Thursday, February 28, 2013

Myspace Artists & Bands - Etiquette Tips

When you ask Myspace users to listen to your music, there are a few things to keep in mind...

Artists and bands on Myspace want to expose as many people to their music as possible. Clearly I am on Myspace to do the same and then some. I know that when artists send a message or comment asking me to listen to their music that I am not the only person that received the request and it's not necessarily because they are seeking my approval or opinion...they simply want to be heard and are hoping for a new fan.

Here's the thing with me and probably other Myspace users. I am open to a wide variety of music and genres but I am particular about what I let into my subconscious mind.

Just to give you an idea of where I am coming from here are two quotes that I take to heart:

Take control of your suggestive environment and only let in words, images, and ideas you desire.

Feed your mind with mental protein, not mental candy. Read, listen to and watch positive, upliftng material.

So basically what I am saying is IF your music is about:

Shaking your money maker, how much money you have, being in your entourage, how suicide is the only way out, how you're a 666 demon, or how much you hate your mom...etc...
I DON'T WANT TO HEAR IT. I'm not your target market (which you probably would've figured out by taking the time to read my profile). Thanks but NO THANKS! I respectfully decline...

But I will tell you how to find your audience.

My suggestion to all artist and bands on myspace is to do a thorough search for YOUR target demographic.

1. Use the browse and search features.

2. Use Google.

3. READ profiles

Lastly, here are two great morsels of wisdom to keep in mind:

The Law of Segmentation
Business success comes from identifying and targeting specific customer groups or market segments for your product or service.

Who exactly is your customer?

Where is he or she?

Why does he or she buy?

The Law of Market Concentration
"Market success comes from concentrating single-mindedly on those specific customers who can most benefit from the unique
competitive advantages of your product or service.
Identifying and focusing your efforts on this core group is the key to profitability."

This can be applied to your quest of gaining exposure on Myspace.
You have all the necessary tools at your finger tips to find your audience, use them.

First Impressions Make a Big Impact on Business Success

Have you ever heard the saying, "You don't get a second chance to make a good first impression?" While that may not always be true in love, it is definitely true in business. In fact, the effects of a first impression in business go far beyond the initial contact creating a domino effect. Everyone that comes in contact with your business, even if it's only with your business card, becomes a potential customer and advertiser. They can have a positive or negative effect on the success of your business. This is why making a good first impression is so important, every time.

So how do you make your first impression count and create a positive domino effect?

You make a commitment to be your best, on and off the clock, and in every detail of your business. This includes network meetings, cold calling and the delivery of your product or service. It also encompasses your business identity, sales materials, business operations, direct mail campaigns, print advertisements and even the quality of paper and printing used for such materials.

Take time to evaluate the image you project, both personally and professionally. Does your appearance, attitude, communication, phone etiquette and customer service skills project a good first impression? Does your office, store front and company vehicle give a good first impression? Does your business card, sales materials and even invoices make a good first impression?

When you commit to present your best, every time, you guarantee a winning first impression that will work
for you long after the initial contact.

The goal is to leave a winning first impression that has prospects and customers asking you for more--more information, products and service.

© 2006 Gabrielle Melisende. All rights reserved worldwide. Reprint rights: You may reprint this article as long as you leave all of the links active, do not edit the article in any way, give author credit and follow all of the publishing guidelines for EzineArticles.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Home Remodeling Etiquette

Your big remodeling project might be very exciting for you and your family but have you stopped to wonder how the neighbors are going to feel about it?

It is worth taking the time to follow a few of these "remodeling etiquette" tips to make sure that you remain on good terms:

* Let your neighbors in on your remodeling plans well ahead of the first day that the contractors arrive. Tell them when the remodeling work will begin, the approximate completion date and what remodeling work you are actually having done.

* Only have the remodelers working on your home during reasonable business hours. It may be tempting to let them start before nine, or work on a Saturday morning but the neighbors are likely to be less than thrilled to be woken by the sounds of sawing and hammering on the only day they can have a lie-in.

* If there are going to be large trucks parked in the street that may affect your neighbors' access to their homes or parking spaces discuss it with them ahead of time.

* Even though most good remodeling contractors will do their best not to scatter construction debris all over the place, keep an eye on the situation yourself as well. And if you do spot stray building materials that have found their way onto your neighbor's property, approach them and apologize right away - before they have time to get upset about it.

* Remove ugly dumpsters from your property as quickly as possible. If you have room left in your last dumpster, why not invite neighbors to dump anything they might have lurking in their garage that needs tossing, a gesture they are sure to appreciate.

Golf Etiquette for Business Golfers

If you are a keen golfer, then you probably have two very distinct groups of people you play with - your close friends, and business associates.

When you play with friends, you can probably get away with a few less than polite activities on the course, but when you play with business associates, they are not only watching you play, but watching you in general.

There are a few must learn business golf etiquette rules that you should never break, and in this article, we list them.

Patience Is a Virtue

Be patient. Patience is most certainly a virtue, and when you are on the golf course, being patient is not only polite, but a good idea when you are playing with business associates. Wait your turn, do not try to rush other groups, and do not show your impatience. Trying to rush the game, or trying to rush others, will not reflect well on you!

If you are pressed for time, you probably should not be playing business golf anyway, so only play when you can do so at your leisure.

Don't Distract Fellow Players

It goes without saying that when you are playing business golf, you should make every effort not to distract your fellow players. It may be funny when you do it with your friends, but it is only likely to irritate other opponents, and that is no way to win favour!

Be quiet, stay out of the way and you will not irritate or anger your fellow business golfers.

Clean Up After Yourself

It goes without saying on most courses, but it is especially important, when you are playing business golf, to make sure you clean up after yourself. Replace divots, do not ever litter, and leave the course as you found it.

Remember, if you are sloppy on the course, potential business associates will assume that you are sloppy in life, and in business, and that can undo any good work you have done!

Be A Good Loser, and a Gracious Winner

You might not realise it, if you are new to business golf, but your behaviour on the course is far more influential to your opponents than your game is.

That is why it is so important, when you are playing against business associates, to make sure that you are both a good loser, and a gracious winner, as is appropriate to the situation. Leaping into the air, rubbing your victories in your opponent's face, or otherwise being slightly obnoxious will not make you any friends, and that can hurt your business prospects. Likewise, looking for excuses, getting angry or not congratulating your opponents when they win will only discourage them from dealing with you off the course.

Etiquette, and handling yourself with dignity, ethics and in a sportsmanlike manner is more important than ever when you are playing business golf, so if you don't already know the rules of the course, learn them before you venture out for a game with people you do business with, or would like to.

Ten E-mail Etiquette New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year! New attitude? New habits? The past year brought many changes, unfortunately, when it comes to proper technology use, many still feel online is a free for all. Certainly that is not the case and is simply a misnomer to lend shelter to those who still do not want to make the effort to learn the online rules of the road.

Everyone can improve on their skills -- if they are willing. Remember, perception is the only reality online! Those you communicate with will form an impression about you based on how you choose to use technology - positive and negative alike.

For whatever reason, these issues in particular, are those that I notice are neglected by too many on a daily basis. Make a commitment to improve in these areas and you may find your online activities to be more enjoyable as well as more profitable and effective. It won't hurt; rather it will only add to the positive impression you will make with those who communicate with you.

Many who may never have the pleasure of meeting you in person will only have your use of technology to form their opinions about who you are and what you would be like to get to know, do business with or form a relationship with. The perception of the type of person you are, as well as whether you are a fish out of water online, will certainly be apparent by the efforts you choose to make or neglect in these areas.

