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  • Why Listening Is the Skill Employees Want the Most

    If there’s one quality managers should have in spades, it’s the ability to communicate effectively. A boss who can’t convey his vision to his employees can’t lead them. Because so many other administrative functions — problem-solving, delegation, teamwork, motivation, accountability — depend on engaging with workers, communications have become a prized asset in the top ranks and a key factor in a good company culture.

    Perhaps one reason the stock of managerial communications has risen in recent years is its scarcity. In a recent survey, more than nine in 10 respondents remarked that their boss lacked this valuable skill. 

    What did they mean by this? Surveyed employees catalogued their grievances:

    • Not recognizing employee accomplishments (63%)
    • Not having time to meet with workers (52%)
    • Seemingly not knowing employees’ names (36%)
    • Not caring about employees’ lives outside work (23%)

    It’s no wonder employees don’t feel heard. And that’s a shame — employees who know their boss is listening perform better. In fact, research shows they’re 4.6 times more likely to do their best work. And with culture being a huge focus for many leadership speakers, business owners can’t ignore the advice to level up their listening skills.

    The Root of the Issue

    To inspire that kind of response, employers will have to get to the root of the issue. Simply answering more emails or creating more stimulating PowerPoint presentations won’t correct poor communication. That’s because the problem doesn’t lie with what bosses are saying to their charges; it arises from how they’re listening.  

    Managers would do well to remember that communication is never a one-way information dump. Bosses don’t just transmit information to passive, receptive audiences. Rather, it’s a transaction between partners in which both parties are actively engaged. Listeners interact verbally and nonverbally throughout the exchange; speakers must listen as well as they talk. 

    Practicing Active Listening

    Taking your audience members seriously is critical to making them feel heard — and that requires what experts call “active listening.” That involves making eye contact and paying close attention to your dialogue partners. And it means taking the time to process what they’re communicating. Sometimes, it requires checking your interpretations with them. Reflective listeners tend to follow up with questions that invite their audiences to voice underlying concerns without fear of judgment.   

    Practicing active listening sends important messages to your employees. You signal that you’re not just performing monologues or issuing orders. You invite active engagement, not just passive absorption. Speaking like this builds morale and empowers your audience. 

    Experts are quick to point out just how important this empowerment is when there’s a difference of authority, particularly in conflict resolution. MIT researchers revealed that the less powerful worry about being understood. Bosses who let their workers express themselves help remove barriers that make cooperation difficult. 

    How to Be a Better Listener

    How can leaders create opportunities for their employees to be heard? Management experts have identified a number of ways to open communication across ranks. 

    1. Increase transparency.

    Knowledge is power. When information isn’t being shared, differences in rank loom large. Distrust can take up residence. The environment becomes ripe for misinterpretations. 

    Being transparent with your employees fosters confidence. Workers who know you don’t have anything to hide will perform better. They’ll be happier, and so will your clients. 

    2. Offer specific praise.

    Employees like to feel seen, as well as heard, by their bosses. One great way to do that is by recognizing their contributions. Be specific about what your point people accomplished, and don’t forget to name names. 

    Don’t even think of trying to take credit for yourself. Nothing undermines trust more than managers who exaggerate their own roles at the expense of their workers. 

    3. Provide ongoing feedback.

    Can you imagine a football coach showing up for game day without having participated in any practices during the week? Of course not. 

    So why do so many businesses assume a year-end review alone is enough to help their employees optimize their performance?

    A good boss evaluates her staff regularly. That coaching builds relationships, clarifies expectations, and motivates achievement

    4. Be vulnerable.

    Employees like working for human beings. If you never laugh, make mistakes, or talk about your kids, your employees won’t see you as relatable. That lack of common ground makes any conversation more difficult. 

    5. Ask better questions.

    Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfouz remarked that you can tell a clever man by his answers and a wise man by his questions. 

    Business leaders shouldn’t assume they’re there just to solve problems and make sure the work gets done. Ask questions that show you’re engaged with what’s going on and invite your employees to share their experiences. Instead of “How’s your work going?” ask “When you’re doing Job A, I’ve noticed your productivity isn’t as high as on Job B. What do you think you’d need to succeed in Job A like you do on Job B?”

    Good leaders are good listeners. They make their employees feel heard by regularly engaging with them, providing honest feedback, and being transparent. When they do that, they empower their workforce to carry out a common mission: making your business the best it can be.

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    Posted in Employer Branding

    The Best Email Marketing Tools To Help Scale Your Brand

    For companies trying to grow by increasing their sales, the tried and true approach of email marketing has proved to be one of the best ways to generate leads. Even with the rise of social media, email marketing has held steady and is a valuable aspect of marketing strategy.

