Judy’s Comments

Your Voice Matters -- If It's Actually Heard

Your Voice Matters -- If It's Actually Heard

The speech you gave isn't necessarily the speech the audience heard.  While you may not give many public addresses, the communication factor holds true in any speaking situation.  So if you've ever wondered why your 'audience' -- whether one-on-one, in a small group meeting, or to hundreds or thousands -- just didn't seem to "get it," maybe what we said and how we said it wasn't specific enough for our variety of listeners. Let's think about the potential diversity of our audience members and see how we can differently address them so they hear what we're trying to say.  Let's also use the subject of "ice cream" to show how we might take a varied approach.

If you have Men in your audience...provide "just the facts, ma'am."
In the course of any given day, women use two to three times the amount of words that men do.  It is the nature of our everyday language, communication process, and lifelong relationship-building structure.  We often feel compelled to relate the whole story, every precious, minute detail, when much of the time just the facts would be enough to convey our point to the male listener.  It's not curt, rude, or snide; it's just how our brains are wired.  Accept that men and women think and speak differently, and reach out to connect the differences.

Complicated story: "Remember when your brother told me that story about your family vacation to the beach when you were six and you got really, really sunburned, and the only thing that would console you was a big scoop of your favorite flavor of ice cream?  And you guys got into a fight over the best flavor, and your parents argued about how expensive the cones cost, but in the end at least you got your ice cream.  You think we should buy some now?  Should we get the old favorites or trying something new?  Should we....?"

Direct / non-story: "Pints of our favorite brand of ice cream are on sale for $4, so let's each pick one to buy; would you like chocolate fudge or salted caramel coffee?"

If you have Auditory listeners (about 40% of people)...give the details but DYA.
We've all done it: used jargon, technical terms, obscure references, or industry speak when a simpler word, phrase, or description would've sufficed.  So DYA: Define Your Acronyms.  While Auditory listeners may need to hear a mix of this type of language to be comfortable in their trust of you as a subject matter expert, that doesn't mean your entire address should be a shopping list of ingredients.  Auditory listeners will hang on every word, and every word must still be clearly defined and digestible.  Speaking with clarity isn't just about the sound of your voice -- high or low volume, elevated pitch, pleasing tone, etc. -- it's also about your word choices. 

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The Women's Center Needs Funding

The Women's Center Needs Funding

The Women's Center for Entrepreneurship is a U. S. Small Business Administration's Women's Business Center that provides $150,000.00 per year of funding.  One of the requirements of this federal funding is to secure an additional $1.00 for every $1.00 of their grant - another $150,000.00.  At this point in time, the WBC is short $75,000.00 of this match requirement and will have no option but to cease operations in August if additional funding cannot be committed.

An example of the support available is Sherri Putnam, a single mother - a resident of Sparta, NJ - a disabled veteran who was running out of unemployment insurance when she went to the Center.  She had trained with NextGen, a company that provides software to medical entities so that they may be in compliance with President Obama's new medical initiative of universal reporting.  Sherri won their S.E.E.D. Grant Competition (a $5,000.00 grant from a program which was funded by the State, but not re-funded this year) and then secured another $5,000.00 loan from their NJ Microbusiness Credit Program to begin HCI Consulting, LLC.  In her first year of business, Sherri reports a six figure profit.  She is now seeking her first employee to help her with her administrative work, but also is interviewing additional trainers to expand her business.

Editor's note:  Part of the answer to a sagging economy is to stimulate small business growth. 

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Succession Planning in a Family-Owned Business

Succession planning is important in any business, but it's sometimes overlooked in family-owned operations. This is a big mistake. There are numerous former family-run companies that no longer exist due to poor or no succession plan. Some studies show that among family businesses, only about 30 percent succeed to the second generation and 10 percent into the third generation.

The plan needs to be well thought out and discussed with everyone affected. Don't just assume that a son or daughter will want to carry on the family business. Even if your children say they will take over, they may not have the true desire required to continue a successful operation.

Consideration should be given to business and personal goals, as well as the plans of the next generation. Who has the most aptitude for leadership? Who wants to stay with the business?

The "heir to the throne" also may not have the business skills to succeed after a parent (or aunt, uncle, etc.) turns over the reins.

Another question that needs to be settled in the case of multiple potential successors (for example, more than one child): What responsibilities will each person have upon succession? It's important that the details be worked out early, because, in the case of an unexpected death or disability, succession might occur sooner than planned.

You also need to address the involvement of the next generation. In some situations, the retiring family elder has adult grandchildren - some who may already be working in the business.

