Say “Thank You” | March 24, 2015

 

6706071995_f5ce3d2374_m“What do you say to the nice Lady?”

You hear parents say something similar to their children all the time. The child is given something and we teach them to say thank you. It’s polite, it’s nice. It’s basic manners.

Why is it then, that in business we often forget this very simple lesson?

When I ask my Clients if they thank their own Clients for the business they receive, the answers are mixed. For some it’s “yes always”, for others it’s “usually” or “sometimes”, and for some the answer is “no, they thank us”.

Let’s ignore the last response which still amazes me to this day, but note that it isn’t something I’ve only heard once. 

Our Clients are people who have trusted us with their business. They have helped us build our businesses and we should be delighted. So delighted in fact that we thank them as a matter of course. We want them to come back to us don’t we? 

And I’m not suggested just a simple few words (although that must happen). I’m suggesting something that means something. A card, meeting for lunch, a small gift which means something specific to that person. A real thank you.

It’s not hard, but it takes effort. In business, as in all other parts of our lives, it’s not the thought that counts. It’s the effort that counts. 

If you are one of those people who doesn’t thank their Clients regularly for the work that they give you, perhaps the time is right to make a change for the good. 

Go back through your diary and sales ledgers. Look at who you have received work from and pick up the phone. Call them, thank them and organise to meet up. 

And, before you reach for the keyboard, stop. DO NOT email. Email is a cop out, it’s lazy and it is meaningless.  Call them, and thank them personally.

Now, how about all those people who refer you work? The people who refer others too you? The people who help you out? Surely it’s time to thank them too…..

Contact me

For more on developing yourself, your staff and improving the profitability of your business, please do get in touch. You can email me at james@jamesnathan.com, or call me on 07736 831151. Follow me on Twitter at @jamesnathan, connect to me on LinkedIn, or follow me on Facebook.

I look forward to being in touch.

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Handling business phone calls the right way | March 17, 2015

Office worker trying to answer multiple phonesI am constantly amazed at how poorly many company switchboards handle incoming telephone calls. How your phone is answered and how that call is handled says so much about your business. Just today whilst phoning clients and prospective clients I have had company names barked at me, been put on hold without being asked, been put straight through to voicemail, and my personal pet hate, being put through without a word from the operator. Is it so hard to say something like “I’ll just put you through”, or “Mr So-and-so is on the phone at the moment, can anyone else help, or can I take a message and ask them to call you back?”

Getting it right is so easy

This is such a simple thing to get right. And getting it right is a matter of a small amount of training and a fair amount of attitude. Remember, that the person on the phone has taken the time to call you, over your competition. Treat that call like the magic thing it is. We all work very hard to get business, and when it comes so easily, please respect it for what it is. Handling incoming calls is so easy to get right. Here are my top 10 tips for answering and handling business calls properly:

Top 10 Tips for answering and handling business calls

1. Answer the phone quickly

There is nothing worse that a phone that rings for ages before being answered. It is nothing short of unprofessional. A business line should really be answered on the 3rd ring. Any less is too quickly, anything more is too much.  

2. Be warm and welcoming

A simple smile on your face when speaking will help enormously. I know it sounds corny, but it really does work.

3. Introduce yourself and your business

Never just bark the company name as you answer. I hear “XYZ Co” as a greeting all the time. Its off-putting, unwelcoming, and almost aggressive. Say something like “Good morning, XYZ Company, Jonathan speaking. How many help you?” For a personal mobile phone, “Hello, this is Jonathan” is fine. This will not only confirm that the caller has phoned the right place, but sets the tone for a professional conversation.

4. Speak clearly

Nothing is more off putting to a caller than a fast talking person who sounds like that don’t care. Speak slowly and clearly, in a moderate tone, so that you can be easily understood. The caller should never have to ask you to repeat what you said.

