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The “secret” to success with your New Year resolutions is …… START NOW.
(You are probably already considering the things you want to do and change in 2013…am I right?)
The key is to start now! “Striking while the iron is hot” – so to speak – by constructing a plan that will start immediately to (at least gradually) build to direct daily and weekly ACTIONS that will promote your goal achievement.
Here are some quick tips to help you on your way…
1) Start now – Plan your reward. Few things motivate like the promise of a reward. What’s even better?!? You can offer yourself a reward for even the “smallest” of accomplishments. Start now and consider how you will reward yourself TODAY for getting started.
2) Start now – Write it down, draw a picture, “pin” an interest…something. Take the proactive step of making your goal real by creating a visual impression of your “finish line” and anything you want and need to make it a reality.
3) Start now – Handle your business. This might mean waking up little earlier, taking shorter breaks during the day, or getting to bed a little later. (I advise against planning for all three at once…can you say “burn out”?!?). Identifying time is key component in your success. You can’t “make” time (we all have the same 24 hours a day), but you can prioritize your time. This may mean letting something go for a season, but you can strike a balance. Aligning your goals and action plans with the support of a good Coach can really help with this. (I’m accepting new coaching clients, by the way. Feel free to contact me, if you’re interested.)
4) Start now – Consider ways to track and measure your progress. Some measurements will be basic math. Others may be more subjective – but NO LESS VALUABLE or measurable. Say, you have a personal resolution to get healthier. You can track weight loss and muscle gain with scales that give you direct quantifiable results of your work. However, your success with your goal to get more rest and take time to indulge in mental health activities will only be measured by how you feel—which is unique and subjective – but measurable, nonetheless. Likewise, a professional goal to become a “better speaker” can very well be facilitated by specific action steps, with the results being numerically measured (increased # of booked speaking engagements, evaluation scores, or number of closed sales after presentations) and/or subjectively assessed (“I feel more comfortable speaking about my products or services than I did a month ago.”)
5) Start now – Encourage yourself. Starting the journey toward a new venture, a changed habit, or simply a renewed focus, can be daunting, but is almost always worth the effort. No matter the final outcome, you grow stronger, smarter, and more confident from the effort you apply.
6) START NOW!
Best Wishes for a strong finish of 2012 and A productive launch into 2013,
Part II: Four Warning Signs that Your Potential Client Isn’t Ready
Last week, I introduced the series “How to Recognize Good Client Potential in Yourself and Others”. In Part I, we took a look at key success ingredients for professionals who are looking to hire the support of a Consultant or Virtual Assistant. This week, in Part II, we’ll view the potential relationship from the eyes of a Contractor looking to land a contract with a professional needing assistance. I recommend reading Part I again and respectfully submit these 4 “red flag” tell-tale signs that warn of un-readiness on the part of your potential client.
1) Persistence is important when courting a prospect, but if your potential client repeatedly postpones scheduled exploratory meetings and preliminarily consultations, it may be an indication of un-readiness. Find a way to engage with this prospective client without dedicating time on your calendar. E-marketing and Social Media are great for this.
2) Overly cluttered office space, especially in home offices that don’t have clear barriers between personal and business work space. Unless assistance with organizing this space (and addressing the mind-set that lies behind the clutter) is part of the scope of work, this clutter is likely to be a significant hurdle when requiring the client to focus on new projects.
3) No budgetary awareness is another warning sign. An RFP may require that you submit a budget along with your proposal, but your client should know what “ballpark” they’re in when it comes to paying for your services and other expenses related to the project. Discussing full project budgets upfront may not be the preference of your potential client. If not, proceed with caution. If your proposed rate is accepted be sure to require enough information about remaining funds and allocation options as they relate to successful completion of your contracted project. For example, Big Rollers, Inc. may agree to pay your asking rate for an event planning project, but have no remaining funds for marketing and promotional materials, signage, necessary staff, etc. Be sure that your contract clearly addresses what expenses are covered in your proposed Statement of Work.
4) Watch out for UMTs (Uncategorized and Miscellaneous Tasks). Good Virtual Assistants are flexible and can adjust quickly on a moment’s notice to a new or redirected task. Great Virtual Assistants empower clients to establish task management schedules. If you are invited to offer virtual assistance to a client who forecasts a long-term relationship (especially those who say the length of the project term is dependent on “how well things work out”) ask about their willingness to provide tasks on a weekly basis. This doesn’t mean that you only communicate once a week, rather it allows you optimize your service with a weekly plan. If weekly (or daily) task lists are out of the question, consider why. If the reasons point to disorganized time/project management and addressing that challenge is not a part of your contracted service then, again, proceed with caution.
Thank you for joining us on this brief journey. I hope the “How to Recognize Good Client Potential in Yourself and Others” Series was helpful and empowering. Your comments are welcomed below.
In just a few weeks, everywhere you look will remind you of the good old “Twelve Days of Christmas.” Count downs for shopping, dieting, and even last minute pushes toward the resolutions we made at the beginning of the year will kick-off with revitalized excitement. As such, I am inspired to share a list of twelve “Holiday” productivity tips you may find useful.
