How to outsmart loadshedding and be more productive

In South Africa the practice of ‘Load shedding’ is when Eskom (South Africa’s largest utilities supplier) interrupts the electricity supply to certain areas as a last resort action to balance electricity supply and demand. This occurs due to a lack of electricity available to meet the demand.

Load shedding is now part of our daily lives and it’s affecting us whether we’re at home or work. It therefore makes sense to be prepared so that the situation causes us the least amount of frustration and loss of production.

Load shedding quick tips:

  • Work in the cloud so that all your work is backed up automatically and not lost if you suddenly lose power.
  • Unplug devices when the power is out to avoid damage from potential surges when power is restored.
  • If you work from home check if the neighboring suburbs will have power so you can go work at one of the cafes. Most cafes have free wifi
  • Charge electronic devices (cell phones, laptops and tablets) this may look like a no-brainer but very few people actually plan for load shedding. So, make sure you have charged all your devices before the scheduled load shedding.
  • If you rely on a cordless phone, which would obviously be rendered inoperable during a power outage, keep your cell phone handy.
  • Save your work regularly either manually or by setting up auto-save options in your software. If the power goes out unexpectedly, you won’t lose your work.

3 things that can minimise the impact of load shedding

  1. Get a generator

You ideally need a generator to cope with load shedding and minimise the impact it has on your business. Having a generator on standby means that even if the power goes off for a few hours, your business can keep running.  Decide which appliances you want to run when the electricity goes out. To determine the size of the generator you need you’ll have to calculate the total wattage required.

  1. Know the schedule, don’t get caught in the dark

The first step is to know when your area is scheduled for load shedding.  Having the latest load shedding schedules for your area gives you a better idea of when load shedding is likely to affect your business. I’ve found this app to be very useful and reliable. (Timetable)

  1. Surge protection

There are various devices available to protect your electrical equipment from surges when the supply voltage fluctuates.

Conclusion:

Unfortunately, it looks like load shedding is here to stay, at least for the next few years. This means that you will be affected to some degree. Whether it causes your business to succumb or not is up to you.  Losing power doesn’t necessarily mean losing productivity.

Social Media for Growing Traffic and Sales

Social Media for Growing Traffic and Sales

 “Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognise them.” Ann Landers

What is Social Media?

Social media is the collective of online communications channels dedicated to community-based input, interaction, content-sharing and collaboration.

Forms of Social Media

There are many forms of social media, amongst these are: –

  • Websites and applications dedicated to forums
  • Microblogging
  • Social networking
  • Social bookmarking
  • Social curation
  • Wikis

Typical examples of social networking platforms that may be easier for the “man on the street” to identify: –

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Wikipedia
  • LinkedIn
  • Reddit
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram

To name but a few, find below a typical conversation prism. It is quite enticing to know how far ones reach actually goes when posting on social media.

 virtual_assistant_services

Business Applications of Social Media

Social media, today, is a fundamental part of life online. Social Media is used to market products and services, to promote brands and most important of all to connect to individuals and business with whom you can set the stage for new business.

How do you increase social media traffic?

This is a phrase that MANY people ask! Let’s focus on the “HOW”!

The bottom line is, social media traffic happens or shall we say increases when you engage and build relationships on each and every network.

Every social media network is different, however to increase your social media engagement on these platforms, there are some hard and fast rules that one should follow.

  1. Inspire your audience with visuals

A fundamental concept in social media engagement “first impressions last”.

The first impression that you portray in your post or engagement is what lasts in most people’s minds. The age old saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, is not always true. Visuals assist people or potential clients with making decisions.

The best visuals on social media include: –

  • Vibrant colours and well-designed layouts
  • High-level photography
  • Visuals telling stories
  • Visuals showing products or services in a new light
  • Consistently on point and well-planned

ALWAYS be where your audience is!

  1. Identify Social Media Influencers and Engage with Them

The term used is “influencer marketing”. When one engages with various social media influencers, one is creating the ideal opportunity to attract more followers, in other words, MORE traffic to your business website, platform etc.

  1. Understand that Social Media is for SHARING, not selling!

Although, the majority of potential clients begin their journey on social media by making a purchase. Most clients do not visit social media networks with the intention of shopping.

The primary intention for social media marketing is to build relationships. People are more inclined to check out your post or share your story, news, blog etc if they feel that your post is directed at building a relationship with them.

Clients want to feel as if they are important and that their own needs are being met.

The above ideas are to name but a few. Get out there and ENGAGE with your followers make them feel as though they are your number 1 visitor!

