Knowledge

What do you know? The basics of knowledge management.

It might seem an odd subject to focus on but I am currently looking at Knowledge Management or KM as a concept.  One of my main clients works in this field so it makes sense to learn more.  I  have always been intrigued how you learn and share institutional information effectively. The more I discover about this sector the more fascinated I become especially its impact on  processes and customer behaviour.

What is IT and is it treatable?

KM focuses on how an organisation identifies, creates, captures, acquires, shares and leverage their informations. Systematic processes support these activities, also enabling replication of success. All of these are specific actions companies take to manage their information effectively.

Management consultants are probably responsible for the language related to KM. As the internet grew companies, organisations and individuals realised the value of this concept and the terminology spread. The Intranet, an internal website was the first tool to improve the accessibility of information.  We normally think of the data divas who talk dashboards, lessons learned, best practice, community of practice and expertise. The realisation that this data had its uses resulted in the adoption of the name KM. Social media analytics is a simple example of data which can effect your digital strategy.

Management consultants disseminated the principles and the techniques of KM to other organizations, professionals and disciplines.  This was perfect timing as the power of the internet, social media and the digital world provide a primed resource ready for recognition. For me the key point is knowledge is an asset whether you are individual, a small business, a company or a major organisation. KM is relevant to the individual as well as the team and it can be an amazing tool for shaping strategies.

 Knowledge Management is the process of capturing, distributing, and effectively using knowledge. Tom Davenport

Content

Content is king and the same is true for KM? The most obvious is the making of  data and information available to the members of the company through dashboards, portals, often using content management systems. Putting this information available online, making it accessible. You can use software and systems to do this and there is a whole growth sector and theory around Enterprise Search, a new term emerging. As we have more and more content we need to make sure we can find what we need, when we need it.

Expertise

Now for the bit I like. Knowledge is valuable, and technology enables it but KM lives in people. The best way to learn is to read a book, talk to an expert, watch a video like a TED Talk. Nowadays locating the right expert with the knowledge that you need, though, can be a problem, particularly if, for example, the expert is in another country or hard to find.

We used to identify people through Yellow Pages, now we have the world wide web. LinkedIn acts like a CV service so you can identify a specific skill or advice. Recently we have seen the growth of social media and networking communications as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. They will have a search function which includes an expertise locator system or skills.

How do you do it

I loathe the phrases “Lessons Learned” “Best Practice” but there are databases  that attempt to capture and make KM accessible or what I call “how to do it”. In terms of KM the emphasis is upon capturing information related to expertise.  Making it explicit. Whilst one process might work for you with regard to time management, or customer management it may not work for your competitor based in another country.

Knowledge

Practice makes perfect

Heard the term Communities of Practice? These are groups of people that come together to share stories, discuss challenges and resolve opportunities. COPs emphasise, build upon, and take advantage of the social nature of learning. Think water cooler moments as a metaphor for the concept. One of the downsides of our virtual working remotely culture is the loss of natural sharing of knowledge. Therefore we have seen a growth in digital communities to ask questions, learn tips and techniques. And there is a water cooler movement on Twitter.

Many companies believe COPs are an essential component of KM and personal development. These are groups of practitioners who share a common interest in a specific area of competence and are willing to share their experiences. COPs are also known as learning communities, thematic groups or networks.

Intellectual capital includes everything a company or individual might know. This can be ideas, different types of information and innovative thinking. The bottom line is that this data can be examined and used to make a profit.

TACIT

Explicit knowledge encompasses the things we know that we can write down, share with others and put into a database. For example a list of clients or potential customers we might want to talk to or how to make a cake. This is information which can be described in detailed or involves  a sequence of actions.

KM often refers to “tacit knowledge”. Tacit knowledge is what we do not know that we know. it includes know how, rules of thumb, experience, insights and intuition. Often this tacit knowledge is harder to express, process, capture or share in a systematic or logical manner. This distinction is critical and its a core theme of KM.

I will write more about KM in future blogs but the key takeaways are

  • knowledge is an important asset, knowledge is information in context to produce an actionable understanding
  • KM is a systematic process, needed to create, capture, shared and leveraged for success
  • there are many drivers to effectively manage KM
  • barriers can be overcome and managing KM really pays.

