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Author Archive

Common Leadership Traps You Should Avoid in 2015

January 26th, 2015

Managers often get caught up in their day-to-day activities, and forget to focus on their employees. Getting caught in these leadership traps can be a drain on resources and cause your leadership to be questioned or dismissed. Focus on the positive changes you can make as a manager and you will see a positive response from your team.

Mistake: Complacency In Processes and Ideas

New ideas take a lot of time and energy. Managers sometimes find it easier to play it safe and stick with a process that they know already works. This may work temporarily, but in the long run this could lead your business into a slump. Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electrics, once said, “Change before you have to.” He understood that how we do business today is changing at a rapid rate, and only the businesses that are willing to adapt quickly and keep making changes will survive.

Solution: Make appointments to brainstorm about possible ways to move forward. In addition to consciously making the effort yourself, listen to your employees’ suggestions. Many times, employees have brilliant new ideas but they do not share for fear of having their ideas ignored or ridiculed. Let them know you are open to listening and are interested in their creative solutions. Giving employees a forum to talk about their opinions will let them know you are on their side and open to new ideas. Plus, by allowing your employees to speak up, you are grooming the next generation of effective leaders.

 

Mistake: Getting Caught Up In Everyday Work Flow

Communication chart drawn by businessman  

It is easy to get caught up in the daily flow of business. Meetings and planned discussions pervade the workplace, filling every minute of your day and making the schedule your first priority.

Solution: A good way to break this cycle is to plan lunches with your coworkers where you aren’t forced to talk solely about one project. Allow a natural conversation to take place and you may find your employees have great ideas for many projects.

 

Mistake: Allowing Employees to Put Their Projects First

Have you ever approached an employee with a request for them to tackle a new problem, only to be told that they need to finish working on several other issues first? Many times what employees may think is a time-sensitive goal is actually less important, because managers have access to the bigger picture.  Employees often prioritize by what is important for their team, not by what will benefit the company as a whole.

Solution: Do not be afraid to ask your employees to put projects on the back burner while they focus on a new issue. As a manager, you often have to look at the big picture for the company. While your employees may focus entirely on their own group projects, you need to be thinking about what tasks benefit the entire company. Do not accept postponement on projects that affect the whole workplace; make it clear when a project takes priority, while understanding that the team projects they have put aside will be shifted to a later timetable.

 

Mistake: Avoid Vague Goals and Promises

It is easy as a manager to see the bottom line and instantly become anxious. You want to improve the performance in your department as soon as possible. A common trap for leaders is to make a blanket statement, then expect employees to know how to carry out your wishes. Don’t word your goals for the year in vague uncertain terms. For instance, avoid statements like, “This year, we are going to sell 40% more of product X.”

Solution: Your employees need to know how you plan on achieving this goal. If you want to see results, provide them with detailed, step-by-step plans for how you wish to increase sales by such a marked percentage. If you have no idea how to make these goals a reality, set up a meeting and openly talk about the problems that have prevented you from reaching goals in the past. Continuously moving difficult problems off your plate and onto your team creates a resentful environment where they may feel that they are carrying the weight while you take the credit. Instead, let your employees know that you are part of the team and you are willing to contribute to a meaningful discussion on how to achieve challenging goals.

 

It is easy in daily business to simply get by and put off making changes until the proverbial “tomorrow”. However, a lack of leadership can take your team down an unproductive path. Do not wait for your employees to lose their drive before you implement changes. Avoid these common leadership traps and maintain your ability to grow and thrive as a successful leader.


Invaluable Insight From Top Leadership and Management Experts

January 13th, 2015

No matter what your definition of leadership is, being an effective leader is something every manager struggles with. Managerial skills are often picked up over time and with trial and error methods. You may learn that techniques that worked perfectly in one office failed miserably at your next managerial position. While leadership is in no way a perfect science, a good way to judge what works is to listen to the experts and top business managers. To give you insight into effective leadership, we have compiled leadership quotes from these respected business managers that will help you develop into a strong manager.

 

John Maxwell in a suit smiles at the camera.

1. “Leadership is not about titles, position, or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.”

-John C. Maxwell

The author of many leadership books, including The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell is an internationally recognized leadership coach. This simple quote from Maxwell demonstrates that it does not matter what the title on your business card reads unless you can connect with your employees on a one-on-one level. Being a manager means making a personal connection with people working under you, and in the long run, gaining their respect and trust. Management in business is often seen in an analytical way, but these metrics and facts do not matter without an actual connection to back them up.

 

 

2. “The secret of leadership is simple: Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there. People will follow.”

-Seth Godin

Seth Godin gives a sales tips presentation.

Another top guru in leadership and management, Seth Godin is the best-selling author of Linchpin and Purple Cow. In this leadership quote from another top book, Tribes, Godin explains that if you believe in what you are doing and have excitement for your professional pursuits, others with naturally share you excitement and join you in your mission. Excitement is contagious, and your employees will follow your example of a positive attitude if you believe in what you do.

 

3. “The most effective leaders are actually better at guarding against danger when they acknowledge it that it exists. Cowards, in contrast, cling to the hope that failure will never happen and may be sloppy in the face of danger – not because they don’t acknowledge that it exists, but because they are just too afraid of it to look it in the eye.”
-Simon Sinek

A highly praised inspirational leader, Simon Sinek has given many TED talks on the subject. He is also the author of Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action. This excerpt from Sinek gives the advice that you cannot be afraid of failure in leadership. As a manager, you need to understand the risks and dangers of leading to prevent these misfortunes from happening. Ignoring difficult tasks or problems will eventually lead to you becoming an ineffective manager.

