Business Cards

I don’t know about you, but I have looked at a lot of business cards in my time, especially since I have started the Admin Angel element of my business. One of the roles that I offer to businesses is to populate spreadsheets with information from the business cards they have collected while networking. This is a useful way of collecting the data in one place to use when referring your contacts to each other, and to use as the basis of any mailing or information sheets you may decide to do for your business.

But – and this is a big but – you don’t always get the information you need from the business cards you receive.

What do you do?

I don’t have the benefit of having met many of the people whose business cards I am using to garner the information and I regularly cannot tell what business the person is in who has given out the card. Even if the business area is obvious – what is the Unique Selling Point (USP)? Sometimes I have met the person that has given the card, but I cannot always remember them as I do a lot of networking, as do the people whose cards I am collating.

Contact Information

I am amazed at how often business cards do not have basic contact information on them – like a phone number, email or website. How are the people you have met going to contact you if you don’t include this information? Quite often there is 1 or 2 of the 3 elements I have listed, but I personally feel that you need all 3 to be an effective business. Different clients have different preferred ways of contacting their potential business providers and by closing down any of the routes listed above you are not helping your business to grow.

Some cards do not have the name of the person who has handed it out – only the business they are representing. This will not help with future contacts and does not help you to work out who is being effective in getting additional trade for your business.

Additional Information

In these days of online networking it is also a good idea to include your online networking links, any of which could act as your website if you feel you cannot afford one yet, or don’t have the time to maintain more than one online presence. You have a range of potential sites – Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest to name a few that I have used. I wouldn’t recommend listing all of them on your card as you would need an A4 sheet and it would be overwhelming. My next post will be on my observations about the benefits of different kinds of social media for different types of businesses.

Legibility

Some business cards look beautiful and very fancy, but finding, and reading, the information on them can be very difficult. So please, please think about the legibility of the print – size and the contrasts between the colour of the print and the back ground are very important. Make sure that the key contact information and name stand out in particular.

The other element of legibility is how cluttered the business card is – so be selective, but make sure that the card links to other potential sources of information.

Any other points?

I have heard lots of comments about using both sides of the card – this is great to get more information across but leave some space for a note to be written on the card as many people, myself included, like to make a note of where I have collected each business card. This helps me to see which networking groups are getting me the best contacts, but it also acts as a memory jogger if I am trying to remember more about the person who gave me the card.

Using colour or a distinctive shape to make your card stand out. A good idea, but remember that people who collect business cards will often store them in a business card box if yours doesn’t fit it could get lost. Also don’t let the colour or design take away from legibility or the information you are trying to pass on ( see my other points above).

I know my businessIMG_0689 cards are not perfect, and I will definitely be redesigning the Business Consultant one in the future as my business has developed and changed since I designed these. In the interests of openness, though I thought it a good idea to share my own cards so you can critique them too.

 

 

 

Motivation, or why am I a really slow learner of Russian.

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Sandra in Sevastopol

I have decided to write on motivation as I am currently trying, not very successfully, to learn Russian. I have a good reason for learning this language – my daughter is currently living in Sevastopol in the Crimea and I want to visit her before the end of 2014. This, however, is currently not proving to be a strong enough motivation to work on the language more than a couple of times a week. So I thought I would muse on this following my discussions with my daughter on the subject, and been inspired by her own posts on learning Russian and see if I can create a stronger focus for myself as a result.

Having started this post and not developed it I have been linked to this blog post which is about why failing to learn a language over a year can still be of benefit to your mental health. Does this make a difference to my motivation? I have been going back to my Russian a little more since then and doing my Memrise Russian course reminder sessions more often since then, so maybe it has.

Hmm – maybe I should list the ways in which I am trying to learn Russian before I go on.

I started out with 3 Memrise courses on my I-phone and iPad – Beginner’s Russian first, then I added Cardinal numbers and finally Learn Basic Russian.  I have only completed one of the courses as far as learning new words – the Cardinal numbers one. I am now going onto this course most days to do the repeat learning, and I am starting to add new words too.

I have also used Quizlet  to practice some of the words I am learning – although I often find that the new lists my daughter posts as part of her learning are scary and off-putting as she is so much further on than I am.

I have just started using a BBC Learn Russian course which includes CD’s and I am planning to create my own Quizlet sets for the words I am learning.

So why am I not getting very far? The main reasons I can identify are fear and lack of confidence – which is to be expected when I am learning but I am not making allowances for this. When I talk to my customers about their book-keeping and administration processes it is often the same things that stop them from putting processes in place. I must make sure that I use the learning about my motivation in relation to learning a language to influence the way in which I work with my customers about the things they are finding hard to focus on.

