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Seven Rules To Being Really Well Connected

by Chris Fralic

1. Convey Genuine Appreciation. In observing that people are more likely to like you if they are liked by you, actively project both warmth and high energy. Convey that you are genuinely happy to see them. Think about what they know that you don't, be interested in learning from them and be appreciative of their expertise.

2. Listen With Intent. Don't be distracted during the conversation and make the connection feel heard. Demonstrate you've heard what the other person has said and encourage them to continue by offering physical and verbal cues that you are listening with short enthusiastic responses like "totally" or "I can see that."

3. Use Humility Markers. Don't build yourself up or explain how helpful you can be. As Fralic puts it, "Your focus should be on building bridges between your experience and theirs so there are points of recognition, especially if you can organically work in shared struggles or challenges." Meeting in person or acknowledging your own fallibility in conversation ("I may be wrong, but ...") shows humility.

4. Offer Unvarnished Honesty . It's human nature to avoid honesty if you think it might tarnish the relationship or make others dislike you. Fralic advises to differentiate yourself from others by being completely honest, as long as you root the honesty in a way that is useful for the other person.

5. Blue-Sky Brainstorm. Even if you can't offer advice or help the other person in your initial conversation, you may be able to help them brainstorm to better understand what they are dealing with or to change how they think about it. By doing so, you've offered them something they didn't expect.

6. Close With Optimism For The Next Meeting. It's a small world, so assume you are going to run into this connection again. Even if the first meeting doesn't yield positive results, leave every meeting with an opening for a conversation you might have in the future ("This doesn't look like a fit for us, but if anything changes with your X or you have other ideas, let me know.").

7. Don't Fake It 'Til You Make it. Overstating your credentials, ideas or results just to get a meeting or develop a relationship rarely results in a long-term relationship. Meaningful relationships take years to cultivate and are based on honesty and diligent preparation.



"Tips To Keep Your Connections Thriving"

by Cassandra Johnson

DO: Keep Your "Dream Contact" List Ready. Think about who you want to connect with and why. Keep a list of your five "dream contacts" and be ready to concisely articulate why you want to meet them. You never know when you might run into someone who knows them.

DO: Craft Low-Lift Requests. Knowing that you are dealing with busy people, keep your requests reasonable and your emails to these contacts short, simple and to the point. Include your phone number in case the contact finds it easier to call than to reply by email.

DO: Follow Up And Follow Through. This may sound basic, but follow up after a meeting and follow through on the deliverables you promised. Fralic notes that a shocking number of people don't adhere to this simple step.

DO: Devise Your Own System To Keep In Touch. Fralic uses a web-based contact management software that sends him regular reminders to reach out to those he wants to touch base with frequently. Use what works for you. If your organizational system can help you make one additional, meaningful and thoughtful email to a contact per day, it is worth it.

DO: Prepare. There is so much information about people online today that a little research before each meeting can pay rich dividends. Be so prepared for each meeting that you reach the "zone of indifference"—that point where you can look yourself in the mirror and know you've done everything you could by the time you reach the meeting.

DON'T: Ambush People. Before you act as a bridge to connect two of your contacts together, ask for their permission first.

DON'T: Reach Out Only When You Need Something. If you only contact your connections when you need something, it becomes obvious and you will quickly burn those connections. Use the organizational system and your research to contact your connections on a regular basis to check how they are doing, ask about their accomplishments or provide something of value to them.



"Mistakes To Avoid When Communicating Change"

by Henry DeVries,

Mistake 1—Many well-meaning CEOs attempt to improve change communications talking directly to front-line employees. This can be a mistake because it can be viewed as a mere symbolic move, and today's disillusioned worker has little love for the empty gesture. Also, this approach can actually weaken the relationship between front-line workers and supervisors. Workers want to work for someone who is connected and has a degree of power within the organization. They want to know their supervisor has some pull, and is not viewed as powerless.

Mistake 2—Some senior executives push for equality by having supervisors sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with front-line employees to hear the big news. Again, this shows senior management's failure to recognize the supervisor's superior status. This reduces the supervisor's perceived power and weakens his or her effectiveness as a force of change with their direct team. What many senior executives fail to realize is that the only communications with the power to change behavior is the kind between a supervisor and a direct report.

