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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?



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!

What’s The Difference Between a Virtual Administrator And an In Office Administrator? Get The Scoop Before You Choose.

So, you need an administrator, but aren’t sure which path to choose: virtual or in office? There are many advantages to having an in office assistant; however there’s even more to having a virtual one. Not sure? Feel like you have to have someone right outside your door to make it feel real? Well, let’s take a look at these points, shall we?


  1. Cost:  In order to have an in office assistant, you have to put them on your payroll. Putting someone on your payroll means you pay workman’s comp, holiday, vacation, FUTA, SUTA, SS, and taxes. So, that $15.00 an hour college kid, is actually costing you more like $20.00-$22.00. Then, you have to provide that person with a computer, buy all the software they need, buy the desk and chair, and hope they are committed to working solely on your business for the 20 hours a week you’ve hired them for (which, chances are, you don’t really have 20 hours of admin work, and they end up spending half of that time on Facebook).  All virtual admins come fully equipped, and most are contracted which means no payroll which means no tax nightmares.


  1. Productivity: Touching on that Facebook comment, you have to be sure the person you’ve hired doesn’t get paid for doing nothing. You’ll find quite quickly that you really don’t have that much admin work (unless you’re incredibly unorganized, in which case you should consider an organizer or life coach to help you out). Most virtual admins work 5-10 a week, and since it’s on their time schedule, they only charge for the amount of time they actually work.


  1. Professionalism: Let’s say you look at what a virtual admin charges and you figure “Well, I can get someone to do the same thing for $10.00-you’re not worth that!” Ok, fair enough-however, for $10.00 an hour you’re hiring someone who is likely unskilled and unprofessional otherwise, why would they take such low pay? Someone who is skilled, experienced, and comes equipped with all the technology you need (of which you’re not paying for), and only charges for the hours they work, PLUS do not require holiday or vacation pay to me is a higher profit in the end than the person who sits in your office for a base $10 an hour who you do most of the work for.


  1. Commonality: You are a business owner, and expect those that work for you to have the same level of commitment to your business. But how will you know if an in house assistant cares as much about your business as you do? You can’t. A virtual admin, however, is a business owner as well, and wants you to do well to continue the relationship. It’s a giving circle, of which you can be secure in.


Think about the level of work you have, and the amount of space you have as well. Taking on an administrator for your business is a serious commitment, especially when almost everything can be done virtually. Take the time to research virtual admins, and of course, take a look at my website as well, to learn what a great value a virtual admin can be for your business. Hiring one company to take care of all your business needs so  you can focus on growing your business is the wisest investment you can make:

Top Tips On Being a Work From Home Parent

I have three children; my daughter is 12 and she plays lacrosse, soccer and track, and is in the youth group at our church which is 35 minutes away. My eight year old son plays soccer, is in winter swim, and is in the boy scout troop at our church as well. My 15 month old doesn’t play sports yet, but he’s quickly proving to be a gymnast, a wrestler, and a baseball/soccer player, depending on how he chooses to propel whatever is in his possession. Aside from my children’s busy lives, I run a successful business with a solid team of administrators, attend networking events, and am a part of work and social groups as well.

It’s not easy being a mom who works from home, and happens to have a child at home as well! It can be tiring, yes, but it’s certainly doable. So many women juggle daycare, demanding jobs, and all the responsibilities that come with life-believe me, I’ve been there. However, if you choose to work from home (and I’m not just speaking to moms, there’s plenty of dads that work from home too), and are a stay at home parent as well, you have to abide by certain rules.

First, you have to set a clear and strict schedule. Just as you would if you were a person working from home without children, you have to set ‘office’ hours. Think of how many conceivable hours it takes you to do your job-uninterrupted. What are the requirements of your job-do you have to return calls, do you have to write reports, etc.?  If it takes you four hours a day, consider breaking that time up to when you can truly maximize your time. Is there a favorite show your child has that will leave you free to work? Will your child sit quietly and color or play cars, or legos for an hour at a time? Work an hour while your child is occupied, then focus on your child. Work another hour when your child is occupied again, so on and so forth. Breaking up the day in this way will help you work smarter-not harder.

Second, one of my favorite times of the day is when my son is napping. He takes a nice, long, three hour nap, that allows me to get a huge chunk of work done. I don’t dilly dally when I need to concentrate on a project. If my laundry is waiting, and there’s a pile of dirty dishes, this is not the time to take care of them! Refer to number one-strict work schedule. You wouldn’t be doing the dishes if you were at a workplace, so why would you do them here? Use this time to plow through the important work.

Third, you have to mentally (and sometimes physically) separate your parent mode from businessperson mode, giving each responsibility your full attention. How do you shift from one mode to the other? Well, a shower and makeup, and a nice outfit (pants with a zipper and button should do), will help motivate you. Dressing the part will put your mind into a more productive place. Also, it helps to have an area that is kid and clutter free to do your work. As the saying goes-cluttered desk, cluttered mind-rings true. Don’t be distracted by the house, and don’t allow distractions into your office space-even if it’s a small portion of the dining room table.

Fourth, you do still have to entertain your child/ren. It’s important to spend a little bit of quality time with your child, I mean; this is why you chose to work from home, other than the much lower gas bill, right? Arrange play dates, or movie times, or even share a daytime sitter with another work from home parent-they can have her from 8-12 and you can take her from 12-4, whatever your schedule allows. Be creative, and make your child feel like they’re an asset to your career, not a hindrance.

Knowing you can’t do it all is the first step to a happy work from home environment; it’s so important to know what you can do to keep your child happy, and yourself happy as well. If that means you have to utilize a daycare or a day sitter, then so be it. And if your child is staring at you with their puppy dog eyes and a ball in their hands, turn off the clock and play with them. These moments are gone so quickly, and you don’t want to say you missed out on their childhood because you had a deadline to meet.

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