tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:/feeds/all Flying Solo 2015-03-04T07:30:00+11:00 tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/15019 2015-03-04T07:30:00+11:00 2015-03-04T10:44:16+11:00 Take care in the communities: a cautionary tale <p>The key to building genuine relationships via social media is simple – join communities. But be warned, there’s no such thing as a private online community. </p><p>I’ll be honest, I don’t play well with others.</p> <p>I’m always the first to leave the BBQ.</p> <p>The thought of breakfast networking makes me gag on my croissant.</p> <p>And my all-time favourite quote? It’s <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Exit" mce_href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Exit">“Hell is other people.”</a><br /></p><h2> That’s part of the reason I’m a soloist.</h2><h2><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 17px;" mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 17px;">But as we all know, solo working can be a lonely old game, so occasionally I venture out from home office hermitage and try to connect with other humans. Virtually of course.</span></h2> <p>Social media seems an obvious place to start, but it can feel like you’re posting into the void. No engagement, no likes, no shares, no nuffink. It’s a one-way street. Or it was, until I discovered communities.<span style="line-height: 1.5em;" mce_style="line-height: 1.5em;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Facebook and LinkedIn have their groups.</p> <p>Google+ has its communities.</p> <p>Flying Solo has its <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/forums/index.php" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/forums/index.php">forum</a>.</p> <p>These groups and communities are smaller, friendlier ways to attack the interwebs. <br /> They connect like-minded individuals who get to share thoughts, issues, worries and triumphs in a caring, open, cuddly environment.</p><h2>I was hooked.</h2><p> I joined several and set up a few myself.</p> <p>I shared my highs, my lows, my ins and outs, my ups and downs.</p> <p>Whatever direction I was heading in, my community buddies were the first to know.</p> <p>At first it was great. The love and encouragement wrapped out around me like a freshly washed doona. They cared, they listened, they shared and some even became clients.</p> <p>But then I screwed up.</p> <p>I found out a competitor had possibly copied some of my content and I complained about it in a group. I was stressed. I needed advice. I reached out to my community. I didn’t mention names, but I see now it was an easy guess.</p> <p>Big mistake.</p> <p>The tsunami of backlash was … damp, to say the least.</p> <p>You see, the interwebs is smaller than you think.</p> <p>Australia is smaller than you think.</p> <p>Everyone knows everyone. And of course someone in that group was best buddies with my potential copycat and horribly offended I would even infer the possibility of some crafty ‘cut and pasting’. &nbsp;They told said person, they complained to the admins and ultimately, made me feel as uncomfortable as a possum in hot pants.</p> <p>No matter that my competitor and I had begun to sort things out.</p> <p>No matter that my emotional kettle was no longer boiling.</p> <p>No matter that I apologised.</p> <p>My <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/social-responsibility/the-benefits-of-community-involvement" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/social-responsibility/the-benefits-of-community-involvement">community</a> reputation was blown. Suddenly I was the bad guy and the private fluffy cocoon I’d been nestling in became a spiky, salty, red room of pain. Everyone’s knives were out for me (they were pointy as all hell) and I also got a warning from the group’s administrators.</p> <p>So I did what I felt was the best thing to do: left quietly via the back door. ‘Bye, bye’ community.</p> <p>I miss that group. I miss the banter. I miss the random inane posts about our days. I miss the advice and most of all I miss the camaraderie.</p> <p>But it taught me a valuable, if harsh, lesson.</p> <h2>Communities are NOT a safe place.</h2> <p>No matter how small the group, unless you’re related to them – or have some awesome stuff to use as blackmail – you’re always at risk that what you say can be shared (and shared and shared).</p> <p>Nowadays, when I see people ranting and raving in communities (or forums, or the comments of blog posts), I shake my head with equal parts pity and sympathy.</p> <p>They’ve clearly not yet learned (or don’t care) that:</p> <ul> <li>Every community member is a potential customer, or a potential referrer.</li> <li>Every complaint sounds like a whinge.</li> <li>Every question makes you look unsure.</li> <li>Every word you say represents your business and your brand.</li> </ul> <p>They’ve not yet learned it’s important to be careful what you say because someone, somewhere could be taking it the wrong way, or telling someone else about it.</p> <p>Don’t get me wrong. I’m not about to start hiding behind my fluttering fan and simpering niceties just to keep the masses happy.&nbsp;</p> <p>If I have stuff to say I’ll say it. I’ll <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-branding/lets-talk-politics-religion-vaccinations-and-equality-or-not" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-branding/lets-talk-politics-religion-vaccinations-and-equality-or-not">just think a bit harder</a> before I do.</p> <p>And the next time I have a bad day? I think I’ll be talking it out with my dog, the pot plant (or even, as a last resort, my husband. Ha!).</p><p><strong><em>Have you ever run afoul of a favourite online community?</em></strong></p> Kate Toon tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/15021 2015-03-04T07:30:00+11:00 2015-02-23T09:18:40+11:00 Can you stay true to your values in business? <p>I’ve always wanted to make the world a better place through my work. But what happens when making a living takes priority over personal ideologies?</p><p>When I first started out in<strong> </strong>my solo venture my hope was that I could make some kind of difference and right some kind of worldly wrong.</p> <p>It’s ok. You’re allowed to roll your eyes!</p> <p>I know I’m not the first person who’s entered business with these dreams and I certainly won’t be the last.</p> <h2>Passionate beginnings</h2> <p>My particular brand of <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/business-values/money-and-happiness-are-you-earning-too-much-money" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/business-values/money-and-happiness-are-you-earning-too-much-money">idealism</a> started when I was studying design. I recall staring at an advertisement I’d created and thinking “why?”</p> <p>Why am I choosing to make my living by helping to promote things that aren’t always good for the world? Isn’t advertising responsible for repeatedly tricking us into a destructive pattern of consumption?</p> <p>Ah that wonderful time in one’s life where passions are able to run unchecked by the realities of the world. In a ‘moment of awakening’ I decided I’d simply use my new powers of visual communication to send better messages. If commercial design can sell bad things, it could have just as much power to sell good and help facilitate a sustainable future right?</p> <h2>Wisdom through experience</h2> <p>10 years later it feels like time and again I’ve had to let my values and desire for sustainability in particular to slip.</p> <p>Nobody is to blame. It’s simply that I work with a lot of small businesses who are in start-up phase. It’s unreasonable to expect that new business owners would have the time or budget to work through a sustainable design strategy or consider alternative possibilities.</p> <p>And as a small business owner myself, I can empathise. When you’re caught up in the day-to-day running of a business, <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/work-life-balance/setting-priorities-your-money-or-your-life" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/work-life-balance/setting-priorities-your-money-or-your-life">it’s hard to prioritise things</a> you don’t particularly care about, or that don’t provide immediate gains.</p> <p>So have I failed?</p> <p>Not quite.</p> <h2>Gentle is better</h2> <p>Passion, promotion and transparency in your personal values in business is a good thing, no matter what. In micro-businesses in particular, personal values often cross over to brand values because there are fewer individuals involved in driving the brand.</p> <p>But it’s also important to know where to draw the line. Nobody wants to works with someone who is constantly pushing their ideals on to them. We humans like to feel like we’ve discovered things ourselves. If we’re to take on new ideas and ideologies, we want time to come to these things slowly.</p> <p>So I’ve had to soften my stance in favour of gentle education and planting seeds.</p> <h2>Finding like-minded clients</h2> <p>There is however a fine line between not pushing at all, and pushing your values and ideas too hard. I’m looking forward to the day I find <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/work-life-balance/" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/work-life-balance/">the perfect balance</a> between the two. I know that will be the time I start to attract more customers and clients that share the same values as me.</p> <h2>In the meantime …</h2> <p>Even though sometimes I feel like I’m swimming upstream, I know I’m at least making a small difference by planting one tiny seed at a time. A new client may only glance at the sustainable design strategy I meticulously arrange, but even that glance is enough to remind them that sustainability matters.</p> <p>So while my current efforts have certainly fallen short of those ten-years-ago ideals of changing the world, I still go to bed each night comfortable in the knowledge that each day brings me closer to that dream.</p><p> <em><b>Have you ever had to make any compromises when it comes to staying true to your personal values at work?</b></em></p> Sonja Meyer tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/15020 2015-03-03T07:30:00+11:00 2015-02-23T09:16:34+11:00 Three easy ways to boost your blog subscribers <p>Are you producing quality content on your blog but no one’s signing up? These three simple strategies can get those subscriber numbers moving upwards again.