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Posts tagged ‘Business’

Tips To Network Successfully

I’m so excited to lead a new networking chapter in Fairfax, Nexco. It was founded by a great group of businessmen whom I consider friends, and I’m honored to have been chosen to be the voice of this particular chapter.

I’ve done a lot of networking over the years, and I hear people say all of the time how much they hate networking. I disagree. I think networking can be fun, and quite beneficial if done right.  Follow these steps to not only enjoy networking, but to do it successfully as well.

 

First off, remember that networking is not about you landing a job/client. It’s about gaining information from a business and giving enough information about yours in order for them to use that as a stepping stone. It’s a means to an end, not the end.

 

When you enter the room, first go to those you know. It will make the transition easier, especially if your nervous. Plus, those you know, know you best, and may already have met someone they think would be a good referral for you.  When you meet someone, don’t make it all about you. Networking is much like dating; it’s an opportunity to get to know them and in turn, for them to get to know you. This is where you gauge whether there is a connection between your businesses, or possibly between them and one that you know.

After a networking event, reach out to those you wish to continue a conversation with. Ask them for coffee within 2 weeks of meeting. This way, the conversation stays fresh, and any topics that were hot or would be considered leads will still be warm when you meet.

Before you meet, do research on the business you’re meeting with. You want to look invested and interested in what they have to say and to offer. By being educated, they may be more interested in connecting you to other professionals as well.

 

Now, for that pesky “I hate networking” feeling of yours. Make yourself a promise to go to x number of networking events (tomorrow’s event is a great start!) and to make X number of connections, and when you do, reward yourself with whatever small thing makes you happy. Part of what makes networking so overwhelming is, well, the actual events are overwhelming. But, as I say, the only way to eat a whole elephant is to take small bites, so relax! Think of this as an adventure, and a positive path to your success!

 

Join me tomorrow at Brion’s Grille in University Mall in Fairfax from 11:30-1pm for some great networking with local businesses!

How Instagram Can Help Build Your Audience (Even If You’re a Service-Based Company)

Yes, I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog (sorry about that!) I’ve been so focused on building the businesses of my clients, I’ve ignored my home, I’ll try to be better, I promise.

I’ve been on quite a journey these past few months. Some amazing things have been happening in Chez VersaTel Solutions, which I can’t wait to share with you (soon enough). Within this journey I’ve also become aware of things that I had taken advantage of and really didn’t realize until someone else mentioned it. What am I talking about, you ask? Instagram of course!

Originally, I joined Instagram because it was new and I could see the potential of the benefits of marketing through this new social media platform-I didn’t really know how just yet, but I liked it! Eventually, my pictures became less about the food I was eating and more about the meetings I was having. I’ve received more interest than I thought I would get just for snapping pictures at meetings and events I attend. It’s made potential clients turn into real clients, and garnered enough interest to make me busy enough to well, have to let my blog go (at least for a little while).

How can Instagram work for your business? In various ways. Take a picture before a meeting to show you are out and about; snap a shot of your work environment to give people an insider’s look; if you’re attending a networking event, take shot of the event and make sure to hashtag it. If I can make office management exciting, believe me, so can you.

If you sell products, this is a great forum in which to show off your wares. Take pictures of your products being created, of your products being delivered, or, if you deliver them yourself, take a picture of your happy clients. Ask your clients to hashtag your business, or if they can tag you if they post a picture of you or your products.  There are so many ways to take advantage of Instagram; its a matter of making use of it.

Here at VersaTel Solutions we want to help you get your business, your products and your services out there to people you otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach. Contact us to learn more about what we can do for you; if you’re on Instagram, follow me: http://instagram.com/sevanastone

Or, if you’re on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/versatelsolutions

Or Twitter: https://twitter.com/Versa_Tel

You’re Using Social Media All Wrong-Here’s Why…

Social media can be scary for those who don’t understand it; those who do understand it, however, use it beautifully as the tool that it is, and excel in marketing their businesses. But, those who don’t understand it, underestimate it too, and by doing that, they end up wasting time and money-two things that are extremely rare these days.

Reading this you know which category you fit into, don’t you? Either you’re creating buzz or you’re not, and if you’re not then your strategy is all wrong! How do you know if you’re guilty of these offenses?

Consistency is incredibly important. Posting at least once a day, up to three times a day (any more than that and it can drive your followers crazy). Although there’s no rule about the times of day you should post, it is important to be consistent.

Granted you could post every day for years, and not make a dent if you’re not saying the right things. The quality is much more important than the quantity (even though the quantity is important too, but what does it matter if what you say isn’t interesting?) Think about what you would want to know or read if you were the follower of your business. Would it matter if you read “It’s a rainy day today!” No. No one cares. But, if you sell insurance and you said “Did you know you can get a $500 food reimbursement from your insurance if you lose power because of all of this rain?” See, that’s important information!

Again, when it comes to consistency and content, it’s important that these two marry. Make sure your tone and voice are consistent in the content you post. Don’t sound like a professional in one post, and like a teenager in the next. People can only read your voice, and build an opinion based on the voice they have created for you in their head. Consistency in your tone will help them build a trustworthy persona for you. If you can’t do the posting yourself, make sure you hire someone who will understand your voice, and post for you.

Social media is an important element to your marketing. If you don’t understand it, or don’t have the time to perfect it, contact us to help you navigate through all the platforms to find the ones that would work best for you, and help you stay on track to build your online presence!

How To Convert a Client Meeting Into A Secured Client

Ok, so you’ve done the networking, and you did so well, you got someone to want to meet with you to learn more about you and your services. YAY! Don’t celebrate too soon though; before you start imagining your future together,  you have to make sure you nail that first meeting with these crucial steps, or else, the time and focus you put towards that meeting will be all for not.

Before meeting with the prospective client, do a little homework. Google them to learn as much as you can about their industry and about them as well. You may find information that will help you build  a rapport with this person. Finding that common thread will build trust and commonality-the first step in closing a deal!

Although you normally keep your smartphone no more than 3 inches away from you at all times this may be the best time for you to put that phone away. You wouldn’t interrupt a potential employer with your phone, would you? Don’t do it with a potential client either. It leaves an impression that you are not fully engaged. Securing a client should be your top priority-everything else can wait.

As much as I would love to think this person is at least 80% committed to you, chances are they’re really at more like a 50%. They can really go either way. Try to keep the conversation light, positive, and a fair give and take-almost like a first date. Ask them questions, and make eye contact; talk about your business in a way that may interest them, and do your best to find more commonality to further thread you closer together until that person is a secured client.

Lastly, a successful meeting will always lead to a second meeting-give them all the information they need to help them decide whether your business is the right fit for them, but leave the detailed specifics for the next meeting-taking you to that next step.

Good luck on securing that client!

 

Avoid These Common Tax Mistakes BEFORE Tax Time!

The deadline for taxes has long passed, and those who needed to file an extension surely have done so by now. Many of us have already received our returns, and were a little underwhelmed by what we got back (if anything at all).  Don’t get caught at the last minute next year-avoid these common tax mistakes to stay ahead of the curve!

 

Just because you’re a sole proprietor or are self-employed doesn’t mean  you don’t have to pay taxes on a quarterly basis. Of course, the first year, you get a free pass, however, there are certain exceptions based on how much you make. Get into practice of automatically setting aside a percentage of each payment or revenue, then take stock of your P&L statement each quarter. Pay the taxes each quarter to avoid a hefty payment at the end of the year.

 

Speaking of keeping track, it’s incredibly important to keep track of all of your business expenses, including your miles to properly deduct during tax time.  If you don’t already, consider using an accounting program like Quickbooks to let you record and manage expenses. If you don’t have the time, or the wherewithal to do it, hire a bookkeeper who will enter in and reconcile these transactions on a monthly basis.

