Monthly Archives: February 2013

Are You An Expert? Communicate Directly With Journalists For Free!

ProfNet Connect provides real-time interaction for experts, journamicrophone2lists, bloggers and other communications professionals. This proactive approach to media relations puts you, the expert, in front of the tens of thousands of journalists registered with PR Newswire for Journalists, where their searches can take them directly to your profile.

In addition to strengthening ties with traditional media, ProfNet Connect can help you expand your visibility to new audiences, including academic researchers, consumers, event planners and more.

Engage with key influencers on today’s hottest topics via blogs, live chat, forums, comments and more. Access the latest media buzz to help you adjust your media pitches for a higher degree of relevancy and increased media pick-up.

With ProfNet Connect, you can post extensive expert profiles, including video, photos and other files such as white papers, which are then instantly available to the media and indexed by all major search engines. Increase your expert visibility by tagging your profile with keywords that influencers are likely to search for, making it even easier for the media to find the sources they need.

The best part is, it’s FREE! Click here to learn more.

ProfNet Queries
ProfNet sends daily media opportunities, called queries, from journalists, authors and non-journalist professionals (e.g. meeting planners, bloggers, academic and corporate researchers, and publishers) directly to you. Organized by industry or subject, queries are sent to you by e-mail. You review journalists’ requests with detailed topic and contact information and respond when there’s a fit. It’s a highly interactive and efficient way to gain visibility for your small business and experts, monitor the interests of thousands of news organizations and cultivate new media relationships.

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To Blog or Not To Blog…

One of services that SASS offers is assistance with your social marketing set up and maintenance.  A critical part of that marketing is blogging.   So, why should you blog?

It gives your comblogpany a more intimate way to communicate with your audience.  Your website is probably pretty much strictly business, which not only means it is professional, but can mean a bit dry.    Okay you say, I already post to Facebook.   Facebook is more for quick bites of information, and should be more casual.  Having an active blog, with fresh content on a regular basis, provides a voice for your company in a range that is in between Facebook and your website.  It also makes your site more interesting to visit.  If you’re blogging about skiing for example, you’ll have both budding and experienced skiers coming back to your site to read your latest post about new equipment, techniques and information on great locations, etc.   It also provides a medium for in-depth discussion with your audience.  You can use it to communicate information about your industry, new products, promotions, value propositions, mission statement and accomplishments; anything at all.  No one is going to view everything on a 15 page website, but they will peruse a blog.

It’s a cost-effective way to reach your audience.   Think of how many times you typed in a subject to search, and wound up being directed to someone’s blog.    There are many free blogging tools out there.  The biggest investment will be your time in maintaining the freshness of your blog.  Don’t have time to maintain a blog you say?   I happen to have to know of a certain virtual assistant that can help you out with that…

It will boost traffic to your site.  Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is what drives the bots (webcrawler for example) from the search engines to your blog and your website.   SEO is the tool that gets, and keeps, the bots checking out your blog every few days to see if anything has been updated.  The more you post new content to your blog, the more often the bots will be crawling on your site and can gain you a higher ranking.   The higher you rank, the more likely people are to visit your site.   Think of it this way, you type in a subject to search in Google and you see that there are over 20 pages of search results.   Do you usually go to page 10?  If you’re like me, you probably only look at 1-3 pages at most, and then change your search term if you can’t find what you’re looking for.  The more people find you, the better it is for your business.

It allows you more control over your messaging and drives home your point of view.  Controlling your messaging can be difficult.  Having a company blog where you publish knowledge and information, allows you to control the message you want to send to your audience.  It also allows you to respond to questions and potential issues in a timely manner, as well as insures that your customer-base is getting reliable and trustworthy answers to their questions.   While you can never fully control what people say about your company on-line, a blog can assist in getting your message out the way you want it communicated.

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What Qualities Make An Administrative Assistant Stand Out From The Crowd?

Does it all

Think anyone can handle the job of an administrative assistant?   Think again.   With the state of economy, assistants are being asked to handle increased workloads and wear many more hats than they have in the past.    For larger companies, they consistently perform 2-3 different job functions, and the longer they have been in their position, the more responsibility they carry.   Administrative assistants for smaller companies have always had this burden, but usually at a reduced pace.

