Learning the Proactive Ways of Using Informal Networks

Thanks to social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, millions of people are connecting with one another 24 hours a day globally. These networks span across cultures and borders, and the information is shared at a click of a button through conventional and mobile devices. This has now meant unprecedented numbers of people are sharing and receiving information.

Another important facet of social media is the ability to create informal networks, where people can choose who they wish to connect with. People have the choice to decide who enters his/her networks and controls the level of information shared with one another. Social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are also now also being utilized by people for business success. These platforms are no longer the realm of social networking and many businesses and individuals are appreciating the benefits of initiating success strategies through informal networks.

Gone are the days where information was kept under wraps and people were operating with a scarce mentality. Instead, the new information age is about openness and generosity in sharing. Openness also fosters an abundance mindset where people are generous with time and resources. Openness is also the key to maintaining meaningful connections and this approach has many benefits from a personal and professional perspective.

Informal Networks Foster an Abundance Spirit

Informal networks are created between people with the view of sharing information, tips and helpful advice. When individuals view this reciprocal arrangement with an abundance mindset, then people will benefit much more. An abundance mindset enables people to feel there are lots of material and immaterial opportunities for everyone in the world.

Stephen Covey takes this abundance idea to the next level in his “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” when he talks about a win/win approach to managing relationships. Such relationships last longer because there is a genuine interest for both sides to achieve desired goals and ambitions. Consequently, this fosters building deeper relationships between people.

Openness is the Key to Success

However, for informal networks to operate successfully there needs to be a high level of openness and trust between the individuals. Openness is a vital component in informal networks because it will ensure fluidity in exchanging information and ideas between individuals. Openness may evoke vulnerability between people, but this is not a negative aspect. Instead, this can lead to people accepting one another more willingly and openness enables people to be more authentic.

Jeff Jarvis in his book “What Would Google Do?” argues openness is key attribute in a Google era, which advocates openness. This is something which Google has been instrumental in manifesting since its inception. Google along with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have played instrumental roles, in providing people with platforms to connect with one another. Another important facet of these social networking sites is the ability to transcend borders and cultures.

Informal networks lead to more informed choicesBenefits of Informal Networks

There are a number of benefits of maintaining informal networks and some are highlighted below:

  • Feeling connected and part of a group
  • Exchange of ideas
  • Brainstorming ideas
  • Raising confidence and self esteem
  • Learning opportunities
  • Being introduced to additional contacts
  • Fostering authenticity
  • Providing support and encouragement
  • Building stronger relationships with individuals
  • Greater personal choice in selecting people to join networks or exchange information/ideas
  • Greater personal empowerment
  • Fostering an abundance mentality which leads to greater personal and professional success
  • Helping raise awareness for social causes

How to Get the Best Out of Informal Networks

Greater awareness leads to making informed choices when it comes to informal networking. Using informal networks for anything other than social reasons can sometimes put a strain of the personal or professional relationship, if this is not stated explicitly. It is therefore very important to get to know an individual well before approaching any issues relating to business or professional purposes.

The following are helpful tips for getting the most out of informal networks:

  1. Identify individuals in a personal or professional network whose strength, vision or business acumen skills are admirable.
  2. What lessons can be learned from these individuals?
  3. Can personal or professional synergies be identified by adopting a win/win approach?
  4. What is the ideal or best outcome for both sides?
  5. What obstacles, if any, are likely to emerge?
  6. What steps can be taken to ensure actualization?
  7. What needs to happen to inform the other party(s) involved?
  8. How can success be ensured?

The above will only help if individuals in the informal networks are happy to participate which is why it is essential to be open and honest from the outset.

Readers may also be enjoying reading adopting a win/win mindset and cultivating an abundance mentality, and stronger bridges create a stronger foundation

6 Benefits of Having a Home Cooked Meal

At times life may get very busy that you find yourself in a position where you just cannot cook. However, this does not mean you should subject yourself and your family to take outs. There are a few ways you can facilitate having a home cooked meal everyday despite your busy schedule.

