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Welcome to Futureforth

We teach companies how to reach their people.

We are a social media strategy, digital marketing consultancy, and communications company based in Nashville. Our goal is to teach you inbound marketing, social media best practices, and everything you need to succeed with content marketing including your blog, email newsletter, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and other favorite social networking platforms.

Don't have the time to produce content? We can help with that too.

The Futureforth Blog

Helpful tips and articles about social media strategy, content marketing, and business networking. 

Filtering by Category: Career

Are You Missing The Second Most Important Step In Networking?

Dave Delaney

What is the second most important step in networking?

In my book, New Business Networking, I remind my readers how showing up is the most important part of professional networking. When you don't take the time to attend the event you miss out. You have to brush off the fear and excuses and get out to meet new people. If you aren't meeting new people you aren't networking effectively.

The second most important step in networking is the follow-up. I'm willing to bet there is a pile of business cards on your desk that you have been neglecting since the last event you attended. Am I right?  

In order to get the most return on your time spent networking you must follow up. When I speak with colleagues about this step they often admit they skip it. Here are some ways to improve your follow up.

Follow-up while you are fresh.

After every conference or networking event allocate time to following up. Set fifteen minutes on your calendar per day to email the people you met. Doing so as soon as possible will help the recipient remember you. The longer you leave it, the less fresh you are in their minds.

Jar their memory.

Attendees at my networking workshops know they must take notes on business cards to help them remember how they should follow-up. When they write that email, they refer back to the note, so they can jar the recipient's memory on what they talked about. For example, perhaps they spoke about a recent hockey game. The sender can include a link to a related story or video from YouTube. This will help the recipient remember them.

Include a call to action.

When you follow-up think of a call to action. What do you want the recipient to do after your email? I like to write a summary blog post about my experiences at a conference. I include the link to the blog post in my follow-up. Perhaps you took photos at the event. You could upload the images to your Facebook page and send a link to the album. This will get the recipient one step closer to liking your page or visiting your blog. Another call to action is an invitation to speak over the phone, or meet for a "no agenda" coffee. Always put yourself in the recipient's shoes when answering the question, "What's in it for me?"

Connect on LinkedIn.

I am a big fan of LinkedIn because it is the most powerful social network for professional networking. Instead of sending the recipient a connection request right away, use email to let them know. Not everyone checks LinkedIn frequently. Mention in your follow-up email that you are going to send them a connection request on LinkedIn, so you can offer an introduction to someone in your network (should they need it). This offers value to the recipient. In your subsequent LinkedIn connection request remind the person how you met, so they are more likely to accept your request.

Following up is a crucial part of networking that is too often overlooked or ignored. Become a better networker by following these steps. Read on for more tips about networking.

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean Newspaper.

5 Must Know Marketing Copy Writing Tips

Dave Delaney

5 Must Know Marketing Copy Writing Tips

How often do you stop and consider the content you are producing for your business? Whether you are writing a blog post, newsletter, proposal, advertising or marketing copy, you can often get so busy you don't consider the main outcome you wish to achieve.

On September 16, the Tribe Conference will take place in Franklin, TN. It is a gathering of creative entrepreneurs who wish to get the attention their work deserves. Organizer, Jeff Goins, has produced an impressive line-up of speakers. I am excited to be among them.

While reviewing the line-up, I realized the speakers are all leaders in business communications. I reached out directly to share their insights with you about ways to improve your marketing content.

5 Expert Business Writing Tips

Jeff Goins Tribe Conference in Franklin Tennessee

 

1. "You must go to unreasonable lengths to deeply understand the problems, pains, fears and frustrations your readers face. Identify the pain — or need as they experience it — describe it to them in their own words, and give them valuable solutions even in your marketing materials. Think of marketing copy not as a way to sell, but a way to serve. Marketing should be something we do for people — not something we do to them." said Ray Edwards, founder and CEO, Ray Edwards International Inc.

2. "Keep it succinct, and give it some personality so it will be remembered." Pamela Wilson, executive vice president of educational content, Rainmaker Digital (Copyblogger).