    Email marketing can be a daunting task. For businesses that want to incorporate this into their sales approach, email marketing tools available to simplify and streamline the process. The following software will be helpful for those looking to introduce email marketing into their business plan:

    1.  Hubspot

    The toughest part of email marketing is keeping track of every single click and lead. Hubspot, with one of the most popular free email marketing tools, simplifies this by tracking all this information for you. You can receive notifications anytime an email is opened or a link is clicked, so you can follow potential customers along their path to conversion. Following trends helps you improve your customer experience in order to generate more leads and conversions.

    Hubspot allows you to customize emails and set their delivery times, so your approach is personal but the work is automated. Start with one of their templates and tweak the design until you’ve created the perfect strategy for your business. Hubspot also offers live chat software that can be integrated into your website. This option eliminates the back and forth emails that can disgruntle potential buyers who simply want questions answered.

    Basic services are free with optional premium plans.

    2.  Omnisend

    ECommerce is a rapidly growing industry, with online sales in the U.S. rising by 16% over the last year. Online shopping has been booming recently due to the Coronavirus pandemic, further increasing the rate at which eCommerce is expanding. Email marketing campaigns are useful for the eCommerce business hoping to get ahead of the competition.

    Omnisend is the premier email marketing tool for eCommerce businesses. They know that an essential part of sales is reaching the right person at the right time, so they provide features to help you accomplish exactly that. Automate your tedious workflows and develop email forms and lists to get the perfect message out to potential buyers, helping to up your sales and grow your business.

    Basic services are free with optional premium plans.

    3.   Autopilot

    Just as its name suggests, Autopilot lets you turn on cruise control for your email marketing campaigns through automation. With email marketing there will be some repetitive tasks, which Autopilot will take care of for you.

    Automation isn’t a dry, robotic approach to marketing. Autopilot allows you to create the perfect customer experience that it will then dispense to online visitors. You can draw up plans for which messages to send when certain actions are completed, and then set your business to Autopilot to avoid the heavy lifting.

    Offers 30-day free trial.

    4.   Constant Contact

    More clever name-play happens with Constant Contact, looking to help you maintain just that with your client base. Gaining and retaining new customers is the key to successful business, all of which can be done through Constant Contact. As they like to say, “We’re more than email marketing. We’re an online marketing platform.”

     

    Along with over 100 email templates that allow you to perfectly portray your business, Constant Contact has a website builder to help generate even more leads for your business. Their premier feature is the ability to collect email addresses from all different sources. Whether they’re from social media, mobile apps, or your brand new website, Constant Contact will store any new email addresses to add to your campaign for maximum reach.

    Offers 60-day free trial.

    5.  Mailchimp

    Mailchimp is one of the pioneers of modern email marketing. They began in 2001 as a solution for small businesses that couldn’t afford the expensive software of the times. After almost 20 years in the industry, innovation has kept Mailchimp at the forefront of their craft.

    The goal of email marketing through Mailchimp is to build your brand. A stronger brand brings in more organic customers. Their easy-to-use tools allow you to build a professional even without the professional experience. Launch your email marketing campaign and use real-time analytics to see how your marketing is performing in order to make the adjustments necessary to succeed.

    Basic services are free with optional premium plans.

    6.  AWeber

    Email marketing is just as helpful for small businesses as it is for large enterprises. AWeber looks to provide email marketing services for those smaller scale companies looking to grow. A smaller company’s resources are usually stretched thin, so using an email marketing tool helps you devote time and attention to other projects while technology helps you generate leads.

    AWeber’s mission statement is: “Deliver powerfully simple email marketing software that does 90% of the work for you. We leave the 10% for you to have fun!” The 90% includes templates and automation that save you time while still providing effective services. The 10% is left for you to be creative, customizing your email marketing approach to present your business exactly how you would like.

    Offers 30-day free trial.

    7.   GetResponse

    An email marketing campaign is only profitable if you are receiving interaction. GetResponse helps you connect with your customers so they keep coming back. Loyal customers provide a steady source of revenue and can even refer their friends for more organic clientele.

    While providing similar features as other email marketing tools, GetResponse has a unique feature for creating and implementing webinars. This unique approach to marketing combined with your email campaign increases conversion rate and engagement like never before.

    Offers 30-day free trial.

    8.   Drip

    Drip is another email marketing tool used to boost your eCommerce. Their analytics are next-level, allowing you to see every detail of your target audience so you can make data-driven decisions to push your business forward. This is done in an effort to understand exactly what your customers are doing and looking for.

    Unlike other email marketing software, Drip also helps you build a presence outside of the inbox by integrating social media into the equation. If this is where your target audience is spending their time, having a tool that works across platforms is extremely valuable. This allows you to extend your reach much further than otherwise possible.

    Offers 14-day free trial.

    9.  Sendinblue

    Email marketing requires some trial and error to find the perfect formula for success. Sendinblue provides A/B testing features to help you streamline your experiments to determine the best approach to your marketing. The less time you spend guessing, the more time you can spend focusing on your customers.

