Networking

Networking is not just asking for business, it is developing a long term relationship with another person. Relationships with other businesses is one of the most important dimensions in small business development and operations. Connections with other business professionals provide you insight to the most current and efficient practices in your line of work. In addition, a well developed local business network will also be the source for leads, referrals and partnerships that will only enhance your business and your community. A strong professional network is critical for any business.

As a business professional, you should choose the networking atmosphere that matches you and your work personality. People with extroverted personalities may enjoy the bustling Chamber of Commerce networking events, where more introverted personalities may enjoy a one-on-one meeting over coffee. Whatever method you choose will start a business relationship that could impact your business operations, a future employment opportunity or professional development.

Here are a few tips about networking;

1. Be consistent in your professional presence

In the age of social media, networking has seemed to explode. Platforms such as Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter, enable multiple opportunities to create connections with other business professionals. You are likely involved with multiple platforms to promote and market your business. It is important to have a consistent messaging throughout your platforms so you can establish an authentic vision of you professional presence. When your network begins to refer you to potential clients, you will have the best representation of yourself in your online presence.

2. Listen and Engage

While networking is important to promote yourself and your business interests, your primary goal should be to create an authentic connection with the other person. By showing genuine interest in a person and engaging with their business challenges, the relationship will more likely yield a referral or a return in business. In addition, you will develop a trusted connection that could benefit your business needs in the future. Authenticity will always create a foundation of a sustainable and beneficial relationship.

3. Don’t be afraid to network outside of your immediate business sphere.

At networking events we frequently fall into the same sphere of conversations because it comfortable to be around those we trust. Nurturing existing relationships is critical for our business sustainability but creating new connections can help lead you down the path of business growth. Even though there may not be a direct connection within your industry, there are foundational business skills that are necessary in any business environment. Topics like payroll, marketing, customer relations strategies and client communication are critical to any business operation. A connection outside of your directly connected business network could expose you to a more efficient, productive and profitable idea that may change your business.

An authentic connection within your network will only benefit your business. You will develop a trusted relationship and set the stage for future business. It is important to be an active part of your business community to help growth and scale of your company.

I help small businesses discover strategies to develop a strong foundation in your business and to prepare for growth and scale. Contact me to create a custom strategy for growth.

Business Culture

Business culture is embedded in all communication transactions within a business, between businesses, and with clients. Communication behaviors are central to how a business establishes and develops relationships and displays cultural values. A positive and productive business culture is critical for employee retention, an engaged business operation, and productivity. Corporations and small businesses alike benefit from a strong organizational culture. The result is a clarified network of communication, an empowered workforce, and an evident core identity.
People typically identify business culture through the mission statement, goals and codes of conduct that have been established by the company. Where you can identify some elements of culture through the stated mission, the real culture of the business lies in the communication environment within a business. When businesses establish a clear network of communication and are transparent about the expectations of communication, the culture dramatically improves. When there is a positive business climate, productivity will be enhanced and you will be more profitable.

Here are a few general ideas about how you can improve business culture.

1. Manage conflict

Conflict is a natural part of a business culture. Conflict can be the catalyst for positive change in the workplace but it can also destroy relationships and processes within the business. It is best for employees and supervisors to handle these conflicts with a quick and open approach. The conflict stays isolated and employees witness the approach as fair and objective.

When businesses have a positive culture, conflict within the organization decreases because employees are empowered take control of their own workspace.

2. Have a collective and unified culture

The culture of a business is determined by owners, supervisors and employees. Involve all levels of employees in the discussion of culture. When everyone is involved with the process of articulating the business environment, there is more investment. More involvement from employees creates more dedication and a collaborative environment.

Supervisors,  owners, and employees of businesses must also be open to this feedback. This transparency and openness will create a business environment that is dynamic and flexible for to confront challenges when they emerge..

3. Cultivate strong relationships

If you are a business with many employees, invest time and resources to create a collaborative and supportive atmosphere at work. Recognize workers for their accomplishments, trust employees with projects, encourage a collaborative environment, and inspire employees to be involved with business processes. These methods will help employees feel more engaged and connected during work.

