3 Mistakes to Avoid When Networking

We all know networking has the potential to dramatically enhance our careers; making new connections can introduce us to valuable new information, job opportunities, and more. But despite that fact, many of us are doing it wrong — and I don’t just mean the banal error of trading business cards at a corporate function and not following up properly. Many executives, even when they desperately want to cultivate a new contact, aren’t sure how to get noticed and make the right impression.

I’ve certainly been there. Years ago, I was a speaker at a tech conference — as was a bestselling author. By chance, we met in the speakers lounge and, massively unprepared, I fell back on platitudes. It’s great to meet you! I love your work! I handed him my card. If you’re ever in Boston, it’d be a pleasure to meet up! He hasn’t called, and frankly, I’m not surprised.

We’re all busy, but it’s hard to imagine the volume of requests that well-known leaders receive. Reputation.com founder and fellow HBR blogger Michael Fertik told me he receives anywhere from 500-1000 emails per day, and describes it as “a huge tax on my life.” Wharton professor Adam Grant, who was profiled by the New York Times for his mensch-like habit of doing almost anyone a “five minute favor” was rewarded for his generosity by being inundated with 3500 emails from strangers hitting him up. “I underestimated how many people read the New York Times,” he jokes.

Grant does get back to the people who write him — he even had to hire an assistant to help — but most people at the top don’t have the time management skills (or the desire) to pull that off. If you want to network successfully with high-level professionals, you have to inspire them to want to connect with you. Through hard-won experience, I’ve learned some of the key mistakes aspiring networkers make in their quest to build relationships, and how to avoid them.

Misunderstanding the pecking order. The “rules” for networking with peers are pretty straightforward: follow up promptly, connect with them on LinkedIn, offer to buy them coffee or lunch. I’ve had great success with this when reaching out to people I had an equal connection to: we’re both bloggers for the same publication, or serve on a charity committee together, for example. People want to congregate with their peers to trade ideas and experiences; your similarity alone is enough reason for them to want to meet you.

But the harsh truth is those rules don’t work for people who are above you in status. The bestselling author at the tech conference had no idea who I was, and no reason to. My book hadn’t yet been released, and his had sold hundreds of thousands of copies; he was keynoting the entire conference, and I was running a much smaller concurrent session. We make mistakes when we fail to grasp the power dynamics of a situation. It would be nice if Richard Branson or Bill Gates wanted to hang out with me “just because,” but that’s unlikely. If I’m going to connect with someone far better known than I am, I need to give them a very good reason.

Asking to receive before you give. You may have plenty of time to have coffee with strangers or offer them advice. Someone who receives 1000 emails a day does not. Asking for their time, in and of itself, is an imposition unless you can offer them some benefit upfront. Canadian social media consultant Debbie Horovitch managed to build relationships with business celebrities like Guy Kawasaki and Mike Michalowicz by inviting them to be interviewed for her series of Google+ Hangouts focused on how to become a business author. Instead of asking them for “an hour of their time” to get advice on writing a book, she exposed them to a broader audience and created content that’s permanently available online.

Failing to specifically state your value proposition. Top professionals don’t have time to weed through all the requests they get to figure out which are dross and which are gold. You have to be very explicit, very quickly, about how you can help. My incredibly weak “Let’s meet up in Boston!” isn’t going to cut it. Instead, you need to show you’re familiar with the person’s work and have thought carefully about how you can help them, not the other way around. Tim Ferriss of The 4-Hour Workweek fame blogs about how his former intern Charlie Hoehn won him over with a detailed pitch, including Charlie’s self-created job description touting his ability to help create a promotional video for Ferriss and an online “micro-network” for fans of his books.

Networking is possibly the most valuable professional activity we can undertake. But too often, we’re inadvertently sabotaging our own best efforts by misreading power dynamics, failing to give first, and not making our value proposition clear. Fixing those crucial flaws can help us connect with the people we want and need to meet to develop our careers.

The story was originally published on the HBR Blog Network.

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

Sitting All Day? 6 Easy Ways to Get Healthy at Work

For most office employees, working at a desk for eight or more hours a day is unavoidable. But as many Americans now know, spending all that time glued to your seat can really take a toll on your physical and mental health.

