Bernie J Mitchell on being engaging online


Bernie Mitchell

This week it’s a special episode of the ButtonClick admin podcast with Bernie J Mitchell. He has built his business around helping others be more engaging online. We talk to him about how Salesforce Admins, bloggers, or brand evangelists can be more engaging. Bernie is a blogger, podcaster, and social media thought-leader. He strives to connect the dots between on line and off line for people. In this episode you will learn how to develop relationships and be an engaging person online. We talk about the hurdles companies have to becoming a social enterprise and get your community question answered. You can follow Bernie on twitter. I’d suggest you listen to his podcast and definitely check out his blog at –

Bernie embodies our 2013 theme of “Mastering your Craft“, which makes this episode a must listen.

—Full Episode Transcript Below—

Mike: Welcome to the Button Click Admin podcast. I’m your host, Mike Gerholdt. On this week’s episode we are going to help you be more engaging with our incredibly awesome guest, Bernie J Mitchell. I’ve got a twitter shout out and you know we have to have a dramatic greeting of a Steve Mo answer.
Of course, I can’t have a podcast without a co-host and that is the one and only, limited edition Jared Miller.

Jared: As limited edition, and I don’t even know if I’m as engaging as our guest, so I’m excited to get to him as well. First, I did want to remind everybody if you love what you hear on the podcast or even if you don’t, go to iTunes, give us a review. We’d really appreciate it.

Mike: Absolutely. Especially after this one where you get to hear how to be so engaging. Bernie J Mitchell, whose our guest, is the founder, instigator, podcaster, blogger and consultant at engaging people.
I love what his LinkedIn profile says. “I strive to join the dots between online and offline for people. I’m a huge fan of blogging, podcasting events and inbound marketing.” Welcome to the ButtonClick Amin podcast, Bernie.

Bernie: It’s great to be here boys.

Mike: Why don’t you tell us what it is to be an instigator.

Bernie: It’s a term I stole from someone called Lisa Ganzky,
or borrowed, adopted and I go around starting up things and they don’t all work out. Mainly events and meet-ups and things like that, but I really enjoy starting things.

I’ve accepted that probably one in eight million will work out. I’m just waiting for that one to work out. I’m always the guy in the room who gets everyone talking.

I enjoy awkwardness in a room when there’s a bunch of people asking questions and no one does. I say things like, how many people in this room educated to degree level, M.A. level, Ph.D. level?

Very often a lot of people put their hands up and as I said no knows what the incident is and that type of thing. It’s just probably calling the elephant in the room.

Mike: I think that’s a great way to get conversation. I like to think that the more awkward you are, the more you can get people talking if you just own up to the awkwardness.

Bernie: Yes. Absolutely. I really enjoyed that. Hands up if you’ve got hair and then I look at people and say, have you got hair sir? Now there’s even a bow in it and a couple of whatever’s in there as well.

Mike: This is outside of what we normally talk about, which is sales force and CRM and how to be an admin, and really focusing on the social aspect, because sales force is an incredibly social company.

They’ve got a very active twitter account, a very active blog account. Why are some people just not engaging online?

Bernie: I think it’s fear of voice and I do a blogging workshop. I used to think I had to tell people how to set up a blog and there’s books like, you might know, “Do the Work,” by Steve Pressfield. Which is about the struggle of putting stuff online.

There’s a bit in the clue training manifesto where they talk about people finding their voice to the internet. My theory this week is that people haven’t found their voice so they’re afraid of what to do.

They’ll go to trade shows and stick their business cards to fifty peoples foreheads, but they wouldn’t dare converse online. They think they’re going to lose their job if they answer a question in a LinkedIn group. It’s a kind of shyness and fear is what I think.

Mike: Listening to one of your previous podcasts, I think it was Seth Godin who was talking about that. Part of the fear is that the content lives forever.

Bernie: Yes. I know I have it too, because I’m just amazing at everything. It’s only in the last few months I’ve just gone, I don’t care. Just stick it out there, because the thrill of sticking it online and someone commenting is much nicer than the “oh, when I get around to it”, the procrastination.

In six years of blogging, I’ve never really upset anybody to the extent they’ve taken me to court. I’ve looked at what made me my money and it’s blogging and sending my email newsletter and engaging with people.

Just for the rest of this podcast, I think we can overuse the word engaging a bit too much. It just happens to be the name of my company.

Mike: I think it’s also relevant too. There’s a way to use social media in terms of a bull horn and then there’s another way to use it more like a telephone where you have a conversation and it’s really hard to have a conversation with somebody who’s not interesting or engaging.

