All posts by admin

Business Networking to Grow Your Business.

This week’s blog comes from a suggestion made by Harold Wilkerson, a student of mine in my Entrepreneurship class at Fordham University. For some reason that I don’t understand, small business owners don’t take a strategic approach to business networking as a source for new client acquisition.
 

Networking is THE single best source for the most immediate access to qualified leads, assuming of course you take a strategic approach to your networking.  Following are excellent strategies that you can implement IMMEDIATELY to maximize your networking results. In the first few seconds that you meet someone, you have to tell them what you do in such a passionate and compelling manner that they say: “Wow! Tell me more!
 
For example, my opening is: “I help entrepreneurs and business owners achieve their life ambition of planning, launching and growing a successful business.”  After the introductions, you only have a few minutes to explain what you and your business does in such a convincing way that they want to schedule a time to meet with you afterwards. You’ve got to make every minute count!  The best advice I can give is to develop a strategic networking plan!   Describe your ideal target segment in detail, and identify where they network.
 
Find the top industry associations/groups of professionals that represent your target segment. Create a 90-day calendar of events that they attend. Make sure that you register to attend as many of their events as you possibly can. Meanwhile, you can and should join as many of their peer groups on LinkedIn. LinkedIn allows you to join up to 50 groups. When you sign up to attend networking events (especially using MeetUp) you will receive invites from those groups. Their invitations include notifications of other members that register to attend. Research the group members that respond they are attending on LinkedIn to see if they are a potential customer for you.
 
Next, send the folks that seem like a match for you a note through LinkedIn saying you look forward to meeting with them at the event. You should also invite them to join you on LinkedIn. This will help you facilitate a more personal introduction when you meet them at the event, while also building your professional network online (as well as your online brand.) If they are receptive to you (meaning they accept your invitation and/or send you a note saying they look forward to meeting with you) then follow them on Twitter. Always tweet about the events you’re going to attend, and be sure to post status updates both before and after you attend events in LinkedIn and on your FaceBook pages. Be sure to thank the meeting facilitators/hosts.
 

Have a scripted sales pitch all ready to go for each event. Send people that you speak with at events an immediate follow up with reminders of your conversation. Spend NO MORE THAN 10 minutes with every person you meet. Anything longer than that is wasted time. You should be scheduling a time to meet with them afterwards so you can make a maximum number of contacts while you’re at the event. When you are speaking to people you should be spending most of the time LISTENING. Ask them probing and thoughtful questions like: “Why are you here this evening?” or “What are you looking to get out of this event?
 
It’s always a good idea to ask questions like: “What are your top challenges that your firm is facing right now?” that will help you to identify their top business challenges and reveal ways that you can provide a solutions to the challenges they face. This is the single fastest way to make an emotional connection with a potential client. And we all know that people ALWAYS make purchase decisions on emotional levels and use data/facts to rationalize/support their (emotional) decisions. People buy from people they like being around. Check out what Ivan Misner, Founder of BNI has to say about networking in this video: “Ten Commandments for successful Networking.”
 
Get their contact details into your contact management system immediately. Call the highest priority pre-qualified leads back within 24 hours. Add them to your Google Circles.

If they shared with you any special needs or challenges they face, it will make a very positive impression with them if you share relevant information, resources that provides answers to any questions they had. It’s also a nice touch to introduce them to people in your professional network who might be able to assist them based on anything they revealed to you when you spoke with them at the networking event. The bottom line is, networking works best consistently getting exposure for yourself, your firm and your products and services to the right target audience is a VERY powerful strategic way to fill your sales pipeline. Need more help with prospecting? Get my e-book on “Prospecting for Customer Gold” at www.thechazingroup.com/shopping. Happy Memorial Day!

What Is A Career Coach?

WHAT IS A CAREER COACH?
A career coach is MANY things. In order to achieve exceptional results for the people you help, you HAVE to be different things to different people. I am at times a therapist, trainer, confidant, problem-solver, Ghost writer, drill sergeant, motivator, enabler, sounding board…successful career coaches wear many hats. You match “customize” what you do and what you can offer to each client, to serve their specific needs. To do this, I take into consideration each client’s personality, in order to help them achieve IMMEDIATE specific, measurable goals. A career coach provides the guidance, strategies, resources, and actionable tasks a client needs, in order to help them find a job, change careers, or re-enter the workforce. We’re ALL about exploring paths and finding the right direction for our clients to go in…or, we SHOULD be.
 
