Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Re-Creation in 2009: Thriving Because of the Changing Economy


Re-Creation. Never before have more people had the opportunity to recreate themselves. I've heard from many people who have been laid off due to the tightening of funds. I've heard from many more who chose to quit their current job and look for something else due to a loss in wages or commissions. I myself had to fold up my marketing company due to several client's lost marketing budgets.

The news would like you to believe that all of this is a downward spiral. But I disagree. We have found ourselves in the unique situation of being able to reinvent ourselves without making any excuses. It's like an entire nation being given the chance to answer differently when asked "what do you want to be when you grow up." A year ago, I never even knew there was such as a job as a Commercial Photography Rep. Yet here I am, selling photography to ad agencies and corporate marketing directors, and LOVING it. Who knew?

I believe that our entire community will benefit from this shift. After all, when you are involved with a particular industry for an extended period of time, you become acclimated. As such, it is easy to find yourself in a rut, out of fresh ideas and adhering to the way "it's always been done." But when a person shifts industries, or even just positions within their previously chosen industry, fresh ideas are bound to happen. Entire companies can be reinvigorated by just one person's new thoughts and enthusiasm.

The same rings true for the many who have decided to supplement their income. Whether by getting a part time job, by taking advantage of a network marketing opportunity, or by providing a service for others, many of us have learned not to rely solely on one stream of income. This is a good thing! For me, Send Out Cards is providing that supplemental income. Without that, I may be having a harder time staying positive.

I'm not trying to ignore the very real hardships that many are facing, myself included. But I am choosing to view the glass as half-full rather than half-empty. Are things tough? You bet. But will it last forever? NO.

It's the law that says "for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." The action was greed. It didn't seem like it at the time, but that's what it boiled down to. Money was cheap to borrow and easy to obtain. So we didn't stop to think about our real-life budgets. We lived beyond our means. Things got out of control.

So the natural reaction is what we are now facing. It's not the end of the world, just a necessary correction. It's a wake up call that many of us needed. For the first time in decades, we are forced to learn the lesson of living within our means and taking responsibility for our financial houses. A rough ride? For many of us, it is. But the ride WILL end, and things WILL balance out.

In the meantime, look at the positive side of things. If you are looking for employment, relish the opportunity. If you find yourself without enough money to maintain, find a way to supplement your income. And try not to wait until things are too dire.

If we look at this as a time of opportunity and not a time of defeat, we WILL all be better off. We WILL all win.

Jacki Semerau © Copyright 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Just Say NO to Negativty

Wow. Have you been following the headlines lately? Unless you're living under a rock, how can you avoid them? (And for the record, if you DO happen to live under a rock, call me ASAP! I can refer you to one of the great real estate agents in my network! But I digress...)

A long time ago, I decided to boycott watching the news on television. I decided to get my news through the paper, online, and Twitter. I follow @cnn, @breakingnews, @kpho, @nytimes, and other news sources. All the headlines, in 140 characters or less. Why?

Because the news on TV continually bombarded me with sensationalistic garbage. To listen the the reporters, every day is just ONE step away from World War III, the earth imploding, or other such doom and gloom.

Now I'm not suggesting that the internet and newspaper don't have that same element, but at least I can skim over anything I find to be weighing too heavy on the negativity scale. So I have to ask, what are we DOING as a nation? Why are we sabotaging ourselves like this?

I'm not suggesting that the economy, housing crisis, and elections aren't very real. Nor am I suggesting taking a head-in-the-sand, rose-colored-glasses attitude. But maybe - just MAYBE - if we stop bombarding ourselves with worse case scenarios, they will stop becoming self-fulfilled reality.

Just a thought.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thanksgiving: an official reminder to appreciate the people in your life!

Thanksgiving. For many, "Turkey Day" is a fun day of celebration, for others it's a dreaded affair. Some of you will see friends and family on the holiday, and wish it could happen more often than once a year. And some of you will consider it torture to have to see some of your family members and ask "has it ALREADY been a year since the last time I saw them?"

But no matter what your personal feelings towards Thanksgiving are, it's important to remember the spirit of the holiday. This is the official "appreciation" holiday. The day of the year where we concentrate on our blessings. The day of the year that we commemorate the people that came to America in search of religious and political freedom. The day of the year where we officially join together in one voice to Thank God for our freedom.

Ahhhh, and you thought it was just about turkey, football, and a day off of work!

So in the spirit of the holiday, remember to show your gratitude to the loved ones in your life. Reach out and give them the appreciation they deserve. Go out of your way to let them know THEY MATTER.

If you make a conscious effort to bring a bit of the Thanksgiving attitude into your daily life, you'll see both your professional and personal relationships improve. Who wouldn't want that?!

Jacki Semerau © Copyright 2008

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Post-Election: Now what?


Today dawns on a nation that has elected our new president, senators, and congressmen. We have chosen local officials, and we have made our voices heard on important issues and propositions.

For the past few months (or longer) we have been all-consumed with the election. Our lives have all but stood still as we were bombarded with television news shows, commentaries, and debates. We've stood up and cheered when our chosen candidate took a step forward, and we've gotten our stomachs in knots when our opposing candidate did the same.

We've witnessed history in the making.

But I'd like to remind everyone, whether you are Democrat, Republican, or otherwise, that it is now over! No matter if your side won or not. It's time to move on with our daily lives.

This happens every four years. We stop and hold our collective breath while approximately half of Americans are convinced our nation is headed toward certain doom, and the other approximate half is equally convinced that our nation has finally had all its prayers answered. And in the end, whether or not you agree with whoever is in power, our country marches on.

And that is exactly what I would like to encourage you to remember now that the elections are over and America has spoken. That its time to move forward, be it in victory or defeat politically. Not one of us can afford to remain in the holding pattern we've maintained while we've obsessed over the elections. It's time for our nation to breathe again, one individual at a time!

There has been alot of things that have fallen apart around us lately. And I'll not get into a debate about whether or not our politicians have caused the messes around us, nor will I debate whether or not our politicians can rectify our situation.

Because neither debate will move us forward in progress. No matter what you believe, no matter who you support, and no matter what happens on a national, or even global, level...progress happens one individual at a time.

So now it is time to let the Obama supporters enjoy the victory. And it is time to let the McCain supporters mourn. And it's time for all to put it behind us and move forward.

Let's get back to the business at hand. How will our economy heal? One purchase at a time. One job at a time. One business deal at a time. One referral at a time. At least, that's what WE as individuals have control over. As for the rest, we can't control it, so why worry? If we remain reactive instead of proactive, we will insure a nation that will not heal. We cannot simply sit back and wait for policy to be implemented that will save us.

No matter who won the election, this fact is absolute truth: The candidate would not save the nation over night, nor would the candidate single-handedly cause the destruction of civilization as we know it!
No matter your religion, I think we can all agree that Jesus spoke absolute wisdom when he said "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:34)

So don't worry about tomorrow and what it will bring if you're Republican. And don't rest in thinking that your troubles are over if you're Democrat. Be proactive. Get busy with living. Do business and support your friends and family with your consumer dollars whenever possible. Spend time with your loved ones and remember that our time on earth is short. When you lie on your deathbed, you'll not be thinking about who's in the White House. No, you'll be thinking of the loved ones in your life. So do what you can NOW to show them appreciation and spend what little time you have with them.

Here's to a bright and hopeful future, no matter what your political views may be!
Jacki Semerau © Copyright 2008

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Are you reaching your intended Target Market? Marketing Lesson via Text Message

The other day, I was with a business colleague and friend, Jeff Wallen. We were waiting to meet someone for a lunch meeting when he received a text message on his iPhone. (And we all know how brilliant I think the iPhone marketing is! but I digress...)
Anyway, the text said "It was good to see you the other night Beautiful." Hmmm. Jeff, being a tremendous networker, wasn't sure who it could be. He didn't recognize the number, not to mention that he's a married man and who would be texting him calling him "beautiful?"