    Sendinblue lets you group your contacts however you choose. You can make these groups as broad or as specific as you want. Follow-up with personalized content for each group to narrow your approach and perfectly match your target audience.

    Basic services are free with optional premium plans.

    Email marketing is one of the best methods of improving ROI. Take a chance to look over the tools listed above and determine which one could best serve your business. The results will astound you, and you’ll wonder how you ever got by without an email marketing plan in the first place.

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    Posted in Personal Branding

    How to Make Money with Your Blog

    If you have taken the leap and started up a blog, then you will be pleased to know that you can actually make money from your blog. You may have started blogging without even thinking about the money-making aspect too much. However, this is a very real possibility. There are a few steps you can take to achieve this. We will be covering a few of these in the article below, so stay tuned. 

    Create High Calibre Content

    It can be easy to get caught up with the goal of making money from your blog. However, all of this won’t matter unless you create high-quality content. The better your content is, the easier it will be for you to make money online. 

    You should think about the formatting of your blog posts. The presentation of information plays a big part in how it is absorbed by your readers. You will need to think about and master various formats like list posts, ‘how to’ posts and more. The type of post will depend on the topic you’re writing about. 

    In addition, make sure that you are writing a post that is genuinely delivering value to your readers. Your goal should be to make the lives of your readers a little better because of the information you have provided. Doing these things will set you apart and make it easy to monetize your blog. You’re past the stage of figuring out how to start your blog. It’s time to start pumping out some killer content.

    Find Your Ideal Reader and Attract Them To Your Blog

    In the early stages of getting started with your blog, you should think about the type of reader that you want to read your blog. What type of blogs do they read? Do they participate in certain forums? Maybe they’re active listeners to certain podcasts or active in certain social media circles. 

    Whatever the case may be, you should make a list of the platforms where your ideal reader is likely to hang out. After doing this, then you can take action to attract potential readers who fit your criteria to your blog.

    If they read certain blogs, then consider guest blogging for these sites. You can also engage with their podcast and forum communities. You can also engage with their social media circles meaningfully, making sure to mention your blog. These actions can lead to tangible increases in the amount of traffic directed to your blog. 

    Keep Readers Engaged

    Another important aspect of making money from blogging is making sure that your readers are kept engaged. If you don’t do this, they may check out your blog once and then leave without generating any income for you. If you do keep them engaged, then they will spend more time on your blog and spread the word about your blog. 

    Engaged readers will be more likely to purchase products and services that you have for sale. You will also be more likely to make money from the other monetization strategies which we will discuss in the following section.

    Implement a Few Monetization Strategies

    It’s important that you carry out the foundation work described in the sections above. By doing these things, you will be able to use some of the monetization strategies we will discuss below. 

    Advertising

    Depending on the level of traffic passing through your blog, you may be able to make some decent coin through running ads using an ad network like Google AdSense.

    Affiliate Programs

    Affiliate programs can be a lucrative way of generating income. Consider placing appropriate links where appropriate on your blog and you can make money this way. How this works is, if someone follows your link to a product and makes a purchase, you will be given a commission on that sale.

    Services and Products

    You can generate income selling services and products which complement your blog content. For example, you can consider selling ebooks that go in-depth on topics you cover on your blog. You can also sell physical merchandise to help promote your brand. 

    Wrapping Up

    There are several foundational steps you will need to take on your journey to generate money from your blog. Creating high Calibre content is crucial. Attracting readers to your blog and keeping the readers you attract are also important steps that need to be taken. 

    After building up your foundation, you will be able to take advantage of monetization strategies like generating ad income from ad networks like Google Adsense, using affiliate programs to make money, and selling services and products. 

    Keep in mind that executing these strategies won’t happen overnight. So please don’t get discouraged and keep pushing onwards.

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    Posted in Career Development

    How You’re Marketing Your Employee Benefits All Wrong

    Employees the world over know the value of a good benefits package, but many employers still don’t understand the draw of the right perks. Nearly 80 percent of workers are likely to remain with their employer just because of the benefits they have access to. That number should make any salary-focused recruiters think twice.

    Even as employees continue to value benefits, employers continue to market the benefits they offer incorrectly. By showcasing them effectively, you can give yourself a powerful hiring edge.

    To market your benefits correctly, you need to keep a few key areas in mind, such as:

    Playing the Long Game 

    Far too often, businesses attempt to sell low-hanging fruit: ping-pong tables, unlimited snacks, or yoga classes. While these benefits are undoubtedly appealing, they’re unlikely to appeal to employees in it for the long run. Recreational opportunities may be a plus, but securing a stable financial future takes precedence.

    Benefits like a small business 401(k) or a loyalty-based salary schedule can encourage employee commitment. Adding a vesting schedule is also a smart idea. That way, short-term employees can’t walk away with employer contributions. Although 401(k)s may not be “exciting” on the surface, they provide a powerful incentive to stick around. 