5. Do not use slang or buzz words

I know that I really shouldn’t have to say this, but you must use professional language at all times. Slang, jargon and words like ‘u-huh’ or ‘cheers’ are a definite no-no, and never ever ‘mate’, ‘yep’ or ‘I don’t know’. If you genuinely don’t have the answer, simply say ‘let me find that out for you and come back to you as quickly as I can’. This shows interest and an eagerness to help.

6. Ask before you put people on hold

Be sure to ask the caller if its alright to put them on hold before you do so. “That line is busy, would you like to hold or can I take a message and ask them to call you back?” Then, update the caller every 30 seconds or so and offer them a choice “I’m sorry that line is still engaged, can I take a message and ask them to call you back?” is great.

7. Don’t just put calls through 

Just putting a call through to a line without saying what you are about to do really comes across as abrupt, and breaks any rapport built immediately. A simple “I’ll just put you through’, or ‘one moment and I’ll connect you’ is perfect.

8. Don’t use hand-free to answer calls

It sounds like you are not fully engaged and disinterested, even if you are.

9. Take messages properly

If you are taking a message, be sure to check all the details, and confirm any spellings that you are unsure of. Jonathan will not be happy when he receives an email back with his name spelt ‘Johnathan’. I am often called Nathan on the phone, even after I say my name is James Nathan. You would think that at my age I’d be used to it, but it still gets my back up. It feels sloppy and shows a lack of care. Furthermore, offering the caller voicemail over taking a message, is just not good enough. It is poor from a service level perspective, but equally important from a commercial perspective you may have lost that business, especially if the message left is incomplete, doesn’t include a return number, or the caller hangs up and calls a competitor! Before taking a message, find out if anyone else can help. 9 out of 10 times, an initial enquiry can be dealt with just as well by a colleague.

10. Only use answering phones if you absolutely have to

Answering phones are so impersonal and I am sure that most first time callers who hit voicemail simply hang up. If you must use one, please make sure that you call back as soon as possible. Remember also, that people who leave messages out of hours are just as important as those who call during the business day. If you get a lot of call out of business hours, or over the weekend it may be sensible to invest in using a professional answering service. Many are very cost effective, and extremely professional.

Make the most of those calls

Making simple changes to your businesses telephone handling really can make an enormous difference so quickly. Getting new clients and to keeping those we already have takes a huge amount of effort. When they call, treat them with the service and respect they deserve.

Contact me

For more on developing yourself, your staff and improving the profitability of your business, please do get in touch. You can email me at james@jamesnathan.com,  or call me on 07736 831151. Follow me on Twitter at @jamesnathan, connect to me on LinkedIn, or follow me on Facebook. I look forward to speaking soon. jamesdot 150px

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The Top Secrets of Great Managers | January 8, 2015

iStock_000012077224SmallIt’s such a common story. You get great at your day job, and start become one of the company’s rising stars. You bill at very high levels compared with your colleagues and people begin to talk about you. You are a high flyer, a top performer, one to watch.

Then one day your ambitions become reality. Your boss pulls you into a meeting room and tells you that the company would like to promote you, they want to make you a manager. 

WooHOO!

But now what? You are a great operator. But managing staff? Motivating a team? Being a player manager? 

These are such different skill sets to what you know and are good at. Somehow (in many businesses anyway) you are expected to know what to do. 

This isn’t a phenomenon restricted to any particular industry industry. In many many businesses, great operators are made into managers because they are great at what they have done. For some it’s wonderful, and for others it’s a nightmare, and for all it’s a steep learning curve. 

The learning curve

I was extremely lucky early in my career to work with some exception bosses, who not only supported and helped me when I needed it but knew when to get out of the way too. I learned some important lesson by making my own mistakes, but in truth I learned a great deal more from analysing and copying the great managers around me, and from the teachings of my mentors. 

I’d like to share some of that wisdom with you.

The top secrets to learn from the world’s best managers

1. Teach the basics and instil great working practices (*1)

If you spend enough time with your team, lead by example and teach your new staff the basics of the job well, you will help them understand how to run their desk themselves. Set them up for success from the beginning by giving them the right building blocks and training, the right time management skills and exhibit the right behaviours yourself. 

