Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Who doesn't need more leads? We all need to look at lead generation as our #1 priority. In a down economy, generating sales leads is the key to survival. The future of our business depends on it and all it takes is a walk around the block! What I mean is we all have a virtual gold mine of opportunities right in our own communities. Recently one of my client, a small business owner, told me he was having difficulty generating new leads for his company. When I asked him how he was looking for those leads, he explained that he had purchased a list of phone numbers for homeowners in his county, and had given it to his assistant to call when she was not busy with other tasks. Now I could have spent the rest of our coaching session on writing and practicing a script for his assistant to use - I knew she was basically going to say something like, "We are XYZ company, this is what we do.... Do you need us?" But my real objective was to help my client understand the power of true lead generation and networking by personally reaching out to your own neighbors right in your own community. It was time to be more direct. And I know these suggestions work because I have seen the results. I am not in favor of buying leads. Those leads are anonymous. We do not know each other. They are ice cold. And I know from experience that people will do business with people they like, people they have come to know, people they trust to bring value. How can you possibly convey all of that in a 3 or 4 minute phone call to a group of people you have no relationship with? This is why networking within your own community can be so powerful. These are people you know; people you have some common interests with. People, like you who want to keep business local. So here are just a few of the ideas I shared with my client recently: Get out and walk! (or hire someone else to do it!) Walk your neighborhood(s) or hire someone to blanket your area with postcards or brochures in mailboxes. Or use door hangers — those die-cut flyers that hang on doorknobs — instead. They are one of my favorite promotional items, because homeowners can’t miss them. Think about a special offer to promote. If you offer something irresistible, like a free yard clean up or a free Pilates class, people are far more likely to respond. Network locally. Community organizations like the Rotary or Lions club and business networking organizations like your local Chamber of Commerce, offer excellent platforms for finding sales leads. So can community activities like fairs and expos as well as religious institutions and your children’s schools and athletic teams. Put your name on the back of shirts. In other words, sponsor local sports teams, events, charities and causes. These traditional strategies still provide good lead-generating returns. Even in this age of electronic marketing, they have not outlived their usefulness. Ask non-competing companies in your area to exchange their customers’ contact information with you. If you specialize in wood floor re-finishing, meet with a General Contractor for a cup of coffee to brainstorm ideas on helping each other through referrals. Teach a class at a local adult school or community college. This is a great way to get out and meet people in the community and share your knowledge. Demonstrating your expertise makes you more valuable. Just be sure to make it an educational experience full of value added content not a sales pitch! Ask your vendors and suppliers to recommend potential customers. The wider you spread your net and ask for sales leads, the greater your chance of identifying likely prospects and making sales.



1. Put your fan page URL in your email signature

2. Put your fan page URL on every piece of marketing material
3.  Write a blog post about your new fan page - Give your readers five compelling reasons why they should join your fan page. Don’t beg; just give reasons they’ll benefit.
4.  Tag other, well-trafficked fan pages in your updates.
5.  Ask your Twitter followers to join your fan page.
6.  Invest in Facebook ads.
7.  Put a fan page widget on your blog or website.
8.  Customize your fan page URL.
9.  Put your fan page URL on your business cards.
10.  Put a link on your personal Facebook profile.

11. Harness the power of your tribe.  –Ask your friends, family and associates to promote your business page and share your content from your page.

12. Put a tag in your YouTube videos promoting your page.
13. Put your fan page URL on your Twitter profile background.
14.  Create a QR code for your page.  (for more information on QR Codes check out  this article.)

14 Easy Ways to Promote Your Facebook Fan Page


1.  Put your fan page URL in your email signature
2.  Put your fan page URL on every piece of marketing material
3.  Write a blog post about your new fan page - Give your readers five compelling reasons why they should join your fan page. Don’t beg; just give reasons they’ll benefit.
4.  Tag other, well-trafficked fan pages in your updates.
5.  Ask your Twitter followers to join your fan page.
6.  Invest in Facebook ads.
7.  Put a fan page widget on your blog or website.
8.  Customize your fan page URL.
9.  Put your fan page URL on your business cards.
10.  Put a link on your personal Facebook profile.
11. Harness the power of your tribe.  –Ask your friends, family and associates to promote your business page and share your content from your page.
12. Put a tag in your YouTube videos promoting your page.
13. Put your fan page URL on your Twitter profile background.
14.  Create a QR code for your page.  (for more information on QR Codes check out  this article.)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Looking for Leads? Ask your neighbor.


