Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

What does your workspace say about you?

August 15, 2018

desk

Take a look at your desk. What does it say to your clients? Your workspace might seem utilitarian and innocuous, but it might tell those who see it – clients, co-workers, and even cleaning staff – a great deal about the person who sits there.

Think about a desk that’s overflowing with paperwork, maybe with a takeout tray on top of a stack of files. What’s the impression there? If you’re generous, it’s: “this person is busy.” If not, it may be: “this person is a disorganized slob.” Another impression the paperwork-cluttered desk might give is: “This person has all of this paperwork out in the open; this person is careless with the information entrusted to them.”

Perhaps you like to show off knick-knacks or collectibles, like a signed baseball or some other memorabilia. While this can be a good way to connect with your clients, it can also be off-putting. To people who don’t share your interest, a display of toys, photos, or other non-essential items might seem frivolous. Strike a balance. Limit the number of these you’ll display, and keep them off of your desk – in an area that won’t be distracting. This sends the message that when you are behind the desk, you are there to work and focus.

Should you be strict about what you allow your employees to have on their desks within your office? To an extent, yes. If an item seems garish, odd, or even unpleasant, have a conversation about it and find out why it is being displayed. You’ll likely build a better relationship with the employee, while giving them the opportunity to understand your concerns.

If you set the example, many will follow your lead. Be clear, both in your behavior and in your interactions, that you want a comfortable, professional workplace, and that you expect the entire team to help present this to clients. That starts at your desk – just like the sign on Harry S. Truman’s famously said: “The Buck Stops Here.”

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Working While Traveling Overseas

May 22, 2018

worktravel

Are you finally taking that trip to Europe or Asia? Making good on that cruise you promised yourself? This is excellent news. Still, if you’re the boss (or the person who keeps things running around the office) there may be an expectation that you will be checking in while you are away. Here are some tips on how to do that successfully:

Allow yourself to relax.
Remember that taking time away for yourself is critical to your well-being, and your well-being is critical to the well-being of your business. Complete whatever work you can in advance, so that you will be able to disconnect from business matters as much as possible while you’re away.

Set reasonable expectations.
If you feel you must check in daily, select a time (no more 30-60 minutes) when you can look over emails and respond to anything that requires your immediate attention. Choose a time period that is within normal work hours back home, and make sure everyone knows that you’ll be checking in (and when you expect to do so). Be sure to relay to them that you will not be handling tasks beyond simple email replies. (You are meant to be relaxing, after all.)

If you feel the day-to-day business operations can survive without a daily check-in from you, perhaps you can check in every few days instead. If you have a great partner or assistant whom you trust to monitor your emails and phone calls, you may be able to avoid firm check-ins altogether, and instead rely on them to alert you via text or phone call if something requires your immediate attention.

Be certain you can stay in touch.
Check with your phone service provider to ensure that you will be able to send emails and, if necessary, make calls while abroad; even today, this is not always possible everywhere in the world. Check with your lodgers (hotels, cruise lines, etc.) and see what their Internet situation might be. Some phones allow you to make calls over Wi-Fi, and that may come in handy (and/or prove less expensive than purchasing an international calling plan).

Have a backup plan in place.
It makes good sense to be aware of any business centers in hotels you are staying in, or nearby Internet cafes. Don’t bring your laptop, unless you’re on a writing retreat or the like. Ask ahead and see if you will be able to Skype from the business centers, if necessary.

If you lose your phone (or find that it doesn’t operate the way you planned), you might consider purchasing a “burner” phone in your destination country – something inexpensive that will work well in the areas you’ll be visiting.

Be sure you know how to log in.
Don’t forget to look up and memorize (do not write down) login information that you may need in the event that you must utilize a ‘burner’ phone, and/or the computers in hotel business centers. These days many of us are so accustomed to logging in with a ‘Touch ID’ or via browsers that have saved our passwords, we may no longer be able to easily recall vital login and password information.

These ideas are not meant to foster anxiety about what might happen, but merely help you plan for a headache-free trip. The main idea is, of course, to relax and unwind, and you won’t truly be able to do that if you’re concerned about work.