  1. Meal prep

During the weekend you should take some time to go shopping for all the groceries you may need. Prepare all the food you will need throughout the week and store it in the fridge to keep it fresh for the week. Once it is time to eat all you do is take your meal and warm it in the microwave and you have your home-cooked meal.Efforts involved for an authentic home-ccoked meals

  1. Hiring a private chef

Having a private cook for your family in New York City will be of great help. If you have the ability to hire one then you will enjoy the amazing benefits that come with having a professional cook in your home. You will be able to enjoy good food and experiment with different foods that you would rather have not bothered to think of having. This is to make sure that you always have home cooked meals.

  1. Intentionally setting aside time to cook

Yes, you may be busy but you can always find some time at the end of the day to cook. Prepare something simple but filling and you will definitely enjoy doing so. This also goes to show that you care enough about your family to spare some time to cook for them.

Benefits of having a home cooked meal

Having a home-cooked meal has a lot of benefits in correlation with the time you invest in preparing it. It is a worthwhile practice for both you and your family.

  1. Cuts on cost

With your busy life or lazy days, the easier thing to do is eat out or order some take out. However, doing this requires a lot of money compared to getting the ingredients and making the meal yourself. Once you embrace cooking all your meals at home you will find that you are saving a lot of money. This is mainly because when you order out you are paying an excess cost of preparation, service, and delivery. Doing away with this saves you so much.

  1. Improve your knowledge of food

Taking time to learn how to cook gives you the opportunity to know more about food and all the nutrients and vitamins involved. You get to play around in the kitchen and experiment with different types of food and cook up something nice. Being able to cook also gives you an advantage of knowing exactly what goes into your food.

We all know that what you eat fuels your body. This means that what you eat may either heal, make you stronger or even make you sick. Having knowledge about what you eat gives you an advantage over your body and your health.

  1. Eat healthier

It is true that when you cook you get to eat fewer carbohydrates, less sugar, and less fat. With this, you are able to stick to a healthy diet. Cooking also gives you the advantage of eating more vegetables and fruits which are very beneficial. It is very difficult for you to order in fruits from a restaurant. We all tend to gravitate to unhealthy foods full of fat.

  1. Portion control

Cooking your own meals allows you to watch how much you eat. It is advised to eat little food a few times throughout the day. You will be in a position to dictate what you will have at that particular time and in what amount. This ensures that you don’t get into the habit of overeating.

  1. Family time

Going to work each day and coming back in the evening, means that you haven’t had the chance to be with your family during the day. Taking the time to cook for your family will give you time to get to know how their day was. This gives you an amazing chance of bonding over a really nice meal. This also gives an assurance to your family that you will always have time for them despite your work schedule.

  1. Peace of mind

Eating healthy and delicious meals can be achievedBeing the one cooking gives you the peace of mind that eating out would deprive you. You get to cook with fresh ingredients from the groceries and be sure of their cleanliness. Always remember that cleaning and preparing your meals with the right ingredients and portion will keep diseases away. Food from restaurants may have been prepared with ingredients that may cause an allergic reaction to you. Being the one to cook ensures you keep all this from happening.

It is very evident that having your meals cooked at home has a lot of benefits for both you and your family. All you have to do is make it intentional and plan your time to include cooking time.

Allow yourself to take time and learn as you go. You will get better with time always remember that practice makes perfect. Gather as many recipes as you can and experiment with all the foods you haven’t tried before. This will keep things interesting in the kitchen and make you want to do more.

Having home-cooked meals does not mean you should never eat out. You can always allow yourself a cheat day after some time. This could be during those days when you aren’t feeling well or when your family just wants to enjoy the ambiance of a beautiful hotel. What matters is for you to find your balance and accept that nothing beats a well home-cooked meal.

The Widening “Digital Divide”

This evening you may have updated your status on Facebook, sent messages on Twitter, played an online game and read emails. During the day your iPhone has allowed you to surf the Internet from virtually anywhere, receive various forms of messages on the go, and to receive telephone calls.

Divide in the digitalization of booksThe other day I spoke with a woman who wanted to use our church website. She rarely used computers, did not have a lot of experience with email, and struggled with the concept of logging into the secure section of our church website. She was not much older than I am, perhaps in her 50’s, and she is already being left behind by technology. She is on the other side of the digital divide.

