Taking Our Businesses to the Next Level

By Sue Stoney

From l to r: Stacy Lavilla, Joyce Davis and Sue Stoney share tips at last month’s Independent Communicators Roundtable meeting.

How do you take your business “to the next level?” At November’s Independent Communicators’ Roundtable (ICR) meeting, attendees learned tips and tricks from experts on how to be at the top of our game.

Here are a few key takeaways:

Struggling with keeping track of hours and invoicing? Use technology.

  • WePay, PayPal – Online payment services
  • Toggl – Tracking system that uses an online timer and timesheet calculator
  • Wave – Service to track expenses/payments, send invoices, balance books
  • FreshBooks – Cloud-based service for sending invoices, tracking time, managing receipts and expenses and accepting credit cards
  • Zoho – One suite of apps to run a business (including client relationship management [CRM], email, accounting, project management, custom apps)
  • acuityschedule.com – An app that allows people to see your schedule and choose the blocks of time that work best for them

Need some help with basic administrative duties? Try using a virtual assistant to help with time-consuming tasks that don’t require your expertise, such as research, transcribing and updating social networks with messages you provide.

Looking for training on the latest business tools? Try Lynda.com, a service for as little as $25/month (premium is $35/month) that includes online, self-service training on all kinds of business-related apps/software. (The San Francisco Library provides free access to Lynda.com for library cardholders. Non-residents can apply for a card.)

All attendees agreed that taking advantage of time-saving programs is important because they allow them to concentrate on the work they’ve been hired to do.

Want to get better at networking? (And don’t we all?) Here are a few thoughts that can help:

  • Connect the dots: Look for connections that can help, not just you, but others as well.
  • Put in the time: Maintain relationships with current/past clients with “catch-up” time.
  • Be clear about what you want: Send an email message that says, “I have time; do you have work?”
  • Compartmentalize your week: Try doing 1:1 meetings later in the week, focusing the early part of the week on client work. A 1:1 can also be a welcome break during the day. Invite clients/prospective clients to networking events.
  • Play the host: When at a networking event, use this last tip from an attendee: Instead of talking about yourself, introduce someone else, “Have you met Miley? She’s brilliant at XYZ!”

While we all love being digitally connected, attendees generally agreed that nothing beats in-person networking. Get your face-time in, and use social media to supplement positive word of mouth and solid leads from people who know, like and trust you.

Join us for upcoming SF IABC ICR meetings:

  • ICR Connect in San Francisco on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 12 to 2 p.m.
  • An East Bay ICR workshop on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 10 to 11:30 a.m.
  • ICR meetings in the remainder of 2018 every 3rd Wednesday of the month

Details on all of these events will be posted on this site. Seating is limited to eight attendees for ICR Connect. Reserve your spot for the Jan. 24 meeting by sending an email to Kamna Narain. Join the SF IABC ICR pilot group on LinkedIn by sending an email request to Kamna.

Sue Stoney is a writer, editor and writing coach. For more than 20 years in the corporate world and as an independent communicator, Sue has helped many people develop content and write the stories that contribute to their business bottom line.

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