Personalizing Your Company’s Social Media

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

In this rapidly moving world of social media, individual and company posts can create clutter or junk – very similar to email.  It is difficult, at best, to keep up with all the posts that are taking place.  Posts that are always self-promoting, without much educational value, can have a negative impact on readers.

Small business owners, in particular, do not have time for constant posting. Instead, we can personalize our voices as well as strike a balance between self-promotion and having a unique voice. These four tips will give your company a personalized social media image:

  • Pace Posts. Three posts per day is an excellent number of posts for a small business target audience. At C2G, our general guideline is to space posts at least three hours apart in a given day. Perhaps you want to post in mornings, afternoon and evenings so your audience will get an opportunity to see the post depending on their schedules.
  • Comment On Other People’s Pages. Much like in a real friendship, a social media friendship is all about give and take. Reading and commenting on other peoples content provides encouragement in your social media relationships and shows your level of engagement. Before posting your comment, ensure you have a positive tone – you do not want to incite arguments. Additionally, if you feel there is compromising material or content on a website or in a post, do not Like them or comment simply because you know the person who made the post.
  • Posts Topics of Interests. Do repost and share content that belongs to others as long as credit is attributed to the individual or company.  Reposts help to create new readers as well as you have more content for which to keep your audience informed.  Having guest bloggers is also a fantastic way of getting new topics on which you are not an expert.
  • Provide Original Content. Write inspiration messages, or have your company’s employees write blogs. Providing original content is a great way to personalize your social media. People like to see original content and that helps to develop a following. Our weekly blogs are distributed to our social media family every Monday morning.

Social media gives your company a personality. A successful social media campaign results in followers saying “Company X always provides interesting content.” Quality posts create audience engagement.  What are some of your favorite posts that you can share with us?

Patrick Coughlin is a Marketing Intern at Consultants 2 Go. 

Contrary to popular belief, summer is an opportune time to reach out to clients. The following are quick conversation starters for connecting with your clients this summer.

  • Ask About “The Beach” - The beach is synonymous with an all-encompassing idea of the family, logistics, and an even broader schematic. For those maintaining the balance between work and family life, we know taking time off is not as easy as it sounds. Perhaps you can help a client, or vice-versa, to make work and home life easier and seamless.
  • Host An Event – Hold a barbeque or cocktail hour for clients. In summer, people think about how to best spend their time. Most people can attend an afternoon barbeque or evening cocktail event. These events are easy to plan and often are not expensive. Reach out to your invitation list to get feedback on a day most would be able to make it. Everyone is not going to make it and that might be good. Getting the undivided attention of a few clients is better than none.
  • Get On Their List ­­­- A strategic way of getting into your client’s mindset is to call them before their big vacation this summer. Chances are there will be quite a list for them to complete prior to vacation, so don’t expect to have their ear then. Instead, propose being the first item on their agenda when they get back.
  • The Simple Phone Call – For past clients, a simple catch-up phone call will do wonders. Reach out and ask about their world. “What’s going on?” “How was your Fourth of July?” Even the less social clients will have had something happen. Once the ice is broken with personal information, see if you can dig deeper into business needs.
  • Anticipate Customer/Client Questions - When trying for new customers or new sales, have your answers ready before they ask the question. People feel even more overwhelmed during the summer as they walk the fine line of work, friends, and family. If you can save a potential customer time and worry by having your answers prepared for any questions, customers will admire your initiative and perseverance.

Once again, summer is the ideal time for reaching out to clients because of busier-than-usual schedules. Even if you don’t get business from clients with these steps, they will remember your thoughtfulness. Also, you never know who might refer business. So, utilize this summer to plant seeds for the rest of the year.

Patrick Coughlin is a Marketing Intern at Consultants 2 Go. 

The Good Jobs Strategy

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

At the end of May 2014, I attended an HR Jag given by the Inc. Business Council. A jag is a deep concentration on one topic where you walk away with actions you can immediately execute in your business. It was amazing as it forced me to think about a lot of things that I’ve unintentionally kept on the back burner due to being busy. I hate to admit it, but the thing that I’ve been “meaning to do” is take a good look at my HR and employee strategy.

