Thursday, February 18, 2016

Weirdest Websites Online - Yes they are Weird

Though you might consider them to be weird, i would say they are outright cool and you decide for yourself what it looks like:

Monday, February 15, 2016

Business Card Etiquette - Are You Making These Mistakes in Business Card Etiquette?

Business card etiquette says a great deal about your business etiquette and professionalism in general.

Can you picture this person at a business networking event? He joins a group of people, pulls out a fistful of business cards and hands them out to everyone. Then he turns to a new contact, pulls a dog-eared card out of his pants pocket and says: Here’s my card. Can I have your card?

The contact looks taken aback, but gives him a business card. The guy takes it and stuffs it into his back pocket. He then turns to another contact and asks for her business card. When she hands it to him, the guy takes out a pen and writes on the front of the card: Friend of Jane Smith.

How many business card etiquette faux pas did you spot?

Business card etiquette mistakes and how to fix them

1. Don’t hand out your business card to everyone you know. See if people need or want your cards. Handing out your cards like chewing gum makes you seem like a cheap sales person - not the persona you want.

2. Don’t hand out a business card that is dirty or curled at the edges. It leaves a poor impression. Use a business card case to keep your cards clean and fresh.

3. When you receive a card, don’t jam it into your pocket. Take a moment to look at it. Make a positive comment about some aspect of the card - the logo, location, or company name. This shows respect for the other person, and demonstrates your interest in them. It also helps you remember their name and job title.

4. Don’t put a business card into your back pocket. It shows lack of respect. After you’ve looked at the card, place it carefully in a card case or in a front pocket.

5. Be careful about writing on business cards. Some people spend time and money designing a professional card, and may not appreciate your writing on it. And in many cultures a business card is an important part of their persona, and should be treated with respect. If you absolutely need to write on a card, ask permission first, and then write on the back - never on the front of the card.

6. Don’t pick your teeth with a business card, fold it in half, or treat it as an unimportant piece of paper. Remember that it represents a person’s business identity. Treat it with care.

7. Don’t automatically give a business card to a senior executive. Wait until  they ask for it.

You are invited to use these tips for handing out your business cards with etiquette at your next networking event.

Avoid Becoming a Super Networker!

If you spend any time networking, I’ll venture to bet that you’ve met Super Networker or at least some variation of her (or him for that matter).  She moves faster than a speeding bullet, can leap over tables to get to the other side of the room and can collect more business cards in one hour than the average person!  Super Networker even has x-ray vision enabling her to see through the invisible wall you try to erect between you and her.

Can you picture a time you met Super Networker?  I can and in my case it was a woman.  I remember it quite vividly and specifically how she made me feel.

It was a cold day in January and I was attending a breakfast business mixer.  As I was talking to Karen, the hostess of the event, a mild mannered woman approached me.  She seemed innocent enough but yet had a look of intention.  She was intent on saying something to one or both of us at that very moment.

She introduced herself … let’s call her Clara to conceal her true identity.  After Clara introduced herself, she asked the quintessential networking question, “So what do you do?”  Briefly, I said something like, “I help business owners to practice more effective networking skills”.  Before Karen could say anything, Clara excitedly replied, “I’m really good at networking!  I’ve been doing it for a long time!”  The door was open … so I went in and asked, “What do you do that makes you so good?”

I waited anxiously to hear a nugget of advice from a true professional.  Little did I know that in front of me stood, Super Networker!  Instead, this is what she said, “Well, first I go to an event with a friend.  Then, we enter the room and size it up.  We draw an imaginary line down the center of the room.  Typically, my friend takes the left side of the room and I take the right side.  We agree to meet back in the same location to compare how many business cards we have collected in one hour to see who wins for that day!  The loser usually treats the other one to lunch while we review our stash.  It’s so much fun!  I find it’s a great way to get my cards out to so many people and to add so many new people to my data base!”

At this point, I wasn’t quite sure how to respond, so I said, “Wow!  [probably with a look of utter shock on my face] How does that work for you?”  I asked.  “Great,” she said.  “I’ve been doing it for years.  Isn’t that what networking is all about?”

Super Networker strikes again … and not in a good way!  Unfortunately, this is what a lot of people believe networking to be.  To them, networking is about collecting business cards to increase the number of contacts they have in their data base in order to spam them at a later date.

In reality, networking is about developing strong relationships that can turn into significant connections for your business.  Strong relationships don’t happen through a flighty exchange of business cards followed by an unwelcome spam attack.  Networking does not include selling.  When the Super Networker was pushing her business card into the pockets of innocent bystanders, and collecting others at a rampant pace, she was fully in the mindset of sales.  She intended to sell herself to anyone who would make eye contact.  This mindset unfortunately repels people, creating the invisible wall with a neon sign that says, “Go away!”

There are four simple rules to follow so that you don’t transform into a Super Networker:

Rule #1 - Only give your business card to someone who has asked for it.

Rule #2 - Practice the mindset of “giving” rather than “selling” at networking events.

