6 Ways Fantasy Football is Like Running a Business

If you’re into fantasy sports, you already know fantasy sports are huge.

According to the industry’s trade association (who knew fantasy sports needed a trade association?), each of 41 million people in the U.S. and Canada spends an average of over $100 per year and 8 hours a week playing fantasy sports. (Most popular: football.)

And also know that Matthew Berry is ESPN’s Senior Fantasy Analyst, author of the New York Times bestseller Fantasy Life (a fun read on how he built a brand from scratch), and the founder of RotoPass.

But what you may not know is that some of the principles for winning in fantasy sports also apply to winning at business–and even at life.

Matthew describes those principles as “Lesterisms” after his great-uncle, Lester Gold. Here are some Lesterisms to take from fantasy sports and apply to your professional life:

“Don’t make a decision until you have to.”

In fantasy sports it’s easy to panic and get ahead of yourself. Say you’re worried about what you’ll do when your quarterback has a bye week. Or maybe you’re worried about how long an injury will keep a key player off the field. What happens?

You often act before you need to, which by definition means you act on incomplete information–which is never a recipe for success.

The same is true in business. You just heard a competitor is considering entering your market? Fine–think about it, plan for the possibility … but situations can and will change. Wait until you have to act to actually act.

Create as many contingency plans as you want, but wait to be sure the “if” in your if-then statement moves from if to fact.

“Don’t risk what you can’t afford to lose.”

Most entrepreneurs are optimists–otherwise they wouldn’t be entrepreneurs. By nature small-business owners are dreamers. They see positives where few others can.

Still, every step, every decision, and every deal has an upside and a downside. Putting all your eggs in the Michael Vick basket this year? The upside might be huge … but what if Geno Smith has a huge year and Vick rarely plays? Then what?

Take risks, but always be sure you can recover from the worst that can happen. And if you decide you won’t be able to recover, that’s okay–there are always other deals.

“If a guy is trying to trade in one car for another and asks if the car leaks oil, that means his car leaks oil.”

In a negotiation what you say is important–but what the other person says is a lot more important.

The best deals result from listening, not talking. Say what you need to say and then listen. You’ll never realize all you need to do is throw in your backup tight-end to pull off an awesome trade until you spend less time trying to convince and more time just listening.

The only way to make a deal the other person will accept is to actually know what the other person wants … and needs.

“Don’t trade something you need for something you don’t.”

It’s tempting to want the best–of everything. But almost always what you really need to do is improve your “worst.”

Say you have a great warehouse facility … and another one that is slightly better is on the market. That’s like trading Aaron Rodgers for Peyton Manning. Sure, Manning may be slightly better, but who cares when your running back is Ronnie Hillman? (No offense, Ronnie.) You don’t need Peyton–you need Adrian Peterson.

Your goal is to constantly improve your entire operation, not just one part of it. Always add and subtract parts that will make the biggest impact.

“When a mouse is caught in a trap, he’s not thinking about the cheese, he’s thinking of how to get out. But once he’s out he’s thinking about the cheese again.”

Every deal, every transaction, and every relationship has two sides. Your point of view is important, but so is the other person’s.

Take advantage when people are in need and while you may help them in the short term, you’ll cause lasting damage to those relationships. Take too much off the table in a negotiation and while you may “win” in the short-term, you forfeit any chance of a long-term customer relationship.

Offer a below-market salary to a person desperate for a job and that employee will never develop a sense of loyalty and trust for you or your company.

“Anyone can get along with easy people. A great leader can get along withdifficult people.”

Because at some point all of us, however fleetingly, can be difficult … and how you act in those moments is the true test of your leadership skills–and, sometimes, your value as a friend.

-Courtesy: Inc.com

Seven Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make on LinkedIn

LinkedIn calls itself the “World’s Largest Professional Network” and it’s established itself as one of the three biggest must-play properties on social media.

For anyone looking to expand their influence and network–especially important goals for entrepreneurs and startups–LinkedIn, is one of the key place to see and be seen.

“It not only provides the latest information relevant to your industry news and its players, but allows members to showcase accomplishments and thought-leadership which may otherwise be left in the confines of an office wall or personal blog,” Maya Mikhailov, LinkedIn pro and Executive Vice President of GPShopper told me.

