Tim O'Rahilly Life Coaching

Archive for July 2011

Book Review: Do It! Or Ditch It by Bev James

Today sees the publication of a book written by Bev James, a good friend and mentor of mine. I was proud to be asked to endorse the book prior to publication, and I found it to be genuinely great in its content and its philosophy. Bev truly cares about helping people to achieve their business goals and her book is a perfect example of the application of her “Coaching heart, Commercial mind” philosophy. If, like me, you are attempting to build a solid business from a set of creative ideas, then Do It! or Ditch It is just the kind of guide book we need. It offers a fresh approach to business success from someone who has made success her business. Why ‘fresh’? What makes it stand out from the plethora of business books on the shelves? Do It! Or Ditch It is a real how-to book and by following Bev’s no-nonsense approach, any business owner could take their idea and grow it into a solid success.

The book sets the scene with some very pertinent, factual information. This creates a context for the book, as Bev tells us “Do It! Or Ditch It was born of a frustration of seeing too many good business ideas go to waste while bad ideas take up valuable time and resources – and from a strong desire to show that we are always in control of our own decisions and can choose to make things happen if we wish. The approach can be applied to all situations.”

To begin with, Bev highlights the need to develop the right mindset for running your own business, setting the right goals and then committing to those actions needed to reach them. This book is all about taking action and never letting life ‘just happen’.

The book is presented in two parts, the first of which is called ‘How to develop a Do It! Or Ditch It mindset’. This takes us through 5 powerful but easy to follow decision-making tools. Here Bev applies her coaching heart and shows how to gather the mental resources needed to prepare any entrepreneur for success. Part 2 is called ‘Turn ideas into action and make decisions that count’, which guides the reader through 8 steps to business success. Now it is Bev’s commercial mind which brings clarity to the daunting process of bringing an idea to fruition as a well-planned, carefully structured and solidly implemented business.

Bev’s approach is fast paced and anyone who has met her will recognise her shoot-from-the-hip style on every page. Definitely not a ghost-written celebrity book here! Bev’s writing is direct and its time is now, with more people than ever trying to turn their own ideas into working businesses. Alongside the book itself Bev has launched a great website full of additional business tools and ideas at www.bevjames.com You have the opportunity to sign up for daily business tips and also to download useful planning materials for free. Whatever your idea, this book will take you by the hand from one stepping stone to another to reach your business goals. Of course at the end of the day only you can decide to Do It or Ditch It.

Twitter Thursday #8: Retweets and #ff

This blog series has generated many questions from readers and I have enjoyed responding directly to most of them. Many of the questions are similar, and so it seems sensible to cover these topics in a further blog posting. Today I will look at two recurring themes. One is about how to edit, or add text to a retweeted message. The other is about the use of the hashtag, more specifically the #ff which has generated more comments and questions than any other aspect of TwitterI have mentioned to date.

Editing Retweets

In Twitter Thursday #2 I wrote about the use of the RETWEET. This is a simple way of sharing a message delivered to your timeline with all of your FOLLOWERS as well as the person who originally sent it to you. Just 2 button clicks and it’s done. Occasionally, however, you get the urge to add a few words in support of the message. You will quickly find that it is not possible to edit the message during the standard retweet process. But there is a way!

Rather than clicking on RETWEET, highlight the message and copy it. Next you need to paste the message into your ‘What’s happening’ text box at the top of your timeline. It will appear as would any message you were going to tweet yourself, and as such it can be edited. First you need to type at the start of the message ‘RT<space>@Twitter name e.g. RT @timorahilly. This properly labels it as a retweeted message. Now you can add your own words to the message and click the Tweet button.

Of course you are still limited to a total of 140 characters. Don’t be tempted to delete the name of the originator to gain more characters. For this same reason, if you want to have your messages retweeted, a good tip is to keep your character count below a maximum of 120. This allows others to retweet your messages without having to edit them.

Follow Friday (#ff)

I wrote about #ff and other uses of the HASHTAG in Twitter Thursday #4, but have found myself replying to many questions and comments about it since then. First of all, do remember that nobody owns hashtags or has any control over their use. You can start your own hashtag at any time. Just use the SEARCH tab to see if it is already in use.