“In an office environment, you spend most of your working hours sitting in meetings or in front of a computer screen,” said Jamie Russo, chief of work and wellness at co-working office space Enerspace. “Aside from the physical hazards of sitting — such as the increased risks of heart disease, diabetes and cancer — there’s a productivity benefit to giving yourself a mental break. It’s so important to unchain yourself from your desk and give your body and mind a chance to recover.”

Encouraging a culture of wellness in the office begins with its leaders, said Russo. “Walking the walk” at work each day (figuratively and literally) can inspire your employees to do the same.

“Leaders should take walks around the office, make use of the company gym and eat lunch in the cafeteria rather than at a desk,” Russo advised. “A company may spend money on employee wellness programs, but if its leadership isn’t sending the message that it’s OK to take a gym break or have a walking meeting, then it’s wasted money.”

Russo, along with business furniture company turnstone, suggested these six simple ways to start improving your health and wellness at work today:

–– Diversify your posture throughout the day. There are plenty of ways to stay active during the workday and offset some of the damage done by sitting all day. Swap out your regular chair for an active seat like a yoga ball for a few hours, or spend a portion of the day working at a height-adjusted standing desk. You can also walk while you’re taking your next conference call, to give you a physical and mental change of pace.

–– Get up and talk to co-workers. Every few hours, walk around and talk to a different person for 10 to 15 minutes.Not only will these short breaks improve circulation and reduce eyestrain and buildup of muscle tension, but they’ll also help you foster better relationships with employees, and might spark fresh ideas.

–– Purposely leave your brown bag at home. A packed lunch is often healthier and less expensive than take-out alternatives, but once in a while, force yourself to go out and pick up lunch to get away from your desk.

–– Run errands during your workday. If your schedule allows for it, save quick errands — like depositing a check at the bank — for work hours. You’ll get some fresh air and a mental break from the task at hand, and you can cross off the task from your after-work to-do list.

–– Close your eyes and breathe. Meditation is becoming a more popular way to stay focused and reduce stress at work. Sneak in 10 deep breaths while you’re getting your morning coffee or even at your desk when you put the phone down after a call.

The story was originally published on Business News Daily.

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

3 Ways to Maintain Work-Life Balance While Staying Connected

In an increasingly mobile environment with a business clock that runs 24-7, many entrepreneurs use their smartphones and tablets to stay connected to both their customers and business partners no matter where they are.

“A lot of small businesses deal with other small businesses, so it’s important to communicate when it works for both parties,” said Mike Pugh, vice president of marketing at digital business solutions provider j2 Global. “It might be early in the morning, late at night, or on a lunch hour. You need to be able to take a message and access information to keep a deal in motion.”

However, just because you can be reached constantly through your mobile devices doesn’t mean you should be. “You should avoid being available all the time to everyone, or available to no one,” Pugh told Business News Daily. “Use technology to make yourself accessible in the right ways to the right people at the right time.”

Pugh offered the following mobile tech strategies to help people stay accessible while still maintaining their work-life balance:

1) Take your time and single-task. With online faxing and a digitized signature, you can send an important fax from anywhere while you’re doing other things. But when you multitask, you’re far more likely to make errors. Step away from what you’re doing so you can give the business task your undivided attention.

2) Don’t take calls unless it’s quiet. Projecting professionalism and seriousness is just as important as being responsive. Before you take or return an important call from a prospect while you’re out of the office, make sure you’re in a quiet environment first.

3) Find solutions that work on any platform. You need to be able to use whatever device  is available to you at the time to conduct your business. The software and programs you choose to run your operations should behave the same way on your phone, tablet and desktop.

The story was originally published on Business News Daily.

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

National Rankings for the Boise Valley

The Boise Valley, home of The Sundance Company since 1976, has been recognized in several high-profile publications by ranking the city as one of the best places in the United States to do business and live. Below are some of the recent accolades:

 

#10 Best Place to Invest in Housing 2014
Forbes | February 2014

Top 24 Best Places to Live & Work 2014
Sunset Magazine | February 2014

Top 25 Best Places to Retire in 2014
Forbes | January 2014

#12 in Top 100 Places to Live 2014
Livability.com | October 2013

#12 Healthiest State
AmericasHealthRankings.org | December 2013



#9 Best State for Expected Job Growth
Forbes, September 2013



#4 Best State for Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneur Magazine, August 2013

 

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

10 Simple Ways To Cut Business Expenses

There’s no avoiding the fact that running a business costs money. Whether it’s a brick-and-mortar retail store, a service provider, or a small e-commerce company, every startup has its own set of expenses. While you can’t fully eliminate your costs, you can significantly reduce them with a few simple changes to your business operations.

