Best blogging practices for Realtors by Sharon Tully

It seems that Blogs are here to stay; I can’t go a day without reading one or finding out someone I know is starting one.   When did they become so ingrained in daily life?  By doing just a little bit of research, I found out that the term “blog” was coined in the late 1990s.  It evolved from the online diary and came from the expression “web log”.

Since blogs are now acceptable forms of social media, it’s time to weed out the good from the bad so they can become useful business tools.  It’s easy to know when you like a blog.  It grabs you from the start and doesn’t let go.  But knowing how to structure a blog to make it effective is the key to success.

While a good business person wears many hats, it’s the wise one who knows when something is out of his/her area of expertise.  When it’s time to call in a partner for a particular need, there’s some homework to be done first.  A small business may be in need of administrative services but is not ready to hire a full-time staffer.  Virtual assistants and other business support services are available to meet the needs of that particular business.  McClure Virtual Business Solutions is one such company that can provide support and help you grow your business.

Continuing on the topic of blogs, professionals in this particular area know that the tone of a blog needs to be casual and conversational.  They know how to open up a discussion to garner comments.  In addition, they can create a content strategy so the blog fits into the bigger marketing picture of a company.  Real estate clients of McClure Virtual Business Solutions, for example, benefit from the business expertise and specific industry knowledge offered.  MVBS can help realtors find their ‘voice’ for their blogs so that there’s a personality that comes through to make a connection.  Their dedicated professionals help the good business person wear a few less hats so he/she can become a great business person.

SOURCES

http://www.echoditto.com/

http://activerain.com/

http://www.brokerageu.com/real-estate/business/marketing/content/blogging-best-practices/

http://realestate.about.com/od/whyblog/

https://mccluresolution.wordpress.com/

Five Points for Planning your 2014 event or fundraiser by Toni Earls

Five Points for Planning your 2014 event or fundraiser

If you are planning an event for your business in 2014, now is a great time to get started. Whether it is a networking event or a fundraiser, staying on top of your planning with a checklist will aid your efforts immeasurably. Keeping yourself organized is fundamental to the success of an event. Consider these suggestions when planning yours.

1. Be clear about the purpose of your event, whether it is a fundraiser, a networking opportunity, or something in between. The Fundraising Authority recommends: “Before doing anything else, you must decide what the purpose of your event is. Is this truly a fundraising event? Or does it have other goals?…details for your event will depend on knowing what goals you are trying to achieve.”

2. Begin preparations early on, at least 3 months out for a large event, according to Marriot. Their comprehensive checklist includes these beginning steps: “…develop the program and budget. Book meeting site and support services. Check calendar of local events to avoid conflicting or inappropriate dates.” You can also use this time to contact attendees and if necessary, make travel arrangements. The more thorough and detailed you are at the start, the less likely you are to encounter problems closer to the event.

3. The importance of your marketing is highlighted by the Fundraising Authority’s checklist. “You need to convince your supporters that your organization and event are worthy of their time and money. Draw up an entire marketing plan for the event.” Whether you are a small business looking to network or a non-profit hoping to fundraise, it is imperative that you orchestrate a persuasive marketing campaign to entice people to your event. “ ‘Getting the word out’ [methods] include…mailed invitations, direct mail, phone banks, word of mouth and the event host committee.”

4. Remember, people won’t come and/or they won’t donate if you don’t ask. Event 360’s advice is applicable in a fundraising or a networking event planning situation. “The golden rule of fundraising is: You raise money when you ask for it. You don’t when you don’t. ASK! Make a list of everyone you know and everyone you come in contact with during the course of a day – everyone is a potential donor.” There are also many potential guests for a networking event in this pool of people. Be judicious about your requests but don’t hesitate to cast a wide net.

5. Finally, remember that the influence of your event doesn’t end when the tables are cleared away and the lights are shut off. It is important to follow up with clients or donors, and to thank them for their attendance. Fundraising Authority advises: “Make sure that the organization takes the time to send thank-you notes to everyone who is involved in your event, including contributors, volunteers, staff and vendors.”

In short, be purposeful in your event design. Plan ahead and keep abreast of the situation throughout the events planning stages. Market your event like it is a new product and don’t be afraid to ask people to attend or to donate, depending on the situation. Most importantly, remember to say thank you when it is done.

SOURCES: http://www.thefundraisingauthority.com/fundraising-basics/fundraising-event/

Click to access check_time.pdf

Click to access Event-Fundraising-Checklist.pdf

Preparing to Meet Your Accountant by Toni Earls

A meeting with your accountant, whether it is an annual occurrence or the first time, will not be productive or helpful if you do not go to it fully prepared. Making sure that you have your documents in order will make the process go more smoothly and allow your accountant to do his or her job more efficiently. Doing as much work as possible before your meeting will help lessen the workload later and potentially negate the need for repeated meetings.

Accountingmatch.com recommends going into your meeting with clear expectations for yourself and your accountant. They assert: “…your accountant [should] have a clear understanding of what you expect to get and when you expect to get it. Just as important is for you to understand what your accountant needs and expects from you in the relationship.” This will work to your mutual benefit.

