Tech Funnies

 

Arguably  the best technology related site on the Web, TheNextWeb is a large online publication  delivering an international perspective on the latest news about Internet technology, business and culture. They keep us entertained and informed with their curated content. Here from the NextWeb Facebook page, a collection of the comics from around the Web that made us smile.

 

Dilbert.com

 

 

Explosm.net

 

 

Endlessorigami.com

 

Top Tips for Networking at a Business Conference

Business conferences can be an extremely important part of the annual calendar and will benefit your business in many areas. They provide potential new business opportunities and can be a good way to advance your career. But how can you get the most out of these events and what are the top tips for networking?

Do your research

You’ll have a more successful conference if you spend some time researching the event before attending. Take a look at the key speakers and read their biographies and profiles. This will not only help you see if they’ll be useful for networking, but might also give you an insight into their interests to help start a conversation. Also, have a read through the attendee list and make notes on who the most important people to meet are.

First impressions

Networking doesn’t come easily for everyone, but unfortunately it’s a part of business life that you have to learn to live with. It’s important, however nervous you are, that you make the right first impressions. Decide in advance what business image you want to portray in order to stand out from the other attendees. Focus on the most important people in the room and make sure that you have a clear goal of what you want to achieve from the event.

Start a conversation

Don’t wait for someone else to make the first move, as they’re probably just as nervous as you. Use their name badges to make the initial contact and maybe strike up a conversation about the last speaker or presentation as an ice-breaker. Show an interest in the other person’s life, regardless of your own feelings and you’ll soon increase your network of friends and business acquaintances. Don’t feel that you have to ignore people’s personal lives because you’re at a business conference. This usually relaxes people if they can talk about something easy and it helps to keep the conversation flowing. When you finish a conversation make sure you remember individual contacts and make notes later if necessary.

Find the experts

Conferences are full of people who are exceptionally good at networking and seem to know everyone in the room. Make sure you find out who they are and start a conversation with them. This way they’ll introduce you to other influential people. It’s not all about how they can help you; you should also consider how you can be of assistance to others at the conference. Find out what areas people work in and see if you have any contacts that might be able to help them.

Keep in touch

Once the conference is over make sure that’s not the end of your networking. Maintain your database back at the office and ensure that you don’t lose contact with these new leads. Use any excuse to get in touch, a birthday, new business win, interesting development in the market and add them to your business social network. You might not think they’ll be important immediately, but you never know what the future will bring.

If you follow these steps when attending your next business conference, it should become a more enjoyable and profitable experience. Not everyone is a natural at developing new relationships, but with some practice it should become easier in time.

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This guest article was written on behalf of Liverpool University who can provide great venues for conferences in Liverpool – visit their website for more information.

Do You Need a Vision and Mission Statement?

Taking the time to understanding your audience, positioning, goals and the benefits of your product or service—all important elements of a brand strategy–is crucial for success. But how about the softer elements of a brand? What does having a clearly defined vision and mission statement do for you? How do these brand elements move a business forward? Vision and mission speak to people on a human and emotional level, and can help to inspire both the business’s employees and the business’s customers. Helping people to connect with the brand on an emotional level also helps to develop loyalty. Cynthia Gunsinger, Communications Director of Noomii.com and a Vancouver area life coach created this Prezi especially for SimplifyThis readers. Have a look to further understand whether you need a vision and mission statement for your business.

Coping When Your Business Gets a Bad Review

 

There are few businesses that are able to exist as singular, closed entities.  Most modern companies rely on other companies for something, whether that’s efullfilment, hosting, deliveries, or customer service.  This makes providing quality service from beginning to end a true challenge, and makes it all the more painful if things go wrong and you get a bad review.

Power for the Consumer

Sites like Yelp, CitySearch, and TripAdvisor put a lot of power in the hands of the consumer.  If your delivery is late, your food stale, or the bathroom in your hotel dirty, a disgruntled consumer can easily tell the world about their horrible experience, damaging your reputation.

Even a consumer that doesn’t want to take the time to register on a specialist consumer review website and post a long, detailed review can still do a lot of damage.  An off the cuff tweet about a bad experience could be seen by thousands of people, and could have a big impact on your bottom line.

How You Respond Matters More than the Legitimacy of the Complaint

One of the most important parts of brand management is responding correctly to complaints.  If the complaint is legitimate, acknowledge it and do everything that you can to put it right.  If you feel that the complaint is not justified, acknowledge it, and see what you can do to resolve the problem in the eyes of the consumer.

If the complaint was caused by a different company – perhaps rude customer service from a group that you outsourced to, don’t pass the blame on to them.  To the customer, any correspondence that bears your logo, and any person using your company name, is a representative of your company.  They don’t care about the practicalities of outsourcing and contracting; all they want is a good experience with everyone they deal with.  When you’re talking to the customer, own the mistakes of the companies you work with.  Deal with the outsourcing companies privately, and if they can’t resolve the problems in a timely fashion, find another supplier or contractor that you can trust to represent your brand.

