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Are You Networking or NOTworking?



goofy guyIs anyone besides moi exhausted by the networking demands of our age? Quite frankly, I believe we are under the illusion that we are being social, when in reality we have become more reclusive. How many of you have fallen into the Time Suck Vortex, responding to virtual strangers who have somehow found your name on FB or Twitter? Have you ever wondered what you and that cyber stalker have in common besides bloodshot eyeballs? Honestly folks, didn’t you lose track of some of those yahoos a long time ago for a reason?

I remember a time when it was considered rude to drop in for a visit unannounced. Nowadays, every time I turn on my computer there’s a party going on in my room. No, I really am not a curmudgeon – I am just a sleep-deprived individual who knows that if I don’t show up at the party I will be considered a geek and I won’t get to sit at the lunch table with the popular kids. Aw, c’mon – you know I’m not the only one who feels pressured to be on the web party circuit. Be there or be square.

Additionally,  biz advisors insist that the cyber social scene allows us to “passively market.” I miss the direct approach: “List your house with me and I’ll work for you like a monkey on crack.”

Let Your Fingers Do The Stalking

Yes, I know – if I am going to rant about social networking, then why am I a blogger? Pot, say hello to kettle. But haven’t we taken it to excess? Some of my friends are too busy to go out because they need to answer FB messages, and others think they are going out because they are Tweeting someone Down Under. This is not reality, folks – this is virtual schmoozing! It’s about as intimate as kissing a light socket, but not nearly as scintillating.

Pardon my crankiness, but I am exhausted. From now on I am going to limit all FB friends to the Cast of Oceans 11-13. But please, even if you “friend” me, George and Brad – no pokes or nudges, I beg of you. What the hell is with the nudging? That’s like a noogie – and we all hate those. And dear God, please stop with the group invitations – I had enough of those from the Sigma Chi’s during college…and they almost lost their charter for that!

Let The Games Begin

Last week someone actually sent me a water balloon via FB. A water balloon! If it’s not filled with Vodka, why bother? Do I LOOK like I have time to play stupid internet games in the middle of my workday? I sent a Claymore Mine back. So much for a good time.

And what’s with the “points” you get on some websites? I can’t handle the pressure – it’s like getting graded. I’m convinced my eighth grade teacher is lurking in the Network Connection parking lot yelling, “What – only 12 points? You pathetic loser – I told you you’d never amount to anything. Here’s a water balloon!”

Hello – Anyone Home?

Okay, I admit, my blogging voice is now so high it can only be heard by dogs as I scream: “Put down those damn texting devices and look me in the eyeballs when I’m talking to you!” We have turned into a world of head-tops, where all we see is the crowns of bowed skulls staring down at supersonic mega-thumbs. I would think the dandruff shampoo people could use this to their advantage if they start a Twitter Trending Topic on Crust Cranium.

Hey – where are you going? I’m not done here! Am I the only one who has noticed that we have lost our language skills? There’s a whole new vocabulary out there that does not require Webster’s input. You can poke him all day and he’s not going to rally. We’re all so busy Tweeting and Friending and Linking and Tagging and Texting and Blogging that it should be a 3 credit course in school. We should let kids substitute it for P.E. What the heck – there’s no time left for showers anyway.

Don’t Go Into The Light!

Wouldn’t our time be better spent if we were out there prospecting and shaking hands? Here’s a novel idea – what if we were to actually volunteer for an organization rather than joining online like comatose sheep? Perhaps the fingers could dial numbers of old friends rather than stroke the keys. And here’s a radical idea – what if those flying fingers were used to learn an instrument, pet a dog, turn pages of a book (yes, they still exist), or write a letter to Grammy? Quite frankly, I think brewing up a batch of martinis and a cheese ball might be one of the most social acts of kindness I know.

If you’re still reading this, you’re in trouble. You need to join a twelve step program for Blog Tweakers. I’m working on a vaccination to help with the brutality of withdrawal. But if you can come up with a way to balance the Social Networking scene and a real life of friendships, social interaction and contribution, then please let me know. In fact, be sure to Tweet it and get the word out so we will ALL know.

Oops…did I just say that?

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  1. Chuck G

    August 14, 2009 at 11:20 am

    If there’s ever an AG Hall of Fame created, this post should be the first inductee.

    Thanks for putting a VERY humorous spin on a little secret that we all know, but are afraid to admit. Blog? Definitely useful. FacePlant, Twitter, BrightKite, etc, etc, etc….. Don’t know about you, but I’m just not seeing the ROI just yet.

    Next time you write a post like this, have Penn & Teller do it in video form, just like they on this video about bottled water:

    (I know the link will get deleted, but look it up on YouTube — it’s relevant to what you talk about, and it’s REALLY funny.)

    Nice work, Gwen!


  2. Matthew Hardy

    August 14, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    I think you’re right about many being “under the illusion that we are being social, when in reality we have become more reclusive.” Much of the number-comparing that seems so important in SM is high school level fershure. Periodically I’m reminded that some of the most accomplished people I know are so busy with their accomplishments that social media hasn’t even gotten on their radar.

    Best quote: “List your house with me and I’ll work for you like a monkey on crack.”
    I’d like to see the graphics that go along with *that* marketing slogan… 😉

  3. Amy

    August 14, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    I love this! I haven’t been joking when I refer to myself as the “Twitter Widow”…it’s not football anymore. Now that we have met with a Social Branding Guru…it’s all about being the twitterer, twitteree and going to tweetups to meet the ‘tweeps’ in person.

  4. Gwen Banta

    August 14, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    Thanks for your insight, Matthew. I remember having a pen pal when I was a girl. To me she was a friend, although I never met her. Long after I grew up and we had lost contact, I re-read the letters. In hind sight, I realize that so much of the correspondance and conversation on my end had been about me discovering ME. I believe it was quite the same on her end. Of course there is value in that, but I don’t believe it’s the same as a FTF friendship that requires actual participation in each other’s lives.

    I am certainly not implying that Social Media is a bad thing. I just hope it does not become a substitute for experience, participation and FTF interaction.

    I am so pleased you like my Direct approach to marketing. I chose the Monkey branding because the effects of my last approach were dubious: “Chose me as your agent and I’ll sell the crap out of your house.” I still think it has a certain je n’est-ce quoi!

  5. Gwen Banta

    August 14, 2009 at 5:25 pm

    Thank YOU for the laugh, Chuck – that link is hysterical! If Penn and Teller did my “RU Networking or NOTworking?” blog in video form, I can just imagine Teller falling in love via blog and licking the keyboard while Penn throws water balloons at the monitor. Those guys are nuts…funny, but nuts!

  6. Gwen Banta

    August 14, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    “Twitter Widow” – that should be added to all the new dictionaries, Amy! I love your sense of language, so I composed a poem just for you:

    My Facebook page stalks me
    I party with Tweeps
    I’m no longer active
    I’ve no time to sleep

    My friends are Twiterees
    My keyboard is my lover
    If you’re not in you’re out
    (I’m so sorry, Mother)

    If my computer should crash
    For some perilous quirk
    I’ll be socially outcast
    And I’ll just have to WORK!

  7. Wendy Hughes-Jelen

    August 14, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    Hmm, do I dare to comment since it would be notworking? Hehe love the challenge to think about why we do things in life and business. I’ve been online since 1995 so it is a regular part of my daily life, not something that takes me away from it. I learn so much from reading the articles that other people find interesting. I could probably stop watching the 6 pm newscast since I really already learned everything I needed to know for the day!

  8. Paula Henry

    August 14, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    Classic Gwen! I have taken a big break from social networking, mostly, because work beckons me and I have yet to have real dollars fly from the keyboard.

