How to Follow Up with Leads After Networking Events

Faith Monsonby Faith Monson

You were a networking genius at your latest event, and as a result, you emerged with an impressive list of prospects. The work isn’t done, however — now you must establish further contact. These tips will help you follow up on your leads and build strong business relationships:

  • If you haven’t already, connect via LinkedIn.
  • Stay in touch by sending pertinent articles and other helpful information to your new contacts.
  • Arrange a coffee date, with the intention of further developing your business relationship.
  • Each meeting should in some way benefit your new contact so that he or she looks forward to future encounters.
  • If appropriate, establish a referral relationship. New connections can introduce you to valuable business groups and associations, which will further increase your rapidly-expanding list of contacts.

Your intention to follow up should be evident from the moment you introduce yourself to new contacts. All further meet-ups should be enjoyable, yet goal-oriented. Through carefully-planned follow-up meetings, you and your new contacts can build strong, mutually-beneficial business relationships.

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How to Prepare for Networking Events

Faith Monsonby Faith Monson

Networking success is dependent on intentional pre-event preparation. Make the most of your next networking event by following these easy steps:

  1. Determine who will be at the event — and who is worth your time. If a list of attendees is not available, call the event planner for more information. A volunteer session at the check-in table may grant you greater insight into the identities of the other attendees.
  2. Look up event attendees on LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social networks. You may discover something interesting that can lead to a great conversation and an even better professional connection.
  3. Create a detailed plan for how you will approach each encounter. Clarify your goals ahead of time. Do you require specific information, or is a more casual conversation preferable?
  4. Always exchange business cards, even if you are currently unemployed, semi-retired, or otherwise in the midst of a professional transition.
  5. Be inclusive and introduce targeted attendees to other professionals in your network. People will notice your generosity and may reciprocate by sending great leads your way.
  6. Listen closely while talking to new people. Immediately following the event, jot down notes about your discussions.

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Why Networking Should Not Mimic a Piñata Game

Faith Monsonby Faith Monson

Many professionals’ networking efforts look a lot like a chaotic game of piñata, with people blindly swinging from one encounter to another. These individuals do not create organized plans for the networking events they attend, but rather, haphazardly approach others in hopes of suddenly sparking random connections. This approach is akin to going after a piñata while blindfolded. After several swings of the stick, success is possible, but without a blindfold, it’s far easier to knock down the piñata and get the prize within.

Networking event attendees often blindfold themselves by failing to scour lists of other professionals in attendance. Others fail to look up the schedule of events or learn about the featured panelists. In an equivalent game of piñata, these individuals would have a blindfold and no stick — and virtually no chance of making essential connections.

The next time you attend a networking event, avoid the piñata approach. Prepare for the event by finding a list of attendees and learning about them via LinkedIn and other social networks. By equipping yourself with the knowledge needed to make a good connection, you’ll be better positioned to score the real prize: solid leads.

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Difficult Employees: How To Rid the Workplace of Toxic Influences

Faith Monsonby Faith Monson

After weeks, months, or even years of putting up with workplace troublemakers, you’ve decided to rid your work environment of all toxic influences. Unfortunately, handling a difficult employee is easier said than done — and this is especially true when it comes time to fire problematic individuals. Difficult employees are often champions of manipulation; without careful preparation and record keeping, you may find it very difficult to rid the workplace of their influence.
 
Keep Detailed Records
Difficult employees often form close relationships with upper management. Detailed records will help you show those who have fallen under the difficult employee’s spell just how toxic that individual can be. Write a thorough description of every incident as soon as it occurs, noting the date, time, and any other pertinent details. 
 
Avoid the Temptation to Make Peace or Rehabilitate

This is not the time to be a do-gooder. Your attempts at rehabilitating difficult employees will only result in increased frustration among more productive team members. Likewise, attempting to keep the peace is a bad idea, as you will, at best, mask the situation and allow it to blow up later on.
 
