Show Some Love — Make Mentoring More Meaningful

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This week’s blog comes from:

Dale Carnegie Training Newsletter

By Anita Zinsmeister, President —
Dale Carnegie® Training of Central & Southern New Jersey 

board-784349_960_720If you’ve had the privilege of being supported by an amazing mentor, what was it about this person that made such an impact?  Perhaps their guidance enabled you to set and achieve goals much more quickly than had you tried without their wisdom.

With Valentine’s Day around the corner and in the spirit of ‘paying it forward,’ I challenge you to consider becoming a career mentor to someone in need. Many researchers agree that mentoring can be associated with a wide range of positive outcomes including facilitating career development among employees1.  In addition, self-confidence grows commensurately with professional mentoring. 

Once you’ve decided to mentor, follow these steps to make your mentorship more meaningful.

Partner up and set expectations.  Both you and your mentee will set yourselves up for success by setting clear expectations from the get-go.  You can easily learn what the mentee hopes to derive from your mentorship by asking questions.  Dale Carnegie’s 15th Human Relations principle is to, ‘Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.’  Once you’ve actively listened to the mentee’s responses, you can set expectations including how frequently you meet and how you will track activities and goal attainment.

Pursue on a personal level.  Mediocre advice is meaningless.  To maximize your mentor/mentee relationship, you must show a sincere interest in your mentee.  Dale Carnegie’s 4th principle is to, ‘Become genuinely interested in other people.’  Getting to know your mentee on a deeper, personal level will reinforce her trust in you and deepen the relationship.  If the mentee says her presentation went well, don’t stop there.  Ask what she thinks she did best and what she would do over if she could.  Then, applaud her for a job well-done and give advice for how to improve upon where she fell short.

Push pause when appropriate.  Just because you have more experience than your mentee does not mean you must always have all of the answers.  Be honest when you do not and commit to procuring the information; then deliver it.  Be aware that sometimes, people just need to vent—especially if they applied a new skill and struggled.  Put yourself in their shoes so you are more cognizant of when to offer advice vs. when you need to sit back and listen attentively.

Practice empathy and act accordingly.  Strong mentors have high emotional intelligence levels.  Scientists Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer first coined “emotional intelligence” as, “a form of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and action.”  One aspect of emotional intelligence is being self-aware which enables you to manage your own negative emotions so that you forgo projecting them onto other people.  Knowing thyself first will enable you to better understand how your mentee’s experiences have shaped her, and how best to frame solid advice that will last a lifetime.

This post is brought to you by the good folks at Dale Carnegie Training of Central & Southern New Jersey. We would love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter @CarnegieJersey.

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The 9 Biggest Marketing Mistakes Big Companies Make

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This week’s blog comes from:

Dale Carnegie Training Newsletter

By Anita Zinsmeister, President —
Dale Carnegie® Training of Central & Southern New Jersey 

“Dear Scott. I Mean Sam. I Mean Steve. That’s it, Steve!” Regrettably, errors like that are all too common among marketers.

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Rhonda Abrams for 2016 — Small Business Tips

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These tips from strategic counselor Rhonda Abrams first appeared early last year. They bear repeating. Abrams contact information appears below:

What do you want to achieve in 2015 for your small business? The beginning of January is the time for New Year’s resolutions, so here are my top 10 resolutions for small business owners and entrepreneurs.

  1. Focus on recurring revenue.

You may be thrilled to find any source of income, but some types of customers contribute more significantly to your long-term financial well-being. Focus foremost on customers who have the need and capacity to buy from you repeatedly rather than one-off purchasers.

  1. Limit your time on social media.

Social media can eat up your day even when it’s for a business purpose. Establish a time limit—I’d say 30 minutes maximum—schedule it for a specific time each day and then click off and get back to work. To limit your time on social media, schedule your social media posts in advance using a social media management tool. We use Hootsuite. Others are Buffer andTweetDeck.

  1. Put your electronic devices away.

Recent studies have shown that using an electronic light-emitting device (such as a tablet or smartphone) before you go to sleep at night significantly reduces both the quality and quantity of your sleep. You need your rest to be at your best. So if you want to relax before bed, pick up a good old-fashioned print book. (You remember those, don’t you?)

  1. Get more help.

Your business may not growing sufficiently because you are trying to do too much yourself. It’s difficult to find good employees and contractors, but a great worker can truly help you grow your company significantly. Examine your operation for routine tasks that take too much of your time, and look for areas of business growth you need outside expertise to achieve.