    Not to say I don’t get business from it, but time is time and I need time – time to sleep, time for my family, time for a walk, time to read Gwen. Never enough time. It really is a huge issue for me. You make it oh so funny, but it’s a harsh reality.

    As I was going to Twit this, I discovered I could get 10 points for adding someone to my follow list. Does anyone know what 10 points gets you on Twitter? I just want to make sure it’s worth it. Regardless – no “Twit This” for you, Gwen – I’m afraid of who I might follow.

  9. Gwen Banta

    August 15, 2009 at 12:02 am

    Wendy, it sounds as if you are using social networking wisely. Nonetheless, I am starting my own point system for the Social Networking Remedial Group who feel left out because they can’t score points and they don’t know what a Tweet is. I will give you 100 points to anyone who can tell me what Gravatar is, and 1000 points to anyone who can tell me how to make a really good dry martini.

  10. Gwen Banta

    August 15, 2009 at 12:10 am

    Thank you, my dear Paula. As I just told Wendy, I am starting my own point system. I hereby award you with 100 points for Strength in the Face of Twitter Pressure. I also give you 1000 points for reading my blog. I’m throwing in another 500 points because you actually READ. And here’s extra credit: 500 more points for saying Twit repeatedly as fast as you can. Did you notice that the word becomes “Toilet? 🙂

  11. Paula Henry

    August 15, 2009 at 12:23 am

    I think I know what a Gravtar is, but I can’t remember my password. I’ll be back soon with a new face.

  12. Paula Henry

    August 15, 2009 at 12:23 am

    Gwen – It is toilet!

  13. Gwen Banta

    August 15, 2009 at 12:45 am

    Seriously, Paula, I thought Gravatar was a burial site on a highway.

  14. Paula Henry

    August 15, 2009 at 12:55 am

    🙂 Makes perfect sense! especially at one in the morning. What was this post about – virtual schmoozing, red eyes, nudges, sheep and water balloons. And….here I sit, with my virtual friends when I was supposed to be working on my website. Tomorrow’s another day. G’night!

  15. Gwen Banta

    August 15, 2009 at 1:04 am

    It is “toilet,” isn’t it!!! You get 500 points bonus just for playing. Now go to a public place and say “Friend” really fast. Call me after they take you to the Happy Home. I’m here for you.

  16. Gwen Banta

    August 15, 2009 at 1:05 am

    Touche, goodnight, and Tweet Dreams.

  17. Joe Loomer

    August 15, 2009 at 9:24 am

    Wow – spend one day OFF the AG circuit and my worthless comment gets relegated to the bottom of the barrel! That’s the thanks I get for doing the “Monkey on Crack” dance at an actual FACE to FACE listing appointment and contract negotiations?

    Gwen, this is simply textbook Banta. I’m with Chuck on this being Hall of Fame material.

    Gotta run – While reading this, I sharted, which gave me an idea for a good tweet and wall post, but first I have to text half my contacts while sitting on the loo about where we can all meet up later – online of course…

    DANGIT – I’m one of THEM! Good God in Heaven please help me!

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  18. Gwen Banta

    August 15, 2009 at 4:17 pm

    Oh pauvre Joe, I think we are all beyond help. I am one of the worst offenders. I am trying to practice what I preach, but my AG posse keeps calling me home. I keep going farther into the light (of the monitor, that is). There better be a place to scatter my ashes in cyberspace because I’ll probably die sitting up in my chair. Even my dog is bored with me. I bought her a Blackberry and told her to text me, but she buried it in the back yard. Obviously, she’s smarter than I am.

    In order to polish my rusty prospecting skills, I went out to meet ‘n greet in person (novel idea) on Thursday. My next blog is about my experiences as a Hollywood agent. It’s not for the faint of heart. At least you got a contract. I got propositioned.

    I concluded that there is obviously some value to internet prospecting, but I’m still looking for the happy medium. In the meantime, I am establishing a rehab center for Networking junkies. It’s called UnPlug. Of course it will offer WFI, bonus points, water balloons, pokes, air kisses…

  19. Gwen Banta

    August 15, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    PS Joe – You will NEVER be at the bottom of MY barrel!

