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>Webinars Give You a Competitive Edge in Marketing

 28th October 2010 by gihan

>Many businesses are using webinars now to promote new products and services. That’s good – and worthwhile – but there are other marketing benefits of webinars as well. Here are six more ideas for using webinars to give your business a competitive edge.

1. Value-added loyalty

If you’re looking for ways to reward your best and most loyal clients, put on a webinar for them. Webinars are a low-cost high-value way to keep in touch. You provide a valuable service (not just a “just keeping in touch” phone call, which can be an annoying intrusion more than a useful gesture) and demonstrate your on-going value to them.

You don’t even have to put on a new webinar for them. If you’re already conducting webinars for other reasons, it’s easy to invite those loyal clients to attend.

2. Expose value in marketing

In a similar way to the previous point, webinars are an excellent tool for exposing prospective clients to the value you offer. Because they have such a low marginal cost (in other words, it costs nothing to have another attendee on the webinar), why not invite a few key prospective clients to attend every webinar you conduct?

3. Market research

Use webinars not only to deliver material, but also to discover what material is of most interest to your market.

For example, if you’re planning to write a book on some area of your expertise, conduct a free webinar beforehand, where you present something of value on this topic, but also take the opportunity to ask your audience to tell you their most pressing questions. In this way, you do your market research before you write the book, which of course means the finished product will be more attractive and compelling to readers.

4. Vertical servicing

One of the keys of successful niche marketing is to stop looking for new clients for your services, and start looking for new services for your clients. For us as experts, this means finding other experts who have valuable information to share with our existing clients, audiences and members.

Put yourself in your client’s shoes. Your business is just one small part of their life. What else do they need in their business and their life? When you know this, invite guest experts to present webinars for you. They get exposure to new clients, and you serve your clients better.

5. Joint venture opportunities

Taking this a step further, if you’re currently involved in any joint venture partnerships, you can use a webinar to introduce your joint venture partners to your network, and vice versa.

This is an important step in the trust-building process. Unless your partners are hidden in the background and don’t need to be known by your network, people will want to know who you’re working with. They trust you, so that helps them trust your partners; but introducing the partners to them increases that trust level further.

To introduce your partners, conduct a webinar together with them. You could interview them, they could interview you, or you could make a presentation together. It doesn’t have to be as slick and free-flowing as your normal presentations. People want to know they’re dealing with real people.

6. Product support

Webinars are ideal for after-sales product support – especially for complex and sophisticated products.

For example, if you have a membership site, run a regular webinar teaching your members how to get the most out of the site. This gives them an overview, helps them focus on the value you’ve created for them, and allows you to answer their specific questions.

Want to know more about webinars?

Webinars can be one of your most powerful marketing and educational tools – if you know how to run them properly.

My book "Webinar Smarts" covers nearly everything you need to know about planning, preparing, promoting and presenting powerful and profitable webinars.

If you’re interested in tapping into the power of webinars in your business, this book is for you.

>How to Write Stuff People Want to Read

 25th October 2010 by gihan

>Smart business owners know that content is king for Internet marketing. This has always been true, but never more so than now, when you need to prove you’re an expert before people visit your Web site. But how do you write great content that compels readers to keep reading?

The secret is simple: Solve their problems.

In other words, first write about stuff they care about, and then lead them to your products, your services and your business.

This is easier said than done, I know! So I created a simple five-step process for writing a high-quality article that gives you the chance to promote yourself as well. I call it the PIPES process.

I developed this process because I saw too many low-impact articles on speaker Web sites, and the only alternative model seemed to be the “pushy” sales letters direct marketers use. The PIPES process gives you the right balance – it’s about 80% content and 20% selling.

I’ll explain the process here, and use this example to illustrate it:

Suppose you’re an expert in customer service for the banking industry, and you work with call centre staff who have sufficient technical knowledge, but lack the interpersonal skills to deal with frustrated, angry and confused customers. You’re now going to write an article to persuade managers to book your in-house training program for their staff.

I won’t write out the article in full for this example, but you’ll see enough to understand how it works.

State the PROBLEM they are experiencing.

Describe it in the words they use, not the words you use.

