Saturday, December 30, 2006

A Mile A Day. . .

I am going to run at least 1 mile per day, every day during 2007. I will not miss a day.

I’ve never been one to make a New Year’s resolution. If I have, I can’t remember any of them, and I’m pretty confident I’ve never followed through on one. In fact, I’m not really sure this is a resolution at all. Oh well. It’s New Year’s. I need to come up with something before tomorrow night (New Year's Eve).

It's going to be tough. I’m definitely not a runner, and it will be easy to want to neglect a few runs throughout the year as each pasing day becomes busier. Yet, despite all this, I know this is something I need to do. Here's why:

Reason #1
A couple of months ago, my wife woke me up on a cold, windy Sunday morning and asked me to do a 5-mile race called ‘Bill’s Beer Run’ along Casey Key in Sarasota, FL. Normally, I would have come up with some excuse not to do it, but on that day I said, “Why not?” Afterall, they did name the race after me! I ended up doing the run, ran pretty well, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was the first race I had ever taken part in. I'm hooked.

Reason #2
A few weeks later, I stumbled across an article about Dean Karnazes. He’s the guy who does these Ultra Marathons (200+ miles) and just completed 50 Marathons in 50 States in 50 days. He’s now running across the U.S. from New York City back to his home in San Francisco. Needless to say, what he’s doing is pretty inspiring stuff. Consider my 'mile a day' commitment my own version of Dean Karnazes's 50/50/50.

Reason #3
A few days ago (Christmas), my wife gave me one of these new Nike+ sensors that tracks all your runs (time, distance, calories, etc…) through your iPod. It allows you to upload all of your runs to the Nike+ website and let’s you chart your progress. You can even compete against other people from across the world. Cool stuff.

Reason#4
I can afford to lose a few pounds.

There you have it. Some days I’ll run 5 miles, others 2 miles… but never less than 1 mile each day. That’s my goal. I won’t miss a day. Period. On December 31, 2007 I should have run somewhere between 365 – 1,000+ miles (depending on how many longer runs I do) over the course of the year.

Okay Bill… Good for you. What on earth does any of this have to do with Fast Pitch!?

It has everything to do with Fast Pitch! Here’s why:

Similar to running, business networking and marketing (particularly if you are a small business owner) is often an isolated an individualized effort. How hard you work (train), how many people you meet (miles) and how many sales you can close (competition) will determine whether you win or lose. Think about it… for every mile I run this year, it becomes that much easier to run the next mile and win a race. For every connection you make throughout the year, it becomes that much easier to make a new connection and close a sale.

One of the things I noticed about the Nike+ website is that it not only allows you to track your performance (statistics), but it ranks you compared to others across the world. Their product has revolutionized the sport of running by creating a stronger sense of accountability and competition in what is otherwise an individualized sport (oh, and I’m sure they’ll find a way to sell more shoes along the way).

Fast Pitch! is no different. When you log-in to our website you can view all of the traffic your profile receives as well as how many successful connections you’ve made. We’ve also created a sense of competition on the website by recently adding the ability to see who the Top Networkers are as well as which Press Releases are receiving the most ‘hits’ and so on. We too, are revolutionizing an industry.

Our hope is that the features we’ve added (and continue to add) will make the Fast Pitch experience more fulfilling while inspiring you to continue to network, market your company and ultimately drive new sales to your doorstep.

Apply my ‘mile per day’ philosophy to your networking activity on Fast Pitch by taking the time to make at least 1 meaningful new connection everyday during 2007. You too will end up with between 365 – 1,000 new contacts by the end of the year. Compound those numbers by the number of people each of those people know, and your personal network will have grown significantly by December 31, 2007

If I can do it. So can you!

Happy New Year.

Bill

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Meaningful Connections

Recently we added the ability for people to create their own network on Fast Pitch. You can now make introductions directly through the system and track who accepts an invitation to join your network. We can already see the positive effects the functionality is having for our users as thousands of connections were made within the first 24 hours of going live.

The ability to connect online is obviously nothing new, as many 'social networking' websites have used this feature to quickly grow their user base by connecting people both socially and professionally. Ironically enough, we at Fast Pitch, have been debating for some time how best to use the concept within our own framework. After all, a large part of Fast Pitch is, and always has been about networking. So, why the debate?

Two reasons:

For starters, as most of you know, Fast Pitch is about so much more than social networking, and we’ve been careful to distance our brand from being described as such. As our business description reads, we are a one-stop shop for business marketing and networking. This includes the ability for people to not only network, but to market their BUSINESS online using all of the features we offer including advertising on our network, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SEM (Search Engine Marketing), the ability to post press releases (we now also offer a distribution service www.fastpitchpress.com, designed to showcase your press to the public and syndicate it out to thousands of search engines), the ability to post and manage your own business events, and much more.

In short, our over-arching goal is to provide you with a cost-effective way to drive business to your doorstep. Whether that’s connecting with others online, in-person, through another networking organization, through search engines, through advertising on our site... we want to be the first place you turn every morning when you ask yourself “What can I do to help grow my business today?”

Secondly, we’ve watched as many of the so-called professional ‘networks’ have become nothing more than virtual playgrounds of people making connections for the sake of connecting. Since when did having a profile on the same website become THE reason to connect? And what good does it do me to know that I have 4,234,345 people within 3 degrees of me? Why should I connect with Joe Smith of Orlando, FL just because we both went to the University of Florida? And why would I ever make a recommendation on his behalf just because he knows someone who knows someone who knows me? Where’s the quality?

As has been mentioned before, Fast Pitch is based on the premise that ‘what you do is often more important than who you know’. It's what we like to call 'Intelligent Networking'. Nowhere is this premise more important than in the world of online social networking. Here’s what we mean:

Determine which types of companies are most likely to do business with you, and spend 90% of your efforts trying to connect DIRECTLY with those companies.

As an example, suppose I am a web designer that has had success selling my services within a 50-mile radius to primarily attorneys, accountants, and real estate agents. It would make sense that I should spend most of my time targeting these types of businesses, right?

Now consider that I now have the ability to log-in to Fast Pitch and locate people within these types of businesses that have actually stated that they plan to purchase web design over the next 6 months. Can you think of a better reason to connect?

As you may already know, what makes the Fast Pitch Profile unique is that it focuses almost entirely on characteristics about your company (who you’re ideal customer and partners are, what you are looking to buy, your company size, location, etc…). By highlighting this information, we give our users the power to quickly make determinations about who they should be contacting. In fact, we take it a step further and make recommendations about who should contact whom making it that much easier to locate new opportunities and make QUALITY contacts.

So now when I receive that invitation to connect with Joe Smith in Orlando, I’ll have a better understanding about why I should consider connecting to Joe by taking a moment to review information about his business on his Fast Pitch Profile. I can learn more about what his company does, read his press, why he thinks his company is better than the competition and more... making him a more qualified contact.

Enjoy the new feature and remember to avoid making meaningless connections.

Good Luck!

Bill