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You can’t always interact with people in person… give them a social media high five instead.

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The glorious activity that is the high five

A very strong analogy hit me this week, and I think it’s a good one to share.

Any true sports fan can identify with the following scenario. You’re in a sports bar watching your favorite team in a big game. There’s a buzz in the air, the beers are flowing, and people are really into it. Along the way, you might be cheering wildly, talking to your friends standing next to you, and everyone is either in a good mood… or incredibly stressed out over the unknown outcome. I’ve been there too many times to count.

And then the moment happens… it could be a game-winning, walk-off home run, an interception returned for a touchdown that seals the game, a buzzer-beating 3-pointer in basketball, or a game-winning goal in sudden death overtime.

The entire crowd erupts in unison. Everyone is on the same page and going crazy. Now it’s not just enough to yell or scream, or to celebrate with your best friend – everyone needs to get into the action.

[The video below shows *exactly* what I mean. I was at a sports bar at this moment as well, and it was surreal, especially due to the delayed reaction. Note: You gotta watch the kid at 3:23; the scene at 4:00 is 3 blocks from my apartment. Enjoy]

Suddenly high-fives are being handed out like free newspapers on the subway. In the moment of delirium, EVERYONE in the bar gets a high five. This includes the bartenders, the server who may or may not know who actually won (they’re just glad people are drinking more), and everyone else within a 20 foot radius – the drunk guy that almost spilled a beer on you 15 minutes earlier, the obnoxious frat boys off to your left, the old timer with the team jersey from 1979, the guy that kept yelling out stats just to show off. Anyone.

High five.

High five.

High five.

High five.

High five.

It feels good to be part of that celebratory community, right?

It feels good to give that symbolic gesture, and to receive it, right?

[Two notes of advice based on years of experience… first, if the crowd is especially drunk, make sure to secure your beverage tightly in your left hand to avoid spillage; in very crowded bars, I always go for a bottle over a pint glass just for that purpose… and second, it can be effective to be the person just holding your hand up for the high five target, and let the other person hit it, almost like the focus pads a boxing trainer holds up when doing sparring practice. When both parties are winding up and taking drunken SWINGS at the attempted high five, the odds of both hands contacting and not spilling a beer or putting someone’s eye out decrease rapidly.

[Beware the drunken high five]

The social media high five

But what if you’re not in a crowded bar, surrounded by like-minded sports fans?

What if you find yourself alone in your man-cave, watching the game solo on your 50” flatpanel TV? You’re just as into the game. You might even be yelling and screaming at the TV (to the concern of your neighbors).

What do you do when your team breaks through and scores that game-winning Stanley Cup goal?

[click image at right to enlarge]

social-facebook-highfiveAnswer: You turn to social media.

After feeling quite silly jumping up and down by myself in my New York apartment after the Bruins’ Game 2 victory, I immediately jumped on the computer.

As I scanned my Facebook feed, suddenly all my Boston sports friends started posting victory messages. Some were clever. Some had profanity. Some had photos. They were everywhere. Family members, high school classmates, former hockey teammates, college buddies, general sports fans.

In just a few minutes, there were about 5-10 in row in my feed. So what did I do?






I went down the line and “liked” every post in a row.

In it’s own way, it was strangely rewarding like those high fives.

As I later tweeted, “Giving likes to every #Bruins celebratory update in your FB news feed is the digital equivalent to high-fiving all your friends in a bar.”

Using digital high fives in your business

As I delved further into the topic a day later, I realized that this phenomenon holds true for business as well. So ask yourself

Are you giving enough social media high fives?

Marketing your business through social media is not a one-time thing. You don’t create one awesome post and put it out there. You don’t wait until you have something to sell, and then reach out to people in a cold call and ask them to do you a favor.

True branding and marketing takes place over the long haul. You need to build relationships with people over time, so that when it comes time to ask a favor, they’re happy to do so because you’ve supported them along the way.

What’s crazy is this is so simple to do in the social media age.

  • Being active on Facebook and liking people’s posts and adding helpful comments builds trust over time.
  • Connecting on Twitter and retweeting valuable content and favoriting tweets is a way to show that you’re paying attention.
  • Leaving helpful comments on someone’s blog – not just for you but for the writer and other readers – is a way to show you care.
  • Writing email and checking in on friends and colleagues not just when it’s convenient, but actually the opposite… just to check in and say hi.

These little connection over time will help your business in the long run.


I was reminded of this very thing last week. My online course was selected as part of a huge promotion, and it was a huge week for me and my business. This wasn’t just, hey, I have something to sell… this was an opportunity that doesn’t come around often.

Because of this, I went heavy on the promotion. While this can feel too salesy, here was my justification:
1) I contribute to social media frequently and try to add value at every step, trying to adhere to the 90% value and 10% promotion ratio.
2) We all spend an inordinate amount of time building up these networks, shouldn’t we get to use them once in awhile? It’s almost like the person that saves their entire lives and has $250,000 in the bank, yet has never taken a vacation. Why save it if you don’t use it? You never want to abuse it, but knowing when a key point of your business is happening, people WANT to hear about it and will be happy to help if you ask for it.

So what I did was write a personalized email to about 25 influencer friends in my network. This obviously too far longer than putting them all on a BCC email blast, but to me it was worth it.

23 of the 25 were happy to send a tweet and help spread the word. Some bragged to me that they knew of friends that had already purchased my course because of their help.

One person wrote back to say that they normally would have helped, but they felt that they had been too promotional on their social media accounts recently. I really appreciated this feedback from this person, who I admire. She was doing exactly what I just talked about… monitoring the level of value vs. promotion that came across her feed, and adjusting accordingly.

As for the last person, I can’t be 100% sure, but I don’t believe that he ended up sending out a tweet. I don’t blame him at all. In retrospect, while I consider this person a great contact in a business sense, I haven’t had the kind of interaction over time that would warrant him justification for sending this promotion to his tens of thousands of followers. He had to uphold his brand.

In short, I hadn’t high fived him enough.


Check out my free online salary negotiation course, “How to Negotiate Salary: The Negotiation Mindset.”

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As of this writing, 2 games have been played in the Stanley Cup Finals. In the first, my Boston Bruins took a crushing loss in 3 overtimes. In the second, they had a spirited win in 1 overtime. Lots of ups and downs. The same thing can happen with your small business. You see have great weeks with lots of clients and checks coming in, and sometimes you go on droughts.

The good thing about Freshbooks accounting, is you see all these trends right in front of you and can react to it. How many invoices are outstanding? What payments have been made? How can I quickly send invoices when the opportunities are rolling in. It’s all right in front of you. Like a puck sitting in front of an empty net.

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