How can soft skills enhance your personal development?

Personal development can be seen as the evolution of a human’s professional and personal life until they reach their ultimate potential.  It is usually a lifelong learning process.  Some of the soft skills that you can use to help reach your ultimate potential are given below in a form of a brief description and an eGuide.



Ö The eGuides were adapted from my professional Corporate Library

Ö The eGuides are in the PDF format.



Anger Management

Anger can be an incredibly damaging force, costing people their jobs, personal relationships, and even their lives when it gets out of hand. However, since everyone experiences anger, it is important to have constructive approaches to manage it effectively. This eGuide will help teach you how to identify your anger triggers and what to do when you get angry.


Attention Management

Attention Management is a useful skill that allows managers to connect with their employees on an emotional level and motivate them to focus on their work and how to reach their personal and company goals. This eGuide will give valuable insight and strategies into what it takes to be more attentive and vigilant.


Being A Likeable Boss

You will begin to see how important it is to develop better managerial skills. By managing and looking at the way people interact and seeing things in a new light, you could improve on almost every aspect of your career.


Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking will lead to being a more rational and disciplined thinker. It will reduce your prejudice and bias which will provide you a better understanding of your environment. This eGuide will provide you the skills to evaluate, identify, and distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information. It will lead you to be more productive in your career, and provide a great skill in your everyday life–


Emotional Intelligence

As a result of the growing acknowledgement by professionals of the importance and relevance of emotions to work outcomes, the research on the topic continues to gain momentum.  This eGuide will discuss all aspects of Emotional Intelligence.


Goal Setting and Getting Things Done

This eGuide will cover strategies to help you overcome procrastination. These skills will translate into increased satisfaction in your professional and personal lives. You will learn the Goal Setting characteristics of successful people and in turn will become a happier and more productive individual.



Improving Mindfulness

By reading this eGuide you will begin to identify your own patterns of thinking. As you learn to practice mindfulness, you will cultivate positive emotions that will have a dramatic effect on the work environment.



Improving Self-Awareness

By reading this eGuide, you will learn how beneficial becoming more self aware can be. A highly self aware person will become more equipped to deal with daily life and its challenges. You will gain a new perspective on yourself and your emotions, and become a valuable member to society.



Increasing Your Happiness

This eGuide will show you how to engage in unique and helpful ways to increase your happiness. This will have a robust effect on your professional and personal life. It will improve your communication skills, increase productivity, and lesson absenteeism.



Job Search Skills

This eGuide helps you develop a plan that could get you a new job. Identifying the purpose for working and the assessment of skills can help determine the types of jobs you should apply for.




Managing Workplace Anxiety

This eGuide will provide you with important skills and resources to recognize and manage workplace anxiety. By identifying these symptoms and coping skills employees and managers will be better suited in dealing with these common situations.



Managing Personal Finance

The eGuide shows you the benefits of having a budget and how to build a budget that fits your needs, and lifestyle. You will discover how you can cut costs, pay off debts, and live within your budget.



Personal Productivity

This eGuide will help you achieve a goal of Personal Productivity. Through this guide participants will be on the right track in achieving that goal. Some people blame everything that goes wrong in their life on something or someone else, but through this guide you will take ownership and begin to lead a more productive life.



Social Intelligence

Increasing your Social Intelligence will provide benefits throughout your professional and personal lives. It is a fantastic tool for coaching and development as people will learn “people skills”. Improving social skills through active listening, understanding body language, and being more empathic will give you an advantage in your interactions. Social interactions are a two way street, know the rules of the road!




Social Learning

This eGuide will show you how to create learning communities that benefit every aspect of your organization. You will learn new behaviors through observation and modeling and be instilled with a passion for learning.


Stress Management

This eGuide will give you a three-option method for addressing any stressful situation, as well as a toolbox of personal skills, including using routines, relaxation techniques, and a stress log system. You will also understand what lifestyle elements they can change to reduce stress.


Work-Life Balance

This eGuide will show you how to focus on important things, set accurate and achievable goals, and communicate better with your peers at work and your family at home.

What are the major Administrative Soft Skills?

Administrative soft skills are needed to run a business or keep an office organized. Administrative soft skills include a variety of jobs, as you will learn from the following eGuides. Employees with strong administrative soft skills are needed in almost all businesses today..



Ö The eGuides were adapted from my professional Corporate Library

Ö Workshops and online courses are available for these topics.  However, they are only available for the area surrounding Prince Albert.  For further information you may contact me at the following email address:

Administrative Office Procedures

This eGuide will show you how an Administrative Office Procedure binder demonstrates professionalism and efficiency in an organization or office setting.  It is also a marvelous instrument for quick reference and utilization. 

Administrative Support

This eGuide will show the core skills needed to help you use your resources efficiently, manage your time wisely, communicate effectively, and collaborate with others skillfully. The practices presented in this eGuide may take time to be a part of your daily work routine. However, making the commitment to consistently apply the concepts every day is the key to changing and adopting new behaviors in a short amount of time.

Archiving and Records Management

This eGuide will show you the basic elements of records management programs and different ways to manage records.



Basic Bookkeeping

This eGuide will show you the Basic Bookkeeping skills needed to be successful in an organization.



Business Writing

This eGuide will provide a refresher on basic writing concepts (such as spelling, grammar, and punctuation), and an overview of the most common business documents. These basic skills will provide you with that extra benefit in the business world that a lot of people are losing.


Collaborative Business Writing

This eGuide will show the knowledge and skills needed to collaborate with others and create that important document. You will touch on the types of collaboration, and ways to improve them through certain tools and processes. These basic skills will provide you with that extra benefit in the business world that a lot of people are losing.