  1. I will not forward an e-mail unless it specifically applies to the person I am sending to. I will include a personal note to that person so they know why I am forwarding that particular e-mail their way. If I must send or forward the same e-mail to a group of contacts, I will do so only when I put their e-mail addresses in the BCc: field to protect their privacy (especially if they don't know each other).
  2. I will also set a good example by removing any visible e-mail addresses within the body of the forward from previous irresponsible forwarders who did not feel the need to protect their contact's privacy. I will also make a point of down editing my e-mails to remove text that is irrelevant to the ongoing conversation.
  3. I will take the time to make sure that my sentences are complete, capitalized and include proper punctuation. Using proper sentence structure and taking the extra time to ensure that my intent and tone are clear, will do nothing but reflect positively on me. Making these efforts will go a long way to ensuring communicating with me is easy while having the added benefit of helping to avoid any misunderstandings.
  4. I will not send an unannounced large attachment of any kind, even the ones I think are very special photos of [insert here: my grand baby, my new car, sales flyer, Power Point presentation...], until I ask first when would be the best time to send it to the intended party. This way, I do not fill their e-mail box without notice causing all their other e-mail to bounce. The fact is I do not know what the other side's e-mail activity is like to assume my attachment will not cause any unnecessary problems for them. Think of the other side; not just of what you want to do.
  5. I will ensure that the Subject: field will include a brief and concise description of the content of every e-mail I send. I will modify or change the Subject: field when necessary to better display what my e-mail contains.
  6. Every e-mail I send will be courteous and include a proper greeting and closing which includes my name. Typed properly too! Names in small case or all caps reflect either a lack of education or tech savvy; neither of which is a good thing. Nice greetings and closings avoid my e-mails coming off as demanding or terse and reflect that I understand common courtesies.
  7. I will not copy or use any text, graphics or content from another Web site or author without their explicit permission to do so. The online world, contrary to popular belief, is not a public domain environment! I will not use another author's writings in whole or in part without them being aware of exactly what I am doing and where I will use their information. I will not post e-mails that were sent to me privately for any reason in a public forum without the original sender's permission. These are all serious copyright and privacy issues that I need to be aware of, practice and respect.
  8. I will refrain from formatting my e-mails with colored text, bolding and/or italics because I know it may not look as I intended when received on the other side. (Plus my e-mails may be mistakenly identified as spam!) I also understand by making the extra effort to add emphasis with formatting, it may be taken the wrong way or even over-emphasized by the recipient. I will learn to relay my thoughts clearly with the written word rather than having to rely on formatting. I understand if I take the time to choose my words carefully and reflect on how I use them, formatting is not necessary.
  9. When I sign up for a Web site service, newsletter or am sending an inquiry, I will take the time to add that site's e-mail address to my address book, white list or approved senders list so that the response can get through any spam blocking software my ISP, online service or that I may have in place. I understand that if I don't make this effort, the response to my request or subscription may not make it to my inbox.
  10. I will make a point of understanding each online service or Web site I choose to use by reading their Frequently Asked Questions, Terms of Service and Help area. I understand that I need to eliminate my actions or lack thereof as a possible cause of a perceived problem before pointing fingers at others. If in fact something does appear amiss, I will e-mail with courtesy asking for assistance in resolving my difficulties rather than making blunt demands or accusations based on my assumptions alone.

There you have it! Your 10 New Years E-mail Etiquette Resolutions to work on for the year ahead so that folks don't cringe when they see your name in their inbox. Just imagine if every onliner made these efforts? Joy, joy!

Selling Your Business, Entrepreneurs Role

$elling $elling $elling

What makes a great sales person? Well, the natural ability to sell
defnitely could not hurt. Sales people are a passionate, obviously
people oriented, motivated and energetic bunch. An entrepreneur
needs to be everything in one. And one key ingredient to molding an
entrepreneur is his/her ability is to be a good salesman. Why after all
how can run a business if you can't sell your product or service? It
obviously makes no sense whatsoever.

An entrepreneur either has to be the salesman or hire a kick ass
salesman to help him with the job. Sometimes they cannot be in a
position to dish out a big figure salary for whatever factors be it just
starting out, saving money and what not. An entrepreneur is then forced
to sell and become the top salesman for his team. Factoring their
creative knowledge and natural sales abilities would determine whether
or not the entrepreneur is a good candidate to make his sales quotas
succeed. However, if you want to run a business how can you run such
a business when you can't get people interested in your services?

Here are some sales tips from one hardworking entrepreneur to

Tip 1. Be Passionate. Sales people are in nature passionate people.
From my past experience, the best sales people love what they do. They
love talking to the people, negotiating deals, the travel, and whatever
else comes with it. When you are passionate about something it shows.
When you want something badly enough you can easily attain it. A great
salesman has the knack to make a connection, to seal the deal. It's all
about reading people, their ability of people skills and their passions.
When someone is not passionate it shows. You can just tell that they
have no interest in what they are selling or whom they are dealing with.
You can notice it by their expressions, their words and their overall

Tip 2. Don't be pushy. I personally, abhor pushy salespeople in
business. Good business etiquette involves being polite, well mannered
and respectable. No one likes a pesky salesman. No one wants to be
stalked, called on twenty times a day, visited at the office on surprise.
You begin to act like a telemarketer and look at what America has done
to these folk. Why they can now be banned, blocked on our caller id's by
calling directory serice. Being pushy is tacky. Being sensibly aggressive
in a polite manner is key.

Tip 3. Don't forget you are an entrepreneur. This is a tricky part. You can
still be a good salesman but never forget your main role. The role of an
entrepreneur. It is easy to get caught up and overbalanced in certain
positions for the entrepreneur. You are a multi tasker. You need to be
everything at once and as a businessperson your responsibility to be
the sole proprietor comes first. Learn to be the salesman and at the
same time don't let it all get overbalanced. You will soon find yourself
out of whack and scatterred before you know it.

Tip 4. Compete. Selling is a tough thing to do. Selling a service in a
world full of competitors will make you or break you. As an entrepreneur
you should surround yourself around successful sales professionals.
Observe them. Learn from them and learn what makes them tick. In my
experience working in a corporate environment and many a
conversation with those savvy salespeople, I've learned a lot of great
tips. A good salesman is always on top of his game. He is aware of his
competition, he is goal oriented, can communicate with people on all
levels, is a great talker, people reader and overall a competitive breed.
A lot of this should rub off on you. It takes strategic business savvy skills
and tactics to sell your service successfully. Hard work and
perserverance in the long run will take off.

Tip 5. The hungrier the better. We are all animals. A good salesman
knows what it's like to be full and what it is like to be hungry. Which one
are you? Hopefully you want to get to the level when your are
reasonably feeling full the majority of the time. But ever notice when one
is hungry, what kinds of inner drives it all can produce? Sales people
have a hungry mentality. They need to sell, based on their own working
survival it is in their nature. Entrepreneurs face the same challenges.
They are hungry in both ways. They need to sell their service to profit,
they are both hungry to achieve this and at the same time need to get
the rest of their business off the ground.

Tip 6. Personality. It's all about your personality, your attitude and your
dimeanor that comes with it. If you want to be successful in this area you
need to be well liked. If you can't pass the first impressions, which is so
true that first impressions are everlasting then you by far cannot sell your
product or service. When a company takes a liking to you they begin to
take interest. And hooking the potential client to take an interest in what
you offer is key. Naturally, thereafter you can pitch your idea, give them
your reasons and then it is up to them to make the ultimate decision.
This determines point blank either they like you and your service or they
don't. Which would you prefer? So it is always best be on top of this and
remember it's all about reading people and having stellar interpersonal
skills. This is a key factor to potentially landing a new account.

Tip 7. I know as an entrepreneur you want to just run the business. You
are thinking, I am not a salesman I am an entrepreneur and that's a big
difference. Very true indeed and their is no argument in that. But to be
successful you need to be up to par with what goes on and you can't be
ignorant to the fact that this is your business. You put all this time and
energy to make it happen and you have gotten so far. It does not hurt, in
fact it will benefit you a great deal to be knowledgeable as much as you
can on every aspect of running a business. With sales being a key factor
in determing your success of your biz, any entrepreneur can benefit on
being a kick butt salesman as well successfully running his/her own

As an entrepreneur, you should research for yourself what you feel will
help you in the sales department. Evaluate yourself, your strengths and
weaknesses, gain some hands on experience working for a bit with a
company in sales if you don't have a clue, talk with other successful
sales professionals for their tips and advice, do some research on the
internet, read up on sales trends and stay true to your entrepreneurial
self at the same time. It's all for the best. In the meantime, the learning
process is a fun one. You'll find yourself discovering things about you
along the way, you will be more knowledgeable about the the art of
selling and you will eventually learn to become a sharp selling
individual. Apply this all to your business and the magic should be
working in no time.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Proper Wedding Etiquette on Gifts - Wedding War of Words

I read an article today on a brides action and reaction to a wedding gift received and I could not, NOT have a thought about it, or have something to say about it.

I was shocked, appalled and simultaneously empathetic and sympathetic to BOTH parties!!

Who are the 2 parties? The article states something around 1 guest & 2 Brides (but that sort of confuses me). Anyway, the crux of the matter is this: The Bride(s) from UK, sent an SMS a guest from Ontario, Canada and began a Hellish WAR of Words, because... (and here's the kicker)... the bride felt the gift she received was "too cheap"!

Now, you, being the reader of the article, may instinctively choose one party over the other and will definitely have very valid reasons in doing so. The article writers themselves took a quick survey and there were people who favored both sides. But let me (for arguments sake) explain my dilemma and why I can't chose one over the other as easily.

Let me begin by saying, I can't help but read this article from 4 pairs of eyes. Not 2 pairs, Not 3, but 4! That is, the Brides', the Guests', as a Professional & Personally!

From the bride's point of view, I've been there (but not done that!). I advised my guests that I preferred cash gifts as I already had my house set up for 2 years and didn't need any decorative / kitchen / HH items. Finally, I had quite a few people who gifted me cash and decorative gifts, and speaking from the bride's perspective, after putting in all that effort and cost, you can't NOT help but feel let down slightly with some of the cash amounts received. To a Bride, this cash is part of the expectations of a gift; so when you gift someone something for a big event, would you put in minimum effort or would you want it to be something cherished and of use? For e.g. People give meaningful wedding gifts such as Honeymoon packages, expensive spa treatments, expensive crystal and in the Indian custom, Gold is given to show love, respect and blessings from the giving family. So, if you stick in a gift that could possibly equate to buying 3 subway sandwiches, you are falling way below the par of expectations the bride has!

