Monthly Archives: April 2013

400 North Board of Realtors Trade Expo – Had A Great Time!

I wanted to thank all those who stopped by to see me at the 400 North Board of Realtors 4th Annual Trade Expo at the Forsyth Conference Center last Thursday.

2013-04-25 400 North Board of Realtor2

Lora Zibman – Southeastern Admin
and my favorite Realtor,
Marie Dinsmore – The Dinsmore Real Estate Team

I had a great time, and enjoyed seeing old friends and meeting new ones.  The Board did a terrific job of organizing the event, and everything went flawlessly.

I also wanted to congratulate Rob Petit, Realtor for Maximum One Executive Realtors.  Rob won two hours of virtual administrative support from Southeastern Admin.

Last, thank you to Julie with MyForsyth Magazine for supplying me with this picture.  I was so busy, I forgot to take any!

Happy selling all my realtor friends!

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LinkedIn InMail Messages That Get Results

I found this posting on Ere.net.    Great advice here so, as always, thought I’d share!

LinkedIn InMail Messages That Get Results

by David Anderson  Apr 11, 2013, 5:30 am ET

linked-in

A common mistake I see LinkedIn users making is not keeping InMail and invitations personal. In other words, don’t use InMail as another direct marketing message. It shouldn’t feel like another piece of spam for cheap prescription meds. If it does, you’re doing it wrong.

LinkedIn with its InMail tool does a good job of allowing you to create targeted, meaningful messages and save them as templates for tracking and future use. The following list will help you craft messages that get results.

I commonly get over 35% response rates on messages I send.

  1. Write a compelling subject line.
  2. Don’t assume too much. I’ve even written something like, “Forgive me if I’m missing the mark here…”  Be a little bit vulnerable.
  3. Ask for help. LinkedIn is a community of professionals who like good karma and are willing to help because they know somewhere along the line the favor will be returned. Plant and harvest later or elsewhere.
  4. Identify the connection you have with the person(s) and reference it in the opening lines of your message.
  5. Be casual and personable, but not gimmicky.
  6. Tell them where, when, and what — the what being the most important thing your organization is trying to achieve with this position. In other words, the key performance objective.
  7. Promote your employee value propositionor the best one or two things about a career with your company.
  8. Don’t include the job description or tell them too much. Include just enough to appeal enough to their interest or willingness to help in order to create a dialogue.
  9. Ask for a brief dialog over email, chat, or an old-fashioned phone call.
  10. Ask for referrals if the opportunity is not right for them.
  11. Ask for a direct connection and offer to help them in any way at any time.

Here’s a sample InMail message containing these elements…

Subject Line: (Specify the industry) Career Connections

  1. Tell  them why you’re contacting them and ask for help: I reviewed your profile today and found we share some commonalities in the (industry). Forgive me if I’m off target here, but I thought you might be able to help.
  2. Specify the position, location, and the key performance objective: We’re looking for a (insert position/skill set) in (insert location) — ideally someone with experience in (type of work/processes/technology) and who can (paint a picture using the most important position performance objective — or the most important thing one could achieve in the position and how it will make a difference).
  3. Promote your EVP: The best thing about working for us is that you (insert the best thing and make it personal).
  4. Ask for a dialog: Let me know if you have interest and we can talk live.
  5. Ask for referrals: If the timing or fit is not right, please let me know who you recommend.  
  6. Ask for a direct connect: Also, please connect with me directly (insert email address). Perhaps I can be of help to you in the future. 

Other tips for continued LinkedIn Recruiter sourcing success:

  • Save your message as a template and track its results in LinkedIn Recruiter Reports.
  • Connect directly with those who reply to your message, even if the opportunity is not right for them. By connecting you may be able to be of help to them in the future.
  • Look through their connections for those who have similar skill sets and ask for an introduction.
  • Save your search and go back later and see which of the top potentials did not respond. Perhaps they have not visited LinkedIn in a while or maybe they’ve been on vacation. In this case, call for them directly at the company where they work.

Thirty-five percent may not sound like much, but keep in mind targeted direct mail (that paper stuff we get in our mail boxes) only gets a 4% rate of response. I’m sure some of you do even better, which is great. If so, I hope you will comment with your best practices.

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Marketing Focus

Thank you for the positive response from last month’s Newsletter.  To follow up, we thought we’d provide you with a Marketing Plan Template to help get you started on the path to great marketing and keep you focused.

Click here for your free Marketing Plan Template, and make sure to frequently check our blog and Facebook pages for more tips and resources.

YOUR MARKETING PLANMARKETING FOCUS
Your day-to-day business marketing activities are likely to be focused on communicating with potential and existing customers.     A Marketing Plan sets out how you will put your strategy into place and will help you stay focused.  Be sure that your Business Plan and your Marketing Plan are in sync.

Set Objectives, Budgets and Deadlines
An effective Marketing Plan must set clear objectives that will help you toward your long-term strategic goals.

