By Amy Sabio | May 29, 2012
At the Canisius College Women’s Business Center, we are always discussing customers and this article gives some great tips on how market research tells you as a business owner or person in business about your customer. Take a look!
Too often, marketing decisions start with the phrase, “I think …”, when they should begin with, “Research shows our consumers want … .”
The time and costs involved in frequently contacting busy customers and finding out what’s on their minds can be formidable. Thus many marketing departments conduct customer research only a few times a year, using traditional tools such as online surveys, in-person focus groups and telephone interviews.
Customer behavior changes more frequently than this, however. Thankfully, businesses now have access to online research tools that make it easier to learn about their customers, what frustrates them, and most importantly, what will get them to spend more and stay loyal.
The first place to conduct research is at a company’s website. All marketing channels end up here at some point, so understanding this user behavior can reveal opportunities to improve the performance of every marketing campaign.
Start by dusting off your website analytics package. Google Analytics is perhaps the most popular one. While the user data is anonymous, it’s incredibly insightful. You’ll be able to build a revealing profile of your average web user, including details such as their city, the devices used to access the site, the websites they arrived from and even the most popular time of day for their visits.
Now that you know who’s coming to your site, dig deeper into what they’re doing. You’ll discover the pages where they most often arrive and exit, the most common paths they take and their favorite destinations. A good analytics package will let you create a series of specific user events, or goals, that should line up with your website’s overall strategy. Examples include filling out a Contact Us form, downloading a brochure or menu, and purchasing a product.
Once these goals are set, you’ll see which types of users are most successful at completing them. You may learn that visitors from a certain city or those who arrived from a certain website are more valuable to your business than others.
Web analytics fall short in explaining why visitors acted as they did, however. For example, they can’t tell you why they spend two minutes on a page that should take 30 seconds to complete, why they exit your site most often from the pricing page or why they don’t add products to their cart.
For these richer insights, it’s time to collect feedback from individual web users. A new group of market research companies have made this task easier by providing quick, easy and affordable access to thousands of your potential customers.
UserTesting.com is one such company. Businesses wishing to know the “why” behind their web analytic data can create an account and select who they would like to test their site (i.e., 25- to 44-year-old males who own a house). Next, they ask the testers to perform certain website activities and give them questions to answer. An hour later, the business receives a video of the tester performing the desired tasks on their screen, the user’s audio commentary explaining their frustrations and answers to the questions. Never has such valuable feedback been so easy to acquire.
The feedback should be shared with web designers, the IT team, marketing executives and the sales force, at a minimum. Nothing beats seeing and hearing a loyal or potential customer frustrated by your website. Of course, if time and money are more readily available, it’s also helpful to conduct this research in person to see a user’s frustration firsthand and probe deeper into important issues. But the digital approach is a great place to start.
These insights will help your team devise possible solutions to reduce any frustration or confusion that was observed. Since you can’t be certain which solution will work best until they’re tested, it helps to enlist the help of a company that makes this easy to do.
Google’s Website Optimizer tool is an easy-to-use solution that integrates nicely with its analytics package. After you tell it what you want to improve (i.e. completion of a lead-capture form) and provide two or more different web pages to test, it presents the options to web visitors in a statistically significant way so you know which one performed better.
Tools like this one have made it easy to constantly test new designs and theories about how to improve website performance.
These online research tools can reveal a whole new world of behavioral insights. Marketers can get closely acquainted with their average web user, watch them interact with a site and hear their frustrations, and perform side-by-side design tests and be confident of the winner — all for a fraction of the time and cost needed to use traditional research methods. Try them for yourself. Your customers will thank you.Biz Tips, Marketing | No Comments »
By Amy Sabio | March 28, 2012
Renee Martinez, one of the Canisius College Women’s Business Center’s board members, tweeted a very interesting blog and I’d like to share it with you! Below is a blog entry titled Myth: integrated marketing means using Facebook and twitter by Margie Clayman. Within the post, Margie makes a very good point that, ” Your communications across the board, from advertising to booth graphics to social media to the balloons you send up at your party should all give the same line of thinking, it should all be about your customer and there absolutely should not be any silos.” This is an important comment because business’s can forget why they market, and to have the reminder it’s for the customer can help them focus in on what will work best.