If you are an independent business owner, give the relationships with your clients significant     attention. Be transparent through your business processes, engage them in a candid discussion of your service, and be honest in your transactions. Referrals and return business are critical for small business owners. Separate yourself from your competition by being memorable, personable and a trusted.

Business culture collectively displays the values and behaviors that are central to a company. This communication is the first glimpse that a client has before there is a business transaction. This conduct also displays the core ethics of a business. Clients and employees stay loyal to companies that align the culture of their company with their established mission.

Let’s create custom strategies to address the communication network and culture of your business. We can explore how to make your business more productive and profitable through an investment in your culture.

January 30th, 2019

Relationships are essential to business. Relationships between your clients, your employees, and other businesses are necessary for creating and sustaining your business. These connections are the source of your business culture. We rely on this network to sustain and grow our business. In my next few blog posts, I will explore these different relationship levels. This week, I will explore the relationship with the client.

Client generation is critical to any business. Businesses need clients to survive and it is impossible to think about growth unless we expand our client base. Client generation does not happen without communication. When business owners and employees understand the needs and communication habits of clients, there is a higher potential for a business transaction.

Communication is key in the sales process. There is an important connection between the task of selling and the relationship that is built during a sale. The tension between the task and relationship dimension between the buyer and seller is critical to a successful transaction. An understanding of the different buyer types and how to adapt your communication to these clients will help you build trust between you and the client. This is great for immediate business, future business and referrals. Studies vary on this topic, but there is agreement on a few major themes. The typical buyer personality types fall into four categories: AssertiveAnalyticalAmiable, and Artistic

Assertive
The assertive client likes to be in control, is competitive and goal oriented. They are less concerned about developing a relationship with the person and more concerned about the outcome.  Be logical, direct and fact oriented when speaking to assertive buyers.  They will respond to direct statements but will also attempt to drive the conversation. Take control and discuss results and the return on investment with these types of buyers.

Analytical
An analytical customer is thoughtful, comparative, and typically distrustful of sales people. They like to see the logic behind the purchase. Use facts and examples when selling to an analytical audience. Compare your product/service to your competitors and take your time with these personality types. Ask questions and discuss some potential drawbacks to avoid risk. Analytical buyers appreciate the extra attention and thoughtfulness rather than the sales pitch.

Amiable

An amiable personality is friendly, loyal, and low risk. These customers are primarily concerned with developing a relationship. Seek common ground through small talk and show a general interest with amiable buyers. They are loyal to service providers and sales people with whom they choose to business because they tend avoid conflict and negotiation. If you show a personal commitment and attempt to create a relationship, you will gain business with this buyer type.

Artistic
Artistic and expressive buyers are assertive and impulsive. They typically have a short attention span and will make quick decisions, These personality types are fulfilled by relationship as well as accomplishing a task.  Tell stories and discuss experiences with artistic buyers, because they typically make decisions in the first day. Artistic buyers are assertive so use goal oriented language to help close the deal.
Adapting your communication to your audience is essential in business. Start to understand your client base and their communication needs to build better relationships, create a returning customer base, and to gain more referral business.
I help you develop unique communication strategies for your business transactions. The target audience is key to marketing and to business but communicating with different personality types is how you compete in this market. Let’s explore the different possibilities of your business culture.Feel free to email or call.

Manage, Organize, Declutter, Engage (MODE)

 You know how important time management is for the productivity and profit. Time management as a skill that someone needs to be successful at business, however, it is noticeable when a manager or employee does not organize their time. Ineffective time management can have serious consequences in any business, including decreased productivity, a stressful business culture, a loss in clients and a loss in profit. When we begin to organize the limited time we have to accomplish our tasks, we take control and discover that we have more time for our life outside of work.
          Time management is the process of how we organize the hours in our day. It is important that you understand your working behavior before you begin to identify a time management strategy that will be successful in your schedule. Ask yourself:
            
  When am I most productive? (time of day, day of the week etc.)
–  Where do I accomplish the best work? (office, coffee shop, home)
–  What inspires you to work?
–  What work tasks to you avoid?

When you understand your productivity tendencies, develop a method that will fit your schedule and the demands of your job.

