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Archive for May, 2015

25
May

Meetings Matter

Meetings can eat up your business day, especially if they go off track. We can find ourselves wasting hours every month in meetings where nothing gets done. Here are some meeting mistakes to avoid.Angry Boss Lady Pointing to Alarm Clock

Mistake 1: No or Incomplete Agenda

The agenda lets attendees know what the meeting is about, so they can arrive prepared to discuss the issues. Set specific times for each item and indicate who is responsible. List any documents that people need to bring and attach anything to be reviewed before the meeting.

Mistake 2: Failing to Send a Reminder

Don’t assume everyone will remember the time and location of the meeting; some people may not enter it in their calendars. Set an automatic reminder for the day before the meeting and re-send the agenda.

Mistake 3: Not Starting or Ending on Time

Meetings that start late disrespect those who arrive on time and send a message that it’s okay to be tardy. Failing to end on time wastes people’s time and can harm their schedule for the rest of the day. When you gain the reputation of starting and ending on time, people know they can rely on you to help them be positively productive.

Mistake 4: Not Keeping the Meeting on Track

When meetings go off track, all items on the agenda are not completed. Stay in charge of the meeting and keep things going by monitoring discussions and staying on the topic. If something comes up that isn’t on the agenda, put it in a parking lot—a list of items to be covered after meeting.

Mistake 5: Not Reaching Agreement

Failing to reach an agreement and recapping decisions is a major meeting mistake. Make sure everyone leaves the meeting with the same understanding about what was decided and who is responsible for further action. Reinforce this by sending meeting minutes as soon as possible after the meeting. For more information, see my blog post Take Good Meeting Notes.

When you avoid these common mistakes, you can make meetings work for you and everyone who attends.

17
May

Network Within Your Own Organization

Many business people are active networkers in industry and business organizations, but they never think about networking within their own company. Informal networking is establishing mutually beneficial relationships with coworkers. This gives you access to experts in other areas of the organization, provides opportunities for finding mentors, and opens opportunities for advancement. Here’s how to form and cultivate an informal network.shutterstock_117941911

  • Identify people who do your job in other areas and get to know them. Share best practices and help each other solve problems and meet challenges. Your peers can be valuable resources.
  • Reach out to those who are in positions you are interested in and ask for an informational interview. Exploring other jobs helps you with career planning and shows that you are interested in staying with your company for the long term.
  • Look for people who can mentor you. See my blog post Do You Need a Coach or a Mentor? for more information.
  • Establish mutually beneficial relationships with your connections. Make yourself available when they need help and offer assistance whenever you can.
  • Meet frequently for coffee or a meal and get to know them as people and colleagues. Remember significant details about them by adding notes to their profiles in your contacts record.

Networking within your organization raises your visibility so that people get to know you and your expertise. The more people who know you and what you can do, the more they will think of you when a job opening occurs.

10
May

Use Rules to Manage E-mail

Rules let you manage incoming e-mail by pre-sorting certain e-mails and sending them to folders you have specified. Every e-mail program has the ability to set rules although it might be called something different.shutterstock_68921221

When you set a rule, you:

  • Identify the word or words you want the e-mail program to look for. For example, you could set a rule for your manager’s name or the name of a project or client.
  • Specify where you want the word(s) to appear. It could be the To, CC, BCC, subject line, or anywhere else in the e-mail.
  • Set up a new folder labeled with these same word(s).
  • Direct your e-mail program to send all e-mails with these word(s) to that folder. When you open your inbox, you can go directly to these folders and by-pass e-mails in the main inbox.

Rules will help you manage e-mail faster and easier and make you more positively productive.

Need more help with e-mail? Are you not getting the result you need? Check out my new Writing and Managing E-mail class.

3
May

Save Time with Social Media

Many business people realize the value of social media as an important tool for marketing and customer service. One of the biggest challenges in using social media is finding time in your busy day to take care of it. Here are my recommendations:iStock_000030388064Small

  • Set goals. Decide what you want to accomplish with social media. The clearer your goals, the easier it will be to craft social media messages that meet them and reach the right audience.
  • Set specific times each day to handle social media. I recommend allocating at least two 15-minute sessions to connect with people and post updates. This helps you gain visibility, build meaningful relationships, and expand your reach. Consistency and frequency are two key factors in social media success.
  • Join pertinent groups. Find groups on LinkedIn that represent your target customers and join them. Become active and make connections with key people in the group. Share valuable information and establish relationships with those who can help your business, but avoid pitching to them. Instead, forge alliances that lead to business naturally.

Including social media in your marketing and customer service plans is a good way to grow your business. Doing it efficiently is a good way to be positively productive on social media. Also see my post Choose the Right Social Network for Your Business.