Category Archives: Uncategorized

5 Tips from Getting the Most from LinkedIn by Dr. Misner

I had the honor of meeting Dr. Misner a couple of years ago at a BNI Convention in St. Louis, MO.  Only minutes from going on stage  that day, I learned firsthand that Dr. Misner is the real deal.  Dr. Misner not only took the time to shake my hand and look me in the eye, 5 or 6 elevator speeches rolled off his tongue for use in my SendOutCards.com/loryfabian business as well. How awesome is that?

 Dr. Misner is called the “father of modern networking” by CNN.  He is the Founder and Chairman of BNI, the world’s largest business networking organization and a New York Times bestselling author.

Just as E.F. Hutton use to be the voice of the financial world, Dr. Misner is the voice of the networking world today. The article below was written back in 2011.  Dr. Misner’s tips were true in 2011 and still hold true today.

What I’ve learned from years of using this social media platform.

 If you had any lingering thoughts that social media was just a “fad,” you may want to let those go, particularly in light of LinkedIn’s recent IPO — with a valuation of $4.3 billion. (2011)

I’ve been following the development of online business networking for several years, particularly the inception of sites like Ecademy.com, Ryze.com, and of course LinkedIn. While there are many competitors to LinkedIn, for now it has risen to the top of sites devoted primarily to business networking.

I use a variety of social networks to interact with colleagues, associates, and friends, but LinkedIn has some features that set it apart from the rest. In fact, many BNI members have used it to stay in touch with each other. As a person in the “500+ connections” category, I use LinkedIn as a way to disseminate the many articles I write every month, as well as to promote books and publications. Here’s how I use it and what I recommend to others.

1. Connecting with More People

I’ve spoken to countless entrepreneurs who have doubled or tripled their business because of the relationships they are able to make on LinkedIn. With the ability to view detailed profiles, become connected to people via a shared acquaintance, and post updates about one’s business or career for these connections to share, a huge number of the barriers to connecting with people in different geographic locations simply don’t exist to members of LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is also a well-known resource for both job seekers and recruiters. The site lets businesses pay to post jobs and sells enhanced profile and services to jobseekers. Successful recruiters rely heavily on networking and LinkedIn to find candidates for open positions.

2. Participating in Groups

LinkedIn Groups is a wonderful way to meet others who share an affinity, whether an industry, cause, or an employer, and to have an online arena for exchange. Being a member of a group removes the barrier that LinkedIn ordinarily imposes that you must personally know someone to send a message or invite him or her to connect.

LinkedIn Groups is most valuable when used effectively to build influential connections. Participating in a group — by asking questions, suggesting topics, answering questions, or recommending another member’s answers — is a way to build a more personal connection. For example, I mentor a large number of BNI members, entrepreneurs who want to better their business writing skills, meeting with them on a regular basis via telebridge. These “mentees” have also formed a group on LinkedIn, where they can share writing opportunities, and receive reviews of their work.

Participating in groups can take as much or as little time as you choose. For maximum impact, choose group discussions that are highly popular, judged from the number of responses.

3. Capitalizing on Search Engine Optimization

LinkedIn profiles show up very high on search engine results. The more links you add to your profile, the higher one’s ranking may be in search engine results. LinkedIn allows you to incorporate two very important links to a profile: web sites and a blog. Adding these to your profile not only builds your profile’s link count, but also lets you promote your site(s). I use this feature to highlight my own web site, BusinessNetworking.com.

4. Tying in a Twitter Connection

LinkedIn dovetails with Twitter. Indeed you can adeptly integrate Twitter with several social networks using Twitter’s application programming interfaces: I cross-promote content I have written across my various social networking accounts. Every article I write can be seamlessly shared via my Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn status postings.

Tying your Twitter account to your LinkedIn profile (achieved by clicking a box), allows you to promote your Twitter profile easily through LinkedIn.