So a quick basic introduction to KM. More to follow and the potential to grow business and improve skills is endless.

Sales

Prospects, Sales & Customer Relationships

The sales process consists of the systematic steps we take to move a potential prospect or an existing customer from the early stages to a closed deal. It’s about developing a relationship with the customer as we ask questions, share information and provide value.

Now I am not an expert but I have been researching effective sales processes and systems as part of my own development. For some clients generating and sustaining sales through a customer cycle is a priority. Plus it complements the need to deliver Lead Generation for small business. This is an area fraught with misconceptions, assumptions but in reality plays to my own strengths – valuing people and managing the customer relationship.

Process is different from a sales methodology. While the process is a high-level overview of the steps to be completed in a sale, the methodology guides the approach we may wish to take in executing these steps. There are a variety of sales methodologies we can use including solution selling, network selling, consultative selling, and inbound selling.

sales & Leads

The initial stage is reviewing your existing customers and identifying the new potential customers. Research online or dive into existing databases, networks and platforms. This step should really be ongoing – always lookout for new prospects. Tap into your own networks, attend events, join new networks and groups. Make sure they are aware of your services and your offer, don’t be afraid to ask them to share your details across their networks. Social media platforms like LinkedIn thrive on this approach.

Don’t assume that your potential customer can automatically link features to benefits—the job is to make sure the connection becomes clear. Make sure customers can see the benefit from services; in other words, always think of services in terms of the “so what?”. This step prepares us to talk to customers by focusing on both services and features of your offer or the product.

You may wish to segment your existing customers at some stage. We could categorize leads into these segments, so we know which marketing tactics are most effective for each customer.

Connect

Now that you know who to target, you need to connect. Timing is imperative and sensitive when making initial contact. Follow up quickly and clearly means customers are more likely to convert. Find a balance between persistence and consistency—always make at several call attempts. Send an email as part of this connection process, explain you will be in touch, why and confirm a time when you are planning to speak to them. This way they have a clear indicator of who you are and why you want to talk to them.

Consider the best way to connect. Phone is effective but can for some be intrusive, especially if they don’t know you. Social media can be a bit different but sensitivity is needed. Connect on LinkedIn or try a retweet to raise your profile with the potential lead. This initial contact helps determine whether a lead is qualified. We often meet potential leads at events so the follow-up call helps us

  • Discover if the prospect has the necessary budget and is willing to spend time with you to consider your offer.
  • Will it be useful? Do they have a need?
  • What is the decision process going to look like? Who else needs to be involved in the purchasing process?

Asking these questions get us the information we need but also show our knowledge and expertise. This phase is about listening, capturing the information and not talking to much.

Sales

existing customers

This approach works the same for our existing customers and its essential as part of our business relationship management. Checking-in with customers should be undertaken every six months or as a minimum annually. Scheduling regular catch ups with existing customers ensures we are capturing feedback, discussing future options and exploring This is an opportunity to ensure everything is working okay with the product, capture feedback, discuss future opportunities, priorities and plans for the future?

Lastly, but importantly, this conversation allows us to ask can we help you in other ways? Are you aware of our other products? Retaining current customers costs six to seven times less than acquiring new ones, and increasing customer retention rates by 5% can increases profits by 25-95%

Research

This step of the sales process is also called the needs assessment. To truly provide value, you need to fully understand the prospect’s needs, wants, and desires and how your product can solve them. Apparently its quoted that 70% of people make purchasing decisions to solve problems, yet only 13% of customers believe a salesperson can understand their needs. Research your customer, their company, and the competition. The best way to do so is to ask the prospect more questions. You’re gathering information necessary and identify potential issues to provide a customized experience throughout the rest of the sales process. Here are just a few examples to help you get started.

  • Tell me what are your short-term and long-term goals?
  • What do you like best about your suppliers? And the least?
  • What do you like best about your current approach or existing system? Would you like anything to change?
  • Do you struggle with? What are your challenges?
  • What is your success criteria?