Moving onto the guest's point of view. The article has a picture of the gift that was given (basically a gift hamper filled with food & goodies). From the looks of it, that big wicker basket looks very Eco-friendly, re-usable, decorative and honestly, expensive. In IKEA, a wicker basket that isn't half as classy as the one in the picture costs min $15 - $20... and that's just the basket. The article goes on to say that the guest couple filled the basket with all sorts of goodies, sugar & spice and everything nice. They added a well-wishing note that said... "Enjoy... Life is Delicious" (or something like that). Now, for the guests, that basket did take a lot of thought and effort. The total value of that basket may have been over $150 easy!! And, I can say one thing about an honest Canadian; they have high respect and value for money and the environment! So a $150-$180 worth an article is close to a day's pay for some people. So, that's not a joke! Also, whatever happened to the phrase... "It's the thought that counts"??

Now, let me voice my opinion as a professional. I am a certified and professional wedding planner and like all my colleagues in this field, part of my professional certification training is Bridal Etiquette. So, this is where I think the bride dropped the ball. Second, the article says the bride exchanged words such as 'Weddings are to make money for your future. Not to pay for peoples' meals.' Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought weddings were to celebrate your love and life with someone who makes you want to be a better person and having your family and friends surround you on this momentous day to celebrate this new journey of life for 2 people... (The act of gift giving is in line with the idea of showing your support to the newly wed... not necessarily with finance!). If I'm wrong, then I'm in the wrong business, because that's one of the biggest reasons I became a wedding planner!! In support of one comment in the Article, Wedding Celebrations are NOT a Business for the Bride and Groom!! Its' a celebration of Love, not a tact to make a profit! The Cash gifts received are meant to be a bonus to the married couple. They most certainly can't cover the cost of the wedding or even close to it, but they can help re-coup the costs involved.

Anyway, my personal opinions have been slipped into my views above. The 2 things I want to share separately are; I'm the kind of person who will appreciate any act / gift that shows love and support. I am a strong believer in the old saying that "It's the thought that counts" although I can understand the brides disappointment in a gift that was less than standard to what she received from others.

On a Final note to all my readers; you may be brides, soon to be brides, bridesmaids or just trying to organize a party. My honest suggestion to manage gifts for the occasion is, "Advance Notification". Tell your guests, politely, what works best for you. Be sweet, short, brief and to the point. Something along the lines of the following should work well with the invitees:

"We, [Groom] & [Bride], politely request all our guests who wish to support us with a gift on our Momentous Day, to kindly present us with Cash and not Valuables.
We have [set up an account (number, bank name, code) / created a cash box at the wedding reception] where you can deposit your cash or cheque to us.
We thank you in advance for your blessings & support in making our day special & we look forward to celebrating with you!"

Another way to avoid an unpleasant situation is to register for gifts, there are plenty of websites out there that support wedding gift registry and they are extremely easy and simple to find and manage. These 2 options also spare the bride the worry / effort of managing the gifts that are received AT the wedding!

That's all from me on this topic for now. For free specialized ideas on your wedding or event and for further tips on planning your wedding, contact me by visiting my website or read my blog posts.

Until then, take care and have a fabulous wedding!

Business Phone Systems

Business phone systems are communication systems that all businesses need. They usually consist of handsets, interconnectivity and a host of host of features including hands free intercom, silent room monitoring, internal paging, caller I.D, etc. The system should work well with other equipment like answering machines, cordless phones, fax machines and computer modems.

Basically. There are three kinds of commercial phone systems on the market today. They are the Key system, Private Branch Exchange (PBX) systems and KSU-less phones. PBX systems are suited for firms with over 40 plus employees and also suited for advanced functionalities. The Key system is suitable for a 5-40 employee firm. This system uses a central unit called as a key system to provide unique features like allowing users to make calls to another in-office extension. The problem with this system is that it is less customizable. Recent technological developments have blurred the distinction between PBX and Key systems. Many Key systems use PBX features and some units use both PBX and Key features (hybrids). Both PBX and Key systems are very expensive to install.

KSU-less phone systems are suited for small companies with less than 10 employees. For a much lower initial investment, KSU less phones are designed to provide many of the features of a small business system in a decentralized manner. They do not require a central cabinet and are not installed permanently in your office so they can be moved.

When buying KSU-less systems, you must make sure it is compatible with the telephone wiring, as well as accessories like fax and answering machines. The purchaser has to do his or her own installation, and there is a danger of cross talk. Though cheap, this system is facing competition in price from the hybrid systems.

While buying a phone system, it is essential to choose the correct size (lines and extensions) for your business. Lines refer to total number of outside phone lines used by company. Extensions refer to all the connections to the system from various internal sources like phones, faxes, answering machines, modems, etc.

While buying phone systems it is also prudent to have agreement with vendors or manufacturers regarding ongoing maintenance or warrantees of the equipment that you purchase.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Vacation Rental Homes in Costa Rica - When You Eat Out - Tips, The Check and Restaurant Etiquette

One of the beauties of staying at a vacation rental home is you have the option of eating in. However, you're most likely to venture out for a few meals during your trip. Eating at a restaurant in a foreign country is intimidating, especially when you don't speak the language or understand the cultural nuances. If you're headed for Costa Rica here are 3 tips that will help you feel and act like a local.

Tip #1 - The Check Will Never Come Unless You Ask for It

Unlike the western world where the waiter can't wait to hustle you out the door and seat another customer to get his next tip, a Costa Rican waiter treats clients with a completely different attitude. In the land of Pura Vida (live the pure life) no one rushes and there's time for everything. Don't sit at your table and fume thinking you're getting poor service because the waiter hasn't brought your check yet. It isn't bad service, it's cultural. Costa Ricans feel you should relax, enjoy your meal at a leisure pace and when you're ready - you'll ask for the check. Rushing through a meal is bad for your digestion, so lighten up and enjoy the sunset or the view. Bask in the moment - you'll be back to the hustle-bustle soon enough.

Tip #2 - Tips Are Included

Although it's true that 10% for "service" is almost always included in your check, a waiter who gave you special service will always be grateful for an extra tip. Restaurant servers make little money and an additional 5% to 10% is appreciated. Never leave just a couple of coins, especially the silver ones - at a currency rate that hovers around 500 colones to the dollar - it may only add up to a few cents.

Tip #3 - Pay with Colones

The colon is the currency in Costa Rica. To get the best rate, exchange your colones for dollars at a local bank after you arrive. Local business can give you arbitrary exchange rates as there are no regulations. So, to get the most bang for your buck pay in colones whenever you can. That said dollars are accepted all over Costa Rica. Credit cards are also widely accepted except in the small local "sodas," those hole-in-the-wall places with delicious food nonetheless. So, get out and enjoy the many wonderful restaurants available throughout Costa Rica. Just remember to ask for the check when you're ready, leave an extra tip if you feel it's warranted and pay with local currency whenever possible.

Business Card Etiquette

Business cards have to be one of the cheapest forms of advertising that there is. That is "if" they are distributed. With that said, I've had some business colleagues that hang on to their cards like they're dollar bills. Now me, I'm just the opposite. If you get within arms length of me, you're going to get one of my cards and I'm going to try to get one of yours.

That leads to the point of this article. I recently had a young salesman ask me this question: Is it okay to automatically add somebody to your database when you have their business card?

My return question was: where did you get the card? If you just came across it and never met the person, then my answer is no. But, if it was at a trade show or networking function I would say yes. But even then, I would use the following stipulations: It depends on which database you are taking about.

Let me explain.

1. If it is a potential client, I'll tell them that I'll be sending them an email to confirm information and make sure we have each other's email address. When I send that email I'll ask them if they would like to be included in my customer database to receive important product information from time to time. I include an "Opt In" option in that email.

2. If we are talking about another sales representative from another company and/or another industry, again I'll tell them that I'll be sending them an email to confirm information. When I send that email I'll ask them if they would like to be included in my "Lead Development" database where we can keep our ears open for each other. Again, I include an "Opt In" option.

Both of these options are just good business and if you don't take advantage of the contact... you're missing the boat.

