Tuesday, October 22, 2013

4 Easy Tips to Effectively Managing Your Time

Do you manage your time properly?
I was recently talking with a friend of mine about time management and the achievement of our personal and professional goals, and it appears to be an issue that becomes quite a challenge for many people, especially given the many things fighting to grab our attention each and every day, and asking us to allocate for them a little piece, or a huge portion, of our time.

And to pay attention to all these things and all the items pending in our to-do list everyday, we have just one, limited, non-renewable resource: time.

For better or worse, there are only 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, and a year has between 365 and 366 days, depending on whether the year is a leap one or not.

Up to the date I’m writing this post, there are no changes planned for it, and so far no one has discovered a formula to add hours to the day, or days to the week, and more weeks per year.

Therefore, for all things we want to do with our lives, we have a 24 hours day. No more, no less.

Everything you do should either bring in money or make you happy, or a combination of both.

It might sound cruel, but unfortunately, it's simply true: If what you’re doing doesn’t produce money (or helps you make money) or makes you happy (or helps you feel happier) then you can consider a waste the time you are investing in that activity.

Why a waste? Because there is no way you can go back in time and retrieve those minutes you spent in that activity, and make a more productive use of them. The time is not recyclable. It’s just gone and that’s it.

Effectively manage your time by following these four simple steps.

That’s why the first thing you have to do is to set priorities, at least it’s what I do with my personal and professional life.

There is no time to do everything, nor it’s worth to investing your time in doing certain things.

Like the rest of us, there are many things I would like to do, but when I classify them according to the goals I’m pursuing, I realize that I don’t really need to go for that many things, at least not in the short or medium term.

And at this point we truly have to be very honest with ourselves: Remember that one “Speaking in Public” course? you thought it might be a good one for you now, but then realize it should be postponed and, instead, you should focus your time in getting that training to get to know the product you’re selling more intimately.

Once I know what activities should I invest my time on, I have to check whether there are deadlines I have to consider for them, to properly plan ahead.

This way I know what activities should I do today, which can be done tomorrow or later on the week, or which can be put aside until next week, without getting myself in trouble.

Classify your tasks based on the time it takes to get them done.

Once I make the list of all activities that will help me achieve my goals of making money and living a happier life, and knowing when I'm supposed to have them done, then I classify them according to the time required for properly execution.

There are things I can do in a couple of hours, others I can’t. There are activities which are performed only once, there are others that should be carried out on a continuous way or periodically.

With this in mind, I put things in perspective and can effectively plan the use of my time.

To explain myself better, I give you an example:

  • Riding my bike: makes me feel very happy and helps me be more productive in my daily work. This activity should be carried out continuously, therefore I have made the decision to invest between 60 and 120 minutes each session, 3 to 4 times a week, every week.
  • Get additional product training: I'm taking a course that helps me deepen in the knowledge of the product I'm working with now, so it will help me make more money. It’s a course that features 12 main lessons, each of them with several chapters that can last up to an hour each. Can I finish it in one day? No. So, I have made the decision to schedule three to four, two-to-three-hours sessions, each week, until I finish the course.

When I get to this point, I kind of have a better idea on what I will do with my time each day, which activities I am going to perform and how long I expect to devote to each one.

I don’t mean by this that your day should be directed by a rigid list of things you should do, with minutes and seconds allocated for each one. I’m not talking about something that rigid and strict, but what I do mean is that we should put a strong effort to take it seriously and consider it as an exercise in organization and planning.

Your time should be used with common sense and on things that are relevant to you.

Time is a very valuable resource to waste it on things that are taking you nowhere. By now you might be thinking: "Joel,  what if I simply need to relax just for a bit and disconnect from the world to recharge my batteries?"

That’s ok then. You have a very clear goal in your mind: "Disconnecting from the world". That will definitely make you feel happier, therefore it’s a task you can consider a priority for you, thus devoting your time to it would be the right thing to do.

The real question here is: would you spend a couple of hours reading a newspaper that doesn’t have any interesting news for you? could you sit in front of the TV all afternoon long and flip from one channel to another, without finding anything relevant for you to see? could you be at your office, chatting with your friends on Facebook, while you know there is a business proposal you still have to write and has to be delivered this very afternoon, before 6 pm?

