The Power of Saying Thanks

By George Obst, Certified SCORE Mentor

One of the most powerful rules for successful entrepreneurs is “show appreciation” often and sincerely. Psychologists confirm that this single act can do more to foster great attitudes and this leads to better performance. In employee surveys, time and time again , over 50% of the respondents are dissatisfied with the recognition they receive. Appreciate everything your employees, suppliers and customers do for your business. Your successes result from a group effort.

The Power of Saying Thanks

The Power of Saying ThanksAs we celebrate Thanksgiving, it is a natural time to express our appreciation, not only to our families, but to employees, customers and suppliers for their support. Our thanks should not be delivered solely when it is expected on Thanksgiving or year-end. Thanks to the folks that help make a business successful should be given often and when it’s unexpected.

Saying thank you helps motivate employees, encourages suppliers to go the “extra mile” with their service and helps create loyalty among customers.

Entrepreneurs need to develop a culture of meaningful appreciation.

Spontaneous, sincere personal touches go a long way to acknowledging employee contributions. And, employee satisfaction is directly tied to customer satisfaction.

Don’t miss an opportunity to thank when thanks are merited. Put it in writing, be specific, be personal and be unexpected. “Old fashioned” personal notes are better than e mail or text messages. But e mails are better than not doing anything. Thank employees, vendors, and customers for specific actions that were positive and beneficial.

Companies that foster a climate of appreciation and reinforce it often, generally have lower employee turnover, higher customer retention, and more committed vendors

We want to take this opportunity to thank you, our readers, for your encouragement and feedback. Our idea is to help make your business idea or business more successful. We are dedicated to making our Greater Phoenix SCORE Blog specific, educational, and beneficial to you personally and your business. Our circulation now totals over 12,000 readers, a significant accomplishment during these hectic times when it’s difficult to find time to “keep up”. Thanks for making our Blog part of your weekly reading ritual. As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions.

About the Author:

George Obst, Certified SCORE MentorGeorge Obst is a Certified SCORE mentor with more than 30 years experience profitably managing and growing businesses, including start-ups, purchasing, financing and selling businesses.

 

 

 

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Video: Barbara Corcoran – Inspiring Entrepreneur

Shark Tank Sharks including Barbara CorcoranYou know her as one of the lady sharks on “Shark Tank” and the Real Estate expert on the Today Show. She’s Barbara Corcoran who took a $1000 loan and built a billion dollar empire. This video is an overview of her business life filled with advice for budding entrepreneurs.

In her updated book, “Shark Tales” you can read about all the ups and downs, the good, bad and the ugly of taking a business from a dream to a multi-billion dollar success.

As a “shark” she not only invests in a business, but mentors them. You can have a mentor without having to get a “shark”.

Greater Phoenix SCORE has over 70 mentors in the Phoenix Valley at various locations who will mentor you for free! Whether you’re just thinking about starting a business and are trying to figure out if it’s a feasible idea to a fledgling start-up to a business who is a couple of years old and going through growing pains. A SCORE mentor can help you! Click here to schedule an appointment with a SCORE mentor in a location near you!

SCORE also has free business tools. Click here to access them.

 

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Don’t Neglect Your Social Media When You’re on Vacation!

By Giselle Aguiar, AZ Social Media Wiz

Beach vacation? Don't forget to schedule your social media!Whether you’re heading for the beach, the slopes or over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house, the last thing you want to think about is your social media and marketing. But…..

Social media doesn’t stop just because you’re on vacation!

Ski vacation? Schedule your social media in advance!If you don’t keep being social, blogging and posting, you’ll risk losing followers — the followers that it took so long to get! Not everyone goes on vacation. Many people use this down-time to catch up with their to-do list, do research or get organized.

