A Human Touch to Online Training: How One Community Director Builds Lasting Relationships and Results

Though the Community Manager role is still in its infancy, businesses of all sizes have quickly recognized its importance for driving long-term customer value and insights. Part customer advocate, brand evangelist, and industry expert, the role incorporates both online tools and in-person strategy to create relationships, shape the product roadmap, and ultimately build the company’s brand.

To celebrate Community Manager Appreciation Day, we sat down with Kibibi Springs, the Community Director of myGreenlight. myGreenlight is an online training platform that teaches business executives the fundamentals of relationship mastery.

Q: What makes the myGreenlight community different?
myGreenlight is a private community for those enrolled in our 30-week business relationship mastery curriculum. It’s a very accomplished and smart group, with 90% of our members being executives at or above the manager level, or entrepreneurs. Because it is a private community, I have the opportunity to get to know individuals and groups a bit more intimately than one probably would as the manager of a larger, public community.

Q: What are your top three pieces of advice for successful community management?
1. Don’t mistake quiet for disinterested  I’ve learned that even at times when there doesn’t appear to be much dialogue going on, people are still paying attention. Our community includes extremely busy professionals who are committed to achieving new levels of success, so I must be proactive and show them our committment to their goals. Every time I reach out about content they are working through, I’m met with a great deal of immediate appreciation.

2. Ditch the cookie-cutter mentality and customize your outreach  I have the advantage of being able to categorize our members by corporation and industry, and it can give me clues as to how I can best communicate. Understanding a company’s corporate culture, especially regarding their view on the role of technology, is important – just because a company signs up for an online resource, doesn’t necessarily mean the current corporate culture supports the use of it. So I must carefully listen and observe, read between the lines, and consider how we can best integrate with members’ current work rhythms. This can mean cutting back or stepping up communications, presenting information in different ways, and customizing touch points and content for different groups.
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5 Great Presentations to Take Your Sales Skills to the Next Level

Whether you are a seasoned sales professional or budding entrepreneur, here are five great presentations packed with lessons and mindsets you can incorporate to take your sales strategy to the next level.

1. How to Sell: Some Tips From Ogilvy
David Ogilvy wasn’t just one of the most accomplished advertisers of all time. He was, at heart, the consummate salesman.


2. Stop Cold Calling: Tactics to Attract Qualified Sales Leads
A comprehensive list of tactics and tools, both online and off, to bring qualified leads to you.


3. Sales Eye for the Nonprofit Guy: 
Sales isn’t just a profession, it’s a skill set. Communicating and winning support for our ideas is a necessity.


4. The Agony and Ecstasy of Building and Scaling Inside Sales
Understand just what inside sales entails, and the skills and metrics that matter most.


5. The Referral 7 – Why and When a Referral Happens
“Referrals aren’t given easily. If you don’t take the time to establish credibility, you’re not going to get the referral. People have to get to know you. They have to feel comfortable with who you are and what you do.” – Dr. Ivan Misner Founder and Chairman of BNI


What sales lessons have you learned? Please share your favorite tips and stories below.

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Mark McNeilly’s Advice on the Art of Building Alliances

In his acclaimed book Sun Tzu and the Art of Business: Six Strategic Principles for Managers, Mark McNeilly shows how Sun Tzu’s famous strategic military philosophy can be applied to modern business situations. Specifically, his fifth principle focuses on creating a competitive advantage by building a strong network of allies and alliances in your industry.

I had the opportunity to chat with Mark, and posed this question to him: How can one successfully build relational capital and create powerful alliances in 2012? So without further ado, here is Mark McNeilly’s advice for growing your sphere of influence and getting important people in your corner:

Define your goal  Before you start any project, you must clearly define your objective. Are you trying to make a sale or influence someone else? Are there political motivations or social reasons? What is the timeline? Different outcomes will require different strategies and methods of outreach,especially since no two people are exactly the same.

Identify both decision makers and their influencers  First, you need to find out exactly who holds the keys to your goal. Perhaps you need to determine who has the final say in approving certain initiatives at your company, or who at your prospect’s organization really has the power to purchase your services. And since everyone is influenced by someone, you should go one step further and figure out to whom your decision makers turn for advice. Talk to your network and use social media to identify and connect to these influencers as well.
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3 Ways to Become an Internal Super-Connector at Your Company

Building a solid network inside your organization is just as important as the time you spend on clients and prospects. Here are some ways you can deepen relationships throughout your company, gain visibility as a leader, and create new opportunities for innovation.

Proactively step out of your silo  One of my favorite stories about Zappos is that when employees log in to their company account, not only do they type in an id and password, but they also need to identify the photo of another randomly selected employee. Afterwards, a whole profile about the person comes up! (I highly suggest reading Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness.) So next time you go for a walk or coffee, invite someone you don’t know very well to join you. Organize a small lunch with 4-5 people from different departments and different levels. Or volunteer to write and interview people for your company’s newsletter (and if they don’t have one, you can start it!)

Create a “Spotlight and Share” knowledge culture  Everyone is a “resident expert” in something. Is your co-worker a whiz at MS Excel? Organize a “Lunch-and-Learn” where he can share his most useful tricks and help others with their questions. Did someone in another department finally close a tough, but important sale? Invite her to your weekly meeting to share her strategies and insights about the company. By taking the time to champion the success of others, you will make each other more valuable and successful, and find new, innovative ways to achieve your goals.

Organize enriching experiences outside work  Group-buying and deals are all the rave, so why not put it to use for your company? Whether it’s a boat ride around the city, or a private tasting at a great restaurant, organize some not-to-be-missed experiences and you’ll get to know all kinds of different people you don’t usually interact with.

Dana Byerlee is a corporate strategist and relational marketing expert to both Fortune 500s and startups. She has worked with Ferrazzi Greenlight, and is passionate about leveraging new technology to break down barriers and build deeper connections. @LADLynn

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