Using Polls to Increase Business

One of the most important characteristics a person can have is curiosity. Seeing all of the polls on LinkedIn, I got curious. “How,” I asked myself, “can a poll be used to help secure new clients?”

Before I could answer that question I had to do some research, first and foremost, by conducting my own poll. So, two weeks ago I launched (if that’s the right word) the above poll.

I wanted something that I knew people were discussing, so that it would attract attention, but not something that would bring out the crazies. So I chose a question about personal pronouns. As you can see, I made it clear that I had no personal agenda. I also said I would not read the comments, a promise I admit to have broken. More on that in a moment.

The first thing I had to decide was the length of time the poll would be active. I chose the maximum of two weeks. Everyday I checked to see the number of votes and the number views (which only I, as the “owner” of the poll, could see). My first lesson was that a week would have been long enough because the numbers really did not change after the first seven days.

The second thing I learned was that a massive number of people, in this case over 9,400, saw the poll. That’s pretty good advertising!

On the other hand, the third lesson was that only two and half percent of viewers cared enough to vote. But, if you think of a poll as a direct marketing campaign, in ancient times, when companies advertised through the mail, a two and a half percent response rate was seen as an overwhelming success.

The fourth lesson was that, in some cases, persons wrote comments (I had a feeling, my curiosity got the better of me, and I broke my promise!) in support of the LGBT community and then voted that the personal pronouns were “silly and unimportant.” So in public it was one thing, in private the opposite! (For the record, only I could see how people actually voted.)

As for the actual results, just so you know, the LGBT solidarity option never had more than 30% of the vote and “silly and unimportant” was always at 48 to 50%. Draw your own conclusions if using “Personal Preferred Pronouns” are helpful are not. Which brings me back to my original question:

Can a poll help you build your business?

I believe it can, as long as it is used strategically.

First, as the person posting the poll you can see who votes and how. So you can reach out to them, thank them for participating, and then move forward, after establishing the relationship, to the ask.

Second, you have to be subtle. For example, if I were to post a poll asking “Under what circumstances would you consider hiring a recruiter?” everyone who did not vote “None,” would hear from me and they would know it. So no one serious would respond.

However, if I were to ask, “How many employees do you hope to hire in 2022?” and provide answers such as; None, 1-5, 6-10, 11+, I may get some responses and therefore leads. (I know. Other recruiters will steal my idea. They may beat me to the punch, so to speak, but they can’t beat me when it comes to charm and good looks!)

Third, if the question I pose and the answers I provide show that I know what the concerns of potential clients are (and, note, this time I am not providing an example – I may be crazy, but I’m not stupid) I will be showing potential clients that I understand them and then, hopefully, they will choose to reach out to me so I don’t have to reach out to them. After all, we all prefer to work with people who “get” us.

Bottom line: done properly, I believe polling can be an important part of business development.

PS Yes, I know, I should have ended the question in the poll with a question mark and not a period.

How to Debate at Work and Maybe Get a Promotion

Whenever I am asked by a high school student what they should study in college, I always tell them that their major does not matter. What matters is that they take a couple of classes in English. No matter your profession, the only way to advance, to get promoted, in your career is by having, at a minimum, a good command of the English language. You have to be able to write well and, just as importantly, to speak well.

In Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, Jon Meacham writes,

[John] Adams said, “A public speaker who inserts himself, or is urged by others into the conduct of affairs, by daily exertions to justify his measures and answer the objections of opponents, makes himself too familiar with the public, and unavoidably makes himself enemies”

To write public papers or to negotiate quietly, away from the floor of an assembly or even away from a largish committee, enabled a politician to exert his will with less risk of creating animosity. [p.108.]

Put differently, if you have a problem with something at work, sit down, shut up, and put it in writing. Adams, as he was so often, was correct. And for one very simple reason.

When you debate someone verbally, it is almost always viewed as an attack. The other person feels a need to immediately respond. Immediate responses can be emotional. Rarely does the person have time to think. However, if you write something, and take the time to proofread it, you’ll also, literally, add oxygen to the equation (as in, taking time to breathe) and you may calm down. As the saying goes, “Calmer heads will prevail.” Similarly, saying, “Let me think about this. I don’t think it is as simple or clear-cut as it appears at first. I’ll send you something later today,” gives you time to properly think the matter through and, more importantly, to word you response carefully in a way that cannot be misquoted. A person can honestly, or dishonestly, misquote something that has been said, but not written – at least not for long.