As important as LinkedIn is, most entrepreneurs and startups are making mistakes .

Here are seven common missteps and tips on how to get the most out of your LinkedIn platform.

Not being LinkedIn. Even though the system reports more than 250 million users worldwide, somehow LinkedIn acquired the reputation as being primarily a tool for job seekers. Or a sort of online resume database.

As a result, many entrepreneurs don’t see it as a marketing and networking tool the same way they see Facebook, for example. So they tend to give it less value and some avoid it altogether. That’s a mistake. So, first, if you’re not already Linked In, sign up right away.

Having a blank or sparse profile. Signing up isn’t enough. If you just open a P.O. Box and don’t tell anyone who you are why you have it, you’ll only get junk mail.

LinkedIn the same way. Don’t leave things blank. Since the entire system is designed around connecting people to people, the more you tell people about yourself, the more you’ll get out of it. Don’t just add what you’re doing now. Include what you did last. And with whom. And where you went to school.

If you need help filling out your profile, get help. For an entrepreneur, leaving blanks in your LinkedIn profile is like leaving money on the table.

Not connecting to groups. Even users with robust profiles aren’t taking full advantage ofLinkedIn’s groups. Groups are where experts, insiders and customers are. Groups is where you will find people you want to know and, more importantly, where people you care about can find you.

If you can’t find a group that fits what you do or includes the people you want, start one. Not only will that solve the problem, it’s a great way to demonstrate issue and market leadership.

Ignoring influencers. As part of the maturation process of LinkedIn, its news tool–Pulse–is an easy way to find, follow and connect with leaders that matter to you and your business.

Posting too little. With more than 60 million monthly visitors LinkedIn has a reach equal to or more than many top-tier media outlets. And its by-design linking features mean your content is even more likely to be seen by people who matter.

If you’re producing content related to your business–and you likely should be–even cross-posting that material on LinkedIn is a good idea. And if you have the capacity to develop content for LinkedIn exclusively, even better. You can apply publish long-form content directly and that’s the route to being invited to be a LinkedIn influencer.

Making it personal. If you’re going to post content on LinkedIn, as you should, don’t make it personal.

While this mistake is less common for entrepreneurs, it’s a bad one. LinkedIn is not Facebook. It is a business tool. So cat photos and latte reviews should be eschewed. LinkedIn content should be about your business, your ideas and your market.

Selling. Don’t sell on LinkedIn. That includes sending ‘cold’ pitches to people you don’t or barely know. Just don’t.

“LinkedIn should be used as a platform for thought-leadership, industry news and of course any professional announcements. Constantly providing a hard-sell to your product or services is the fasted way to have your updates hidden by members of your network,” Mikhailov said.

Instead, sell yourself by being a good community member and offering your expert opinion on topics which are important to the people who are important to you.

-Courtesy: Inc.com

Instagram adds tools for brands, starts to look like a real ad platform

Instagram adds tools for brands, starts to look like a real ad platform

Today is a bit like Christma-Hanu-Kwanz-ukkah for brands that use Instagram in their marketing efforts, as the photo-sharing network just announced three new tools for them.

The new tools, “account insights,” “ad insights,” and “ad staging,” are now available to all Instagram advertisers and are meant to give brands better control over their campaigns and results.

From Instagram’s blog post:

The new tools will help brands monitor their posts and campaigns by providing information on reach, impressions, and engagement. For example, an advertiser will now have access to a real-time campaign summary and data showing how their target audience is responding to each of their sponsored photos. Also, brand marketers will be able to better understand the best time of day to post a photo or video.

We’ve worked closely with several of our advertising partners to make sure these tools meet their needs. We’re now making them available to all Instagram advertisers, whose feedback will help us improve the product before releasing it to additional brands later this year.

Account insights shows brands how their Instagram account is doing, including impression, reach, engagement, and so on, and it appears to be for the brand’s photo activity, not paid campaigns. In fact, it looks a lot like the “Insights” page of a Facebook brand page, which is not surprising, given Facebook’s ownership of Instagram.

instagram account insights

Ad insights provide analytics for a brand’s paid campaigns, including impressions, reach, and frequency. The feature conveniently includes an “Export data” button to enable social media managers to easily use the data in their workflow.

instagram ad insights

Ad staging is where social media managers can create, edit, preview, and even collaborate on paid ad campaigns on Instagram. It’s sort of the sandbox before the ads go live.

