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Best Practices LinkedIn

Being a presence on social media is pretty much a given for businesses in todays fast-paced digital economy. But what social media platforms and how do you make the most of the social media that you do use?  Well, if you are a professional who wants to connect with other professionals, you will want to get your company, brand and personal page up and running on LinkedIn as soon as possible.

According to Moz Online,  LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional social network. It connects colleagues with each other and businesses with current and potential employees, all while enabling community development and content sharing. LinkedIn’s potential lies in its power to build authority, establish thought leadership, and cultivate a robust network. Join us for a peek behind the curtain to see if LinkedIn is a match for your business. Here are a few suggestions of how to optimize your business on LinkedIn. 

  • Complete your profile, both personal and professional, as fully as you can. Use

    keyword-rich descriptions that are easily searchable.

  • Constantly build your LinkedIn network. The more people you are connected to in LinkedIn, the more likely you’ll be able to find someone you know who is connected to someone with whom you’d like to be introduced.

  • Build your company page. Along with those key words use images that show off your company and the services or products you offer. 

  • Participate in Industry Groups. Find some active, quality groups within your industry and start participating by joining conversations, answering questions, being helpful, sharing interesting third-party articles.

  • Solicit recommendations for your products that can read like testimonials and give your company a positive image.

  • Establish yourself as a leader by publishing articles and content that is seen as useful and interesting for other people in your industry.

  • Make sure to respond to your posts, reviews, and questions. If a user leaves a product review, thank them. If they have a complaint, address it. Answer questions and offer advice and assistance.

  • Engage your employees. Your employees are your best brand ambassadors, so encourage them to add your company to their LinkedIn profiles.

     

Multigenerational Workplace Issues

Baby Boomers and Gen Xers and Millennials. . . OH MY!  Companies today often have teams with a wide range of ages. Age ranges can be wonderful. When every person entering an office comes in with different life experiences, perspectives and views it can add value to a company.  But let’s face it, there are stark differences in the values, communication styles and work habits of each generation as well. Workplaces can, in theory, have employees ranging from 18-80. That is a huge range. Businesses in all fields are quickly becoming aware of issues that have become pronounced due to these age ranges. Let’s take a look at the potential issues and some solutions for bridging this multigenerational workforce gap. 

  • Get to know each person and generation and what their concerns may be. For example, the millennial generation of workers would choose workplace flexibility, work/life balance and the opportunity for overseas assignments over financial rewards, according to a NexGen survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Baby Boomers prefer more traditional classroom or paper-based training. They also have retirement and stability on their mind. Generation Xers prefer to learn on the internet and work well independently. They may be concerned with working their way up the corporate ladder.
  • Negative stereotypes for each generation exist, so try to dispel these and show each what they have in common. For example, Forbes Magazine points out that, “Ultimately all employees want the same thing — to be engaged at work and to have a good manager who acts as a coach and helps them achieve their specific career goals.”
  • Embrace different communication styles. According to Business New Daily, “Preferred communication styles have almost become a cliché: Generation Y sends text messages, tweets and instant messages to communicate, while Baby Boomers and older Gen Xers tend to prefer phone calls and emails. Throw in that younger workers tend to use abbreviations, informal language and colloquialisms, and you’ve got a recipe for serious communication breakdowns. Business leaders should set the example of the company line on communication and create an environment where face-to-face communication is valued and embraced. But don’t ever be afraid to embrace the differing communication methods.

Patents Basics

Inspiration is a wonderful thing. It has led to inventions and progress in so many fields. Do you have an idea for your business and want to get the idea or innovation patented? The process for filing for a patent can get a bit tedious so, do your homework and understand what issues may lie ahead of you. We also suggest discussing your case with a patent attorney.

According to Entreprenuership.org a patent grants inventors the right to exclude others from making, using, selling (or offering to sell) or importing their inventions throughout the United States for a limited period of time. To obtain a patent, the inventor submits his or her application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (known as the “USPTO”).

There are three main types of patents:

  1. Utility Patents –  Almost any product, process, or ornamental design that is new, useful, and non-obvious is patentable. What we normally think of as a patent is known as a “utility” patent, because it covers the usefulness of a product—the way it operates, what it produces, what it does, etc.

  2. Design Patents- Design patents protect the ornamental design or appearance of an article (i.e., they do not protect aspects of a product that are functional). A few examples of designs that may be protected by design patents include the ornamental aspects of furniture, packaging, shoes, game boards, and fonts.

  3. Plant Patents (used less frequently) are for certain new varieties of plants that have been asexually reproduced, for a term of 17 years.

As a business owner, you will most likely be filing for a utility or design patent. The registration process includes: a clear and concise description of the company’s declaration that it is the original and sole inventor, written drawings (where necessary) of the invention, filing fees; and, one or more of the company’s “claims” of exclusivity. Be sure to be very specific in your documentation as you must prove that you are the first to do something or make something like this. The United States Patent Office has a complete list of patent laws and resources. Please,  follow the link above. 

Tweeting Rules for Business

SinceJack Dorsey founded Twitter in 2006, there have been some pretty basic rules for use. For example, 140 characters was the limit of each tweet until late last year when images no longer counted towards that number. Twitter also introduced the rules of using the @ sign and hashtag symbol(#). But with the creation of Twitter also came some unwritten rules of etiquette. These rules become more important when you are a business leader and are trying to put forth a positive image for your company or brand. Here are a few that you should consider every time you tweet.

  • Behave as you would offline. How you conduct yourself in public before social media has a direct impact on how potential and current customers view your business. Be sure everything you tweet is in alignment with your business beliefs and company policy. 

  • Use your business logo. Your profile image should be your logo if you are specifically tweeting about company news. Branding your logo on social media becomes important when you want viewers to recognize your colors and images.

  • Use signs and symbols properly such as the @ and # characters. Using excessive hashtags will only annoy your followers and muddy your message. Use them as you would a search term.
  • Use authentic and useful content. Mix links to your company website or blog posts with other compelling content — such as photos, your spin on industry news, or inspirational fodder — that puts a human touch on your brand.
  • If you retweet, give credit for that tweet. Do not claim you came up with something clever when you really didn’t. This could backfire on your brand.
  • Follow people who follow you. Building followers of your brand is the ultimate goal, so join in the follow parade!
  • Promote your brand and business but do it in a way that gives the viewers something such as a link to an article, blog, photos or something more than just the hard sell.

With over 307 million monthly active users, Twitter is one of the most influential social platforms that every organization and individual wants to use to their advantage. When used correctly, Twitter can, perhaps, prove to be the best tool for reaching out to your target audience.

Facebook Advertising

More than one billion people are active on Facebook. Let that number sink in a bit. One billion people! When it comes to marketing and advertising, therefore, Facebook is too big to ignore. Managing and leveraging your social media account with Facebook advertising becomes essential. In addition, Facebook Ads can transform your business’s social reach without hurting your budget. Let’s take a closer look at some of the basics of advertising with Facebook and some tips from Facebook experts. 

  • Use Facebook’s tools to find the right audience easily. You can choose your audience based on demographics, behaviors or contact information. That means, you can really pinpoint the group you really want to see your Ad.
  • Pay attention to the analytics on Facebook. The Ad Reporting Tools show you how your ads impacted your business in visual, easy-to-read reports.
  • Follow guidelines set out by Facebook that help you choose the right format for your images and guide you through content formation.
  • Include a Call-To-Action. Adding a Call-to-Action to your Facebook Ads might not increase your click-through rate or make your ad more engaging, but it’s likely to improve your overall conversion rate and decrease your cost per conversion.
  • Use social proof such as testimonials to give your brand and company credibility.
  • Test multiple designs. No matter what your level of expertise is, or how long you’ve been advertising on Facebook, always test both your ad’s design and its targeting. Ad Espresso online suggests, “Coming up with at least 4 different Facebook Ad Designs and then test each one. For example, you might test two different images with two different copy texts (2 images x 2 texts = 4 variations).”
  • Ad Espresso also suggests, “Put the right ad in the right place.” Correct placement of your Facebook Ads is critical and, ideally, you want to optimize your design for each placement. For example, you can choose from Desktop Newsfeed, Desktop Right Column, or Mobile Newsfeed.

Managing your Reputation Online

What is your company’s online reputation?  If you Google yourself or your brand name what is it that you find? Do you see positive comments on social sites or negative comments on review sites like: RipOffOnline, Yelp or the Better Business Bureau? Worse yet, is your knowledge limited of what customers, clients, vendors and employees are saying about you? Here is a quick guide to help you and your brand manage your online reputation.