For the history of the #FF I refer to Twitter expert @markshaw who tells me that it began life back in January 2009 when Micah Baldwin proposed the use of ‘Follow Friday’ as a tool for those unsure of whom to follow. His idea was that a good way to start might be to follow those people who were recommended by others.

The theory is great but in practice, over time, #ff has lost a lot of its meaning and all too often I see the hashtag followed by a whole list of followers. As such I believe it is being misused! Lets get back to the spirit of Follow Friday. Be a real advocate to your valued followers and list them because you have good reason to recommend them to others. In each tweet, just mention one or two followers and give a clear reason why they deserve your advocacy. Here are some examples of my own #ff :

How do you choose who to list? That’s easy when you apply my FIRE principle. If their tweets are Fun, Interesting, Relevant and/or Expert then pay them the compliment of a well-deserved #ff. Give yourself the satisfaction of a positive and upbeat end to the week and have a great weekend.

Twitter Thursday #7: Searching

One of the most useful and yet underused features of Twitter is the Search Engine. From a personal point of view, it can it can be both a useful and a fun tool. For business purposes, when properly used, Twitter Search could become your most valuable marketing tool. (However, please remember everything I’ve said in previous blogs about NOT using Twitter for direct marketing or sales. That still applies here!)

When you have a product to sell or a service to deliver, you need to have a group of people who want that product or service and who are talking about it. You need to be involved in that conversation and to be seen as the ‘go-to’ person for those potential customers.

Remember also that these people may not be followers of yours yet. If you’ve stuck to my advice and built up a community which you help and support, they will become valuable advocates of you and your business. Therefore, their followers will have access to you through them. Just think about that for a moment: you do not need a huge list of followers, but they need to be people that you regularly interact and engage with. Now, add up all their followers and you will see that you can be influencing a massive group of people who are potential clients or customers.

How will the search engine help you to capitalise on this enormous social credit you have developed? First of all, outside of your Twitter home page, go to ‘search.twitter.com’ where you will find a simple search page of the type that you will already be familiar with from sites like Google. Now, the likes of Google are a great place to advertise your business or service, but you may have to pay a lot to be seen in a search. Building a community on Twitter is free. Also, we want to build social credit, not make direct sales.

Twitter Search

Twitter search will allow you to engage with those people who are talking about whatever it is that you do. For example, let’s say that a potential customer of yours is one of the lucky few who have purchased a bunch of tickets for the London Olympics. Soon they may need to start looking for accommodation for the time they will be in London. All the big hotels are already advertising on Google and elsewhere showing their ‘modified’ prices for August 2012!

You, however, might be the proprietor of a small independent hotel or B&B, or even a private homeowner looking to arrange a house swap for the duration of the Olympics. As it gets closer to the time lots of people will be tweeting about their needs. This is when you need to be searching them out and engaging in conversation with them.

This can be applied to so many areas and topics. Try a few random searches , like ‘lake district holidays’, ‘wedding venues’, ‘small business ideas’ etc. Once you have identified a tweet which interests you than you can simply start the interaction with an @reply. The conversation has begun!

Once you have engaged with somebody you need to start providing help and information, so an important first step is tio direct then to your website or blog.

On the search page you will also notice that there is an Advanced Search option. Clicking this will bring up a new page.

A small sampling of Twitter's Advanced Search features. Try it yourself!

This form allows you to filter and specify your search parameters by words, distance, dates, even attitudes.

For this to be successful you need to think like a customer, not like a business. Think about what questions they will be asking. If you combine your use of the search engine with the option to search for people and topics on your Twitter account, you have a powerful marketing tool – without a marketing budget!

Another big plus is that every time you return to the search engine you will find a new list of tweets. It just goes on and on so you can go back to it over and over rather than the more static search results of the traditional search engines.

Have a play with it and do take a look at all the options available on the search pages. Make friends and make them advocates.

Let me know all your successes!