Demonstrate

This stage of the sales process consists of a formal presentation or demo of your product or service. Remember to sell value, the benefit as well as practical features. Demonstrate your knowledge of the organization, address their needs and outline why your product provides solutions. Make sure your presentation reflects the prospect’s perspective rather than your own, and make it interactive, tailored to the buyer(s) needs.

Ensure that customer service and support is clarified. If you use visuals make sure they are simple and clear to understand, they need to make sense. When I work with a new client I normally prepare a short proposal that demonstrates my understanding of their company, the challenge that needs to be resolved and make some initial recommendations for improvement, including KPIs. It doesn’t need to be 30 pages but enough to be tangible so they can see what you can do and your professional approach.

Be Prepared

Your prospect may have some concerns and questions. Keep in mind that objections can be a good omen—a prospect wouldn’t be trying to work out potential challenges if they weren’t at least considering buying. Make sure all your prospect’s questions are resolved and try to ensure you can pre-empt these types of queries.

CLOSE

Once you have met with the client, discussed the proposal, provided your demo and presentation make sure you have agreed the next steps. Ensure you have debated costs and negotiated costs. Don’t avoid the terms or financial element be clear about potential budgets and your rates. Being upfront provides reassurance to customers. There are infinite ways to close your business but you need to have confidence and intelligence to gauge your approach.

After securing the working relationship  make the effort to stay in touch with the customer—you may see rewards down the line. Update them regularly, ask for honest feedback and request areas for improvement. Listen and action.

There are many ways to continue the conversation, sending newsletters and product updates or engaging on social media are basic. In maintaining the customer relationship, we can set the stage for repeat buying as new products are developed. As part of your ongoing account management adjust the communication method to their preferred choice not yours. Record and capture conversations and actions as part of the process. Add detail and confirm in writing – always.

Thinking about sales as a process can help you

manage the sales process more effectively – it becomes less scary

learn which practices work for you and your sector

increase your impact, productivity and profits

build stronger relationships with your clients

increase the chances of up-selling and repeat business

Lastly observe what works well for you in terms of previous sales. Add some metrics to help grow your business and develop your goals.

Always update and review your process, adapt to continue to improve processes.

resolutions

Rituals not Resolutions

It’s the time of year when we think goals, ambitions and new resolutions. Time for a new you. Stop doing those bad habits. Give up smoking. Start that diet.  This is a mistake. Resolutions are doomed to fail as too often our normal behaviour will not change. I would argue that greater focus and ongoing reflection is more useful. As you approach the end of the year this is the time to review what has worked and the priorities for the new year whether its work or personal.  What do you want to achieve next? What would you like to learn?

resolutions

keep it Simple

I have been reading an interesting book, Destination Simple . It’s a short simple book to digest and very attractive to hold, engaging. There are some simple tips to ensure simplicity. Ways to slowdown life and manage stress. One initial section stood out for me. The idea of rituals into your daily routine. A way to add  focus for your day. I loved this and adopted the ritual of the morning coffee immediately to plan my workload, my achievements for the day and share some positive gratitude.

We must always change, renew, rejuvenate ourselves; otherwise, we harden Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

no more resolutions

So far its working. So no new year resolutions for me. Simply put 2018 will be about achieving more but ensuring there is always simplicity and effectiveness in my life. I know what I need to focus on to improve my work; for 2018 this includes knowledge management and continue to learn new skills related to social media.

I gave up new year resolutions several years ago as denying ourselves something seems so negative.

So this year you will be hearing more about how we manage data and information plus expertise related to social media. Watch this space and a happy new year.

Christmas

It’s a Wrap

It’s a wrap. And it’s time to bring 2017 to a close.

It’s been an interesting year. One all about change and evolution. No longer do I work full-time, travelling around the country, worrying about silly targets and KPIs. I miss the day-to-day interaction of the people I used to meet, but the good ones are still in touch and very supportive.

The problem with getting old is that you remember how things used to be.

The past reinvents itself

The first few months were hard. Adjusting to major work change is always challenging but if you stay positive, decide on some goals, and be prepared it’s okay. You can trust that everything is going to be all right. That’s what I did this year. And you know what it’s turned out better than I expected.

