6 Tips for Attending a Business Conference

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Attending a business conference can present a tremendous opportunity for you to meet new people in your industry and successfully network. However, if you’re not normally an outgoing person, you may need some tips on the best way to network. By following a few suggestions, even the most timid professional can have a fun and productive time at their next business conference.

Volunteer at the conference

Even before the day of the conference, there are things you can do to help yourself make the most of the experience. For instance, you might consider volunteering in some way. By contacting the event organizer and volunteering to act as a presenter or greeter, for instance, you can stand out among the other attendees. This will help you meet the other guests.

Reconnect

Additionally, this is the time to reach out to past business acquaintances. If you know they’re going to the conference, use this opportunity to reconnect. They may be interested in meeting for coffee or drinks.

Attend sessions

Once the conference begins, there’s much to do, starting with the orientation. Even if this isn’t your first conference, it’s a good idea to attend the orientation, because it will help you manage your time more wisely. You won’t be able to attend every session, so it will be important to pick and choose the lectures that most interest you. Don’t forget to schedule in some breaks or you may stretch yourself too thin.

Talk to speakers

While you may be eager to learn, taking notes on every lecture you attend, don’t forget that networking is just as important. If you’re unsure where to get started, begin with the guest speakers. These individuals were chosen for their knowledge and expertise, so don’t be afraid to approach them. Mingle with the other guests, too. You may come across some conversations that will let you express your own expertise. By engaging in various conversations, you’ll meet more people and others will remember you at the next conference.

Follow up

Even after the conference has ended, there are still ways you can continue benefiting from the event. Reach out to the new contacts you made at the conference. Send them an email, connect on a social networking site, or give them a call. This can help you develop new business relationships.

Share with coworkers

You can also share the experience with co-workers who didn’t get to attend. Show them your notes and share your photos. This may convince them to attend the next event, or they may come to you with challenges that the conference prepared you to handle. Either way, using your new knowledge will help your organization and show management the value of a business conference.

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The Importance of Being a Role Model to Your Employees

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There’s no doubt about it; when you provide a good example of what it takes to be a quality worker, your employees are much more likely to follow your lead. A company only benefits from having a leader that talks the talk and walks the walk. When you decide to be a role model for your employees they will take notice. Here are some things you can do to make sure you are providing the best example possible for your employees.

Hold yourself accountable

If you accept responsibility for your actions, your employees are likely to as well. This creates a trust between them and you, and if a mistake has been made they feel more comfortable confiding in you because they trust in your ability to handle situations accordingly. If you’re having an off-day, apologize. If you made a mistake, own up to it. If the company hits a rough patch, don’t resort to blaming others, lift them up instead. If someone is busy trying to hide a mistake the business will suffer.

Pay attention to others

Service leadership is a type of leadership that focuses on the needs of others. This makes your employees feel like they matter and that transfers to excellent customer service and a more dedicated work ethic. If they like working for you and feel valued, they will do what they can to support the growth and maintenance of a successful business.

Stress management

During a crisis, it is important to handle your stress accordingly. If you present yourself in a calm manner, your employees will reflect it back to you making it much easier for everyone to recover and get back on track. Stress drastically impacts productivity and harm people, so it’s important to instill stress management in your employees.

Get creative and inspire

A leader can be a positive role model by being open to coming up with and hearing innovative ideas. If you promote creativity but proceed to micromanage, you may make your employees uncomfortable with sharing their ideas as they might not feel confident enough to suggest something out of the norm. Inspiring them to think out of the box can lead to positive breakthroughs, not only personally, but for the business itself. A great leader knows that strength resides in numbers and can pull a team together to have a productive and positive experience.

Use These 6 Tips to Limit Distractions While Getting Work Done

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Thanks to technology, there are more distractions than ever before while you’re trying to get work done. Many people do most of their work from computers, from which they can access the internet, chat with coworkers, or browse interesting articles. Most people also carry smartphones, which are constantly ringing with emails, phone calls, texts, and app notifications. If you aren’t careful, it’s easy to lose entire hours to these devices and realize you’ve accomplished nothing. However, there are some great ways you can face as minimal distractions as possible while working.