Maintain Full Transparency

All employees — including those prone to causing trouble — should be aware of workplace policies. They should know that open communication is encouraged, but they should also recognize that the rules apply to everyone. It may be tempting to maintain the status quo, but the more you stall, the more problems difficult employees will cause. Don’t let troublemakers destroy the productive workplace you’ve worked so hard to create.
 

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How Difficult Employees Undermine Your Work as Manager

Faith Monsonby Faith Monson

Many otherwise effective managers make the mistake of thinking they can successfully rehabilitate difficult employees. Unfortunately, some employees are simply beyond help. Workplace troublemakers thrive on chaos, using the following tactics to reduce your power as a manager:

Building Relationships with Upper Management

Often skilled in the art of manipulation, difficult employees can turn on the charm like a faucet — and get those in positions of power on their side.

Create Workplace Drama
Difficult employees thrive on drama. The more uncomfortable they can make you, the better. They will happily escalate seemingly minor issues, diverting other employees’ focus from the task at hand.

Foster a Negative Environment

Difficult employees aim to make their supervisors and all other employees feel uncomfortable. They use a variety of tactics to accomplish this end, but the result is always a negative and divided workplace.
Because difficult employees are so eager to undermine your work, they must be dealt with before the workplace becomes a toxic environment. Keep an eye out for needless drama and do not hesitate to hold difficult employees accountable.

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Difficult Employees: What Constitutes ‘Difficult’?

Faith Monsonby Faith Monson

Difficult employees are rampant in the workforce, and yet, many managers struggle to determine which employees are difficult and which merely require a little additional guidance. Struggling to identify difficult employees? Look for these characteristics:

A Complete Lack of Respect

From chronically late to work to defiantly refusing the most basic of requests, difficult employees make it clear that they have no respect for authority — unless they think that they can get something by courting the favor of your superiors.

A Desire for Power
Difficult employees are always in the midst of power struggles with their superiors and coworkers. They will do whatever is necessary to gain the upper hand.

Desperate for the Spotlight

Difficult employees who fail to garner the power they desire will quickly make their disappointment known. Although power is their chief prerogative, they will happily settle for time in the limelight. Unfortunately, this desperation for attention harms their productivity and creates a toxic work environment.

Ultimately, a difficult employee prefers to put their own best interests above those of the workplace. Every issue, no matter how small, is about them. They will not rest until they have undermined you and destroyed what was once a cooperative and peaceful work environment.

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Ready for a Fresh Start?

Are you ready for a fresh start? Well, the truth is – so am I. This year, 2016, marks DreamSpinner Communications 13th year in business. Over the course of more than a decade, I’ve reinvented the company’s focus several times, and we’re about to do it again.Feb 2015 043

Fresh Start Success: How to Reinvent Your Work, Reimagine Your Life and Reignite your Passion is our new book for 2016. Forty-two stories about incredible people – just like you – from all different industries who recreated themselves and their careers from a brand new, successful, Fresh Start.

GM-FSS-Amazon-2Here are the amazing entrepreneurs profiled in Fresh Start Success: Lauren Randolph, Oksana Gritsenko, Debbi Dachinger, Lisa Manyon, Lisa Jendza, Tamara Green, Sheri Fink, Stephen Hobbs, Barbara Edie, Wendy Woodworth, Dr. Cha-Zay, Danielle Ratliff, Christine Bove, Grace Kelly, Sheevaun Moran, Dawn Fleming, Gail Watson, Teresa DeGrosbois, Sharon McRill, Lisa Woodie, Christine Hassler, Marla Goldberg, Amber Alle, Poonam Gupta, Karen Kessler, Sherri Richards, Lisa Minnini, Patryk Weznowski, Debbie Peterson, Melissa Darnay, Dr. Susan Sklar, Katana Abbott, Pierette Simpson, Wendy Ida, Mike Jaffe, Jo Dibblee, LeeAnn Shattuck, my amazing co-blogger Faith Monson, as well as my story and that of my husband and business partner, Larry Martin.

Maybe you recognize some of those names, and maybe you don’t—yet! Over the course of this year, you’ll get to know these fantastic, visionary people through this newsletter, this blog, and of course, through the Fresh Start Success book, which will be published later this year.

When I interviewed the Fresh Start Success folks, I asked everyone the same nineteen questions. What amazed me was how different each person’s path was, yet how many things they had in common although they are from different countries, belong to various age groups, and work in a wide range of professions.

101They told me what they trained to do, what career path they set out to follow, and what they loved—as well as what made them crazy. They remembered what the last straw was that made them decide to make a big change, how they got the courage to take a risk, and what they did to prepare for their Fresh Start Success. They were candid about what went well, where they ran into setbacks—and how they overcame both obstacles and nay-sayers.

You’ll be surprised in the variety of answers to ‘how long did it take to become successful’, and you’ll probably see yourself in some of the ways these folks decided what was most important to them as they reinvented themselves and their careers. You’ll find out what they learned the hard way, what attributes they consider key to a successful reinvention, and how reimagining their work and life made them a different person. You’ll even find out what kind of superpower they’d like to have!

Here are a couple of things that really made an impression on me.

• Although all of my interviewees consider their reinvention successful and most are making as much or more as they did before their shift, the decision to change wasn’t about the money.
• Despite the setbacks and the hard work necessary to start over (sometimes in a completely different area of expertise or even a different country), there were no regrets. Every single person talked about how essential personal branding and marketing was to achieve their Fresh Start Success. I’ll have more to share with you as we get closer to the launch date.

In the meantime, why not get thinking about how you can make 2016 your year for a Fresh Start Success? Ask yourself these questions to get started:

1. What do I love about what I’m doing now? What makes me crazy?
2. What do I feel I was born to do? How close am I do making that happen?
3. If I could do anything else for a living, what would I do? If it’s not what you’re doing now, why not? What would it take to make the jump?
4. What is your personal brand? How you are marketing yourself to make the leap to your next success?

If you feel stuck on any of those questions, Larry and I would be glad to coach you through the process. Watch for some all-new Fresh Start Success programs and packages coming to help YOU reinvent your work, reimagine your life and reignite your passion!

Choose to LIve Meme

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Creating PR Opportunites with Blogs, Radio and TV

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

Blogs are another often-overlooked opportunity for news. Bloggers, like newsletter editors, are often business people who are sharing insights on topics related to their area of expertise. They blog to discuss ideas, not for the purpose of reporting news or promoting other people’s products—but if you approach them right, they may find your information to be in line with their purpose, and feature you, your comments or your services. Blogs also feature Web audio and video and digital photos, but the material must be compelling for its content and not heavily promotional.

What’s the trick to approaching online newsletter editors and bloggers? Respect. These gatekeepers don’t see themselves as traditional reporters, and they usually don’t have a formal journalism background. They are driven by a need to share helpful information, and they’re often very protective of their readers. The key to winning over newsletter editors and bloggers is to create a relationship first, and then ask if there’s a need to supply content. You can begin that relationship by sending an email about a post or issue that you particularly liked, or by becoming a regular, positive commenter to posts and issues online. Make sure your real name, company and email address are included in all of your comments. Write comments that support and amplify what the editor or blogger has written, and make your input thoughtful and meaningful. If you have the opportunity to meet the editor or blogger at an event, make it a point to introduce yourself.

Ease your way into offering highly targeted, infrequent and on-the-mark news or guest posts. If you get a “yes,” don’t abuse the privilege—it’s not an invitation to spam them with everything you’ve got. Carefully nurtured, these vehicles can be a very powerful and credible way to spread your news online.