A few years ago her lack of familiarity with the Internet and with online services would not have been a major problem. Digital communication was another channel for delivery of news and services, but it had not replaced traditional forms of information exchange. But this is changing.

The changing economic climate is killing stores in our small town – at least four have gone in the last two weeks. For those of us with access to online stores, their loss is not a big deal. But for someone without regular access to the Internet, or who do not have the experience or confidence to shop online, the decline in bricks-and-mortar stores is a problem. Their options for purchasing goods, both luxuries and essential, are being reduced.

Just before New Year, I read an email from an organization I support, telling me that they would no longer be publishing a hard-copy newsletter. Instead, it would be distributed by email. This is great for them because it reduces their costs – there is no postage to pay, and the charge of designing a digital newsletter is no more than a printed one. But again, this woman would lose out if she supported the same organization because she does not have ready access to email. Even if she did, her preference would probably be to read the newsletter in hard copy form, not from a computer screen.

These are just two examples of where the digital divide is widening. Organizations are putting their energies into delivering more and more services online, because that is what the majority of people want, and because it is cheaper for them. But a result is that those without easy access to the Internet, or who are not comfortable with computers, are losing out.

Perhaps in fifty years time, or less, everyone will have equal access because they have been educated in the use of the Internet from childhood, and they will have taken it for granted. By then the digital divide might have narrowed again, but the next few years I can only see it getting wider and wider.

Going Back to School When You’re Over 30

Whether a career change is in the offing, a job loss has happened in the family, a single parent is looking to make a better income, or simply because of a desire to continue learning going back to school in the after-party, family responsibility years that are the 30 requires a little planning.

Expectations When Considering Heading Back to School

Typically, there are two kinds of students who go back to school in their 30s: those who are finishing up a course they started earlier but had to let lapse because “life” got in the way and those who are looking to complete a degree. It’s important to understand the individual reasons and personal goals as well as take an inventory of “life factors” that will affect or be impacted by the decision to go back to school: kids, spouse, job, and financial security.

No shame in going back to school on your 30sBy asking a few questions and doing a little research, the back to school decision will be easier than the homework sure to fill evenings to come!

Back to School, but How?

  • Talk to others who have been down the same path. For what reasons did they decide to make the decision to go back to school at this age? How did they go about it? To whom did they talk for guidance and counsel?
  • It’s important to look at the economic feasibility of such a major decision as well. Sit down and work out a monthly and yearly budget keeping in mind that there will be tuition fees to pay each semester, textbooks to buy, possibly various student fees, a bus pass or gas to purchase to get to school, etc.
  • Are there kids involved in the decision-making process? If so, this might change the hours available for classes. For example, if the spouse works during the day, look into whether night classes are offered.
  • Look into any loans and bursaries that may be available by calling the admissions office of the college or university.
  • Inquire at work whether they offer any incentive programs to further education, especially those related to the field/industry.
  • Single? Look for roommates or board with a relative close to the school to help save money. Other money saving techniques: clip coupons, sell the car and take the bus, shop at secondhand stores, and buy textbooks online when there’s an option to buy them used; it’s much cheaper than buying them at the college bookstore.
  • Look into online courses; they offer the flexibility of going to school while working to pay the bills and can also be less expensive.
  • Keep motivated by enlisting the support of friends and family who can offer encouraging words when things seem overwhelming.

Back to School and Loving It!

Deciding to go back to school can be both a frightening and rewarding experience. Although going back to school in the 30-something years might not be the huge party is was in the care-free days of the early 20s, it is very likely that more will be taken from the experience than when it was just something expected to be done after high school. Taking care to assess every aspect of this momentous next step in life from the financial feasibility to conferring with spouse and family, to ways to save money and/or your job while attending school will make going back to school an endless reward.

Survive and Boost Your Position as a CMO

By now you’ve heard the statistics — the average Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) lasts less than two years in the job. They have the world’s largest collection of headhunter Christmas cards. Realtors and moving companies keep them on speed dial.

You’ve also heard the statistics about online marketing — budgets are up, web traffic and searches are increasing, business sites and landing pages are growing by the millions. From the boardroom to the sales desk, expectations are rising. And your future is inevitably tied to these often unrealistic standards.