    Hitting the Right Channels

    Not all job postings reach the same audience. Nearly one-quarter of LinkedIn users are between the ages of 18 and 29. Changing your business’s benefits package can be expensive and time-consuming. It’s crucial that you tailor your benefits to the right crowds instead of changing your benefits to suit others’ needs. If you want to market your benefits effectively, you need to ensure you’re marketing in the right place first.

    Businesses offering long-term benefits shouldn’t waste their time and money with big marketing pushes toward younger workers — it’s simply not what they’re looking for. Posting on more established industry-specific sites will likely yield better results. Those sites generally have older user bases.

    Businesses with benefits geared toward younger people, such as elegant office spaces or convenience perks, should get their job postings on social media sites with younger users, such as Twitter or Instagram. Loads of workers would be overjoyed with the benefits your business offers — you just need to find a way to reach them.

    Sending the Right Message

    Around one-fifth of Millennials report that finding a more fulfilling career would be the single biggest deciding factor in changing jobs. That number is much higher than their older counterparts’. Simply put, different groups of workers are looking for vastly different things from their careers. If you want to appeal to certain demographics, you need to send the right message with your benefits marketing.

    It may seem like sharing your employee benefits is a simple process. But communicating benefits to prospective employees and new hires is complicated and can be framed in a number of ways. With younger workers, an emphasis on impact and meaning could be particularly effective. More experienced employees might be more interested in hearing about stability and security. 

    Using Your Employees

    If the benefits you’re offering are good, your employees are the greatest asset you have in marketing them. Studies have shown that strong benefits directly correlate with job satisfaction, so showcasing satisfied employees during the hiring process is a great way to guarantee the quality of your perks to prospective employees.

    Encourage your employees to reach out to applicants at various stages in the interview process, allowing them to ask questions about what it’s like to work at your company and the benefits you offer. Hearing firsthand testimony nearly always has a greater impact than simple marketing materials, making direct employee-to-applicant communication a massively undervalued aspect of hiring. 

    Your company’s benefits can have a huge impact on the workers you attract — if marketed properly. By being strategic about how you communicate, you can leverage your business’s benefits into a serious hiring boon, both now and in the future. 

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    Posted in Employer Branding

    How To Become Financially Secure As A Freelancer

    When you start out as a freelancer, long-term financial health isn’t usually top of mind. You’re too busy trying to land gigs to cover next month’s bills. Freelancers are often so focused on surviving from month to month, that they overlook long-term financial security. If you want to escape the financial anxiety of survival mode, then you need a plan.

    1. Set a Financial Goal

    Setting a financial goal is the first step toward financial security. If you don’t have a clear financial roadmap, how will you know what you want to achieve? Your financial future involves more than just one goal. Take stock of your current situation and list specific goals, such as:

    • Saving 10% of your income. Many financial experts preach about paying yourself first before paying anything else. Aim to save 10-20% of your income every month. If your freelance income is currently meager, you may feel that you can’t afford to save. Do so anyway, even if it’s just $20 a month. You’ll establish the habit and can increase it as your income grows.
    • Creating an emergency fund. If your car breaks down, your HVAC system needs repairs or a plumbing emergency strikes, will you be able to fix it? An emergency fund will see you through an unexpected crisis.

    2. Reduce Expenses

    Take a ruthless approach to your expenses such as utility bills, retail spending, entertainment, and insurance (medical, home, and car). Where can you cut down? Can you buy less takeout, implement ways to save on utilities, and curb unnecessary shopping? Ask your insurer about bundled home and car insurance. Many insurance companies provide a discount on a bundled policy.

    A little forethought can also save money in the future. For example, does your car insurance include accident forgiveness? According to The Zebra, car insurance can increase by $617 in the first year after a claim and up to $1,861 by year three. Accident forgiveness can avoid a nasty jump in premiums should you claim for an accident.

    3. Lower Your Debt

    If you’ve reduced your expenses, you can put the extra money saved towards debt. If you don’t have much debt, then funnel it into your savings.

    Debt is stressful, especially if you’re a new freelancer and your income is sporadic. Once you skip paying a bill, it becomes harder to catch up. Put a plan in place, like the debt snowball method, to pay off credit cards, personal loans, auto loans, and student loans.

    Be diligent about paying your minimum balances so you don’t fall behind. Use some of your disposable income to make bigger payments whenever possible. If you pay off one debt, use the freed-up money to pay off another debt faster.

    4. Take Out Disability Insurance

    As a freelancer, you’re a solopreneur. Should you be unable to work for a long period, there’s no one else who can keep the business going. How will you cover your monthly expenses?

    Disability insurance can cover a loss of income if you suffer a long-term illness or disability that prevents you from working. You can choose cover for a specific period like 12 months or up to retirement age. You can also choose how much of your monthly income you want replaced during the time you are laid up — 50%, 75% or 100%.