Whether you are looking to hire a full-time, part-time or virtual assistant, here some qualities that you must actively look for during the hiring process:

Reliability:

Because of the amount of responsibility placed on most administrative assistants, it’s important that they are both reliable and dependable.   You need to know that your assistant will first, be there when you need them, and that they can be counted upon when an urgent situation arises (a weekly occurrence in most office for which I’ve worked).    You also need to know that their work will be reliable when it comes to day-to-day work; you need to be able to trust that things are getting done correctly without having to micromanage.

Communication and Customer Service Skills

Communication, interpersonal relationship and listening skills are one of the top desired qualities in an administrative assistant. Your assistant will likely be the first point of contact for clients/customers and workers.   A great administrative assistant knows that she is in the customer service business, and reacts to external customers the same way he/she does to internal co-workers.  In order to reduce unnecessary pressure and interruptions, a great assistant should be able to manage your time by handling questions or concerns so you can run your business with minimal disruption.  By the same token, your assistant should be able to recognize when issues arise that do require your immediate attention.   Again, this sounds easy, but can be challenging when confronted with clients or workers who are upset, confused or unhappy.  Your assistant should be able to listen, interpret and react appropriately.  In addition, your assistant should be able to accurately relay information.  Internal and external experiences with your administrative assistant are a reflection on you.

Organizational and Time Management Skills:

Stating the obvious here… If you are looking to hire an assistant, it’s likely because you have too much to do on your own and are very busy.  You are looking for someone to help alleviate some of the stress that comes with day-to-day operations and handle a multitude of responsibilities.  Prioritization and organization go hand in hand.   If your assistant cannot prioritize, chances are that they are not the best at organizing either.  You need to look for someone that can keep track of multiple projects and reprioritize as necessary – whether it’s booking meetings, filing, or starting to plan for an important event 6 months down the road, they need to have a handle on their assigned tasks.

You also need to be assured that your assistant can find information quickly.   It’s wise to ask a potential assistant how they set up their computer filing system.  If they don’t have a system, then that’s a pretty good indicator that they will have challenges finding important files or data when needed.  Your assistant should not only keep their time and work organized, but should be assisting you in the same way.

Being consistently late to meetings or phone calls is also a red flag.  Not only is it a show of disrespect for others’ time, but it’s a reflection on their time management, dependability as well as customer service skill sets.

Confidentiality:

Administrative assistants are present during important discussions, client deals, as well as development plans for your business.  Being privy to this abundance of information comes with great responsibility.   A great assistant knows not to disclose information regarding client or business matters, as well as not to weigh in office griping or gossip.   It can be lonely not being a part of the top team in terms of operational direction, as well as not really being one of the “workers”.   A great assistant understands this balance act and comports his/herself appropriately.

 

Lora Zibman

http://www.SoutheasternAdmin.com

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GET IN GEAR FOR THE NEW YEAR! FIND NEW WAYS TO BE MORE PRODUCTIVE

When’s your most productive time, early morning or after dinner? Do you listen to music while working? Does working out in the morning increase your mindset for the day?

Here are some online applications to get you more productive and working more efficiently for the New Year. Note that not all are free.

 

Social Media and Web Tools:

Kippt – using lots of services and apps? No problem. Sync your favorite bookmarked links from other services to Kippt and make them searchable. You simply share them as public streams and engage in an amazing feed of content in return.

Zootool –another bookmarking tool. Organize and share your favorite images, videos, documents and links from all over the web. Super easy and visual.

Slice – if you make a lot of online purchases (business and personal), this will be a handy way keep track of your receipts. You can also receive notifications so you know when a package is set to hit your door, receive price alerts to save you money, plus more.

IFTTT (If This, Then That)– really cool program that automates all sorts of tasks across the web and even offline. An example would be if someone posts to your Facebook account, you receive a text message; or Post a Picture Tweet every time I add a photo to Instagram.

Gabi – makes Facebook easier to read. Instead of displaying everything, it only shows you the best (pictures with the most likes, statuses with the most engagement, etc.)

RebelMouse – All your social media activity can be viewed on a single URL which will allow your followers to see everything on a single page – wow!

 

Personal/Business Organization and Timesavers:

Trello – lets you organize anything easily, from life goals and to-do lists to group projects. Add images, checklists, due dates, attachments, etc.

Pipedrive – an amazing tool to keep track of sales, moving you along a pipeline to close those deals.

TextExpander – Save text snippets and have them expand as you type certain words (similar to using macros). Very simple and will save you a lot of time if you type the same content or frequently.

