whether over coffee, attending a sports event or even a family picnic.

The level of trust between a person and someone they know is also integral: 88% of consumers place the highest level of reliability from such word-of-mouth recommendations. (https://www.invespcro.com/, 2016)

While research from Nielsen and Edelman shows that barely half of all consumers trust businesses globally, 83 percent of Americans trust recommendations from friends and family. (Jay Baer, convinceandconvert.com)

So, logically, one can conclude that people-trusted brands are endorsed by family, friends, and associates of the consumers that buy – or buy into – them. Some are passionate to the point of evangelism when they believe or pontificate about their latest favourite product or service.

And it gets extremely personal: 51% of them said they are willing to wear a brand’s logo or emblem on their clothing and 29% of the respondents proudly do.

The personal connection between consumers or employees can either make – or break – a brand: a rags-to-riches scenario that can easily reverse into riches-to-rags if the wrong message is communicated.

Reputation is everything: That’s why connecting with your consumers or employees is so important.

True engagement is often more emotional than we realize. Companies may create brands, but it’s people that breathe life into them and sustain them. Connecting to consumers through engagement and communication is key to brand survival and prosperity.

Connections and Mental Health

As much as communication connection is good for business, we mustn’t lose sight of how important it is in terms of maintaining our own health and welfare: physically and mentally.

As our current reality shows no signs of abating in our immediate future, it serves as a good reminder that we need to check in on our loved ones and those around us. 

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize how acutely the Pandemic has heightened the severity of loneliness and isolation in 2020.  But it also amplifies just how important social interaction was prior to the arrival of COVID-19.

According to research from The Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, “Social connectedness was found to be a stronger and more consistent predictor of mental health year-on-year than mental health was of social connectedness.”

“The dominant public health and epidemiological perspective on social connectedness is that it is a resource (a form of capital) that an individual can draw upon in times of need, and which will protect their mental health,” the study suggests.

The underlying message? Being able to convey our feelings and sharing our thoughts to the community will help lighten the burden shouldered by our mental health. Knowing that one is not alone in this fight; that empathy and sympathy are just a conversation, phone call or text message away, creates a healing connection that helps cushion the mental well-being of the one that is struggling.

CONNECTION AND TECHNOLOGY

As the current pandemic persists, physical distancing has been difficult for many who crave connection.  We like to be close to the people important to us. We eat together, dance together, drink together. We like doing the things we love with the people around us. But at this time, we are forced to stay away from them for both our sakes. Thus, that craving is drastically increased – especially when it comes to the people who are part of our daily lives. 

But the sad truth is evident: for now, we must find other ways to connect.  

Stephen Benning, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Nevada, suggests Skype or other video messaging as a convenient and easy way  to see and hear from people who are important to us. An old-fashioned phone call will let you maintain vocal connection, and your favorite social media site’s messaging app will let you keep an individual or group dialog going. 

“It is  OK to share your anxieties and fears,” Benning counsels.  Validating (the fact ) that other people are concerned or even scared can help them feel like they are grounded in reality.” 

The term “safety in numbers” has never seemed or felt more appropriate. Whether we wish to build our brand or ensure that our society is coping with the mental anguish that accompanies an unprecedented crisis like a pandemic, connection is the key to hope and survival.

Remember: We are only as safe as our most vulnerable.  

How To Connect To The World

My Twitter love affair started over an Apple Watch.  I was off to a convention for the 8th World Medical Tourism & Global Healthcare Congress in Orlando, Florida in 2015.   

I had under 100 followers on Twitter and I mostly lurked in the shadows; some say stalking but I prefer observing. 

I stepped on to the convention floor and heard about this contest to win an Apple Watch:  whoever had the most tweets, the most social media activity would win the watch. 3,000 people at this conference. What are the chances, I thought.  Then I looked around as I stood there in my long red evening gown dressed up as a “Bond Woman” for our 007 themed booth and thought: well I’ve come this far, what are a few tweets, tags and hashtags.  Oh and a snake.  I posed with a snake too!  