Holly Perez, senior manager of personal finance software company Quicken, shared these 10 cost-cutting solutions to help you reduce your business’s budget:

1. Outsource. Bring in freelancers or contractors for short-term jobs. You won’t have to pay a full-time salary with benefits to employees who you may not need after a project is completed. If a particular temp worker stands out, you may be able to hire them to fill a current or future position, which could help you cut recruiting and training costs.

2. Hire interns. Hiring interns is a win-win situation. Interns get valuable experience, and employers enjoy low-cost labor. However, interns might need extensive training on your software and procedures before they can get to work. Keep this in mind when weighing the costs and benefits of this tactic.

3. Use email whenever possible. When sending simple messages, like greetings to new customers and requests to vendors, do it electronically. Small costs like stamps, envelopes and paper can add up fast, so cutting the little things can make a big difference.

4. Print less. Ink cartridges, paper, file cabinets and storage space are all expenses you can easily limit in the digital age. Store the majority of your documents and data on a hard drive, scanning paper documents if necessary. Be sure to back up all of your files and protect your computers with passwords.

5. Negotiate lower credit card APRs. Many small business owners use credit cards for working capital, minor purchases or travel expenses. If you’re paying a high annual percentage rate, try to negotiate a lower rate with your provider. You can save significant money over the long term.

6. Negotiate lower prices with your suppliers. You shouldn’t just be wrangling better deals from your credit card companies; you should also negotiate with your suppliers. Most suppliers are amenable to the idea of negotiating prices, because they would rather do so than lose a regular customer.

7. Pay invoices early. Many suppliers offer discounts for paying invoices within the first few days of receiving them. If you have the cash, paying early is a great way to build long-lasting relationships with your suppliers.

8. Buy used equipment. With technology constantly improving, you can get big discounts on software and hardware that was recently replaced by a new version. Used equipment can be just as useful as new equipment, but even at a few months old, these products will come at a significantly lower price.

9. Travel less. You can save a lot of time and money by avoiding unnecessary trips. Use online resources like Webex and Skype to conduct meetings with people in multiple locations rather than traveling to visit them in person.

10. Let employees telecommute. If possible, allow your staff to work from home at least one day per week. You’ll see a cost savings on your electricity bill, and you may ultimately be able to relocate to a smaller office.

The story was originally published on Business News Daily.

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

Making Your Business Buzzworthy

An article from the Business News Daily discusses how email marketing used to follow a one-size-fits-all model, but now new technology is giving businesses the chance to take their campaigns to the next level.

Vivek Sharma, co-founder and CEO of email marketing technology provider Movable Ink, said there are numerous new ways businesses can help ensure their emails are not only read, but revisited multiple times.

Originally, email marketing was similar to direct mail in that everyone got the same message, Sharma said. Eventually, email messages could be targeted to different customer segments — for instance, one email could be sent to men, and the other to women.

Sharma said “agile marketing” takes things several steps further. “Agile marketing is actuality-based marketing — meaning, rather than creating a prefabbed message, the message is adapting to you based on when you are [reading it], where you are, what device you are opening it on and even the weather outside,” Sharma said.

To help businesses better understand the capabilities of email marketing, Sharma has compiled a list of 10 ways retailers can use email marketing to generate excitement and boost sales:

  • Multimedia: Rather than a simple picture, use video and a countdown clock to unveil a new product and create a sense of urgency.
  • Social media: Use social media to make emails interactive by incorporating real-time tweets and Instagram photos.
  • Personalize: While some think slapping someone’s name at the top of an email makes it personal, take it even further by personalizing an image with the recipient’s name on it — for example, a piece of jewelry with the person’s name engraved on it.
  • New deals: To get consumers to revisit the email after they have opened it, use new technology that allows for the email to be updated with new deals every hour.
  • Shipping: Include real-time shipping-status information in purchase confirmation emails.
  • Updated locations: Use geo-targeting to show nearby store locations and the hours when each of those stores is open.
  • New products: Change offers that are promoted based on each shopper’s location. For example, a ticket broker could change the concerts or sporting events it promotes in an email based on each consumer’s location.
  • Bar codes: Use bar codes in mobile emails to drive sales by letting consumers have their email scanned straight from their mobile device for an in-store discount.
  • Best sellers: For businesses with fast-moving products on their home page, use new tools that allow the emails to always show the most up-to-date best-selling products. It ensures the emails never go stale.
  • Mobile friendly: Optimize emails for mobile devices — for instance, include a “click to call” button for customers who want to make a purchase or speak to a customer representative.