5. Building and Enhancing Credibility

LinkedIn may well become the first place everyone will look to determine the business profile of an individual. LinkedIn allows a professional to showcase a collection of printed works or publications, recommendations from other LinkedIn users, company affiliations, and work history. When I want to know more about someone I’ve just met, I can learn quite a bit of information about them by reading their LinkedIn profile. I can see where they’ve worked, or what they’ve done in the business world, and I can see what others think of them by reading recommendations that others have written about them.

Since most professionals do not stay in the same job for a lifetime anymore, their LinkedIn profile can continue to capture their work history narrative.

LinkedIn also allows for profiles of companies and brands, which can be cross-connected with the profiles of the “humans” associated with those organizations – including executive management, the founders, and the employees.

These days, a professional’s worth is frequently judged by the quality of his or her network. So LinkedIn is particularly vital for today’s entrepreneur, demonstrating knowledge, expertise, experience, social capital, and the breadth of one’s network.

 

Make this Summer a ‘Summer to Remember!’ by Lory Fabian

A lot of us plan our daily lives and work lives, but have you ever thought about mapping out your entire summer?  The true organizers in our life already know the importance of planning ahead. But the majority of us tend to take our summer days and weeks as they come. We insert a vacation or two and our summer is over before we are ready for it to be over. There are far too many places that we miss out on seeing or didn’t get to enjoy, strictly due to the lack of planning.

This year think about choosing a Family Summer theme. Be creative and come up with activities that include what each spouse and family member wants to do. Include activities together and separately with friends.  Be sure that every family member’s activity is included in the mix.  If money is an issue, negotiate a compromise. It’s important that everyone in the family feels that their voice matters; that each one gets to chose some of their favorite activities to do over the summer.  It goes without saying that family chores come first before fun!

Below are some idea and links to help you start planning:

Google Strawberry Festivals and find one in your area.  Indulge!

Sit on the porch and enjoy an old-fashion ice cold glass of lemonade. {Google for homemade recipes} Enjoy conversations with friends, family & neighbors. Homemade cookies or cake will turn your porch into a gathering place.  Make it a weekly event.

Did you know that Ice Cream is good for the soul?  Whether you make your own or buy your favorite brand custard, enjoy sharing your day’s events and eating ice cream with your family.

Buy a whole watermelon and keep it refrigerated for a day or two so that it gets ice-cold.  Cut watermelon into large pieces and sit on your porch or back yard and have a contest to see who can shoot the seeds the farthest.

Lie in your hammock late at night and try to name the different constellations.

Go to the airport and watch families greeting each other who have been away.  It makes you appreciate your family more. Watching our military veterans come home is my favorite feel good moments at the airport.

Do the obvious: visit the Zoo, the Botanical Gardens and visit local parks.

Plant a garden.  Not enough room?  Try using window boxes, barrels, tubs and baskets.  Google, Google, & Google for great ideas from other gardeners.

Celebrate Summer Solstice on June 21 by camping out in your own back yard or one of the many parks in your area.  Pitch a tent, bring out sleeping bags, and build a campfire in the grill. Tell ghost stories and then sleep in the moonlight.  Don’t forget to bring the S’mores for desert. (http://listofusnationalparks.com) (americanhiking.org) (http://discovertheforest.org)

Book at weekend at Pheasant Valley Farms (http://www.pheasantvalleyfarms.com/ and take a trip down memory lane by catching bugs or fire flies on the lawn at twilight. Prepare a safe jar that includes a lid with holes and grass.   Make sure to let them fly away home after their brief visit.  Enjoy hunting, hiking, and fishing. Build a bonfire and enjoy PVF’s old fashion front porch.

Host a Garden Hat party!  Ask your guests to bring their favorite bottle of wine.  Enjoy the sights and scents of the garden and conversations while sipping on a new wine or cold beverage.

Shared moments bring us health and warmth and comfort.

Wishing you all a fabulous summer! Remember to rest, plan events and be grateful for what you have!

Feel free to share your favorite summer memories in the comment box.

 

What is the BEST Gift you EVER Received as a Mother? by Lory Fabian

Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May. This year, Mother’s Day is on Sunday, the 11th of May.

