Impressions

by Cochran

Social Networking for Business at Starbucks: An Insider’s Guide

I love coffee. I love strong, bold coffee. Starbucks is my cup of choice. I head over to my corner location every morning, rain, sleet, snow or shine. But, it’s not just about the coffee…

For me, it’s also about networking. As a small business owner, Starbucks has become an integral part of my workday. By spending a mere 10 minutes at Starbucks each morning, I’ve grown my business exponentially.

Here are 10 insider tips for making Starbucks your killer networking app:

1.  Choose well. Scope out various Starbucks locations for the best fit for what you want to accomplish. If you want to network with business owners, choose a location in an area close to (or enroute to) the types of companies you wish to do business with. Chances are, those business owners are making a coffee stop, too.

2.  Be consistent. Once you select your prime location, visit it consistently. When you become a regular, you’ll begin to develop relationships with other regulars.

3.  Scope out your prospects. Not unlike how we learned to observe and listen as we developed our Twitter strategies, I recommend observing and listening to other Starbucks customers for a while. This will help you determine who the regulars are, who your first networking targets might be and how to approach them.

4.  Make your first move at the bar. Of course, I’m referring to the condiments bar. In the short time that it takes to add cream and sugar to your cup, you can break the ice with many an interesting prospect. “Coffee…my one and only vice” works well for me. You may only get a grunt or a “have a nice day” out of the prospect at first, but considering most people are rushing off to the office, that’s a great start.

5.  Repeat daily. Continue to “break the ice” with new prospects. Keep your pipeline full. Even with one such encounter daily, your pipeline will fill quickly.

6.  Move up. At a second encounter, move up to a simple “Good morning,” as a way to acknowledge that you and your prospect now have a relationship.

7.  Advance to a higher level. With a quickly filling pipeline, you’ll soon recognize opportunities to advance the conversation to an even higher level. By your third or fourth encounter, you can offer a handshake and introduce yourself. Before you know it, you’ll be exchanging business cards.

8.  Vary your arrival time. As stated earlier, when it comes to networking, consistency is key. But, it pays to vary your arrival time occasionally by +/- fifteen minutes. This will help to broaden your prospect pool and allow for more repeat encounters.

9.  Make friends with your barista. Busy though they may be in the morning, the baristas can be some of your strongest networking allies. They know most of their customers by name and therefore, can help you out in the rare instance that you forget a name or two from your growing group of prospects.

10. Sit down. (This tip is for advanced networkers only.) Yes, I’m actually advocating that, rather than rushing off down the street with cup in hand, after leaving the condiment bar, you sit at a table and enjoy your coffee for 10 minutes. It’s a pretty simple habit to get into. Think of what 10 minutes of networking daily could do for your business. Pretty soon, you’ll be deducting your coffee costs as a true business expense!

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February 28, 2010 Posted by | social media | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

You. On Twitter. 10 Tips.

Last August, I wrote a post entitled “You is #1.” At that time, I was inspired by a new Yale study which revealed that “You” continues to be the #1 most powerful word in the English language, both online and off. “You” is personal. “You” attracts customers. “You” also attracts Twitter followers and keeps them engaged.

Here are my 10 tips on how You can enjoy more success on Twitter.

1. Be yourself.

2. Use your photo. If you use a logo or other avatar, I won’t get to know you. Unless you’re @HarvardBiz or @fastcompany, without that personal touch, I’ll probably lose interest and unfollow you.

3. Use your online bio to give potential followers a snippet of information about you. Your bio can make or break whether someone wants to follow you or not.

4. Whom you choose to follow reflects on you. Be choosy, and remember, as your Twitter strategy evolves and your standards change, you can unfollow anyone at any time.

5. Tell me something about you. This doesn’t mean “Here’s my company name, what I do and please buy something from me.” Tell me something about you. “Happy Birthday to you, Mozart” tells me you’re interested in classical music. “Meet you at the live music milonga tonight at 10” tells me you’re interested in tango. “Think you’ll appreciate today’s op-ed by @NYTimesFriedman on healthcare reform” tells me even more about what interests you.

6. Ask my opinion. Show that you’re interested in me, in how I think and in the issues that matter to me. “What do you think about the new iPad? Is it just an iFad or here to stay?”

7. Ask me what I’m doing. Questions like “What are you reading lately?” or “What are you listening to on your iPod right now?” can really start the conversation.

8. Do tell me what you’re doing, but do so in a way that reveals more about you. Rather than tweeting “I overslept this morning,” a more engaging tweet might be “Stayed up way too late last night reading Roger Martin’s new book, The Design of Business. Overslept, but it was worth it.”

9. Tweet your thoughts. Sure, re-tweeting is encouraged and adding links to other people’s content is an effective strategy. But, make it a priority to regularly post your own thoughts. What is important to you right now? Share that with me. At least 20% of the time, post tweets in your own words. Let me know you can think on your own, that you have opinions and that you truly wish to foster a relationship with me.

10. And, be yourself. (Did I mention that?)

February 3, 2010 Posted by | creativity, design thinking, social media | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who Me? Use Twitter? 10 Reasons Why You Should

10 Good Reasons For Using Twitter
  1. To become a better listener
  2. To learn to say more with less
  3. To join in the conversation, globally
  4. To network, globally
  5. To allow your customers to get to know you
  6. To learn what others are saying about your company
  7. To attract new audiences
  8. To foster ideation
  9. To stay current
  10. To interact with society

Why and how do you use Twitter? I welcome your comments here or via Twitter. You’ll find me @cochrancreates.

November 13, 2009 Posted by | creativity, Marketing, Online Marketing, social media | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Twitter “Aha” Moment

As a marketing professional, I am regularly asked, “What is Twitter?” or “How does Twitter work?”

I’ve been using Twitter for about a month now and am learning much with each successive inbound and outbound tweet. I’ve read one of the many books on how to use Twitter effectively in business. I’ve also been talking with other Twitter users about their experiences with this social media phenomenon.

This morning, though, when I was offline, I had my first Twitter “aha” moment. It happened during my weekly business networking meeting. (Yes, the one that convenes at 7:15 a.m. each Wednesday) Turns out, that’s when I’m freshest mentally, before being bombarded by all the various messages and stimuli du jour.

When it came time to give my 30-second commercial, I mentioned my name, company name and quick list of services I provide (as usual). Next, I quoted from an article that I had just read online and how, historically, companies that continue to focus on marketing and advertising during a recession, benefit from increased market share for many years following the recession.

First, simply by passing along that information, I built credibility for Cochran Creative Group. Then, no fewer than four other members of the group tagged on to what I had said within their own commercials, agreeing with me and adding their own personal touch to what I had stated. In each case, the member publicly endorsed me by name. My credibility level was elevated within the group just by having four other members listen to what I had to say, repeat it (“re-tweet” it in Twitter-ese) and add to it. There were approximately 50 business people in the room so, assuming they were all awake, my “marketing during a recession” mention received 250 impressions! That meant 250 impressions for Cochran Creative Group within a span of a few minutes, helping to further position me as an expert in my field.

This is exactly what happens every day, tens of thousands of times, at a rate of 140 characters per tweet, among the millions of Twitter users around the world. Think about it. The possibilities are mind-boggling!

Please comment, sharing your own Twitter “aha” moment and/or how you’re embracing Twitter within your business.

September 30, 2009 Posted by | social media | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment