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Posts tagged ‘2013’

Networking 101-How To Take Networking To The Next Level

Part of owning a successful business, or even a growing business is networking. Yes, a lot can be said for advertising and word of mouth-referrals are even great, but most of your business (my business anyway) comes from serious networking.

 

Not everyone wants to walk into a room full of strangers and introduce themselves, much less try to attract interest to their business. But, if follow these key tips, you’ll be less likely to hold the walls up and more likely to make some valuable connections.

 

Most networking events are  pretty firm on their start and end times. If you show up late, you’ll likely see circles of people already formed, and find it difficult to break in. Get to the event a bit early, and you’ll give yourself enough time to drink in the room, figure out a strategy, and create a circle of people yourself!

 

Networking is not about closing a client-that comes later. This is your opportunity to introduce yourself and your business to those who may not know you, and to meet businesses you may benefit from (or know someone who will). Keep the conversation light; ask simple questions to open up the conversation and smile. Engage in the person, keep eye contact, and make sure you seem interested.  People pick up on these body cues and will know whether you are truly focused, or are just listening for key words that may benefit you, and only you.

When the conversation has warmed up, feel free to share what your product or service is, IF they ask. Give a 30 second elevator pitch that sums up what you do, or offer, and keep it open ended to give them an opportunity to ask you more questions about it. The more they get to know you, the more likely they will be to either share your business, refer you business, or become the business!

Remember, networking is the beginning not the end. If you’ve exchanged cards with someone at the networking event, or, if the event sent out a list of email addresses, follow up with a quick summary of what you talked about, or about your business. You talked to so many people, it’s hard to keep track of all that information-the same goes for everyone else at that event. Be sure to follow up within 48 hours while you’re still fresh in their mind.

 

If you’ve networked before, what would you say was your most valuable tool?

 

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Feeling Out Of Joint? Try Deskercising!

So, I’ve talked about how working from home can be hazardous to your health on so many levels, but did you know that working from your desk, regardless of where that desk is located can also be detrimental to your health? We all know to look away from the monitor every 20 minutes to give our eyes a break, and to walk around every hour (if you can squeeze in a 30-1 hour long exercise routine of walking or regular exercise, the benefits are insurmountable).  But what do you do when your neck is stiff as a board, and your back hurts like you’ve been carrying bricks all day?

 

Workout your kinks with these deskercise routines to avoid pain in your back and neck!

 

-Raise your arms, and gently pull the elbow towards the opposite shoulder above the head. Count to 5 and repeat on the other side.

-Remaining seated, extend legs and reach towards those toes. Count to 20 and repeat 3 times.

 

-Hug your knee towards your chest.

 

 

Working From Home Can Be Hazardous To Your Health!

Working from home can be a great solution for solo-preneurs, telecommuters, and those who have small children who would rather work with them than without them, but many don’t realize a home workplace can intensify problems rather than alleviate them.

 

Make your home-office a healthy environment by creating physical and mental boundaries. For example, it’s important to give yourself a breather between work and home. For many, that generally translates into a commute. But what do you do when your only commute is coming down (or up) the stairs? Some go to the local coffee shop to grab a coffee and drive back home to create an official start to their day. Since I have three kids in three different stages in life, I tend to have a cup of coffee between the time my oldest leaves for school and the middle has to wake up to get ready for school. That hour of time is enough time for me to prepare mentally for my work day. I also NEVER work in PJ’s-I take a shower, put on pants with a zipper and button, wear makeup and do my hair. These simple acts make me feel like I’m going to the office, as opposed to just down my stairs.

 

It’s not easy to mentally separate work from home, believe me. If possible, try to dedicate a room to become your office. If you don’t have that available to you, create a work space that looks like an office, and avoid pictures of your family, or decorating with your home’s design in mind. Reflect your business to make you feel as though you’ve entered an office-not a corner of your living room.

 

While working from home may be great for those who hate the distraction of coworkers, it can actually make you feel quite lonely. Consider joining a meet-up group or a networking group to get you out of the house, and keep you out of a mental funk.

 

Don’t get too distracted by the doldrums of your home-your office is your oasis, and keeping your mental and physical health in check will not only make you a healthier person, it will make you a more successful business person as well!

 

 

 

Delegating Is The New Delegating: What You Should And Shouldn’t Be Doing For Your Business

As women, it’s easy to say, “Oh, I’ll just do it” or “I’ll take care of it” and frankly, there are quite a few men out there that do that too; “Oh, it will take too long to teach you all the nuances of the business, so I’ll just take care of it myself.” But often, these business owners watch their businesses crash and fall after two years because they burn out. Administrative duties for a business are much larger than the business itself, and taking advantage of the importance of office management will be the undoing (and is the undoing) of many a business.

Recognizing that your services can be put to better use is the first step to delegating. I often say if you take what you charge an hour, and figure how much it would cost you to focus on admin as opposed to clients-that’s how much money you’re losing. Now, take that hourly and imagine someone else doing it, and it just makes sense to hire someone else to take over your office duties.

It takes a strong business person to understand what they can do, what they can’t do, and what is not worth their time doing. Also, chances are, someone else more qualified in that field will do the job more efficiently. That means giving your copy of Quickbooks to a competent bookkeeper instead of doing it yourself; handing over your Facebook and Twitter to a more qualified market focused writer, and offering up your Outlook to an experienced office manager.