    If you don’t want to take out an insurance policy, you can cater for this in your emergency fund. Calculate your monthly expenses and save enough to cover your expenses for at least 3 to 6 months or longer if you can. Planning for life’s unexpected curveballs gives you peace of mind.

    5. Hire a Financial Planner

    If you want to take financial security to the next level and create wealth, then consult with a financial planner. A financial planner can advise on the best investment funds. There are a lot of options out there from bonds to stocks and even Bitcoin. There are also a lot of shady schemes you can unwittingly fall into. That’s why it’s best to seek guidance from an expert. Creating wealth is a long-term process that requires time and patience.

    6. Retirement Planning

    Unless you intend to work forever, you should plan for retirement. When you worked for an employer, money was deducted from your salary to go into a retirement fund. Why should it be any different now that you’re working for yourself? Consider this part of your standard monthly deductions just like it was when you were a salaried employee. It’s a crucial part of your financial security in the future.

    Freelancing doesn’t have to mean riding the feast or famine rollercoaster. Financial security is possible but will involve some time, sacrifices, and dedication. It requires a broad strategy that covers both short-term needs and long-term goals. It won’t happen overnight but taking one small step today puts you on the path to a better financial tomorrow.

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    Posted in Career Development, Career Resources

    Ways You Can Avoid Liability Claims That Can Damage Your Brand

    The life of a startup business can be full of ups and downs, which can be an overwhelming experience for any business owner. The fact that most startup companies are run by inexperienced owners is ironic, as the ideal situation would be to have a business owner prepared to weather the storm. Things can get even trickier when you consider just how vulnerable a business can be to general liability claims. With Covid-19 slowing down things for many companies, it’s a good time to look at the ways you can protect your company when things get back on track.

    There is no denying that having an issue at court will undoubtedly tank a small business. For the most part, only large businesses with a team of lawyers can handle the consequences that come from liability claims. Fortunately, small businesses are not helpless. Here are just a few ways startups can avoid general liability claims.

    The best course of action would be to obtain insurance

    Without a doubt, the very best thing a small company can do to avoid the potential of being caught up in a case would be to obtain general liability insurance as soon as possible. While such a thing is easier said than done, there are plenty of services out there willing to provide help at reasonable prices. For example, sites have made signing up easier online. Startups can learn and sign up online to obtain liability insurance at next-insurance.com or other sites that have made it easy to be insured online.  After all, no matter how much you might work toward avoiding such claims, sometimes all it takes is a tiny mistake for things to go wrong.

    Make sure to market your company as safely as you can

    While it might seem like a strange notion, there is such a thing as safe marketing. There are plenty of businesses out there that might try to get an edge over their competition by marketing their company to be far ahead of everyone else. If your marketing includes content that defames or tears down your competitors, it can make your company liable for a defamation claim.

    The worst part is that it does not have to be through a large-scale marketing campaign. Your staff can end up talking trash about competitors in a podcast and it can be used as evidence. Ensure that you market your company as safely as you can!

    Train your employees to treat your brand with care

    Last but certainly not least, aside from purchasing the right type of insurance and being careful when you market your company, the most significant thing you can do to avoid general liability claims is by training your staff. It can be quite easy for anyone to accidentally say something they should not have in a public setting, which is why the best thing to do would be to regularly train your staff to treat your brand with care.

    Avoiding general liability claims is all about making preparations and covering your bases from the potential of being blindsided. If your company is ill-prepared to handle the challenges that come with business management, it will not be long before issues end up sending the company to court.

     

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    Posted in Corporate Branding

    Your Credit Is Part of Your Personal Brand — Here’s How to Rebuild it

    We may not immediately make the connection, but our credit scores are a solid part of our personal brand. Our credit history hints at our reliability and trustworthiness; it lets people know how seriously we take our commitments. Some employers now pull credit as part of the hiring process, and a long pattern of neglected accounts can torpedo even the most promising careers.

    Medical catastrophes, accidents, or family emergencies can, of course, influence your score. Regardless of the cause, however, poor credit needs to be rebuilt to protect your reputation. The time it takes to rebuild credit depends on multiple factors, but there are two main variables to consider: time and money. When rebuilding credit, the inverse relationship between time and money can gauge the amount of time it takes to increase a credit score. The more cash, the less time it will take — and vice versa.

    Credit bureaus are data collection agencies that collect account information from all creditors. Credit bureaus use this information to create a credit score, which lenders use to determine a person’s creditworthiness. The credit score is calculated using six factors: payment history, credit card use, derogatory marks, credit age, total accounts, and hard inquiries. 

    Each factor plays a role in your overall credit score. To rebuild credit, a person has to have a positive track record among these factors with account holders. You can talk to a loan coach to look into rebuilding your credit, but you have other options, too.