‘Tis the season…Enjoy!
1- Start early with your Season’s Greetings. Holiday promotional items are usually ordered in late October/early November and worked into “Corporate Gift” campaigns and employee recognition parties in early December. So if you haven’t already, take a moment now to consider and decide upon promotional marketing tools. This strategy will keep your company in the forefront of your clients’ minds as they plan for their own Holiday activities and projects in the new year. (Don’t forget to send your own seasonal cards and gifts.)
2- Deck the Halls. If you can, take an objective look at your web site. If you cannot (sometimes it’s hard to be fair and objective on self-evaluations–many tend to be overly critical or too lenient when looking at their own work) solicit the assistance of a trusted member of your network. Where can you “spruce” up your web site to include timely information or promotions that remind your web traffic that there IS a person behind the screen? Give your site some life.
3- Wrap your gifts. Represent your company with pride. You may not be the biggest fish in the pond, but your products and services should be the best you have to offer. Be sure to “wrap” the gift of your company in the basics (at least) of professional presentation. Do you carry business cards with you? Are they up to date? Do you have a professional voicemail greeting on your business line? Do you own your domain name? Does your email address clearly reflect your name, your company, or your slogan? Presentation means everything.
4- “Do you see what I see?” Broaden your horizons (and your conversations) by reading local publications (even store flyers and circulars), industry journals, and other “cool” news. Long lines and festive spirits tend to be more prevalent during the holidays. You may find that your insight on the latest Google App, the potential downtown business merger, or the big sale on holiday décor at the boutique store in your neighborhood just might “break the ice” on your next business partnership. (Entrepreneurs stand in line too, you know…)
5- “Mingle sells, Mingle sells, Mingle all the way.” Okay, so it may be a corny play on words, but the idea is a good one. Yes, social media, virtual meetings, and cute emoticons are very helpful as we try to stay in touch with our friends and colleagues; but as the saying goes “there’s nothing like the real thing.” So accept (or send) an invitation or two, get out there, and share a few real “LOLs.” Carry plenty of your updated business cards, refresh your classic black suit with some festive accents and be sure to bring a thoughtful gift for your host. Remember though, unless it’s a “networking function” keep it light and enjoy the event.
6- Give back. Many successful ventures excel with the belief that you can increase your momentum for doing well, by doing “good.” Look around you. Who (person or organization) might benefit from a tithe of your time or talent? Be careful not to be too presumptuous when you consider who may “want” your “help,” but chances are you won’t have to look far. Note: Don’t be overly focused on recognition for your good deeds (pointedly seeking referrals, “free” advertisement, or promises of future partnership). Make a commitment, see the project through, and trust that good things will come back to you.
7- Give in (just a little). The holiday season usually arrives with a natural urge to wind down, relish the good times, and reflect. Chances are your business is built on a dream that integrates your expertise and enthusiasm to share what you know (or can do). The thing is, while we are quickly becoming reliant on technology and the automated processes that streamline our work, there is no substitute for the creative genius that lies within. Take a moment (plan it if you have to) to reconnect and refresh the inspiration that drives your business. New ideas are sure to follow.
8- “Sing a new song.” Elevator speeches are good and should be practiced for clarity and ease in delivery, but if you sound like a trained parrot, your hours of practice may backfire. Loosen up. Make your conversation (and your pitch) relevant. Remember, no one cares how much you know until they know how much you care. Try listening more than you speak.
9- Get it…write. (This is a good one year ‘round) According to several experts, including my favorite – C.J. Hayden, author of Get Clients Now – the most effective marketing tactics include utilizing your written words. Three of Hayden’s top four tactics include “direct contact,” “public speaking,” and “publicity writing.” Each of these centers on your writing. Your direct contact efforts will likely begin with an email. Good public speaking starts with a written speech or talking points. Publicity writing…well, it speaks for itself and you can, too. There is no reason NOT to share your own stories via your blog or even article submissions to local and national media. . Write on…
10- Spread “Holiday” Cheer. Connect a few dots in your web. As you cultivate your network, your referral can hold a value all its own. Scroll through your contact list, check your social media feeds, and listen carefully to the conversations going on around you. You may find that you hold the key to a major breakthrough for other professionals that you’ve developed a rapport with. (Revisit #6)
11- Try winterized Hide-n-Seek. Winter weather delays, cancelled meetings, and that natural hibernation instinct we fight all give way to good opportunities to stay inside (hide) and look into something new. These days, FREE webinars are everywhere. Not that all of them are worthy of your attention, but did I mention they are FREE and you don’t have to leave home to check them out? Another good indoor “seeking” activity is formal online classes. You may have to pay to enroll but the added value a new or updated certification will add as you go into a new year, may be priceless.
Last but not least…
12- Make a list and check it twice. (I couldn’t resist…) We all know the saying if you “fail to plan, you plan to fail.” There is a season for all things, and to me the holiday season represents the best of them all. I encourage you to make the 2010 Holiday season your best yet. Give – of and to – yourself. Re-focus your attention. Set new goals and plan for great things in the year to come.
Best Wishes and Seasons Greetings!