Here are a few steps to take before you hang up the “gone fishing” sign:

  1. Plan ahead – At the end of every month, you need to review site statistics and analytics, review your marketing plan and adjust and plan for the next month accordingly. If you know you’re going to be away, take that into consideration and plan for it! Related: The Power of a Good Marketing Plan
  2. Schedule posts – use free tools, Twitterfeed, HootSuite and TweetDeck to schedule posts to go automatically while you’re away. Related: What’s the Best Time to Tweet? ; Video: How to Use SocialBro & HootSuite to Schedule Posts & Tweets in Bulk
  3. Schedule blog posts – make time before you leave to write a few blog posts and schedule them to post in the future. Use that wait-time at the airport to write quick blog articles. Related: WordPress Tools
  4. Get the mobile apps – all the networks are available for iOS and Android – not all are available for Windows phones. Most of the tools are also available for mobile: Feedly, HootSuite and even WordPress.
  5. Post about your trip – you’re human, you connect with humans – humans have fun on vacation – have fun with social!

If you plan ahead, you’ll be able to relax and worry, if people will think you fell of the face of the earth – even if you want to actually do that.

About the Author:

Giselle Aguiar, AZ Social Media WizGiselle Aguiar, founder of AZ Social Media Wiz is a social media, inbound and content marketing strategist & trainer helping small to mid-sized business owners learn how to leverage the power of social media marketing, increase traffic to their websites, generate leads, increase brand awareness and establish themselves as experts in their fields. As with anything in business, using the right tools in the right way and at the right time are critical parts to your success. Learn from someone who’s known the Internet since it’s infancy. Official Social Media, Newsletter and Blog Manager for Greater Phoenix SCORE and Adjunct Faculty at Phoenix College. Social media training – 1-on-1 or for groups. WordPress sites and blogs. http://azsocialmediawiz.com 602-738-1700. You can connect with Giselle online at LinkedIn or on Google+.

 

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10 Things Every Business Website Needs

By Andrea Rowland, GoDaddy

10 Things Every Business Website NeedsLet’s say you own a bakery and you’ve got website for your small business. To you, it might be most important to showcase your amazing triple chocolate cupcakes. After all, you worked hard to make them and stage them just so for a recent photo shoot. Why not fill your website’s home page with enough photos of chocolate cupcakes to satisfy a chocoholic’s craving just by looking at your site?

Your customers, on the other hand, might just want your phone number — which is now buried beneath all those delicious images.

To be successful online, your small business website must have these 10 things:

  1. A great domain name. You need a domain name that shows who you are and what you do at a glance. It’s got to be easy to remember and type into a browser. With the availability of hundreds of new domain extensions, it’s never been easier to get just the right domain. To learn more, check out some strategies for registering a domain.
  2. Your phone number. It should be highly visible on your front page and, if it’s a primary mode of contact for your business, you also should include it on interior web pages. If you don’t offer phone consultation or support, make sure people know how to reach you.
  3. Your address. If you have a physical address, list it right next to your phone number on the home page.
  4. Your hours of operation. Customers want to know when you’re open (if you have a brick-and-mortar store), so make sure you make it simple for them to find out by including your operating hours on your home page.
  5. An email address.  Sometimes, people don’t want to pick up the phone. Make sure they can reach you via email. Using a free email address that doesn’t include your domain name? Perhaps you should reconsider.
  6. What you do. If you’re a bakery, this can be incredibly simple. If you work in a niche legal market, spell it out for visitors because if someone’s not sure, they could take their business elsewhere. Include a succinct description of what you do on your home page and more in-depth information on your products and services page.
  7. Who you are. People connect with people — that’s why social media is so popular (more on that to follow). Make sure your website says something about the people behind the website, preferably on a dedicated About Us page.
  8. Clear navigation. If visitors to your website can’t easily move from one page to another, they aren’t likely to stick around for long. Read more about navigation for your website here.
  9. Easy-to-read content. While it might seem like swapping links with other sites or creating a lot of advertising space is a good idea, if it makes your website hard to read or navigate, you’re working against yourself. You don’t need to be a professional writer to create strong website copy, but you should do a bit of planning in advance.
  10. Compelling visuals. Well-executed (i.e. sharp and well-lit) photos and videos can help turn browsers into buyers. They play an important role in telling your business’s story, and make a website more enjoyable to view. You can even create them yourself with your smartphone.

Just like owning a small business, creating and maintaining a successful website is an ongoing process of love and labor. But if you nail these 10 content basics, you’ll be well on your way to a website that’s as sweet as the icing on those triple chocolate cupcakes.

About the Author:

Andrea RowlandA former small business owner and newspaper journalist, and a published nonfiction author, Andrea Rowland helps craft compelling communications for today’s go-getters through her work as a copy editor at GoDaddy. Connect with Andrea on Google+. The world’s largest domain name registrar and Web hosting provider, GoDaddy gives small business owners the tools to name their idea, build a beautiful online presence, attract customers and manage their business. To get more tips for your small business—including articles, videos and webinars—check out the GoDaddy Training Hub.

From Lead Generation to Lead Capturing – the Role of the Website

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Got Problems – Solve them Fast!

By George Obst, Certified SCORE Mentor

Got Problems – Solve them Fast!No matter what industry, no matter what business you are engaged in, unresolved problems will fester like an infected sore.  Problems may seem easy to fix, but all too often the symptom may be fixed and the underlying problem is still there.  To effectively solve problems, you need to find their underlying cause. 

Every business, no matter how big or small has processes.  Some may be written as procedures and others may be unwritten but repeated every day.  When something goes wrong with a process, you have a problem.  Generally, unresolved problems lead to poor quality and service, and may lead, ultimately, to the failure of the business.

Let’s take an example of a business process failure.  The delivery of the flowers was late, after the customer’s promised delivery date.  The customer refused to pay.

There are a number of effective problem solving techniques and the one described here is both simple to apply and effective.  It is described, along with other problem solving techniques,  on the Mind Tools, Ltd. web site, an excellent source for management training.

Ask the why question, four or five times to get at the root of the problem.  Why won’t the customer pay for the flowers?  Answer – The flowers were delivered after the promised delivery date.  Why was the delivery late? Answer – An employee was out sick.  Why didn’t another employee fulfill the order?  Answer – The back-up employee needed roses and the roses in stock were not fresh.  Why couldn’t the supplier replace the roses?  Answer – The supplier required a full day to deliver flowers and this order was placed late, as a consequence of the absent employee.

Now, we observe there are two underlying problems, what to do when an employee is absent, and, second, in case of an unexpected event, how can expedited flower delivery in less than a day become an expected outcome.  In today’s competitive world, the businesses that bat near 100% are sure to flourish, while others that give clients excuses for bad service will come in second or maybe even last.

The flower shop initiated a new procedure.  At the start of every business day, all orders will be reassigned immediately if an employee is absent. Secondly, the shop owner researched other suppliers and found one that had an operating policy to fulfill any and all emergency orders within four hours, not a full day.  The flower shop switched to that supplier.

This “why” technique for solving problems was started in the 1930’s by Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of the Toyota Motor Company.  It was revolutionary in its day, as most businesses simply lived with mistakes that were repeated time after time.  The premise of the “why” technique is that the answers to most problems come from the people who are working within the process being examined.  Indeed, this was the beginning of problem solving teams. Once the “why” questions are answered, steps can be taken to ensure that the particular problem does not repeat itself.  Businesses that have this problem solving mentality may deal with a myriad of problems over time, but they are different problems.  The old ones have had corrective procedures or processes put in place.

Problem solving businesses have competitive advantage as their products and services are better and more consistent, resulting in more satisfied customers.

If you want to improve your quality and service, contact a SCORE mentor today.  SCORE , a resource partner of the US Small Business Administration, can help you solve your business issues, Or, if you are starting a business, SCORE can help get your business  launched successfully. SCORE has more than 70 certified mentors skilled in most business applications, who will meet with you, at no cost, as often as you feel it is beneficial.  Call 602 745-7250 or click here to make your appointment with a SCORE mentor today.

About the Author:

George Obst, Certified SCORE MentorGeorge Obst is a Certified SCORE mentor with more than 30 years experience profitably managing and growing businesses, including start-ups, purchasing, financing and selling businesses.

 

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Avoiding Email Bouncebacks

By Andrea Rowland, GoDaddy

Get the most out of your email marketing campaigns by heeding email best practices

Avoid those "return to sender" email bouncebacksThe statistics don’t lie: Email marketing continues to yield strong returns for small businesses.

  • It’s nearly 40 times more effective at garnering new customers than Facebook® and Twitter®.
  • More than 80 percent of online shoppers in the U.S. are at least “somewhat likely” to make additional purchases after receiving targeted emails based on their previous shopping behaviors and preferences.
  • Companies that send less than 100,000 emails per month see a 139-percent return on investment.

Undoubtedly, email done the right way can help businesses grow. And email done the wrong way can have the opposite effect. Nobody wants to find an unpleasant error message in their inbox, along the lines of “Recipient not found” or, worse yet, “This message has been rejected due to content judged to be spam by the Internet community.”

In technical terms, when a mail server can’t send or deliver an email, it generates a bounceback message that describes why delivery failed. Perhaps you misspelled an email address or forgot to add an “opt-out” option to your monthly e-newsletter. Whatever the case, your email was rejected and returned — and it’s now at least a time-consuming hassle and at most a ding to your email reputation.

One thing’s for sure: You do not want to be tagged as a spammer. You can avoid that ugly moniker by heeding a number of email best practices, including:

  1. Get consent. It’s vital that recipients have opted-in to receive your email marketing campaigns. Display a clearly worded notification to advise recipients what they’re consenting to.
  2. Make it easy to unsubscribe. Keep the process for unsubscribing to your emails simple (a la one-click unsubscribe links), and quickly follow up on unsubscribe requests. Don’t stress about some unsubscribes; it happens.
  3. Perform maintenance. Quickly address errors — such as timeouts or too many connections — to avoid looking like a bot pumping out spam. For example, a real person wouldn’t continue emailing an address that throws back a permanent delivery error. But a bot would.

Continue to cultivate a great reputation as an email marketer for your business by staying on top of the rules and regulations involved with using email. You might even ask your Internet provider and domain registrar how they identify and authenticate types of email communications; this will help you avoid those pesky bouncebacks. Overall, be genuine, respectful, professional, and follow the golden rule of email marketing: Treat your email recipients the way you’d want them to treat you.

About the Author:

Andrea RowlandA former small business owner and newspaper journalist, and a published nonfiction author, Andrea Rowland helps craft compelling communications for today’s go-getters through her work as a copy editor at GoDaddy. Connect with Andrea on Google+. The world’s largest domain name registrar and Web hosting provider, GoDaddy gives small business owners the tools to name their idea, build a beautiful online presence, attract customers and manage their business. To get more tips for your small business—including articles, videos and webinars—check out the GoDaddy Training Hub.

 

 

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Greater Phoenix SCORE Loves Helping Veterans

Veterans Day - November 11

Veterans Day – November 11

With military engagement in Iraq at a low level and the engagement in Afghanistan winding down, the military services are downsizing.  While the nation owes a great deal to those who have served, bringing them back into the civilian economy is not an automatic or smooth process.  Veterans we’ve spoken with have said that returning from service can be confusing and sometimes, traumatic.  Even though veterans have maturity and, in general, have excellent skill sets, the challenge of returning to civilian work, and, in some cases looking for a new career path, needs assistance from all who can offer it.  The military services are doing an increasingly more effective job of preparing veterans through their various transition assistance programs and our organization has been actively involved.  Greater Phoenix SCORE has been and continues to be part of the Boots to Business program run by the SBA at various military installations in the Phoenix area.

Logo of the U.S. government's Small Business A...SCORE is a non- profit resource partner of the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) that was formed in 1964 and is now celebrating 50 years of service.  It was chartered to offer counsel and assistance to aspiring and existing businesses and mentors from SCORE have helped over 10 million people pursue their business goals.  For veterans considering entrepreneurship, our engagement is particularly valuable.  We recognize that SBA research indicates that veterans are generally more qualified than the general population to be business owners and they are more likely to succeed.  They bring discipline, leadership, management experience, and a broad range of skills to starting and running a business.  If a veteran has a goal to start and grow a business, we can help.

