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Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Importance Of Self Promotion

For years, trade shows have been a way for vendors within a particular industry to come together and share what they have to offer.  Many unique products make their debut at these industry-specific events and a considerable amount of business can be done over the course of an event.  Because exhibiting at these shows was limited to established businesses it was difficult for independent retailers and freelancers to become involved in the greater industry.  Now that freelance workers and home businesses have become a more prominent feature in just about every industry, trade shows are welcoming these people as vendors and exhibitors.

Self promotion is a form of advertising unique to people working outside of traditional employment environments.  This includes independent authors, freelance workers, artists, craftspeople, designers, and many others.  The rise of the Internet marketplace has made it possible for independent workers to flourish.  This means that there are now more people online trying to promote what they do.

The Elements of Self Promotion

Presenting at a trade show is a good way to distinguish yourself from other independent workers in your field.  When you meet potential customers face to face they’re more likely to remember you and look for you online in the future.  To make a good impression, you’ll have to think seriously about self promotion.

The key elements of self promotion include:

  • Presentation.  You are, in a sense, selling yourself so make sure you present yourself as the professional you are.
  • Examples of the work you’ve done.  If you’re an artist, display work you’ve done.  Programmers should have a terminal that allows people to try out their software.  An author needs to have books available for browsing and purchase.
  • Basic information.  It’s helpful to have a brief statement that describes who you are and what you do.  This can be as simple as “I’m a fantasy book author writing for young adults” or “I give educational presentations to people who want to start small businesses.”  This statement should be brief and to the point. Avoid too much technical jargon or opaque terminology; this can discourage your audience.
  • In-depth information.  Be prepared to talk about past work you’ve done or give examples of your work history.  A biographical handout can be appropriate or a brochure that discusses your educational and training background and unique approach to the work you do.  After introductory information, have something more substantial ready to give to people.

Self Promotional Strategies

Sales can be one of the most challenging aspects of being an independent employee.  Even the most ambitious person can easily get worn out by attending lots of trade shows and similar events.  To conserve your energy choose to do a limited number of exhibitions each year.  Take into consideration the amount of traveling that would be required; transporting yourself and all your equipment can become very expensive.  At first you might want to focus on just two or three large annual events.

Consider partnering with a network of people doing similar work.  Even if this group is only informally organized, your combined efforts will make the exhibition process considerably easier.  Two members of the group could represent the items produced by everyone, including themselves.  At the next event, two other members will do the same.

In the age of the independent worker, self promotional is absolutely necessary.  Doing the work you’re passionate about is impossible without a customer base.  A good way to create that base is to get out and meet your customers face to face.

Lawrence Reaves writes for Exhibit Deal, a company offering portable trade show displays such as banners, digital signage and pop up displays at affordable prices.  For more information on Exhibit Deal and the products they carry, go here.

 

Handling Rejection At Work

It can be crushing and infuriating to be denied a raise or passed over for a promotion you know you deserve. But let’s face it, business is business, and it doesn’t take your personal needs and emotions into account. So although you will of course have a strong reaction whenever things don’t go your way at work, your response needs to be professional and handled with tact. Here’s how to deal with professional letdown in your job.

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What Not To Do

Don’t get emotional, pouty, or openly upset. Be professional; you should not start badmouthing your boss to your coworkers or explaining to colleagues why the person who got the promotion over you is less qualified. Stem the outrage and indignation, and focus instead on the reasons for having been passed over. There are reasons, and your employers have a justification for having refused you. So don’t send out a passive aggressive email or call your boss to ask why you were turned down. In fact, keep that question why not? entirely to yourself.

What To Do

The first thing to do is to schedule a sit down meeting with your supervisor. This is business, professionalism requires being straightforward and direct. Rather than asking why not, explain openly that you had expected to receive the advancement, and ask what you need to change to insure that you aren’t passed over next time such an opportunity arises. Show that you are invested in long-term growth with the company and that you aren’t satisfied with career stagnation.