Example:

Customer satisfaction surveys show complaints about call centre staff are increasing steadily.

Tell them the IMPLICATIONS of the problem.

Explain the consequences, and if possible quantify how much it is really costing them.

Example:

  • Customers are closing their accounts and moving to other banks.
  • Call centre staff are frustrated and stressed, and hence less productive.
  • Call centre staff burn out, so staff turnover is higher than ever before.

Your goal is to make them realise how much more it’s costing them than they realised. They can see the wound, but it’s your job here to pour salt into the wound and rub it in!

So consider all the negative consequences and list them here. Where possible, use numbers to quantify these issues. However, be careful not to make claims you can’t support. As much as possible, justify your statements with research, case studies, media reports and other sources.

Point out the POSSIBILITIES if they didn’t have the problem.

Paint a rosy picture of how their life would be better if they didn’t have that problem.

Example:

  • Happier – and hence more loyal – customers
  • Happier – and hence more productive and loyal – staff
  • Fewer personal issues for managers to handle

Again, your goal is to make them realise the consequences of the problem, but now we’re talking about positive consequences of not having the problem. To begin with, simply consider the opposite scenarios to the implications you’ve already listed. The more you can provide concrete examples, numbers and research, the more persuasive your argument will be.

Give them an EXPLANATION of how to solve the problem.

Keep this brief, but not so brief that they feel cheated out of a true explanation. The point here is that you tell them how to solve their problem without you.

This is not an advertisement for your training program (that comes later). Rather, you describe what needs to happen to solve the problem (in other words, what you teach in your program). For example:

  • The staff member acknowledges the callers’ emotions without getting emotionally involved themselves.
  • The staff member then separates the technical issue from the emotional issue.
  • The staff member creates an agreed plan of action with the caller.

Give a reasonable explanation here – even if it’s just in summary form – so they don’t feel resentful you’re holding back a “secret”. Somebody with the time and inclination could now go ahead and do these things themselves, without using your services. But in the next step, we’ll give them a compelling reason to choose you.

Tell them what SOLUTIONS you offer to help them solve it.

Finally, tell them how you can help them implement the solution you’ve described. This can be as simple as a link to the Web page that promotes the in-house training program.

Of course, this is not the only way to write an article, but it’s fairly easy to follow, even if you’re a novice writer.

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>How to Prepare for a Difficult Conference Call

 21st October 2010 by gihan

>Most conference calls – even when they involve participants from different organisations – are polite, orderly and even-tempered. However, occasionally you might be on a call that involves hostile participants or other types of difficulties – such as:

  • Nasty participants (hostile, rude, unhelpful and the like)
  • You can’t get a word in
  • Someone wants to derail the process
  • Hidden or inconsistent agendas
  • Personal attacks on you

This sort of call requires particular skills.

Observe three guiding principles when handling difficult calls:

  1. Knowledge is power
  2. The earlier the better
  3. Formality and structure give control

Knowledge is power

First, the more you know about what you’re likely to face, the easier it is to manage it effectively and still meet your outcomes. This knowledge comes in many forms:

  • Knowing the participants on the call
  • Knowing what they really want out of the call
  • Knowing who’s really got the power to make decisions (it might not be the person with the most senior job title)
  • In a negotiation, knowing their walk-away position and their “BATNA” (best alternative to a negotiated agreement)
  • Knowing your walk-away position and BATNA
  • Knowing who is on your side, both openly and secretly
  • Knowing your options if things start getting out of hand
  • Even just knowing you’ll be facing a difficult call is part of the battle won.

The earlier the better

The more you can anticipate the potential problems and plan for them, the easier it is to manage them. There’s nothing worse than being caught off guard when somebody “innocently” springs a potential deal-breaking question right in the middle of a call that was going smoothly!

You can do a number of things to prevent – or at least minimise – the problems before the call:

  • Do more background research yourself, so you’re clear about your facts.
  • Do more background research about the other side (if there is one), so you understand their position as well.
  • Ask them to honestly share their issues before the call, to help you prepare (and of course you do the same for them).
  • Communicate in other ways before the call – by e-mail, one-on-one telephone calls, face-to-face meetings, or whatever is most appropriate – to understand or even resolve some of the issues.
  • Enlist the help of people who can assist before or during the call to resolve the issues.