 

4. “Leadership is not about a title or a designation. It’s about impact, influence and inspiration. Impact involves getting results, influence is about spreading the passion you have for your work, and you have to inspire team-mates and customers.”
-Robin S. Sharma

Writer, motivational speaker, leadership expert, and lawyer. Robin Sharma has many titles, but his personal development and leadership skills have made him an expert in management tactics. Like Godin, Sharma recognizes the need for passion, but he adds that it is the combination of passion, implementation, and the ability to inspire that makes an effective manager. Good leaders recognize that people need a figure capable of making difficult decisions to look up to in the workplace.

 

5. “Change before you have to.”

-Jack Welch

Jack Welch smiles for a picture

The CEO and chairman of General Electrics for 20 years, Jack Welch knows a lot about successful leadership. He believes that constant change is the only way to stay relevant in the business world. If you stagnate and are no longer contributing useful ideas, your employees will stop respecting your leadership. A good tip for achieving positive change as a manager is to get anonymous feedback from your employees. Hearing what changes your employees suggest can help you lead in a positive and impactful way.

 

6. “Management is about arranging and telling. Leadership is about nurturing and enhancing.”

-Tom Peters

Tom Peters is an expert in effective business management practices. He co-authored a book on the subject with Robert H. Waterman, Jr., titled In Search of Excellence. This insightful quote explains the difference between what people perceive as management and leadership. You can be a manager without being a leader, and vice-versa. Achieving leadership in management is the ultimate goal, and you cannot reach this goal without cultivating other leaders and bringing out their inherent talents.

7. “Leaders must wake people out of inertia. They must get people excited about something they’ve never seen before, something that does not yet exist.”

-Rosabeth Moss Kanter

A professor of business at Harvard Business School, Rosabeth Moss Kanter is also the director and chair of the Harvard University Advanced Leadership Initiative. This group is focused on helping experienced leaders improve and solve social problems. In this quote, Kanter is focusing on how leaders need to constantly be focusing on the future and inspiring excitement about occupational possibilities in their employees. By pushing for new ideas and pushing workers to evolve mentally in their business solutions, leaders can help every member of their team grow. The goal of a good manager should be continuous progress for their employees and entire workplace.

 

8. “Putting the best team on the field starts with putting the best team on the bench.”

-Dave Mattson

Dave Mattson is the CEO and president of Sandler Training. With more than 30 years experience in leadership training, Mattson believes that you cannot build a strong business performance without first assembling a strong team. Being a great manager means recognizing the strengths you lack and finding those qualities in employees that you bring on board your team. By filling your workplace with a diversified group of effective employees, you are acting as a successful leader.

 

Although many top businesspeople may claim to know the secret of leadership in management, only you can know what works for your team. Setting aside time to listen to their suggestions is a good place to start. Discovering their strengths can give you a good idea of how to implement individual skills, and letting each person know that their opinions are heard will earn their respect and trust.

 

Do you have additional management practices that have proved effective in your workplace? Share your successful leadership techniques with us!


50 Leadership Classics to Start Reading Right Now

January 13th, 2015

Effective leadership is not something that you achieve, but rather something you develop and change throughout your life. There’s no substitute for experience, but thankfully you can borrow from others’ knowledge to improve your own. That’s where reading comes in handy. These best-selling books offer useful resources for maintaining your edge as not just a manager, but as a respected business leader.

1. The Feiner Points of Leadership: The 50 Basic Laws That Will Make People Want to Perform Better for You –Michael Feiner

Former Chief People Officer at PepsiCo and current management professor at Columbia Feiner offers 50 insightful solutions to the everyday problems that leaders face. These business “laws” cover everything from dealing with tough bosses to overcoming resistance in the workplace.

2. Forget A Mentor, Find A Sponsor: The New Way To Fast-Track Your Career –Sylvia Ann Hewlett

This helpful book is packed with reasons why you should search out sponsorships that can be mutually beneficial if you are interested in furthering your career. These more-than-mentors help you advance in your career and even get that next promotion, making them an invaluable asset.

3. Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box –Arbinger Institute

Originally published in 2000, this book continues to grow in sales and is now globally praised. In its pages, the Arbinger Institute explains how self-destruction is often to blame for losing the ability to be an effective leader. The book gives unique and helpful ways to avoid destructive behavior in business.

4. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in A World That Can’t Stop Talking –Susan Cain

Cain gives real-life examples of how introverts are actually some of the most influential figures of all time and how introverts can often be the most effective leaders. She explores the history of the extrovert and why they are commonly, yet incorrectly, believed to be better leaders.

5. The Starfish and The Spider: The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations –Ori Brafman & Rod A. Beckstrom

Brafman and Beckstrom’s book on leadership explore new adaptation methods and look at why traditional methods no longer work. They compare the traditional business structure to a spider that dies when you cut off the head. However, “starfish” organizations adapt and grow new limbs when pieces are cut off. They examine current established companies that have adapted to survive in today’s cutthroat business climate.

6. In Search of Excellence –Tom Peters & Robert H. Waterman, Jr.

In this business readers’ must-have work, Peters and Waterman identify and explore 8 common traits exhibited by 43 of the world’s most successful companies and offer guidance on how modern business leaders can emulate their achievements.