Executive and Personal Assistants

This eGuide will show what it takes to be a successful assistant. You will learn what it takes to effectively manage a schedule, organize a meeting, and even how to be a successful gatekeeper. Being an Executive or Personal Assistant takes a special skill set and this eGuide will provide you with the necessary tools.

Meeting Management

This eGuide will explore how to reduce waste and make meetings more efficient.

Organizational Skills

This eGuide will show you that every day people waste numerous amounts of time looking for items. So stop looking for those important items, and start knowing where they are by getting organized.

Supply Chain Management

This eGuide will you show you how to lower costs, improve efficiency, and increase customer satisfaction. This eGuide will provide you with the understanding of how Supply Chain Management can improve and help almost any type of business.




The Cloud and Business

By reading this eGuide you will discover the specifics of how the cloud can be a successful business tool.

How Soft Skills can enhance your career

This is an ebook that contains the postings from this site from Day 1.  As you can see that the postings will deal with some aspect of Soft Skills.

Change Management…This eGuide will give you an understanding of how change is implemented and some tools for managing your reactions to change.

Creative Problem Solving... This eGuide will give you an overview of the entire creative problem solving process, as well as key problem solving tools that they can use every day.

Networking (Within the Company)…This eGuide examines the importance of internal networking or networking within the company.

Networking (Outside the Company)... This eGuide will examine the importance of developing a core set of networking skills. By managing and looking at the way people interact and seeing things in a new light, you will improve on almost every aspect of your networking strategy.

Constructive Criticism … This eGuide will examine the concept of constructive criticism.

Emotional intelligence...This eGuide describes the ability to understand one’s own feelings, and that of groups, and how these emotions can influence motivation and behavior

Developing Corporate Behavior…This eGuide will examine the importance of developing a business environment that reflects a positive set of values and ethics.

Anger Management… Anger can be an incredibly damaging force, costing people their jobs, personal relationships, and even their lives when it gets out of hand. However, since everyone experiences anger, it is important to have constructive approaches to manage it effectively. This eGuide will help teach you how to identify anger triggers and what to do when they get angry.

Business Acumen…. This eGuide will help you improve your judgment and decisiveness skills. Business Acumen is all about seeing the big picture and recognizing that all decisions no matter how small can have an effect on the bottom line. You will increase your financial literacy and improve your business sense.

Business Ethics… A company’s ethics will determine its reputation. Good business ethics are essential for the long-term success of an organization. Implementing an ethical program will foster a successful company culture and increase profitability. Developing a Business Ethics program takes time and effort, but doing so will do more than improve business, it will change lives. This eGuide will show you how.

Business Writing… This eGuide will give you a refresher on basic writing concepts (such as spelling, grammar, and punctuation), and an overview of the most common business documents. These basic skills will provide you with that extra benefit in the business world that a lot of people are losing.

Critical Thinking… Critical Thinking will lead to being a more rational and disciplined thinker. It will reduce your prejudice and bias which will provide you a better understanding of your environment. This eGuide will provide you the skills to evaluate, identify, and distinguish between relevant and irrelevant information. It will lead you to be more productive in your career, and provide a great skill in your everyday life.

Entrepreneurship... This eGuide will help you achieve your dreams. Being an entrepreneur can be full of risks. These risks are minimized through drafting a business plan, knowing your competition, and successful marketing. All these and more can be found in our Entrepreneurship eGuide

Event Planning…This eGuide will show you how to anticipate and solve common planning issues for any small event such as informal gatherings, up to complex meetings. Effectively troubleshooting will help insure a happy and enjoyable event.

Improving Mindfulness… This eGuide will show you how to identify your own patterns of thinking. As you learn to practice mindfulness, you will cultivate positive emotions that will have a dramatic effect on the work environment.

Mentoring and Coaching… This eGuide focuses on how to better coach your employees to higher performance. Coaching is a process of relationship building and setting goals. How well you coach is related directly to how well you are able to foster a great working relationship with your employees through understanding them and strategic goal setting.

Personal Branding… This eGuide will show you how to share your vision and passions with others in your company. Utilize this knowledge through Social Media to define and influence how others see you. You are your brand so protect it. Live it.

Personal Productivity... Personal Productivity is a goal most of us have. This eGuide will help you achieve that goal. Some people blame everything that goes wrong in their life on something or someone else, but through eGuide you will take ownership and begin to lead a more productive

Presentation Skills…This eGuide will give you some presentation skills that will make speaking in public less terrifying and more enjoyable. The eGuide includes topics that participants can look forward to including: creating a compelling program, using various types of visual aids, and engaging the audience.

Proposal Writing…This eGuide will show each step of the proposal writing process, from understanding why you are writing a proposal; to gathering information; to writing and proofreading; through to creating the final, professional product.

Prospecting and Lead Generation…With this eGuide you will begin to see how important it is to develop a core set of sales skills. By managing and looking at the way people interact and seeing things in a new light, you will improve on almost every aspect of your sales strategy.

Social Intelligence... This eGuide will provide benefits throughout your professional and personal lives. It is a fantastic tool for coaching and development as people will learn “people skills”. Improving social skills through active listening, understanding body language, and being more empathic will give your participants the advantage in their interactions. Social interactions are a two way street, know the rules of the road!

Social Learning… With this eGuide you will be creating learning communities that benefit every aspect of your organization. They will learn new behaviors through observation and modeling and be instilled with a passion for learning.

Telephone Etiquette… With this eGuide you will begin to see how important it is to develop better telephone communication skills. By improving how you communicate on the telephone and improve basic communication skills, you will improve on almost every aspect of your career.

Top 10 Sales Secrets… With this eGuide you will discover the specifics of how to develop the traits that will make you a successful sales person and how to build positive, long lasting relationships with your customers!