I am now going to try doing at least 15 minutes a day and will see if that helps.

I will do an update about how I am doing as I am now planning on going to Sevastopol with my daughter when she goes back after her visit to the UK this month to get her new visa.

How does a grandmother who is blind share books with her grandchildren?

This post has been inspired by the fact that the first 2 weeks in June 2013 is Make a Noise in Libraries (MANIL) Fortnight which is an annual campaign to bring public libraries and blind and partially sighted people together to improve access to books and information.manil13pic

Eileen Finch is a grandmother who could not find any books on the market that were suitable for her to share with her grandchildren. She decided to create her own children’s books in a unique format – giant print with Braille and illustrations. If you want to see the range of books she has published then go to her website access2books  where you can also buy the books yourself. You could also ask your local library if they have them in stock – and if they don’t suggest that they so. The list of libraries that currently stock the books can be found here.

So why have I put this into my management musings blog? It is because the journey that Elaine went through is one that anyone with a passion and an idea can follow to make a change they believe in, or to create a new business.

The key things that Elaine did were to:

  • Identify a gap/ need
  • Research the potential solutions and current provision.
  • Obtain an IP Publishing licence
  • Negotiate with publishers to use 30 popular UK books
  • Painstakingly redesign the books into a format which is more accessible and shareable for people with a visual impairment.
  • Work out a way of printing and binding the finished work into a book format. The type of paper and binding used were particular problems. In the end she had to design and make her own binding equipment.
  • Find funding to keep the project going
  • Find outlets to access the mainstream library market – Peter’s Children’s books of Birmingham helped by ordering a set based on the prototype.
  • Create a business format to procedure and market the books – in this case a Community Interest Project.

The books look brilliant and having Braille as well as large print and pictures widens the range of people who can use them- have a look for yourself. 

This is an impressive story of determination and persistence that we can all learn from, in particular:

  1. Focus on the final outcome when things get difficult
  2. If you cannot find the solution you need then create them
  3. The road to success is not easy, but if your dream is big enough, and your desire is strong enough you will succeed.

Make a Noise in Libraries Fortnight is run by RNIB National Library Service.

There’s no such thing as a new idea or common sense is not very common

Just old ideas continually recycled!

I am currently doing a postgraduate qualification in Shared Service Architecture with Canterbury Christchurch University. My second piece of work is a literature review and I have chosen to look at successful governance in shared services. It has to be an academic piece of work so the literature reviewed must come from academically sound journals.

The first thing I found was that Shared Services by that name have not been round long enough to have academic studies done on them. The second thing I found out was that there are a lot of academic reviews into a whole range of joint working – which Shared Services is just the latest sexy title/ method of doing. Hence the title of this post.

Each of the new iterations of the joint (or collaborative) working phenomenon is presented as a whole new way of working. This,sadly, seems to mean that the wheel keeps being reinvented. I cannot see very much evidence of practice being based on the considerable learning and information that has been collected about previous iterations. This is despite the fact that a number of key issues keep coming up regularly:

  1. The need for Trust which is very difficult to develop when organisations and people are put into ‘forced marriages’ by government policy and financial incentives. They are much more likely to work together successfully if they develop the collaboration gradually and together.
  2. Which leads me the need for Time to develop the partnership – how often are organisations forced to do things quickly because of the political and financial pressures
  3. The final one is that there needs to be a jointly agreed reason or series of reasons for working together – the main one being that the sum of the whole is greater than each organisation working separately.

These key factors come up again and again, and yet the same mistakes and issues keep being repeated!

Although I say there is no such thing as a new idea, each version of working together is subtly different and called different things which is why I have not used the same words to describe the joint working throughout  this post. 

The issues, however, are rarely different so my plea to anyone coming up with a ‘new’ way of working is please take the time to look at the similar predecessors to your idea and use them to stop repeating the same mistakes.

This is the principle I will be using when I qualify as a Shared Service Architect as one of the key principles for this professional role is to use the learning from previous shared working to improve the development and planning of future shared services.

Why this blog?

I have always been interested in management, and found the management elements of all of the jobs that I have done very interesting. I have started this blog because of my frustration in the lack of acknowledgement of the excellent management skills that are evident in many public  and library services. The comments that I make will be entirely my own and not those of my current employer.

I will be interested in hearing what you think of the comments/ opinions that I express through the postings on this blog.