Like jam and cream go hand in hand, so too does networking with running a successful business. But many of us dread walking into a room and introducing ourselves to a bunch of strangers.
Here are some valuable tips that have worked for me over the years:
1. Get there early. Showing up early at a networking event is a much better strategy than getting there on the later side. It is quieter and people won’t have settled into groups yet, making it easier to find a conversation partner.
2. Ask opening questions. Don’t wait for someone to approach you. To start a conversation, simply walk up to a person or a group, and say, “May I join you” or “What brings you to this event?” Don’t forget to listen intently to their replies.
3. Ditch the sales pitch. Remember, networking is all about relationship building. Keep your exchange light and informal – you don’t need to do the hard sell within the first few minutes. The idea is to get the conversation started. People are more apt to do business with – or partner with – people whose company they enjoy.
If a potential customer does ask you about your product or service, be ready with an easy description of your company – practice this often!
4. Share your passion. Win people over with your enthusiasm for your product or service. Leave a lasting impression by telling a story about why you were inspired to create your company. When you are passionate about what you do, it is contagious and when you get other people to share their passion, it creates a memorable two-way conversation.
5. Smile. It’s a simple, but often overlooked, rule of engagement. By smiling, you’ll put your nervous self at ease and come across as friendly and inviting to others. Remember to smile before you enter the room, or before you start your next conversation.
6. Don’t hijack the conversation. Some people who dislike networking may overcompensate by dominating the discussion. Don’t forget: The most successful networkers are good at making other people feel special. Make eye contact, repeat their name, listen to what they have to say, and suggest topics that are easy to discuss. Be a conversationalist, not a talker.
7. Remember to follow up. It’s often said that networking is where the conversation begins, not ends. If you’ve made good connections, ask the best way to stay in touch. Some people like email or phone; others prefer social networks like LinkedIn. Get in touch within 48 hours of the event to show you’re interested and available and mention something you discussed, so your contact remembers you.
Keep on Networking!
The easiest way to grow your customers is not to lose them
The average business loses around 20 percent of its customers annually simply by failing to attend to customer relationships. In some industries this leakage is as high as 80 percent. The cost, in either case, is staggering, but few businesses truly understand the implications.
Imagine two businesses, one that retains 90 percent of its customers, the other retaining 80 percent. If both add new customers at the rate of 20 percent per year, the first will have a 10 percent net growth in customers per year, while the other will have none. Over seven years, the first firm will virtually double, while the second will have no real growth. Everything else being equal, that 10-percent advantage in customer retention will result in a doubling of customers every seven years without doing anything else.
The consequences of customer retention also compound over time, and in sometimes unexpected ways. Even a tiny change in customer retention can cascade through a business system and multiply over time. The resulting effect on long-term profit and growth shouldn’t be underestimated.
Here are 9 Key Retention Strategies:
1. Reducing Attrition
Virtually every business loses some customers, but few ever measure or recognise how many of their customers become inactive. Most businesses, ironically, invest an enormous amount of time, effort and expense building that initial customer relationship. Then they let that relationship go unattended, in some cases even losing interest as soon as the sale been made, or even worse, they abandon the customer as soon as an easily remedied problem occurs, only to have to spend another small fortune to replace that customer. The easiest way to grow your business is not to lose your customers. Once you stop the leakage, it’s often possible to double or triple your growth rate because you’re no longer forced to make up lost ground just to stand still.
2. Sell and then sell again
So many people do an excellent job of making the initial sale, then drop the ball and get complacent, ignoring the customer, while they chase more business. Your selling has actually only just begun when someone makes that initial purchase decision because virtually everyone is susceptible to buyer’s remorse. To lock in that sale, and all of the referrals and repeat business that will flow from it, you need to strike while the iron is hot to allay your customers’ fears and demonstrate by your actions that you really care. You should thank them and remind them again why they’ve made the right decision to deal with you … and put a system in place to sell to them again, and again, constantly proving that they made the right decision.
3. Bring back the “lost sheep”
There’s little point in dedicating massive resources to generating new customers when 25-60% of your dormant customers will be receptive to your attempts to regenerate their business if you approach them the right way, with the right offer. Reactivating customers who already know you and your product is one of the easiest, quickest ways to increase your revenues. Re-contacting and reminding them of your existence, finding out why they’re no longer buying, overcoming their objections and demonstrating that you still value and respect them will usually result in a tremendous bounty of sales and drastically increased revenues in a matter of days … and will lead to some of your best and most loyal customers.