Clear – if your life is one big mess of Post-Its and scraps of paper, this super simple list app might be just what you need.

Astrid – available for iphone and android, this provides a really easy way to keep on top of all you have to do, and share it with your family and co-workers if you want.

WorkFlowy – another great “to-do” list app that is taking on steam. Everything is part of a single giant list and then each item can have sub-lists under it, and each of those sub-items can have their own nested lists, and so on. You don’t have to open a page for each new category, and it’s great for collaborating with others.

Prismatic – use it on your computer or iPhone. This tool learns the subjects you like, and then gathers articles from your social streams all in one place.

Instapaper – don’t have time to read an article right now? This tool will allow you to easily save it so you can read it later. This way, you won’t just forget about, misfile it, or skim through.

 

Record those Lightbulb moments:

MindMeister – a really amazing solution to help you to brainstorm your most important tasks and capture them as mind maps.

Dragon Dictation – do you think better while speaking things out, but can’t write them down fast enough? Here’s an awesome app that does it for you. Simply record your voice and receive it back as transcribed text.

 

Small Business Customer Support:

HelpScout – do you have more than one person handling CS? HelpScout provides a shared inbox, where you can reply to emails easily as a team.

SupportBee – similar to HelpScout, this simple email support tool comes with custom snippets and lots of options to add data about your customers.

Skitch – is a screenshot tool from Evernote that is very and lets you make annotated screen captures on the spot and send to your users. It definitely helps explain solutions better visually. Now how to send this file to your customer?

Cloudapp – use this with Skitch. Drag any “skitch’d” page onto Cloudapp to have screenshots with links available in seconds. But what if your customer still doesn’t get it?

UserSnap –combining Cloudapp and Skitch, this tool lets your users send you screenshots (and vice versa) without having to install any tools.

Olark – provides live chat availability on your site and ranges from $15-$250/month depending upon the # of operators.

Desk.com – This is an amazing all in one customer support app. It helps you connect with your customers wherever you might be.

 

Fitness and Health: A healthy body will definitely increase your efficiency and productivity. Plus, you’ll look hot!

RunKeeper – with GPS tracking for route and pace measurement, you can easily tracking your workouts, measure your progress and improve the quality of your fitness.

Nike+ FuelBand – set personal goals, access coaching tips, find and share routes, challenge friends and tell the world how you’re doing – track all your activity and compare results over time. It’s a bit pricey for the fuel band, but if you’re seriously motivated, this may push you further.

Couch to 5k – a simple running plan to get new runners off the couch and running 3 miles in just two months. Each session takes about 30 minutes, three times a week, which is recommended by numerous studies for optimum fitness!

Nexercise – an iPhone app that uses games and social media to make fitness more fun and rewarding. Measure your workouts to earn virtual medals and rewards as you go. The more you work out, the more likely you are to earn a Nexercise grand prize.

Habit List – Habits are powerful because you just do them. For some people it might only take 15 days to become a habit, for others it might take 6 months. If you want to hit the gym three times a week, this app can keep you motivated.

Sound Sleeping – definitely not for working hours, but a good night’s sleep will make you more productive. If you like to fall asleep to music, this will help you relax and fall asleep faster.

 

More Articles on Productivity:

The 10 Laws of Productivity

7 Things Highly Productive People Do

Ask The Entrepreneurs: 16 Ways to Master Your Work-Life Balance as an Entrepreneur

10 Bad Habits You Need to Break to Be More Productive

10 Weekly Ten Minute Practices to Boost Work Productivity

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What The Heck Is A Pivot Table And What Can It Do For Me?

Being organized means having the ability to find your information quickly, and to be able to analyze it in meaningful ways to your business in real time.

Having never taken a “course” in Excel, I still think of myself as a superuser.  My tutelage has been through necessity as an admin and business analyst, and I have used the program for over 15 years.

You can use Excel to do just about everything; from organizing your contacts, forecasting and graphing sales, to having all of your photographs listed and linked in a single location!   Excel is also useful for uploading information into other programs (Vertical Response, Constant Contact, SalesForce, Outlook, QuickBooks, etc.) so it is wise to keep all of your data in a single source.