Images get a a lot of engagement; if it was 2020 I would have for sure posted a video!

Gail in red dress with snake at Convention
GailNow striking at pose at HealthCare Conference

It was my first connection to the power of social media directly related to work; the power of connecting both virtually and in person. As I look back I realize it launched my GailNow brand at an international level!  

At this same conference I heard David Meerman Scott speak and met him via a Selfie.  I followed him – and he followed me back!

Recently I heard him on a the Creative Warrior podcast with Jeffrey Shaw (@jeffreyshaw1 ) so I retweeted that selfie  from 5 years ago. He responded:  “Wow! Great memories. I can’t remember the last time I wore a tie. Glad Jeffrey reconnected us.”

Then Jeffrey responded with: Glad you were able to meet DM Scott! One of my favorite authors.

David Meerman Scott in the early days of a GailNow:  Selfie at Healthcare Congress circa 2015!

This small exchange is why I love Twitter. There are connections made that don’t happen in the same way on other platforms.

When I started my consulting business in 2018 I opted to use GailNow as my business name since I had built up the brand on Twitter.  I credit Twitter with helping me make connections and develop a brand. Twitter fits in well with my diversity of interests, my love of networking and I can be both serious and fun. As a keynote speaker I also talk about the power of connecting. Oh, and curiosity to help with marketing in sales and recruiting. 

(And yes, I did get that Apple Watch.) 

I was a late comer to Twitter. It launched in 2006.  I had only been just figuring out Facebook. For networking, it’s nowhere near the same league as Twitter. 

Facebook is for people you know but Twitter is about connecting to new people, reading interesting commentary, participating in Twitter chats and meeting people I might never cross paths with otherwise. 

“330 million active monthly users in Q1 2019, but Twitter has switched to reporting ‘monetizable daily users’, of which there were 145 million in Q3 2019” – Read More.

Twitter has high value for connecting different types of audiences every day.  It can help tell a brand story AND connect you to people you might never thought possible.  

Ricky Gervais has liked a few of my tweets.  I am a big fan and now even bigger one. I tweeted a video message to him that as of July 2020 had 1,986 views; 14,960 impressions and 163 engagements. (He has over 14 Million followers, does regular live events on Twitter and just “gets” Twitter! It is a very powerful platform to achieve a wide range of goals if you know how to maximize and use it wisely.  Twitter can get you results – but first you need to build relationships.  

How Twitter can connect your brand to an audience 

93% of Twitter community members are open to brands getting involved, if done so in the right way  according to Omnicore Agency.

67 percent of all B2B businesses are using Twitter as a digital marketing tool (Statista, 2018). And 85% of small and medium business users use Twitter to provide customer service.

The effects of social media opened the door to brands communicating directly with consumers – making the customer service relationship more direct and appearing sincere. Clients can already express their thoughts and feelings to different brands and with each other.

Blog.twitter.com says 77 percent of Twitter users have a better impression of a brand when they respond to a tweet.

Six out of ten users expect a brand to respond to any customer service requests within one hour. The last two years have seen a 2.5x increase in customer service conversations on Twitter.  Companies using Twitter for customer service see a 19% lift in customer satisfaction.

I have personally contacted brands via a private Direct Message (make sure to have that envelope on your profile) and I have had issues addressed and resolved.One company even sent me two large bags of coffee when I reached out about a problem with a purchase of coffee beans.  

So kudos to Lavazza Coffee   Interestingly the issue started on Twitter, went over to email and a further conversation developed with the Director of Customer Logistics and Technical Services for  North America, Chris Milano. Well done Lavazza, well done.  

I have met new people, shared insider info and certainly developed some long standing connections that moved to LinkedIn, email, phone and Zoom. The networking opportunities on Twitter are exceptional.  