Here we are on letter I of the marketing myth series, and we’re going to talk about what integrated marketing means. Now, often times you’ll see folks talking on social media sites about how it’s important to make sure your different social media efforts are “integrated.” They’ll note that it’s important to integrate your blog with your Facebook page. They might note that it’s important to integrate your Twitter presence with your blog and your Facebook page. This advice isn’t wrong, although I think it might be behind a lot of efforts to automatically import tweets into Facebook and the like. But this is actually NOT what integrated marketing is all about.
First, let’s take a look at how our good friend Wikipedia defines integrated marketing:
Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) is defined as customer centric, data driven method of communicating with the customers. IMC is the coordination and integration of all marketing communication tools, avenues, functions and sources within a company into a seamless program that maximizes the impact on consumers and other end users at a minimal cost. This management concept is designed to make all aspects of marketing communication such as advertising, sales promotion, public relations, and direct marketing work together as a unified force, rather than permitting each to work in isolation.
Now, the concept of “customer-centric” is one that you don’t see bandied about much in the world of social media, so let’s talk a bit about that too. The awesome Beth Harte, whom I was fortunate to meet on Twitter early on in my social media career, offers this excellent definition:
Integrated marketing communications is about connecting with, listening to, understanding, and analyzing (communications) customers and delivering (marketing, product development, operations) on their needs and wants, hopefully in a meaningful way that serves both the customer and organizational goals. Perhaps that seems overly simple, but really, it should be that simple.
You should really read her full post from where I pulled that quote.
So what does this all mean? Well, it’s hard to narrow it all down into nice Twitterable lingo. But the bottom line is that the current buzzword – “Social Business,” is not too far off from what Integrated Marketing Communications has always been about. Your communications across the board, from advertising to booth graphics to social media to the balloons you send up at your party should all give the same line of thinking, it should all be about your customer, and there absolutely should not be any silos.
Why are we not talking about this?
If Social Business as a concept is getting a lot of attention, how come we still see so much ignorance or mythological thinking surrounding Integrated Marketing? Well, one potential answer is that the social media world has really painted itself into a corner. Take, for example, Dave Kerpen’s Likeable Media, which I recently read and reviewed. It’s a great book so far as its social media guidance is concerned, but throughout the book, a very black-and-white scenario is established. You can do social media. You can do traditional marketing. There is no real evaluation on how you could make all of it work for you.
This is pretty typical wherever you travel in the world of social media. Traditional marketing, be it email marketing, direct mail, print advertising, radio, television – all of that is sort of scoffed at in the face of all of this new “social media stuff.”
That’s a real shame.
The other problem may be that a lot of people became “marketers” (the new way we sort of define this word) with the onslaught of social media. They did not have a lot of marketing experience before Twitter started to catch fire. Therefore, they do not have a lot of experience with other forms of marketing, and hence they can’t really properly talk about it. So, as humans do, they focus on what they are good at and exclude the stuff they’re kind of weak on.
Or maybe there is another explanation I’m unaware of (I’m open to suggestions).
The sad thing
Here’s the really sad part about this increasingly common new “definition” of integrated marketing – it’s preventing companies/marketers from trying some pretty cool things. There are now entirely new ways to eliminate silos in your company, learn from your customers, and carry your message from platform to platform. You can develop products based on what your customers are actually saying and then speak to them through different mediums based on how you KNOW they want to be talked to. A press release can now link you to a YouTube video. An ad can suggest that input can be offered on the Facebook page. The possibilities are limitless. But we are missing opportunities to expand marketing as we force people to choose between “old” and “new.”Biz Tips, Marketing, Media | No Comments »
By Amy Sabio | March 6, 2012
I was going back through tips from Manta and thought this one was important to mention.
Manta Tip of the day:
If you have a website, you must pay attention to its performance and effectiveness–whether you like it or not. The prospect of calculating page views and unique visitors may seem intimidating, but Google Analytics is a free, easy-to-use tool that helps you decide if your message is getting across.
At the Canisius College Women’s Business Center, we use Google Analytics to comprehend the traffic to our website as well as using the Facebook insights to see what topics people are “liking” and talking about. These free tools can help you better understand your customer and the best ways to reach them. Why not use them!Biz Tips, Motivational | No Comments »
By Amy Sabio | February 29, 2012
I was looking through the older blog posts of Seth Godin and I stumbled upon a post about your customer. This is a thought provoking and important concept which we have previously discussed at the Canisius College Women’s Business Centers’ women with solutions series session ” A Customer for Life”.
Here is the blog entry:
Most partnerships don’t end up in court.
