Category Archives: Tips & Tricks

The Chamber of Commerce Opportunity

I came across this blog while conducting some bench marking for a marketing project I’d undertaken. Blog author, Phil Buckley, was able to succinctly drill down to the main point behind my project: Chamber membership makes GREAT sense and should be viewed, at least in part, as (very) SMART advertising/marketing. Brilliant!

Here’s Phil’s blog:
When you run a brick and mortar business one of the places you would like to be listed at is your local Chamber of Commerce.

The links that come from your Chamber of Commerce site offer two real values. First is a local citation that is a trusted organization that is over 100 years old. Second is a link that has the potential to bring both customers and better rankings. I’ve looked at about 10 chamber of commerce pages and noticed some strengths and some areas that could be improved.

Raleigh, North Carolina has a very typical Chamber page. It has a few featured members, some news and a way to search their membership for companies. What I want to focus on is what a company can get from a Chamber of Commerce membership that impacts their rankings in the search engine results.

As with almost any website, the Raleigh Chamber’s homepage offers the biggest bang for your link building buck.

There are only 21 outbound links on their homepage. According to Open Site Explorer, the homepage has high page authority (73/100) and domain authority (67/100). Those are exactly the type of pages you want to get back links from. The fact that they are not properly canonicalized makes the link even better than it first appears. The page metrics are almost as strong for the domain without the www.

A link from the homepage of Raleigh’s Chamber of Commerce website is going to pass 4.6 MozRank to your website. That’s extraordinary. There are very few opportunities to get such a powerful link that is viewed by Google as natural. Those companies who have their businesses highlighted in the right rail have made a smart investment.

But what if you don’t have the budget to put an ad on your Chamber of Commerce homepage? There may be additional opportunities that are slightly deeper in the site, but still a step up from your basic listing.

Member directory
Many visitors will make their way to the member directory to see if a business is listed or to search for a business in a specific niche. As you can see from the screenshot on the right, there is not a single member taking advantage of the second best opportunity on the site.

The member directory has only 3 outbound external links. The MozRank passed from this page is 3.39 That doesn’t mean that a link from that page is 75% as good as the homepage (because it’s a logarithmic scale) but it’s still an excellent backlink.. I would imagine that the opportunity to get your company listed on this page would cost significantly less than the homepage, and the link love is immediate for your website.

The drop off
If all you’re doing is filling in the details of your business on Chamber’s website, you’re missing out. By the time you drill down to that level, those pages are not sending any MozRank for the link you have included.

Good enough isn’t good enough
Like most everything else in life, the standard version isn’t giving you the best bang for your buck. You need to step up your game if you want to outrank your competitors.

Joining your local Chamber of Commerce is a smart move. Joining and then taking advantage of the additional exposure, traffic, branding and backlink juice from the front page is even smarter.

Here’s what I found across the US Chamber of Commerce websites:

Every Chamber of Commerce site is different, so make sure you do your homework first.If I was an advisor to a Chamber of Commerce I would suggest:

  • Let your members know about the linking opportunities available from your website
  • Make sure you have areas available for “featured members” to upgrade to.
  • Try to construct your site so that even the basic membership offers a valuable backlink

If I were advising a local company I would suggest:

  • Get your company on the homepage
  • Get your company on the directory page
  • Think of the Chamber as an advertising opportunity. Don’t just send in boilerplate and wait for magic to happen.

Social Media Do’s and Don’ts

As the 2012 Presidential election has come to an end, I find myself intrigued by the extent of social media both candidates churned out during their presidential campaigns.  ABC News stated that the 2012 Election, as a whole, was one of the most shared and commented-on events in social media history.

Via Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms, both campaigns attempted to build personal relationships with voters to gain their support.  However, even a slight mistake on social media, and it might have not been easy for either candidate to make amends with their supporters.  Does that mean then that all businesses should stray away from social media due to the risks associated? NO! Social media is a great research tool and monitoring platform for businesses to utilize.

Whether you are just starting or already use social media these Do’s and Don’ts will help your business bypass common mistakes and effectively employ social media.


  1. Implement a plan before you start.
  2. Build a strong network and engage regularly with your network.
  3. Keep your messages relative to your business.
  4. Employ social networks that are relevant to your public.
  5. Respond to input quickly to show that their feedback is important.
  6. Identify negative comments and respond in a professional manner.
  7. Use hash-tags to focus your message to a certain target.
  8. Include visual content.
  9. Use monitoring tools to track your businesses’s buzz.