7. Reorganize for Resilience: Putting Customers at the Center of Your Business –Ranjay Gulati

A guide to staying successful in changing business climates, this book tells aspiring leaders how to become more effective business people. Gulati walks readers through five methods that help businesses put the customer first and stay resilient in tough markets.

8. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln –Doris Kearns Goodwin

Goodwin explains how President Lincoln overcame difficult obstacles to become one of the most famous presidents of all time. This acclaimed book discusses why and how Lincoln became president when there were more skilled and capable candidates, and how you can follow his example to become an accomplished leader.

9. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t –Simon Sinek

Sinek explores what makes people love their jobs, and how you can sculpt your leadership style to inspire those around you. To become an effective leader, Sinek postulates that you must protect your team and make them feel included. This fascinating read shares true stories from Sinek’s own life about how taking care of your employees can lead to a more productive workplace.

10. The One Minute Manager –Kenneth Blanchard

This classic management guide was written over 20 years ago, yet the         quick and succinct tips still ring true today. Blanchard’s book provides a positive and concise model for first-time managers.

11. The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organizations –James M. Kouzes & Barry Z. Posner

Leadership is a constantly evolving relationship that needs to be cultivated. Kouzes and Posner explore ways for you to become an excellent leader, and feature over 100 case studies of management examples from around the world.

12. Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit and Success –Sylvia Ann Hewlett

Do you have what it takes to be a great leader? Hewlett examines what makes a leader and how you can achieve an “executive presence.” This book gives tips for using your appearance and other tools to help you be perceived as a natural leader.

13. Leadership: How to Lead Effectively, Efficiently, and Vocally in a Way People Will Follow! –Derek Stanzma

Stanzma provides an in-depth look at how to create a vision of leadership and then make it happen. Each chapter provides a detailed look at subjects like how to leave a legacy and how to manage change with composure.

14. Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow –Tom Rath and Barry Conchie

Using results from scientific studies, Rath and Conchie identify three key components that make a true leader. They also examine firsthand accounts from top CEOs and other prosperous leaders to show how unique and differing strengths can drive your success.

15. Hacking Leadership: The 11 Gaps Every Business Needs to Close and the Secrets to Closing Them Quickly –Mike Myatt

Every leader has weaknesses; this book shows how to pinpoint yours and turn them into strengths. It is based on actionable management steps to help you overcome typical failures in the business world.

16. Icons and Idiots: Straight Talk on Leadership –Bob Lutz

A former General Motors executive, Bob Lutz looks at other leaders that he worked with and how effective or ineffective their styles of management were. This uncensored book tells the hilarious and sometimes shocking true stories that Lutz encountered as a leader.

17. The Truth About Leadership: The No-Fads, Heart-of-the-Matter Facts You Need to Know –James M. Kouzes and Barry Z. Posner

The Truth About Leadership examines ten truths what every leader must know and the real-world issues that leaders will face in the business world, lending insight into how leadership tactics have changed over the past 30 years in the business world.

18. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change –Steven R. Covey

A best-selling leadership book for over 25 years, Seven Habits is the go-to guide for managers. Covey’s leadership guide shares stories from both his personal and professional life, and in turn can be applied to both.

19. Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us  -Seth Godin

Forming a tribe has been human nature for thousands of years. Godin looks at how this mindset is still prevalent, and what you can do to become the leader of your modern-day “tribe.” He examines how social media has created millions of tiny “tribes” that center around specialized topics, and how even the most unlikely person can lead these groups.

20. Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead –Brené Brown

Brown explores how vulnerability in every aspect of our lives, from business to home, makes us better leaders. This book looks at how living more vulnerably can make you stronger and more courageous in the long run.

21. The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload –Daniel Levitin

In the modern world, we can become overwhelmed with the amount of data that we face everyday. Yet some people become extremely adept at multi-tasking and handling information overload. Levitin shares the secrets to becoming an organized leader by cutting through this pervasive clutter.

22. The Power of Noticing: What the Best Leaders See –Max Bazerman

An expert in applied behavioral psychology, Bazerman examines how to evaluate decision-making information that others overlook. He studies real-world catastrophes to see where leaders went wrong, and shows you how to avoid these detrimental mistakes.

23. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success –Carolyn Dweck

Dweck focuses on how a positive mindset can turn you into an effective leader. Her pivotal book focuses on why constant growth is necessary for you to become successful.

24.  Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success –Phil Jackson and Hugh Delehanty

If you are a sports fan, this may be the leadership book for you. Jackson won more championships than any other coach in the history of professional sports, and he shares his insights into becoming a legendary leader in this book.

25. Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within All of Us –Tom Kelley and David Kelley

This book shows how your innate creativity can elevate your work to the next level and make you a better leader. It explores different methods of creativity and how these methods can help you solve potential business problems.

26. Bring Work to Life by Bringing Life to Work: A Guide for Leaders and Organizations –Tracy Brower

Brower uses real-world examples to show how successful managers create balance between work and home life. This guide will help your workplace increase productivity and your bottom line.

27. Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders –L. David Marquet

Marquet uses his experience as a former Navy officer to give insight into why leaders should focus on cultivating new leaders from his or her followers. He explains how he turned his submarine from the worst to the first in the fleet by challenging traditional leadership tactics.

 28. EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches –Dave Ramsey

This highly praised book by Dave Ramsey gives you a step-by-step guide to shaping your business into a thriving workplace.