How CMOs survive in the age of disruption

It doesn’t have to be. CMOs can improve their chances of surviving and thriving in their new positions by addressing the needs of the boardroom, CEO, and CFO with a steady flow of information they can understand and use; and by creating a corporation-wide buy-in of the company’s annual online marketing efforts, including agreed upon:

  • Goals and objectives
  • Strategy for reaching those goals
  • Resources to implement the marketing plan
  • Fair and logical metrics for measuring success
  • Reliable analytic tools and assistance
  • Latitude to adjust tactics
  • Opportunity to package and present results

Consider your metrics

What actions and strategies will help CMOs put metrics to work for them? Once you get systems deployed, how do you make piles of profit out of mounds of data? What follows are ten key strategies – plus a bonus.

Create a benchmark

You need a starting point. What are your market position, name recognition, search engine keyword positions, website traffic, conversion rates, sales, profits, et cetera? And you need to address the challenges of measuring intangibles when choosing your metrics. If you worry that having a benchmark may show that nothing happened, then you’re worrying about the wrong thing.

Explore the universe

The breadth of data and analytic tools available today could not have been envisioned even five years ago. Survey the universe of what’s possible in analytics before you settle on the best means of finding out what works and what does not.

One size does not fit all

Select metrics that make sense for your current employer, not your last one. If you’re now selling funeral plots, for example, forget the customer retention metrics you used peddling t-shirts. A B2B enterprise probably doesn’t care about gross visits, and they look for lead generation; to a retailer conversions mean everything.

Measure the vital, not the easy

You may have inherited some irrelevant metrics that need updating. If the current system does not let you track sales and transaction figures relative to a specific promotion, keyword or campaign, for example, raise a red flag. The system needs to be changed.

Keep it simple

The moment that sales moved online, a data explosion occurred. The possibilities for analysis are overwhelming and potentially paralyzing. Don’t let them be. Boil your metrics down to what is most important for measuring progress toward meeting your goals. Unless you’re an expert with time on your hands, hire a firm that regularly integrates analytics into successful online marketing.

Seek out operations

Operations have to justify many kinds of expenditures to management. They may use some metrics related to ROI, et cetera which could tell you what kind of information the corporate decision-makers are accustomed to seeing.

Consider your audience

Are you touting conversions when the CFO is looking at profits and sales? Collect the information you need to track and adjust your marketing program, but disseminate only the knowledge that your audience will find relevant.

Get management buy-in

As tempting as it is to hide the magic behind the curtain, you get longer-lasting internal support by involving management throughout your marketing planning, implementation, measurement, and adjustment process.

Keep asking: what’s important?

In the fast-paced world of online marketing, it’s easy to lose the compass. Set up a time each month to step back and reassess: is what we are doing the best way to get us where we want to go?

Revise and conquer

It is so tempting — you have done your lobbying-best to get management’s buy-in for your online marketing plan, so why make changes just because your latest campaign failed to perform? Fix it and tell them why; at the end of the day you’re being measured by the results of your actions, not the actions themselves.

Get help

Ironically, the more some CMOs need help, the less likely they are to ask. The real talent in being a successful CMO is knowing the questions to ask. Share that philosophy with management during your interview and repeat it often after you come on board.

Social Business Networking Brings Significant Commercial Benefits

Business and networking are a natural combination. The term ‘networking’ is a relatively new name given to an activity that successful business leaders have used for generations – building a wide range of contacts to whom they can turn for a variety of commercial and social reasons.

The connection between effective networking and business success is explained in the well-known sales phrase: “People buy from people.” There is considerable truth in this because, as naturally social beings, we generally prefer to buy from individuals with whom we have a relationship.

This fact has been obscured by modern retailing, where we have become used to purchasing from large faceless organizations, either in stores or over the internet. However, these are typically low-value transactions and when it comes to more significant purchases most of us prefer a stronger element of human contact.

Business and Networking Success Takes Time

The business owner wanting to leverage networking to achieve success must be prepared to invest time in the process, and they need to understand that they will not see results immediately.

