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Frenemies…and the Fine Art of Finding Your True Friends

Not everyone wants you to succeed. It’s sad but true. Many local business owners spend an incredible amount of time networking to meet people to build their brands.  It’s the Dale Carnegie “Like-Know-Trust” mantra.  You must get out and meet people before you’re ever going to sell them your product or service.  You need to […]

Not everyone wants you to succeed. It’s sad but true.

Many local business owners spend an incredible amount of time networking to meet people to build their brands.  It’s the Dale Carnegie “Like-Know-Trust” mantra.  You must get out and meet people before you’re ever going to sell them your product or service.  You need to connect.  It’s especially important if you run your own business. It has been true for the success of our video production company.

We have had the pleasure of meeting some fantastic business people in the Lehigh Valley.   Networking exposes you to wonderful people.  You’ll find yourself being pulled to some who really stand out. They are likely “your people” and will remain so. The cream always rises to the top!

However, there are a few that seem genuine who will surprise you (and train you to be a better B.S. detector as you grow your network).

I recently had the pleasure of being in the studio audience at a TV show taping, a networking opportunity with The Wisdom Coalition.  There were a few familiar faces in the room but many I’d never met.  It was a diverse, multi-cultural collection of businesswomen I was pleased to meet.  But it was one of the panelists who struck a nerve with every single one of us that day.

Caroline Adams Miller, a professional life coach, best-selling author, and speaker talked about how important it is to surround yourself with like-minded, supportive people.  Friends who will support your long-term goals. Sound advice that can be a challenge for those looking for true friends in business.

When Miller brought up ‘frenemies,” the entire studio audience started nodding their head.  Have you heard of them?  A frenemy is someone that masquerades as a friend but deep down is an enemy.  Miller said, “Eighty-four percent of women today say they have ‘frenemies,’ and what I will tell you is that friends who are enemies will undermine our goals, our success and our well-being without us even knowing it is happening.

Clearly, each woman in the studio audience had at least one frenemy in their life, because that nodding continued. Maybe it was a “mean girl” in high school.   Perhaps a co-worker she met in the boardroom who wanted to be the shining star at a meeting.  Or the person who got the promotion she’d worked hard for.

As sad as it is, it’s not a women-only problem.  How many of you can relate to someone who seemed to be in your corner, who disappointed you with a surprisingly negative reaction to your business or personal success?  Maybe they’re silent.  Maybe they’re negative.  Maybe they’re openly envious. They don’t belong in your inner circle!

Miller says the true test of a friend is whether they celebrate your successes in a genuine way. Here’s a little checklist I came up with to help you decide:

  • Are they curious about your work?
  • Do they support your ideas?
  • Is your friend enthusiastic about your accomplishments?
  • Do they celebrate your wins?
  • Do they openly compliment your ideas in group situations?
  • Do they refer business to you?
  • Do they nominate you for awards or talk up your abilities?
  • How do you feel after you spend time with this friend? Happy?  Tense?  Angry?

If you’ve answered no to most of those questions, you’ve identified a frenemy.

Use the checklist to help detox your life and focus on building an inner circle of those that you can support and that can support you in return. Be the friend who makes introductions and lifts people up. Go to their events, follow them and support their social media posts. Be a connector and a supporter. Becoming a true friend in business is the best way to protect against frenemies.  When you surround yourself with the right people, you and your business will both benefit.

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Communications 101

Making your Message the Best it Can Be I’ve recently had the pleasure of being a media trainer at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.  It was the world’s first collegiate business school and is arguably the best MBA program in the country.  These students are some of the brightest and most ambitious […]

Making your Message the Best it Can Be

I’ve recently had the pleasure of being a media trainer at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.  It was the world’s first collegiate business school and is arguably the best MBA program in the country.  These students are some of the brightest and most ambitious business minds I’ve ever encountered.  They intrinsically know why making your message the best it can be, matters at all levels of business. Thus, all Wharton MBA students, even those in the Executive Level program, must take a management communication course. For some, it comes naturally.  For others, it’s a learned skill. We test their speech making skills, both with and without a teleprompter, then grill them on questions they could potentially get from reporters.  It’s always entertaining and enlightening.