Instagram first introduced ads on its network back in November 2013 and has since signed deals with ad agencies (not coincidentally once it introduced videos) and opened up its ad program more widely to brands. Now, it’s adding real analytics and insights tools that are turning Instagram from a fun photo app the teens were using, into a real advertising platform.

Facebook, which acquired Instagram in April 2012, has been beefing up its mobile efforts, and reported a strong second quarter for 2014, largely thanks to its mobile business. Unfortunately, Facebook does not report separate figures for Instagram, so it’s impossible really know how much revenue Instagram’s ads have been generating so far.

Fellow visually-driven social network Pinterest has also been leveraging visual ads amongst its user-generated content in the form of promoted pins.

-Courtesy: VentureBeat

3 Ways to Leverage Hashtags to Enhance Your Brand

The reason for their popularity? Hashtags allow you to find timely content online in real time. When you search a specific hashtag, you find recent, if not instant, results. These results can be refreshed and updated minute by minute. This is quite different from using keyword terms on a search engine and finding an article that could be several years old.

Also, for companies and their owners, hashtags allow you to track what’s being said about your industry and your business.

While their functionality is pretty straightforward, hashtags can be leveraged in ways beyond doing a simple search.

Want to be sure that you’re using hashtags effectively for your business or startup? Try one, or all, of these three tips:

1. Virtually attend and participate in industry events.

Need to attend an industry event to connect with consumers or experts in your field but don’t have the budget let alone time to attend in person? Virtually participate by using the conference’s hashtag.

You’ll be able to follow along in the comfort of your own home office, with no airfare or conference fees needed.

And you don’t have to wait till the day of the event to get started. Typically, conference and event planners share their specific hashtags well in advance to help attendees connect and network beforehand. By using the conference hashtag, you can keep current on industry trends while connecting with the speakers, too.

Start by searching the conference’s hashtag results on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook on the days leading up to the event. This will help you determine who is speaking, when. Then, on the day of the event, tune into the conference livestream, decide which platform you’ll engage the most on and introduce yourself! Be sure to include the hashtag in your tweets and posts so your comments will show up in the search results.

As a best practice, set a goal. Are you participating to expand your network or connect with strategic alliances? Tweet three attendees. Looking to keep current on industry trends? Read conference recaps and blog posts from the media in attendance.

Last, search the hashtag stream that day to see what topics are being discussed, what attendees have to say. You can retweet comments. You can favorite tweets and share your own thoughts, too.

2. Use hashtags to establish further credibility.

Want to boost your online presence, credibility and visibility? First, participate in a few Twitter chats. You’ll be able to share your expertise while also observing how the hashtag can be used for engagement and tracking online impressions.

Twitter chats, typically an hour in length, hone in on a specific topic and often have a Q and A format. The moderator and participants are able to reply to one another — and the questions at hand — by including the chat’s designated hashtag in their tweets. This allows for conversations to be organized. You will be able to search and filter results versus having to scroll through your followers tweets (without any guarantee that the content you are looking for, and trying to respond to, can be quickly found).

Then, after you’ve had some practice, host your own Twitter chat using a custom hashtag that you’ve create. This will give you further credibility, promote awareness of your company’s brand and provide you the opportunity to connect directly with consumers and influencers.

3. Geotarget hashtags to reach the right audience.

Ready to engage with customers in your city? In lieu of advertising or using broad hashtags (that reach consumers worldwide), drill down and use hashtags that geotarget users in a specific cmomunity. Search your city’s hashtag then “like,” comment and participate in relevant conversations to let consumers know you exist. Make sure to hashtag your own content with your location, too.

As an example, if you own Bob’s Pizza shop in Los Angeles, make sure to add #LA or #LosAngeles to your Twitter, Instagram and Facebook posts.

As is often the case with social media, there is no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all approach.” If you have a hashtag strategy that hasn’t been mentioned here, post it below! As the saying goes (which is now a hashtag): #SharingIsCaring.