Zeynep Ton, an MIT and Harvard Business School professor, was one of the keynote speakers. Her book, The Good Jobs Strategy, outlines some key things a business owner needs to do to ensure they are investing in their employees. Some tips from Zeynep were:

  • See employees as strategic assets and not as a cost item: we are innately “wired” to see employees as a cost. When we do so, we do not pay them what they are worth and, of course, they wind up leaving us for better pay. We also do not take the time to recognize and reward them.
  • The best companies always satisfy their constituents: their employees, customer and investors. If you take a look at the top companies with the happiest employees, those three components are the cornerstone of your company. When employees are happy in their jobs, customers are happy with your product/service and your investors are seeing a great return on investment, it usually translates to a good profit margin.
  • Standardize and empower people: everyone knows how to perform the same task and how long it takes to get the task done – it makes it easier to train or cross-train when the task is easily repeated or outlined. As a small business owner, we don’t have the luxury of huge teams so ensure everyone knows how a job should be done makes them more valuable to you.

We all know the cost of losing/replacing an employee – whether or not they leave on a voluntary basis. The time investment, recruiting costs, interviewing and training costs become exorbitant. Why not make our employees happy to work with us by giving them interesting projects, a friendly environment and good salary? Small business owners, make your employees proud to work with your organization.

The Best Place To Work

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

At the Inc. Business Council’s HR Jag, Jason Lauritsen of Quantum Workplace – one of the creators of the Best Places to Work surveys – discussed the tools to engage your employees. Engaged employees are emotionally connected, over-achieve, promote your business, stay with the company and they are the most productive – and companies with the most engaged employees are the most profitable.

Each individual employee has their own idea of what makes a best place to work. The employees define the criteria of what makes your company a great place to work. At Consultants 2 Go, the top 2 drivers are flexibility in hours and the ability to work virtually. In other companies, employees might like the people with whom they work, as well as the company might be a teaching organization where they always learn.

Consistently, what matters in every best place to work (not necessarily in this order) is always these top 3 items:

  1. Trust in leadership – they must feel confident that the business owners are communicating changes in direction and strategy downwards to the team. Regardless of salary, when people trust that their leaders have their best interest at heart, they will stay on the job.
  2. Feeling valued by organization – every person wants to feel appreciated and that the work that they are doing has value. Ways that you can make your employees feel valued is to recognize the small things that they do to make your office a best place to work. Recognition can be as simple as congratulating that person in front of the team.
  3. Career development opportunities – most employees can embrace change when they understand the impact to their careers. If they know that they are adding skill sets to their resumes, they will feel a lot better when it is time for the career development discussion. However, if they feel their current job does not enhance their resume and they cannot take anything that is learned elsewhere (think about highly customized technology systems), they will leave.

Employee retention increases when the above three points are at play.

Ask your employees if they feel your business is a “best place to work” organization. There are several surveys that you can take. Crain’s NY has a current award for “best place to work” for companies in the NY area. Apply at http://www.crainsnewyork.com/features/best-places-to-work. Even if you do not win, it is worth reviewing your organization for “best place to work” practices.

The New Wave: Mobile Recruiting

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

As our modern world constantly changes with the increased use of technology, so does the ways in which we can recruit top talent for our organizations. Technology is something that is involved in most of our day-to-day activities and functions. It is consistently growing, becoming more advanced, and possesses the potential to make recruiting easier, more exciting, and literally at the tips of our fingertips. Now, more than ever, mobile recruitment is taking on a major role in how businesses reach out to job seekers. Keep these key points in mind as you examine your current recruitment methods and procedures.