</p><p>As a soloist you’ve probably been told (by people like me!) that <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/small-business-blogs/internet-marketing-the-basics-of-blogging-for-business" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/small-business-blogs/internet-marketing-the-basics-of-blogging-for-business">you should have a blog</a>. One of the main reasons being that blogging is a fantastic way to add value to people’s lives (and in adding this value, hopefully entice them to sign up for your email list.)&nbsp;</p> <p>Unfortunately blogging can sometimes seem like a thankless task, especially when you’re struggling to get those subscriber numbers up and have a hundred other things to do. I hear this from my clients all the time.&nbsp;</p> <p>So what if you’re creating quality content on a regular basis but nobody is reading it? What if your blog is getting plenty of traffic but for some reason nobody is signing up?&nbsp;</p> <p>If your subscriber rates are not reflecting your efforts and the quality of your writing, there are three tricks you can try to help increase them. Best of all these techniques don’t cost anything or require any great amount of technical expertise.</p> <h2>1. Add a call to action button</h2> <p>I’m always surprised how many blogs don’t actually ask people to subscribe. A <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/website-design/creating-compelling-call-to-action-buttons" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/website-design/creating-compelling-call-to-action-buttons">call to action</a> tells readers what you want them to do next and for most websites, especially if you’re using Wordpress, they are very easy to add.</p> <p>The trick with call to action buttons is that they should be prominent and the wording should be brief and clear. For even better results, you can try adding an extra incentive to encourage readers to subscribe. This can be a free tip sheet, article, how-to guide or e-book that they can download once they have signed up.</p> <h2>2. Landing pages</h2> <p>Once someone has clicked on your call to action button, where do they go next? If you’re serious about growing your blog subscribers, a landing page is your best bet. You can use your landing page to briefly reiterate the benefits of subscribing and let them know how often they can expect to receive posts. Double opt in subscriptions are always a good idea as they mean the person has explicitly agreed to receive your content twice. This reduces the chances of you being marked as spam, or them unsubscribing at a later date.</p> <h2>3. Create quality content</h2><h2><p>I know I mentioned this before, but it’s worth mentioning again. Nobody is going to subscribe to your blog if it isn’t interesting and valuable to them. Thinking of great blog topics can be <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/small-business-blogs/blogging-how-to-start-a-blog" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/small-business-blogs/blogging-how-to-start-a-blog">easy in the beginning</a> but after a while even the most creative among us start to run out of ideas. Regular reading can help with a flow of new information and ideas to inspire blog posts.&nbsp;</p> <p>Blogging can be time consuming so you want to make sure you are getting the best possible ‘bang’ for that time investment. Getting your subscriber numbers moving up will ensure your blog is paying appropriate dividends for the efforts expended.</p> <p><em>&nbsp;<strong>What’s been your most successful strategy for increasing blog subscriber numbers?</strong></em></p></h2> Jo Macdermott tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/15043 2015-03-03T07:30:00+11:00 2015-03-02T13:15:49+11:00 Is it time to break up with Facebook? <p>In years past, I used to spend many an evening curled up with a book. These days however, I spend that same time on Facebook clicking away on ‘interesting’ links or heading down many a rabbit hole as I follow various online dramas.</p><p>And recently, it’s occurred to me that perhaps this is not an ideal state-of-play.</p> <p>My initial awakening came, irony of ironies, after reading <a href="https://www.facebook.com/FlyingSoloAU/photos/pb.116011411760761.-2207520000.1424493231./1003760216319205/?type=3&amp;theater%20https://www.facebook.com/FlyingSoloAU/photos/pb.116011411760761.-2207520000.1424493231./1003760216319205/?type=3&amp;theater" mce_href="https://www.facebook.com/FlyingSoloAU/photos/pb.116011411760761.-2207520000.1424493231./1003760216319205/?type=3&amp;theater%20https://www.facebook.com/FlyingSoloAU/photos/pb.116011411760761.-2207520000.1424493231./1003760216319205/?type=3&amp;theater">this post</a> on Flying Solo’s Facebook – it gives a name to people like me who have bedsides piled high with unread books. In my particular case, books were gathering dust not because of lack of time to read them, but because of my habitual use of Facebook.</p> <p>Another alarm bell came later that week courtesy of my girlfriend when she told me that on her 40<sup>th</sup> birthday she deleted her Facebook account. “I got what I needed from it,” she said. “So I said thank you and goodbye.” I was full of admiration yet utterly aghast at how nervous the thought of deleting my account made me.</p> <p>Digging deeper into that unease, I realised that what I’d thought was merely an idle habit could in fact be an addiction. I know lots of people who enjoy using Facebook but can essentially take or leave it. Me? I’m someone who’s on the site or app several times a day.</p> <p>This new awareness caused me to question my motives for using it and on closer examination, it appears my time on there isn’t fulfilling any more. Sure there’s great learning and connection to be had, but there’s a lot of dross too.</p> <p>Increasingly I’ll feel unfulfilled and a bit guilty after using Facebook (in the same way you’d feel after eating too much junk food). So you’d think that would mean I’d spend less time using it, wouldn’t you?</p> <p>But I don’t.</p> <p>Which is a fairly strong indicator of addiction isn’t it?</p> <p>What’s more, <a href="https://www.google.com.au/search?q=heavy+facebook+users+prone+to+depression+study&amp;ie=utf-8&amp;oe=utf-8&amp;gws_rd=cr&amp;ei=wePrVIcShbGYBaWngLgN#safe=off&amp;q=heavy+facebook+users" mce_href="https://www.google.com.au/search?q=heavy+facebook+users+prone+to+depression+study&amp;ie=utf-8&amp;oe=utf-8&amp;gws_rd=cr&amp;ei=wePrVIcShbGYBaWngLgN#safe=off&amp;q=heavy+facebook+users">heavy usage</a> is associated with narcissism, loneliness, insecurity and <a href="http://www.science20.com/news_articles/insecure_in_your_relationship_you_spend_a_lot_of_time_on_facebook-153036" mce_href="http://www.science20.com/news_articles/insecure_in_your_relationship_you_spend_a_lot_of_time_on_facebook-153036">weakened relationships</a>.</p> <p>But hang about. Shouldn’t I at least try to defend the way I’ve spent many of my evenings in the last year? As a writer it’s healthy to rebuff research like this or at least try to.</p> <p>Naturally it took little effort to come up with the positives I derive from the platform. But I also found it astonishingly easy to counter each of them.</p> <h2>1. The sense of connection</h2> <p>Facebook’s bread and butter, surely. But in my immediate circle of friends, family and colleagues, I’m one of the only people who actively uses it.</p> <p>Ditching Facebook would mean I’d need to find a way to renegotiate relations with second tier friends. And really, I could live with that – I’d simply ask those I want to correspond with to keep in touch via email, Skype or text.</p> <h2>2. How I consume news, stories and ideas</h2> <p>The quality of publications I follow were, I thought, quite high. But last week I felt quite queasy (post-junk-food-remorse-queasy) when TIME magazine ran a story, and for good measure ran it again, 12 hours later, about a toddler having a meltdown. <em>TIME magazine, people</em>! My dad, who started his own TV industry journal in the 1960s, would be turning in his grave.</p> <p>Still, like many dedicated Facebook users, I know a little about a lot and can expertly regurgitate the information I’ve gleaned from 800 word articles. The neglected books on my bedside could prove the perfect antidote for this (although I’ll need to exercise my long distance reading skills having spent so long on reading sprints).</p> <h2>3. Personal favourites</h2> <p>There are a few blogs and publications I really enjoy, and use Facebook to follow.</p> <p>Take Facebook out of the equation and all I’d need to do is bookmark them or use another aggregator. Interestingly, the thought of actively choosing who I want to visit, rather than having it spoon fed amongst a sea of mediocrity, makes me feel light and happy.</p> <p>It’s amazing to me that the process of waking up, then thinking about a topic deeply enough to write a short article can lead to such a transparent and obvious solution: getting rid of my account. &nbsp;</p> <p>“What are you writing your article on this month?” John-Paul asked.</p> <p>“Giving up Facebook.” I said.</p> <p>“You said you were going to do that last year.”</p> <p>Did I?</p> <p>Oh.</p> <p>So there you have it. I have to. Don’t I?</p> Sam Leader tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/15018 2015-03-01T07:30:00+11:00 2015-02-23T09:15:40+11:00 5 crazy ways to avoid saying ‘no’ <p>If, like most business owners, you’re always struggling to say ‘no’, maybe it’s time to take a bit more of a left-field approach. </p><p>Last month I saw this post on the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/FlyingSoloAU/photos/a.149385061756729.25835.116011411760761/999618763400017/?type=1&amp;permPage=1" mce_href="https://www.facebook.com/FlyingSoloAU/photos/a.149385061756729.25835.116011411760761/999618763400017/?type=1&amp;permPage=1">Flying Solo Facebook page</a>.&nbsp; It clearly resonated with the Flying Solo community as many people shared their struggles with saying ‘no’, especially when it came to unreasonable requests from demanding clients.</p> <p>So today, I’m here to help. If you don’t want to say ‘yes’, but don’t know how to say ‘no’, here are five ways to avoid answering the question altogether!</p> <h2>1. Answer with interpretative dance</h2> <p>Whether it’s a client, colleague or friend, if you’re tempted to blurt out a people-pleasing ‘yes’, zip your lips and answer with movement.&nbsp;</p> <p>It’s not as hard as it seems. Simply stare intently into the other person’s eyes, slowly flail your arms around their ear drums and occasionally tumble, monkey-like, near their feet.</p> <p>But remember, it’s <em>interpretive</em> dance, so make sure your moves are decidedly morbid. (Tip: Be proactive and memorise choreography pieces from dance documentaries such as <em>Zombie Apocolypse </em>and<em> The Exorcist</em>)<em>.</em> Facial expressions are important too, so bite your bottom lip and kind of snarl.