Small Business Tips

Networking Post Archive
Featuring articles related to entrepreneurial networking including building contacts, etiquette, motivation, direction, opportunities, confidence building, social networks, maintaining connections and the psychology of human interaction.
Tips for Gaining and Impressing Potential Investors

It’s not often that a new business can really get itself off the ground without investors to help push it along. But, of course, getting investors to write you a check isn’t all that easy. You obviously believe in the business you want to start because it’s your brain child – a part of you. But convincing others to believe as whole-heartedly as you do can be a rough task.

Here are some tips for getting potential investors to believe in you and the future of your epiphany:

Continue Reading: “Tips for Gaining and Impressing Potential Investors”


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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, July 6th, 2017 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Money, Networking, Startup |

Buddy Networking: A Clever Way to Expand Your Network

Ever heard of “buddy networking?” Basically, it is buddying-up with another business that complements your own and working together to expand both of your networks. Some examples of great buddy businesses would be: a maid service and a lawn service; a photographer and a wedding coordinator; or an accountant and an attorney.

First, determine all of the types of businesses in your area that would complement your own by attracting your ideal clientele. Then, prioritize those businesses and obtain contact information for the manager or owner. Finally, arrange a meeting (in person is best) with the owner to discuss how your businesses could benefit each other. Be sure to take along information about your business and ask for further information on theirs. Three buddy businesses is a nice number to have on your side.

Continue Reading: “Buddy Networking: A Clever Way to Expand Your Network”


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By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, June 28th, 2017 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Networking |

Rules for Networking on MySpace

Within the vast array of the MySpace community, you will not only find individuals and music groups, but many businesses have also joined the online social network and the numbers continue to grow. If you’re thinking of using MySpace to plug your business, however, there are some rules you need to abide by in order to be successful.

1) Be a part of the community.
Spend some time as a user, keeping a low profile, and learning the rules and culture of the online community you’ve joined, whether it be MySpace, YouTube or one of the many others available. If you don’t keep to the cultural regulations of that community, you will be branded an outsider immediately and few will respond.

2) Focus on giving, not receiving.
If you join MySpace with the unmoving goal of getting new contacts and creating new business, and make little effort to provide anything to your contacts in exchange, no one is going to want to be your MySpace “friend.” Give people a reason to like you. A good place to start would be providing something of value to those who visit your page, such as downloads (screensavers or video).

Continue Reading: “Rules for Networking on MySpace”


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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, June 22nd, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing, Networking |

Business Tips from Presidential Campaigns

Well, it has begun. The race for the White House in 2008 has started nearly two years in advance. But things are a bit different on the campaign trail this time around. The biggest difference: the candidates reliance upon the internet to develop their following. And business owners need to pay attention, because the strategy works.

Blogs
Nearly every candidates website has some sort of blog post in which the candidate expresses his/her thoughts on a certain issue. John Edwards announced his participation in the race on his website one day before the press conference where he did the same. This gave his followers a feel of somewhat “privileged information,” not to mention brought in a little extra press coverage.

The candidates that keep a blog going throughout the campaign trail have caught on to the fact that the largest benefit of a blog is making your supporters/clientele feel like a part of the team. Keeping them informed with the daily issues at hand, whether that be how a candidate’s visit to a factory went that day or the new product that your company is releasing, help them feel like a part of your company, or in this case, campaign.

Video
Leave it to Hillary. Senator Clinton launched her campaign for the presidency in a webcast on January 20th. Talk about tech savy. She continues to have weekly “HillCasts” in which she addresses various aspects of her campaign and her position on various matters. The idea is to appeal to the younger generation of voters out whose resource for news and information is the internet.

As a business owner, consider using video to announce the launch of a new product or a promotion. Posting such videos to YouTube as well as you’re own website can definitely generate some response. And let’s not forget that a video of someone like the CEO helps the customer to feel like there is actual person behind the business. It helps provide a sense of comfort and security.

Social Networks
Senator John McCain has invited supporters to sign up for their own “McCainSpace” site, to help them feel more involved in the campaign. Now even those supporters who may have little to no experience or knowledge base for helping on the campaign trail can feel like they are making a difference for the candidate they believe in.