The following ideas will help you begin your time management strategy. Find your MODE of time management:

1) Manage your relationships 
You will be more inspired and motivated to work if your business relationships are cordial and supportive. Relationships with your family and friends is also important in how you function at work. Dedicate time to nurture the social element of these relationships to help maintain a positive approach to work.

                       2) Organize and Prioritize your tasks 
It is a good practice to identify the tasks that need to be accomplished each day, week, month or year and then prioritize them in the order of importance or urgency. I find the tool of the Eisenhower matrix to be very helpful when thinking about how to organize my day and accomplish my goals . An example of the matrix is below.

                      3)  Declutter your work space 
Remove distractions from your work space. Discover the environment in which you are most productive and keep it organized and ready for work. Eliminating distractions such as your phone, TV, music or physical clutter can help you be in a space to be more productive.

                    4) Engage Boundaries in your workplace 
If you work at home, create a space that is exclusively for work. In any work or social environment become more comfortable saying “no” when additional requests are made. Dedicate time for your work, yourself, your family and friends to engage boundaries between your work time and family time.

Take control of your time. When you strategize and organize your time, you will reduce your stress, have time for yourself and find yourself being more productive when your time is dedicated to work.

Contact me for additional strategies for time management or business practices that increase the efficiency of your work environment.

Work smarter, not harder

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Business practices in the new year

Happy New Year business owners! I hope your business had a prosperous and successful 2018 and that you are prepared to take your business to the next level. As a new year begins we all take time to think about what ways our business can evolve and grow. Here are a few tips to help your business have a smooth transition into 2019.

1. Invest in your business culture

The beginning of the year is always a good time to assess your business practices and explore ideas that can make your business more cohesive. Businesses that invest in employee development can increase the productivity of their business by over 20%. That increased productivity translates to increased efficiency and profit. You can invest in training, hire a business coach for an objective view of your business, or explore the practices of other business professionals to help improve the culture of your business.

2. Invest in your professional development

You are a crucial part of your business. Make a commitment to improving your professional skills. Your business will only benefit from your professional development. Improve your leadership by joining professional groups like your local chamber, business leader groups, a Toastmasters club, or even audit a class at your local college to help you keep up with local and national business trends. Not only will you grow as a leader for your business and employees, you will also increase the visibility of your business.

3. Create successful habits

Successful businesses follow a similar recipe: A healthy infrastructure, consistent communication with potential, current, and previous clients, and a strong business culture. Planning activities to support each of these areas on a regular basis will help prepare your business for the next stage of growth.

Business growth is a challenge, but a strong business infrastructure with simple business habits can prepare your business for growth and profit. Contact me to discuss custom strategies to help take your business to the next level.

Branding and Business Culture

Branding and Business Culture

Branding is equally important for large corporations and small businesses. Businesses must think about how they are perceived by employees, customers, past clients, and target audiences. A brand must capture the values of the business and be flexible to capture a changing business culture.

Branding happens at multiple phases of business ownership. Businesses that think about branding before they begin their business planning help set a strong foundation for you business. When businesses need to readjust what they offer because of growth, downsizing, or transition, there should be a reinterpretation of the brand that you represent.

I help businesses articulate their brand during any phase using my 4 Cs strategy. When businesses think about Creativity, Culture, Competition and Consistency, they have a strong foundation.

https://www.google.com/…/branding-for-small-businesses…/amp/

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Branding For Small Businesses Made Simple

Teamwork as a strategy for growth

Teamwork is important if you are managing many employees, running a small business or are a sole business owner. We work with others to create and sustain our business. Think about how working as a team can improve your work environment. Also think about how working with other business owners can enhance your business environment. I can help you discover how teamwork can help improve your bottom line.