&nbsp; If you need guidance, follow <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06GoD-_NOWY" mce_href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06GoD-_NOWY">David Brent’s instructional video</a>.</p> <p>You’ll soon find the other person will sidle away quietly or clap along nervously. Either way, in both instances they’ll withdraw their request. Win!</p> <h2>2. Buy some time </h2> <p>There’s absolutely nothing wrong with saying, “Can I get back to you?” and then instantly moving to another country with a changed identity.</p> <h2>3. Use sneaky body language tricks </h2> <p>It’s not widely known in the business community, but if you agree to something while crossing your fingers behind your back, it renders any agreement null and void. &nbsp;</p> <p>If you get busted and the other party broadcasts your trickery, don’t panic. Calmly and casually look at the other person’s dilated pupils and explain it’s actually their<em> eyes</em> that are crossed and <em>not</em> your fingers. Then dump them at the nearest optometrist and RUN!</p> <h2>4. Experience sudden difficulties</h2> <p>Even if you’ve been conversing with someone for hours, the minute you’re faced with a no-inducing request, very seriously and firmly say, “I don’t speak English”.&nbsp; They won’t believe you, so repeat the sentence a few times, referring frequently to your <em>English for Dummies</em> app.</p> <p>For extra effect throw in something like, “Je bent een roze buffel, ik moet nu weg te slaan.” (This loosely translates to, “You are a pink buffalo, I must skip away now.”)</p> <p>Other ways ‘sudden difficulties’ could manifest:</p> <ul> <li>A sudden loss of hearing<strong></strong></li> <li>Rapid onset ‘vow of silence’</li> <li>The need to discuss any decision with Elvis<strong></strong></li> </ul> <h2>5. Be perplexingly positive</h2> <p>Chris Treager is a perky, positive character in the American comedy <em>Parks and Recreation. </em>He has an uncanny knack of rolling every situation in glitter, especially the negative ones. He even broke up with his girlfriend without her realising it.</p> <p>You too can ‘pull a Treager’.</p> <p>Let’s say a client asks for a series of time-wasting meetings in order to micro manage your work. Here’s your Treager-esque response:</p> <p>“That is <em>literally</em> THE most fantastic idea I’ve ever heard. Better still, let’s take a trip, or move in together! In a perfect world that would be <em>awesome, </em>wouldn’t it? Stay fan<em>tastic.</em> Take your vitamins. Peace out. Bye!”&nbsp;</p> <p>Once you’ve given the above tactics a go you’ll soon realise it’s perhaps not as hard to say ‘no’ as you first thought; at which point you might want to check out <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/communication-skills/how-to-harness-the-power-of-no" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/communication-skills/how-to-harness-the-power-of-no">this article about harnessing the power of no</a>, and <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-relationships/saying-no-how-to-turn-away-difficult-clients" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-relationships/saying-no-how-to-turn-away-difficult-clients">this one about dealing with difficult clients.</a></p> <p>Peace out! Bye!<strong style="font-size: 12px;" mce_style="font-size: 12px;"><em>&nbsp;</em></strong></p><p> <strong><em>What are your thoughts on these avoidance strategies? Do you have your own equally futile but fun suggestions?</em></strong></p> Lucinda Lions tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14988 2015-02-28T07:30:00+11:00 2014-12-19T15:28:25+11:00 Not another survey! <p>Surveys are a reliable method for soliciting customer feedback, but there may be other more powerful methods at your disposal. Let’s explore them.</p><h2>Surveys are easy</h2> <p>Let's face it. Surveys are easy to put together, easy for customers to complete, easy to collate results and easy to pull out of the archives to reuse. But is ‘easy’ really the right reason to do something?<span style="line-height: 1.5em;" mce_style="line-height: 1.5em;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>Have you ever wondered whether customers are providing accurate information in surveys? Or, whether there are nuggets of gold within the things they <em>aren't</em> saying? And is it sometimes the case that customers don't quite know what they want yet, resulting in inexact survey results?<span style="line-height: 1.5em;" mce_style="line-height: 1.5em;">&nbsp;</span></p> <h2>Survey alternatives </h2> <p>Let's consider some alternative methods and sources for soliciting customer feedback that might not be immediately obvious.<span style="line-height: 1.5em;" mce_style="line-height: 1.5em;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p><em><b>A/B testing</b></em></p> <p>This is a common tactic employed by tech startups, and it’s a genius strategy!</p> <p>Instead of asking customers what <em>could</em> work, you implement two approaches for a concept in a controlled manner, each with its own set of customers in order to compare results.</p> <p>You can A/B <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/measuring-success/the-benefits-of-split-testing" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/measuring-success/the-benefits-of-split-testing">test</a> anything from content to alternative signup processes. For example, you might wonder whether an alternative homepage design will yield more customer interest. Instead of asking customers whether they prefer a proposed design, you can implement the page, show it randomly to a select group of users for a period of time, and monitor their behaviour. This method allows you to experiment and simultaneously solicit actual feedback.</p> <p><em><b>Analytics</b></em></p> <p>If you’re not using analytics to monitor customer behaviour on your website then you should pause reading this article and set up a service right now.</p> <p>Analytics will tell you a lot. You can see where prospective customers are leaving your site, what services they are considering, what they’re not interested in and more. You can then view or compare test results if you change your website content. It’s a powerful and relatively inexpensive way to capture actual customer behaviour. You can often glean insights from this that you’d normally never think to ask customers about in a standard “customer feedback” form.<span style="line-height: 1.5em;" mce_style="line-height: 1.5em;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p><em><b>Complaints box</b></em></p> <p>It’s been said numerous times before: <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/customer-service/handling-customer-complaints" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/customer-service/handling-customer-complaints">complaints</a> are gifts. This is very true. A complaint is a customer passionately going out of their way to inform you about something you can do better.</p> <p>You should always make it easy for customers to provide you with <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/customer-service/client-feedback-do-you-shy-away-from-it" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/customer-service/client-feedback-do-you-shy-away-from-it">feedback.</a> Even a simple dialogue that’s always visible on your website can go a long way. Complaints are often sources for gold.<span style="line-height: 1.5em;" mce_style="line-height: 1.5em;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p><em><b>Suggestions box</b></em></p> <p>Suggestions are usually ideas or insights that customers have about your business. Suggestions don’t necessarily have to come from the formalities of a suggestion box, in fact they often come from casual, incidental conversations.</p> <p>The key is to engage in frequent conversations with customers and others about your business, and keep an open mind so you can recognise suggestions which could have a big impact.</p> <p><em><b>Interviews </b></em></p> <p>This is a great method to employ after you’ve examined analytics, suggestions and prototyping results.</p> <p>You can select a number of customers and ask them very targeted questions to get qualitative feedback to support the actual quantitative feedback you would have already solicited through other methods.</p> <p>So there you have it. Next time you think of recycling a past survey or brainstorming questions for your next one, you have some effective, alternative methods at your disposal that can better help you solicit quality customer feedback.<span style="line-height: 1.5em;" mce_style="line-height: 1.5em;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p><strong><em>What are your thoughts on these alternatives to customer surveys?</em></strong></p> Paul J. Morris tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14984 2015-02-27T07:30:00+11:00 2014-12-16T10:19:41+11:00 Should clients and prospects become your friends? <p>Often in business we put up a ‘guard’, but is this the right way to generate new leads? Should clients and prospects become friends? Yes. Here’s why.</p><h2>Micro business masks&nbsp;</h2> <p>Using a co-working space recently, I found it very difficult to be ‘myself’ even though the people around me weren’t potential clients. All of us were putting across a persona of our ‘best’ selves.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Performance versus authenticity&nbsp;</h2> <p>Unlike social settings, in a business environment we don’t like to be our <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/business-values/honesty-in-business" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/business-values/honesty-in-business">authentic</a> selves or to show vulnerability. Perhaps it’s because we want to impress potential customers and sound knowledgeable in our field? But none of this performance, in reality, is as important as these two things:&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>The quality of our work</li> <li>The quality of our <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/attracting-new-business/generating-word-of-mouth-referrals" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/attracting-new-business/generating-word-of-mouth-referrals">referrals</a>&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p>It’s no secret in the Flying Solo community that most business owners gain the majority of new customers through word-of-mouth referrals. But many of us still take a more passive approach, waiting for our work to do all the talking. Or, we put in more networking efforts by creating a large but ‘shallow’ network, hoping it will deliver.&nbsp;</p> <h2>This approach is too slow.&nbsp;</h2> <p>As business owners, we know we can deliver, but the problem is that potential customers don’t trust us yet. They need someone else to vouch for us first.