Who doesn't need more leads? We all need to look at lead generation as our #1 priority.  In a down economy, generating sales leads is the key to survival.  The future of our business depends on it and all it takes is a walk around the block!  What I mean is we all have a virtual gold mine of opportunities right in our own communities.   Recently one of my client, a small business owner,  told me he was having difficulty generating new leads for his company.   When I asked him how he was looking for those leads, he explained that he had purchased a list of phone numbers for homeowners in his county, and had given it to his assistant to call when she was not busy with other tasks.
Now I could have spent the rest of our coaching session on writing and practicing a script for his assistant to use - I knew she was basically going to say something like, "We are XYZ company, this is what we do....  Do you need us?"  But my real objective was to help my client understand the power of true lead generation and networking by personally reaching out to your own neighbors right in your own community.  It was time to be more direct.  And I know these suggestions work because I have seen the results.  I am not in favor of buying leads.  Those leads are anonymous.  We do not know each other.  They are ice cold.  And I know from experience that people will do business with people they like, people they have come to know, people they trust to bring value.  How can you possibly convey all of that in a 3 or 4 minute phone call to a group of people you have no relationship with?
This is why networking within your own community can be so powerful.   These are people you know; people you have some common interests with.  People, like you who want to keep business local.
So here are just a few of the ideas I shared with my client recently:
  • Get out and walk!  (or hire someone else to do it!)Walk your neighborhood(s) or hire someone to blanket your area with postcards or brochures in mailboxes.  Or use door hangers — those die-cut flyers that hang on doorknobs — instead. They are one of my favorite promotional items, because homeowners can’t miss them.   Think about a special offer to promote.  If you offer something irresistible, like a free yard clean up or a free Pilates class, people are far more likely to respond.
  • Network locally. Community organizations like the Rotary or Lions club  and business networking organizations like your local Chamber of Commerce, offer excellent platforms for finding sales leads.  So can community activities like fairs and expos as well as religious institutions and your children’s schools and athletic teams.
  • Put your name on the back of shirts. In other words, sponsor local sports teams, events, charities and causes.   These traditional strategies still provide good lead-generating returns.   Even in this age of electronic marketing, they have not outlived their usefulness.
  • Ask non-competing companies in your area to exchange their customers’ contact information with you. If you specialize in wood floor re-finishing, meet with a General Contractor for a cup of coffee to brainstorm ideas on helping each other through referrals.
  • Teach a class at a local adult school or community college. This is a great way to get out and meet people in the community and share your knowledge.  Demonstrating your expertise makes you more valuable.  Just be sure to make it an educational experience full of value added content not a sales pitch!
  • Ask your vendors and suppliers to recommend potential customers. The wider you spread your net and ask for sales leads, the greater your chance of identifying likely prospects and making sales.

Looking for Leads? Ask your neighbor.


Who doesn't need more leads? We all need to look at lead generation as our #1 priority.  In a down economy, generating sales leads is the key to survival.  The future of our business depends on it and all it takes is a walk around the block!  What I mean is we all have a virtual gold mine of opportunities right in our own communities.   Recently one of my client, a small business owner,  told me he was having difficulty generating new leads for his company.   When I asked him how he was looking for those leads, he explained that he had purchased a list of phone numbers for homeowners in his county, and had given it to his assistant to call when she was not busy with other tasks.
Now I could have spent the rest of our coaching session on writing and practicing a script for his assistant to use - I knew she was basically going to say something like, "We are XYZ company, this is what we do....  Do you need us?"  But my real objective was to help my client understand the power of true lead generation and networking by personally reaching out to your own neighbors right in your own community.  It was time to be more direct.  And I know these suggestions work because I have seen the results.  I am not in favor of buying leads.  Those leads are anonymous.  We do not know each other.  They are ice cold.  And I know from experience that people will do business with people they like, people they have come to know, people they trust to bring value.  How can you possibly convey all of that in a 3 or 4 minute phone call to a group of people you have no relationship with?
This is why networking within your own community can be so powerful.   These are people you know; people you have some common interests with.  People, like you who want to keep business local.
So here are just a few of the ideas I shared with my client recently:
  • Get out and walk!  (or hire someone else to do it!) Walk your neighborhood(s) or hire someone to blanket your area with postcards or brochures in mailboxes.  Or use door hangers — those die-cut flyers that hang on doorknobs — instead. They are one of my favorite promotional items, because homeowners can’t miss them.   Think about a special offer to promote.  If you offer something irresistible, like a free yard clean up or a free Pilates class, people are far more likely to respond.
  • Network locally. Community organizations like the Rotary or Lions club  and business networking organizations like your local Chamber of Commerce, offer excellent platforms for finding sales leads.  So can community activities like fairs and expos as well as religious institutions and your children’s schools and athletic teams.
  • Put your name on the back of shirts. In other words, sponsor local sports teams, events, charities and causes.   These traditional strategies still provide good lead-generating returns.   Even in this age of electronic marketing, they have not outlived their usefulness.
  • Ask non-competing companies in your area to exchange their customers’ contact information with you. If you specialize in wood floor re-finishing, meet with a General Contractor for a cup of coffee to brainstorm ideas on helping each other through referrals.
  • Teach a class at a local adult school or community college. This is a great way to get out and meet people in the community and share your knowledge.  Demonstrating your expertise makes you more valuable.  Just be sure to make it an educational experience full of value added content not a sales pitch!
  • Ask your vendors and suppliers to recommend potential customers. The wider you spread your net and ask for sales leads, the greater your chance of identifying likely prospects and making sales.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Personal Growth on Purpose