Broadcast and satellite radio aren’t your only options to be a featured guest. Internet radio sites have sprung up all over the Web and some established shows reach tens of thousands (or millions) of dedicated listeners. Sites like BlogTalkRadio feature talk radio shows that are delivered via the Internet. Since these shows have none of the overhead of broadcast radio, they can focus on highly specific topics, niche audiences and targeted interests that deliver a valuable focused audience. Don’t worry too much about the size of their listenership—if the show delivers your ideal target audience, even a few hundred dedicated listeners might produce a nice spike in sales in exchange for a few minutes of your time. Consider subscribing to RadioGuestList.com’s regular emails highlighting which Internet radio shows are looking for guests.

Podcasts are very similar to Internet radio. Listeners can visit the podcast site to hear the show online, download to an MP3 player, or subscribe so that they never miss a future show. Most podcasts are also distributed (often for free) via iTunes, making them available to a broad audience. The majority of Internet radio shows also offer a podcast for listeners who did not catch the show live.

Podcasts and Internet radio shows often have a page that describes how to contact the host and pitch yourself as a guest. Make sure to read and follow these guidelines if you want to be considered. Think carefully about your suggested topic, to make sure it fits the audience and has the ability to inform and entertain. Position yourself as an expert, and include a (very short) bio to support your credibility. For a great ebook on how to pitch yourself to radio hosts, I recommend Wayne Kelly’s OnAirPublicity.com.

Online publicity opportunities abound, but they require the same respect and professional approach you would accord to traditional media. Because the Internet never sleeps, online media creators have an insatiable need for news, information, interviews, product/book news and multi-media, but it must meet the needs of their very targeted audiences. Take the time to approach these outlets right and your news could rocket to the top of the search engine results.

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Set Your Sights on Multi-media Publicity

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

In today’s online PR and marketing world, your opportunities for promotion go far beyond newspapers, magazines, TV and radio. Some people believe that online media is somehow inferior to “traditional” media. Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, online media is gradually supplanting many traditional forms of media, such as printed newspapers, due to cost constraints and changes in consumer taste and consumption patterns. Ignore online media at your peril—it’s definitely the wave of the future.

Most newspapers and magazines now have some form of online presence. Some permit the general public to read all or most of their contents, while others offer expanded and premium content for subscribers only. Realize that free content reaches a much broader audience than the publication’s subscription base. That’s really good for you, and for your press release, because you gain two important advantages: a larger readership and an online mention that boosts your search engine presence.

As publications move online (or new online-only publications are created), they are no longer limited by the costs of traditional printing. Adding one or one hundred new pages online has a negligible cost. The 24/7 nature of the Internet news cycle also puts editors under pressure to constantly update their sites or lose “eyeballs” to sites with fresher news. That means that newspapers and magazines must add additional online content beyond what fit in the physical publication in order to compete.

Editors need more news content, more articles, more lifestyle features, more events, and more content—helpfully supplied in large part by press releases and article pitches from companies like yours. The additional benefit of online content is the ability to include a video or audio snippet, or to share color photos of an event or product. Consumers like multi-media, and so do editors. If you can supply video, audio and digital photos, make sure to mention this at the bottom of the release (either embed links or add a line that says “photos, video and audio available upon request”).

Online newsletters are also fertile ground for press releases and article suggestions. All kinds of business newsletters are posted online, uploaded to Facebook, and linked to Twitter in addition to being sent out to permission-based lists of thousands of readers. The editors of these newsletters are constantly looking for news, interviews, products or books to review, opinion pieces and industry information, as well as quips and quotes.

Where do you find these newsletters? Everywhere. Your clients, vendors and suppliers create some of these newsletters, and they also can recommend good produced by other businesses. Trade and professional associations have online newsletters, as do Chambers of Commerce, membership organizations and industry thought-leaders. Few of these newsletter producers can create as much content as they need by themselves. Today’s online newsletters can also feature Web audio and video as well as digital photos. Newsletter editors are open to good sources, but wary of being deluged by press releases that don’t hit the mark.