&nbsp;</p> <p>So doesn’t this mean we should focus on adopting wholesome relationships in order to foster trust? What better way to do this than by making a new friend?</p> <p>We trust our friends.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Forget the elevator pitch&nbsp;</h2> <p>With all this in mind, I challenge you to forget your sales pitch and just be yourself. As a result you’ll remove the stress of performance and be more relaxed and approachable, which opens up the possibility of developing authentic connections.&nbsp;</p> <p>From here, you can cultivate more genuine relationships. Take the leap and ask someone you’ve met (and like) to just hang out. Don’t even consider what they can potentially do for you, because the moment this happens you will try to impress them.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Pretend you’re in high school again<strong>&nbsp;</strong></h2> <p>Be vulnerable. In school, while rejection was prevalent, we didn’t have concerns over ruining chances of potential work by appearing too needy, so it was easier to seek out friendships with our guard down.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Make some friends&nbsp;</h2> <p>How would it make you feel if someone in a ‘professional’ setting showed interest in your <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-relationships/client-relationships-too-close-for-comfort" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-relationships/client-relationships-too-close-for-comfort">friendship</a>? Probably thrilled! (After all, so many of us work alone and are starved of regular social interaction.) So why are we so afraid to take this leap ourselves?&nbsp;</p> <h2>You’ll get referrals<b>&nbsp;</b></h2> <p>The truth is, when someone is simply attracted to your personality, it’s easier to develop a relationship based on trust and integrity. This person is far more likely to think of you and offer referrals, because they trust you.&nbsp;</p> <p>In addition, because the referral comes from a more genuine intention (an invested referral), the people receiving the referral will take it more seriously.</p> <p>What you’re doing is setting up a culture of people who value the cultivation of trusting and long-lasting relationships.&nbsp;</p> <p>If you let down your guard and spend more time trying to make a friend, you will be feeding your network in a more wholesome way, which will result in better referrals.&nbsp;</p><p> <strong><em>What are your thoughts? Do you think being friends with prospects and clients is a good idea?</em></strong></p> Sonja Meyer tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14973 2015-02-26T07:30:00+11:00 2015-02-26T10:37:20+11:00 Tips to help you take holidays <p>One of the toughest things about being a soloist is taking a holiday. Here are my top seven tips to help you do just that!</p><p>When was your last holiday? I mean a <em>real</em> holiday – you know, where you actually turned off your phone and ignored email.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Having time off allows you to recharge and take a fresh look at where your business is heading. &nbsp;Many a good idea has flourished after an afternoon beach walk or mountain trek.</p> <p>Here are my top seven tips for taking a break from your business.</p> <h2>1. Get a business babysitter</h2> <p>Ever wished you could have someone look after your business while you’re away, just to ensure you don’t miss anything important? A business babysitter can do just that, allowing you to take a well-earned break. &nbsp;</p> <p>Studies have shown that up to 75 percent of people won’t leave a message on an answering machine and that an ‘out of office’ email drives people elsewhere.</p> <p>A good business babysitter can answer your phones, book in appointments, take orders and even prepare a to-do list for your first day back.</p> <h2>2. Use a scheduling tool on your website</h2> <p> Use a service like TimeTrade or ScheduleOnce to allow clients and customers to book appointments directly into your diary. These booking tools can be easily embedded into your website, or you can simply place the booking link in your ‘out of office’ auto responder.</p> <h2>3. Notify your customers ahead of time</h2> <p>Make sure you don’t surprise your customers. Notify them ahead of time by placing a reminder in your email signature or by giving your top clients a quick reminder call.</p> <h2>4. Set up direct debits</h2> <p>Stop the bills piling up by paying them ahead of time. Or for better <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/financial-management/forecasting-cash-flow" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/financial-management/forecasting-cash-flow">cash flow</a> management, set up direct debits for payments so they’re automatically paid on their due date.</p> <h2>5. Make your ‘Out of Office’ an automated marketing tool</h2> <p>Be creative and make sure your potential clients don’t leave empty handed by sharing some of your best blog posts, videos or free resources in your <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/managing-email/noel-ranger-is-out-of-the-office" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/managing-email/noel-ranger-is-out-of-the-office">email auto responders.</a>&nbsp;</p> <h2>6. Be social</h2> <p>Schedule your <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/social-media/the-four-top-visual-social-media-platforms" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/social-media/the-four-top-visual-social-media-platforms">social media</a> messages ahead of time by using tools such as Hootsuite, Buffer, or my new favourite, Meet Edgar. Make your followers jealous and use Instagram to post your holiday shenanigans in real time.&nbsp;</p> <h2>7. And finally, have a digital detox</h2> <p>Even though cloud computing has given us the ability to work from anywhere, this convenience is a pain at holiday time. The temptation is ever present to just ‘check in’, so make sure you ‘check out’ by turning off your phone, changing your voicemail message and only using your tablet device to read the books you bought six months ago!</p> <p>No more excuses – with these tips under your belt, it is time to pack your bags and get ready to enjoy lots of little umbrellas in your drinks.</p> <p><strong><em>What other tips do you have for taking a holiday as a soloist?</em></strong></p> Michaela Clark tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14974 2015-02-25T07:30:00+11:00 2014-12-03T14:02:26+11:00 Sending emails: Are you breaking the law? <p>There are over 144 billion emails sent every day and almost 68% of them are spam. Is yours? Let’s make sure you stay on the right side of the Australian law.</p><p>Email ignorance can cost you dearly. &nbsp;To stay on the right side of the Australian Spam Act, consider these three things.&nbsp;</p> <h2>1. Do you have consent?</h2> <p>There are two different types of consent:</p> <ol> <li>Express Consent</li> <li>Inferred Consent&nbsp;</li> </ol> <h3><strong>Express Consent</strong></h3> <p>Express Consent is the clearest form of consent, which involves asking people to do one of the following:&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>Enter their email address on a web form</li> <li>Enter their email address in a promotion or some other type of marketing</li> <li>Tick a box on a form specifically to receive newsletters&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p>The person is then expressly giving you their consent to receive emails (newsletters), and this prevents your emails from being tagged as spam and incurring a possible fine.&nbsp;</p> <h3><strong>Inferred Consent</strong></h3> <p>Inferred consent is a little trickier.&nbsp; The following quote is taken from <a href="http://www.acma.gov.au/" mce_href="http://www.acma.gov.au/">ACMA</a>:&nbsp; “If an email address is published conspicuously then this is inferred consent.”&nbsp;</p> <p>This means the email address must be published on:</p> <ul> <li>A brochure</li> <li>A website</li> <li>The yellow pages</li> <li>LinkedIn, Facebook</li> <li>Some other publicly accessible place&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p>However, if you would like to send emails to this person, you must be aware of the law. You are within the law if your email is “directly related to the principal role or function of the recipient”.&nbsp;</p> <p>For example, if you are a children’s clothing manufacturer, and you send an email to the owner of a children’s boutique regarding your products (having sourced the email address from their website), <strong>this is not spam.</strong> &nbsp;Their address was published in the public domain, and your product is directly related to their business.&nbsp;</p> <h2>2. Include the right details</h2> <p>To prevent yourself from unknowingly sending spam mail, the recipient must be able to identify who the sender is, including the following business details:</p> <ul> <li>Your business name</li> <li>Your business email address</li> <li>Possibly the physical address or website address of your company&nbsp;</li> </ul> <h2>3. Add an unsubscribe option</h2> <p>You must include a simple way for the email recipient to unsubscribe. Instructions should be easy to find and easy to follow. For example, an ‘unsubscribe’ link in your email is a suitable way to make it easy for the reader to get off your list.</p> <p>If you do receive an unsubscribe request, make sure you add the email address to your ‘Do Not Mail’ list. Don’t delete them because it can be easy to accidently add them back in the future.&nbsp;</p> <p>Follow these three simple rules and you’ll stay within the Australian law. For more information visit <a href="http://www.acma.gov.au/Industry/Marketers/Anti-Spam/Ensuring-you-dont-spam/key-elements-of-the-spam-act-ensuring-you-dont-spam-i-acma" mce_href="http://www.acma.gov.au/Industry/Marketers/Anti-Spam/Ensuring-you-dont-spam/key-elements-of-the-spam-act-ensuring-you-dont-spam-i-acma">ACMA</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>What are your thoughts on this topic?</em></strong></p> Jenny Spring tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14910 2015-02-24T07:30:00+11:00 2015-02-24T10:54:53+11:00 Is LinkedIn bugging you? <p>LinkedIn contact requests start harmlessly enough but can escalate into overt promotion, timewasting and distraction. It bugs me. Here’s what I do about it.</p><p><a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/social-media/using-linkedin-for-marketing" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/social-media/using-linkedin-for-marketing">LinkedIn</a> seems to be the latest platform of choice for marketers and salespeople who use it to trawl for opportunities and pounce on mugs like me who still think of ‘connection’ as something pleasant and meaningful.&nbsp;</p> <p>The common approach seems to be to get a connection and then nudge it into a phone or face-to-face meeting.&nbsp;</p> <p>As I simply don’t have the time or inclination to vet every contact request closely (and often they look harmless enough), I’ve had to create a means of keeping meeting requests at bay, or at least pushing back to find out precisely what the meeting is about.&nbsp;</p> <p>See what you think and please tell me what works for you.&nbsp;</p> <p>The first signal that I’m about to be marketed to is the almost instant, snappy little pitch where my new contact suggests a specific day and time as the ideal opportunity to chat further. So already we have some implied excitement and urgency in the mix and my diary is being pressured!&nbsp;</p> <p>Well, I don’t know about you, but I run my diary and I’m rarely looking for suggestions on how to fill it.&nbsp;</p> <p>Generally I will respond (probably a mistake?), but will ignore the meeting reference. Instead I’ll ask for more detail regarding precisely what needs discussing and why it’s likely to be of any interest <em>to me</em>.&nbsp;</p> <p>Pushing back has the effect of either getting more clarity or, more commonly, an immediate cessation of communication.&nbsp;</p> <p>The following response sends the lazy salespeople straight onto the next ‘prospect’ and helps the more genuine plan a little further: “Thank you for your interest in hooking up, but before we plan anything kindly outline the key points you’d like to discuss.” &nbsp;Either way, you’ve not offended anyone and your focus has not been interrupted.&nbsp;</p> <p>For those who respond and can articulate the purpose of a catch up, I have an artillery of processes and procedures at the ready.&nbsp;</p> <p>Generally people contact me because they know Flying Solo is a large community and exposure to that audience in some shape or form is appealing. For that reason we have developed documented procedures that explain <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/advertising" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/advertising">how to advertise your product or service</a> with us, how to <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/membership/become-a-member/all" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/membership/become-a-member/all">raise your personal profile</a>, how to <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/contributors/contributor-guidelines" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/contributors/contributor-guidelines">become a contributing writer</a>, and much more.&nbsp;</p> <p>As soloists, we all need systems and processes … <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/processes" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/processes">as we regularly write about</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>On the assumption that <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/social-media/seven-linkedin-etiquette-tips" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/social-media/seven-linkedin-etiquette-tips">LinkedIn</a> is increasingly used as a sales tool, what strategies can you put in place to ensure you stay focused on what’s important and not spend your life accommodating the urgency of others?&nbsp;</p><p> <strong><em>If you’re using LinkedIn successfully, please share your secrets.</em></strong></p> Robert Gerrish tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/15017 2015-02-22T07:30:00+11:00 2015-02-20T11:41:50+11:00 What makes a great writer? <p>We’ve spoken a fair bit lately about the role blogging and publishing can play in your marketing. In this podcast our new Editor, Kelly Exeter outlines her thoughts on what turns good to great.</p><p>To access all Flying Solo podcasts visit <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/podcast" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/podcast">http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/podcast</a></p> FlyingSolo tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/15016 2015-02-21T07:30:00+11:00 2015-02-20T11:23:42+11:00 Is your website smartphone friendly? <p>Given 60% of all online traffic now comes from mobile devices, it’s probably time to audit your website and check it’s smartphone ready.</p><p>Two years ago we passed the point where smartphone sales overtook those of personal computers. Which means that today, customers not only expect to find your business via a search on their phone, they also expect to be able to <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/online-marketing/why-mobile-matters-if-you-sell-online" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/online-marketing/why-mobile-matters-if-you-sell-online">read your website</a> on a mobile device.</p> <p>So really, if you’ve not recently taken the time to look at your company’s website on a smartphone and check your listings in Facebook and Google My Business are correct, now’s a good time to give this some attention!</p> <p>The Facebook and Google listings are simple and if it turns out they are out of date or wrong, these can be quickly and easily fixed. These are probably two of the most cost-effective marketing things you can do for your business.</p> <p>Should your website look dreadful on a smartphone then things are bit trickier and you may have to contact your web designer and ask them to enable a responsive function on your site. Responsive design detects the device a visitor is using and adapts to suit. Some older sites and platforms don’t support this and if that’s the case for your site, you need to start planning and budgeting for a redesign immediately.</p> <p>If your website is based on modern platforms like <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/website-design/wordpress-websites-five-mistakes-to-avoid" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/website-design/wordpress-websites-five-mistakes-to-avoid">WordPress</a> or Drupal there are plugins that will do most of the work automatically. Services such as Blogger and Wix have responsive features built in, but you may have to tweak the site’s template to give prominence to important information on a smaller screen.</p> <h2>What is considered important information?</h2> <p>Things like contact details, address, opening hours and a concise description of your business. The quicker customers can find these, the more likely you’ll win them. If you’re in hospitality then linking your location to Google Maps will help guests find you.</p> <p>While these three tasks are simple things, and by no means a full <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/online-marketing/7-free-ways-to-improve-your-online-presence" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/online-marketing/7-free-ways-to-improve-your-online-presence">digital strategy</a>, they are probably the quickest, easiest and cheapest things you can do to get in front of customers in an increasingly demanding and crowded market that expects you to be visible on their smartphones.</p> <p><b><i>When was the last time you did a smartphone audit of your website?</i></b></p> Paul Wallbank tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14978 2015-02-20T07:30:00+11:00 2014-12-05T15:24:14+11:00 Are you suffering from customer burnout? <p>We all need a break from our customers from time to time. Discover the signs and symptoms of customer burnout, as well as some useful solutions.</p><p>Dealing with people can be tough, but dealing with customers can be <em>really </em>tough, even if you work remotely and have limited or no face time with them.&nbsp;</p> <p>Have you noticed there are times when it seems like every customer call, email or visit has the one aim of driving you nuts, and as a result you become short tempered, grumpy and ready to react?&nbsp;</p> <p>Well then, you probably have customer burnout.&nbsp;</p> <h2>The signs and symptoms of customer burnout</h2> <p>I learnt my own signs a long time ago:&nbsp;</p> <ol> <li>My to-do list feels really ‘heavy’ and a little overwhelming. I read the list and don’t feel excited about the jobs on hand, when normally I would.</li> <li>I get slack at <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/communication-skills/three-business-communication-mistakes-and-how-to-avoid-them" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/communication-skills/three-business-communication-mistakes-and-how-to-avoid-them">communicating</a>, taking longer to return calls and <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/communication-skills/a-guide-to-business-email-communication" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/communication-skills/a-guide-to-business-email-communication">emails</a>.</li> <li>I avoid any <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/communication-skills/tips-for-having-difficult-conversations" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/communication-skills/tips-for-having-difficult-conversations">hard conversations</a>. They slide into the too hard basket.</li> <li>I choose activities like cutting my toenails, <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/productivity/how-to-procrastinate-nine-tips-from-a-pro" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/productivity/how-to-procrastinate-nine-tips-from-a-pro">trimming my nose hairs</a> or rearranging my tea bags instead of doing anything resembling productive work.</li> <li>I develop an incredible fascination with cat and dog videos on You Tube.&nbsp;</li> </ol> <p>As soon as the symptoms appear, I know I need to do something about it. It is the beginning of the <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/work-life-balance/burnout-why-i-was-forced-to-awaken-my-inner-hippy" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/work-life-balance/burnout-why-i-was-forced-to-awaken-my-inner-hippy">burnout</a> feeling and if left unchecked, only gets worse.</p> <h2>My strategies&nbsp;</h2> <p>Whilst it would be great to take a month off, as soloists, we rarely have the luxury to do that. So I developed a different approach.&nbsp;</p> <p>For me, I disconnect. I go somewhere in the wilds with lots of trees, water and animals.&nbsp;</p> <p>Nature restores my balance. A day at a beautiful creek: swimming, walking, exploring – followed by a great meal and a big sleep ensures that I’m good to go again.&nbsp;</p> <h2>What about you? Need some ideas?&nbsp;</h2> <p>We are all a little different, but we all have that one thing that recharges our batteries.&nbsp;</p> <p>How do you recharge? What’s the one thing that keeps you sane, especially when you’re running on empty?