50 years of SCORE mentoring small businessesSCORE of Greater Phoenix provides no fee one-on-one business mentoring, as well as free or low cost workshops, seminars, and webinars.  SCORE mentors are volunteers who come to the job with records of significant successful experiences in many industries—many at senior levels.  Almost 70 mentors in the Phoenix metropolitan area provide research and planning advice for pre-startups, startups, and firms in business for a year or more.  SCORE mentors confidentially review business ideas, explain how to apply for licenses, provide information on finding legal and CPA services, help the entrepreneur create a detailed business plan, advise on business negotiations, and coach businesses owners on how to seek financial support.

For early stage entrepreneurs, SCORE mentors help build plans and advise on obtaining financing (for those with good credit scores).  For start-up businesses, mentors help establish the business and advise on how to manage marketing and financials.  For established business, mentors can help clarify penetration of your current markets, suggest new markets, identify business options, help develop growth strategies, and advise on financial and human resource issues.

In all cases, our goals are to help entrepreneurs succeed.  We have a special desire to do so for veterans, since their service has been at the heart of the freedoms that have contributed to our own successes.  We welcome all, and the welcome is even bigger for veterans!

Click here to schedule a free mentoring sessions with a SCORE Mentor!

Veteran Resource Guide from Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema Congressional District 9

 

 

 

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Grammar Check: Proper Use of Commas

By Sharon Bohm

The Misunderstood CommaAlmost everyone knows that all sentences need to end in punctuation. It’s the punctuation within the sentences that causes confusion. The comma is the most used (and misused) punctuation. Here’s a brief summary of the most common uses of the comma.

Here’s a guide to the Proper Use of Commas

Comma use in a series

Always use a comma when listing items in a series. Example: I woke up, ate breakfast, and went to work. Although I have seen the comma before the conjunction omitted, in formal writing, it is still used.

Comma use with a conjunction and two independent clauses

An independent clause is one that can stand on its own. A conjunction (and, or, but) is needed when you connect two independent clauses. Example: I wanted to see the movie, but I arrived too late. Notice the comma comes before the conjunction not after.

Comma use with an introductory clause or phrase

When starting a sentence with an introductory clause or phrase (like this sentence), always use a comma. Example: Looking up at the clock, Jennifer noticed she was behind schedule. In cases where the clause has fewer than three words, it may be permissible to omit the comma. Example: Yesterday I went to the mall. I use a comma, but in a case like this, it is a stylistic choice.

Comma use with parenthetical phrases

A parenthetical phrase can be referred to as added information. This phrase can be removed from a sentence without changing its structure. Example: Mark, and his colleagues, came to the meeting. Taking out the phrase “and his colleagues” doesn’t change the sentence structure. Mark came to the meeting is a complete sentence.

Comma use with quotations

Always use a comma to set off a quotation. This is most commonly found in novels. Example: Susan asked, “Is this where the party is?”  The phrase “Susan asked” is not part of the quote. The comma comes before the quotation.

Comma use with coordinate adjectives

This may not come up as the others, but it is still important to know. A coordinate adjectives are multiple adjectives that describe the same noun. Example: The tall, pretty woman standing there is my friend.

These are just a few of the most uses of the comma. There are many more. If your head isn’t spinning enough about when to use the common, I will briefly discuss a couple of common instances not to use the comma.

Do not use a comma to separate two independent clauses

An independent clause can stand on its own as a complete sentence. Look at these two independent clauses. I bought a pair of pants. They were on sale. If you wanted to make these sentences into one, you must use a semi-colon. I bought a pair of pants; they were on sale. No comma.

Do not use a comma when there is a dependent and an independent clause

A dependent clause cannot stand alone as a complete sentence. Here is a variation on an example I previously used. Example: I wanted to see the movie but arrived too late. Notice the comma is omitted. The phrase “arrived too late” is not a complete sentence as it lacks a subject. Therefore, the comma is not used.

What grammar mistakes do you make or need clarification on? Please comment below…..

About the Author:

Sharon BohmSharon Bohm is a local freelance writer. She taught English Composition for the Maricopa Community College District for many years. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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The Power of a Good Marketing Plan

By Giselle Aguiar, AZ Social Media Wiz

A Marketing Plan is like a GPS

A Marketing Plan is like a GPS

Back in the day, before GPSs – I used to get lost in a strange city – Big Time! My worst experience was driving in circles for hours in Trenton, NJ, looking for a club where some friends were playing. It was night — couldn’t see a thing. I think we finally stopped at a pay phone and called the club to get directions. We couldn’t even tell them where we were! That was a long, long time ago and now living in Phoenix, I use the GPS on my smartphone when heading to an unfamiliar location.