Most friendships don’t end in a fight.
Most customers don’t leave in a huff.
Instead, when one party feels underappreciated, or perhaps taken advantage of, she stops showing up as often. Stops investing. Begins to move on.
No, I’m not going to sue you. Yes, I’ll probably put my best efforts somewhere else.
Just because there are no firestorms on the porch doesn’t mean you’re doing okay. More likely, there are relationships out there that need more investment, quiet customers who are unhappy but not making a big deal out of it. They’re worth a lot more than the angry ones.Biz Tips, Motivational | No Comments »
By Amy Sabio | February 23, 2012
Blake, the project coordinator at the Canisius College Women’s Business Center, emailed me a link to this article from Kevin Potts about starting up a business. At first I thought it would be something generic that has been said millions of times, but it gave practical advice.
Firstly, writing a business plan. Kevin mentioned, years ago businesses were not putting this critical document together and look what happened. As he points out, “it forces you to come to terms with your business idea. You must decide how you will generate income, what your expenses will be, who your competitors are, and most important, WHAT YOUR BUSINESS DOES”.
One other section that I thought was very important was the importance of using outside resources. At the Canisius College Women’s Business Center we are giving entrepreneurs solutions for success. If you need help with your business plan, we offer free counseling every Wednesday from 12-1. We offer the resources for you to succeed in your business. It’s time for you to use them.
Below is the full article Starting a Business: Advice from the trenches by Kevin Potts
If you’re like thousands of other designers, programmers and other creative professionals out there, at one point in time you’ve considered starting your own business. Unlike most, you’ve gone against common sense and decided to open shop for yourself. And not just freelance full-time, mind you, but file for the company name, get some stationery, and wade through the legal mumbo-jumbo. Maybe even get a real office with a water cooler.
This article offers real-world advice from the trenches of a small start-up, and is applicable to designers, web developers, copywriters, usability experts and all manner of service providers. Freelancers take heed: there are several items that are just as pertinent to your profession.
Write a Business Plan
The most important thing you can do to prepare for starting and operating your own business. Developing a business plan requires a lot of time and energy, but it’s invaluable for one primary reason — it forces you to come to terms with your business idea. You must decide how you will generate income, what your expenses will be, who your competitors are, and most important, WHAT YOUR BUSINESS DOES. This may seem obvious to you now, but write it down. Think about it. What sets your business apart? What service do you offer that is superior or unique? What’s going to put you ahead of the competition?
Beyond the mental exercises, a good business plan will give you a much better chance of getting a small business loan from a bank than walking in and saying, “I like Photoshop and maybe a can do some websites or something. Gimme money.”
A few years ago, new age business rhetoric said forget the business plan and just run with it. Obviously, that didn’t work out so well, so if you go that route, God bless you. The business plan exists for a reason. There are libraries of books written on them and huge websites devoted to developing good ones.
Take a few weeks and develop a strong and thought-out plan. Give it to friends, co-workers, even family to read. Your business will be immeasurably stronger because you took the time for this step.
File for a Fictitious Name
A fictitious name (called a doing-business-as or DBA in some states) is the government’s term for your company name. If you choose HyperGlobalMegaSoft as the start-up’s name, it has to be registered with the state to ensure no one else is using it. This will cost about $100, but prevents you from accidentally using someone else’s registered name, or from someone else using YOUR name. Also note that two companies can usually register the same name for different industries. For instance, Luigi’s (design studio) and Luigi’s (pizza joint).
Note the fictitious name is not the same thing as a registered trademark. A trademark involves a whole separate process, more paperwork and additional fees. Unlike a fictitious name, however, a trademark is not required.
This is a pretty involved topic, and enough books and articles have been written about it to make for years of boring bathroom reading. Advice in a nutshell: start the business with your own savings or borrow from a bank. I highly recommend the former or a combination that includes it, since it makes you pinch your pennies a little more. If you go the bank route, make sure the business plan is polished to a high shine. This may be a good time to hire a professional business plan writer/editor.
There is one Golden Rule: Don’t borrow money from family or friends. 99% of the time, you won’t be able to pay them back, and on the off-chance you are, it won’t be for months or years. The amount is irrelevant; $1,000 or $100,000 can quickly create bad blood.
Get an Accountant
In starting your business and maintaining its future financial health, there is no greater ally than an accountant. He or she (or they if you go with a firm) will be able to give advice on innumerable aspects of your new venture. They can advise on what type of business entity to start with, setting up bank accounts, a means of invoicing and collecting, and more. Most importantly, they also guide you on paying taxes properly and punctually.
Brief advice on accountants:
- Go with an accountant or a firm in your state. Each state has different laws.
- Make sure the accountant knows business taxes. Do not hire a family-oriented accountant.
- Unless, you are really, really strapped for cash, hire an accountant who is not a family member. While it may be tempting to get a family discount, it is better to have an unbiased viewpoint about your finances, and also better to keep your family’s nose out of your funds in general.
- Try to trade services! Maybe your accountant wants a new logo, website, or brochure.
Start with a Partner
If you can, start the business with a partner. This person should be another designer or programmer with a level of experience equal to or greater than your own, but with a different skill set. If you’re the God of Annual Reports, your partner can be the Overlord of Identity Design. Having two Annual Report Gods will make for some lacking identity work when the client requests it. And for the record, once again, it will be better if this person isn’t family.
“But why a partner?” you ask. “I’m a darn good designer, and I’m really really gonna do this right.”
A partner will keep you on your toes. When you want to buy that $2,000 scanner, he or she should question why. If you want to design a promotional piece, it should be a group effort to get the best results. If you start to slack off, he or she will be there to remind you of business priorities. No one can do everything, and two complementary skill sets create an asset that cannot be reproduced when flying solo.
Retain a Good Paper Trail
Make sure to keep a solid paper trail with clients, and that means a real, physical file with hardcopies of proposals, contracts, invoices, time sheets and anything else you can think of that relates to the project. This also includes all financial records, bank statements, receipts, deposit slips, etc.
Before beginning your business, establish several important things. First, design a consistent and scalable filing system for all the forms. Whether you organize by client or project is irrelevant, but make sure you can find the information when you need it. Second, make sure to have airtight contracts. I advise against writing them yourself. There are many places on the net where you can get generic forms, such as www.creativepro.com. You will also need to look for NDAs (non-disclosure agreements, for contracting work out to other freelancers), RFP (request for proposal) templates for clients to fill out, expense reports, invoices, and time sheets. Every project is different, so be prepared to make changes on these forms.
And please, when you sign a contract with a client, make sure you have a copy with BOTH signatures. Seems like an obvious thing, but you’d be surprised. Don’t do any work without one, because legally, you will have a very hard time forcing a delinquent client to pay without one.
Part of maintaining a solid paper trail is having a good invoice system ready to launch at a moment’s notice. Make sure your invoices arrive in the client’s mailbox while the project is still fresh. Every invoice should clearly mark the amount to be paid and terms of payment (30 days, etc.), and clearly indicate any additional fees resulting from delinquent recompense.
If payment is late, don’t be afraid to call the client. Sometimes they just misplaced the invoice. Other times they don’t have the money and are trying to slink away. Sometimes, “the check is in the mail.” Regardless, the business that does not call to get paid won’t get paid!
Start Small, Conserve Loot
Consider working from your house/apartment to start, especially if you have clients that will never visit you, or if you live in an expensive metropolis (NYC, LA, Chicago, San Francisco, etc). Keep your expenses down! Don’t buy a new quad Xeon workstation if your current machine can cut it, or a truckload of networking equipment for two computers. Be cheap! Look for sales at OfficeMax, clip coupons, and just shop smart. You’re going to need the start-up capital down the road, so don’t drain it on frivolous expenditures. (And yes, the folded die-cut business card with the metallic ink counts as a frivolous expenditure.)
Don’t Undercharge, but Be Flexible
If there’s one thing to remember from this article, it should be this point. Proper pricing is the one thing that keeps the business alive, on multiple levels. When you charge appropriate amounts for the work, the client will feel like they hired the right people; when you undercharge, the client will know this and take advantage of you by demanding similar rates in the future.
If you give every client a discount just to get the job (and this will be tempting, especially in the beginning), you’ll find yourself working twelve-hour days and not being able to pay the bills. Undercharging hurts the industry in general as well; undercharged clients come to expect and request absurdly low prices.
Make sure all the copies of your software are retail versions. Do not use “educational” or pirated software. This is very important, and should be part of the start-up budget.
Separate Personal and Business Finances
Nothing much else to say about this. It will save you innumerable headaches come tax season.