When you think in terms of your personal growth are you intentionally seeking opportunities or are you waiting for life to just unfold and somewhere in the process you expect to grow?  Are you creating a life for yourself by design or default?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Stop Surviving and Start Thriving


Are you just surviving right now?  Or are you focused on thriving?  Thrivers are constantly focused on ways to reinvent themselves and be successful regardless of adversity or negativity that might be around them.
Yes times are tough.  For some of you it has never been so tough.  There are a lot of things that are out of your control.  The market, the economy, the national debt and even the weather.  But what IS in your control is how you choose to think and act and respond to these outside elements every day.
Here is what I know ... I live to thrive, not just survive.  I believe in the power of positive thinking and that does not mean that I am not realistic or just sitting on the side lines thinking my way to prosperity.  Thinking is only the first step.  Then comes action.  I work to understand the world I live in with all of its challenges and then I take what I learn and form my strategy to live and work at my best so that I can thrive. 
Thrivers are extraordinary people with great expectations for themselves and they believe in positive outcomes.  Thrivers do not make excuses, they make waves.  They don't hide out, they stand out!  Thrivers love life and welcome change, because they know change is the only way to grow.
Here are some of my tips to help you stop surviving and start thriving:
1.  Refuse to participate in the negativity.  Regardless of what it is.  The recession, the gossip, the nay saying.  Remain clear of your own personal goals and vision for yourself and your business.  Stop watching the news.  Believe that you can be successful right now despite the state of the economy.  Stay positive, work hard and focus on taking actions to grow your business.  Focus on business as usual and while others allow fear to paralyze them you will charge forward and move ahead of your competition.
2. Stop letting someone else judge the possibilities of your own life.  One of the biggest Why's I have for being a Coach is the desire to help as many people as I possibly can embrace and believe in their own potential.  We are capable of doing great things if we just give ourselves the chance and stop making excuses for why we can't.
3.  Come from a place of contribution.   Your success in life depends on it.  Look to make a positive impact on someone else's life every day.  Take yourself out of the equation more often and focus on what you can do for someone else.  Raise people up and help them get where they want, you will move forward automatically.
4.  Be accountable.  I will say it again, stop making excuses and you will start living.   Be accountable to who you are and what you want to be.  Take 100% responsibility for your thoughts and your actions.  Rather than pointing the finger else where when something goes wrong, take an introspective look at how you might have been able to change the outcome if you had changed the way you handled it.  Now of course we can be accountable to the things that we have within our power to change. 
5.  Become a magnet  Specifically become a magnet for the things you want more of in your life.  Such as opportunity, clients, business, money, positivity, peace, love, etc.  Focus on what you want.  Do not spend time thinking about the things you don't want.  Your thoughts give power to those circumstances so thinking about your debt or lack of business right now only gives that situation more power because you are focused on it.  Instead focus your thoughts on ways to have or gain more business or income.  That will start a positive flow of creative ideas to help you have what you want and that energy is what will attract those opportunities to you.
6.  Know and understand your BIG why.  Why do you get up everyday and do what you do?  Thrivers know why and that knowing is their fuel.  I encourage you to take at least 30 minutes today and get in a quiet place with a pen and some paper and really think about your Why.  Why do you do what you do?  Why is it important to you?  Why do you want it and more of it?  Discovering your Why is how you stay on track towards your goals.  Every goal has a deep why behind it.  Taking the time to understand it and write it down will give new meaning and purpose to what you want to accomplish.
I hope this short article has started a thought process for you.  Ask yourself at least one question:  Who have I been lately?  A survivor or a thriver?  
Survivors are cautios, and tend to think in a narrow way.  Survivors think the world is an unfavorable place and their future is very uncertain. 
A thriver, however  is someone who thinks in big and positive ways, striving to solve problems and be courageous.  Thrivers think out of the box and believe that any goal worth having has to start with a dream.  Thrivers take action and work at it every day.  Thrivers look to support and empower the people around them.  Thrivers are blazing trails and only looking forward with a sense of anticipation and excitement for what the future holds.
And thrivers never give up.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Thinking of starting a business?


