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From the Vault: Adding Friends vs. Network Building

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friends don't let friends friend collect

We’re Not Friends

I got a nasty Facebook message the other day from someone who requested to be my friend and I intentionally said no. “But you have so many friends,” he said with the assertion that I must spend my day arbitrarily adding friends in order to stroke my own ego. I wrote him back and began a conversation about how being Facebook friends could or could not benefit either of us and come to find out a gentleman working in the semiconductor industry in Bangalore with no intentions of moving to America (or learning about real estate or blogging) isn’t a fit for me but he still thought we should add each other. Le sigh. Le eyeroll.

Here, Eat This Card

Many people sit down each morning and search their friends’ friends on Facebook and Twitter and click “add” in the name of building their network. This resembles the jerk who goes to happy hour and before you get to say hi or ask him what he does for a living, he’s already literally shoved his card down your throat along with the four people your standing with, giving an insincere handshake and saying “call me” as he walks away to cram cards down others’ throats. That’s not network building, that’s friend collecting. The problem is that they’re not your friends, no matter what Facebook calls them.

To build your network, do the following:

Foster your network. Drop notes to people saying hey, asking about how their dog’s broken arm is or whatever. Be sincere. If you don’t care, don’t engage because it will be apparent. Spend time on Twitter being silly and having conversation with others.

Be a connector. Make a habit of asking people if they need anything. Do they have any side projects they’re working on they need help with or are they looking for any kind of referral like a plumber, social media advisor or just a pointer on which photo editor to use. Introduce your new friends to your old friends- when someone adds you as a Twitter friend and you see they’re in Miami, introduce them to Miami’s hottest Realtor, Ines.

Have criteria when accepting or adding friends. I don’t seek out friends anymore because my network is as big as I can handle right now. On Facebook, if someone is between age 20-30, I know them personally because I’m in the Internet generation, we’re all online. If someone is over 30, they are my friend because our professions are complimentary to each other or they have mentioned relocating to Austin. Other than that, I typically click ignore which is more common than accept. On Twitter, I find more success being a connector, so I follow most people unless they have a disproportionate amount of followers versus those they follow. For example, if someone follows 6,500 people but only has 200 followers, they’re either spam or friend collecting.

The bottom line is that there is no value in friend collecting but there is a massive value in building your network by having criteria for your network, being a connector and fostering that network. We all make friends online, but the end goal is to put green in your pocket, so don’t friend collect, build a network.

Originally published June 7, 2008

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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50 Comments

50 Comments

  1. Chris Lengquist

    June 7, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    This resembles the jerk who goes to happy hour and before you get to say hi or ask him what he does for a living, he’s already literally shoved his card down your throat along with the four people your standing with, giving an insincere handshake and saying “call me” ……….

    This is a complete waste of time and I’ll tell you why:

    You are at happy hour!!!!!! Have a freaking beer!!!!! Relax. Talk sports. Check out the hot girl (sorry, I know I sound sexist…but I am actually happily married as you know) over in the corner. Do anything but talk shop unless begged to do so.

    Have I gone too far, again?

  2. Tyler, The Wealth Creation Guy

    June 7, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    Good Stuff! I’m a big believer is slow, intentional growth. Helping others is the best way to build a network. I like what you’re doing.. I laugh every time you put up a random Twitter update. Keep it up. People are getting to see your personality!

  3. Paula Henry

    June 7, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    As in life, online relationships take time. There’s always the one who has an elevator speech ready where ever they go. Highly intolerable and ineffective.

  4. mariana

    June 7, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    hector hector the friend collector… I also frequently ‘reject’ people who I know are just out collecting people. I need to be careful who I associate with. thi goes right along with online reputation maintenence.

  5. Maureen Francis

    June 7, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    Oh so timely. I am actually getting a bit tired of the fb friend requests. If I add people I don’t know, then they start inviting me to all kinds of crazy apps that I think are childish or something. I don’t mind a bit of fun, but most of those apps are written for 18 year olds and the first digit in my age is a 4, so I could be their mother. I also don’t want to get invited to every “real estate investment webinar” that comes along. I guess I am asocial.