So we decide to have a little fun and send a text message back that would be cryptic enough not to give away that he had no idea who it was. The reply that came back from the original sender made it very clear that this was coming from a man who was trying to hit on a girl he met over the weekend. So then we decide to have a little fun and play along for a few minutes. We finally revealed the truth to this poor man who was texting the wrong number.

But the whole thing really reminded me of so many marketing efforts out there. I see it all the time: people with well-intentioned marketing, but they are missing their target market all together.

Don't let your marketing become like this poor guy's text messages: Great Message, Wrong Audience. Make sure you are sending your great marketing message to the people who will actually benefit from it!

If you're not sure who your message is hitting, or if you are unclear as to who your target market even is, then let's talk. But in the meantime, don't face the same embarrassment and wasted time that this poor guy with the wrong number did!
Until Next Time,
Jacki

Friday, October 3, 2008

Why a Certain Headline About the Debates is Ironic

"Both Sarah Palin and Joe Biden made claims that distorted the truth."

This is how the news teaser read when I opened my web browser and my Yahoo home page popped up. I couldn't help but to laugh!

Are You kidding me???? THIS is what is deemed to be National News? That's IT. I couldn't sit silent anymore. It's time for America to Shut Up and Get Real.

What do I mean by this? Well, it's easy. Take a look at the people around you every day. While you're at it, take a long hard look at yourself. Now ask, why is it that we are expecting these national leaders to be something we're not?

Gee, I don't really think it's NEWS that politicians stretch the truth. But then again, maybe it's time we stop thinking of these people as demi-gods. After all, if you are honest with yourself, I bet it's been less than an hour since the last time YOU stretched the truth.

And in a day in age when "The Secret" is practically everywhere you turn, Lying has become the accepted norm these days. (Case in Point: Someone was trying to book an event with me. I asked that person how many events they had booked currently. "I have several events that will be booking any day now." Hmmm. I recognized that as Secret-Speak for "I Got Nothin.")

But I digress.

Now, I could care less who you vote for. I have my views and I know which side I'll be voting for. However, the beauty of America is that I have that freedom. It's not my job as an American to get the entire rest of the population to agree with my political viewpoint. (although I notice that most Americans think that this is INDEED their whole purpose in life.)

So it's not the politics that has me ranting this morning. It's the hypocrisy. Americans think our country is going to hell in a hand basket, and maybe it is. But not because of Obama vs McCain. We got ourselves into our own mess, and it's time to clean it up. So politically, we are getting ourselves all hyped up over NOTHING.

Get over it. The fact is, be it democrat or republican that takes on the White House, we will survive! Neither side is all that great, and neither side will personally cause the destruction of civilization. So quit complaining about what you see happening with a few politicians running for office, and start focusing on fixing your own shortcomings. We all have them.

That's my plan, anyway.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

How this Ninja Cat is like a good marketing campaign

If you haven't seen this viral video yet, check it out.





That cracks me up! AND it reminds me of a great marketing campaign. How so? Because a great marketing campaign has a lot that goes into the build up before it's actually in your face. And if done right, all the steps that took place to make it successful happen without you even noticing them.

Contact me if you're interested in hiring a Marketing Ninja to coordinate your next marketing campaign.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Do Marketing Dollars Spent Indicate Your Company's Survival? You Be the Judge

In reading about the direct effect that Wall Street's debacle might have on the advertising industry, I found an interesting statistic:

According to AdvertisingAge:

"...Merrill and Lehman are tiny players in the world of media spending. Lehman's spending was trimmed in recent years, falling to $1.2 million in 2007 and accounting for only $501,900 in the first half of 2008, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Merrill, likewise, is not a huge spender: $37.1 million in 2007 compared with $38.2 million in 2006."

Now, I get it...there's alot more here than the failure to make their marketing budget a priority. But if you want to read about the subprime loan crisis or the state of the financial industry, all you need to do is pick up any news publication printed over the past 2 years to find it. I'll not be beating that dead horse here.

However, I find it interesting that, in times of crisis, these large firms significantly cut back their marketing budgets. Have these companies budgeted themselves right out of business?

The article later goes on to discuss that Bank Of America, already a huge spender in the advertising arena, is now in a position to INCREASE their marketing dollar thanks to its absorption of Merrill Lynch.

"Bank of America's media spending increased to $406.2 million in 2007 from about $237.3 million in 2006, according to TNS Media Intelligence."

So many business owners think that Marketing is the first budget that needs a trimming when times get lean. Is it any wonder that when they cut Marketing, they begin a downward spiral that often times leads their business towards failure? Meanwhile, companies that thrive are the ones that people know about. The ones that give the appearance of success. How do companies achieve such recognition? It's all about the Marketing.

But maybe, being the owner of a marketing company, I'm biased. So you tell me...do you see any correlation between success and effective marketing?


Until Next Time,

Jacki

Sunday, September 14, 2008

There's Power in Personalization: Article by Eileen Harris


Here's the last of the winning articles from the "I Can Relate: Business Relationship Tips" newsletter contest. This entry was received from Eileen Harris, a Realtor with Zip Realty. Eileen is a Real Estate Agent in Scottsdale, Phoenix, and other areas within the Valley of the Sun.

In her article, she hits on the importance of personalization in building her client relationships, and just how much it effects her bottom line. I hope you enjoy the article!

Jacki

************************************************************************************

"There's Power in Personalization"

by Eileen Harris

As a Realtor, each month, I send out my company newsletter by email to all of the clients in my database. It is a well-written, informative newsletter that I enjoy reading each month and I'm sure my clients enjoy it as well.

Last month, I sent out 750 newsletters by email. My response: 4 clients telling me how nice the newsletter was and thanking me for sending it.

At the same time, I sent out 10 cards from my Send Out Cards account. Response: 1 client wanting to buy a $500,000 home!

Do the math: 4 responses to 750 emails = less than .01%

1 response to 10 personal cards = 10% (+ the potential for a big commission!)

Sending cards is a no brainer; just a couple of minutes and a few clicks can reap big benefits, personally and professionally. There is power in personalization. Send a card NOW and tell a few friends.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Visitor's Day at Entrepreneurs Networking for Change


It's Visitor's Day at Entrepreneurs Networking for Change!

We are an exclusive networking group that meets on a weekly basis to grow our businesses by referral, while also focusing on charitable fundraisers for our designated charities.

Visitor's Day

September 10th, 2008
11:30am - 1:00pm
Black Angus Restaurant
22nd St/Camelback
(located in the Town & Country Center)

Please RSVP to Jacki Semerau at
602-904-3454 or CardEveryone@gmail.com

Check below to see if YOUR business category is still available.
If you don't see your business, please contact me for more information!!

Please forward this on to anyone you know that matches the available categories
if you think they would like to grow their business by referral

Business Categories Still Available

CPA * Dentist * Employment Agency * Travel Agent * DJ * Appraiser
Photographer * Landscaper * Home Inspector * Home Improvement
Hairstylist * Plumber * Electrician * Life Coach * Cleaning Service
Jewelry/handbag/accessories Representative * Commercial Realtor * Painter
Promotional Products * Interior Designer * Automotive Sales
Fitness Trainer * Bookkeeper * Sign Company * Moving Company
Pest Control * Attorney * Home Warranty * Flooring * Aesthetician

Current Members

Paul Hershenberg - Financial Planner
Muki Ramsey - Acupuncturist
Jacki Semerau - SendOutCards
D. Patrick Lewis - Residential Realtor
Tami Horne - PrePaid Legal
Carl Ulbrich - Printer
Mark Barenbaum - Health/Life Insurance
Irene Courtney - P&C Insurance
Maria Van Olphen - Nutritional Products
Aaron Alvarez - Lender
Dave Martin - Auto Repair
Mike Van Zant - Computers
Dr. Steve Ely - Chiropractor
JoAnn Calvin - Cosmetics
Patrick Ray - Web Design
Mike Hengy - Payroll Services
Bob Beben - Supplemental Insurance
Eric Nutt - Banker
Lorraine Cain - Title and Escrow

Monday, September 8, 2008

Who's Your Marketing Company?