Bernie: Maybe this is a little bit too cold to say, but people are a little bit lazy. They want the quick fix for marketing. My area is like b to b tech inbound marketing sales. I was at a convention the other day and the “How to sell into corporates” seminar was rammed packed.

“How to use the internet for marketing and social media”, which was my session, four people showed up. I wasn’t offended, I was actually delighted because it’s like, my God I need to work harder because all these people need our help and actually that’s where I’m at at the moment.

I really want to help people use the internet. I’m forever amazed at how many people, including people in my family are technical geniuses, but don’t actually realize what the internet is.

There’s people who, could you write me a white paper? Oh yes I can do three of those, which you do an after dinner talk on. Actually, would you like to write a 400 word blog that we’ll put out to so many millions of people online.

I don’t know how to do that, sorry. I’ve just had a fun tool of bust me when it comes to writing.

Mike: I know for my sake, I look out into the blogs sphere and there’s probably twenty or thirty blogs that I read. I won’t say every day, because there’s probably a few days that I skip it. There’s people that publish every day.
There’s people that publish every week and then there’s people that it’s almost like a shotgun blast. They launch a blog. They put five or six really great posts out there and then they go one and a half or two years and it’s silence.

I wonder if individuals, much like companies don’t just kind of waste all their energy and resources and not know how to calendar out their content to provide a steady stream as opposed to a bomb of content.

Bernie: Something I’ve come across a lot, and it may be just because I’m looking for it, for cannon fodder, is people only want to get in touch when they have something to offer.

On LinkedIn, people said “Well I just wanted to let you know” and I said “If you let me know a little bit on a regular basis, I’d probably be more open to what you’re sending to me and now you’re just annoying me.”

I get particularly angry, because I’m hypersensitive to it, to all this stuff, but if you only email me when you have something to offer, and not even offer, have something you’d like to try and sell, it’s even more frustrating.

I know a lot of people in financial services and legal, as well, and their excuse for not being online is because of all the security around it or legislation around it. Actually they haven’t got the wit to think about how they could blog about their industry to help their customers and then when they have an offer.

Our books are closing and I need to sign up ten more people by the end of the month, they’ll do anything shameful. Go and sell something to the lady in the corner shop just to make that target, that type of behavior. So I get that, but not writing.

Mike: I think it’s a lot of what you said with laziness. It’s very similar to me to the people who sign up for a gym after New Years and they don’t get the kind of immediate pay offs, then it starts lagging behind.

When you need it you just go right back to it. I think it’s a similar concept. I think that’s kind of one of the mistakes people make, is that they give up too soon or they don’t see the immediate results, so they give up.

What else are some common mistakes that people do on social media that helps push their audience away?

Bernie: The first one, is a bit futile, giving your question is auto DM’s on twitter. It’s like, ‘thanks for following me. Please contact me on LinkedIn too, or check out my new offer.’ It’s the effort of not being in a conversation or not taking enough time to look at people.

I know people in my community really well. Not because I’ve got amazing software, just because I’ve wasted inverted commas, hours just looking at other peoples blogs and work and stuff like that. It’s probably taken me about three or four years.

I probably know about 100 people pretty well, because I’ve read their content and seen them grow and there are times when I wonder where this was going. Now I’ve got that knowledge of who’s around and that’s why I’m really good at connecting people.

Mike: You spoke about the technology. Do you think with social, people get too hung up on the technology? Show me how to tweet as opposed to show me how to have a conversation?

Bernie: Definitely. I think it was Jay Behr who said people need to work at how to be social, rather than do social. People like to buy marketing, not do marketing. It’s like an add on.

Someone takes our bins and does our marketing. If someone supplies a photo copier, someone supplies our marketing. People do get really, really hung up on it all. I really recommend, obviously, Salesforce, but the combination of who’s sweet, hotspot and Salesforce, or I use nimble because it’s more suitable to what I’m doing.

It’s really, really good and it’s taken me a long time to work out that combination and I understand them, but that’s the one I recommend. They’re not the only products in the world that will help you access the internet socially so people want to be using the tour de jour or at least the tours [inaudible 10:57], it doesn’t work and I can’t do it because I haven’t got that phone.

People were doing pretty much what they’re doing now three years ago. That’s where people go wrong. There’s an example which Seth Godin used and he said the hard part is actually doing it and the easy part is working out what color your website’s going to be.