    I could go on, but it would get ranty…

  6. Bill Lublin

    June 7, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    Lani; You are a connector in a big way – and an incredibly social person whose personality comes through in all of your communication. The funny thing is that you write like you sound on the phone – and I don;t even understand how that works! 🙂

    I get less bothered by my huge following in Bangalore (a place no one wants to move from) then I do by the people that want to make me rich, or show me the path to additional wealth without having a clue if I am a pauper or a millionaire – to your point, don’t try to sell me through social media if you are not part of my social network on some level. If I want to buy something, I can always find someone to sell it to me.)

    In building a social network, I find that I have a hard time randomly emailing people whose email address I have from a “one off” correspondence. I think that there should be some commonality in making the request of anotherm but as far as the acceptance for a time I thought it was “rude” in the on-line world to rebuff an offer of “friendship”. As soon as I started getting invitations to watch new potential friends on their private webcams, I decided that a little discretion in acceptance was way the better part of valor. It was something that was brought home to me by the post Shailesh Ghimire The Facebook Generation.

    Well thought out post with a great message. As I have said elsewhere – You are the Queen of New and SocialMedia.

  7. Robert D. Ashby

    June 7, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    AMEN!!!

  8. Sonny Gill

    June 7, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    This reminds me of someone I know…Oh, you!

    Seriously, you epitomize this profile of a true connector. You’ve reached out to myself as well as others I’ve seen on Twitter in an amazing way. We all can learn from you and this post…all it takes is genuine effort and a lil bit of time.

  9. Chris Shouse

    June 7, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    Its funny this come up now. I spent the better part of yesterday going through my friends on FB and divided them into Network Marketers and Realtors Etc. I did not know you could make lists in your friends but you can and I did.
    Then I went through all of the clubs that came by and I joined and I got rid of all those groups I will never be part of.
    Then I went through my wall and deleted a bunch of stuff and hope no one sends me another chain wall banger. I will disable it.
    Then I got rid of every app. that I want nothing to do with.
    Do you know how freeing all of this was?
    From now one I will be very careful about who I accept and what group comes by.
    I found it very exhilarating to hit IGNORE

  10. Ricardo Bueno

    June 8, 2008 at 12:49 am

    Lately I’ve found myself receiving several LinkedIn invitations (and FB “Friend” invites) from people I haven’t met. On LinkedIn, I look at their profiles and just don’t see a connection…none. So I shoot them an email in kind and ask, “Hi there. How can I help you? Where have we met?” More often then not I get no response; which is fine with me. I hit the [I Don’t Know This Person] button and onward we go. In other instances I get the generic “just looking to network with blah blah blah…” (I’m sorry, but I kinda consider this spam. Call me rude…but hey… Change my mind. Say something compelling why don’t ya!)

    At first I thought I was being a jerk. But come to think of it, adding someone you don’t know and have nothing in common with diminishes your social capital. And that’s not good! The value of a network is that you can trustingly refer people to one another. So if I add a stranger to the list, refer this stranger out and they mess up…it hurts my reputation! (I’ve just diminished my social capital; however big or small it may be).

    So here’s what I say: it’s fair game to have a criteria. I mean no offense.

    (Of course I’ve been slightly more relaxed in this regard with networks like FB and that’s ok. It’s a different network. I mean heck, people throw sheep over there and hit each other up for drinks! It’s easier to let your guard down and allow yourself to get to know others).

  11. Dale Chumbley

    June 8, 2008 at 1:02 am

    Lani,

    Great post! I like the guidelines you are following! Very well thought out.

    Thom Singer, one of your own Austinites has done a wonderful job of putting pen to paper on this topic. I see he has even co-written a new book specifically speaking along this topic with regard to LinkedIn. I know you know Thom, not sure if all the other readers do. Anyone who is in our business should read his stuff. He can be found at https://www.thomsinger.com/books.html.

    Keep up the great job!

    Dale

  12. Eric Blackwell

    June 8, 2008 at 3:54 am

    I think this applies to much more than just facebook and linked in… MANY of the social networking spaces out there have folks you don’t know, just being a friend without knowing you at all.