Tactics to Positively Overcome the Difficult Client

Tactics to Positively Overcome the Difficult Client

Irrespective of what industry you are in, there is always that odd difficult client that as a result of various factors can leave you feeling frustrated, angry, unmotivated and possibly even full of self-doubt.  For some of us, the reaction to a difficult situation can be defensive for others it can be offensive which can have either positive of negative outcomes regardless.

Stepping out of your comfort zone to establish smart habits

The fact remains that there will always be clients that are a little harder to please than others, so the question at hand is, how do you handle those situations in a way that will have a positive outcome for both you and the client? Well, while in my previous role, I had done some research on the topic and I came across an article by Barbara Markway (Ph.D.) who has some excellent insight into handling difficult clients, which I will delve into a little further, but one of the factors she mentions amongst others is going about things in a way that may seem unnatural to you as first. What does this mean? Well simply put, we all have our ways of doing things, and sometimes it works other times it doesn’t but if your finding your not getting the outcome you want from a difficult situation – perhaps its time to step outside your comfort zone, try a new approach and create smart habits.

Some Tactics to be Used with the Client

Out of the many tips given in Barbara’s article, the following tactics on how to handle a difficult client stood out to me:

  1. Listen & Stay Calm. Listening is the number one step in dealing with “unreasonable” people. Everyone wants to feel heard, and although staying calm can be extremely difficult in an emotionally charged situation, real progress can’t take place until the other person feels acknowledged. While you’re listening, really focus on what the other person is saying, not what you want to say next. I have often said to people in the past, “I know your hearing me, but are you listening to me? There is a difference”. Taking the time to really listening to what someone else is saying, can give you a fresh perspective and clarity on a situation at hand.
  2. Reflect respect and dignity toward the other person. You don’t know what the other person is going through. Chances are, if a person is acting unreasonable, they are likely feeling some sort of emotional or mental strain for whichever reason and showing contempt will not help productively resolve the situation.
  3. Saying, “I understand,” usually makes things worse. Instead, say, “Tell me more so I can understand better.” This for me was an interesting point, because I personally have often used the term “I understand” countless times with clients and looking back it wasn’t always well received, looking at this approach has given me a new perspective on how a client would possible react to the situation differently.
  4. Saying, “I’m sorry,” or, “I’m going to try to fix this,” while establishing boundaries can go a long way toward defusing many situations. This tip can be quite difficult to follow when you feel your not the one in the wrong and are feeling defensive. Sometimes by being humble in the situation and saying the words “I’m sorry” or “I’m going to fix this” can completely diffuse a situation, and in turn can give you the opportunity to establish the hidden need.  The client could end up disclosing what they are really trying to gain or avoid within the project/ task and positive outcome can take place for both parties. Having said that, you will also need to assess the situation, while some of the above tips have encouraged listening and letting the angry person vent, you also have the right to be assertive and say, “Please don’t talk to me like that.” if the situation is gets out of hand.

Some Tactics to be Used with Yourself

Handling a difficult client with some of the tactics, may be draining for you which would defeat the purpose of positively overcoming difficult clients, that’s what there are also a few things you should do:

  1. Debrief. After the situation is over, talk to someone about what happened, take 5 minutes to make yourself a cup of tea or coffee and just allow yourself to process the situation.
  2. Discharge your own stress. You had to put your natural reactions on hold for a while. Now is the time to discharge some of that pent-up adrenaline. Go for a run. Take your dog for a walk. Don’t let the emotions stay stuck in your body.
  3. Give yourself credit for getting through an uncomfortable situation. It takes a lot of energy not to act like a jerk when someone else is behaving badly. Don’t skip this step!

Positive Outlook, Positive Outcome

Remember these tactics are simply guidelines to help you along the way.  How you implement these tactics is up to you, and maybe they won’t give you a positive outcome every time, but its all about trying and keeping at it until you establish smart habits that work for you. If you do not have the time or cannot see yourself dealing with difficult clients that’s ok, perhaps consider getting a VA to deal with your Client Relationship Management and can implement strategies for you!  I have seen how these tactics have worked for me, and to this day some of the best connections and relationships that I have established in my career have been as a result of a rocky start with some pretty difficult clients. The key to all of this however is to always have a positive outlook, and having said this I will end with a quote by Lailah Akita “Our reaction to any situation will determine the outcome”

Follow these great benefits to improve your blogging

Follow these great benefits to improve your blogging

Follow these great benefits to improve your blogging

Blogging can help drive internet traffic to your website. A blog gives you the chance to create original and relevant content to your customers, which can be a tactic to drive traffic to your website.