Be Personable, but Don’t Make it Personal

When you’re dealing with customers, be polite and friendly.  Offering your real name, instead of being a faceless company representative, goes a long way towards making a good impression.   However, you should still remain professional.  Don’t take complaints personally, and don’t get drawn into arguments or hostile debates.

Remember that you can’t please every customer.  Listen to their feedback, and be open to the possibility that they are making a valid point, but don’t try to please everyone.  Sometimes, you will encounter someone that is only out for compensation or that will never be happy with you no matter what you do.  Rise above those kinds of complaints and focus on providing the best service you can for the people that genuinely appreciate the products and services that you provide.

This post was written by James Harper on behalf of Hallmark Consumer Services the internet fulfilment specialists.

Heartbreaking Endings or Brilliant Beginnings?

We all wish for the answers. To our lives, to our businesses, work, challenges, relationships. The fact of the matter is that if we had the answers, there would be no experience, challenges, or failures that come from growth opportunities.

Have you found yourself immersed in the energy of the summer Olympic Games? The brilliant wins, the heartbreaking defeats: there is nothing better than a world-wide athletic competition to draw from when considering: where do beginnings end and endings begin?

You may consider the loss by your favorite swimmer or cyclist the end, while the win would have been the beginning of something grander: a recognition of their hard-fought physical and mental strength.

And, yes, while we all love shiny things to put on display, a loss in the medals-round to your swimmer means that choice lays ahead: what can they embrace and learn through this? What changes can they make with the new data that they have gathered in the international arena?

  1. Gratitude:  Win or lose, it is a spectacular feat to make it to the Olympic games and it’s not an experience most people get.  In your situation: what do you have to feel grateful for?
  1. Fear: It is completely understandable to fear change. It’s new! We don’t know what’s on the other side! Embrace the fear-feeling and know: it’s what comes with playing a bigger game. Now give yourself a round of applause!
  1. Connect: It is your job to choose to see the change and figure out what you are supposed to learn. It is a lot easier when you have a team of cheerleaders who share your values and who understand you and will give you valuable support and feedback.

To all of the medalists, competitors at the Olympic Games (and also the players in their own games of life): there is hope in change. Though the process can be disenchanting at times, aiming for your truth gracefully moves you from ending to beginning.

Think of a growth opportunity that you are facing and give fear a big hug. What can you be grateful for? Who can you connect with? What is your truth?

Like the athletes winning and losing at their life’s work: what can you embrace and learn through this? What changes can you make with the new data that you have gathered?

SimplifyThis seeks to make small business owners’ lives simpler with our easy Web Scheduling software. Our editorial partnership with the talented personal and business coaches over at Noomii serves to support entrepreneurs in their endeavors. Susanne Kahle is a board certified Life, Career and Leadership coach. Visit her profile and many more at Noomii.com

What Are The Best Ways to Engage Your Social Media Audience?

By Paola peralta (Own work)

Social media and small business marketing go hand in hand. It’s the small businesses who have the upper hand over brands when it comes to engaging fans and audiences on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. While not many people actually engage in dialogue with their favorite national brands they do engage with local businesses who are able to maintain more of a humanistic approach.  Not surprisingly then, “What are the best ways to engage my audience?” is one of the top three questions marketers have according to the 2012 Social Media Marketing Industry Report by Social Media Examiner.

 

Here, from around the Web, a few of the basics of engaging audiences on social media.

#1. Know your audience

While a basic of marketing, its still worth mentioning. Still people go about their social media activity without taking the time to consider their audiences — who they are speaking to, and what they would like to read or hear. When considering your audience, consider demographic information (how old they are, what gender they are and where they live) as well as psychographic information – what really makes them tick.

#2. Know where your audience is

Where are you most likely to find your audience online? If your audience is other businesses then Twitter or LinkedIn may be the place to start. If you’re speaking to consumers, then good chance they’re hanging out on Facebook. Don’t rush to use all of the tools, rather focus on the platforms that your audience is using most frequently.

#3 Be authentic

There is a philosophy out there that says if you are yourself, you will naturally find your tribe. Try to know your authentic story and then always share from that place. Once you know your authentic story, the need to influence, persuade and convince goes away according to Michael Margolis, founder and president of Get Storied, and the author of Believe Me: A Storytelling Manifesto for Change-Makers and Innovators,

#4 Content is King

Now that you know who you are, who your audience is, what their information needs are and where they’re hanging out, you can develop content that answers their questions. You can do this in the form of status updates, blog posts, pictures or videos. Make sure your content is  varied, readable and focused. See here, what content drives the most engagement on Facebook.

#5 Remember to Converse

Social Media is more than pushing content out through channels, it’s also about conversations and reciprocity. Remember a conversation is two-way. Listen to other people you are connected with. Like and share their content. Build a rapport with the people you follow.

Additional Reading

Social Media Today: Using Social Media to Engage and Audience

Fobes: Rules of Engagement: How to Stay Connected to Your Audience

SimplifyThis: Social Media for Business Owners

SimplifyThis’ Web scheduling software is designed to help small business owners and solopreneurs streamline administrative tasks so they can focus on growing their businesses. Follow us on Facebook for small business marketing and management tips.