Sharma said email marketing makes the most sense for retailers because it has the largest return on their investment. He points to past research that shows that the return on investment for email marketing is $29 for every $1 spent.

“Dollar for dollar, out of all of the digital channels available to retailers, email simply performs the best,” Sharma said. “It is incredibly effective.”

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

10 Surprising Social Media Statistics

If you’re managing social media for your business, it might be useful to know about some of the most surprising social media statistics this year. Here are 10 that might make you rethink the way you’re approaching social media.

1. THE FASTEST GROWING DEMOGRAPHIC ON TWITTER IS THE 55–64 YEAR AGE BRACKET.

• This demographic has grown 79% since 2012.
• The 45–54 year age bracket is the fastest growing demographic on both Facebook and Google+.
• For Facebook, this group has jumped 46%.
• For Google+, 56%.

Those are impressive numbers against the prevailing idea that social media is “just for teenagers.” It certainly points to the importance of having a solid social media strategy if these age brackets fit into your target demographic.

Rethink it: Keep older users in mind when using social media, particularly on these three platforms. Our age makes a difference to our taste and interests, so if you’re focusing on younger users with the content you post, you could be missing an important demographic.

2. 189 MILLION OF FACEBOOK’S USERS ARE “MOBILE ONLY”

Not only does Facebook have millions of users who don’t access it from a desktop or laptop, but mobile use generates 30% of Facebook’s ad revenue as well. This is a 7% increase from the end of 2012 already.

Rethink it: There are probably more users accessing Facebook from mobile devices than you thought. It’s worth considering how your content displays on mobile devices and smaller screens before posting it, particularly if your target market is full of mobile users. Of course, make sure to make sharing to social media from mobile more straightforward.

3. YOUTUBE REACHES MORE U.S. ADULTS AGED 18–34 THAN ANY CABLE NETWORK

Did you think TV was the best way to reach the masses? Well if you’re after 18–34 year olds in the U.S., you’ll have more luck reaching them through YouTube. Of course, one video won’t necessarily reach more viewers than a cable network could, but utilizing a platform with such a wide user base makes a lot of sense.

Rethink it: If you’ve been putting off adding video to your strategy, now’s the time to give it a go. You could start small with simple five-minute videos explaining what your company does or introducing your team.

4. EVERY SECOND TWO NEW MEMBERS JOIN LINKEDIN

LinkedIn, the social network for professionals, continues to grow every second. From groups to blogs to job listings, this platform is a rich source of information and conversation for professionals who want to connect to others in their industry.

Rethink it: LinkedIn is definitely worth paying attention to. In particular, this is a place where you may want to focus more on new users. Making your group or community a great source of information and a newbie-friendly space can help you to make the most out of the growing userbase.

Make sure you share consistently to your LinkedIn company page and profile by, for example, scheduling your posts.

5. SOCIAL MEDIA HAS OVERTAKEN PORN AS THE NO. 1 ACTIVITY ON THE WEB

We all knew social media was popular, but this popular? Apparently it’s the most common thing we do online. So next time you find yourself watching Kitten vs. Watermelon videos on Facebook, you can at least console yourself with the fact that the majority of people online right now are doing something similar.

Social media carries more weight than ever. It’s clearly not a fad, or a phase. It continues to grow as a habit, and new platforms continue to appear and develop.

Rethink it: Putting time and effort into your social media strategy clearly makes sense in light of these stats. If you weren’t already serious about social media, you might want to give it a bit more of your time now.

6. LINKEDIN HAS A LOWER PERCENTAGE OF ACTIVE USERS THAN PINTEREST, GOOGLE+, TWITTER AND FACEBOOK

Although LinkedIn is gathering new users at a fast rate, the number of active users is lower than most of the biggest social networks around. So more people are signing up, but they’re not participating. This means you’re probably not going to have as good a response with participatory content on LinkedIn, like contests or polls, as you might on Facebook or Twitter.