It has become essential for brands to properly engage clients, and future clients.  And also to connect to people who can introduce you to their circle. 

Often in my work in sales and recruiting there is an urgency for immediate results —  for the quick sale, the quick hire. But people aren’t always wanting to buy that way or even accept a job like that.They want to first build a relationship and in fact, studies show people buy from people they like and know. Word of mouth advertising is phenomenally successful. Check out Jay Baer.  

Ditto for hiring: people want to know about company culture, benefits and not only money or a job description. Twitter offers an opportunity to build rapport, to connect to people beyond the hard sell or hanging out a “We’re Hiring” sign. It is all about sharing stories and finding ways to connect. 

Know how to use Twitter to open doors – build relationships – and you too may find the magic of Twitter.  

There are 500 million Tweets sent each day, making it 8,414 Tweets every second. (market.us, 2020) and generates +31% higher emotional connection and +28% higher levels of memorability versus the social media average, according to brandwatch.com in 2019.  So, connecting with each other is not so rare in Twitter where audiences can form communities and interact with each other via  similar interests. 

Some of the people I have met on Twitter have transformed my world.  People like  Madalyn Sklar, Nathalie Gregg,  Kristin Smedley 

I appreciate what they share on Twitter  and as a consultant and keynote speaker, I often reference what I learned from them.  

After meeting Kristen via Twitter I was invited as a guest on her Facebook Live! We continue to keep in touch – all from a Twitter connection. And a Twitter Chat!

According to Madeleine Mason a psychologist and director of dating and relationship advice company PassionSmiths said Twitter connections account for similarity (you follow people you feel you have something similar with), proximity (Twitter gives a virtual sense of proximity if you tweet enough times and ‘bump into each other’), and when you go to DMs, you then start reciprocating one another’s ‘bids’ for communication. Before long a deeper connection ensues. (Metro.co.uk, 2017)

Some people connect on Twitter, then become friends in real life. Nikhil Krishnan, Senior analyst in CB Insights said “The new people I meet, about half of them I first connect with on Twitter. I make a point to get a coffee or a meal with someone new from Twitter once a week, and Twitter has also become my primary way of finding interesting things to read. Twitter is unique among social networks in that you don’t bring your existing connections with you onto the platform. Because of this, Twitter is much more focused on people’s ideas, while other social networks are more focused on personal life updates from friends,” in an article on qz.com. 

And others meet on Twitter then date after. The hashtag #WeMetOnTwitter, has been used 500 times (stat as of 2017) in Twitter posts according to the social media tracking tool Keyhole. I do not use Twitter for dating but apparently it’s a thing. Maybe a future blog! Maybe a future… date!  

Twitter is a powerful tool in connecting with each other:  one like, retweet, comment and you are  connected with someone’s  thoughts;  maybe  even meet a friend or future client. 

How to harness the power of Twitter 

One of the powers of Twitter is the ability to obtain essential information directly from users. 71% of Twitter users say they use the network to get their news.  Journalists make up 24.6% of verified accounts, according to BrandWatch. This makes Twitter one of the most powerful platforms of connection and information. 

Getting  first-hand information is important to people. It is even the choice of the platform of world leaders, where 83% of them have official accounts  giving direct opinions on things and events.

It is powerful: information travels fast and can educate, inspire, motivate and bring people together from around the world. You can use hashtags, twitter chats, video, Direct Messaging. 

If you want to learn more about Twitter there are many free resources, many people willing to help. Many of us are more akin to Twitter Evangelists.  We want to encourage more people to join, to connect and to realize the power of Twitter. There is much info online – and here is one person I can recommend for her knowledge, her generosity of spirit and she is so willing to help and she has a most amazing Twitter Chat every Thursday at 1 p.m. called #TwitterSmarter. (Ask me if you want to know more) 

www.madalynsklar.com 

Make sure to say hello to me on Twitter, mention this blog and share your Twitter experiences.   

You can connect to the world!