You have to REALLY know what’s going on in today’s GLOBAL CONTRACT workplace. Having started my career in recruiting, then being down-sized EIGHT times over 23 years in a career spent as a MARKETER, and now balancing time between coaching and consulting organizations how to unleash their people’s full potential…well, I’m fortunate to be able to help people. But what I offer has to be MUCH more in these demanding times. I help people to develop a strategic networking plan, their (40-year) career plan, and research the industries they want to enter.
 

 
I may prep them for an important interview, or teach them how to conduct an “informational” interview. In short, there’s so much more to coaching than just re-writing resumes and cover letters! I help others to brand, market, and sell the PRODUCT of you. I work with my clients to promote themselves to their current employer for career advancement. If someone is struggling to understand what they have to offer, we have to start by gaining an understanding of what they represent, in terms of their interests, values, passions, hobbies, personality, etc. So, a career coach helps people in their journey to self-exploration. We match their work preferences with the ideal organizations they would thrive in, whose informal culture matches their own belief system.
 
What a career coach Is NOT.
 
Career coaches are NOT recruiters, staffing agencies, or placement firms. This is critical in being able to work effectively with a coach. Those other organizations match job seeking candidates with the clients they are paid by, to find employees. Coaches don’t have contractual relationships with the hiring organizations. If they did, they could NOT have YOUR best interests at heart when they are working to get paid by the hiring organization.

 
In fact, they really don’t care about the job seeker. They certainly do NOT work hard to ensure that there is a GREAT “fit” between the candidate’s values, personality and needs and the culture of the organization. Some of you that have followed me for a long time know how LITTLE regard I have for those folks. How to find a career coach? The best way is to get a personal referral from someone that knows you very well and the career coach. Absent of that, you can go to a career coach credentialing organization or one of the many coaching associations in your area. I hope this helps. As always…dedicated to your career success!

 

HELP! I've Embraced Small Business Technology & Can't Get Up

This is a story about how I came to love the cloud and small business technology…and you can, too!

 
Recently I had an epiphany. Technology is the 21st Century’s equivalent of root canal. You need it. It’s good for you in the long run, but it sure does hurt! Case in point. I recently decided to embrace the cloud. My motivation was, I got tired of constantly updating my files and re-saving changes to EVERY document on my PC, storage devices, laptop, then carry them around with me everywhere I went on flash drives so I could work on them when I needed to. It was a logistical nightmare to keep track of the latest versions. Know the feeling? I needed a more simple way of operating.
 
Enter the cloud. In the cloud, you just log on and access your files. you update them when you need to, and email them to anyone no matter where you are. Sounds pretty good, right? I uploaded all of my critical documents to Google Docs and activated a Gmail email account. Why Google? They HAVE to be great. You name it, Google does it. Don’t believe me? Check out: “Google is all about the cloud. Going Google.” That is, unless you’re an Apple iCloud or Microsoft SkyDrivefan. Wouldn’t it be great if you could manage all your information in a SINGLE place, to get it from anywhere at any time? Sounds good to me! I just signed up for a paid client relationship management software service through the cloud called Highrise.
 

 
Now I can supposedly manage all of my prospects and clients from ONE place. I say supposedly because I just signed up for the service. so theoretically I don’t need to store all those contact email addresses on Excel spreadsheets, in Outlook, in my email, on my cellphone, and those scraps of paper lying all around the computer. I also exported all my emails from Yahoo into an Excel file. Did that! but I still wasn’t done. I have @ 1,500 email addresses in my Constant Contact email account, so I had to also export those so I could upload them to my CRM. I had an ulterior motive for making all these vendor changes.
 
I want to leave Yahoo, my current email and web hosting service provider. I signed up with Yahoo eight years ago, to host my website (www.TheChazinGroup.com). It’s a basic template design, and it doesn’t afford me with the ability to interact with the people who visit my website. I also can’t customize the information they receive, based on their preferences. Another strike against Yahoo is that in order for you to run Google Analytics (Google again!) to see how your website performs, you need to place Javascript coding on your website. The Yahoo service that I have been paying for (it’s called Site Solution) won’t let me do that. As you know (since you’re reading this blog)
 
I have a blog that is created in Google Blogger. Since WordPress is the new sexy blog platform AND the hottest new web site development platform, I took a Word Press class to figure out how to blog with it. I wanted to use WordPress instead of Blogger and connect my blog to my website. No can do! At the time, WordPress couldn’t run on Yahoo’s platform. How’s this for irony…I log into my Blogger account with a Yahoo email. When I tried to change my account settings in (GOOGLE) Blogger recently to use my (Google) Gmail account, Blogger wouldn’t let me. HUH???
 