 

When tracking your expenses, be sure to determine them accordingly in your Chart of Accounts. What this means is when you have expenses like supplies (printer ink, paper, etc), account for them accordingly. Office Expenses are generally equipment. Why is this important? Because you can write off a portion for each year the appliance is in use or write off the full amount (up to a certain maximum) for the year you purchased. For example, if you bought a new laptop this year, you can write off the full price in your 2014 return. While you’re at it, don’t forget to take the actual home office tax deduction; but do so wisely. There has to be a certain portion of a room, or a dedicated room for your business in order to qualify for writing off a percentage of your home expenses including rent or mortgage payments, utilities and insurance costs.

 

Speaking of deductions: it could be that part of the nature of your business requires you to give gifts to your clients, which is fine. But remember that you can only deduct $25 per recipient. If you give gifts readily, make certain you keep all of your receipts.

 

Discuss your legal structure with a tax advisor or a CPA to help you figure out if your structure is still legitimate. For example, you may have started out as a sole proprietor and are paying too much in self-employment taxes. Creating a C or S Corp, or a LLC could help lower your tax bill.

 

Lastly, and I’ve said this a million times. NEVER, EVER, EVER make business purchases with a personal account! Doing so can lead to a considerable amount of confusion, and lead to legal infractions. Do yourself a favor and open a business account the same day you start your business to get it right from day 1.

 

Are there any mistakes you’ve made in the past that you’ve learned from?

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!

 

 

 

Daydream Your Way To Success!

As a kid, my mom must have visited the principal’s office and seen my teachers more often than she did my dad.  I was considered disruptive, and inattentive; talkative, and incorrigible. As the years went on, school became more difficult to focus on, and I got so stressed out by the whole thing, that I skipped out on my SAT’s. I figured I wouldn’t be able to stay focused long enough to take them (which I wasn’t), and it wouldn’t matter anyway because I was too stupid to go to College. That’s what all my teachers said, so why shouldn’t it be so?

 

Fast forward to my current business that supports my short attention span and allows me to flourish in my scattered focus. At any given time I have Pandora playing, two screens open, and am working on both a marketing piece, and someone’s books while paying attention to my 2 year old and making sure he doesn’t try to escape via the high backyard fence (which he’s tried a time or two).  I’ve always worked 2-3 jobs, and where many say multi-tasking doesn’t work, I disagree. I think it’s a case by case issue. I actually can’t do one thing at a time. Finally, there is evidence to support this. So many people become depressed by their jobs; bored with their lives, and have mental breakdowns when their strictly timed lives are disrupted.

 

This is no way to run a business-much less your life. Find a creative outlet for your brain, and give it a rest every now and then to keep from burning out. Just as you need to take a walk around your office, home, or outside every hour, you need to give your brain a break too. Every 20 minutes, try to look away from your screen, and every hour try to stare at something other than spreadsheets-like a Yahoo front page, PerezHilton.com; whatever tickles your fancy.

 

Believe it or not, doodling has helped many of history’s greatest thinkers to achieve their goals-think Steve Jobs or John F. Kennedy. These nonsensical sketches help unlock creativity, enhancing recall and lighting up neural networks that allow for cognitive breakthroughs. Think about the things you did as a kid to get through your lessons, and which ones worked best. your brain now is the same a your brain then. The paths you used to tap into the deeper part of your brain are the same, you just have to use the same directions/patterns to get there.

 

You are a genius, if you allow yourself to be. You are the only thing standing between you and your success. Don’t think you have to believe what others say you are, nor do you have to follow a pattern of life because that is what is expected of you. No, I didn’t take my SAT’s, but I did go to College (for a bit anyway), and found that my brain was better used in different ways. Once I started to believe in myself, and less in what others wanted me to be, I found a whole new pattern of life that has brought me so much success so far. Why question it? I’m just going to enjoy the ride….

 

 

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