How to Get Comfortable with Networking

Blog - July 29In just over a year of being with Plan A Health Care Staffing Solutions, first as a Recruiter and then as Recruitment Manager, I learned many things. I learned the importance of having a sense of urgency for everything, no matter how small. I learned that if my gut is telling me no, say no. I learned the importance of teamwork and how crucial it is to any organization that all members of the team understand the meaning and importance of teamwork. But what I think I learned about the most, and what I think has proven to be most beneficial to me, is networking.

While working with Plan A I was constantly encouraged to push myself outside of my comfort zone by taking on tasks that I was not familiar with and putting myself into situations that made my stomach do flips and turns. Now why would I say being put into situations like THAT has been most beneficial for me? Since starting in my role as a Solution Sales Specialist with StaffStat, I notice that I feel comfortable. I’m comfortable speaking to people that I don’t know about the product, both over the phone and face to face. Now ask me how I would’ve felt about that at this time last year…

I would’ve said, ‘No’. I would’ve turned down an AMAZING opportunity with an AMAZING company where I get to work alongside AMAZING women each day. Thankfully, my experience with networking over the last year has made the transition much easier. Although getting used to networking wasn’t easy, I’d like to share with you a few tips that I have picked up along my journey to help make your journey a bit smoother:

  • Listen and Learn. There’s no better way to learn than to listen to someone with experience who knows what they’re doing. When I first started attending networking events after hours with the Plan A crew, I voiced that I wasn’t quite comfortable with the whole situation just yet, and they promised that it would come with time. And it did. For the first few times attending the events, I watched everything and listened to everyone. The women that I work with are experienced and they know what they’re doing so I would listen to them. I would take in their conversation starters and the tactics they used to avoid the oh-so-scary ‘awkward silence’.
  • Be Patient. Just like anything else, getting to be ‘good’ at networking takes time. You aren’t going to be one hundred percent comfortable with it right away, and that’s okay. Like I said, it’s taken me almost a year to get to my ‘comfort zone’ when it comes to networking.
  • PUSH YOURSELF. I’m the type of person that will shy away from things I don’t enjoy doing or things that don’t seem like fun to me. I also shy away from putting myself into situations that I know will make me feel uncomfortable, shy or awkward. But you will NEVER get used to feeling or get over the fear of it unless you push yourself to face it.

TessaSignatureRevised

 

6 Tips to Increase Your Word-of-Mouth Marketing

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Did you know that 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all other forms of advertising and that approximately 20 to 50% of purchases are the result of a word-of-mouth recommendation? Think about your own personal shopping habits: do you often rely on or trust the opinions of others when making a purchasing decision? I know I personally do.

Word-of-mouth marketing is a strategy in which a company uses happy, positive, and satisfied customers to promote their brand. Similarly, companies can create buzz-worthy content surrounding their brand in an attempt to get their target audience communicating…and ultimately purchasing their products or services. Word-of-mouth marketing is far more than just casual conversation. With advances in technology, and practically everyone being on the world wide web, word-of-mouth marketing can now be found in Tweets/Twitter mentions, customer testimonials, reviews, social media posts, forums, blogging/vlogging, etcetera. Want to place an increased emphasis on your word-of-mouth marketing efforts? Consider any of the following six strategies:

  1. Get your brand in front of the right people. Figure out who your target market consists of and do what it takes to get your brand/product/service in front of someone who can positively get your message out there. An influencer is someone who is extremely active on social media, likely has a blog/vlog and a large following. Many makeup companies send their products to “YouTube beauty gurus” with large followings in order to effectively reach a mass portion of their target market inexpensively. The influencer simply posts a video/photo using the product, provides a review, first impression, etcetera and immediately people will start talking. Influencers are a great way to increase brand awareness because, as mentioned, individuals trust unbiased, third-party reviews from industry experts.
  2. Provide out-of-this-world customer service. Unfortunately, poor customer service seems to be the norm for a lot of companies. If your company is consistently providing great customer service before, during, and after each purchase, people will remember it…and talk about it!
  3. Be social. Utilize social media platforms that make the most sense for your brand. You can easily create a tight-knit social community by actively engaging with individuals on social media. Host contests, create giveaways, offer exclusive deals, and more. When customers feel part of a community, the brand ultimately becomes an extension of them.
  4. Be unique. Individuals remember things best when they heighten certain emotions. Think of creative, out-of-the-box marketing ideas that make people feel something. Think of the Dove Real Beauty campaign; the brand was able to create content surrounding a sensitive but meaningful issue affecting society. The company’s ads featuring a sketch artist drawing portraits of female volunteers in two different scenarios (one sketch of how the volunteers viewed themselves, and the second of how others viewed the volunteers) went viral with over 114 million views. If your company culture is passionate about something, let it shine through in your messaging and be proud of it.
  5. Maintain your reputation. Remember that your reputation is always on the line. Think before you post anything surrounding your brand and consider how things can be perceived by the public. For more tips on how to manage your brand’s online reputation, check out this post.
  6. Make it easy for customers to leave reviews/feedback. There’s nothing more frustrating than being asked by a company to leave a review about a recently purchased product only having to navigate through never ending menus or questions. Keep it simple; don’t ask too many questions and consider an easy review system such as a simple star-rating.

Word-of-mouth marketing may be a difficult undertaking at first, but being persistent can generate massive awareness around your brand which will ultimately lead to the sales you desire! Good luck!

MeganSignature

A Customer is Never JUST a Customer… Part 4 of 4

As the month of July nears its end, I will say that I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to boast about having fabulous customers. Over the course of the last 4 weeks, I’ve chimed in on why considering your customer a partner, a sounding board, a supporter and an advocate is not only important but essential. From the ones who foot the bill to the ones who use the service directly, we understand the value of the relationships we get to build and maintain. I had to save the following customer for last because they were our first and NO ONE forgets their first customer…

ICAN – Independence Centre and Network

For over 6 months, I was connecting with organizations, cold calling, emailing and trying to spread the word about our product. In March of 2015, I got a call from Marie Leon, CEO of ICAN. She was looking for a shift filling solution and heard about our product online. She was shocked when she asked me to provide her with a demo and I told her let’s book in person for tomorrow. She had no idea that the solution she was seeking was built 10 minutes away from her organization’s office. I was excited and I was eager. It would be the first time that I would take our projector out of its box and sit it on someone’s desk to show them StaffStat. Marie brought in Lise Comtois (both fabulous ladies) and they sat in on one of the most eye opening experiences of my life. Their reaction to our product is what solidified my passion to bring it to the masses. I explained the nutshell version of our software and walked away knowing that I had the potential to get our first contract signed. A few meetings later I closed my very first deal. A transaction occurred, sure… but what’s bigger, this was the moment we knew that we had something that people would be willing to buy. Of course, I believed in our product before that moment but this meant that someone else believed in it too!

I met with the entire management team, I trained them and I answered their questions. Every single step was my first. They knew they were the first and they were patient as I navigated my way through implementation, onboarding, staff training, customer service and to be honest, they inevitably trained me! The Project Lead they assigned to us was Johanne Ramsay. Let me tell you that I’ve never met anyone like Johanne from ICAN. She was attentive, had a sense of urgency (one of my favorite things), an infectious positive energy and a genuine love for her job. The entire process was seamless and what’s more, fun! From that moment on, I had a logo to use on our website, a testimonial to share with prospects, a reference to provide to warm leads and an organization on our side. As far as firsts go, this one was epic!

This 4 part series was supposed to enlighten you on why you should value every single customer. Frankly, it’s enlightened ME. Every single story is one that I treasure. Every single customer is one that I appreciate. I appreciate their direct impact on our company and their indirect impact on me as a person. The take away: A customer is NEVER just a customer unless you let them be. Nurture those relationships and understand the potential that comes with every single conversation.

To learn more about ICAN – Independence Centre and Network, visit their website, http://www.ican-cerd.com/.

Have a Two-Way Say!

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Effective communication has played a large part in The A Team’s success. Communicating effectively isn’t as easy as it sounds. It takes practice but when done consistently can be a real game changer.

Here are some of the ways we foster effective communication in our office:

1. Learn to listen, and then listen and learn. Be honest with yourself. Are you a good listener? Most of us think we’re listening but the truth is we all have times when we’re waiting for a moment to get our thoughts in. If you’re caught up in what you want to say next or making a judgement about what’s being said before the person you’re talking to is finished then you are being distracted from the message.