  1. Overuse the same responses.
  2. Bash competitors.
  3. Share political opinions.
  4. Use more than two hash-tags in a comment or tweet.
  5. Engage in social media if the benefit isn’t worth the cost.
  6. Rely on one application.
  7. Continually sell your product or service.
  8. Use generic marketing techniques.
  9. Forget to thank people when they promote your business on social media.

Adapted from, “Social Media Etiquette: 15 do’s and don’ts” by socialmediatoday.

Goal-orieneted Business Practices

Most businesses recognize the need for forming goals, but many struggle with setting them. Some businesses will set a goal, but never detail a method of accomplishment. Creating company goals is irrelevant unless you have clearly stated objectives. Additionally, without detailing possible barriers a business might find itself in a rut before it even has moved forward.

Here’s how to create successful business goals:

1. Compose goals. A goal is a general intention or direction. It normally has a long time frame, and is a purpose to which an endeavor is directed. Increasing awareness, advocacy or sales are all reputable business goals.

2. Establish objectives. Once goals are established a company must decide what efforts or actions will be put towards the attainment or accomplishment. Objectives should be narrow and precise methods with a short term time frame. In addition, successful objectives are reachable, measurable and relevant. For every business goal, include three to five objectives.

3. Identify barriers. Distinguish problems that will hinder your business from reaching its goals. Barriers can include money, time or competition.

4. Form tactics. A tactic is an action to execute your objectives and overcome barriers. A tactic should include an action, purpose, schedule, and a way to measure result.


Goal: Increase awareness of our business in the Bloomington community.

Objective: Be rated the number one business in the Bloomington area in XYZ magazine.

Barrier: Competition from similar stores.

Tactic: Put an ad about our business in the local newspaper to gain awareness by Nov. 10.


Adapted from “Going for the Goal” by David B. Rockland, PH.D.




Killer Meetings

Have you ever calculated how much money is being wasted by the dozenth pointless meeting this month? Or do you get the impression that the moment you turn on the projector the entire room tunes out?

Meetings dominate the business life in America today. The National Statistic Council states that 37 percent of employee time is spent in meetings. According to other data there are 11 million business meetings every day. Bad meetings are not just dreadful, but a waste of valuable time.

Making meetings better is not just solved by ordering lunch and coffee.  Productive meetings require a plan of action, employee engagement, and on target communication.

First off, if the transfer of info is one way then don’t meet.  Status reports and business updates can be sent over email easier than setting up a meeting for the entire staff. Before the meeting, send an email out with details of the meeting’s objectives and the agenda.  Additionally, paste the agenda on the email otherwise no one will open the attachment and they’ll all come unprepared. Sending out an email beforehand also allows the naysayers to make objectives in advance, so the meeting will take less time.  Distribute the agenda at the meeting, as well as email, so everyone can keep on target.

Increase the involvement of the meeting by assigning everyone a role or assignment. Roles such as timekeeper, note taker, and whiteboard handler will help engage coworkers that might otherwise be daydreaming or surfing the Internet. Also, assigning roles can take some pressure off of you and allow the meeting to run smoother.  Another method to involve coworkers is to assign groups to explore an issue in their area and prepare ideas and solutions for discussion. This will allow the group to engage by solving problems together.

Show your colleagues that you respect their time by always starting and ending on time. The agenda can assist with ending on time by keeping you on track. In addition, make all members of the meeting feel heard. This can be accomplished by making eye contact with everyone and keeping track of every idea.  Finally, end with a plan. Everyone should know what is expected of them and when. End the meeting by receiving input and asking members if they thought the meeting was beneficial, and what can be done better next time.

Adapted from, CBS Money Watch, How to Run an Effective Meeting,


Lessons from Olympians

As the 2012 London Olympics recently ended, we looked towards the United States record number of medals and there is no doubt that this year’s US Olympic team was full of talent. From the 16 year old all-around gold medalist, Gabby Douglas, to Michael Phelps the most decorated Olympian of all time -there was no lack of dedication or vigor.

What is so exceptional about the few who achieve Olympic success, and what can individuals learn from these outstanding Olympic athletes?

