What Can You Learn From A Stellar Solopreneur?

Digital Transformation I Business Networking

Original interview: Bizcatalyst360

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“We define the weather in social media – let the Sun shine! Never let go of your passion for bringing value and inspiration to your audience.”

~ Maria Lehtman

Are you wondering how to make it as an entrepreneur and succeed in social media? Does media today seem like a galactic map that keeps expanding while you move forward? Change in the digital domain is constant. How do you stay on top and find your innovation ecosystems?

In my 2019 interview series, we focus on how digital transformation impacts the social and business life of international entrepreneurs. At the heart of a successful social media business, you always find a hard-working digital innovator. For this article, I had the pleasure of interviewing my favorite Global Solopreneur, Dennis J. Pitocco, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief for BIZCATALYST 360°, award-winning business, culture, and lifestyle multimedia digest.  BIZCATALYST 360° thrives on high-quality multimedia content that serves as the global hub for enhanced performance and well-being. In 2016 BIZCATALYST 360° won the New Media Award, Web Awards Competition ‘Standard of Excellence’ Award (New Media Institute). Let’s learn more about the universe of a solo-entrepreneur.

How do you define your scope of digital business model?

“How well each company actually executes makes the difference between reinventing the business and just trying to do so.”

~ Dennis J. Pitocco

1. Question: As a Global Solopreneur, Dennis, what are your critical business areas and how did you decide which business models to engage?

I had to give this opening question a great deal of thought, as narrowing down “critical business areas/models” was a challenge, particularly when virtually all that we do exists on the web. I suppose that “critical” to us has been opening our minds to the entire spectrum of business AND non-business subject matter, as we began just over six years ago with a singular focus on business. Along the way, we were inspired by Site visitors and our remarkable Contributors to hold firm on our editorial standards, but expand our subject matter across the entire business & life spectrum. This not only opened the door to an expanding audience but opened the door for our Contributors to “spread their wings” and write about “whatever” inspired them – beyond their core business expertise.

2. Question: What are your thoughts about Digital Transformation and how do you see that impacting your core business areas?

Every organization’s transformation journey will be different. But how well each company actually executes makes the difference between reinventing the business and just trying to do so. From day one, we have purposely adopted digital transformation as a strategy, constantly reinventing what we do and how we do it for the good of our audience and for the good of our Contributors. We also took a more “contrarian” or “disruptive” approach to publishing, effectively breaking all the publishing “norms” (e.g. article length, subject matter range, image selection, editing, frequency of writing, etc. etc.) for the benefit of our Contributors, allowing each to focus on what they do best – write!

3. Question: How do you see mainstream social media development today? How do you feel it has changed during the past five years?

What was once an arena full of boundless inspiration has (from our perspective) progressed from new, different, exciting and inspiring to an arena plagued by overload, cynicism, apathy, spam, promotions, and disengagement. Unsurprisingly, many of the dominant social media giants simply lost sight of their “customer,” placing monetization ahead of retention, service, etc.

4. Question: What do you see as the main trends in the future of social media engagement?

More consolidation, more efforts to become “the next big thing,” more generational “shifts” as to what’s hot and what’s not. Also, hopefully, a renewed focus on what social media engagement once was. It seems everyone recognizes the importance of engagement in social media; they just don’t have a good definition of it. Here’s the “consumer” definition of engagement in social media: engagement is more than just a channel. It’s a dialogue; it’s the ability to choose how and when to engage; it’s the value each channel represents; it’s whether or not expectations were met. In other words, it’s not just about “likes” and “shares” – real engagement runs much deeper, and from our research, it’s the “deeper” that so many are searching for – and without all the “noise” and clutter plaguing all of the dominant social media channels today.

Takeaway #1: The younger the digital generation the more likely they are to hop from one social platform to another. Social enterprise is not a place; it is a state of mind where customer experience and excellence needs to be the primary focus area of everything you do. The term customer journey expands to your contributors, partners, and employees with a permanent revolution and innovation.

Let’s see what steps Dennis kicked off to overcome the new challenges in business media channels.

HOW DID THE ‘WHERE EVERYBODY KNOWS YOUR NAME’ INITIATIVE BEGIN?

“In the midst of a world where so many are disengaged, cynical and apathetic, isn’t it time for some fresh air? Isn’t it time to join together in building a refreshing, new community founded upon “real” relationships, “real” thought leadership, and “authentic” engagement?”

~ Dennis J. Pitocco @NGAGE CAFÉ Business Forum

5. Question: You recently opened up a business networking forum called the @NGAGE CAFÉ. Would you tell me more about the @NGAGE CAFÉ?