Formality and structure give control

Formal meeting procedures are the chair’s biggest weapon when facing a difficult or hostile meeting. All participants must speak “through the chair”, which means the chair can regulate who speaks and for how long. The chair can reprimand participants for breaching points of order and, in some instances, has the procedural power to expel people from the meeting.

However, formal meeting procedure is becoming a lost art in business and may not be practicable to implement for certain types of conference calls.

Nonetheless, the principle that formality and structure give control is extremely relevant and can be implemented in other ways where a call might become difficult. For instance:

  • Certain technology will by their nature give the chair that level of control.
  • If participants agree to follow a conference calling etiquette they are less likely to misbehave and can be called upon to adhere to their agreed level of behaviour.
  • A structured agenda gives less scope for participants dragging the call off track or following their own agendas.
  • If participants argue with each other, keep interrupting or talking over each other, stop the discussion and introduce a debate format (For instance, each party has 60 seconds to put their point of view without interruption).

Finally, a lack of formality or structure – for instance having no appointed chair or no agenda – will increase the risk of difficulties.

Want to make better conference calls?

My book Best Practice Conference Calls will teach you everything you need to know about being professional, credible and productive on your next conference call. The article above is from the chapter about handling difficult conference calls.

Find out more about the book here.

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>Blockbuster’s demise is the writing on the wall

 9th September 2010 by gihan

>According to Fast Company magazine, Blockbuster Video is preparing for bankruptcy, being taken over by on-line equivalents like Netflix.

The Fast Company article goes into much more detail, and is well worth the read. But I think even without all the detail, we can guess what Blockbuster’s biggest problem was: It was running an obsolete business model.

Gee, I wonder whether any other people should start getting worried? Perhaps …

Professional speakers who assume audiences are still willing to travel to meetings and conferences?
Trainers who think the only way to impart information is from the front of a training room?
Authors who think people learn only by reading books?

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>Webinar technology made easy

 20th July 2010 by gihan

>I’m not old enough to remember the days when a telephone call required an operator to connect the two parties, but I know those days existed.

Webinar technology has followed a similar path. Early webinar technology was slow, clunky, unreliable and often required IT support staff on hand to make it work. But that’s no longer the case. The technology is fairly easy to use for a reasonably competent computer user, and certainly for any business owner who uses other software regularly.

Webinar technology might be unfamiliar to you, but that’s true of anything new! I hope that doesn’t stop you from dipping your toes in the water and getting started.

If you’re new or nervous about doing webinars, here are seven tips and techniques to make it easier.

1. Be an audience member

If you’ve never participated in a webinar, let alone presented one, you’re at a distinct disadvantage. However, this is easy to fix. Every day, there are many free webinars available for you to join, and you should try a few, just so you experience them from an audience member’s viewpoint.

Just search Google for “free webinar”, and register for the webinars. The only disadvantage is many of them are in inconvenient time zones, so it might involve waking up in the middle of the night to participate!

Failing that, you can learn a lot by watching recordings of past webinars. WebEx, one of the big webinar providers, has a site called Pass The Ball, where you can view recordings of webinars with high-profile experts.

2. Offer it free

Your first face-to-face presentation probably wasn’t a paid keynote to a packed auditorium. In the same way, your first webinar doesn’t have to be a big event. Start small, with a free webinar for a few trusted clients or colleagues.
Be up-front with them about this being a trial for you, so you set their expectations appropriately.

For example, when I was first investigating teleseminars (even before I started doing webinars), I promoted my first teleseminar to my newsletter subscribers like this:

“I’ve got a very special gift this week: A teleseminar about podcasting. There’s no charge at all – this is 100% complimentary. Why? First, because I’d like to give you a gift as a subscriber. Second, because I’m planning on doing many teleseminars next year, so this is a trial run.”

3. Use reliable technology

The more uncertainties you introduce, the more likely it is something will go wrong. For instance, if you’re planning to use your mobile phone from an area with poor reception, it’s a disaster just waiting to happen! Sometimes this is unavoidable, in which case you just have to do it anyway. But if there’s anything you can do to improve reliability, do it!