 
Just when you think you have this technology thing figured out, they move your cheese. The rate of technological change is happening at such a fast pace it seems virtually impossible to keep up with things. Social media is a perfect example. You create a Twitter account, and start banging out those 140-character brain farts. Follow people, get them to follow you, use hash tags (###) to build connections between you, your organization and specific terms…voila! Instant online branding nirvana, right? But that’s not good enough. You need your LinkedIn page, your personal business Facebook Fan pages to be in harmony with each other. Then you have to get invited to relevant MeetUp groups.
 
But now there’s Tumblr, Flickr, Pinterest. Then, experts used to say you should be active in online user forums. Now we’re told online forums aren’t relevant anymore. It’s getting virtually impossible to keep on top of all the changing technologies, tools and best practices. One person I can always rely on for the best updates and keen insights is Ramon Ray, Chief Technology Evangelist at SmallBizTechnology.

 
Whenever there’s online content that you want to subscribe to, you can get a feed of that blog, news, author, etc. sent directly to you. It’s called really simple syndication (RSS.) But once you start signing up to receive feeds from a few sources, it seems like the data starts flowing in constantly. While you’re doing all this online marketing activity, it’s also crucial that you measure your brand online. It helps to see how your efforts are leading to increased clout (brand equity) you’ve built. To measure your relevance in the online world, there are a ton of resources you can select from such as HubSpot, Klout, Google+, etc. But wait, there’s MUCH more. Now Quick Response (QR) codes are hot. QR codes let you zap contact information, and capture special promotions almost anywhere.
 

Don’t forget cell phones. 3G is out. Long live 4G (for now) Which model? iPhone? Android? Droid? Galaxy? Razr? Lumia? Phones have cameras…and Playstation. Sprint, AT&T, Verizon? Tablets now show 3-D video. Is that TV or Internet you’re watching? Don’t get me started on that! And there’s an APP for almost anything. It never, EVER ends! Even technerds are scrambling to keep pace. So much to learn, so much technology changing at warp speed. I have a headache. I think I’m going to lie down and take a nap, or play with my dog. Wait! Maybe I can download an app for that…from the cloud.
 

Follow Your Nose, Your Gut, and Your Heart for Career Success

Another way of saying you trust your sniffer is “follow your gut/instinct.” That queasy, tingly feeling you get in the pit of your stomach exists to warn you when something isn’t right (danger, danger!) It’s known as the “fight or flight syndrome.” Trust your instincts, the saying goes. Well, it makes for great career success advice, too!
 
Others tell you to follow your heart. When you pursue your passions, you will never work a day in your life. How do you know when the decisions you choose are the RIGHT decisions? What do all 3 body-sensing warning systems (sniff-gut-heart) have in common? In these times of significant change and chaos, following your instincts will lead you to make all of the RIGHT decisions, when you are confronted with the dizzying array of choices you’re confronted with, to ensure your career success.
 
Instinctive decision-making is NOT impulsive decision-making. Instinctive decision-making is based on extrapolating a set of most likely options based on similar past experiences and a comparable decision-making approach. You may not have had an identical past experience to draw from, but you most likely WERE confronted with similar characteristics. Making decisions based on your instincts is like drawing on a deep reservoir of unique perspectives. It’s called having a hunch, or a vibe. According to Andrew Campbell and Jo Whitehead, “Our gut intuition accesses our accumulated experiences in a synthesized way, so that we can form judgments and take action without any logical, conscious consideration.” This can be helpful because it speeds up our ability to act. The challenge is to actually listen to that nagging voice in your head that says: “I smell a rat because…” “I feel like this is the right decision to make in my gut because…” “My heart tells meto do this because…”
 

Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink proves that making quick decisions often lead to better results than if you conducted significant research and analytical approaches. This begs the question: “Can we be taught how to make decisions in our life more effectively?”
 
Jim Suhr, the President of the Institute for Decision Innovationsemphasizes that all decisions be based on the importance of advantages” or as he puts it:”choosing by making advantages.” When you make decisions impulsively, you do so based on your mood in the moment on a whim without any past experiences to guide you. We often have certain mental blind spots called “scotomoas” that prevent us from seeing the entire “BIG” picture. What do these look like? They are the biases and the prejudices that we carry with us through life that came from our past experience and upbringing but are actually irrelevant to the decision we a faced with.
 