Four Ways to Strengthen Your Client Relationships

November 16, 2017

November

We’re all looking for ways to turn client relationships into a lifetime of mutually beneficial business. For some, it seems to come naturally. But best practices require conscientious effort from the naturals as well as the newbies. While by no means a comprehensive list, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Accentuate the Positive
While it may sound corny, maintaining a positive attitude is incredibly helpful. Imagine you’re going to see your insurance agent. When do you go see them? When you buy a policy, when you make changes, and most importantly when you need to take advantage of that insurance. Not all of these are good days, so knowing that your relationship is with a positive person who builds a real connection with you is helpful. The same thing works in reverse, so keep it positive.

Build and Share Knowledge
If this seems like another no-brainer, you’re probably already on the right track. You have to know what you’re talking about and convey it correctly. This is more than just what you’re offering. Keeping up to date will not only help you serve clients better, it will also provide ways to stay ahead of the curve, and anticipate their needs.

On the Spot
When a client calls or emails you, respond as soon as you can. Be someone they feel they can turn to anytime, and show them you value their business by providing prompt replies. Become a presence in your clients’ lives, not just a voice on the phone or a person who returns emails. Do you Skype? That can help, if an in-person meeting isn’t possible or convenient for them. Be present and helpful, whenever possible.

Give It Time
If you think about your closest friends and confidants – maybe your spouse or partner – your connection took time to reach the point of trust. The same is true of your professional relationships. The thing to keep foremost in your mind is that the good work that you do will be the bedrock those relationships are built upon. Be the person that you would want to have working for yourself and, with a little patience, you can build lifelong client relationships.

 

Which Greeting Cards Should You Be Sending?

October 18, 2017

greeting

The answer is more complicated than you might think. Timing, as they say, is everything.

Sometimes the answer is obvious. For example: is there anything more ubiquitous in polite, professional society than the birthday card? Thank You cards should be on your list, too, and welcoming a new client calls for a specific sort of thank you card. (You should be sending a card to those who made the introduction, as well.)

But which Winter Holiday cards should you send? Well, that depends largely on who your clients are and what they value. However, if I were to select one card above all others, it would be the Thanksgiving card. Thanksgiving is a widely celebrated* holiday, commonly seen as the beginning of the “Holiday Season” in the United States. While Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanza are also associated with the winter holiday season, they also create a crush of mail.

A Thanksgiving card has the potential of making a big impact. Your clients probably expect a Christmas card, but that card will typically arrive amid a flood of other cards from family, friends, and other professionals like you. A Thanksgiving card is a thoughtful gesture that may stand out more, and allows you to express your gratitude for their business, while wishing them well through the coming holiday season. Of course, sending a card at Thanksgiving doesn’t mean that you should skip the other holidays – it’s merely a strategy to foster a greater connection between you and your clients and contacts.

Sending a card at Thanksgiving doesn’t mean that you should skip the other holidays – it’s merely a strategy to foster a greater connection between you and your clients and contacts.

A card to celebrate the New Year is also in order. A “Happy New Year” card is another great opportunity – not only to observe the Holiday, but to let clients know that you’re honored to be working with them for another year. (Many also choose to use this card as a reminder to schedule an annual review.)

Consider grouping your contacts into three Winter Holiday campaigns. Your “A” clients should receive three Winter Holiday cards… a Thanksgiving card, a Happy New Year card, and a December card (Christmas, Seasons Greetings, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, etc.) Your “B” clients and prospective clients should receive a minimum of two Winter Holiday cards (Thanksgiving and Happy New Year, more if you’re able.) All other contacts should receive at least one card (but two is better). Select the occasion you feel is most appropriate.

Marketing.Pro offers beautiful full-color Winter Holiday cards for all these occasions (and more). Your Holiday cards can even be automated to send to the contacts you choose, on the dates you choose. Upload your contacts, select the design(s) you like best, and the system does the rest (sorting, stamping, sending.) You can even upload your own handwriting and signatures for a more personal touch.

What about eCards? Don’t. At least, not for the clients and contacts you value. eCards are largely deleted, while a physical greeting card is a tangible reminder that the relationship is one that you value. After all, if your relationship with a client isn’t worth the cost of some paper and a stamp, you have the wrong clients.

If your relationship with a client isn’t worth the cost of some paper and a stamp, you have the wrong clients.