4. Don’t over-use the technology

By all means use technology, but don’t feel you have to use every feature of your webinar service just because it is available. Use as little as you need to get by without losing impact.

If you present frequently, this is the perfect opportunity to gradually build up your skills. For example, I regularly deliver complimentary webinars as marketing tools to get new clients. Because I sometimes deliver the same topic over and over again, I keep refining and improving it – for example:

  • The first time I delivered it as an audio-only presentation, without any visuals.
  • The next time I prepared a PowerPoint presentation and included that in the webinar.
  • The next time I included live examples using a Web browser.
  • The next time I added polls during the presentation.

5. Script it

Because your participants can’t see you, you can use lots of notes – even to the extent of scripting your entire presentation (as long as you know it won’t sound like you’re reading out loud). At the very least, print out your slides so you can refer to them while speaking.

I do something slightly more elegant (which saves paper and prevents rustling of notes). I save my slide show as a PDF file, transfer it to my iPhone, and prop up the iPhone on my laptop during the webinar:

6. Call in early

Start the webinar early, and open it for participants at least 10 minutes before the official start. This gives you the chance to chat informally with the first few people who join, so at least you know there are some friendly people listening when you’re later presenting.

This is like standing at the entrance of a training room and shaking hands with participants as they enter the room. You establish rapport, create a personal connection and break down barriers between you and the audience.

7. Have a backup plan

If participants can’t see your screen, can you e-mail them a PDF version of the relevant slides? If participants can’t join using a computer headset, do you have a plain telephone number they can call? If you drop out during the call, do you have somebody else who can take over temporarily while you re-connect?

You might never have to use any of these backup options, but it’s reassuring to know they exist!

How could YOU use this?

The most important theme that runs through this article is to start by taking “baby steps” – that is, not trying to do too much at once.

There really is no substitute for experience, though. If you know your stuff and you’re keen to deliver it by webinar, there’s nothing to be gained by putting it off. Even if it’s a bit intimidating at first, it doesn’t get any easier by procrastinating. So take the precautions I’ve mentioned, and then jump in!

Want to know more about webinars?

Webinars can be one of your most powerful marketing and educational tools – if you know how to run them properly.

My book "Webinar Smarts" covers nearly everything you need to know about planning, preparing, promoting and presenting powerful and profitable webinars.

If you’re interested in tapping into the power of webinars in your business, this book is for you.

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>The Seven Biggest Webinar Myths

 23rd June 2010 by gihan

>Webinar technology is still fairly new, so it’s not surprising some people – even experienced presenters – have some misconceptions about them. Here are the seven most common myths I hear about webinars.

Myth #1: Webinars should have a low price

Because a webinar has fairly low out-of-pocket costs (you don’t have to pay for a venue, catering, printing handouts, parking, and so on), it’s tempting to think you need to lower the webinar fee accordingly. But this isn’t the case.

Your audience is paying for the value you offer, not the cost of materials. In fact, webinars reduce their costs as well – particularly the lost productivity of taking, say, half a day out of the office to attend a face-to-face presentation – so there’s no reason for them to value the webinar less – unless you give them that reason.

Myth #2: There’s only one way to make money from webinars

Even presenters who recognise the opportunity in paid webinars sometimes think the only way to make money is by selling individual tickets to attendees. That is certainly one way, but it’s by no means the only way. There are many, many other ways to make money from webinars, including:

  • Private webinars for corporate clients or associations (for a fixed fee)
  • Webinars as an optional extra for other products
  • Free webinars with a sales pitch at the end
  • Regular webinars for people in your paid membership community

Myth #3: Webinar marketing is difficult and expensive

If you’re running a public webinar for a low fee, and hoping to promote it widely to strangers on the Internet, it can be difficult and expensive. But this is just one business model. There are many other ways to run webinars for money, and some of them require very little marketing effort. For example, selling a series of webinars to a corporate client might simply be a case of offering it as an option when they buy your training program.