10 Tips to Better Phone Etiquette

Telephones have been around for more than 100 years. And now cell phones have become common place, even among some elementary-age children. More and more companies are finding the need to review Office Etiquette guidelines with their employees, taking into consideration how dependent we have become on devices such as cell phones and Smartphones. Keep these 10 tips in mind the next time you find yourself on the phone:

  1. Speaker phones were never designed to use in a cubicle or open floor office setting. They have the incredible ability to pick up the littlest of noises and are best if used in a closed door meeting or conference room. If you work in a non-private office, be sensitive to those around you by using a hand- or head set.
  2. Speaker phones work great in conference rooms or offices with doors. Just be sure to shut the door before getting started with your conversation.
  3. In the event of coughing, dogs barking, sneezing or other bodily sounds, know where your mute button is. Others will thank you. And never take your cell phone into a bathroom stall thinking that multi-tasking is a good idea. In this situation, it's never a good idea!
  4. If your employer does not require you to use your cell phone, then completely silence it or shut it off during business hours. Turning it to Vibrate will still interrupt others should you be in a meeting or have it sitting on your desk.
  5. When attending a meeting, never place your cell phone in the space (desk or table) between you and others. Doing so can act as a visual barrier and may appear as an interruption waiting to occur.
  6. Avoid setting your cell phone on any surface where food will be served. Instead, tuck your phone in a pocket, handbag, or briefcase. Worst case scenario would be to place it in your lap during a meal. Just be prepared if you've got it set to Vibrate.
  7. If it's necessary to speak on your cell phone in a public setting, look for a place where you can talk without disrupting others with your conversation or exposing others to your business.
  8. Watch your voice volume when talking on a cell, especially in a public place.
  9. When speaking with a customer, always ask permission before placing them on hold. This gives them a choice and allows them to feel in control. Likewise, when returning to the phone after having placed someone on hold, always thank them for holding. Examples:
    1. "Mr. Smith, may I place you on hold while I check on your order?"
    2. "Thank you for holding, Mr. Smith. Here's what I discovered."
  10. At the end of a conversation with a customer or client, allow them to be the first to hang up and disconnect the call. Remember your high school days where you'd talk late into the night with your sweetheart? Neither one of you wanted to be the first to hang up. Likewise, your client should never hear a dial tone before you do.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Ten Etiquette Rules for Children

Success is your birthright so anyone can have it. Here are a few etiquette rules that children can follow to help them to become more successful in life:

Ten Etiquette Rules for Children


1. Stay away from people who are troublemakers

2. Say please, thank you, excuse me, good morning/evening, I am sorry

3. Put your hand over your mouth when you cough

4. Be kind to other people

5. Be polite on the telephone

6. Be neat and clean

7. Obey parents/teachers/elders

8. Go to church

9. Boys should open the door and always pull the chair out for a girl

10. Boys should take their hats off inside the building


1. Chew gum in class or church

2. Talk with food in your mouth or throw it across the room

3. Talk when adults are talking

4. Use curse words

5. Smoke or drink alcohol

6. Curse parents/teachers

7. Be rude to other people

8. Act ugly in public

9. Put other people down or tease them all the time

10. Lie on other people and get them in trouble

Copyright © 2007, Dr. M.E. Waters. All Rights Reserved.

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A Brief History of Business Cards

Business cards are a common form of advertising and of the exchange of contact information between businessmen and the public. They have a long history that dates as far back as the 15th century in China. The business card began as a "visiting card" or a calling card. It was a social convention that was bound by some very strict etiquette rules. The visiting card was introduced to Europe in the 17th century during the reign of Louis XIV who was known as the Sun King. In the same century the practice began to take hold in English society.

At around the same time, the card moved from its social beginnings to a business purpose with the introduction of the trade card. It was a period where newspapers were an undeveloped resource, and the media that is the center of today's advertising did not exist. The trade card was designed to direct the public to a merchant's location and usually contained a map and directions. This was at a time when the current system of street numbering did not exist. These early trade cards were printed by woodcut or letterpress methods of printing, and were generally monotones or contained a small amount of tint.

In around 1830 lithography became the printing medium of choice and colors became more important. In the United States, the visiting card tradition caught on and became very popular. For a short period there was not much distinction between the business card and the visiting card. Gradually, the two types of cards began to separate. The rules of etiquette that came into being during this period began to make the idea of a card that stressed a business function unacceptable as a calling card. In fact, when a person left a business related card during a social visit to a home, it was seen as an attempt to collect a bill or debt.

As time has passed, it is the visiting card that has gradually vanished from the scene while the business card has gone on to become a business mainstay. With the introduction of new materials for the cards such as plastic and magnetic backed cards, and the wide spread use of color business cards, the business card industry has moved into the modern era in an exciting way. Business card templates exist now to make the design and mass production of cards inexpensive. A business card is a must for anyone who deals with the public today, and for many it is one of the most important advertisings tools.

Can You Afford What Rudeness Is Costing Your Business?

Have you ever thought about how much rudeness may be affecting your bottom line? What is the cost to your company when you or the people who represent you lack proper manners? Do you know how many clients are turned off by employees who would rather carry on a conversation with each other than with the person who came to purchase your service or product? Can you count the number of people who hang up and call someone else because the person who answered your phone put them on hold without asking permission? How does the client rate your professionalism when the employee who welcomes him to your office looks as if she is dressed for a day at the beach? Do your employees understand that it is more offensive then friendly to call the client by first name unless asked to do so? Are your employees treating each other with courtesy and respect? Do they honor the invisible walls of each other's cubicles? Do they work as a team and help each other or do they act like cast members on Survivor?

In today's fast-paced business world where too many people claim that they don't have time to be nice, it's easy to overlook the details that can help you grow your business, increase your profits and build long lasting client relationships.

Try taking this quick true/false quiz to test your own business etiquette expertise. Then run it by your employees.

1. Business etiquette is based on rank and hierarchy. True/False

2. If the information on your business card is incorrect, draw a line through it and write the correct information on the card. True/False

3. Business casual means dressing down one notch from business professional. True/False

4. In today's relaxed business environment, it is not necessary to ask your clients' permission before using their first names. True/False

5. Callers do not mind holding for information as much as holding for a person. True/False

6. You don't have to smile or make eye contact with your customers unless you feel like it. True/False

7. Handwritten notes are out of place in the business world. True/False

8. A man should wait for a woman to put out her hand in business before offering his. True/False

9. When composing an e-mail message, complete the "To" line last. True/False

10. Small talk around the office is a waste of time. True/False

11. People can hear you eating, drinking and chewing over the phone. True/False

12. If you receive a call on your cell phone when you are with a client, look to see who is calling, but don't answer it. True/False


1. True. In business, you always defer to the senior or highest ranking person, regardless of age or gender.

2. False. Handing out business cards with information that is outdated or crossed off is unprofessional. Have new cards printed immediately.

3. True. Business casual is not an excuse to wear your favorite old clothes to the office. It is still business, and everyone needs to look professional.

4. False. Don't assume because our work world has become more informal that you can call clients by their first name. Use their titles and last names until they ask you to do otherwise.

5. True. Clients will wait contentedly while you search for information, working on their behalf. However, if they have to wait more than thirty seconds for you to come to the phone, they begin to wonder how much you value them or want their business.

6. False. This is only true if you are planning a going-out-of-business sale. Every client deserves a genuine smile and eye contact.

7. False. Handwritten notes have become almost as extinct as the typewriter. You will stand out from your competition every time you send off a short note written in your own hand.

8. False. Every woman should be prepared to shake hands as soon as she meets someone in business. For either a man or woman to hesitate could indicate a lack of confidence.

9. True. You can send e-mail without inserting an attachment, without checking for grammar and punctuation and without a subject line; but you cannot send e-mail without an address. If you wait until you have carefully proofed your message and added all attachments before you complete the "To " line, you will never be embarrassed or have to apologize for your mistakes.

10. False. Small talk carried on at the right time, in the right place and on the right subject is a great way to build relationships among co-workers.

11. True. Mouth noises are even louder over the phone. Just because your clients can't see you eating those potato chips doesn't mean they can't hear you munching on the other end of the line.

12. False. It is just as rude to pull out your phone to see who called as it is to have it on and take a call in front of a client. Turn your phone off and check your messages later in private.

If you had trouble with any of these questions, your employees will, too. If you want your employees to be at ease in business situations, to represent you well and help build your business, give them the information they need. If you haven't done basic business etiquette skills training lately, do it now. Don't let rude behavior cost you business.

Make sure that your employees know how to handle clients over the phone, that they understand the importance of being attentive and alert to clients' needs, that the value other people's time and that they can deal with difficult people and situations with grace.

No one is born with good manners. People have to be taught, and from time to time, they need to be reminded of what they already know.

(c) 2006, Lydia Ramsey. All rights reserved. Reprint rights granted so long as article and by-line are published intact and with all links made live.

Email Marketing Etiquette - How to Market Like a Professional

Etiquette...we talk about it all the time. One dictionary defines it as the code of ethical behavior regarding professional practice or action among the members of a profession in their dealings with each other. There's an acceptable code of behavior for just about everything yet, there are clear violations every day. Let's take email marketing for example. Do you have a cluttered inbox full of crap that you have no intention of reading? What about emails with no subject lines or those that make it dam near impossible to unsubscribe? Yes! We're talking about email marketing etiquette because if you're building a business whether on or offline, email marketing should be part of your strategy and if it is then you need to take notes.

