The 3 A’s to Business Networking Online

Recently, I have been looking up different ways to maximize online strategies to connect with potential partners and networks. I mostly found that articles don’t explore as much the idea of social media as a networking environment and focus mainly on reaching the end-user. Now, when I say networking, I mean mainly to interact and connect with other businesses and services that will help you promote, distribute and eventually, generate sales. To help you remember what you need to consider when thinking of such a strategy, check out my 3 A’s to Business Networking Online.



Every good strategy has a goal or an objective. This is what I call an achievement. Although, you have not yet achieved it, this is what you want at the end of your networking efforts.

Important to note, contrary to a B2C approach, you will not be speaking directly to the end user. You will be connecting with like-minded partners, peers and other parts of your industry. So what do you want to achieve at the end of it all? Here are a few examples of achievements you should work towards:

– Position yourself, or your organization, as an expert in your field
– Find partners that are willing to work with you to push your message or cause
– Generate leads to grow your distribution channels

Like any worthy destination, these achievements will take some time and effort to reach. Which also means your networking strategy needs to be on a longer timeline than a simple social media campaign to promote a new product or make a quick sale. Best to set achievement goals that will push you to connect, network and create relationships over both the short and long term, but remember that time will be required to gain significant traction. To find inspiration, and check out what other businesses might consider a priority, check out Scott’s article on a recent HubSpot survey: Only 8% of Sales Leaders Prioritize Social Sales.



When thinking about the audience you want to reach, remember that every company has individual people in it. This being said, your message needs to be focused to achieve your goal, but accessible enough to be noticed by a broader audience. Typically, it will be be an employee, community manager, or even a CEO, looking on social media for like-minded partners that will find you and initiate the conversation.Looking for ideas on what to achieve? Prosar can help

To start that process, you will need to decide, what part of your industry you want to network with and why. If we adopt the three goals listed above, this is what could be considered:

– Position your company in the industry: you will want to connect with researchers, experts, other companies that are pushing the development of your industry.

– Find like-minded partners: you will be connecting with potential competitors, associations, organisations, partners in other countries, companies that can collaborate or recommend you.
– Generate leads and grow your distribution channels: you will connect with other parts of your supply chain, partners in new markets you want to reach, prospective customers.
Creating a dialogue with these people and nurturing relationships builds a network for referrals, feedback, advice and industry/competitive information. In many cases, these contacts become more intimate than in typical B2C social networks, where the relationship can be more generic.



Here, I am referring to the different channels, platforms and media that are available to you. From a social standpoint, the main ones to include are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Now within each of those platforms, here are certain avenues to consider for your networking efforts:

  • Facebook: Does your industry have any specific Facebook groups you should be apart of? If not, maybe you should be the one to create it.
  • Twitter: Are your industry experts, researchers and partners online? Do they participate in certain Twitter chats? Are they on certain lists? If not, you should perhaps host a chat to regroup your like-minded partners.
  • LinkedIn: What groups should you be in? What kind of messages are your peers posting? What kind of knowledge do they want to receive? Can you contribute in any way?
  • Forums: Does your industry have its own topic? If so, than find those forums and see what the conversation is all about. Can your company help find solutions in any way? How can you get involved?

Transform online connections into offline business with ProsarAnd let’s not forget the offline avenues! Lasting connections can be initiated and nurtured online but often offline conversations will reinforce those relationships and help you generate leads or references. Here are a few avenues to consider:

  • Events: What events can you go to? Can you be a guest speaker or host a workshop?
  • Publications: What publications should you be in and how can you contribute a piece of information instead of a simple ad?
  • Direct Contact: What companies can you meet face-to-face with and how can you connect with them directly?

These suggestions based on the 3 As (Achievement, Audience and Avenue) are meant to serve as pillars when building your online networking strategy. To start your journey and add the right elements into your plan, include these considerations!

Grrrr….My Competitor Shows Up When I Search My Company Name!!!

Woman_mad_at_search_results-1Has this happened to you?  Did it make your blood boil?  Well, you’re not alone. This does happen, and it’s definitely a very aggravating thing to experience. You are, however, not powerless: you can take action.

Although it’s rare, it can happen in the organic search results.  Organic refers to the non-paid listings on the main part of the search-results page as opposed to the advertising listings seen at the top or side.