Timing
Start by building a schedule by identifying key times of the year when customers plan the next year’s budget or seasonal purchasing peaks.  Examples would be Spring and Summer breaks if you run an auto shop, or Christmas if you run a gift basket business.  Time your marketing campaigns to fit with these dates and look for other opportunities, such as trade shows.  If there are significant gaps in your marketing schedule, fill them out with cost-effective activities to help maintain customer awareness (newsletters, email or mailing campaigns, etc.)

If you rely heavily on a small number of crucial customers, consider developing individual account management plans for them.   Key accounts merit regular personal contact (phone calls, meetings, business entertainment, etc.).

Marketing Mix
In addition to marketing communications, your Plan should span the full mix of marketing activities.  An example might be developing new products and/or building your distribution network.   You will also need to plan for any price increases or tactical moves, such as an end-of-season sale.

Be sure to note in your Plan whether you intend to give your staff sales training or introduce new CRM (customer relationship management) technology.  Maybe you need to find more efficient systems or measure customer satisfaction.  Including activities like these in your Plan helps ensure that they are identified as priorities, and that you dedicate time and money to them.

Branding Considerations
Branding is more than your choice of corporate color, logo and catch-phrase.   Branding is best defined as your customers’ experience when they engage with your business, so it extends to such things as how you and your employees dress, how you greet your customers and email communication – the entire experience!

Think of branding in terms of a restaurant that you frequent. You go there because you know what’s on the menu, what it will taste like, what type of service you will receive, and how much it will cost you.   It’s the same for your customers.

Before you can develop your brand identity, you need to be sure that what you want to tell your customers about your business and your offer matches what your target customer segment wants, and what you can actually deliver. Successful businesses realize the importance of having a world-class brand and making full use of its potential.

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Southeastern Admin Has Pinvolved!

By now everyone’s heard of Pinterest, but did you know that you can now Pinterestivize (just made this word up) your Facebook Page?  Since you could not “pin” a Facebook posting before, this is really a pretty nifty application that you can download and then allow your fans to view your Pinterest page right from Facebook, and view your Facebook page in the Pinterest format.

You can see the difference in the screenshots below, or check out my Facebook page (and don’t forget to Like my page while you’re there), and then click on the Pinvolve button (bottom right).

pinvolve2

Now check out the difference:

pinvolve3

To use Pinvolve, you have to first be logged into Facebook as one of the page’s admins before installing the app. Once up-and-running, Pinvolve creates a new section on your Facebook page which presents all your photo posts in a Pinterest-like fashion – that is, in the typical image pinboard style that’s now associated with the popular social networking service.

The app also pulls in the Facebook likes and comments associated with each post, as well as the comments’ text. If a post has a lot of comments, however, only the first few will be listed on the main Pinvolve page, with a link to the rest provided below. When clicked, that link will take you to the photo’s page on Facebook.

It’s more than redisplaying Facebook content with the Pinterest look, it also provides tools that let you and the page’s fans reshare posts on Pinterest. When you hover over an image on the Pinvolve pinboard, Pinterest’s “Pin it” button appears. Clicking this will then re-post that content to Pinterest itself.

Happy Pinning!

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Common Deductions Taxpayers Overlook

This is a reposting of a Newsletter from Pat McArdle.  Thank you for the information Pat!

Patrick J. McArdle, Branch Office Manager
Transamerica Financial Advisors
patrick.mcardle@tfaconnect.com
770-418-0300 ext 106
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timetax

Common Deductions Taxpayers Overlook
Make sure you give them a look as you prepare your 1040.

Provided by Pat McArdle

Every year, taxpayers leave money on the table. They don’t mean to, but as a result of oversight, they miss some great chances for federal income tax deductions.

While the IRS has occasionally fixed taxpayer mistakes in the past for taxpayer benefit (as was the case when some filers ignored the Making Work Pay Credit), you can’t count on such benevolence. As a reminder, here are some potential tax breaks that often go unnoticed – and this is by no means the whole list.

Expenses related to a job search. Did you find a new job in the same line of work in 2012? If you itemize, you can deduct the job-hunting costs as miscellaneous expenses. The deductions can’t surpass 2% of your adjusted gross income. Even if you didn’t land a new job in 2012, you can still write off qualified job search expenses. Many expenses qualify: overnight lodging, mileage, cab fares, resume printing, headhunter fees and more. Didn’t keep track of these expenses? You and your CPA can estimate them. If your new job prompted you to relocate 50 or more miles from your previous residence in 2012, you can take a deduction for job-related moving expenses even if you don’t itemize.

Home office expenses. Do you work from home? If so, first figure out what percentage of the square footage in your house is used for work-related activities. (Bathrooms and other “break areas” can count in the calculation.) If you use 15% of your home’s square footage for business, then 15% of your homeowners insurance, home maintenance costs, utility bills, ISP bills, property tax and mortgage/rent may be deducted.

Health insurance & Medicare costs. About 7% of us pay health coverage costs out of pocket. If you are in that 7%, you may write off 100% of your premiums as an adjustment to your business income per the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010. That write-off privilege extends to you, your spouse and 100% of your dependents.

