The real estate market in Toronto is already tough to navigate and you want to protect every dollar. You’ve staged, you’ve got great photos, you have an amazing agent who is going to get you the best price possible for your move. And THEN… you come up against your concierge desk.
My last vacation was quite unconventional to say the least, but I did spend an extended period of time out of town, went on some crazy adventures, met some great people, and didn’t have to cook, so I’m going to count it as a vacation. It all started on a warm, sunny day in October 2016 when I went out for a ride on my motorcycle. Something I had been doing for over 15 years, when a driver of a pickup truck ran through a stop sign, sending me on a flight through the intersection beginning my “vacation.”
It was probably the shortest flight I have ever been on, but it was definitely the roughest landing. Thankfully I was in full protective riding gear, and surprisingly wasn’t bleeding much at all; my ankle, leg, arm, wrist, and a couple of fingers were a different story though. From there I got to continue my sightseeing tour of the greater New Tecumseth in Southern Ontario… this time staring up at the ceiling of an ambulance while strapped to a board! After spending some time in the local hospital, I was told that I would be going on a helicopter tour of Toronto courtesy of Ornge Air Ambulance. While it was a nice clear night, my view was pretty much limited to the ceiling inside the helicopter.
After landing at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, things started to get a little fuzzy. I don’t remember much of what happened over the next couple of days, so I must have had a really good time then! I spent six days and seven nights there, while the staff was amazing, and there was free WiFi, the food was a little underwhelming; their specialty was a steamed English muffin and plain cream of wheat for breakfast every morning. At the end of my week-long stay, I was informed that I would be taking another sightseeing tour; this time on Toronto’s Queen Street.
The tour was pretty short, maybe only ten minutes down the street to The Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, but the driver and “guide” were super nice. I have nothing but good things to say about this place; the staff were amazing, the “recreation” was challenging and engaging, the WiFi was free, and the food wasn’t half-bad either… even though they dished out pasta primavera like it was going out of style. While there I participated in some great activities like “learning how to walk again,” “lifting a 3lbs weight with my left arm,” and I got to play with the St. John’s Ambulance therapy dog. But after my month long stay, it was time to go home.
While I had some interesting experiences, and got to meet some truly amazing people, I don’t think I would repeat this vacation again. It was so amazing that I still haven’t returned to full-time work yet, but hopefully I will be over it soon so I can get ready for my next trip.
I just have to admit one thing right from the start – I’m a social animal! I love networking, meeting new people, talking about business and digital media and attending educational or social events. This is especially true when there’s food involved!
I have found several in-person and online methods to get involved in networking events, including the use of some social media tools. My favourite thing about networking is when the in-person and online methods converge and strengthen relationships because of the combination.
I’ve also found it useful to network through Eventbrite, my local Chambers of Commerce, free social media seminars, my professional association (IABC), mutual business associates, and volunteering in the community. I’ve also done a short working stint for free at a local digital marketing agency.
I’ve found you can meet a huge number of contacts using these methods!
But there’s more to it than just meeting people, sharing a short conversation, and then exchanging business cards. I try to follow up with people after meeting them in person. I connect with them on LinkedIn and follow them on Twitter. I check out their websites. I join LinkedIn groups where my new contacts hang out. Sometimes it’s as easy as sending an email providing some information or a valuable tidbit regarding a conversation we had the previous day. The trick is to keep connected somehow, encouraging a fruitful relationship that can benefit both parties in future.
So my networking activity is already quite hectic. But I always think of more things I should be doing to strengthen my relationships so that one day, people I’ve met will say:
“Hey, Sheila’s into blogging and social media marketing – send her an email.”
My Networking Strategy for 2016
In 2015, I found networking to be easy and enjoyable. In 2016, what will put the “work” into networking for me? To do more in the coming months, I’d like to write some more interesting and informative articles on Pulse on LinkedIn. I’ve noticed my colleagues doing this and getting lots of comments. It keeps their names familiar to me, so I know it helps people remember their contacts. I would also like to send some simple “let’s get together” messages on LinkedIn to my connections.
Next, I’d like to get to know my professional association members better in person. If you happen to be a member of International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and an independent in Toronto, check out our group on LinkedIn called Professional Independent Communicators (PIC). This is a great group of people who share all kinds of information about what it’s like to be an indie in this business. Monthly meetings alternate between educational topics and social gatherings. Our next meeting is tomorrow night with a guest speaker to help boost our productivity in 2016. I’ve met some members who live nearby and we plan to get together for a coffee sometime soon, so I’m already making some headway regarding my 2016 networking strategy.
Do you take advantage of your professional association events? Local chambers of commerce? LinkedIn or event-based social media groups like Meetup and Eventbrite? Do you hold your own special events or workshops? If you haven’t already, why not try some of these groups for your own networking strategy in 2016. And please let me know if you find any new social media networking platforms like them.
When discussing organizations that are strong or weak in social media I always find it interesting to compare case studies for companies in the same business. As a result, I have chosen a company that is one of my favourite ways to travel, Porter Airlines, and one of their primary competitors, Air Canada.
Both Porter Airlines and Air Canada have Facebook pages and Twitter feeds. On the surface it would appear that their social media strategies are equal in all ways. When their customers resort to social media with a complaint both airlines follow up by asking the customer to move the discussion to a private message. This helps reduce the number of negative comments found on either airlines Facebook pages or Twitter sites.