What is Differentiation? Thinking Outside the Box!

Image: http://www.scribbleoneverything.com/prints

 

 

Think outside the box. Let’s twist this metaphor to use it to describe how we differentiate businesses in the marketplace and ourselves in the workplace. If we consider “the box” the thing you do and how you (and the rest of the world) currently do it, whether it is writing an article, running a business, creating relationships with customers or really anything, “the box” is a big fat metaphor for the status quo.

This week, my box was to write an FAQ article. As you can see, “the box” in this metaphor can be big or small and my example is a smaller box: just one little article!

Every box is comprised of a bunch of little pieces. All of these little pieces (expert advice, past experience, understanding of the task, what the outcomes could be, etc.) bring you to the general standard for your thing, your box.

The first draft of my FAQ article was a giant checkmark on my box: my technical writer hat was on, I researched, I referenced and I constructed a perfectly average article.

THE BIG PROBLEM: There are a lot of people performing at that standard. In order to move past the blah-blah mundane, you need to be exceptional. And my guess is that EXCEPTIONAL is what you are aiming for.

What my article was lacking was a voice. My voice, my interpretation of the research, my construction of the message, my opinion. Differentiating this article from a dry-as-crackers Wikipedia article was as easy as opening up and sharing my own ideas and beliefs.

Can you identify where you are already playing outside the box? How can you spend more time out there? And, if you are currently playing in the box, where are you daring to dream to play outside of it?

Leaning into your strengths, your voice, your values and your opinions will make the difference between being one of the flock or leading it.

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Cynthia Gunsinger is the Communications Director of Noomii.com and a Vancouver area life coach. See her full profile: http://www.noomii.com/users/cynthia-gunsinger

The Best Time Management Techniques

When you run your own business, exemplary time management skills are essential. Here’s a guide to keep yourself on track to finish your tasks in a timely fashion.

Communication

Do you make a 30-minute phone call when a text or an email will do? Do you spend time having conversations over email or text when a simple phone call would suffice? If so, you need a communication overhaul.

Try setting aside time in the afternoon specifically for making and returning phone calls and answering emails. While you’re working on other things — such as finishing up that big presentation or researching data for a new project — make the phone and the web off-limits.

Can’t resist? Keep your browser and your phone turned off and stow your smartphone away from your desk. Out of sight — out of mind!

Outsourcing Key Tasks

You have no doubt calculated that your time is better spent growing your business than performing essential-but-non-growth tasks such as those related to accounting or website management. You’re not an SEO services expert, so why try to pretend you are? Do yourself a favor and hire an Internet marketing company for those essential website analytics tasks.

Similarly, you’re not an accountant. So why bother wasting time figuring out the latest tax laws or how Quickbooks works? Get yourself a professional who does so you can spend the time growing your business.

The math works like this: say you spend five hours every week working on website maintenance tasks such as updating content, evaluating keywords and figuring out how many of your visitors became paying customers. If you charge more for your product than in costs to outsource that service, then hire a contractor, pronto. Then, apply that time earning new business. More time for you, your client is happy and you’ve improved the economy by hiring out. Everybody wins!

ADDITIONAL READING: How to Delegate

Work When You Work Best

Ask yourself, when do I feel my best? If it’s in the morning, then chances are you’ll be most productive then. Plan your tasks for that time of day and watch how effective you are. Same goes for afternoons and weekends. The key? Consistency. Get in a routine and your body will adapt to it.

Make sure you avoid your time-wasting triggers during your scheduled work time, and don’t forget to schedule in some much-needed down time as a reward for your hard work! Just remember, if you waste time during working hours, you just used it up. And that’s a guaranteed path to stress.

Author Byline: Shane Jones an internet marketer, and blogging fanatic, who loves to write about business, the current economy, anything marketing, and SEO.  I also am an avid outdoors-man, who loves hiking, rock climbing, and kayaking.  You can also follow my opinions on soccer and sports at http://www.localsoccernews.com

Tweet me @shanejones15 about anything! I’d be happy to talk!

The Path of Least Resistance

Surprisingly, the path with most resistance to maximizing your work (and life) is the path where you sadly bob along, accepting your status quo with an ache in your belly. The resistance is in the high price of that path.

Curious about the path of least resistance? Here’s 4 actionable steps to get you on the road to a better you.

David Young is an ACC accredited Career, Leadership and Life Coach. Visit his profile and many more at Noomii.com.

How to Break Out of a Rut

It can happen to the best of us. Momentum slows to a halt and goals go unmet. You’re officially in a rut. You wait for something to change, but in fact the change you seek starts with you. Here 12 easy steps to bust out of that rut.

12 Rut Busting Tips to Increase Your Productivity

Stephan Wiedner is the co-founder of Noomii.com and a Vancouver area life coach. See his full profile:
http://www.noomii.com/users/stephan-wiedner

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