The Network – Part Two

After seeing last weeks post, I know you’re wondering if this old guy has heard of Social Media?  Yes, in today’s world it is an important part of networking.  But, bar none, there is nothing that can match face-to-face, personal contact for networking.

Social media can present your profile and can be exceptionally effective in finding and connecting with contacts in your profession or industry.  LinkedIn can connect you with your industry groups, Facebook, for some businesses, can link you to those who have need for your product or service.  Instagram can be an amazing outlet for your product or service where a picture is worth a thousand words.  It is what you do with Social media before and after the connection has been made that counts and will build the relationship.

I knew someone who work for a sawmill.  They were the exclusive supplier to clientele in Japan.  Twice a year this person’s task was to go to Japan and meet personally with the clients to see how they used the product and what might be done differently to improve the product.  In addition, each client had pictures of the workers who produced the product so there was a connection to it.  At home in the mill, there were pictures of the clients so the workers could see a destination for what they produced.

This is the ultimate networking.  This completes the connection of sales, production, and utilization.  Does Social Media play a role?  Of course, but it is not in itself, the complete process.  Face-to-face with its body English and human nuances still makes for real networking.

Get out, connect, and have fun!

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Posted in Advertising, Business Coaching, Business Planning, Clients, Coaching, Communication, Community Futures, Customers, Diversity, Economy, Elephant in the Room, Elephants, Employees, Empowering people, FaceBook, LinkedIn, Networking, Relationships, Sales, Social Media, Team development | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Network

Whether you are in business, starting a business, or looking for employment, you need a network.

If you are in business, you need a network that will tell you what competitors have emerged from the woodwork and what they are offering to the market, so that you can adjust if necessary and retain your market share.  You need to know what the economy is doing, especially if what you do is discretionary. What are the implications if it is a downturn or good news?  How will I react?  Your main network is you existing customers or clients.  Your constant communication with them over their wants and needs will guide your decisions.  Other networks include your local Chamber of Commerce, BNI groups, Community Futures, Service Clubs, and other volunteer opportunities.

For those contemplating starting a business, networking is essential to collect data on number of potential clients, competition, shopping preferences, and actual, potential customer information.  What are the demographics?  How many potential clients are there in the geographic area?  Who are the competitors?  What will the competition likely do when I start my business?  What is the economic forecast for your geographic market?  Your networks might include your local Chamber of Commerce, Community Futures, Local Library, Municipal or Regional District Office, Provincial or Federal offices for small business information and regulations.

If you are unemployed and searching for employment, your first stop is your local WorkBC Employment Centre.  There you will find assistance with all of your job search needs.  You may qualify for some of the programs such as training, wage subsidy, or self-employment.  If networking is not your strong suit, assistance is available.  Building the network with your targeted employers is essential in finding a position in your desired field.  Networking is not just a one-time connection but building a relationship with the individual or organization and maintaining it.  Your network could include volunteering, which with some organizations puts you in front of employers in the local community.

Your network makes the difference in achieving your goals.  Target it, build it, and maintain it.  No-one arrives at success alone!

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Posted in Business Coaching, Business Planning, Career development, Chamber of Commerce, Clients, Coaching, Community Futures, Customers, Economy, Elephant in the Room, Elephants, Employees, Employment, Entrepreneurs, Life coaching, Marketing, Networking, self-employment, Service Clubs, Social Media, Volunteering | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Resumes – Truth or Fiction?

The resume has been around forever, a dossier of skills, aptitudes, and experience.  It has changed little although it now is presented in videos, on CD’s as well as the ever-popular buff, 24-pound paper. But what is the relevance?

For the employer, especially an inexperienced one, they may place too much value on the resume.  The resume may not even have been done by the potential employee.  It could have been done by a resume service or employment office.  The fancy presentation may not reflect the talents of the applicant!

For sure, the resume is the first step in deciding who you will interview.  There are usually three piles; interview, maybe, and discard. My advice is to have ‘real work’ activities.  Have them perform a task that is work related.  If you need particular computer skills, get them to demonstrate the skills.  If there is a task that calls for handwriting, can you read it?  Cursive writing is becoming a thing of the past.

I heard of one interviewer who only asked one question, “What have you done from the time you were born until now that makes think you can excel in this position?  What are their accomplishments relative to what you are needing them to do?

To verify the resume, it is always necessary to check the references, making sure that the references were actually persons who supervised the individual and not just a friend.  Many are reluctant to say much about the individual or they will give a glowing report because they are anxious for the person to leave their organization.  A question for clarity might be, “If you had an available position would you hire this person back?”

Be cautious, what you see on paper may not be what you get in person!  Perform due diligence, ask the right questions, and see how they perform.

Bottom line, if your gut says don’t hire this person, pay attention!