You might find your competitor’s website showing up in the organic listings for your company name if they write about your company, and their website has some SEO heft behind it. Perhaps a competitor has produced a side-by-side comparison of your product versus theirs (biased of course), or perhaps they’ve taken advantage of some unlucky bad press you’ve received by writing a blog article about it.

When It Happens In The Organic Search Results:

Good news – there’s something you can do about it.  Assuming what they’ve written about you isn’t legally actionable, such as being slanderous, your best course of action is to take full control of the first page search results for your company name.  To do this, you’ll need to develop a SEO plan geared for this purpose – a plan that involves specific strategies such as:

  • Make your website’s search result as big as possible by encouraging sitelinks.
  • In addition to your website, ensure all your other web properties are present, such as your social media pages.
  • Promote the pages of other websites that are favorable to your brand, such as positive press and reviews.

When It Happens In The Advertising Search Results:

If another company is using one of your trademarked terms in their AdWords advertising, that is an infringement of your rights, and it’s prohibited by Google’s AdWords policy.  Google recommends you reach out to the other company in an effort to resolve the issue. If that doesn’t work, Google will accept complaints and action them.

Before you start this process, ask yourself “Are they really infringing on my trademark?”  If their ad is showing up in the paid search results for a search on your company name, it may be because there are words in your company name, other than your unique identifier, that are triggering the ad.  For example, a search for “Superstar Ottawa Plumbing” will trigger ads for companies bidding on the term “Ottawa plumbing”. In this case, these companies aren’t doing anything wrong.

Blatant Shenanigans?

In some cases, however, your competitor’s AdWords ad actually names your company in the title of the ad. This is enough to make anyone angry, but consider the following before you declare all-out war.  This seems like blatant shenanigans, and it might be, but more often than not it’s a Google-system-generated misunderstanding.  Let me explain. There’s a feature within AdWords that, when set up by the AdWords user, will automatically place the phrase used by the searcher within the ad title.  For example, a search for “Superstar Ottawa Plumbing” triggers an ad for a company bidding on the term “Ottawa plumbing” and, because of their AdWords configuration, “Superstar Ottawa Plumbing” is placed in the title of their ad.  Presumably this is unintentional. The AdWords user probably wanted this in place for terms such as “faucet plumbing Ottawa” and “toilet plumbing Ottawa” without going through the effort of individually targeting all the possible terms with uniquely written ads.  In this case, a friendly letter to the competitor requesting that your unique identifier, “Superstar”, be added as a ‘negative keyword’ would solve the problem, assuming they take the time to do it.

Only 8% of Sales Leaders Prioritize Social Sales [New Data]

For seven years now, HubSpot has been polling business to get a sense of where is the State of Inbound: how prevalent is Inbound Marketing, how is business implementing it, what challenges are they facing, and how well is it working for them. Last year, HubSpot added salespeople to the survey in order to get a fuller picture of Inbound’s affect on both marketing and sales. This not only provides greater detail into the use and relevance of Inbound, it makes the report especially valuable with insight into the implementation and ROI of such tactics. One of the greatest impacts that I have witnessed in the process of assisting firms with integrating inbound tactics is the alignment of marketing and sales and ensuing collaboration between these (often divided) departments.

Overall, Inbound Marketing is gaining tremendous speed as more organizations (small, large and even non-profits) successfully adopt such a strategy. The survey found that three out of four marketers, from around the globe, have more faith in an inbound approach than outbound tactics. In fact, Inbound tactics are three times more likely to generate higher ROI. None of this is surprising to any experienced marketer who has been working with both inbound and traditional marketing tactics.

However, one of the findings that I found surprising is that social sales is still a relatively low priority for companies in 2015. For years we’ve witnessed the continued explosion of social media for private use, and how many companies (large and small) have leveraged social media networks to position or build their brand, extend their reach, engage with key markets and even grow trials and sales for products. With this track record I expected small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to start embracing social media and put more effort and resources into its development.

HubSPot_PROSAR: Sales priorities for busines in 2015

I certainly appreciate that closing more sales and developing an efficient sales funnel are top priorities, they are after all the lifeblood of any organization. But, if prospecting continues to be an issue for companies, sourcing more leads via social selling and using the networks to nurture these leads must be part of the -solution. (For some insight into effective use of social media on an ongoing basis, check out this article by Dave Auten: Social Media Marketing – How Much Time Per Day?)

