Maximize Your Micro-Engagements, Personalize Your Points of Connection

In a world of ever-escalating automation, it takes effort to retain personalization.

The effort, I would argue, is well worth it.

Take LinkedIn’s relatively new feature of offering prompts like “Thank you” and “You’re welcome” and “Congrats on your work anniversary!” Flowing from our own initiative, all are lovely sentiments, and our moms would be proud and pleased. Problem is, with each click of these automated notes, we fall prey to the rising de-personalization that relentlessly encroaches in our Artificial Intelligence world.

It takes only a few seconds to customize a reply by adding the individual’s name and perhaps a word or brief phrase.

Who knows—maybe you could go a step further and check in with that person and see what’s new in their world, set up a 10-minute catch-up phone call, or otherwise focus on the quality of each relationship rather than rely on sheer quantity of activity and/or connections to carry the day.

Another opportunity to build off a template comes when inviting Facebook friends to become fans of a page. The Facebook-manufactured content falls far short of making an authentic connection that communicates what’s “in it” for the recipient.

Here it is, in its full vanilla-bot glory, for my Inside Edge PR page on Facebook:

By contrast, when I invite people to like a Facebook page, my first step is deleting that lame block of copy. Next, I type the person’s name and create something original. For example, this is a recent outreach for my “Go Figure: Making Numbers Count” page:

Even if Tom doesn’t become a fan of the page, the tailored message represents a concise commercial that is much more memorable than the automated Facebook note. And it’s certainly better than including no note at all, which is a path taken by some folks who recognize the need to delete automation but fail to seize an opportunity to create a connection.

In conclusion, whether it’s on a social-media platform, or in any other context, resist the temptation to short-cut your precious moments of interaction. Don’t regard people like a number to “get through” before you move on to more important stuff.

Instead, treat the unique individuals in your world like the significant people that they are. In my career, whether it was reporting on deadline for a newspaper or magazine, representing the PR interests of a company, or building my own brand, I have found that these micro-engagements are the important stuff.

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Showing, Not Just Telling, At Business Expo

Last week, I was an exhibitor at “A Passport to Success,” the business-to-business Expo sponsored by the Elmhurst Chamber of Commerce & Industry and three other chamber organizations (Bensenville, Villa Park and Addison.)

At the same time, as the event’s publicist, I took close to 100 photographs and about 20 videos.

You can see some of the fruits of my video labor at what I call my “miscellaneous” YouTube channel, not to be confused with my Inside Edge PR channel or any of the other dozen channels that I have created and maintained for clients and others.

I also posted a release, drawn almost entirely from an Elmhurst Chamber write-up, at and, on the same Tribune-owned site, created a photo gallery of the Expo.

Additional links can be found on the home page of the Elmhurst Chamber of Commerce & Industry website.

Serving as the event publicist was a fantastic way to meet people and to adhere to one of my mantras: “Show, don’t tell.”

In short, I was able to introduce myself as a publicist even as I was in the midst of acting as one. It sure beats relying solely on my business card, brochure and a firm handshake (though those are no doubt helpful, too).

I am hardly unique: it’s precisely what was done by many others who demonstrated their service and products.

They included stellar restaurant exhibitors (like Bob Tercall of Two Chefs in Bensenville, pictured) that provided food samples as well as my new favorite massage therapist, Anne Lucas of Pure Harmony Massage (also pictured), who let her hands do the talking via chair massages.

Kudos to all the chambers and participants for fostering such a dynamic networking environment. The ones that did at least as much showing as telling will surely be reaping the most benefit.

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Here’s A Lead: Find A BNI Chapter Near You

As I have been doing for the past few months, I shot some video (see below) yesterday at a meeting of Oak Park Partners, a chapter of business-referral titan Business Networking International.

I’ve been a member of Oak Park Partners for nearly three years. With a roster of about 35 members who are as varied as they are talented, it has been a tremendous source of business leads, growth and profitability. Along the way, I have likewise referred business to many members as we all strive to follow BNI’s motto of “givers gain.”

If you are looking to expand your business network, I highly recommend you find a few BNI chapters in your area and see if one may be a fit for you and your enterprise.

Among other elements to each week’s 90-minute session, every member and guest is allotted 45 to 60 seconds to give a “commercial” about their services and/or products. Below, you will see James Hasley, owner of a Maid Brigade franchise in Cook County, make a 10-minute presentation–a spotlight opportunity that members get on a rotating basis.