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Category Archives: Marketing Tips

Social Media 2012 – Getting back to basics

I’ve been evaluating the use of social media over the past year. I have sent requests to follow people, accepted invites from people requesting to follow me, tweeted, retweeted, mentioned, and DM’d on Twitter, I’ve invited people to join my professional network, accepted connection invites from people who want me to connect with them, posted articles, business tips, resources, ideas, and shared “what I am doing” on LinkedIn, I have created a Fan Page, shared the link to invite people to visit and “like” my page, “liked” my friends pages back, posted articles, business tips, resources, ideas, inspirational quotes, commented on wall posts received by my friends, and encouraged discussions on my Facebook page.

I’ve also been of the mindset that it doesn’t matter who you follow or connect with, the more people you connect with the better. But it’s been bothering me for a while now that there’s something not right with this strategy — something is missing in all of my efforts.  What I’ve discovered is it’s the true purpose of social media that is missing for me. I really believe that social media is supposed to be “social”, and that it’s true purpose is to build and nurture relationships with your connections, and that’s really how it should be used. After all, isn’t that the way it started long ago?  But many people, including myself, do not and have not been using it in that way.

Honestly, I found myself saying many times that “I really don’t like social media,” or “I don’t resonate with it.” It got to the point where I would procrastinate going into my profiles and making a presence there because it was all meaningless chatter to me. Just a bunch of noise! “Why bother, nobody talks to me any way.” Then I thought “when is the last time I conversed with one of my Twitter friends?” Or sent an email to one of my LinkedIN connections to ask them how they’re doing and if there was anything I could do for them or who could I introduce them to?  Is there any information or resources they would like me to share with them in my posts that could help them in their business life? Or when did I take the time to review the pages and websites of my Facebook fans to learn more about what they do?  It’s like hosting a party and not mingling with your guests or not introducing them to other guests to make them all feel welcome!  Or worse, attending the party and sitting in the corner not talking to anyone and just being a “passive observer.”  Why bother going to the party or having one in the first place if you’re not going to join in?

So….. I’ve decided it’s time for me to “get back to basics” with social media.I spent the morning going through all my connections on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  Not only have I come to realize that there is no possible way I can meaningfully communicate with the large amount of people, but most of them I do not know and never actually “spoken” with. So, I decided to thoughtfully go through the process of cleaning up my list of contacts and followers and to determine who I wanted to keep on my list. While going through the process I asked myself:

  • Who added value to my social media life over the past year?
  • Who did I have communications with, or who communicated with me and seemed willing to make the effort to stay in touch with me?
  • Who was open to socializing with me?  Who took the time to retweet my posts, sent me DM’s, engaged in discussions, etc, rather than just “selling me their services”, and who was I open to socializing with?
  • Who would be a good referral partner?
  • Who would be a good referral source for my clients and prospects who need services that I don’t offer, or who have complimentary services that are not within my expertise, but that my clients and prospects may need as part of their administrative support plan?
  • Who posted meaningful, interesting content?  Could I benefit from or learn from their contributions? Could I share this information with others in my network so they could benefit from and learn from it as well?
  • Who was willing to share ideas and resources, be supportive with encouragement and advice? Who reached out to me for answers to questions they had or solicited my advice or assistance?

While I continue to work on finalizing my social media reorganization strategy and create my new social media plan for 2012, I’m noticing the shift in my attitude toward social media, and am starting to feel good about continuing my efforts in using social media more effectively in 2012 — in the spirit of the true meaning of it’s purpose — keeping in touch, building relationships, and sharing with others. I may not win the prize for being the “most connected” on social media in 2012, but I look forward to making more meaningful connections, building solid, long-term relationships, and being a valuable resource and “blessing” to my small, but growing network, by supporting them while they strive to “thrive and survive”  and meet their business goals in 2012 and beyond.

My challenge to you for 2012 is to evaluate your social media. Is it adding value to your life or is it just a routine, time-consuming task that you are just going through the motions of doing, albeit it haphazardly, because you feel you “need to be there” because everybody else is there?

ListenMake 2012 the year to make a concerted effort to make meaningful connections and have a wonderful circle of influence with those around you. Most of the people I left on my list were the first people I added to my list when I first joined social media back in 2009 — family, friends, coworkers, and colleagues — and of course, my valued clients!   I want to get back to my roots and renew and reacquaint myself with those who have added meaning and value to my life and my business, and look forward to making new connections in the future!