Networking requires time because it is based on relationships being established and developed. The process of creating a relationship does not have to take very long — a five-minute conversation is enough to confirm contact with someone and to exchange cards. Speed networking events take this to an extreme, with networkers being given only a minute or two in which to explain what they do before moving on.

Shared experiences with other business ownersDeveloping the relationship will take longer, and it could be months or even years before it brings tangible commercial benefits. Some relationships will never bring a benefit, but it is impossible to tell at the outset which ones will be the most fruitful. It can also be difficult to measure the benefit of many relationships because networking often leads to referrals, but the business owner cannot always be sure who has referred new customers to them.

Business and Networking Success is Built on Trust

Trust is a vital component in commerce. People buy from organizations that they trust, and that trust is built over time by delivering a consistent quality of service.

Networking is also founded on trust. When individuals meet in a networking environment, they exchange ideas and information, and much of this is taken in good faith. However, the information is usually validated by speaking with other people.

For example, someone who needs their car repaired might talk to a vehicle mechanic who explains that they do work on behalf of many local people, implying that they are well-regarded. The individual with a car might then speak with someone else and them whether they use that particular mechanic.

The reply they receive can significantly alter their perceptions — they might be told “No, he’s not very reliable” or “Yes, he provides excellent service for a great price.” Both comments contain valuable information, and although they are highly subjective and represent only one person’s view, they could directly affect whether the mechanic gets the business.

Trust is won over time and can be lost very quickly. This is another reason why having a strong network benefits business because most organizations will have the occasional failure and dissatisfied customer. However, they will usually have many more satisfied customers, and a strong network will help with promoting the positive messages.

Networking is not a mysterious activity conducted in highly orchestrated ‘networking events.’ It is the day to day process of talking to people, listening to what they have to say and sharing news and information. A proactive approach to networking should deliver commercial and social benefits in the long term.

Technology and Its Impact in Business Communication

Communication is an important consideration in business. Without strong communication, businesses are going to find themselves plagued with significant problems. This is especially true in today’s business environments because many companies do not just work within a parameter of one building, or even one country.

Managing communication and technology in businessModern businesses are interacting and working in offsite and global business structures, and this has added a new dimension to the challenges organizations face with communication.

In today’s world, organizational structures and cultures are changing. Businesses are no longer made up of people from the same geographical area working together. The integration of technology has also created virtual workplaces that bring a lot of people working together who may never meet personally.

Communicating within the global economy has had a definitive impact on the workplace. As organizations are restructured and expanded across borders, this makes the reliance upon technical communication tools a necessity. Without these, communication will have difficulty taking place.

Technology can be utilized to enhance communication, yet it also has an impact on the ‘personal touch’ in many organizations. Because so much conversation takes place through technology avenues, often the face-to-face or even the conversational value of communication is left to the wayside.

Technological innovation has also created a different work environment even within the same building. People no longer are necessarily inclined to walk down the hall to have a conversation or ask a question. It’s not uncommon for bosses and colleagues to e-mail one another throughout the work day, even if they are located a few steps down the hall.

Also, the inclusion of video conferencing has changed the dynamics in the workplace as well, and employees no longer travel to conferences and meet with colleagues. Tools such as e-mail, instant messaging and phone conferences have added a new dimension to communication.

With all the organizational re-structuring that is happening in many businesses, people all need to adjust to the changes and learn how to adapt their communicative styles to ensure messages are delivered and received as intended.

It is also of significant value that management makes a concentrated effort, not only to acknowledge communicative issues that arise but also make strides to bridge the problems with solutions. If managers are not able to successfully promote healthy communication among employees, many of these issues can manifest and create deeper-rooted issues in the organization.

Technology indisputably has added great value to organizations, but it is vital to address the drawbacks too, especially when it comes to communication. Communication is a valuable component to the success of every business.

Guide to Choosing a Research Paper Topic

Most college students dread writing research papers. However, the process of writing a research paper doesn’t have to be painful. While deciding upon a research topic can be tricky, consider yourself lucky that you have the freedom to choose. At least you have the flexibility to select a topic that will make the research process as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.

When choosing a research topic, the first order of business is considering the perimeters of your research assignment. A short oral presentation will require considerably less information than a 40-page paper. You should think not only how much information your assignment will require, but also how many different sources it calls for. Before committing to any topic, make sure that you can find at least ten various quality sources, which provide a broad range of information and viewpoints.