Do the people that handle your marketing remind you of this at all?

I saw this and thought it was way too funny (in a sad and accurate kind of way).


http://view.break.com/542649 - Watch more free videos

If you're looking for marketing that doesn't over-analyze, over-state, and over-use your budget, then check out www.YourPlaceMarketing.com

Until next time,

Jacki

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Newsletter Article Contest winner Alan Underkofler

Here's another great article that was submitted into my "I Can Relate" Newsletter article contest. This was submitted by a good friend and colleague in SendOutCards, Alan Underkofler.

Alan and I met on the 2008 Eagle's Challenge Bahama's Cruise. We were two of the 80 or so distributors that won the challenge and were on the cruise back in March. We also happened to be on the same plane heading west...there's a picture of us on the plane back from Ft. Lauderdale.

Enjoy his insightful article on how building relationships is like the perfect cup of coffee.

************************************************************************************
Savoring the Investment IN a Relationship by Alan Underkofler

This morning I was up very early and decided I wanted a cup of coffee. My first thought was to take a quick shower, grab my laptop, and head over to my local Starbucks. As I was getting out of bed I realized I wanted something different… I really just wanted to enjoy a cup of coffee outside in the cool morning air.
Some of you reading this may know I am a goal oriented, multi tasking, crazy scheduled, always going in multiple directions type of person so getting ready and starting my day running is pretty normal for me.

Something about this morning, at this moment was a bit different… I was looking for a different approach or a different experience this morning. It hit me… where is that French Press that I used to love making coffee with?
As I entered my kitchen in search for my lost press I started to remember why I love it! Boiling the water, grinding the coffee, pouring the hot water over the coffee, letting it sit for a few minutes, finally pressing the plunger down to pour my perfect cup of coffee. Sitting outside I realized why I love this process so much.

So what the heck does this have to do with followup and why would I post my morning coffee experience here? Well as I was sipping my coffee listening to the morning sounds I realized how the process of my morning cup of coffee is very similar to the process of followup. It’s not always about the quick cup of coffee or the quick meeting of a new prospect. It’s about the process! When I take the time to really get to know a person, learning about them and their business, I get to enjoy the result.

Following up and building relationships is just like making the perfect cup of coffee. When we take the time and go through the entire process we can enjoy the result.

Tomorrow is the start to a brand new week. I might just start with another perfect cup of coffee.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Winner of the I Can Relate Article Contest - Blackberry Interpretation by Dave Segrove

I ran a contest in my weekly newsletter, "I Can Relate." The contest was to submit an original article that was relevant to the newsletter premise, which is improving business relationships. The winner of that contest was Dave Segrove, owner of JDE LTD. This blog entry is his article....enjoy!!!

**********************************************************************************

An increasingly large number of my clients are getting Blackberrys (or is it Blackberries, mouses, mice, who knows) and other texting devices. After all, it's a tried-and-tested technology for those on the move. But speed and convenience seems to be leading to short replies that may be misinterpreted.

When your email is routed to your Blackberry and you want to reply, it's relatively straightforward: type and send. However, the nature of the devices tends to mean that quick, one-liners are the norm. I often get these in reply, with a message footer "Sent from my Blackberry". I know that a short and often abrupt-seeming reply is nothing more than that. Be careful, however, if you're replying to a client or someone who may be a little more sensitive.

Interpretation of email and text messages can be very mixed. I, for one, am guilty of misunderstanding a sentence or two as meaning something quite different than intended by the sender. The written messages don't reflect the tone of the sender, so it's prudent to take a moment and consider how the message may be interpreted.

Am I too concerned? Perhaps. But if someone sends you an email, for example "is this the best offer we can get" and you, caught up in a thousand other things, respond "yes" on your texting device, will your client think you're being a little abrupt...even rude because they're used to you explaining yourself in "regular" email or on the phone? Will they understand popular texting abbreviations like BRT, LMAO or CUL8R (I've seen this happen)?

As technology moves forward and communication gets quicker, it's easy to forget that what you meant to say and how it was perceived can be very easily blurred.

Don't text and drive!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Corporate America's Biggest Marketing Mistake

I've been in marketing and sales for the past 12 years. Some of that time, I've been more towards the "marketing" end of things. And some of that time, I've been more towards the "sales" end of things. But either way, one thing has remained consistent. I've always been in the "sales and marketing" arena.

And during the evolution of my experience and education, one thing has become abundantly clear to me. There should be no such thing as "sales and marketing." Sales and Marketing are two different things entirely.

In fact, all people in corporate America are technically sales people. Maybe there should be a "Sales and Human Resources" department. Or a "Sales and Accounting" department. I think you see where I'm going with this.

Throughout the years, I've seen brilliant marketing minds with very little people skills. Master Marketers who couldn't sell ice water in Arizona.

On the flip side, I've seen top ranking sales people who couldn't put together an effective marketing campaign if their lives depended on it. Sales Superstars who think a flyer here and a postcard there are enough. Cold Calling Machines who don't know the first thing about establishing your brand.

Marketers. They can get the buzz going. They can roll out a product. They can make all the marketing tools work together like a well-oiled machine. They can create brand awareness. They can take a product or service from unknown to a household name. They can make the phone ring.

Salespeople. They can overcome objections. They can follow up until their prospect buys. Loves to get face to face with their prospects. They know what to say when they answer the phone.

It's a tag team effort, really. And the big secret is that VERY FEW people are truly genius at both sales AND marketing.

So my opinion is that Corporate America has had it all wrong for years. If you want to truly have your staff at Highest and Best use at all times, then let the marketers market, and the salespeople sell.

Just one marketers opinion. What do you think?

Until next time,

Jacki

Saturday, August 23, 2008

SendOutCards Announces Big Changes

If you've been considering Send Out Cards but have yet to join, there's no better time than now!

Click here to learn about all the great changes coming up.

You'll get a quick glance at changes to the website and card editor, lots of new gifts, the SOC Gives program that highlights favorite charities, being the featured company on Success From Home magazine next month, and so much more!

I have to say, Send Out Cards has been the best system I've ever seen in helping build and maintain relationships. I'd love to show you how it works by letting you send out a couple of cards for free...my gift to you!

You can click on my website banner and let the audio walk you through the system, or you can call me at 602-904-3454 and I'll personally get you set up to send your free cards. Either way, there's no obligation to buy...you just HAVE to see how great this system truly is!

Okay, that's about as "sales" as I'll get on this blog....but I'm excited about this, can you tell?!

Until Next Time,

Jacki

Your Votes Needed for This Teacher!

Take a minute and vote for this teacher's video in the "I'm Livin Large" contest. Her name is Anne Marie Weather and she's entered into a contest to win $2,500 from Achieva Credit Union, and sponsored by her local radio station and the Tampa Bay Rays. She's a contender to win!

Click here to vote for her now. You can vote once a day, every day until the contest ends (8/30/08). Every vote matters, so help her out!

Remember, if you're not using your voice of influence to help out others, then all you're doing is talking.

Until next time,

Jacki

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Riding a Send Out Cards Convention High!


I just got back from the Send Out Cards convention in Salt Lake City this past week. What an amazing experience! I've been to many conventions with many different organizations, and I always come back inspired. Just this year alone I was at Entrepreneur Magazine's Women In Charge convention, the GMAC convention, and now the SendOutCards convention.


As a speaker, I love to watch the keynote speakers work their magic. I admit, I critque them..and learn from them! I also got alot of product knowledge, which is invaluable. And mainly, I think we all just need to be inspired!

And I admit, it felt GREAT to be recognized for my acheivements in Send Out Cards! Here's a picture of me on stage for earning the promotion to Senior Manager this year. I have to admit...it felt great!