The following reasons summarize the importance of teamwork and why it matters to you:by Shada Wehbe Published on March 31, 2017

  • Teamwork motivates unity in the workplaceA teamwork environment promotes an atmosphere that fosters friendship and loyalty. These close-knit relationships motivate employees in parallel and align them to work harder, cooperate and be supportive of one another.
    Individuals possess diverse talents, weaknesses, communication skills, strengths, and habits. Therefore, when a teamwork environment is not encouraged this can pose many challenges towards achieving the overall goals and objectives. This creates an environment where employees become focused on promoting their own achievements and competing against their fellow colleagues. Ultimately, this can lead to an unhealthy and inefficient working environment.
  • Teamwork provides improved efficiency and productivityWhen incorporating teamwork strategies, you become more efficient and productive. This is because it allows the workload to be shared, reducing the pressure on individuals, and ensure tasks are completed within a set time frame. It also allows goals to be more attainable, enhances the optimization of performance, improves job satisfaction and increases work pace.
    Ultimately, when a group of individuals works together, compared to one person working alone, they promote a more efficient work output and are able to complete tasks faster due to many minds intertwined on the same goals and objectives of the business.
  • Teamwork provides great learning opportunitiesWorking in a team enables us to learn from one another’s mistakes. You are able to avoid future errors, gain insight from differing perspectives, and learn new concepts from more experienced colleagues.
    In addition, individuals can expand their skill sets, discover fresh ideas from newer colleagues and therefore ascertain more effective approaches and solutions towards the tasks at hand. This active engagement generates the future articulation, encouragement and innovative capacity to problem solve and generate ideas more effectively and efficiently.
  • Teamwork promotes workplace synergyMutual support shared goals, cooperation and encouragement provide workplace synergy. With this, team members are able to feel a greater sense of accomplishment, are collectively responsible for outcomes achieved and feed individuals with the incentive to perform at higher levels.
    When team members are aware of their own responsibilities and roles, as well as the significance of their output being relied upon by the rest of their team, team members will be driven to share the same vision, values, and goals. The result creates a workplace environment based on fellowship, trust, support, respect, and cooperation.

Invest in your leadership

6 Ways An Executive Coach Can Make You More Successful

Over the past 30 years, executive coaches have gone from rare to common. Most people in corporations assume that being given the chance to work with a coach is a positive thing, and so we seldom find ourselves being asked to explain the benefits of executive coaching. People generally come to us already knowing that they want to engage a coach, and having a fairly clear idea of what they expect from the relationship. So when a potential client asked recently how he would benefit from working with an executive coach, it was a good opportunity for me to reflect on the positive outcomes of coaching.  And it made me realize that other people might also have this question but be hesitant to ask, since coaching has become such an accepted — even expected — practice at many companies. So here are the key positives we’ve observed over almost three decades of offering executive coaching services and seeing what happens when clients take full advantage of the opportunity. If you, as the client, go into a coaching engagement with an open mind and a real willingness to grow, you can reasonably expect to reap these benefits:

1. See yourself more clearly.  This sounds simple, but is actually very important. Research has shown that most of us don’t see ourselves very clearly and that it matters: accurate self-awareness in leaders is highly correlated with organizational effectiveness and profitability, and employees prefer to follow leaders who see themselves clearly (and are willing to share their perceptions). When you engage with a good coach, he or she will generally gather input about how others see you at the beginning of the engagement, and share it with you. (The best coaches will also pattern the feedback into key themes, to further clarify others’ perceptions of your key strengths and growth areas.)  Throughout the coaching engagement, your coach will also share his or her perceptions of you, based on observation of you and your interactions with others. Most important, if your coach is effective, he or she will help you build skills to see yourself more clearly: to question your assumptions about yourself,  get curious about where you’re strong and where you need to grow, and learn to see yourself with “fair witness” eyes.

2. See others more clearly. Over the years, we’ve often seen leaders run into problems because of their inaccurate assessments of those around them. They may lose good employees because they don’t recognize and support their capabilities, or keep poor performers too long because they think they’re better than they are.  They may stumble politically because they over- or underestimate someone’s ability to have an impact on their career success. A good and insightful coach will often have more neutral and accurate perceptions of those around you than you will, and will share those perceptions with you (especially if he or she is doing other work in your organization). And — because skilled coaches work to make their coaching clients independent — he or she will also help you apply the same mental skills you learned for seeing yourself more  clearly so that you can become more accurate in your assessment of others.