You don’t want to be the victim of “telephone,” the children’s’ game where the first child whispers something to the second child, who then repeats it to the third. By the time it reaches the fifteenth child, any resemblance between the original statement and the final one it totally coincidental. That does not matter when playing a game; it most certainly does matter when trying to create policy.

Most people think that Lincoln won the debate again Douglas. Most people think they were debating for the presidency. Most people are wrong. But that’s not what is important. What’s important is that most people think the foolishness that we call “debates” today was what they did. They didn’t. The first speaker spoke for an hour. The second spoke for an hour and a half. The first had a half hour to respond. Can you imagine any of the candidates who have recently run for public office being able to do that? And I am not talking about the physical stamina and dignity. To stand for 60 minutes and speak, and then to sit for 90 minutes and not say a word, takes more than physical strength. Both men, whether you agree with them or not, were as brilliant when they began as when there time finished.

I’m no Lincoln. I’m no Douglas. And, respectfully, I doubt any of you are either. Our formal education is certainly better today than in ante bellum America, but not the informal. I just don’t think we have it in us. But Socrates…that’s a different subject.

If you have to publicly debate, by which I mean to defend a proposal in the office, your responses may be seen as attacks, unless you follow Socrates (and even then, an immature opponent still will not understand). The Socratic Approach, as it is called, is to ask questions to cause the other side, and force the audience to think critically. Asking questions, instead of making declarative statements, appears to be less confrontational but, in truth, it is a far more effective strategy and can be devastating because it requires the person to logically, rationally and, most importantly, dispassionately, defend their position. If they respond with emotion, they lose!

Being Lincoln or Douglas causes the audience to think but not, necessarily, to stay awake. Being Socrates, causes the audience to think and keeps them engaged, awake, because the “debate” is rapid fire. But this means that you, the questioner, have to be prepared. You have to understand what the other side is going to say. You have to appreciate their logic and know how to attack it not them.

I have always found that a higher level of debate results in better decisions. Allow your staff to ask probing questions, in fact, let them know that they are expected to ask and respond to probing questions, and, most importantly, to do so respectfully. Do that and your decision making will be exemplary and the results exceptional.

Starting a Business? In NYC on May 12? Want to Learn What to Do and What Not to Do?

“By entrepreneurs, for entrepreneurs.”  That is the tag line for the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce’s first annual Entrepreneurship Boot Camp, which is taking place on May 12.

Organized by the Entrepreneurs Network, which I co-chair, the day-long event will cover all aspects of setting up a business, from the writing of a business plan to an exit strategy.  Additional topics include choosing a business structure; obtaining funding; building a board of advisors; sales; and marketing,

All instructors are entrepreneurs who will be sharing their successes and failures with attendees.  Actionable information will be provided, not theory.

While the fee is $75.00, on  a first-come first-served basis, we are pleased to offer a 100% discount to the next 20 persons to register.  To take advantage of the discount, register as a Non-Member and enter promo code bootcamp2016.  If all the places are taken, you can receive a $25 discount by entering promo code MCCbootcamp.  (The codes are not case sensitive.)

I hope to see you at Camp!

Learn About Client Development and Retention

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Join me on Tuesday, February 16 at 9:00 AM (Eastern Time) for an insightful interview on client development (acquisition) and retention.

My guest will be David Post, President of DVP Advisors, Inc.

David has 25 years of strategic consulting experience with broad expertise in HR, Project Management, Business Development, Organizational Design and Strategic Development.  David’s focus is in advising entrepreneurs, not-for-profits and organizations seeking to build sustainable businesses.

David knows the business world as both an entrepreneur and a product of multiple corporate environments.  His work has enabled him to live and work in the UK for three years, to consult in the US, the UK, the Netherlands and India.  David has presented to audiences in the US, the UK, Belgium, Germany and Canada.  David has a BA in Organizational Communications from New York University.

DVP Advisors, Inc. is a management-consulting firm that helps strengthen organizations and empower organizational leaders. We work to support your goals and aspirations for your business.  Through a process of enquiry, analysis and implementation, we analyze, evaluate and recommend solutions to the challenges you want addressed.

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Do you have an interesting story to tell?  Are you looking for media attention?  Be a guest on Bruce Hurwitz Presents!  Send your request to Bruce Hurwitz at bh@hsstaffing.com.

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