  • I now run my own consultancy supporting clients with marketing, engagement and social media expertise. I am the go to gal for small business who need help, advice or simply coaching with their digital content.
  • I have picked up a few varied clients on the journey and have one core client who keeps me busy, and has gradually increased my workload. This has been a major blessing and achievement. Thanks to them.
  • Jim will be joining full-time from 2018 to develop the business further. Which says a lot about our approach and style.
  • I make sure I network weekly mostly with my 4N group based in Stockport. Networking is also available in Manchester with ad hoc independent groups. I have met some amazing people who are supportive and motivational.
  • I feel so much more valued, respected.
  • I get to work from home full-time with an enormous amount of flexibility
  • I can pick the type of work I want to do and the people I want to work with
  • I learn something new everyday, a new skill, a new way of approaching a task.

wrap

It was Robert Redford, who once said “The problem with getting old is that you remember how things used to be.” On the other hand, if you adopt a positive attitude so much of our past  continues to live on with us and even comes back in a reinvented form.

 

time to wrap up

I will set my new goals for 2018 in my next blog post, the first for the new year. As I enter my third phase of life I want to continue working as much as possible, stay fit with lots of walking and Dru Yoga.

I know I am going to live longer, my Gran lived till 98 so I have good genes but I need to take care of myself. And for most of us that means that the old-fashioned pension model simply will not provide for us in our old age. I want to keep going as much as possible. Keep learning and keep sharing.

I hope you will come with me but in the meantime have a peaceful, warm Christmas and an exciting, positive, focused New Year.

 

audit

Do something great | The Social Media Audit

Its the time of year when we should really be thinking about the impact of our social media. Has all that online effort really making a difference or are you simply wasting time. Whenever I start work with a client the first exercise is to review their current online activity looks like. What platforms are they using. Is there website up to date? Are they posting regularly enough. Could the frequency be improved or is it about the quality of their content?

So many questions, so little time. But we can help. We offer a special audit package to help small businesses take a long, hard but fresh look of their online profile.

audit

The offer

The audit can vary to reflect the number of online platforms you are using but you can rest assured we will make some recommendations on how you can improve your digital view.

  • Do you need to generate more business leads?
  • Are you growing your followers, and are they the right ones for your business?
  • Can images help raise your profile?
  • Are you sharing relevant content?
  • We will look at your profile, your branding plus keywords
  • Referral traffic
  • Engagement levels
  • Metrics and analytics
  • Benchmarking across your sector

Don’t waste this opportunity to review your online activity, plus agree some steps to ensure 2018 your digital content works for you.

Do something great.

Blogging Tips

10 Top Tips for Blogging

All of us are either writing a blog or thinking of blogging. As the end of one year and the start of another begins it’s a good time to either audit your current blogging activity or finally start your blogging journey. Today with colleagues I attended StockportExpo event. The workshops were excellent and one of the speakers, Alex McCann from Altrincham HQ gave some simple advice regarding blogging. It was a short session and the basics are shared with you below, I am sure Alex won’t mind.

1. Shareable

Make sure your content is shareable. Make sure your content is relevant of interest to the audience.Is it relevant to your sector? Are you showing that you know your stuff? Look around you at other blogs like BuzzFeed, Feedly etc to generate ideas. Remember content is king. You should probably have this tattooed somewhere on your body. Content is King.

2. Audience

Know your audience. Its normally the first thing to address and ask yourself. Don’t make your audience too broad, its easy to do this but try to avoid it. My audience are people like me, freelancers, consultants, small businesses, startups. Most of my clients come from this background who either are not currently making the most of their marketing or haven’t got the time or expertise. They need a fresh perspective or some sound reliable advice. Know who you are writing for. What do they need to know, what would be useful for them?

3. Title

Whether its sexy, funny or engaging. Make sure your title is clickable. So a title like 10 things you can learn….. works well. You want a title that makes people want to know more or catches their eye. Humour can work well but short and punchy has impact. Don’t mislead though you don’t want to be confused with clickbait.

4. Value

Add value. Too many blogs are internally focused, perhaps making assumptions. Make sure your blogging content adds value to your readers. We are getting back to knowing your audience and giving them useful tips and audience.