What is the BEST gift you ever RECEIVED as a Mother?

My favorite & always anticipated Mother’s Day gift is the yearly handmade card I receive from, Kiana, my 15 year old daughter. Kiana always sprinkles her traditional obligatory “Why I Love my Mother” list with treasures of her feelings and memories over the past year sandwiched in between. Memories of outings, family conversations and her recollection of deep seeded appreciation that I might not ever remember or even recognize as special until I read Kiana’s words written on my card, but surely spoken sincerely from her heart.

Contrary to public opinion, words from the heart are priceless & meaningful. Personalized cards have way more value than fancy store bought cards that are often tossed within a week or two. I keep my Mother’s Day card treasures, every card my daughter ever made for me, in a special keepsake box. I read and re-read Kiana’s cards whenever I need a lift.

In 2011, Kiana created my Mother’s Day card from her own SendOutCards.com account. Kiana’s Mother’s Day cards now include photos from the past year & include some of her favorite ‘selfies’ which I savor as much as her written words.

What is the BEST gift you ever gave your Mother?

Looking for a new idea?

Why not send a special heartfelt personalized note of love to your mother and/or grandmother this year? Visit my website at www.sendoutcards.com/loryfabian and send a card on me.

Cost: Priceless.

Go to the SOC Gift store at SendOutCards.com/loryfabian to find the perfect gift for your mother. Choose a gift you know your mother will love: flowers, books, chocolates, gourmet food and snacks? Do you know SOC has unique & special gifts to choose from? Why not send a “You Shouldn’t Have Gift” this year? Your Mother deserves it.

Do you know friends and family who recently lost their mother? Make time to send a card and share all the reasons why you miss and loved their mother. Let your friend and family member know that you are thinking of them on Mother’s Day. One card may help lessen the grief and deep pain of losing their mother if even for a brief moment.

Send an “I’m Thinking of You” or a ‘No Reason’ to write card to your sister, aunt, or female friend who wanted to be a mother, but was not able to.

Send a card to all the wonderful and amazing Mom’s you know and tell them how amazing they are. Send a card to all the “MOM’s” in your children’s life. After all, it takes a village to raise our munchkins.

WISHING ALL YOU MOTHERS A HAPPY & JOYFUL MOTHER’S DAY

13 Things to Pack for Every Business Trip by Dr. Ivan Misner

I travel several months a year, speaking to business professionals about networking.  When traveling (especially internationally) I try very hard not to forget important items I need for meetings or speaking to groups of people…but I am only human and – as often as I try to get it perfect – I admit it’s hard to remember everything all the time.

A few months ago, I was invited to speak with a reporter working on an article for an international magazine on this very topic.  The reporter asked me, “What should business people think about taking with them on business trips that they might not normally think about?” As I began forming the list, I found myself adding more and more things that are vital to ensure a successful business trip.

And here are some of the less obvious things you don’t want to forget when heading out of town on business.

No. 1: Plenty of business cards. It is never a good idea to run out of business cards while traveling.  Tuck extras in your suit pockets, wallet/purse, briefcase, luggage, etc.  I put stacks in many places to ensure I always have extra.

No. 2: A name badge.  If you do any networking while traveling on business, have your own professional name badge.  Don’t rely on the hosting organization to do your name badge and do it right.

No 3: Extra pens.  Make sure you have a pen with you while you are doing meetings. I always find that I need to write some reminders down while I’m talking to people. It’s troublesome to track down a pen while you are busy networking.

No 4: The contact information (or business cards) of all your referral partners.  I sometimes find that having that information at my fingertips allows me to give referrals to people while I’m out networking.

No. 5: Hand sanitizer.  I know this may sound a little bit like “Mr. Monk”, the germ-a-phobe title character of a television series.  However, I have found that since I’ve started using hand sanitizer after shaking many, many hands, that I have been getting far less colds than I used to get.  Just be tactful about the way you use it.  Don’t desperately and obviously spray your hands every time you shake someone’s hand!

No 6: Breath mints.  As obvious as it may sound – I can assure you from experience that many people have no idea they need them!

