Business Banking E-Newsletter - April 2011

How to be a Social Media Authority

Earning the respect and trust of your audience

Social media is an all-important avenue for all business types since business owners realize its worth. When it was a new trend, not many people thought that it was going to live up to its hype in the world of business but just look at how it evolved from connecting old friends to connecting business contacts.

One could not count on their fingers how many gurus, specialists and trend setters there are in the world of social media. So what makes them believable? Why is it that more people take their word rather than anyone else’s? It’s because they have established themselves as the authority in their own niche.

Social media is all about interaction and it would help you to create and build authority. Being an active member of a certain social networking site does not make you an expert or an authority figure overnight. It would take time for you to build credibility. People all over the world generally recognize and respect authority figures.

However, there’s a need for exposure. You cannot claim to be an expert in a certain field if you just popped out one morning on any social networking site. You have got to earn the respect and trust of the people you want to reach out to. Your followers and friends should have a basis that you know something they don’t know about topics they care about.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Create a profile that emphasizes your area of expertise. You are trying to connect to like-minded individuals such as yourself and it is important that they at least have an idea who you are and what you do.
  2. Build a number of quality followers. It is true that the more people follow you, the more exposure you and your brand gets. But then, how solid is that following?  It’s better to have a manageable number of followers which you can truly reach and have more likelihood of getting your word out for you than a hefty number who probably are just looking for more followers without thinking about conversion. The bottom line? It’s not about the number; it’s always about the quality.
  3. Create relevant and interesting content and do away with fluff articles. Blogging is another medium in which you can build authority. You have to know which customers you’re targeting. Once you have established that, you have to be consistently giving them new information, advice and tips to have a steady flow of traffic to your site.
  4. Dare to be different. It’s not about creating controversy, it’s about voicing your own opinions. Whatever social media platform you’re using, you need to be honest and vocal about what you really feel on a subject or topic which piques the interest of your target market.
  5. Remember your manners and put social media on your priority list. It’s important to maintain online relationships if you want to be considered an authority of a certain niche. You have to observe proper social media etiquette because it might just spell your doom if you don’t.

As a prolific social media user, what are your thoughts on how to be seen as an authority in your niche? Share your experience and results in the comments.

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Secrets of Inspired & Inspiring Leadership Revealed

An inspired and motivated workforce is essential for any business that hopes to stay ahead of the competition. But just how do you motivate people? What kind of leadership do people respond to? And how can you improve the quality of leadership in your business?

The Inspiration Gap

In a survey of more than one and a half thousand managers, people were asked what they would most like to see in their leaders. The most popular answer, mentioned by 55% of people, was ‘inspiration’.

When asked if they would describe their current leader as ‘inspiring’, only 11% said ‘yes’. The two attributes that people actually mentioned most often, when describing their leaders, were ‘knowledgeable’ and ‘ambitious’. As well as this thirst for inspiring leadership, there’s also evidence to support the idea that companies with inspiring leaders perform better.

The London Sunday Times publishes an annual survey of the ‘Best Companies to Work For’, which is compiled from the opinions of the companies’ own employees. One interesting fact is that those ‘Best Companies’, that are publicly quoted consistently, outperform the FTSE All-Share Index. Five-year compound returns show a 5.7% negative return for FTSE All-Share companies against a 13.6% gain for the ‘Best Companies’. Over three years, the returns were -11.3% and 6.7% respectively while, in the last twelve months, they were 23.1% and 44%.

The ‘Best Companies to Work For’ have also performed impressively on staff turnover, sickness rates, absenteeism, and the ability to recruit good quality people.

The stereotype of the inspirational leader as someone extrovert and charismatic is the exception, rather than the rule. Looking at best practice across business, though some inspirational leaders certainly do fit this mould, a large number do not. Many are quiet, almost introverted. The following are some of the most commonly observed characteristics of inspiring leaders:

Strong Strategic Focus

They are very good at ensuring that the business only does those things where it has the resources to do a good job and where it can add real value.

Lateral Thinkers

They are particularly adept at drawing on experiences, outside their own sectors, and taking a much broader view than the norm. They look at things very laterally and encourage their people to do the same.

Vision and Communication

An inspirational leader has a very strong, customer-focused vision of where the business should be going. Importantly, they are also able to communicate their vision so that their people feel they own it and know where they fit into it. The best leaders are great communicators who prefer plain speaking to jargon.


They are deeply committed, courageous, demanding of themselves and their people and confident - albeit often in a quiet and under-stated way. What singles them out is an exceptionally strong set of values built on honesty, openness and true respect for their people.

What makes an inspiring leader?


What distinguishes them is genuine humility and not being afraid to show vulnerability on occasions. This comes from regular periods of reflection and an unquenchable thirst for learning.