  13. Missy Caulk

    June 8, 2008 at 6:12 am

    Ricardo sent me here from his AR post. I so agree and it has been on my mind so much lately, especially FB. Having just returned from traveling, there was (are) so many waiting in my inbox. My kids are on FB and so some of them invite me, but I always ignore. Kids at parties is not the image I want on FB.

    Ditto on twitter, I do follow a number of people from Ann Arbor, good networking.

    Actually it all gets a little out of hand, doesn’t it?
    Very timing for me to read this, as I was just thinking the same thing this AM.

  14. Jennifer in Louisville

    June 8, 2008 at 7:12 am

    Great words. Quality > Quantity. Having a group of persons that will actually watch out for you, want to help you, and be your advocate is what its all about. Having 3253223626 “friends” who don’t give 2 cents about you, is purely for ego and bragging.

  15. Rebecca Levinson

    June 8, 2008 at 11:35 am

    Well put. I follow the same logic when it comes to blog posts as well. Some blogs churn out 2-3 posts a day, sometimes more. If they are of quality, great, but if not, you will lose readership in the end.

    It’s not all about the numbers. Great communication, feedback, solid relationships, that’s where it’s at.

  16. Christina Ethridge

    June 8, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    Lani – I totally agree with you. What I find even more ridiculous is the propensity of agents on LinkedIn requesting and giving recommendations to other agents that they’ve never had any sort of working relationship with! I’m starting to get the requests for recommendations fairly regularly. I’m trying my best to be very diplomatic with my responses so as not to tick anyone off – but let’s be real – I’m not going to give a recommendation until I’ve actually worked with or utilized someone’s services myself – nor do I want recommendations from people who have not worked with me in any capacity.

  17. Jim Duncan

    June 8, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    I’ve found that I am (much) more selective on LinkedIn than I am on Facebook, and slightly more selective on Twitter.

    The definition of “friend” has become a bit muddy with all of these social networks using “friend” as their base level of connection – which is a shame.

    Lani – is it safe to assume that you’ve read The Tipping Point?

  18. Faina Sechzer

    June 8, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    Lani, you are the ultimate social media connector, so you speak from first hand knowledge. Social media sites differ and my criteria for them is different too. On Twitter I was “bold” enough to reach out and meet people without prior introduction from anyone else -they just happened to live in Princeton. My due diligence was to check out their blogs/sites. Someone who doesn’t have Internet presence outside the social media I would be watching first before “following” or approving as a friend on FB..
    Beyond all, if everyone on these networks was just and peddle and push their stuff, it would get old and tiring very soon. It’s about relationships, isn’t it?

  19. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    June 8, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    It absolutely is all about relationships. Some of this I would do even if it never paid off because I enjoy it. Other parts of engaging in social media I wouldn’t spend time doing if it wasn’t for the overall benefit of the company.

    I’ll be continuing my series on social media successes and hope you guys will chime in. It can be tiring when others abuse it, but as a newbie, I didn’t get it either- I was very formal, required introductions to people I haven’t met in person, I constantly toted the corporate line, etc. Over time, I too, figured out the “SOCIAL” portion of new media and took it down a notch. And it’s worked well because I’m able to be myself which is when I really shine anyhow.

    I’ve read many books on social networking and new media but find that no one is as expert as they claim- my real life experience has surpassed any text I’ve crossed so far and because it’s so new, the true experts are just being born (Chris Brogan, Darren Rowse, etc. but not every Tom Dick and Harry on Twitter calling themselves “experts”).

  20. Vance Shutes

    June 8, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    Lani,

    Both your article, and your recent comment, are summarized in the statement “It absolutely is all about relationships.” While clicking around FB and LinkedIn, I sometimes wonder whether I’m seeing true “relationship”, or just a collection of “friends.” Give me 50 relationships, any day, and together those 50 can change the world through SM. The 1000 in somebody’s “collection” of friends couldn’t change the channel on a TV. What’s really fun to contemplate is how our kids are going to change the world through their use of SM. Yikes!