Do you have a great idea for a business, but not sure how to turn that dream into a profitable business?  The first step to all things great, is certainly a dream however, starting a business takes more than that.  You need to have some money to get started, a creative and comprehensive business plan, perhaps employees and it might be necessary to contact an attorney and/or accountant.
Sounds scary?  It doesn't have to be, as long as you plan well.  Here are a few things to consider:
1.  Are you "in it to win it".  Starting your own business requires deep commitment, dedication and a lot of patience!  Make sure you have really thought this through.  Are you ready to get to work and perhaps make some sacrifices?  Do you realize the amount of time it will take to establish the business and really get it to a profitable state?  Do you have another source of income in the meantime?  These are some of the most important questions to ask yourself before you take the plunge.
2. What is your plan? A good business plan will detail the current structure of your business, the plan for its growth and a way to develop further opportunities.   While business plans will vary from business to business, a well-formed business plan will serve as a guide to help get your business up and running.   Your plan should continually evolve and be influenced by factors such as the economy and sales growth.  Most business plans consist of an executive summary, a description of the business, a marketing and distribution plan and financial and sales projections.
3.  Don't go it alone.  Don't start your business without the proper help.  Seek the advice of qualified professionals like successful entrepreneurs, coaches and mentors.  These people can give you insight and important information that can save you a lot of time, money and even heartache down the road.


4.  Location!  Location!  Location!Where do you want to establish your business?  If you service walk in customers, what kind of building is suitable?  What town or county do you want to be in?  What kind of money do you need for rent, expenses, etc?   What is most convenient for your clients?  Where will your office be?  How will it be set up?

5.  Finances What are your start up costs?  Many new business owners underestimate the amount of money needed to get their business off the ground.  It is really impossible to start a business with no cash investment.  There will always be things you need and you will always need a way to fund them.  First step is to make a list of all projected expenses from business cards to computer systems.  Once you have an idea of what you need and how much it will cost, the next step is to figure out a way to fund it.  Some ideas for funding include your own personal money, investors, a loan from the bank or perhaps a grant.  There are a lot of grant opportunities available from the state as well as private sources.
6.  Legal Matters What is the legal structure of your business?   Will you operate as a sole proprietor or will you be forming a corporation?   Should you be a LLC or an S corp?  An attorney can help you sort out the details in order to make the right decision.
7.  Pick a Name Unless you plan to operate as an independent contractor the name of your business is extremely important.  It is the first step in establishing your brand, so pick a name that suits you and your product or service well.  Once you have a name, protect it; so the next step is to legally register it.  Your registered name must appear on all government forms and applications, including licenses and permits.
8.  Get a tax ID number All businesses must pay federal, state, and sometimes local taxes. Most businesses will need to register with the IRS as well as state and local revenue agencies to request a tax ID number or permit to determine what taxes you owe.  Consult with an CPA if you have any questions regarding your taxes.
9.  Licenses and Permits Depending on the type of business you plan to operate, you might need a license or permit on a federal, state or local level.
10.  Know your BIG Why Operate your business with passion, clear intention and a deep understanding of your BIG why or purpose.  Your purpose is what will keep you going everyday.  Your passion for what you do will help you leap out of bed every morning to embrace what comes.  It will give you the fuel you need so that you are not living to work but rather working to live.

Monday, July 18, 2011

5 Tips for Greater Focus


While the things you need to do in any one day gets bigger, realize you only have so many hours in a day to do it all.  The other thing to consider is how well you can focus on what truly needs to get done.  The ability to focus on the priorities will make all the difference.
Here are 5 ways to increase your focus:
1.  First comes clarity then comes focus.In order to have greater focus you must be crystal clear on what needs to be done and what is important to your current plan for life and work.  Making clear decisions on what your goals need to be will help you develop a better process on how to get there.
2.  Simplify your environment.  Your environment is crucial and it should support you and your goals.  From the comfort of your chair to the clutter on your desk.   In order to be more productive recognize the impact your environment has on you.  Your environment consists of those physical things like space and lightening and it also includes external elements such as people, piles of paper on your desk, phone calls, emails and other stimuli that can distract you from what should be your focus.
3. Stop Multi-Tasking Chronic multitaskers may have weakened their ability to focus.  The truth is that multi-tasking is a myth!  We really can't do more than one thing at a time and do it well.  Set aside a block of time to handle each item on your to-do list and focus on only that task until it is done, then move on to the rest.
4. Don't Make it Too Easy Sometimes we give up on difficult tasks or avoid them all together in order to escape to something easier.  Instead realize that a project or task that  takes mental energy, critical thinking and creativity or effort is not only going to be somewhat "painful" but it will also more than likely have a positive and maximum impact on you and your goals which means it will allow you to grow both personally & professionally.
5. Take breaks!  Yes, sometimes the key to getting more done is to take a short break in between tasks.  Most of us can only work and concentrate for chunks of time and then we need a little time to rest.  Some ideas for "break time" might include taking a walk around the block, or reading something inspirational or eve just to step away from your desk for a few minutes.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