In the past few years having an online presence has changed drastically. What used to be static sites and little user interaction has blossomed into daily interactions and comments on social sites and review sites. These types of sites are easily accessible to the public and can show up on a general search for your company, name or brand. No matter the size of your business, people are talking about you. If it is positive, then great. But if it is negative, you better have a way to take control of your reputation. Using Online Reputation Management Tools is probably the best way to go for busy business owners.

According to research and tutorials from Neil Patel at QuickSprout online, there are several steps to taking control of your online reputation. Most of them are fairly simple and will save you money in the long run.

Google Yourself

The first step is to Google yourself. Literally type in your name, brand or email address and see what comes up. There should be social media profiles, your web page and all the good stuff that you want potential customers to see about your and your brand. This is the information you can control.

Manage your Reviews – 

One great tool that’s free is called “Me on the Web” by Google. What you want to do is log into your Google account and your Google dashboard and then click on “Me on the Web.” The main features of this tool allows you to search for yourself and most importantly get alerts when your name is mentioned on the web. This includes your name, email, business name or brand. 

One of the most important things you want to be alerted to is if there are any negative mentions or reviews of you or your brand so you can respond quickly and professionally. There are so many review sites out there like Yelp, RipOffOnline, BBB and a host of others. You can choose to go to each, individually, to view what is being said about you, or you can get help with an online tool such as  Go Fish Digital or Mention.net. Sites such as these can search all the complaint sites at once or alert you by email if it has found your name mentioned. Being proactive can save you time and money. Companies who have not reacted quickly have seen consumers react in powerful ways such as taking their business elsewhere or even escalating negative reviews.  

 

Managing Conflict at Work

Workplace conflict is an unavoidable consequence of dealing with differing personalities and work habits in a workplace. Effectively managing conflict is arguably the hardest thing a manager has to do. Unfortunately, as a manager, if you’re going to do your job, you have no choice. Since avoiding workplace conflict is a near impossible feat, be prepared for how to handle these circumstances in advance. Here are a few suggestions for dealing with workplace conflict. 

  • Stay Calm – Even when provoked, keep a close hold on your temper; stay as calm as you possibly can. Don’t let emotions escalate or drive decisions. However, do let individuals express their feelings. Some feelings of anger and/or hurt usually accompany conflict situations. Before any kind of problem-solving can take place, these emotions should be expressed and acknowledged. Each member of the conflict should have a chance to say what is on their mind in a respectful and safe manner.

  • Deal With the Issues

    First of all, if you are a manager dealing with conflict you should: recognize that there is a conflict, be objective, and be fair and consistent. What will help in any conflict would be a human resources liaison who can moderate and ease the tension. HR personnel are an unfailingly objective third party. Short of calling in HR moderators, it would be helpful if there was a written code of conduct from which to read and guide employees when a situation arises.

  • Document – Whenever a conflict arises be sure to document the event. Who was involved? What was the resolution? If a pattern of conflict emerges, it is possible that one or two employees may turn out to be the “common factor.”  In this case, documenting for potential future incidences or, unfortunately, termination will be needed.
  • Determine Follow Up – After a workplace conflict, whether it is related to work or is personal, it is critical to follow up. You may want to schedule a follow-up meeting in about two weeks to determine how the parties are doing. Did the issue continue to fester? Was it completely resolved? Has it impacted workflow or morale in the office? Determine what you’ll do if the conflict goes unresolved. If the conflict is causing a disruption in the department and it remains unresolved, you may need to explore other avenues. In some cases the conflict becomes a performance issue, and may become a topic for coaching sessions, performance appraisals, or disciplinary action.

Tips for First Time Managers

Are you about to be promoted to a leadership position in your company, or have you just gained employment in your first management position? First of all, congratulations! Being in charge of a team is exciting and requires juggling many things at once. If you have never been in a leadership position you may be a bit intimidated at the thought of being a leader and having team members look to you for answers and directions. There are, however,  a few things that you can do to make the transition to leader/manager a little easier. Here are a few tips from management experts and human resources professionals.