Mistake 3—Applying the strategy that more must be better. Some executives believe in communication overkill with too many employee reports, posters, news bulletins, video scripts, team briefing outlines, brochures and guidebooks. Critical communication is the type that happens face-to-face between a supervisor and front-line employees, so spend time and resources on preparing the supervisors. Arm them with key messages and key questions they can anticipate from their staff.

Mistake 4—Not giving supervisors a persuasive story to tell. If there is a true story to tell about how the change will benefit the company, then prepare your supervisors to communicate that story. If not, at least give supervisors a narrative to tell about how success can be achieved in the future. Every story starts with the name of a character who wants something. Give them a tangible example of what led to this and how it helps them and employees in the future. Be the voice of wisdom and experience. Don't count on the listeners to get the message. It's your job to tell them what the story—or what this new chapter in your business means to them.



"Five Steps To The Next Big Idea"

by Cassandra Johnson


Step 1: Train Your Mind To Identify Areas Of Opportunity. The first key step is knowing how and when to look for good ideas. Your concept might come from your experiences, your travels, your hobbies or your current job. It might be the result of a pain point in your life. Not every idea is a good one, but you should train your brain to notice potential opportunities.

Step 2: Start Making Lists Of Problems That Need Solving. Once you are tuned into looking for areas that can be improved upon, you will want to start writing down the problems that need solving. You need to be actively searching, networking, asking friends and colleagues, and considering products that can be improved upon. Places where you can find problems to address include your current job, your day-to-day life and existing products.

Step 3: Come Up With Possible Solutions. A key step to identifying solutions is to collaborate with others as part of the brainstorming process. When you hit a wall with a particular problem, just move on to the next. When you're brainstorming, consider a niche area where you can home in on a specific market area. Also, when you come up with an idea, before you invest too much time, make sure a solution doesn't already exist.

Step 4: Filter By What You're Passionate About. Starting a successful business takes a lot of drive and persistence, and is likely to take at least a few years. This is why people who choose to start businesses that they are not passionate about, generally give up too soon. Choose what you have a passion for and bring in others to cover the skills that you aren't good at. But your potential partners must also be passionate about the business for it to work.

Step 5: Narrow Your Ideas Down To One. Once you have a short list of solutions to common problems that you are passionate about, find out which business ideas will actually work in the real world. Make it your goal to narrow down to one idea by testing out the concept. Ask others if they would buy that type of product or service through a focus group, pop-up store or even a crowd-funding website.




"Fresh Tactics For Effective Follow-Up"

by Avery Blank

1. Share an article or update. Use your follow-up to educate the receiver and stay relevant. For example, share a relevant and timely article that you came across. Or send an update about a project that affects their work or industry. Blank says that staying top-of-mind can trigger the person to remember to respond to your inquiry.

2. Make your communication personal. Get noticed by taking a personal approach. People like to talk about their personal interests and accomplishments, so acknowledge that in your email. If you learned that your client's son just graduated from college, send your congratulations. If your client is training for a marathon, wish her luck. If your client has just returned from vacation, ask about the trip and for recommendations in case you travel to that location. To reengage the person, first identify what excites them.

3. Flex your social media skills. Try to engage with the person through another form besides email, such as social medial. Send a message via LinkedIn or Facebook Messenger or another form.

4. Pick up the phone. And then there's the good ol' traditional form of contact—the telephone. Don't hide behind email. Instead, pick up the phone and call your contact. It's much easier to interpret the direction of a conversation by hearing the person's voice than by interpreting an email.


5. Catch them in person. Finally, make personal contact face to face. If you see the person at another meeting or industry event, say hello, ask how things are going and give the person the chance to respond to your request.




"How To Give Negative Feedback In A Positive Way"

By John Reh

1. Be calm. When giving constructive feedback to improve an individual's behavior, you want to be calm in your approach. If it's an emotional issue, let your emotions subside before addressing the person, even if it means waiting a day before providing the feedback.