  21. Matthew Rathbun

    June 8, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    This is a great practical reminder. I have found myself deleting connections on twitter and facebook more readily than I used to. There have been some real estate folks and local folks who are just rude, inappropriate and unfriendly. I want to keep my social media experience fun and enjoyable… maybe even profitable. As much as I say to pick your clients, I am even more faithful to say pick your friends.

  22. Ken Smith

    June 8, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Great information. If you don’t focus on quality of your contacts you will end up spreading yourself to thin. This really is no different then maintaining a quality database.

  23. Natalie Langford

    June 9, 2008 at 9:38 am

    Hey Lani. This is the info I needed. I’ve been fortunate enough not to have my “network” run clear, or shall I say, diluted with strangers who are “friend farming.” However, I ALWAYS feel guilty or mean when I deny or ignore people…I’ll think of you the next time I click those buttons!

    Funny to see so many familiar names above me. Thanks, Zebra, for the stripe that led me here!

  24. Shailesh Ghimire

    June 9, 2008 at 12:14 pm

    What is a friend? It seems like the term is no longer understood. I regularly deny friend requests. The problem got worse when Facebook started presenting “people you may know”. Then with a click of a button you get a friend request. I do have a policy. I must know them in some capacity, either online or offline before I add them. If I’m going to track some element of my online experience on Facebook, I’d like to know who is “watching”.

  25. ines

    June 9, 2008 at 10:47 pm

    and you are the best darn connector I know – no lie.

  26. Genuine Chris Johnson

    June 10, 2008 at 6:27 am

    Now this is a good post. Good work LaniAR.

  27. Sarah Cooper

    June 10, 2008 at 8:15 am

    Lani, you’re the master and I’m glad to be one of your Twitterbuds. 🙂

  28. Jennifer Wilson - Agent Solutions

    June 10, 2008 at 2:04 pm

    Hey Lani!

    What a fabulous post. You have got me thinking more about my FB friends and why I usually approve the friend requests I get. I am still fairly new to FB and I guess I am like Natalie Langford, and I feel guilty if I don’t approve them. I am now rethinking my practices in this regard.

    Great post Lani! Thank you. 😉

  29. cindy*staged4more

    June 10, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    seriously! although great friends appreciate through time, friends are not baseball cards. 😀

    cheers,
    cindy

  30. Bill Lublin

    June 11, 2008 at 8:53 am

    I feel liberated – I turned someone down on linkedIn.
    OK so he was from turkey, and his website was Turkish as was his blog – but still I said no 🙂

  31. john harper

    June 11, 2008 at 10:01 am

    I am still trying to assess the value of Facebook as a business tool. The thing I find most aggravating, besides an endless stream of nameless friends, is when people use a new application and I have to activate it to see what the heck they are sending me.

    Facebook has caused Webster’s to redefine the term promiscuous.

    I had this same discussion with Jason Alba about LinkedIn. I am much more selective to who I will connect with there.

  32. Harold Watts

    June 11, 2008 at 10:56 am

    Lani,

    What a great article!! I just signed up for Facebook for my business, and I have to say your post got me thinking.

    Who do I want to accept in my “inner circle”? Do I want people who want or know people who want to visit or live in Palm Springs, or do I want people who are just looking to add me as a notch to their “growing friends list?

    I want to use Facebook to connect with other professionals across the country to help grow my business. Thanks for your insight!!

  33. Houstonblogger

    March 9, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Dang, Lani. I thought you were FB friends with this 37 year old cuz I am so cool. 🙁 Le Sigh. ? ? ? j/k

  34. Teresa Boardman

    March 9, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    My face book account has been a travesty since day one. I don’t know most of my friends. I read the updates from the people i do know and from family and poke people to let them know that I am paying attention. I have had people ask me why I won’t be their FB friends. I tell them it is because I don’t like people. it seems to work, they accept it and go away.

  35. Elaine Reese

    March 9, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    I have very specific objectives for FB, LinkedIN and Twitter. I tightly control who I friend, network with or follow on each of them. LinkedIN is for my clients, SOI and contacts from my former career. It’s the business suit network. Twitter is primarily for local contacts who are interesting to follow & engage. It’s the preppy/dockers network. FB is for my family, friends, and a few realtors who are friends. It’s the sweatpants network. The people on each of them are a reflection of me, so I guard my reputation carefully, and it doesn’t bother me to ignore new requests if they don’t meet the criteria. Basically, if they’re not someone I would associate with FTF, then I don’t do it online either.