-Courtesy: Entrepreneur.com

How to make Facebook work better for you: Quit the ‘Like’

How to make Facebook work better for you: Quit the ‘Like’

The “Like” button on Facebook seems harmless enough: It’s an easy way to express your appreciation of something.

But as some people are discovering, that innocuous little like has some unintended consequences.

Wired writer Mat Honan found out what happens when you like every single thing that shows up in your Facebook feed. The results were dramatic: Instead of his friends’ updates, he saw more and more updates from brands and publishers. And, based on what he had liked most recently, Facebook’s algorithm made striking judgements about his political leanings, giving him huge numbers extremely right-wing or extremely left-wing posts. What’s more, all that liking made Honan’s own posts show up far more in his friends’ feeds — distorting their view of the world, too.

But Medium writer Elan Morgan tried the opposite experiment: Not liking anything on Facebook. Instead of pressing like, she wrote a few thoughtful words whenever she felt the need to express appreciation: “What a gorgeous shock of hair” or “Remember how we hid from your grandmother in the gazebo and smoked cigarettes?” The result, as you might guess, is just the opposite of Honan’s experience: Brand messages dwindled away and Facebook became a more relaxed, conversational place for Morgan.

While far from conclusive, these two personal experiments are highly suggestive. Facebook’s algorithm is tuned in a way that makes it respond to likes by giving you more of what it thinks is related — and those suggestions are usually driven by brand marketing. Stop liking things, and Facebook eases off the marketing messages, letting your friends’ updates come to the fore.

“Once I removed the Like function from my own behavior, I almost started to like using Facebook,” Morgan wrote, concluding:

Give the Like a rest and see what happens. Choose to comment with words. Watch how your feed changes. I haven’t used the Like on Facebook since August 1st, and the changes in my feed have been so notably positive that I won’t be liking anything in the foreseeable future.

Not so secretly, I think the humanity and love, the kinder middle grounds not begging for extremes, that many of us have come to believe are diminishing in the world at large are simply being drowned out by an inhuman algorithm, and I think we can bring those socially vital experiences back out into the light.

 

-Courtesy: Venturebeat

Snapchat Is Now The #3 Social App Among Millennials

Snapchat is now the third most popular social app among millennials, according to a recent report by comScore, which finds that Snapchat has 32.9% penetration on these young users’ mobile phones, trailing only Instagram (43.1%) and Facebook (75.6%).

That means the app is more popular than Twitter, Pinterest, Vine, Google+ or Tumblr among the millennial demographic, which comScore defines as those between the ages of 18 and 34.

It also puts into perspective why Facebook once valued the company at $3 billion, and why Snapchat had the vision – or hubris, perhaps – to turn that offer down. Millennials are the youngest, most active generation of mobile social networking users, and their habits are setting the stage to be the new “default” for the generations that follow, like Generation Z or Generation Alpha, or whatever we’re calling the born-with-iPad-in-hand kids.

Leading-Social-Media-Apps_reference

As comScore explains, Snapchat’s overall audience penetration among smartphone users was just 12.1% back in November 2013, when reports of the Facebook deal began to circulate. That made the company’s decision to decline the multi-billion dollar acquisition appear risky and maybe even rash – especially since Facebook and MySpace only began to see their user growth really accelerate once they hit 15%-20% penetration – something which Snapchat had not yet achieved.

But Snapchat is now at 18% penetration among smartphone-using adults, says comScore, citing figures from June 2014.

Snapchat-App-Smartphone-User-Penetration-by-Age_reference

More importantly, when you dive deeper into Snapchat’s user demographics, it seems that Snapchat has long since passed critical mass among users ages 18-24, where it now sees around 50% penetration. Combined with the slightly older 25-34 crowd, Snapchat’s penetration among the broader Millennial demographic is at 32.9%, as noted above.

 

“At this reach threshold, Snapchat has likely established a certain degree of staying power within this demographic segment that gives it some runway to evolve beyond its core value proposition,” says comScore VP of Marketing & Insights, Andrew Lipsman.

Snapchat’s ability to reach a critical mass matters because it demonstrates that apps that aren’t purely text messaging replacements, like Whatsapp (which sold to Facebook for an astounding $19 billion) can hit it big. Messaging apps as alternatives to pricey SMS was a void waiting to be filled on mobile, where apps like LINE, Kakao Talk, Whatsapp, WeChat, Kik, Tango, Viber and others each attract hundreds of millions of users.

