Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Sales Matters in EdTech: Influencing the "Influencers"

Last night I joined the inaugural Social Selling Hour Twitter Chat (#sshour) and anyone who takes a dim view on sales people really should check this Twitter Stream... Technology is not only disrupting the sales of books with Amazon, it is also disrupting the people involved with sales... Social Media is disrupting this profession the same as it is with any other industry.

Before joining #sshour I also blogged about the session, where I spoke highly about people I have learned an awful lot from. After publishing this post something crossed my mind... Is this post open to people questioning my motivation? Was I trying to "Influence the influencers?" 

Reaching Out to Influencers
The reason for thinking about this is because this very topic created some animated discussion on Friday's #Cmgrhangout: Community 101. The following question was raised by moderator Jonathan Brewer (@Houseofbrew); 

How do you reach out to Influencers? "Your boss has told you to reach out to influencers and advocates. Help! What you do? How to you go about achieving this?"

Here's some of the views from Maya Paveza (@mayapaveza), David DeWald (@Historian) & Brian Fanzo (@isocial_Fanz)

Maya: "Now hold on you can't just reach out and make 'an ask' you have to contribute to your community you have to give to people, you have to build relationships and have trust before you EVER go for 'an ask' ... if you do that people will go running in the other direction" 

David: Touched on the nature and intent of why people were reaching out to influencers "If it's gratitude then, that's a fine reach out"

Maya: "If you are told to "Reach out to influencers" then a favour is implied"

Brian: "We need to rephrase the question, we need to ask what can we give the influencer? Give them something of value" 

Maya: "You're going to have a solid relationship and a great product so you won't need to ask. If you've got the relationship they're gonna promote you any way" She went on to say "There are so many people out there who are appearing to be altruistic and giving to communities... but are really thinking about 'what's in it for me, then there are others who just giving without asking for anything" 

Brian: "Your personal brand should be about who you are and that should stand out"

Takers, Matchers & Givers
Would anyone think that I am using flattery to try ingratiate myself with the influencers that I wrote about... Especially as the reason for my "Being social" post might be seen as taking Brian's advice of "What can I do for this influencer?" in the #cmgrhangout forum, and apply it by blogging about a new forum he was establishing. Not exactly "subtle," I know, but I bet it's the kind of 'reach out' that influencers will get from time to time.

I think the discussion between Maya, David and Brian were great examples of how people's motivations impact on the way they go about building their networks;

"Most people operate as either takers, matchers, or givers. Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly... givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return" Adam Grant Give and Take

Grant goes on to explain what makes the givers networking efforts different by introducing us to Adam Rifkin who, in 2011 had more LinkedIn connections to the 640 powerful people on Fortunes lists than any other human being on the planet. Grant explains that the secret to Rifkins' success is that; 

"He gives a lot more than he receives. It's part of his mantra to be helpful. This exemplifies how givers tend to approach networks and stands in stark contrast to the way that takers and matchers tend to build and extract value from their connections... Takers and matchers tend to give strategically, with an expected personal return that exceeds or equals their contributions. When takers and matchers network, they tend to focus on who can help them in the near future, and this dictates what, where, and how they give"

All 3 of these groups are touched upon in the #Cmgrhangout and wanted to explore these in the context of me praising Brian Fanzo, Alice Myerhoff (@motodot) and Rachel Miller (@rachelloumiller)

I am very much a learner with these issues, but everyone has to start somewhere... at the very least I'm making an attempt to explore social media, community management and social selling. There has not been any strategy or method for "reaching out to influencers." Any outreach has been attempt to "Get Social." 

As well as dispelling any suggestion that I was blogging to engage with influencers, I want to reiterate the advice from #Cmgrhangout and encourage newbies to follow their advice... It's certainly working out OK for this newbie.    

Maya: Build Relationships 
I have joined #Cmgrhangout most weeks since "Community Managers Awareness Day" and have followed Brian on Social Media as, like many Community Managers, he is very generous with his time and has lots of great advice... The reason for singling Brian out was because I have followed 3 communities that he's recommended. 

While Alice is new to EdSurge, I am a huge fan! I am so impressed with what EdSurge has achieved in the 3 years since the company was established. My reasons for this are covered on the last page of my EdTech report. I keep in touch with my EdSurge contacts to let them know about any crazy ideas I'm exploring.

I didn't mention Rachel as much as I should have in my "Being Social" post but with her it's not a case of reaching out to influencers, it's the way she reaches out to anyone she comes into contact with... Go send her a Tweet and see what happens.

David: Reach out with Gratitude
I am extremely grateful for the fact that EdSurge provide such great quality EdTech coverage, and have been instrumental in closing some of the divisions that exist between educators and EdTech companies. 
The least I could do was highlight that the new VP of Sales has written a book in an area that is of interest to me, and which could help close this gap further if more EdTech people were to read it.

Brian is involved with so many online forums where he freely gives up his time and the benefit of his extensive experience, the least I could do was to highlight that there was a new chat session... especially as, again, this is an area that I'm focusing on with my "Sales Matters" posts 

Maya: Do me a Favour!
While I may have "reached out" to influencers this has usually been to say thank you. These groups and people have taught me so much about community engagement, expressing gratitude is just plain good manners... As is not asking for a favour. Here we have a group of people who are giving up their time to share their hard earned expertise free of charge. What more should you expect? Instead of asking for a favour, stop and think about how much of a favour these influencers are doing by not charging you for their advice!

Brian: How Can you Help? 
Adam Grant's book had a huge impact on me and I try to help wherever I can. This includes working on trying to change people's perceptions about sales in EdTech and this post was very much in line with his advice of;

"Your personal brand should be about who you are and that should stand out"

Any attempt to "reach out influencers" was consistent with what I have been working on for the last 14 months. Everyone likes win-win situations. With thousands of EdTech companies all contacting the same education clients I am a big fan of the 5 minute favour and Reciprocity Rings.

I saw an opportunity to give a shout out to EdSurge's new(ish) VP of sales book this allowed me to highlight  --> the area of expertise that Brian & Rachel's new Twitter chat which --> could help EdTech sales teams who are struggling to understand the changes in sales and social selling leads to --> improved engagement with customers leads to better --> understanding, collaboration and co-creation. 

Being Likeable... Always Show your Friendship First
The reason that I got Adam Grant's book was because it sounded an awful lot like an article I read last year by Dave Kerpen called Always Show your Friendship First. This also had a big impact on me and Give and Take mirrored this message.

I'll leave you with the wisdom of a "shy, Star Trek loving, anagram obsessing software geek...Oh and he also happens to be the most connected person on the planet;

"I want to improve the world and, and I want to smell good doing it" Adam Rifkin Motto.

"My network developed little by little, in fact a little every day through small acts of kindness, over the course of many years, with the desire to make better the lives of the people I'm connected to... When you have nothing, what's the first thing you try to do? You try to make a connection and have a relationship that gives you an opportunity to do something for someone else" Adam Rifkin via Give and Take.

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