As the legendary sports coach Professor Frank Dick OBE says “if you don’t get the basics right, you will spend a lifetime trying to put them right”.

If you do get the basics right the rest will take care of itself.

2. People are individuals, manage them individually (*2)

This may seem so very obvious, but for a new manager it can be rocket science. What works for one may work for another, but as soon as you make that assumption, you are bound to fail.

Learn to understand the differences in people, and differences in their learning styles. Spend enough time with them one-to-one that you are able develop a real understanding and rapport, and be human to their needs.

Only then can you work with them individually. 

3. Chicken in a field theory (*3)

If you place a chicken a very large field, it will peck all over that field in a very superficial way. It will get some of the worms and the seeds, but leave a lot for other chickens to feed from too. If you give a chicken a small field, it will peck deeply and throughly, it will find every worm and seed, and it will own the area. 

The very same is true of business markets and patches. Give someone too big a market and they will work that market sporadically and clumsily. It will be hard for them to be able to focus and the quality of their understanding, and subsequently their control of the market will the poor.

Give them a smaller, well defined and more controllable market patch and they will find every opportunity, work every relationship and make it their own.

4. Post war cake mix theory (*3)

In the years following the Second World War manufacturers of packet cake mix produced a product that they thought consumers would love. All you had to do was open the packet, mix the content with water, and bake the cake. So simple, so easy, such a failure.

When sales never took off the manufacturers changed the recipe, which then required people to add an egg and butter to the mix. Once this change was made, sales rocketed.

As a manager it is so easy to do everything for your staff, so that all they have to do is finish the job. This is a massive mistake. Not only does it fly in the face of Secret No.1 but it never gives them the ability to develop and grow. They will never feel trusted and definitely never feel challenged. 

People need to be be bought into and involved in the process. They need to add their own ingredients and be allowed to do that in their own way. 

5. Rear view mirror theory (*3)

In most modern cars many things are automated. The lights, the wipers, the door mirrors. They are controlled by electronics and make our lives easier. But in the case of the rear view mirror, you still need to use your hand to move it. It could be controlled by a switch or a knob but it’s not. And why not? Well, some things are best left to be manually controlled. 

You need to leave a good level of personal involvement in all aspects of your team and your business. You can automate a lot of things, but many are just better being done by hand. Identify what those things are and leave them be. 

6. Don’t just hire anyone

When you are building the team it is never easy to find the right people. It can be so tempting to hire that person who is nearly right, or who could be right with just a few changes. 

The right person is the right person, and the wrong person is a disaster. The amount of time you waste hiring, training and eventually sacking the wrong person is enormous, not to mention the stress and management time taken up in the middle somewhere and impact on the team.

Team building is never about bums on seats. Hire the right person or don’t hire at all.

7. You will make mistakes, learn from them

I am certain that I have made all the mistakes in management a new manager can make, but I also am proud to say that I think I have learned from every one. Not always immediately, but certainly eventually.

You will make plenty of mistakes. This is a good thing, as long as you are able to recognise the mistake, learn from it and be better next time. 

8. Get out of the way

This secret is something I learned myself the hard way, and I would very much like to save you that pain. It is very much linked to secrets 4 and 5 above. 

I think in his autobiography Lee Iacocca, the famous American Motor Industry giant puts this secret best – “I hire people brighter than me and then I get out of their way.”

Being in their way can feel stifling to your consultants. It shows a general lack of respect and trust, and ultimately you will lose them to your competitors. Getting out of the way worked for Lee at Ford and Chrysler, it works for Google and Apple today and it can work for you too. 

Hire the best people you can, train them and teach them all you can, and then let them do what you hired them to do.