Social Media – the New Unfamiliar Territory

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Instagram, blogging, oh my! Where do you start? How to I grow a following? Should I pay to advertise? Do I do just one network or all of them?

Without knowing the answers to these questions, you will be going around in circles, wasting time, money, effort, energy and you’ll not get the results you want. Then you’ll say, “Social media doesn’t work!” It doesn’t work because you failed to plan!

First you have to understand that selling and marketing are two different things. Marketing, advertising and promotions help make the phones ring so the salespeople can sell.

Online marketing – blogs, social media, e-newsletters drive leads and traffic to the website where the website can capture the leads. It’s then up to follow-up emails and the sales team to convert that lead into a sale.

An e-commerce site works differently. The online marketing efforts should lead the visitor to the product(s) that interests them.

Unlike a verbal strategy, which can be forgotten or misunderstood, a written document is “living” and can be referred to, modified and executed. ~Social Media Examiner

Start with the Marketing Plan

Get out a piece of paper and answer these questions:

  1. Who's your target market?Who is your target market? Clearly define your target market’s persona. Clearly describe them – age, gender, likes, dislikes, etc. Put yourself in their shoes.
  2. What your main goals and objectives? Is it to build a following? Do you want to increase traffic to your website? Do you want to get on the first page of Google search? Is it to sell products or services?
  3. Content Marketing: What are you going to blog about? What would be of interest to my target market? What kind of content written by others are you going to share? How are you going go get people to read your blog?
  4. What’s your strategy for each of the social media networks? Each network “drives” differently. Each has its own culture and dos and don’ts. What works on Twitter doesn’t work on LinkedIn.
  5. Call-To-Action ButtonsWhat’s your call-to-action? How are you going to capture the leads on your website? An e-newsletter? A free download? A coupon?
  6. How are you going to convert the leads to sales? How often are you going to send a newsletter? What about a drip system? Do you need marketing automation? Is there such a thing as too many leads?
  7. Then you need the tactical plan. If you have a team helping you, who’s going to do what? What are you going to post when, where and when? How often will you post on each of the network? You can post on Twitter up 10-15 times a day because it goes so fast. On Facebook it would be 10-15 posts a week.
  8. Focus on the networks that are bringing traffic to your site.Last and as important is measuring, monitoring and reporting. Which networks are driving the most traffic to your site? What types of posts are getting the most engagement (likes, shares, comments)? You must check this every month! Then you adjust the strategic and tactical plans accordingly. If you’re getting more traffic from Pinterest than Facebook, then focus more time on Pinterest. You’re not going to ignore Facebook, but you’ll spend more time on the network that’s showing the most engagement. All the major networks offer analytics and insights. These are huge! They provide data about your fans and followers that is invaluable.

You need to learn how to use each of these tools — the networks as well as 3rd party tools like TweetDeck and HootSuite to help you save time and automate a lot of the social media tasks. But you still have to be social! You can automate a lot of the media, but you can’t automate the social.

Get help with your Marketing Plan

Getting an outsider to help brings in an objective viewpoint and helps with brainstorming. Someone who does marketing for a  living has a creative “marketing mind” as with someone who’s done it for years in the past, like a SCORE mentor. They can help tremendously.

As business owners, we are too close to our business. Hey, it’s our baby! It’s not easy to look and think objectively when it comes to marketing and promotions.

Schedule a free mentoring session with a SCORE mentor.

Check out the upcoming SCORE seminars on social media and content marketing.