Email Marketing Etiquette Tip #1- Build organically

When you're starting to build your list, it may be very tempting to purchase a list just to give you a jump start in your marketing. However, what you're purchasing is a bunch of names. Who knows how current that list is? You'd be better off generating your own leads of people who are sincerely interested in what you have to offer. Give people a reason to give up their email address. Never ever, not ever should you manually add people to your list. Big NO, NO. If you are changing services, you should send an email to your current list letting them know that you're moving to a new service provider and that you'd like to continue to build your relationship with them. Invite them to join your new list. You want their permission. Some will and some won't...don't get emotionally attached to the outcome.

Email Marketing Etiquette Tip #2- Don't be sloppy

Everyone makes mistakes! You have...I have. You hit the send button one second to soon and realize that you didn't mean to. That's not what I'm talking about. If you are constantly sending emails that contain misspelled words and other grammatical errors then you come off as being unprofessional and not really caring about your brand. With that being said, it may be a great idea to send yourself a test email before sending it out into cyber space. You may be surprised at the mistakes you're able to catch by doing that.

Email Marketing Etiquette Tip #3- Don't hold them hostage

By law, you MUST have an unsubscribe link in each email and e-newsletter that you send to your list. You need to make it easy for someone to say goodbye and remove themselves from your list. Has this ever happened to you? You click the unsubscribe link only to get the run around. I have and it's not fun. It makes the list owner seem like a clue less spammer.

Email Marketing Etiquette Tip #4- Identify yourself

This is not the time to play hide and go seek. Don't ever use an anonymous senderWhen you are setting up your email marketing list; be sure to complete every field. The "from field" should have your name, first and last. People want to do business with real people and when you include your name, even if you're operating as a business, it seems more personal. The same goes for having a personal greeting when people initially opt into your list or when they unsubscribe. Many people unsubscribe because they can't remember who you are or why they got on your list in the first place. However, by putting your name and if you can, a photo, they may think twice about removing themselves from your list.

Email Marketing Etiquette Tip #5- Protect your list

I hate pimps and if you hang around the internet long enough, you'll meet a few. They're easy to spot. They're the ones that are constantly marketing every one's "latest and greatest MUST have gadget that's guaranteed to totally revolutionize your business" to their list. I remember getting those emails. After a while I would stop opening emails from those senders and eventually unsubscribed from their lists. It shows a complete lack of respect for your readers intelligence, but that's just my humble opinion. When someone is gracious enough to trust you with their email address, even if they never check that account, your job is to protect and serve. Guard it with your life; you'll be glad you did.

I'm sure that there are several more points that we could have mentioned but this is a great start. Take care of your list and they will take care of you. They will look forward to your content and when you are ready to market, you'll have eager ready buyers.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Doing Business in Thailand - Etiquette Tips

Thailand is one of the business centers in South East Asia. Bordering Burma to the west, Cambodia in the east, Laos in the north and Malaysia in the south, Thailand's economic growth makes it a popular destination for western investors. Tourism, garment and textile industries, agricultural processing, cement, computer parts, beverages and light manufacturing industries are the main drivers of the country's economy.

The government of Thailand is a monarchy headed by the king. The majority of Thais are Buddhists, making up about 94 percent of the population. The rest are Muslims (4 percent) and Christians (1 percent). Thailand's capital city is Bangkok, which is also the country's commercial center. Other cities that are popular with expatriates are Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Chonburi, Nakhon Ratchasima, Nakhon Ratchasima, Phuket, Pattaya, Hua Hin and Khon Kaen.

Doing Business in Thailand

Understanding the country's people and their culture is one of the things that determine the success of foreigners doing business in Thailand. If you are a businessperson from the west, you may find Thailand's culture a bit too conservative. However, Thais are polite, patient and humble people, and this makes interaction with them pleasant. In addition, Thais are proud of their culture and are hardworking people. Even though you may sometimes find the cultural differences confusing, Thais are accommodating and do not get offended easily. However, doing business in Thailand requires you to know the basics of what to do and what to avoid.

Business Etiquette

Whether your business is new or is established and you are building new business partnerships, it is important to note that Thais will often first focus on building personal relationships. Therefore, it may take time and several meetings before real business begin. Additionally, many business meetings are conducted over lunch or at places of entertainment.

Generally, Thais are polite and avoid offending people or making them feel embarrassed. You should conduct yourself in a manner that is in line with the Thais' business etiquette. This includes things like the appropriate verbal and body language, dress code etc. Here are some of the etiquette tips to observe:

The form of greetings used in Thailand is 'wai' with your palms placed together, fingers pointing upwards, hands raised and head your head bowed. Also, note that Thais are class-conscious and this type of greeting is not used on servants, children, laborers etc. A smile or nod to acknowledge the greeting is fine.

When you address business colleagues, use a title of honor "Khun", preceding the person's name.

The business dress code is plain, dark business suits for both men and women. Skirts should be at knee length or longer. The dressing should not be too revealing.

It is illegal to disrespect the monarchy by joking, criticizing or writing anything considered disrespectful.

Exchanging business cards is a standard practice at meetings. Start with the most senior person when distributing the cards and use your right hand.

During introductions, people of lower status or children are introduced first.

Buddhist Thais consider the head sacred. Therefore, you should not touch a colleague's head.

When visiting a Thai's home, remove your shoes at the door.

Mobile Technology Etiquette - 4 Important Rules to Remember

For many of us, mobile technology is our lifeline. Whether it's a Smartphone, Netbook, Laptop, Electronic Reader, iPad, or some other handheld electronic device we rely on them to communicate with others and to keep us updated almost instantaneously. While they have become a vital part of our personal and professional lives, mobile technology can also be a hindrance by causing unnecessary disruptions in the workplace.

To ensure your mobile technology doesn't hinder you professionally, here are a few basics tips to follow especially when attending business meetings and training sessions:

#1 - Turn off your mobile phone when attending a meeting room. If you are expecting an important call, it should be placed on vibrate, prior to entering the meeting.

#2 - If you are expecting an important call, always advise the meeting facilitator in advance. Then when the call comes in, quietly ease out of the room to take the call. Also, be mindful of the volume of your voice, if you are standing outside of the room so it is not disruptive to the meeting.

#3 - Never bring a laptop to a meeting or training session unless you are requested to do so. If so, don't check emails or surf the net during the meeting, doing so is typically perceived as disruptive by the meeting facilitator and participants.

#4 - Don't check your phone for emails or text messages during the meeting. Likewise, don't text message during the meeting unless it is an extreme emergency. Doing so gives the impression that the meeting is not worth your time. This is why it is best to turn your phone off to ensure it does not distract you or others.

In closing, mobile devices provide tremendous benefit in the workplace - they enable us to be more productive by multi-tasking with a high level of efficiency. So, to ensure your professional perception stays in tack, when in meetings, training sessions, or even in public use your mobile device with discretion so that is doesn't create a distraction or hindrance to others.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Conference Call Etiquette - Do You Know the Basics?

As more and more people begin using conferencing as part of the standard way to conduct business---the question is poised, what are the do's and do not's of conducting a conference call?  We seem to have business etiquette for introductions, making presentations---but for those who are venturing into webinars and demos via web conferencing---how can I ensure a professional call and experience?

Like any meeting the key is to practice and prepare ahead of time.  If you are using a new audio or web service for the first time-make sure to test out your dial-in number and passcode, check your equipment (speaker phone, handset or web cam) and of course make sure that you have all your documents or presentation materials ready (if you are conducting a demo or sharing). 

Here are our first official 5 tips (we will post another 5 tips tomorrow before the holiday weekend):

  1. Plan ahead for an efficient and effective meeting. In the conference invitation, inform participants of the purpose, agenda and time limit for your meeting.
  2. Forward the Audience Invitation to each individual invited to attend. This will provide them all the information they need to quickly and easily enter you're audio and web conferences.
  3. Dial in to your conference 5 to 10 minutes before the start of your meeting to prepare yourself and to prevent your guests from waiting for you on hold.
  4. Start the conference with a roll call to confirm attendance and inform all participants of who is on the conference.
  5. Advise participants who are not actively speaking to mute their phones in order to eliminate background noise.

Thus, as you can see planning and practice are a must to pull of a successful conference call.  It is worth mentioning that conference calls have the double benefit of saving on the time and expense of business meetings.  With the proper conference calling etiquette and planning, you can pull off a successful call that helps your business and that saves you time and money.

Twitter Gossiping - It's a Worldwide Stage, And Your Why Business Should Be On It!

Do you gossip? I bet you think you don't, so did I until I got caught out - then had to Google the definition of gossiping and the truth is we all do (well probably about 90% of us) to greater or lesser degree, some worse than others, and those that don't are either in line for a heavenly seat or mute!!