Women in Leadership… With this eGuide you will learn how women are changing the workforce. You will gain a new perspective on the workforce, and what benefits can come from hiring and promoting women to higher positions.

Work Life Balance... With a Work-Life Balance you will be managing your time better. Better time management will benefit all aspects of life; you will be working less and producing more. This eGuide will show how to focus on the important things, set accurate and achievable goals, and communicate better with your peers at work and your family at home.





















































Do you want to upgrade your Microsoft Office Skills?

We are now offering Microsoft Office 2016 mini-courses… each course comes with a training manual.

Here is a brief summary of the courses being offered…

Excel 2016 Essentials

You will gain an advanced level of understanding for the Microsoft Excel environment, and the ability to guide others to the proper use of the program’s full features – critical skills for those in roles such as accountants, financial analysts, and commercial bankers.

You will create, manage, and distribute professional spreadsheets for a variety of specialized purposes and situations. They will customize their Excel 2016 environments to meet project needs and increase productivity. Expert workbook examples include custom business templates, multi-axis financial charts, amortization tables, and inventory schedules.

Mini-course Content:
• Create worksheets and workbooks
• Navigate in worksheets and workbooks
• Format worksheets and workbooks
• Change views and configurations
• Print and distribute worksheets and workbooks
• Manage data cells and ranges
• Create tables, charts and objects
• Perform operations with formulas and functions

Learn on Skillshare

Outlook 2016 Essentials

You will be able to use Outlook to enhance professional correspondence, create calendars, and schedule appointments.

You will create and edit professional-looking email messages, maintain calendars across time zones, and schedule tasks for a variety of purposes and situations including sending email for marketing campaigns, planning staff meetings, and assigning action items from those meetings.

Mini-course Content:
• Connect one or more email accounts
• Preview, read, reply to and forward messages
• Process, create, format and check messages
• Use advanced message options
• Organize messages
• Use signatures and stationary
• Automate replies and organization
• Clean up and archive messages
• Create, organize and manage calendars, appointments, meetings and events
• Create and manage notes and tasks
• Create and manage contacts and contact groups
• Customize the Outlook environment settings
• Print and save Information
• Perform search operations in Outlook

Powerpoint 2016 Essentials

You will learn to create, edit, and enhance slideshow presentations to create professional-looking sales presentations, employee training, instructional materials, and kiosk slideshows.

You will gain a fundamental understanding of the PowerPoint 2016 environment and the correct use of key features of this application.

Mini-course Content:
• Create Presentations from scratch or templates
• Insert and format slides, handouts and notes
• Change Presentation views and configurations
• Insert and work with text, pictures, audio and video
• Work with tables, charts, and SmartArt
• Use transitions and animations
• Prepare for a presentation, including the slide size, narration, and timing
• Manage multiple presentations

Word 2016 Essentials

You will gain a fundamental understanding of the Microsoft Word environment and the ability to complete tasks independently.
You will demonstrate the correct application of the principle features of Word 2016 by creating and editing documents for a variety of purposes and situations. Document examples include professional looking reports, multi-column newsletters, resumes, and business correspondence.

Mini-course Content
• Create and manage documents
• Format text, paragraphs, and sections
• Create tables and lists
• Create and manage references
• Insert and format graphic elements

How much for the Microsoft Office Bundle?

To take all 4 courses will only cost you $99.99CAD… Each mini-course comes with a comprehensive manual… this is yours to keep!

The first step for you is to join, and try out a FREE mini-course on Business Etiquette… and then if you want to purchase the Microsoft Office bundle, then go to Membership Upgrade… and enroll from there.

Happy eLearning!

How to Use Media Relations in Networking

This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Managing media relations is another facet to networking. In this post, you will learn how to leverage the following type of media:
• Television
• Print
• Web, blogs and the Internet
Let’s see how you can leverage television in your networking strategy.

Learn on Skillshare

If you are lucky, you may have an opportunity to speak on a television program as an expert or other resource. However, you may not want to rely on luck. You may be able to create an environment that can get you on a television news program. Using the news media could help increase your network exponentially and across the country.

There are six steps to prepare and get your message on television.
1. Create a brand. Develop a message that tells who you are, what you do, and why you are unique. The media wants to find someone interesting and ready to talk at a moment’s notice. You should have materials ready for the press to use and this should be aligned with your brand message. You can search the Internet and find press kits that will help you structure your information for the press.

2. Develop your elevator speech. An elevator speech is a 30-second advertisement about you. This is also called a pitch. You should make your message concise, but reflecting your passion in what you do. Short pitches are more effective. Remember, the media has a short attention span. Be ready to deliver you pitch at any time.

3. Seek out the media. Use the Internet to find many ways to research media that may be out looking for your information. Take names down of producers of programs and attempt to contact them. When you do get a chance to connect with a producer always, compliment their work. This way you demonstrate your interest and the time you invested in researching him or her.

4. Respond immediately. If you do get the chance to speak to a media contact, you should respond immediately. Make sure the contact information you give is one that connects to you directly or that you can check many times throughout the day.
5. Be prepared. Have your information and materials always updated and ready. You may never know when you will get that call.
6. Keep it simple and fresh: Don’t complicate your message and materials. Keep it simple and you will find that when it comes time to be on television. Practice your message periodically so you remain sharp.

Print media comes in many forms. There are magazines, newspapers, billboards, etc. Unlike television, print media is easier to access. Here are both advantages and disadvantages to using print media that you should consider.

Print media typically has a more consistent base of readers than say the Internet. If you choose to use a magazine or newspaper for your print media resource, the consistency of readers is easier to see. In addition, print media allows you the ability to select where you want your message to appear geographically. Print media also provides flexibility in the size or space of the advertisement. Print media outlets like magazines and newspapers specialize in drawing attention to your advertisement.

On the other hand, print media can be very expensive depending on what type of media you use. Print media also limits your ability to larger audiences. Print media requires physical contact in order for the readers to access your message. Another drawback is the planning you may need to get on a particular publication. There are usually strict cutoff times for your message to be placed on an ad.

Finally, your message may be overlooked among the other ads.
Nonetheless, print media is a very viable option for a local market and provides varying degrees of pricing. The best thing to do is to plan well and understand the print media is one of many other options you can use to reach your audience.

StudioPress Theme of the Month

Web Presence, Blogs & the Internet
The World Wide Web is a place where almost anyone can create a presence. The Web is a way of accessing information. It is an inexpensive method in getting your message out to an endless audience around the world.

The idea of creating a space with a collection of related files is called creating a Web presence. Many times, this is called a Website. At the most basic level, a Web presence is a collection of files on a specific subject. The first file of the Web presence or site is called the home page. The home page provides a starting point that allows the viewer the ability to navigate the other files.

For companies and organizations, the Website provides various tools for their clients to conduct business. For an individual like yourself, you can create a Web presence that allows you to share ideas and resources with your audience. These personal Websites are called blogs. Blogs are typically an online diary. However, if you want to network effectively, your blog should be a place that creates dialogue and sharing with your visitors.

Today, setting up a blog is relatively easy. Here are some basic steps to creating a blog.
• Buy a domain, which is your Web address.
• Your hosting company usually offers a basic package with you Web site that includes a blogging application.
• Setting up your blog would take a few steps and your Web hosting company would provide the instructions.
• You need to practice using the blogging application, but once you gain the understanding, you will be writing content in no time. If you have the budget, you may hire a writer to help you update your blog.

Once you have set up your blog, you can place your Web page address on your business cards and share the site with whomever you meet.

When is Intervention Necessary to Ensure a Group’s Productivity?

This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.



For you feline lovers get the free ebook “210 Facts about Cats”.


About Intervention

In general, facilitators neither inject themselves in issues nor direct the flow of discussion; they merely go where the group wants to go. There are occasions, however, when stronger responses are needed to make the group more functional and productive. In this module, we will discuss what these stronger responses are, why they are necessary, and when is it appropriate to use them.


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Why Intervention May Be Necessary

Facilitators are part of a group for a reason: to help the group achieve their goals in the most democratic and cooperative way possible. Ideally, groups should have cooperative members with knowledge, skill, and personality to assist this process. However, in the real world, groups are much more complicated. Indeed, even well-meaning group members can create dysfunctional teams. For this reason, intervention may be necessary.

An intervention is an injection of one’s self in the process in pursuit of a specific goal. Interventions are what separate a facilitator from a mere participant— the participant’s statements are contributions, whereas a facilitators’ statements are interventions.

Technically, anything that a facilitator does, both verbally and non-verbally, in the course of his or her role in a group is an “intervention.” However, the term intervention is usually reserved to relatively stronger interference in a group’s natural way of doing things.

The following are some of the reasons why intervention may be necessary:
To help the group achieve their goals. If an on-going dynamic in the group is keeping the entire team from reaching their objective, then it’s time to intervene. For example: if a coalition exists in members, decision-making might get skewed to one side of the issue.
To protect group process. If the integrity of the chosen methodology in getting results is being compromised, then a facilitator must intervene.
To prevent the escalation of an issue. Generally, facilitators should let the group handle things on their own. But some hot issues are better nipped in the bud, or they might blow up into a larger issue can create serious damage.
To sample “skills” to the group. In some occasions, group members lack the skills to deal with a group issue, e.g. two conflicting issues. In these cases, intervention may be necessary to expose the group on more functional processes.

When to Intervene
The following are some situations when intervention may be necessary:
• The group is stuck. This means that the process is not producing results, or the process is not progressing to the next level.
• The group is about to move on to the next agenda without realizing that an important aspect of the discussion is unresolved or unaddressed.
• The group continues to follow a negative pattern despite soft interventions. (We will discuss levels of interventions in the next section.)
• Something unethical is going on in the group, like a personal attack or subtle/blatant intimidation.
• Group process is being hampered by a dominant person or clique.
• Group members are misunderstanding each other.
• The facilitator perceives tension and suspiciousness in the group.

Levels of Intervention
There is a guiding principle in medicine that goes: don’t prescribe strong medicine when a milder one will do. Similarly, interventions in facilitation range from non-directive to directive, subtle to explicit, non-intrusive to very intrusive. It helps to know what the levels of intervention are in order to decide what response to give to different situations in a group.

The following are the different levels of intervention:
No intervention. Unless there is a pressing concern that requires a facilitator’s intervention, the first level of response is to do nothing. By not responding to a concern, a facilitator is effectively letting the group take care of the problem, and implement their own solution. Note though that even if a facilitator is not directly responding to the problem, he or she may be actively gathering information about the group and how they process their own issues.
Reflective Technique. The first few levels of intervention are geared towards increasing awareness within the group that a problematic situation is in place. One way to do this is to objectively state what you notice is going on. Note that you are not supposed to voice out your opinions or evaluations of the group dynamic; merely bring to awareness something that the group may not have noticed. The group is left to confirm or refute the facilitator’s observations. Either way, the result may be further clarification.
Example: “I noticed that four of you had been very quiet since we started.”
Solicit the Group’s Observations. As much as possible, let the group members identify themselves what is happening within the group. One way to do this is to solicit feedback through general leads. Example: “Jane. What can you say about what is happening right now?”
If general leads are not working, you can use direct leads. Example: “Jane, what can you say about the way the discussion about (subject) is going?
Interpret observations. This becomes necessary when the group has difficulty seeing the implications of what is going on in the process. NOTE: always phrase your interpretations in tentative fashion, as if seeking confirmation from the group if your observations are correct or incorrect.
Example: “I’m noticing that the energy is low? Are we focusing on the right issue? Or is there something else that we have more energy for?”
Suggest solutions. If the group seems to be stuck, suggest a way to deal with the problem. Note: suggest only process changes. And always get the approval of the group. Example: “We seem to be stuck, would you like to try a different approach?”
Restructure the process or an aspect of it. Change the group process by re-organizing the structure of dialogue (dyads, small groups, etc.), using problem solving processes, inserting a “process break” or changing the original agenda.
Confront. This is directly mentioning the problem, or the difficult individual. Note that confrontation is a very strong intervention, and must be used only as a last resort, when all other softer interventions have been exhausted.
Example: “I noticed that you are always encouraging the other members of the group to leave the meeting prematurely. And twice now it has disrupted the process. May I know what the reason why you’re doing this is?”

StudioPress Theme of the Month

Intervention Techniques
In the previous module, we introduced intervention and the different levels of intervention. In this module, we will focus on particular intervention techniques: use of processes, boomerang it back, and ICE it.

Using Your Processes
As process experts, the best way a facilitator can intervene in an unproductive or dysfunctional group is by introducing a process that would directly address the problem or issue.
For example, if a group’s problem is the monopoly of the floor by certain members, a facilitator can introduce the round robin discussion to ensure that everyone gets their turn to speak.
If the problem is the lack of information about the issue in contention, the facilitator can make presentation part of the agenda.
If the problem is a lack of understanding between management and staff, the facilitator can break the group into pairs of management and staff.

Boomerang it Back
To “boomerang” an issue back is to present an issue back to the group for them to resolve. The reflective technique (discussed in the previous module) is one of the basic ways of mirroring an issue to a group.
Another way to do this is to rephrase a group’s concern into a question addressed to the group. For example, when a group member says “maybe we are just too tired to think of a new idea for this project”, a facilitator can simply say “do you think you are too tired?”
Or if a group member asks a facilitator a question, the facilitator can just bounce the question back. Example: if a group member asks “should we continue this project?” the facilitator can simply reply “What do you think? Should you?”

ICE It: Identify, Check for Agreement, Evaluate How to Resolve
Another way to intervene is to use the ICE technique.
ICE stands for:
• Identify
• Check for Agreement
• Evaluate How to Resolve.
When you ICE it, you surface what the problem is, verify with the group its accuracy (or at least their agreement), and then start the process of looking for solutions.
Example: “What do you think is going on in the group right now? So, if I understand correctly, this is what is happening? Is this correct? How do we go about addressing this problem?”

How to Write an Effective Newsletter

This post contains affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

An effective newsletter should be easy to read, contain interesting and relevant information, and be visually engaging. When you send information to your customer’s inbox, you are asking them to invest their time in reading what you have to say. Make sure they finish feeling that their time was well spent.

Know who you are talking to. As with every other piece of marketing collateral, you must establish who you are trying to reach before you put your content together. Don’t make the mistake of assuming everyone will be interested in what you have to say. Who are your readers? Are they internal (employees) or external (customers) to your organization? What are their interests? Do they like to be entertained or do they just want information? How much time do they have to read your newsletters?

Use language that that they can easily read and understand. Are you talking to computer programmers or teenagers? Would you spend time reading a book that wasn’t interesting or was written in a language you didn’t understand? Speak to the readers using language and references that they will relate to.

Here are some helpful tips to consider when writing for your audience:

• Keep the tone informal and conversational
• Write in first person to establish a relationship
• Be direct – use as few words as possible and keep it simple
• Avoid flowery or overly descriptive language
• Stay away from salesy or advertising language

Provide Relevant and Interesting Content. The backbone of your newsletter is the content. Without solid, valuable content, even the most attractive and well-formatted newsletters are virtually ineffective.

With so many other things competing for your customer’s attention, it is crucial to make your newsletter interesting and relevant. How does it add value to their lives? Why does it deserve their attention?

Keep it purpose-focused. Like every other piece of your marketing collateral, your newsletter must serve a clear purpose, and stick to it. The content should all support this overarching purpose, which will ensure the newsletter is a strong communication tool. Is your goal to:

• Provide information?
• Fundraise?
• Recruit new staff?
• Maintain contact with customer base?
• Promote offers and services?
• Drive sales?

Entertain. Make use of a newsletter’s informal tone, and entertain your reader. Add content from external sources, including humorous stories and cartoons that are related to the purpose of your newsletter and the product or service you are offering. This will break up the more serious content.

Write well. If writing is not your strong point, hire a writer to draft your newsletter. This may also be a good idea for busy business owners that struggle to find the time to complete a monthly outreach piece. Make sure you avoid industry jargon, and if you have to use it, make sure to define it for your reader.

Deliver Information. It will be clear to the reader if you are sending a newsletter just for the sake of getting your log into their inbox. Make sure that your newsletter provides information that is relevant and useful to the reader. Have something to say that will benefit the reader, even if it is external content like media clips, events, or website links.

Keep it sweet. Short and sweet, that is. No one has time to read exhaustive amounts of copy, no matter how relevant it may seem. Keep the newsletter tight and limited to a few short news items and some information on your offering. Here are a few tips for managing content length:

• Include a summary of the newsletter content at the top
• Provide short summaries of each article, with a link to “read more”
• Make generous use of headlines and sub headlines
• Put concise information in bullet form

Ask them to act. Always provide a call to action, even if it is a subtle one. You are spending time and money to produce a newsletter in efforts to ultimately increase your business. Ask for the sale – just like you would in a brochure or sales letter. Get readers to visit your website, pick up the phone, fill out the registration form, or lend their support.