Even the most reliable clients have dry spells, so make sure you are constantly putting your company’s name in the marketplace. Word of mouth is the best, but getting truly fresh work usually requires spending money.
The Importance of Image
The importance of maintaining a positive image in the eyes of your clients and potential clients cannot be overstated. Know your firm’s identity so you can project that identity to the customer.
The visual identity is critical. Get business cards, letterhead, and envelopes. Design a good logo or pay someone to do it if you’re not a design firm.
Dress the part. When meeting with a client, look like someone who’s come to do business, not some clichéd black-turtleneck half-shaven graphic designer who’s gracing them with your presence half an hour late. It sounds exaggerated, but it happens all too often.
Make the office welcoming. If you entertain clients, keep the office clean, organized and hospitable. Make good coffee. Purchase comfortable chairs. Make sure they have a place to park.
Use Outside Resources
Running a business takes long hours and a willingness to learn. However, there are many services that exist to help businesses succeed and get work.
If you still decide to start a business, there’s nothing more I can say except good luck.
You’ve got to have the “fire in your belly,” or you will fail. There are long hours, hard work, and incredibly frustrating and stressful times ahead. But the rewards — being your own boss, being able to work on a variety of projects, feeling that proverbial sense of accomplishment — these are all very real results.Biz Tips, Motivational, Start-Up | No Comments »
By Amy Sabio | January 23, 2012
Counseling is one of the programs that we offer here at the Canisius College Women’s Business Center. This free program allows men and women to come to the center every Wednesday from 12pm to 1pm to receive direction, guidance and assistance.
The counselors always give thought provoking questions and advice about business, and this article below gives just that.
Here are 10 suggestions for creating a successful start-up from blogger David Lavenda.
1. Test your ideas constantly and be hyper-critical about why you might be wrong–many young entrepreneurs will prepare the requisite SWOT slide for investors, but don’t really do the analysis. Validate your ideas with people who will really buy your product/service. If you can’t get them to work with you early on, your idea is probably not that compelling … or they “don’t get it.” Either way, you have got your work cut out and it’s better to know early on.
2. Keep an eye on the market — If you had a good idea, it is reasonable to assume someone else out there also thought of it as well. Ignoring the competition is a big mistake.
3. Keep an eye on the finances–you will need more money than you think. Much has been written about this, but it can’t be overemphasized. And be careful with equity. It’s easy to give out equity early on to save cash, but if you are successful, this becomes extremely expensive later on.
4. Hire the right people–particularly, people who complement (not duplicate) your skills, and fit your culture. Don’t be afraid to hire people who know more than you, as long there is a good cultural fit. Outsource to buy expertise you can’t afford in-house, and to perform non-strategic business functions.
5. Stay focused on value, not fluff–ignore the urge to have a “strategy” for every facet of the business up front. Stay laser-focused on providing value for customers. Follow your business plan to make money. You will be a totally different organization once you have proven your ability to generate cash.
6. Remember, there are many reasons why a product/service is successful. It may not be the most technologically-advanced product/service on the market; often it is the one that is marketed or sold most successfully. Therefore, it is important to know what you are particularly good at, and then truly excel at it.
7. Encourage a collaborative environment. There is no monopoly on good ideas. That doesn’t mean that decision-making is democratic, but it does mean you encourage people to offer ideas. We give way too much credence to the odd startup with an eccentric entrepreneur who rules the company by strength of their personality. Also, credit people for their contributions.
8. Don’t be afraid to be different. Investors are conservative by nature and will probably want you to follow the path of comparable companies. If you have a good reason for doing certain things differently, make sure you can articulate your reasoning , and then ‘go for it.’
9. Life doesn’t have to end when you create a startup. I have worked in several startups where people stay late into the night, but they almost always waste a lot of time during the day. A culture of ‘those who leave early’ are losers, is in my opinion, a poor work culture. People need to be passionate and diligent about their work, but you should encourage people to have a life as well. When people feel that they are respected, they work better and care more. It is not a zero-sum game, after all.
10. Believe in yourselves–if you are following some recipe that you found in some ‘how-to’ book, you are probably on the wrong path. If you truly believe in what you are doing, and you have done your homework, you stand a much better chance of succeeding. There will be no shortages of ‘nay-sayers’ along the way who will tell you why your idea has already been tried and failed.Biz Tips | No Comments »
By Amy Sabio | December 15, 2011
At the Canisius College Women’s Business Center we use social media everyday to promote our events and bring relevant research to our clients. I was reading Seth Godin’s blog and the topic he discussed was the trap of social media noise. I thought it was interesting considering many of our clients are using social media outlets to promote their business. He talks about having the right “noise”. Here it is:
If we put a number on it, people will try to make the number go up.