We all share that juicy morsel of information with our friends not maliciously and usually without a second thought never thinking that it could be passed on -I won't repeat it, honest- how many times has someone said it to you, and then you heard your own gossip repeated back to you?

Well gossip has now entered a new age with a bang - The Social Media Age!!

As the famous footballer story unfolded over the weekend never was it so clear who not to trust your secrets with - preferably not anyone who is on Twitter and has thousands of followers!!!

In the 24 hours following the court gagging order Twitter users flouted the order and posted approx 6000 tweets naming the footballer, there are now in excess of 30,000 tweets.

If anyone was in any doubt about the huge viral effect of Twitter, then doubt no more, even with Facebook videos, news has never spread this fast or so widely (It's not called the information superhighway for nothing)

But far from being bad news - for the rest of us it's a perfect platform to gossip about ourselves, our day, have I forgotten anything? oh yes OUR BUSINESS.

Reaching 1000's of potential customers used to mean pounding the streets, backpack full of fliers wondering which letterbox had the Rottweiler lurking behind. Now however you can save your bitten fingers and use use the power of Twitter, a timely tweet that captures the imagination of your audience and who knows whose timeline it could end up on?

We can't guarantee a following like a celebrity, your tax tips will end up in Tulsa, or your computing quips in Columbia but if your not using social media they are unlikely to end up anywhere at all.

But before you rush off to Twitterland we felt a few quick reminders of Twitter etiquette (and any other social media platform) was in order.
1. Think before you speak (or txt) once it's out there it's there forever and you can't take it back.
2. Remember who your audience is, sharing that you got drunk last night might make your friends laugh but not the client you are just about to visit!!
3. Use appropriate language - speak naturally as though you are talking to a friend - but in front of your mother!!

The above tips won't ensure success but they will stop you from offending anyone!!

Finally remember.......

Via social media the world really is your stage, and if your not on it then someone else will be stealing your limelight. If you're not sure how to "gossip" your business to success let Green Umbrella help.

Holiday Diamond Etiquette

Happy Holidays! In the diamond business October begins our Holiday season. We have 3 solid months of extra work, longer hours, and an increase in inventory. This means your retail jeweler will have more work which means it could take longer to get your custom diamond ring or diamond earrings finished.

During this time of the year it is a great time to purchase a pair of diamond studs for your loved one and it is the time of the year where more young couples get engaged on Christmas and New Years. If you are reading this right now you might be having those same thoughts crossing your mind. Congrats! This is a great time to purchase an engagement ring but here are a few tips to help you through this chaotic time.

  1. Most important part of the holiday shopping for diamonds of any sort is to start early! October and early November should be your starting point. Don't wait till Black Friday or the 15th or 20th of December. You would much rather have a larger selection to choose from and you don't want to rush your decision based on a time table of 3 days before Christmas.
  2. Know your budget and have the funds available. I understand it is important to propose during the holidays but be honest with yourself when you are shopping. If you do not find exactly what you want with your budget than take some extra time to save up a little more. What is very popular is to do a layaway program with your jeweler. Pay as much as you can up front and keep making payments until you finish paying for your diamond ring. This should be no more than 3 months of layaway time although I do know others who do 6 month layaway plans. Something to consider now if you would like to propose for Valentine's Day.
  3. Decide right away who will help you pick out the diamond ring. A big mistake I see being made constantly, you pick out the diamond, the ring, get it mounted, leave a deposit, and start making payments. You get excited and you want to get the approval of your mother, or her mother, or another friend or family member. After your 4 week process your family member comes in, looks at the ring and decides "She won't want this, she wants...." This will destroy your confidence in your choice and it wastes your time and your jeweler's time. If you will be getting the opinion of others, they should be with you from the beginning of the process so there are no bumps in the road at the end of the sale.

Take these suggestions and get moving. I hope you have an enjoyable experience and a great Holiday Season. This is my favorite time of the year and I love to see others happy and excited as they open a new chapter in their life.

Cheers to your Diamond Purchase,
Brian Plante

5 FREE Things You Can Do Now to Build an Online Business

Are you wondering how to start a business online? Would you like to build online business for free? Well, you're in the right place!

Starting your own online business can be fun, rewarding, and profitable. It definitely takes time, but you'll be happy to know that it doesn't have to take a large financial investment.

In fact, you can begin to build online business for free, starting right away! Below are 5 strategies that you can begin to implement this week!

1. Start Tweeting

Running an online business is best accomplished once you've established a large social network. Today's savvy marketers are using online marketing to do so, and Twitter is the hottest place to be to build online business!

This social media giant, once used primarily as a means to communicate quickly with friends and family, has grown in popularity as a free marketing tool. the site grew by 1,382% between Feb 2008 and Feb 2009 as a result of the masses of people joining Twitter for help in running an online business,.

Twitter offers great tutorials and a free sign up link at

The best way to build online business contacts using Twitter is to target and follow about 100 people each day. Connect with others who may be interested in your business; for example if you're in the health and wellness field, begin to follow others who are health conscious.

A large majority of those you follow will follow you back. You can delete those who don't. By following 100 new people each day, and deleting those who don't follow you back, you'll create a large following in a short period of time.

Of course this won't help you build online business unless you can build relationships with your followers. Your goal should be to interact with others, always providing value, entertainment, or education. Never pitch your business or your product! As with all things in life, you want to establish a connection and build a friendship before expecting others to care about your business!

2. Get On Facebook

Facebook, much like Twitter, is a viral and free social media site that can be incredibly effective in helping you build online business. Although Facebook has been around for many years it's still growing in popularity, with a 228% growth rate between Feb 2008 and Feb 2009.

Unlike Twitter, which limits the number of characters you can "tweet" to 140, Facebook allows you the opportunity to carry out full conversations.

Many online marketers use both Facebook and Twitter to meet others and develop relationships, which is what I recommend that you do. You'll want to follow the same rules of etiquette on Facebook as you do on Twitter, and over time you'll have a large list of potential customers and business partners.

Your best approach is to add 100 followers each day When adding friends be sure to include a personal message with each friend request. Yes this extra step is more time consuming but also offers a much more personal approach, which is the idea!

3. Article Marketing

Article marketing is free, can be done in a short amount of time, and can draw unlimited numbers of visitors to your website to help you build online business.

Articles should be educational, entertaining, or inspirational to the reader, and are not to be used to promote your directly. Authors who are running an online business are given the chance to advertise themselves or their businesses in the Authors box. As you begin to have articles posted you'll find that when you give great content, your readers will click on your links, helping you to build online business.

The best article directory to use is EzineArticles. If you wish to submit to multiple article directories there are many of them on the Internet, but be careful! If your information is displayed more than one place online, it may be penalized by the search engines, which frown on duplicate content. A good tactic is to rewrite the article for each article directory, mixing the words and paragraphs around as much as possible.

4. Build Online Business by Tapping Into Free Training

Running an online business requires a knowledge of many different Internet techniques. You can find a great deal of free information on the Internet that can help you learn. It can be overwhelming and confusing, which is why I believe in choosing one mentor rather than jumping from one to another.

When I was starting to build online business I was signing up for every free training series I saw online. In no time at all my inbox was being flooded on a daily basis with so much information that I got stuck in information overload!

You'll want to find a mentor that offers high quality, free information that you can use immediately to get started. The amount of time you save weeding through the fluff offered by many internet trainers will make a huge difference in your business.

5. Sign Up for a WordPress Blog

We all know that in order to successfully build business online you need to separate yourself from all of the other online marketers. You need to brand yourself, to let others get to know, like and trust you.

Millions of people are driving online traffic to their replicated, identical company websites. What you need is something that sets you apart, an edge that will help to position you as an expert in your field.

A blog is the most effective tool you can ever have to successfully build business online. Your Twitter and Facebook friends, and those who read your articles, will want to learn more about you. When you provide them links to your personalized blog, rather than a cookie cutter company replicated website, you establish yourself as a true leader. And we all know that people follow leaders!

The best site to use for a blog is This site offers free blogs and it's the only blog site that offers you full ownership. What that means to you is that your site will never be at the mercy of a company that could at any time bring your business to a screeching halt by pulling the plug.

Always remember that running an online business should be seen as a marathon, not a sprint to the finish line. It takes a great deal of learning and time. My advice is to "eat the elephant one bite at a time". If you use this philosophy to build business online, do everything possible to learn the principles of online marketing, and commit yourself to taking action, your business will flourish!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Text Message Etiquette - Should You Text Clients

The verdict is out, and it's split. Some people say it's OK to text message clients, while others say, "no way!"

Here's the correct answer! Text away, but GET PERMISSION FIRST. In an initial meeting with a client, you should find out which methods of communication your client prefers.

Some will prefer text messages, while others will let you know that texts are a "no-no." Now should your client indicate he or she prefers receiving texts, we offer the following suggestions:

- Do preface a text with an introductory statement such as, "This is [your name], your [state professional relationship]."