5. Action

That call to action is essential. People are in reality lazy, too busy so you need to make it really simple, almost irresistible that they get in touch with you. Make sure you include a call to action within your content. Not sure what I mean, then call me or send me an email.

Blogging Tips

6. Leads

I bet you have heard the terms Lead Magnet, Click-funnels, Landing Pages. These are all terms and methods of capturing useful information. Often this is as simple as offering a freebie for someone’s email address. Just luck giving a business card to win a free meal at a restaurant. Remember, the quality of the freebie has to reflect the quality of your service and product. Don’t give out something thats not very good. Also, GDPR is coming in for the EU during 2018 so the rules about data are changing. Make sure you are following good practice and safeguarding your data.

7. Distribution

This is where social media can be your best friend. It’s great having a beautiful looking blog with interesting up to date content. But what if no one is reading it? Traffic is essential and your audience needs to be growing. Distribution across various social media channels can help grow your online presence.

8. Measure

Look at your data. View your Google analytics or your blog’s data. It can tell you lots of interesting details about your audience and how they behave. Which blogs are popular. Pages of your website which are not popular. Do certain images with your blog attract more readers, which language and tone appeals the most. Hive this information to impact on your future content, test ideas and themes.

9. Repeat

Now this top tip caused the biggest surprise. Repeat your content. Not just the same thing again and again. Once you learn what type of blog appeals revisit, rewrite or look at it from a different perspective. Don’t be afraid to go back to your subject matter from 6 or 12 months ago, what has changed in your sector – what could be utilised in a different way but is still relevant?

Remember tip 7? Don’t be afraid to repeat how you distribute content. Change the titles and images you use with social media.

10. plan

Use a content calendar. Even if it changes plan your next few months. Keep ideas, good titles and quotes for future blogging. Articles that inspire you or drive you mad. Feed all this lovely juicy information into your blogging plan and revisit when you need to write. Think seasonally what’s relevant for spring, summer, autumn and winter. You will notice a lot of blogs at the moment about goal setting, priorities for the future, review of the year.

The session ended with some great questions including the difference between vlog vs blog. The answer depends on where your strengths lie. Are you good on camera and video, do you come over well.

Oh and how often should we be blogging? Daily is probably too much and unsustainable long-term so aim for once a week (so I need to improve!) and for the future quality rather than quantity will be important.

 

 

Leads Linkedin Lightbulbs

Leads: Generating Business on LinkedIn

I spend a lot of time networking and for the majority of those I talk too they are looking for one thing – Leads.  They will ask me for social media advice and tips, I’m always happy to share my knowledge.

Developing business is the number one social media request received.  I believe that this is where an engagement strategy can really help. When you engage with someone, you are building a relationship, communicating and to some extent marketing your brand.

With regard to developing leads you can choose the automation route across the majority of your online platforms but personally I wouldn’t recommend it.  Any automation (targeting LinkedIn members and sending them posts/messages) is simply spamming or cold calling . And we all know that this is a numbers game and doesn’t really work effectively. We really only work with people we know, or have met, are aware of. People on our radar.

So if you are looking for Leads what should you do? Let’s be clear on one vital element who is your target client? Do you know your audience, your customer and where they are? Be prepared with what words describe them, what would they look for.

Therefore, which social media platform (if any) will you find them? Whilst Facebook and others can generate quality engagement LinkedIn for most professionals should be your platform of choice. I am constantly surprised how few SMEs, Consultants and Freelancers ignore this first initial step. The majority say they don’t have the time, but if you don’t make time for business generation then what are you doing, how will your business survive & thrive?

So below a few basic tips on exactly how to use LinkedIn to maximise your business and generate business. And if you seriously struggling to deliver these actions then outsource.

profile

Most LinkedIn users have seen the “Someone has viewed your profile” email notification. If you’re like me, you’ll take a quick glance and then delete.

By taking this approach you are potentially missing out. Take a look, see who and what is happening in your feed. Find out who looked at your profile and engage with them. Make sure you feel this is someone worth reaching out too have a look at the basic information and invite them to connect. How simple is that?