2. Pay attention to non-verbal messaging. This isn’t the first time that you’re reading this: body language is important. Can you understand what people are telling you with their non-verbal cues? Be aware of your own body language and look for specific signals in people you are speaking with. It will ensure the messages you’re trying to get to your team are landing. Check out this video for some tips on reading non-verbal communication:

3. Know your WHY and communicate it with conviction. I find if people understand why they are doing something it makes communicating what needs to be done that much more effective.

4. Make sure you’re using the right method of communication. Sometimes I have to text my staff and others it’s email; I’ll occasionally use a social media platform and often I will pick up the phone. The main thing is that the content in my message has to match the method I use. And my rule of thumb is that if it takes more than three text exchanges to get the message out it’s time to make a phone call!

5. Keep your expectations realistic. Be clear about what you’re asking your staff to deliver and when you’re asking them to deliver it. If it’s a project that takes longer than a day, check in frequently so you can nip any issues in the bud.

6. Make sure everybody understands the importance of good communication. Foster a culture of good communication in your office. The way your staff communicates will start with you. Work hard to communicate well and everybody will follow your lead!

These are just a few tips that I use to optimize the communication in my office. If you try these consistently you’ll see how improving your communication can improve your employee’s motivation and productivity, as well as your bottom line!

SheriSignature

Why I Love Being a New Member of a Startup

I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to be one of the newest members of a fast growing, innovative startup. I am part of a small team, a team of 5 to be exact. We may be a small team but we deliver a big solution. We are all learning and gaining valuable experience as we go. We are the first 5 employees of what is going to be a very successful company.

Here are some reasons I feel privileged to be part of and love working for a startup:

I get to introduce a new concept to our health care sector. When I show people who understand what we are doing, their eyes light up and they realize how valuable our software is. If I were a member of an already established, larger organization, I may not have the opportunity to start at this level or develop my role in the company and witness the success from the ground up.

I am an integral part of this company’s growth. I have been able to gain an abundance of skills, experience, opportunities, and grow with the company. I believe this is an empowering place to be. The motivating factor behind working for a startup is that our small team (for now) is responsible for the success of our product. Every member of this team is invested in the success of our product, we understand its value and its ultimate success. The drive this team has will ensure this fast moving company is sustainable.

My input is valued at startup level. I have the opportunity to play a role in the decision making and the development. The small nature, versatility and flexibility of this company allows for input from all team members. In a larger organization this opportunity is not always available to new team members and often the job duties, procedures and polices are already set in place. Within a startup environment I help shape the duties of the team, organize the procedures and have input on the policies.

Learn from true entrepreneurs. I have the chance to learn from the best—ladies who have started innovative businesses, who have a creative nature, a sharp mental focus and address problems with a solution.

Awesome Atmosphere. We recently moved and are settling into our new home that suits our business personality perfectly. It is clean, streamlined and fun! We all work so well together, we know how to work hard, share ideas, action those concepts and through this hard work we have established some pretty amazing friendships. While we work hard we also play hard, daily laugh sessions can easily be heard in between the celebrations of each team member’s success. The energy our team brings and exudes is contagious.

We celebrate each and every success. We all cheerlead for one another as every individual accomplishment is a win for the entire team. I am part of a team, bringing solutions to others that make life easier and feel very valued for my hard work.

Cheers!

 

A Customer is Never JUST a Customer – Part 3/4

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If you sell a product, odds are you only have one stream of customers; the individual who buys what you’re selling. With a service like StaffStat, our customer buys the product and their staff become our users. This ultimately translates to the end users being another subset of customers. When they need to reset their password or require more information on our app, they typically contact StaffStat directly. This makes every single user one of our customers and, while the person who’s buying in is their employer, their love for the product and our relationship with them is a key element in our success. For your end of the week reading pleasure, I give you; A Customer is never JUST a customer… Part 3 of 4:

Our Users

When StaffStat was initially conceptualized, it was meant to be a trade secret for the North’s first and largest health care staffing agency; Plan A. We understood what calling down the list meant and that’s exactly why we looked for a solution to our massive pain point. When you can’t find what you’re looking for what can you do? Build it! And that’s exactly what we did.