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Creating the Magic Media List for Your Topic

by Gail Z. Martin excerpted from 30 Days to Social Media Success

As you’re invited to be interviewed or be a guest blogger, create a spreadsheet of reporters and key contacts. This will come in handy as you ramp up your public relations efforts. I would suggest building your media list in a spreadsheet like Microsoft Excel to make it easy to view and update. Here are the key elements your media list should include:

  • Reporter/blogger/host name
  • Contact email (best if it is directly to the reporter/host and not a general “info” email)
  • Phone number for follow up calls
  • Web site
  • Notes to help you target the right news to the right person.

It is absolutely essential that you have a name for the reporter/blogger/host you want to reach. Nothing turns off a reporter more than to get an email addressed to “Dear Sir or Madam” or “Dear Editor”. (By the way, unless it is the only contact person named and it’s a very small publication, don’t send your news to the publication’s editor. Find the individual reporter/blogger who handles that topic.) Remember that successful PR isn’t about blasting out releases to the largest list possible; instead, it’s about cultivating win-win relationships with gatekeepers and consumers who share your information because it is valuable to their audiences.

Without a contact email, you won’t be able to send your press release. I’m not a big fan of email forms on Web sites. I much prefer a real email address. However, if your only choice is a contact form and the site is a good match for your topic, send a preliminary email explaining your need and ask to whom you should send your information. Assuming someone is minding the store, you should get a response directing you to some other email used for press releases.

Phone numbers should be used sparingly. I’ve had many professional reporters and radio/TV hosts tell me that it takes a minimum of seven contacts to get a reporter’s attention. The majority of these contacts should come via email to be less intrusive. However, if you have sent your release and followed up several times via email, and it is an important newsworthy item (not just important to you, but to the target audience), then it’s OK to make a brief follow-up call. Give your name and company name, and no more than a one-sentence recap of the release, mentioning that you had emailed it and wanted to make sure it was received. Offer to re-send it if they did not receive it, and leave your name, phone number and email address. Don’t beg or threaten or go into sales mode. If your news appeals to them, they’re likely to call. If not, just assume that it wasn’t a good fit this time, and try again on the next release.

Visit the Web site to make sure that your topic hasn’t been recently featured, and to get a feel for the style and tone. Review what the site covers and the slant it takes to confirm that it is a good fit for your audience and this particular release. You don’t have to send every release to everyone on your media list. Build a reputation for being a good news source by only sending releases to the people most interested in the topic, and avoid cluttering up the inbox of reporters who won’t be interested (they’ll remember, and not in a good way).

In the “notes” section, jot information to help the next round of releases be more successful. For example, find out how often the site/blog updates with new material. If you missed the deadline this time, make a note of it for next time. If you have a conversation with a reporter/blogger via email or phone, write down what you learned about upcoming topics being researched and things they don’t cover at all. This will help you send the right material next time, which builds trust and credibility.

If the site has information that documents their target reader or listener, review it, but don’t believe everything you read. Unless the information is formally audited, there’s no way to know for sure. However, the way the site describes its audience should make sense given what you see on the site itself. Don’t base your choices on age and income alone. Be on the lookout for sites that really focus on your niche.

For really big news, send the release to a national audience. Compiling the list yourself is a large and time-consuming task. Media people change jobs frequently, so your list may be outdated by the next time you need it. I suggest paying the money to send out a national release via sites like PR Newswire. These sites are in business to send out releases successfully, and they have the manpower to keep their lists updated.

Remember that online PR must meet the needs of the consumer as well as the reporter. Make the news valuable enough to both move the reader to action and encourage the reader to share the information with his or her network of friends and followers. Focus on user benefit (without going into sales language) rather than listing features. If you have a special discount, promotion or bonus, make sure to mention it. Provide a link to the product page (which should have a “buy now” link) and not just to your home page. Make it easy for a consumer to consume your product!

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