Myth #4: Webinars replace existing presentations

Some webinars do replace existing presentations, but many don’t – and sometimes they can’t. For example, it’s difficult for a webinar to re-create the experience of a dynamic keynote presentation. But that’s no reason to abandon webinars altogether. They can promote, support, complement, supplement, and add value to your existing presentations instead.

Myth #5: All webinars are presentations

Many presenters have the mindset that webinars should only be “presentations”. That’s natural, because that might be what first attracted them to the idea of webinars, but they could miss out on many other opportunities – for example, using a webinar to:

  • Present a sales proposal to a conference committee
  • Answer follow-up questions from a training program
  • Record an audio interview for a podcast or CD
  • Record a video tutorial product
  • Explain a big-ticket item to interested prospects
  • Help attendees prepare for a training course
  • Include off-site staff in a staff meeting

Myth #6: Webinar technology is complicated

Early webinar technology was slow, clunky, unreliable and often required IT support staff on hand to make it work. But that’s no longer the case. The technology is fairly easy to use for a reasonably competent computer user, and certainly for any business owner who uses other software regularly. Webinar technology might be unfamiliar, but that’s true of anything new! I hope that doesn’t stop you from dipping your toes in the water and getting started.

Myth #7: My business doesn’t need webinars

Really? The Internet is part of daily life, and no longer a novelty. The idea of a rigid 9-to-5 work day is changing. People have access to many more group learning options than sitting in a training room. The Generation Y employees, who are now moving into management positions, expect a variety of learning styles. Organisations routinely have key staff in different cities and time zones. Your market already has access to messages just like yours in many other ways.

If you’re a professional speaker, trainer, coach, consultant or other kind of thought leader, are you sure your business doesn’t need webinars? I’m not just saying your business could benefit from webinars; I’m saying you need them. If not now, then very soon.

Want to know more about webinars?

Webinars can be one of your most powerful marketing and educational tools – if you know how to run them properly.

My book "Webinar Smarts" covers nearly everything you need to know about planning, preparing, promoting and presenting powerful and profitable webinars.

If you’re interested in tapping into the power of webinars in your business, this book is for you.

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Treat Your Business as a Boutique Experience

 22nd June 2010 by gihan

I was listening to recently a podcast from the Wharton Business School (they publish an excellent Web site Knowledge@Wharton), which was an interview with George Taber, author of the book “In Search of Bacchus: Wanderings in the Wonderful World of Wine Tourism”. Nice work if you can get it, right?
One of the points he made in the interview was tourism is no longer just a novelty for many small wineries; it’s a significant part of their business. He says:

“The tourism is key because the producers can sell directly to the consumer who comes in off the street. That is especially important for the small wineries, which often have great difficulty getting into the regular distribution channels.”

This is exactly the same for us as information experts!

It struck me that this is the perfect analogy for many infopreneurs and thought leaders who start marketing on-line.

For example, I see too many people who want “to be #1 on Google” for some ridiculously broad and expensive keyword phrase. If you do that, you’re competing with the big boys, who have deep pockets and huge networks. Instead, be like a boutique winery, which offers a very different experience from Liquorland and BWS (two large liquor chains, for those outside Australia).

If you’ve published a book, for example, don’t go head-to-head with Amazon.com – that’s a way to guarantee failure! Instead, offer things that Amazon.com doesn’t offer, in a different environment, for a different experience.

So what does this mean in practice? Glad you asked …

If you’re selling products on your Web site, here are five things you can do to position yourself as a boutique service.

1. Show your face.

When you ask to see the manager at your local liquor store, it’s usually because there’s a problem. But when you meet the owner of a winery, it’s usually a privilege (for both of you).

The same applies to your Web site. Amazon.com, Apple and Facebook are brands in their own right, so they don’t need Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg to show up on their Web sites. But your Web site is different. Your face is your brand, so show it! For example:

  • Write in a friendly, informal manner.
  • Show your photo on your home page.
  • Publish your e-mail address.
  • Tell people how to follow you (you, not your business) on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
  • Publish a blog to share your thoughts.

