This week I visited Berlin to talk employee advocacy and social leadership with internal communication professionals. A key part of this session focused on leadership social coaching because social business has to start with social leaders. Altimeter/LinkedIn research shows that executives at socially engaged companies are 50% more likely to actively encourage employee use of professional social media.

On the flight home yesterday I read a fascinating HBR interview with John Legere, T-Mobiles tweeting CEO. He explained that…

“Social media has become a key part of my leadership strategy. It is a way of driving my business. If someone complains, I’ll tweet him/her my email address and make sure we follow up internally”

This is a guy who has a special line on his office phone so he can instantly listen into random customer service calls without anyone knowing to check-in on the customer experience. Someone who understands the value of listening and the transparency of social leadership.

However, too many leaders are shying away from stepping into social. In fact, just 61% of the Fortune 500 CEOs have no social media presence.

Why? I’ve heard nearly every reason in the book including lack of time, don’t know how to, social media is for my kids and the best one…I have nothing to say.

So, how do you get your leadership team embracing social?

Tip #1 – Pick The Right Executive

Not every leader is going to become a social superstar. Instead, focus on 1-2 leaders that are interesting and willing to experiment. Check their LinkedIn profile. Are they well connected? Are they already active on social media? Ask them if they’re interested in building their professional brand online and set their expectation up front. Tell them that you will give them the coaching support but they must commit to investing time – approx 1-2 hours per week.

Tip #2 – Speak In Their Language

It’s important to frame the benefit message of becoming a social leader in a language they understand. Talking to an HR leader? Then focus on employer branding, referral recruitment and employee engagement. Talking to a Sales leader? Focus on quota attainment and deal closure times. Source the evidence (there’s enough research out there), build your case to win leadership confidence up front and set an objective that relates or supports a KPI they care about.

Tip #3 – Set A Benchmark

Slightly controversial and a little bit of a risk but most leaders won’t have reached that level in their career without watching their competitive peers closely…especially if they’re in sales. Take some time to do your research and share what other executives in similar positions are doing within the industry. Show them profiles, activities, content shared and explain the potential impact as a result.

Tip #4 – Show Them Brand Mentions

If you can, try to access brand social listening reports – most organisations managing branded social media channels will be monitoring conversations…I hope! Show your leadership team real conversations that are happening around your brand. If you have sophisticated listening in place you will be able to monitor the volume of brand conversations compared to your competitors, analyse sentiment and pick out key themes/topics that are trending around your brand.

Tip #5 – Make It Easy. Mobile First.

Executives are busy people. They travel. They meet. They travel. If you don’t give them mobile first social media direction, it will never work. Employee advocacy tools are a great introduction for busy professionals that don’t have time to search and share content. If you don’t have the budget for a tool, set your executive up on Flipboard (a mobile content aggregation tool) Find and follow topics, add social accounts that interest them and show them how to share directly from Flipboard to their network.

Tip #6 – Build A Social Habit

Building a habit takes repetition and perseverance. Provide a social routine that isn’t too taxing. For example, start week 1 by asking them to follow the “Rule of Threes” – make three new connections, share three pieces of content and engage (like/comment) on three posts. It should take no longer than it takes to drink a cup of coffee. In fact, consider suggesting a time when they do it e.g. the morning commute, waiting in line at the airport. Keep it simple for the first couple of weeks and then add to it.

Tip #7 – Show Progress

Finally, schedule regular check-in calls. At the start of the process check their SSI score and/or KLOUT score. Give them a baseline. After a week, check-in with them to see if they’ve managed to build a social habit into their daily routine and review their SSI and/or KLOUT score. Check their activity to see whether they received any engagement on posts shared. Little wins will show it’s working. The more active they become, the quicker they’ll experience social success e.g. their network interacting with them.

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Supporting to leadership to be more socially active takes time. These tips are based on my experience of working with leaders to help them adopt a more social approach to business. The same process doesn’t work for all. Some will adopt a social habit quicker than others so be flexible in your approach and adjust the routine if it’s not working for them. Focus on the little wins and if you can, relate their success back to a KPI or objective they care about. Good luck!

With a midnight deadline creeping ever closer, lawmakers were still trudging through last-minute negotiations this afternoon. The House and Senate convened its special session nine days ago and were immediately tasked by Gov. John Bel Edwards with solving a $304 million shortfall in the current fiscal year.