Gov. Bill Richardson invites his supporters to join what is deemed his “grassroots campaigns” on sites like MySpace, Facebook and Flickr. Supporters can link their sites to Gov. Richardson’s as well as post their own blogs on the candidate and his issues.

Businesses can follow suit by developing social networks centered in their company’s ideals and benefits. Allowing customers to post their own reviews or blogs through your website allows them to feel involved. The loyal customers become part of the marketing concept for your company.

In all of this it’s important to remember to stick to the truth. Falsehoods will find you out, especially when you are inaccurately promoting a product or service you provide, or the statistics about your company.

Also, keep in mind that, along with the good comes the bad. If you open yourself up to the community, there will be people out there who are not pleased with your company, whether it be the service/product, the customer service department, or the charity you donate to. You can’t please everyone, and those that you don’t will definitely make themselves known. This is a risk you take when opening yourself up to the public, so be careful and stay on guard.

Source:
• Entrepreneur.com: Business Trick from Presidential Campaigns


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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, June 8th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Marketing, Networking, Operations |

Networking Cards: The Business Card Alternative

Resumes contain oodles of information and anyone approaching college graduation or looking for a new career should have plenty on hand. But, unless you actually see a help wanted sign hanging somewhere besides a fast food restaurant (wouldn’t that be the best use of your college degree), chances are you’re not going to want to carry stacks of paper with you to hand to every big time business owner you come across.

A nice alternative to the bulky resume for those who are perusing the job market are networking cards. With the same shape and dimensions of a traditional business card, networking cards provide only the pertinent information so that prospective employers that you simply meet in passing don’t feel as bogged-down with your inquiry about a position.

Unless you are seeking a job in a more creative field (such as architecture, graphic arts or art restoration), which opens the door for a slightly more creative networking card, the design of a networking card needs to remain sleek and classy, as a resume would be.

Just like business cards, networking cards need to list your name (of course) and all your contact information such as home phone, mobile, e-mail, etc. You may want to consider including a picture of yourself on the card as well, so that the prospective employer can remember you more easily when they come across your card later.

Another item to consider implementing into your networking card is a single statement that encompasses your job objective, what it is you are looking to accomplish with a new career in the [fill in the blank] market. Sometimes narrowing your goals to one statement can be difficult. If that is the case, consider listing your strongest selling point. In other words, the strongest quality that you have to offer prospective employers.

You never know who your going to meet in your daily routine. And though it’s ideal to always have a resume available, it’s not always practical. Networking cards, much like business cards, are a great way to get your name out there, whether it be to a possible future boss directly, or someone who knows somebody who might be interested in talking to you about a position.

The bottom line is, if you’re searching for a new career, networking cards can be an effective tool for you. Design yours today!


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By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, June 6th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Networking |

The Adverse Effects of Poor Communication

Anyone who is in the sales industry knows the importance of how you communicate to a potential buyer. One false move, or should I say word, and you may have lost their business forever. Truth be told, however, the way you talk can affect every aspect of your business, whether you’re in sales or not.

Here are some ways you might be turning customers away because of how you speak:

Bad Grammar
This is the most obvious and common problem, which can often convey to others that you lack intelligence. Yet, it is the most difficult flaw in speech to change. Using “good” when you should be saying “well” is extremely noticeable, but also extremely hard to unlearn.

I honestly feel that parents these days don’t step up enough and teach their children the correct way to speak at a young age, not realizing that they are allowing a laziness that, down the road, may adversely affect their child’s career.

There is one false move that is often made unknowingly by many people, and that’s to end a sentence with a preposition (words like as, in, on, by, to or since). Grammatically, prepositions are supposed to be placed prior to a noun or pronoun, so ending a sentence with one is incorrect.

But, this is a common grammatical bad habit from childhood, which even I am guilty of. In fact, you could probably find that I’ve done so in a couple of posts (oops), which is really sad since I have a degree in English Literature. And it’s unfortunately ingrained in most of us as okay at a young age, and even after a college degree I still mess up. It is just something we should all be aware of and watch ourselves.

