As the global economy writhes and rattles, entrepreneurship has ever more clearly emerged as the solution to economic recovery. Young startups not only create nearly two thirds of America’s new jobs, they also bring forth innovation that often revolutionizes humanity and provides widespread prosperity. The best part is, ease in creating businesses has increased dramatically due in large part to apps and sites that help entrepreneurs.
Tell me … what do you do, who you do it for, why you do it and what can you do for me?
And tell me quickly.
Such is the challenge of the elevator pitch – a personal marketing spiel seldom delivered in elevators, but a staple of networking.
A skillful elevator pitch can be the foundation upon which new professional relationships are built. A not-so-skillfull pitch will make sure you are forgotten — or, even worse, leave a bad impression with a potentially valuable contact.
“The perfect elevator pitch should take no more than 30 seconds and incorporate your number of years of experience, areas of expertise, key skills and some key projects or brands that you have been associated with,” says Jessica Bedford of niche recruiting firm Artisan Creative. “If there is anything that makes you stand out, work that into your pitch as well.”
Yes, easier said than done – but doable, nonetheless.
Trying to squeeze business opportunity out of this economy is an arduous task at best. And as job numbers remain shakier than the Pacific Rim, the term “it’s who you know” is more relevant than ever for career development.
“Networking is something you should continually be doing,” says Ronn Torossian, CEO of the New York City-based 5W Public Relations firm. “It’s kind of like dating. Until you’re married, you always have to be dating. And when you’re married, you’re working on your relationship.”
That means networking can’t be something you put on a to-do list and check off once a month, and it needn’t be scheduled. “I was sitting next to this woman while having a pedicure and we started talking,” recalls Ross Ellis, CEO of Love Our Children USA, a national nonprofit working to break the cycle of violence against children and a New York City real estate agent with Halstead Property. One thing led to another, and soon Ellis had a speaking engagement for her charity: “She was a teacher and I asked her if she had a lot of bullying in her school.”
Sounds simple, but rub new contacts the wrong way and your network will shrink, not expand. Here’s how to become an expert networker, without ever being annoying, or worse, looking desperate:
Employers may unintentionally violate employment laws and never realize the risk they create for the company. Trying to provide some flexibility for an employee, saving money for the company, or just being nice are all ways that an act of kindness can become a business liability.
CalChamber’s “The Top 10 Things Employers Do to Get Sued” white paper details some of the mistakes that could lead to employee lawsuits. Topics include:
- Exempt and nonexempt employee classification
- Meal breaks
- Independent contractor status
- Harassment and discrimination
- Hours of work
- Leaves of Absence
- Final paycheck
- Deductions from wages
- Vacation policy
The 2010 law governing gift and estate taxes is set to expire at the end of this year. For 2013, assuming Congress does not act, the lifetime limits on gift tax will fall from $5.12 million to $1 million. That means an individual can gift, over his lifetime, no more than $1 million tax-free starting in 2013. The top gift tax rate on amounts of more than that $1 million threshold is also scheduled to rise from 35 percent to 55 percent starting next year.
Optimism amongst small U.S. businesses rose to its highest level in more than four years in February, data released Tuesday showed, yet business owners remain concerned about future prospects.
The National Federation of Independent Business‘s small-business optimism index rose 0.4 point to 94.3 from 93.9 in January. The February figure was its sixth consecutive monthly increase and its strongest level since December 2007.
Consumers will embrace brands that are FLAWSOME*: brands that are still brilliant despite having flaws; even being flawed (and being open about it) can be awesome. Brands that show some empathy, generosity, humility, flexibility, maturity, humor, and (dare we say it) some character and humanity.
Two key drivers are fueling the FLAWSOME trend:
- HUMAN BRANDS: Everything from disgust at business to the influence of online culture (with its honesty and immediacy), is driving consumers away from bland, boring brands in favor of brands with some personality.
- TRANSPARENCY TRIUMPH: Consumers are benefiting from almost total and utter transparency (and thus are finding out about flaws anyway), as a result of the torrent of readily available reviews, leaks and ratings.
Marketing is essentially getting someone that has a need to know, like and trust you. Of course then you must turn that know, like, and trust into try, buy, repeat and refer.
That my friends is the entire practice of marketing summed up in seven little words that make up what I call The Marketing Hourglass.TM
The idea behind the hourglass is that you look at each of the seven stages and intentionally plan products, services, processes and touches that logically move prospects along to the point where they become customers and then receive such a remarkable customer experience they become repeat customers and referral advocates.
How would you describe your organization/department/team’s culture? Take a moment and select three words or phrases that describe your company culture. Write them down and set them aside; we’ll come back to them in a few paragraphs.
If you’re like most leaders, you don’t pay careful attention to the work environment that exists in your organization today. Most leaders have been groomed to focus primarily on performance metrics, things such as net profit, market share, EBIDA, payroll expenses, etc.
These are certainly important metrics; all organizations need to meet or exceed performance standards. And research indicates that these, alone, are not the strongest drivers of desirable outcomes such as consistent performance, terrific customer service or engaged employees.
What differentiates great organizations from ordinary ones?
Leaders in every organization around the globe monitor performance metrics. Yet some organizations are seen as “great places to work” and “great investments” and deliver “great customer experiences.” Most organizations are not seen like that.
Organizational cultures that are consistently high performing AND values-aligned do not happen casually — they happen intentionally. The leaders of these organizations understand that they must effectively manage employees’ heads, hearts and hands — not just one of those three. Leaders that focus on performance alone typically see their role as managing employees’ hands, not employees’ heads and hearts, as well.
It’s a mistake to think that because a customer has expressed dissatisfaction with your product or service, they will not come back to you.
They won’t return if you handle the situation badly. However, some of your most vociferous complainers could become your most loyal customers, because you handled the situation well and treated them with respect.
This means recognizing some essential traits:
• Customers want to be respected
• They want attention
• They want to be appreciated and recognized
• Most of all – they want to be understood!