Don’t be afraid to shake things up a bit with your holiday and greeting card practices! I recommend mixing it up each year with at least one unexpected card to ALL of your contacts. (An occasion like “Talk Like a Pirate Day” is a great example!) The cards you send should reflect the relationship that you want to have with your clients – an enduring and connected presence!

*Many Native American families do not celebrate Thanksgiving due to their cultural preferences. Some religions forego the celebration of certain holidays, including Thanksgiving. Know your clients and adjust your strategies to avoid making an error – be someone who serves the entire community.

Competing with “Robo-Advisors” Means Investing in Technology

January 26, 2017

Financial advisor with client

Those in the Financial Industry are no doubt aware of the so-called “robo-advisor,” algorithm-based portfolio management that removes much of the human interaction from the process.

Should Financial Professionals be concerned? Is this the beginning of the end for the human advisor? Certainly not. While some investors may feel comfortable letting this sort of technology ‘crunch the numbers’ for them, it’s likely that many will feel far more at ease when they know that there is also a human factor guiding them along the way.

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Preparing Your Practice for 2017

December 13, 2016

Business strategy in 2017, 3d render, white background

It’s that time again. Getting ready for the New Year means creating a to-do list of what’s vital, considering new options, and reevaluating things that might not have worked so well in the previous year.

What’s vital? Staying in touch with your clients, cultivating opportunities to work with them, and helping them work toward achieving their goals. (more…)

Navigating the DOL Fiduciary Ruling

November 16, 2016

Advisor discussing retirement plan

If you’re a Financial Professional, or work in any capacity in the Financial Industry, you’re no doubt aware of the recent new Department of Labor rule relating to retirement plan accounts. While there are rumors that the incoming administration may revisit or eliminate the new requirement – that all Financial Professionals helping retirement savers will be held to a fiduciary standard – nobody ever accused Washington D.C. of doing anything in a timely manner. The change is not scheduled for full implementation until 2018, so there is certainly time for the slow churn of politics. For now, though – the industry is preparing for the change.

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Sharing Photos on Social Media

May 17, 2016

Photography has come a long way in a short period of time, thanks to the digital camera that now inhabits nearly every smartphone, tablet computer, or other device. This convenience has offered many new avenues for communication, notably via social media. But not all photos should be shared. Here are some practical tips for regulating photo-sharing on social media.

Always ask first. You always want to give people the expectation that their picture might be taken, whether it’s at a client event, work function, or some other circumstance. It gives people a chance to straighten their hair, apply makeup, or simply let you know that they’d rather not have their photo taken. Some people don’t mind having their photo taken, but would rather it not be shared. Police and officers of the court are often very discrete about being photographed with family and loved ones, so be mindful and respectful of that.

How does this promote my business? If you are taking these photos with the intention of sharing them on your various Social Media presences, be sure to ask yourself how this furthers your business. For example, depending on the client event, dozens or hundreds of photos could be taken. Sharing all of them, or even most of them, will likely flood the feeds of your followers and annoy them. Pick one photo that exemplifies that everyone had a great time at your event.

Spotlight local businesses and charities. It’s possible that you have a few local businesses among your clientele. Make it a regular feature to spotlight them in your social media posts. This demonstrates your involvement in the community and gives these businesses the incentive to send potential clients your way. Just drop them an email and let them know that you’d like to come in and snap a picture with them while buying lunch, shopping, or whatever the business may offer.

In some cases, it may also be appropriate to share your involvement with community events, school fundraisers, and other charity involvement you may have. Know your base, though; religious or political events always have the potential to alienate some potential or existing clients, even in a relatively “harmless” context.

Tagging people in photos. In most circumstances, I’d suggest avoiding this altogether. On Facebook, tagging can have the effect of sharing the photo automatically in the feed of the person you are tagging. It can create an awkward situation for the person being tagged. The better thing to do is to encourage people to tag themselves if they want. If you tag them in the comments section of the photo, as opposed to the photo itself, you can direct their attention to the photo without displaying it to their friends and followers.