No 7: A memory stick.  Many times I have either needed to get a copy of something or give a copy of a file or presentation to people while out networking.  Having a memory stick handy has been very helpful on several occasions.

No 8: A camera and/or video.  A camera is great if you want to memorialize some occasion or a meeting with someone important to you.  A video is important for anyone that blogs.  It gives you a chance to interview someone during your travels.  I do this almost every time I travel.

No. 9: Tools for your business.  For me, that includes many copies of my bio for introductions whenever I speak.  Despite the fact that my team sends the bio in advance, there are many times when I arrive and they don’t have the bio handy.

Another tool for me is a PowerPoint remote clicker.  This is really important for me because I don’t want to rely on someone else to move the slides forward as a I present.  Also, you know that memory stick I mentioned earlier? I have copies of my talk(s) on there just in case the group I’m speaking to has misplaced my presentation material.

Extra Odds and Ends

When I asked some colleagues and other business travelers what they would add to the list, they added some that I hadn’t thought of! Here are some of their suggestions:

No. 1: A phone charger. I agree heartily, especially seeing how much these items cost in an airport, or in another country. And you certainly won’t want to forget your laptop power cord – besides being expensive it’s often impossible to be able to get the right one easily, if at all. Also, you should write a “note to self” to fully charge all of your electronic devices the night before you leave!

No. 2: Power adapter/converter. Though it’s usually easy to pick up a “universal” adapter at airports or stores in heavily populated areas, in this electronic age you would hate to need one and not be able to find one, so it’s best to have one (or two) packed and ready when you need it!

No. 3: The right clothes. Most of you have experienced differences in temperature and/or weather from one town to another, so you can imagine how different the conditions could be across the country or around the world! It’s never been easier to plan what clothes to bring, thanks to online weather forecasts for every region of the earth. (Of course, there are no guarantees where weather is concerned!)

No 4: A good book. Oh yes – a most important item to include! Those airport layovers, delays, and long flights can seem even longer without something interesting to read. Here’s something to consider, if you are an avid reader who uses an e-reader or other mobile device to read books: You might want to also include a “paper” book and/or magazine for those take-offs and landings where all electronic devices must be turned off, and in case you actually do run out of battery power on a long trip!

Called the “father of modern networking” by CNN, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling author.  He is the Founder and Chairman of BNI (www.BNI.com ), the world’s largest business networking organization.  His book, Networking Like a Pro, can be viewed at www.IvanMisner.com .  Dr. Misner is also the Sr. Partner for the Referral Institute (www.ReferralInstitue.com ), an international referral training company.

Peace & Shout out to Dr. Misner who told me personally when I met him at a BNI Convention in St. Louis last year that he uses SendOutCards.com as a tool to keep in touch with his network.  He loves the fact that everyone can read his handwriting when he uses SendOutCards.com.  SOC’s spell checker is an added bonus.  Go to www.sendoutcards.com/128092 and try sending your own free card.

Read more: http://smallbusiness.foxbusiness.com/entrepreneurs/2013/03/05/13-things-to-pack-for-every-business-trip/#ixzz2TwYD6kLD

Teachers Matter – National Teacher Week

 Did you know that this week is National Teacher week?

Teachers in St. Charles, St. Louis and in communities across the nation will be in the spotlight on National Teacher Day, as students, parents, school administrators and the general public learns how teachers are making great strides to improve our Public Schools for every student.

Few other professionals touch as many people as teachers do.

National Teacher Day is a good time to show appreciation on the contributions educators make to our community every day. Teachers are role models. Teachers spend more time with our kids than most parents do.  As a community, we need to be more grateful and show more appreciation. Ask your teachers how YOU can help.

Sending a card or gift of appreciation is an opportunity for all of us to reach out.  A heartfelt, handwritten thank you note goes a long way to sharing the love. Is your child’s teacher doing an A++ job?  Send appreciation cards to teachers who have inspired you’re children. Send a Starbucks, a Target or a Home Depot Gift Card.  It’s the perfect way to let them know they are appreciated.