Your next step is to consider how easy it will be to obtain the information that you need. For example, will you be able to find information on your topic at the school library? Good research papers call for reputable sources, and random Internet websites alone will not be sufficient. Try doing a search of your library database on various topics that you are considering before narrowing it down.

A good research paper should also contain up-to-date information. If you can’t find any recent material relating to a topic, then you should probably cross it off your list.

It is also important to consider how much time you have to complete the assignment. Some broader or more complex topics will be complicated to research thoroughly in a short period, while other topics will be too simplistic if it is supposed to be an in-depth, semester-long project.

Once you’ve addressed the requirements of the assignment, you are ready to start brainstorming. You can get topic ideas from a variety of places, but one of the best places to start is with subjects that interest you or that you have some knowledge of already. If the topic can be nearly anything that you want it to be, such as it might be for a speech class, start by listing all of your interests and areas of knowledge. You can type keywords from your list into an Internet search engine, and you may come up with related ideas that you would never have thought of.

Social Media Tips for Small Businesses

It takes hard work and dedication for you to manage any business, whether big or small. It is rare for one-man or one-woman companies to continue to thrive. You need to enlist the assistance of your team to make it work out, especially if you want to stay in business for the long haul. For your company to work efficiently, you need to delegate tasks appropriately, depending on the strengths of each member of your team.

Making Social Media Strategies Work for your small businessOne critical aspect of your brand’s success is your business plan. This plan covers all aspects of your business, from the service and product description, market analysis, organization management, sales strategies, funding requirements (if applicable), and financial projections. Thinking through this plan allows you to assess your strengths, discover your edge over competitors, and helps you plan the best strategies to avoid losses. Without a well-thought-of business plan, you are setting yourself up for failure. Therefore, before you think of your marketing strategies, think through your business plan, first and foremost. It may take you anywhere between six months to one year to develop this plan, so don’t rush into completing it immediately.

Once you’ve thought through your plan and projections, it is now time to put these ideas into action. If there is one thing many small-time entrepreneurs need assistance with, it is with marketing. It is because many small business owners have great ideas about the product and service they can offer; however, due to lack of resources, they fail to implement outstanding and effective marketing strategies.

The rise of social media is good news for small business owners. It is because social media has paved the way to make online marketing affordable everyone, even for startups. In the past, only big companies with huge advertising budgets could afford online advertising. Today, even small businesses with excellent SEO (Search Engine Optimization) techniques can rise to the top of search engine rankings. Check out SEO Services New York’s Buffalo location to get more leverage in your online marketing efforts.

Since small businesses have to rely on a small team, efficiency is crucial. Therefore, owners must find a way to achieve their goals given the limited resources that they have. As for online marketing, especially for social media, there should be no room for error if business owners want their companies to thrive.

Here are some social media tips for small businesses so that they can thrive on efficiency amidst the lack of resources:

1. Provide relevant content on your blog

Having a blog on your official business website is an efficient way to increase your SEO ranking. But putting up a blog is not as simple as registering with your platform of choice, and posting articles whenever you feel like it. For people to take notice, you must be relevant. The best way to do this is to publish articles that provide answers to many questions that people ask within your industry. Do your research on topics, and write articles that can provide value to your audience. You may have to hire a content writer for this so you can focus on other aspects of your business.

Relevancy is meeting your company goals with your audience interests2. Be active on social media—but don’t get annoying

It’s great to be present on all social media channels, but always choose quality over quantity. If you think that you can only handle Facebook and Instagram, go with these two platforms for now. Updating your accounts is not as simple as reposting the same article on all your social media channels. You have to provide unique content for every platform, so if you do not have the resources for this just yet, then focus on where you think you can thrive best.

Also, be tactful with your posting. Do not keep on posting every single day. Post regularly on the same day/s of the week. Keep the audience on their toes with your interesting and unique articles.

Small businesses can thrive online, thanks to social media. Utilize the power of social media to power your brand. And don’t waste your time on expensive online ads if you haven’t established your presence just yet on social media.