“If you’re focused on helping people and in a business networking setting, you get attention back when you give attention. Those are universal truths regardless of what social media platform you’re on. It’s always valuable to pay attention to people.”

— Jay Palter, Chief Engagement Officer of Jay Palter Social Advisory

Ten years ago, Jay Palter moved from metropolitan Toronto to the wide open spaces of Calgary, Alberta. It was there that he realized that businesses were struggling to connect and communicate online, so he founded his own social advisory firm to do just that. Since then, Jay’s become a leading FinTech influencer by helping business leaders engage through social networks on behalf of their companies.

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Complete Episode Transcript:

Craig: Welcome back. I’m glad you’re here for another episode of the Wealth Management Today podcast. I’m your host Craig Iskowitz, and I’m bringing you new ideas from people who are on the leading edge of technology and innovation in our industry. I run a consulting and research firm called Ezra Group and we help broker dealers, banks, asset managers, and RIAs to make better technology decisions. Before we start, I’d like to remind you to hit the subscribe button so you don’t miss any future episodes. That would be awful. So are you ready for this episode? Well, it’s starting right now. My guest on this episode of the Wealth Management Today podcast is Jay Palter, Chief Engagement Officer of Jay Palter Social Advisory.

Social Networking Just Got Way More Important

Craig: So Jay, we’ve been friends for a while, we’ve been on social media for awhile and I really wanted to get you on the program. Now it seems like a great time since everyone’s stuck at home, and realizing that they need to engage people and be online and figure out how to do that. You’re really the best person I know to do that. Seeing how you’re an influencer extraordinaire across multiple social media platforms and this is really your business. Can you give a quick 30 second elevator pitch of the Jay Palter Social Advisory Company?

Jay: I will do that. What we’re going to talk about today is very much what we have always talked about, which is, my view is that every business’ social network is, in many ways the most important business asset they have. And our digital social networking tools today are very valuable for engaging and building value in that business network. So, what we do is help companies and specifically help individual leaders in companies, to leverage the value, build value and leverage value in their digital social networks online.

Craig: I wanted to bring up an article that you just published just a little while ago and you got that out really fast, very impressed that you could push this out. It’s on LinkedIn, on the LinkedIn blogging site, it’s called Social Networking Just Got Way More Important, for obvious reasons. So I just wanted to walk through a couple of the points of that article. Obviously I know what your motivation was, but what were you thinking when you wrote this article?

Jay: Well, as I indicate, we really have been talking about this and the message in the article is very similar to everything I’ve been saying for years in fact. That we have very powerful tools at our disposal today in digital social networks and we have people that are a part of our businesses that are our clients, our prospects, our friends, influencers and people we know in the space, colleagues, all kinds of folks who are on these networks. And we need to be more efficient, effective, focused on how we use and leverage those social networks for our business purposes. So recognizing clearly we are all going to be attending less in-person events, having fewer in-person meetings, it made sense to just focus people on the value in the opportunity of being online and building value in your social network. I tried to identify some key principles that you should be guided by and to try to have some focus on that would make a lot of sense if you, had some more time on your hands, which we all seem to have now.

Craig: We all seem to have that, although not us, we already were working from home. So we’ve already got our schedules built to maximize our usage of our time. But l think everyone should read it on LinkedIn, Social Networking Just Got Way More Important Because of Coronavirus and it’s from Jay Palter. You can look him up on LinkedIn and find this article. So tell me about principle one, social networking tools are constantly changing. What do you mean by that?

Jay: The principle is, a lot of the advice that I talk about in the article and in general are universal principles of human networks and social interaction and personal relationship building. The tools will constantly change. We have, in the past several years, I’ve been very focused on using Twitter as a tool for building business relationships and gathering information and getting to meet new people. I think the way our tools work is changing all the time. Even the use of Twitter has, I’ve noticed, been falling among the folks that I have relationships with and it’s been moving to LinkedIn. Those tools change all the time. They can change overnight, certain things work one day and then they change the way the tool works. So I think what I’m really trying to emphasize is that the principles of social networking are kind of universal even in an offline and an online way, and what changes is just some of the tactical things, the way that you implement the same principles in these various platforms. That’s important thing to recognize.

Craig: Right? So what you’re saying is that the tools, the outward appearance of the tools look the same, but how it works underneath is changing all the time.

Jay: So functionality is going to change and the tool of the day is going to change. And some of the tactical things we might do are going to change. But I’m also trying to emphasize that there’s human principles, there’s psychology principles. If you’re good to people, if you help people, if you are kind to people online, if you’re generous in the time you invest in helping them, helping promote their content, helping engage in conversation on posts that they make, that is kind of universal. If you’re generally focusing on helping people and it’s good for you in a business networking setting, you get attention back when you give attention and those are universals regardless of what platform you’re on in social media. Regardless of whether you’re in an offline setting or an online setting, even it’s still valuable to pay attention to people.

