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Build Your Tribe of Supporters: Who Is In Your 150?

Mary Rosenbaum | November 19th, 2010

How many people do you know with whom you have a real relationship.? When I look at the numbers of contacts/friends/followers that some people have on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter it appears there are many people who have hundreds and even thousands on their list.

The proliferation of social media sites has created an environment where being “connected” with someone does not have the same connotation it once did. There seems to be some confusion about the value of these contacts and what it really means. Social media enables you to get the word out to vast numbers of people in a very short period of time. On such a vast scale, social media should not be confused with relationship building. Sometimes relationships develop, but those are isolated instances rather than common place occurrences.

Robin Dunbar is the director of the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology at Oxford University, author of How Many Friend Does One Person Need? According to Mr. Dunbar, 150 people are the most any one person can be in a relationship with involving trust and obligation. These are relationships where there is some personal history, not just names and faces and perhaps the occasional shared tweet. The reason for this is simple, it takes energy, time, and mental capacity to build and maintain relationships. According to our brain capacity, 150 is the limit.

Beyond the 150 number, the tie that binds you to greater numbers of people are superficial and never extend beyond the occasional message, tweet, or shared photo. Social media has created a new way for you to “keep in touch” with those you would probably never have contact with again before these vehicles became so prominent.

The question I have is if you are spreading yourself thin by trying to maintain some form of relationship with vast numbers of people, are you diluting even the ones that would fall into the category of “real” relationships? Are you confusing followers with supporters?

I think instead of trying to grow your contacts or following by including large numbers of people who you cannot develop any sort of relationship with, your time might be better spent deepening the ones that could be part of your tribe – those who support you and what you do and those you can support in return.

The challenge is to increase the breadth of your relationships without sacrificing the depth. There are many ways to increase your tribe to ensure that the connections between all of you continue to provide value to everyone involved. So ask yourself:

Have I succeeded in deepening my relationships to a level where I can provide support?

How many meaningful relationships do I have?

Am I anywhere near my Dunbar number of 150?

Do I have the right people in my 150?

If not, what steps can I take to move myself forward?


Utilizing her experience of over 25 years Mary Rosenbaum helps careerists and entrepreneurs position themselves so they can stand out from the competition. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Follow me on Twitter @Careersguru


Make Your Story PITCH Perfect

Mary Rosenbaum | November 11th, 2010

Developing your pitch is probably one of the hardest things to do when marketing or selling you or your service. I know that it is more difficult to sell yourself than it is to sell your company or a particular product. You don’t want to brag so instead you understate your abilities, your messaging is not that clear, or you create a laundry list of skills and abilities that are quickly forgotten.

The questions you should ask yourself when developing your pitch are:

– Would they remember it tomorrow?

– Could they repeat it in six months?

– Was your core message clear?

– Did you connect with your listener?

Here are some tips to help you put your pitch together.

1. Make sure you are emphasizing a differentiating skill or ability that is unique to you and that can’t be easily replicated by others over a reasonable period of time. It’s important to communicate how this translates into a better result for your client or employer.

Here is my example:
When I started up an executive recruiting firm focused on the financial services industry I knew that my experience of having worked on the other side of the desk provided me with the ability to understand candidates better when screening them for searches. I knew the industry, understood the language, had better filtering capability, required less involvement from my clients, and completed searches in less time.

2. Create a narrative, a story, that addresses the arc of how you arrived to where you are now, how that impacts what you do, and how it affects the results of who you work for. Making the story personal makes it memorable, interesting, and keeps it authentic. It allows people to connect with you on a very different level than if you were to describe the whole thing in corporate speak.

Here is my example:

My journey from Wall Street to Executive Search to Personal and Leadership Branding and Career Management has provided me with unique insight into how companies think when looking for executives who can lead and how to position yourself so that your differentiating strengths and value added are spotlighted. My passion is to make an impact, to make a difference on people’s lives and each time I came to a fork in the road my internal compass kept pointing me in the direction that fulfilled my need. I know that when I help clients understand, communicate and leverage what is best about themselves I am having a significant impact on their confidence and on their ability to make the right decisions going forward. Their success becomes my success.

3. Include stories that highlight the strengths you bring to the table. Skill based stories are valuable ways to show rather than tell your successes and allows the listener to extrapolate how he/she might benefit from your services or employment. Instead of saying that you are creative tell a story that illustrates your creativity in resolving a problem or issue. I wouldn’t advise telling many of these stories in a pitch but bringing up a story that the listener can relate to because of his/her own needs would be more effective.

4. Test drive your pitch. Try it out on everyone and watch their reactions? Ask for input. Remember, you are trying to make it real and to connect while still providing the information you want them to hear to keep the conversation going.

Do you have some horror stories about delivering your pitch? Share them with me by emailing me direct. Would love to hear some of your stories.

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years Mary Rosenbaum helps careerists and entrepreneurs position themselves so they can stand out from the competition. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Follow me on Twitter @Careersguru


Dream Big: Design Your Future

Mary Rosenbaum | November 5th, 2010

Do you dream big? How BIG? In a leadership training class I am taking I was recently given this assignment: write your own aspirational obituary. This was an intoxicating idea. To actually put on paper all of those dreams I have that I would love to enact.

Once I began this process it reminded me of what it was like cleaning out my closet. I would go in there and find something that I once loved. It generally triggered some memories of when I wore it and how I felt at the time. Maybe it was a first date, the first corporate client I pitched, or maybe a first anniversary. And suddenly when I look at it in the light of day I realize how faded and worn it looks. And worst of all, it no longer fits. Well, the same holds true for some of your dreams.

When I first started the assignment I thought this would be a piece of cake. But what I realized in the process of putting words to paper is that some of the dreams I have always held dear were no longer at the top of my list. Although I am still the same person, the passions, vision, and values I lead with today have shifted and my aspirations are somewhat different than they once were.

I am still working on my obit but I have already redefined some of my personal and career goals. I know that I will continue to change and lead with different values and strengths that will emerge in the natural course of my life. And I also know that if I were to write another aspirational obit in 5 years it would be very different than the one I write today. But this doesn’t diminish the value of having gone through the process. After all, it’s good to periodically clean out that closet and make room for some new clothes.

To help you go through this exercise yourself, here are some thoughts and tips to get the most out of this valuable exercise.

1. Be honest about your dreams. This isn’t a goals oriented exercise but rather a time for you to dream big.

2. Go beyond the who you are today. Unlock those doors that keep you tethered to the present.

3. Ask yourself if the values you lead with today are the ones that will get you where you think you want to go?

4. Are the goals you set for yourself big enough?

5. How will your purpose impact the vision you have for the world?

Once you have written this aspirational piece look at the direction you have set for yourself. The next step is to design your future and turn those dreams into reality.

Utilizing her experience of over 25 years Mary Rosenbaum helps careerists and entrepreneurs position themselves so they can stand out from the competition. Get her free report Top Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Follow me on Twitter @Careersguru