Remembering 9/11… Something Special Happened Today

Hi friends!  It’s Jason with the Blue Gurus blog post for this week.

Enterprise-UniversityI really enjoy meeting new people and training them on using LinkedIn and blogging to grow their businesses.  I got a good dose of that feeling today when I did a 3 hour, in-depth training session on LinkedIn for Enterprise University.  EU is a training program that Enterprise Bank offers to customers and prospects.  There were about 35 people in the class today and we met at the Hallbrook Country Club, a beautiful venue for sure.

As I was driving to the club at 7:30 am, I was thinking about the fact that today is 9/11.  It’s hard to believe that today is the 13th anniversary of the terrible events and thousands of lives lost on September 11th, 2001.  I remember exactly where I was at when it was happening.  I was with my family in Colorado.  We had rented a cabin in Colorado Springs as our staging point for Garden of the Gods, the Pike’s Peak cog railway, hiking up Seven Falls, and more.

On the morning of 9/11/01, we were going to take the cog railway up Pike’s Peak.  I went out to the car to wait for the rest of my family and turned on the radio.  The station it was on had some person talking, so I changed the channel.  The next station I found had another person talking, so I changed the channel again.  When I got to the third station and it was still someone talking, I started to listen and realized everyone was reporting that planes were crashing into the World Trade Center.  I couldn’t believe it.  I went back into the cabin, and we turned on the TV and watched the news unfold for the next two hours.  I was shocked, heart broken, and angry.  The emotions were raw and stayed with me for weeks.

And then a year went by.  I remembered the events like they were yesterday on the first anniversary.  And then a couple more years went by.  Lots of things happened in life and in business.  I got married.  Moved a couple of times.  Started my own business.  And thirteen years later  I found myself in the Enterprise University class at Hallbrook Country Club getting ready to teach people a lot of cool stuff about LinkedIn.  I wanted to recognize the day as a group, but I didn’t really know what to do.  A moment of silence?  A quick discussion?  I just didn’t know what to do.

9-11-EULuckily, I was saved by Britt.  Britt came to the class to learn about networking on LinkedIn.  She is a singer.  She sings at weddings, sports events, funerals and corporate events.  During one of the breaks, she came over to me and said, “You know, it’s 9/11.  Do you think it would be appropriate if I sang the national anthem?”  I was floored.  I mean it.  You know that I am rarely at a loss for words, but it took me a minute to respond to Britt.  I loved the idea and pulled up a picture of the American flag on the big screen I was using for my training.

When everyone got back from the break, I asked them to stand for the National Anthem in memory of 9/11.  It got really, really quiet.  Britt sang the anthem beautifully.  It was an amazing moment.  Here was a room full of business people that didn’t really know each other.  And we all took a minute to remember the events of 9/11 together.  Some people sang along quietly.  Others had their hands over their heart.  And it was one of those moving moments that doesn’t happen very often.  It was unexpected.  And powerful.  I was so thankful that Britt was brave enough to sing in front of the group.

For me, there really is no distinction between “business” and “personal”.  It’s just life.  I am the same person whether we are training your executive team on LinkedIn or having a beer together at a Royals baseball game.  Today was a reminder to me that we are in this together and there is always common ground.

So as you read this, I hope you will join me in remembering 9/11.  If you knew or were related to anyone at ground zero that lost their life, I am so sorry.  And my respect and thanks to the bravery of the police, firefighters and other services that responded so quickly trying to help.

You Don’t Lose Weight By Thinking About Going To The Gym

Post Author: Mic Johnson

I’ve been talking to Jason, people in my peer advisory group, and others about something that’s been bothering me for the better part of 2014.

I’m hoping anyone that reads this post will take a minute to try to help me out. Perhaps your experiences can give me some perspective I don’t currently have.

First, let me quickly provide a little background. Blue Gurus does three things for companies in Kansas City:

1. Content Marketing for companies that need an accountability partner to help them successfully execute a monthly blogging strategy.

2. On-site web development where most of our projects are done in 2-4 full day sessions at our clients’ offices. (Yes, we actually come TO your office and build it there!)

3. LinkedIn Training for companies that want to better utilize LinkedIn for sales and sharing content.

ThinkingAboutWorkingOutMost people would agree that all of those things are essential (dare I say…critical?) for companies in today’s business world.

You want to share the stories about your business, your products and services, your people, and more.

You want a professional, easy-to-navigate web site.

And you want a professional LinkedIn profile that accurately represents who you are, what you do, and what you’ve accomplished in your career.

Can we all agree on that?