Let others speak for you. After you spent all that time gathering great testimonials, make sure you put them to use! If you choose not to dedicate an entire section of your newsletter to customer testimonials, make sure you include them in the header, footer, or margins of the page. They also work well to break up sections of text.

Give it a name. Just like a newspaper, give your newsletter a title that readers will remember and connect to your business.

Make it Attractive and Easy to Read

While content is the backbone of your newsletter, appearance has the ability to engage readers and attract new subscribers. It is also a key factor in the readability of your content, which can make or break a solid readership. Stick to these guidelines for success.
Avoid clutter. Keep the layout clean and free of clutter. Overuse of bright colors and images will distract the reader from your well-crafted content. Use design to enhance your words, not detract from them. Simple design also makes template creation easy.

Make use of headlines and bullets. Make your newsletter easy to scan. Give each column a headline, and use bullets to highlight important points. Use sub headlines for important paragraphs, and important testimonials to break up lengthy copy.

Maintain brand consistency. Your newsletter should follow your brand guidelines for elements like color, font, and logo placement. Even if your newsletter is electronic, it is important for each piece of marketing collateral to have a consistent look and feel.

Maintain overall consistency. Once you have designed a newsletter template, stick with it. Each issue should have the same overall look and feel, with only minor modifications if required for image placement, etc. This ensures the newsletter looks professional and readers will learn to recognize it when they receive it.
Use images generously. Images are a powerful way to communicate with an audience, and illustrate the words on the page. Pictures, graphs, sidebars or callouts, charts and other graphic elements should be used wherever possible in the newsletter.

Commit to a Timeframe You can Maintain

Choose a frequency you can maintain. Newsletters can be time consuming, so be realistic about how often you promise to distribute them. This depends on your resources, and the needs of your business, but generally once a month to once every three months is a good time frame. Sending out a newsletter too often can be just as detrimental as not sending them often enough.

When you determine the frequency of your newsletters establish a publishing schedule and stick to it. Work your way into your customer’s routine so they are expecting and looking forward to receiving your newsletter.

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Develop a publication plan in advance, planning the general themes and giving yourself, so you have time to gather information and ideas

Newsletter Content Ideas
Company News
You may not think so, but your clients and customers are interested in short bits of news about your company and its people. They want to hear about your accolades and successes, since they have helped your achieve them. They are equally interested in reading about the expansion and development of your business, as they have contributed to that growth.
Feature Product
A feature product or service column is a great way to profile new products or shine a light on existing products that you sell. Use this space to provide an image of the product, and list both benefits and features. Ensure that your feature product is reduced in price to encourage customers to visit your store and purchase it.
Employee Profile
Just as readers are interested in your company, they are equally interested in the people who work at your company. Profiles of new or recognized employees help to build relationships, and establish trust. Your customers will connect the face on the newsletter, to the face that is helping them find what they are looking for, and ultimately close the sale.
Cartoons in good humor that relate to your business or service can go a long way – literally. If readers find the image funny, there’s a good chance they’ll forward the newsletter to their friends and family, which means your message has a further reach. Using humor in your newsletter also helps to keep the tone light and informal, showing that you don’t take yourself too seriously.
Testimonials / Stories
A box or column featuring testimonials of the month or a customer story can be an engaging element of your newsletter. People are naturally curious to read about others’ experiences and thoughts about consumer products and services. Testimonials are a great way for customers to hear the benefits and praises of your product from someone else.
If your business hosts regular customer events and seminars, include the pertinent information in your newsletter in a prominently featured events section. Alternately, if your business is an active community participant, consider featuring upcoming community events that you are either sponsoring or attending. Including this kind of information can encourage readers to hang on to the newsletter as a “save the date” piece. If you choose to feature community events, do so strategically. If you cannot include all community events, you may create a problem for yourself.
Expert Corner (Internal or External)
This is one of the greatest added value components of your newsletter: your knowledge and expertise. If relevant to your business, include a column that provides information to your readers from an expert source: either you, or someone you have asked to contribute their knowledge. Doing so will position your company as an expert in your industry, and give your reader another reason to hang on to the newsletter. Keep the content relevant – both to your business and current events.
Special Offers
A newsletter is a great way to inform your readers of special offers and sales. Always include the regular price, or total cost of a package, as well as a high quality image. If you do not regularly offer discounts, ensure the reader is aware that this is a rare event.

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The Five-Steps Necessary For A Successful Direct Mail Campaign

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1. Determine Your Target Audience

Be clear about the purpose for your direct mail campaign – this will help you decide if you want to send your letters to your entire target market, a segment of that market, existing customers, or potentially a referring business’s customers. Then you can determine how you craft your offer, how you structure your letter, and when you choose to send it.

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2. Choose what you want to say

What is the message you want to communicate to your target list? What can you offer them that will entice them to act immediately?

Create a specific offer for each direct mail campaign to ensure each time you communicate with your target list you have something new to say. Tailor this offer to each mailing list.

Decide what product or service benefits will be most compelling to your target audience, and include those benefits prominently in your letter.

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3. Develop a compelling direct mail piece

You are in control of how your format your message. Are you sending a letter? A brochure and a letter? A postcard? The format of your direct mail piece needs to be tailored to your target list, and reflect your product or service. A younger audience may respond to a postcard, but an older audience may appreciate a formalized letter.

Ensure that whatever format you choose, the piece is professionally designed, prominently includes your logo and company branding, and is professionally produced.

This piece of paper has to act as an ambassador of your company – you absolutely need it to appear impressive and professional.