Blogging also helps your SEO or Search Engine Optimization. By consistently putting out new content in your blogs, you boost your rankings in different search engines, making you and your business more visible on the internet. You can also include various keywords, topics, and categories that you want to be found with your business when you write your blog. That way, when someone searches something related to that word or phrase, you will come up in earlier in search engines.

Blogs are no longer just an expression of an individual or a platform to share one’s ideas and thoughts. Blogs have started to be one of the most influential and useful tools in the market space. It’s an excellent way to showcase thought leadership as well as keep consumers updated on what’s happening in the company

Companies that maintain a blog seek:

  • Brand awareness and visibility
  • Authority and trustworthiness
  • Site traffic and higher SEO ranking
  • Leads and sales

The 4 benefits of blogging

  1. Blogging drives traffic to your website

The content you create for your blog can be shared on all your social media platforms. If it’s good-quality, valuable information, people will be encouraged to click through to your website to learn more about your products and services.

  1. Blogging can increase your SEO

If you use keywords in your blog posts, you can enhance your organic search results. Search engines use content to help them determine the subject of web pages. By continually adding fresh content to your site, you make it easier for these search engines to index your page correctly.

  1. Blogging establishes you as an industry authority

Sharing industry information with your customers is the perfect way to demonstrate    your knowledge and skills. It sets you up as a leader in your field while giving you the opportunity to market your product or service in a subtle way. With a blog post you can simultaneously educate your customers and provide them with useful information about your business.

  1. Blogging helps you build a community

Your blog provides your customers with a place to ask questions, share opinions and         engage with you. This makes it the ideal place to build a loyal following. All the comments remain on your site permanently, which means that new visitors will be able to see them. Compare this to social media where any posts or comments are quickly lost in the ever changing newsfeed.

Conclusion

A blog is much more than a way to share information and ideas. It is also a marketing tool and a very powerful one at that.  If you have yet to start a blog, it’s never too late to get started.  There’s really no excuse why you shouldn’t start one today, whether it’s a business, corporate, or a personal blog.  Somewhere out there, someone is waiting to hear from you.

Where to start in writing a blog post? This is how.

Where to start in writing a blog post? This is how.

Where to start in writing a blog post? This is how

They say writing blogs are important in the success of your marketing. I get that… BUT I have not done this a lot. I wrote lots of stories as a kid, but since I grew up my imagination and creativity…went in hiding.

I have not been challenged in years to write, so I myself had to go back and learn. As I was doing my research I decided to write about it as I go and share it with you.

I hope this will help you 🙂

This is what I normally do to write a blog.

  1. Coffee is my breath, my “haaa”, it takes me to that place of ease. So I will make myself a warm cup of coffee, clear out my desk and sit back, close my eyes and think of the topic ahead or a topic.
  2. Once I am clear about the topic I will start with research, making sure I know what I am writing about.
  3. Get some images for the blog and some for inspiration.
  4. Craft your headline that is preferably both informative and will capture your readers attention.
  5. Type away! Just let it “flow”, remembering this is only a draft, it does not need to be perfect. Not even close.

7 other tips to help you write a blog

#1 Own your first paragraph and the title

Having good compelling titles and introductions will make your readers want to read more. It wil inspire them.  Wishpond contributor James Scherer says, “recent studies show that while 80% of people will read headline copy, only 20% will read the rest. This is the hidden importance of great titles, and why getting them right is so vital to a successful blog.”

#2 Be the expert not the bragger

Build a trusting relationship with your audience, make it seem that you are a expert in this, not just bragging about it.

#3 Focus on a specific audience

When drafting your blog, think and focus on a certain audience. They say that good blogs are targeted to a particular audience.

#4 Be informative

Don’t just tell a boring story, tell your audience something that they can learn while they read your blog. Educate your reader.

#5 Optimize…

Most great blogs will follow basic SEO (search engine optimization) rules, using relevant keywords and anchor text.  Using SEO practices will make your blog more relevant to your targeted audience.

(Moz has some free tools which can help you with that)

#6 End your blog with a trigger

So this blog you are writing, you write it for a reason – mostly this reason is to connect with the readers.

Try ending a blog with something that moves or motivates the reader to action. In this case it would be to motivate readers to write a great blog.

#7 Be consistent

You will need to be consistent in writing, you will need to write blogs on a regular basis. This is especially important to grow your audience.

If your audience sees you writing a blog every week, you will get more and more website crawls which will improve your SEO.

In other words, blogging successfully takes a lot of work. But that doesn’t mean blogging has to be difficult.