Craig: That reminds me of one of the first books I ever read in business was Dale Carnegie, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”. If you want people to be interested in you, you need to be interested in them. And it’s hard for some people to realize because I think in general, humans are narcissistic. Not all humans of course, but I think that it’s human nature to think about yourself. Tt’s hard to realize that you need to give back and help someone else. And you can also attribute it to karma, what goes around comes around.

The Three Types of Capital

Jay: Well, for sure. And I think the social networks have been packaged and delivered to us and translated to us as these platforms for marketing and advertising and selling. And I think they certainly can be used in those ways, and there’s nothing wrong with looking at them from that point of view, but I think we do that sometimes at the exclusion of recognizing they’re called social networks for a reason. People have relationships with each other on them. Look in the world today, people are going online to date more and more, finding spouses and finding partners. So it should be no surprise that we should look at digital social networks as places where we can discover new people that might be important to our business, maybe they’re employees in the future, maybe they’re just partners, maybe they’re influencers in the space. We need to recognize that social networks are places where we should go to build relationships that are central to our businesses. In every business I know, a social network isn’t a really huge part of the business. I mean, I often use a Venn diagram that looks at the three types of capital that you need to achieve ROI and succeed in your business; there’s financial capital, which we understand as investments and assets. There’s human capital, which are employees and knowledge and skill and there’s social capital, which are relationships, and long term engagements. This real social capital that people feel good will towards you and your business and will try to help you, will want to help you, social networks. So, the conclusion of that is that social networks are really for building this type of capital that is essential for your business to succeed. The social capital.Craig: And that leads into principal two, your network is the most valuable business asset you have. And this is something which has always been true, it’s just even more true now. As a consultant, I get this at least once a month. I get people reaching out to me, Hey, I’m thinking of leaving my current job, what should I do on LinkedIn to make that work? It’s like they see it as a one shot deal like, I just got to do a couple of things and that’ll improve my social network and then I can get a better job where I can become a consultant. And that’s not really the way it works. Is it?

Jay: No. The way it works, and this is something I heard a long time ago is, social networks and social media in general are going to be very valuable for you, but you need to start using them and contributing to them, investing in them long before you really “need” them. You’re looking for a new job or you’re looking for a new opportunity of some kind. I believe this in my work, I think very few people who run a business, work in a business would deny that their social networks, and the relationships they have, the people who know them, the good will that they’ve built up with those folks, is a really huge part of their success in their career, in business and life. And my principle is very simple, which is if you recognize that, then you should be doing everything you can to build that value. The way you build that value is you, you use your network to help people, use your network to maintain those relationships and nurture them. It’s great to meet people at conferences when conferences were happening and they will happen again in the future, at some point. But what’s really valuable is what happens in the 51 weeks in between a conference that you attend every year and social networks gives you this great opportunity to build value in those relationships. People need to be thinking about that before they trying to cash out the value of their network. They need to be investing in building that value.

Craig: Exactly. It’s like a bank account. You got to make the deposits before you take the withdrawal.

Jay: That’s right. You talked about tension earlier, you have to pay attention to earn attention. That’s one of the basic principles of social networking. I mean you can go out and pay for advertising, for sure. You turn on the faucet, start paying for advertising, your ads will pop up all over the place. As soon as you stop paying, you’ll disappear. And that’s the difference between kind of an earned value of social networking, of being online, adding value, having conversations, being visible to people has a greater longevity. It lasts longer and you build relationships with people seeking you out, people paying attention to you because you’ve invested in them for a period of time.

Craig: Yes, they come to rely on you and they look to you for help and when they need it and you should be there for them because then you’re going to need them at some point.

Uses & Misuses of LinkedIn

Jay: That’s 100% correct. And that actually leads into the third principle that I talked about in that article, which was the acronym ABC that we’re all familiar with in sales, which is Always Be Closing, and which I would argue is precisely the opposite of what should motivate your activity on social networking. I would suggest you should always be opening on social networks. You should be generous in giving away value, insight, and attention. You should be looking for new opportunities. I can’t even tell you how many folks that I meet through our engagement. We comment, we have a little exchange. We look at a few other things that each of us has shared or written, realize that we should be connected, we should pay attention to each other. You can really discover new people and new connections online that are very valuable to you, without traveling halfway around the world to go to a conference, for instance. We may not be doing that for some time, so it’s really critical to figure out the resources we have at our disposal. I mean, social networks and LinkedIn in particular, in the old days we had a Rolodex and if you’re old enough, you understand a Rolodex was this brilliant invention of a turning, rolling thing that we had index cards in that had the phone number and at some point later the email address of these people in our network were all organized alphabetically.