Which is why I just had to write about the benefits of cheering each other on in this week's newsletter: "I Can Relate: Business Relationship Tips from Jacki Semerau." (If you need to subscribe, enter your email address in the box to your right.)

But mainly, I'm just riding a high from all the excitement at the convention, and thought I'd share!

Until next time,

Jacki

Monday, August 18, 2008

Reach Out: Business Relationship Tip of the Week

We all have business relationships that are solid. And very often, we forget to reach out and nurture those solid relationships as time goes by. But these are the most important relationships we have, and so we shouldn't be neglecting them!

I know I am guilty this. In fact, many of you reading this may be thinking, "Ya know, it HAS been a while since I've heard from Jacki!"

The biggest factor is often a simple matter of time slipping by. How many times have we heard, "Wow, can you believe it's already August!?" Time flies by so fast, and even though it feels like it's only been a few days, it may have actually been a few MONTHS since you've last talked to someone important to you.

So stop letting time slip by you. Make a phone call, send a greeting card, or even just a short email. Let the people who are important to you KNOW it.

Jacki Semerau © Copyright 2008

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Let them know they matter!


When I know I matter to someone, I make an effort to use their products or services instead of someone I don't know. I can't even remember the last time I pulled out the Yellow Pages to find someone to give my business to, can you? (Okay, wait. I do remember. It was to call a cab. I guess I don't network with very many cab drivers....so if you own a transportation company, get out there and meet people!)

This is why I started on a venture based on just that...letting people know they matter. This IS the law of attraction in action! When you reach out to people for any reason, it lets them know you care. And when they know you care, they WANT to give back to you. And we all know the adage:

People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you CARE.

When I joined SendOutCards, I made a commitment to send out one unexpected card every day. I've stayed true to that for the most part, and I've seen what it has done for my relationships, both personal and professional. When I started getting phone calls from my clients, saying "thank you" for thinking of them, I was floored. So it's been a truly valuable layer to building and maintaining relationships.

So what do you do that you find to work in building your business relationships?

Until Next Time,
Jacki

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Burning Bridges: When to Sever a Professional Relationship

Toxic people. We've all ran into them before, and it's never pleasant. Some are toxic right out of the gate. There are the ones that SEEM normal enough, but then try to lure you down their path to darkness. Sometimes, perfectly good people can turn bad due to their own outside influences.

Whatever the case may be, these are people that you cannot afford to influence you. For the most part, we learn ways to deal with them, keep them at arm's length, and are able to coexist.

But that's not always the case. We do live in a professional culture where we are taught to "never burn bridges." But sometimes you HAVE to if you're going to survive. So let's look at some reasons to walk away.

1. Your reputation. In the end of the day, your reputation is all you REALLY have that will make you or break you. None of us can afford to tarnish it. And while it takes years to build up, it only takes one instance to bring it to ruin.

Our reputations can be destroyed by association. So maybe you have a professional relationship with someone who is unethical. Keep associating with that person, and it will be assumed that you are unethical as well.

2. Your quality of life. If you have a Toxic person that you associate with in business, they can literally take the joy away from you. I've had a person so filled with negativity in my career that every time I knew I would have to deal with them, I would get that sick feeling in my stomach and dread the encounter. Wow! That's no way to exist!

3. Your conscience. Maybe you have a client that is asking you to do something that you're not comfortable with. Or maybe it's a boss that is insisting you adhere to questionable business practices. Or maybe it's a strategic partner who is bringing you a ton of referrals, but you find out that they're talking bad about you behind your back. Whatever the case may be, it's time to listen to the instinct that is telling you to run!

Now I completely understand that it's not always a simple matter of walking away. And often times, the decision will cost you business, money, referrals, or even your job. But in the end, you have to weigh the potential loss against the cost of allowing that person to stay in your life. When the cost outweighs the loss, then it's time to burn the proverbial bridge.


Jacki Semerau © Copyright 2008

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Take a Risk! This week's Business Relationship Tip


Take a Risk.

No two people are the same. I'm always amazed at all of our differences. And yet, we are all SO MUCH ALIKE! We're not that mysterious! And if you think about some of the things we all innately have in common, you'll find that one is our desire to stay within our comfort zone.

Oh sure, it's easier for some of us to step outside of that zone, but deep within, we all desire not to have to do it! Over the years, I've trained myself to take the risk of stepping outside of what makes me comfortable. I've been successful at convincing myself that I LOVE being in a room where I don't know anyone, and no one knows me. And truly, this has become something I now seek out. But don't think it's something I was born with, and don't think it came easily.

It's something you can accomplish as well.

Remind yourself every single day that it's OK to take the risk of talking to someone you don't know. Or to call someone who may not want to hear from you. Or to reach out to someone you haven't spoken to in a while. Whatever the case may be...give yourself permission to take the risk.

If you are willing to risk putting yourself out there, you will meet some phenomenal people, and you'll make some very valuable business contacts. But if you DON'T take the risk, you'll get left behind, wondering why your phone isn't ringing and business isn't quite to the level you desire.

The choice is yours!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Business Relationship Tip: It's the Little Things

From the July 23rd issue of "I Can Relate: Business Relationship Tips from Jacki Semerau." Enjoy!

It's the Little Things

We often get so wrapped up in the big things, that we forget what we consider to be "little things." But this week, I want to remind you that it's the little things that are infinitely more important.

Not too long ago, I had a client call me unexpectedly. I had done some extra work on their marketing campaign and put in some extra hours for to help the company meet an important deadline they were facing. This client called simply to say "Thank You" for putting in the extra effort. That was it...the entire purpose of the call. It took less than 3 minutes, and yet it had a tremendous impact on me.

It's cooking a meal even though you've had a tough day at work. It's giving your kids your undivided attention for just 5 minutes, even though you've got a million things on your plate. It's smiling at that complete stranger you just made eye contact with, instead of quickly looking away. It's sending flowers to someone who's ill. It's remembering what your client's favorite candy is, and then bringing some with as a gift the next time you'll see them.

Throughout the years, I've witnessed time and again the amazing power that the Little Things have had. If you stop and think, I bet you can come up with at least a dozen in the next 60 seconds. Go ahead....try it!
We're all after the big results, the big clients, the big score! But remember, the Big Things are just a lot of Little things all put together. So this week's tip is to take the extra few minutes to do something nice for someone...something little that could have a big impact.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

One of those days...

So we all have them. Those bad days that make us wonder what we're doing with our lives. The days that make you want to crawl back into bed and not resurface for a week. The days that leave you yearning to be independently wealthy so you can spend the rest of your days lounging on the sandy shores of an exotic island. Yeah, even me.

Brad Pitt...I'd bet he has those days. John McCain, sure. I'm sure I could name a million famous people that we look at and think "Wow, they're on top of the world." And I would be willing to guarantee that if I were to interview them, that even THEY have those bad days.

So having the bad days isn't an option. But what will you do with them? You have a choice: give in or push through. Me, I choose Push Through.

Every moment in life, whether good or bad, is an opportunity to learn and become a better person. So when those bad days strike, take a deep breath. Step back and ask yourself if any of the things making the day a bad one will matter a year from now. If the answer is no, then rise above it. Keep it in it's proper perspective.

And if the answer is yes, that a year from now whatever is going wrong is going to matter greatly, then you need to really dig into the lesson. Think outside of the box as to how to turn that negative into a positive.

For me, some of my biggest opportunities have formed due to events that could've been catastrophic. The chance to start my marketing company happened due to a bad couple of weeks. I can look at those couple of weeks now and recognize them as the best thing to ever happen to my career. The opportunity to be a motivational speaker on professional relationships came to me because I've hit the bottom, and was able to rise back up again.