Depending on what you learn from your boss, this is also probably a good time to have a chat with a headhunter. They can be a great resource to help assess your position in the industry, and can give an honest answer as to what others in the field are earning and how quickly they typically advance. You might find out your expectations were unrealistic, or you could find out its time to jump ship.

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Most of all, it is essential to remain as dispassionate as possible when evaluating your next step. Don’t dwell on the disappointment. Rather, use it as an opportunity for self-assessment and growth. Have you reached the limit of your advancement at the company? Are you not doing enough to promote the interests of the business? If there are better career options out there, the rejection may be a sign that it is time to move on; find a company where your upward mobility will be less hindered. If not, perhaps you aren’t working hard enough or directing your efforts in the most efficient direction. In either case, an unexpected rejection at work is probably a signal something needs to change.

Author: Jenny Beswick was made redundant last year but this year she managed to find a new job on the Legal Week Jobs Board and has now been promoted. If you are looking for a new boss in a new industry then keep an eye on the job board today!

 

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Five Marketing Activities for the DIY Small Business Owner

A small marketing budget doesn’t have to stop you from promoting your business on a widespread scale. If you’re a small business owner, you probably already know that the DIY method can save you a lot of money and increase your profit margins. There are also a lot of great DIY marketing activities, and here are five suggestions.
Locally Publish Articles

By writing an article related to their niche, small business owners get a chance to show off their expertise in the area; that’s one of the big benefits of maintaining a blog. You don’t need a blog, however, to maximize the marketing potential of a well-written, helpful article. Offer to write an article for a local newspaper. Small local newspapers or magazines in particular are often more than happy to accept your content because it’s free and will benefit their readers. These papers are great vessels for reaching hundreds or thousands of local customers.
Start a Joint Venture

Small business owners have the potential to help each other increase sales with joint venture marketing. A mutually beneficial business relationship can be very successful. Get creative, and think of ways you and another local business could help each other. You might make a proposal for collaboration, and you can refine the plan together. You might offer a special discount to customers of your partner business, or you might offer to split the profits of referrals to each other. A good arrangement will expand your business’s reach and promote sales.
Sponsor Something

Becoming a sponsor of a local event is a great way to promote your business to residents and show your commitment to the community. Think about popular yearly events, and talk to town hall or the organization that holds them about becoming a sponsor. You might contribute money, for example, and be rewarded with your name printed on all promotional materials, or a special booth at the event. You could also offer your products or services instead of cash if they’d be useful for the event. If there are no relevant events, host one yourself. Hold a charity fundraiser; partner with local schools to sponsor an activity for children; there are many possibilities.

Give Away Samples

If it would be possible for your business, use free samples for promotion. People love free stuff, and they’ll rarely ever turn it down. Hopefully you can convert some of those samplers into customers based on the quality of your product. Give away samples at local events, schools, local businesses and organizations, and anywhere else that’s appropriate. Also consider sending samples to area journalists, radio personalities, bloggers in your niche, or anyone who could potentially mention your product a large audience if they think it’s deserving.
Start a Customer Program

Word-of-mouth will always be one of the best ways for any business to get new customers. To encourage your customers to spread the word, start some type of referral program that will reward them when their friends make a purchase. You could also consider a loyalty program that will reward frequent shoppers. When you ask people to sign up for any type of store card that could benefit them, it’s a great opportunity to collect their personal information and ask to add them to your mail or email list so you can stay in touch.

This article was researched and prepared by the marketing experts at SEOMap with the intent of helping business professionals succeed.  Check out their latest SEO book focusing on keyword anaylsis.

 

 

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The Importance of Environment

Having worked from home and in small teams most of my short life, so far I have truly learned the importance of surrounding myself with people who I not only respect, but also can continually learn from and use for inspiration to push to accomplish more and more.

This idea of surrounding oneself with a stimulating environment is easy when you are in some form of post secondary education – or working in a larger corporation. However, having been out of school for quite a few years now it is easy to see that once you enter into the small business/entrepreneurial stratosphere – it can be a grind, and unless you force yourself to step out of the weeds on a regular basis, can be a real creativity and energy drainer.