How I Overcame My Fear to Launch a Blog

I am a recovering journalist – a term I coined back in my fundraising days.  It got a few laughs. I said I was going through the 12-step program and had to make amends; hence why I was a fundraiser. I had no experience as a fundraiser but I did know how to research, how to write, how to achieve goals  and how to pick up the phone and make a call to get an interview.  

I knew how to start and finish.

Yet starting a blog seemed daunting.

What would I write about? What if I made mistakes? What if it sounded silly? Was it going to be SEO ready? 

Wait… What?  

I post on social media all the time. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes not.  Sometimes it’s funny and other times serious. I make mistakes. I’m human. I appreciate the humanity of others; When they slip, when they aren’t perfect and when they are willing to own those imperfections. We are never alone in our failings! 

When I jumped into Twitter – it was also daunting. I had been a lurker for quite a while, just watching from the sidelines .Then I jumped in at a convention where I had the chance to win an Apple Watch. Game on! Soon I was tweeting, retweeting and yes, I did get my first Apple Watch thanks to that convention competition. It also launched my GailNow brand. 

Today I use Twitter every day. In fact I love the platform. It has connected me to some phenomenal people, ideas and learning. It is a big part of my business success too. All because I started.  

I also thought blogs were passe. They are not:

  • 21.1 billion WordPress posts every month.  
  • 80% of internet users regularly read blog posts.  
  • A majority of consumers feel a blog adds credibility to a website 
  • Marketers who focus on blogging are 1300% more likely to see positive ROI (From www.bloggingbrute.com)

Next: What to include in my blog? 

I’m seldom at a loss for words, ideas, thoughts. I love… LOVE to research, I am naturally curious and yes, it’s a habit I do practice regularly.

I post daily on Twitter as @GailNow  and content development is what I encourage in my clients. Content on social media you don’t own – but you do once it’s on your website. 

Even now I am second guessing myself and thinking I may delay the launch of this blog. Yet what I have told clients and friends: perfection is indeed the enemy of good. I am not heavily editing this blog so there will be errors. I will likely cringe at this one day. 

Yet my track record of who hired me, who booked me to speak, and who asked me to help them on a project – this blog is a way to share the process. To acknowledge imperfections but also pull back the curtain. We all agonize way too much when in fact, we connect to people best when we aren’t “on” all the time. 

I am diverse in my interests and my skills. I love to learn.  I have done talks on curiosity, networking, and even the branding of Robert Burns. 

I was asked to give the Immortal Memory at a Burns Supper so I lept into action, researching about Burns and came across renowned Burns scholar, Murray Pittock.  I contacted him on Twitter and soon we were chatting away on Skype.  Not only was he a Burns expert but he also had just completed a brand study on the value of the Burns brand ( a future blog as this story continues to fascinate me) 

There are indeed wonderful things that can happen when we take action.  When we decide to let go of perfection, get curious and even get outside our comfort zones.  And then we make connections and create stories.   The power of a story to help us learn, connect and build a brand.  

So welcome to the GailNow blog. Now is the time to live, to laugh- maybe even cry at times.

To succeed you must take risks and being willing to fail.

There are people who know more than me and people who know less.  I have many ideas for blog topics.  If I need tips for SEO, headline writing, structure, calendar planning there are amazing people on Twitter that I have found who share in their knowledge. Neil Patel has done a top level job of sharing so much.  Thank you Neil.

Another is fellow redhead – Rachel Thompson – aka @badredheadmedia And another blogging brute -literally is Mike Alton aka as @bloggingbrute or @mikealton 

Now is the time to start. So let the blogging games begin! So how did I overcome my fear of starting a blog? I just did it! And I realized whenever I have success it always starts with a first step. 

To quote David Perell who I also first met on Twitter:

“Writing becomes a lot easier once you realize people only remember your best work.”

And if you are inspired to learned more, sign up for the GailNow newsletter. 

Email me at gail@gailnow.com with any questions!