HubSpot_PROSAR: Challenges faced by saes teams.

Perhaps it is an indication that we are still in relatively early years of businesses’ strategic use of social media and other inbound tactics. HubSpot was one of the pioneers and now is a leader in the field, but new tools and marketing automation software are still being introduced at a rapid pace and adoption rates are just starting to catch up. So it is natural that, despite their wish list, organizations must prioritize their needs. There are fundamental and structural requirements that need to addressed first, before some of the implementation and prospecting processes can be refined.

Interestingly, when the State of Inbound 2015 survey probed deeper, all levels of the organization were not totally in alignment. This graph shows how Executive and VP/Director levels placed a higher priority on social selling than middle management and salespeople. This could symbolize that those at the top are starting to understand the potential value of social selling, and that some top-down influence may initiate more organizational involvement in social media. Perhaps next year’s report will shed some light on that trend and its effectiveness.

HubSpot_PROSAR: Sales priorities detail for 2015

State of Inbound 2015 Survey — Quick Facts:

  • Conducted in June and July 2015
  • 3,957 respondents (only one-third have an affiliation with HubSpot)
  • B2B, B2C and non-profits represented
  • 52% earn less than $1M and approx 4% earn over $500M
  • 48% have fewer than 10 employees and 6% have more than 1,000
  • Over 150 countries represented

Do I Have to Say it 100 Times? The Importance of Repetition.

They say a young child needs to be exposed to a new food between 10 and 30 times to develop a taste for it. Ten to thirty times! And every parent of a toddler out there knows that Do’s and Don’ts – especially Don’ts – will be need to be repeated much more often than that before you have a hope of anything sinking in.

two toddlers using a tin can telephone
Image Credit: Alexander Shalamov / iStock / Thinkstock

“Don’t you dare throw that toy train! It’s not a ball! It’s too hard and heavy to throw!”

Again and again, until your patience is thinner than a Nano chip.  “Do I have to say it a hundred times?! No throwing toys!”

But eventually, somewhere around the two-hundred-and-first time – or maybe the three-hundred-and-first; it’s unpredictable, and that’s all part of the fun – something happens… Your toddler picks up the toy train and looks like he’s winding up for a little league worthy pitch. You say it again as he grips it, at the ready, and… he stops. He looks at you. He says: “Heavy! No throw!” And he puts the train down gently on the carpet.

Your prospects (hopefully) don’t behave like stubborn two-year-olds, but they still need a little – maybe more than a little – repetition thrown their way before a marketing message will sink in. Even a brilliantly clever message. It will almost certainly surprise you to see how many times you need broadcast your message in order to truly engage your audience. So borrow a page from the parenting handbook, and say it one, two, twenty, or maybe even a hundred times.

Now, I’m not advising you to be boring or annoying. You will need to mix it up a little. Not the core message – that should remain consistent and faithful to your key value proposition. Just the style or way of conveying the message, the visuals that accompany it, and the media and means used for delivering it. The same fundamental message and benefits can be conveyed and repeated through:

–          Blog posts

–          Social media

–          White papers and how-to guides

–          Articles in relevant trade publications

–          Ads (online and print)

–          Email marketing and drip campaigns

–          Direct mail

–          Trade show displays and promotional give-aways

–          PowerPoint presentations

–          And perhaps most importantly, the central hub of all your marketing efforts: your website

Be sure to adapt your central message to each format or media. Blog posts, ads, and trade show displays need to be brief an on-point, whereas articles, white papers, and even presentation give you room to elaborate on the benefits and value you offer.

It is also recommended to tailor your key message to each target audience. While the same essential message may be applicable to all of your audiences, they may have different priorities. Different benefits and relevant examples will resonate better than a generic message. But I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: a good message bears repeating. It truly is the best way to drive it home.

So if you feel like you’ve been repeating yourself endlessly and no one is listening, make sure you’re varying the elements mentioned above, and then hang in there.  Keep going. Because just when you’ve convinced yourself you must be talking to a wall, you might hear a surprising sound: Your phone ringing. Your email or Twitter notifications chiming. Your message being repeated back to you in the form of a question at a networking event. Break out your best, strongest, tailored version of your message and go answer that call. Your future success is waiting.