&nbsp;</p> <p>For some people it is spending time with an awesome person.&nbsp;</p> <p>For others it is climbing a mountain.&nbsp;</p> <p>I have a friend who closes up the house, gets 10 DVD’s, takes everything off the hook and hides from the world for the day.&nbsp;</p> <p>We all have our own recharging methods. If you don’t know what yours is, perhaps you need to find out. It took me years to realise that when I am stressed I need a nature fix in solitude.&nbsp;</p> <p>If you find that every day is filled with conflict and stress, maybe you need a break from people? It’s unlikely that the whole world is out to get you, but at times it probably feels that way.&nbsp;</p> <p>If you have less patience with your clients, maybe you should try working behind the scenes for a while? &nbsp;Self-management is vital in business, especially for solopreneurs. Thriving as opposed to surviving is often a case of getting to know yourself better. Find your de-stressor and use it at the first signs of customer burnout.</p> <p><strong><em>What are your thoughts on customer burnout? And how do you deal with it?</em></strong></p> Andrew Griffiths tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14976 2015-02-19T07:30:00+11:00 2014-12-04T09:31:26+11:00 Costly decisions! Should you work for free? <p>As a startup it can be difficult getting your name ‘out there’, which is why many people do some initial work for free. But is it a good idea? Let’s find out.</p><p>I love helping startups and driven people, and in the past I’ve offered a portion of my legal services for free, but never to the detriment of my business. It takes trial and error to work out the right balance of free work versus paid work, so I’m hoping the following tips and information based on my own experience will help.&nbsp;</p> <p>Remember, free work costs <em>you</em> time and productivity, so weigh up the pros and cons carefully.&nbsp;</p> <h2>The advantages of working for free<em>&nbsp;</em></h2> <p>It:</p> <ul> <li>Builds up your experience and confidence</li> <li><a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/why-freebies-boost-sales" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/why-freebies-boost-sales">Leads to paid work</a></li> <li>Builds your portfolio, especially for creative-based businesses</li> <li>Generates goodwill</li> <li>Develops relationships</li> <li>Provides good <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-networking/networking-strategies-using-word-of-mouth" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-networking/networking-strategies-using-word-of-mouth">networking</a> opportunities</li> <li>Promotes word of mouth advertising </li> <li>Provides an excellent entrée to permanent, regular client work</li> <li>Provides plenty of learning opportunities, including customer expectations, market requirements and process improvement&nbsp;</li> </ul> <h2>Disadvantages of working for free<em>&nbsp;</em></h2> <ul> <li>Loss of time and productivity </li> <li>It doesn’t pay the bills</li> <li>Once you set a precedent it can be hard to stop</li> <li>Freeloading clients can get annoyed when they have to start paying</li> <li>Freeloading clients can be the least appreciative and most difficult&nbsp;</li> </ul> <h2>Rules to make the arrangement work for you&nbsp;</h2> <ul> <li>Ensure you are getting some benefit from the arrangement.</li> <li>Manage expectations by clarifying exactly what is free and when the arrangement ends. (You cannot work for free and then suddenly start charging without adequate notice).</li> <li>Don’t put yourself, your business, your reputation or your professional qualifications at risk. Know when to stop providing free products or services.</li> <li>Ensure your client understands the value of the work. For example, if you would like to offer part or all your services for free, include the cost in your quote so the client fully appreciates your offer.</li> <li>Ensure that the initial generous act doesn’t lead to future undercharging.</li> <li>Be picky about the people you offer freebies to. </li> <li>Set clear boundaries and don’t do more than you agree to.</li> <li>Don’t confuse being <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/productivity/seven-types-of-busy" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/productivity/seven-types-of-busy">‘busy’</a> for being productive. You don’t want to sabotage your opportunity for paid future work.</li> <li>Don’t jump at just any opportunity to work for free. Weigh up the possibilities and alternatives.</li> <li>Don’t try to be everything to all people, and learn to say ‘no’. Just because you worked for free for a client does not mean you have to do it again and again.</li> <li>Ensure you enjoy yourself. That’s why you’re Flying Solo!&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p>Remember, ‘free’ doesn’t mean offering an entire job or product for free. It could mean a free initial consultation, free component of a project or complimentary muffin with every coffee.&nbsp;</p> <p>No matter what you offer, remember to keep the above pros, cons and guidelines in mind, so that free work leads to paid work.&nbsp;</p><p> <strong><em>What are your thoughts on offering free work?</em></strong></p> Vanessa Emilio tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14977 2015-02-18T07:30:00+11:00 2014-12-04T09:29:25+11:00 Sparkling success: How to shine in your business <p>Rather than only focusing on sparkly new sales strategies, look in the mirror: you’ll see the very asset that will help your business shine!</p><p>Business owners feel concerned about having the latest shiny thing to help them stand out from the crowd, such as a flashier websites, colourful rebranding or sparkly new social media strategies.</p> <p>But many solutions are closer to home and cost much less. You just need to look in the mirror!</p> <p>Here are a few tips to help express <em>who you are</em>, so that people are drawn to you. Implement these ideas in your <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/small-business-blogs/blogging-how-to-start-a-blog" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/small-business-blogs/blogging-how-to-start-a-blog">blogs</a>, newsletters, social media and other forms of marketing.</p> <h2>Your values add va-va-va-voom!</h2> <p>As a micro business owner you probably have high values and ethics. This is probably the reason you became a <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/working-alone/solo-business-owner-we-are-the-soul-traders" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/working-alone/solo-business-owner-we-are-the-soul-traders">sole trader</a>, to set the bar higher than was previously possible.</p> <p>Identify the unique values that drive the way you relate to clients, and then spell them out for all to see.</p> <h2>Your back story can boost business</h2> <p>Small business owners aren’t just born, they’re made. What is your story? Perhaps a career as a nurse saw you start a homecare business? Maybe your role as a corporate financial controller now sees you advise small business owners?</p> <p>Share elements of your back story so clients can fully appreciate who you are and what you offer.</p> <h2>Your vision can be an eye opener </h2> <p>What do your clients <em>really</em> receive from you? What is your vision for them and their lives?</p> <p>A suburban chemist might ordinarily say their vision is to dispense medicine and health products, but a customer-focused pharmacist says their vision is for people to feel healthy and cared for.</p> <p>Think about what your clients <em>really</em> receive from you (even better, ask them!) and share that vision for all to see.</p> <h2>Your framework and processes are priceless</h2> <p>Unless you’re a franchise owner, you have a unique way of doing everyday tasks in your business that will help you stand out from the crowd.</p> <p>Let clients know how your unique framework will meet their needs. Give your processes and services names like, “Sally’s IT Customer Care Program” or “Emerald Accounting Five Point Tax Solution”.</p> <p>As you can see, the latest and greatest tool is YOU. Use the above ideas to find your inner sparkle and let those gems attract customers to your <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/startup/setting-business-goals/business-vision-how-to-create-your-perfect-business" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/startup/setting-business-goals/business-vision-how-to-create-your-perfect-business">business.</a> Don’t let your most valuable asset stay in the dark for one day longer. Shine and succeed!</p><p> <strong><em>What are your tips for shining in your business?</em></strong></p> Katie McMurray tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/15014 2015-02-17T07:30:00+11:00 2015-02-17T11:42:05+11:00 Is your inner Imposter cramping your style? <p>Many soloists are familiar with the voice in their heads telling them they’re a fraud. Here are three things you can do to silence that voice once and for all!</p><p><b>Ever heard a little voice telling you you’re not as good as you think you are? That any moment now everyone’s going to find out you’re a fraud?</b></p> <p>That voice is sometimes referred to as the Imposter, and I’m here to tell you that whatever it may have shamed you into believing, it’s not a phenomenon unique to you! In fact, <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impostor_syndrome" mce_href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impostor_syndrome">Wikipedia</a> says up to 70% of all people - particularly high achievers - have encountered the Imposter at some point in their lives.</p> <p>My personal observation is that the Imposter is especially influential among what I call ‘souloists’ – those soloists whose work comes from a soul-centred place.</p> <p>One of the ways it exerts its power is by preventing you from shining your light out into the world.</p> <p>How does this manifest with many of the souloists I work with?</p> <ul> <li>It makes them scared to speak with authority because they’re worried about being ‘exposed’.</li> <li>It induces marketing paralysis (the fear of ‘getting it wrong’ leads to little or no marketing activity). </li> <li>It leads to marketing mimicry (in which they copy the marketing styles and practices of others, and in so doing prevent themselves from standing out).</li> </ul> <p>Here are three clues that <em>your </em>inner Imposter may be wielding too much power over your business, along with some ideas for helping you lessen its grip.