29. The Gen Z Effect: The Six Forces Shaping the Future of Business –Tom Koulopoulos and Dan Keldsen

To succeed as a leader, you need to look at the future of your business. This book focuses on how you can prepare yourself to lead Generation Z by embracing them as the future leaders of the workplace.

30. The 5 Levels of Leadership: Proven Steps to Maximize Your Potential –John C. Maxwell

#1 New York Times best-selling author John C. Maxwell gives you steps to make an impact and become the greatest leader in your business. If you are interested in becoming more than just a boss, this book will help you inspire and lead your team.

31. The Secret: What Great Leaders Know and Do –Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller

Do you know what you need to be a great leader? The Secret explores five essential concepts to form a coherent leadership plan. Blanchard’s book will benefit not only you as a leader, but all of the employees that look to you for advice.

32. What Spins the Wheels: Leadership Lessons From Our Race For Hope -Len Forkas

When he discovered his son had leukemia, Forkas faced the toughest battle of his life. He competed in a 3,000-mile solo bike race to raise money for his son’s illness, and used this personal experience to share thought-provoking lessons on leadership.

33. How Do I Keep My Employees Motivated?: The Practice of Empathy-Based Management –George Langelett

Langelett looks at how empathy can make you a more effective manager. He provides proven techniques that allow your employees to feel accepted and included.

34. Profit From the Positive: Proven Leadership Strategies to Boost Productivity and Transform Your Business –Margaret H. Greenberg and Senia Maymin

This book teaches you how increase productivity and results in your workplace by using positive psychology. A more advanced text, Profit From the Positive is for managers that have tried other techniques and are looking for alternative solutions.

35. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You –John C. Maxwell

One of the best-selling leadership books of all time, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership is an invaluable toolbox of leadership tips from one of the most well known experts in the field. This book is a must-read for managers that want to improve their leadership skills.

36. A Leader’s Gift: How to Earn the Right to Be Followed –Barry Banther

Banther provides five qualities you need to embody to inspire loyalty and respect in your employees. A Leader’s Gift walks you through ways you can get the most out of your employees while keeping them motivated.

37. The Dream Manager –Matthew Kelly

Kelly creates a fictional workplace to explore how to turn an unproductive business into a functioning, successful environment. His inspiring book focuses on the “self” while providing ways to improve the lives of others.

38. Training Camp: What the Best Do Better Than Everyone Else –Jon Gordon

Another sports-enthusiast book for learning how to become a leader, Training Camp is an inspirational fable about leadership. It tells the story of a undrafted football player that is discouraged with his career, until he meets a coach that encourages him and shows him how he can make the most of his talents.

39. The Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership –James C. Hunter

A fictional story about a man who outwardly is successful, but inwardly is struggling with every role in his life, The Servant observes how one man finds leadership in unexpected places. Hunter’s book is a fun and interesting way to gain insight on becoming an effective leader.

40. Leadership by Invitation: How to RSVP and Embrace Your Role as A LEADER –Barry L. Smith and Kendra Cagle

Leadership by Invitation explains how to embrace your role as a leader and build influence with your team. Smith uses his personal struggles to document how stepping outside of your comfort zone can produce remarkable results.

41. New-School Leadership: Making a Difference in the 21st Century –D.A. Abrams

This book explores what Abrams calls the new-school leadership model. He gives an innovative and fresh approach to the ever-evolving leadership roles in business, and ways you can stay on top of a changing industry.

42. The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work –Shawn Achor

The Happiness Advantage is based on Achor’s belief that the traditional road to success is no longer applicable in today’s business world, and working hard is no longer enough to achieve happiness. The premise for his best-selling novel is that happiness fuels success, not the other way around. Achor looks at how positivity can turn you into a better and more respected leader.

43. On the Edge: The Art of High-Impact Leadership –Alison Levine and Mike Krzyzewski

Levine reflects on how her extreme sporting expeditions gave her valuable leadership lessons that translate to the business world. This book gives concrete and sometimes unconventional advice for leadership growth.

44. Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action –Simon Sinek

Sinek provides an innovative look at why some businesses stand out and are more successful. He uses his real-life experiences to share insight into effective leadership and management tactics.

45. Shackleton’s Way: Leadership Lessons from the Great Antarctic Explorer –Margot Morrell and Stephanie Capparell

This book examines how Sir Ernest Shackleton saved the lives of 27 men during a dangerous excursion and subsequently became known as the greatest leader to ever live. The inspirational true story is not only a great read but an excellent guide for all aspiring leaders.

46. Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence –Daniel Goleman, Richard E. Boyatzis, and Annie McKee

Goleman’s psychological book explores the role of emotional intelligence in leadership. Primal Leadership looks at why considering your employees feelings in the workplace will make you a more effective leader.

47. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion –Robert Cialdini

A classic book on persuasion, Influence explains how you can get people to say, “yes” in your business. Cialdini gives you the tools to bring leadership skills to both your work life and personal life.

48. True North: Discover Your Authentic LeadershipBill George, Peter Sims

George and Sims share lessons from their interviews with more than 125 respected leaders in the business world. These interviews resulted in the creation of an effective personal development plan that will make you into a stronger leader.

49. The Maxwell Daily Reader: 365 Days of Insight to Develop the Leader Within You and Influence Those Around You John C. Maxwell

A daily guide to becoming a leader, with actionable steps you can put into practice each day. This inspirational to-do list will give you the skills to become a better manager one day at a time.

