Innovation and digital skills

I was asked by Heidi Obschil to contribute in a collaborative article, about innovation and digital skills, for The Business Value Exchange. Here’s the final result for the complete article, which includes various perspectives from other professionals around the globe.

How to fuel Digital Progress







Original article: The Business Value Exchange.

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blur Group Case Study: Starting and Growing a Social Business

This is how blur Group has build a business only using the Social Web:

Businesses now see social media as an important channel but at blur Group it has been the only channel – for everything from staff recruitment to revenue generation. Showing the power of Social Media, Adictos Social Media, one of our first Crowd members, is now sharing this story at its event in Valencia.

When blur Group introduced the idea of Agency 3.0 it would have been easy to avoid practising what was being preached. Launch a Crowdsourced agency, demand social engagement, but promote and build using old media techniques. Many businesses have played safe and kept both lines well and truly open. Web 2.0 companies run by Web 1.0 people, using pre-Web selling.

The particular challenge that a Crowdsourced agency faces is that it has two audiences to entice. Any business needs customers and staff. Most early stage businesses recruit according to a fairly rigid model of planned growth, revenues, expectations, per capita returns. Customer acquisition determines the rate of the staff growth.

With blur Group the Crowd is the staff. It had to be built first. Without the Crowd, the model didn’t exist. Not just a skeleton startup team but, well, a Crowd. Step back a bit further. The Crowd had to have an office.

The office was a super-social managed platform. The intranet of a level of sophistication which a company could only dream about. Where the content is user generated, and the users are user generated, able to engage, discuss, share easily, gaining from each other’s expertise to strengthen their own crowd offering. A platform tailored to appeal to the type of Crowd member: subtly different options depending on the nature of the Crowd. The designers had to have a very visual platform, marketers want to show their specific skills through discussion groups. A truly social, if very virtual, office.

So how to recruit these Crowds? Blogs are the social media lynchpin. They start to tell the story that can then sail around the social networks.  They give some words to be used in word of mouth. At the early stages, as with most social media campaigns, it had to be about educating. Then engagement followed. Sometimes directly through 1:1 messages on networks like LinkedIn. More often as outreach with strong messages about what Crowd membership could deliver. As people started to ‘get’ Crowdsourcing, they wanted to be in the Crowd. A simple video explaining What is Crowdsourcing explained everything for the early community. Lesson: tell a story in as many ways as possible. Twitter, YouTube, WordPress are today’s fireside: the tale develops with each telling.

Part one of the mission accomplished: a large number of members of each of the Crowds. Or Crowdies as blur Group termed them.

To customers. blur Group needs them. The Crowd needs them. This is the point when many businesses would draw breath, mutter about social, but start a heavy duty marketing and sales effort to start to win business. Not blur Group. Holding to social principles we started to tell people what we were doing and created a simple method whereby they could use our services. The 1,2,3 of briefing and project delivery. Again, blogs to educate then engage potential clients. Encourage marketing directors, agencies, anyone with a need to run a campaign according to their rules, not those of a traditional agency, to come to blur Group and brief us. Promotion through Twitter and Facebook. Using good SEO techniques and small sums on AdWords. No resort to any other methods: if a potential client could see 8,000 people waiting to help them, then they couldn’t resist trying the process. Web only: no phone numbers are on the site. Submit a brief and then discover more.

Part two accomplished. The clients started submitting briefs; the Crowd could respond; blur Group and the Crowd started to win business and revenues. The additional managed Crowd approach that blur Group provided made it more valuable to clients and Crowd members than the free for all approach of the ‘designalogo’ sites. Today blur Group receives more than one new client brief a day, including from some of the worlds largest corporations.

Don’t think this wholly social approach was synonymous with a rapid startup. It took planning, took time and took effort. Three lessons there for those who believe that social is the cheap, fast alternative. It’s a different approach but needs the same disciplines as any other business growth plan. Belief being one of them. Flexibility is another: where do you need to plug more activity? What needs changing? When all the channels are social, it’s easier to adapt.

Now blur Group is moving to the next stage of growth and scaling faster. But it continues to adhere to its social standpoint. It may do more of it, the AdWords budget may increase, the Facebook pages may get a bit glossier and its PR beyond the digital domain and blogger community. We’ll even be attending some live events and organising some of our own to show our faces. But social will drive everything that blur Group does as it engages and grows both its Crowd Community and its Client Community. Community, Content and Collaboration are the Cs that make up most social marketing: blur Group adds Crowd to this mix and makes for a social business built and grown using social techniques.

What say you?

Attribution: blur Group

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The LinkedIn Manifesto – Part 1

You are probably already aware that LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with over 70 million members and growing rapidly. LinkedIn connects you to your trusted contacts and helps you exchange knowledge, ideas, and opportunities with a broader network of professionals.

With LinkedIn you will be able to:

  • Set up you personal profile
  • Stay connected with colleagues and friends
  • Find answers to your job field related questions and sometimes solutions for your business problems
  • Start networking and exchange insights and approaches with experts and professionals in your own work field
  • Explore and find opportunities such as jobs, partnerships, projects or future customers

LinkedIn is and will be of greater importance for netwrokers, brands and the market. The questions are: How do you enter into this “world” of dialogue? How do you present yourself  in a digital-professional culture where traditional methods doesn’t work? How do you engage your audience and transform this engagement into human relationships and business  for your or your brand? Could “The LinkedIn Manifesto” be the key to unlocking the potential of this professional social network?