Think about some of the major decisions you made in your life:
* How did you choose your spouse?
* How did you decide where to go to school?
* How did you decide where to live?
* How did you select the school for your child/children?
* Think about the major investments you made.
Overcoming impulsive decision-making Ask your family and friends how they might approach a decision you have to make or get their reaction on a proposed decision you are thinking of making. It’s called crowd sourcing, or seeking the intelligence of the crowd.
Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman and psychologist Gary Klein debated the power and perils of using one’s intuition to make decisions for senior executives in a September 2009 American Psychology article titled “Conditions for intuitive expertise: A failure to disagree.” Understanding HOW you reached conclusions to make decisions will help you apply stronger reasoning and logic. And that will help you to withstand the smell-gut-hearttest.

Career Counseling – If You Knew Then What You Know NowIf You Knew Then What You Know Now

“THEY” say…HINDSIGHT IS 20/20 VISION. But is it really?
 
If you had the ability to see into the future, would that cause you to change your behavior? Would you pursue the unknown with the same passion, if you knew in advance that you would be successful…or fall short of your goals? Well…we can’t! This is the type of thinking that leads people to spend their lives regretting the decisions made and things you chose NOT to pursue. It reminds me of the poem by Shel Silverstein that I used to read to my daughter: “All The Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas Layin’ In The Sun, Talkin’ ‘Bout The Things They Woulda-Coulda-Shoulda Done… But All Those Woulda-Coulda-Shouldas All Ran Away And Hid From One Little Did.” Why do so many people find themselves saying: “I wish I could’ve done things differently?” It’s NEVER too late to pursue your dreams!
 

For example, have you always wanted to find your dream job, so you can pursue your life’s passions? There are so many resources available to you to make that dream a reality, from career coaches to self-assessment tools, the alumni network of the schools you attended, your social and professional networks. Was it your dream to start your own business? Now is the absolute PERFECT time to do that! From business consultants to city and state agencies, business incubators, micro-lenders, there is a HUGE support network for those who wish to start their own business. The cold hard truth is, the only REAL barrier preventing you from realizing the dreams you cast aside long ago in favor of more practical pursuits lie between your ears. It’s that little damaging voice in your head that repeats…” I CAN’T because…” Set aside all the practical reasons (EXCUSES) we tell ourselves for a moment: * I’m too old/too young * I don’t have enough money * I don’t have the right support network If you could overcome all those challenges, what’s really is preventing you from achieving your goals. Come on…SAY IT…
 

Could it be a FEAR OF FAILURE? Now we’re getting somewhere. So what if you reach for the stars and fall short. You still will reach the moon. All of those excuses we make empower us with a built-in rationale for NOT daring to fail. We live in TRANSFORMATIONAL times. Entire industries are being drastically reformed. Corporations with tens if not hundreds of thousands of employees deemed too big to fail ARE failing.
 
Global competition, constantly changing technology, the commercialization of the Internet have been changing the global balance of power between nations. ONLY THOSE PEOPLE WITH THE WILLINGNESS/ABILITY TO CHANGE BY REINVENTING THEMSELVES WILL SURVIVE in these changing times.
 
Toss aside all of the excuses that mire us in inertia. Do NOT accept that you cannot change. You deserve to give yourself the opportunity to achieve all of the goals that you wanted to achieve, but you let that voice of fear and self-doubt pull you away from your ambitions. You don’t need to have a crystal ball to imagine a life for yourself filled with hope and realizing all your dreams.
 
Here is a list of things you can and should be doing right now to begin this transformation: * Distance yourself from all those people who tell you you can’t:
 
* Set tangible 1 week, 1, 2 and 3-month, 6 month and 9-month tangible goals. Write them down! Revisit those goals WEEKLY to monitor progress.
 
* Create a TASK LIST of things you need to accomplish in order to achieve your goals. The list should include: – All required task items – Descriptions of what each task entails – Start and end dates for each – Who OWNS the task (it will be YOU most of the time) – Task contributors – those people that will help you achieve the task – Status: Open, in-progress, completed, planned, etc. – Contingencies: Anything that will prevent you from achieving the task
 
* 168 – you only have 168 hours in a week. dust off those time management skills to prioritize your work-life balance so you can accomplish those tasks
 
* Coach ’em up, coach: Get a coach! Ideally it would be …me. Seriously, go out and find yourself someone that comes personally recommended to you who can help you. they must have a personality and values that match your own,. they should “GET” you. They should know when to push/challenge you, and when you need them to support/nurture you. At all times, you should be making significant progress towards achieving tangible goals by knocking off those tasks. As we look back on our lives, the most PAINFUL thing we can ever say/think about our time on this earth is… “IF ONLY I HAD DONE…”

Business Transformation – Popeye, Quick Fixes and Stomach Stapling

The past few weeks I’ve been blogging about pork products. So, in an effort to move to the healthier side of things I bring you…
 
Spinach! Well, spinach as a metaphor for quick fixes thanks to the dwarfish sailor with huge forearms, Popeye. You remember…”I’m Popeye the sailor man…toot toot!!!”
 