So you never know where each turn might take you. Make the choice to live each moment seeing the positive potential. It can change your life!
Until Next Time,
Jacki

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Business Relationship Tip of the Week: Appreciation above Self-Promotion

From my weekly newsletter dated 7/16/08....enjoy!
***********************************************************************************
When we are trying to increase our profits, it's easy to think of getting in touch with clients and prospects to remind them why you are so great. We think of it as promoting. We think of it as advertising. We think of it incorrectly!

That's not to say that there is anything wrong with promotion or advertising. Quite the opposite. Remember, one aspect of my consulting is in helping business people create and execute marketing plans! But everything must be kept in it's proper perspective.

And there's a big difference between Marketing Opportunities and Relationship Building Opportunities. Many people confuse the two. And if you are thinking that you need to reach out to the people in your Sphere of Influence, then try thinking "Appreciation" over "Self-Promotion . Why? Because when you promote yourself to 100 people, maybe 10 of them will contact you, and maybe 1 or 2 of those people will actually close business with you.

However, when you reach out in appreciation to people who have either done business with you, or have somehow helped you in your career path, do you know what happens? They turn into evangelists about your services. Now they are busy spreading the word about your services. They are creating Buzz, and Buzz leads to increased business. They are actively looking to refer you, because they know if you treat them well, you'll treat their friends, family, and associates the same.

So this week's tip is to show your appreciation. Reach out the people in your business that you haven't thanked lately and let them know how grateful you are to them.

Jacki Semerau © Copyright 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Business Relationship Tip of the week: Show You Care

Every week, I'll post the relationship tip from the newsletter that went out the previous week. In other words, this post is the tip from the July 9th edition.

If you aren't yet receiving my weekly newsletter "I Can Relate: Business Relationship Tips from Jacki Semerau," Simply fill out your email address in the box to your right that says "Sign up for my weekly newsletter."
***************************************************************************

Show you care while being sincere!

There's a popular phrase when talking about business relationships: "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care." I'm not sure who the first person to come up with this phrase is, but I can tell you that they couldn't be more accurate!

But the challenge for many is learning how to do this. How do I show someone I am just beginning a business relationship with that I care about them? I've only just met them, and so how can I possibly care about them already? And even if I DO care, how do I show them in such a way that they believe me, and don't just think I'm a big phony?

Here's the secret: when you care about people in general, you will naturally care about ANY individual you've just met. And if you care about people in general, you will earn yourself a reputation as being a truly caring and sincere person.

For some of us, that may come easy. But for others, maybe you really DON'T care. And I'm not saying that makes you Bad. But that comes through to people, which makes it harder for you to build that valuable relationship, which in turn makes it harder for you to earn referrals. You may make SALES, but if you feel that you have to work exceedingly hard for every deal, then maybe you need to evaluate your Care-Factor.

Caring for other people is a discipline, just like any other business practice. Next week, we'll take a look at some tips for creating that discipline within yourself. But you can start right now simply by making the conscious decision to Care.

When people know that you care about them, they naturally want to give back to you in whatever way that they can. In business, this usually takes form by way of a sale or a referral. So show you care...the more you do, the greater your chances of success!

Until Next Time,

Jacki

Jacki Semerau © Copyright 2008

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Apple iPhone and the Holy Grail of Marketing

On Friday, I was meeting Jon Portillo over at Paradise Bakery at the Biltmore. When I got there, I saw a line wrapping around the shopping center. 'Auditions?' my performer's mind automatically wondered? American Idol, perhaps? Maybe a game show, like Jeopardy or Wheel of Fortune. Or maybe they're launching a whole new show! Or maybe there's a gimmick...some radio station giving away something amazing. My mind ran wild.

I ignored the line, and headed into meet Jon. When we found each other, he asked about the line, and admitted he thought the same thing I did. But then said he heard it was a line for the new iPhone. Seriously? Ohhhh yeah. Today was the "Big Day." We decided to hold off on the coffee just a few more minutes to go check out the line. This first picture is what we saw as we walked up to the back of the line.

Jon asked one guy toward the back of the line if he was waiting in line for the iPhone. I asked, "Well, are they giving them away for free or something?" (only half kidding...I've been listening as everyone on Twitter has gone on and on about the iPhone for who knows how long now!) The guy laughed and said, "Uh, no. You have to pay for it," as if I had MY head screwed on wrong. Sorry Buddy, but I'm not the one standing in line for hours to buy something I can just as well go pick up tomorrow. But I digress.
So Jon and I continue on, and here's the next site we see...

Now I am thinking...wow. I can't believe all these people who are waiting in line to give their hard earned money to Apple. I'm amazed.

Then we turn the corner, and my amazement turns into outright admiration. Admiration for the Marketing Gurus who orchestrated this amazing accomplishment. Admiration for the CEO's at Apple for having the wisdom to listen to these Marketing Gurus. After all, there are plenty of people in business who don't recognize the true value and importance of marketing. With an "If we build it, they will come" attitude, many would scoff at the elaborate roll out and elaborate budget.

Finally, we find the mecca that all these people are waiting for...the entrance to the Apple store, and their chance to slap down a credit card, sign a 2 year contract with AT&T, and own the latest craze in Technology Nirvana.
And I'll tell ya, these Cutting-Edge techies must be an unruly crowd. Maybe they are expecting some Beatle-Mania type outbreaks, because here in all his glory is one of the security guards charged with keeping the peace. Amazing.


So with my marketing mind fully inspired, Jon and I headed back to Paradise Bakery for that coffee...which ended up being a whole new story. (Turns out, if you order a latte that never makes it to your table, and then you inquire about it 20 minutes later, they'll throw in free cookies for your troubles!)
But the point is, while we may not all have cool products like the iPhone, and maybe we don't have budgets bigger than the GNP of small countries, there's no reason why each of us can't have a line of raving fans waiting to buy from us. And if you want to learn how, then let's talk. I'll meet you over a cup of coffee. I know this great place in the Biltmore area...
Until Next Time,
Jacki
PS...I figured the Biltmore in Phoenix Arizona wasn't the only place where people were willing to stand in line for hours on end. Turns out I'm right! Check out this great blog done in real time by a guy in New York City who waited in line with countless others!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Winners of the "Name That Newsletter" Contest!

I am amazed by the creative thoughts and suggestions that have come through regarding the Name That Newsletter contest. I can assure you, making the decision on which name to choose was no easy task. In fact, it was so difficult, that I actually chose TWO winners and combined their entries!

Congratulations to the two winners:

Karen Kanefsky, who recommended Winners Relate.
Andy Kolton, who recommended Better Business Relationship Tips from Jacki

These entries inspired the official name of this newsletter:

I Can Relate: Business Relationship Tips from Jacki Semerau

This was a tough decision! I'd like to thank everyone who entered the contest...you had such wonderful and creative suggestions!

Allen Blaker
Andy Kolton
Anita Bell
Chef John
Jill Hall
Jim Kelder
Joanne Lipuma
Josephine Saineghi
Karen Kanefsky
Laurie Dickman
Mark Tait
Nicole Muench
Paul Hershenberg
Paul O'Brien
Robi Barkoff
Sherry Cornillie
Tammy Abernethy
Vicky Semerau


If I missed your name, please contact me immediately! I want to give you recognition as well!



Until Next Time,



Jacki

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Entrepreneurs Networking for Change Event: Bowling for Angels!

Join us on Saturday, July 26th, from 2-4pm for Bowling for Angels, a fun-filled Charity Bowl-A-Thon! You can win great prizes, and you don't even have to be a good bowler (Lord knows I'm not!!!) I've posted all the details below. Contact me direct at 602-904-3454 or cardeveryone@gmail.com to register or for more information!!

See you there!!!


*********************************************************************************
Entrepreneurs Networking for Change (ENC) is a proud sponsor of Gabriel’s Angels, a non profit organization that delivers healing pet therapy to abused, neglected and at-risk youth. Gabriel’s Angels Pet Therapy Teams offer unconditional love, teach respect, empathy and trust to children who have been victims of abuse. Gabriel’s Angels currently has nearly 100 teams volunteering at 98 facilities and agencies in the Valley and Tucson.