It doesn’t make you less of a successful business owner to hand over the reins of your business. You are the coach-not the whole team, and shouldn’t be expected to be. You started your company because of your love of that particular field. Leave the management in more capable hands. In the end, you’ll actually save and make money (do the math, it’s true!), create a solid, secure business, and enjoy owning your business for a very long time!

How To Find Your Dream Business

I had a lot of dreams when I was little. I thought I was going to be all kinds of things. As I grew, I started to define myself and let the stars glaze over my eyes, not really allowing myself to tap into what I really should become-opting to climb the ladder of fame instead. Not that that’s not a legitimate dream, mind you, but it’s not exactly a realistic one, you know.

 

It wasn’t until I experienced some serious downfalls and lost almost everything I had-both tangibly and personally-to strip away to the core of what was inside of me all along. Once I discovered who I really was, and who I’d always been, I decided to ditch the idea of following someone else’s path; expecting someone else to define me, and began sketching the outline to the definition of ‘me’. My company was born from that, and I’ve never looked back. Starting a business is scary and exciting. There’s more to it than just saying ‘I own a business’. Having a plan and truly listening to your inner voice will help you slowly build the bricks that make the foundation that your company will securely rest on.

 

Unsure of where to start? Here are steps to use as a guide to the rest of your life:

 

Make A List: The only thing standing between you and your dreams is YOU. Don’t discount all the things you are good at, and those things that fascinate you. Make a list of all the things you enjoy and step away from it. Come back to it in a day or two and see if you can connect the dots. For example, I’m slightly OCD-I strive on lists, categorizing; everything has its place. I’m also slightly ADD-if I’m not doing five things at once, I start to malfunction and lose my juice. Concentrating on one thing for long periods of time doesn’t bode well with me. Which is why having multiple clients whom I do completely different things for all day long works beautifully for me.

 

Check It Twice: When I wasn’t sure if there was a name for what I enjoyed, I Googled it. You know what I found? Well, not much. However, there were tons of people who did certain facets of what I could do, and I gleaned tons of information from their blogs and sites. Research your potential business ideas to find out if there is a market; what your potential competition offers, and whether it’s worth your time and money.

 

Narrow It Down: You’re going to find there’s a ton of information-maybe too much. Start narrowing down the things that really perk up your ears, and those that seem a bit daunting. Once you’ve narrowed it down, you should have a clearer picture of what your company will look like and become.

 

Ready, Set, GO!: This is the scariest part of all: opening your ‘doors’ for business! This is your dream, and it’s your job to keep your dream alive, and by dream I mean business, and by keeping it alive I mean staying in business! When you start to doubt yourself, brush it away immediately; you wanted this, and you are going to make it happen! Once you put that kind of energy out there, it finds itself back to you tenfold. Believe in yourself, and everything else will fall into place. As the great Henry Ford once said, “If you think you can, or you can’t, you’re right.” Now, go make your dreams happen!

Creating Your Marketing Plan for 2013

So, I’ve resisted writing a blog for a few years now…perhaps it’s because I feel I could devote my energy and time to my clients instead. However, one of my clients pointed out that  “I could learn more about you and what I need from your type of company without having to bombard you with questions if you just blogged about it!” Well, ok, if you insist….

I will say though, that I will be starting out with just one a week, and as I progress, I’ll start contributing more often. When I read something or are inspired by a subject matter while I work, I’ll probably post then too. I won’t go post crazy though-I promise.

In saying this, I think it’s really important as we sit on the cusp of a new year to understand what social media is, and how beneficial it can be to your overall marketing plan. Yes, there is still value in snail mail or paper marketing, but there’s also a great deal of focus online. Marketing your brand should be broken down into three separate compartments: social media marketing, where you connect with your audience online; face to face marketing, where you connect with your clients, meet with them, or hold special events for them; and personal marketing, which includes snail mail (for example, thank you, birthday and anniversary cards), personalized emails (including follow ups) and phone calls (including follow ups). Without this trifecta, your brand will not flourish.

Take some time and a pen and paper-not right now, perhaps you should wait till after you read this-and write down who your clients are. What their age group is, their occupations, perhaps even their socio-economic status. Really understand who your brand sells to. Consider your 30 second elevator pitch and who you wish to receive referrals from. Now, take this information and imagine what type of marketing they would best respond to. Are they corporate? Probably best to use LinkedIn  Are they mostly women in their 20’s and 30’s? Probably best to use Pinterest. Maybe they’re more on the conservative side and more mature-best to use more personal marketing and snail mail, and probably market using newsletters, etc. Many use Facebook, but you have to know your brand and who your clientele is; if you focus your marketing on, say Twitter or Facebook, and most of your clientele is made up of retirees, you’re probably not going to get much out of it, and find yourself frustrated and disenchanted.

Find out who you are, then find out who your clients are before you decide which direction your marketing strategy should go in. You’ll save time, save money, and earn credibility. No one can argue with that.

*Wish you had more time to network, but your admin work is weighing you down? Contact me for more information on how I can take charge of your office, while you take charge of building your brand’s success!

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