Schedule your day

The first step you can take to minimize distractions when you need to get tasks done is carefully scheduling out your day. Set aside time at the beginning of the week to plan out your schedule for each day. You may have to adjust it as other priorities come up, but planning out your day as specifically as possible helps you focus on what needs to get done every hour.

Ditch the smartphone

One of the biggest distractions is your smartphone. Know when it’s time to set it aside and focus on what you need to accomplish. Instead of keeping your smartphone on your desk, put it away in a bag or drawer or somewhere else that you won’t be tempted to look at it every few minutes. Even if you’re just checking a single message, you’ll likely also check any social notifications you have, some emails, and plenty of other distractions. Avoid using your smartphone as much as possible when trying to concentrate on a task.

Utilize extensions

There are plenty of extension available on your browser, especially if you use Google Chrome, that can help you stay focused. Some extensions block specific websites for set amounts of time or won’t let you access sites until you complete whatever you’re currently working on. Other extensions keep track of how much time you’re spending on each task, so you know if you’re completely your work efficiently.

Ignore email

Thanks to technology, you can check your email at all times and often receive push notifications while you’re focusing on something else at your desk. Avoid the temptation to check your email while doing something else; if it’s an email, it can wait. Consider turning off email notifications and closing the window so you only check it at set times. Encourage people to schedule calls with you instead of sending multiple emails back and forth to discuss something.

Change your workspace

Many people can get bored by where they’re trying to do work and become distracted since they do not have fresh scenery. If possible, move to other locations to get work done. Investing in a standing desk and using it intermittently is also helpful when trying to regain your focus. Take time to invest in decorating your office space in a pleasing manner and regularly change it so you have new views and surroundings. If you work at home, make sure you have a quiet, designated area to work in so you do not get distracted by home responsibilities.

Minimize socialization

When you’re working, it can be incredibly tempting to message your coworkers, friends, or family. You might find yourself chatting to the person sitting next to you or running into someone in the hallway and spending a considerable amount of time discussing your weekend with them. While these socializations are important to a healthy social and professional life, it’s also important that you recognize there’s a time and place for them. Keep long conversations to breaks or outside of work hours. Focus on work while you’re there.

4 Unusual Ways You Can Help Yourself Achieve Success

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There are the usual lists of ways to achieve success and be productive in your daily life, career, or whatever pursuits you’re focusing on at this point in your life. You always hear people mention the importance of putting in extra hours, creating a solid personal brand, or some other buzz word. While these pieces of advice are good, there are other, more unconventional ways you can achieve true success.

Get rid of bad habits

The first step you need to take in truly achieving success is doing away with your bad habits. While procrastination is something everyone can recognize as bad, there are other habits that may not seem as serious, but can still erode your path to success. Small issues like not getting enough sleep or not taking care of yourself. You might also suffer from self-doubt or be in denial about a bad habit. Take time to truly evaluate what you do and be honest; identify your bad habits and work on getting rid of them.

Create milestones

People always talk about the importance of setting goals and working toward them. At this point, for most people, goals do not mean much. We’ve heard the word “goals” over and over and it’s easy to tune it out. However, if you plan out milestones you want to accomplish, your future plans begin to look a lot different. Plan out what you want to achieve and how you’ll go about doing so. View your milestones as small steps to make along the way to an end result instead of some large overarching goal.

Take small steps

Like I mentioned above, creating milestones means starting a series of small steps to take as you work to accomplish these milestones. Carefully plan out each milestone along the way and what you need to do every day to get where you want to go. View these milestones as a journey toward something great. The experience you gain along the way is invaluable and can benefit you in plenty of ways.

Pursue unusual opportunities

Finally, take advantage of opportunities that present themselves, even if they don’t seem conventional. You never know how a decision or choice you make can affect your future, so taking every opportunity that comes your way can help you move further along your milestones. If there’s something you find interesting, but it doesn’t necessarily align with your career, go ahead and try it out. You might take a path you never expected or make invaluable connections.

