Last week saw Exeter host Likeminds 2010, a social media conference (for want of a better title). It showcased some of the world’s leading authorities on social media, in some of the world’s largest companies. The event took place on the 26th of Feb and boy was the line up something special. My Online Marketing Agency in Exeter, Optix Solutions is proud to have been a local sponsor for the second time running. On the day, the hashtag for the event #likeminds, ‘trended’ on Twitter (meaning it was among the top 5 or 6 most referenced things in the world at that time!) The event has subsequently had write ups in numerous blogs around the world and large newspapers such as the Guardian. At certain times during the day, I literally sat there pinching myself, to remember that we were actually in Exeter, in sunny Devon.
The speaker line up included names from Orange, Sky, Ogilvy, Reuters and one of the world’s leading social media masters – Chris Brogan (author of best selling book – Trust Agents). It was nicely balanced however with local participants such as John Harvey, Exeter’s city centre manager, Helena Holt, CEO of Devon Air Ambulance and many others, not to mention the fantastic ‘Endevours’, where local charities were given 5 mins on stage to promote their causes. Likeminds is exciting for a city like Exeter, most events of this type are held in larger cities like London, so to have people descend on Exeter for a couple of days is unbelievable, raising both the profile of city and showing what great waves it’s making in the social media world. It would be very easy to write for days and days about this event (as many others will) and in light of the fact that this blog is aiming at reaching out to young entrepreneurs and adding value to people looking to start up businesses, I’m going to pick up on how it felt to spend some of the day with a social media ‘rockstar’ – Chris Brogan.
If you’re not in the social media or marketing world yourself you’d be forgiven for not having heard about this guy but for those of us who are, let me tell you, he’s a bit of a hero. He co-authored (Affiliate Link) Trust Agents, a fantastic book about how you should conduct yourself online and build trust and the rewards that can lead to. He has over 100k twitter followers and thousands of people subscribe to his blog.
I was extremely lucky to have the opportunity to talk with Chris a couple of times that day, at Lunch (where he even paid the tables tab!) and at dinner for the sponsors and speakers in the evening (how lucky was I!). This is a very humble guy – it would be very easy in Chris’ position to simply rub shoulders with the other people around the world who share his success but I get the feeling his mantra is about never forgetting where you’ve been and helping the up and coming stars (in fact he references this in his book and definitely carries it out in real life). All day, Chris gave his time to whomever approached him, always happy to share stories and sign books – it must have been pretty exhausting for him but he never once looked uninterested in anyone – in fact, far from it, he always showed interest beyond the call of duty. This is how he does business and in my opinion it’s one of the main reasons he’s been so successful. I see the same traits in Trey Pennington (whom I also met from Likeminds last year). These guys are just genuinely nice and make it their business to help others (they are true connectors) – they know when they do this that they will benefit, maybe not immediately but certainly over time. This has been part of the way I’ve built my business. Where possible I try and add value to others, helping them with their problems or challenges – I never ask for anything in return, but over time this definitely leads to more good than bad experiences. I’d strongly recommend you considering this path for your business too.
Another thing that particularly impressed me about Chris was his ability with names. Chris signed my book at lunch and asked me my first name for it, later that night, having met literally hundreds of people he was still calling me by it and that was special – I noticed he did this with everyone he met. I wrote a post about the importance of a name a while ago. This skill is so important in getting ahead in business and clearly Chris knows this.
I want to end on something Chris said in his keynote speech at the end of Likeminds. It was probably my ‘take-away’ for the day – ‘Make your customers feel special’ – Chris talks of the ‘guest experience’ for customers, a term coined by Disney I believe. This is essentially going the extra mile for them and leaving them with a warm feeling, one that makes them want to refer you on. This was also one of the points that Jeffrey Gitomer makes about great customer service being the number one priority for any company – get that right and you’re on the road to success. I learnt about a system called the ‘net promoter score’ the other day – it’s a system that monitors how many of your customers would be prepared to refer your business. Most companies struggle to get above 30% and in fact many are far lower. It strikes me that social media tools, on top of good company principles and values would lead companies to increasing their NPS scores, something I may focus on in another blog post sometime. We’re all looking for more success, I think it’s absolutely vital to remember everyone that’s helped you on the way up and make sure that you always remain true to your values – Chris Brogan is a bit of a master at this and I learnt a lot from the day with him. I hope to have passed some on to you all out there.
Make sure you follow Chris on @chrisbrogan