Ok, Now On To What’s Been Bothering Me

Throughout the better part of 2014 both Jason and I have had countless conversations with decision makers in Kansas City who know they need a new web site, who know they need help with LinkedIn, and who know that their company should be blogging.

We tell them what we do, how we do it, and how quickly we can get it all done. In fact, we’ve partnered with several businesses who had poor web sites, poor LinkedIn profiles, and no blogging strategy and had them cranking on all three in just a couple of months.

We explain this to every single prospect we talk to. It all makes complete sense to them. They get excited about it. They know it’s absolutely the right thing to do.

And then they go back to their office, get busy, and end up doing…..you guessed it…..

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

You Don’t Lose Weight By Thinking About Going To The Gym

I’ve used this analogy a lot lately to describe this phenomenon we’ve seen in 2014. Even though we all know it would be totally awesome, you don’t lose weight by thinking about going to the gym.

You only lose weight when you make the effort consistently to get up each day, get some cardio and weights in, and stay committed to it (and eating healthier of course) over the long haul. And some people do this by hiring a personal trainer. That’s very similar to how we work.

So here’s the deal….

1. Very few people are going to learn about all of the cool things that you, your team, and your company do unless you start REGULARLY sharing your stories.

2. Your web site won’t ever look better and be easier to navigate if you keep ignoring it, wait for it to go down, or wait for a client or prospect to tell you how bad it is.

3. Your LinkedIn profile won’t get better until you spend some time getting trained on what makes a good profile and learn how to more effectively use LinkedIn.

We’ve had people that have gone through painful web site projects in the past that describe the experience with Blue Gurus as “FUN”, and “EASY”, and “SIMPLE”.

We’ve had people go through LinkedIn training say “OH, I DIDN’T KNOW YOU COULD DO THAT. IT ALL MAKES SENSE. I’M DEFINITELY GOING TO USE LINKEDIN MORE!”

We’ve had blogging clients say “THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST BUSINESS DECISIONS WE’VE EVER MADE.”

It’s not nearly as hard and painful as you think it is. And we’re here to help.

Email (mic@bluegurus.com) or call me (913-645-6650) today. Let’s work together to lose the dead business weight you’ve been carrying around for far too long.

The Top 5 Things Web Development Companies Don’t Want You To Know

Hi friends, it’s Jason.  This week, I’m going to share the 5 things that web development companies don’t want you to know.

1) Web Hosting Doesn’t Cost $250 Per Month

I’ve talked to a lot of companies over the years who are paying their web development company hundreds of dollars per month for hosting their website. For the majority of businesses, this just isn’t necessary. Don’t get me wrong, if you have an eCommerce website with a lot of traffic, you might have to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month for secure hosting.

Flywheel LogoThat being said, most companies use their website to share information and have about 10-15 pages of content. About 23% of all websites are powered by WordPress. We choose to host all of our client websites at Flywheel for $30/month.

And we don’t mark it up… our clients pay Flywheel directly.

Other companies may try to justify a $250/month hosting fee by providing you monthly Google Analytics reports (which you can get for free) and the promise that they will update your content for you. But when you ask for updates to your website content, sometimes it may take several days for them to get it done.

Next time your business is wanting a new web site, consider WordPress to power it…and Flywheel to host it. The WordPress software is free and hosting at Flywheel is $30/month.

2) You Can Get A Good Logo For $300

If you go to a marketing company or professional graphics designer for a new logo, you will often see price tags in the $2,000 – $5,000 range for a small business with less than 100 employees. The most common complaint (besides price) that I hear about this is that you only get to see 2-3 logo concepts and then you get to choose one to modify enough until you like it. Ugh.

LogoMyWay.com LogoAnother alternative, for around $300, is doing a logo contest at LogoMyWay.com. LogoMyWay is a worldwide community of graphics designers that compete in logo contests. The winner of the contest gets the prize money established by the company running the contest.

Usually, the contest prize amount is around $300, and you can expect to get between 40-60 logo designs from which to choose a winner. Many of the designers are from other countries where $300 will go a long way in their local economy. I’ve helped about a dozen companies use LogoMyWay for their logo and people have been happy with the results every time. You can check out current logo contests here. Read more

Why Do I Care More About Your Personal Brand On LinkedIn Than You Do?

Post Author: Mic Johnson

I recently had breakfast with Sam Bowlby of the Cornerstone Insurance Group. We were introduced by a mutual acquaintance, and my awesome friend, Melissa Eggleston of Alterra Bank.

We spent a little bit of time talking about what we do for a living and about some of the people we have in common on LinkedIn. That led to a conversation where I explained to him that Blue Gurus trains sales teams how to best utilize LinkedIn.