  36. coolsprings

    March 17, 2010 at 11:48 am

    The overwhelming majority of people these days are people huge networks without really qualifying who goes into them.

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Business Marketing

The advertising overload strategy needs to stop, here’s why

(BUSINESS MARKETING) A new study finds that frequent ads are actually more detrimental to a brand’s image than that same brand advertising near offensive content.

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Advertising spread across many billboards in a city square.

If you haven’t noticed, ads are becoming extremely common in places that are extremely hard to ignore—your Instagram feed, for example. Advertising has certainly undergone some scrutiny for things like inappropriate placement and messaging over the years, but it turns out that sheer ad exhaustion is actually more likely to turn people off of associated brands than the aforementioned offensive content.

Marketing Dive published a report that claims that, of all people surveyed, 32% of consumers said that they viewed current social media advertising to be “excessive”; only 10% said that they found advertisements to be “memorable”.

In that same group, 52% of consumers said that excessive ads were likely to affect negatively their perception of a brand, while only 32% said the same of ads appearing next to offensive or inappropriate content.

“Brand safety has become a hot item for many companies as they look to avoid associations with harmful content, but that’s not as significant a concern for consumers, who show an aversion to ad overload in larger numbers,” writes Peter Adams, author of the Marketing Dive report.

This reaction speaks to the sheer pervasiveness of ads in the current market. Certainly, many people are spending more time on their phones—specifically on social media—as a result of the pandemic. However, with 31% and 27% of surveyed people saying they found website ads either “distracting” or “intrusive”, respectively, the “why” doesn’t matter as much as the reaction itself.

It’s worth pointing out that solid ad blockers do exist for desktop website traffic, and most major browsers offer a “reader mode” feature (or add-on) that allows users to read through things like articles and the like without having to worry about dynamic ads distracting them or slowing down their page. This becomes a much more significant issue on mobile devices, especially when ads are so persistent that they impact one’s ability to read content.

Like most industries, advertisers have faced unique challenges during the pandemic. If there’s one major takeaway from the report, it’s this: Ads have to change—largely in terms of their frequency—if brands want to maintain customer retention and loyalty.

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Business Marketing

SEO: The Unsung Hero of Digital Marketing Success

(MARKETING) Despite sexier emerging trends, the reality is that you can’t build out a successful online presence and marketing strategy without SEO.

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SEO Analytics

If you want to win with digital marketing, you need to stop focusing all of your energy on TikTok and hot trends and instead emphasize some of the more foundational elements that make up successful marketing strategies. This includes search engine optimization (SEO).

Why SEO Matters in 2022 and Beyond

It’s easy to forget about SEO. It’s one of those staples of digital marketing and online business growth that’s been around for so long that we tend to lump it into the “has-been” bucket. But despite sexier emerging trends, the reality is that you can’t build out a successful online presence and marketing strategy without at least paying some attention to SEO.

Here are some specific reasons why it matters:

  • Organic search. Even in a world of paid traffic, organic search reigns supreme. It’s the traffic source that continues to give you clicks regardless of whether you’re footing the bill or not. It’s a free source of qualified traffic that’s interested in what you have to offer before they even click.
  • If a user continues to see your website and brand name pop up on Google, they’re going to assign a certain amount of authority and credibility to you. This can be leveraged to drive conversions.
  • Good UX. You can’t have good SEO without paying attention to intelligent UX and high-quality content. If you follow today’s SEO best practices, you’ll position your brand far ahead of your competitors.

We could list dozens of other reasons why SEO matters, but it basically comes down to these three things. If you can drive traffic, establish authority, and implement a compelling user experience that engages the right people at the right time with the right content, everything else is going to fall into place.

SEO

Tips for Mastering SEO

Understanding the importance of SEO is one thing. Now, how do you go about implementing a successful SEO strategy that propels your larger digital marketing efforts? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Establish These 3 Pillars

It’s easy to get sidetracked with your SEO efforts. There are dozens (if not hundreds) of different tactics and techniques you can implement. But if you don’t start with the basics, everything else will be a waste of your time, energy, and effort.