I would love to hear how you manage your social media noise and what your Social Media strategy and plan is going to be for 2012.   Feel free to post your comments below, or better yet, send me a DM on Twitter, post to my wall on Facebook, or send me an email via LinkedIN.  I’d love to hear from you!

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Delegation is a Key Ingredient to Business Success

 

I’ve been inspired to write this post by a new business prospect I met recently. She is lovely woman who is a perfect example of someone who really could benefit from working with a Virtual Assistant, but she says she doesn’t know how she can afford one.  Her comment to me was, “I love the idea of working with a Virtual Assistant.  I am really struggling in my business financially because I am too bogged down with all the things I have to do, that I am not doing what I should be doing to grow my business, and am just trying to keep things afloat…I am resolved to get myself back on track and do whatever it takes to move forward…If I can get help, I can make more money but I can’t get help because I do not have the money.”

Her words really hit me because this is exactly the reason why I ventured out on my own to start a Virtual Assistant practice. There are so many small business owners and independent professionals in this exact situation who really need someone to help them in their business to get them off the “spinning wheel” so they can move forward, but they feel they are in a “catch-22” situation. The truth is, when you are in business for yourself, you can’t afford NOT to seek the help you need to maximize your time so you can move forward!

As a fellow business owner, I know that it is hard right now to feel comfortable spending your hard-earned (and hard TO earn) money these days, while the economy is still trying to recover. It’s easy to get into the mindset of “It will be faster and cheaper just for me to do it myself”. I’ve also heard prospective clients say “I have no idea what to delegate”, or “I don’t have the time to delegate.” If you don’t want the hassle, expense or responsibilityof hiring, managing, and maintaining a part-time or full-time employee, but you know you just can’t keep spinning your wheels trying to do everything yourself, partnering with a Virtual Assistant may be the ideal solution!

Working with a Virtual Assistant will give you the flexibility you need to fit your needs and budget.  My suggestion is to start with small tasks or projects to keep it affordable. What are the things you would love to get off your “To Do” list? Figure out what your strengths are. What do you like doing versus what you don’t like doing, or don’t have the expertise, time, or desire to be doing. Think of where you can contribute to your business in the best way possible to make it the most successful. Focus on your core business expertise and responsibilities that only you can do, and start delegating the rest. Think about everything you do in your business on a day to day basis. Write it down. Then separate the tasks on your list that you are good at and like to do from the things on your list that someone else with the expertise, time, and knowledge could do for you.

Ask yourself this question, what is my time worth vs. what it would cost to pay someone else to assist me with the tasks I do not need to be spending my own time doing? If your time is worth say, $75 – $100/hour, is spending your time doing the non-billable administrative work going to increase your income?  I think not.  Wouldn’t it make sense to delegate the administrative side of your business to someone else who has the time and expertise to handle the details for you so you can spend your valuable time developing new business and working on billable work that will grow you business and increase your bottom line? I would think so! 

I have a client who really loves networking, being out there in front of people, talking to them, and building relationships.  He’s a true business builder and master networker.  However, he doesn’t have the time or desire to spend every day back at his office entering the business cards he collects into his contacts database, sending nice to meet you cards, following up on sending out information about his business that he promised to send, or “keeping in touch” with his contacts to continue to nurture the relationships.  So his business wasn’t growing as fast as he wanted it to.  So he delegated these tasks to me. Now, his contacts database is always current, his customers appreciate his prompt response to their requests for information, and both clients and prospects are thrilled that he takes the time to follow up and keep in touch with them.  Whether it’s a greeting card for a special occasion, or a short email to tell them about an upcoming event they may be interested in, or a new promotion, product, or service announcement, or an article we saw that we thought would be of interest to them, or simply to invite them to coffee!

The result….we have formed a team, he plants the seeds and starts the relationship building process, I keep in touch with them to help nurture the relationship, people remember him, like him, and trust him, and when they or someone they know need his products and services, he’s the first one they think of.  He’s not only building relationships, but he’s gaining customer loyalty and growing his business.  It’s truly a win-win situation.

I know that as entrepreneurs and small business owners, we like to do it all because we don’t think we can “afford” to spend the money to delegate to a Virtual Assistant – but the reality is, it does not make good business sense to keep “spinning your wheels”, when there’s a better solution. 