As we were talking, I told Sam:

“I can’t believe how many people know that their LinkedIn profile is horrible…yet are completely content to do nothing about it. It drives me crazy. I mean, LinkedIn is THE business-to-business professional networking site, and people know that there are other people who look at their profile, but they don’t care.

A bad LinkedIn profile is a disservice to that person, to their company, and to everyone who looks at their profile. It’s almost like I care more about their personal brand than THEY do!”

And after I said that last sentence, I told Sam that it would be the title of my next blog post. So here we are.  Read more

I Have A Passion For People That Have Passion

Post Author: Mic Johnson

Have you ever had a situation where you learn something about yourself in the most unexpected way?

Maybe you were reading a book and had an “A-ha moment”.

Maybe you were talking to a friend and something just clicked in your head.

Maybe you knew it about yourself all along, but it rested in your subconscious, only to be suddenly awakened.

That’s happened to me a few times in my life and it’s always such an awesomely cool experience when it does. It happened to me early in my career with Blue Gurus and was the inspiration for me writing I’m Just Trying To Get Away From People That Suck. Read more

LinkedIn Networking Best Practices

Hi guys.  It’s Jason!

Thinking Bigger LogoI was recently asked by James Hart with Thinking Bigger Business Media to write an article on LinkedIn networking best practices for their annual Thinking Bigger Guide. He asked me to share my advice on how to use LinkedIn to make business connections without alienating potential partners. He also asked me to focus on the correct way to send invitations to connect, and whether or not people should connect with others they don’t actually know.

Before I share my thoughts about LinkedIn networking best practices, I wanted to share this link to all of the LinkedIn blog articles we have written over the past 5 years.  Most of the content is still relevant, useful, and even funny. Especially the article Mic wrote called 20 Reasons Your Business Should NOT Be On LinkedIn.

Okay, here we go.

LinkedInI just checked my LinkedIn profile and found that I signed up on August 25th, 2006.  It’s been 8 years and LinkedIn is by far my favorite tool for strengthening relationships through social media. I’ve helped a bunch of people and made a good living… and I’ve made LinkedIn an important part of my success.

I have strong opinions about how to use LinkedIn to network effectively. Keep in mind that my goal in networking has always been to connect and stay top of mind with the people that I admire, trust and respect in Kansas City. Sure, I’m connected to people in lots of places, but we live and work primarily in Kansas City, so my networking efforts are focused where they will have the most value for Blue Gurus.

I specifically want to know and connect to the owners and decision makers of the roughly 6,000 businesses that are potential clients in the KC metro area.

Decide How Open Or Closed Your Network Should Be

Totally AwesomeI believe that you should treat your LinkedIn network like a members only club full of awesome people, and you are the owner and president that decides who gets to be in your club.

You should know and trust the people that you invite to connect. Hopefully you’ve done business together and gotten to know each other socially outside of “work”.

By hand picking these kinds of relationships, you’re narrowing your focus to the people that like you, want to be around you and want to help you succeed.  They become your extended sales force and cheerleaders.

Your Connections Make An Impression

When people get referred to you or your business, they’re going to check you out on LinkedIn.  Their first impression is driven by your profile being complete, your picture, your summary and your shared connections.

How much more would you trust me before you even met me if we had 20 connections in common versus zero, especially if those 20 connections were some of your most trusted business friends and peers?

This happens to me regularly, and it feels great!  Just about every opportunity begins with a conversation about who referred us and the great people that we know in common.

Your Connections Can Hurt You

Let’s face it.  There are plenty of people in the business community that suck. You know who I’m talking about… The takers. The time wasters. The ones that don’t do what they say they’re going to do. The ones that think they are too important to return your calls.

I promise you that their reputation is well known by others. If you’re connected to anyone like this on LinkedIn, their bad reputation may hurt you because of the association.

Are you worried about hurting their feelings by not accepting their connection request?  DON’T.  It’s your personal club, remember?  Make the right call and ignore that request from someone you just don’t care for, whatever the reason.

So How Do You Make Connections On LinkedIn Without Alienating People?

Now that you understand how I feel about protecting your network, you will understand why I wouldn’t recommend you sending connection requests to people you don’t know on LinkedIn. There are exceptions of course, but generally you should meet and connect with new people through your existing relationships.

Leverage your LinkedIn network to get introduced to the people you want to meet.  (There are many ways to generate a list of prospects, but I will save that for another article.)

Once you know who you need to meet, search for their profile on LinkedIn.  Then see who you know in common with that person.  Pick up the phone and ask your best connection  for an introduction. (If at all possible, give them a good reason why you want them to introduce you to their connection so it isn’t an awkward request. Do your research before asking.)

What’s The Correct Way To Send Invitations To Connect?  Personalize.