  • Portability: The portability of job search tools and resources make it even easier to find jobs at whatever time and location that is convenient for the user. Looking for the right job is a job in itself and to be able to do it at whatever time or place is sure to make the entire process more effective. It is estimated that approximately 87% of US smartphone owners use their smartphones to access the web at least once a day and 86% would potentially use their smartphone to search for a job.
  • Access: The ability to access job postings on demand increases the likelihood that employers will find the right candidate. It will create more traffic for your site which, in turn, will increase applications giving you a head-start over your competitors. Mobile recruiting is quickly becoming the quickest and most effective way to reach well-connected, active job seekers. Mobile recruiting also presents the perfect opportunity to update your hiring processes- interview recording, in which candidates can record and send their answers to written interview questions to employers via video, is becoming increasingly popular.
  • Apps: Creating an app for your business is the perfect opportunity to create the ultimate user experience to introduce job seekers to what your organization has to offer. It keeps candidates engaged and encourages them to find out more about your company. Also, a large portion of job-seekers are already working and have limited time to look for jobs in their free time. The most convenient way for them is by using smartphones and tablets. Having a user-friendly mobile app and/or site is sure to leave a lasting impression on these types of job seekers.

These are just a few of the many advantages offered by mobile recruiting. Now is the time to ensure that your organization is keeping up with current trends and utilizing all possible resources to obtain top talent. Take the next big step with your recruitment process and gain that edge over the competition by considering mobile recruiting.

Jennie Moussa is a Marketing Intern for Consultants 2 Go and student at NJIT.

Today’s Job Seeker

Sunday, June 15th, 2014

Recruiting top talent for your organization can seem like a daunting task, especially with so many job- seekers on the market today. Like recruiting, job seeking is a job within itself. Effective job seekers usually possesses the following qualities: Self-Awareness, Organization, Brand Awareness/Savvy, and Attitude. As a business, it is important to acquaint yourself and your recruitment personnel with the characteristics of today’s job seeker. Consider these qualities and characteristics when tailoring your recruitment processes to match the needs of today’s modern job seeker.

  • Self-Awareness: The most effective job seekers know their strengths and weaknesses, and know what they are looking for in an organization. They possess a clear sense of self-worth and understand their skills and value in the workplace. Today’s job seeker also knows what kind of position would give them the most satisfaction and sense of purpose.
  • Organization: Good planning and organization are the keys to a successful and effective job search. Job seekers today usually already have some sort of plan as to which companies for which they would like to work. They are also familiar with industry trends, have already researched different companies and people, and have a planned method of approach.
  • Brand Awareness/Savvy: Developing a “personal brand” when job seeking is now more important than ever. Job seekers today are fully aware of this and normally have a perfectly tailored resume that reflects their skills, experience, and accomplishments. They also have a presence on social media sites such as LinkedIn, twitter, and Facebook in which they utilize to their advantage in the job search process.
  • Good Attitude: Perhaps a basic notion, a good attitude is sometimes overlooked when considering qualities that make a great job-seeker. Today’s job seeker generally possesses a positive and persistent attitude. They have also made significant networking connections and realize the significance of first impressions. Also, the successful job-seeker has no problem waiting for the perfect opportunity to come along.

These are just a few of the qualities and characteristics that make up an effective and successful job seeker. A number of job-seekers already possess some, if not all, of these characteristics. With this knowledge, organizations can customize their recruitment process to ensure that they are reaching out to the right people. Familiarizing your organization with these characteristics is sure to give you the competitive advantage you need in the hiring process.

Jennie Moussa is a Marketing Intern at Consultants 2 Go and student at NJIT. 

The Eco-Friendly Office Environment

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

Garret-Stembridge

Overlooked Aspects of Eco-Friendliness around the Office

If you save energy, you’ll save money, and if you do your part to protect the environment, that’s another way of saying you care about future generations. So where do your company’s efforts to be more eco-friendly begin? A good place to start is to make sure your furniture and flooring are kind to the environment.

Earth-Friendly Habits for the Office

If you save energy, you’ll save money, and if you do your part to protect the environment, that’s another way of saying you care about future generations. So where do your company’s efforts to be more eco-friendly begin?

Here are some easy ways to create earth-friendly habits for the office:

  • Conserve electricity - Turn off computers and other equipment you aren’t using, and make sure computers and monitors are in their energy-saving mode. Turn off the lights in rooms that aren’t being used and take advantage of natural light as often as possible.
  • Recycle - You can do more than simply recycling paper. Use both sides of a sheet of paper if you can, and do away with those disposable cups at the water cooler.
  • Buy environmentally-friendly products - Purchase recycled paper and refillable ink cartridges.
  • Clean with non-toxic products - If the company that cleans your office doesn’t use green cleaning products, there are many companies that do.
  • Cut down on driving - Encourage telecommuting when possible, and ask those who must come to the office to carpool, walk, bike or use public transportation.
  • A paperless office - Cut down on printed material when you can, and only print documents when it’s absolutely necessary.
  • Climate control - Use programmable thermostats so you aren’t heating and cooling when no one is in the office.
  • Smart lighting - Using timers and motion detectors, you can turn the lights on during the workday and turn them off when rooms in your office are empty.

Recycling, cutting down on energy use and doing away with most of your paperwork will help the environment, and you can do even more to protect the planet by paying attention to the things you do.

Garret Stembridge is part of the team at Extra Space Storage, a leading provider of self-storage facilities. Garret often writes about sustainable practices for homes and for businesses. Many Extra Space Storage locations, including several in Sacramento, have been retrofitted to reduce energy consumption.

Keeping It Confidential

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

A co-worker is in a meeting and you need to send him/her some critical information for the meeting without disrupting anyone. Why not send a text message with the information since they have their phone in front of them? Rethink doing so because if you are using a personal phone you will be breaching company confidentiality. This could be perceived as minor but is inadvertently violating company policy. Follow these five guidelines to ensure you maintain company confidentiality.

  • Personal Devices Are Personal

While most employees would not admit to careless behavior, there is a chance an employee could lose a personal device or forget to lock it. Anyone can read information on a misplaced smart phone, tablet, or laptop. If you have work information on these devices, make sure they are password protected. For precautionary measures, keep work related material off your personal device as much as possible.

  • Encrypt Anything Deemed Sensitive

A co-worker may need to use your computer – for example, help you with a software installation. You might have information open on your desktop that was distributed on a need-to-know basis. If this information is leaked and traced back to you, it can cost you your job. To save the stress, password protect important information and sensitive documents.

  • What Is Discussed In The Meeting Stays In The Meeting

Workplace confidentiality is not just about protecting the company and employees, but client information as well. A potential opportunity with a new client or a possible merger might be discussed in a department meeting. That type of information is not public knowledge. It is tempting to share this information with your colleagues, but it is not yet public and is irresponsible to share without permission.

  • Set A Procedure

It is very important for a company to establish what is and is not a breach of confidentiality. Establish rules so that there is no gray area. Departmentalize to prevent employees from accessing confidential information. Employee files and personal information should be locked. This will prevent, or greatly limit, the misuse and abuse of information. If you are a manager, set your own procedures.

  • The Buck Stops Here

Confidentiality extends beyond company information. As a co-worker, it is your duty to maintain confidential information that is discussed with your peers. It is not your place to reveal when a co-worker is going on an interview for a new company or what was shared about your boss.

It is very easy to make slips in a super connected, competitive, and cutthroat workplace. Maintaining company confidentiality is part of the contract that you signed and also tacitly consented. It is everybody’s duty to do their part and preserve the integrity of their workplace.

Patrick Coughlin is a Marketing Intern at Consultants 2 Go.

Sales Tactics To Avoid

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

There he is! Another person trying to sell me something. Does that thought resonate? This is the opposite of what any salesperson wants a potential customer to think. Sales success is based on relationships and it is unhealthy when you are labeled as needy or overbearing. The following tips will help you avoid these sales tactics:

The ‘Hard Sell’

The hard sell is using the leverage of an agreement, and pushing for more. Once a customer accepts a product or service, the hard sell is pushing them to take more. A good salesperson allows the customer to assess their needs, or at least work together to reach a verdict. Relationships are a balance of give and take. Engaging a customer with the hard sell is a taking mentality. Using a tactic like the hard sell is a salesperson taking advantage of their customer. The fix to this tactic is to work with a customer and personalize their needs.