We’re trying to build something special. Our construction team is purposely not working from the “status quo” blueprints to design “just another” social media community. We’re not trying to be another LinkedIn or another Facebook. Our objective is a return to simplicity. A return to “real” engagement.  Quite simply an uncluttered place without all the noise. A safe place to visit now and again if you truly want to share, learn, make new friends and intentionally engage. A place where you are free to get advice and offer advice. That’s it. Not rocket science. Read more about it here: Wouldn’t You Like To Be “Where Everyone Knows Your Name”?

6. Question: How did you come by the initiative to establish the @NGAGE CAÉ network, and what are your objectives?

We listened to our audience. We listened to our remarkable Contributors. We witnessed the erosion of the quality of content and the level of engagement across all major social media platforms. And we saw the opportunity to introduce some “fresh air” within the social media arena. Our objective? We want “engaged” people to join together with us in building a refreshing, new Community founded upon “real” relationships, “real” thought leadership and “authentic” engagement? Our focus is on learning, listening, engaging and building real relationship capital. NO Clutter. NO Spam. NO Promotions. NO Fees. NO Kidding. SIMPLY Pure Engagement Unplugged.

7. Question: How do you measure your success, i.e., what are some of the areas that would make you feel the initiative has been successful?

Quite simply, our success is not a matter of size nor a matter of “Likes” or “Shares” like virtually all other social media platforms. And unlike virtually all social media platforms, we have zero profit motive, as our investment is time and our return on investment takes the form of new relationship and amplified visibility for our Contributors.  Our success will be measured on pure engagement (or as we like to call it N-gagement). Moreover, our Cafe’s patrons will have the opportunity to reap the value of “relationship capital.” Good people respectfully and constructively sharing perspectives while establishing new relationships. Period.

8. Question: What is the target audience(s) for the @NGAGE CAFÉ – is it open for anyone to join? And what would be your advice for the new joiners?

Our NGAGE CAFÉ doors are wide open for anyone and everyone in search of, and committed to real engagement. Our advice to new CAFÉ patrons; Don’t just join. Join the conversations.

Takeaway #2: An increasing amount of social media platforms are capitalizing on sponsors and advertising. Business and social audiences feel that genuine networking has become a secondary objective to what used to be all about relationships. If you want to keep a value-network, entrepreneurs like Dennis keep reinventing the customer journey to ensure authentic engagement. According to Buffer 2019 tends ‘in-the-moment engagement’ will win out over highly-produced content. However, every media needs to consider what type of content provides long-term inbound and SEO.

Offering value and variety in media is like money in the bank. I am keen to learn more from Dennis about establishing a new media business.

How to kick off successful business networks?

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.

Ali M. Pitocco, Chief Inspiration Officer

9. Question: For anyone wanting to build new business networks in social media – what would be your advice?

Avoid all temptation to become another “me too” network. Find a niche and focus on it. And base your decisions on what’s right for your members – not just what’s good for your bottom line. Monetization is not the answer to loyalty and longevity.

10. Question: How and where do you collect inspiration for your digital initiatives?

We listen to our audience. We watch what’s going on around us. We read what’s being written about social media. We actively participate in all the major platforms. And behind the scenes, we debate, discuss and collaborate for the good of our audience and our Contributors. And I take great comfort in the always candid & constructive feedback provided by my beautiful wife and CIO (Chief Inspiration Officer), Ali. She’s got a keen eye for creativity and a keen sense of what works and what doesn’t. In essence, she is my personal “sounding board” for all that is important.

11. Question: How would you advise new entrepreneurs wanting to succeed as solopreneurs?

Establish your boundaries and stick to them. Balance what you do with what’s really important, both personally and professionally.  Decide what’s “non-negotiable” as a foundation for your key business decisions. In my case, it’s always been integrity – defined as “doing the right thing, even when no one else is watching.” My priorities are unwavering – Faith & Family first. Always.

12. Question: Do you have a favorite quote you would like to share with the readers?

“DO ALL THE GOOD YOU CAN, BY ALL THE MEANS YOU CAN, IN ALL THE WAYS YOU CAN, IN ALL THE PLACES YOU CAN, AT ALL THE TIMES YOU CAN, TO ALL THE PEOPLE YOU CAN, AS LONG AS EVER YOU CAN.”

~ John Wesley

Takeaway #3: Integrity and authenticity have become the hard currency of the new media entrepreneurial value chain. Setting up boundaries of your services and offerings in social media are critical factors to customers. According to 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report, up to 71 percent of social media users were calling after safeguarding their data, constraining the spread of fake news and shielding from offensive content.

Copyright Dennis Pitocco

Dennis J. Pitocco, and his spouse, Ali M. Pitocco, are highly invested in changing the world one networking platform at a time. An excellent demonstration of that was the launch of Goodworks 360° investing time in good nonprofits around the world. Thank you, Dennis, for taking the time for this interview in our digital coffee corner! You have my highest respect for always attending to your audience. If you want to swing by our international forum, grab a seat at the @NGAGE CAFÉ!

Sources:

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