</p> <h2>Symptom 1: You worry you don’t know enough</h2> <p>For many souloists, the secret to <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/do-you-hate-marketing-youll-love-this" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/do-you-hate-marketing-youll-love-this">effective marketing</a> lies not in their knowledge, but in their wisdom: the unique combination of skill, experience and insight that makes them exactly the right person to do what they do. Yet, many worry they don’t know enough, and so procrastinate by getting stuck into a never-ending cycle of courses and research with which to validate themselves and their feeling that they’re ‘just not ready yet’.</p> <p><strong>Treatment: </strong>Step back and take an objective assessment. On paper, do you have the appropriate qualifications and experience to offer your services at a professional level? If so, what’s going on at a personal level that’s impeding your confidence? And if not, what specific knowledge gaps do you need to fill before moving forward?<strong></strong></p> <h2>Symptom 2: You feel uncomfortable about your fees</h2> <p>If there’s any kind of emotional disconnect between <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/pricing-strategy/five-tips-for-charging-what-youre-worth" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/pricing-strategy/five-tips-for-charging-what-youre-worth">what you’re charging</a> and how worthy you feel of receiving it, you’re going to radiate a hesitancy that will make it hard for people to trust you enough to want to give you their cash. Consequently all your marketing efforts will struggle.</p> <p><strong>Treatment: </strong>Sit quietly and imagine how it feels to be one of your customers going through the process of receiving your product or service. Standing in their shoes, what feels like the most appropriate price to pay you? Now, how does that align with your current pricing? Does something need to change before you can charge the fee that feels right to you?<strong></strong></p> <h2>Symptom 3: You believe any success you’ve had so far has been a fluke</h2> <p>Attributing the good things you’ve achieved to some random universal lottery in which coincidence, timing or chance meetings conspired in your favour automatically places you in a position of powerlessness. What if you never win the lottery again?</p> <p><strong>Treatment:</strong> Regarding <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/measuring-success/online-performance-monitoring-tools-to-track-small-business-success" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/measuring-success/online-performance-monitoring-tools-to-track-small-business-success">your successes</a> as the result of fluke is not the way to replicate them or build on them. Instead, grab a piece of paper and make a list of all your achievements, and then the talents, personal attributes and experiences that contributed to your results. Notice that while you might have had a stroke of good fortune here and there, in reality, success only followed because you had what it took to run with those lucky breaks when they came your way. <strong></strong></p> <p>These limiting beliefs are just a few of the many sneaky tricks your inner Imposter employs to sabotage your success and prevent you from shining your light.</p> <p><em>Have you detected any others? If so, how did you release their power?</em></p> Jayne Tancred tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/15009 2015-02-16T06:40:00+11:00 2015-02-17T10:55:02+11:00 Back to BSchool: What’s the big idea? <p>As I strolled (virtually) into the Bschool campus with my brand new folder and false bravado, I was immediately thrown into the firing line.</p><p><strong><em>Last December I revealed, <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/professional-development/why-i-m-going-back-to-business-school" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/professional-development/why-i-m-going-back-to-business-school" target="_blank">why I'm going back to business school</a> as a guest of the team at <a href="bschool.edu.au" mce_href="bschool.edu.au" target="_blank">BSchool.edu.au</a>. Now, a few months in, it’s time to check in on progress.</em></strong></p> <p>On the first day of term, before I even sat down, I was promptly installed as CEO of an independent breakfast cereal manufacturer, HERO CEREALS, competing against all the major global players.</p> <p>I was informed that our sales were flat due to pressure from fierce competition and innovations like liquid breakfasts, breakfast bars and healthier options. The mission for the new CEO (me!) was to rapidly develop offerings beyond our traditional sugar cereals to grow market share and return to growth.</p> <p>They demanded ‘<strong>The Big Idea</strong>’ for the year ahead, and all eyes were focused on me. And, w<span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;" mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;">hile I do eat breakfast most mornings, I'm not sure that qualified me for the gig!</span></p> <p>Armed with a stack of detailed company history, financial data, market research and trusty Google, my first assignment was to prepare a detailed report for management analysing the competition, real-life market trends, financial forecasts, industry research and consumer surveys.</p> <p>Following this evaluation of the market, I had to identify and evaluate the financial and operational feasibility of three options that could take HERO CEREALS in a bold new direction. Finally, I was required to recommend a direction backed by the research and pitch it the board for approval.</p> <p>While it may not ncecessarily sound like fun, it was a very satisfying process. And when challenged with analysing the opportunity cost percentages, calculating present value of future cash flows and deriving a profitability index for each option, I knew I was learning something new and valuable!</p> <p>Something else new I picked up was an idea-generation technique from the course book <em>Blue Ocean Strategy</em>. It identifies several ways to look across and beyond your industry to see things in a new light. For example:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Look across other industries </strong>– in this assignment I generated ideas from examining the growing energy drink and coffee markets</li> <li><strong>Look across the supply chain</strong> – for example, could breakfast be sold like a snack direct to consumers via convenience stores or vending machines rather than purely supermarket?</li> <li><strong>Looking across time</strong> – the seemingly long-terms trends towards healthy eating, and busy lifestyles, are very relevant for the breakfast industry</li> </ul> <p><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;" mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;">Adding to the above analysis&nbsp;<strong><a href="http://www.bschool.edu.au/b-faculty" mce_href="http://www.bschool.edu.au/b-faculty" target="_blank">Adrian Giles</a></strong>, founder of Hitwise and the <a href="http://www.bschool.edu.au/b-faculty" mce_href="http://www.bschool.edu.au/b-faculty">BSchool mentor</a> for 'The Big Idea' module, gave the advice that while immersing yourself in the detailed data and market research is important and necessary, ultimately there is also an element of gut feel as to what you feel will be attractive to consumers.</span></p> <p><strong>So what was my big breakfast idea I hear you ask?</strong></p> <p style="text-align: center;" mce_style="text-align: center;">---------------------------------------------------------------</p> <p style="text-align: center;" mce_style="text-align: center;"><strong style="font-size: 18px; line-height: 20px;" mce_style="font-size: 18px; line-height: 20px;"><em>Brekky Buzz | Nutritious smoothie with a hit of natural caffeine</em></strong></p> <p><img style="float: right;" mce_style="float: right;" src="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/uploads/Promos/Advertorials/BrekkyBuzz.thumbnail.110x171.png" mce_src="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/uploads/Promos/Advertorials/BrekkyBuzz.thumbnail.110x171.png" alt="" width="110" height="171"></p> <p><em>In line with the growing trends of breakfast on the go, healthier options, the rise of energy drinks, and our addiction to morning caffeine, Brekky Buzz taps into all four. It’s a nutritious breakfast smoothie with a hit of natural caffeine to get the day started!</em></p> <p><em>All served in a coffee-style cup perfect for car cup-holders, taking to meetings and public transport. Wherever a coffee can go, your breakfast can now go too! Just grab from the fridge (or straight from the pantry), pop the resealable lid and get buzzing.</em></p> <p><em>Available in Berry Bircher Yoghurt, Coffee Nut Crush and Banana Smoothie. Low in sugar, low in fat, low GI, high in protein and all the goodness of a bowl of muesli.</em></p> <p style="text-align: center;" mce_style="text-align: center;">---------------------------------------------------------------</p> <p>Next up on the agenda, after a brief mid-semester break, we are tackling&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 12px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif;" mce_style="font-size: 12px; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif;">the art of product development with <a href="http://www.bschool.edu.au/b-faculty" mce_href="http://www.bschool.edu.au/b-faculty" target="_blank">Bschool mentor Caroline Creswell</a>, Founder of success story Carman's Muesli.</span></p> <p>That's the bell... I’ll report back on progress again soon!&nbsp;</p> <p><br /></p> <h4><em>PS: BSchool is launching <b>the world's shortest scholarship application</b>. If you can summarise your game-changing business vision in a Tweet #TWEETSCHOLAR, you could recieve an $18,000 BSchool Scholarship. for details visit&nbsp;<b><a href="http://www.bschool.edu.au/tweetscholar" mce_href="http://www.bschool.edu.au/tweetscholar" target="_blank">www.bschool.edu.au/tweetscholar</a></b></em></h4> <p><strong>About BSchool:&nbsp;</strong><a href="http://www.bschool.edu.au/" mce_href="http://www.bschool.edu.au/" target="_blank">BSchool.edu.au</a> was started by seasoned entrepreneurs Ryan Trainor and David Trewern, with the inspiration to create an education model they would have liked to use during their business growth. With mentorship from some of Australia’s top entrepreneurs, it's designed to give you the skills necessary to take an idea from ideation to commercialisation.</p> <p><br /></p> <p><br /></p> Peter Crocker tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14478 2015-02-15T07:30:00+11:00 2015-02-12T11:47:57+11:00 Past fave: Client relationships: too close for comfort? <p>When working closely with clients it’s inevitable that some relationships will venture from professional into friend territory. But how close is too close?