How far is too far when growing your network through online friends, connections and followers?

ConnectionsLast Thursday morning I went to an intimate vendor presentation attended by me and two other companies.  I was there early enough to enjoy the bagels and drinks and meet the other two women attending and exchange business cards with them.  At the time they both appeared as new people in my life.

During the presentation I looked more closely at one woman and she started to look familiar to me.  So I looked at her business card and her name was familiar to me this time.  So I tuned out for the next 5 minutes to go on an obsession binge of mine.  Whipping out my Blackberry Storm I pulled up my LinkedIn profile to see if we shared a connection.

Oh Crap!

We were connected on LinkedIn!  We didn’t share a common acquaintance.  We were first degree connections.  How could I not know her?

I am not one of the people obsessed with growing my LinkedIn database with random invite requests.  Every invite request I’ve sent out or accepted has been the result of an actual in-person meeting or a 1-to-1 email exchange.  A type of interaction where I would not be ashamed to ask for a LinkedIn connection.

So what was broken here?  Some of my guesses:

  1. My memory: That’s not an unlikely reason for me not recognizing her.  I’m not the best at remembering people.  But here’s the kicker on that one.  I found her in my Outlook Contacts.  Not the main one we all keep up-to-date, but rather Outlook’s “Collected Contacts” database that gets created on the fly from all of your emails sent or received.  A quick look at the date it was created found April of 2009.  Less than a year ago!  Again, what is going wrong with my memory that I have had a interaction with someone less than a year ago not not know from where?
  2. Two of my worlds have collided: Maybe I met her socially and decided to link with her.  It’s rare that I do that, but I do think differently socially than I do professionally so maybe that’s why I don’t remember her.  I also meet a lot more people outside of work than I do at work so I could then blame it again on #1 above, my memory.
  3. I don’t know here well enough to be LinkedIn: I’m beginning to think that must be the answer.  Given the email exchange (which I could not find) I guess I went out there any linked in to her.  Not proud of that.  That is not what I want to be known for or to use LinkedIn for.  It devalues it and the relationships I have with those already on LinkedIn.

So what’s the moral here?

First I’m going to reach out to that woman and have an email exchange so that I can justify having her in my list of connections.  But more important than that I’m going to be more diligent in growing and cataloging my relationships in the various social networks.

Twitter is a different beast and serves a different role regarding followers and the implied relationship we have with them.  Facebook is yet another that has grown from a high school reunion into a “your life as a cocktail party“.  But if LinkedIn is truly “your resume” as quoted by Brent Britton then you really need to know everyone there.

And finally if you’re reading this and we’re connected on LinkedIn when we shouldn’t be, feel free to un-link me.  I’ll send a request when I deserve it.

Search Engine Strategies (SES) New York – 2010

SES New York is next month and the prep work has begun.  As one of the top search conferences it will have all of the obligatory hype, announcements and key takeaways.  As in years past it will be chocked full of new ideas and technologies.

But this year will be different for me.  This year I want to be a part of the conversations happening at the conference.  Be a part of the dialogue between sessions in the hallways.  I want to meet those people that are as passionate as I am about this space.  I don’t want to just be an attendee.

With that in mind I’ve begun the work to find out who is headed out there and begin the introductions and conversations before the first day.  That will allow the relationships to grow there and during the months that follow.

If this matches your goal, let’s connect.  I’m not drinking alone at the bar this year.

Oh yeah, if you have any insider information on how to get the most of out of SES-NYC, please let me know.  I’ll buy you a beer.

Do You Want To Track Calls Through Your Website’s Phone Number?

Do you place your main phone number on your website?  It makes sense if you want your prospects and customers to easily find your phone number, right?

But does that inhibit you from finding out how many people called your phone number for the first time?  That should be important to you if you’re tracking the sources of your leads.  Perhaps you want to track which keyword search term the user made that lead to your phone call.  Wouldn’t it be invaluable to know in advance when you pick up a call that the caller found your number on your website?

I am passionate about this type of tracking and attribution.  And fortunately there are companies out there that let you handle all of this at a extremely reasonable price.  I did my research and found quite a few great firms doing this.  The one that I ended deploying for my company and my clients is IfByPhone.  Props to Steve Scott at Tampa SEO Training Academy for turning me on to them.

Don’t put your track-able phone number on you homepage or your contact us page.  Put your main number on those pages.  For those visitors who know who you are and are only looking for you phone number they should not be counted towards your new leads counts.  Place the track-able phone numbers on the lead-generating pages within your site.

You may find another firm out there that provides a better, less expensive or more applicable service to you.  Everyone has different needs.  But IfByPhone has such great features they are the perfect case study into why you should use such a tool in your online marketing arsenal, regardless of the vendor.

Are you doing the following?

  • Can you track how many calls are from your website with a unique track-able phone number? —   This is a must!
  • Do you push those events into your Google Analytics so you can compare “form fills” against phone leads from your website?– Once you do, you’ll never live without it.
  • Do you have a “Click To Call” option on your website?– Not for everyone, but for those that can use it, it’s a great lead-stealer from your competition.
  • When you pick up your phone does the system “whisper” to you that the caller found your number on the website?–  This is a huge leg up in the conversation.
  • If you have multiple locations you cannot live without this cheap store locator feature. — You could pay thousands of dollars for a custom solution like this!

These are the features that I was in search of and use extensively today.   I can’t stress their importance to a business from a car detailer working on the road to a regional business looking to dive into the source of their business.


Last word on : if you want to talk more about it, then let’s connect.  I can give you some useful implementation advice as well as help you with some discounts pre-enrollment.

What is the best way to display my street address on my attorney website?

Do you give enough importance to your street address on your website as you do to your phone number?

If you were to look around at most law firm’s websites you would be hard-pressed to find their address on the homepage.  Rather it is usually buried on their contact page.  As much as you may think your physical address is not as relevant as your email address or phone number on your website, it actually plays a large part in announcing to the search engines where your business is located.

Last year Google announced their formal support of microformats (RDFa) and recommendations on how to deploy them.  With that as an introduction you can now better understand the idea of placing your street address not only on your homepage, but also make sure it is formatted corrector so that Google and the other search engines honor it.  You can create your hCard with no HTML knowledge at microformats.org.  Here’s an example of the resulting HTML and what it would look like on the website.

Mark Regan
mark@markcregan.com

12157 W. Linebaugh Avenue Suite 158

<span>Tampa</span>, <span>FL</span>, <span>33626</span>
<span>United States</span>
</div></div>

Forward those two links to you webmaster now asking him to promote your street address to your home page. You can still leave it on the contact page, of course.

Now I’m not saying your legal website will rank higher because of this addition.  I have not seen it, nor have I heard of anyone out in the wild claiming so.  However if you implement best practices for your law firm consistently you may be ahead of the game if the search engines decide to add this as one of their levers.

Google Local Listings Ads

Last December Google announced the suspension of their Local Listings Ads trial in the San Francisco and San Diego markets according to Search Engine Land

It’s official now.  Sometime in the last 10 days the following two links that explained Local Listing Ads have been deleted by Google, not a best practice in my mind.

I was very excited about this new service and started recommending it to my small business owner friends and anyone else who wanted a low, flat-cost alternative.  If there is something in the works at the GooglePlex I sure would like to know.

Does anyone out there know where they’re going to take the lessons from this trial and apply it?