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Consider Hiring an Intern

 
In this tough job market lots of talented people including recent college graduates and experienced, skilled women and men can not find a job that interests them or that is available. For these people my advice often is find an internship, either paid or unpaid. Bringing an intern into your organization can have all kinds of benefits including: 
    •  
      •  your financial risk in minimized. You can evaluate a potential new performer for your organization at virtually no cost.
        • you have flexibility. Neither you nor the intern expects the relationship to last forever. In the meantime you are getting an opportunity to check each other out.
        • you might find that you are bringing some exceptionally talented, high potential person into your organization. Isn't that one of your goals?

For the intern, whether paid or unpaid, the upside to the arrangement can be enormous. The intern:

  • gets his or her foot in the door with a chance to prove that you really do need to hire them with a fair compensation package
  • gets immediately into the workforce without spending another many months looking
  • develops another important line item on the resume. It's obviously much better to have some worthwhile experience on the resume vs. a lengthy period of being unemployed.
  • provides flexibility, particularly if the internship is an unpaid one. The organization adding an intern should expect the intern to need some time off to pursue a paying position. Obviously people can't work forever without being compensated. Interns we have used have always had flexible work schedules either a few days a week in the internship or interning a full work week with anticipated time-off to interview for other jobs.

I have found very few people think about pursuing an internship. Colleges are not teaching their graduates to think like this even while giving them generally poor career guidance while they are still in college. And experienced men and women never seem to think about backing off and looking for an internship. Rather than viewing the right internship as a really great new opportunity to learn, develop new relationships and add to the old resume, somehow they think that is beneath them even though. They may have been on the bricks for months. Their prospects of finding a good career opportunity getting bleaker and bleaker the longer they are not employed.

Generally we think 3 or 4 months for an unpaid or low paying internship should be enough for both sides to decide if there is a real fit between the intern and the organization. If there seems to be a fit then it's time to work through how valuable the intern can be to the organization, i.e. what is fair compensation for the skills, talents and attitude that the intern will be bringing to the equation as a full time member of the team. If the budget is still tight then maybe the only way to squeeze the intern into the organization is by having him or her replace someone else in the organization who is underperforming. In these challenging times, unfortunately, this may be the decision that the organization needs to make. But at least the experience of using the intern will have worked. The intern lands a job he or she understands and values and the organization gets a new team member that has been observed first hand.

Garden State Woman has used interns, both paid and unpaid, for years. We have had great success with the experiences. Our interns have benefitted enormously from the time we spent together. We recently had an young male intern working with us for a couple of months. He recently graduated from Colgate University with an economics degree. The only position he could find was working in a warehouse in Jersey City. We met him through his sister, also a fairly recent graduate of Colgate and who had an exciting job with a global non-profit organization with which she had interned during a summer break. We recognized her exceptional quality. When she mentioned her brother's situation we asked her to connect us. We thought maybe we could steer him to a potentially viable situation. When we met him we were blown away by his qualifications and exceptional people skills. We suggested he keep his warehouse job but see if he could work a more flexible schedule to give him a couple of days/week to work with us. He made that happen and spent the past couple of months helping both Garden State Woman and Jack's Eagle Rock Partners financial services and consulting firm. He left recently to return to Ecuador, his home country, to try out for the top professional soccer team in the country. The internship worked great for both of us. He learned a lot and is getting paid a portion of the revenues he helped us create while he was with us. He met a ton of very interesting people and got involved working on projects with real substance. I am sure we will continue to grow our relationship. Jack now says he has an office in Ecuador! If we ever launch Ecuador Womanhe would certainbly be a good anchor for us. Edgar recently sent us a follow up email that read:

"Thank you for everything you have taught me in the last two months we worked together. I cannot express how much I learned in that short period of time. I have definitely been able to grow both as an individual and as a professional. I hope to be able to stay in close contact with you and continue some form of partnership."
 
Make certain you are in compliance. The DOL has guidelines for appropriate ways to compensate or not compensate interns. Do your homework ahead of time to make certain you are doing things correctly.
 
To come up with an intern that make sense to you the fastest, best approach is to use your networking skills to reach out to the people in your network or to new people you meet every day. If you have been following Garden State Woman you already know that we are firmly committed to helping women develop and leverage their networking skills. In the past year we have held unique educational day events for well over 200 professional women looking to substantially enhance their networking strategies ands skills.To discuss developing internships and or increasing your effective networking skills please contact me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Next Generation Leaders

Judy Lindenberger
Next Generation Leaders: What They Want and Need from the Workplace

Have you ever wondered what makes the Millennials tick? So did we, so in the fall of 2011, we interviewed Millennials and their managers to learn more about this generation. Because many of our clients struggle with how to best integrate Millennials into the workplace, we interviewed Millennials and their managers through face to face and telephone interviews. The people we interviewed came from a variety of organizations and industries, ranging from Fortune 500 companies to small companies. The survey spanned different industries including the drug industry, engineering, biotechnology and financial services.

Just Who are the Millennials?

Born between the years of 1977 – 1997, the Millennials are the youngest generation to enter the workplace. Millennials grew up with school shootings, terrorist attacks, AIDS, the Exxon Valdez spill and the Internet which influenced their view of the world. As children, they experienced everyone getting awards for playing sports and went to school at a time when gold stars were handed out freely. As a result, Millennials want frequent feedback. Millennials grew up with Baby Boomer parents, many who are self-professed workaholics, and therefore desire more work/life balance than their parents had.

They are resourceful and able to multi-task. They can Google, email and write a report at the same time; they can comfortably find information through the Internet. They work well in team environments and are comfortable speaking up. They also want to make an immediate impact in their jobs and move up quickly.

According to the managers who we spoke with, their Millennial employees are energetic and creative. They also are flexible, technology-savvy, resourceful, can retrieve information quickly and efficiently, and are open minded. Millennial employees are not afraid of discovering new things; they want to learn and are eager to try something new.

What Do They Want?

Millennials report that they have a great vision of the world. They consider the world as something positive with a lot of opportunities. Millennials told us things like, "The world has endless possibilities" and "There are so many things to learn and to be exposed to and not enough time to do everything".

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Garden State Woman Launches Networking Workshops

"You must be on cloud 9 knowing the impact you've made."

That was the overall tone of the feedback received from attendees at Garden State Woman's May 20th networking workshop.

 WE ARE LAUCHING AN IMPORTANT NEW PROGRAM

As a result of the May 20th success, Garden State Woman is launching a new service to empower organizations in New Jersey. We believe so much in the power of networking that we are offering a half day networking workshop to organizations recognizing the bottom line benefits that they will achieve by having their key people become more effective networkers and skilled at building win-win relationships. Attendees will also learn how networking enriches their personal lives. For further information contact Judy Chapman, founder of Garden State Woman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

(pictured L-R: Christina Young, Joan Tucker, Michelle Swaby, Trista Huang, Rosemarie Berman)

OUR MAY 20TH WORKSHOP WAS A REAL HOME RUN!

On May 20th we held Garden State Woman's 1st event specifically aimed at teaching and motivating women (and a few men brave enough to show up) how to network more effectively both to achieve greater professional success and to enrich personal lives.

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401(k) Game Changer

In the early days, passenger comfort was not a chief concern in commercial airline travel. Bumping along at 450 miles an hour at 28,000 feet can be a bit unnerving for most passengers. It took decades for airlines to understand that passengers are more at ease when food is present. But food is not served simply because passengers might be hungry - it plays an important psychological and physiological role. Food is a welcome distraction on a long flight, but it also calms a reluctant flyer. By drawing blood from stress areas - white knuckles gripping an armrest, for instance - to the stomach for digestion, a warm meal reduces tension in other parts of the body.

Consider your 401(k) participant meetings. Do you spend your time appealing to all the senses of your participants? Do they show up? Are they engaged in the process? Is it a bumpy, white-knuckle ride?

The process to gain greater participation in companies' 401(k) programs vary from industry, company and class of employee. When dealing in the closely held corporate market, the goal of most employers is to maximize their contributions. Greater participation ensures that your plan will pass its annual discrimination testing and avoids the tax burden of a plan refund. Although studies have shown that participation is greatest when there's a company match, a salary increase, or automatic enrollment, there are less costly methods to gain greater participation.... it's about education in an environment of safety and comfort.

So let's change the paradigm for participant meetings from stress and discomfort to pleasure and trust. Appeal to all participants by engaging all the senses.

First, establish a proper meeting room. Gathering everyone around your desk or in a sloppy lunch room doesn't cut it. Relax your employees by making sure everyone has a chair and is comfortably seated. Creating an appealing setting with balloons, posters and other decorations will make the meeting seem more like a special event; something out of the ordinary that will interest your employees.

Think like an airline. Welcome your employees with the aroma of freshly baked cookies or bring in a popcorn machine. Play soft music while the group is gathering. Greet each person individually. Make eye contact. Shake hands. You want your employees to know they are welcome and an important part of the enrollment meeting. The success of your plan depends on it.

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Jack Speece Can Help Your Business

Garden State Woman recently sat down with Jack Speece to disucss how Ambrose Employer Group can assist small business owners.

Explain to Garden State Woman readers what your firm does and the types of organizations you target to work with.

Jack: Ambrose provides an integrated, outsourced HR solution as well as a dedicated service team, full suite of benefits, and technology platform for employee and manager self-service. Ambrose's service helps high end, white-collar companies focus on their core business by freeing them from having to manage key HR functions. As a result, clients improve operating efficiencies, reduce their compliance risk, and offer their employees top quality benefits. Ambrose provides clients with a full suite of benefits (medical, dental, vision, STD, LTD, Group Life, 401k, etc) at prices otherwise only achieved through economies of scale. This significantly reduces costs of providing employee benefits. Ambrose also offers the members/partners of LLCs or partnerships access to our benefits. The typical client size ranges from 1-250 employees but the service adds exceptional value to companies of 5-50 employees. We invite those interested to visit www.ambrose.com for more information.

How do your client companies benefit from working with you?

Jack: On the cost side, companies save money by consolidating numerous HR functions, employee services and products with one vendor (HR Administration, payroll, benefits, 401k, Group Life, LTD, etc). Clients also take advantage of the economies of scale we provide in insurance pricing. Equally important, those companies save time by having a dedicated HR Associate handle all the administrative tasks that normally take time away from the client's core business.

If companies sign up to work with your firm what type of commitment do they make? What is your basic fee structure and how long of a contract do you require?

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The Process of Change...What it Really Takes

If your firm is not achieving controlled profitable growth at a rate of 20% per year or more, if you are struggling to find and retain top-notch staff, if partners are working harder to keep less, if fees are an issue with your clients, if you feel you are struggling to maintain mediocre growth - doing what you've always done will only create more of the same. Hoping to create a different result by doing what you've always done is Einstein's definition of insanity.

To create a different result requires change. Change is difficult. What specific changes to make to create your desired result is another issue. That journey begins by clearly defining specific results in terms of income and quality of life sought for the partners and staff. What are the results that you want? What changes must be introduced to achieve them? How long will it take? What is the cost vs. the benefit? How will you create the change? How will you know where to begin? How will you overcome inertia? How will you know when you arrive? Who will make the decision? When?

The journey begins with a decision. There are three frogs on a lily pad; one decides to jump. How many frogs are left? The correct answer is three. Deciding to jump is vastly different from jumping. A trap that firms fall into is confusing making a decision with creating results. We tend to become obsessed with making the right decision (paralysis by analysis) which in itself becomes a major obstacle. Did we make the right decision? Did we have all the information requisite to make the decision? Is it possible that a better decision could have been made if better information were produced? It's always better to make the right decision rather than the wrong decision. We forget the simple fact that a decision by itself changes nothing. Did you implement the decision? Did you do anything? A decision is the beginning of the process of doing, not the end of the process.

Doing something actually requires.... doing something. Doing makes things happen. The currently popular concept of knowledge management advocates gaining intellectual capital to grow your firm. Learn forensic accounting, hire MBAs, develop niche specific knowledge, and get additional certifications. The AICPA is advocating an internationally recognized certification and has added specialty designations for business valuation and web trust among others. What advocates seem to forget is that knowledge is only useful if you do something with it. There is a huge knowing-doing gap. Doing something actually means doing something! It means addressing the hard and scary work of making something happen. It's much easier and safer to sit around and have meetings and intellectual conversations, to add to your library, build databases, train for additional certifications, invest in technical infrastructure - and never actually implement anything.

Doing means learning. Learning means making mistakes. Learning means tolerating inefficiency. Learning means tolerating failure. Learning requires encouraging and teaching people to try things they've never done before, to try things beyond their existing abilities. The only way people learn is by doing things they've never done before. If we only do what we already know how to do, we won't ever learn anything. The firm culture must make learning and stretching the envelope mandatory. It must acknowledge and support effort. Repeated effort and doing creates change.

There is no easy way to encourage people to learn. They must be motivated to learn for their own reasons, not the firms'. You must address the WIIFM factor (What's In It For Me – the radio station we all listen to in our minds). You must accept the fact there's always going to be a trade-off between efficiency and learning. Learners are never as proficient as experts. Learning comes at a price. One price is the experts might not get to use their expertise and that the learners might make mistakes. If you really want to build a learning organization, you must be prepared to make the investment.

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Knowing What You Don't Know

Savvy entrepreneurs know when and where to ask for help

It's an old joke that women will ask for directions while men won't. Unfair? Perhaps. But, three very savvy New Jersey business women, navigating uncertain or potentially rocky roads on the path to entrepreneurial success, were smart enough to recognize that they needed a little direction – and to ask for it. These women, owners of Ocean City Seafood in Ocean County; Riverview Bark in Hudson County and Wincey Co in Union County, sought help from UCEDC and reaped the benefits.

Each of the three women ran into a bit of a brick wall in starting or sustaining her business and sought direction to get around it. When Kathi Sica realized she needed more money to boost her business, Ocean City Seafood, she turned to UCEDC. When Melissa Cullen recognized she needed some business training to launch her self-serve pet-grooming business, she turned to UCEDC. Wincey Terry did the same when she needed a boost to open up new avenues to sustain her longtime arts education business, Wincey Co.