Some small business owners have qualified for Medicare. If you are one of them, and you and/or your spouse aren’t eligible for coverage under an employer-subsidized health plan, then you may deduct premiums paid for Medicare Part B, Medicare Part D and Medigap policies. You don’t have to itemize to get this deduction, and the 7.5%-of-AGI test for itemized medical costs isn’t relevant to this.

State sales taxes. If you live in a state that collects no income tax from its residents, you have the option to deduct state sales taxes paid in 2012 per the fiscal cliff bill passed into law.

Student loan interest paid by parents. Did you happen to make student loan payments on behalf of your son or daughter in 2012? If so (and if you can’t claim your son or daughter as a dependent), that child may be able to write off up to $2,500 of student-loan interest. Itemizing the deduction isn’t necessary.

Education & training expenses. Did you take any classes related to your career in 2012? How about courses that added value to your business or potentially increased your employability? You can deduct the tuition paid and the related textbook and travel costs. Even certain periodical subscriptions may qualify for such deductions.

Eating out on business. The cost of a business lunch, breakfast or dinner – or a lunch, breakfast or dinner associated with business development – qualifies for an itemized deduction.

Those small charitable contributions. We all seem to make out-of-pocket charitable donations, and we can fully deduct them (although few of us ask for receipts needed to itemize them). However, we can also itemize expenses incurred in the course of charitable work (i.e., volunteering at a toy drive, soup kitchen, relief effort, etc.) and mileage accumulated in such efforts ($0.14 per mile for 2012, and tolls and parking fees qualify as well).

Superstorm Sandy losses. The IRS allows filers living in federally declared disaster areas to file casualty claims for the year in which the disaster occurred, and the flexibility to amend the previous year’s return. This means that you can deduct 2012 casualty losses on either your 2011 or 2012 federal tax return.

Armed forces reserve travel expenses. Are you a reservist or a member of the National Guard? Did you travel more than 100 miles from home and spend one or more nights away from home to drill or attend meetings? If that is the case, you may write off 100% of related lodging costs and 50% of meal costs and take a 2012 mileage deduction ($0.555 per mile plus tolls and parking fees).

Estate tax on income in respect of a decedent. Have you inherited an IRA? Was the estate of the original IRA owner large enough to be subject to federal estate tax? If so, you have the option to claim a federal income tax write-off for the amount of the estate tax paid on those inherited IRA assets. If you inherited a $100,000 IRA that was part of the original IRA owner’s taxable estate and thereby hit with $35,000 in death taxes, you can deduct that $35,000 on Schedule A as you withdraw that $100,000 from the inherited IRA, $17,500 on Schedule A as you withdraw $50,000 from the inherited IRA, and so on. If you withdrew such inherited assets in 2012, you have the opportunity to claim the appropriate deduction for the 2012 tax year.

And now, some opportunities for quasi-deductions that often go overlooked…

The child care credit. If you paid for child care while you worked in 2012, you can qualify for a tax credit worth 20-35% of that amount. (The child, or children, must be no older than 12.) Tax credits are superior to tax deductions, as they cut your tax bill dollar-for-dollar.

Parents as dependents. If you have parents whose taxable incomes are underneath the $3,800 personal exemption for 2012 and you pay more than half of their support, they might qualify as dependents on your federal return even if they live at a different address.

Filing status shifts. Are you a single filer? Do you have a relative or one or more children who qualifies as a dependent? If so, you could change your filing status to head of household, which could save you some tax dollars.

Reinvested dividends. If your mutual fund dividends are routinely used to purchase further shares, don’t forget that this incrementally increases your tax basis in the fund. If you do forget to include the reinvested dividends in your basis, you leave yourself open for a double hit – your dividends will be taxed once at payout and immediate reinvestment, and then taxed again at some future point when they are counted as proceeds of sale. Remember that as your basis in the fund grows, the taxable capital gain when you redeem shares will be reduced. (Or if the fund is a loser, the tax-saving loss is increased.)

As a precaution, check with your tax professional before claiming the above deductions on your federal income tax return.

Tax and/or legal advice not offered by Transamerica Financial Advisor, Inc., Transamerica Financial Group Division or their affiliated companies. Please consult with your personal tax professional or legal advisor for further guidance on tax or legal matters.
This material was prepared by MarketingLibrary.Net Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.
1 – www.kiplinger.com/article/taxes/T054-C000-S001-the-most-overlooked-tax-deductions.html [1/3/13]
2 – money.msn.com/tax-tips/post.aspx?post=382d5150-a740-4f31-b091-4711dc07bafc [1/18/13]
3 – vaperforms.virginia.gov/indicators/healthfamily/healthInsurance.php [1/23/13]
4 – www.cnbc.com/id/100400925 [1/23/13]

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Long-Term Occupational Outlook For The Metro-Atlanta Area

Is your occupation projected to grow or shrink?

Find out more from the Georgia Department of Labor, by using this link: http://explorer.dol.state.ga.us/gsipub/index.asp?docid=389

occupation

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