9. Take the job seriously, don’t take yourself seriously (*4)

This secret, taught to me by my first mentor when I became a manager doesn’t need much explanation. Take the job seriously, but never take yourself seriously. It is so important to remind yourself of when things are tough, and it is often easier said than done.

The business is a serious thing. But life, life is a fun thing.

Contact me

For more on developing yourself, your staff and improving the profitability of your business, please do get in touch. You can email me at james@jamesnathan.com, or call me on 07736 831151. Follow me on Twitter at @jamesnathan, connect to me on LinkedIn, or follow me on Facebook.

I look forward to being in touch.

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*1 Thank you Jamie Newman

*2 Thank you Kath Roberts

*3 Thank you Renny Hayes

*4 Thank you Gary Watson

 

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Holidays are coming! What a great time to network | December 9, 2014

skateboard santaWith ‘silly season’ well and truly upon us, many are thinking of the wasted working weeks coming up, where their clients aren’t around to speak with, or are too busy being entertained and entertaining to think about new business.

I must say I have to differ.

This time of the year is a great time and a fantastic opportunity to get out and spend time networking with our clients. After all, people are expecting to be using the pre-Christmas time in this way, so why not take full advantage of it?

My diary is full in December. Full of appointments to catch up with clients new and old. Full of opportunities to make new acquaintances and to enjoy building relationships with those I already know. Why not fill yours up too?

Networking is a term that evokes lots of different feelings in people. Some with dread, some with fear, and some with opportunity. The truth is that most people don’t really enjoy networking in a formal context.

This time of year is generally more social, and networking in a social context is a really good way for those of you who don’t enjoy networking to do it in a softer environment.

So if you are not thinking ‘networking’ this December, here is a short check list of things to be doing to get your diary busy and get out there meeting people in what is generally a very social time of year.

  • Look back though your diary and billings list, and identify who you have been to meet and who has engaged your services this year
  • Block out some diary time to be meeting clients
  • Get on the phone to them, catch up, thank them for the business you have enjoyed this year and organize to meet
  • Go out to meet them, and enjoy it at the same time

And while you’re at it, why not think about other people in your client’s business who you would like to meet, and ask your client to bring them along too?

Have a great December.

Contact me

For more on developing yourself, your staff and improving the profitability of your business, please do get in touch. You can email me at james@jamesnathan.com, or call me on 07736 831151. Follow me on Twitter at @jamesnathan, connect to me on LinkedIn, or follow me on Facebook.

I look forward to speaking soon.

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Blogging to Google Search Success – A simple SEO secret, that’s not so secret | November 3, 2014

IMG_8642So how do you go from nothing to the top of www.google.co.uk’s natural search? This is a massive question and not one easily answered. There are plenty of ‘gurus’ who are happy to tell you their thoughts.

There are plenty of companies who will take your money off you promising no end of fantastic results, just as long as you put your faith, and hard earned cash in them.

I have no doubt that a lot of this works, and optimising your site is absolutely imperative.

A good web designer will make sure that your new website is fully optimised at the time they build it. They will ensure that key words and location type stuff is looked after, and may even monitor things for a short time to make sure that go it right in the first place.

But, then once you are on your own, what more can you do?

My experience to Google page 1

I want to share my own experience for you. My business is not wildly different to many others. I sell a professional service, to other professional service businesses. I help my clients to build their businesses, by acquiring more clients and by getting the most from, and building those relationships. A part of that is business development training.

Until recently, I have built my business by hard work, and networking. I look to build referral volumes, I look after my clients and give them the very best I can every time. As Tom Peters would say, I look to provide excellence.

But now I am getting a stream of new enquiries from the internet. And why? Because if you Google (yes its now a verb) ‘business development training’ I am currently in the middle of page 1. And am I working to get to the top, you bet I am.

So how did I do it? The million dollar question. Actually, its not, and the answer is simple. I blog.

I blog

I blog, and it really is simple. Google likes changing website content. Adding new blogs really helps, but there is more.