- Do not assume the client has stored your information in his or her phone.

- Do not include an auto signature with each text. Though they serve as identifiers, they get annoying, as phone and PDA screens are only so big.

- Never return a client's call with a text. If the client wanted to text, he or she would've texted you first. A call placed deserves a call returned!

- Do not use texting shorthand. We've all seen the commercial, "I-D-K, My BFF, Jill." While your girlfriends may understand shorthand, don't assume your clients will. Also, don't use slang, and do use proper punctuation when texting a client.

- Do send text messages that are short and concise. If a text message extends beyond three or four sentences or will require a client to respond more than three or four times, do not text. Instead call or send an e-mail.

- Do indicate when you are finished communicating via text. You can simply say something like, "Feel free to contact me if you have any questions," "Have a great day," or "I'll let you know if I learn anything else."

Remember, texting may seem like the most efficient method of communication, but it is important to meet clients' needs and expectations in the best way for them. Thus, get permission to text first, and then follow our guidelines to ensure that your text-habits don't turn your clients off!

In Business Golf, As In Business, Sometimes You Can Fake It Till You Make It

If you are an entrepreneur, just starting out, then there's a good chance you have heard (or are living) the old saying 'fake it till you make it.'

These days, it is easier than ever to project a professional corporate image, even when you are operating from your garage. You can attend business-networking meetings in borrowed suits; you can spend on business cards, and eat baked beans for a week, all in the name of projecting that image.

The good news is that it is possible to fake it until you make it with business golf, and in this article, we look at the how, and the why.

Why Play Business Golf Before You Need To?

Firstly, I have to say that there is no such thing as 'before you need to' when it comes to business golf, or any other marketing activity for that matter.

The real question is, if you are just starting out, looking for an edge, for that thing that is going to take you from zero to hero, then why aren't you taking advantage of doing business on the golf course.

There's a lot of truth in the old saying that a lot of business is done on the golf course, and think about it - when do you possibly need that more than when you're starting out? That's like saying that you won't advertise until you can afford to - which we all know is the wrong way to go about it!

The time to get involved in the marketing, relationship building, and business opportunity that is golf with a business edge is when you are starting out, and you just need to maintain that as you grow! Don't wait - do it now!

How Do You Do It?

The trickier part of faking it till you make it when it comes to business golf is not the why, but the how. How, if you're brand new to the game, do you take advantage of the business potential the course offers?

The simplest route is to find someone you know who does play, and tag along. It could be a mentor, a business associate, or even your father in law. Take advantage of the time on the course to learn the game, and the etiquette, and pay attention when business comes up on the course - and it will!

Then look out for business golf events in your area, and sign up. Even if you have to borrow clubs to attend, can you really turn down the opportunity to spend four to six (or even more) hours on the course with business people or entrepreneurs in your community? Just imagine how much cold calling it would take to reach them all!

Whether you've tried golf a few times, or whether you've never touched a club, if you're an entrepreneur, the golf course could just be the place where your business goes from struggling start-up to flourishing concern. So do not make the mistake of writing off, or putting off, leveraging golf in your business!

Tips on How to Set Up a Chauffeur Business

This year, chauffeur services took an incredible ascent, creating excitement among seasoned and new entrepreneurs alike to venture in this thriving industry.

If you're a neophyte businessmen looking to get your fair share of success from this trade, put on your business hat and start your own chauffeur service with these tips.

To rise from among the rest, come up with unusual schemes. You may consider building your business around a central theme or a current trend - like as EnviroCar, which uses only fuel-efficient hybrid luxury cars, in line with the current hype on environment-friendly lifestyle.

Consider, too, providing additional services such as entertainment, food service, telephone service and personal assistance.

1. Study the chauffeur business

It would be of great help to seek mentoring from the chauffeur service veterans. Acquire information on the ins and outs of the business. Learn effective strategies and suitable promotional tactics from those who have been long in the industry and are willing to give help to neophytes.

Do not, however, expect potential competition to offer assistance. Turn only to the seasoned old-timers or expert businessmen from outside your vicinity.

2. Design a business plan

Once you decide to engage in the transporting industry, the first thing you have to come up with is a definite business plan.

Writing a business plan may look like a daunting task for a beginner, but it's not that hard, really. There are plenty of templates or instructional materials you can get online to help you write your business plan.

The problem is knowing the content of your business plan. What do you really want from your business. Where do you plan to bring it? How can you bring it there?

It's best not to write a business plan all by yourself. Have a friend or partner brainstorm with you, to serve as devil's advocate or even just as a sounding board.

3. Obtain necessary licenses

You can't start business operations without a license. It's illegal to do so.

Before you start operations, contact the Department of Transportation to define the compulsory licenses your state requires to allow a chauffeur service business to operate. You may be asked to have a chauffeur's license for sanction. If you are to use a vehicle that seats at least 16 customers, you will have to acquire a commercial driver's license (CDL).

By the way, this is also a good time to start looking for insurance companies that offer the best possible liability coverage for chauffeur business vehicles for the most practical prices.

4. Secure a safe place for your vehicles

Look for a garage to accommodate your fleet of cars. It would be ideal if it were near a quality auto repair shop, in a safe location, and near key places such as the airport, city or town center, business district and high-class hotels, restaurants and commons.

5. Hire quality chauffeurs

It is important to hire chauffeurs that will project a positive image for your company. Look for chauffeurs that are personable, professional-looking, and physically fit. The ability to effectively converse in more than one language is a plus. And, of course, they must be skilled, defensive drivers.

It is highly advisable to give your chauffeurs special training on how to commendably deal with important clients. The ideal training will include programs on proper chauffeur etiquette, security awareness, limousine training, communication and customer service.

6. Publicize your chauffeur business

The first thing to do to promote your chauffeur service business is to get it listed in local chauffeur directories. This way, searching and canvassing clients can easily find you.

It is also good to create a Web site detailing your company's offered services, vehicles for use, and standard rates.

Create and disseminate impressive business cards, especially to companies and establishments, to let them know they can get a good chauffeur hire car from you.

In Summary

Chauffeur services are slowly transforming into a major force in the business field. As this venture continues to be a money spinner, there's no time to lose. With the right backing and business plan in hand anybody can launch a chauffeur business. Adding value and clearly differentiating yourself from the competition will help you build a long-lasting business.

How to Turn Your Business Idea Into a Career

Many home based business start with nothing else but an idea and somebody's will to make that idea into a reality. While it's true that financing can help you start up quicker and make your new business into your only job sooner, a home based business can become a full time career quickly if you use your resources wisely. It's important however to take a good look at your business idea before abandoning it all to chase after your dream, since some business ideas won't be profitable and you may need to adapt it and correct any potential issues before starting up.

Viability analysis of a business idea

You should go to great lengths to decide about the potential of a business idea, because your vision may be clouded by the fact that you'd love to make your business idea into your full time job. Do not leave a stone unturned, and quantify things. Do not buy a full warehouse before knowing for sure that there is enough people willing to buy those goods, even if you think it's a great idea. Risk should be taken based on hard data and numbers, not just a feeling that things will work out well. It's also worth asking trusted friends or family to give you their opinion on your business plan, specially if you tend to be overly optimistic, but don't let naysayers stop you. Most business ideas have potential if they are approached correctly. Maybe your product is not unique, but you can make the way you sell and promote it unique and better than your competition.

Recruit help or train yourself

Take a look at your strengths and weaknesses and how they affect your business, and consider enrolling some friends or family to help you with the things you are less good at doing. For example, if you are really bad at paperwork, and you know it, you may be better off getting somebody to help you with that from day 0 instead of having to pay an accountant a lot of money for a rush job the day before your tax deadline expires. If you know what skills you need you may also consider getting training for them, in preparation to starting up. You can get lots of free training online in subjects such as marketing, sales and general business management and etiquette. This is specially important if your core skills are technical. No matter how good your product is, you'll need to be able to sell it and manage the cash flow as well, even if you are the best engineer in the entire world.

Get registered as soon as possible

In most countries starting a business is easy and doesn't cost a lot of money, so you should do that as soon as possible. This will free your hands to start trading without having to worry about such things as the bank taking longer to approve your business bank account than you'd have expected. This also prevents somebody else registering your business name before you get around it. The same goes for domain names, registering your favourite domain name often costs less than a night out, and saves you the frustrating situation of somebody else beating you to it. And once you are registered, make a plan to get started and work for it. Set a final date when you will hand in your notice and become officially an entrepreneur, and do your ground work and research before that so when the day comes you are ready to start trading.

Do you really need financing?

While having your business office sharing the guest bedroom on your house and using an old computer may be a bit inconvenient, it may be a better alternative than trying to raise finance or getting a loan from banks who, in times of economic downturn, may not be very friendly to upcoming small businesses. Many small home business ideas can start with minimal to no capital, and once you have a running, functioning business is considerably easier to access finance to allow for growth. Do not be tempted to get a loan just to finance an expensive office in the best area of town and overpriced equipment that you don't really need, or you may be forfeiting your future as an entrepreneur. Banks and potential suppliers will look at your past credit history as a business owner before dealing with you, and if you seem risky they may give you more expensive terms.