2. Serve a niche.

Small boutique wineries aren’t for everybody. They are usually in rural areas, and even then they are off the main road (by necessity). They don’t stock hundreds of wines, they don’t have the same things in stock every season, and they might not every be open 9 to 5 every day. So they cater for a particular kind of person – not necessarily a wine connoisseur, but certainly not the average wine drinker either.
Adopt the same attitude with your Web site. Don’t market to the masses – leave that to the bigger guys. Instead, focus on a niche (or niches), where you can truly stand out and be an authority.

3. Invest in reputation, not advertising.

The small boutique wineries survive because of their reputation, not because they spend squillions on advertising. They build that reputation by being good, attracting a loyal following, and then attracting more through word-of-mouth marketing.
You can do the same. I’m not saying you shouldn’t invest in on-line advertising; just don’t make that your main marketing goal. Instead:

  • Write a blog.
  • Send an e-mail newsletter every two weeks.
  • Answer some questions on LinkedIn.
  • Tweet and re-tweet links to interesting, relevant stuff.

4. Make connections, not transactions.

This follows from the previous point. Because a boutique winery depends on organic, word-of-mouth marketing, they can’t rely on a bunch of single transactions. They need to cultivate that loyal group of fans who’ll come back again and again. A few of them – the smart ones – have started doing things like loyalty cards, e-mail newsletters, membership cards, and the like.
Do the same on your Web site. Sure, getting a sale from a new customer is good; but what are you doing to build a relationship with them? For example:

  • Give them an option to join your newsletter list
  • Send them a bonus gift a few weeks later
  • Put them on a special list, so they get things non-customers don’t
  • Invite them to be friends on Facebook, and put them in a special list

5. Create experiences.

You go to a liquor shop to buy wine – it’s a simple transaction. But you visit a boutique winery for the experience. It’s not just about the wine. It’s about the beautiful setting, the restaurant or cafe, the souvenir glasses from the wine tasting, the winemaker herself describing this year’s vintage, and so on.
What are you doing on your Web site to create a memorable experience for site visitors? This takes a bit of creative thinking, but start by thinking of what you can do that the big companies don’t. For example, if you’re selling a book, what can you do that Amazon.com doesn’t? Here are some ideas:

  • Include a brief welcome video
  • Bundle it with a CD and 12-month e-mail coaching package
  • Give them the e-book version immediately, so they don’t have to wait for the printed version in the post
  • Give them access to your membership site
  • Autograph every copy
  • Publish your e-mail address and personally answer customer e-mails
  • Publish your Skype address or phone number, and take phone calls

How can you use this in YOUR business?

Are you already positioning yourself as a boutique service? Or are you struggling to compete with the big-name brands? If the latter, it might be time to take another look at your on-line marketing.

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The 7 New Rules of Social Media Marketing (probably not what you’d think)

 10th June 2010 by gihan

When I talk to people about getting involved with social media – such as Twitter, blogging, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and the like – they often say they don’t know how to behave in these environments. This is a genuine and valid concern. After all, your mum might have told you which cutlery goes with which course, but you probably didn’t have anybody telling you the etiquette of communicating in the on-line world.

Based on my 23 years of using the Internet, I’ll give you the seven most important rules for you to follow.

1. Give honest and sincere praise.

If you see something you like on-line, tell the person who created it – preferably publicly. For example:

  • If you enjoyed reading a blog post, add a comment.
  • If you like a podcast, post a review in iTunes.
  • If you enjoyed reading a book, write a review in Amazon.com.
  • If you like a YouTube video, add a comment.
  • For all of the above, tweet about it as well.
  • Look at your LinkedIn connections, and write a recommendation for somebody in your network.

Make sure the praise is specific, and, if possible, add value to the conversation. For example, if you’re adding a comment to a blog, it’s OK to just write “Great blog post!”; but it’s much, much better if you can also add your perspective to it.

Don’t make this a sneaky marketing tactic. For example, don’t look for sneaky ways to insert your Web site address in there, unless it’s relevant. People see through this easily, it taints the praise, and it damages your reputation.

2. Don’t criticise in public.

I recently saw a well-respected blogger rant about an e-mail he received. However, it was an internal e-mail from an organisation to its members. Rather than spending five minutes checking into the background and context of the e-mail, this guy ranted about it on his blog. It was totally out of context, and totally inappropriate. Unfortunately, because he had taken such a strong stance, when people started pointing out his error, he was too far gone to back down completely, and dug in his heels further. Although he did back down a bit, I’m sure he was glad when the torrent of comments faded away!

This is the flip side of the praise coin, of course. Assume everything you write on-line is recorded, backed up, indexed in Google, and can be used in evidence against you. Even if you meant it to be private, once it leaves your computer, you’ve got no control of it!

So just be on the safe side, and bite your tongue.

3. Respect other people’s opinions and backgrounds.

When Australian cricketing legend Don Bradman passed away in 2001, I remember one news report that said more Indians than Australians mourned his loss. It was just one more reminder that we live in a global village.

As an Australian, I’m in a tiny, tiny minority of Internet users (less than 1%). North Americans are in a minority (15%). So are Europeans (25%), and even Asians (42%).

The motto of the Internet is “Think global, act global”. Allow for differences in culture, time zones, language, Internet access, speed of access and timeliness of information.

Gone are the days when we “Westerners” would be expected to “tolerate” other cultures. In the on-line world, if anything, it’s the other way around.

4. Become genuinely interested in the people in your network.

On a smaller scale, create real connections with the people in your on-line network: Your Twitter followers, your Facebook fans, your LinkedIn connections, your e-mail newsletter subscribers and your blog readers.

Of course, I’m not asking you to connect with everybody in your network. But at the very least, when somebody makes an effort to communicate with you, give them the courtesy of a reply.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking it’s about quantity – the number of Twitter followers you have, for example. It’s not. It’s a cliche, but it really is about quality instead.

Don’t think “connect”; think “re-connect”.

5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.

If you follow the previous rule and genuinely take an interest in other people, you’ll find myriad ways to help them on-line.

It might be as simple as forwarding an article to them, or directing them to a YouTube video, re-tweeting something relevant, or forwarding this blog post  !

A decade or so ago, I heard business consultants recommend the idea of faxing magazine articles to clients, as a way of keeping in touch. Now you don’t even have to send a fax! You can forward an e-mail, DM a tweet, send a Web link directly from your browser, take a photo on your phone and e-mail it, etc. You get the point!

By the way, I’m not saying you shouldn’t send a fax (or a postcard, handwritten thank-you card, or book). I’m just saying there are easier ways as well.

6. Be a good listener.

I used to regularly tell people how important it was to survey your market before launching a new product or service, because your market will tell you exactly what problems they want solved.

I still believe in the importance of understanding your market. But I don’t think surveys alone are good enough any more. Your market will expect you to know what they want. How? Because you’ve been listening on-line. You’ve been participating in discussions, reading and commenting on blog posts, joining relevant Facebook groups, monitoring LinkedIn questions, and so on.

Surveys are still useful, but they’re no longer the most important piece of the puzzle. Be an active listener before you send out that survey.

7. Show them how to get what they want.

It’s nice to praise, respect, connect, re-connect and listen. And even if you do nothing else but this, you’ll build a strong, positive reputation on-line.

But if you really want to put the icing on the cake, help them get what they want.

This doesn’t mean you have to give away your intellectual property! There are many other things you could do that don’t de-value the material you charge for. For example:

  • Introduce two people in your network to each other.
  • Scan your Sent Mail folder for responses you’ve sent to somebody who’s asked a question, and consider publishing them on your blog (on the premise that if one person found the advice useful, others might also value it).
  • If you see somebody’s tweet asking for help, re-tweet it to your network as well.

How can you use these rules in your on-line world?

I’ve given you some specific examples here, but they are only examples. Some of them won’t apply to you, and conversely you’ll find other ways to achieve the same effects. The important thing, of course, is to understand the principles.

Did you like these rules?

If you did, I’ve got a confession to make …

I called these the new rules of social media communication. Ummm … That’s not strictly true. I swiped all seven of these rules from Dale Carnegie’s classic 1936 book “How To Win Friends and Influence People”.

That’s right – the basic rules of social media haven’t changed in 75 years!

It’s not about Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, HootSuite, Blogger, TweetDeck, iPad, WordPress or Foursquare. It’s first about people connecting with people, and treating each other with courtesy and respect.