3. Learn new ways to respond. Marshall Goldsmith, perhaps the best-known executive coach in the U.S., wrote a book called What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.  It’s a wonderful title because the idea is so true. We all have a set of capabilities and responses that may serve us well as mid-level employees but that won’t help us as more senior leaders.  For example, I coached a very smart and capable senior vice president in a media company a couple of years ago who was still mostly just putting her head down and getting her work done — she hadn’t learned to bring her team together and ensure they were all working in sync toward the highest-priority goals. I was able to help her see that her success now depended not only on the quality of her own work but also on her ability to inspire and direct others.  I worked with her to learn the necessary skills and shift her mindset — and she now has new, more useful tools in her “leadership toolkit.”

4. Leverage your existing strengths. Having an effective and supportive coach can also help you see and leverage strengths that you already have but that you may be underestimating. Many years ago, I coached a CEO who had a real gift for envisioning products and services that would appeal to customers in the future. He somehow thought that wasn’t a big deal (in fact, he said to me at one point, “Doesn’t everyone do that?”). I helped him see the uniqueness and value of this capability, and to learn how to lean into it in order to use it more effectively for the benefit of his team and his organization.

5. Build more productive relationships. Leaders can dramatically limit their effectiveness by only being willing or able to build strong relationships with certain kinds of people. And all too often, that means people like themselves — in background, race, gender, beliefs, or work style. A good coach can help you recognize that tendency in yourself and work against it, both by helping you see and question the limiting assumptions you make about people who aren’t like you, and by offering you tools to support you in understanding and creating strong and vital working relationships with a wider variety of people. (Here’s one of our favorite models — we use it in pretty much every coaching engagement and also as a tool for building teams.)

6. Achieve what you want. This is the bottom line for an effective coaching engagement. A good coach can help you get clearer about your goals and dreams, and about what you’re capable of doing in order to achieve them. He or she can also be a powerfully useful support system on your journey: someone who knows you very well and wants the best for you — but is a neutral third party. Unlike your family or your employees, your coach isn’t dependent on you for his or her success.  He or she can be honest with you about how you’re doing, reminding you of what you’ve said you want to achieve and letting you know what you’re doing that’s supporting your intentions — or getting in your way. Finally, and most importantly, your coach can teach you new ways of thinking and operating, new skills that will allow you to better reach your goals and create the career you want.

I’ve seen hundreds of executives grow in these ways as a result of working with a skilled coach. But I have two caveats: Your coach has to be good, and you have to be coachable. Because coaching has become so popular during the past couple of decades, there are a lot of people working as coaches who won’t necessarily be able to support you in these ways.  Here’s some help in sorting the good from the not-so-good when it comes to coaches. And, perhaps even more important: there’s you.  If you’re not willing to go through the often-daunting, frustrating and embarrassing process of acknowledging that you need to grow, and actually doing what it takes to grow, you won’t benefit from having a coach. No matter how old you are or where you are in your career, if you want to get the most from having a coach, you have to be willing to be a novice in some areas.  To support you in this willingness, you might be interested in reading this article or watching this brief video; both are about the art and practice of getting good at new things. Like any new endeavor, working with a coach can be challenging and even a little scary. But if you’re brave, committed and curious, you’ll find your coaching relationship can be a powerful catalyst to becoming the person you most want to be. I’m the founding partner of Proteus, keynote speaker, business thinker and author of Growing Great Employees, Being Strategic, Leading So People Will Follow and Be Bad First. I’m insatiably curious. I love figuring out how people, situations and objects work, and how they co…  MORERead my latest book, Be Bad First–Get Good at Things FAST to Stay Ready for the Future, and follow me on Twitter, or check out my website.