Too Majestic
What I mean by this is talking over people’s heads by using uncommon vocabulary (like those who enjoy learning and using a new word from the dictionary each day) and overly emphasized proper grammar. There has to be a balance between saying things correctly and using common local colloquialisms (like using “ya’ll” in the south) to keep whoever is listening engaged in what you have to say.

If you constantly talk to everyone as though you were a scholar of the English (or whatever) language, no one will want to listen. They will reach the same conclusion as if you were using bad grammar — that you’re a moron without any social skills.

Too Technical
With any industry there are terms that are only known and used by those within the industry. The average Joe likely won’t understand what in the world you’re talking about when you try to tell him that you feel like it would be best to proceed with filing a Trial De Novo in his case (going with the legal field here because it’s what I’m familiar with).

Instead, you would tell him that you think it would be best to ask the court for a “new trial.” The acronym KISS (keep it simple, stupid) most definitely applies. Keep it in laymen’s terms when discussing your industry with the general public.

If you’ve realized that you might be guilty of committing one or more of these communication flaws, find someone you can trust and rely on to help you recognize when you are making the errors.

The only thing you can truly do is vow to fix the problem, be self aware and practice. People will notice the effort and commend you, either with a pat on the back, or by really listening to what you have to say.


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By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, May 24th, 2017 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Networking |

Building New Business Contacts: Networking 101

Contacts are an important aspect of any business, but are essential to the survival of a small business. Without contacts you cannot expand your clientele and your business will not grow. Below are some pointers on how to continually expand your list of contacts.

1) Ask your current/ongoing network for new contacts.
Your current network includes:
• Previous employers, associates and co-workers
• Successful friends and family
• Long lost high school and college classmates
• Current clientele

2) Use your daily activities to your advantage.
Your everyday social activities can provide great connections. For example, when going to play golf with a friend, ask him to bring some of his colleagues along. Such activities afford an opportunity to market yourself and your business in a relaxed social environment.

Use this quality time to build trusting relationships. Be yourself and don’t bring up your business unless the conversation leads that direction. You don’t want to come on too strong and irritate a potential client. After all, the purpose of playing golf is to relax and not deal with work issues, despite the fact that everyone is continually thinking about them.

3) Join a professional organization.
Professional organizations provide an outstanding opportunity to network. However, before joining any organization, be sure research the organization and make sure it is the best option for you and your business. Some key questions to ask are:

• Are their membership fees and how often are they due?
• Is there a certain time commitment expected of members?
• Are their conferences (opportunities to meet people natiionwide)?
• How active are the members; will they participate as much as you?
• Is the organization industry focused?
• Are their opportunities for “cross-pollination” with your company?

4) Attend conferences in your industry.
Not only do industry conferences provide an opportunity to expand your network, but they also provide a plethora of information about the latest trends, developments, etc. in your industry. It is a venue with access to both competitors and potential clientele, which opens opportunities for you to better your business as well as expand it.

Key elements to successfully establishing new contacts:
• Commit your sales script to memory. Don’t recite the entire script with each introduction, but know it so that you can communicate the key elements to others throughout your conversation.
• Ask conference attendees you already know for introductions.
• Follow-up with the people you met by sending a letter within a week, requesting an official meeting.

5) Help others establish their network.
What goes around comes around. If you help others find potential clientele, they will likely help you as their own network expands.

Regardless of whether you use one or all of these recommendations, always remember that networking takes time. You may not see the fruits of your labor for months, and sometimes even years. But, make a positive impact, and most people are sure to think of you when they need the services you provide.

Today’s Source:
• BusinessWeek.com: Ties That Bind and Build a Business

Related Readings:
• Inc.com: Become a Master Networker
• The Boston Globe: Networking Tips
• Small Business Association: Networking
• Entrepreneur.com: Networking – Simply Your Company’s Story


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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, March 23rd, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Networking |

Business Email Etiquette

5 quick and easy email tips for entrepreneurs:

Looks matter
Formatting your emails in a professional manner will score brownie points with your clients.

Run a business, not an acquaintanceship
Respond to email requests promptly. I typically respond to emails within 2-3 hours of receipt.

Emotions have no place in business
Avoid using emotionally based words. Business is business and feelings aren’t of the essence.