50. Thinking Fast and SlowDaniel Kahneman

Selected as a top pick for both the New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, Kahneman’s book looks at how slowing down our thought process in certain situations can save us from making typical mistakes in managing. He provides practical advice for tapping into your leadership potential.

What are your favorite resources for leadership advice? Share your opinions on the most useful guides to developing your leadership skills.


23 Tips For Building A Powerful Personal Brand On LinkedIn

December 10th, 2014

Getting the most out of LinkedIn can be a difficult endeavor. To help you succeed in building an informative and powerful profile, we have compiled a list of the 23 most important personal branding tips to use on this social networking website. Follow these helpful rules to stay relevant and create a lasting impression on LinkedIn.

1. Use Important Keywords In Your LinkedIn Profile

 Pack your profile with the right kind of search terms so that your profile is more searchable. Also, your headline should be compelling and interesting. Don’t get passed over as a potential business partner; stand out in the crowd with an attention-grabbing headline , such as “5 Ways I Can Double Your Sales Leads”. Every human resources manager will take the time to read your profile if you can deliver on a riveting headline.

 

2. Complete Your Profile

One of the biggest mistakes professionals make on LinkedIn is not filling out every part of their profile. When completing it fully and correctly only takes a short amount of time and provides a wealth of personal information, why leave parts of your profile blank? Give the people who view your profile the whole picture and don’t leave anything out.

 

3. Join the Right LinkedIn Groups

Become involved in any LinkedIn group that focuses on your job category. The more you read about your field, the more of an expert you will be on the subject matter. As information is constantly growing and evolving, you should be reading up to stay relevant in your workplace. These groups make it easy for you to be part of targeted discussions so you can participate and keep up-to-date with your field of work.

 

4. Join All Related Groups

With LinkedIn, real growth comes from branching out. Don’t constrain your expertise or narrow your field too precisely. For example, if you have a sales position, join groups that relate not only to sales, but to public speaking and marketing, as well. By keeping up with a wider range of groups, you can expand your field of knowledge and open doors to other potential business opportunities.

 

5. Find New Contacts In Your Industry

Use LinkedIn as your professional social media resource and connect with the top professionals in your industry. Often, you can find these new connections by searching your contacts and looking for similar acquaintances. Reaching out with a question can help start a conversation about your field and be beneficial to both you and the potential new contact. Set a goal for yourself for a specific number of conversations per month with new contacts.

 

6. Let Your Distinctive Traits Shine Through

It is not just your accomplishments, but also your unique voice that makes you a one-of-a-kind asset. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is accurately portraying your personality to clients and potential business connections. If you are an energetic individual who is driven and ambitious, make sure your profile doesn’t put people to sleep!

 

7. Showcase All Pertinent Work

Upload all your relevant portfolio pieces to your LinkedIn. If a website shows work you have done in the past that you are proud of, link to it. You can share examples of your work so hiring managers or potential clients get a better feel for your strengths.

 

8. Make LinkedIn Your New Address Book

Use LinkedIn to organize and manage all your professional contacts. The site now allows you add email and phone information to your connections. Another great feature is the ability to tag contacts based on job category.

 

9. Discover Business Leaders

 

Businessman on cell phone connecting with important business contacts through the web.

If you are looking to learn more about a new field or are interested in learning which companies are leaders in their fields, LinkedIn provides expansive information to reference.

 

10. Reach Out Regularly

Stay fresh in people’s minds by periodically reaching out to share current information or to simply say hi and see if their needs or goals have changed. Next time they are thinking about any demands that their company has, your name might be the freshest in their mind.

 

11. Keep Building Your Professional Network

Try to make a monthly goal with your LinkedIn by connecting to more colleagues or business associates. By continuing to grow your social network, you are preventing your online presence from becoming stale.

 

12. Write Recommendations For Coworkers or Colleagues

If you want people to endorse you and give you credit for your work, there is no easier way than writing recommendations for them. Giving credit to others can exponentially increase your chances of these endorsements being reciprocated.  

 

13. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Recommendations

Did you recently help a client reach a goal or complete a project that you are particularly proud of? If your work is truly stellar, the client will show their appreciation by sharing their positive feedback.

 

14. Update Your Profile Image

 

Businessman sits for a professional picture in a board room.

 

Using an unprofessional image is an easy way to lose credibility with your LinkedIn. Make sure your headshot is professional and has a clean background. Either hire a photographer or get someone with basic photography skills to help you out. Having a professional image is an easy way to create a better LinkedIn profile.

 

15. Contribute To Related Blogs

You may not feel like you know everything about your field of work, but sometimes writing your own blog posts can give you more credibility and show you are eager to share your knowledge. By writing about what you know on LinkedIn blogs, you are speaking to a large audience and contributing to an open business conversation.

 

16. Don’t Send Spam Messages

An important aspect of using LinkedIn is talking to a potential customer one-on-one. Once you begin sending spammy stock messages to people, you will lose all your credibility on LinkedIn. People have become attuned to this kind of online white noise and are now trained to tune out any spam content. Personalize your message and make sure you are asking relevant questions and providing information that is exclusive to their business demands.

 

17. Respond Promptly To All Questions and Messages

When someone reaches out to you on LinkedIn, it is important to respond quickly. If you answer questions in a timely manner, you are showing that you can handle business efficiently, which raises your credibility in the professional world.

 

18. Maintain A Professional Demeanor

LinkedIn is not Facebook or Twitter. Keep your tone and correspondence professional at all times. This is a business social network and your associates will judge how you portray yourself on LinkedIn.