Make it even more meaningful by including something specific the teacher has said or done that has made a difference to your child, like offering extra guidance in math, helping your child make friends on the playground, or teaching a science or art module that sparked your child’s interest and passion.

Another simple and more meaningful idea is to have your child design their own card & write a note or poem about why he or she appreciates their teacher. You’re child can design a special card or decorate his or her poem with pictures that show what their teacher has taught them.

If you want to send the SUPER HERO teacher in your life a real card, in a real envelope from you or your child or both at NO COST, please visit: www.sendoutcards.com/loryfabian.

TEACHERS MATTER!…PLEASE MAKE TIME TO THANK THE TEACHERS IN YOUR SCHOOL THIS WEEK.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Building Relationships | Leading Insight

Research shows that even with the best products and business practices, you still need strong relationships to succeed in this marketplace. The following is a roadmap to turn personality differences into positive business results.

Respect is at the heart of building business relationships. It is the glue that holds together the functioning of teams, partnerships and managing relationships. (Up and down, peer-to-peer, internally and externally). Respecting the right to differ is a concept like apple pie and motherhood. We all agree with it but can we truly foster it?

The first step is to identify the specific areas of difference. Many people see things in terms of rights and wrongs. “My way” is right and therefore “other ways” are wrong. When a situation is viewed through this lens, a power struggle ensues. When, however, a situation can be seen through the lens of difference, and a position is simply a matter of opinion not fact, then cooperation and compromise is possible. Identifying and understanding differences allows people to shift their position to one of compromise and negotiation.

The following steps are the roadmap to success:

  • Respect leads to accepting a person for what he/she is.
  • Accepting a person where they are, creates an environment of trust.
  • Trust, leads to a willingness to be open to: new opportunities, new collaborations, new strategies, new ideas, new products.

Once you understand the above you can use the following list to avoid power struggles, which drain energy from your effectiveness. Here is our top 10 list for type of differences to look for.

Communication Styles. All people do not communicate in the same fashion. There are many inventories available to identify differing styles. Once you understand a person’s style, this knowledge can lead to respect not conflict.

Non-Verbal Communication. All forms of communication must be considered. This form of communication is more covert, but not any less important. Non-verbal communication includes; body language, and tone. Non-verbal communication may differ from the verbal. With this additional understanding of what is really being communicated more effective collaboration is possible.

Learning Styles. People learn in different ways. When this concept is in the forefront of understanding then communications can be geared to various styles and will meet with greater success. Differing Values. This concept can be a little tricky. While values need to be identified and respected, there are times when conflicting values can be so different that they cannot coexist on the same team. When mutually exclusive values are encountered, collaboration is not recommended.

Differing Values. This concept can be a little tricky. While values need to be identified and respected, there are times when conflicting values can be so different that they cannot coexist on the same team. When mutually exclusive values are encountered, collaboration is not recommended.

Boundaries. We all have different space needs and boundary needs. (Boundaries are the limits you place on the behavior of others around you.) The first step is to be aware of peoples’ boundaries and then to use this understanding to approach them respectfully. This new behavior often avoids conflict and strengthens relationships.

The Self. Self-respect is a vital and primary building block that supports the formation of relationships. By being aware of your own needs and styles you create a healthy foundation and the ensuing relationships are more solid. The remaining categories are variations on the theme of Cultural Differences. The need to understand, respect, and integrate diversity is a must in today’s market.

Company Culture. Seasoned employees have come from different companies and each company has a culture. This must be identified and respected in order to insure successful integration into the current company. This coept is especially pertinent to mergers and acquisitions.

Culture of the Country. With the global nature of our business, employees often come from different countries, each with a different culture. In order to successfully integrate multicultural differences, these differences must be understood, articulated, and respected.

Family Cultures. The influence of our backgrounds is great. Often we ignore these differences because they “do not belong in the workplace”. However the reality is that people cannot keep who they are out of the work environment. The key here is to recognize when the source of the conflict is based on someone’s family/personal issues. This allows you to choose not to engage in a battle that is based on their family history.