4. Frequent Communications Calendar
Avoid losing your customers by building relationships and keeping in touch using a rolling calendar of communications. This is a programmed sequence of letters, events, phone calls, “thank you’s”, special offers, follow-ups, magic moments, and cards or notes with a personal touch etc. that occur constantly and automatically at defined points in the pre-sales, sales and post-sales process. People not only respond to this positively, they really appreciate it because they feel valued and important. It acknowledges them, keeps them informed, offsets post-purchase doubts, reinforces the reason they’re doing business with you and makes them feel part of your business so that they want to come back again and again.
5. Extraordinary Customer Service
The never-ending pursuit of excellence to keep customers so satisfied that they tell others how well they were treated when doing business with you. Moving the product or service you deliver into the realm of the extraordinary by delivering higher than expected levels of service to each and every customer. Key facets include: dedication to customer satisfaction by every employee; providing immediate response; no buck passing; going above and beyond the call of duty; consistent on-time delivery; delivering what you promise before AND after the sale; a zero-defects and error-free-delivery process and recruiting outstanding people to deliver your customer service. Extraordinary service builds fortunes in repeat customers, whereas poor service will drive your customers to your competition.
6. Courtesy system
A powerful system that improves the interpersonal skills of your team and changes the spirit of your organisation. It involves speaking to colleagues politely and pleasantly, without sarcasm or parody, and treating them at least as well as you would want them to treat your customers. This will help your team to feel worthwhile and important, which makes for pleasant social contacts at work. It also motivates them to provide extraordinary service, encourages them to be consistently pleasant in all of their dealings and to relate to customers in a warm, human and natural manner. This results in better, warmer, stronger, more trusting relationships and longer term bonds with your customers.
7. Product or service integrity
Long-term success and customer retention belongs to those who do not take ethical shortcuts. There must always be total consistency between what you say and do and what your customers experience. The design, build quality, reliability and serviceability of your product or service must be of the standard your customers want, need and expect. Service integrity is also demonstrated by the way you handle the small things, as well as the large. Customers will be attracted to you if you are open and honest with them, care for them, take a genuine interest in them, don’t let them down and practice what you preach … and they will avoid you if you don’t.
8. Measure lifetime value
There’s a vast difference between the one-off profit you might make on an average sale, which ignores the bigger picture, and the total aggregate profit your average customer represents over the lifetime of their business relationship with you. Once you recognise how much combined profit a customer represents to your business when they purchase from you again and again, over the months, years or decades, you’ll realise the critical importance of taking good care of your customers. And because you’ll understand just how much time, effort and expense you can afford to invest in retaining that customer, you’ll be in control of your marketing expenditure.
9. A complaint is a gift
96 percent of dissatisfied customers don’t complain. They just walk away, and you’ll never know why. That’s because they often don’t know how to complain, or can’t be bothered, or are too frightened, or don’t believe it’ll make any difference. Whilst they may not tell you what’s wrong, they will certainly tell plenty of others. A system for unearthing complaints can therefore be the lifeblood of your business, because customers who complain are giving you a gift, they’re still talking to you, they’re giving you another opportunity to return them to a state of satisfaction and delight them and the manner in which you respond gives you another chance to show what you’re made of and create even greater customer loyalty.
If you need help implementing your Business Retention Strategies – contact Julie now at https://www.facebook.com/YourBusinessHelper
It’s difficult to stay focused on your business goals when challenges arise and your determination is tested if you don’t know why you’re doing something.
You need to know what you’re fighting for, so you are focused and driven to keep pushing ahead. Knowing and understanding your motivation can help you avoid getting sucked into the minutiae of the day to day running of your business.
Use the list below to explore possible motivations and determine what has the biggest impact on you and your desire to succeed.
- Money: Is wealth, paying off debts, or living luxuriously a motivator for you?
- Society: Are you driven by the desire to solve a common problem or improve the lives of others?
- Family: Are you building a legacy you can pass down to your children? Are you starting a business to support or honor your family in some way?
- Expectations: Do you worry about fulfilling the needs of others or what others will think about you if you fail? What are your expectations for yourself?
- Consequences: Are you afraid of what may happen if you don’t start a business and become successful?
- Pride: Pride in yourself and your work can be a powerful motivator for many. Is it for you?
- Passion: Does love for what you do give you the fight to be able to work through the challenges?
- Credibility: Do you look at this business as a way to solidify your credibility or establish yourself as an expert?
- Challenge: Do you thrive on the challenge? Do you purposefully take on initiatives that will stretch you and provide learning opportunities?