When Ms. Sica faced the summer of 2010 – the busiest and most critical season for her Ocean City Seafood business – she knew she needed to put more money into it to acquire equipment that would help meet a growing demand from the public. Ms. Sica had just bought out her partner the year before and had already invested a lot of her own money.

"SBA lenders didn't want to deal with me, because I didn't want to borrow as much as $250,000" recalls Sica. "I just needed a little help, and I couldn't have expanded the business the way I needed to without UCEDC." UCEDC's Microloan Program provides loans from $500 to $50,000 to new and existing businesses. According to Ms. Sica, UCEDC loan officer, Paula Star, was very proactive, visiting the storefront, reviewing Ocean City Seafood's business plan, getting to know Kathi and her business. Ms. Sica secured a $25,000 loan that was useful for expanding the business to purchase soup warmers, a pizza oven, an extra fryer -- all the equipment necessary to get through the summer of 2010. With another year left on the property lease, Kathi will likely seek new digs in the near future and may in fact revisit UCEDC for support.

Melissa Cullen's dream of opening her own business was also boosted by UCEDC – this time, in the form of entrepreneurial training. "I knew what I wanted to do...I just wasn't sure about how to get it done," says Cullen.

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7 Tips to Boost Sales in August

Why waste the month of August cleaning your office? Make the most of your Summer by seizing new business opportunities while your competition plays miniature golf! Most business owners and salespeople assume making calls in August is pointless because decision makers are on vacation. While it's true that most people do vacation in August, I don't know anyone who goes away for 4 weeks straight! What does this mean for you? It means people are at their desks, often in good moods and are more likely to pick up their phones to speak with you. Seize this valuable opportunity and boost your business by following these 7 Key Strategies in August.

1. Add 20 new "A" level prospects to your list and call them. An "A" level prospect is the person you most want to do business with. He/she buys the right amount, at the right price, in the right time frame. Criteria for an "A" level prospect can include industry, size of company, department, level of decision-maker and geography. To determine the makeup of your "A" level prospects, look at the makeup of your "A" level customers. Then, using the criteria, replicate the recipe. Block out a minimum of 1 hour twice a week with your phone off, email closed, Blackberry off, cell phone off and hammer away at the prospect list. You may even need to hang a "Do Not Disturb" sign on your office door!

2. Catch up with your current clients, and upsell by offering incremental programs and add-on services. Capture "Sweep-up Dollars" from the "use it or lose it by year end" client budget. One Sales Director in the media industry called one of his clients and said, "We have a really interesting program, and if you have any budget available for this year, I'd like to discuss the benefits of the program with you." That simple call resulted in a $100K sale. That's why I call it "sweep up dollars". The money is lying around and you sweep it up!

3. While you're talking with your current clients, ask for referrals to other departments, divisions, parent companies, sister companies, and subsidiaries who have a bucket of money to spend on what you have to sell. Surprisingly, this low lying fruit is often overlooked. Leveraging your relationships to capture all sales within any one company will quickly increase your earnings as well as solidify your position with your customers. When you are on the phone with your client, ask him/her to transfer your call to one of the referrals. Whose name is on the caller ID? Not yours! Your call is more likely to be picked up if it shows up as an internal call.

4. Look through your files and make a list of prospect decision-makers you've met, but have not closed sales with. Call to schedule September meetings to discuss what is new since you last spoke, and whether there is an opportunity to work together now. Projects can come off hold and prospects can misplace your contact information. Make the most of the time you already invested in developing business. Stay in touch and be top-of-mind so when the dollars are on the table, you will be there to collect.

5. Look through your pending proposals and identify 3 strategy ideas which will move each proposal closer to a close. Choose the best one for each and execute! Here are a few suggestions. You can email the decision maker a direct question, "I want to be sure I am providing you with the support you need. Is the proposal, as outlined, exactly what you are looking for?" Another idea is to contact your prospect via email or phone noting that you would like to stop in to discuss a slight adjustment to the current proposal which provides additional benefits. Or, perhaps you can discuss a new opportunity. These strategies will help elicit a response and move your sale toward a close. (HINT: Ask for a follow up date and time when the decision-maker initially asks you for the proposal. That is when the proposal is MOST important to your client/prospect. At that moment, securing a next step is easy. Trying to get someone back on the phone to discuss it later can be time consuming and sometimes futile.

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Times Are Tight-Don't Stop Marketing

When the economy is depressed and your business is running slower than usual, many companies immediately reduce or completely stop their marketing and/or advertising. While saving money is obviously important, companies fail to realize that these actions, which quickly provide short term relief, will cause long term damage as they fall behind competitors who maintain a marketing presence.