Individual vs Team. Balancing the individual needs with team needs is always an interesting dilemma. However, if this healthy balance is not reached, problems are certain to follow. Taking the time to identify and then address both individual and team dynamics are at the core of this balancing act. Business success is directly related to getting this right.

Thank you and shout out to Leading Insight! |http://leadinginsight.com/business_relationships.htm

 

Business Tips: 21 Ways to Break the Ice – By Tom Searcy Topics Marketing

Open-ended questions are the icebreakers that lead to more engaging business discussions with customers, vendors, partners and prospects. Every matchmaker in the business will tell you that the first step to developing a relationship with someone is to get them talking. Most of us meet new people as a part of our jobs — prospects, coworkers, customers, vendors or partners. And it is part of our jobs in these moments to connect and interact with these people.

Breaking the ice with someone should accomplish several things:

—  Start a conversation on a positive note

— Move the first interaction past data exchange to connection

—  Make a memory-link of the person, personality and name

Here are 21 questions you can use to break the ice:

1. What is the best part of your job?

2. What is the best part of working at your company?

3. When did you know that you wanted to work in your field?

4. Who was the most influential person in your career choice?

5. What was your biggest accomplishment in the last year?

6. Who do you look forward to seeing when you come to work?

7. What are you most excited about that you see coming up in the next six months?

8. What was the most impressive thing you saw happen in your industry in the last year?

9. Which company in your industry is the pacesetter and what are they doing?

10. What’s the smartest thing your company’s done in the last year to deal with the economy?

11. What’s the best technique you have been using to better manage your time?

12. Which of your company’s initiatives for next year has you the most excited?

13. If you had only one accomplishment on which to base your annual review, what would it be?

14. What’s the secret sauce for managing people to their highest success?

15. Who is the best leader you know that you personally try to emulate?

16. Where do you think the big innovation in your industry will come from in the next year or two?

17. What was your best decision in the last year?

18. Who are the best thinkers in your field that you follow?

19. What sea change do you see coming in the next year or two in the business?

20. What technology has made the biggest difference in your personal work in the last year?

21. What is the biggest thing you will stop doing next year?

You will notice that the questions are geared to make the other person stop, consider, compare and then make a choice. This is all intentional. You are engaging them at a level deeper than the transactional conversation. That’s the ice you are breaking — the ice that keeps you from truly engaging.

Bonus question No. 1: After the person answers the opening question, ask “Why?”

Bonus question No. 2: How can I help with what you are trying to get done?

Using Hand-Written Notes to Build Your Business. by: Kristine M. Lewis

Recently, I attended a networking event for my company. The speaker that night spoke about good networking practices. One of the practices she referred to was making sure to follow-up with everyone you meet at these events. She aptly referred to it as “pinging”.

The word “ping” takes its name from a submarine sonar search — you send a short sound burst and listen for an echo or a “ping” coming back. So, in networking terms, when you send out a ping, whether with an email, a phone call or a hand-written note, you’re inviting that person to “come back” and communicate with you thus beginning a relationship with that person…one that will hopefully benefit you both long term.

I always make it a practice to send out hand-written thank you notes to everyone I meet at these events. I like hand-written notes, because they’re a physical manifestation of your company (your brand) to that potential client, strategic partner or referral source. A hand-written note sets the tone for your company. Hand-written notes also differentiate you from most other businesses. Ask yourself when the last time you received a hand-written note from someone you met at a business setting was?

Quite simply, hand-written correspondence is a wonderful way to build your business. When I say build your business, I am not just referring to acquiring new customers. I am also referring to keeping the customers you have!

According to a study conducted by the Technical Assistance Research Project in Washington DC, 68% of customers leave because of “perceived indifference”. In other words, customers don’t think you care about their business. As Sir William Jones said, “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated”. Our customers and clients want and need to be appreciated, remembered and thanked.

