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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. 

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.

How to Strategically Amplify Your Best Content

Dave Delaney

How to Strategically Amplify Your Best Content

Did you know that according to a study from Hubspot, companies that blog have 97 percent more inbound links? According to InsideView, B2B marketers who use blogs generate 67 percent more leads than those that do not. Thirty-three percent of B2B companies already have a blog; do you?

If you don't have a blog for your company yet, I can help you with this. If you do, but you are not satisfied with the results, I have some advice for you to amplify your best content.

We are all guilty of setting and forgetting. We publish our latest blog post, promote it across social media and email, and move on to what's next for tomorrow or next week. We tend to forget about what we have already published, and this is a bad move.

I always recommend publishing your content on your blog first, but there are platforms online where you should consider using the same content again.

The following are three platforms where you can take your best content from your blog and re-publish it for new audiences. This will increase traffic back to your site, improve engagement among your readers, and strengthen your company and personal brand.

3 Blog Publishing Alternatives

1. LinkedIn Pulse

Click to see live demo.

Click to see live demo.

LinkedIn Pulse is LinkedIn's blogging platform. It has an interface similar to most popular blogging software like WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr and Squarespace. Take the post you have published on your blog and copy and paste it into LinkedIn Pulse.

Upload an image that makes the post jump out to LinkedIn users. Keep the subject line brief. Add links that go back to your site within the post, so readers can learn more about what you do. Add a byline about who you are at the end of each post, so readers can get to know you better. Don't forget to include a company link.

LinkedIn also provides a helpful analytics dashboard that reveals statistics about your posts, including demographics of your readers and the number of views your posts receive.

2. Medium

Click to see live demo.

Click to see live demo.

According to Quantcast, Medium.com reaches over 863,000 people in the U.S. monthly. Medium is a beautiful platform for authoring or sharing your most personal blog posts. It was created by Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone with Jose Pino.

The interface is elegant and simple to use. One trick many users don't realize is you can add a link to an image. Insert an image, click it, and select Command+K on a Mac or Control+K on a PC. Like LinkedIn Pulse, when you copy and paste your blog post in Medium from your blog, be sure to test your links to ensure they work correctly.

Remember that Medium is a social network, too. You will get the most from it if you read and engage with other readers. It is not for promotional content, it is for personal blogging. Share stories about forming your company, or the obstacles you had as you raised capital.

3. Facebook Notes

Click to see live demo.

Click to see live demo.

The Facebook Notes area seemed like a long forgotten feature of Facebook. It was never clear how to use the simple text box. Last year, Facebook upgraded Notes to be a fully functional blogging platform.

You can use your personal profile to compose and publish a note, or publish the note to your company page. Just like Medium and LinkedIn Pulse, you can add vibrant images and links to make the content more appealing for your readers.

Before you hit publish on any of the above platforms, consider your audience. It may be suitable to tweak the copy of your original post to suit where you are publishing it. For example, if you are posting it on LinkedIn Pulse, perhaps you will want to link to your LinkedIn company page.

Try this today. Review your analytics and choose your most popular, evergreen content from your blog. Select one or all of the above platforms to re-publish the post. Google Analytics can help you determine what traffic the blog drives back to your company site. Use these platforms to amplify your original blog content. If you need help, let me know.

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean newspaper.

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.

6 Tips To Create A Killer Networking Group

Dave Delaney

Create Your Networking Group

One of the best ways to grow your professional network is to host your own networking group. A few months after moving to Nashville, I created Geek Breakfast as a way to keep our growing technology community together. Five years ago, I launched Nashcocktail, to connect local social media professionals. You can create a group too, if you follow these five simple steps.

1. Begin with your goals. What do you hope to gain from creating a networking group?

My intention with the groups I created was to connect people and build community. I could measure this by reviewing membership and attendee numbers each month to be sure we were growing.

2. Find an available or underserved niche.

Do a simple Google search to find events in your city related to your niche. Don’t be discouraged if you find groups already exist. You should attend the events to understand how they are run. Ask yourself how your group would be different.

You may also discover a dormant group. Reach out to the organizer and ask if you can take it over. That’s what Jeff Dolan did with the Nashville Filmmakers group. Jeff explains how he did it in my interview below, plug in your headphones and enjoy.

3. Connect with and invite local leaders in the your niche.

I’m a big fan of the FollowerWonk tool. You can use this to search Twitter bios in a specific location. For example, you can search “author” and “Nashville” and find anyone on Twitter around the city, who include author in their bio. FollowerWonk will show you who are the most influential based on the number of followers they have and tweets they create.

Use LinkedIn to search for companies who provide products or services related to your niche. For example, if you are creating a networking group for the travel industry, search for travel agents, hotels, and airlines on LinkedIn. Find the people who work for the companies and reach out to invite them to your group. Once you determine the names of the companies you can also see if you have friends who work there using a simple Facebook search.

4. Use a service like MeetUp, Facebook Events, or Eventbrite to create your invitation.

MeetUp.com is a good site to create a group around a reoccurring event. Facebook Events should be used in conjunction with your Facebook Page to organize events. Eventbrite is an alternative to TicketMaster for event organizers to create tickets.

5. Reach out to everyone you know to announce the event.

Use social media, email, and pick up the phone. You want to promote the heck out of your group to get a good turnout. The first event is important because you want group members to return next time.

You may choose to pay to promote your group’s event on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. I can help you with this if you need to better understand how to affordably advertise on these platforms.