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It’s Just a Matter of Time

We all have it.  Many of us waste it.  But each day, we all have the same amount of it.  I hear people complain that they don’t have time to do something, but in reality, we have to make choices as to what we are doing with our time.  We have the same amount of time as did Albert Einstein, Madame Curie, Albert Schweitzer, Picasso, and all the great minds.  They just prioritized the available time to accomplish what was important to them.

In our work we have deadlines.  We need to prioritize the task and fit it into our workday.  I remember being very busy at work on a project and my supervisor came to me and added another task on my workload and I said, “No”.  He questioned why I responded that way and I told him that he would have to make a choice between the two projects as I could only fit one into the time available.  He thanked me for pointing it out and found someone else to do the second task.

Our personal life is no different.  If time with our children is important, we make it a priority and find the time.  If golf is important, we know we can make time for it.  One of the main ones that people say they don’t have time for is exercise.  They just haven’t raised it high enough on the priority list and we all know it should be there, but it isn’t exciting.

If you started each day with $10 for every minute of the day you would have $14,400.  If you lost $10 for each minute you would likely be a little wiser in how you spent your time and make the best use of the money.   No matter what you do you should be aware of what is important and how it fits into your day.  Sometimes sitting in the sun relaxing is the best use, and sometimes it is not.

“How did it get so late so soon?”  Dr Seuss

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I saw an acapella group the other evening called Countermeasure.  Absolutely amazing what the human voice can master, sounding like a full orchestral accompaniment!  What the audience saw was the result of 10 years work and constant practice.

While they do this for the love of music and performing, it is a business.  It is no different than what every other entrepreneur does for the love of their craft.  Businesses do not just happen.  They are usually the result of sleepless nights, lots of coffee, endless research, and a plan.

But it does not end there.  They must continue to hone their craft, keeping up with any changes in it as well as the needs and wants of their customers or clients.  This is the ‘practice’ that is no different than a singer caring for their voice, learning new material, and constantly looking for the ‘sound’ that will set them apart and ‘create’ their audience.

Businesses are a lot like genres in music.  Even if performers are categorized a a particular genre, they have their own particular style within it that sets them apart.  No two businesses are exactly alike, they all have their culture and style.  The product or service may be exactly the same, but customers and clients differentiate between them.  Learning what that is, and practicing it, is the key to success!

As Sam Snead once said: “Practice puts brains in your muscles.” It does the same for business.

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Posted in Business Coaching, Business Planning, Clients, Coaching, Community Futures, Customers, Elephant in the Room, Elephants, Entrepreneurs, Life coaching, Listening, Marketing, self-employment | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Health in the Business

There are always lots of books, articles and blogs about ‘Health of the Business’.  But for the entrepreneur who works alone a major concern is ‘Health in the Business’.  If the entrepreneur gets sick or injured, how does the business carry on?

In an owner/operator business, income can come to a halt when they are absent.  This can be devastating to the business.  The business plan should identify this risk and how to mitigate the issue should it happen.

One way is to have an arrangement with another provider that would be willing to step in for you and you do the same for them.  Obviously there needs to be trust for this to work effectively.  You could also have a part-time or full-time employee, if you had enough business, and give them enough training so that the business would keep going during your absence.

The business could fail in a couple of ways if you are absent.  It could fail because clients will go elsewhere for your product or service and it may be difficult to bring them back.  It could also fail as there is not enough money in reserve to cover ongoing expenses.  Without a ‘fall-back’ such as a line of credit or a lender ready to help out, creditors could cause the business to fold.

There are insurance policies that can provide some relief if the owner/operator is absent due to health issues.  These are all considerations for the business plan before opening the doors.  The business plan looks at all the nuts and bolts of the venture you are launching.  Not a bad idea to have a medical checkup prior to starting the business to ensure that you are good to go as well!

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Words and Titles

Do words, expressions, or the way things are referenced bug you sometimes? One of the ones that I detest is the reference in business to ‘Human Capital’.  I get it.  It is an accountant’s way of justifying people on the bottom line of an organization.  But to me, it is degrading to the employees.

One definition of Capital is, ‘Wealth in the form of money or other assets owned by a person or organization or available or contributed for a particular purpose such as starting a company or investing’.  In other words, the employee is a commodity to be used.

Employees are much more than this.  They bring diversity and their strengths to the organization.  Their personality preferences contribute to the decision-making and culture of the organization.  In some cases they are the face of the business in the community and all of them contribute to the bottom-line.

A small thing?  Perhaps, but in my years in Human Resources and Employment Counselling, Position Titles and the way people are addressed has, in many cases, determined whether they accepted a position, or stayed once the were in it.

Work has a lot more attached to it than money.  Simple things like respecting the employee through recognizing them as individuals and their contributions can influence their loyalty.

What’s in a name?  Perhaps a lot.

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Posted in Business Coaching, Business Planning, Coaching, Communication, Diversity, Elephant in the Room, Elephants, Employees, Employment, Empowering people, Human resources, Leadership, Relationships, Team development | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment