Category Archives: Business Briefings

New image for CAMEO

Have you noticed the new image used by CAMEO Consulting?

To reflect the wide variety of people we now serve, we’re featuring folks of all ages and from all walks of life.  (See above screenshot). 

Our clients include:

  • College students about to launch their careers.
  • Business owners and employees who want to go further.
  • Organizations that need to attract and keep customers.

To give extra value to our clients, CAMEO now offers extensive PR/Communications Services, along with corporate training and career consulting.

Check out what we now offer at: cameo100.com

 

 

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Employed? Why Not?

 

PIC.13.city success
Why can’t I find a job?

“Why can’t I find a job? Why am I still unemployed? The economy is getting better, unemployment rates are down, I have a degree and a pretty good resume.”

 

A few years ago, the answer to this question might have varied:

  • I guess I don’t have the right skills.
  • Maybe, I’m over-qualified.
  • Money is tight so there are no jobs.
  • Most companies hire only insiders.

Disappointed job-seekers may have actually been eliminated for other reasons, including:

  • Poor interview skills.
  • Limited proficiency in technology. (Not enough software or internet savvy).
  • Missing information on applications. (Names, numbers, contact info for references or prior employers).

All of the above may be true, but another issue is rapidly becoming a top reason for not getting hired:

  • More and more job candidates are failing drug tests.
  • Loosening of marijuana laws has increased its use across the country.
  • Prescription drug abuse is causing an opioid epidemic in every state.

OnStaffUSA has over 400 unfilled job openings in West Michigan alone, according to an article by Jane Simons in a recent issue of MiBiz, a local business publication.

This growing problem has more than one implication. “When you have to turn down jobs because you don’t have enough employees, that affects the economy,” added Nora Balgoyen-Williams, outgoing director of economic development for Allegan County. When contracts are lost, companies stop hiring. Jobs go away altogether.

The bottom line: Drug abuse affects everyone – not just users.

Susan K. Maciak Let’s Talk Business! Blogs by Susan K. Maciak                                                                                                           CAMEO Consulting LLC:  cameo100.com  | ask@cameo100.com

 

Good grammar counts

Consultants Working  CREATIVE computers and great graphic art make it easy to compose internet content, social media blurbs and blog articles today.      Entrepreneurs often become their own marketers, communicators, and promoters . . . but should they?

Is ‘doing it all’ really the best way to be successful in business?   Not everyone is a great communicator. Even fewer of us are good spellers or grammarians. Publishing without polish can do more harm than good.

Most successful business owners excel in their area of expertise. They’re good at gardening, auto repair, or health care, for example. They may not do so well with writing. In that case, it pays to hire a professional to help communicate to the public.

Credibility counts                                                                                                               Even though business owners are often the best spokespeople for their products and services, their credibility can be ruined in an instant if they post a piece with obvious spelling or grammar errors. If writing style is archaic, hard to read or doesn’t communicate messages correctly, it can do more harm than good.

From the class genius to the guy who got Cs or Ds in English, everyone notices typos in print. Customers equate sentence fragments, grammar mistakes and spelling bloopers with incompetence. Such errors reflect poorly on any business.

Since computers can’t read words in context, the best spell checkers occasionally goof.  They may make corrections that aren’t needed, turning right words into wrong ones. Old-fashioned proofreading is still your best bet. A few simple tips include:

  • Two / To / Too: Use “two” to write out a number (two cats). “Too” means also (I want to go, too. I want to go also). Use “to” as a connector (to the store, to the car, to the person in front of me).
  • It’s / Its:“It’s is always a contraction, meaning “it is” (“It’s raining”); Its (without an apostrophe) is a possessive. (The dog lost its bone) Its shows ownership.
  • You’re / Your: “You’re” stands for “you are” (“You’re late); “Your” is a possessive pronoun, as in “Get your coat.”
  • There / Their / They’re: “There” refers to a place (“Let’s go there.”); “Their” is a possessive pronoun, as in “Get their coats.” A contraction spelled “they’re” replaces two words “They are.” (They’re going on vacation).
  • Who / Whom: Use “who” in place of it, he or she. Use “whom” where you would write him, her, us.
  • Punctuation and quotation marks:  Commas separating a direct quote from the rest of a sentence should be placed inside the quotation marks. The same is true for periods. Question marks should be inside quotes only if they are part of the quote. Outside, if not.

Fool-proof your proofreading                                                                                         It’s not always easy to proofread your own work. If you know exactly what something is supposed to say, you may subconsciously see what should be there rather than what’s actually on the page. Here are a few suggestions for fool-proofing your work while proofreading:

  • Increase font size to 150 percent to better see your words and more easily spot errors. (Don’t forget to switch it back to normal size when done proofreading).
  • Change the font to Courier, a mono-spaced font, to disrupt typical pattern recognition. This will help you pay closer attention to the text while proofing.
  • Read your work out loud. Hearing it helps you spot mistakes you might not see.
  • Print out a document to catch errors on paper that you’d miss on the monitor.
  • Ask a few other people to read your writing for accuracy before publishing it.

Keep in mind that everything the public sees makes an impression  – positive or negative. Misspelled words, bad grammar, or sub-par writing skills can lead to loss of business, no matter what business you’re in!

Susan K. Maciak Let’s Talk Business! Blogs by Susan K. Maciak                                                            CAMEO Consulting LLC:  cameo100.com  | ask@cameo100.com

 

Can you cope in a crisis?

Hurricane . . . Fire . . . Flood . . . and a few other kinds of catastrophe call for future- thinking and a formula for coping with a crisis. Disasters put business, school and office leaders on front stage whether they want to be or not.

The leadership quotient of people in charge is truly tested during times of crisis. While the world – or at least the surrounding community – is watching, leaders like school principals, factory supervisors and store managers must know how to perform under stress.

Very few people have the natural capacity for quick-witted or level-headed response in chaos. Reacting right in an emergency takes preparation and practice. Every organization is vulnerable at one time or another, so all places where people gather need a Crisis Action Plan.

Put an action plan in writing

Put together a team of leaders from all areas of your business or institution. Ask them to brainstorm any possible crises they could face. Then, work with your team on developing a plan for handing gracefully whatever comes their way.

Practice your plan                                                                                                                     Count on your team to relay your Crisis Action Plan to other employees. Provide everyone on staff with a copy. Then, walk through emergency procedures with various groups. Being prepared to cope with a crises goes a long way to help keep everyone cool, calm, and collected. Readiness lowers the panic rate and limits erratic behavior that adds danger to the situation.

Know how to communicate in a crisis

The media never ignores a calamity. News reporters will want a play-by-play description of how you are handling your mishap. It’s critical to:

  • Put people first. Let the media know that your people are your priority. Tell them what you’re doing to ensure the safety of everyone on site.
  • Then, you should refer reporters to a designated spokesperson to answer further media questions. The selected spokesperson should be someone who knows the organization and the crisis plan well.
  • Provide every employee with the spokesperson’s name and contact information, so they, too, can refer questions to the person best equipped to answer them.

It’s up to business owners and head honchos of all kinds to stay cool and set the pace for others. Leaders need to be ready and train their staff to react wisely in difficult situations.

Blog content provided by Susan K. Maciak, lead consultant at CAMEO Communications, Career  & Corporate Consulting LLC. For details on our Communicating in a Crises training program, contact us at ask@cameo100.com or visit our website: cameo100.com

Added value for students Get school year off to great start!

Teachers, counselors and school principals may be on vacation, but by the end of July their minds are drifting back to the classroom. “What can I do to make a difference for my students this year?” they wonder. Or . . . “How can I keep their attention?” Some even question: “What do my students expect from me?”

Most young people — and their parents — expect that they’ll be able to get a job once they are out of high school or college. Despite current low unemployment rates, some of them still struggle with that first step after graduation. Why? They don’t understand what it takes to get hired today.

School budgets are no longer big enough to support school-to-work programs, or career education. Increasing numbers of mandatory classes leave little time for anything else in the curriculum. The only way left to teach employability skills is to combine those lessons with other subjects, or keep school libraries stocked with job-seeking books. That’s why middle, high school or college staff members might want to take a look at two books by career coach Susan K. Maciak that fill the bill:

JOB SHOPPING . . . a do-it-yourself workbook that walks users through the entire job-seeking process. From looking for jobs that suit their skills to interviewing and following up later, JOB SHOPPING, provides students with valuable tips and tested strategies for getting a job. It makes the process easy with samples of resumes, cover letters, reference lists, etc., along with formats students follow to create their own.

First Job Jitters . . . a fictional story of a new graduate going through her first job hunt. While looking for her very first ‘real job,’ she takes readers through the Ps & Qs of a successful job search, like filling out applications correctly or asking the right questions at an interview. During the process of landing a job, she stumbles on clues to a crime and helps solve a mystery. Students learn the facts and enjoy the fiction!

These books sell for $15 to $22 on sites like Amazon.com, but Educators can take advantage of a summer special, available now through August 31, 2017.

Educators who order 20 or more copies of JOB SHOPPING and/or First Job Jitters for their classroom, library, study hall or school club, pay only $10 each plus postage. We’ll invoice your district.

Email the name/number of books you want to order directly to the author at suemaciak@gmail.com Include your name, school, school address and phone# – and a P.O.# if required by your school district.

To find out more about CAMEO Career & Corporate Consulting LLC, visit us at http://www.cameo100.com or contact us at ask@cameo100.com

 

Promoting your organization

How do you promote your organization for best results? Do you use Advertising? Branding? Marketing? Sales? Communications? Public Relations? Publicity?  Or all of the above?

Are these promotional strategies one and the same? Often intermingled or misunderstood, each of these creative arts plays a different role in building a client base for your business or organization.

Consumers may not know the difference, but business owners should. Corporate leaders and nonprofit directors benefit by being able to distinguish the details. Understanding the subtle purposes of each area results in better budgeting, along with more effective reputation building.

Consider these options for promoting your organization:

ADVERTISING: Selling something specific through display ads, classifieds, radio or TV spots.

BRANDING: Influencing public perception of your organization through consistency and creativity in logo, design, color, font style, catchy slogans and meaningful messages.

COMMUNICATIONS: Educating targeted audiences (or the public in general) on various aspects of your business. Companies that encourage two-way communications also provide avenues for input from customers (such as surveys or suggestion boxes) and pay attention to what people say.

PUBLIC RELATIONS (PR): Building good will, understanding and support for your business or organization. Usually, PR is practiced through events or activities that bring people together face-to-face, but each occasion requires many other forms of promotion, such as communications, advertising and marketing. A company picnic, for example, is a PR strategy that brings staff together informally to build good will internally. External public relations focuses on folks on the outside. A local company might host an open house, get involved in a charity, or give business tours to help garner public support.

COMMUNITY RELATIONS: Aimed at narrower geographic locations than public relations. A corporation uses public relations to influence citizens anywhere, but reserves community relations for geographical areas closer to home, such as the area immediately surrounding a company’s headquarters – or local branches. Corporations, small businesses, colleges, universities and school districts make it a point to practice community relations to foster good relationships with their surrounding communities.

PUBLICITY: Getting media attention in public places. Organizations often send out new releases to newspapers, TV and radio stations to announce progress, news or changing products, services, programs and people. If content is newsworthy, your announcement will be provided to the public. Some movie stars, as well as organizations, employ outrageous ‘publicity stunts’ just to get in the news.

MARKETING: Finding the right purchasers for an organization’s products and services. Once target groups are identified, marketers use many means of getting their attention, including direct mail, advertising, communications and sales calls.

SALES: Making sales pitches directly to potential customers. Sales take place through phone calls, emails, text messages, appointments, cold calls, or point-of-sales positions, such as store clerks or counter workers.

CAMEO consultants can suggest over 100 different ways to promote your organization, depending on your purpose. Email your requests to us at ask@cameo100.com

 Let’s Talk Business! Briefings by Susan K. Maciak, CAMEO Consulting LLC | cameo100.com          CAMEO provides: PR/Communications Services | Corporate Training | Career Consulting

 

Bolster resumes for bigger, better jobs

CLIMBWith the economy on the upswing, this could be the right time for you to change jobs and move up the career ladder.

First step: upgrade your resume.  You can’t climb any higher with the resume you used to get where you currently are.

Too many wannabes think of their resume as permanent – or one size fits all. Not true. Each step up the career ladder requires resume revision. It’s not enough to add your current employer and dates of service to the top of the page.

Skills and experience that led to your current position will not open doors to new challenges. You need to ask yourself questions like these:

  • How have I grown in this job?
  • What new skills have I learned?
  • Which new responsibilities have I accepted?
  • What have I accomplished that puts me on a new plateau?

If you can clearly illustrate that you’re ready for the next level, you’re a good candidate for a promotion. Whether you’re looking for new opportunities in your current company, or in an outside organization, you need to prove your readiness in your newly revised resume.

For help in communicating your employment value to future employers, contact CAMEO Consulting at ask@cameo100.com for cost estimates on career development services that range from re-doing your resume to a 90-Day Career Coaching Package.

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Susan K. Maciak
Let’s Talk Business! is provided by blog writer Susan K. Maciak, principal member, CAMEO Consulting LLC. CAMEO provides: Communications | Corporate Training | Career Consulting.
Email us at: ask@cameo100.com      Website: www.cameo100.com
 

Online sales grow

 

Morcomputere stores closed. More mall space boarded up. Record online shopping orders. Online sales make headlines annually as more customers let their keyboards do the walking to shop online. What does that mean for local businesses? Can they compete?

Small business owners, now providing about 80 percent of all jobs, shiver with the news. Will they, too, have to close their doors some day? Probably not.

There’s a powerful reason that many people will still buy from local stores. It’s good customer service. Face-to-face assistance will help keep storefront doors open. The personal touch will never be outdated.

Store and office staff who can help buyers understand today’s complicated products and services are assets to any company. Employees who care about customers will never go out of style. Excellent customer service gives a business an edge – the only hedge it has against online competition. Every company needs people who can:

  • Answer technical questions
  • Pass on information, tips and advice
  • Explain how products and services work
  • Help fix problems or make adjustments

Sophisticated online merchants use chat rooms to help customers, too, but there’s nothing like a friendly face and a helpful hand to keep customers coming back!

Train your staff to give good service!                                                                                           If your business is too small to hire professional trainers, try CAMEO’s Do-it-Yourself PowerPoint self-training. For low introductory prices, you can purchase CAMEO’s totraining-learningp-notch customer service programs now.

Lead a group or let staff train themselves on computers installed with PowerPoint software. Try one CAMEO training program or save 10% on our series of four. CAMEO’s 2017 series includes these four eye-opening topics:

1. Customer Service Secrets™                                                                                                   2. Handling Customer Complaints Correctly™                                                                   3. Winning Relationships™                                                                                                     4.Communicate Wisely at Work™

To find out how your company can benefit from CAMEO’s Do-It-Yourself Training, contact us at ask@cameo100.com for details.

Let’s Talk Business! Blog article by Susan K. Maciak, CAMEO Consulting LLC. For permission to reprint: ask@cameo100.com  http://www.cameo100.comSusan K. Maciak

Relationships Matter

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Customers are like partners

“Your business is only as good as your worst employee,” says Ken Wasco, former human resource manager at Grand Rapids (MI) -based corporation, Gordon Food  Service. Wasco now travels the world talking about people – and how they make or break the company that employs them.

A company’s most marketable feature is the relationships its people have with customers. That’s what Wasco told business leaders recently at a Hudsonville Chamber of Commerce meeting. He stressed that company-customer relations matter more than anything else in doing business.

How your staff treats people keeps customers coming back, or keeps them away.    If a counter clerk is too busy to look up from her phone to wait on someone, the person who’s snubbed will shop elsewhere. That’s human nature!

It doesn’t matter what an employee’s name badge says. Everyone from the night custodian to the day shift manager makes an impression on visitors, starting in the first seven seconds. While some staff people evoke an immediate good impression with an easy smile and pleasant demeanor; others turn customers off with their scowls, frowns or failure to acknowledge someone’s presence.

Business owners who want to help their employees learn how to treat the public     right can tap into a series of four customer service workshops offered by CAMEO Consulting. (See:Swww.cameo100.com). These workshops can be presented at your site in two-hour workshops or completed online by individual employees. The following customer service training programs can turn any employee into a great ambassador:

  • Customer Service Secrets.It doesn’t matter if you sell hamburgers, stocks and bonds or BMWs, your staff will do better once they know these six customer service secrets. In any kind of business, good customer service tops the list of your company’s most marketable features:
  • Winning Relationships Create Champion Teams. Good relationships among co-workers and customers can be the key to your success. Help your people develop positive attitudes and practice good internal / external public relations. Result: improved customer satisfaction.
  • Communicate Wisely at Work. Fine-tune verbal and nonverbal communication between your staff and your customers. Learn how language choice affects other people. Find out how powerful body language can be. Know what to say – and what not to say – to stay in business.
  • Create a Customer Service Climate.If you want to reign over your competition, make customer service king. Learn corporate strategies that will keep your staff ‘on their toes’ and customers coming back. Train your employees to take the lead in creating a customer service climate.

For further details on CAMEO’s customer service training, Email us at ask@cameo100.com

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Let’s Talk is penned and published by Susan K. Maciak, principal member and lead consultant for CAMEO Consulting LLC. Call on CAMEO for Communications Services, Corporate Training and Career Coaching. Contact her at ask@cameo100.com   Visit our website at cameo100.com