10 Quick Tips to Be Successful with Facebook Marketing


1.  Create a business page to promote your business. Profiles are meant for individuals, pages are meant for businesses. These pages have different features to them that make them incredibly more valuable for a business.  A business page is public, no one needs to ask to be your "friend" the page can be "liked" by anyone allowing more exposure for you.  The things you post on your business page can be shared by your "fans".  Also, business pages come with analytics on engagement so you can understand your reach and marketing effectiveness on Facebook.  A business page allows easy access, participation and visibility.
2. Be Social - Social media, especially Facebook is a natural match for sales people who want to reach more people to do business with.  Businesses can thrive on word of mouth advertising, relationship building and active participation.  Facebook allows you an opportunity to share your excitement about your business.
3. Be Engaged - Be there and be there often.  Participate in conversations because Facebook allows you to network, prospect, build relationships and market your services to new customer opportunities as well.  Engagement is regular interaction with the people you are connected to on Facebook.  The biggest draw to Facebook is the fact that it is interactive and information is constantly changing through the news feed; so be a part of it.  Don't just focus on what you can say through your status updates but spend some time to "work the room"; peruse the news feed and see who you can interact with.
4. Provide good content - Once you create your business page; go beyond the social aspects and provide good, valuable content.  Share articles on topics that relate and support what you do for a living.  The articles can be blogs you have written or you can share articles from others.
5. Use video - Video is a hot way to add a new dimension to the content you share on your Facebook page.  You can create powerful, relevant content with video such as a short 3 or 4 minute video blog (people love to watch what you have to say rather than read it sometimes) you can also record video testimonials or "how to" videos to highlight your product or service. 
6.  Update often- They say 98% of all interaction on Facebook happens in the news feed.  Which means most people are not going to visit your page directly unless you catch their attention by posting often so they see your update in the news feed.
7.  Make it interesting - Share a variety of information so that your audience is looking forward to your next post.  If you update your business page with interesting content, your users are more likely to engage with your page, and remember their interactions can be seen by their networks, which allows you more exposure!
8.  Don't turn off your wall - Facebook is SOCIAL media marketing!  It should allow for interaction and you want that if you are looking to cast a bigger net and gain more clients.  Turning off wall posts or comments on your page is like saying to your customers, I don't want to hear what you have to say.  Should someone say something negative on your wall you can choose to respond or even delete the comment.
9.  Don't Sell on Your Page - I know I sound like I am contradicting myself right now, but what I mean is use the power of Facebook to engage and make connections to build relationships that will lead to sales opportunities.  But to sound like a commercial everyday; "buy what I sell" or "use my service" will lead to eye rolling and avoidance.  Instead show me who you are and why you are someone I might like to do business with.
10. Stay Focused - Facebook can be a powerful tool in your marketing plan but it can also be a time stealer if you let it!  Time block 15 minutes in the morning, 15 minutes in the afternoon to network and post on your page.  Save nights and weekends to chat with friends and look at the pictures of your niece's dance recital.

Friday, June 24, 2011

How to get more done!


So much to do, so little time?  Feeling unorganized?  Missed a deadline or two?  Not getting enough of the things that matter done in a day?  Does this sound like you?
We work hard to create a life worth living.   A life that enables us to do the things we love, like work and volunteer, enjoy time with family and friends.  This full life does not always mean that time is on our side.  Sometimes the multitude of things we try to do in a day can often make us feel unorganized and overwhelmed and that can make us put off the things we know we need to do.  Often, the very flexibility we work so hard to instill in our schedule is actually the very thing adding to our level of stress.
With simple tools and a plan to allow for structure and flexibility to co-exist you can overcome procrastination and feel more organized to truly find the freedom to love your life and get more done in a day.
Discover the truth. To uncover the real roadblocks, start by being honest with yourself.  Explore the real reason why something is not getting done when it should.  It is not usually for the reason(s) you think like just being busy.  Procrastination shows up for many reasons.  Are you procrastinating because the project or task is too big and you really need to chunk it down first?  Or is it because you need help in the form of more information or support?  Is the project something within your skill set?  Do you understand what truly needs to be done?  Or is it a matter of not feeling inspired?  Whatever the reason, you must identify first in order to combat it.  It is often the "mental clutter" that gets in our way.
Set and manage your goals. Create a clear plan of obtainable goals.  Sometimes we overestimate what we can get done in a day.  I coach my clients to work from a daily to-do list.  I encourage them to create a list of only 5 or 6 things that they can commit to completing on that day.  Be specific about what you can accomplish.  Don't tell yourself that you are going to do "as much as I possibly can" today.  This is to vague of a plan and you will never feel like you got enough done.  Choose your goals based on a realistic plan that is manageable and takes into account your schedule, energy and commitment to getting it done.
Establish priorities. Of all the things on your to-do list; what is the most important thing item on the list that will have the greatest impact on your goals?  This is the item to tackle first.  Don't focus on the easy stuff first!  The easy stuff is not what usually has the most impact on your business or your goals.
From to-do list to calendar - Once you have created that daily to-do list (preferably the night before) now it is time to get out your calendar and block the appropriate amount of time needed to get the job(s) done.  Once the time is blocked, you must commit to it and only focus on the project within the time block.  Don't allow outside intrusions like phone calls, emails, tweets and updates to distract you and become disastrous interruptions.  Instead, schedule 30 minute breaks between your time blocks to check those emails and voice mails.  Knowing that you have that time to "plug back in" will allow you to have greater focus on your to-do's.
Manage your time. Most of my clients are small business owners and Independent Contractors and they will all tell you that one of the first things I encourage them to do is get clear on your time and set business hours.  In order to be truly productive we need structure.  The more structure you create in your professional life the more freedom and flexibility you will have in your personal life.  It's true!  Learning to separate time for work and play is crucial to living a healthy and balanced life that feels more harmonious than frustrating.  Establishing business hours (and communicating those hours to the public) will allow you to do more and be more effective when you are working.  It's important to schedule family time, fun time, vacation time and even daily down time too.  For most of us, it's true that if it is not on our calendar it does not happen.  So to make sure those things happen, schedule it!
Avoid distractions. Learn to say no sometimes!  It is that simple.  If someone inn your office, home or neighborhood engages in a conversation with you that is taking you away from the important things that need to get done, tell them you can't talk right now and you need to go back to work.  You don't have to say yes every time a friend invites you to coffee or lunch either.  Now, I am not saying you can't enjoy yourself and have fun too but lets be clear about where your focus should be at that moment.  Last minute invites should not take precedence over what you already have time blocked.  Make plans to catch up at another time that will not interfere with your business goals.  A good rule of thumb ... Business needs to be done during business hours; socializing is before and after those hours!
Manage your volunteer work, don't let it manage you! if you are like me, you probably belong to a few organizations and associations both professional and personal.  I enjoy the roles I have in these numerous organizations.  I enjoy volunteering my time and contributing to something that is bigger than myself.  I have met some wonderful people and learned a lot about myself and the world we live in because of it.  I have also added to my professional network and often experience the opportunity to create business opportunities too.  However, I would not feel fulfilled if the time I put into these organizations left me feeling mentally and physically exhausted and depleted.  So many of the ideas I have shared in this article will help you to do more and enjoy more through your volunteerism too.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Road Trip to Success