Once you know what motivates you to take this bold step of starting a business, you’re ready to make difficult decisions and push through challenges
If you need help getting back on track and motivated to achieve your business goals – contact Julie now at https://www.facebook.com/YourBusinessHelper
The key to time management is knowing ourselves, as we can’t actually “manage” time; all we can manage is our own behavior.For many of us this is more than enough of a challenge. While we claim that effective time management is a top priority and that we just have to get more organized, our actions don’t match our stated desires. I’ve invented these time management personality “types” to describe patterns of behavior that sabotage many people’s attempts at time management.
Which of the following time management “types” are you? While intended as fun, this time management exercise may provide you with some clues for more effective time management.
The Fireman – For you, every event is a crisis. You’re so busy putting out fires that you have no time to deal with anything else – especially the boring, mundane things such as time management. Tasks pile up around you while you rush from fire to fire all day.
Typically seen – Running to car.
The Over-Committer – Your problem is you can’t say ‘No’. All anyone has to do is ask, and you’ll chair another committee, take on another project, or organize yet another community event. You’re so busy you don’t even have time to write down all the things you do!
Typically seen – Hiding in rest room.
The Aquarian – There is such as thing as being too “laid-back” – especially when it starts interfering with your ability to finish tasks or bother to return phone calls. Getting to things when you get to them isn’t time management; it’s simple task avoidance.
Typically seen – Hanging out with feet on desk.
The Chatty Kathy – Born to socialize, you have astounding oral communication skills and can’t resist exercising them at every opportunity. Every interaction becomes a long drawn out conversation – especially if there’s an unpleasant task dawning that you’d like to put off.
Typically seen – Talking on cell phone.
The Perfectionist – You have a compulsion to cross all the “t’s” and dot all the “i’s”, preferably with elaborate whorls and curlicues. Exactitude is your watchword, and you feel that no rushed job can be a good job. Finishing tasks to your satisfaction is such a problem you need more time zones, not just more time.
Typically seen – Hunched over latest project.
Hopefully none of these time management personality profiles is a photograph of you! But perhaps these descriptions will provoke some thought about the different ways we manage or mismanage time, and some clues about how we might change our behaviors to make our time management efforts more successful.
If you need help with your time management of all your business tasks – contact us now: https://www.facebook.com/YourBusinessHelper
It is often emphasised that parents should read to their children from as young as 1 year old.
Firstly simple exposure to reading increases the likely hood that a child will develop prerequisite skills for reading (Abraham & Gram, 2009).
Furthermore, reading encourages the use of thinking skills, helps develop concentration and expands the readers’ vocabulary.
“Children who have been read to in childhood are more motivated to learn to read, and they appreciate that reading is a gateway to new ideas” – Abraham & Gram Reading: Breaking Through the Barriers, 2009 p.12
What are these prerequisite skills for reading you may ask?
- How to hold a book and turn the pages.
- That words on a page have meaning.
- That reading is done from left to right and top to bottom.
- An expanding vocabulary
- An appreciation for the sounds of words.
What can parents do help develop these skills?
- Read and
- Read aloud, every day or night to your child.
- Have fun with rhyming words
- Get them to repeat lines
- Guess what will happen next in the book?
“Few children learn to read books by themselves. Someone has to lure them into the wonderful world of the written word; someone has to show them the way”.
-Orville Prescott, A Father Reads to His Children
Learning and Support Teacher
We are headed to New Zealand next year for a wedding and as the fabulously organised parents that we are, we have the bookings done and dusted. The last remaining hurdle though is figuring out babysitting details for the night of the wedding. So, as I am not a huge fan of leaving my son with a stranger, I asked the lovely Julie Warner from Julie Warner Travel Plans to help me with some ideas on finding babysitters when you’re on the road.
As I suspected, the tips were really good, so good in fact that I decided to share them with you 🙂
Finding Babysitters When You’re on the Road
Finding babysitters when you’re travelling presents unique challenges, whether you’re a parent who just needs a night out or you’re looking to find a babysitter on a regular basis. You need to find a childcare provider for your little one, but you have to do so in an unknown community. When you don’t know what resources are available to you or which businesses and people are worthy of your trust, how do you even begin to search for a quality childcare provider?
A good starting point is to check with your hotel when you make your reservation to see if they offer child minding services or can provide you with a list of recommended babysitters. Always ask about what types of pre-screening the hotel has in place for babysitters to qualify to be on their recommended list. Allow time when you arrive to meet with the candidate/s so you can assess personally their suitability for your childcare requirements – gut feel always plays an important part in these decisions, make sure you trust yours!
Do some on-line research, there are various babysitter sites available covering many destinations around the world that allow you to search their databases, advertise a position and view profiles of potential candidates. If you have a selection of candidates before you depart, conducting interviews via Skype will allow you a good insight into the best match for your family’s requirements. This could be a good way to introduce your child to the sitter so they are familiar with their face and voice so meeting them in person won’t feel like they are strangers.