6. Poll your attendees before the event to learn more about their specific needs, so you can better serve them.

Use SurveyMonkey to create a short, simple survey. Send it to your members to ask them what they hope to gain from attending your event and being a member of your group.

Sending an occasional survey to members can also help you get the pulse of your group to ensure everyone is enjoying their membership.

Creating and running your own networking group isn't difficult. However, it takes time to grow and nurture your group. Be patient and listen to your members, they will ultimately determine if your group is a success.

If you have questions about organizing your own group and events, reach out to me with a comment below or on Twitter @davedelaney.

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. 

 

Is "What Do You Do?" a Bad Question?

Dave Delaney

There is a school of thought that asking a person what they do for a living is a bad icebreaker. I discovered this recently, while I was at a conference speaking with a friend. He explained that he was tired of the question, because there is so much more about a person than what they do for a living. I pondered the thought and I agreed at the time. However, I read a book recently (hat tip to Chris Brogan) that changed my thinking on whether or not this is a good question to ask somebody you meet. In "Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money" by Rabbi Daniel Lapin, he justifies why asking what you do for a living is an important icebreaker.

Lapin writes, “What do you do for a living? is a legitimate question because the inquirer really wants to know what the person does for other people. He or she is wondering how others find you useful. How you help your fellow humans is a proud part of your identity. The only person to be embarrassed by the question is one who has no answer.”

We should be proud of what we do. If we are ashamed or embarrassed, than we should probably be seeking other means of work. The question is valid and should be answered with pride.

Lapin continues, “… no matter how you serve your fellow humans, think of yourself as doing something fascinating; see yourself in business, rather than merely being something.”

What do you do for a living?

When I get asked what I do, I reply that I help people understand how to truly use social media and content marketing to grow their business. If they ask me for more details, I explain how I audit what they are doing online, make recommendations and provide them with a way to measure the results to be sure they succeed.

What is it that you do? Take a moment right now to grab a piece of paper and a pen and write out a short paragraph. Repeat it out loud to yourself. How does it sound? If it feels good, read it to a colleague or your spouse for their opinion. My wife, Heather, provides me with feedback that always helps with everything from client work to writing my book, "New Business Networking." Test your own answer to ensure it accurately paints a picture that someone asking will understand.

I was picking up a few things at my local, big-box hardware store last weekend, when I was blatantly reminded that the holidays are just around the corner. I’m not talking about Halloween or Thanksgiving, I’m talking about the one with the big jolly fella in red. Every professional knows that with holidays come holiday parties, which makes the season perfect for honing our networking skills.

The next time you find yourself at a networking event, mixer or conference, don’t hesitate to ask someone what they do. Ask her a few follow-up questions to learn more about her business. When the time comes, she will likely ask you what you do. Be proud to explain how you help people with your work. She may even become your next customer.

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean Newspaper.

Business Cards Should Lead to an Amazing Website

Dave Delaney

I seldom see a business card without a web address. When you are actively networking, or casually meeting people, your business card is essential. Where your card leads people is also important. If someone receives your card and visits your website, they better like what they see.

Metacake is a Franklin company that specializes in creating websites and online platforms that convert visitors to clients. Full disclosure, they are a client.

One of Metacake's customers, Providence Auto Group, is an interesting case study for why having an amazing website is important. I spoke with Nathan McCauley, one of the owners of this unique, previously owned car dealership. He shared interesting insights into the before and after of updating the businesses website.

A company that donates cars to needy families

McCauley explained that nearly every customer they have goes to their website before visiting their showroom. He told me how their site's transformation has enabled Providence to share their story and promote their culture. It is an amazing culture, too, because the company donates cars to needy families.

Metacake worked with Providence to take their vision and elevate it. McCauley told me how their system works, but a visit to their new site achieved this, too. For every car they sell, they contribute a portion of that sale toward a new car for a local family in need.

There was a time when the business card lead potential buyers to the site, where they had a poor experience navigating. The design and user interface did not communicate what Providence Auto Group is all about. Now they have had more leads than they can handle, and they save money on their advertising budget, too.

McCauley told me in the first six months of the year, they sold 50 to 65 cars per month. Since their website re-launch in June, they sold 67 cars in July and 73 in August. On average, they gave away six to eight cars each year. So far they have given away nearly 20.

Re-thinking how your website appears is crucial to communicating who you are and what your business is all about. Next time you hand out your business card, consider where that card will lead the recipient. Will they become a customer or client from what they see?

This article originally appeared in The Tennessean Newspaper.

Hubspot Inbound VIDEO: Improve with Improv

Dave Delaney

As you know, I wrote a short ebook recently entitled Improve with Improv. The book was inspired by my presentation from Hubspot's Inbound conference last month. The following is the video of my #Inbound15 Bold presentation. 

3 Key Ways Improv Will Help You 

In this presentation (and my ebook), I share the three key things I learned from studying improv with Second City, and performing it regularly when I lived in Ireland. They are: acceptance, how to become a better listener, and how not to fear failure

This twelve minute video will walk you through each point. You will learn how to apply each to your own life and business. Sit back with a coffee and enjoy my Inbound Bold presentation.

Your company will greatly benefit from improv training. Workshops like this help teams learn how to work together, think quickly on their feet, listen effectively, and be brave enough to close new clients. Learn more what I offer in our Communication Reboot improv workshop.

I also available for speaking, my speaking page has these details, video, testimonials, and much more. Check it out