To get through this, I rely heavily on my support network of friends and family who have gone ultra corporate (if not just to serve as a reminder of why I didn’t go that way) to bounce thoughts off, letting them run it through their big business process focused minds as a litmus test, sounding board and advisory services – all over the course of just several beers. Such a deal!

Aside from friends and family, several of our key clients keep me striving for more – there is nothing better to keep you motivated than constantly tackling new challenges!

The Importance of Continual Education:

I am sure this isn’t the first time this has been said, but the importance of truly forcing yourself to step outside of your comfort zone on a regular basis is truly the secret to success.

This comes in the form of not only stepping outside of staying abreast of not only your primary industry but the world by reading things like the daily paper, non-fiction books of interest, documentaries, current event editorials like the New Yorker, The Atlantic etc.

Now that we have just added another 10 to 12 hours to your weekly routine – let’s talk about training.

Conventions, conferences, webinars, seminars, trade shows – whatever form, or fancy name you give them. Attending, actively learning, reflecting upon and acting upon what you learn throughout these data dump sessions not only serve as a source of networking – but also, if they are worth their salt, business building opportunities for inspiration!

So get out there, keep learning, surround yourself with great people and stay on top of your game.

This article was written by Dan Goldstein of the Toronto SEO company NeuMarkets.

 

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‘Should I stay or should I go?’

The Stats

The Office for National Statistics reported that 382,000 people resigned from their jobs in 2011. This figure has been falling ever since the late 1990’s. Recent trends suggest that workers are still affected by the recession – a stagnating job market means that a change in career is not exactly easy. Others see opportunity but are fearful to make the move; the concept of ‘First in, last out’ in relation to redundancy practice is still often used, despite increasing difficulties for the employer in justifying this approach.

Is The Grass Greener?

Nevertheless, many employees consider a job change or career move – motivated these days by the notion of that the ‘grass is greener on the other side’. Therefore, the employee with itchy feet needs to carefully consider certain factors when contemplating a resignation. The decision to resign may come following a bad day or week at work, and therefore be made in the heat of the moment. Employees feeling the pinch are recommended to take a day or two to consider how they really feel.

Consider The Wider Implications

When it comes to career decisions, there is no shame in acting with a little selfishness; after all, a career is a personal thing. Having said that, employees considering a career change or resignation should take some time to carefully and dispassionately consider who would be affected by their actions. In many cases this will be family and friends; these people are likely to be seriously affected by a career change – both in financial and social terms. For some, these will be a stronger influencing factor than for others.
Workers should consider their colleagues and managers too. Specifically, this would be in taking a step back and looking at where one’s current job is going – rather than where it is at the moment. For example, if the reason for leaving is a personality conflict with co-workers or a boss; is the other party looking to leave as well? If so, is it better for the worker to stay put if other aspects of the job are fine? This works the other way round too; a real superstar of a manager may be able to work some magic to make an otherwise stressful working environment a little more bearable.

Other Reasons

The other reason to step back and reflect before reacting is to consider what to do next; more and more people are choosing to explore totally new career paths (recessions seem to compel people to take stock of their priorities). Taking time to consider options will ensure that there is a plan – method behind motivation.
Despite the gloominess of the current job market, people are still making the brave choice to move on to new things. Taking time to reflect on the above will ensure that if someone’s ultimate decision is still to leave, then that choice is communicated with reason and diplomacy in the resignation letter. After all, it’s vital to never burn bridges; who knows what – or who – the future holds.

This post was written with the collaboration with Badenoch and Clark, helping you find the job you are looking for.

 

 

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Innovative Employee Rewards

Working for yourself is one thing because you get to enjoy the perks and benefits of owners and CEO’s, but those working under others are often not privy to the incentives for management. Employee rewards are becoming more common place as companies realise that staff are much less productive and enthusiastic without recognition and benefits.

A Few Innovative Employee Rewards

Flexibility: This is one of the key rewards for employees. People chained to desks from 9-5 are restricted to the access they have to the things in their personal lives that require attention, such as children and household issues. More flexible work hours give employees an incentive to prove they are capable of doing the job, while tending to their important lives outside of the office.