I write blogs about the things my clients, and potential clients want to read. I write about current issues in the marketplace I work in, and I focus on my core stuff. People read it and they share it (thank you to everyone of you) and that shared stuff gets shared again and again. I don’t get massive share numbers compared to some guys, but I get good numbers, and they are improving all the time.

Once a blog is written, I share and broadcast it myself as widely as I can. That said I share it widely to the right sites, blogs and groups, and I work to guest blog as much as I can, on as many relevant great sites as I can.

The result is simple. I blog, I share. You read, you share. The sharing continues. The referral traffic to my site improves, and Google sees it.

It sees it and up the rankings I go.

It can’t be that easy I hear you say. Well, Google ‘business development training’ and see.

Contact me

For more on developing yourself, your staff and improving the profitability of your business, please do get in touch. You can email me at james@jamesnathan.com,  or call me on 07736 831151. Follow me on Twitter at @jamesnathan, connect to me on LinkedIn, or follow me on Facebook.

I look forward to speaking soon.

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Top tips for delivering great customer service | September 15, 2014

thumbs upIsn’t it amazing how often we experience really bad customer service. And, when we do, doesn’t it really annoy you?

I say amazing because to provide a high customer service level takes nothing more than some common sense actions, and doing really nothing more than treating others the way you would like to be treated yourself.

The way your customers feel towards you is so important. The more care and attention you provide them, the more they are likely to continue to want to work with you. This is simple human nature. Taking this a step further, shouldn’t customer service be a top priority day in, day out?

Here are a few of my tips and advice for treating your clients in the very best way possible.

1. Respond to them ASAP

Replying to a request, be it email, voicemail or a phone call is very time sensitive. Responding as soon as possible is not only good customer service, but will hold you out above those in your competitor firms who sit on messages for days on end.

Even if you aren’t actually able to work on their request immediately, just providing them with a timescale will make all the difference. And, if you can’t do it at all, tell them, and refer them to someone who can. Helping people pays enormous dividends as far as future referrals are concerned.

2. Keep your clients updated

It is so easy to keep a client up to date with your progress. When you leave a client in the dark you run the risk of them feeling lost, and not knowing what’s going on is one of the most disconcerting feelings one can have when you hire a professional.

Even if you don’t have anything major to report, report anyway. Keep them in the loop as to how you are progressing. Updating regularly reinforces your involvement and keeps your client comfortable that things are happening.

If the update is that there is a problem coming, don’t wait to let them know. Making a client away of a potential pitfall allows them to plan for an alternative outcome, and takes away any major issues with the problem when it arises.

3. Go the extra mile

There are so many times that doing that little bit more for someone costs us nothing in time or expense. But, the result of going the extra miles is a really delighted, and often indebted client. Imagine how great they will think you are, when you do something extra and ask nothing in return.

This is often called ‘superpleasing’ in the marketing literature – ensuring customer delight with current matters.

4. Fix your mistakes

If you do something wrong, or something doesn’t work out how you had hoped or intended, fix it right away.

You are unlikely to lose a client by admitting your mistake, and fixing it immediately. Of course the converse it true, don’t admit your mistake, and don’t fix it, and see how fast your client leaves you!

5. Listen to your clients

“Of course I do”, I hear you say. Well, I mean really listen to them. Understand what they are communicating to you, and clarify things that may be ambiguous.

Actively listen and clarify, listen and clarify some more. It is so easy for a small miscommunication to destroy even a previously strong relationship.

Also, don’t forget that we all use a lot of jargon in our respective industries, much of which will be unfamiliar to your clients, what they think you say may not be what you intended them to think.

6. Keep your promises

If you say you are going to do something, do it.

Being professional has many aspects to it, but this has got to be one of the most important ones.

7. Don’t let your clients get confused

Making a client feel stupid is a sure fire way to lose them forever. Speak in clear language, state your plans and understanding in a way which they will relate with. And then check their understanding, make sure that they haven’t missed anything.

