Five Simple Ways to Boost Your Smart Rating

So there you are, at a networking event or a business meeting, eying a couple across the room. He has a gym-perfect physique, a crisp designer suit, and carefully manicured hands. She has a few extra pounds, a button missing on her blouse, and a hairstyle that hasn’t changed since the 1980s.

Which of the two is smarter?

The bad news: We are judged by our appearance.
The good news: We are respected for our brains.

Looking smart feels great, is great—but being smart is the icing on the cake.

These five simple practices will boost your “smart” rating:

  1. Boost Your Vocabulary: Crack open that dusty dictionary or thesaurus. Commit to learning and using one new word each day. Bookmark in your browser. Learn correct pronunciations, spelling, and context.
  2. Ask Questions: Benjamin Franklin said, “Humility makes great men twice honorable.” Focusing the conversation on what the other person knows and asking respectful questions achieves two things: It gives you an opportunity to learn even when you think you already know it all, and it engages the other person in their favorite topic—themselves.
  3. Read Good Books: If time is an issue, carry a book or e-Reader with you—read a few paragraphs or pages while you’re in the waiting room. Commit to reading two or three pages each day, or listen to audio books. Buy magazines or subscribe to feeds on topics with which you are not familiar—it will help you broaden your knowledge.
  4. Speak Simply: Increasing your vocabulary amplifies your ability to communicate, but obscure words, jumbo words or industry lingo confuse the conversation. Sadly, most American adults read at an 8th grade level. Use simple, ordinary words, and gauge your word choices on the “pomposity factor.” Never use a three syllable word when a two syllable word will do, and never use a two syllable word when a single syllable word gets your point across.
  5. Listen More than you Speak: William Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” No one likes a conversation hog, or to be upstaged. Practice your listening skills, speak simply and concisely, and understand your role in the theater of the moment.

Being smart is the icing on the cake!

3 Tips for Better Blogs

Sharon looked me straight in the eye and said: I hate blogging. I don’t know what to say. It takes me forever to write two paragraphs and they end up being nothing but a bunch of blah-blah marketing statements. But I know I have to do it to stay competitive.

Owner of a small consulting business and responsible for “everything,” Sharon echoed a sentiment I hear almost daily: Blogging is a piece of the success pie, and it has become a huge challenge for those not trained as communicators.

What can you do to make your blog better for your readers AND better for you as the producer?  Here are three tips to get you back on track:

1)  Focus on the Goal of your Blog.  Is your intent simply to keep your name Top of Mind with your customers and prospects?  Are you focused on Lead Generation, website traffic, or building your reputation as an information hub?

2)  Remember What Drew You to Your Industry.  Way back when, on the day you started your company or made the decision to take a job in your current industry, you were excited about it. There was something that thrilled you, that satisfied you beyond just the paycheck. What was it? What emotion did it trigger? Find that energy again, and write from that place. It might be helpful to create a list of the reasons you started and the dreams you had about your career.

3) Tell stories. Stories pull the reader into an experience, and the more they see themselves in that experience, the more willing they will be to keep reading and remember you when they need your product or service.



Four Business Card Blunders

When calling cards first appeared in France during the 17th-century reign of Louis XIV, they were used as symbols of aristocratic position. The higher the position in court or society, the more impressive the calling card, and the more sophisticated the rules governing their use.

Four hundred years later, calling cards are no longer a luxury reserved for royalty, but a business necessity whose roles and rules shift based on culture and fashion. But one thing remains constant: the psychological impact of visual appeal and readability.

Four Business Card Blunders that Lower your Credibility:

  1. No Physical Address. One of the blessings of technology is that we can live and work anywhere in the world… but people are skittish about doing business with someone they can’t physically track down. A post office box is better than no address, and will add a subconscious level of credibility to your business.
  2. Huge Graphics and Tiny Print. Your name and contact information should be the focal elements of your card. If your logo dominates the space and forces a small type size to fit the text in, your card will end up in the trash. Most people don’t carry magnifying glasses.
  3. Single-Sided Printing. You’re paying for the paper, and the back side of your card is valuable real estate. Use it for a larger display of your logo, website address, or specific information on your company.
  4. Obvious DIY Job. No matter how hard you try, a homemade business card can’t compete with professional design and commercial printing.  Invest in a professional design that will support your company image for five to seven years, and a quality paper.

In the 17th century, people kept calling cards as proof that an influential person had come to visit. They were, in a sense, as much a symbol of the recipient’s social standing as they were of the caller’s status. We’re a bit less formal with them now, given the low cost of producing cards and the mountains of them we collect each year. But the questions still remain: What is the psychological significance of your business card? Do people have reason to keep it? Does it serve you in furthering your business image?

If not, perhaps you should give us a call.