Whether you’re going to use word press or tumblr, whether you’re going to use Nimble or Sale force, whether you’re going to buy samsung or apple mac and people think they are the problems.

It’s actually the more tangible ‘what am I going to do problem?’. He talks about James Taylor can sell out radio city music hall and people think that’s really easy and he just did it at the drop of a hat.

Actually the hard part for James Taylor was being a heroin addict for 30 years and bleeding fingers for guitar strings and all this type of stuff. He’s put the work in and that’s how he’s able to sell out concerts in the drop of a hat. People like to think that, they want the quick fix, not the effort and the agony that goes in.

Mike: I think I’ve heard Seth along those same lines and it might have been on your podcast, talk about how it’s so easy everyday to come into work, answer emails and feel like you’re doing something as opposed to really broaching the hard subjects and working on those activities that get you closer towards your goal as opposed to those activities that keep you busy.

Bernie: Yes. Definitely. There’s a chap called Dave, who’s chief envisioning officer for Bing, which is for Microsoft in the U.K. and he’s actually restored my faith in Microsoft. Where do you work Dave?

He goes “I work at Microsoft, we do Excel things”. He’s full of energy and passion for technology and he talks about all the people that pick up their laptop, leave their office, get on the train, go home, put their laptop by the door, watch some TV.

Then come back again and open the laptop on their desk and really it’s like hand to the wheel. This was slightly connected to what you just said. They’re just sort of doing stuff all day as opposed to a lively what’s going on around them and the industrial age has sorted of trained us just to be like that.

It’s actually using technology to create space to get that creativity that is needed and we think that it’s just people in big, black glasses and drain pipe jeans that are creative.

It’s people in financial services in financial modeling spreadsheets, solving problems and people building bridges with technology that are solving problems. That’s the world I like to look to. Did that help?

Mike: Absolutely.

Jared: Just to go back to one of the points you were making about the quick fix, do you think that with people looking for that quick fix and as Mike said, doing things that keeps them busy as opposed to keeps them moving forward, do you think companies have forgotten how to be engaging?

Bernie: I’m going to have to say, great question which is what you say when you need to think about that one second. Great, great question.

Mike: We have those every now and then.

Bernie: How I’m going to answer that is I really subscribe to the,
“Thank You Economy,” by Gary Vaynerchuck and that type of small village mentality, where we take care of each other. We were talking about J.P. … before we came on air and he talks a lot about customer service.

I think the good companies are giving great customer services and have a product. People who aren’t engaging, having a product and trying to find a way to sell some more stuff. I do wrestle with this.

If someone says, “I’ve got a result out of doing this”. A friend of mine would go to tech conference, and at the end of it he’d say, and this is about the time the iPad came out. He’d walk into a room with lots of beered-up people who worked in the industry.

So, whoever puts their business card in this champagne bucket, I’ve got two iPads to give away, so of course 400 people throw their business card in the champagne bucket and he goes is there anyone who doesn’t want to be emailed tomorrow?

And they were all,” I don’t care, I might win an iPad”. He gives away to iPads, so he’s kept his side of the bargain and then he goes away and gives someone 400 business cards, emails them all the next day.

Of course he gets a result out of it, but he hasn’t really built a relationship and that’s my puritanical view of how not to do it.

Mike I’ll take your puritanical view one step further in that I used to work for a company who gave things away at a trade show.

I hated it, because I said I’m going to come back with a fishbowl full of business cards of people who are really interested in winning an iPad and not my product.

I don’t care to email them, because 99% of them didn’t win the free iPad and maybe two of them are genuinely interested in my product.

Bernie: Why do people still think that’s a good idea?

Mike: I think it’s the snake oil salesman. It’s still the goal of go to a trade show, get us some leads, that’s the Glenngary, Glen Ross. How much can you come back with? If we buck shot out to enough people, if I make 100 phone calls and book ten appointments, one of them will buy.

You’re still running the law of averages as opposed to running the new economy of being engaging. Not to use the word too much, but I’d rather come back with six business cards of people I can talk about and say, “Hey did you remember you came to me and you had just gone out and had really bad seafood the night before?”

Talk to them for 20 minutes and then say, how about I come and let’s talk about how we’re going to solve your problem? As opposed to sending out a thousand emails to a bunch of people that just lost an iPad. That’s why I think people still do it. There’s the fear of coming back with six business cards and losing a job.

Bernie: There’s a lot of Seth stuff I’ve subscribed to and the late Stephen Covey stuff about only a very small percentage of people in the company understand how what they’re working on right here and now actually delivers or contributes towards the bigger goal of the company.