 

19. Don’t Ask For Reciprocal Endorsements

You may have endorsed all of their skills, but asking people to endorse you just because you endorsed them is a rooky mistake. If people think you are great at your job and have a lot to offer, they will endorse you back. Don’t pester someone just because you went to the trouble of endorsing his or her skills.

 

20. Never Send Messages in Response to Views

Six words that scare off potential clients or hiring managers: “I see you viewed my profile…” Just because someone is looking at your profile does not mean that they found anything useful. The purpose of your profile is to show people what you have to offer. Either they are just browsing or they didn’t see anything they liked on your profile, but either way, those six words aren’t making things better.

 

21. Explain How YOU Can Help THEM

Don’t get confused on the purpose of your profile. Most people on LinkedIn are not there to see what you have to say, but instead use the network to resolve business issues. Make sure the information you provide is focused on how your particular set of skills can solve these problems.

 

22. Create A Personal Call To Action

When your page receives visitors that are interested in learning more about how you can help them, there should be a direct and focused call to action. They should have clear steps laid out in how to reach you, including email addresses, phone numbers, and the best times to speak to you. In addition to any contact information, relevant websites or blogs should be linked in this section, too.

 

23. Invest in LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator

This premium tool, not to be confused with LinkedIn’s free offerings for salespeople, will take your game to the next level. The subscription-based Sales Navigator application allows you to leverage the LinkedIn connections of others who work for your company, dramatically broadening your personal networking landscape. It also generates tailored lead recommendations based on criteria you set, tracks current opportunities, gives you timely and accurate updates about your active prospects, and lets you create a professional, trusted brand with a premium profile. As if all that weren’t enough, it syncs up with Salesforce.com. Pricing varies based on the size of the sales force, and may even have changed by the time you read this. The pricing plans we’ve seen all look quite reasonable, and make this social selling tool a must-have for most B2B sellers. For more information, read our guide to using the LinkedIn Sales Navigator.

 


5 Reasons Why Leadership Isn’t Just for Leaders Anymore

December 5th, 2014

The traditional corporate structure in the workplace is ready for a change. With Millennials entering the workforce, there is a resounding call for a structural shakeup. These young professionals have a lot to say and they want to have their voices heard. Successful companies are noticing this. Instead of paying attention to only GPA’s, they are looking for critical thinking and problem-solving skills in new hires. Working as a team and allowing leadership behaviors to naturally develop gives employees the chance to be heard, no matter their level of seniority.

One example of how shaking up the established business hierarchy has helped a company evolve is Zappos, an online retailer. Zappos announced in 2013 that they would be getting rid of all management positions. Instead, they adopted a new style of office organization called “Holacracy”. This innovative organizational structure uses a system of overlapping, self-governing circles. Holacracy arranges a company around the work that needs to be done, instead of by who should do it. This system allows for employees to play to their own strengths and let their individual talents shine through. It also permits natural leaders to emerge, regardless of their level of experience.

Here are five reasons why you should consider a non-traditional leadership system for your organizations.

 

 1. Leadership Encourages Teamwork

By giving even entry-level employees leadership opportunities, a company is working towards a stronger team. If people view their coworkers not just as titles like “Manager” or “Head of ______Department”, but as teammates working towards a common goal, they are much more likely to respect each other. Managers are not always leaders, and leaders are not always managers. Giving employees the chance to reveal their natural leadership tendencies is a great way to build a level playing field in the office.

 

 2. Creates An Even Playing Field

Most people don’t respect managers in the typical “leader” position. Lower level employees often view them as bossy and more of an annoyance than a helpful presence. Giving everyone the ability to make decisions and be their own leaders allows for a more equal workplace. Each employee has something that they can contribute to the team, and allowing them to shine individually will make for a stronger team overall.

 

 3. Leadership at All Levels Promotes Openness

Two women and two men look at a document together at a desk.

 

Allowing leadership at all levels promotes openness and allows everyone to work together, regardless of how many years they have been with the company. Another advantage of allowing leadership to develop at all levels and cutting out unnecessary management is that there is no longer a place for slacking employees to hide. Laziness and a bad work ethic will be noticed and reported by an entire team of people, instead of the previous reporting focal point of a manager. Many times, bad employees slip under the radar, as managers may not notice or simply ignore their lack of dedication. With leadership abilities given to everyone in the workplace, any employee is free to speak up about issues and they can work together as a team to solve the problem at hand.

 

4. Higher Motivation for Younger Employees

Recognizing leadership even at lower levels in the company can give new employees more motivation. If their ideas and suggestions are heard and valued instead of dismissed, they will be more willing to speak up in the future with helpful tips. In contrast, if they are continuously ignored or put down for contributing to a workplace conversation, they will become unmotivated and uninterested. Allowing for the growth of managerial skills in lower-level employees can alleviate workplace boredom and give them decision-making freedom.

 

5. Necessitates Constant Development for Entire Company

Allowing for leadership with every employee promotes growth for the entire company. With everyone from entry-level to senior staff members contributing to company goals, the business will have an abundance of new ideas to pick from. Creative interactions between coworkers will become more commonplace, leading to better work and more consistently positive changes. Even though entry-level employees are regularly viewed as novices in the workplace, these new recruits can often spot internal company mistakes. This outsider’s opinion should be valued, as they have a unique perspective that mid-and upper-level employees may no longer see.