5 Sustainability Tips for the Office

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Now more than ever there is a growing desire to embrace more eco-friendly living and thankfully businesses are looking to do their part as well. It can be a little overwhelming when trying to figure out how to get started so we’ve put together a list of the best tips for creating a more sustainable and eco-friendly workplace.

Start a team dedicated to maintaining a sustainable office

A group of people designated to maintaining a sustainable office can get a lot more done than just sending out a memo. The team should be assigned projects such as putting together a recycling program, stocking up on green cleaning supplies, and making more energy-efficient options available for appliances. They can also engage other employees hands-on, providing them with the information they need to do their part in creating the most efficient office environment possible.

Create a challenge for everyone to participate in

Introduce a monthly challenge to the office to get everyone in the spirit. A type of challenge could include going a month without using plastic utensils and offering a small gift card as a prize. Or, you could encourage employees to use reusable coffee mugs when getting their caffeine fix.

Turn off all electronics at night

This includes lights, computers, and any appliances that could use energy while no one is using them. Make sure that the last person who leaves the office turns off all the lights. Better yet, set everything on a timer so you don’t have to worry about someone forgetting to turn off something that takes a lot of power.

Invest in office products that are better for the environment

There are all sorts of products that can have less of a negative impact on the environment from recycled office materials to more energy efficient computers. There are options for everyone no matter the size of the budget and any switch is better than no switch at all.

Research green power sources

Solar and wind energy are more available now than they ever have been and businesses both small and large can make the switch. If this is out of budget you can look into your energy provider and see if they offer a more sustainable energy plan.

There are many other ways to make the office more sustainable such as going paperless, adjusting the thermostat to run less, and even adding office plants and utilizing natural light to clarify the air and conserve energy. Don’t be afraid to get creative and applaud your employees for doing their part!

3 Great Short Volunteer Opportunities

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Many people want to give back to their communities, but they don’t think they have the time to devote to a big project. They envision volunteering as a full-time situation that can require a substantial time commitment. In truth, there are plenty of ways that you can volunteer and do some good in your spare time.

Charity begins at home

While this is often used as a cop out, there’s really some truth in it. There are many ways that you can do good right from your own home. You can gather unwanted items and donate them to area organizations, or you can sell the items in a yard sale and donate the money to your favorite charity. Additionally, you can host a food drive for the needy or even a blood drive. Before you make plans, check with area charities to see what items are most in need. This can help you determine the best way to help.

Choose a single day

Some organizations want volunteers to commit a certain amount of time each month to the charity. For most people with modern lifestyles, this time commitment doesn’t work. We are all constantly busy with work, family, school, and other obligations. It can be hard to find time to commit a specific amount of hours to a new activity each week. However, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities that last for a single day. Keep a look out for flyers or posts on social media sites about volunteering. Contact local organizations and see if any of them have upcoming events that they need extra volunteers for.

Volunteering in smaller ways

For quicker ways to do some good, take just a few minutes to sign a petition about a cause that touches you. You can also spend just a few minutes visiting hospital patients or signing get well cards. Brighten up a soldier’s day by writing a letter. If you’re looking to combine a love for the outdoors with volunteer work, help an elderly neighbor with lawn maintenance or with gardening. You might also bring a trash bag with you on a walk or run. You can stop to pick up litter along the way.

These are but a few of the part-time volunteering opportunities that await you. Whatever your specific area of interest, there are ways you can volunteer and give back to your community in your spare time. You might not think you have much time in your schedule, but you have more than you think.

The Rise of Influencer Marketing

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To understand the rise of influencer marketing, it’s first important to have a grasp on what “influencer” means. Social media influencers are celebrities or simply those online users who have amassed a large following. Typically followed by at least 100,000 users, these individuals use their reach to promote the brands and products they care about and can often make a career out of this type of marketing.

Influencers are on the rise

Although they have been around as long as social media itself, influencers are really just starting to gain attention for what they can provide. Big corporations and even small business owners are partnering with influencers to help market their products or services. By way of an example, Cristiano Ronaldo partnered with Nike and helped the company generate almost $500 million in revenue.