Some of these “messaging” apps are more than simple utilities though, offering a platform for games and other apps to run on top of their social underpinnings.

182401-snapchatourstory

Similarly, with the launch of the collaborative “Our Story” feature, Snapchat also took its first big steps beyond the friend-to-friend photo messaging experience, offering a platform that could potentially appeal to paying customers like music festivals or sports teams looking to reach the Millennial crowd.

And while comScore’s numbers validate those who believed in Snapchat’s potential, there’s also that gut feeling that this is an app that will continue to resonate with today’s younger smartphone users. It’s a reimagining of a social network for the generation who grew up chastised for over-sharing on Facebook and other social media platforms; for those who watched as Facebook shifted the ground underneath them, tricking users into public sharing with privacy policies that were moving targets.

It makes sense that this group – a group who invented concepts like whitewalling on Facebook, where a third of users have deleted or deactivated entire social accounts – would gravitate toward an app that treats content as disposable.

-Courtesy: Techcrunch

5 Networking Tips for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

 

There are a lot of responsibilities that you must undertake as an entrepreneur. But one vital task is sometimes easily overlooked: networking.

Networking may not seem like a big deal to you. Or you may find it terrifying. Regardless, it’s part of the foundation of being a connected and successful entrepreneur. When you make the right connections, you’re able to meet individuals who can provide advice, information, and referrals, and can help you expand your sphere of influence. How do you get out there and successfully network? Here are five tips that will help you get the ball rolling.

1. Be Prepared

For starters, know what kind of event you’re going to. Is it a conference? Is it a black-tie affair? This will obviously determine how you dress and help you know the appropriate time to speak to people. You also want to know who’s attending and whether or not it’s possible to reach out to them before the event.

Finally–and most important: Be ready to clearly and concisely describe what you do if someone asks. But remember, you’re not just there to make a sales pitch. You’re there to make connections. Sales will happen further on down the line as you get to know people with whom you’ve met and established a rapport.

2. Be Yourself, and Smile

Obviously you want to put your best foot forward, but don’t be afraid to be yourself. If you’re a bit goofy, let that side out a little. It sets you apart from everyone else in the crowd who might be acting overly professional. There will always be people who appreciate you for who you are, just as there are those who won’t. Forget about putting on a show, and trust yourself. Being real shows others who you actually are, and why you’re passionate about your product or service.

Whatever you do, don’t forget to smile. Not only is a smile more inviting than a frown, it makes others happy as well. When you see someone smile, your brain has a similar response. Smiling is also relaxing. So even if you’re terrified, putting on a genuine smile canslow down your heart rate and relieve stress.

3. Don’t Be Shy

What’s the point in establishing relationships if you don’t get out there and mingle?
“One of the best ways to break the ice is by asking questions,” says serial investor John Rampton. “It doesn’t have to be anything too in-depth at first, a simple ‘Hi, my name is… What brings you here today?’ That one little introduction could be just enough to launch an eventful and important relationship.”

4. Listen

It happens to the best of us. You’re nervous, and now you just can’t stop rambling on and on. The problem with that is that you’ve now hijacked the conversation. When conversing with someone, think of it as 70 percent listening and 30 percent talking. This makes people feel important and it shows that you are actually sincerely interested in what they have to say. When doing so, make eye contact, repeat the person’s name, and ask a question or make a statement that rephrases something that person has said.

Need some more advice with this one? Check out the work of American psychologist Carl Rogers.

5. Follow Up

If all goes well, then you’ve received contact information from some of the people you met. Perhaps they gave you a business card or friended you on LinkedIn. What are you going to do with this information? Instead of storing it away in some forgotten desk drawer, make sure that you follow up.

Whether it’s an email, phone call, or social media conversation through Twitter or LinkedIn, make sure that you get in touch within 48 hours of first meeting. If you really want to make an impression–or spark the contact’s memory–reference something that was discussed during your first encounter.

Bonus Tip

Every relationship has two sides, and one of the keys to networking is helping others. Look for ways to help people you meet. You gain people’s trust by going above and beyond to really help them out. Besides, karma is a good thing, and it’ll always come back to you.

 

-Courtesy: Inc.com

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