Traditional Tweeting: The Merging of Traditional and SocialChannels

Marketers have long known advertising is no longer a one-way street. The social world has meshed with the so-called “real world,” with text conversations acting as bridges between in person meetings. However, in advertising, we still treat “social” and “traditional” as two separate channels.

Recent data indicates that the bridge between traditional and social has spread— at least when Twitter and TV is concerned. This means content strategies might be changing in the very near future to reflect consumers’ multiple screen habits.

In a world where personal video recorders, Netflix, and streaming are commonplace, it can be easy to think that TV is on rocky ground. However, there’s still nothing quite like watching an event the day it airs and talking about it with your friends. Twitter makes these conversations easy and real time, providing brands with a unique opportunity to engage with an influential audience.

Hashtag integration with live shows is slowly becoming commonplace. This season of So You Think You Can Dancedecided to give Twitter the power to save two dancers out of the bottom six, with the judges saving another two.Face Off, a competition reality show based around special effects makeup, has Twitter handles for the contestants. TLC often airs repeats of their programs with added Twitter commentary to show viewers’ reactions.

So what does this mean for brands? A lot, actually.

According to Adweek, 19% of people will consider trying a brand that engaged with them around a TV program. On top of this, 4 of 5 users active during primetime hours mention brands in their tweets.

Instead of simply having to rely on catchy commercials and jingles to gain traction, brands can now have genuine engagement between viewers around TV shows. Social media allows for unprecedented interaction, and conversations no longer have to rely around branded messages.

Facebook is catching on this trend, too. They’ve recently offered viewers three new ways to interact with their favourite TV shows, trying to compete with Twitter as being the go-to television social media. Whether or not these features pan out for companies is yet to be seen, but it could potentially further integrate traditional and social media into a single, indistinguishable whole.

Other media is almost certainly going to follow suit, with the availability of sharing and contributing to news articles online and augmented reality continuing to make strides. Marketers should think less in terms of “traditional” and “social,” instead viewing all media tools as complimentary tactics. The social world is here to stay and continues reinventing how we interact with the world around us. Those who ignore the shift will almost certainly be left behind.

More Women Equals Better Business

[Part 2 of a 3-part series on women in marketing. You can read the previous instalment in this series here]

Research proves that equal gender representation translates to a more lucrative and robust discourse in politics, government, media, and private sector business – including marketing. As UN Women indicates, empowering women to participate fully in economic life across all sectors is essential to build stronger economies, achieving internationally agreed goals for development and sustainability, and improving the quality of life for women, men, families and communities.

Despite this reality, women are still severely underrepresented. I would argue against any assumption that women aren’t trying to find work. By and large, women are better qualified, harder working, and inject a highly positive influence and alternative perspective in business. Of course, we go after the jobs we want (I know I do).

So why aren’t we getting hired? And just as importantly, why are so few of us being retained for longer periods in business?

Former Director of Policy Planning in the White House and Dean at Princeton, Anne-Marie Slaughter is a force to be reckoned with. Unlike some women, she’s managed to raise a family and foster an incredibly successful career as well. Most recently, she has also spoken out against the Western business culture that does not favour women’s success.

In Slaughter’s provocative 2012 piece for the Atlantic, which became the magazine’s most-read article ever, she dismantled the popular notion that women who fail to ‘have it all’ lack the ambition to do so. Instead, she argues that women are up against a very different, very complex array of systemic barriers that work against us.

Slaughter notes that she still strongly believes women can in fact have it all, but not with the way America’s economy and society are currently structured. Of her most poignant arguments is her conclusion: “If women are ever to achieve real equality as leaders, then we have to stop accepting male behavior and male choices as the default and the ideal. We must insist on changing social policies and bending career tracks to accommodate our choices, too.”

Clearly, motherhood can feel like a burden on any woman’s career (and vice versa) – particularly when women are far more statistically inclined to find themselves saddled with the majority of housework and childcare.

Then again, family life does not account for the discrepancy of dynamic, capable young women in the infancy of their careers, who’ve yet to start a family, or are perhaps are not planning to have one at all. Why are they still left out to dry in marketing industries and elsewhere?

As all women are different, and circumstances vary, there is no one answer to this question. It is reassuring to see a myriad of events and organizations working tirelessly to close the gap and foster a richer, more gender-inclusive business culture in Canada and beyond.

Here’s just a sample of some great organizations in the Ottawa region working to celebrate, mentor and support more women in marketing and business: