Posts Tagged ‘best practices’

Communicating Face-to-Face? There’s an App for That

April 9th, 2014, No Comments, be the first ».

Technology for video-based applications has improved greatly in recent years.

Most people agree that face-to-face communication is ideal. Tone, gestures, facial expressions, vocal inflections and environment influence the meanings of our words to such an extent that to compensate for their absence within emails and texts, we’ve become accustomed to using emoticons, superfluous punctuation and other types of written emphasis to make our meanings clear.

But sometimes face-to-face communication between clients, employees or colleagues isn’t possible. Your colleagues or clients may live on the other side of the country. Or you may be attending a conference, wanting to share a message with friends and colleagues back home.

Thankfully, there are several applications and programs available that can help you communicate without losing connotation in the process. Here are some of the more popular video-based applications to explore:

FaceTime

Apple’s device-to-device video call app makes this list because it’s easy to use, adds no additional charges to your plan (barring data overages) and comes ready-to-use with every iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone (v. 4.0 and up). FaceTime operates the same way a regular phone call does: dial a number, wait for the other person to pick up, and you are quickly connected in sight and sound via the built-in cameras and VoIP in your devices.

Using FaceTime is just like having a conversation face-to-face, besides the fact that you are holding your device. The drawbacks are that both parties must own the appropriate Apple products and in most cases, must be connected to a Wi-Fi network, but with both becoming more ubiquitous, FaceTime is a convenient way to stay in sight and in touch.

If you prefer Android to Apple, or do not own a FaceTime-compatible device, a free app called Tango allows nearly anyone to talk face-to-phone. Tango’s features include video calls, video voicemails, games with a built-in competitor and group video messaging. Users can also incorporate themed animations into their messages or calls.

Skype

Launched in 2003 as a free alternative to long-distance telephone carriers, this VoIP now offers short messaging services (SMS, or instant messaging), file sharing and low-cost computer-to-landline (or mobile line) services, in addition to the still-gratis computer-to-computer call service. Sign up for an account, set up your webcam and microphone, and you’re ready to connect by voice and video with this service. Businesses and nonprofits especially enjoy the group conferencing and file sharing aspect of Skype.

Google Talk

The search engine behemoth offers two versions of its instant communication software. The first is a Web-based plug-in that operates through your browser when you are logged into Gmail, iGoogle or orkut (another Google-owned social network, popular outside the U.S.). The second is a PC-only software program that operates from your hard drive. Both programs offer instant messaging, video streams of the people you chat with (BYOW: Bring Your Own Webcam), and VoIP phone service (BYOM: Bring Your Own Microphone.)

In addition, you can transfer files through the software version of Google Talk. If you already use Gmail, Google conveniently loads your Gmail contacts into Google Talk, making it easy to instantly connect with friends and colleagues. Both are free.

Adobe Connect

More than a simple video chat program, this comprehensive software suite allows your team to set up virtual meeting rooms, share and update files in real time, watch streaming video and speak over VoIP. You can use Adobe Connect for team meetings, webinars, training sessions, client presentations and project brainstorming sessions.

Adobe Connect also allows hosts in multiple separate locations to lead a video meeting simultaneously. SSL encryption is available to ensure third parties cannot hack into private meetings or presentations. There is a somewhat significant cost for Adobe Connect that depends on usage type, volume and payment plan; however, the tech support, attendee tracking options and mobile capabilities may make the price tag well worth the expense.

There are plenty of other video applications available in addition to the ones listed here. There is no “right” or “perfect” program. Test a couple out and see what works for you. You may find these tools to be indispensable assets to your daily interactions.

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By Kelly Donovan

Kelly Donovan is the team leader for online marketing at Naylor, LLC.

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The Delicate Art of Approaching Friends and Family for Referrals

April 3rd, 2014, Comments Off.

Demonstrate your value by telling stories of client success.

Work is frequent fodder for conversation between friends and family alike. When the topic comes up in your social circle, how do you describe the work you do? When you describe your practice to friends and family, be mindful of the fact that the words you choose may actually align with the art of gaining referrals. Friends and family are great prospects, and even if they are not likely to become customers in the near future, you can still gain referrals from them.

Your ultimate goal is to demonstrate the importance of the work you do and the valueyou bring to others. The best way to do this is by telling stories, sharing anecdotes and providing case studies. Most salespeople—financial professionals included—overlook the effectiveness of stories, anecdotes and case studies to demonstrate the importance of their work and the value they bring to their clients.

For a non-client to refer you to someone he knows, a very clear picture of the value you bring to others has to be realized. Be sure to describe the process you put your prospects and clients through. Provide specific examples of how you’ve helped clients prevent problems, solve problems and take advantage of opportunities:

  1. Discuss value: “George, are you beginning to see the tangible value we bring to our clients?”
  2. Treat your requests with importance: “Great. With that in mind, I have an important question to ask you.”
  3. Get permission to brainstorm: “I’m hoping we can take a few minutes to brainstorm about people you think should know about the work I do. Can we try that for a minute?”
  4. Suggest names and categories: “For instance, I think your business partner, Barbara, might be a great candidate for the work we do. Could you introduce me to her?”

It’s really as simple as that. The key is basing your conversation on the value you bring to the table. To accomplish that, tell the story of your value. If  you do a good job of describing the value you bring to clients in your practice, there’s a good chance that friends, colleagues and family members will want to become your clients, too.

Schedule a meeting
One of my coaching clients asked me the following question: “I’ve been meeting some people for golf over the last few months. They’re not close friends yet, but we get along very well. Some of them would probably make great clients. I’m not sure how to approach them for business. Any ideas?”

If you’re not comfortable approaching friends and family for referrals in a social situation, ask them to sit down with you, at a convenient  time and place, to discuss your practice in depth. Explain that you want to talk about expanding your business and acknowledge that you would appreciate some help. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to buy a meal, or cover a round of golf, for this meeting.

When you approach friends and family about a separate meeting, honesty is the best policy. The key is how you bring it up. In most cases, you want your approach to be soft. Let me give you a short script to illustrate my thinking:

YOU: “George, there’s something I’ve been wanting to talk to you about, but I’ve felt uncomfortable bringing it up here on the golf course.”

GEORGE: “What’s that?”

YOU: “I do very important work for successful people like yourself. I was hoping I might be able to approach you in ‘business mode’ to see if I might be a valuable resource for you or someone you know. May I give you a call at your office to begin a business conversation with you?”

GEORGE: “Sure. Here’s my card. Tell my assistant that I asked you to call me. She’ll make it easier on you that way.”

Of course, put these sentences in your own words, and be genuine. But you get the idea. The key is not to pressure your friends and family to help you. Express your desire not to hurt the relationship by putting any pressure on anyone. And always be yourself. Sincerity opens doors more easily than tricky techniques.

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By Bill Cates

Bill Cates works with financial professionals and their companies to increase sales by attracting high-quality clients through a steady and predictable flow of referrals. To learn more, visit www.referralcoach.com or email him directly atbillcates@referralcoach.com.

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