2. Never deliver negative feedback in front of team members. Being respectful to the individual is very important if your goal is to improve behavior and build confidence. Find a private place, like your office or a private conference room, to have the discussion and make sure the setting is professional and business focused. For example, a loud public setting like a Starbucks is not the best option. And do not address anything in front of colleagues or discuss it with colleagues. Keep the discussion private.

3. Focus on the observed behavior, not the person. As Reh points out, the purpose of constructive feedback is to eliminate behaviors that detract from high performance. If the individual perceives he or she is being attacked personally, the person will quickly turn defensive and the opportunity for a meaningful discussion will be lost. It's important to not make it about the person's character but about the action itself.

4. Be specific. In order for someone to change behavior, you have to be very specific about what change needs to take place and why it needs to change. Explain the impact to the business. Simply stating that "You need to do better" or "You screwed up" is certainly not effective.

5. Be timely. According to Reh, the best time to give constructive feedback is as soon as the action has taken place so that it's fresh in that person's mind. Also, you can focus on something tangible that the person can change right away. Feedback of all types should be given as soon as possible after the event.

6. Reaffirm your faith in the person. Most important, remind the person why they are on your team. Reinforce the good qualities that they bring to the table and why you have faith in their abilities. End on a positive know and give them the confidence and energy they need to make a change.




"Good Leaders Don't Make These Five Mistakes"

By Kate Zabriskie


1. Don't promote people into leadership roles just because they have the technical skills. Just because the person has the right background or skill set does not mean that person is capable of leading a team. You want to promote others who have both the technical knowledge and the will and interest to lead.

2. Don't assume people know how to lead. If you promote someone from manager to director, you expect that person to start leading the team. But if they've never managed people before, they might be too afraid to admit they need some advice or direction. Don't assume the person will just model the behavior of other leaders. Put in place some proper training.

3. Don't assume existing managers or leaders don't need training. Businesses evolve, and your leadership needs to evolve with it. On-going development is important in order to keep your current leaders at their optimum state of performance for the organization. This goes from the top down.

4. Don't allow for mean leaders. How many times have you known a rude, abrasive or mean leader who got away with it because he or she "got results." Bottom line, this isn't acceptable behavior in the workplace and it sends the wrong message to employees: "We allow our managers to treat you unfairly, but we value you as an employee." It makes no sense. Instead, call mean leaders out for their bad behavior and give them a deadline to change their actions.

5. Stop waiting until you have a vacant leadership role before you identify talent. We recently had a vice president in our organization announce his resignation, which led to a mild panic as to who could fill his shoes. Avoid this in the future by having a succession plan. Identifying future leaders is an on-going process, and it's important for both individual development plans and for building your talent pool.




"The Three C's of Teamwork"

by Douglas R. Conant

Competence. It might seem obvious, but the first ingredient to a high-performing team is whether the team has the capacity and competence to do the job. Although the business has a process in place to attract, hire and cultivate talent, it's not always guaranteed that team members have the right skill sets to succeed.

Character. Competence is a start, but it's not enough. According to Conant, team members also have to have character. Team members with questionable ethics or who undermine teammates to make themselves look good need to be weeded out so they don't poison the team. The most important question to ask about team members: Can I count on them and can they count on each other? A high-performing team has to have trust in each other.

Chemistry. It's not easy to measure, but it may be the most important trait of the team. Conant notes that in his experience, teams with chemistry require two components: they have complementary skill sets and they care about each other. Having one of the two is not enough, but teams that have both are "poised to make magic."




"How To Move Your Idea Forward"

by John Butman

I come up with ideas all the time—and in all the strangest places—like when I'm drying my hair, driving to or from work or just before I fall asleep. Sound familiar?

1. What is my purpose? Butman says that people are driven to go public with their ideas for all kinds of reasons—whether it's for fame, advancement or even a personal cause or passion. He says those who gain genuine, long-lasting influence are the ones who want to create positive change for other people. So, you need to determine why you are pursing this idea. What do you want others to get from this? And more important, what do you want to gain from this? He points out that the more you want to help others, the greater the influence you will have.