</p><p>A certain level of intimacy with clients can be a good thing. It builds trust, and that – along with quality of work – is often what makes them return. But if you are going<span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 17px;" mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 17px;">&nbsp;to become chums with clients, you need to know your boundaries. Here are a few pointers:</span></p> <h2>Be clear from the start</h2> <p>While answering one quick question for a friend client is fine, repeated requests for unpaid help are just plain cheeky. Be firm and clear with your clients from the start so there’s no confusion.</p> <h2>Limit freebies</h2> <p>If a pal client approaches me for my professional help I’ll most likely charge them for it. <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/business-values/giving-away-free-advice-a-thankless-task" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/business-values/giving-away-free-advice-a-thankless-task">Offering freebies</a> devalues your services, and makes it difficult to ever charge again in the future.</p> <h2>Mates rates</h2> <p>If you’re going to offer mates rates to close clients, set a figure (a percentage works well) and stick to it. But remember, you don’t always have to offer them. If times are tough and you can’t afford to drop your price, even for a bestie, that’s absolutely fine. Just tell your client. <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/business-values/honesty-in-business" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/business-values/honesty-in-business">Honesty</a> is an important part of any relationship.</p> <h2>Return the favour</h2> <p>Just like any other relationship, if the love is only coming one way things generally won’t work out. Doing favours for chum clients is fine, but they should give something in return.</p> <h2>Be creative</h2> <p>Try to think of clever, inexpensive ways to <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/customer-service/the-one-thing-customers-will-always-love-you-for" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/customer-service/the-one-thing-customers-will-always-love-you-for">show your client love</a>. This can be anything from sending them a post-job pack of branded jelly beans to adding their site link to your website or promoting them via <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/online-networking" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/online-networking">social media</a>.</p> <h2>Stay professional</h2> <p>While a little phone banter is fine, try to keep anything work-related 100-per-cent professional. Don’t drop your <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/processes" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/processes">processes</a> or standards just because you’re on friendly terms with a client.</p> <h2>Facebook friends?</h2> <p>I rarely ‘friend’ clients, because for me that’s a step too far. (In the four years I’ve been running my business I’ve allowed only three clients into my inner sanctum.)</p> <p>Is it possible to be friends with clients? Absolutely.<strong> </strong>But just like any other friendship, it takes work to keep a client relationship healthy. And if money is exchanging hands, then staying on your best business behaviour is vital.</p> <p><strong><em>Have you befriended any clients? How do you make it work? Have you had any great or terrible experiences with your client chums?</em></strong></p> Kate Toon tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/15008 2015-02-14T07:30:00+11:00 2015-02-04T13:39:43+11:00 4 small changes guaranteed to increase profits <p>Boosting your bottom line doesn’t require a big budget or even huge amounts of time. You’ll be surprised at how effective just these four little tweaks can be.</p><p>One of the quickest ways to determine whether or not your business is thriving is to <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/financial-management/boost-business-by-managing-your-profit-margins" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/financial-management/boost-business-by-managing-your-profit-margins">look at your profit margin</a>. Is it higher than when you first launched your business? If it’s not, then some changes are obviously in order.&nbsp;</p> <p>Happily, these changes don’t need to be huge. Today I’d like to offer you four very small tweaks you can make to your business operations that will enhance the growth of your business and give your bottom line a big boost!&nbsp;</p> <h2>1. E-mail your past customers and contact your older sales leads</h2> <p>You’ll be surprised at how many of these people are still interested in purchasing your products or services. You just need to remind them that you are still selling them and would appreciate their business again. Additionally, previously cold sales leads may now be ready to make a purchase.&nbsp;</p> <h2>2. Find products or services that wealthier customers will purchase</h2> <p>A <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/pricing-strategy/competitor-pricing-strategy-should-i-charge-the-same-as-my-competitors" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/pricing-strategy/competitor-pricing-strategy-should-i-charge-the-same-as-my-competitors">higher priced product</a> typically equates to higher profit margins. Remember, it can’t be just any product. It must answer a need or solve a problem if you want the customer to purchase it. With a new, more upscale product or service in the mix, you could increase profits significantly.&nbsp;</p> <h2>3. Select products or services that you can deliver on a continual basis</h2> <p>If you are selling a particular product, consider ones that customers will re-order on a monthly or quarterly basis. If, on the other hand, you are selling a particular service, then consider selling ongoing monthly contracts or retainers.&nbsp;</p> <h2>4. Work on growing your client or customer base early in the day</h2> <p>Most entrepreneurs start their day with the intention of growing their client or customer base and <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/sales-strategies/strategic-sales-plans-key-drivers-to-increase-sales" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/sales-strategies/strategic-sales-plans-key-drivers-to-increase-sales">increasing sales</a>. Unfortunately, unforeseen urgencies and unexpected surprises have a way of derailing those intentions. As soon as you arrive at work or sit down at your desk in the morning, mandate to yourself that, pending no truly major emergencies, you will spend the first hour of the day focusing on your sales endeavours.&nbsp;</p> <p>So there you go. Hopefully at least one of the points above has resonated with you and hopefully it’s now abundantly clear that you don’t need to set aside huge amounts of time or money to boost your bottom line. Small efforts can also be amazingly effective.</p> <p><em><b>Do you set aside a certain amount of time each day to grow your business?</b></em></p> Samantha Hurst tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14915 2015-02-13T07:30:00+11:00 2014-11-17T14:50:57+11:00 How to blitz your presentation Q & A <p>After delivering an impressive presentation, your Q&amp;A session should enhance your ‘expert’ status not diminish it. Here are some useful tips. </p><h2>Tip 1. Communicate when you’ll answer questions</h2> <p>Let the audience know from the outset when you will be answering <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/business-psychology/the-value-of-asking-good-quality-questions" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/business-psychology/the-value-of-asking-good-quality-questions">questions</a>. Will it be at the end or during&nbsp;the presentation? Having a clear structure will help your audience know when to raise their hand.</p> <h2>Tip 2. Be grateful for engagement</h2> <p>Thank the person who asked the question. At times, asking a question can be as daunting as answering it.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <h2>Tip 3. Listen carefully to all questions</h2> <p>Allow people to complete their questions without interruption. By showing that you are willing to listen to them, they will be&nbsp;more inclined to listen to you.</p> <h2>Tip 4. Confirm your understanding of the question</h2> <p>Check your understanding of the question by using phrases such as '<em>So what you're saying is...'</em></p> <p>This reduces the likelihood that you’ll provide the wrong answer.</p> <h2>Tip 5. Maintain rapport</h2> <p>Be aware that both your body language and verbal skills are key to maintaining rapport. By maintaining <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/sales-strategies/how-to-build-rapport-with-new-clients" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/sales-strategies/how-to-build-rapport-with-new-clients">rapport</a> people will listen more keenly and closely to your answers.</p> <h2>Tip 6. Make a note of the question</h2> <p>If you're asked a multipart or complex question, make a note of key words. When you reply to the question you can divide your answer into responses for each part of the question.</p> <h2>Tip 7. Answer assertively, not aggressively.</h2> <p>Your audience is less likely to dispute information if it is delivered in a confident manner using positive language.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <h2>Tip 8. If you don't know the answer, say so.</h2> <p>Your audience will have more respect for you if you are open and genuine. If you don’t know the answer, tell them. The fact that you can’t answer can also be an opportunity to show that you're willing to investigate further, giving you a good reason to&nbsp;connect after the <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/presentation-skills/presentation-tips-ways-to-ruin-your-presentation" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/presentation-skills/presentation-tips-ways-to-ruin-your-presentation">presentation.</a></p> <h2>Tip 9. Confirm satisfaction</h2> <p>Confirm with the attendee that they’re satisfied with your response.</p> <h2>Tip 10. Summarise</h2> <p>If the question is asked at the end of your presentation, summarise the key points to assist the audience in understanding how the question is relevant to the presentation.</p> <p>If it’s asked <em>during</em> the presentation, answer the question then bring the audience's focus back to your current point, summarising where you are at. This lets the audience know that you’re still progressing in a logical manner and that the question added value.</p> <p>I hope these ten quick tips will help you blitz your next presentation Q&amp;A session.</p> <p><strong><em>What are your tips?</em></strong></p> Maria Pantalone