The LinkedIn Manifesto focuses on the role of an advice and recommendations made by great, experienced and serious LinkedIn networkers about LinkedIn and how users can use its power to improve their abilities, skills and thus, building a better professional network. It argues for a model where every of those LinkedIn professional networkers give you their best guidance through this process for discuss business issues freely,  create solid business networks, build their reputations and eventually hook up for business ventures and possible job opportunities.

Here you have the recommendations, advice and insights that experienced and professional LinkedIn networker give you:

Tamar Weinberg

Social Media Marketing Consultant, Community Director, Author of The New Community Rules

  1. Fill out your profile in its entirety – don’t let the progress bar tell you that there’s still more left to do. The more complete your profile, the more qualified the leads are that get sent to your address.
  2. Build your network by looking at friends’ friends. It’s surprising how many colleagues I found who were just a few degrees away from a first degree contact!
  3. Take advantage of LinkedIn Answers. In my opinion, it’s the most “noiseless” Q&A site out there. That’s because job professionals vie for business *and* attention and need to be on their best behavior

Steve Washburn

Managing Partner, Expectations Plus One, Management Consulting to professional services companies

  • Repeat sales pitches are especially annoying. Got a great idea? Fine. Happy with it? No sweat. Just don’t hit me with the same sales routine over and over again. I can watch network TV for that. 95 discussions with the same topic is obnoxious.
  • Off-topic discussion entries should be avoided. When the topic is, “How do I handle a problem like ____?”; “Buy my PMI prep course” is a lousy answer.
  • Think twice (at least) before sending your email message directly to people you do not know. Put it into a discussion so that people can opt-in and not have to cut the message.
  • If you have a message for a single person in the thread that has no value or interest to the rest of the group, please reply privately.
  • Even if there are many entries, read through earlier posts before entering a new one unless you are sure that your contribution brings something new to the table.
  • When you are “done” with a topic, just drop out (stop following). No need to announce your departure or chide those who are still interested enough to continue reading or adding to the discussion.
  • In a long thread, there is benefit in someone taking the time to try and sum up the discussion to date. Optimally this is the originator, but if you have time and willingness, privately ask permission from the one who started the thread. In any case, every effort must be taken to represent all positions .
  • Treat everyone with respect, even if they have not earned it. Bad days and bad ideas happen, even to good people. The obnoxious’ll be exposed anyway because “Time wounds all heels.”
  • Remember that your entries are public and will stay open to prospective employers and clients. Take a moment if you are feeling a wave of rage.

Lance Lloyd

Business Development Executive at Fixed Fee I.T

There are definitely needed rules for proper housekeeping with using Linked in. Additionally there needs being guidance on how to use it for its intended purpose – a way to network, to make connections using technolgy. Even though the media is different, the rules of making valuable connections hasn’t changed. This is a passive marketing medium and aggressive behavior will get you deleted, banned or just plain ignored quickly.

remember first and foremost DON’T SELL – share. LinkedIn (networking) is passive and not about what can I get, but what can I give. If that’s remembered then it will come back in due time.

Also, LinkedIn isn’t about getting the most “connections” whether you know them or not. It’s not about fulfilling your own personal psycological needs, it’s about making meaningful connections that is dilluted when you treat it like collecting marbles. Here are a couple of axioms that have helped me in my journey:

  • Bring something that may be of value to your network (that doesn’t means a features and benefits pitch)
  • Do what you say, especially when you don’t need anything in return.
  • Remember you’re cultivating relationships.
  • Everyone is on LinkedIn to better themselves, be ready to better someone else.

I could add more, but hopefully this can spark more conversation about how others have found success.

Mario Belmonte

CEO Nioma Executive Search

Are you looking for a job? Do you know how to use traditional channels? What about the real channels such as LinkedIn, Xing or Twitter?

Recruitment process has turned around 360º due to the economic downturn. What you did for a living 5 years ago now it’s not working anymore, because before it was from 20 to 40 candidates for a job position and now its over a thousand candidates that come to sign up for one offer each day.

  • Do you think that your Resume is adapted to the crisis?
  • Does nobody call you for an interview? Have you ever wondered why?
  • Do you have lots of interviews, but at the end no one hires you?

The best solution is putting yourself in the hands of an expert in social networking 2.0, coaching, outplacement and especially staff with extensive experience in recruitment and headhunting.

Should you want to find a new project, you may want to know, in this precise moment, how can it be achieved.

There’s no point to apply in every offer you see. It doesn’t work neither just join the network, but you should know how to take advantage of it…

Carra Riley

Owner of Carra Riley Inc. Small Business and Real Estate Consultant, Writer and Speaker

Linked in is the place where business networks. Wear your business attire and give from the heart. There really is an A list in life and sincerely helping one another will always keep you on that list! Giving, giving and more giving is the key to success and what we do at linkedin.

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