Risk Takers

They have a marked tendency to ‘bend the rules’, take calculated risks and, on occasions, be guided by their gut-feelings. They also tolerate this in other people, recognizing that a certain amount of flexibility is essential to adapt to circumstances and make real strides forward.


They make time to get out and speak to people. This informal and personal contact is a very powerful motivator. Equally, when they are at their own desk, they aren’t cosseted behind a wall of PAs.

Value Attitude

They value skills and training very highly, but they also focus heavily on attitude, believing that, without the right attitude and motivation, nothing will be achieved.

Earlier, we looked at the qualities of inspiring leaders. The question is, why do these traits produce results?

Pay is only one component of job satisfaction. Other factors, like respect and prestige, can be tremendously important in making staff feel good about their jobs. The reason that inspiring leadership produces results is that it contributes directly to fulfilling many of people’s emotional needs.

The following are some of the ways that best practice in leadership contributes to improved job satisfaction, motivation and productivity.

Why people respond to leaders

Being Listened To:

A business, where only senior managers are allowed to ‘have ideas’, rarely achieves great staff satisfaction. Inspirational leaders ask for, and respect, what their people tell them about how to do things better - and they provide the resources to ensure that the solutions are delivered.

Being Involved:

Inspirational leaders involve their people in changes for them to be a success. They give their people the freedom and support to get on with the job. When you walk around these companies, there is electricity in the air – you can feel the energy and buzz.

Having Fun:

In successful companies, people work hard but enjoy themselves in the process. Fun is a great indicator that an organization is innovative and is also a key innovation driver. At the ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ you see a lot of fun at work.

Being Trusted:

It’s no coincidence that, when you ask people what it is like to work in an organization run by an inspirational leader, they talk about openness, honesty, respect and trust. These firms can boast highly committed staff that has a great sense of responsibility to their work.

Being Appreciated:

Recognition is an absolutely crucial element of inspiration, and few things are more powerful, or simple, than a genuine ‘thank you’. Inspirational leaders know that it’s vital that people feel appreciated and valued, so they show their appreciation through extensive celebration of success – both formally and informally.


The best leaders promote a culture where their people value themselves, each other, the company and the customers. Everyone understands how their work makes a difference. This helps to build a commitment to higher standards where everybody is always looking to do things better.

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5 Traits of a Great Business

Going from good to great

What is it that separates an average small business from a great one? We all run across basic businesses every day -- they do their jobs and provide their services, however blandly or unremarkably.

But every now and then you stumble across what can only be called a great small business -- maybe the employees are sincerely enthusiastic or the service is exceptional or the value is incredible, or something else altogether. Whatever it is, the business is memorable.

There are five traits that make a small business great:

1. They have great teams.
When venture capitalists look to invest in a new business, what is it that they look for? One thing you will always hear them say is "the team." These professional investors know that there are no shortages of good ideas out there, but it is usually the ability of the management team to execute on those ideas that can make all the difference.

A survey of franchises which sought to determine the difference between mediocre and great franchisees determined that the best franchises -- the ones that made money consistently, that had low turnover and high customer loyalty -- were ones where the owner treated his or her employees exceptionally well. The staff was paid well, respected and had fun at work. In turn, they did a great job for the owner. They were a great team.

2. They are fun.
In the book Fish, a Remarkable Way to Boost Morale and Improve Results, the authors look at a similar question: Why are some businesses better than others? Their conclusion was that the better ones are just more fun. It only makes sense, doesn't it? A fun workplace will tend to be a more enthusiastic one. Consider too these additional business benefits of fun at work:

  • Relieves stress
  • Helps retain employees
  • Stimulates creativity
  • Increases communication
  • Resonates with customers
  • Increases productivity
  • Boosts morale

3. They take calculated risks.
Of course you know that if you always do the same thing you will always get the same results. But businesses that take things to the next level are willing to be innovative. Some of those risks will pay off, others won't, but the ones that do can make all the difference.

Don't rest on your laurels, but don't take a crazy risk either. Smart, calculated risks are the hallmark of businesses that are both vibrant and growth-oriented.

4. They have BHAGs.
Collins and Porras put it best in Good to Great -- great companies have what they called BHAGs -- Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals.

There are plenty of reasons to create a BHAG for your own business. As the authors point out, "A true BHAG is clear and compelling, serves as unifying focal point of effort, and acts as a clear catalyst for team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal; people like to shoot for finish lines."

5. They are about more than money. We all love to make money, but the best small businesses have other, equally compelling values at stake in the venture.

Joe Wilson owned a small company called Haloid that he would later rename after investing in an innovative new product. Wilson kept a small index card in his wallet that was found after he passed away. It said in part: "To attain serenity through the leadership of a business which brings happiness to its workers, serves its customers and brings prosperity to its owners."

Values bigger than money.

The name of that little company that went big? Xerox. Maybe you can copy that.

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