Check out these business lessons to see what you can learn from Olympic athletes:

1. Keep mental health in check.

Olympic athletes must be the essence of sound mental and physical health if they want to handle the tough training which comes with winning an Olympic medal. If your mental health is not in check then when it comes to your career, you may not be able to effectively deal with hurdles in your workplace. While Olympians are dedicated to keeping in perfect, physical health they must also have the right state of mind when going for the gold.

2. Search for purpose and meaning.

Most Olympic athletes have been training since their childhood for their spot on the award podium. Although you may not have a singular set goal in mind for your career, you must identify what kind of work you truly enjoy. There is no reason to pursue a career in a field you aren’t passionate about, despite other external factors.  If you’re doing something you love, you are more than likely to excel.

3. There is always room for improvement.

US Olympic runner, Richards-Ross, put her unsatisfying bronze medal from the 2008 Olympic trials in the past as she ran for the 400-meter gold at the 2012 London Olympics.  Knowing the need for constant improvement Richards- Ross improved her strength so she would not relive the 2008 outcome.

Too many people fall in auto-pilot once they land a job. To combat such mentality, it’s pertinent to be an advocate for change and improvement. Do not just go through the motions- promote change and continue towards excellence in all endeavors.

Take these lessons as you continue to relive the 2012 Olympic Games and remember Olympic athletes are not the only ones who can achieve success.

Adapted from  “Career Lessons from Olympic Athletes”

24 Hour Workday

The work environment is quickly changing, driven by new technology and the need for constant communication and accessibility. As technology advances makes it simpler to check your email and talk to clients while out of the office, many people have found that a normal 9-5 workday no longer exists for them.  Also, with the convenience of technology advances, employers now have increased expectations of their employees’ availability.

So my question is when do you know to turn off? Is it acceptable to check your email and voicemails right when you roll out of bed or should you wait till you get to work to start your workday?  Many arguments concerning the benefits and costs have been presented on this idea.  I believe there are both pros and cons to this idea of being perpetually tethered to the office.  So to answer my question, I believe you must know when to turn off and to metaphorically ‘leave the office’ by looking at a 24 hour workday with an economic view.

When I say economic view, I mean by analyzing the marginal benefits and costs of checking your email one more time, taking a work call, or working on a project for another hour. In economics, marginal benefits and costs are taken in to context with how many units a firm should buy of a product by the benefit or cost of adding another unit.  However, I am using marginal benefits and costs in context of how much benefit you’ll receive from a never ending workday. If working on a project another hour will benefit you more by having more time to work on other projects tomorrow than watching an episode of Lost then an extra hour will benefit you. However, is the benefit of spending time dealing with a client for another hour at night more than the cost of losing time with your family? When deciding if working a bit longer or if checking your email at dinner is beneficial consider the costs you will face as well. If those costs outweigh the benefits then that work project will still be on your desk tomorrow and vice versa. If the benefit of dealing with a client is greater than the cost of missing one dinner with your family than the longer hours that day are worth it.

Business related matters shouldn’t overshadow more important personal ones. But, allowing yourself to be more accessible and flexible concerning working out of the office may just save you an important client and gain you more time on the weekend. By viewing a 24 hour workday by the marginal benefits and costs, you’ll be able to analyze whether each work responsibility is necessary to finish that day which can provide you more personal time as well as great work results.

First Things First- Managing Your Time

When I was younger my dad required me to read, 7 Habits of a Highly Effective Teen, by Stephen R. Covey.  He of course, read it as well, and continually lectured me on the importance of the 7 habits.

As I got older, and my dad finally assumed I encompassed those 7 habits, I became liberated of the daily references he made to Covey’s book. However, I should’ve known better, Covey reappeared when I began college.

As I faced deadlines, a constant flow of emails, and meetings as any usual employee or college student, I found the saying “Time is of the essence,” is in fact, spot on. There are only so many hours in the day I can mark tasks off my list no matter how late I try and stay up or early I drag myself out of bed.

Once again, my dad began persistently referencing Covey as a solution to my lack of time. Only this time, he referred to Covey’s adult version of the 7 habits- 7 Habits of a Highly Effective Person.  Due to I am not the only college student or employee facing the crisis of time management, I decided to for once, listen to my dad and Covey’s advice.

Therefore, today, I want to give credit to Stephen R. Covey’s time management method which all people may prosper from – Habit 3 Personal Management. Many methods of time management exist- checklists, calendars, and prioritizing our daily tasks.  One method Covey recommends which you may find more effective in the workplace and in your daily home life is a matrix of quadrants of importance.