Another great advantage in sending a personal note….people tend to keep these cards. Whenever I receive a nice note from someone, I display it one my desk for awhile. Every time I see the card, I am warmly reminded of that person or business.

So, when should you send a hand-written card to someone? Here are a few suggestions:

* Every time you meet someone new and get their contact information (i.e. a networking function, a business meeting, a training session, on the plane, a social party, waiting in line at the grocery store, etc.)

* When a customer makes a major purchase from you or sends a referral your way.

* When you embark upon a joint venture with a new company.

Here are some other suggested but not mandatory times to jot a quick note:

* A birthday greeting to your clients and associates.

* A congratulatory note when you hear about something great that customer or business associate did. For example, one of my customers published a new book, so I sent her a congratulatory note.

* If you see an article that might be of interest to that client or associate, send them the clipping with a quick note.

* An encouraging note to members of your staff or team.

Remember, every card is a “ping”. It is likely that your message will echo back to you in some way soon!

Writing a hand-written note does not have to be a difficult exercise! When networking, make it a practice to take notes about the people you meet on the back of their business cards, so you have something to reference when you go to correspond with them.

Hand-written notes should only be 3-5 sentences in length. In other words, be short and to the point. If it is your first correspondence with this person, remind them where you met and what you do for a living. Thank them for taking the time to speak with you and perhaps suggest another meeting. Make sure to enclose another business card.

Your personal correspondence should be written on high quality stationery. Remember, your stationery represents your brand. If you are a veterinarian for example, a note card with a cute dog might certainly be appropriate. If you’re an image consultant, you might want something more refined and sophisticated. Personalized note cards with your name and/or company already printed on them are great for establishing a consistent brand or image. Make sure to give your correspondence that extra personal touch by hand-addressing the envelope and using a real postage stamp.

Set aside some time every day to write your notes. I prefer to do this practice at the end of the day. It gives me time to reflect upon the day and allows me to give this practice my undivided attention. It also helps me to end my day on a very positive note…energy which transcends to the following day.

For remembering customer’s birthdays, I have created an Excel spreadsheet with my customers’ names, addresses and birthdays. Once a week, I refer to this sheet to remind myself of the birthday notes I need to send out for that week.

Don’t get me wrong, emails, instant messages, phone calls and the like are all wonderful communication tools! However, taking the time to write a hand-written note really sends the message that you care and you have taken the time to think about your relationship or potential relationship with that person. Those 3-5 sentences can make a mighty impact. And, that ping will come back to you in the mighty echo of increased opportunity. Grab your pen and stationery and get writing today!

                                                                                                                                  

 

                                                                    Personal note from Lory:                                                                     

  Check out SendOutCards.com/128092.  You can write ‘handwritten’ notes from your computer, have access to spell check and never go to the post office again to purchase stamps.

Turn Failure into Success: 10 Ways ~ The first step to becoming more successful is changing the way you think about failure. By Art Motell

Failure is painful, right?

Not for successful people. The most successful people in every field don’t consider failure to be a particularly painful experience–because they think about it differently.

Successful people transcend failure because their self-esteem, rather than depending on whether they win or lose, is based upon their own sense of value.

Rather than taking failure seriously, they develop beliefs that allow them to capitalize upon negative feedback and turn it to their advantage.

Rules to Live By

Therefore, if you’re really committed to being successful, you’ll mothball that “failure=pain” nonsense. Instead, instead adopt some (or all) of the following beliefs:

1. Failure renews my humility, sharpens my objectivity, and makes me more resilient.

2. I take the challenge seriously, but I do not take myself too seriously.

3. If the more I fail, the more I succeed, then failure is a part of the process of achieving my objectives.

4. Failure is temporary when I use it as an opportunity to try new ideas.

5. I learn more from failure than success.

6. Negative feedback is information that helps me correct my course so that I stay on target.

7. I am paid for the number of times I fail.

8. My self-esteem is not based on the reactions of others, but by my own sense of virtue.

9. The unkindness of others reminds me that I need to be kind to myself.

10. It takes courage to fail–because nobody ever got ahead without taking risks.

The above is adapted from a conversation with Art Mortell, a wonderful motivational and keynote speaker and the author of the excellent book The Courage to Fail

4 To-Dos for the “Someday” Entrepreneur / By Adelaide Lancaster

I talk with a lot of people who want to start a business “someday.” And as a result, I often think about the factors that determine which “someday” entrepreneurs will actually become business owners, and which will continue to say “I wish” for years to come.