You can also check out local parent bloggers, family related companies/services/magazines and reach out to them on Twitter or Facebook for a local recommendation.
Check your destination’s local phone book for a babysitting agency or child care service before you leave on your trip. If visiting friends or family, use word of mouth and ask if they know someone suitable or can refer you to a reputable agency. If in a more remote location, try contacting the local playgroup, pre-school or primary school and ask if they have any staff that offer babysitting services or can recommend any local sitters.
Five Questions You Should Ask At A Babysitter Interview
To ensure you hire the best possible candidate for your child, it’s helpful to be prepared. Here’s a list of five questions you should ask at a babysitter interview.
- Ask what experience your babysitter has had and whether she has any experience with a child in the same age group as yours.
- Ask for references that include past babysitting jobs that a candidate has had.
- Find out your babysitter’s schedule and availability, making sure it coincides with your needs.
- Find out if your babysitter has had any first aid training and is familiar with what to do in case of an emergency involving your child.
- Ask what type of philosophy your babysitter has in taking care of children and that you are comfortable this will work with your child.
- Above all else, whichever way you locate your babysitter, allow plenty of time beforehand in your selection process so you are comfortable with your choice and can actually relax while you are away from your child. Perhaps schedule a short visit before your main outing to allow your child to meet and start building some trust with the sitter. This will also give you an insight into how they interact with each other and a greater level of comfort when you are away for a longer period of time.
The final and most important step – Go out and have a good time!
Do you have concerns with hiring babysitters? Tell us more in the comments section below.
Till next time….
If you’re fortunate enough to have customers who are rooting for you and your business, you’re probably going to need to train yourself to politely thank them for their ideas and not implement them. If you try to implement every bit of input from your customers, you will quickly lose focus, and you could easily lose a lot more than that. The discipline you need in order to politely reject suggestions from well-meaning people varies widely depending upon your circumstances.
It’s likely that 99 percent of customer suggestions are made with nothing but your success in mind. I think most customers really do want to see you succeed, and most of them would be very proud to say they played a role in it. That’s why if you’re a candle maker and you haven’t been advised to branch into scented candles, you will be soon. And if you’re running a retail bakery, I have no doubt that your customers have made numerous suggestions for diversifying your menu. While some think you should celebrate the decadence of pastries by not even pretending to be concerned about calories and fat, others are probably suggesting you offer more diet-conscious options. Listening to customers is important, but no company has unlimited resources to implement all of the suggestions they receive.
What’s a business owner to do? Thank the customers for their input and then stick firmly to the vision set forth in your business plan.
If you’re worried about offending or even driving people away, explain (firmly) that the growth of your business during its first few years is based on a precise plan. Then, add that you’re keeping any and all suggestions in a file for consideration in the future.
It’s important to differentiate between ideas and feedback; although they’re related, they’re different. If you ever find yourself unsure of which file something a customer has told you belongs in, here’s a quick and simple test. Imagine that you’re a dentist and you’ve just launched your own practice with anxiety reduction as your primary differentiator. Is your customer suggesting that you play a different kind of music? If so, that’s feedback on a part of your business meant to appeal to a specific segment of customers. As feedback, you’d be wise to carefully consider it. But if what your customer is telling you concerns changing the parameters used to determine when a tooth is preserved rather than extracted, that’s something that impacts the core of your business, and it’s an area where your customers are expecting you – not one of them – to be the expert. It’s an idea, and it has the potential to steer you off course and cause you to lose focus.
Do you agree that it is important to say “no” in your business?
Have you ever stopped to consider how technology has impacted our lives, especially the way that we travel? The information that we have at our fingertips via the internet not only make our travels easier, more comfortable and enjoyable, it can also help keep us safe. But did you REALLY know just how much is available out there for the frequent traveler? Here are four useful travel sites and resources that I have come across:
iTranslate: iTranslate is a universal translator for your iPhone that translates words, phrases and text into over 50 languages. http://www.apple.com/webapps/productivity/itranslate.html
SeatGuru: Run by Trip Advisor, SeatGuru is the ultimate source for airplane seating, in-flight amenities, and airline information. This website features aircraft seat maps, seat reviews, and a colour-coded system to identify superior and substandard airline seats. http://www.seatguru.com/
MileBlaster: MileBlaster frequent flyer miles and points tracker is the ultimate frequent flier tool. It’s available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch as well as on the web. https://www.mileblaster.com/
FlightAware.com: A useful site for the frequent business traveler, FlightAware provides live Tracking Maps, Flight Status, and Airport Delays for airline flights, private/GA flights, and airports all over the world. http://flightaware.com/
For further travel advice and resources, visit us at www.juliewarnertravelplans.com
The Interior Designer, a Cushion Tosser
When the film industry portray an “interior designer” images of Martin Short as Franck Eggelhoffer, the neurotic designer from Father of the Bride II come to mind. Designers’ are often portrayed as people who are egocentric, expensive and who spend their day going around say “darling” and throwing cushions around. This description could not be further from the truth. A qualified interior designer is a mine of information, contacts and your money saver. They are your co-ordinator, designer, creative thinker and budget controller. Certainly not terms generally seen as associated with the profession.