Mic touched on this last week.  Begin by searching for the person you want to connect to. Once you have found their LinkedIn profile, look for the blue “Connect” button beneath their name. Clicking this button will give you a dialog like the one below.

Fill out the form and be sure to take a minute to personalize the invitation. Remember, you’re asking them to let you into THEIR personal club of awesome people.  Take the time to let them know how you met and maybe include the next steps for getting together and building on your new relationship.

Personalized LinkedIn Request

Final Thoughts

  • I encourage you to think about your network of connections on LinkedIn. Do you really know the majority of them?  If not, maybe it is time for a little house cleaning. You can remove connections on LinkedIn by clicking on Connections, selecting the contact you want to remove, selecting the “More” button, and then choosing Remove Connection. (NOTE: It doesn’t alert the person that you’ve removed them.)
  • Consider removing any connections that have bad reputations in the business community.
  • Are you personalizing your connection requests?  If not, please start today.  Your future connections will appreciate it.

I would love to hear your thoughts!  Drop a comment or email jason@bluegurus.com.

5 Steps To Grow Your LinkedIn Network In Just 15 Minutes A Week

Post Author: Mic Johnson

If you’re like most people on LinkedIn, one area you can improve on is increasing the number of quality connections you have. The good news is that if you follow the 5 simple steps I’ve outlined below for just 15 minutes a week, you will quickly grow your LinkedIn connections and develop a robust network you can be proud of!

LinkedInThe benefits of developing and nurturing a quality network can’t be overstated. Your network may help you if you’re in sales and want to leverage trusted relationships to get a foot in the door. It may help you find your next career. It may help you find a vendor to help you or your company. If you or your company start blogging, it also provides an audience to share your content with.

Growing your LinkedIn network with quality connections can do nothing but help you and your career. Completing these simple steps will make that a reality sooner rather than later.

1. Add A Recurring, Weekly 15 Minute Appointment To Your Calendar.

Go to your Outlook, Google or other electronic calendar and create a recurring weekly, 15 minute calendar appointment that says “Add LinkedIn Connections”. Schedule it on a day and time you will commit to each week.  Calendar appt

2. Log in to LinkedIn and go to “People You May Know”.

“People You May Know” appears in the upper right hand side of your LinkedIn home page.

People You May Know

3. Click on “See More”.

Once you click on “See More”, LinkedIn will pull up a never-ending list of people that you may know.

IMPORTANT: You want to focus on connecting to people that you know, trust, respect, have worked with, can vouch for, etc. It isn’t a numbers game. You want your LinkedIn network to be comprised of trusted relationships…not just a bunch of people you don’t know.

SeeMore

 4. DON’T select the “Connect” button. DO select the button with a pencil inside of a square.

The reason for this is if you hit the “Connect” button, LinkedIn will automatically send the default (and highly impersonal) “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” message. Instead, select the button that has a pencil inside of a square and personalize your connection request.

(NOTE: If you don’t know some of the people showing up in “People You May Know” simply hover over the rectangle and an “x” will appear in the upper right hand corner. Click the “x” to delete that connection request suggestion from LinkedIn.)

5. Personalize your connection requests.

Once you’ve clicked on the button with a pencil inside of a square, the image below will appear. Delete the default LinkedIn message and instead type in a personal message such as:

“Hi Tim. It’s good to see you on LinkedIn. I’m working on growing my network and was hoping we could connect. Let me know if I can ever help you in any way. I hope all is well with you and the family. Have a great day!”

Also get into the habit of removing your last name in the default message to make it less formal. Then hit “Send Invitation” and move on to the next one!

Do this for just 15 minutes a week and watch how quickly your LinkedIn network grows!

PersonalizeYourInvite

2,200 Rolls of Toilet Paper for Hope House! [PICS]

Hello again!  It’s me, Jason, with this week’s blog post.

I wanted to write a follow up on the Toilet Paper Drive that we had for Hope House. Our goal was 1,000 rolls.  Honestly, I had no idea if we would hit that number or not. It just seemed like a good goal that would make a real difference.

I was so happy to see that people were moved by the blog post and stepped up to help.  It’s amazing what good can come from a single blog post!

We would like to thank the following people for donating a total of 2,200 rolls of toilet paper over the last six weeks!

(Listed in order of  number of rolls donated)
Dana Brown and Jim Stuelke
Jason and Trista Terry
Kandy Meehan
Doug Hubler
Scott and Kristen Smith
Cari Duffin
Mic and Missy Johnson
Keith Steiniger
Rob Frazier
Multiple people at our client SRA Insurance
Mike Kelly
Becky Schieber
Jacob Wayman
Scott Rowe
Esther Fairbanks

We tried to keep the list updated as the donations came in, but a lot of them were Amazon.com boxes with no identifying info. If I missed your name, please let me know and I will update the post!

