As always, I’ll start with the obligatory ‘it’s a while since I wrote a blog’. Supposed to be weekly, but I don’t feel moved to write something weekly. I could be writing blogs about the business and the work I’m doing, but to be honest, I’m too busy with the actual work (and finding more clients) to be writing thoughtful pieces. I’m finding that meeting people and talking to people is a more enjoyable and more effective way of getting business – the old fashioned way, you might say!

Over the past couple of days, something has happened that has reminded me people respond positively to positive sentiments – even on social media!!

I saw this on Twitter about six months ago. I created a new Twitter to talk about my book (I’ve published a book you know, Let’s Talk About Six, an account of Liverpool becoming the Champions of Europe, it’s good, you should get a copy – it’s in Waterstones and on Amazon), and put together content that I thought was interesting and would appeal to people who would like the book. Pictures of the players, reviews of the games, that type of thing. It got some response, and I plugged away with it.

And then, all of a sudden, my book was out. I had it in my hands, it was real and it was so f*cking exciting! Pre-planned content out the window. Here’s a picture of me…with my book. Here’s a picture of my book on Amazon. Here’s a picture of my book on the shelf in Waterstones. Here’s a picture of me doing a book signing (that’s my favourite).

I was just banging them out on Twitter, no planning, just spontaneity, excitement, borderline joy… ‘look at me, I’ve written a book and I just want to share it with everyone because I’ve fulfilled a life goal and it feels great’. And what happened, a huge response (huge is relative, it was huge for me). People responded, liked, retweeted, congratulated me – strangers, people I didn’t know made up for me and sharing my excitement. It was a real eye-opener. To see the positive reaction and genuine happiness that people had in relation to a positive story. They did really well on LinkedIn too, but I’ll come to that in a minute.

So rolling on a few months and my focus has turned to LinkedIn. Using LinkedIn as a tool to create momentum for my business. I have to say I’m on a steep learning curve and I’m still not convinced by it. For the last ten years, living in the private equity and corporate worlds, I’ve used LinkedIn, I was a fairly early adopter as it goes. But what did I use LinkedIn for?

Number one, looking for jobs. I think I’m connected to every person who has ever worked for Michael Page both here and in Sydney. My contact list is a who’s who of the mid-to-senior management recruitment world. None of them ever found me a job, but that’s another story. The other thing I used it for was to follow up with people I had just a meeting with…’Nice to meet you today, we should connect on here’. It was just something I did, a polite thing to keep in touch and a good way of storing contacts.

I would never think of trying to find business on there, never try to find a supplier. Unheard of. Over the past few years, there has also been the increase in people you don’t know trying to connect with you on LinkedIn. Usually from some kind of digital agency or similar. So you connect – what harm can there be? Only for them to follow up with some unsolicited sales approach on the basis you are now a connection on LinkedIn. Grrrrrrrr!

So here I am on the other side of the fence, trying to use this thing as a sales tool and feeling really uncomfortable about it. I have moved into the ranks of people who has a description that starts with ‘Helping..’ *stops typing to put his hands over his face in an exasperated way*. Helping? It makes me cringe but I’m told that the way to go, so I’m going with it. ‘Helping SME’s achieve growth through effective objective planning and marketing management’ is my new official title. It’s better than some I have seen, it’s also true, but it just leaves me cold.

And as well as ‘Helping…’, I am dutifully putting together content that is trying to appeal to my target client, while having this nagging feeling in the back of my mind that my target client is a bit like me in my old job, didn’t have time to spend on LinkedIn and wouldn’t think of hiring someone based on approach.

But I’m writing them – carefully crafting, using the hashtags, asking questions – and I’m posting them. And I’m monitoring them. How many people like them – very few. How many people comment – even less! I’m told that ‘Views’ is the way to go – how many people have seen the post, so I monitor that.

My considered analysis says its completely random. Some work, some don’t, no rhyme and reason. My posts get anything between 500 and 2500 views. Similar subjects, variations on a theme, little nuggets on business planning, insights into effective marketing and there is this variation but none of them really take off. (My book signing photo got to 4,000 btw)

Until this week. This week I veered off course and got a massive response. Let me explain. For the past six and a half years, I have been commuting from Warrington to Stoke every day. Just short of three hours in the car, every day, through the roadworks on the M6. I don’t even want to think about it – after a while it goes from mildly upsetting to absolutely soul destroying – that amount of wasted time. Getting home tired, missing the best time with the kids. In the end, I decided it was time for a change and decided to change career path. One of the reasons is this commute was making me really unhappy

Over the past couple of weeks I have spent that time – the time that used to be spent on the M6 – with my son, building the Lego VW Campervan that he got for Christmas. It’s been lovely, a really special time, where we talk and play together – he’ll be a teenager soon and these opportunities will just run out.

A couple of nights ago we finished it and he was absolutely made up. So happy with it, a real feeling of accomplishment, his face was beaming, so proud. And I was made up too. That I’d been there to help him with it, that we’d shared that time. This was the first real example of where my decision on my work life balance had brought a really positive outcome.

I took the picture and posted it with some positive sentiments on that work life balance. And what has happened to that post – its one absolutely crazy. Loads of like, lots of lovely comments, pictures of other parent/child Lego projects and as I’ve been typing the views have gone through 9,000. I’m sure in the grand of things, that isn’t a big number, but relative to my other posts its just about viral!

So what was my point? I’ve been typing that long, I’ve forgot!! My point is that sometimes it good to be positive, to be off the wall, to be off message, to share something that gives you a sense of joy, because the likelihood is it might just give someone else the chance to share that joy and bring a smile. Anice thing to do and nice way to be. Share something positive and see how good it feels.

Anyway. I’m sure that won’t bring me any business – although I am available to ‘help'(!) the 80% of SME’s who don’t have a business plan and want to put together strategies to reinvigorate their brands, increase sales, improve profitability and cut costs (see what I did there) – or sell any books, but I’ve really enjoyed sitting down and sharing my experience.

Have a great weekend!!