Now that everyone is a marketer, many people are looking for a louder megaphone, a chance to talk about their work, their career, their product… and social media looks like the ideal soapbox, a free opportunity to shout to the masses.
In Corey’s words, the conventional, broken wisdom is:
- Follow a ton of people to get people to follow back
- Focus on the # of followers, not the interests of followers or your relationship with them.
- Pump links through the social platform (take your pick, or do them all!)
- Offer nothing of value, and no context. This is a megaphone, not a telephone.
- Think you’re winning, because you’re playing video games (highest follower count wins!)
This looks like winning (the numbers are going up!), but it’s actually a double-edged form of losing. First, you’re polluting a powerful space, turning signals into noise and bringing down the level of discourse for everyone. And second, you’re wasting your time when you could be building a tribe instead, could be earning permission, could be creating a channel where your voice is actually welcomed.
Leadership (even idea leadership) scares many people, because it requires you to own your words, to do work that matters. The alternative is to be a junk dealer.
The game theory pushes us into one of two directions: either be better at pump and dump than anyone else, get your numbers into the millions, outmass those that choose to use mass and always dance at the edge of spam (in which the number of those you offend or turn off forever keep increasing), or
Relentlessly focus. Prune your message and your list and build a reputation that’s worth owning and an audience that cares.
Only one of these strategies builds an asset of value.Marketing, Media | No Comments »
By Amy Sabio | December 5, 2011
At the Canisius College Women’s Business Center we give women the tools and support necessary to succeed in business. The same support could be given to employees through their leaders in order to empower them to make decisions. Below is an article I found by Marshall Goldsmith about empowering your employees to empower themselves. Don’t worry, he doesn’t want you to give up control of your company to the people around you! He wants you to create an empowering environment for your employees while you, the leader, run interference to ensure a safe working environment. Take a look.
As a manager or leader, do you let your people assume more responsibility when they are able? Do you know when that is, or do you keep telling yourself that they aren’t ready yet?
In my travels from organization to organization, I talk with thousands of people every year who want to be treated as “partners” rather than as employees. They want information to flow up as well as down. But, oftentimes, leaders do not want to give up control.
I knew a CEO who was the leader of one of the world’s largest global organizations. He received feedback that he was too stubborn and opinionated. He learned that he needed to do a better job of letting others to make decisions and to focus less on being right himself. He practiced this simple technique for one year: before speaking, he would take a breath and ask himself, “Is it worth it?” He learned that 50% of the time his comments may have been right on, but they weren’t worth it. He quickly began focusing more on empowering others and letting them take ownership and commitment for decisions, and less on his own need to add value.
Your employees understand their jobs. They know their tasks, roles, and functions within the organization, and it’s time for you to let them do what they need to do to get the job done. But there is a critical point that is often missed: It isn’t possible for a leader to “empower” someone to be accountable and make good decisions. People have to empower themselves. Your role is to encourage and support the decision-making environment, and to give employees the tools and knowledge they need to make and act upon their own decisions. By doing this, you help your employees reach an empowered state.
The process does take longer — employees will only believe they are empowered when they are left alone to accomplish results over a period of time — but it’s effective and worth the time. If a company has a history of shutting down or letting go of initiators, for instance, the leader can’t just tell employees, “You are empowered to make decisions.”
Part of building an empowering environment is dependent on the leader’s ability to run interference on behalf of the team. The leader needs to make sure people are safe doing their jobs. To make sure this happens, an ongoing discussion of the needs, opportunities, tasks, obstacles, projects, what is working and what is not working is absolutely critical to the development and maintenance of a “safe” working environment. You are likely to spend a lot of time in dialogue with other leaders, employees, team members, and peers.
Following are a few things leaders can do to build an environment that empowers people.
1. Give power to those who have demonstrated the capacity to handle the responsibility.
2. Create a favorable environment in which people are encouraged to grow their skills.
3. Don’t second-guess others’ decisions and ideas unless it’s absolutely necessary. This only undermines their confidence and keeps them from sharing future ideas with you.
4.Give people discretion and autonomy over their tasks and resources.