Emoticons were created for a reason
Write clearly and to the point. The reader should immediately pick up on your tone.

Explanations go a long way
Your clients will be more attentive to buy if you fully explain the answers to their questions.

Recommended Reading:
Business Email Etiquette: Maintaining a Professional Image
Business Email Etquette Basics
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By Chris Brunner
Thursday, March 2nd, 2017 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Networking |

The Networking Boogie Man

Many business owners cringe at the idea of attending an event where you know nobody — and are expected to get to know as many people as possible. It’s a part of business, and a fear that some of us have to overcome to be successful. Like it or not, conducting business requires a little face-to-face time.

Australian author Mary Morel offers some advice on this topic in her article “Network Your Way to the Top”.

You will probably get most out of networking if you choose a few networking groups and go to their meetings regularly. The more often you attend networking events, the stronger relationships you build and the more you enjoy yourself.

As with any marketing, you will get better results if you take a strategic approach. Networking events aren’t the place for a sales pitch, though you may give someone your business card and possibly your brochure.

Network Your Way to the Top

Recommended Reading:
Get People Talking About You
Top 10 Networking Skills for 2005
Networking Strategies for Shy Professionals
8 Ways to Use Business Cards to Network and Market Your Business


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By Chris Brunner
Thursday, January 19th, 2017 @ 12:07 AM CDT

Networking |

Networking with Business Cards

Are you getting maximum benefit from networking events you attend? If not, try taking a look at how you are promoting yourself. Is your business card specific or interesting enough to help make a good first impression?

Here are some tips from Vannie Ryanes of BellaOnline.com, an editorial site with a focus on women’s issues.

Make sure you have a proper business cards. You card should be:

Clean and unmarked with neat edges.
• In a business card case or clean briefcase pocket.
• Up-to-date information; no hand-written changes.
• Suitable for your line of business; simple/extravagant.
• If you have several businesses have an appropriate card.
• A double-sided card is perfect for multiple businesses.
• Readily available. You should not have to search for your card.

Recommended Reading:

Five Ideas for Keeping Business Cards Handy
Ivan Misner: Networking
Networking for Shy People


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By Chris Brunner
Sunday, January 15th, 2017 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Networking |

How to Profit From Networking

When it comes to business, who you know is almost everything. Networking yourself is an essential business practice that everyone should take part in. Why? Because quality business relationships can turn into profitable opportunities.

Here are five strategies to make networking profitable:

1) Choose the right networking group or event.
2) Focus on quality contacts versus quantity.
3) Make a positive first impression.
4) Be able to clearly state what you do.
5) Follow up after the event.

Networking produces results. The more people that know about you and your business — and trust you — the better chance you have of gaining a new client or free referral.

Source
About.com


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By Chris Brunner
Monday, January 9th, 2017 @ 12:08 AM CDT

Networking |

Stop Sitting on the Sidelines

If you are shy around new people, networking events can be an intimidating experience. How should you introduce yourself? What should you talk about?

Striking conversation with a random person isn’t easy for some, but with a little practice, you can become a master networker.

First, set a personal goal to not only talk to, say, 25 new people, but also to ask each one a few key questions. Set another goal to bring back 10 business cards. Call (your new contacts) that same day (or the next morning if it’s an evening event).

Great salespeople learn to become lead magnets, and they learn how by getting out there on the dance floor.

Source
BizJournals.com


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By Chris Brunner
Saturday, January 7th, 2017 @ 12:03 AM CDT

Networking |

Name Memorization

This article is written from an employee point of view, however, I feel that these tips could apply to any business owner who is out networking themselves.

Of course not remembering the name of someone you meet is a social faux pas. Especially if you’re attempting to gain their business. This shows lack of respect and lack of professionalism. Here are some tips to help you remember names:

Concentrate. Be sure you hear it when they say it. Say it right back to them when they tell you. Then use it again quickly.

“If people give you their business cards, read the card back to them. Ask for the correct pronunciations of their names and voice it back to them. Then at some point, turn the card over and jot down information about them, such as their hair color and what they were wearing.”