8. Be patient

It is very easy to lose your patience with clients. We can all give examples of clients overstepping boundaries, moving the goal posts, neglecting to provide everything we need in a timely manner, or just being difficult. The key is to never let them know how you feel.

This is simply back to being professional. And, why would you bite the hand that feeds you?

9. Put yourself in your clients shoes

If you were your client, how would you like to be treated? Sit in the client seat, evaluate your service levels, and then re-evaluate your service levels. Put your clients happiness to the top of your agenda, and enjoy the rewards.

Contact me

For more on developing yourself, your staff and improving the profitability of your business, please do get in touch. You can email me at james@jamesnathan.com or call me on 07736 831151. Follow me on Twitter at @jamesnathan, connect to me on LinkedIn, or follow me on Facebook.

I look forward to being in touch.

 

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An Insider’s Guide to Writing a Great CV (Résumé) | June 2, 2014

iStock_000035768924SmallWith the recruitment market getting busier and busier, there are increasingly more opportunities available to look at for that fantastic career move. And, as the market heats up, so too does the level of competition for each role.

Recruiters and hiring managers can receive literally hundreds of applications for a role. In reality this means that they may only have a few moments to scan each response before deciding whether to put that person’s CV on the ‘Yes’, ‘No’ or ‘Maybe’ pile.

To give yourself the very best chance of going on the ‘Yes’ pile, your CV needs to make an immediate impact and demonstrate exactly why you are right to be considered.

A professional and well written CV will promote you in the best possible light, and give you an advantage in helping to secure interviews.

So, how do you write a great CV? What should be included and how should it look? There really is no single right way to structure and present a CV, but from my experience the following should help to provide you with a very good framework to work from.

Content

Before you start writing you must train yourself to think from the reader’s perspective and ensure that each and every application you make is tailored specifically for the role that you are applying for. Remember that this is likely to be your first introduction to a prospective employer, and will form the basis for much of what will be discussed at a first interview.

To make a great impact, your CV should be concise and relevant, the content clear and well structured. I liken this to the days of writing exams at school, or at university – the goal was to make sure that the examiner could read your mark scoring points and pick out keywords and phrases as easily as possible – CV’s are exactly the same.

Roles and Responsibilities

Make these as close a match to the role you are applying for as possible. Ensure that job titles and responsibilities are directly relevant to the job being applied for and where possible an exact match.

Reasons for leaving roles and salary levels or salary expectations should not be included, but you should be ready to discuss these at interview.

Skills and Experience

Keywords are very important here – your CV will be scanned for the right kind of experience: make sure that it is easy to see and clearly explains where you have added value. No matter how long that experience was, a few years or a one-off project, make sure it reads as relevant and consistent to what you are applying for.

Include all relevant skills that you have gained and developed in your current and previous roles. These should compliment your experience and add weight to your application.

Achievements

Be sure to highlight all key achievements in your CV – Don’t forget that hiring managers love to see the CVs of people who have made significant achievements as well as out performed targets. List these in real terms or as percentages and be able to discuss these at interview.

Education

As with the areas above, be sure to include all relevant education, especially if is mentioned as required or desirable in the job description.

Personal Information

Include your full name, address, telephone numbers, email and visa status, being sure to avoid anything superfluous such as children’s names, sex, religion, sporting teams you support etc. You are not legally required to include your date of birth or marital status, and these should not be included.

Be sure to make yourself as contactable as possible, so include your contact details on the header or footer of each page in case the pages of your CV are separated.

Add links to any relevant website pages and your LinkedIn profile.

If you want to include any hobbies or interests, please keep this short – they actually add very little value.

Referees should not be included but provided on request.

General Tips and Advice

Language

Use only relevant language and keep it jargon-free. The person scanning CV applications may have no technical experience in your area of expertise – often this will be a junior member of staff or generalist HR person. Think keywords at all times.

Your CV should be written in the 3rd person, and in the past tense to describe your career and the present tense for skills and competencies.