Invest in your communication culture

Why Every Employee At Your Company Should Have Communications TrainingBlake MorganContributori
CMO Network –Customer Experience Futurist, Author, Keynote SpeakerA call center worker snaps at an angry customer. A frustrated employee takes their story to social media. A marketing team wastes a day going in circles with confusing emails. A retail worker offends a customer and loses a sale. These are things that happen nearly every day, and most of them boil down to one thing—a lack of communications training.
Hiring managers and executives consistently rank good communication as one of the most important skills for employees to have. This is because communication is at the core of every business—even an employee who sits by themselves still likely communicates with people, either on the phone or via email. Being able to get information across clearly makes work more efficient, understandable, and less frustrating. As part of the regular suite of training, every employee at your company should also receive communications training. It is a vital part of keeping an organization running smoothly and cohesively.
Even some successful people are bad communicators, but gaining better communication skills is an almost surefire track to better success. There’s always room for improvement, and everyone can learn from communications training, even someone who has been through it multiple times. Improved work communication has been linked to better job satisfaction, improved company performance, increased productivity, and more empowered employees. Why wouldn’t companies want that for their organization and employees?
Company-wide communications training can transform an organization, but here are three of the biggest outcomes:
Improved workplace communication. Employees in any organization spend much of their time communicating with each other. Even something as simple as a morning greeting or a quick conversation updating someone on a project involves interpersonal communication. People want to work for organizations where open and clear communication is encouraged, but not everyone actually knows how to communicate clearly. Many employees don’t think about their colleagues’ emotions, which can lead to conflict and office politics. Without considering others’ feelings, employees can say things that offend their colleagues and create animosity. While open communication is the goal, it shouldn’t come at the expense of the feelings of others. Communications training teaches employees how to keep their emotions in check and consider the needs of others. Many employees also don’t know how to ask for things, no matter if it’s an extension on a big project, to request a vacation day, or to ask for a raise. They either avoid asking for things or blunder the situation, both of which can lead to awkwardness in the workplace. Teaching employees how to clearly and concisely stand up for themselves and ask for things is an important part of communications training.
Clearer written communication. In our modern digital world, so much communication is written—everything from a quick text message to an email or post on social media is part of communication. Employees have to know the etiquette rules for social media and email. This is particularly important in technical fields, where an unclear email can spell the difference between a successful project and a complete disaster. Don’t underestimate the power of a quick written word and how it can impact how work gets done and how customers feel.

A stronger unified brand. Every employee contributes to your brand, so it’s important to have a company where people communicate well. An employee who has a poorly communicated interaction with a customer can negatively impact the brand. Communications training helps establish consistency in communications standards so employees know what the brand stands for and how to communicate with co-workers and customers in a variety of situations. Communication on an individual level also plays a huge role in establishing each employee’s personal brand. How a person communicates says a lot about them, and in many cases, provides the first impression others have of them.
Strong communication skills are beneficial on an individual and organizational basis. Unclear messages can lead to confusion, both internally and externally with customers. It’s with your company and your employees in mind that you should hold regular communications training. It’s a great way to set employees up for success and move your company forward with everyone on the same page.
Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and author of “More Is More.” Sign up for her weekly newsletter here.

Interdependence

Empowering business leadership through custom executive coaching.

Systems theory is one of the most important concepts in organizational communication. Systems theory that is used in organizations was initially adopted from a biological perspective. Similar to a living being, an organization is composed of individual elements that have their own unique function. Each part needs to function independently to contribute to the the system function as a whole. This concept is known as interdependence. Each independent system relies upon the performance of the other systems in the network to contribute to the overall production.

An organizational system relies upon the performance of others to be able to function as a single unit. Leadership is an essential element in helping create an environment where all parts of a system have the ability to function at their optimum levels. Just think of the inspiring speech from renowned hockey coach Herb Brooks in the movie Miracle before his team played the USSR in the semifinal round in the 1980 Olympics. This speech inspired players to perform to the best of their ability, take agency for their actions, and work as a team. The coach set the stage for the members of his team and system to work together to achieve their dream. An inspiring leader can create that potential for members of their organization.

Leadership and other independent units in the system  also have the potential of creating an environment that is negative and restricting. This ripple effect has the potential of disrupting the system, taking away from productivity and harming the company’s culture. An example would be the banking crisis in 2008. Ethical violations of company leaders had a ripple effect throughout the US economy and global market. This crisis showed how the interconnectedness of our business practices and the global economy.

Interdependence is key for the functioning of an organization. When members of a group recognize that their performance has an impact on every other part of the organization a leader can enhance their organizational culture.