Dictating The Consequences

Dictating which consequences a customer will face when not buying your product is not only a sales tactic to avoid but unprofessional. Nobody wants a lecture. They know the products they need and don’t want to be told how to run things from a salesperson. Explain the value of your product to the company as opposed to assessing how the company will operate without it.

Empty Promises

It is amazing how many salespeople do not live up to their end of the bargain. During negotiation, a bond of trust is in its formative stages. This semi-fragile bond will be broken and unfixable if a person does not hold up their end of the bargain. It is a terrible thing when a customer thinks, “Where is he when I need him?” Only commit if you are 100% certain you will follow through.

Faux Persona

There is probably nothing worse than a salesperson who pretends to be your friend without any sort of initial relationship. Friends don’t use you and certainly do not cold call asking for a service. Feigning interest or an interpersonal bond will alienate your customer. It is best to remain professional and, like any other friendship, allow the bond to grow organically.

Out of Touch

The end of a sale is not the end of your relationship. Stay in touch with your client. Make the client feel comfortable and let them know that they can always come to you. Being dependable is critical for staying in a healthy relationship. Falling out of touch with a client strips the engagement process and renders the dynamic of a relationship as merely transactional.

Patrick Coughlin is a Marketing Intern for Consultants 2 Go.

Recruiting Tips For Quality Candidates

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

The life of a recruiter is inundated with phone calls and resumes. Hundreds of applicants will be vetted to find maybe four or five potential employees that stand out and are interview-ready. The following tips will increase the number of quality candidates you have to choose from.

Develop Your Resources

Take time to establish relationships with college placement offices. Thousands of graduates enter the work force each year and alumni often keep in touch with their alma mater’s career service center. Another resource is your company’s own database. The more description applied to each person in your database, the easier it is to search for a qualified applicant. Software such as bambooHR, Hyrell, and Big Biller are web-based programs that not only store potential candidates, but also track the hiring process. With a number of software systems out there, it is important to develop the one you choose and learn it well.

Use Your Co-Workers

Finding ideal candidates is a company mission, not just for the people in HR or workers with ‘Recruiter’ in their title. The vast networks and connections your coworkers have made can be of great use to you. You never know if they have an old friend, or colleague in mind for an open position. The degrees of connection may not be as direct but perhaps a co-worker knows somebody who would know somebody. The possibilities are endless.

Always Check References

A candidate may present his or herself well; yet, there is no better way to understand how a person works than to ask people with whom they have worked. Sure, a person can be well spoken, intelligent, and confident, but who better to see their day-to-day work habits? Perhaps while a candidate may appear to be shy during an interview, it might be that his references were thrilled to work with them and is eager for an opportunity to do so again.

Hire The Sure Thing

Do not try to compensate for an applicant’s lack of skills. A company would rather have quality hires instead of temporary quick fixes. The theoretical standard for hiring a candidate is to find someone who has done the exact job, in the exact industry. While there are exceptions, notably in entry-level positions, trying to shift a worker to a different field can be met with a plethora of obstructions, as it may not be what they are looking for long term. You do not want these obstacles become a later issue.

Network From Within

An initial call to a candidate is very useful to get a feel of the candidate. If that candidate is not a fit, perhaps they may know someone else who is qualified for the job. It is no secret that networking and connections are worth their weight in gold. Through word of mouth from your connections, candidates reach out to you instead of you searching for them.

Even with these tips, recruiting is a time consuming process; there is no getting around that. Utilize these tips and you will leave yourself with a good problem – too many good candidates from which to choose.

Lori Rinn is the Director of Recruiting at Consultants 2 Go.