    3 Factors of Rebuilding Credit 

    Bankruptcy takes about three months to complete, and it cleans most negative marks from your record after two years of having bankruptcy status. According to Lendvia, “Chapter 13 stays on your record for seven years from the date of your filing. In a Chapter 7 (liquidation), the reporting period is ten years from the date of filing.” These options are available to everyone, regardless of financial standing.

    But before you get to that point, look at the three big areas of impact on your credit score. By taking a hard look at how you can improve in these areas, you can move your score in the right direction on your own.

    High-Impact Credit Factors

    The factors regularly used to calculate a person’s credit score are arranged in categories of impact. Payment history, credit card usage, and derogatory marks are all high-impact elements. They’re high-impact because they inform the bureaus of a person’s record of making on-time payments.

    A person’s payment history should show a consistent record of on-time payments for at least a year or two. If that’s not the case, it will take that amount of time to increase this specific area of the person’s credit score.

    Credit card use is a measure of how much credit is being used in relation to the total amount available. The higher the utilization rate, the lower the person’s credit score will be. In order to improve this area, a person must keep the amount of credit she uses as close to 10 percent as possible by paying on her credit card balance. A person’s score is positively impacted the longer she shows a low utilization rate.

    Derogatory Marks

    Derogatory marks are notes on collections, tax liens, civil judgments, and bankruptcies that have occurred and remain unresolved. For these remarks, it’s best to first verify whether they’re correct; if they’re not, file a dispute to have them removed. This may take some time, but it will be worth it. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the government doesn’t allow any lender to report incorrect information. This means a debt can — and should — be removed if it’s proven to be inaccurate.

    True and accurate derogatory marks must be paid. However, a person can sometimes only pay 30 percent to 80 percent of the overall debt if the account is already in collections or if the lender is willing to negotiate. 

    The next credit factor is medium-impact, and it doesn’t have as strong an impact on a person’s overall score as the factors above. Credit age is a measure of how long a person has had accounts open with creditors — the longer, the better. A person could open a secure or nonsecure credit card account to improve this area; closing a long-standing account could impact one’s score negatively, however.

    Low-Impact Factors

    The last factors are low-impact. Low-impact factors are considered for a reason; if a person wants to rebuild her credit, it’s important to understand them. The low-impact factors are total accounts and hard inquiries.

    Total accounts are a low-impact credit factor that’s determined by the number of accounts open. The higher the number of accounts, the more this score is increased. To help rebuild this area, a person should open as many accounts as she can reasonably maintain. The key is to increase the amount of credit available to you.

    The final factor on your credit score is hard inquiries. A hard inquiry is a request for your credit information from the credit bureaus, and it negatively affects your score when there are too many — it shows you’re applying for credit often. Most banks believe that history has shown that a person with a lot of hard inquiries is more likely to default. Understanding this logic explains why hard inquiries lower your credit score.

    In the end, a person needs time and money to repair her credit score. The more of each that a person has, the better. Although the laws are set, there’s no way to know the specific amount of time it will take to fix a score without understanding the underlying details that created it. However, a person can ballpark the time it will take to rebuild her credit — and boost her personal brand in the process.

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    Posted in Personal Branding

    5 Reasons Everyone Needs a Personal Website

    Websites aren’t just for businesses, big or small. They can serve as your personal home on the internet, allowing you to make yourself visible. A personal website can become a funnel through which you express yourself, showcase your portfolio, or highlight your expertise regarding your hobbies.

    More than that, people who are considering you for opportunities — speaking engagements, training, freelance gigs, consulting — will expect to see that you’ve established yourself as a go-to person in your field. Your style, tone, and approach can signal to others whether you’d be a good fit. A personal website can let you make your pitch in front of people you might never meet otherwise.

    Here are five specific reasons you should consider building a personal website.

    1. It offers a better employment edge.

    If you’re a prospective employee hunting for a job, a site that showcases who you are can give you an edge, especially in a saturated market. It immediately sets you apart from other candidates and can serve as an extension of your résumé. 

    Although your social handles do a pretty job in that regard, a website portrays you as being passionate about what you do. For the best result, make sure your domain name bears your name alongside a .com extension. If there’s anything you want a prospective employer to see, don’t hesitate to feature it on your website. If you can connect it to a certain industry or need, all the better.

    2. It showcases your talent.

    If you have an incredible ability — graphic design, photography, cooking — you can showcase your expertise using a personal website. It automatically becomes a portfolio that serves as a location where people can meet you doing what you do best. 

    Done well, you might be able to get some mouth-watering gigs that would turn your financial situation around. New opportunities might even be developed that take multiple talents of yours into account — most employers and talent seekers love getting as much bang for their buck as they can without hiring multiple people.

    3. It enables you to build valuable skills.

    By running a website, you’ll find yourself learning lots of different things every day. Technology is fast-advancing, and your site will keep you learning and in front of a computer. Once you start managing your website, you’ll be able to say you can create, manage, and create content for a site. In today’s world, that’s a big deal that can fetch a good amount of money.

    To really stretch your creative and technical muscles, add new sections or features to your site. By adding videos, a chat tool, or a selection of products — whether it’s desktop wallpapers or screenprint T-shirts — you’ll push your skills further. Tutorials on YouTube offer a great place to enhance your presence and the “skill” section of your résumé.

    4. You’re able to build an online presence.

    By maintaining a personal website, you control your overall image on the internet. You can determine what you share about yourself and even debunk some myths. 

    An owned website is a powerful tool you can use to set yourself apart and build reach. Before people are interested in engaging with you, they often do some Googling. If you include relevant keywords, location information, and samples, your site will no doubt pop up as a result. In other words, you’ll have total control of your image.

    5. It can become your Plan B.

    As discussed, when you’re running a website, you’ll find yourself learning some incredible skills like web development. You might even become a recognized expert or coach by sharing your knowledge. 

    There are numerous people today who aren’t actively practicing in their field but are blogging or writing about it via their website. Through this medium, they can make money through Google AdSense, affiliate marketing, or even eBooks. A lot of individuals have been able to make a living through their website without currently having a direct role in an industry they’re well-versed in.

    The advantages of having a personal website are enormous. The gains outweigh the costs, and it’s something you’ll never regret building. All you have to do is choose a reliable web host, register your domain, install WordPress, and share your expertise with the world.

     

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    Posted in Personal Branding

    How Continuous Learning Makes You a Better Leader

    Almost every successful leader has one thing in common — they never tire of learning. Lifelong learning is one of the key factors in growing successful businesses. The reason it makes such a difference is that it gives leaders an edge. If you want to become a better leader, make continuous learning a priority.

    How Continuous Learning Gives You An Edge

    Leaders with a thirst for knowledge are the ones that gain an advantage over their peers and competitors. Here’s why.

    Keeps You Updated With Industry Trends and Technology

    In this fast-paced world, if you’re not keeping up with the latest trends and technology you won’t stay ahead of the curve and your competitors will overtake you. Whether it’s attending conferences or tracking trends on social media, leaders who stay informed are able to be proactive rather than reactive.

    Upgrades Your Skills

    Your team is only as good as your leadership. If you’re upgrading your skills, you pass these on to your team and that helps propel the business forward. Skills development isn’t just about technical skills. It can also be soft skills like interpersonal skills, negotiating skills, and adaptability. Even personal development courses can help you evolve into a well-rounded leader.

    It Helps You Think Outside The Box

    Businesses that are innovative are often strides ahead of the competition. The secret to innovation is lifelong learning. That’s because learning opens your thinking to new ideas that can spark innovation. Rigid leaders stagnate while open-minded and flexible leaders come up with creative solutions. Learning about new technology, methods, and techniques can prompt you to think outside the box.

    It Elevates Your Personal Brand

    Personal branding is about how you market yourself in terms of your skills, experience, and personality. It builds your reputation, something that’s crucial for leaders. People naturally follow a credible leader. Continuous learning is one way to build a strong reputation and elevate your personal brand. Knowledge is convincing and makes you more persuasive. If you know what you’re talking about, people listen and respect your opinion.

    Six Ways To Continue Learning

    Learning isn’t about formal education only. Lifelong learning comes in various forms, and some of it is free. Just having a conversation with a peer or a thought leader can offer valuable insight. Here are six ways to continue learning.

    1. Read books

    Reading books has become a lost art. A 2015 survey by the National Endowment for the Arts showed that only 43% of Americans read literature. Successful leaders are the opposite. Some of the most successful and busiest leaders on the planet, like Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, have an insatiable appetite for reading. They make time to read because they know how important reading is for learning and leadership.

    2. Listen to podcasts

    There is an abundance of podcasts available online. TED Talks, for example, has many excellent talks that are informative and inspiring. If you admire a well-known leader, subscribe to their podcast and you’ll be privy to all their leadership tips. If you feel you weren’t born a leader, Coaching for Leaders with Dave Stachowiak believes leaders aren’t born, they’re made. There’s a ton of content to help develop leadership skills — from a weekly leadership guide, an audio course, and interviews with leadership experts.

    3. Network

    Networking offers the opportunity to meet new people. From these interactions can come plenty of learning opportunities. The broader your network, the more you can learn from others. There’s always someone who has traveled the road before you. You can even learn from those who are at the same point in the journey as you are. Always be open to talking to people. You’ll be surprised at what you can learn.

    4. Connect with a mentor

    Most successful leaders and entrepreneurs believe in mentorship. Mentors are proven to help small business owners achieve success faster. A survey by Kabbage revealed that 92% of the small business owners said that mentorship had a direct impact on the growth of their business. Mentors push you beyond your comfort zone. They also provide objective insight and a different perspective on your leadership and business direction.

    5. Attend seminars, virtual keynotes, and conferences

    Attending seminars, conferences, and following virtual keynote speakers helps you to keep pace with industry trends, upgrade your skills, and grow your network. There are also several great seminars and conferences focused on strengthening leadership skills.