This is the time of year where many of us plan time away with our family.  Summer is a great time to plan a road trip.  Road trips can be fun and often lead to the discovery of new places allowing for new experiences and personal growth; but a poorly planned trip is no fun and can often be disastrous.   Your business is on a road trip too, the results or outcome of the trip, just as your personal vacation will greatly depend on the planning you do before you get behind the wheel.
What type of trip is your business on?  Have you taken the time to plan accordingly?  Do you have a clear path ahead of you?   Are you prepared should you hit a road block or an unexpected turn?  Are you stocked with the right tools and provisions to make your trip easier and more enjoyable?  Do you have an alternate route set up to help you to get to your final destination or goals?
A road trip to success needs to be paved with basic principles that will help you to remain focused and productive along the way.  Some of those principles are:
Vision – Your vision will allow you to focus on the road ahead.  Your vision needs to be clear and simple, yet should also be bold and compelling allowing you have new experiences and see new sights in your business plan or road trip.   Your vision must remain in front of you at all times so that you don’t take a wrong turn.  One way to keep your vision is to come up with one word that embodies it and focus on that word numerous times a day.
Purpose – Once you are clear on the vision of your business and its goals allow yourself to develop and understand your purpose.  Your purpose is the answer to “Why am I doing all this? What is it all for?”  Use your gifts, talents and strengths to bring purpose to everything you do.    Burn out doesn’t come from what you do it often comes from forgetting why you’re doing it.
Optimism – This is the fuel for your road trip to success!   Optimism is having hopefulness and confidence about the future.  It means you expect the best outcome from any situation.   Having optimism means you can respond more positively to events in your life and in your business.
Positivity - Being positive is without a doubt a major part of your success plan.  Replace negativity with optimism and positive thoughts.  This will lead to a deeper belief in your vision and your goals.  It will keep your passion alive.  Your optimism and positive outlook matter.  When your mindset is focused on problems and negative outcomes all you will ever see are obstacles and challenges.  Negativity can cost a business dearly.  Positive people see solutions and work towards them.
Focus – What you focus on is what you will get.  So ask yourself every day “What three things can I do today to bring me closer to my goals?”  Tune out distractions because they often lead to destruction.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Gen-X, Gen-Y ... and how they impact your business