3. "Know the audience you are writing for, ideally, personalize the target group as if you are speaking to a single person directly. If you don't know the people who will read your pitch, you have no idea of how to not just meet their expectations but to exceed them to the degree that they are willing to change their minds and take the actions you recommend. Empathize with the audience above all and your work will be potent. What is their biggest problem? How can your work help them fix it? What story can you tell that will take them from suspicion of your motives to interest in your prescriptions? Those three questions must be at the front of your mind as you craft every sentence of copy." Shawn Coyne, writer, editor, publisher, agent, Genre Managment Inc. and Black Irish Entertainment LLC. 

4. "Write authentically to your voice, representing your mission, with integrity, and always for the betterment of your community!" McKel Hill, dietitian, founder of Nutrition Stripped, Nutrition Stripped.

5. "If you have something to say, write like you speak. Don't try to sound smart, impressive, or academic. If you need help, get it. Don't be ashamed because you don't know the difference between an appositive, antecedent, or auxiliary verb (I don't know what they are). I'm dyslexic, have trouble spelling some of the most basic words, and I've written 6 books. Some aren't bad. A few have been on the NY Times, WSJ, USA Today, and Publisher's Weekly bestseller lists. So there's that." Michael Port, NYT, WSJ bestseller author of 6 books including Book Yourself Solid and Steal the Show, Heroic Public Speaking.

 I recommend you print out this post and return to these expert tips as you prepare your next marketing content. If you plan to attend the Tribe Conference, be sure to say hello. 

My LinkedIn Tips on BBC

Dave Delaney

A few weeks ago, I had a wonderful conversation with BBC journalist, Alina Dizik. She reached out for my comments on the types of people you should avoid connecting with on LinkedIn. I believe she came across my presentation on The Worst LinkedIn Profile In The World

Her article, Why Less is Much, Much More on LinkedIn, is now available for your enjoyment. It also includes thoughtful quotes from Andy Headworth, the founder of Sirona Consulting, a social media recruitment firm, and Andrew Stephen, a marketing professor at Oxford University’s Said Business School.

Check out the full story on the bbc.com. If you have questions about LinkedIn for your business or career, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Stop Learning Start Doing

Dave Delaney

Photo by Alexander Solodukhin

Photo by Alexander Solodukhin

It's time to stop learning and start doing. This isn't to say that I am suggesting you stop seeking information that will make you smarter. What I am saying is you need to stop consuming so much information without acting upon it, even if it's completely unputdownable. 

In school, we read countless textbooks and participated in classes and guest lectures. We wrote reports and took tests on what was covered. These reports and tests were given to help us retain the information because it would force us to write about the topics.  

When we repeat the information, we remember what we learned. In fact, writing the information down can greatly improve how we preserve it in our heads. As Anthony Robbins says, "Repetition is the mother of skill."

We live hectic lives. We are constantly inundated with content online and across traditional media like; television, radio, books, newspapers, and magazines. The trouble is we consume so much, but we seldom stop to reflect upon what we have learned and how to apply it to our lives. 

Stop Learning and Start Doing

I was guilty of this. I would read an e-book and highlight sections I enjoyed, only to finish the book and move on to the next one. I would listen to informative podcasts when I drove, but when I reached my destination, the information had disappeared like the fuel in my engine. I would read many articles and blog posts on business topics, but they were history once I flipped to the next one. It finally struck me that I needed to use this information before it was gone forever. Taking notes and writing is key.

In early December, I started a new blog at DaveDelaney.me. I am blogging each day about the things I am reading, listening to, and lessons I have learned in my business and life. I did this as a way to force myself to take notes as I read and to return to those notes to compose the blog posts. I am doing the same as I listen to podcasts. I'm sharing the takeaways to help me remember the information. Plus, I get bonus points for helping (or, at least entertaining) my readers too.  

You don't have to start a blog. You can start a journal instead. Take notes on what you are reading, watching, and listening to. You will be amazed how you retain the information and start using it for your business and career.  

This post originally appeared in The Tennessean Newspaper.

The Greatest Productivity Tips Revealed!