Good leaders need to be confident public speakers and know the essentials of persuasive speech.  How you organize and deliver a presentation to your peer’s matters. Delivering a speech at a conference matters. How you defend your views matter. An interview with a reporter matters.
A reporter wants your opinion on the topic you’ve been asked to talk about, but you have to remember it’s a chance to communicate with the audience and let them hear your expertise.  It’s an opportunity to shine and let your organization shine. You’re talking to more than just the reporter holding the microphone or the reporter’s notebook.

I’ve interviewed thousands of business owners, doctors, and other professionals during my years in television. After I make you say your name and spell it for me, my first question is almost always the same: “Tell me about your job or your company.”

Often, I get a regurgitation of the company mission statement.  Something like:

“(Company Name) is one of the leading companies in the Lehigh Valley making high-quality (product) in an affordable and sustainable manner.”
The short, sound bite friendly answer is good time-wise but it could have been better if you’d given me an animated, example filled answer like:

“Whenever you buy (competitor’s product), you know how they always seem to cost too much and break within weeks of opening the box? My company (name) makes (product) that aren’t going to break after you open the package – we guarantee it – and we’ve even figured out a way to make a high-quality (product) affordable and environmentally-friendly.”
Both are practiced responses, but the second is far more engaging.

Engagement is the key to being asked to be a regular TV interview subject or guest speaker.

Here are my top 5 tips for business communication:

1 Have a clear message.  Get to the point!  Use examples that back up your position.

2 Don’t speak above your audience.  Leave the technical jargon for your next professional meeting.

3 Speak to your audience, not an individual reporter.  By avoiding names, it’s clear that you’re addressing the larger audience.  You want your message to be broadly accepted. Don’t thank someone for their question or compliment them and say “that’s a good question.”  Most reporters are practiced pros.  Their questions are usually good. If you compliment one, you have to compliment them all!

4 Be prepared for tough questions.  As mentioned, reporters are pros. They aren’t there to grill you, but they should ask tough questions.   Address the inquiry and bring it back to your message.  Never say “No comment.”  It’s okay to say, “I don’t know the answer to that” and then bridge it back to what you want to talk about. No comment just triggers your audience to think you’re guilty of something. Say things like “looking at the big picture” or “what I do know.” It allows you to bridge back to where you started to rephrase and repeat your major points.

5 Work on your nerves.  Practice your talking points, so you don’t find yourself “umming” and “ahhing” throughout your presentation.  Pause when you need to make a point.  It’s great for pacing and lets your brain catch up.  Smile in appropriate places. Take it slow and communicate your message with authority and ease. Breathe!

Communication is one of the most basics things we do in business…and in life.  Becoming a good communicator takes practice.  It’s a skill to nurture.  Don’t overlook how practice can make perfect.

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Why Bad Video Isn’t Good for Business

How many of you have seen the recent explosion of videos being shot on an iPhone inside a car?  They’re all over social media.  While it’s most often being done by small business owners, it’s not exclusive to that group.   People have caught onto the idea that video sells and that Google demands it, but […]

How many of you have seen the recent explosion of videos being shot on an iPhone inside a car?  They’re all over social media.  While it’s most often being done by small business owners, it’s not exclusive to that group.   People have caught onto the idea that video sells and that Google demands it, but they missed the subheading.  Bad video isn’t good for business.

No matter what the size of your company, corporate videos are an investment.  And here’s the truth, no matter how big (or small in the case of the do-it-yourselfers) the budget sometimes they miss the mark.

Most business people need help creating good video. Business owners are experts in the work they do, but producing watchable video is most likely not part of the skill set. Just reading about video production techniques online or monkeying around with an advanced iPhone video app, won’t give you the polished, creative content and visual presentation that showcases a business in the best light. It’s likely you aren’t telling a story that engages your audience.

You really have to spend some time and a little bit of money to get started in a professional way. You do not need lots of bells and whistles, green screens, drones or dancing dogs to create content that counts. You simply need to put a professional polish on it, just like you would when building your website. Potential customers or clients need to know you care enough about your business to invest in quality work, including your marketing materials. You and your videos need to be professional.  Your video won’t promote your expertise, your passion or your work effectively if the audio and the lighting are bad.

People often know they should be using video in their business but both the technical aspects of shooting, editing video, the content part and deciding what to say in their video, scares them. They may think, “Oh, well, I can’t possibly make the video.  I don’t know what to say.” Or a lot of people also say, “I’m not good on video. I don’t want to be on TV.”  Or, they “go for it” and embarrass themselves.