Personal photos. Of course, you may be tempted to share your own family photos on a personal Facebook, or on Instagram. If your Broker/Dealer allows this, have at it! But, be mindful that not everyone wants to see you in your swimsuit this summer. Each of the social media outlets have different privacy settings that can allow you to regulate who sees what. If something is for just your family members or close friends, use those settings. Especially with something like Instagram, be mindful of who you allow access to your personal account.

The Elections Are Coming! The Elections Are Coming!

November 16, 2015

Like many Americans, you probably have political and social views, and those you feel strongly about. You also know that, if you work with the public in a profit-making enterprise, there isn’t much benefit in expressing any of the views which may be divisive or partisan. Whether you skew right, left, or center, your political views are likely something that you keep to yourself, regardless of whether most of your clients or customers agree with you or not.

What do you do, then, if your personal or business social media presence has been hijacked by a political conversation? It doesn’t take much to light the fuse, especially as we go into the 2016 Presidential Election cycle, when so many more people are engaged in the political process.

It isn’t enough to simply avoid some topics. Financial professionals, to name one example, deal with topics that so frequently cross over with the world of politics.

Here are three ways to keep the peace on social media.

Lay down the law: You have a right to regulate the conversation in your social media presence and/or let your followers and friends know the “rules” for your feed. Post something that will end the conversation respectfully:

  • “I appreciate the opinions of everyone here, but respectfully ask that political conversations happen elsewhere.”
  • “I know these are issues that many feel passionately about, but I’d like my page to stay neutral when it comes to politics.”
  • “I feel like this thread has gotten a bit off topic. I appreciate everyone’s thoughts and opinions, but I’d rather steer clear of politics on my feed. I hope everyone understands.”

A private word: You will probably want to delete any comments of a political nature from your feed (possible on some platforms, but not others). A quick direct message explaining your actions and why you’ve taken them will soften the blow, especially if they are a current or potential client. If they are someone you work with closely, a telephone call might also be appropriate.

The banhammer: If a word to the wise proves insufficient, or if there are repeated incidents, the various social media platforms offer you options to ban or block certain users from posting or commenting.

Considering that we are still a year away from Election Day 2016, I hope that you won’t have to use these methods too often! Our political system is one of the things that makes our country great, but, like fireworks on the Fourth of July, you want to be careful where you set it off!

LinkedIn Becomes A Go-To Recruitment Tool

September 21, 2015

Stephen Colbert used to make occasional jokes about ignoring LinkedIn requests. And it’s true, for a long time, people’s understanding of LinkedIn was rudimentary. But I am hearing more and more real evidence of LinkedIn becoming a go-to tool for major companies in search of talent.

LinkedIn is well-known as the preeminent social media experience for professionals. Not only will it allow you to create and build professional contacts, but it is becoming the new frontier in job recruitment. If you’re looking for reasons why government jobs numbers have been so great lately, there are two helpful developments you can point to: people are getting better at looking for jobs and jobs are getting better at looking for the right people.

You see, unlike other social media, your LinkedIn account serves as both a digital business card as well as a full resume. While individuals can make contacts in their area or from friend-of-a-friend connections like other social media platforms, many large corporations are spending thousands of dollars per quarter on recruitment tools to seek out and make contact with ideal candidates.

Why is this catching on? If you’ve ever hired someone, you know what it’s like to post job listings in the paper or online (you can do it on LinkedIn, as well). If twenty people reply, you’re lucky if one is even a real candidate. Historically, that problem has been compounded for larger companies. Another big problem, regardless of the size of the company, is that the best people for the job aren’t looking for you; the best people are already working.

LinkedIn recruitment tools act as an inexpensive alternative to the headhunters and staffing companies of old. With them, a company is able to search all of LinkedIn (not just a small social network) for suitable candidates. That includes people who are already employed, but might be tempted with the right offer.

What does this mean for you? You want a LinkedIn profile, you want to keep it updated, and you want to keep an eye on it. This goes if you are a green kid, fresh out of college, or an old hand with decades of experience; if the job fits you, you’re going to want to be in the shuffle.

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t remind you that you can make a great impression on LinkedIn if, in addition to keeping your personal information updated, you are sharing interesting articles, blog posts, and news items. It shows that you are engaged in the world around you and full of ideas. Marketing.Pro offers robust social media content which can be used on LinkedIn.  It can be the difference between blending into the wallpaper and standing out in a crowded room.