Relationships Drive Business

Strengthening Customer Engagement to Propel Your Business

Twitter -ing Toward a New Job August 22, 2009

Filed under: Ideas,Learnings,Resources,Uncategorized — Carla Bobka @ 3:12 pm
Tags: , , ,

Some of my friends are just beginning to tweet; others are not sure of the value of Twitter. With so many unemployeds out there, I wanted to capture and share a way to use Twitter to learn about a new company and industry. Strategic Twittering. It’s a free resource, much appreciated by those are on a limited budget. Take advantage and expand your horizons.

One of the great things about Twitter is that you don’t have to tweet for it to be helpful to you. Twitter allows you to listen to conversations or snippets of conversation without tweeting back. Essentially you’re eavesdrop without guilt. That concept is a silent rule of Twitter: unless a user has protected their tweets anyone can look at them. Listen and learn with abandon. (Protected means only letting Twitter “friends” read their conversations.)

Here’s an example from my own experience.
Over the last few months I’ve been pursuing a position with a company called PBM. The role is within their fulfillment business, which I know very well. However, it is not the biggest segment of their business. Printing is; and that is greek to me.

One of the goals of the position is to set the stage for winning the print business for a particular fulfillment customer when the RFP for print goes out. Strategically, winning the print contract is the biggest part of being successful in the job.

I need to learn the print business. Both to win the job, AND once I have the job, to show the customer why PBM would be a good printer choice in the future, because I have a vision of the future of print.

This is where Twitter came in handy. As a Twitter user (@carlotta65) I searched for tweets mentioning “PBM” and “CGX“. CGX is the stock ticker for the parent company Consolidated Graphics.

There was 1 hit on PBM, someone looking for a good printer in Raleigh NC. That gave me confidence that at least one other person valued the company’s reputation.

CGX had several hits. One was another CGX company twitter handle, @WentworthPrints, who is also a print company. So I started following them.

Another tweeter who mentioned CGX is a retired printer in Brooklyn, (@ToughLoveforX). He has LOTS to say about printing. Much of it still greek, and much of it about the direction print is moving and COULD move in the future.

This is pretty interesting. Listening to him and asking him questions about the greek stuff, helps me build a much deeper list of questions during my interview process. And makes the interviewers curious about how I am learning so much about a new industry.

Monday I searched CGX again, and found a woman who is one of their sales people. Her Twitter profile linked to her blog.  The blog had several posts discussing the CGX annual sales meeting and her enthusiasm for the event, what she gained by attending and how she is treated as an employee.  Valuable insight into the larger culture  of the parent company.

I learned a lot about the client, too.  Not just the part of the organization I would have direct contact with, but the larger body of who they are and some of the chatter about them from staff, vendors and analysts. Together the tweets formed a more richly textured sense of the company than I could get from corporate sites.

It is really hard to learn possible industry directions and strategies when you are outside an industry. And it is tough to get an inside view of an organization.
Twitter gives you the ability to find strangers who might be able to help.


A New Phase-Job Change March 3, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Carla Bobka @ 7:40 pm

I lost my job this week.  My client made a decision to select a new vendor more strategically aligned with their strategy over the next 3-5 years.  My company took a preemptive move and eliminated my position upon notification of the client’s decision.  As the newest member of the team, and the highest paid, it was likely a no brainer for my company’s  leadership team.  From that perspective, the decision makes sense as they protect the bottom line through the end of the contract.

It still stinks  to be looking for a next spot in this economy.

In case it happens to you, here are some pointers.

  1. Ask to take your phone with you.  Offer to return it in 5 days.   You will want at least some of the phone numbers stored in it.  You have friends numbers saved in it, and likely don’t have them written down or stored elsewhere.  Your company may say no, but it is worth a shot.
  2. Ditto on your calendar.  Chances are the only place you have your next hair appointment captured is in you work Outlook calendar, same for your dentist and other annual exams.  Where would you be if you had to reenter all your birthday reminders.  Yuck.  If you have a Blackberry, keeping the phone for a week will take care of this as well.  If not, you need to know how to export your calendar, ideally to a file, but at least to print it so you have important personal appointments.
  3. Create your own ending.  You may be getting “relieved of your duties”, IE:  fired.  Leave everyone the experience of you that you want them to have for the next 15 years.  Think leadership, not kicking and screaming.  Did you have an opportunity to say good-bye to your staff?  Send them an email from home.   Tell them how proud you are of them.  Be their leader, even as you exit.  They need it from you, their lives are being up-ended as well.  And their impression of you will be that in the end, you cared about them.
  4. Now send a similar email to your company’s leadership.  It is NOT about how you feel, it is about their last impression of who you are.  Their final impression of your brand.  Thank them for the opportunity to learn from the company and from their leadership.  You may gag at the prospect of writing it, but you are protecting the impression others have of you.  And in this economic environment and the global village we live in, you are likely to encounter them again.  Go out with class.
  5. Activate your network.  Immediately.  Tell everyone you know what has happened, and do it without  anger.  Lay out the facts:  you are on the market.  Ask for their assistance:  keep you in mind and spread the word within their networks.  Thank them in advance for their help.  You will be keeping yourself in front of them-see below.
  6. Do your resume.  DO NOT DELAY.  Your resume should be done before you lose your job.  That is a huge help.  No one enjoys doing resumes, and do not let that be your excuse.  It will not get easier, it will get more difficult when you are not in front of your business calendar to remind you of your accomplishments.  Do it the first day after you lose your job.
  7. Thank everyone from your network who sends you a note of encouragement or acknowledgment about your situation.  You need to keep in touch with them.
  8. Update your profile on LinkedIn, it is more important than your resume.  Seach agents are constantly culling through profiles looking for key words to zero in on.  LinkedIn is the best place to find high performers which is what every company is looking for.  Establish your real estate using strategically chosen words.  It takes work, sure.  And you will reap the benefits.
  9. Send your Resume to your network.  ” Thanks to all of you for your kind thoughts and encouragement…attached is my resume outlining my skill set.”  Thank everyone again for keeping you in their awareness.  This is a second contact with everyone, keeping you in their awareness.
  10. Develop your value proposition.  What do you bring to a company that someone else won’t.  Boil it down to 2 or 3 sentences.  This is your cocktail party answer to what you are looking for.  What industry? (or not specific to  1 industry), and what do you bring.  “I help clients maximize their investment in technologies they already own,  by better explaining what business tasks can be achieved with the tool”.
  11. Email your value proposition to your network.  This is what they will tell people about you to stimulate conversation which ends with “Send me her resume”.
  12. Update your LinkedIn status everyday in a business and goal related manner.  It will keep your name in front of those in your network.  Build a history of your accomplishments or your thoughts on current business events in the news.
  13. Arrange a short phone conversation with anyone your network suggests as an possibility, even if there seems to be no connection to what you are looking for.  It is an opportunity to expand your network.  Ask for 10 minutes and talk about your value proposition and ask about them-everyone likes to talk about themselves and what they do.  One of their take aways will be that you are inquisative and curious.  Talking only about yourself has others remember you as self absorbed (even if you are not).  They may not have a position, but once they have spoken to you, they are much more likely to think of you while in conversations with others.  And since the conversation they had, they feel comfortable that they are recommending a professional.  You are expanding your network and it will work harder for you.