Chain Reaction, an SEO company in Dubai, is a firm believer in what they call the three SEO pillars:

  • Technical. This is the boring part of SEO, but it has to get done. This includes tasks like fixing technical errors, using the proper URL structure, setting up the right website hierarchy, managing page speed, etc.
  • Content. While more exciting and creative than technical SEO, content is time-consuming and expensive (if outsourced). Having said that, it’s the fuel to any good SEO strategy. Without it, you aren’t going anywhere.
  • Authority. You need to tap into the authority of other websites to set your brand apart. The more you align with other trustworthy sites, the faster you’ll grow.

If you can win in each of these areas, everything else has a way of falling into place.

  1. Go Local

Did you know that 46 percent of all Google searches have local intent? Or that 88 percent of people who perform a local search visit or call the company within 24 hours?

Google is no longer reserved for high-level research or answering simple questions. People go to Google when they want to find a specific product or service in their area. The companies that prioritize local SEO are the ones that pop up in the search results. Make sure that’s you!

  1. Invest in Backlinks

Few things move the SEO “needle” quite like backlinks. When acquired from highly authoritative and relevant sites in your niche, they can amplify your results and prove your credibility. While you can wait to “earn” backlinks, it’s generally recommended that you take a more aggressive approach through strategies like guest blogging. 

  1. Analyze and Iterate

There’s no perfect SEO strategy. The rules are constantly changing and, as a result, so are the best practices. By constantly analyzing the data and studying analytics, you can identify when and where to optimize. An iterative approach like this is the key to being successful.

Putting it All Together

SEO doesn’t get nearly the same buzz as the latest social media trends or web design tactics. However, it’s arguably more important. Make 2022 the year that you invest in SEO for your business. It’s a decision that you won’t regret!

SEO is the unsung hero of digital marketing

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Business Marketing

Pay employees for their time, not only their work

(MARKETING) Yes, you still must pay employees for their time even if they aren’t able to complete their work due to restrictions. Time = Money.

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pay employees for their time

The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired a lot of insightful questions about things like our healthcare system, worldwide containment procedures, and about a billion other things that all deserve well-thought answers.

Unfortunately, it has also led to some of the dumbest questions of all time.

One such question comes courtesy of Comstock Mag, with the inquiry asking whether or not employees who show up on time can be deducted an hour’s pay if the manager shows up an hour later.

From a legal standpoint, Comstock Mag points out that employees participating in such activities are “engaged to wait”, meaning that – while they aren’t necessarily “working” – they are still on the clock and waiting for work to appear; in this case, the aforementioned “work” comes in the form of the manager or supervisor showing up.

In short: if the reason your employees aren’t working is that the precursor to completing the work for which you pay them is inaccessible, you still have to pay them for their time.

Morally, of course, the answer is much simpler: pay your employees for their time, especially if the reason they are unable to complete work is because you (or a subordinate) didn’t make it to work at the right time.

Certainly, you might be able to justify sending all of your employees home early if you run into something like a technology snag or a hiccup in the processes which make it possible for them to do their jobs – that would mean your employees were no longer engaged to wait, thus removing your legal obligation to continue paying them.

Then again, the moral question of whether or not cutting your employees’ hours comes into play here. It’s understandable that funds would be tight for the time being, but docking employees an hour of their work here or there due to problems that no one can control may cause them to resent you down the line when you need their support in return.

The real problem with this question is that, despite most people knowing that the answer should always be “pay them”, the sheer number of people working from home in the wake of worldwide closures and social distancing could muddy the water in terms of what constitutes the difference between being engaged to wait and simply burning time.

For example, an employee who is waiting for a meeting to start still fits the bill of “engaged to wait” even if the meeting software takes an extra half hour to kick in (or, worse yet, the meeting never happens), and docking them pay for timecard issues or other extenuating factors that keep them from their work is similarly disingenuous – and illegal.

There are a lot of unknowns these days, but basic human decency should never be up for debate – especially now.

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