How does Nike know it was Ronaldo and not just the popularity of their brand that generated that revenue? They tracked Cristiano’s activities and the responses he garnered. In 2016, he posted a total of 1,703 times. Those posts generated 2.25 billion responses in the form of likes, comments, and shares. Looking closer at those posts, Ronaldo mentioned Nike in 347 of them and those posts alone resulted in 447 million interactions. This means Cristiano provided Nike with $499.6 million in media marketing.

Every business can afford an influencer

While the partnership between Cristiano Ronaldo and Nike might be an exceptional example, there’s a social media influencer to fit every budget. From micro and medium-sized influencers to top name celebrities, everyone is getting in on this game. Since it benefits both sides of the partnership, it’s easy to see why it’s taking the place of more traditional methods of marketing and advertising.

An influencer is approachable, too. In traditional marketing, consumers get little more than a hard sell. In influencer marketing, however, the celebrity can interact with other users. He or she can explain why the brand they’re representing is their top choice and what they like about it.

The reason this works so well is because people emulate their idols and want to be just like them. If Ronaldo Cristiano wears Nike, so will his fans. Combined with greater accessibility, the ability to share a love for a product drives consumers to that influencer’s brand of choice. Even where they may not realize it, consumers are drawn to products promoted by people they admire. Compared to a system of pay per click advertising, it’s easy to see the big draw of contracting with influencers to sell your products.

 

Important Facts About the Facebook Issue and How to Keep Your Information Safe Online

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Recently, Facebook has come under significant fire for a data breach within the last couple of years. This issue is particularly concerning as more and more companies have their data compromised. Any business from a gas station, to a department store, to an online shopping center or site has experienced issues with hackers acquiring users private data. While some data breaches may be more serious than others, such as bank information or social security numbers being stolen, any invasion of private information is unsettling, especially with a company as large as Facebook, where many people feel safe using the platform.

What happened?

People in America and Britain learned that a political data firm, Cambridge Analytica, linked to President Trump’s campaign in 2016 was able to collect private data from over 50 million Facebook users. This breach of privacy is bad enough, but lawmakers learned that Facebook failed to notify users about the data breach.

The data firm was founded by Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer, both supporters of President Trump. The firm used the information it gathered to identify American voters for specific criteria and then influence their behavior in the 2016 election. Though it’s under debate how much these efforts actually influenced voters, the main issue is that Facebook failed to notify users that their data had been compromised. Lawmakers in Britain are currently looking into concerns of fake news and Russian interference that led to Brexit occurring in 2016 as well.

Facebook was already under scrutiny because of fake news and trolling by Russian sources, so this coverup of the data breach is only adding fuel to the fire.

What steps are being taken?

As Facebook moves to make up for failing to release the information on the date breaches, lawmakers are calling for Mark Zuckerberg to appear before Congress. Their initial silence raised red flags and brought the issue rapidly into the spotlight as more and more people demanded answers. People are searching for whose responsible for this error and other are even questioning the purpose of continuing to use Facebook.

Facebook higherups have begun breaking their silence, but there are still plenty of questions about what happened and what needs to be done to prevent instances like this one from reoccurring. It remains to be seen what happens now.
How can you protect yourself?

As this issue becomes public knowledge and people and businesses are scrutinizing their own privacy and security preferences, it’s more important than ever before to make sure your personal information is secure, whether you’re simply using sites online or you’re running a business that holds others’ private information.

If you’re responsible for a business that’s storing private information, the best step you can take is simply keeping your security up-to-date and frequently check its strength. If you do not have someone in-house capable of this step, find a contractor or company who can do it for you. The investment is certainly worth it if it means it keeps private company and consumer information safe.

If you’re simply concerned about how to keep your personal information safe online, there are a few steps you can take. Remember to only give private information to sites that are labeled as secure and always use a secure browser. Avoid saving passwords or credit card information and regularly update your passwords for different accounts. Finally, monitor your credit score and accounts to detect any fraud early on.