There’s definitely a learning curve when innovation is introduced as a way to automate a tedious process. In house, we felt the immediate relief when we started to use StaffStat. We knew that we could now focus on our clients, our HR processes, our procedures and what I refer to as ‘flow’. We got off the phone and we became seamless, efficient and all in all, a well-oiled machine.

Back to my point, this new way of doing things also meant putting our Plan A staff through the test. They would be our first users. They would be the first to teach us if our solution worked, how it worked and how we could make it better. They would help us navigate our very first implementation. They would teach us to look at the intricacies of our product. They would test our customer service capabilities. At the end of the day, what they really did was rally around our product and help elevate it to that infamous 2.0 level. Most of the staff at Plan A work at the hospital or other Long Term Care homes as a primary source of employment. They championed our product everywhere they went. They stated directly and on social media, time and time again that our product should make its way to our local hospital and that Long Term Care needed this product in house.

If it wasn’t for our first batch of users, we never would have understood what it was we had in our hands. While using StaffStat is an easy sell to the employer, it wasn’t until we received feedback from the end user of our product that we really got it. They loved it! They were able to respond how they wanted to respond. If they dodged the phone, they could opt into receiving texts or push notification via our app. If they weren’t big fans of technology, they could opt into receiving telephone calls on their landline. It was a win/win and that’s when we realized we needed to bring this product to the market. Not only were customers going to benefit the way we did but employees were responding favorably! They embraced a new way of doing things and if they struggled with any part of the technology, we helped them through it. We heard things like: “We need THIS where I work” and “This is amazing!”

To our end users I say “Thank You!” Thanks for standing by our side as we grow a solution out of Northern Ontario and bring it across the province. We look forward to enhancing StaffStat and keeping you happy!

melblog

7 “Must-follow” Twitter Accounts

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Are you new to Twitter with a small following or bored of the content populating on your feed? Being a Marketing Manager and spending a lot of my working day on social media, I have stumbled upon a magnitude of interesting accounts. Below are the seven Twitter users I think everyone should follow:

  1. @Entrepreneur: You may recognize this account as that of the official popular North American business magazine and website, Entrepreneur. This account posts links to articles multiple times a day, with topics covering growth, marketing, productivity, leadership, technology and more. This account is sure to deliver subject matter on any business matter that intrigues you the most.
  2. @EntrepreneurInspire: A section of @Entrepreneur, @EntrepreneurInspire tweets motivational content daily; from popular quotes to stories of success, this account is sure to give you a positive boost in your day.
  3. @WomenEnt: Another division of the @Entrepreneur family, @WomenEnt inspires, informs and celebrates female entrepreneurs globally. Filled with quotes, tips, vlogs, polls and more, this account is great for everyone, from young professionals to top level execs.
  4. @Inc.: A very popular North American business magazine, Inc. focuses on company growth. The website contains a vast array of business topics available for your perusal that can help you start and/or grow your business. Topics include start-up, growth, leadership, innovation, technology and more. The official Inc. Twitter account continuously posts throughout the day, so your news feed will be filled with great content in no time at all!
  5. @FastCompany: Fast Company is a North American business magazine published in print and digital that focuses on business, technology and design. The @FastCompany Twitter account posts links to their content and their writers’ personal accounts and regularly shares content from other business news websites. I personally spend a few minutes a day on this account learning about global business matters; many articles only take a few minutes to read, so it’s a great tool to get yourself caught up on the latest trends.
  6. @Addictd2Success.com: Addicted2Success is a website featuring the most inspiring and motivating stories, lists, how-to’s, quotes and more to help you in both your personal and professional life. This account regularly posts great, inspiring content, so your feed will always be populated with a little bit of positivity.
  7. @TEDTalks: I’m sure almost everyone has heard of TED, the non-profit organization committed to spreading ideas in the form of short talks, covering topics on technology, entertainment, and design. So, why not follow TED on Twitter to absorb as much information as possible and perhaps learn a few new things?

I hope this list provides you with some great, new users to follow to help liven up your feed!

MeganSignature