Asking Questions – Why Should You?

December 14, 2017

Have you ever been in an awkward situation where you’re at an office party or a networking event and you’re standing next to someone while there’s complete silence because neither of you have any idea on what to talk about? Additionally, you’re worried about how you may be portrayed to this person in your first impression or you’re worried the awkwardness will increase if you ask questions. Meanwhile, your head is thinking “How does he know the host? In what department does he work? Do we work in the same building?”

The good news is that research suggests that people who ask questions are more likeable than people who ask fewer to no questions. In fact, there was an experiment conducted at Harvard where volunteers were assigned to either ask a lot of questions or only ask a few. Once their conversation was completed, each participant rated how likeable the other person was. Through findings, researchers concluded that people who ask fewer questions weren’t as liked as the people who asked plenty more.

Of course, how and what we ask is just as important as the quantity. The Harvard research also suggests that specific follow up questions are the most effective. A good way to approach a follow up question is to:

  1. Ask a question
  2. Listen and understand the answer
  3. Ask a question regarding the answer

Not only does this make you more likeable, but it also shows that you are listening, which is an important trait to have no matter what you are doing. So the next time you are standing next to a person and you don’t know what to talk about, think: questions!


Tips to Nail Your Big Interview

November 2, 2017

Whether you are just starting out in the professional world or have been practicing and preaching for years, interviews can be intimidating. There’s a lot at stake and of course you want to put your best foot forward. Read through these quick tips to see what you can do to better prepare for your upcoming interview!

  1. Research. Research, research, research. Let me say it one more time…research. This will go miles! Not only does it better prepare you to answer potential questions about the company, but you can learn things to use to your advantage. Try and learn something about your interviewer to make a connection. Learn things about the company, and not just the hard facts. The company culture is just as important. Learn these things and then relate them back to you and how you would be a great fit. Forbes has some great advice on this topic.
  2. Be on time. This probably sounds obvious but seriously, make sure you know where you’re going and how to get there. It’s better to be early than late and there’s nothing wrong with taking a little time to calm your nerves in the parking lot!
  3. Think about your body language. This means sit up straight, talk clearly, eye contact, active listening, etc. Overall this means be engaged and professional. Check out our previous post about how to be a better listener.
  4. Follow up. This is so important. Follow up, and do it soon after your interview. Pull in a piece of information that you talked about that will job your interviewers memory to your conversation. If you want to personalize it even further, handwrite your note! Read up on the importance of handwritten notes and what it can do for you.

This list could go on and on, but it’s most important to remember to be professional, attentive and show how you could excel at this position. Practice your questions and go in confident and prepared. If you think you have valuable interview advice, let us know in the comments below!


How to Find the Perfect Picture

October 19, 2017

Whether your blog is about financial planning, being a mom of three, marketing tips, or a lifestyle guru, you need pictures! There are many things that make a blog interesting, but including at least a little imagery is crucial across the board. The hard part is choosing an appropriate image.

First of all, finding pictures in general should be the easy part. There are so many great stock photo websites out there. If you are having trouble finding images, here are a couple sites you can check out: Pixabay, Shutterstock, Pexels or Getty Images. There are so many more, but that should get you started!

The next thing to keep in mind is that while of course you want your images to be relevant, it doesn’t have to be a direct translation. For example, if you are writing about workplace relationships your image does not need to be of an office! Find a metaphor or message that you are trying to get across, and then be creative.

The most important thing when choosing your images, tags or any other creative aspect of your blog, is keep it relevant but personal. A blog is supposed to be informational, but personal. Talk to your readers and clients in a way that is conversational but professional, and your imagery should reflect that. It doesn’t always need to be a stark photo. Pick something warm and welcoming that draws readers in to see more!


How to market your content to potential clients

May 25, 2017

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Taking the time to produce marketing content can be difficult. It’s not always easy to consistently come up with topics and ideas and over time you can start to feel like you’ve come to a dead-end. If you’ve been doing it for a while however, you know as well as I do that dead-ends are just an illusion. We always manage to come up with new ways to push forward; and so with all that work, of course we’d like to think that our readers are absorbing everything we have to offer, right?

That’d be nice, but I’m afraid not. I challenge you to ask a friend, that you know follows your publishings, how many times on average they actually read every word of your content. There’s a good chance you won’t like what they have to say; but try not to get discouraged. Time is valuable to people and sometimes it’s easier to just skim through the paragraphs rather than reading everything on the page.