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Are You Familiar With The Newest Hootsuite Features to Easily Share Content?

To Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and last week I was really surprised and excited when I learned about the new features launched to the market by my preferred social media management tool: Hootsuite.

And they have been changes whose only, and evident goal from my point of view, has been to make the content sharing and scheduling experience more positive and efficient for its users, that is, for you and me.

Now, only with the click of a button, Hootsuite offers you an easier way to share relevant content through all your social media channels, from anywhere in the web.

What are those changes and how can you make use of them?

Now you can select the text you would like to use when sharing a specific post.

Even though this is not a brand new feature, since I have been using it for a while now, the thruth is the dialogue box has been completely redesigned if you compare it with the one they used before, with a fresher and cleaner look, making for a more grateful user experience.

It only takes a few clicks to take advantage of it. When you are surfing the web and find yourself in front of that wonderful piece of content you would like to share with everyone on your social world, just do the following:
  1. Highlight on the post the main idea or paragraph you would like to use to create your message. Right click on it and you will be offered an emerging menu with the following option...
  2. "Share selected text via Hootsuite", click on it and you are taken to the following screen.

  3. Highlighted text will appear on the "Compose message" box. You can either leave it like that or make changes to it.
  4. From the drop down menu, choose the account (or accounts) through which you'd like to share the content.
  5. Choose the date and time of the day for your message to be published.
  6. You finally click on either "Schedule" to have your message programmed or "Auto-Schedule" to allow Hootsuite itself to choose the best time of the day for the message to be published.
It's really that simple, and the most important thing from my point of view, is to have the possibility to choose the text you would like to use to compose your message, allowing you to specifically choose that great phrase or idea you have the feeling will deliver the most positive and valuable message to your audience.

You can also share videos directly from YouTube.

The second thing that I found really interesting was the addition of a "Share with Hootsuite" button right next to the "Susbcribe" button inside the YouTube playback screen, exactly when you are watching the video, without asking you to leave the screen. Just right there, in front of your eyes.

This way does not allow for any distraction nor requires from you to take any additional action other than clicking on the "Share with Hootsuite" button and follow the same steps I indicated above:

  1. Click on the "Share with Hootsuite" button.
  2. From the drop-down menu choose the account (or accounts) through which you'd like to publish your message. Keep in mind you can always change the text included in the "Compose message" box.
  3. Finally you either choose date, time and click on "Schedule" to program your message or allow the "Hootsuite Auto Schedule" feature to do the job for you. That easy!

Discover Twitter conversations that include your keyword search in Google, right when you're searching.

And this is a feature you could only make use of before directly from you Hootsuite dashboard. So from now on it is all much easier. I offer you the following example so that you can follow me through. It's really simple and only takes a few clicks of your mouse.

  1. Type in your search term in Google's seach bar. For this example I performed a search using the word "Batidora (Blender)". As usual, Google offers you its SERP results. This isn't new.
  2. If you look closer, on the right side of your screen there is a small tab. When you click on it, a new tab opens up with the "Twitter results for" page, generated by Hootsuite, which shows the most recent tweets people are sending out that include your search term.
  3. Giving you the opportunity to directly add it to your Hootsuite dashboard.
  4. Ot to directly engaged with the Twitter community by either "Replying to" or "Retwitting"  messages other people are posting related to the keyword you initiated your search with.
As you can see, in this very simple way you can immediately engage with Twitter users that are talking about subjects of your interest and closely related to your business. Better timing impossible.

For me it is very clear, and I do hope to have helped you see it the same way. Those changes are aimed to reaching out for users instead of asking them to go to their dashboards everytime they want to share content, and that's a significant step.

The tools is getting closer to its users instead of the other way around, and that is great.

In a few words: ¡Making easier their users experience!

¿Do you use Hootsuite to manage your social media accounts?¿How do you feel about the new changes?

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Friday, October 11, 2013

Can a Sales Guy Ever Say "He’s Got Nothing To Do"?

Can you say you've got nothing to do?
A few months ago, talking to a colleague who was doing sales for an engineering company at that time, just as he was coming back from his two-weeks summer vacation, he said to me that his first few days back in the office were always extremely heavy because "things were really slow. He didn’t have anything to do at his workplace by that time."