Quadrant I- Urgent activities that cannot be ignored

Quadrant II- Important activities, but not urgent

Quadrant III-Urgent activities, but not important

Quadrant IV- Not important or urgent


In the matrix, the key to time management comes from Quadrant II.  If Quadrant II activities are done on a regular basis, you will find a tremendous improvement in your daily life. The time for Quadrant II activities comes from Quadrant III and IV. Covey believes that effective people do not spend time in Quadrant III or IV because such activities are unimportant to your goals in life.  One must find time to take on Quadrant I because procrastinating this quadrant results in the task getting bigger and bigger until you must deal with it. Relatively, Quadrant I will shrink with attention to Quadrant II as well with practice of classifying activities. Classification of quadrants requires: 1. Prioritization 2. Organization of priorities, and 3.Self- discipline. However, always be careful of confusing Quadrant I and II.

A critical skill for time management also requires delegation. Being able to effectively delegate tasks to others is highly important in the workplace when dealing with time management. Delegating allows you to devote your time to higher quadrant activities while enabling personal growth for other individuals.

I truly recommend utilizing or at least trying Covey’s personal management method to help you put your responsibilities into perspective. Performing time management and following Covey’s quadrants of importance will allow you to create a life congruent to your goals and values. For example, by following Covey’s method I managed to find time to write this blog!

 Adapted from “7 Habits of a Highly Effective Person,” by Stephen R. Covey

Are Millennials a Drawback or an Advantage?

Businesses are continually adapting to new technology. So, why not adapt to new generations of workers?

However, before I go into further deliberation on this question, I’ll provide brief descriptions on the generational workers one may find in the workplace today.

Millennials: Adults under 30 in the year 2011. Notable characteristics include goal oriented and proficient at multi-tasking.

Generation X: Age 30 to 50. They’re distinguished by their self-reliance and their concern for workplace rights and work skills.

Baby Boomers:  Age 51to 68. This age group is predominantly characterized in the workplace as workaholics and they view that employment is for life.

As I continue with my college education, my professors frequently express that finding a job following graduation will be challenging.  My job search will not only be difficult because of the current state of the economy, but also because I am of the generation of workers referred to as Millennials.  Millennials present new challenges to companies because of their key differences that differentiate them from senior employees classified as Generation X and Baby Boomers.  While I tried to deny that the studies my professors referred to only stereotype my generation, I admit my inclination was I encompass many of the characteristics detailed in the studies.

Soon, Millennials will comprise the majority of in the workforce and therefore businesses will have to accept the inevitable differences between generations, understand why they arise, and how to use them to their advantage.

Therefore, it only seems fitting, to detail the key characteristics of the immerging Millenials workforce and how businesses can adapt to these new generational workers.

Set up benchmarks. Millennials are inherent planners and therefore want an employer to take an interest in their future. Millennials have had much more time to practice time management and adhering to a schedule compared to Baby Boomers and Generation X.  Setting up benchmarks will allow you to gauge your employees’ accomplishments and progress while simultaneously helping them plan their future.

Provide guidance. Millenials want direction and like feedback. When assigning Millennials tasks, they prefer short-term, specific activities which provide them with direction so they can gage when they’re off track. Employers can use this to their advantage in prioritizing objectives to accomplish.

Offer hands-on-guidance. Millennials, unlike Boomers, trust authority figures and look towards them for guidance in the workplace. Although, employers may see this as a misuse of valuable time, smart employers will realize Millennials need for direction helps minimize errors.

Encourage informal socializing.  Millennails love to stay connected with a large group of people. They want constant interaction and collaboration with their bosses and co-workers. This may seem as a dilemma to employers who associate socializing with unproductivity. However, top-rated employers such a Google encourage informal socializing amongst the staff.

Emphasize positive impact. Millennials want to contribute to causes they see as ethically and socially important.  They want to feel connection with the community and want that connection to be reflected of their place of work. Employers can encourage Millennials to arrange innovative philanthropic events that can help broaden the face of the business within the community.

Incorporate advanced technology.  Young adults are always ‘wired’. Therefore; it’s not hard to guess that Millennials like to work for a business which uses cutting-edge technology. They value technology because it allows them to stay connected with their colleagues.  Employers need to integrate technology into their daily business operations not just to stay ahead of competitors but to gain bright new workers.