4. Pick your timing

Some products and purchase decisions are best made at certain times of the year, or the month. If your business or service is seasonal, then there are good times and bad times to try to generate leads. Consider the best purchase windows for the people in your target marketing. When do they get paid? When do they have the money to spend on your product/service? When do they spend the most money?

Anticipate these windows, and time your direct mail campaign accordingly. If you run a lawn sprinkler installation system and summer is your peak season, run a direct mail campaign mid-way through spring, and at the beginning of summer.

Some common time windows include:

• Holiday season (November – December)
• Fridays (paydays)
• The 15th and 30th of every months (also paydays)
• Seasons (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter)
• Financial cycles (year-end, tax time)
• Sports seasons (hockey, football, baseball, etc.)

5. Follow up

Comprehensive follow up to a direct mail campaign means two things:

1. Following up on your letter with a phone call or second letter

Often it takes more than a letter to get a potential customer to take action. This can be a result of the accuracy of your mailing list, your offer, the time of the year, or the quality of the marketing material (brochure). If you are certain that your mailing list is accurate and up to date, follow up to the piece with a phone call, or send another letter.

2. Recording, measuring and analyzing your results.

It is essential that you evaluate each direct mail campaign based on your time and financial investment and your rate of response. How else will you be able to tell if it was a successful or effective strategy?

Why Quality Leads are Important to the success of any business

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Potential customers are potential customers, right? Anyone who walks into your store or picks up the phone to call your business could be convinced to purchase from you, right? Not necessarily, but this is a common assumption most business owners make.

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Quality leads are the people who are the most likely to buy your product or service. They are the qualified buyers who comprise your target market. Anyone might walk in off the street to browse a furniture store – regardless of whether or not they are in the market for a new couch or bed frame. This lead is solely interested in browsing, and is not likely to be converted to a customer.

A quality lead would be someone looking for a new kitchen table, and who specifically drove to that same furniture because a friend had raved about the service they received that month. These are the kinds of leads you need to focus on generating.

How Do You Get Quality Leads?

• Know your target market. Get a handle on who your customers are – the people who are most likely to buy your product or service. Know their age, sex, income, and purchase motivations. From that information you can determine how best to reach your specific audience.

• Focus on the 80/20 rule. A common statistic in business is that 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers. These are your star clients, or your ideal clients. These are the clients you should focus your efforts on recruiting. This is the easiest way to grow your business and your income.

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• Get specific. Focus not only on who you want to attract, but how you’re going to attract them. If you’re trying to generate leads from a specific market segment, craft a unique offer to get their attention.

• Be proactive. Once you’ve generated a slew of leads, make sure you have the resources to follow up on them. Be diligent and aggressive, and follow up in a timely manner. You’ve done to work to get them, now reel them in.

Increasing your lead generation doesn’t necessarily mean diving in and implementing an expensive array of new marketing strategies. Marketing and customer outreach for the purpose of lead generation can be inexpensive, and bring a high return on investment.

You are likely already implementing many of these strategies. With a little tweaking or refinement, you can easily double your leads, and ensure they are more qualified.

Here are some popular ways to generate quality leads:

Direct Mail to Your Ideal Customers

Direct mail is one of the fastest and most effective ways to generate leads that will build your business. It’s a simple strategy – in fact, you’re probably already reaching out to potential clients through direct mail letters with enticing offers.

The secret to doubling your results is to craft your direct mail campaigns specifically for a highly targeted audience of your ideal customers.

Your ideal customers are the people who will buy the most of your products or services. They are the customers who will buy from you over and over again, and refer your business to their friends. They are the group of 20% of your clients who make up 80% of your revenue.

Identify your ideal customers

Who are your ideal customers? What is their age, sex, income, location and purchase motivation? Where do they live? How do they spend their money? Be as specific as possible.

Once you have identified who your ideal customers are, you can begin to determine how you can go about reaching them. Will you mail to households or apartment buildings? Families or retirees? Direct mail lists are available for purchase from a wide range of companies, and can be segregated into a variety of demographic and sociographic categories.

Craft a special offer
Create an offer that’s too good to refuse – not for your entire target market, but for your ideal customer. How can you cater to their unique needs and wants? What will be irresistible for them?

For example, if you operate a furniture store, your target market is a broad range of people. However, if you are targeting young families, your offer will be much different than one you may craft for empty-nesters.

Court them for their business

Don’t stop at a single mail-out. Sometimes people will throw your letter away two or three times before they are motivated to act. Treat your direct mail campaign like a courtship, and understand that it will happen over time.

First send a letter introducing yourself, and your irresistible offer. Then follow up on a monthly basis with additional letters, newsletters, offers, or flyers. Repetition and reinforcement of your presence is how your customer will go from saying, “who is this company” to “I buy from this company.”

Advertise for lead generation

Statistics show that nearly 50% of all purchase decisions are motivated by advertising. It can also be a relatively cost effective way of generating leads.

We’ve already discussed the importance of ensuring your advertisements are purpose-focused. The general purpose of most advertisements is to increase sales – which starts with leads. However ads that are created solely for lead generation – that is, to get the customers to pick up the phone or walk in the store – are a category of their own.

Lead generation ads are simply designed and create a sense of curiosity or mystery. Often, they feature an almost unbelievable offer. Their purpose is not to convince the customer to buy, but to contact the business for more information.

As always, when you are targeting your ideal audience, you’ll need to ensure that your ads are placed prominently in publications that audience reads. This doesn’t mean you have to fork over the cash for expensive display ads. Inexpensive advertising in e-mail newsletters, classifieds, and the yellow pages are very effective for lead generation.