A Pivot Table is a fabulous Excel filtering tool which allows you to slice up data in your spreadsheet in a dynamic format.   Say you just want to see the listing of clients who’s contracts expire in March, 2013, or you want to find out how many sales of photo albums you made in 2010 to Realtors located in Alpharetta; you can filter through your data in seconds rather than sorting the entire listing.  You can also have multiple tables to view information as you need it and then graph that data with a couple of clicks.   Any updates you make to the data in your spreadsheet are also automatically updated to your graphs and tables.

Since it’s not very practical to explain how to create a Pivot table in text format, click on the picture below to go to YouTube to see the video covering the basics of Pivot Tables.

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Happy Filtering!

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Keepin’ It Local!

Be sure to promote your favorite businesses in the 2013 My Forsyth Favorites campaign.

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Secrets to Finding Cheap and Free Labor

Thanks to one of my networking friends, I was introduced to a great new Meet Up group, the Atlanta Business Academy for Women, run by Belinda Mays.  I really enjoyed this networking event as it was just not the regular meet and greet, but there was actual valuable content imparted.

Have to admit that I was initially intrigued because the title of the meeting: “The secrets to finding a full staff of cheap and free labor”.  While Southeastern Admin is not free  (sorry to let you know) or cheap (in terms of the quality offered), I thought the business owners who were interested in this topic and attending the meeting might also be interested in my services – Capitalist that I am.

I came away with some good information that every small business owner could use.  Belinda points out that all of us have “chores” that could/should be outsourced so that you can stay focused on what’s important to your business.  Some of these include:  Affiliate Program Setup, Blog Content, Bookkeeping, Budgeting/Forecasting, Data Entry, Lead Generation, Event Planning, Email Campaigning, Research, etc.

Others are more task based and involve technical skills at a certain level:  Website Design, Graphic Designing, Animation Creation, Photography, Ghost Writing, Branding and Publicity, etc.  For the more technical skill sets, you could set up an internship program!   However, it must be a win-win for both you, the business owner receiving free/cheap labor, and the intern, receiving ownership and credit for the project, and allowing them to further hone their craft.

Make sure that your intern is also getting benefit from the experience.

Make sure that your intern is also getting benefit from the experience.

Remember that as a small business owner, you must compete for interns with the likes of Home Depot, Coca-Cola and Baker McKenzie.  Your posting for intern position should be professional and make your intern want to work for your company.  Go online to Monster or CareerBuilder and look at similar postings for paid positions.  Make sure to list specifics for the internship:  how long will the position be required;  the degree they are pursuing and/or necessary skills required; and is it paid or unpaid.

Does your intern need to come to your place of business?   There are plenty of ways to connect via phone, the internet, web meetings, etc., so don’t limit yourself to local colleges and universities.   Some good online posting sites are: Internmatch.com, Internships.com and rsinternships.com.   Does your project involve multiple facets?  You might need more than one intern to complete the project (i.e., a website designer, a graphic designer and a marketing major).

During the interview process there are some important steps to remember to find the quality intern you require.  The answers to these questions will build to filter out the candidates that will not be a good match for your needs.

  • First provide a brief overview of you and your company’s services.  Before explaining the position in depth, find out what their career goals are and what they hope to gain from the experience.   Do their goals fit in with your overall requirements?
  • Next ask them what assignments they need to fulfill their goals.   Again, do these assignments fit in with your requirements?
  • If their goals and assignments fit in with your needs, now you can begin to detail the duties, and tie them in with their goals, ensuring that your candidate sees the benefit in working for you.  Find out how many hours they can dedicate to your project each week and when they can be available for project review meetings.   Again, you want to create a win-win situation, allowing them flexibility so that they can work efficiently and want to complete the project at no or little cost to you.
  • If everything is a fit, ask them if they would like to be considered for the position and make sure to send them your intern program contract.   This contract should include:  contact information of all parties, term dates, compensation (if any), duties, reporting instructions, location and scheduling (onsite or virtual and expected work hours), any equipment required for them to complete the assignment (are you providing any, or are they expected have their own), and a Nondisclosure agreement that will be signed by all parties (don’t forget this crucial step).

The way you treat the interns is critical to the win-win deal; do not expect them to pick up your cleaning or go get your lunch, treat them as though they were an actual employee (just without the salary).

Think about offering bonuses, based on their completing certain tasks.   Belinda lets her interns choose their own title.  How great of a draw is that?  Imagine listing on your resume that you were the Marketing Director for a company while attending college?  If you are a small business, and you wish to delegate all of your marketing programs to your intern, then this would in actuality be an accurate title.

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