Adapted from “Why Generations Matter,” by LifeCourse Associates,


Facing Failure

Throughout our careers and our lives, stumbles are inevitable. More often than not, the task of picking yourself up and moving on can appear daunting. The trouble with failure, aside from its obvious implications, is that it’s embarrassing. Not only do we have to manage the personal, internal shame of our shortfalls, but we also must be prepared for the adverse reactions of our peers and co-workers. With the right approach, we can bounce back from a fiasco of even the most epic proportions. So how do we proceed following a workplace disaster?

Don’t pretend it never happened. Rule number one: don’t ignore the existence of a problem. If you’re not willing to acknowledge your mess-ups, it’s impossible to move forward.

Don’t make excuses. It is undoubtedly obvious that your failure was an accident, so there’s no need to defend your actions. Admit the failure to yourself and your co-workers, apologize for your mistakes, and let your peers know that you’re working to prevent any future occurrences.

Don’t confuse a failed goal for a failed person. While a defeat is hard to accept, one failure doesn’t make you a failure. Keeping a positive attitude is key. Your goal should be to make up for your shortfalls with even greater success in the future.

Don’t forget that you’re not alone. Everyone fails. It happens to the best of us. Remember that even the most successful businesspeople have failed countless times throughout their careers.

Don’t ignore the bigger picture. Keep in mind that life is all about the lessons you learn. Turn your failures into successes by stepping back to analyze the positive aspects of the situation.

Adapted from “Five Rules to Rebound from Failure,” Bill Bartmann,

The Truth in Time

Time doesn’t lie; however, people do. As we all know, there are 24 hours in a day. This adds up to just 168 hours per week. Time is commonly considered our most valuable resource, and if anything, its value has only increased throughout the evolution of modern society.

These days we’re all “busy bees.” We juggle countless social and professional responsibilities, and the pressure of maintaining a perfect work-life balance can be overwhelming at times. But are we really as busy as we think we are? We’re actually all plagued by BBS—busy bee syndrome. Our vision is clouded by the false illusions our to-do lists and day planners create. They may be overflowing with tasks and commitments, but many may be insignificant or require minimal time. While busy bee syndrome isn’t a legitimate ailment, evidence from the American Time Use Survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggests that exaggeration of one’s workload is a common problem.

Let’s face it, whether proud of it or not, most of us are highly competitive. There’s no denying the feeling of pride that accompanies excellence. Along the same lines, we also enjoy the reception of sympathy from our peers. We complain about our lack of sleep and how jam-packed our schedules are, and we use this as a source of competition. We embellish our stories and exaggerate our time constraints, and the knowledge that we’re the busiest is oddly satisfying. What is this competition truly accomplishing, though? When fibbing to others, we’re also essentially lying to ourselves about how we truly spend our days.

It’s time for us to accept the truth about time. We must hold ourselves accountable for our actions and focus on the conservation of our most precious resource.

Here are some secrets to discovering time management weaknesses:

Be honest with yourself. The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem, right? The easiest way to fully assess your time crunch is to keep a journal. Don’t worry, this isn’t your average elementary-esque diary. It’s a time log. Record your daily activities in list form—no mushy musings necessary. The few minutes we spend taking small breaks or checking various social media websites are more significant than we realize. Just three six-minute breaks interspersed throughout each day add up to over two hours each week. If we’re truly as busy as we claim, those two hours can be spent much more efficiently. By keeping track of your time, you create a system for analyzing productivity. At the end of the day, group your tasks into categories such as “travel,” “work,” and “personal,” and sum the corresponding amounts of time. Compare these totals and ask yourself, “Am I devoting too much/little of my time to this area?”

Be honest with your peers. Once you’ve realized the full scope of your internal dishonesty, you can move on to the next step: admitting the truth to your peers. While we’re working on personal improvement here, there’s no need to admit past transgressions to anyone other than ourselves. Our main focus is moving forward. Remember that no one likes a “one-upper,” those annoying people who always have a better story or a longer list of tasks to complete. Fight the urge to offer up a competing grievance when a peer shares a complaint with you. Simply acknowledge their struggles and share your sympathy. Your workload most likely feels more burdensome to you than it may appear to others, and excessive complaints can become annoying. All in all, try to remain humble. Don’t forget, productivity and efficiency are key. Complaints waste precious time! 

Adapted from, “Are You As Busy As You Think?” Laura Vanderkam,