Rethink it: If you’re hoping to get people involved, think about which platforms are best for that. Looking at the latest Twitter statistics and Facebook statistics, these platforms might be a better place for your contest or survey, while passive content like blog posts or slide decks might be just right for your LinkedIn audience.

7. 93% OF MARKETERS USE SOCIAL MEDIA FOR BUSINESS

Only 7% of marketers say they don’t use social media for their business. That means there are lots of people out there getting involved and managing a social media strategy. It’s becoming more common to include social media as part of an overall marketing budget or strategy, as opposed to when it was the outlier that no one wanted to spend time or money on.

Rethink it: If you’re struggling to make your strategy work, or you just want some advice, you don’t have to go it alone. If 93% of marketers are using social media for business, you can probably find someone to give you a hand. Plus, there are lots of blogs, videos and slide decks around to help you out. Be sure to find the right social media management tool for you to stay on top of everything.

8. 25% OF SMARTPHONE OWNERS AGES 18–44 SAY THEY CAN’T RECALL THE LAST TIME THEIR SMARTPHONE WASN’T NEXT TO THEM

It’s pretty clear that mobile is a growing space that we need to pay attention to. And we’ve all heard the cliché of smartphone owners who don’t want to let go of their phones, even for five minutes. Well, apparently that’s not too far from the truth. If 25% of people aged 18–44 can’t remember not having their phone with them, there are probably very few times when they’re not connected to the web in some way.

Rethink it: While you can reach people almost anytime, since they have their smartphones with them almost always, this also means you can interrupt pretty much any part of their lives. Don’t forget that having a phone in your pocket all the time isn’t the same as being available all the time.

9. EVEN THOUGH 62% OF MARKETERS BLOG OR PLAN TO BLOG IN 2013, ONLY 9% OF US MARKETING COMPANIES EMPLOY A FULL-TIME BLOGGER

Blogging is clearly a big focus for marketers who want to take advantage of social media and content marketing. This is great, because blogging for your business has lots of advantages: you can control your company blog, you can set the tone and use it to market your product, share company news or provide interesting information for your customers. With only 9% of marketing companies hiring bloggers full-time, however, the pressure to produce high-quality content consistently will be a lot higher.

What a lot of people struggle here is how to write the best headlines for your articles, when the best time is to publish posts and lots of other blogging questions that arise when people are starting out.

(Of course, not all marketers work at marketing companies, but the stats are still interesting–how many companies in any industry can afford to hire–or already have–a full-time blogger?)

Rethink it: If you don’t have (or can’t afford) a full-time blogger for your business, be aware that having a content strategy that requires consistently posting on your blog will mean a lot of work for your marketing team and/or other team members in your company to keep up that volume. This can work, it’s just important to realize how big a task it is to run with a full-time content strategy without a full-time content creator.

10. 25% OF FACEBOOK USERS DON’T BOTHER WITH PRIVACY SETTINGS

We’ve seen a lot of news about social media companies and privacy. Facebook itself has been in the news several times over privacy issues, Instagram users recently got in a kerfuffle over changing their terms of service, and the recent NSA news has seen people become more conscious of their privacy online.

But despite these high-profile cases of security-conscious users pushing back against social networks and web services, Velocity Digital reports that 25% of Facebook users don’t even look at their privacy settings.

Rethink it: Assuming that all of your customers are thinking along the same lines could be a big mistake. Especially if you’re basing that on what you’ve heard or read in the tech news. Remember that your customers might have very different priorities than what you expect.

Your social media strategy really comes down to what your goals are, and who your target customers are, but it doesn’t hurt to pay attention to the trends happening across the web. Hopefully these stats will help you to identify trends that will affect your strategy and adjust accordingly.

The story was originally published on Fast Company.

About The Sundance Company
Established in 1976, The Sundance Company has the experience to help you with your commercial real estate needs throughout the Boise Valley. If your requirements include property management, leasing, real estate development, project planning, construction or space planning then look to us. The Sundance Company has more than 1.5 million square feet of office and industrial space available in prime locations in the Boise metropolitan area. More information is available at www.sundanceco.com or 208.322.7300.

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