In your marketing video, you simply have to talk about you in an engaging way. You’re the expert in YOU. You’re the expert about your business.  Your video shows that you’re the passion behind the product. What you need is to find someone who can help coach you through this process.  Find someone with the knowledge to ask you the key questions to develop your message:

You’re going to talk about WHO? That’s you.

WHAT? What’s your business do or what products do you offer?

WHY should a consumer buy your product or service?  Explain why you do what you do!

You also have to think about how much time your potential client will give you to consume your content.  When I say that, I mean sometimes, its 15 seconds and other times its 30 seconds.  Maybe your video is a minute long. It just depends on your story and the visuals that go with it, because, above all, this is a visual medium and you want robust pictures to go with your story.  The days of doing a 5-10 minute about your business, and calling your video needs met, are over.   The modern YouTube viewer won’t give you that much time.

Whether it’s a corporate profile, a television commercial or a product promotion, it makes no difference. You’ll want an emotional hook to engage viewers.  And most importantly, put your best foot forward, so you’re not creating videos that are painful to watch.  I firmly believe and advise all clients that poor quality videos will attract the wrong clients.  Simply put, bad video makes you look bad.

You’re good at what you do and you want it to show.  You don’t want to look like one of those amateur auditions.  The old advertising slogan of what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas does not apply online.  The modern expression is, “What happens on Google stays on Google.”  And it might stay there forever, so you’d better make it good the first time.

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5 Tips for Creating Effective Video for Your Business

Why do I need to do a video? I don’t want to be on TV! The answer is simple — It’s important to do something that helps you stand out. Emmy award winning television producers, Marta Countess of Countess Communications and Ashley Russo of ASR Media Productions, both based in the Lehigh Valley, sat down […]

Why do I need to do a video? I don’t want to be on TV!

The answer is simple — It’s important to do something that helps you stand out.
Emmy award winning television producers, Marta Countess of Countess Communications and Ashley Russo of ASR Media Productions, both based in the Lehigh Valley, sat down to offer their top 5 tips on the importance of business video.

1 Know Your Audience

Ashley: The way people view media and video has changed dramatically in the last decade. In the age of Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat, attention spans are shorter than ever before and people often choose what to watch based on accessibility and duration.

Marta: You don’t have to wait to be picked by the traditional media for an interview. Instead, you can create and “publish” content on your website and share it on social media. Your videos and other media content can position you as the obvious expert and build an audience.

2 Find Your Voice

Marta: As a business owner, you already understand how important it is to develop your brand identity. It is the strength of your brand that compels people to work with you and buy from you. It goes well beyond your logo and your business card. Online video is an excellent way to build the strength of your brand. When you use video, they learn about your personality, about what you do, what types of services or products you offer and get some insight into your brand’s goals.

3 Create Your Story

Ashley: The absolute best thing that will come from creating a video is the creation of your story! Rarely do we take the time to share our journey, express our views, and really convey our message. Often, we are mired in the details of our business, as we have to be to succeed, but this level of detail is rarely needed in your video. A video company that has the ability to communicate your vision will be able to help you craft your story in the most effective manner. Less is more and short is sweet!

4 Show Off Your Assets

Marta: In the world of business, B2B, B2C, you have to build relationships to build your business. You really have to get to know the person. You have to like what they’re doing and trust that you’re going to be in good hands. Video can quickly help a viewer get to know you better. It can show that you’re an expert at what you do as well as show that you are a helpful, caring professional.

5 To Hire (or not to hire) a Pro

Ashley: I can make my family a nice dinner on a Wednesday night, but when I want a really spectacular meal on a Saturday night, I go out to eat! Technology has allowed us to all be active in the video arena and there is definitely a time and a place for self made videos but taking the time to work with a professional on your main videos will prove to be well worth it. For the reasons mentioned above, a professional production company brings more than shooting and editing to the table. In the end, you will not only have an amazing video, better website and improved SEO, you will know your brand better, hear your voice more clearly, share your story more effectively, and let everyone know why you are someone to be trusted… and you may even have some fun doing it… And isn’t that what it’s really all about?!

Marta: Most business people need help creating good videos. They are experts in the work they do, but video is more than likely not part of their skill set. Just reading about video production techniques online or monkeying around with iMovie won’t give you the polished content and visual presentation that showcases their business in the best light. You really have to spend some time and a little bit of money to get started in a professional way. You do not need lots of whistles and bells and green screens and dancing dogs or anything like that. You simply need to put a professional polish on it.

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