It’s not really, really communicating. Mark from HubSpot tweeted this morning about people who set their own goals are more motivated than people who get their goals set for them. It’s very easy for me to say this because I work on my own or I collaborate with people like me.

I think making a decision for yourself, what you’re going to go for is very different from me giving a list of things to do. People want to keep their jobs so they go through the list of stuff they’ve been given to do so they don’t lose their job.

I haven’t worked in a ginormous organization for many years, so I’m not really sure what the reality of that is like. It’s very easy to shout from the sidelines and the side about ideals, but how do you deal with that? What’s the actual reality?

Jared: Right and with the business cards and the goals, one of the things I found was interesting and wanted to ask you about was tag tribe and that it’s unnetworking. Can you explain what that is and what you do there?

Bernie: It came from lots of people trying to sell membership places for other networking groups. I think it’s really important for people to get together. I can tag tribe the creative crew group.

We just sit around, it’s all the people who are in marketing, advertising pr and some of them work for gigantic multilevel companies and others are just web designers that work on their own with one or two people.

Part of it comes from, that’s something I’ve heard [inaudible 19:27] say a lot about marketers can’t market marketing. I have this joke that people say, “Oh you work in marketing, can I buy you a coffee and pick your brains?” It’s not a very productive way of being.

We get together and we talk about marketing and how to explain it better because I think people, just the same way as users don’t really understand CRM, they just think you should do something. They don’t really know what it is.

A lot of people who buy marketing don’t understand how much effort goes into it and people who think they can get a website for $100.00 don’t understand everything that goes with a website.

I wanted people to try to get around and talk about what’s relevant to them as opposed to try and sell each other stuff. I go to a co-working group as well and more comes out sitting around with a group of people having a conversation and co- working together than it does in swapping business cards and pitching yourselves at each other.

Part of that is because I think the old model in the states, imagine BNI’s really famous, that worked before the incident because it got people together who wouldn’t normally have got together, but now we have all this information online, I think those membership organizations.

Even in the U.K. things like the institute directors are model redundant in my opinion.

Mike: I want to transition only slightly, because I think it’s relevant, but we had a question in on twitter and I know you responded to it so for people that didn’t, Lana Sanders [SP], and I apologized if I butchered your name. I’m horrible with names if you’ve listened to the podcast before.

She asked you what social media tool you can’t live without and which is your preferred forum. I want to tack onto that, because I’m a big fan of two part questions even though I don’t like answering two part questions. How do companies look at what social media forum or platform they should engage with?

Bernie: What sort of companies?

Mike: I think it’s interesting if you look at Lowe’s is a home improvement store in the United States and naturally you think hammers and tools and nails and saws and lawn mowers. No one’s going to be on twitter.

Your average homeowner maybe isn’t on Twitter. Maybe they should go to Facebook. They’re actually the most active on Pinterest by pinning pictures of rooms for paint or decorating ideas. You wouldn’t normally put those two together, right?

A home improvement store where you almost have to have some dungarees and a tool belt to walk into in a predominately, I think it’s 60 or 70% of the engaged users on Pinterest are women.

That’s their social network to be on. If you’re a company how would you evaluate where you should be in social?

Bernie: What I really think is people should have a blog. You’ve probably heard this before, that if Facebook closes down and becomes MySpace and all this type of stuff.

If you have a blog on your website that’s a real estate and no one can take that away from you and you’re always building an ad into it, and I don’t know a lot about Pinterest. I’m amazed at how many places it shows up as a really good place to be.

I think part of it is because it’s quite easy to pin things and there’s not a lot to do there. Does it show up a lot in search?

Mike: I think they just changed it to where it does show up in search now.

Bernie: My recommendation is usually be on LinkedIn. A company like Salesforce, if there’s eight million, hundred thousand Salesforce employees on LinkedIn and they’ve all got their profiles set up properly.

There’s a really good LinkedIn company page, then you’ll get found by a lot of people that way. That’s really, really good. Not everyone knows how to handle themselves in a group and stuff.

I particularly like Twitter. If you look at the percentage where my remarks come from and everything like that, it’s 80% Twitter and Facebook and Google Plus are quite small. I know people in the music industry that do very well with Facebook, because fans share stuff and I’m more very B2B.

Am I answering this question? I can feel myself round the houses, bring me back in if you need to.

Mike: I think you’re bringing up a lot of relevant points, that there’s different mediums. We’ll call them that, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn for different objectives. I think that’s what you’re getting at and you also bring up a really good point.