5 Ways to Help Others During Natural Disasters

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The aftermath of natural disasters often breaks our hearts and many people look for ways to help those affected. There are certainly more than enough opportunities for people who want to give back to society, especially during these times. When whole communities are left without the basic necessities, anything you can do is greatly appreciated.

Donate cash

This is the most common way people help the victims of natural disasters and with good reason. No matter where the event took place, it’s easiest to send money and let area leaders determine where those funds are best distributed. Organizations like the United Way, Salvation Army, and American Red Cross are always looking for monetary donations to help the victims of natural disasters. It’s also a great way to help out since it can be hard to know exactly what supplies to send and where or what’s really needed in the area. Just make sure the organization you’re donating to is legitimate!

Get others to donate cash

If you’re interested in doing more, you can volunteer to help raise money for an organization. There are a few ways you can do this. You can ask family, friends, or co-workers for donations directly, or you might set up a donation jar in your workplace. If you work with the public and your manager is agreeable, you might set the donation jar out where customers can contribute. You can even start a fundraiser if you feel up to the challenge.

Donate your blood

Here is another way to help, especially if you feel cash is too impersonal. One of the biggest needs in any state of emergency is blood, which is used to help save lives. Particularly if you have a rare blood type, this can be the best thing you can do. People are often injured during natural disasters and hospitals can lose their blood supplies, so go ahead and donate.

Collect supplies

You can organize a food drive or offer to collect other needed items, such as clothing and incidentals. Be sure to check with organizations accepting these kinds of donations, because some items may be rejected. Otherwise, collecting necessities can help families cover their immediate needs, while they try to rebuild their homes and communities.

Volunteer to work

If you’re near the affected area, you might be more interested in getting your hands dirty. Communities hit by natural disasters are always looking for help, whether that involves passing out information pamphlets or helping to clear debris. In fact, volunteer opportunities in these areas are virtually limitless.

While you may feel helpless in watching events unfold on the news, there is much you can do to help. Contact organizations or the local governments in affected areas to find out more about what you can do. No matter how you help, your efforts will be appreciated.

3 Ways to Get Your Team to Work Together

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Teamwork is a skill that is sadly neither taught nor practiced well enough in the modern workplace. Some might argue it isn’t taught well enough to children in school either, which leads to issues in the workplace. This is an odd state of affairs given the obvious and proven benefits of good teamwork and the well understood principles of teaching and practicing it in all areas of life.

Unless you’re dealing with a group of wildly dysfunctional people, it is not difficult to get a group to work together, especially professionals who are being paid to do a job. Teaching teamwork is a combination of knowledge, leadership, basic psychology and will. Once you instill these ideals in your team, you’ll see a drastic improvement.

Camaraderie

Anyone who has watched an inspirational film or read a story about one or more characters facing difficult circumstances has likely experienced camaraderie. Those who have participated in any kind of ensemble activity like a team competition has as well. The battle cry of “we’re all in this together” is designed to inspire people to realize they won’t make much progress alone.

Instilling this sensibility in a group of people is the first step towards building a team.

Leadership

Selfish instincts must be replaced with regard for the people around the individual. The fastest way to make this happen is to identify strengths in each individual and require every person to teach their strengths to the others. This egalitarian approach to leadership forces team members to rely on each other instead of wandering off to look for a solution on their own. Teaching also encourages the natural leaders to step forward.

Rebuilding

One needs to only look at the armed forces to see this dynamic in action. A new platoon of recruits is broken down by the drill sergeant and then built back up. The key to the process is the fact they are all experiencing these dynamics together. They get stronger and more capable together. They earn the opportunity to take charge of the barracks, the gear, the weapons and the uniforms. Each recruit gets a chance to lead. This brings camaraderie and leadership together into a powerful mixture.

The measurable result of great teamwork is indisputable. There are decades of stories in team sports, military victories, and even academic settings that prove there are few things more effective in any environment where goals are set and achieved. Teaching teamwork is therefore one of the most generous and powerful things anyone can do.