About the Author:

Giselle Aguiar, AZ Social Media WizGiselle Aguiar, founder of AZ Social Media Wiz is a social media, inbound and content marketing strategist & trainer helping small to mid-sized business owners learn how to leverage the power of social media marketing, increase traffic to their websites, generate leads, increase brand awareness and establish themselves as experts in their fields. As with anything in business, using the right tools in the right way and at the right time are critical parts to your success. Learn from someone who’s known the Internet since it’s infancy. Official Social Media, Newsletter and Blog Manager for Greater Phoenix SCORE and Adjunct Faculty at Phoenix College. Social media training – 1-on-1 or for groups. WordPress sites and blogs. http://azsocialmediawiz.com 602-738-1700. You can connect with Giselle online at LinkedIn or on Google+. Giselle will be teaching regular seminars for Greater Phoenix SCORE. Join SCORE’s newsletter list to be informed of the classes.

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3 Keys to Ensuring that You’re Learning From the Right Expert

By Tracie Rollins with Infusionsoft

3 Keys to Ensuring that You’re Learning From the Right ExpertYour small business isn’t immune to the shifting tides of technology and the need for continuous improvement. To stay competitive in your industry, you must continue to learn and apply newfound knowledge to your business and to your life.

Learning can seem like an overwhelming task on your to-do list, especially if you have to weed through a queue of self-proclaimed experts who have great ideas, but don’t necessarily have the experience to back up their proclamation. I’ve spent decades relying on subject matter experts to help me develop courses because they have accurate in-depth knowledge in one or two specific areas. A short meeting often provides great insight into the topic and at least two or three additional references for further research.

Finding the Right Subject Matter Experts

Sifting through a list of experts takes time, but not as much as you think. In the old days, finding the right source meant that you’d have to ask around the office, visit a university or open the Yellow Pages and let your fingers do the walking. Once you found experts with the right credentials, you’d have to schedule a face-to-face meeting to talk to them so that they could step you through the process and show you the ropes.

This process was extremely laborious, and while nothing beats a good recommendation, the internet has certainly changed the landscape for experts across the globe. Finding the right one is easier than ever when you follow these three tips:

  1. Be Specific—If you’re looking to improve marketing in your small business start by narrowing down your topic to something less broad. Instead of trying to earn a degree in marketing, narrow down your focus to topics like developing better copy, demand generation techniques or efficient ways of email marketing. Narrowing down your topic before you search helps you find the best person or company to answer your questions.
  2. Search—Search both inside and outside of your network. Recommendations are great, but having the same knowledge as your peer group keeps you average.  Use the internet to find companies and influencers. Then, review their website for articles, products, services, authorship, patents and blogs to see where they’re going, instead of where they’ve been. You want to learn from experts who are progressing in their field of expertise.
  3. Verify—Once you’ve found a few good candidates, take some time to review their credentials on sites like LinkedIn to determine if they have the experience to back up their claims. Use sites like Amazon to read reviews on their published works and search for customer reviews on sites like the Better Business Bureau and Yelp.

Once you’ve identified a few good subject matter experts, subscribe to their mailing list and start engaging and learning from them. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars and often times can start with free or low price point offers before upgrading to premium training and coaching. Often times, a little more knowledge helps you understand the basics and provide the right amount of information to take the next step in improving the success of your business.
If you’re looking to improve your email marketing skillset, join Infusionsoft and Amy Birk for the Ninja Marketing Challenge. This free learning series will help you build your email list, send the right message at the right time and craft amazing content that converts.

You can also meet with an expert at Greater Phoenix SCORE for free! Click here to search for the right mentor (expert)!

About the Author:

Tracie Rollins of InfusionsoftTracie Rollins has focused her professional efforts on bridging the gap between knowledge and performance. She applies over 18 years of experience to marketing strategy, research, and development of content that educates, influences and improves the lives of others. She believes that education provides knowledge, knowledge drives actions, and actions change the world.

As the Content Strategy Manager at Infusionsoft, Tracie Rollins helps small businesses succeed by developing e-learning and authoring content for small business consumption and application.

As an entrepreneur, Tracie has appeared on KTVK’s Good Morning Arizona show, and has been featured in the Institute for Industrial Engineering magazine, Woman’s World, Arizona Republic and multiple local publications. She and her husband, Lonny help small business stand out amongst the competition with The Rollins Advantage, LLC. You can connect with Tracie online at LinkedIn or on Google+.

 

How to Really get Known as an Expert in Your Field: Write for LinkedIn

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