  20. Esko Kiuru

    August 16, 2009 at 8:39 pm


    You make a valuable point here. If you do social networking for business purposes then there should be a daily routine to it. A reasonable time allotment that covers the established goals and no more. Social networking without set rules can get out of hand and become NOTworking, like some people are smilingly admitting.

  21. Gwen Banta

    August 17, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    I think you just made a valuable point yourself, Esko: meet “established goals” and no more. Of course, discipline and self-control is the key…

  22. Sushant Chavan

    August 21, 2009 at 3:52 am

    All I have to say is that Social N/W is like alcohol.If its under control you are a social drinker & and if not, your an ALCOHOLIC!!!

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Business Marketing

No-reply emails don’t help customers, they’ve run their course

(MARKETING) No-reply emails may serve a company well, but the customers can become frustrated with the loss of a quick and easy way to get help.



no-reply mail boxes

Let me tell you a modern-day horror story.

You finally decide to purchase the item that’s been sitting in your cart all week, but when you receive your confirmation email you realize there’s a mistake on the order. Maybe you ordered the wrong size item, maybe your old address is listed as the shipping location, or maybe you just have buyer’s remorse. Either way, you’ve got to contact customer service.

Your next mission is to find contact information or a support line where you can get the issue resolved. You scroll to the bottom of the email and look around for a place to contact the company, but all you find is some copyright junk and an unsubscribe option. Tempting, but it won’t solve your problem. Your last hope is to reply to the confirmation email, so you hit that trusty reply arrow and…nothing. It’s a no-reply email. Cue the high-pitched screams.

Customers should not have to sort through your website and emails with a microscope to find contact information or a customer service line. With high customer expectations and fierce ecommerce competition, business owners can’t afford to use no-reply emails anymore.

Intended or not, no-reply emails send your customer the message that you really don’t want to hear from them. In an age when you can DM major airlines on Twitter and expect a response, this is just not going to fly anymore.

Fixing this issue doesn’t need to be a huge burden on your company. A simple solution is to create a persona for your email marketing or customer service emails, it could be member of your team or even a company mascot. Rather than using you can use and make that email a place where your email list can respond to questions and communicate concerns. Remember, the whole point of email marketing is to create a conversation with your customers.

Another great strategy for avoiding a million customer service emails where you don’t want them? Include customer service contact info in your emails. Place a thoughtful message near the bottom of your template letting people know where they can go if they’re having an issue with the product or service. This simple change will save you, your customers, and your team so much time in the long-run.

Your goal as a business owner is to build a trusting relationship between you and your customers, so leave the no reply emails behind. They’re annoying and they might even get you marked as spam.

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Business Marketing

Influencer marketing isn’t new, it’s actually centuries old

(MARKETING) You may roll your eyes at sexy strangers hawking snake oil on social media, but influencer marketing is nothing new…



Influencer marketing people taking video on a smart phone to record dances.

Influencer marketing is now one of those buzzword phrases that you can’t go a few days without hearing. In fact, it’s become such a popular term that it was officially added to the English Dictionary in 2019.

While this is a recent change, the concept of an influencer is nothing new. For years, people have looked to friends and family (as well as high-profile people like celebrities) to be influenced (intentionally or unintentionally) about what to buy, what to do, and where to go.

Social Media Today notes that influencers date back centuries.

One of the first “influencer” collaborations dates back to 1760, when a potter by the name Wedgwood made a tea set for the Queen of England,” writes Brooks. “Since the monarchy were the influencers of their time, his forward-thinking decision to market his brand as Royal-approved afforded it the luxury status the brand still enjoys today”

Now, influencers are known as people blowing up your Instagram feed with recommendations of what to wear and stomach flattening teas to buy. Influencers are basically anyone who has the ability to cultivate a following and, from there, give advice on how followers should spend their money.