We are in a new era.  The world is changing faster than ever before and a driving force behind this change is a group of individuals known as Generation-Y.  Born in the mid-1980's and later, Generation Y professionals are in their 20s and are just entering the workforce. With numbers estimated as high as 70 million, Generation Y (also known as the Millennials) is the fastest growing segment of today’s workforce.  This group of individuals are also consumers and if you want to be relevant to them and gain them as a customer you need to be just as tech savvy and on the cutting edge as they are.
Today, everyone has a new attitude and a new way of doing things.  Technology and social media has blurred the lines between work and personal life.  Through proper leverage of this technology, we are able to get more done in less time wherever and whenever we can.
The younger generation has mastered technology and has made a new "normal" for the way we communicate, share, shop, sell and do business.  The younger generation, roughly between the ages of 20-40, known as Gen-Y & Gen-X respectively operate in a very different mode.  Texting, tweeting and updating a status over a Grande Carmel Macchiatto can all be done before 7am.  This group has no need for a watch, because their cell phones have always told them what time it is.
How does this impact your business?  Well for one thing, this younger generation has incredible buying power.  Market research has shown us that the average consumer is getting younger and savvier all the time.  If you want to gain the confidence & ultimately the business of this powerful segment of the population, you need to be attractive and more importantly relevant to them.  One way to formulate that strategy is to first understand how the target audience thinks and lives.  However, defining the younger generation can be challenging because they are moving at the speed of light.
For this generation, technology is a way of life.  They don't need to "wrap their heads around it", they grew up with it.  They communicate in 140 characters or less.  They keep in touch with family & friends through "shared: photos and status updates, you tube videos and tweets.  Social media, technology & even reality tv has made transparency the new norm.  These younger consumers expect genuine, real communication and they want to know that anyone they work for, deal with or do business with "gets it".
As a sales professional it's important to attract people from across the spectrum and most importantly from these younger generations to truly build your business so that it can sustain in this decade and beyond.
Now, I want to be sure that I also state the importance of face to face communication as well.  I am in no way implying that technology or the internet will replace the value you offer your customer as a trained and experienced professional.  You will still need to engage in person to person networking and most deals will be struck sitting across the table from each other.
However, social media and the technology you implement in your business on a daily business will allow you to attract more clients and retain a different group of consumers than ever before.  Social media for example allows you to start a conversation with a new prospect as well as continue to communicate with your existing clients all at the same time.
So isn't it time to position yourself to connect with more clients in less time?  If you are not embracing technology, implementing social media in your everyday marketing is your business growing?  Consumers are looking for us in new and different ways. Technology is a fundamental aspect of everyday life for the younger generations and beyond - for communication, education, entertainment and naturally business. How will you step up, reach out and connect?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Make the Choice


I am often told that I am a pretty positive person; often happy, smiling and energetic.  I am so grateful every time I hear that because I know that it is exactly the kind of person I intend to be every day!
Research has shown that people with a more positive disposition are usually more optimistic, tend to be healthier (perhaps even live longer), are more energetic and often achieve more because of their mindset.  With all of that to offer who wouldn't want to work at being more positive day in and day out!
Being positive is a choice and I have come up with a list of ways you too can be more positive!
TIPS FOR A POSITIVE OUTLOOK
1. Stay Positive. You can listen to the cynics and doubters and believe that success is impossible or you can know that with faith and an optimistic attitude all things are possible.
2. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement: Today will be a great day because _______________________.
3. Instead of being disappointed about where you are think optimistically about where you are going.
4. Focus on learning, loving, growing and serving.
5. Believe that everything happens for a reason and expect good things to come out of challenging experiences.
6. Don't waste your time or energy on gossip, energy vampires, dwelling in the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.
7. Mentor someone and be mentored by someone.
8. Be enthusiastic!  It's contagious!
9. Be focused on your personal and professional growth.  Ask yourself each day, “What are the three most important things I need to do today that will help me create the success I desire?”  Then tune out all the distractions and focus on these actions.
10. Stop Complaining!
11. Read more books.
12. Get more sleep.
13. Each night before you go to bed, express your thanks for all your blessings, big and small.
14. Smile and laugh more. They are natural anti-depressants.
15. Enjoy the ride. You only have one ride through life so make the most of it and enjoy it.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Sales Success


It is true that Lead Generation is and should always be your #1 priority.  To succeed in any sales driven business you must have client leads.  It's that simple.
Some salespeople try to deal with a down economy by spending a lot of time prospecting to find new leads for new customers.  Prospecting is always critical.  But what about the customer base you already have?  Are you doing enough to cultivate leads from the people you have done business with in the past?  the people you already know?
Six Strategies to Increase Sales Success
  • Identify a product or service you have that your customers may not know about
  • Add Value - the most important contribution you can give to existing customers is your knowledge and expertise
  • Offer new ideas - Give customers ideas on how to improve their business and their lives.
  • Offer new solutions - Give customers the answers to something they find important
  • Make your customers feel they have a special relationship with you.  Stay in touch.
  • Communicate all of the above with your customers on a regular basis.  Perhaps a monthly newsletter or mailing
Salespeople who are willing to put in the hours preparing and learning about their customers, their needs and wants are the ones who record the highest conversion rates and sales volume.  Allow your goals and your natural curiosity and desire to be successful fuel you.  Don't be one dimensional; go past the knowledge of your standard challenges in today's market and dig a little deeper.  Connect with your customers more directly, on a more personal level.
Another key to being truly successful is to have a committment to learning.  Top salespeople are always reading and researching and they are also doers.  They act on what they learn, they don't just stuff good information away in a filing cabinet.  They are always looking for a place to use it and apply it.
There is also a lot of opportunity by getting plugged into your customer's network.  The average person knows hundreds of people in different ways.  Most of your customers are active in industry trade associations, networking, community and social involvement.  How can you get to know some of the people they know?  More importantly how can you be sure that when the need arises your customer is giving your name to their networks?
As you develop your plan to communicate and network more with your existing customers consider the fact that customers are bombarded with information all day long.  So be sure to deliver information that has a positive impact on their lives, do things to earn their trust and show them the value in knowing you and doing business with you.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