We need your help to reach our goal of serving 10,000 crisis children here in the Valley.

AMF Squaw Peak Lanes
3049 E. Indian School Rd.
Phoenix, AZ 85016

SAT JULY 26 2PM TO 4PM

1st place prize: $400
2nd place prize: $200

GREAT RAFFLE AND DOOR PRIZES!!!

Entry Fee: $200 per team
(5 bowlers per team)
$50 per individual
Includes shoes & soda

Call Jacki at 602-904-3454 for more information or to get you and your team registered!!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Improving your Business Relationship Tip of the Week

In my weekly newsletter, I feature a weekly tip on how to improve your relationships. This newsletter is focused on business relationships, but hey...it could even help in your personal ones. And if it does, consider it a bonus: no extra charge! (Which is funny, because the weekly newlsetter is free. But I digress...)

So I've copied this week's tip. I launched the newsletter on Wednesday, to overwhelmingly positive response. There's also a fun contest running to help me name the newsletter. If you want in on that, look over to the right of your screen. Right under my picture is a place where you can subscribe for my weekly newsletter. Feel free to join in on the fun!

At any rate, enjoy the RelationTip below!

****************************************************************

This week's tip:

Be Yourself!

No one wants the fake version of you. No one.

Of course, I'm not suggesting you let it ALL hang out. There are different versions of ourselves, and it's never OK to let the "Out partying with guys" side of You show itself when you need to have the "Professional in a Boardroom Meeting" side in play.

If I'm going to build a relationship of any kind, I need to be me. That doesn't ever really mean ALL of me. After all, the "Me" that my daughters see will not be the same "Me" that shows up at a networking event.

Ha! Just thinking about this makes me smile. There's a game I play with my kids called Talk Like. At random, on different days, we will declare the day to be Talk Like a Pirate day. Or Talk Like a Southern Belle day. Could you imagine if I showed up at a Networking event on Talk Like a Pirate day as the "Me" that my kids see?

"Arrrr Matey, give me yer business er else I'll make ye walk the plank." Well...on second thought, maybe I should try this sometime. I guarantee you, no one at that event would forget me! The follow up phone call would be fun..."Hi, it's Jacki Semerau from SendOutCards. I don't know if you remember me or not, but I'm the one that was singing Yo Ho Yo Ho a Sale's Life For Me." Hmmm. Maybe Not.

Remember, It's All About You. If you want successful relationships, either personally or professionally, just be yourself.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Talk is Cheap: Gas Prices, Today's Economy, and Elections, Oh my!!

Have you noticed the shift in attitude lately? Does it seem to you that every time you meet with someone, talk inevitably goes to the following topics:



  • Gas Prices: Comments such as, "What with gas prices being what they are..." or "Can you believe it? Over $4.00 a gallon?" or maybe a more creative and sarcastic comment like "Ahhh. (said in wistful tone) Remember the good ol' days when filling up your gas tank still cost LESS than the car payment itself?"

  • Today's Economy: Often not a topic of conversation in and of itself, this one likes to simply infiltrate EVERY topic. No matter what you are discussing with someone, the obligatory sentence starter "Well, you know, in today's economy..." is bound to surface. If you are in sales of ANY kind, you hear this more often than most.

  • The 2008 Presidential Election: "Can you believe what (insert Obama or McCain here) said the other day? Why, they'll never make a good president saying things like that." Or maybe you're privy to just bashing in general. And fear is always a big factor..."If so and so is elected, I'm scared to live in the US anymore! Canada, here I come."

Personally, if I hear this hype anymore, I'm afraid my head will explode. Let's face it folks, no matter what the Media's Doomsday Darling Topic of the Day is, we all still need to go about our lives. I still need to buy the gas, so instead of complaining, I'll just choose to thank God for Visa. I still need to purchase products in "today's economy" and so I will just adjust my budget. I still actually LOVE living in America, the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, so I will vote and let the chips fall where they may.


Because in the end of the day, gas will level out. The economy will adjust. The country will march on no matter who is elected as our Commander in Chief. And as for all of us who are out there, trying to make a living as a self-employed entrepreneur, well, we still need to grow our businesses. And I, for one, am tired of the constant negativity that is bombarding us through the media, and then making its way into our everyday lives.


So hang in there, and keep on selling. These are the days that take an extra measure of creativity to make your business thrive. But if you hang on to your PASSION for your business venture, then people will still buy from you, no matter how cheap talk is, or how negative the news that bombards us every day has become.


So Until Next Time, STAY POSITIVE!


Jacki

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

When business turns personal: What are these guys thinking?

OK, in a blog that is dedicated to women entrepreneurs, this topic is LONG overdue. Women, does this sound familiar?

You meet a prospect who happens to be male. Now, I'm talking about meeting in a business setting....a networking event, a trade show, an office meeting, a seminar, etc. (If you meet this "male prospect" in a bar, you've only yourself to blame!!)

At any rate, you and the prospect talk shop and he acts interested in your professional product or service. You agree to meet. Only when you get together for that meeting, it strangely feels like a date instead of a business meeting. And sure enough, you discover that he's not really interested in your PROFESSIONAL products and services so much as your PERSONAL ones.

WHAT? Since when is this ACCEPTABLE?

Now, I understand that in sales, you must build relationships. And sometimes, you build relationships with members of the opposite sex. And sometimes people can take things the wrong way. I get all that. (Which is why it's SO important to always walk with integrity. The last thing any woman entrepreneur wants is to have a tarnished reputation.)

But what I'm talking about is the old Bait and Switch. Where the man pretends he's going to bring you business (which he knows you won't say no to) only to get you in a setting where he can then hit on you.

Now I'm not saying this happens alot...but it does happen from time to time. And I know I'm not the only one...many of my professional female friends have had this very same thing happen. And from what I can tell, status, looks, and style of dress have nothing to do with it. (In other words, I don't think we're "asking for it" at all.)

If you are a woman reading this blog, BEWARE of such behavior.

If you are a man, and you do this...STOP IT. It's NOT ok. And even if you don't actually do this, make sure you aren't giving the IMPRESSION of doing this.

For one thing, I'm out networking because I have a mortgage payment, a car payment, and two children to provide for. I don't need to waste an hour or more of my time meeting with you if you have no intention of bringing me business.

And women, how can you avoid having this happen to you? Again, it goes back to integrity. And try not to talk about your personal life (especially your love life) too much. Sometimes it comes up, of course. After all, there's bonding and repore to be done.

I'm not really saying I have the answer to this issue....I'm just saying that it's a business practice that I watch happen that really gets under my skin.

Any thoughts or suggestions on this topic? Women, how do you handle yourselves to avoid such things?

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Holidays for the Self-Employed

With Memorial Day fast approaching, I'm reminded of when that used to mean a day off. Now I'm trying to figure out how I will balance business and pleasure during that extended weekend.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the true meaning of Memorial Day, as I'm certainly one that appreciates all the sacrifices that have been made that gives me the freedom to sit at my laptop and write a blog in my PJs about absolutely anything I choose. My kids are running around outside, and I'm taking a "blogging break" from real estate related computer work. I'm thinking about walking into my kitchen and making some coffee. A Kitchen I own thanks to my right to own my own property, the right to take out a mortgage, the right to be in debt up to my eyeballs, etc. And I know that I couldn't be here if millions of men and women over the past two centuries hadn't laid down their lives in defense of these freedoms.

I'll go to church tomorrow morning at Northridge Community Church, where I'll worship Jesus Christ...a freedom I enjoy because of their bravery and sacrifice. I can read my Bible, and send my kids to a private Christian school. I can watch my mom become an entrepreneur her
self with curriculum that teaches the Bible. I can pray, I can worship, and I can admit these things freely and openly, all because courageous souls have been willing to die to insure these rights.

Hmmm. So what was I blogging about again? Trying to balance work and a weekend of fun? Nevermind. I'm pretty sure I'll figure it out.

Until Next Time,

Jacki

Thursday, May 8, 2008

STAAR Night 2008 highlights

STAAR Night dress rehearsal, show, and cast party...WOW, what an amazing event! Thought I'd share this little slideshow of some of the highlights. Thank you to everyone who was a part of this amazing event...from cast and committee to sponsors and audience members. We did it again!

Until Next Time,

Jacki

Sunday, April 13, 2008

STAAR Night 2008: A fantastic night of fun and charitable support

Come and join us on May 6th for a Broadway level variety show being held at the Scottsdale Center for the Arts! We have less than 80 tickets left, so click here if you'd like to purchase your tickets before it's too late!



STAAR Night 2008
Scottsdale Center for the Arts
May 6th, 2008
Cocktail Hour: 6:00 pm
Curtain: 7:00pm
Tickets: $25-$80

So what is STAAR Night? This is an annual fundraising event that is sponsored by Scottsdale Area Association of Realtors (SAAR) and benefits the Hutch Fund. The Hutch Fund is a charity that aids real estate professionals in medical crisis.




Why am I blogging about this particular fundraiser? Well, because I'm in it!

Not only am I a performer, but I am also the choreographer. Check out this picture...that's me teaching the performers one of our dance production numbers. Many of you may not know that my major in college was dance with a concentration in choreography. My professional goals revolved around dance until after I was married, had my second child, and discovered my passion for the real estate industry in 2002. And I've been in the real estate industry now for 6 years...3 of which were spent marketing for a title and escrow company, and 3 of which have been in real estate sales.


And who knew that my background in dance would one day benefit my real estate career? Not me! But last year I had the opportunity to become involved with STAAR Night (Need more details on how that happened? If your "Enquiring Mind Wants to Know," click here!)



And now I'd love to see you there! Let me know if you plan on coming...I'll look for you in the lobby after the performance!



Until Next Time,



Jacki

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Self-Employment ROCKS!

If you are an entrepreneur, then I'm sure that you and I have this in common: we do what we do (self-employment) because we are intelligent enough to make alot of money in our respective businesses. But it's more than just money...it's about quality of life. We don't all care if we end up the richest people in the world (although it would be nice!) but we DO care that we have enough abundance to be able to enjoy our lives in the manner in which we choose.

Two weeks ago, my daughters were on spring break. So on Friday, I got up and did some computer work and made a few calls. Then we headed off to the movies to see Horton Hears a Who. (Which we are STILL quoting!) Then we had lunch together, just the three of us, before I dropped them off at my parents house and headed off to a coffee meeting and then two phone meetings. What a great day! And back in my Corporate America days, I would have never DREAMED of doing something like that! But now, the only person to tell me where I can and cannot be is me. I LOVE self-employment.

I've done gift account walk throughs (A SendOutCards system introduction) in my pajamas. I've set client appointments sitting on my back patio, still in my work-out clothes, sipping on a cup of coffee. I've made follow up calls in my car on the way to lunch with a friend. I've gone and previewed properties on my way to my dance class. I LOVE my life!

It's one of the many common threads that every entrepreneur shares. But in my opinion, it's by far the most important. After all, no matter how you earn the money, what good is it if you can't ENJOY it?

So drop me a comment or an email. I'd love to hear about some of your "perfect moments" in the world of self-employment.

Until Next Time,

Jacki

Friday, March 21, 2008

To Whom Were You Referring?


Referrals. With them, you are a success. Without them, you might as well hang up your entrepreneur's hat and go back to Corporate America.

So why is it that so many entrepreneurs don't understand the true value and meaning behind referrals? Or how to give and receive effective referrals? It's important enough that I thought I'd take a couple of minutes of your time to visit the topic.

If you want to give and receive effective referrals, the first thing you need to do is get out of the "I don't want to interfere" mindset. If you are stuck there, then you need to realize that people WANT you to interfere. I'd give anything (well...almost anything) to have someone, ANYONE, give me the name of a good yard maintenance company. Do you have any idea how often I complain about the fact that I can't find a good one? (Well, maybe you do if you've ever heard me get on the topic). I've been a single parent living in the same general area for the past 3 1/2 years. I've tried so many yard maintenance people, it's not even funny. And they are all either too expensive, too unreliable, or both. PLEASE...interfere here! If you know of any good landscapers in the NE Phoenix area, I want to know!

People need to be led to other people. So don't hesitate. REFER!

Meanwhile, I'd personally like to give more referrals. So please...just ask! If you are in need of a professional service or product but don't know where to turn, let me know! Financial planners, insurance agents, lenders, car mechanics, doctors, the list goes on and on.

Also, did you realize that I'm connected to a network of real estate agents all over the US and Canada? Even Dubai! So if you're in need of a Realtor anywhere, just ask me. I can make sure you have one that's going to be able to handle your real estate needs...it's better than taking your chances by just calling an ad in the paper!

Anyway, where referrals are concerned, there's so much more to say! But I'll leave that for another time. For now, just get in the habit of asking the people you trust "Do you know someone who..."

Until Next Time,

Jacki

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Value of Rewards and Recognition


In your career as an entrepreneur, one thing that tends to go away is reaching for rewards and recognition. Back when I was in sales for a title company, I was first and foremost driven by the desire for bigger commissions. But sometimes, those monthly sales awards were a big motivator.

In SendOutCards, I am an independent distributor. However, SOC isn't a one-woman show. Quite the opposite. We currently have around 40,000 distributors in US and Canada...of which maybe 5% actually work it as a full time career.
SO...my point is...SOC offers contests that allow rewards and recognition. This is HUGE for me. I need that added motivator at times.
The last contest was for a cruise to the Bahamas. And I'm really happy to say that I was on that boat! I just returned from a fantastic trip where I met some truly wonderful people, gained alot of insight for my business, and had the chance to see a part of the world I never had before.

So my question to you, one entrepreneur to another, is what are you doing to reward yourself? Maybe you are truly a one-woman show, and so there is no one out there offering you a cruise, a sales award, or otherwise. So what additional reward and recognition are you allowing yourself?

Don't get so lost in the daily grind that you forget to give yourself those added motivators. Reward yourself with a day at the spa when you land your top-targeted account. Or send out a newsletter to your sphere of influence when you hit a milestone in your business. I'd love to hear other ideas on this.

We have to hold each other accountable, and lift each other up. Don't get lost out there, adrift at sea all alone. Remember that there is an entire community of others in the same boat. You just have to reach out to them!

Until Next Time,

Jacki

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Jacki's Hero of the Day

My sister. Thanks for your support Joey.

I guess she's been reading my blog. She never said anything, so I had no idea. But she sent me a book today on women entrepreneurs. It arrived from Amazon.com, with a little note saying she believed in me.

Thanks for being one of the key women that I know supports me, and is there for me always.

So for anyone reading this right now, take a second to think of someone who relies on your support. Have you reached out to that person lately? If not, don't delay. This is a prompting that you need to pay attention to. Reach out to them in an unexpected way, just like my big sister Joanne did. It means all the difference in the world.

Until Next Time,

Jacki

Business Start up course in Scottsdale

For any of the entrepreneurs reading this site, I thought I'd let you know about a course that Scottsdale Community College in partnership with the SBA (Small Business Administration) puts on. If you are just starting up a business, still in the planning stages, or are finding that starting a business isn't all you thought it would be, this course may be for you. Enjoy!
**********************************************************************************

March 6 "Should I Start A Business?" Offered by Maricopa Community Colleges Small Business Development Center
& Scottsdale Community College Business Institute

If you...
Are thinking about starting a business...
Looking for marketing research for your new business...
Need help in writing a business plan for your new business...

You will learn about:
How to start a business . What it takes to be an entrepreneur
Feasibility study and Market Research. Business structure options
Business finance options . Marketing strategies
How to access the SBDC for additional assistance & other sources of help

March 6, 2008 4-6 p.m.
Scottsdale Community College Business Institute
14350 N. 87th St., Suite 185, Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Loop 101 Raintree exit, west to 87th Street, south two blocks

There is a $10 fee for the seminar and materials
Cash or check, payable to MCCD SBDC, will be collected at the door. Call (480) 784-0590 to register.

Funded in part through a Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.
MCCD SBDC, 2400 N. Central Avenue, Suite 104
Phoenix, Arizona 85004
Phone: (480) 784-0590 Fax: (602) 230-7989
www.MaricopaSBDC.com
*********************************************************************

Until Next Time,

Jacki

Sunday, March 2, 2008

What are you saying with your voice?

You have a strong ability to influence other people's decisions. If you didn't, you wouldn't be an effective entrepreneur. Everyday you come across people that you will have to be able to influence a decision in your favor. If you're successful in this consistently, you are successful in business. If you fail at this consistently, you will go out of business. Welcome to the world of Self-Employment.

But what else are you accomplishing with your voice? I don't mean voice as in the sound of your voice. We're not talking karaoke here.

What I mean is: are you using your powers for good?

You can use your voice in many different ways.

  • Support a charity that is close to your heart, and let others know about it. It can be as simple as including the charity's logo on all your communications, to actively seeking other's to support your cause as well.

  • Be vocal about things that matter to you. People respect you, remember? So talk about things that matter. This doesn't have to be about charity. It can be as volatile a subject as religion or politics, or as demure a subject as the importance of spending time with family.

  • REFER. This isn't a blog about referring, but I'd be remiss if I didn't talk about it. When you have a high level of regard from OTHERS, use your voice to refer business to other people that YOU have a high level of regard for. Make sense? For example, I wouldn't let the people in my network have to rely on the yellow pages to find a car mechanic. I would refer them to mine. He's above board, honest, ethical, and puts his customers first...the same way I do business. I have surrounded myself with others that I hold in high regard, and can refer at anytime....I'll be writing a separate blog on referring later!

  • Let others know about a good book, movie, or TV show that left you feeling like a better person. For example, as a woman entrepreneur, I'd refer you to a book called "Secrets of the Six Figure Woman" by Barbara Stanny. It is a must-read.

  • Become involved with organizations that are aligned with your values. Find like minded people. It helps you stay true to who you are and what you stand for. For instance, I attend North Ridge Community Church in Cave Creek, AZ. The people I find there help me stay on track with my belief system. (Like being a good person, staying focused on putting God first, things like that.) So are you a Christian? Find a good church. Are you Jewish? Attend a good synagogue. You see where I'm going. But not just with religion...activities, social groups, etc.

I believe we have a responsibility to use our voice to make this world a better place. And the more people you have that know and respect you, the stronger that responsibility becomes.

The most effective way to accomplish great things with the voice given to you? Just live what you know to be the truth. Whether or not people agree with you or take your recommendations, it doesn't matter. We don't try to change others, and we certainly aren't trying to control them. But others should know who you are and what you stand for, that's all.

And to think, this blog all came about because I have a friend who is a lead singer for the band Unlisted. I went and saw him perform yesterday, and was so impressed, I thought I should tell others. That's using my voice...to help him along his path to success. (Although look at the picture...I also got to use my voice in other ways...thanks Brian!) Want to see Brian Jennings and his band Unlisted. Let me know, and I'll tell you where they're playing next!

Until Next Time,
Jacki

Thursday, February 28, 2008

To Blog or not to Blog. That is the question.

So I have officially rolled out my blog. No turning back now. Many of you that received the introduction to my blog have been reading, and giving me the requested feedback. I can't thank you enough!

So what have I learned from the feedback? In one sentence: Blogging is a pretty new marketing phenomenon.

So I thought I'd take a blog or two and talk about what blogging is all about.

Blog (n.) Shortened from the term "web log". An online journal used to convey opinions of the author. Used to open up and maintain conversation between the author and the readers. In business, a powerful marketing tool used mainly to further the relationship with one's clients, potential clients, and referral sources. Expertise given in conversational format.

So I think that is a great definition of "Blog". (And I should....it's my own doing.) I searched for a good definition, but there really weren't any that were short, sweet, and to the point. So I came up with one. However, if you are interested in reading a more in depth definition of blogging, click here.

Moving on.

Many of the questions I have received are: "Why blog?" "Why have you opened yourself up for all of cyberspace to see?" "What is the business benefit?" "How can I do that?" The list goes on...

So I'm not personally going to attempt to answer all of that. But I can give you resources!

  • If blogging is a whole new concept and you would like to learn more about it, click here.
  • If you want to see some other examples of blogs, click here.
  • If you think this whole blog concept is too much, and you prefer to receive your online marketing in a more traditional manner, please click here or here.

I'll be visiting some of the reasons behind blogging in a separate post in the future. But for now, I hope this helps. Again, the point of this blog is to help other entrepreneurs. It's my goal that you can better your business by reading my blog. It's geared for women, because I know there will be some topics that are specific to women. But that doesn't mean that if you are not a woman, you must vacate the premises immediately! We all learn from each other.

Thanks for taking the time to help me along this journey.

Until Next Time,

Jacki

PS...Another really common question is "How do I post a comment on your blog?" See right below this post, where it says a number and then comments in blue (right now the number is 0, but hopefully that will change soon!) It reads just like this:

Posted by Jacki Semerau at 11:13 PM 0 comments

Anyway, just click on that, and a comment box will pop up. Go ahead an type in the comment box and then click "open ID" and then "publish your comment". Hope that helps! Now...here's a test....try it now! Even if you have nothing to say...just say hello! At least then you'll know how for the future.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Starbucks: A small business owner's best friend





Starbucks. Expensive coffee, or cheap office space? You be the judge.

I would say at least 85% of my one-on-one business meetings are held at one of the many Starbucks in my area. In fact, I am sitting in one right now. I'm early for an appointment, and thought this would be an ideal blog topic. I think Starbucks might be responsible for most entrepreneurial ventures in the past decade getting off the ground.

Ok...my appointment is here. I'll come back to this shortly.

I'm back. Thanks for waiting patiently for me to finish this blog (although if you are just now reading the blog for the first time, you just waited an entire 1/100th of a second. But I digress.)

So today I had two Starbucks meetings back-to-back. I had an appointment that lasted from 1:30-3:15. Then another that went from 4:00-5:00. Wow. I was one seriously caffeinated girl. Could that be the reason that I'm up blogging at 1:00 in the morning right now? Naaah. This time of night is the only time I know I can focus without the phone ringing, emails pouring in, kids needing me, etc. (Which, don't get me wrong....all three of the aforementioned things are wonderful things in my life! But we all need some time to focus.)

At any rate, back to my point. Starbucks. I can't imagine trying to start up (or maintain for that matter) any small business venture without this terrific icon of the 21st century as a co-conspirator to my success. I know that it wasn't too long ago that home based businesses actually met their clients...get this...in their home. **Gasp!**

Now we have an overpriced coffee house on every street corner in urban and suburban America where, for approximately $4, we can conduct our business. A neutral trading ground where both the person selling and the person buying feel they are on equal ground. Also a place that provides safety. I can't imagine I'd have been as anxious to meet with strangers if I had to bring them to my home in order to do business. (Not to mention the added business start-up fee of a housekeeper in that case. Geez)

If you are an entrepreneur, or in sales of any kind for that matter, than I'm sure you stand united with me in thanking Starbucks for the role they play in your business. Is there anywhere else (other than a Starbucks competitor) that you go to for client meetings? I'm always looking for a great alternative....especially since I practically dumped my entire Venti Latte into my potential client's lap today, thanks to all the caffeine coursing through my system.

Until Next Time,

Jacki