  1. Fully fund your retirement.

Sure, we all think we’re going to sell our small business one day and have enough to buy a beach house in Hawaii. But don’t bet everything on that. Instead, every year make sure you put as much money as you can in a retirement account—certainly the full amount that you can shelter from current taxes.

  1. Take care of your health.

Health is basic to all our other endeavors. If your body and mind are not healthy, you won’t have the energy or capability to achieve business success. Make sure you carve out enough time to exercise, eat healthfully and get enough sleep. These are business necessities, not just personal indulgences.

  1. Keep learning.

Attend conferences and workshops. Take classes. Watch instructional videos. Read. Your business depends on your brain, so make sure you are continually expanding it. The world is changing, technology is improving and your industry is evolving, so you need to know what’s going on to constantly improve your skill set.

  1. Check your financial statements regularly.

In the crush of work—or from the fear of finding out bad news—many entrepreneurs hesitate to look too deeply and regularly into their financial reports: profit and loss, cash flow, aging accounts receivable and payable. Every week, perhaps on Monday or Friday, spend at least 30 minutes reviewing your financials.

  1. Plan your day.

Every morning make a “to do” list and keep it in front of you. Keep it reasonable and (mostly) achievable. Use a project management tool to stay on top of your tasks. In our office, we use Asana; others use Basecamp. Use these tools not only to track your tasks, but the progress of your staff and consultants.

  1. Send out your invoices.

You can’t get paid if you don’t send a bill, yet many self-employed consultants are too busy to get their invoices out on time. Better yet, accept credit card payments at the time of service or sales to eliminate invoicing.

Here’s wishing you and your small business a happy, healthy and prosperous 2015.

Copyright, Rhonda Abrams, 2015

This article originally ran in USA Today on January 2, 2015

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5 Ways to Sell Smarter, Not Harder

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This week’s blog comes from:

Dale Carnegie Training Newsletter

By Anita Zinsmeister, President —
Dale Carnegie® Training of Central & Southern New Jersey 

1. Explore their latent needs. 

Customers do not always know how to articulate their needs. While they may say that they want to grow their Facebook fan base, their biggest priority may be to improve their organic reach.

Learn how to identify latent needs, and find opportunities to make users more successful at their job. With a deeper understanding of what your customers truly care about, you can spot the items that are real deal breakers and remove them from the conversation.

2. Ease concerns with case studies and testimonials.

Sometimes, clients have a hard time imagining how they may be able to apply a new process or technology to their business. Although the value of your offering seems obvious to you, it may feel obscure to a customer. Consequently, buyers become skeptical.

“If you have doubts and concerns when you make a major purchase, it is safe to assume the same things happen with some of your prospects,” says Nan Hruby of HNH Sales Training. To overcome buyer reservations, share stories or collateral that detail how your other clients have benefited from your product or service. Affirmation that other businesses use and extract value from your offerings make customers more open to change.

Similarly, if your client feels she is among peers, she will feel much more comfortable with agreeing to your proposal. Hruby knows, “Sometimes just showing the prospect a list of the companies or customers you’ve done work for in the past is enough to put the prospect’s mind at ease.”

3. Sell less.

When price is a primary concern, find ways to accommodate your customer’s budget. Many times, a simple solution is reducing the quantity of work proposed to bring down your client’s total cost.

Jim Herst, CEO of Perceptive Selling Initiative, Inc., recommends selling clients on smaller projects first to open up a window of opportunity later. Herst calls this a “foot-in-the-door” approach. By securing a small commitment upfront, you get a “yes” from clients now who will be more likely to sing the same tune when you pitch follow-up engagements.

4. Explain the consequences of inaction. 

To motivate your customers to take a certain action, you must first explain what can happen when they fail to act. Because people are inclined to insure against negative consequences, you can strike an emotional chord by detailing what could happen if a customer does not follow through with your latest recommendation.

Threats companies may face include: competitive forces, lackluster sales, a steeper learning curve later and more. Businesses should know that if they reject your proposition now, they will spend more time and money later, cleaning up their mess.

5. Educate your customers. 

Bring clients back to the middle of the sales funnel. If they are not yet ready to give you a confident “yes,” spend more time educating customers about the value you offer. Avoid pushing a hard sell and use email marketing and retargeting ads to share information and materials customers can review to help them reach a favorable decision about working with you. This approach allows them to progress through the sales funnel at their own pace.

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