MaryAnne Metheny, Hope House CEO, said “This is a new record” for toilet paper donations!

Also, BIG thanks to my good friend Earl Kawaoka, VP and General Manager at Fry-Wagner Moving and Storage for donating a truck to get the stacks of rolls from my garage to Hope House.

HopeHouse-TPProject-008 HopeHouse-TPProject-006 HopeHouse-TPProject-004HopeHouse-TPProject-003

 HopeHouse-TPProject-007

I wish you could have been with Mic and I when we went to Hope House to drop off the stacks of toilet paper. It was amazing!  I knew we were making a real difference for Hope House and it felt great.  MaryAnne was so happy to see us.  We made quick work of getting the rolls into their building and into the back of the truck that was taking about half of the rolls to their other Hope House location.

Several great things came out of this effort:

  • Lots of people came together to make a difference.  Three contributors donated at least 250 rolls… awesome.
  • So many people stepped up that I had to find help to deliver all the boxes and bags of toilet paper. Earl was excited to help when I asked, and immediately said yes.  We couldn’t have done it so efficiently without his help.
  • More people know about Hope House and their mission.  If you haven’t already, please read my previous post about Hope House and why they are so worthy of our support.
  • One of our clients, Kansas City Internal Medicine, was inspired by this effort and decided to run their own program at all of their locations. They will be blogging about it soon and we’re excited to see how many rolls they will be able to provide to Hope House!

Final Thought

This shouldn’t be a one time thing.  The 2,200 rolls we were able to pull together will be enough for 2 months of normal use at the two Hope House locations.  They can always use more, so if you missed out on our TP Drive, please consider running one of your own.

The feeling you get by helping others is one of the best feelings in the world!

Want To Be Successful? Read This.

Hello! It’s me, Mic. This blog post is about the topic that so many people seem to be obsessed with these days (and have been for decades)…SUCCESS…and some of my personal thoughts around the topic.

The reason I’ m writing this post is because my Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and RSS feeds are bombarded every single day with posts about how to be successful.

success In fact, as I was writing this blog post (no joke), my sister in law sent me and my wife Missy an email to an article titled “10 Habits of Highly Successful Small Business Owners.” (We own MJMeetings, LLC)

Heck, you can read an entire magazine every month dedicated to success. The name of the magazine? You guessed it…SUCCESS.

When I Google’d “How To Be Successful” it came back with 158,000,000 hits! Here are just a few of the articles from that search:

Read more

Evercontact Is Awesome… It Automatically Updates Your Contacts in Google Or Outlook

Hey there…it’s Jason with this week’s Blue Gurus blog post!

Every once in a while I find a tool or service that blows my mind.  Evercontact wins that prize for June!  Thanks to Tony and Joe at Umzuzu for recommending it to me.

Evercontact

How often do you find yourself pulling up a contact record in your phone and realize you don’t have the business address listed as you’re trying to drive to their office? Okay, maybe I could plan a little better, but that really does happen to me more often than I’d like.  What about when you are trying to call someone and all you have is their email address and no phone number?  I am happy to tell you that this rarely happens to me now because of Evercontact.

Why Was My Mind Blown?

Evercontact is this magical service that goes through your email inbox every night.  It looks for email signatures from all the people that are sending you email.  When it finds an email signature, it grabs all the information it can… street address, main business phone, mobile phone, email address, website address and more.  It then looks in your Google Contacts or Outlook Contacts to find a match.

When a match is found, Evercontact updates your contact record automatically with the new information. If you don’t want to trust it right away, you can choose to have Evercontact send you an email that shows you the new information it found, and you can update your contact record by clicking a single confirmation link.

How It Works

So let’s say that I have Mic Johnson in my contacts with just his name and email address.  And then Mic sends me an email that has a signature at the bottom with his mailing address and cell phone number listed.  Evercontact finds the match and adds the mailing address and cell phone number to my contact record in Google Apps, and I don’t have to do ANYTHING for that to happen.  And then, because I have my mobile phone connected to my contacts, Mic’s record on my phone will be updated automatically with the new information as well.  Can you see the value in that???

TECH TIP: If your company or organization uses Google Apps, you can install Evercontact for everyone in your Google Apps account at one time, as long as you are an administrator.

I have email conversations with a lot of people every week.  Evercontact is always there looking for updated contact information for me.  It is worth every penny of the $59/year that I pay for the service.  I highly recommend you check it out and save yourself the time of manually updating your contact records!