Use bullet points rather than full sentences to list skills and responsibilities etc.

Make sentences more direct by using nouns and verbs on their own, e.g. “Major achievements include” or “Increased profits by 24%”

Please avoid cliches – there are so many words that are heavily overused and most recruiters and employers simply ignore them. These include and are certainly not limited to team player, results driven, dynamic, motivated, and entrepreneurial. If it feels like a cliche to you, then it probably is!

Format

Ensure that the layout of your CV is simple, uncluttered and easy to read (remember the exam marker!). Avoid any photos, clip art or borders.

You should use a universal font in one colour (Helvetica, Arial and Times Roman are great) and bold used only to highlight.

Make sure that you send/attach your CV in a format which the recipient will be able to open – this may seem odd to mention but you would be amazed the number of times I have not been able to open an application. If in doubt Word or PDF are best. No one is going to download software just to read your CV – if they can’t open it, they won’t open it.

The file name that you use should be your own name, e.g. jamesnathan-cv.doc – this makes it easy for the hirer and avoids the confusion of a number of applications all called document1.doc or CV.doc.

Consistency

Make sure that your CV reads consistently and runs in reverse chronological order. There should be no unexplained gaps at all.

Your CV must make sense as a whole document.

Completely Error Free

Proofread, proofread, proofread – and then get someone else to proofread it for you.

Any errors on your CV can spell the end of the line for your application – please don’t let a spelling, grammatical or consistency error put you straight into the ‘No’ pile.

Remember spell checkers don’t sense check your writing, if the word is spelt correctly e.g. if you write ‘hear’ but you meant ‘here’, a spell checker will assume it is correct.

Covering Letter

Each application must be accompanied by a tailored covering letter. Just like the CV this should written specifically for the role that you are applying for.

One last thought

A little extra time and effort spent in drafting your CV and covering letter could make all the difference to your success and could well be the deciding factor between being offered a great new job and starting, or not interviewing at all!

Good luck!

Contact me

For more on developing yourself, your staff and improving the profitability of your business, please do get in touch. You can email me at james@jamesnathan.com, or call me on 07736 831151. Follow me on Twitter at @jamesnathan, connect to me on LinkedIn, or follow me on Facebook.

I look forward to being in touch.

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Jack of all trades, master of none | May 7, 2014

Jack of HeartsI’ve recently had a call from a good client of mine, asking if I was able to run a new training programme for them.

Sounds great doesn’t it? Well, ordinarily yes, but in this instance I wasn’t sure.

Like most people I love being asked to do more work for my clients, but the problem was that what they were asking for wasn’t really my main area of expertise.

It was something that I touch on in other courses that I run, but isn’t really something I major in.

So here was the dilemma

Do I say “yes thank you, of course I can do that” and then work out how to provide what they needed? This would get me some more work and stop my client talking to a potential competitor for the service. Of course, I would have to learn more about the subject area myself first, but I could do that….

But, there was a very large but. I knew that there was the possibility that although good, the resulting training would not be my best stuff, and there was the potential to destroy a good relationship by providing less than my best. Something I never want to do. Also, I knew that there were experts available in that subject area who would do exactly what my client needed.

What to do?

I spent a few days doing what many of us do. We see the pound or dollar signs, and think “how can do this for them”, when what we really should do is thank them, explain that we really not the best person for the job, and refer them to someone we trust who is.

We all have a niche, an area of expertise that we work within and by which we are known. When we dilute this by taking on work that really isn’t our thing, or broaden our offering too far, what we are in fact doing is making ourselves less attractive to the market in general.

We need to be great at what we do, and focus on that and that alone.

It is far too easy to take on work that we should really refer. Yes, we are potentially giving away a fee, but in actual fact what we are doing is adding value for our client, improving our trust relationship and helping out someone who will then feel like they owe us a favour.

Isn’t that a much better long term result?