Decades of empirical data prove that companies who continue marketing themselves during lean times gain a competitive advantage while those that pull back not only lose market share, but also the previous investment in building their brands and acquiring customers. This is even more detrimental in today's online world where both media fragmentation and social networking communities require a consistent voice and presence in numerous media channels.

While the business standard is to spend 10 percent of revenue on marketing and/or advertising initiatives, companies can still effectively market themselves in a tight economy on a smaller budget. Besides the labor involved in the Web 2.0 world, there is minimal investment required with social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube that allow an ongoing dialog and a 24/7 focus group. Social media allows a two-way exchange with either prospective or existing customers that provides information and invaluable insight that can be gleaned to help companies stay on top of what is being said about them, lessen damage, gather feedback on products, services and the company itself, and even provide product innovation, to name but a few benefits.

One example of social media in action was a campaign GráficaGroup executed for Purchase College in New York. With aggressive student application goals, the college needed to break through the media clutter to differentiate itself. Working with a limited budget, GráficaGroup used the social networking website www.ning.com to establish a virtual workgroup of idea and concept collaborators consisting of students, administrators and others from around the country.

After sorting through the various submitted suggestions, the consensus idea was a "video mash up," a Google map overlaid with student videos. Students were given video cameras to film themselves discussing the reasons why they choose Purchase College and how attending the school had changed them. Visitors to the school's homepage at www.purchase.edu can find the map and student-produced videos to help perspective students identify with other students from their hometown area. The interactive user experience created adheres to social media's tenets of being transparent and "real."

Beyond social media, your own website can be a robust marketing channel if utilized correctly. While the cost of entry into the business world requires a website, it doesn't stop there...it just begins there. The key is the free data captured in your tracking reports. That information allows you to identify your customers, segment them, and communicate with them - not at them - in a variety of ways, including opt-in email campaigns and simple applications that build brand awareness and facilitate doing business with your company.

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How does globalization affect your sale?

How Does Globalization Affect Your Sale?

 More and more colleagues complain that they are not getting the responses to cold calls that they used to. “Things have changed,” said one fellow the other day. What has changed in business today that’s making it more difficult to sell? As I took a closer look I found that the following are a few of the recent developments affecting our selling potential:

Ÿ         Large corporations have gone global. In fact, it seems as thought they are always restructuring, reorganizing, or rightsizing. This constant flux has created overworked, frazzled employees wanting or needing no more change.

Ÿ         Corporate leaders continue to increase communications, learn, guard their time, and avert disruption to their congested calendars.

Ÿ         Barraged by everyday marketing attacks, corporate prospects have grown resistant to the smallest amount of self-promotion by salespeople. Get used to it, it’s not going away any too soon.

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How to Save Money on Your Electric Bill

How to save money on your Electric Bill

 Did you know that Electric and Gas are no longer monopolies and due to deregulation you have a choice of who supplies your business with Electric and Gas services? Maybe you do know because you have been getting annoying sales calls telling you to switch but you think it is a scam. Well I am here to tell you it is not and you can save thousands and perhaps tens of thousands of dollars depending on how much energy you use.
 
Power to Choose
Thanks to a national energy deregulation bill passed in 1999, organizations in roughly two dozen states (CT, NY, NJ and PA included) can now manage and control their energy costs in ways never before thought possible. Before deregulation you had no choice. You did not need to pay attention to the energy markets and you simply paid the bill like everyone else. But today you have the power to choose your supplier! The savings will not come to you by default; you must actively make a choice. In a deregulated market you must decide who to buy from, when to buy, what type of service agreement, how long to contract or whether you should consider a market based (variable) rate. If you do not choose a new supplier the local utility by default will remain the supplier of your energy at the highest market rate permitted.
 
What was deregulated?
Simply put the supply portion of your electric bill. The utilities sold off their power plants, and now only own the transmission and distribution wires. They also serve as a 'backstop' for power supply to customers who do not shop for electricity. With the move to competition the utilities have separated their service into two parts:
  • Regulated distribution of power, which is still only provided by the utility, and
  • Supply (called BGS) of the electric commodity (open to competition)
Customers who choose an alternate energy provider[1] still have their power delivered to them by their local utility, and will therefore contact their utility for any outage issues. Depending on your utility market after you choose a new supplier you may still get one bill from the utility with two company names on it or you may receive two separate bills; one from the utility for the delivery and the other from the new supplier.
Types of programs
If you have not chosen an alternate supplier you are paying a month-to-month variable rate based on filed tariffs. This is usually the most expensive type of rate that you can have since it is based upon the demand of the month in which you were billed. Like everything else in life if you wait until the last minute to buy it you usually pay more. If you choose a new supplier you have the option of remaining on a month-to-month variable rate or choosing to lock in today’s low rates for up to three years in most markets. Energy costs are at or near their all-time lows so it makes sense to lock in for as long as you can to hedge rising energy costs and inflation.
 