  • Know Your Stuff – In other words, know the business inside and out.  This may take time to study, research and ask tons of questions but the more you actually know the more you will be respected and seen as a source of information. This also goes for knowing what each member of your team does. Spend time with senior leaders as well as team members and ask questions. The more you know, the more you can help your team focus.
  • Delegate – A common problem with new leaders is that they tend to take on too much and get overwhelmed. Realize that you can not be everywhere at once  or do everything alone. Create an environment where you are actively relying on others to help carry projects. You will still be informed, but you need to let others lead so they can grow their abilities and perspective.
  • Create Priorities – As a team leader or manager, there will be lot on your plate.  Start by prioritizing what needs to be done and communicating that to your team.  The more they understand what is important to you the better they can work.
  • Find a Mentor – Whether it is senior leadership or someone in your field, find someone you can trust to be a sounding board in tough times. This person should be someone you are not in direct competition with but has a vested interest in seeing the company and you succeed.
  • Be a Role Model – As a leader, you are probably the inspiration and model for your team members. Your employees are going to look to you to gauge how they should act and how to persevere through workplace challenges. Be a role model and lead by example.  Allow for give and take and learning opportunities. Remember, you are still learning too.

 

Instagram for Business

Is your company active on social media? Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram are quickly becoming not just a place to chat with friends and find out the latest gossip, but to do some serious marketing for business. Unfortunately, the growing number of social media platforms and the millions and millions of posts daily can be more than just a little bit overwhelming for businesses to keep up with. Take, for example, Instagram – every second there are 2,100 new posts on Instagram bringing an average of 180 million uploads each day. Businesses need to get beyond the overwhelming aspect of posts, likes  and views and on to how this rate of content creation spells nothing but opportunity for businesses.

Today we are looking at the benefits of Instagram for your business. Yes there are other social media platforms out there but this highly visual platform could be just the thing your business needs.

Why Choose Instagram as a Social Media Platform? 

  • Instagram is a highly engaged global community with more than 500M active accounts.

  • Instagram is capturing the most sought after audience on the planet – millennials who are 18-24-years-old and earn $50,000 to $74,000. This demographic uses Instagram as their favorite social media platform over those of the same age earning $25,000 – $49,000 annually.

  • Instagram users aren’t just browsing through the endless content; they’re using it to discover new products and brands. In fact, 47 percent of Instagram users rank the platform in their top 10 channels used for product discovery.

  • Additionally, 45.6 percent of Instagram users are more likely to remember a brand marketing themselves on the social network over television commercials and other traditional media.

  • People go to Instagram for visual inspiration and the simple design allows captivating visuals to take center stage.

  • Instagram can give viewers a behind-the-scenes look at your company. When you share some photos that offer a behind the scenes look at your business, it can go a long way towards building a sense of rapport and familiarity between your work and those you are offering it to.
  • Advertising on Instagram has the power to move people — inspiring them to see a business differently or take action.

If you want to get your business started on Instagram read more on Instagram’s business page. 

Common Mistakes When Starting a Business

Every entrepreneur makes mistakes along the way when making their business dreams become a reality. Some rookie mistakes may be easily overlooked and may not be more than a blip on the radar. Unfortunately, other mistakes may be costly both in a financial sense or may harm your reputation as you attempt to make your business grow and mature. Knowing what the potential problems could be may help you strategically avoid them. Top entrepreneurs were questioned on what mistakes they made along the way to business success. Here are some of the most common mistakes.

  • Compiling the Wrong Team – When hiring for a new business, it is important to hire people that understand that start ups can be stressful. It is also important to find employees that can juggle several skills at once since most start ups do not have a budget for specialized positions. For example, a web site company may have to ask a graphic designer to also handle customer service as well as his/her primary job responsibilities. According to Entrepreneur, choosing the wrong team is the single costliest error entrepreneurs make, resulting in not only lost income and time but depleted morale.
  • Marketing Mistakes – Many new companies don’t know what to spend on Marketing or, worse yet, under-budget to save money. Most successful start up leaders suggest aiming for 10 to 20 percent of your targeted gross revenue.
  • Doing Too Much Too Soon – Most business leaders know that launching a company, no matter what the field, is HARD work. Yes, there will be late nights and tons of paperwork. Unfortunately, too many young business leaders take on too much, too fast. Burning out mentally and physically is a real risk. In addition, growing too fast can put a strain on a young company. Be sure to have solid legal and financial advisors who can guide you as your business grows.
  • Not Planning for All Contingencies – All new businesses should have a business plan. This doesn’t just mean a rough idea of your business pricing, financial goals, marketing plan and employee guidelines. It should be a well thought out plan. Your business plan will change and evolve but a well thought out one can help you as you encounter tough times or grow too quickly.
  • Financial Mistakes – Fifty percent of new businesses do not survive the first five years. Ninety-five percent of businesses will not make money when they first open, and a large proportion of new businesses will not make significant money for years. These stats are scary unless you have done your homework when it comes to financial backing, support and a budget.