So why is Porter Airlines’ social media primarily filled with positive comments, discussions and feedback while Air Canada’s has fewer positive comments, fewer discussions and more negative feedback? I believe it is because a good social media presence is not just about your social media strategy – it’s about consistent, positive customer service no matter how your customer is interacting with your company.
When Porter Airlines launched in 2006 with their slogan ‘flying refined’ they set the tone and consumers’ expectations for years to come. A customer of Porter Airlines expects fast, pleasant customer service, amenities no longer found on other airlines and, in general, more than they had expected from a Canadian airline in a long time. So when Porter Airlines launched their social media presence on Facebook and Twitter they had a lot to live up to. As a Porter customer, I expected the same interaction on Facebook and Twitter as I was accustomed to receiving in person. And I got it.
Key elements that make Porter’s social media strategy work:
- Most importantly: they work hard to ensure that their customers have a positive customer experience from beginning to end, no matter how they are interacting with the airline
- They actively seek out customers online and begin providing a positive customer experience before they have even purchased a ticket
- They engage their customers in conversation and build online relationships with them by posting questions, asking them what they want to see, as well as responding to questions quickly and effectively. In addition, as they expand their service across Canada and the US, they seek feedback from their customers and engage them in their plans. For example: Porter has built a strong online campaign to encourage their customers to discuss, sign petitions, and support their application to expand Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport.
- Their bio section provides customers with their 1-800 customer service line if they have any complaints or challenges when interacting with the airline.
- They offer rewards to their followers through discount codes and first access to Porter news and promotions.
Although Spafax was recently nominated for the Facebook Games/Contests category in the new PR News Social Media Icon Awards I would argue that a four week contest and high number of followers does not always equal a well-developed social media strategy. In particular, I believe Air Canada needs a social media strategy that focuses on developing conversations and relationship with their customers rather than simply pushing out content. Based on the successful model developed by Porter Airlines, Air Canada could improve in several areas:
- In all interactions with customers, demonstrate a commitment to a consistent positive customer experience and then use social media to share those experiences with other customers. As a result of many customers previous negative experiences Air Canada has a long road to improve public perception. Sharing these positive experiences may begin to improve their overall company image.
- Rather than just pushing out content, engage current and future customers in conversations through social media.
- Include their customer service line and contact information in the ‘about’ section of their social media sites. This seems like a small thing but it makes the company appear open and available for customer feedback.
Cowan-Dewar, Jules. Social Media Execution: Porter Airlines & Twitter, http://catalyst.ca/social-media-execution-porter-airlines-twitter/
Faber, Les. Canadian Companies Using Social Media: Porter Airlines http://www.webfuel.ca/canada-social-media-porter-airlines/
Girard, Raymond. Spafax nominated for prestigious social media award for Air Canada Facebook game that attracted over 350,000 entries in four weeks. http://www.spafax.com/spafax-nominated-for-prestigious-social-media-award-for-air-canada-facebook-game-that-attracted-over-350000-entries-in-four-weeks/
Adams, Jessy. Sprinklr Signs Agreement with Air Canada for Social@Scale ™ Platform. http://www.newswire.ca/en/story/1204473/sprinklr-signs-agreement-with-air-canada-for-social-scale-tm-platform
Social Media sites:
I personally have a lot on the go for the most part. I find that I don’t have enough time in the day to do everything that needs to be done. Between work and school, friends and family, things can get a bit hectic. I am the type of person who is seen to be using their phone all the time because I find that it is a huge time saver! Being able to do just about anything on my smart phone gives me the ability to save time with applications that continue to update/improve. From emailing, social networking, news/weather and sports apps, I can stay in tune with all my interests.
Facebook is one of the many online social networks used across the world and the most popular among my friends and family. Facebook is one of my favourite social media tools because it gives me constant updates as to what everyone who is important in my life is up to, reminders of birthdays and social events. Coming from a huge family this is very important so I can keep in touch with all my family all over the world. Everything is done for me, I don’t have to input any information like I would in a calendar. For me this tool is quite easy to navigate and make changes to. The layout is simple and appealing to the eye which makes it enjoyable to use.
Instagram is another social Media tool that I enjoy using from my smartphone. Being able to follow friends and family like Facebook, gives me insight as to what goes on during their day. Especially with the newly added video option that captures 15 seconds worth of footage, so you can share priceless moments as if you were there for yourself. Big organizations use Instagram as well to promote release dates for shoes or clothes, so I follow the brands I like so I don’t miss out on any sales event. I can basically follow all the things I have interest in such as cars, different food dishes, and celebrities. Just one picture can paint 1000 words, that being said, this tool is so amazing because it keeps everything short and sweet.
Cp24 is a great application I use to be up to date with daily news. Where ever I am located, Toronto or Ottawa it will give me notifications on breaking stories so I don’t have to constantly check to see if something has happened. Weather changes so often you never know what to expect. Cp24 gives me updates of the weather on the go!
Everyone has their own definition of news now a days. News to each individual might be much more than stories that are happening around them or in different countries. It can be anything that they have interest in and haven’t heard about yet and for me, it is both. Sports to me is also news! I use the SCORE application on my phone so I can keep tabs on all my favourite sports teams when I don’t quite have time to watch a game. This also gives me notifications on signings, trades, game details, clips of game highlights and schedules.