 
Types of Sales People
First you need to know if you are speaking with a direct sales person for one supplier or a broker that represents multiple suppliers. An energy broker is ideal as they will present independent and unbiased recommendations for the best program that suits your needs. The sales person you deal with is paid a commission from the energy supplier so there is zero cost to you the customer. 
 
How does it work?
Your sales person will want to see the last three months of your utility bills. They will also ask you to sign a letter of authorization which permits them to bid on your behalf and they will need the legal entity name and corresponding tax ID number. With this information your broker can go out to the market and get competitive bids for your energy needs. They should then present you with some options and you choose to activate your savings.
 
If you activate your savings by choosing a new supplier there should be no cost to switch. You get the same power, same delivery company, same poles, same wires and same meter. There will be no interruption or downtime of service. The only change will be a new bill in 45 – 60 days from a new supplier.
 
Today’s Economy is difficult at best and you owe it to your business to see if you can save your company money. You have nothing to lose and big savings to gain. 
 
Dave Muti, Energy Broker, can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


[1] Alternate electric providers are also known as Retail Electric Providers (REPs) or Energy Service Companies (ESCOs) depending on your market.
 

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Am I In Sales or Business Development

 

"How many prospecting calls did you make last week?" That's the first thing my sales manager asked me every single Monday morning. I dreaded those meetings because they put me in a no-win position.
 
I hated to lie, but if I told the truth I'd get in big trouble. My numbers were significantly and consistently below the revered corporate standards, which were established to help us be more successful.
 
Behind these expectations was the pervasive belief that the more calls you make, the more sales you'll get. Selling was simply a numbers game and I was clearly failing to do my job.
 
Yet, month after month, despite my abysmal prospecting statistics, I outperformed and outsold my colleagues. This paradox confounded me. My manager was stymied as well since it went against everything he'd been taught. But he didn't stop too long to examine what was happening. Instead, he would push me out the door to make more calls.
 
As I examined the situation I went back to some of the sales books that I had found, in the past had given me some solid sales definitions and focus; in particular Neil Rackham’s books – I remembered one that was excellent in zeroing in on what we need to be rainmakers.
 
So off I went to my bookcases to find that book – thank goodness Rethinking The Sales Force was indeed still there – as I went through it I had a feeling of being acknowledged for what I’d been doing and, in fact, remembered that based on my behaviors and basic instinct Rackham would define me as a business development professional, not a “sales person” – in fact there is a difference.
 
Business development professionals develop deep, enduring, working relationships with their clients, not always focused on “selling” something to them but rather focused on developing a reliable connection.
 
I was reminded of two of my clients I introduced to each other. I knew they were both using a vendor whom they could negotiate a better price point with if they developed a bit of a co-operative. In the end both corporations were thrilled with the numbers they were able to negotiate and the vendor was ecstatic with the fact that this meant a long-term relationship that only needed singular focus.
 
Three companies had come out of my actions with very positive feelings about the company I was associated with because, although not really enabled to do so, I felt it was something I should do to help my clients.
 
They remained two of my largest clients until I chose to leave the company five years later. And their vendor remained indebted to me referring prospective new clients to me as well.
 
So to be a business development professional takes creativity, strategic thinking, and the development of a high trust level with your clients. Just looking at how many calls you make doesn’t cut it – unfortunately there are still some old time sales managers out there who just don’t get it.

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Improving Cash Flow

Tricks to surviving until the economy returns to normal

For those business owners wondering if the economy will ever return to normal, the answer can be visualized by thinking about the person who throws a penny down and well waiting for it to hit bottom. The real question centers on why read the papers or listen to the news about the economy; those facts are often irrelevant to your specific business.

When thinking about what more you can do - consider this.Cash is not only King but also Queen and Jack. Let's assume you have made every effort to collect accounts receivable by sending monthly statements, called on past due customers, placed some for collection with agencies and are still frustrated by a lack of cash. Don't despair. If you cannot raise the bridge, lower the water. Slow down payments to vendors. As a mind reader (my other occupation), I am getting the vibe you have already done this, but have you considered the following.

Divide you vendor list into three categories :

A) Very important to my business and I need to pay this group on a current basis,
B) Maybe important, circumstances dictate this group's importance.
C) Not at all important, don't plan on using their services/products in the future.

Most times, companies disburse all cash received in an appropriate manner, paying groups in order of importance from A to C, and often there is not enough money left to pay the last group, C. So what do most companies do? They make deals to pay category C a fixed amount of money each week or month just to stop the collection calls, shut the vendor up and prevent litigation in the form of a collection agency or lawyer. Often payments are structured just to stop the nuisance calls with little thought to whether those payments can be made.