Obviously I felt the need to ask him "Why do you feel like not having anything to do?", to which he replied: "It is that all my clients are on their summer break too and they have not come back just yet."

And his reply hit me so hard that I couldn’t help but realize that he was making the same mistake that many seasoned sales representatives make: devoting most of his time managing an active customer base, especially those accounts from which he was receiving a good turnover.

While managing your sales team, or even if you're the person responsible for carrying out the selling side on ​​your business, you must always stay focused on your main task: bringing in new customers.

If you want it briefly, two tasks: prospecting and managing.

The ideal situation for any sales representative in small to medium size business must be to split his time between the completion of three main tasks:

  • Continuously finding new customers.
  • Making sure requests from all active customers are served the best way possible.
  • Developing strong relationships with active customers.

Out of all these, the most important one (and certainly the reason why you have hired a sales representative to start with) is looking for new customers on a regular basis. That's why it made the top of my list.

However, if your own a small company, or if you are the kind of boss who thinks that a sales representative should be responsible for all activities related with his customers, such as collecting money or coordinating delivery of the merchandise, you must definitely think again, because you are going to be using your salespeople’s time for doing things that should not be considered their primary task, and that, ultimately, will bring its own consequences.

And if you're doing the selling, and at some point in time you find yourself in the same situation as my colleague was, keep always in mind your main task is to find new customers for the company. If "all your clients are on their summer break" it is then the best time you’ll have to search for new customers, because nobody will be calling you on the phone or emailing you.

Your customer base needs to grow larger every day.

And growing your customer base is the one and most important thing you can do to promote your business’ commercial success. If any of your sales representative has enough free time as to say "he has nothing to do", it is then that he’s not trying hard enough to get new customers for your company.

And this is, the way I see it, one of the biggest mistakes you or any person who engages in sales or have the responsibility to manage a sales team can make: to only focus on managing active clients or those who are more likely to buy, and leave searching for new customers on the side.

Why should your business always be searching for new customers?

I am sure your answer is going to be something like "to make more money", "to generate more sales", "to boost company’s growth" or "to make shareholders happy", and even though they are all true, there is a deeper reason: a solid, always growing customer base, guarantees your company will be strong enough as not to significantly depend on one single customer (or a small group of them) and will allow it to cope with unforeseen situations (declining sales, other business closures, etc.) in a less painful way.

A solid, always growing customer base provides your business with the strength it needs to survive to market fluctuations.

Have you ever heard of companies that have had to go bankrupt because they lost just one single customer, but which happened to represent a significant percentage of their total billings? Or companies that simply lost a significant portion of their market share and and were not able to put it all back together again?

Cases like these have been many, and most of them are pretty well documented on the Internet. Google them. I am sure you’ll learn a lot, and will recognize how important it is that your salespeople (or even yourself, if you're doing your own selling) keep themselves always on the lookout for new customers.
If you don’t find new customers, it is that you're not looking hard enough.

I have also had the opportunity to talk with salespeople who tell me things like "we’ve got the market fully covered," or that "customers for my product belong to a very exclusive niche", thereby trying to justify their own apathy, or their own inability to discover new opportunities, to analyze their market from different points of view, or to experiment in alternative niches.

Every day, hundreds if not thousands of new consumers who may be potential customers for your business, join the market. Every single day. Go after them.

If I had to make a very general list to include all activities I would like my salespeople to focus on, it would be something like this:

  • Manage all activities related to active customers (those which are actively buying)
  • Strengthen and deepen relationships with these customers.
  • Develop relationships with potential customers as well.
  • Continuously look for new business leads for the company.

There shouldn’t be any opportunity for you to be not busy: If you are not working on servicing active customers, then you should be looking for new ones. It’s that simple.

And if you are managing a sales team which really and honestly is so busy that they don’t have the time to look for new customers, then that’s great news for you: ¡It is then time to hire new salespeople to do the job!

If really you don’t have the time to look for new customers, then hire salespeople to do the job for you.

On top of everything, for any sales department to be considered “effective”, it should be focused on performing two tasks at all times: actively looking for new customers and effectively managing active customers.

