Tricks and tips for networking events

Networking is simply having a professional conversation. Even though we live in an age where the majority of our social interactions can be automated, the number one way professionals connect is through old school networking. If you’re involved in business at any level, it’s important to have effective networking skills. Here are some tips to help improve your networking skills, and just remember these skills can be applied to any conversation, no matter the level of professionalism.

You’re There to Give, not Get

    It’s easy to ramble on to whomever it is you are speaking with and deny them the opportunity to speak. Make sure and give your conversation partner an ample amount of opportunities to speak their mind and contribute to the conversation. Remember, you’re there to give constructive comments, not get a stage upon which to perform a monologue. Letting the other person have plenty of time to speak makes them feel like a part of a conversation and therefore important.

Don’t Appear Desperate

    Appearing needy in business, much like in dating, is usually a turn off. Acting desperate is a sign of low self-confidence, which does not communicate ability. When networking, remind yourself of the positive things you are bringing to the table. Be confident in yourself and in your abilities and it will show in your conversation. Don’t forget, if you aren’t confident in what you’re talking about, it may best to change the subject.

Ask Open-Ended Questions

    Make sure and give the conversation a place to grow. Don’t smother it by only asking “yes” or “no” questions. Give the person with whom you are speaking room to elaborate on their ideas. Most “yes” or “no” questions can be reworded to make them more open-ended and allow for greater elaboration. For example, instead of asking “Do you like movies?” ask, “What are your favorite movies?” On the off chance that whomever you are speaking with doesn’t like movies, that information will most likely be included in their response as well as the opportunity for elaboration.

Networking is all about staying comfortable and maintaining sincere conversations. For more tips, check out this article.

Retaining Customers when Making Service Changes

Sometimes companies have to alter the way they do business and change their service plans. As these changes often center around a price increase, new limitations, or dismissal of services altogether, customers can have a negative reaction to the news. For some companies, breaking the news goes smoothly as they take measures to soften the blow, while others spring the news to the clients with very little warning or explanation.

The recent change Netflix has made is a great example of transition not going well. Netflix’s decision to separate their DVD and streaming services and raise the cost of both has affected most of us. The change came about so unexpectedly and with such little explanation that a great many people canceled their subscriptions, more than Netflix had anticipated, nearly half a million to be exact. To try to smooth this debacle over, on the 18th of this month, Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO, wrote an apology and posted it to the Netflix blog. In his statement, he acknowledged that he “… messed up. [And he owes] everyone an explanation.” While his intensions were good the impact was not what he expected. There was again a large backlash to something he said within the apology. He announced that the DVD-by-mail services and the streaming would be split into completely independent services. The DVD-by-mail service will now be called Qwikster while the streaming services will remain Netflix. Unfortunately, Netflix may be learning that sometimes an apology is not enough.

AT&T changed their services in late June, getting rid of their unlimited data plan, and announcing tiered pricing. This upset a number of people, but AT&T had a plan. People whom already had unlimited data plans on their phones remained grandfathered into the service. This quelled what may have been a drastic decrease in customers, as it only affected new clients and not those already using the service they were changing.

When companies change their services plans, regardless of the reasons for the decision, they inherently tread dangerous waters. Before alerting their customers and the world, they should think of a course of action that will minimize the backlash. If there is a drastic price increase or another product change equally undesirable from a customer’s viewpoint, here are a few strategies companies could consider to soften the effect:

  • Notice, and Lots of It:  Give the public plenty of notice and utilize a forum where customers, particularly those directly affected, can express questions and concerns.
  • Grandfathered Services:  Honor services and prices current clients have prior to the change.
  • Details:  Explain the change in detail! The more transparent you are with your announcement, the more your clients will trust your decision.
  • Discounts: Offer a free month of service or some other type of coupon if clients take advantage of multiple services

If you have any more ideas of ways companies could make the news of service plan changes easier, we’d love to hear from you!

Training Day – September 23rd

In order to continue improving our services, Servcom USA will be conducting a training day for our technicians and employees on Friday, September 23rd. Please be aware that our technicians will be limited in their availability to respond to non-emergency service calls during regular business hours. As always, please call our office to report service disruptions, or go online to our Client Access Portal and submit a ticket.

What not to do in the office part 2

Work time distractions are all around us, especially with the immense accessibility of the Internet. The World Wide Web has been a growing force over the past 30 years, giving easy access to all kinds of information and distractions. Though, weren’t workers distracted in the office before the Internet? The truth is, there are all kinds of ways to be distracted without surfing the net. Here are 3 sources of work-distraction that have nothing to do with the Internet (as well as a few tips on how to avoid them).

The Water Cooler

    Businesses with a strong work culture generally produce more productive workers. It’s important to get along with the people you work with and it’s important for your office to foster those kinds of relationships. However, it’s important to make sure that interpersonal relationships do not affect your work in a negative way. It’s a good idea to plan company social events once a week; this allows ample time for socializing and prevents spending too much work time focused on non-work related issues.

Minesweeper

    Every computer, be it PC or Mac, comes with standard games pre installed to the hard drive. Games like Minesweeper, Solitaire or even Chess are great ways to become distracted from your work. We’ve all opened one of these simple games with the intention of playing for just a few minutes only to find that those minutes have turned into hours. The best course of action? Erase the games all together. Let’s be honest, you never really had that much fun with them anyway.

Daydream

One of the oldest ways to distract yourself from work is to daydream. This is hard to combat because we don’t’ necessarily intend to daydream. If our work is boring or if we are having difficulty focusing, then it’s easy to slip into a daydream without even noticing. If you find yourself staring out your office window often, try making a few simple lifestyle changes in order to help increase your focus. Try getting more sleep or eating foods low in processed sugars.

Staying focused in the office can be a challenge. Even without the Internet, there are still many distractions all around us. Consider these tips to help maintain and increase your ability to pay attention during working hours and don’t forget, 90% of productivity is focus!

Entertainment at Our Finger Tips

In the past few years our options for accessing entertainment have grown drastically. This has changed the way entertainment industries function. Conventional stores like Blockbuster, Borders, and the iconic Virgin Megastore in Times Square are disappearing as people head to their computers to access their entertainment. Online stores give buyers more options at a cheaper rate because there are fewer overhead costs and many companies are taking this route. We are seeing that, in general, this increase in options has driven prices down in most entertainment industries.

Independent and chain music stores have been affected by the increased access to music the Internet provides and many have had to close. Instead of buying full albums, sites like Amazon MP3 and iTunes allow people to buy single songs for mere pocket change. Musicians have followed suit by selling or giving away their songs on their websites. Music has gotten so affordable that we have started to see the price of concert tickets increase so the record industry can turn a profit.

Online music streaming has also become very popular. Sites such as Pandora and Grooveshark  are free and let people customized their stations with less commercials than traditional radio stations. If you chose to upgrade, you can get your music with no commercial interruptions. Many people use these services to test out music prior to buying it and sometimes choose them in place of purchasing music. Most Internet connected gadgets can access these services anywhere at any time.

The face of books has changed in the past couple years as well. Thanks to eBooks, people can buy digital books directly from sites like Amazon and Barnes and Noble and have them instantly downloaded onto their handheld device. The prices of these digital books are usually significantly cheaper and the online stores never sell out.

 

Rather then pay a large monthly fee for satellite or cable TV, many people use services like Netflix and Hulu to stream television shows and movies. The competition in the TV industry to keep viewers and gain ad revenue has pushed many networks to make recently aired episodes available from their website and on handheld Internet enabled devices such as a smartphone.

 

Instant access to all of our entertainment needs via the Internet has greatly decreased the cost we used to have to pay for these services. Recently, however, it’s been big news that Netflix has raised their prices and segmented their service offering. There is a lot of speculation about whether this will help or hinder them. Their success with this change over the next few months will most likely determine if other online entertainment services will follow suit. Only time will tell.

3 things to avoid at work

Forming a habit can be a good or a bad thing, depending on the nature of the habit. For example, paying close attention to detail and making sure your workspace is clean and tidy are good habits to form in the office. We are all also aware of some bad habits workers can form. Research shows that any habit requires a minimum of 21 days to change. That sounds like a lot of work to put into breaking a bad habit. Wouldn’t it be easier to avoid forming the bad habit in the first place?  Here are a few bad working habits, as well as some tips on how to avoid them proactively.

Working Through Lunch

    It’s not uncommon for your day to get out of hand before noon. The truth is, sometimes working through lunch is unavoidable. However, forming this habit can actually be detrimental to your productivity. We need to take breaks and give ourselves time to cool down and regroup. If you’re having a stressful day at the office, it’s best to take a full lunch rather than to try to power through. Try setting strict time boundaries on your lunchtime and start viewing it as its own work assignment.

Idealizing

    For most of us, the grass is always greener at another job. When we’ve had a bad day in the office, it’s easy to relive our childhood daydreams of exciting and dangerous professions such as being an astronaut or firefighter.. Unfortunately, idealizing another line of work makes it difficult to be happy in your current position. Instead, try making a list of all the good things your job provides for you. Documenting each small joy will help you appreciate the job you have.

Work Time Distractions

    Hilarious YouTube videos and entertaining flash games are added to the Internet every minute of every day. It’s easy to waste hours of work time on these simple distractions. This is a bad habit to form, and one that should definitely be avoided. To help, schedule “small breaks” throughout the day.  Reward yourself after finishing a large project or after working solidly for several hours. Creating these time boundaries will help prevent forming a habit of being distracted.

    Forming bad habits can be easier than you’d think and breaking a bad habit can be much more difficult than you’d imagine. The next time you notice yourself slipping into any of these bad habits, take some time to consider what good habits you could form to combat them.

Evolving our world with the Tablet

The rapidly evolving world of technology has changed the way we do business. Not long ago we used to have to use a manual press to make an imprint of credit cards for you to purchase something? Now thank to wireless Internet and tablets, we are able to run a credit card purchase virtually anywhere in the world.

Making credit card purchases is not the only way the tablet has changed business. It has in some cases fundamentally influenced the way many businesses operate. Here are a few examples of companies that have come up with some innovative uses for tablets.

At De Santos, a high-end Italian restaurant in New York City’s West Village, the members of the wait staff use iPads to take orders and swipe credit cards. The hope is that this will streamline the ordering process minimizing mistakes.

Puma stores in Africa, Asia and Europe have installed iPad stations called The Creative Factory. At these stations customers can design sneakers and see other designs around from people around the globe and also find our about the other creators. Puma seeks to connect the world with active footwear.

The DeKalb Market in Brooklyn has a new addition called SHOPBOX. People can shop at SHOPBOX but it has no store clerks and no storefront! SHOPBOX is comprised of shipping containers with an iPads attached to the ends. Shoppers register on the iPads then text the item number they would like to purchase to the phone number that is printed on the glass on each SHOPBOX. The item is then shipped to a location of their choice. This definitely redefines window-shopping!

As tablet technology improves more innovative uses will be developed. It’s not unthinkable to imagine having a wait staff may be obsolete in the future or that generations to come have no use for a mall. Change is the nature of the world and it seems the more advanced we become, the faster things change. So let’s sit back and watch things become easier due to technology and one day we might just get those hovercrafts promised in science fiction movies.