Archive for 2014

Humans and Computers

At the recent April Communications Breakfast, which marked the event’s 3rd Birthday we were joined by guest speaker Douglas McGarrie of IBM.

Douglas, IBM’s CTO and Technical Leader in Scotland covered the subject ‘Humans and Computers’.  Computer systems are now being developed to interact with human beings in new and interesting ways and we wanted to find out how.  This new technology is known as ‘Cognitive Computing’ – which is about a machine using techniques so it can ‘think’ like humans and understand natural language.  Because computers can cope with human complexities this enables people to make better decisions in areas such as health, education and finance.

Douglas then explained that IBM has developed it’s own cognitive computing system called ‘Watson’, which was recently put to the test on the US game show ‘Jeopardy!’ Watson was pitched against two serial quizmasters who have a track record on the game show and it was able to beat both of them because it thought and behaved like a human brain – “scary thought!”

There are several examples of how these systems are being applied to real world situations and across many industries, and Douglas had a couple of intriguing videos on hand to demonstrate this.

It’s a very exciting new world of technology and is a far step from ‘Programmatic Computing’ – traditional IT we have all come to know and use over the last few decades.

Given Douglas has spent time in leading technology countries such as the US we really did get the latest ‘low down’ on this new emerging world of cognitive computing that we can all benefit from in the years to come.

Find out more about Watson

Thank you to everyone who completed our survey during the event, we have had some great suggestions for future topics and we will publish your feedback soon.  Congratulations to Lynne Last of National Australia Group who won the champagne in the prize draw – Cheers!

Pictures courtesy of Great Scot photography

Are you fully leveraging your LinkedIn network?

If you’ve invested time in setting up a LinkedIn profile then you want to make sure that you optimise your chances of gaining the best possible advantage from the network you build on the platform don’t you?

I hear you say “The obvious answer is yes” but you’d be surprised at the number of people who undermine their profile and online standing at the first hurdle!
Let me expand a little, to do this I need to provide you with some hard facts:

Monthly Invites

Last month I received 39 LinkedIn invitations to connect and, as I advise during my LinkedIn training sessions, I am discretionary about the invites I am prepared to accept.  I have broken down the 39 invites into categories in the chart below.


Default Invite

Of the 18 default invites received I only accepted 2, which is just over 11%.  The senders are in the same locale, we share mutual connections and we can all hit connect button in error. Therefore, I gave these 2 people the benefit of the doubt and accepted their invite to connect.

Done Business With

I accepted 100% of the invites from people who said they had done business with me – because they had and very recently. These invites came from people who have attended my LinkedIn for Business training course.  I am glad to say that my advice hadn’t fallen on deaf ears and they were well crafted and personalised invitations.


I accepted 50% of the ‘Friend’ invites because half of them came from people I have a connection to, however I have followed them up with a few tips on how to use LinkedIn to prompt their future endeavours to be more personalised – after all that’s what you do for friends isn’t it!

It doesn’t take much to greatly increase the chances of your connection invites being warmly received:

Personalise Your Invite

As is evident from the figures above the majority of people just don’t do this.

Handing over the initiative to the recipient is a risky strategy. Hoping that the potential connection will recognise your name or connect on blind faith alone is a sure fire route to undermining your digital profile and online standing.

The fact that so few people personalise their invites means that when you do you will stand out from the crowd.

Adding a personal note on every single connection request will massively increase your chance of building your network in a credible and likable way.  It’s very refreshing to receive an invite that someone has so obviously taken the time to tailor specifically for you.  This tip isn’t just about being unique, it’s also about building rapport and engagement. By doing this you make it easy for the person you’d like to connect with to accept your invite.


Be Explicit

LinkedIn only allows 300 characters in an initial invite, so always be succinct.  Be clear about how you are linked no matter how tenuous, is it via:

  • Work
  • Colleague
  • Follow them on Twitter/Blog
  • Met at a networking event
  • Friend
  • Shared connections
  • LinkedIn Group


Let them know why you want to engage, this is more relevant if you have never interacted with the person. If you go the extra mile to explain how you have found them and why you think they are interesting the person on the other end of the request will want to connect with you.

If you want to optimise your profile and grow your network to leverage LinkedIn to your best benefit come on our LinkedIn for Business training course where you will learn how to:

  • Generate more leads
  • Increase customer share
  • Engage targeted industry professionals
  • Build credibility
  • Research specific market sectors
  • By-pass the gate keeper

More information about our courses is available here 

Chartered Institute of Marketing Graduation

Claire-CIMIt was privilege and honour to be part of the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Graduation Ceremony in Westminster on Saturday 23rd of November 2013.  As a vice chair of CIM I was lucky enough to be part of the platform party procession along with the Academic Senate, our president, chair, CEO, senior examiners and sponsor Reckitt Benckiser plc.
We proudly watched the next cohort of students graduate with a professional marketing qualification from the Chartered Institute of Marketing.  In today’s dynamic business environment achieving such a qualification demonstrates commitment to marketing professionalism and is an important differentiator in today’s competitive marketplace.

Graduation day is one to celebrate however I believe every day should be a learning day and it is a perpetual journey.  The CIM helps members keep their knowledge and expertise current through our Continuing Professional Development Programme.  It provides a framework to manage personal development as well as setting members on a path to become a Chartered Marketer.  Although I completed my CIM postgraduate in Marketing in 1991, was amongst the first Chartered Marketers and have graduated to the position of Fellow of the CIM I continue to use my marketing skills and knowledge on a daily basis.

I enjoy graduation because it is invigorating to see so many people share my passion for the marketing profession.  It is refreshing to sit amongst the marketing directors, business leaders and chief executives of the future and catch a glimpse of the business world to come.  The network of professional marketers continues to grow and I congratulate all the graduates on their success and wish them the best in the exciting, dynamic and inspiring career of marketing.