If someone has viewed your profile, they have taken a step to find out about you. Find out why, reach back and connect with them and see if there is potential to work together.

This approach works on LinkedIn but it will also work on Twitter, Instagram and to some extent Facebook, Tumblr etc. So as good practice make time to review all your connections regularly. Grow your network anyway you can social media and face-to-face.

CONTENT

You don’t need to create your own content all the time. The aim is to establish yourself as an expert in your field. This means showing your knowledge in a number of ways. You can blog about your sector but also share relevant content across your platforms.

Within LinkedIn you can also write articles and share them similar to blogs. Try for one month to share regular content and prepare articles on your LinkedIn platform. Notice who is seeing your content, connect with them and engage with them.

Also ask your employees to post your company’s content. Your network and community can all become brand advocates for you, your content and your expertise. Encourage others to share your updates simply and quickly.

There is a field of thinking that believes people tend to trust their social online connections more than advertising and campaigns. Inc recently wrote about this trend. This type of activity may seem time consuming but long-term will generate traffic and more leads.

DISCOVERABLE

SEO doesn’t have to be scary. Plus it’s not just about websites. Make sure you are easily discoverable plus sharing  your expertise to develop lead opportunities. For LinkedIn this includes:

  • keywords; think about the keywords within your profile and how they rank. Do some benchmarking and look at your peers and compare your profile in terms of keywords and make some changes.
  • profile completion; review and update regularly.
  • use a professional profile or image
  • make sure your branding is consistent with other social media platforms
  • use your banner/header with a striking relevant image or your branding
  • add all your work experience, make sure job titles, dates and achievements are up to date
  • join groups within LinkedIn; these connections will be displayed on your profile and their names assist your rank in searches that potential customers are creating
  • recommendations and testimonials; make sure that people you work with write a recommendation. again make sure they mention your skills

Linkedin Lightbulbs

Groups

Proving your expertise is not just engaging with what others are doing but also you actively engaging with conversations. So make sure to respond to articles, share stories and talk to people online. Be professional, courteous and positive. Don’t challenge views or be rude. Don’t criticise, be positive and constructive. Trolling at any level is not going to be appreciated. Also don’t blatantly sell your services – people will simply take this as spam.

Another way to active potential leads is to create your own LinkedIn group. This is a simple powerful way to establish yourself as an authority within your sector. Starting a LinkedIn Group is easy to do. Keeping it fed, monitored, mediated and maintained takes time and effort so think wisely.

Make sure you add content to your group on a regular basis plus start to add members in your chosen field.

There are a number of tools that can help you find relevant content from the variety of platforms and resources e.g. Buzzsumo or Feedly.

Clients

Once you have established your group and identified your content resources now its time to cultivate your leads.  Aim to grow your potential leads from between 500 – 1000. This might seem ambitious, take time and effort but it is achievable.  LinkedIn is fast approaching 500 million users.

Search for people who are your target customers using keywords and location. Invite them to your group, and start to connect with them. Make sure you identify the decision level for your contacts, CEO, Manager; whatever is appropriate for you.

Connecting with clients takes a lot of time and effort and it’s not a quick fix. Reach out to a number of people each day or week. Set yourself a goal and make sure you connect with a set number of people each time. Explain to them why you want to connect, personalise as much as possible – I want to add you to my network.

Remember don’t overdo it. Send a simply request and don’t worry if they don’t accept that’s fine. But most will.

Build a relationship with your contacts, continue to create and share relevant content. Work on your rapport and think about your tone.

Your aim is not to promote your product and services but to establish yourself as a influencer, an expert in your field. Provide free advice, make suggestions and be someone who people will think of first for tips, connections and suggestions. You won’t have all the answers but within your network you will know someone who will.

add value

Provide value always, connect to everyone who wants to connect with you, do your best to solve problems.

Long-term think about running a webinar or Q&A sessions. Bring other influencers onboard with you and share the workload. You will all benefit.

Remember to feed your content and don’t be afraid to update and refresh content as appropriate.

Generating business through LinkedIn takes time. However, it will be worth it. Trust me.