Jay: And today, if you look at social networks like LinkedIn, they’re effectively similar kinds of things. I mean, any CRM effectively has all your contact information. The difference with LinkedIn though is it reveals to you not only who you have in your network, but whose other networks these same people are in and how we’re all connected to each other. Now that can be turned off as a feature of LinkedIn, you can obscure to others, block their ability to see who you’re connected to. But that’s actually one of the most interesting parts of that network is it creates a value that’s greater than the Rolodex ever was because it’s everybody’s Rolodex that’s interconnected. And that’s a very thing for business, for you to be able to see a new person you really want to get to know is connected to, for instance, Craig. And so I can have a conversation with Craig and say, what do you know about this person and can you introduce me? I think we have an opportunity we could really add value to that person and what they’re doing. That’s a huge opportunity that I think a lot of folks are not fully appreciating and certainly not leveraging. It doesn’t even have to only be in a sales situation, any kind of reason. You might see someone you can help, you might see somebody that you have another reason to be connected to, and it’s hugely powerful in social networks.

Craig: One thing you wrote was that they’re huge conglomerations of individual one on one relationships, but altogether they become very powerful.

Jay: Yeah. They really do in a collective way become a whole that’s greater than the sum of the parts. And at the same time, social networks are really made for individuals to build relationships with other individuals. I think there’s lots of people today in the economy who are helping you market or helping your business and your brand present itself. Good content marketing. I mean, we do some of that work as well, but what I feel is really the opportunity that’s often under utilized is for business leaders to engage in building their own networks on behalf of their companies. That’s a subtle thing with lots of built in tensions and there’s lots of challenges with that. At the same time, it’s hugely valuable when business leaders learn how to engage their networks in a way that’s beneficial to the companies they work for. It becomes a very powerful tool and if it was easy for everybody to do it, you’d see a lot more people doing it. The fact is that there are some challenges and you do need to work on your personal skills and you do need to understand the network and you have to have the right attitude to get the value.

Craig: One thing I wanted to ask you about tips for people on LinkedIn. I’ve been getting flooded just this year with connection requests from people that I don’t know, but who have other connections in common. And as soon as we connect, I start getting pounded with messages, “we sell this and this and do you need that?” And they’re really not looking at LinkedIn as a social network, they’re just looking at it as a place for marketing and sales. Do you think that’s the way to look at these social media networks or would you look at it differently?

Jay: I, no surprise to you, I would see that very differently. It’s certainly possible for people to choose to do it that way, but I wouldn’t recommend that. I believe that there are ways to authentically and genuinely and in a scalable way, find new prospects and build relationships. It’s one of the reasons I focus on B2B social networking because most businesses that I work with, let’s face it, even big successful businesses, they have a limited number of customers that they need to interact with. And the relationships are often deeper with those prospects and those clients in order to get people to the point where they want to buy your services. Even after they bought your services, the relationship building is just as important in terms of ongoing support, and engagement. I think you’re really looking for a more of a quality, not a quantity approach to social networking that I would advocate, you would never approach somebody cold just because they have a few people in your network that are connected. I can’t even tell you how many times I get cold requests and there’s not even an attempt with a personalized message to frame why we should connect. I mean there’s not even that very minimal kind of activity. Sometimes there is, and I always pay attention to that. If someone says at least takes the time to write a personal note with their connection request, I will look at that.

Jay: But my advice would be similar to what your experience has been that generally I’d look to see if there’s any reason for that person to want to be connected to you other than the fact that they’re trying to sell you something or they don’t understand the intimacy of the network. They don’t understand how to have a proper business relationship on LinkedIn. The way to do that is start by introducing who you are and why you’re even interested in connecting to somebody who you may not know, make a case for that. A smarter way to do that in my experience is if I want to get to know somebody, what I’ll do is actually pay attention to what they’re sharing online. If they’re sharing nothing online, that sends a message to me that they may not be that active, so that might not be the best channel to reach out to them. But if they’re active, then looking at what they’ve shared and paying attention to that, engaging with that is actually a way of familiarizing them to who you are. You’ve added some value, helped share their content, you’ve engaged them maybe in a conversation before you even initiate a connection request. There’s lots of ways to do that. Again, it’s all about building relationships and not just trying to collect connections.

Craig: That’s why I think LinkedIn stopped displaying the number of connections over 500, because people were just collecting them.