While the Senate and the Edwards administration appear ready to move forward with a deal that’s on the table, conservative factions of the House are causing a delay during the final hours of this session. Senators contend there was an agreement overnight to tap the state’s Rainy Day Fund to the tune of $99 million, but it started to unravel this morning due to pushback from House Republicans who believe that proposed withdrawal is too high.

The governor originally suggested $120 million from the state’s emergency savings account, and the House countered with $75 million. The $99 million option from the Senate was thought to be the compromise that session watchers were waiting on. But negotiations have been complicated by the fact that 70 votes are needed in the House to approve the use of the Rainy Day Fund, a tall hurdle in a sharply divided chamber.

Another holdup, according to sources involved in the ongoing talks, involves funding for the office of Attorney General Jeff Landry. The House has taken a much more favorable position on reducing money to Landry’s shop, while the governor and Senate have urged their counterparts to accept deeper cuts.

Both the House and Senate were expected to gavel back in for these critical votes sometime this afternoon. It was unknown, however, if lawmakers were going to go the distance and stretch the session out until midnight.

—Jeremy Alford

Jeremy Alford will publish a daily update throughout the Legislature’s special session on Daily Report PM. Alford reports on Louisiana politics at LaPolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter or on Facebook. He can be reached at [email protected].

The post Capitol Views: It’s hurry up and wait at the Legislature appeared first on Baton Rouge Business Report.

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Think about how many plastic water bottles get thrown out each day. Now think about all the possibilities that could come from innovative minds finding new ways to use all that plastic.

A company called Girlfriend Collective has found one way to do that. The company uses plastic bottles from Taiwan and turns them into leggings. It takes multiple heating processes to break down the clear, BPA-free bottles and turn them into thread. The company also uses eco-friendly dyes and fair trade practices to complete their products.

You can get a pair of these legging for about $70. That might seem like a lot for the bargain shoppers out there. But there are plenty of other brands that sell high-end leggings for well over that price tag. So if even some of the consumers who are willing to shell out more for activewear are concerned about the environment, Girlfriend Collective may just have a winner on its hands.

And that’s one area where some green businesses struggle. Creating eco-friendly products and services is a great thought. But there still has to be a market for those products and services in order for them to succeed.

Don’t Launch Before Analyzing Product Viability

That means the products need to actually be able to compete with others in the market in terms of price, quality, style and other factors. But if a product can hold its own in all of those areas and be eco-friendly on top of that, environmentally conscious consumers are likely to appreciate it.

Plastic Bottles Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "What Your Business Can Learn From Leggings Made of Plastic Bottles (Watch)" was first published on Small Business Trends

Cold emailing can be a lot like dating. You’re trying to meet new people, put your best foot forward, and find ‘the ones’ that will actually turn into new business. To have the best odds of making a strong connection and moving forward, you need to present yourself in the best way possible.

Some of the same behaviors that encourage romance can also improve your sales emails. Let’s look at five.

1. Start with an effective opening line.

Everyone knows a cheesy pickup line will fail. So will a lazy email subject line.

Many successful salespeople spend more time on the subject line than the body of an email, because if you don’t have a great opening line, you won’t get a chance for a second remark.

This is an example of an overly generic and click-baity subject line:

Subject: an offer {!Company} can’t refuse

It practically begs you not to take it seriously, and provides no reason to consider opening it. What’s it about? Why the cocky tone? Most people won’t stick around to find out: Delete.

On the other hand, this subject line actually works:

Subject: how to make {!Company} audit-proof in 2017

The word ‘audit’ definitely grabs the recipient’s attention and throws them off balance, encouraging them to open the message. Put an intelligent, engaging offer inside, and you’ve got a solid chance of starting a conversation. And that’s how a good pickup line should work.

2. Don’t talk all about yourself.

What happens if you go on a date and you talk about yourself all night? You don’t get a call back.

The same is true with sales. If all your email contains is self-promotional blather, it will be deleted immediately. You’re not trying to sell yourself, you’re trying to establish a relationship, and determine whether you and your potential customer are right for each other.

