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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


Personal Branding-Value Your Past in Creating Your Future

Mary Rosenbaum | June 17th, 2010

I love going into antique stores. For me it’s about learning the history of some object that caught my eye – who crafted it, who owned it, what it was originally used for, where it was found or from whom it was purchased. This information provides me with the substance that makes the object more real, more interesting, and more memorable.

Believe it or not, the same holds true for you as a professional or entrepreneur. We are always talking about the value of being authentic as part of your personal brand. When your brand is authentic it includes everything about you as well as your history. Your history is as vital to your brand as it is in making the antique more desirable.

Early in my career I worked in investment banking. As an analyst I learned how to compare and evaluate companies, synthesizing vast amounts of information including earnings, market penetration, comparability, economic conditions, consumer sentiment, and so forth.

That doesn’t sound like it would be useful for someone whose expertise is in personal branding and career management. Yet, it’s those same analytical skills that provide the underpinning for me to help clients evaluate, compare, synthesize and communicate how their talents, experience, skills, passions, vision, and values enable them to stand out from the competition. This past experience is a piece of the puzzle that makes up ALL of who I am and what I offer. My history is part of what makes me more interesting, more unique, more memorable, and of course, it helps me stand out.

When you are working on your personal brand try to answer these questions:

1. What are you are good at – what comes to you easily?
2. How did you come to own this particular skill?
3. How does it enhance what you do?
4. How can it enhance what you want to do (remember, brands are aspirational)?
5. Why are you good at it – does this fulfill a particular passion, interest, value?
6. Does this help you differentiate yourself from your competition – why?

The experiences in your life should not be compartmentalized, instead they should be mined and brought to the surface. They are your precious gems. So take a walk through your past, connect the dots to your present, and set the stage for your future.

If you have any personal branding stories to share I would love to hear them.

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 Strategies for Getting Visible and Getting Ahead.

Follow me on Twitter @Careersguru


Marketing and Sales: Procrastination – The Enemy of Success

Mary Rosenbaum | June 10th, 2010

As someone who has always worked in positions where I was marketing and selling my services or the services of my company, I know how hard it can sometimes be to get yourself motivated and make those calls. And interestingly enough, it’s even harder when business is slower. That sounds like an oxymoron because when business is slow you

a) have the time to market and connect

b) should be more motivated to get business

Here are some techniques I use for getting off the fence and generating some new business:

1. Make a list of existing and former clients.

Make sure you are on target and properly servicing those clients still actively engaged with you and your company. Keeping your existing clients should always be a high priority. Reconnecting with past clients is also a good way of generating new assignments and keeping your name front and center in the event that a new project or assignment develops.

2. Make a list of everyone who has ever referred business.

If you haven’t done so already, start reconnecting and re-establishing your relationships. There is a fine line here between calling someone specifically for new referrals and calling someone to reconnect. Make sure the message you send is more reflective of the latter rather than the former. Focus on building and maintaining your relationships and staying top of mind.

3. Make a list of potential clients.

There are two categories in this group. The first category includes people or companies who can be considered low hanging fruit. How often have you neglected to follow up with people you met at events or conferences who expressed an interest in continuing the discussion? Or how about people who responded to your articles, attended seminars you gave, signed up for your website, asked for more information about your company, or maybe you were given some names of people who might have an interest but never followed up?

The second category includes companies or people who fall into your target audience but with whom you have no contact. This is where your personal network or your network on LinkedIn might be helpful. Learning as much as you can about people or companies who fall into this group would be instrumental in making your initial contact and taking it to the next level.

Developing relationships with potential clients is a longer term strategy and consequently should be an ongoing activity regardless of market conditions.

4. Eliminate unnecessary busy work.

We have all been there. It’s easy to get busy doing everything but what really needs to get done. Selling and marketing can be fun, especially when economic conditions are booming. It’s a lot harder to get yourself going when times are tough. Procrastination is the enemy of success.

So stop getting in your own way and move forward with purpose.

What other tools do you use to generate new leads and new business?

Follow me on Twitter @careersguru

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