Jay: I don’t even understand the value of that. I think LinkedIn has the ability for people to follow you similar to Twitter. They don’t need to ask for your permission. They just say, I’m interested in you, I’m going to follow. And maybe that is a factor in them being updated when you’re sharing information or something. I think followers are an interesting, count or measure of people’s visibility and their network. But it’s never been 100% clear to me why you need a thousand or 5,000 or 10,000 people you’re connected to. I mean, all the science around networks say that there’s 150 people in our network that we even have reasonable, familiar relationships with, so having 1000 people in your network, chances are more than half of them you don’t even really know. If anybody asked you, it’d be embarrassing because you’d say, I don’t really know that person, so why be connected to them anyways?

Craig: Exactly. That’s all well and good people don’t really think about that. I think they thought of it as like a game. It was a gamified version of social networking. Let’s just get the most connections as opposed to the right connections, or connections that are relevant to what you’re doing. If you’re on LinkedIn, it’s a business. So you want to focus on people in your industry. Why would you connect with people, if you’re in financial services as we are, you wouldn’t necessarily connect with someone in oil and gas unless you were researching oil and gas for some reason. Just grabbing connections just to have them isn’t useful and it doesn’t cost anything. But still when I’m looking at connections, even with people in our industry, I want people who I think I can add value to them. That’s how I think of it. And if I can’t add value to them beyond becoming a customer of theirs if they’re selling something, then I don’t accept their connection because it doesn’t make any sense. I get a lot of emails on LinkedIn from full stack developers and lots of marketing people and they’re just looking to sell something, they’re not looking to connect and add and share value which is what I’m looking for.

Jay: That’s right.

Craig: So you’ve been doing this business for 10 years, so what made you start the social advisory business?

Jay: Well that’s a, that is a good story. It’s a good question to ask and it’s an interesting story because I moved out west with my family about 10 years ago from. I was in Canada, in Toronto, and we moved out west to Alberta. And at first I was looking for a home based business opportunity because my wife was working out of the home and I was the guy who was staying home, taking care of the kids for the first year. And I realized that they were in school all day, and I had the opportunity to build something and I wanted to do it from home. So I essentially built a practice, a consulting practice around social media, various kinds of social media marketing and things. But over the years it became refined around influencer engagement.

Jay: And I focused on B2B companies and I found myself drawn into financial services and FinTech because of some previous career experiences that I had. So that’s how it kind of evolved. I’d say I tend to be a guy who’s looking for opportunities that are not overexploited in the market, and I think back between 2010 and 2015 even, I feel like I was a little bit ahead of the curve in thinking that the financial services industry was ready to fully engage in social networking. And through that experience, I refined my offering to really focus in on what I thought was missing. And when people did start embracing social media and marketing, what they still were missing was this human element of business development. If we’re in certain kinds of businesses that sell to other businesses, it’s incredibly personal, it’s incredibly social. We build relationships, the relationship selling cycle is very long and those relationships are just not one time things to sell somebody. Those relationships often last an entire career as people go through different jobs and things like that. So that the relationship building part was missing from a lot of the social media marketing that I saw happening.

Jay: And again, I said it early in this conversation, I’ll say it again – it’s not easy to do and there are implicit conflicts in many businesses, certainly in regulated financial services, businesses with advisors, everybody’s aware of the compliance conflicts that exist and the challenges of trying to conduct meaningful business relationships with all these constraints. But having said that, there is still a huge value opportunity and especially in this time when we’ve got people that are all restricted to being in their homes and working from there. Many people who could enormous benefit enormously by having high quality relationships online with all kinds of people in their network. But they don’t have the skillset, they haven’t been given the tools to do it, gotten the training to do it. And maybe they feel they are even restricted from doing that in some way. So, it’s a passion of mine that I believe in people. I really do believe that my network is my most important business asset and that network is made up of individual relationships with people that I value very much. So I want to find ways to continue to add value to those relationships.

Craig: And I hope you do Jay, and I’ll be there to help you in any way I can.

Jay: Craig, you’re one of my favorites and we have a great and robust relationship online, you do with many other folks too. So we do appreciate all that you do to help us with your insights.

Craig: I try my best. We’re all doing our best with what we got.

Jay: Exactly.

Craig: Jay, thank you so much for being here on the program and sharing these principles, words of wisdom. I hope everyone takes your advice and starts leveraging and building out their social networks, now that we’ve all got some time at home here.

Jay: Yeah. And if you liked this program and you want to connect with me, just send a little introductory note before you connect and I’d be more than happy to connect with you.

Craig: Yes. Don’t just blast him with an email, say something nice. Introduce yourself. Say you heard about him on a podcast and you want to talk.

Jay: 100%. I welcome everybody who wants to connect.