    6. Formal study

    Lastly, don’t overlook the benefits of formal study. If you already have a bachelor’s degree, consider studying for a master’s in your field or in management and leadership. Gaining a master’s degree not only helps you gain new knowledge but can open doors to better jobs in leadership and an increase in salary.

    As a busy leader, you may argue that it’s difficult to find time for continuous learning. If Tony Robbins read 100 books a year for seven years, you too can make time for learning. If you’re serious about becoming a more dynamic leader, then you can’t afford not to.

     

     

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    Posted in management

    4 Best Gifts for High-Value Clients

    Thank you” is a powerful phrase, but it’s just that: a phrase. 

    You thank every customer for their business. When it comes to your most valuable clients, how can you communicate that extra level of appreciation?

    You could offer a discount on future purchases, but it’s easy to see that as a sales tactic. A tour of your facilities might be interesting — but do big-spending clients actually have the time for that? VIP events and team meet-and-greets are beset by that same issue.

    The best way to go the extra mile for your top clients? A gift.

    Go-To Gifts by Personality

    Personalized gifts are commonly used by everyone from casino marketers and other niche industries to general business consultants to create lasting client relationships. Gifting leverages the reciprocity principle, which encourages the recipient to treat the giver well in return. 

    What makes a good client gift? The Business Gift Satisfaction Survey says the right amount to spend is $50-$150 per gift. Choose something meaningful in that range by thinking about each client’s personal tastes. If you’re not sure where to start, consider:

    1. For the Technophile: Noise-Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones
      Although some of the best noise-cancelling Bluetooth headphones of 2019 fall north of that core price range, they all make great gifts for tech-loving clients. On flights, in traffic, and at the office, a solid pair of noise-cancelling headphones turns a loud space into a sanctuary. Whether they’re catching up on work or getting in some R&R, headphones can be a lifesaver.

      One cost-effective option that’s nearly as good as the top players? Anker’s SoundCore Space NC. Temporarily discounted from $99 to $55, SoundCore Space NC is a pair of over-ear headphones that’s surprisingly effective at drowning out noise. When used wirelessly, it offers 21 hours of continuous playtime, but it does include a jack for wired use.

      2. For the Fashionista: Premium Scents and Cosmetics
      If a high-value client always walks in looking and smelling his or her best, a small-box gift might go a long way: Opt for a classy perfume, cologne, or cosmetic set. Happen to know their favorite scent? Even better. 

    For the women on your list, Clinique Fan Favourites is currently available for $49.50 with any Clinique purchase of $29.50 or more. The Fan Favourites set is a $225 value, comprised of best sellers like Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion and Moisture Surge Overnight Mask. Also included in the glittery bag are make-up remover, skin repair serum, mascara, lipstick and foaming cleanser. Why not get a full-size product for yourself and give the Fan Favourites set away?

    What about the guys? For your top male customers, provide a confidence boost via Yves Saint Laurent La Nuit de L’Homme. Priced between $58 and $128, depending on size, the fragrance is often described as a sensual, complex mix of cardamom, cedar and coumarin.

    3. For the Foodie: Snack Baskets
    Wow your food-loving customers with a gourmet gift basket full of specialty foods and treats. When shared with others, the baskets are a great excuse for clients to tell family and friends about your service.

    Around the holidays, the Christmas Gift Basket Premium is a smart choice. Available for $89.99, the basket contains kettle corn, chocolate chip cookies, summer sausage, gouda cheese, dark chocolate, and several smaller snacks.

    Want to go the extra mile? Ask for a personalized basket. Gourmet Gift Baskets, which sells the Christmas Gift Basket Premium, lets you add a coffee mug or ribbon emblazoned with the text of your choice. Personalization in any form can go a long way. It shows you know your client well and are truly being thoughtful with your gift.

    4. For the Creative Leader: Smart Journals and Pens
    Not sure what to get the executive or creative client on your list? Leaders have a lot on their plates, and anything to help them stay organized is often appreciated. Plus, it shows them you’re really thinking about what they actually need.

    Moleskine has three smart notebooks that easily transfer hand-written notes and sketches to a digital counterpart. The Dropbox Smart Notebook comes with a three-month subscription to Dropbox and the Moleskine Page Camera app, which allows you to easily digitalize, edit, share and store your freehand notes and drawings. At $29.95 each, a set of two falls into the right price range.

    A quality notebook calls for the right writing utensil: Cross has an Edge pen that is a capless rollerball design for smooth operation. For less mess, it can be converted to a ballpoint pen with the right ink refill. Priced at $20.79, this is another gift that might be best given as a set.

    Gifting is a staple of business for good reason. The right gift shows you know the recipient not just as a client, but as a person. Whenever your client picks up your present, they’ll remember you in a way that “thank you” can’t hold a candle to.

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