 

For companies to be successful in the ever-changing business climate, they must be adaptable and aggressive. Giving employees at all levels the chance to be leaders will give your company more chances for creative solutions and success. It also keeps employees from being trapped in fixed attitudes or habits.

If the company is promoting growth and leadership, each employee will feel encouraged to produce new ideas. When leadership is fostered on a company-wide level, your entire business, along with every employee, can flourish and grow. Don’t forget that each employee in a company has a unique view. If each one is allowed to share their voice, you can get a more complete picture of your business.

 

 

 

 

 


Why Having A Strong Personal Brand Is No Longer An Option

December 5th, 2014

As a salesperson, here is something you probably already know: people don’t feel a strong connection with companies. So in this day and age, having a personal brand is no longer an option; it is a requirement. If people do not see you as a relatable individual and instead starting viewing you as simply the voice of a corporation, you aren’t going to last long in the fast-paced world of sales.

 In a crowded business environment, you need to establish a unique personal brand that stands out in a crowd. If you start with a strong identity, you will build a reputation as a stellar salesperson.

 

 The Key To Building Trust

When talking about personal branding, your character needs to come through in interactions to be truly effective. Put simply, people trust people, not corporations. Talking to a great salesperson can be the highlight of your day if done correctly. Conversely, if your pitch comes across as stiff and scripted, you are losing your greatest strength in one-on-one interaction: trust.

 If you have a strong personal brand and people feel that they can relate to you, they will believe your word when it comes to the strength of your product or service.

 

 Authenticity & Personal Branding

Personal branding does not mean creating some false identity to put up in front of clients. You are not a two-dimensional cardboard cutout. You need to use your strengths and accentuate what you can bring to the table in business. Authenticity works much better than putting up a false front. People can often tell when you are playing the role of a salesman, and the result is unease and distrust. No one wants to feel like they are being “sold to”.

 When you are genuinely passionate about your product or service, your enthusiasm will always come through in conversation. This kind of energy is contagious, and your passion will likely rub off and make your interaction more memorable for the customer.

 

Become A Leader

Another strength that comes from establishing a solid personal brand is that it gives you a higher perceived value in the workplace. Imagine this scenario: you have an exact twin that works alongside you. However, while you have a charming and unique sales voice, your twin has a flat, boring personality. Who do you think would make the better salesman?

 Your personal brand is what makes you different from every other “average Joe” in the business market. Personal branding helps you become a leader, not a follower. Stand out in the sales market!

 Those who have an easily noticed and popular personal brand will be perceived as an executive presence. This will give your voice more authority and can even help with promotions and advancement in the workplace.

 If you have the reputation as being a take-charge employee, more opportunities for growth will present themselves. Using your personal brand to show your enthusiasm for your work can aid in furthering your sales career.

 

Be Wary of Social Media

 Hands hold up social media keywords like share, like, tweet, and follow.

 

Don’t lose focus on your personal brand. It is a trademark that requires constant upkeep. You need to be reinforcing your brand at all times. One slip in your characteristic identity and people may lose their trust in your “brand”.

One problem that has arisen in the pursuit of a strong personal brand is the growth in social media reliance in business.  It is easy to cause irreconcilable damage to your brand when you are not thinking ahead about the information you present or the responses you give to customers. By having kneejerk reactions to current events or customer complaints on your social media sites, you can destroy all the hard work you have put into building your customized business foundation.

 When it comes to social media, a good tip to follow is to always pause and consider how each experience could affect your personal brand. Sometimes taking a step back and waiting to respond can let you see the situation more clearly, without the excitement of the moment to cloud your judgment.

 

 

 A Two-Way Street

Lastly, personal branding works both ways. If you can get a good feel for a customer’s personality, wants, and needs, you can decide whether they are a solid lead to pursue. When your personal brand clicks with someone else, that is how a good business partnership can be formed.

 Working in sales is a lot like dating. You want to find someone who is a good “match” for you. Don’t waste your time with someone who is probably a cold lead. When the right business client comes along, it just works.

 If you don’t have a solid personal brand built in the sales world, develop yours fast. Without this firm foundation in your business practices, your voice will get lost in the deafening noise of the sales world.


5 New Sales Prospecting Rules to Live By in the Social Selling Era

December 4th, 2014

The explosion of social media has created lots of new opportunities for your company when it comes to sales prospecting. Utilizing the tools available to you can expand your business and be a source of continuous lead generation. Or it can cause a very embarrassing publicity nightmare. Here are five rules you should follow to cash in on social media opportunities and become a successful sales professional:

Rule #1: Never Miss A Chance To Connect and Inform. Social media is not a replacement for active cold calling, but your pages can work in conjunction with this method to reach more people. If you are not reaching out to people on social media and finding out if your product is a good fit for their needs, you are missing key opportunities. While you may want to adjust your pitch to become more of a conversation on social media, you should be using it for the same purpose as cold calling: See if their problems match your solutions. This is the most basic first step in the sales process. If they are not in need of your services, they aren’t going to want to hear a ten-minute pitch on why your product is great. Simply reaching out to potential leads on social media and starting a conversation will give you a better idea of if your product will fit their business needs.

Rule #2: Let The Data Work For You. Use social media for data mining. By using your pages for sales prospecting, you gain valuable insights into customer demographics. Social media sites, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, are great tools for lead generation. This is the over-sharing era, and sales professionals can use this to their advantage. There are filters available for social media sites that will narrow your audience according to age, gender, and many other categories. This gives you the ability to focus more closely on your clients and target customers more specifically.