Promote early, promote often

Even if you are generally not a sales person, make a point of telling everybody you know about your business or they won't know that you are offering the services or products they, or their friends and families, need. The same goes about having a website and implementing some sort of marketing strategy to create buzz for your new product or service, so you can have clients as soon as you start trading.

5 Tips on Handing Out Your Business Card at Networking Events

Having a presentable and identifiable business card is important. But equally important is how we exchange our cards. Since I partake in a lot of business networking meetings and am constantly meeting new people and potential clients, I have seen a variety of ways people pass out their business cards and how they handle cards they receive. I felt that it was time to brush up on the do's and dont's of passing out business cards.

Here's a few tips I'd like to share to improve your business networking interactions:

1) Make sure your business card is clean, has no dog-eared folds, and doesn't have any writing on it. Of course make sure that all the information is current. Just like wearing a clean and pressed outfit with no stains, so should you think about anything that you give a prospective client. You don't show up with a wrinkled shirt and expect that your prospective client take you seriously.

2) Never force your card on someone that did not ask for it. At least wait for the opportunity to arise naturally during the conversation. Even in business networking events, only offer your card if the person you are talking to seems interested in your business. Naturally, it is easier to hand out your card at a networking event and many people make it their mission to hand out their card to everyone they make eye contact with. I can recall a few people who have done that to me at networking events and the only thing those businesses reinforce was that they have no interest in my business and what I have to offer.

3) Don't hand out more than one card to the person you are speaking with. It's tacky and unprofessional and can be taken as you wanting them to hand out your card to other people. Unless you have made arrangements with this person, keep the focus on that person. Business networking events are great to make new connections but remember that businesses are run by people and people will refer you based on the impression you make with them not the number of cards they have of yours.

4) When receiving cards, treat that card with respect. If you want to jot down notes onto that card, ask the owner of the card for permission first. (In some countries, it's considered offensive to write on their business card). It is a good idea to make notes about a specific conversation or key points that you discussed with that person who gave you his/her card, but do it after you are finished speaking with them. This way, you can reconnect with them at a later date and remind them of that interesting conversation you had with them. You will be surprised at how many business owners will appreciate you remembering them.

5) When receiving cards, do not place it in your wallet that goes in your back pants pocket or randomly in your handbag. Instead, place it in your planner, or better yet, a business card case. This will show that you are organized and respectful of the things you receive. Read the card and ask any questions that might come up showing your interest in them and creating an opportunity to make it an impressionable conversation.

Business Phone Answering Service

A designated secretary can handle phone calls by herself but at one point, the whole office will benefit from a business phone answering service. As your business grows, clients will be calling at off-peak hours or during times when no one is available to answer. There are office hours that clients should respect but it would boost your business if your client knows that you have a customer service line that's reachable anytime. This will boost sales and productivity, two must-haves in business. These services are necessary in handling the endless calls that come in at unpredictable times of the day, and even at night.
A business phone answering service is more personal than a voice mail or pre-recorded voice because the needs of the customers are addressed directly and immediately. A phone call can be redirected to a business phone answering service line if no one picks up your office line. The phone answering provider will then receive the messages given by your customer and forward them to you when you are available. In essence, it acts as a secretary when you are not available. A business phone answering service with bilingual representatives is a plus, especially if your product caters to multiple nationalities. After-hours answering services are also a plus if you can afford it and if your business is growing big. If your customers come from different parts of the world, your clients will be calling in at different times. Nothing is worse than being greeted by a non-responsive, pre-recorded message.

Business phone systems for bigger companies offer inbound sales call services that are designed to educate your customers of your latest product offerings that may complement the services that they are using. Good answering services providers will train their representatives to comprehensively explain your product offerings and answer any questions that your customers may throw along the way.
The gauge of an excellent business phone system is its willingness to match your mindset of being "customer-oriented", or even exceed it. They must be able to provide your services, as if it was really your company that was providing the service at that time. Your customer must not feel that your phone system is handled by another party. The provider's representatives must be courteous, polite, and patient with your customer's inquiries and needs.

A business answering service is an investment but it must not burden you with its heavy costs. Choose a provider that offers you many packages that you can choose from. It would be better if the business phone answering service can customize your package so you can do away with services that you don't need. The provider must be patient enough to learn your system and the way you want your customers to be handled. They must not impose on you. If they find better ways of addressing their customers, they should bring it up immediately. Constant communication with your provider is very essential in improving your phone system. Nowadays, telecommunication etiquette can make or break your sales and productivity.

International Business and Communication

How overcoming cultural differences in communication benefits business.

Today companies trade goods and provide services to global customers. Many companies have facilities in different countries and most companies, small and large, work already with a highly diverse, international workforce.

Communication is clearly the enabler of any kind of cooperation and business activities - nationally and internationally. Different cultures have particular business communication styles, well accepted and adopted by their population. Other cultures have different ways to conduct business and with that, use different styles to open, discuss, negotiate and close business deals and maintain business relations.

What is the best way to communicate for people of different cultural background? The potential customer's style or the one that relates to the language used during the communication? Unfortunately there is no clear answer to this question.

Specific communication styles have developed over long periods based on cultural values. Even with the wish to "speak the language of the customer", these values cannot just be set aside when writing or talking to people of other cultural influence.

Two little anecdotes show the difficulties in communicating internationally. A Japanese corporation hired a professional trainer to teach their people how to communicate with Western customers. The Japanese style uses passive wording, perceived by Western customers "as if they do not want to make business with us". Nothing was further from the truth; the Japanese corporation was of course very interested in Western business. I witnessed another case of misinterpreted correspondence first hand, when a colleague received an email from another colleague in Europe. When reading it he suddenly murmured: "Why is he yelling at me?" I asked him what he meant and he responded that the colleague's use of exclamation marks would be equal to yelling at him. A look at the email confirmed what I thought: the exclamation marks underlined great importance - not to scold the reader. Using the exclamation mark that way is common practice in the country of the writer. But the author wrote in English - so should it not be natural using Anglo-American writing styles and rules?

We will have more fruitful interpersonal and business experience, if:

  1. Individuals writing in their second or third language, avoid phrases, formulations and special punctuations that are common in their language but might be unknown or sometimes even offending in other cultural regions. Keep it as simple as possible.
  2. Receivers of emails not written in the writer's mother-tongue should read them with extra tolerance. The writer took great efforts to learn this language, but do not expect impeccable wording. Try to understand what the writer had in mind.
  3. Openness and willingness to understand different cultures and how they express themselves in business communication, bears a huge potential of additional possibilities. There is benefit in learning the ways of other cultures. Adapting some of them may even give the own company a head start.
While we should adhere to a minimum standard and etiquette in international business communication, it can never be perfect. Good ideas and intentions should not be paled by a curtain of ignorance and limitations. With the global reach of the Internet, every company can present itself as an international player. Let's play by international rules - and win big. Deiton

How to Use LinkedIn For Your Business

Remember the old days when sending an email seemed high-tech? Now we're all on Twitter (or at least I am), and using social networking sites to expand our business and connect with clients and colleagues.

One of my favorite online tools is LinkedIn. As an image consultant, it's great for virtual networking-with the added bonus that I don't have to wear heels or make small talk over canap├ęs! What many people don't realize though is that LinkedIn has more advanced features that can help you promote your services with just the few clicks of a mouse. Here's how:

Create a profile. Think of your LinkedIn profile as an online resume. Even if you aren't looking for a job, your skills and past work experience can help you make contacts with people in related areas. Add a photo and a link to your business site or blog, and always keep your information up-to-date.

Make friends. Invite fellow LinkedIn members from your email address book, whether it's a former client or your accountant. Joining groups relevant to your interests can also maximize your experience. You never know where it might lead!

Add recommendations. Ask a few trusted colleagues-it should be someone you've actually had a positive working experience with-to kindly write a brief testimonial for your profile. You can return the favor!

Make postings. Do you blog regularly? Posting news items on your profile can establish yourself as an expert in your field. Look into linking your profile to your blog or Twitter feed. If you don't blog, you should still aim to post an update at least once a week. It could be a special you're offering, news of a project you're working on, or a link to an interesting article-just keep it professional.

Get talking. Starting a discussion is another good way to make new contacts. LinkedIn's Answers section lets you post a question for others to answer, or you can give your two cents on a pressing query (searchable by topic). You can also chat to fellow members by emailing them through the site (hit the contact button). If you don't know the person well, you should introduce yourself and mention a connection in the first two sentences (ex: "I came across your LinkedIn profile and noticed that we've both worked for XYZ Inc.").

Whether you're job-hunting or simply looking to expand your business network, LinkedIn can be a wonderful resource. Just make sure you're making the most of your experience!