So what does an interior designer do? They take the needs of individuals, families or companies and blend aesthetics with function within the constraints of the space and budget. They ensure form and function meet, let’s be honest what attracts you to a book in the first place is it’s cover, and this is the same as the space you live in or work in. If you feel good in a space you will use it or luxuriate in it.
By using an interior designer you can:
- Maximise the use of your space, ensuring all areas are used efficiently and effectively
- Save money by preventing costly errors
- Save money as they often have access to trade prices
- Access to materials and fabrics that the majority of people do not have
- Have a list of trustworthy and quality tradespeople, they can be a one stop shop
- Complete your brand image for businesses by continuing it into your work space
- Increase work productivity and subsequent profit by ensuring ergonomic work spaces are created. A happy work force means a happy bank balance
- Make sure you are not contravening any Building Code or Australian standard. For eg did you know that with any new office fit out that the minimum size of any door is 850mm and that egress points must have a walk through area of 1500mm. Probably one rule that most people are unaware of is the maximum distance anyone can travel to an exit is 20m without contravening the fire exit rules. Heaven forbid your were to have a fire and you did not meet these conditions, then you or your company would be liable
- Make your makeover relatively pain free and save your relationship.
An interior designer is a person with a multi-faceted set of skills who improve the interior of buildings, the living and working spaces of people and ultimately their comfort and/or productivity. Oh yes and they do toss a few cushions around.
For other than HSC students, the end of the year means not only a break from school but also from tutoring. Yet most parents feel a little insecure about such a long break and worry their child will fall behind in the New Year. They often want to schedule some tutorials during the break (not such a bad idea) but still feel anxious about all that free time. So as a tutor, I often get the question – what should they be doing in the holidays?
The answer is surprisingly simple. The two most important activities for developing literacy skills are reading for pleasure and keeping a journal. Reading widely and reflecting on experiences in a journal are habits that lead to better literacy and lifelong learning. And the long Christmas break is the perfect opportunity to start developing these habits.
Forming Good Reading Habits
Even 4 year olds can Read for Pleasure
Most parents foster the habit of reading from a young age by reading to their children at bed time, and encouraging them with their home readers. There is a point however where children are expected to read independently and this is often when the habits die off.
If you have a Primary aged child, support all their reading and reward them for functional reading (lists, instructions, recipes etc) as well as reading for pleasure. Keep them excited about reading by going to the library regularly but also give books as presents, read the weekend papers and let them buy and trade magazines and comics.
If your pre-teen or older student has become a reluctant reader then reinforcing the joys of summer reading – long lazy days spent with a book or any other reading material – can help to put them back on track Enjoying reading is the key and if they are used to reading in the holidays this will make it easier for them to tackle the large quantities of reading required for the HSC. And the good news is that seeing you read is the best model they can have – so enjoy your holiday reading without guilt!
It is one thing to model good reading habits however few parents feel competent to help their children to write. A holiday journal or diary is a great place to start and encourages students to record not only their experiences but also their reading. Reflecting on what they read and making judgements on what they like and don’t like helps develop analytical and essay writing skills – so definitely a worthy activity for primary and middle school students. HSC students can also get a lot of benefit from journal keeping and many subjects require this skill.
As well as journal writing, again encourage young students with lots of functional and personal writing – such as cards, lists, menus and letters and emails to relatives for Christmas. Using the PC there is no end to the writing they can do they can keep a photo-memoir complete with captions – another good literacy skill. But the pen is still the best and easiest way to record thoughts ( and still necessary for exams ) so keep your child interested in handwriting by giving them a nice new journal and Smiggles pen for Christmas and watch them go!
So to keep your child on track for the New Year just keep them reading and writing and enjoying it. It really is that simple. (But you may want to lose the Wii remote and use the iPad for reading only!)
Written by Christina Greenlees
Images minor editing by Sharleen Newcombe– Advanced Education Solutions Like us on Facebook
Christina is a former teacher of English and Drama and a freelance writer.
She is one of our English tutors specialising in the HSC and creative writing.