Incentivise: Show employees recognition for their hard work by giving vouchers for a spa day or comedy show tickets. A little something to help them unwind, or give them a good laugh, shows employees that they are valued, goes a long way to building loyalty.

Lunch: Reward staff with a buffet lunch where they can take a step back from the office and stuffy work involved. Many companies treat their staff like machines and expect lunch to be taken at their desks while veering off the work course is frowned upon. This is the best recipe for companies looking for high staff turnover. Some companies will reward employees or a single employee with a voucher for a lunch date for them and five of their friends.

Throw a Party: This is one sure-fire way to show employees you appreciate their time, effort and input into your company. Employee rewards go a long way to boosting morale, productivity and loyalty. Staff who get to enjoy a party for no reason other than just being rewarded for good work, are naturally inclined to always give their best.

Many companies work hard for their employees, and as a result employee’s work hard to ensure they give their best. Incentives, benefits and employee rewards are the primary driving force behind these people, who are often the backbone of big companies, making a concerted effort to go the extra mile.

It’s often disconcerting that one would have to remind the guys at the top of the ladder to not take their staff for granted. Most of us were raised to show gratitude and courtesy, and this has found a way into the work place as more bosses give more employee rewards. Thank goodness for evolution.

As a prolific writer Vida Denning has freelanced for a variety of businesses and her recent stint at a Reading office space was extremely inspiring in how staff are rewarded and motivated.

 

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Making The Best Decision On Locating Your Business

Just about anyone who is considering starting up a new business knows that location is one aspect that is vitally important.  In fact, you could have a great business idea but if you set up in the wrong spot, no one will even know you’re there.

The whole “build it and they will come” concept may work great in the movies, but it doesn’t often play out in real life.  Get off on the right foot when it comes to location and consider these factors before you decide where to set up shop.

What’s Your Business? 

The type of business you plan to open has a lot to do with the location you will ultimately choose.  Whether it is a business relocation or a brand new business, matching type and location is of the utmost importance.  The location is especially important if your business relies on members of the public walking in and buying products or services.

Basically, if you’re opening up a business that relies on human traffic to succeed, then you must be located in an area with a good deal of human traffic.  These kinds of businesses include restaurants, bars, pubs, clothing stores, book stores, etc.  Any business where people must come to you needs natural traffic.

For businesses where high levels of human traffic aren’t critical like law firms, manufacturing facilities or accounting offices, accessibility and human traffic isn’t such an important aspect.  Just make sure you take the time to consider your business and ask if this location is going to help it or hurt it, before you sign on.

The Cost

 If you are running your business properly then you’ll have a budget for your location.  And if you have a budget, you’ll have to consider it before you commit to a location.  Think of your business, your taxes, your current and projected sales, and your other expenses when deciding if you can afford a particular spot.  You should have a monthly amount all worked out before you even start looking.

You’ll also have to decide if you’re going to rent or if it makes more sense to buy.  Start ups are most likely always going to lease or rent, but if it’s a business relocation because the business is growing, you might want to buy the space instead.

How Much Space You Need? 

The space you require is yet another factor that’s tied to the type of business you want to start.  A used DVD shop might not require too much space, but a car dealership would require quite a lot.  The projected growth of the business may also play a factor in how much space you need.

If you’re starting with 25 employees, but project that you’ll have 100 within two years, it might make sense to account for that so a business relocation won’t be necessary too soon.

Imagine a Day In the Life

 Before you get too excited and worked up about a particular location, it’s wise to sit back and picture what a real day or week would look like in that location.  Will most of the employees have good access to the site?  Will the traffic patterns work for or against you and your employees as you go to and from work each day?

Sometimes, the little things are what really determine if a business location is worthwhile or not.  Having every factor fall into place only to discover getting to and from work each day is a terror isn’t going to help anyone.  Consider every single factor, and you’ll find the location that’s perfect for your business.

Before making the final decision to relocate your business, speak to different commerce centres (example: www.ajaxfirstforbusiness.ca/) to gather more information.

 

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