Surprisingly, the ability to take the plunge has a lot less to do with people’s personalities, and a lot more to do with how accessible and familiar the experience of entrepreneurship is to them. Those who can picture themselves running a business often do. And those who continue to think of entrepreneurship as a big, scary thing that other people (perhaps more gregarious, sales-oriented, or risk-tolerant people) do tend to never move forward.

So, if you, too, dream of someday being your own boss, an important first step is just getting acquainted with the nature of the beast. Here are four things that will help you do just that.

1. Make New Friends

One of the best ways to learn what entrepreneurship is really like is by getting to know some entrepreneurs. Not necessarily the fancy, media darling types, but just normal, low-key people who work for themselves. To start, connect with entrepreneurs who match your own demographic—it helps you to start thinking “hey, if they can do it, so can I!” But be sure to branch out from there, and also to meet people in a wide variety of industries. There are lots of styles of entrepreneurship, so the more diversity you can experience, the better!

Move upMove down

If you don’t know any entrepreneurs, just start asking people to make some introductions. Or, join groups on LinkedIn or Facebook, and start paying attention to the discussions that are happening. Ask someone you find interesting to have coffee and take it from there. Pick their brain about useful resources, groups, or meetings, and see if they can introduce you to even more entrepreneurs.

2. Pick Some New Role Models

In addition to making some new pals, it’s important to identify role models who are a little more established in the business world. You might not be able to take them to coffee, but you can learn a lot by observing them and their companies from afar.

Select three brands or companies that you like and admire. Find as many ways to follow their leaders as possible—be it their blogs, articles, or Facebook profiles. Read their books if they have them. Read their press and interviews that they’ve done. Think about how their personalities and leadership styles have shaped the brands and the companies they run. Stay abreast of their company news, and take note of what they share about their own experience.

3. Fall in Love with Small Business as a Customer

There’s a certain romance to small business. As a customer, there’s always something more special about the experience. Sometimes it’s witnessing changes over the years, other times it’s the connection to the owner, others it’s the attention to detail that’s given to the product or service.

And there’s a lot to learn from that! So, in addition to making friends with entrepreneurs themselves, it’s important to also make relationships with some actual businesses. Think about the small businesses that you currently patronize, or the new start-ups whose products you love. What do you know about their owners or story? What are their goals and where are they going? What do they do that’s memorable, distinct, or unique? What do they do particularly well? Thinking about your own experiences as a customer will give you tons of insight into running your own show.

 

4. Demystify “Business” Speak

Most would-be entrepreneurs get scared off by the “business” side of things. They overestimate the skills and knowledge that are needed to run a business and assume that there are huge mountains to be climbed and learning curves to overcome before even getting started.

But it’s important to confront the monster under the bed—it’s not as hard as you might think, and you certainly don’t have to have an MBA to do it. Pick a small business magazine like Inc. or Fast Company and invest $15 to get a subscription. Peruse it each month, but feel free to read only what’s interesting to you. You’ll soon see how un-mysterious business can be. From behind-the-scenes business profiles to questions about how to handle particular challenges, you’ll begin to learn a lot about the experience of entrepreneurship.

As you start talking to people, expanding your reading list, and thinking more and more about the what it’s like to be an entrepreneur, you’ll soon see that it’s not as big and scary as you might think. And that “someday” will inch a little bit closer to today.

 

Adelaide Lancaster is an entrepreneur, consultant, speaker and co-author of The Big Enough Company: Creating a business that works for you (Portfolio/Penguin). She is also the co-founder of In Good Company Workplaces, a first-of-its-kind community, learning center and co-working space for women entrepreneurs in New York City.