In marketing, we are always trying to formulate new ideas and strategies to keep our techniques up-to-date; so much so that we can easily lose touch of the basics. One fundamental key principal of content marketing is BENEFITS over FEATURES.

Let me explain… Benefits are just as they sound. They are the value that the potential customer would receive from your services should they decide to become a client. For example, one way you could pitch a benefit is to say something like, “10% Increase in profitability guaranteed!” This is a benefit, and with all things that benefit us, we tend to give them more of our attention. In order to keep your content’s target audience interested and engaged, you need to make sure the benefits your services offer are standing out as much as possible.

Features are kind of like your credentials, so-to-speak. One example of a feature would be something along the lines of, “With over 25 years experience” or “Recipient of Best Firm Award”. These are features, and although they earn you credibility with whom you’re trying to market yourself to, they don’t necessarily capture the attention of the reader. Now, this is not to say features are bad. In fact, including them is very important; but you don’t want to make your pitch focused so much on your features that your benefits don’t get the chance to stand out.

As a rule of thumb, I like to recommend a ratio of 80/20 in favor of benefits. This way, you have a good percentage of features in your content so that your target audience can see what you’ve accomplished for others like them, but they also stay engaged in what you’re trying to sell them. Benefits are the key to getting people to pay attention to you. If you miss the opportunity to capture their attention, you miss the opportunity to serve them as your client; and nobody likes missed opportunities.


Find a Purpose

March 30, 2017

It’s so easy to get discouraged or feel like you’re lacking motivation. When you’re young and early in your career a lot of the time you aren’t doing exactly what you would like, and later on it can feel as though you’re stuck in a rut or tired of where you are. There are many reasons why, and sometimes it is very justified, but if you find purpose in what you’re doing you will find lost motivation.

When trying to find a purpose in the middle of what seem like a pointless task there are a couple things that you should consider. First of all, think about who else might be benefiting from the work you are doing. It is helpful to look at the overarching picture rather than what is right in front of you. Also consider how the things you are doing now can affect you, or others, in the future.

That being said, it’s not always easy. More often than not it will seem like you are working for someone else and not helping yourself as much along the way. You really have to dig deep to figure out exactly what is important to you and why you’re doing the things you are.

What do you do to find motivation?

 


5 Ways to Improve Communication Through Listening

March 2, 2017

Business skills come down to the basic skill of communication. And what makes someone good at communication? Being a good listener. If you can show someone, whether it be your boss, employee, coworker or client, that you care about what they are saying, it will get you a long way. Here a five tips on how to become a better listener:

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  1. Show your engagement. This includes nonverbal communication. It’s not only about what you say, but your body language as well.
  2. Ask questions. This will not only show the other person that you are listening and paying attention, but that you really do want to know what’s going. If you didn’t hear something, ask them to repeat.
  3. Acknowledge feelings. This is important, especially when you don’t necessarily agree with what they have to say.
  4. Keep eye contact. It shows that you are listening and engaged in what they are saying instead of being distracted by things around you.
  5. Just listen. By this I mean don’t interrupt, don’t rush them and don’t try to offer up a bunch of solutions. Be present in the conversation and just listen.

The Power of First Impressions

February 2, 2017

You all have heard the first impressions are everything, and you only have one shot at it. As soon as you meet someone new they are instantly sizing you up. It really doesn’t matter what the context is in which you are meeting, the people around you will instantly begin to judge you based on your outward appearance and behaviors. It takes about 4 seconds for someone to make their first judgement or assumption.

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Your clothing, whether we like it or not, is a big factor in how people look at you. A well tailored suit or dress compared to one that is slightly ill fitting instantly gives the impression of being wealthier and more successful. This are assumptions that we as humans make subconsciously, but happen nonetheless.  This doesn’t just apply to clothing either. People look at your hairstyle, bags, accessories, etc. Moral of the story is you appearance does matter, so take a little time to think about the image that you would like to portray to the world.

A strong handshake is also important, especially in the context of business meetings or interviews. The main consensus on handshakes are to keep them short and sweet. No one wants to shake hands with a clinger. And always maintain eye contact! This applies to personal and professional meetings and conversations.

The last piece of advice I have to offer is to get comfortable with small talk. It’s always awkward and sometimes uncomfortable, but it’s important. If you aren’t confident in your ability to hold a conversation based off of small talk, just ask questions. This will always be in your benefit. If at a later date you would like to reconnect with the person you can bring up a good talking point from your conversation so they have an easier time remembering you.