Thursday, June 23, 2011

Little black dress and pearls: FirstRain and Selling Power

I swung by Boston on my way home at the end of my extended business trip earlier this week. My mission - get on stage at the Sales 2.0 conference and present how FirstRain can be used to track the news in a profession. It's not how we sell the product but the product is amazingly good at doing it so we're sharing it in this mode for free!

In this case we have partnered with Selling Power and put a widget up on their website and here's the video of my 5 minute talk with the CEO Gerhard Gschwandtner.

No matter how much speaking I do, and no matter how often I watch the videos of myself to try to improve, I am human and I cringe. And I mock myself. Little black dress: check, pearls: check, forgot-to-wear-an-outfit-with-a-belt-and-so-has-to-hold-the-mike: check. Predictable! One of these days I'll remember to wear pants when I am speaking on stage. How can I forget again and again? Vanity over practicality peut-être?

LinkedIn is the White Male's Social Network

The Pew Research Center released a study on social networking a few days ago that - if you are interested in the social networking phenomenon - is a fascinating read. Most of their conclusions are related to Facebook: Facebook users are more trusting, they have more social support around them and they are more politically active, plus they are slowly getting older.

LinkedIn is very different from Facebook though - it is the only social network dominated by men. White, well educated men. Even Twitter which gets touted as being for breaking news is dominated by women but LinkedIn, which is for professionals, has majority white male users.

This is probably a reflection of the dominance of men in tech, and men in upwardly mobile positions. But given that the users of social networks are younger I would have hoped to see a better balance of women, but not yet. Not yet. Something we must continue to change.

Less surprising is that the LinkedIn users are better educated than the other networks, but as with the gender imbalance it's disappointing to see how very low the percentage of LinkedIn's users are black.

Friday, June 17, 2011

I get called a "naughty girl"

Sadly there is no titillation with this story - just the usual gender patronage.

I was on the phone with a sixty-ish business man a few days ago and I was selling. Not selling hard but describing my business and answering his many questions as he queried me to get a good sense of where we are, what our strategy is and the source of our momentum.

After an hour of high quality conversation I went for the close and asked for his conclusion. His response "You are a naughty girl for asking me so directly".

I was gobsmacked. Can you imagine a man saying "you are a naughty boy" to another man? In any business setting?

So, gentle-reader, how, pray, did I respond? Jane Austen would have been proud of me. I stayed with my immaculate good manners, apologized for being so direct, and reminded him that he would think less of me if I did not try to close him, all with a sense of humor.

In the end it's just funny. I know this gentleman greatly respects me. He's just not aware of what his words communicate and he'd be mortified if he was so I am not going to tell him, I'm just going to succeed in his world.

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