Source:
California Job Journal


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By Chris Brunner
Thursday, January 5th, 2017 @ 12:00 AM CDT

Networking |

How Likeable Are You?

Face it — in today’s vicious corporate jungle, making a good first impression is crucial. There are no second chances. Instant assumptions are made and you’ve sealed the deal one way or another.

The reception of business cards are just one of the many areas where many people take the inconsiderate route:

Act as though you have received a gift. Upon accepting a card, you have the opportunity to repeat the name and be corrected on pronunciation. You should also ask any questions that the card itself may bring to mind and comment on the design if practical.

The idea is to show interest in any contact’s card, which will make them more likely to be interested in yours. Then respectively tuck it away in a safe place like a $100 bill. Your actions won’t be forgotten.

Source:
Toronto Sun


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By Chris Brunner
Thursday, December 29th, 2016 @ 12:07 AM CDT

Networking |

You Cant Replace Face Time

When it comes to business, a little face-to-face contact goes a long way. For those of you running a home based business, it’s especially easy to rely on technology to make contact with people.

“Not only are you missing out on potential revenue by staying at home, you’re also robbing yourself of continuing education, moral support, industry intelligence, personal fulfillment, and the serendipitous business opportunities that only arise when you take a few moments to meet someone new.”

Before you set out to meet with potential clients, equip yourself with the tools and knowledge you need to succeed. Take a pocketful of business cards with you and follow up strategically with the prospects you meet.

“When you invite someone to a structured meeting or lunch, spend time beforehand outlining what it is you want to accomplish, how you will present your business succinctly, and what the benefits are of doing business with you.”

Source:
BusinessWeek.com


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Monday, December 19th, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Networking |

How to Issue a Press Release

A press release is a relatively inexpensive way (typically free, or close to it, depending on what you do with it) to get the word out about your business. But it is a process that many small business owners are not familiar with.

First, find a newsworthy angle for your press release that, in a round-about way, is related to the product/services you provide. If you’re having a hard time coming up with a topic, check your company’s online forum posts (or set one up if you don’t have one), which will typically lend some good ideas.

Your topic needs to be something that the public would be interested in reading about irrespective of your business’ involvement. Editors and reports are not at all interested in helping your business obtain new clients and increase sales, so don’t try and sell anything. They are simply interested in providing news to the public. If your press release doesn’t provide a newsworthy angle, they won’t release it – end of story.

Continue Reading: “How to Issue a Press Release”


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By Michelle Cramer
Wednesday, December 7th, 2016 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Marketing, Networking |

Connections Trump Contacts

We’ve all had them – those annoying telemarketing calls right in the middle of dinner and spending some much needed time with our families. Even with no-call-list registration, a call sneaks through the cracks occasionally. We get frustrated and often, the poor individual on the other end gets an ear full.

But have you ever taken the opportunity to put yourself in that telemarketer’s shoes? As a business owner, you should, since sales is an important part of every business. I sure do because I actually had a telemarketing job at one point. Albeit, it was only for four months, but that’s because it was horrible. I didn’t make a sale the entire time I was there. Call after call made for nothing. In a telemarketing job the focus is quantity – the more calls you make, the more likely you are to get a sale. That simply wasn’t the case for me – it isn’t for most. Just look at the turnover rate for telemarketing businesses and you’ll see the effects.

And why is that? Because the people I called were simply contacts – a name and phone number filled out on a piece of paper (most likely a drawing for some type of prize) for individuals who didn’t even know what they were signing up for. The reason cold call and door-to-door sales people fail more than they succeed at a sale is because they are making contacts, not connections, with potential clientele.

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By Michelle Cramer
Sunday, November 20th, 2016 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Networking, Operations |

Ways to Promote Yourself

When it comes to starting a new business, there is one thing that takes up the majority of your concern, stress and time. One thing that will really make or break you. The success of your business depends on getting the word out that your business actually exists. If no one knows that you’re out there, then you won’t have any clients, won’t make any money and the business will flop. It’s constantly in the back of your mind with regard everything you do and every business decision you make.