2. How does my personal narrative convey the idea? To get others to respond, to feel connected to your idea, you have to evoke emotion. One way to create emotion is to tell your personal story to others. Why are you passionate about this idea or this cause? What was the personal spark inside you that led to this effort? Share your story with others. Butman says, "If you can move people with an idea, they will embrace it on a gut level."

3. How can people put my idea into practice? To turn ideas into tangible action, they have to be useful to people in their everyday lives. Determine how your idea can be easily adopted by others on daily basis. " The more people use an idea, the more they will believe in it," states Butman.

4. Who do I really want to reach? This might seem like an obvious question, but people often struggle with the basics. Who is your target audience? Who will be most affected by your idea? Take the time to identify the audiences in which you can make an impact. Says Butman, "The more diverse audiences you can reach, the broader your influence will be."

5. How does my idea connect with a greater "thinking journey?" As Butman points out, most ideas are not completely original. They might enhance, extend or support an existing idea or movement. If that's the case, be transparent and give credit where credit is due. This will lend to more credibility. For example, I would not be the first person to come up with the idea to go to Disney World for vacation. Millions of families have gone before my family. However, I can share ideas of what other families did at Disney World to further convince my own family that it's the right choice for our next vacation. It's a simple concept that can be very powerful in a work setting, bringing you a level of transparency and authenticity with others. Butman says that when you give as much of it away as you can, people will be more likely to credit you.

Try these key strategies for adoption and watch your next idea blossom.




"Six Steps to Build A Superstar Team"

by JP Moery

1. Hold a daily pep rally. Moery says that he begins every morning with a team meeting where they have a discussion about the fundamentals of the business for up to 30 minutes. He calls them pep rallies, and rotates the responsibility of hosting them among the team members. During the meeting, teammates share on specific business performance areas such as administration, communications, sales and consulting. This is a daily opportunity to address any critical issues and allows feedback.

2. Hold weekly one-on-one meetings with each direct report. During this time, address 'top-of-mind' matters, such as the status of a project or campaign and those items that require more work. It's also an opportunity to give direction and feedback.

3. Schedule monthly staff meetings. This is the time to address overall company performance and issues related to the overall health of the business. When building a high-performing team, it's critical to keep them informed of the big picture—especially the financials—and how they contribute to the larger success of the organization. Be transparent about the numbers. With this knowledge, the team understands why certain business decisions are being made.

4. Use quarterly reviews as a 'check in.' Each quarter, take time to give each staffer feedback on how they are performing in terms of their annual goals. This discussion focuses on progress made on annual goals reached and strategies to help meet those objectives. Ideally, this is a conversation that builds on the weekly one-on-one meetings.

5. Conduct an annual review with each employee. If you are disciplined about daily, weekly and monthly check-ins, then if there are any issues to address with the employee, there should be no surprises. Essentially, this discussion reviews goals reached, strategies to help meet objectives that may have fallen short and establishes goals for the following year. Salary enhancements and bonuses are also part of the discussion.

6. Host an annual strategic planning session. This gathering entails a strategic review of the company. Review and reinforce your vision, mission and values. Identify what is most important for the company to achieve, and what are two or three items most important to the staff.

Try these six critical steps to build and keep a superstar team that's informed, engaged and performing at a high level.




"How to Build a Strong Second Half"

by Bob Apollo 

Well, it's official. July 4th is behind us, and we're halfway through the sales year. It's a good time to take stock, assess how you are performing against your goals and look for indications where areas of improvement need to be made. 

Are you behind plan? Is your shortfall recoverable? And even if you're currently ahead of plan, does the current business as usual guarantee to keep you there? Identify all the opportunities that are expected to close in the third quarter, and carefully double-check both the prospect's motivation to act quickly, and the precise details of the decision-making process. 

Even if the indicators are promising, make sure that the consequences of inaction are clear to your prospect. What would happen if they simply let the status quo prevail for a little longer? Who else would be affected? What would the consequences be for their personal and departmental Key Performance Indicators, and for the business as a whole?