Here’s a great example of a cold email opener that actually works, because it’s focused on the recipient’s situation, instead of the sender’s identity/offer:

Hi {!First},

Believe it or not, {!City} companies are having trouble finding experienced Java developers like you.

3. Don’t use cheap ploys.

Phoniness and gamesmanship is a major turn off. Don’t pretend to be someone or something that you’re not.

The worst kind of phoniness is pretending to know someone that you don’t know. In dating, it’s the “Haven’t we met before?” pickup line. And using a fake “Re:” in a subject line is the email equivalent, and can actually red flag mail servers to think your email is spam.

The email below pretends to be part of an ongoing conversation about jobs in the recipient’s area, but it isn’t really:

Re: Coffee in San Francisco

Faking familiarity is particularly annoying because it insults the reader’s intelligence and can even border on creepy. Even if you get your email opened, once the recipient realizes that you’ve duped them, they’re going to be racing to report you as spam. That’s not the connection you’re trying to make.

4. Avoid trying too hard.

Nothing spoils a date (or an email) more than a lot of hot air followed by a hard sell.

Don’t drone on endlessly about how great your product is, or how the world is crying out for what you offer. Don’t make incredible promises (even if they are true), because it makes you seem less credible.

Take this subject line for example:

Subject: 14,000% {!Company} sales increase in Q1

Even if this claim is tied to some real results, it’s just too much, and strikes the reader as unbelievable. Like a dumbfounded date, the reader is rolling their eyes and thinking, “Is this guy for real?” And that will only get your email deleted, no second date.

5. If you’re getting nowhere, back off.

Persistence sometimes pays off, but continuing to send emails to someone who really isn’t biting starts to make you look desperate and needy. After a bunch of failed attempts at connecting, it’s better to let them know that you’re going to move on.

This bit of reverse psychology often converts. HubSpot claims that ‘breakup’ emails get a 33% better response rate versus Just continuing to plead for an answer. Here’s a sample template:

Hi {!First},

I wanted to reach out to you one last time. I still have a few specific ideas on how {!Company} can generate new business without increasing costs, but if I don’t hear back from you, I’ll assume the timing isn’t right.

If the person you’re emailing has a problem that you can solve, your breakup email will push them to finally take action and reply.

Have you applied any dating lessons to attract new customers or close deals? I’d love to hear them, and might try to feature them in one of my future stories if you reach out with a good one.

socialSocial media has exploded over the past couple of years. Gone are the days where there is just Facebook and updating your status from time to time. So it makes complete sense that businesses are on all forms of social media too. If it is an extra way to promote your brand or business, then it has got to be a good thing. There are a lot of reasons why it is a good idea too. First of all, it can be much cheaper than other forms of marketing. Plus, you can be quite specific in your advertising and outreach. You don’t know if a television advert will reach your target audience. But you do know that you can target a Facebook or Instagram advert to your target demographic.

It can be tricky to keep on top of, though, as so many things are changing with social media. So here are some top tips to make sure that you are maximizing your social media exposure and making it work for you.

Video Content

Gone are the days when there was only Snapchat or YouTube as a way of sharing a quick story. Those platforms are still as popular as ever. But now there are other options from platforms that might have more users that are suited to your brand or business. You can do live feeds from Facebook or Instagram, as well as Snapchat style stories on Instagram too. You can even do quick uploads to Twitter too. It is a great way to engage with your followers and give them a behind the scenes look. It makes the brand or business seem more ‘human’ when video content is created.

Beat the Algorithm

One of the tricky things about social networks like Facebook and Instagram is the algorithm that they have. Take for instance Instagram. It will only share your picture to a certain number of people, based on likes that it receives in the first fifteen or twenty minutes. So you need to think about the time of day that you’re posting. You should also think about getting things like quick Instagram likes to help maximize your reach. For Facebook page content, it is a good idea to vary the type of content you share. If Facebook thinks that your new post was too similar to your last one, it won’t share it with as many people. So vary using links, photos, and videos.

Get Help

If you don’t think that you have much time or resources spare to be dealing with your social media, then it could be something that you choose to outsource. It could be a social media management company, or perhaps just to a freelance virtual assistant. You can schedule your posts quite easily. But part of the appeal of social media is the interaction that you have with your followers or those interested in your brand. They want to ask questions or resolve problems on your social media. So you need someone there to help deal with it all.