Rule #3: Research Competitors to Learn Weaknesses and Gain Insights on How You Can Improve Customer Experiences. Many customers take to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to provide feedback on their user experience. If you are not looking at your competitor’s social media pages on a regular basis, you are missing out on learning their business weaknesses. And by having an understanding of those weaknesses, you are able to highlight your strengths and meet needs that the competitors can’t. This also gives you another way of sales prospecting to an already targeted customer. If they are not happy because of their experience with your competitor, tell them how you can do it better!

Rule #4: Get Involved In The Process! Social media gives your business the ability to have open conversations with customers and address any potential issues. These sites are a two-way informational street, and while many businesses may focus on churning out more and more content, you need to be ready to talk openly with your clients. You need to listen to what your customers have to say about you. Having an open conversation with customers through social media is a great way to humanize your business. Answer their questions and concerns, thank them for their feedback, and let your sites be an active place for informative discussions. By talking to the customers directly, you can learn what sales strategies are working best, and which you should leave behind.

Rule #5: Don’t Leave Out The Call To Action! Prospects need to learn the next steps in the purchase process. Without giving them a call to action, they won’t know what to do with the information you have provided. Make sure you have step-by-step information available that is easy to identify. If potential clients are in any way confused by your social media sites, it will most likely mean they will look in other places for answers. And that could be leading them directly to your competitors.

 

Social media is a great device for sales professionals to utilize, but doing it improperly can be a waste of valuable selling time. It should not be the only platform you use for reaching out to sales leads. Cold calling is still an important and useful tool in the sales industry, and should be used in conjunction with social media, instead of replacing it completely. If you follow these tips to improve your lead generation process, you will discover that social media marketing is an invaluable tool to sales professionals in all fields.


5 Ways Millennials Will Make Great Managers

November 5th, 2014

In the past ten years, Millennials have been entering the workplace more than ever. While some may still view Generation Y as overeager interns, these developing leaders are becoming the future of successful business. And while it is easy to view a younger generation as lacking in knowledge and experience, the truth is Millennials have a lot to offer. Here are five ways this technologically advanced generation has the ability to bring new life and energy to a workplace:

 1. Gen Y Believes In Transparency & Equality

Don’t try to push outdated managerial systems on Millennials. They do not appreciate the traditional manager/employee relationship. Instead, they would rather view every coworker as an equal. They want to discuss ideas openly, regardless of experience or previously gained knowledge. Each business challenge is viewed as a unique problem, to be discussed and solved as a team, rather than assigning it as an individual task to an employee.

Another positive of Generation Y is their desire for complete transparency in the workplace. Full disclosure on salary, company processes, and trade secrets are appreciated by Millennials, and this in turn will lead them to be open with their staff as managers. They want a workplace to be an open environment for ideas that will lead to company growth and success.

2. Millennials Are Comfortable With Evolving Technology

This generation grew up in a digital age. They are used to, and actually require, technology’s constant updates and changing digital landscape. Millennials are the generation that has to have the newest phones and electronics. They expect software updates on a monthly, if not weekly, basis.

While many people from the older generations may look at Gen Y as lazy or lacking focus, the opposite is actually true. Millennials analyze the shortest distance between problems and solutions. They are adept at troubleshooting and enjoy tackling problems head-on. These rising professionals are part of a “Google smart” generation. They do not look to libraries for answers, but know that a quick Google search puts all the information they may need at their fingertips.

3. They’re Creative Thinkers

Millennials are much more open-minded to creative solutions than previous generations, such as Baby Boomers or Generation X. Unlike these previous generations that kept their head down and focused on retaining job security, Gen Y is much more comfortable with taking risks and thinking outside the box. These creative trailblazers focus less on their place in a company, and instead look at the “big picture”. Understanding their entire business sphere makes Millennials much more effective at knowing how to make positive and efficient changes. Their creative problem-solving techniques allow them to appreciate the opinions of newer employees, regardless of experience.

4. A Generation Of Natural Leaders

Young business leaders and professionals .

Gen Y possesses HUGE amounts of confidence. This is an entire generation of people that have never been told that they can’t succeed, but rather that anything is possible if they put in the necessary time and effort. Millennials don’t hesitate to examine every inch of a business, and then make suggestions for helpful changes. They will take a role as a leader without waiting to be asked. What they may lack in years of experience, they will make up for with enthusiasm and the desire to make a difference in their workplace. Generation Y will constantly demand that their company challenge them, so in turn they will pass this down in their managerial style. Millennial managers want to see employees become self-starters and team players instead of relying on constant direction from supervisors.

5. Big Believers In A Work/Life Balance

Gen Y is not looking for a 9-5 job that merely pays the bills. They are a generation that believes wholeheartedly in balancing their work lives with their social lives. They know how to make work environments fun while also understanding the importance of getting work done. Rather than living to work, they believe strongly in enjoying their pursuits. It isn’t just a job or career for Millennials, but a way to feel fulfilled in life. They want to feel successful and constantly challenged by their employers, and this leads to them doing the same to their managerial style. Asking the most out of their employees, while also providing a fun and interesting environment for them to learn, is one of the greatest strengths Millennials will bring to positions of management.

Before you know it, Millennials will be leading the world of business. Although many Baby Boomers and older generations still doubt and distrust their skills, embracing what defines their generation will allow businesses to thrive and grow. Make sure your company knows how to harness their unique attributes and turn them into successful leaders. After all, Millennials are the future of your company!