After the 1760 tea set influencer, influencers were found in the forms of fashion icons (like Coco Chanel in the 1920s, and Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s), celebrity endorsements (for example, all of the money Nike made in the ‘80s after signing Michael Jordan to be their spokesperson – I wonder if Hanes is raking in the same bucks as Nike…), TV stars endorsing products (like Jennifer Aniston when she was at the height of “The Rachel” cut and became the face of L’Oreal Elvive; now she’s the face of Aveeno).

Then in the mid-2000s, blogs became a space where “everyday” people could use their voice with influence. This trend has continued and has shifted into social media, usually with a blog counterpart.

Now, blogging and influencing is an industry in and of itself with influencer marketing being a key form of comms. According to the HypeAuditor report, the influencer industry will be worth $22 billion by 2025. Where can I sign up?

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Business Marketing

The use of offline marketing can still be advantageous in a digital world

(BUSINESS) Offline marketing is usually skipped over nowadays for the sparkly, shining ‘digital’ marketing strategies, but don’t forget the roots.



offline marketing billboard

Everywhere you look, people want to talk about digital marketing. In fact, if you don’t have a digital marketing strategy in today’s business world, you’re not going to last long. But just because digital marketing is popular, don’t assume that offline marketing no longer yields value.

When used together, these strategies can produce significant returns.

“Some people will argue that traditional marketing is dead, but there are several benefits to including offline advertising in your overall marketing campaign,” sales expert Larry Myler admits. “Combining both offline and online campaigns can help boost your brand’s visibility, and help it stand out amongst competitors who may be busy flooding the digital space.”

How do you use offline marketing in a manner that’s both cost-effective and high in exposure? While your business will dictate how you should proceed, here are a few offline marketing methods that still return considerable value in today’s marketplace.

1. Yard signs

When most people think about yard signs, their minds immediately go to political signs that you see posted everywhere during campaign season. However, yard signs have a lot more utility and value beyond campaigning. They’re actually an extremely cost-effective form of offline advertising.

The great thing about yard signs is that you can print your own custom designs for just dollars and, when properly stored, they last for years. They’re also free to place, assuming you have access to property where it’s legal to advertise. This makes them a practical addition to a low-budget marketing campaign.

2. Billboards

The fact that you notice billboards when driving down an interstate or highway is a testament to the reality that other people are also being exposed to these valuable advertisements. If you’ve never considered implementing billboards into your marketing strategy, now’s a good time to think about it.

With billboard advertising, you have to be really careful with design, structure, and execution. “Considering we’re on the move when we read billboards, we don’t have a lot of time to take them in. Six seconds has been touted as the industry average for reading a billboard,” copywriter Paul Suggett explains. “So, around six words is all you should use to get the message across.”

3. Promotional giveaways

It’s the tangible nature of physical marketing that makes it so valuable. Yard signs and billboards are great, but make sure you’re also taking advantage of promotional giveaways as a way of getting something into the hands of your customers.

Promotional giveaways, no matter how simple, generally produce a healthy return on investment. They increase brand awareness and recall, while giving customers positive associations with your brand. (Who doesn’t love getting something for free?)

4. Local event sponsorships

One aspect of offline marketing businesses frequently forget about is local event sponsorships. These sponsorships are usually cost-effective and tend to offer great returns in terms of audience engagement.

Local event sponsorships can usually be found simply by checking the calendar of events in your city. Any time there’s a public event, farmer’s market, parade, sporting event, concert, or fundraiser, there’s an opportunity for you to get your name out there. Look for events where you feel like your target audience is most likely to attend.

Offline marketing is anything but dead.

If your goal is to stand out in a crowded marketplace where all your competitors are investing heavily in social media, SEO, PPC advertising, and blogging, then it’s certainly worth supplementing your existing digital strategy with traditional offline marketing methods that reach your audience at multiple touchpoints.

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