Rule #3 - Never try to meet everyone in the room … you can’t do it and keep your dignity.  Focus on meeting five new people and spend enough time with them to begin forming a relationship.

Rule #4 - Never add anyone to your database unless they have given you permission.

If you practice these four rules at each networking event you attend, you can feel safe that your reputation will be intact when you leave, if not enhanced.  You’ll have successfully avoided becoming a Super Networker!

7 Surprising Ways To Turn Audience Members Into Clients

You’ve just received an email from a local business networking group. They want you to give a talk next month.

Your first thought: “A great way to attract clients for my professional service.”

But your next thought: “How can I make this work?” Speaking engagements can be more powerful than simply attending a networking meeting. You want to make the most of each one.

So you can’t just show up. You have to plan ahead. Talk to the program director, event coordinator and some of the members. Tailor your talk to the group. You know you’re ready when you have answered these 7 questions.

(1) What is the goal of the event where I’ll be speaking? And what do members want?

Generally it’s dangerous to assume you know what a group wants. They may have hated the last three speakers and be ready for a change. Your meeting coordinator will have feedback and will be able to point you in the right direction.

(2) Describe the members. Who are they? What are their challenges?

Now you can organize your talk so they’ll be eager to learn from you. If you’re giving a longer speech or workshop, ask if you can call a few members to get a sense of where they’re coming from.

(3) Am I talking to newbies or fellow professionals in my field?

Tailor this question to your expertise. For instance before I give a talk on website marketing, I will ask, “Do most of the audience members have websites up and running, or are they still in the thinking stage?”

If you’re giving a value-based talk — anything from law of attraction to laws of astrology - ask how the group perceives your topic: serious belief, light enjoyment or outright skepticism?

(4) How long do I speak? Does that include questions?

Let’s say she says 30 minutes with another 15 for questions. Time your speech for 15-20 minutes and leave more time for questions.

About 50% of the times I’ve spoken to lunch and dinner groups, my time gets cut by “announcements” from the group’s officers. Or they start late.

(5) How can I promote my services?

You probably want to bring handouts. And most likely you would like to pass around a list for people to subscribe to my ezine. Maybe you want to offer a special discount to the members.

Some organizations allow you to set up a table in the back of the room. Others will give you time at the end of the talk. But you absolutely need to ask.

I once got invited to address a Continuing Ed class. I was asked to sign a contract promising I would not promote my organization and that I would not do business with any attendees unless I gave the university a piece of the action. Needless to say, I declined the invitation.

You get paid two ways: directly through a substantial honorarium or fee, or indirectly by gaining a platform to promote your products. Otherwise you’re selflessly donating time and energy. Make an informed decision.

(6) Will the group be formal?

Unless you know the group, tactfully ask about what you might wear. Once upon a time you could show up in a suit and be safe. But now you could be marked as naive. Recently I heard an experienced speaker say, “Nobody would show up in a suit - not here.”

Suitless in Seattle? Yeah, I know, bad joke. But we’re almost done…

(7) Will the group be willing to participate in a brief hands-on exercise?

Come up with an exercise that will showcase your talents, get audience members engaged and leave them hungry for more. They’ll remember you because you jogged their kinesthetic senses as well as their brains.

If you’re like me, you’re the one who will get hungry…for more speaking engagements! Each time it’s a new and fun experience.

5 Repeatable Steps for Successful Networking

Do you find yourself leaving networking events feeling like you’ve just wasted a perfectly good evening which could have been better spent working on your business, playing with your kids or even watching TV.  Sometimes you shake your head and wonder, “I wasted gas driving to this?”

The problem may be that you are attending the event focused on the short-term outcome, rather than on your long-term intent.

Let’s say you attend the event wanting to make a sale. You scan the crowd looking for your ideal client.  When you don’t find anyone that meets your criteria, you grow disgusted with the waste of your time, and give up.   But suppose instead, you went with the intent of letting as many people as possible know about your business and your search for your ideal client.  Each person you meet is a potential connection to that ultimate sale. You don’t know when or with whom that light bulb is going to go off.  Then the evening becomes filled with possibilities as you chat with everyone and learn about them - subtly seeking that connection to your ideal client.

The following steps can be repeated sincerely with everyone you meet:

1)     Introduce yourself and really listen to who the other person is

2)     Look for commonalities - shared interests, concerns, lifestyles

3)     Look for ways you can help them - through who you know or what you know

4)     Let them in on who and what you’re looking for - they’ll want to help in return

5)     Exchange information to follow up

The people you meet might not be your ideal client, but they might know someone who is. Or they might be able to give you a new perspective on a direction your business should take. Or they might know someone wanting to invest in your business.   Those are all opportunities you would have missed if you had focused only on the short-term outcomes you wanted rather than your real long-term intent.

Do you want to learn more about overcoming the everyday challenges of building a business? Sign up for my free special report Getting Out of Your Own Way: 7 Steps to Sustainable Success for Women Entrepreneurs:Small Business Success

Liz Fuller is a MicroBusiness Development Specialist who works with Women Entrepreneurs to grow their business to greater levels of sustainable success.