Dave Delaney

Get ready! This post will leave you inspired and ready to have the most productive year yet. Too often we find ourselves distracted by our world around us. The news, Internet, colleagues, family, friends, pets, all play their part in distracting us from getting our work completed. 

Being productive helps us focus on the most important things first. By knowing what we need to be doing and getting the work done, we lower our stress and live better lives.

David Allen, author of Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity writes, "Much of the stress that people feel doesn't come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they've started.”

I recently released by brand new, 2016 guide for getting your work done with daily goals. Put it to use each day and you will stop procrastinating and become focused on your goals.

I asked friends across social media for some of their best productivity tips, and they did not disappoint. 

5 tips you can use to make this coming year your most productive year yet.

1. Have some kind of spiritual life and make it part of your regular routine.  Prayer and/or meditation are great for helping you to order your priorities and focus in on them. And... you'll be a nicer person for it as well! - Jay Pochapin

2. Do a "daily check-in" meeting with an accountability partner (in this case, my wife). It's on our calendar at the same time every morning and serves as an official starting line for our work day. Each of us takes turns discussing our top priorities for the day and any needs that the other person can help us with. - Brett Henley

3. If a task or email takes less than 3 minutes to complete, do it now instead of putting it off until later. - James March

4. I love to set aggressive deadlines. Work expands to fill the time allotted for it, and that shoots me in the foot all the time. I am so much more productive when I recognize that on the front end, push my deadlines forward, and fit in more work! - Jandra Sutton

5. I'm the most productive when I take 5-10 minutes in the morning to focus or meditate. It clears my mind and allows me to shut out anything that could be distracting for what I really need to accomplish. - Eileen Loughman

When I started printing my goals, I became laser focused on what I needed to accomplish each day, week and month. By having my goals printed on a piece of paper in front of me all day, I get everything done.

The document has space for your personal and business goals. It includes a dollar sign box to indicate if the item will earn you money. It has a space for you to make an introduction to two people in your network each day. Plus, it has space so you can focus on your weekly and monthly goals. It's all there.

This method has greatly helped me, so I want to share it with you as a free download. Grab a copy of my 2016 Daily Goals document and get started. I promise it will help you be more focused and productive.

Get ready to have your most productive year yet. Happy 2016.

Leave a comment with your favorite productivity tip.

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean newspaper.

5 Ways to Fix Your LinkedIn Profile

Dave Delaney

This is the perfect time of the year to get your LinkedIn profile up to date and looking good. You never know what opportunities you could be missing by having a poor profile. If your goals in 2016 include growing your business, finding a new job, changing careers, or building your professional network, you must ensure your LinkedIn profile is ready for prime time.

The following are five ways to improve your LinkedIn profile. 

1. Consider Search Engines and Add Keywords

Recruiters and HR managers don’t review physical resumes anymore. They use online services like LinkedIn to discover candidates. If your profile is missing the keywords and terms they are searching for, you won’t appear in the results. 

Photo by Olu Eletu.

Photo by Olu Eletu.

Your LinkedIn profile has space for up to 5,000 characters in your summary. Use those characters to ensure you include the keywords and terms recruiters and your customers are searching for.

Side note: Copy and paste bullets and other characters to improve the appearance of your profile from: copypastecharacter.com.

2. Skills / Endorsements

Review the Skills section of your profile. Your skills appear as endorsement suggestions to your connections. If you receive a strange endorsement for something you don’t do, that’s probably because it is listed in your skills. 

Keep your skills up to date and remove the ones that no longer apply to your career. Add up to fifty skills.

Side note: Be sure to use your top, most accurate, skills in your profile description. 

Bonus points: Review who has endorsed you for your top skills and reach out to them to say hello. 

3. Recommendations

Stop begging for recommendations and start writing them. Write a recommendation for the best people you work with. If you are a student, write a recommendation for a guest lecturer, faculty or team project partner. 

You will find that the more recommendations you provide, the more they will be reciprocated. 

Side note: You can add “#recommendations” to your profile link to send people directly to your recommendations section. Visit: http://linkedin.com/in/davedelaney/#recommendations for an example.