Please make a note on the adjectives I have chosen to use: the looking for new customers should be "active", dynamic, committed, continuous and interested, and the managing should always be "effective", meaning there is no time to waste on doing other things not related with managing active customer, like complaining about not having time enough to do the job.

Each one of them, both effectively managing active customers, and generating new ones, are equally important to your business project, yet to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and in any sales department, no matter how large it can be, the #1 goal is to generate new customers for the company.

Are you focusing your attention and efforts on it?

Photo credit : citalliance / 123RF Stock Photo

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Why You Shouldn’t Outsource Sales When Starting Your Business
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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

When Do We Start Creating Our Personal Brand?

When Do We Start Creating Our Brand?
Has it ever happened to you, while attending a social gathering, that suddenly a person approaches you and says "Hey, I do remember who you are. You are (insert your name here). Do you remember me? We went to the same school (or worked together at that company)?"

My wife uses to say that I meet with someone I know in every place I go and I have always had to agree with her.

One of those many times, I had a very entertaining and enlightening exchange with a woman. I'll let you know why I found it enlightening later on this post.

It turned out that we had been neighbors in Venezuela, during my teenage years, and she studied at a high school located two blocks away from my house and which we (my teenage buddies and I) used to visit every year, during Carnival celebrations, to bath all the girls who studied there with water, flour and everything we could think of, as soon as they were coming out through the main gate.

When she told me she studied right there, during those years of my life, my face turned pale, I felt an “I-don't-know-what-it-is” kind of feeling through my entire body, and I was only able to tell her: "Well, you know, I really hope you were not among the victims of one of our carnival visits".

Our personal brand has always been there with us.

Everything we’ve done, everything we haven’t done, our good decisions, those not so good, our good deeds and those that make us look away in shame, they are all part of our personal brand.

Your brand can not be created, because it's been established for a long time.

It’s not something we can create as if it was coming brand new on a box, because it has always been out there. That's why I said the encounter with this woman was enlightening to me: Your personal brand can’t be created, because it has been created for a long time, both your personal and professional brand, although nowadays, we usually refer to your "personal brand" when we truly mean your professional one, but for the purpose of this post it’s the same thing.

Think of your personal (and professional) brand as the footprint that has been etched in people with whom you've connected throughout all your life, in a personal, sentimental or professional way. And it’s a footprint that you’ve already created, even without realizing it, even without being 100% aware of it.

Why is it important to recognize that your brand has always been there with you?

Because somehow, both professionally and personally, we have to take responsibility for our own actions and all their consequences. Not only for our actions in the past, but also for all the things we are doing today and for those we’re intending to do in the future.

Honesty, humility and transparency, the core values ​​of a strong personal brand

That’s the main reason why I will always defend honesty, humility and transparency as the core values you need to nurture ​​to maintain a strong personal brand:

  • Honesty .......... I guess it does not require further explanation.
  • Humility: to be able to sincerely recognize your own weaknesses and strengths.
  • Transparency: to learn to live with and professionally develop yourself knowing all of this.

And to explain it better, I offer you an example: You are an entrepreneur and want to develop your business. You’ve just come across a company with which you would definitely like to do big business. It would be your "dream client". (Who doesn’t want one?)

While you were doing your homework, you find out that the person you should talk with is called John Doe. His name sounds familiar, but no matter how hard you try to find connections, you just can not.

Finally you get to schedule an appointment with Mr. Doe. When you walk into his office, he stares at you for a couple of seconds, and after a brief pause, he says: "Your face is really familiar to me. You are (please insert your name here). We went to primary school together. Do you remember me?"

Your face pales, you squirm uncomfortably on your chair and start to feel a “You-don't-know-what-it-is” feeling inside. You just can’t make the connection. He looks familiar to you but that’s that. You just can't remember.

From now on, you can put an end to this story the you want. It can be either good or bad. It doesn’t make a difference.

The point is that you realize how your brand has always been there with you, even in those moments in which you weren’t even thinking that someday you were going to have your own business, let alone thinking about having a buddy from primary school be your “most desirable business prospect”.

Remember that your personal brand is the footprint you leave behind in all those people with whom you have related, whether in a personal or professional way, throughout your entire life. It may have been a positive, negative or neutral footprint, but it will always be there.

Photo credit : slasny / 123RF Stock Photo

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