More later.  Good Luck.


Maggie’s 1st Harvest June 29, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Carla Bobka @ 8:45 pm

Pepper Picking


Today’s Grateful For’s… June 27, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Carla Bobka @ 12:27 am
  1. Visio
  2. Opportunity
  3. Friends
  4. Imagination
  5. Smiles

Success With a Challenging Customer June 3, 2008

Filed under: Learnings,Successes,Uncategorized — Carla Bobka @ 4:21 pm

We have achieved another success with my most challenging customer!  This is a large, regional bank with +400 locations.  Their geography is from CT to FL.  My tenure as their account manager began in February, when the prior account manager was let go as part of our reorg.  Our service to the bank includes weekly visits to each location by our mobile shred trucks.  Since the inception of the agreement the customer has required daily reporting of which locations are serviced each day, and notification of any where the service needed to be rescheduled.  The reporting structure was designed by our sales team, and due to their lack of knowledge of what reporting is available in our systems, they promised something that is undeliverable.  Guess what the Purchasing Dept thinks about that!  Talk about friction.

The state of this reporting has stymied the growth of the relationship and additional opportunities.  I have been challenged to resolve the issue so we can move forward.  However-we’ve now developed a solution that works for both of us!

Here is how it happened:

At a meeting in February, our Chairman read an email from Radio Shack.  That relationship had been suffering for similar reasons.  The email documented the customers delight in the shift in the tide of the relationship primarily due to improvement in our reporting and communication on daily shred visits.  I decided to reach out to our President of Global Standards, who was mentioned as instrumental in the turnaround.  Harry lead me to a team that had developed a solution.  Kim (my customer service associate) and I sat down with that team to see if we could develop a similar solution for the bank.  With their guidance to Kim on the analysis of the available reporting, we have come up with a framework that serves the customers overall need. 

Kim has done a phenomenal job in executing and delivering this.  She has learned how to read the report and interpret it for accuracy.   Ray just wants a score card for how well we are executing on our commitment, and to know about any service issues before a branch calls him to tell him their service was missed.  That’s not asking too much. 

Our resulting report accomplishes that, on a daily basis.  My fear was the district level follow up that would be required would bog Kim down for several hours each day.  When I took over the account another staffer was spending 9 hours a week on the report and the results were questionable.  And it was being delivered weekly, not daily.  As it turns out, Kim has refined the process so she spends between 15-45 minutes a day on the process.

The customer is getting exactly what he asked for, and our resources are not tied up for an unreasonable amount of time trying to execute.  Win-Win!


So Many Things-So Little Time to Blog May 23, 2008

Filed under: Learnings,Life in General,School,Uncategorized — Carla Bobka @ 6:19 pm

Things that have been happening:

  1. Trip to Vietnam and Bangkok for Villanova-gas will never come down, an engine can transform a family from poverty to middle class; Maggie lost another tooth; Uncle Bob died
  2. Sample Wiki for one of my customers-great solution for sharing day to day processes across geographies
  3. New Customers to  My Book-lots to sort out, problems to resolve
  4. Finished Spring Module of School-got an A in Value Creation Thru Technology
  5. Started reading for Summer Module
  6. Got new Learning Cell assignments-great group, again
  7. Registered on Facebook-I never thought I would do that, but it’s really fun
  8. Registered White Clay Financial as company name-more to come on that later
  9. Found a cool website w/ stats on who blogs

We are heading to the shore for the weekend.  The weather should be great.



Hello world! March 30, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Carla Bobka @ 8:20 pm

Welcome to This is your first post. Edit or delete it and start blogging!