If you want to learn more about how Monarch Virtual Assistance LLC can help you maximize your time and help you grow your business, call me or email me to set up a complimentary, no obligation consultation to discuss your administrative needs in more detail.

I would also welcome your comments about what you are doing currently in your business to keep in touch with clients and prospects and learn from you what has worked and what hasn’t in the past.

Author bio: Lisa Salem is a professional Virtual Executive Assistant,  Virtual Sales and Marketing Assistant, and Virtual Transcriptionist.  Lisa is the Founder and Managing Member of Monarch Virtual Assistance LLC,  and brings over 30 years of administrative and business management experience to her business and the clients she partners with. Lisa works to promote the Virtual Assistance industry and to make it stand out as a true profession of excellence. Lisa loves helping her clients build successful businesses by taking the administrative tasks off their “to do” list so they can have more time to focus on the core business priorities that will generate income and accelerate business growth. Her style is easy going, yet focused, with emphasis placed on going the extra mile to exceed clients expectations by providing quality service, excellent value, and total satisfaction to ensure long-term dedication, loyalty, and results.

©2010.  Would you like to republish this article? You are free to do so as long as you include a link back to the full post, attributing the author, Lisa Salem of Monarch Virtual Assistance LLC.

 

7 Steps to Networking Success

I’ve been doing a lot of networking since starting my business. I typically attend three or more networking events every month, and sometimes more if I can fit it into my schedule!  I meet all types of business professionals, small business owners, and sales people. I’ve found that what makes me stand out from all the other people who are networking is I use the relationship marketing approach and follow up with each person I meet.   I created a follow up process that is cost-effective and doesn’t take up a lot of my time.  Here is what I do:

  1. When I get back to my office, or within 24 hours, I add each business card I received to my contacts management system, and mail each person a “nice to meet you” greeting card. (I use my Send Out Cards System to save time, which prints a personalized handwritten card, addresses the envelope, adds the postage, and mails it out for me, and an Excel Spreadsheet to keep track of my contact activity to stay organized).
  2. I mark my calendar to phone each new contact within one week to invite them to meet me for a cup of coffee or schedule a time that would be convenient for them to chat via phone for about 15 or 30 minutes to learn more about their business and how we might be able to help each other.
  3. I then add the contact to my social media platforms (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
  4. If I was unable to connect with them the first week, I send them an email the second week to follow up on my invite, and attempt to connect again.
  5. If a successful connection is made, after the meeting, I mail a thank you greeting card within 24 hours.
  6. I make it a point, after a meeting with any new contact, to try and give them a referral within 30 days.  I am not always successful in my efforts, but ideally I would like to make this happen each time.
  7. I then add the contact to my Nurture Marketing Program, which is a 6-12 month program designed to stay in touch with prospects every 30 days, whether it’s sending them a postcard or letter introducing a service idea, an article or news clipping that I think they might be interested in reading, an email with a link to a new blog post I wrote, or a phone call to see how business is doing and see if there is anything I can do to help.

The idea is to do anything that keeps you in front of your prospects on a consistent basis to build a relationship — and it should be something your prospects would find of value. Remember, people like to do business with people they know, like, and trust.  Keep in mind whether you attend one networking event a day, or one every two months, having a simple follow up system in place and using it on a consistent basis, will dramatically improve your networking results.

If you want to learn more about how to set up a follow up system for your business, or  need help implementing and maintaining your existing one, call me or email me to set up a complimentary consultation.

I would also welcome your comments about what you are doing currently in your business to keep in touch with clients and prospects and learn from you what has worked and what hasn’t in the past.

Author bio: Lisa Salem is a Professional Executive Virtual Assistant,  Nurture Marketing Virtual Assistant, and experienced Transcription Virtual Assistant.  As the President and Managing Member of Monarch Virtual Assistance LLC,  she has over 30 years of administrative and business management experience. Lisa works to promote the Virtual Assistance industry and to make it stand out as a true profession of excellence. Lisa loves helping her clients build successful businesses by taking the administrative tasks off their “to do” list so they can have more time to focus on the core business priorities that will generate income and accelerate business growth. Her style is easy going, yet focused, with emphasis placed on going the extra mile to exceed clients expectations by providing quality service, excellent value, and total satisfaction to ensure long-term dedication, loyalty, and results.

©2010.  Would you like to republish this article? You are free to do so as long as you include a link back to the full post, attributing the author, Lisa Salem of Monarch Virtual Assistance LLC.