4. Presentations

Upload your best presentations to Slideshare (owned by LinkedIn) and link to them in your profile. The more visual the better. If you need help with designing your presentations, pick up a copy of Garr Reynold’s “Presentation Zen”.

Side note: Be sure your presentation has a call to action at the end of it. Include your contact information. 

5. Headshot

LinkedIn profiles with photos get eleven times more views. Use a professional looking photo that shows us who you are. Here are a few photo tips from LinkedIn:

  • Choose a photo that looks like you.
  • Make sure your face takes up at least 60% of the frame.
  • Choose the right expression.
  • Wear what you’d wear to work.
  • Choose a background that isn’t distracting.

Side note: Be consistent across social media by using the same photo. This helps visitors recognize you in their timelines and newsfeeds.

These are five quick things you can do to improve your LinkedIn profile to get found and network more effectively. Subscribe to my newsletter to be invited to my upcoming, free webinar, The Worst LinkedIn Profile In The World.  

Help The Unemployed Back On Their Feet

Dave Delaney

It is hard to miss the unfortunate stories in the news about jobs being cut. According to global outplacement consultancy, Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc., 50,000 jobs were cut in October alone. This is why it is important to find ways to help your friends get back on their feet.

Friends and acquaintances often email me when they are going through a transition. They write to ask me if I know of any open positions in their field. Since I don't work in recruiting or human resources, open jobs don't come to my mind right away. Most days my head is filled with thoughts on priorities for Futureforth clients and family duties. It's not easy to think of opportunities right away, but I have found a solution.

In addition to the emails about losing work, I also get messages about open positions. In the past, I would get these, but I would forget who was looking for a job. Taking the time to dig back through my emails to find the job seekers was too time consuming. To be honest, sometimes I would forget altogether.

I have come up with a simple process to help connect those seeking work with those who are hiring. You can do this too and help your network. In New Business Networking, I wrote about how networking is all about providing value and helping others before ever asking for anything in return. Helping a friend find a job is a great example of providing such value.

Here is my process for connecting those looking for a job with those seeking to fill a position.

When somebody contacts me who is seeking a job, I reply using the words "I'll keep my eyes open". A reply may read, "I'm sorry to hear you were laid off, Mary. Please know that I will keep my eyes open for opportunities for you."

I always reply using the term "eyes open". I use Gmail, all other email services also have a search function. Regardless of your email service, you can do this too. Whenever I get a message from someone who is hiring, I search "eyes open" in my messages. The results include all emails from people I know who are seeking work. I review them quickly and make the introductions when there is a good fit. This makes remembering who needs a job much faster.

I'll keep my eyes open.

One other thing I do in my initial reply is ask which companies they want to work for. When they reply, I review my LinkedIn connections to see if I know people at the companies. This only takes seconds. If I do, I provide an introduction.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 5.5 million job openings in the U.S. (as of the last day of August). New jobs are available and unfilled positions are waiting for the right person. I bet you get similar emails from friends who are hiring and those seeking work. Why not keep your "eyes open" to get friends back on their feet? 

Do you have any techniques for helping your network find employment? Any tips? Leave a comment, please. 

 

3 Ways To Improve With Improv

Dave Delaney

Photo by @PhilGerb.

Last week, I had the great opportunity to reveal a new presentation at Hubspots' Inbound Conference. It was a thrill to attend and speak at such a stellar marketing conference with 13,000 attendees (not all at my session, Maron!). My presentation was a 12-minute (TEDx-style) talk about how my life has improved with improv. 

As I put my deck together, I realized the story was too good to just share with the amazing audience in Boston. The lessons I learned studying improv with Second City in Toronto, and performing regularly in a troupe in Ireland, helped me in so many ways. So I decided to write a short book for you.

Improve with Improv breaks down the three key lessons I learned from improv: acceptancelistening better and not to fear failure. My friend, Daniele Rossi, did the wonderful illustrations. Call it a coincidence, but he's also currently studying improv at Second City. 

I sincerely hope you pick up a copy of Improve with Improv. It's a quick read with some valuable lessons inside. 