Successful leaders and managers today are willing to exercise their leadership in such a way that their people are empowered to make decisions, share information, and try new things. Most employees (future leaders) see the value in finding empowerment and are willing to take on the responsibilities that come with it. If future leaders have the wisdom to learn from the experience of present leaders, and if present leaders have the wisdom to build an environment that empowers people, both will share in the benefits.
Do you believe empowering employees is a good strategy?A Events | No Comments »
By Amy Sabio | November 29, 2011
Last night I was practicing for a speech I will be giving in a week and decided I should search for some easy tips to help me get through it. Jeff Harden simplified the ways to present yourself and I thought I should share this with everyone from the Canisius College Women’s Business Center.
1. Share an emotional story. Many speakers tell self-deprecating stories but few can resist including the Tom Cruise “talk to me Goose” moment (4:20, NSFW) when all your mistakes and poor decisions and ill-fated tower flybys over an Admiral’s daughter finally came to a head and transformed you into the wonderful person you are today.
Admitting a mistake is great but not when used simply to show how far you’ve come. Instead just tell a story that relates to your topic and let your emotions show. If you were sad, say so. If you cried, say so. If you felt remorse, let it show. When you share real feelings you create an immediate and lasting connection with the audience. Emotion trumps speaking skills every time.
2. Pause for 8 to 10 seconds. There’s a weird phenomena that occurs when you stop talking. Pause for two or three seconds, the audience assume you lost your place. Pause for five seconds and the audience begins to think the pause is intentional… and starts wondering why. Pause for ten seconds and even the people who were immersed in Angry Birds can’t resist looking up.
Then when you start speaking again, the audience naturally 1) assumes the pause was intentional and 2) decides you’re actually a confident and accomplished speaker. Like nature a poor speaker abhors a vacuum and rushes to fill it, and only confident speakers—like you—feel secure in silence. While it won’t be easy, take one long pause to gather your thoughts and the audience will automatically give you speaker bonus points.
3. Ask a question the audience—and you—can’t answer. Speakers ask questions to engage the audience but that technique is often forced and tends to work about as well as this. Instead ask a question you know the audience can’t answer and then say,” That’s okay. I can’t either.” Explain why you can’t and then talk about what you do know. Most speakers have all the answers; the fact you don’t—and are willing to admit it—not only humanizes you but makes the audience pay greater attention to what you do know.
4. Find one thing no one knows. I’ve never heard someone say, “I was at this presentation the other day and the guy’s Gantt chart was amazing…” I have heard someone say, “Did you know when you blush the lining of your stomach also turns red?” Find a surprising fact or an unusual analogy that relates to your topic. Audiences love to cock their heads and think, “Hmmm…”
5. Never think “sales.” Most businesspeople assume they should capitalize on a speaking engagement to try to promote a product or service, win new clients, and build a wider network. Don’t. Thinking in terms of sales only adds additional pressure to what is already a stressful situation. Put all your focus on ensuring the audience will benefit from what you say; never try to accomplish more than one thing.
And don’t worry that you’ll be missing out on an opportunity: When you help people make their professional or personal lives better, you’ve done all the selling you’ll need to do.
What tips do you have for public speaking? Leave a comment.Biz Tips, Media, Networking | No Comments »
By Amy Sabio | November 23, 2011
The Canisius College Women’s Business Center is always encouraging our clients to have an “elevator” speech prepared for our speed networking, open networking and WIN sessions. I was time for me to take our own advice and start working on my own speech. Below is an article I found very helpful, so I decided to share it with everyone.
If you suddenly found yourself next to someone who could benefit your career or business connections, would you be ready to seize the opportunity?
According to the little pink book, It can be as simple as having the right elevator pitch.
“It’s your calling card,” says Ginny Clarke, co-author of Career Mapping. “Anywhere at anytime, there could be an opportunity for a conversation that could serve your career.”
Where to begin? “Write a script,” says Clarke. Other experts recommend writing down what you do in 10 to 20 different ways, then practicing so you know the keypoints you want to leave people with.
“Offer what’s important in your life and what means something to you,” says Clarke. She encourages women to talk about personal subjects so people know who you are, allowing others to connect with you.
Something to avoid? Cramming your whole resume into your pitch.“This isn’t a job interview,” says Clarke. She relates it to being on a first date. “You’re getting acquainted, not trying to sell yourself or ask for favors.”
Do you think an elevator speech is important?Biz Tips, Marketing, Networking, WIN | No Comments »
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