QR Codes - Why? Why Not!


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Have you noticed these funny looking codes more often lately?   These codes are the newest way to transfer information at the speed of light!  They are are actually called QR Codes (Quick Response Code).
When you scan or read a QR code with your iPhone, Android or other camera-enabled Smartphone, you can link to digital content on the web, activate a number of phone functions including email, IM and SMS as well as connect the mobile device to a web browser.
QR Codes are popping up everywhere.   Magazine ads for stores like Wal-Mart and Target.  On billboards and wine bottles even!  The potential for QR codes is limitless.  You can create one in a matter of seconds and have that QR Code on ads, fliers, business cards, brochures, signs, on vehicles, invoices, name badges, etc.
Quick Response codes and other two-dimensional codes are expected to achieve widespread use this year – and for good reason.  Consumers want immediate access to what's relevant and QR Codes are making that possible.
Bar codes are linear one-dimensional codes and can only hold up to 20 numerical digits, whereas QR codes are two-dimensional (2D) matrix bar codes that can hold thousands of alphanumeric characters of information.  There’s no limit to how, or even how much, you can share with QR codes.
QR Codes could link to:
  • Contact information for your company as well as specific employees
  • Landing page to any company site
  • Marketing information for your product or service
  • Directions to your business location
  • Videos and Links
  • An explanation of a Company process or procedure
  • Valuable coupons and special offers
  • Consumer Tips as they relate to your industry
  • Customer feedback forms
  • Endless possibilities
As I mentioned, you can create a QR code yourself.  There are a number of sites for generating QR codes and they’re all free.  An Internet search for QR code generator will offer many choices.
I used Google to create the QR code above, it took me about 10 seconds.  And when scanned; that QR code will take you to my Facebook Business Page.  Try it!
Another benefit to using QR codes is their ability to help with SEO (Search Engine Optimization).  Web objects such as images, music clips, and videos add valuable content to your social graph.   QR codes enhance both your search engine and social media optimization.   Now you can increase traffic to those searchable objects to further optimize them by encouraging more sharing.
In order to scan a QR code you have to install a QR Code Scanner app on your smart phone.   I have the QR Code Scanner Pro app on my blackberry.   It was a free download.  I have been told the QR code reader app that works well on iPhone is i-nigma and for the android, try Barcode Scanner.
The potential for QR Codes is limitless.  What’s most exciting is how they take what social media is doing well now, bringing people together with technology, and extending it to enhance the experience.
According to a recent article in Social Media Examiner, "The next generation of bar codes will hold even more information – so much that an Internet connection will not even be necessary.  The content will be effectively embedded in the code."
It’s amazing to consider where this can go.  How about you?  How can you use QR codes in your business communication and marketing?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Set Yourself Apart from the Competition


How do you set yourself apart from the competition?  What makes you the person anyone should do business with?  Being able to answer these questions is crucial to your success this year.
When trying to create your competitive edge it's important to take some time to look at your competitors.  Identify them, rank them, analyze them.  Then take the time to create your competitive edge list:  the unique and positive differentiators that make your products or services special.
When you identify your competitive edge, you are well on your way to building your brand and growing your business ... or making an already-strong brand even stronger.   Establishing, and even honing, your competitive edge will help every aspect of your business.
So how do you become clear about your competitive edge?  It starts with taking some time to sit down, pen and paper in hand and write down your business summary.  A business summary is a brief outline of who you are, what you do and what you offer.   This is defining your business; taking the time to know how you want your business structured.  When you are clear about your business summary it will become easier to promote it.
Take a look at who else is in your industry.  Taking a little time to evaluate your competition can provide you with invaluable information that can give you that competitive edge.  Be sure you compare an apple to an apple, but you might ask yourself, "Are my services and fees in line with the competition?"   And more importantly, is the value you offer to clients superior to the value you see your competition delivering.
Now, you can develop your competitive edge.  Create that plan by answering the following questions ... How can you deliver everything the competition offers and then some?  What can you do to stand out?  Why should someone do business with you?  What will you do to provide more value?  How can you think out of the box?  What resources and technology will you utilize to establish a competitive edge?
It's about creating a business worth owning and attracting customers worth having.