Grab your copy now to improve your life with improv. 


The Secret Way to Get LinkedIn Connection Requests Accepted

Dave Delaney

Have you ever sent a connection request on LinkedIn and not had it accepted? Not being accepted can happen for a few reasons, like the person doesn't remember you or you're missing a profile photo. 

I am certain you frequently receive connection requests from strangers like I do. Your parents taught you not to talk to strangers, so it makes sense that you ignore the requests. I recently wrote a post about how I handle requests from people I don’t know. In this post, I will teach you how to send requests that get accepted.

If you want to have your connection request accepted, you need to consider a few things. The person may not use LinkedIn frequently, so sending the request through LinkedIn is often not the best first move.

I always email the contact before I send them the connection request. In the email, I remind him who I am and how we met. Perhaps we met at a networking mixer or a conference. I use his email from his business card, or I go to his site to find his contact information.

I write a follow-up email within 24 hours of the conference, so I am still fresh in people's minds. It doesn’t take long for people to forget who you are, unless you left an impressive impression.

In closing the message, I add that I am going to send him a connection request on LinkedIn. I explain that I am happy to provide him with an introduction to someone in my network should he need it. How’s that for value? Isn’t this better than just blindly sending a request to connect?

After I send the email, I send the connection request via LinkedIn. I always avoid sending the default connection request. I send a personal message and refer back to the email. I will write something like, “Hi John. It was a pleasure meeting you at XYZ Conference. Let’s connect on LinkedIn please. If I can provide you with an intro to one of my connections, let me know. Cheers, Dave. Futureforth.com

I always include my business URL in the signature on LinkedIn, so he can visit to learn more about my services.

LinkedIn: Now boasting more than 360 million users.

If John does not accept my request after a couple of weeks, I will reassess. I will ask myself why I wanted to connect in the first place. Obviously, networking is key with LinkedIn. John could provide me with an introduction to help my business or career. Perhaps John isn’t that active on LinkedIn. It’s OK, because I still have his email address and can follow up that way.

One of the best ways to grow and nurture your professional network is by using LinkedIn. Now boasting more than 360 million users and a new user every two seconds, it’s clear that LinkedIn really is the professional social network. It makes sense to do everything you can to get connection requests accepted, so you can grow your network.

Happy networking.

Photo from Flickr by Alessandro Valli liquene

The Dead Simple Way to Set and Follow Your Goals

Dave Delaney

 

I get distracted easily...

Okay, I'm back. Anyway, I have tried countless apps and software to help me stay focused on my work each day. I have concluded that the best way to stay on task is to have your tasks on paper in front of you. That's right - paper. 

I'm offering something special for my blog subscribers. This is a daily goals document you can print to work from everyday. It's special and different than what you expect. 

I read a smart article recently entitled, The Most Important 20 Minutes of the Day by John Meyer. Meyer inspired me to follow his directions of his “8 for the Day” method, which I tweaked for my own document. Meyer recommends committing 20 minutes per weekday to create a list of two personal goals and six business goals, he adjusts it on Saturdays to two business goals and six personal goals. These goals can range from going for a jog as a personal goal to conducting a client call as a business goal. I love this idea and adjusted it to create my own daily goals document.

Get the Daily Goals To Do List Document

In my daily goals document, I changed one of the business goals to an introduction. You need to introduce two people in your network each weekday. One way to do this is by reviewing chats, instant messages, tweets, and emails you have exchanged lately. Who could benefit from knowing one another?

I also included a field for you to write your monthly goal. Writing your monthly goal each day will help you keep focused. Finally, I included a space on the left side for you to include a dollar sign when the item will earn you money. It's amazing what that figure does when staring back at you all day. It will also make you question your goals that are not in sync with your business objectives.

Are you ready to download the goals document? Subscribe to the blog via email and get started. You can unsubscribe at any time, but I hope you enjoy it so much you will stick around.

Okay, fill in your email below and grab the document now. Don't forget to leave me a comment with how it is working for you. 

Never Miss a Thing & Get the Goals

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