If you’re going to be a socially active company, having your employees have really good LinkedIn profiles only builds to your credibility. Speaking of really good profiles and credibility, I want you to hang around.

I want to give everybody the chance to get your Twitter and contact information, but before we do that the community always has to have a dramatic reading of a Steve Mo answer.

Bernie: I’m on the edge of my seat for this.

 And now a wicked pisser reading of a Steve Mo answer.

Jared: This Steve Mo answer comes from a question about pulling account fields to show on a custom object. “Charlie, here comes the deuce and when you speak of me, speak well, Crash Davis, Bull Durham.”

The relationship between the account and custom object if it’s master detail or look up, we can use the case formula, my favorite. Case, account product type, account number, back of a units purchase and you’re all set.

Mike: It’s no evolutionary dead-end like the panda.

Jared: Now case is one of my favorite formulas out there.

Mike: Case is very good, yes. How do you transition from case formula to Bernie?

Bernie: That was very emotional.

Mike: Do you need a moment to just kind of gather yourself?

Jared: It was the Bull Durham quote. I think that’s what does it.

Mike: Yes. It’s always a classic when he’s bringing in pop culture. In case, how’s that for a segway, people wanted to get in touch with you Bernie, you mentioned you’re active on Twitter. Is it Twitter handle? Are we using that term? I think we should.

Bernie: You could have done a beer joke there coming out with Steve, into the cases of beer accumulated. I remember him saying how many cases of beer you can fit in a Salesforce computer bag is that right?

Mike: Yes it’s bottles.

Bernie: That’s essential information in this industry.

Mike: It’s very essential you ship your clothes home, because you don’t really need them. It’s the beer you have to cradle with you.

Jared: It’s funny how he ended this answer going back and forth after he was thanked was no problem, you owe me a beer. P.S. I drink these. P.P.S. Terms are not negotiable.

Mike: Well we learned that’s the way he ends everything. His terms are non-negotiable.

Bernie: If there’s one thing I got out of this podcast, it’s the beer and the non-negotiable.

Mike: If we’ve taught you anything.

Bernie: Can I buy you a beer? I’d rather have the money instead.

Jared: What’s your Twitter contact?

Bernie: Just type Bernie J. Mitchell into Google or Bing and it will come up with lots of things I’d love you to see and lots of things I wouldn’t love you to see.

Everywhere is Bernie J. Mitchell. It used to be Bernie Mitchell, but that’s a photography in Wales who’s much more talented than me.

Jared: Speaking of beers, if we see you around, if we see you in dream force in San Francisco or another conference or we make it over to London, what drink are we buying you?

Bernie: I like dark beer. My wife’s from Argentina and I go to Buenos Aires and Stella Artois which is what bums drink in the U.K. is what posh people drink in Argentina.

When I go to people’s houses we’ve got the really expensive beer from Bernie, and I’m like “Oh my God it’s Stella Artois. It’s what I used to drink when I was a teenager.” I really like Brooklyn beer and just interesting beer. I hate to drink things like, you know the beers that sponsor super bowls and stuff like that?

I like interesting, niche things and I’ll be in San Francisco at the end of April for a conference run by Lisa Gansky called, “Mesh” 2013. I was going to ask it’s not anywhere near you guys is it?

Mike: No, we’re both on the wrong side of the U.S. for that one.

Bernie: I’ll be in San Francisco if anyone wants to buy me a beer. I don’t mind buying my own beer, I’m just up for the free beer, because I hate for it to come across like that.

Mike: This is good. I love just sitting and talking about how to be engaging online and really thinking about the impact that socials had on both companies and individuals in the last few years. I can’t thank you enough for being on the podcast.

Bernie: Can I finish with one last thought?

Mike: Yes.

Bernie: When I’ve been to cloud force in the U.K., one thing that particularly delighted me was having all those sales people sit in a room and listen to the keynotes about how social’s coming, how force ware’s coming.

I’ve known people from O2 and Burberry talking about giving examples, a really good show about how they’re using social in their companies and I think that’s just really important for people who are on the frontline to hear true case studies from people that are actually doing it.

It gets in the faith to go out and try it themselves, so that was a really big take away for me from both events and I’m almost as emotional being on this podcast.

Mike: I don’t know about that. That’s quite a compliment. With that, we’ll throw some extra stuff in the bonus round, but I don’t want to leave everybody at the edge of their seat much longer so I’m Mike and he’s Jared.

Jared: We’ll see you in the cloud.

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