When there were problems or he had to beat up Brutus Blutarski, to save Olive Oil, he’d chug a can of the leafy energy vegetable and WHAM! POW! He’d make things right.
 
I’ve been thinking a lot about how we humans love to take the easy way out like Popeye. Overweight? No problem…get your stomach stapled. Need 6-pack abs? Strap a vibrator across your chest. You can eat all the pork products you want. In no time at all, that vibrating belt will transform your mid-section from a spare tire to a ripped grill.
 
Do you have business problems that keep you up at night? No worries. Use the “EASY” button as your get-out-of-jail-free card. You get an automatic do-over, at least that’s what the commercials would have you believe.
 

Have a failing business? No problem. Fire some of your workers.
 
It won’t hurt at all. Right? You’ll achieve immediate short-term results. Who cares? After all, you might think most of your people are lazy, complain too much, watch the clock, waste precious time and productivity by searching the Internet, right?
 
Jack Welch said it was critical to get rid of the bottom third (“C” people) in your organization. Heck, you may be thinking it’s time to churn your staff, like pro football teams churn the bottoms of their rosters.
 
Don’t worry. You have your own personal can of business owner “spinach.” Its the employees you choose to keep. You can dump the terminated employees’ work on your remaining workers. They’ll be happy to kick in, work those extra hours, see their families less, even take a pay cut…right? They’re “thrilled” to help, just to still have a paycheck these days.

 
We are now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel that these myopic, narrow-minded management decisions have had on America’s workforce. Four years of layoffs, down-sizing, right-sizing, re-engineering, and reductions in workforce have effectively beaten down the OVERWORKED, OVERSTRESSED, EMOTIONALLY DISENGAGED American workforce.
 
Those easy to implement short-term policies that were instilled in most American organizations have taken a huge negative toll on our workforce. I see it countless times in my work with job seekers. Many people who are still working are highly resentful of their employers. they are burned out, beaten up, and looking to leave. There isn’t an ocean of spinach large enough to fix the damage done, especially to the people who were out of work and have given up looking for jobs.
 
Workers are now even MORE motivated to leave and many are planning to do just that…quit your organization EVEN THOUGH the job market is so weak.

Now is the time for business owners, managers, and executives to start considering a path to implement really tough decisions to save their organizations.
 
NOW is the time to unleash their people’s full potential. The quick decisions that achieve drastic positive results are NOT going to be easy to make. For consideration, I present some strategies that I have been implementing with my clients:
 
* Treat your best clients like your employees: Ask them what you do that’s working for them. Ask them how you can improve. Take them to breakfast. Why not implement a “best customer” quarterly appreciation breakfast.
 
* Treat your employees like your best customers: It’s time to do what President Reagan said in his speech at Brandenburg gate in 1987: “Mr. Gorbachov, tear down these walls.” Remove the barriers that CONTROL your people. Let your employees determine your policies, procedures, systems and products.
 
* Ask your people to engage like never before: Ask your employees what you’re doing right and wrong! Let them design their workflows, schedules. Offer job-sharing, telecommuting. create a committee to develop an ongoing idea generation program to solicit the ideas from all of your people. Make their voices heard, and implement their suggestions.
 
* Fund a new business incubator program: Your best people are planning right now to leave you. Put aside money in your budget to fund their ideas, so they stay in your company and work on new products and services you can integrate into your offerings. Otherwise, they’re going to leave you to start their own business and do it themselves.
 
* Act like Mayor Ed Koch of New York City: He was famous for always asking: “How am I doing New York?” It’s time to have that conversation with your people. What do they like about you? What do they hate? What benefits do they want? Are you coaching, mentoring, rewarding, training, recognizing, and providing the resources they need?
 
* Make every goal a STRETCH goal: Every single employee goal should be a challenge. They should have to strive mightily towards achieving every goal. Meet with your people weekly to ensure they have what they need from you , in order to be a success. Celebrate failures where people take calculated risks to achieve tremendous results.
 
* Fail GREATLY: It’s not too late to change your business model, organizational structure, products and services, and your culture. There are no easy quick steps, or short-cuts in today’s global competitive climate. The quickest road to long-term success is to embrace failure as a learning endeavor.

NOW EAT YOUR SPINACH!