Therefore, promoting your business, especially in the beginning, should be your number one priority. And I’m not necessarily talking about in a marketing sense, because, let’s face it, you typically don’t have a lot of room in the budget when you’re just getting started to get a television ad going right from the start. You need to bring in a few clients first, and you’ve got to find inexpensive ways to do it.

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By Michelle Cramer
Tuesday, November 15th, 2016 @ 12:01 AM CDT

Marketing, Networking, Startup |

The 411 on Schmoozing

Guy KawasakiGuy Kawasaki, the managing director of a venture capital firm, columnist with Entrepreneur Magazine and author of eight motivation books regarding business, says that schmoozing potential clients and investors is the best way to establish a business relationship. In his latest column, Get in Good, he provides the following tips for being a successful schmooze:

What’s the Point?
The ultimate goal of being a good schmooze is to do something for someone else. Granted, you probably have ulterior motives at play, but try not to let that be your entire focus. It should predominately be about helping others, so don’t be afraid to offer favors to your new business associates, and don’t expect anything in return. This, of course, is something I feel should be our goal in every aspect of our lives, not just in making new business acquaintances.

Go Public
Kawasaki believes that the best way to get in the door is to meet people in public at conventions, trade shows, seminars, networking events, etc. I agree that this is the best way to meet people and initially establish the business relationship. I do not agree with his statement that you can’t do so over e-mail or the telephone.

Continue Reading: “The 411 on Schmoozing”


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By Michelle Cramer
Thursday, October 27th, 2016 @ 12:05 AM CDT

Networking |

An Interesting Way to Win Potential Clients

You have a potential client that you know would be a great time investment for your business, but, no matter what you do, you just can’t seem to win them over. I’ve come across an interesting suggestion that just might work. However, this strategy works best for businesses in the service industry.

First, let’s take into consideration that most potential clients who are hunting for someone to provide them with a service have probably already been disappointed by another provider. They’re looking because they need someone who can meet their expectations and get the job done to their own standards. And, once they’ve been disappointed, proving that you’re the business they can count on can be a doozy of a task.

So, here’s the challenge: find out what the one issue they can’t seem to get solved is and offer to work at a resolution for them. That’s right, take on their number one frustration, the question that stumped the rest of them, see if you can’t find a way to make it happen.

Continue Reading: “An Interesting Way to Win Potential Clients”


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Wednesday, October 19th, 2016 @ 12:02 AM CDT

Marketing, Networking |

Strengthen Your Voice

Speaking EffectivelyWords aren’t the only thing that make a good impression with clients, investors and partners. How you sound, the power of your voice, also says a lot.

So how do you refrain from cracking your voice in nervousness or melodically putting people to sleep? Here are some tips from Douglas Anderson of Entrepreneur.com:

Practice Breathing
That’s right, you need to practice the one thing that comes completely naturally. The best way to go about it is to practice your speech, greeting, sales pitch, etc. in front of the mirror and watch how your shoulders react. Do they rise and fall when you breath in and out? If so, work on that and try and get your body to react to breath through your abdomen/waist, not your upper torso. When your shoulders move while you talk, it portrays nervousness and a lack of confidence.

Sit/Stand Up Straight
How many times did you mother tell you that growing up? Well, it wasn’t to torment you, it was to help you look presentable, and you should thank her. Additionally, sitting or standing up straight when you’re on the phone, even when the other person can’t see you, makes a world of difference in the way you sound. Good posture doesn’t only portray professionalism, but it allows you to breath more freely, making it easier for you to talk with more power and clarity.

Continue Reading: “Strengthen Your Voice”


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Global Markets and Business Etiquette

A study of networking cultures in China, Russia, Europe and the U.S. has resulted in some helpful information for U.S. entrepreneurs doing business overseas. The study was conducted by Bat Batjargal, who, according to BusinessWeek.com, is a research associate at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University, and an assistant professor at Beijing University, who has been studying cross-cultural networks for about a decade.

First and foremost, when doing business with a foreign country, don’t over do it in trying to fit in with their culture. Russians know that you are not Russian and, therefore, do not expect you to act Russian. They expect you to act like yourself.

Below are some additional information Batjargal learned from his study that you need to know when dealing with the global market:

Continue Reading: “Global Markets and Business Etiquette”


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Networking |