social media presence

No matter how small your business, social media can help you connect with your audience, identify new leads, and increase brand awareness. However, none of this will be possible unless you remain true to who you are as a small business and make sure your brand personality shines through when posting. In other words, always remember that one size does not fit all.

Most business people consider themselves well-mannered, even if they have never picked up a copy of Emily Post’s Etiquette: In Society, In Business, In Politics and At Home. After all, how hard is it to remember to chew with your mouth closed?

There is probably no need for you to pour over any etiquette books but if you are going to host or be a guest at a business dinner, there are some basic rules you need to follow. While it’s true that social functions and interactions are more relaxed than they were in years past, there are still some guidelines you need to adhere to.

  1. Be punctual. If you are a guest, show up a few minutes early. If you are a host, arrive no later than 15 minutes before dinner is scheduled to begin.
  2. Dress for the occasion. Since you are attending a business dinner, dress as you would for any type of business meeting.
  3. Silence your phone. Don’t just turn your phone off, keep your phone off the table and out of site.
  4. Shake hands. Give everyone a quick handshake and short greeting when they arrive. If you are the host, make sure everyone has been greeted before you sit down. If you are a guest, wait for your host to sit and then sit at the same time.
  5. Fill everyone’s glasses. Before you pour water for yourself, always fill up the glasses of everyone else at the table.
  6. Tread carefully when it comes to alcohol. Do not be the first one to order alcohol and only order it if your host does. You also should limit yourself to one drink. If there are people in attendance who you think would be uncomfortable with alcohol being served abstain.
  7. Mind your manners. While no one is going to be judging your every move, make sure you know the basic rules of etiquette. Elbows off the table, napkin on your lap while eating, etc.
  8. Order and eat smart. Don’t order the most expensive thing on the menu, don’t order anything messy (ribs are a no-no) and always wait for the host to begin eating before you start. You also should avoid eating too fast.
  9. Don’t fight over the bill. If you are a guest, simply thank your host for the dinner and if you are the host, politely decline anyone who offers to pay.

Business dinners are not everyone’s cup of tea. Knowing the basic guidelines will help make sure that these meals go as smoothly as possible.

Accentuating the positive always seems like the right thing to do. That goes for sales, too. After all, who doesn’t want to take the high road?

The fact is, however, if you are competing with similar businesses for market share, you need to tap into the most common reasons businesses tend switch vendors or providers. And while most businesses would rather stick with one vendor over the long haul because it is less complicated, they will make a change if they feel it is worth it in the long run.

If you are talking to a prospect who currently works with one of your competitors, chances are the only way you will get this prospect to jump ship is if you tap into the reasons that business’s current situation isn’t working out. But how can you help them to see there is a problem with their current vendor without seeming like a piranha? It all comes down to asking the right questions.

Question #1: How do you like your current vendor?
It’s that simple. A prospect may be unhappy with their vendor but has never been asked whether they are or not. Allowing that prospect to put into words how they feel could make all the difference. When forced to verbalize how they perceive their current vendor they may just finally realize what that vendor lacks.

Question #2: How many vendors do you work with?
When it comes to vendors or service providers, more is not always better. In fact, it’s almost never is. People want to avoid hassles. More vendors means more invoices, different processes and more time wasted on administrative tasks. If you can offer a B2B client one solution to all of their needs, chances are they will be interested.

Question #3: How much are you paying?
A lower price isn’t always what a business is looking for but the value they receive for that price matters significantly. When you can show that what you have to offer comes at an outstanding value (not necessarily a lower price), you can win over a lot of businesses because they will realize that they aren’t getting enough for what they are paying.

When you ask prospects these three simple questions, you allow them to decide for themselves that it is time for a change. In other words, they figure out what their current vendor is lacking without you going on the attack. You simply ask them the questions that will help them come to the right conclusion.

No business exists in a vacuum. If you aren’t aware of what your competition is doing at any given time it could spell big trouble for your bottom line.

While this is probably not the first time you’ve heard this advice, it can be difficult to follow. After all, running a business takes a lot of time and energy. Further, even if you really want to keep tabs on the competition, it can be difficult to know exactly how to do that.

If you are wondering how exactly to track what your competition is doing so that you can stay one step ahead of them, we have some simple tips to help you out.

    1. Jump on their website. What are your competitors selling, how much are they selling it for and is it something that you should sell but don’t? Are your competitors offering discounts and promotions that seem to be working especially well? How does their landing page look? Is it easy to navigate? A competitor’s website is a treasure trove of information.
    1. Do a keyword search. Who is coming up when you perform a search with words your customers and prospects are likely to use when looking for you. If your competitors show up on the first page of search results but you don’t then it’s time to up your SEO game.
    1. Follow them on social media. If your competition has a large following you can better understand why that it is when you peruse their social media sites. It also will help you to get a glimpse of how they interact with customers and prospects.
    1. Make a purchase. Wonder what the customer experience is like for a customer of another brand? Become a customer and you’ll get the answer. Along those same lines, give their customer service line a call. Find out how they handle questions or complaints to discover if you could be doing things better.
  1. Attend tradeshows. Visit competitors’ booths and see what they have to say and how they are presenting that information to prospects. Tradeshows also are often the place where new initiatives are launched so you can get those details first hand.

Keeping a close eye on the competition will help you understand how your competitors are able to succeed. It also will give you some ideas on how you can better promote your products and services and interact with customers and prospects.

How to Make 2017 the Best Year Ever for Your Business. Is your business as successful as you would like it to be? If you are like most business owners, chances are the answer to that question is no. That’s because even if your business is doing exceptionally well, it could always be doing better.

So how can you ensure that your business will be better off in 2017 than it was in 2016? The best way is to sit down and ask yourself some important questions. What do I want my business to look like in a year? What are the important areas I need to focus on? Are there areas that I am neglecting?

Next, you need to make a concrete plan. For example, if you want to connect with more prospects, you can make a commitment to connect with a potential new customer every day. You can achieve this by attending more networking events or becoming more active on social media.

Perhaps you want to decrease the amount of time you spend cold calling. To accomplish this you will have to increase the number of customers who call you by stepping up your email marketing efforts or driving more customers to your website. Speaking of your website, is it working as hard as it should be for your business? If it isn’t, make this the year that you commit to investing the time and resources necessary to make sure it is doing the most it can to grow your business.

Whatever goals you set for your business, it is essential that you begin work on those goals today. Not tomorrow, not next week, not next quarter.

Finally, keep this in mind: the most successful people, whether CEOs, athletes or small business owners, have one thing in common. They show up every single day and do what needs to be done. They do this no matter how they are feeling. They do it on days when they are feeling unmotivated and they do it on days when they would rather focus on something else. However, no matter how they are feeling, they push forward and get the job done.

No matter what 2017 brings, the good news is that you have the power to make it your best year ever!