Contact me

For more on developing yourself, your staff and improving the profitability of your business, please do get in touch. You can email me at james@jamesnathan.com, or call me on 07736 831151. Follow me on Twitter at @jamesnathan, connect to me on LinkedIn, or follow me on Facebook.

I look forward to being in touch.

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There are no cover bands in the rock and roll hall of fame – differentiate the Scott Ginsberg way | April 1, 2014

rock guitarWe are all individuals, and we like to be thought of as individuals. Not numbers, not the guy from XYZ Co, not so-and-so’s husband, wife, brother, boss etc. Just us, as we are.

So why is it then that we so often hide that real us to project the ‘me’ we think we need to be?

When it comes to business, this can be dramatically overplayed. For one reason or another we often melt ourselves into a one size fits all version for the world to see. We become what we think the world expects of us. Sure, there is good reason for some of this, but when it comes to working with clients isn’t it true that people buy people?

If you are keen to build a business based on a great referral network (and be honest, who isn’t) then projecting the real, authentic you is vital. Meeting the right people, building rapport and then trust is key.

In his book ‘The Referral Engine’ John Jantsch says that no body talks about boring businesses, and he is quite right. We talk about the different, the innovative, the impressive.

We don’t talk about boring businesses and we don’t talk about boring people either.

Scott Ginsberg is the guy who wears a nametag 24/7. Scott is the nametag guy. He has made a very successful business out of wearing his “My name is Scott” nametag and is now a leading expert on approachability. He has taken this to an amazing extreme, including having his nametag tattooed to his chest! Scott is an individual. Scott is Scott, and as he says “there are no cover bands in the rock and roll hall of fame”.

We could all take a leaf out of Scott’s book. We can all be something different. We all have something remarkable about us. Something interesting, something talk-about-able. So find out what that is about you, nurture it and make it resonate in all aspects of what you do.

You don’t have to wear a nametag for people to know you are.

Contact me

For more on developing yourself, your staff and improving the profitability of your business, please do get in touch. You can email me at james@jamesnathan.com, or call me on 07736 831151. Follow me on Twitter at @jamesnathan, connect to me on LinkedIn, or follow me on Facebook.

I look forward to being in touch.

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Delighting a client is so easy…… | February 20, 2014

thumbs up“Under promise and over deliver” – these are the very wise words of Tom Peters. It’s such a simple concept but in practice so few businesses manage to do it.

This baffles me.

If we manage our client’s expectations, if we let them know exactly what they can expect and then deliver on, and if possible over that expectation – every one is happy. And we all want happy clients, don’t we?

When we promise something and then fail to maintain that promise… well, as a supplier you get what you deserve. That client goes elsewhere (maybe not right away but eventually) and becomes somebody else’s happy client.

Your failure to deliver can be as simple as not replying to an email, saying “I’ll get back to you today” and then not doing so, or promising anything that is not then followed up.

Hang on a minute, I hear you say. Not responding to an email is not breaking a promise. Well, I say it is. This is all about that other person’s perception.

The implication when you ask someone for something by email is that they will have received that email, and read it. We all carry smartphones and tablets, we are plugged into the web all the time, we have no excuse.

You know it, and your client knows it too.

Getting it right

Getting this stuff right is so easy, but it does take a small change in mindset: that is, from one of me, to one of you. Your client isn’t interested in anything apart from their issue, query or problem. They want to feel looked after, important and loved.

This is just human nature.

So take a moment to think about how you communicate with your clients. A simple holding email or phone call, a simple “Hi, just received your email and I’ll get back to you shortly” makes an enormous difference.

Letting a client know what you can do, and when you can do it makes an enormous difference.

Managing that other person’s expectations, and then smashing those expectations with amazing performance, makes a world of difference.

Delight your clients. Over deliver. Every time.

Get in touch

You can email me at james@jamesnathan.com, or call + 44 (0) 7736 831151.

Alternatively, follow me on Twitter at @jamesnathan, connect with me on LinkedIn, or follow me on Facebook.

I look forward to being in touch.

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