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JVS CORPORATE SERVICES

Do you need to upgrade the skills or productivity of your workforce and increase your bottom line?  We can help!  JVS is a nonprofit, community-based organization that has offered education, training and career programs to New Jersey residents and businesses since 1939.  JVS provides business-to-business and recruitment services for employers, skills training for company employees and free job placement assistance for a diverse group of individuals, including dislocated workers, disabled individuals, emigres and older adults.

 

For its corporate clientele, JVS provides on-site, customized training at the company’s facility.  As a statewide leader in workplace training, JVS can provide businesses with whatever training is needed to improve their employees’ productivity and upgrade the skills of their workforce—anytime, anywhere.

 

Over the last year ending on June 30, 2009, almost 1200 customized courses were taught by JVS instructors at over 110 companies to 14,500 participants at worksites throughout the State.  The courses ranged from basic skills classes (including English as a Second Language and literacy training), managerial workshops (including supervisory training and preparation for ISO 9000 Certification), technical training customized to specific production needs, health and safety training and on-site computer instruction using our mobile computer labs.  All courses are customized to create a more efficient, productive, skilled workforce which will allow companies to become more competitive and enhance New Jersey’s economy. Many of these programs were conducted in cooperation with the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development, which offers grants that can underwrite the cost of training. In most cases, there is no out-of-pocket cost to the company.  For more information contact: 

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Lean Marketing

By Sally Glick      

When anyone asks for “lean” or “cost effective” ideas for marketing their company, it is always important first to decide what is expected of the organization’s marketing initiatives. Marketing is typically thought of as a communications and branding strategy that helps to position a company so that it can continuously and reliably attract and retain high quality customers.

Owners who seek to build the company's name recognition and reputation are reliant on good marketing techniques to help attain and confirm their leadership position in the business community. While it takes creativity and a consistent process, building a brand and developing meaningful community connections can be done without a million dollar budget.

10 Lean Ideas (more to follow!)

1.  To produce cost effective marketing tactics for any company in any industry every owner should start with a situational analysis. This activity has no hard costs but it requires an investment of time and patience to yield meaningful results.

2.  Based on the situational analysis and some competitive intelligence gathered through an extensive Internet search, a marketing plan or strategy should be written and integrated into the company’s strategic business plan.

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Money Mistakes by Entrepreneurs

Far and away, the BIGGEST mistake small businesses make with their money is the way they spend it on health care. With few exceptions, you can drastically reduce your health care costs – and create equity with the unused premiums in the form of an H$A (health savings account) or an HRA (health reimbursement arrangement).

With an H$A, the equity accrues to the employees, and with an HRA, the equity typically accrues to the business owner. With an H$A or an HRA, monies that would otherwise go to an insurer are repositioned so that they are retained by either an employer or the employees (and – importantly – are not forked over to an insurance company).

The savings from this strategy can be between 10% and 60% (not a typo), and most businesses don’t understand these because the insurers and advisors make less money by suggesting this solution than they do with the more traditional – and overpriced – policies that are typically recommended…

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My Sales Pipeline is Constipated

The analysts are, in increasing numbers, starting to tout the end of the recession, but for most of us, it still seems quite slow out there. Even if you’re the most talented salesperson, you probably have noticed that an annoying number of your prospects are stuck in your pipeline. Ok, it’s not the most polite way to phrase this, but you could be suffering from a case of sales constipation. No, a swig of milk of magnesia isn’t going to do the job here, but there are strategies to get you moving along again. Here’s how:

Keep Filling and Replenishing Your Pipeline

You want to make sure that your pipeline is continuously being filled and replenished with qualified prospects. By always having individuals at different stages of the sales process, you’ll consistently have some that are coming through as new business.

Stay On Their Grid

The sales cycle has become much longer for almost everyone. It can be easy to drop off of a prospect’s radar if you’re not diligent about your touch-point management. Fine-tune a program that utilizes phone, email, snail mail, as well as the three I’s – invitations, introductions, and information.

Don’t Give Up

Patience is needed more than ever right now. Yes, you might feel like throwing in the towel with a prospect who seems to relish sitting on the fence and stringing you along. You might even feel like expressing your personal opinion to them about their inability to make a decision. However, keep this in mind. You will never reclaim any of your return on time if you give up. So, hang in there. You’ll be glad that you did.

Realize That It Might Not Be the Economy

The recession has become a great excuse for prospects who just don’t want to tell you that they didn’t see value in what you were offering. Find out if this is what’s causing the stall. If it is a cash flow issue, you might need to hang on a little longer. If it’s really a problem with how you presented your product or service, you might need to refine your own strategies and techniques. Don’t fall into the trap of blaming everything on the economy. There are salespeople who are successfully acquiring new business each and every day.

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