Here are some tips for lead generation advertising:

Leverage low-cost advertising

Place ads in the yellow pages, classifieds section, e-mail newsletters, and online. If your target audience is technology savvy, consider new forms of advertising like Facebook and Google Adwords.

Spark curiosity

Don’t give them all the information they need to make a decision. Ask them to contact you for the full story, or the complete details of the seemingly outrageous offer.
Grab them with a killer headline

Like all advertising, a compelling headline is essential. Focus on the greatest benefits to the customer, or feature an unbelievable offer.

Referrals and host beneficiary relationships

A referral system is one of the most profitable systems you can create in your business. The beauty is once it’s set up, it often runs itself.

Customers that come to you through referrals are often your “ideal customers.” They are already trusting and willing to buy. This is one of the most cost-effective methods of generating new business, and is often the most profitable. These referral clients will buy more, faster, and refer further business to your company.

Referrals naturally happen without much effort for reputable businesses, but with a proactive referral strategy you’ll certainly double or triple your referrals. Sometimes, you just need to ask!

Here are some easy strategies you can begin to implement today:

Referral incentives

Give your customers a reason to refer business to you. Reward them with discounts, gifts, or free service in exchange for a successful referral.

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Referral program

Offer new customers a free product or service to get them in the door. Then, at the end of the transaction, give them three more ‘coupons’ for the same free product or service that they can give to their friends. Do the same with their friends. This ongoing program will bring you more business than you can imagine.

Host-beneficiary relationships

Forge alliances with non-competitive companies who target your ideal customers. Create cross-promotion and cross-referral direct mail campaigns that benefit both businesses.

What Meaningful Questions Can Gauge Employee Happiness?

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In the end, employee reviews lead to happier employees. Happier employees mean better productivity for your company. What are some of the ways to help keep your employees happy?

Ask Questions Frequently
Just as you want your employees to feel like they can ask you questions, you need to be able to do the same. Asking questions is the best way to get the answers you’re seeking. It seems so simple, right? Making it a practice to frequently ask your employees questions about all aspects of their job helps you gauge employee engagement. Asking questions also helps you understand any problems your employees are having, and allows you to fix any issues you can.

How Transparent is Management?
Another way to keep happy employees is to ask, how transparent is management? When employees feel like management is hiding information, they can start feeling disengaged. No one wants to be lied to, or feel like they are being left out of the ‘loop.’ Employees have a right to know what is going on within the company, and that knowledge will only make them work harder for you and your company. When you don’t include employees in knowing what is going on with the company, they start to feel like their contributions are not important. Your job turnover rate will increase, while productivity declines.

Rate Quality of Facility?
The next question to ask your staff is for them to rate the quality of the facility. It sounds a little odd, but you have to remember that most of us spend an average 40 hours or more per week at work. That is a lot of time to spend in one place! If the facility is not up to par, that could make your employees feel like they are not important. Keeping the facility clean and in good working order is important. Making sure that you have a place for employees to go to that they feel safe in, is even more important. While those are two criteria for a workplace, you should also factor in aesthetics. If the beige wall color is making people feel depressed, why not change it to a calming green? Ask your employees what they would like, or what would make them feel better about showing up to work. A lot of changes are simple and inexpensive, but will give you better productivity and more profits.

Contributing Factors to Work Easier?
Hopefully as a supervisor you understand what goes into your employees’ jobs. While that knowledge is important, if you don’t do the job every day, you are lacking insight. Many companies hire someone to come in and give suggestions on how to make work easier and more efficient. That may be helpful, but it’s a lot cheaper, and you will get better results by asking your employees. Asking your employees what contributing factors they suggest that would make work easier is an easy way to gain insight into their jobs. Your employees do this job every day. They can tell you what in the processes are and aren’t working. They can suggest better programs, procedures, electronic devices, etc. If the work is easier, then the productivity can increase.

What makes you Productive?
Often times as supervisors, we rack our brains about how to increase productivity. Sometimes we even have third party consultants come in to give suggestions on how to increase productivity. Those consultants have their merit, but can be a big expense to the company. It seems silly to incur such an expense when the answer could be right in front of you. It’s important to remember that your employees are your most prized resource. Who better to know what motivates them, than the employees? Take the time to ask your employees what makes them productive. They can be very effective in coming up with ideas, and different ways to raise productivity.

We all know how important employee recognition is. Employee recognition helps keep your employees happy, and engaged in their jobs. When you have happy employees, you have healthy profits! One of the easiest, and best ways to check if your employees are receiving good recognition is to ask them. You can run fancy reports, but it’s easier and quicker to just ask the question. Typically, employees will gladly tell you if they feel like they are being recognized for good performance.

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Opportunities to Grow and Advance?
Another question to ask your employees is if they feel like you have given them opportunities to grow and advance in their careers. Not many people want to stay in the same job for the rest of their lives. Most of us want to ‘climb up the ladder’ and strive for advanced success. Opportunities for growth and advancement can mean many different things. Here are a few different types of opportunities you could offer:
• Additional job training
• Cross training
• Paying for an employee to obtain a certificate
• Paying for an employee to obtain a college degree
• Allowing an employee to advance to another career

Confidence in Leadership?
Last, but not least, ask your employees if they have confidence in the leadership. We talk a lot about giving employees feedback, and how it’s important. Feedback helps employees know what they are doing well and what they need to work on. Asking your employees if they are confident in their leadership helps you understand what they want from their leadership team. You can use their suggestions to become a better supervisor. When you have reached your full potential as a boss, employees feel safe. Job safety helps retain employment, which reduces job turnover costs, saving the company a lot of money. Just as you want your employees to do their best, they want you to do your best. Your job is to keep them happy and productive, and it can be a major issue if you are unsuccessful. You are their boss, yes, but you can improve just as they can.

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