 Make yourself aware of your responsibilities as a client and what is reasonable to expect from your accountant. Spartina suggests that you: “…make a list of items that you want to discuss with your accountant. The fuzzy or complicated areas can include education expenses, membership dues, taxes you have paid, and Internet expenses.” Making yourself aware of potential problem areas will allow you to deal with them more effectively later in the process.

 This video prepared by AG Tax, encourages prospective clients to do the work ahead of time in order to streamline the process. Determine if your accountant or firm has templates or spreadsheets to guide you in preparing the necessary receipts and documents and take advantage of it. Asking for a checklist from your accountant or firm can ease stress and limit confusion when trying to gather the pertinent paperwork for a meeting.

 You don’t have to prepare completely on your own. Utilizing the tools available to you, including computer programs or apps which help you organize your financial documents, receipts, and statements, is an excellent way to begin.

Spartina recommends: “…using your accounting software (Quickbooks, Quicken, or other), print out a detailed P&L, and review all the expenses in the various categories. Make any changes now for items that may have been miscategorized.” You can avoid confusion when meeting with your accountant by catching mistakes before you hand over your information.

 Simple preparation before meeting with an accountant can streamline the process. Using software, guidelines from the accounting firm, or both will maximize your efficiency and minimize confusion. Don’t waste your time or your accountant’s. Go to your meeting confident that you have prepared thoroughly and expect meticulousness in return.

 SOURCES: http://www.accountingmatch.com/preparemeetaccountant.htm

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9b_J3-DbvPo

 http://www.spartina.com/items/15895-tax-time-prepare-for-your-accountant

Are LinkedIn Endorsements Taken Seriously? By: Britney Balg

LinkedIn introduced the endorsement feature last year as a way to appeal to people who use their site on a mobile device and have limited time. It offers a recommendation feature, but this can take 10-15 minutes to complete and requires real knowledge of the skills you are validating for your connection. On the other hand, the endorsement of a skill takes one click of a mouse and you can even add skills that your connection doesn’t list on their own profile. So what does this say about the value of this feature? Opinions vary as to the value of endorsements. Those who don’t like this feature object to how mindless it is to endorse someone. It doesn’t require any thought or real knowledge of a person’s skills. Another reason people don’t like this feature is because they may get bombarded with notifications about being endorsed by someone. When you go to see what they endorsed you for you are then prompted to endorse them back. On the other hand, some people think this feature is wonderful and a great solution to making the site more on-the –go friendly.

Everyone is busy these days, and more and more people are using their smartphones to do their social media. These are the people who think the endorsements are a great idea and really convenient. And they are right, they are very convenient because it only takes two seconds. LinkedIn users just need to realize that there is a right and wrong way to use endorsements, so follow these guidelines when using the endorsement feature.
• Hide endorsements from people who have no real knowledge of your skills.
• Only endorse people for skills that you have witnessed first hand
• Don’t have too many endorsements for skills that don’t pertain to your current goals.
• Remember that just because someone endorses you for something, doesn’t mean you have to endorse them back, it makes it less meaningful.

IMAGE: LinkedIn Logo ( Published on 01-07-2010 0:00 a.m. )

Why Should You be Using LinkedIn Groups? by Britney Balg

Many business professionals have started tapping into the resources that LinkedIn has to offer. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, you can use LinkedIn to make direct connections with potential customers. Whether you are an Open Networker (you connect with anyone) or a Trusted Partner Networker (only connect with people you actually know), LinkedIn groups are a very good way to create quality connections with real potential clients.

You may already be involved in a LinkedIn group and find yourself contributing more than a lot of other members. If this happens you should think about starting your own group. LinkedIn groups are the most powerful aspect of the whole site if used correctly. If you start your own group you can actually direct people to your company blog or other website. Being the group leader makes you a very desirable connection, someone with proven knowledge of whatever your group is about. The more valuable connections you can make, the more your business will grow.

Just like every other aspect of social media/networking, there are rules to how to use groups professionally. You don’t connect with groups to bombard the group connections with advertisements or spam, that’s not what the groups are meant for. Groups are about community contributions, relative information to the group subject, and general knowledge or tips to help others grow their business. The idea is that everyone contributes valuable and appropriate content, which adds to the group’s credibility as being a group of real professionals. So unlock the potential and get your group started, it could do wonders for your business.

Linkedin

Virtual Assistant: The Busy Realtor’s New Best Friend

Realtors are one of the groups of professionals that are starting to really take advantage of the virtual assistant market. As a Realtor you have a lot of things to do all day long, every day. You are obviously already good at time management, but imagine if you could just take a couple of tasks off your plate, all the time that you would free up to work on other things, or maybe even relax a little bit. There are monotonous tasks that you have to get done to keep your business running smoothly, like database maintenance, telemarketing, mailing thank you cards, gathering information via internet research and much more. These things all sound easy, but when think about how much time you actually spend doing these things it adds up.

 Let your VA take over things like social media, blogging, and posting listings on various sites. Those are simple tasks that can take up a lot of your valuable time. When you look for your VA find a company or person who has people who specialize in real estate VA work. Then you can use them to be your listing coordinator, open house coordinator, or direct marketer. Imagine if you never had to make an uncomfortable cold call again. Wouldn’t that be nice? If you do speaking events, conferences or other hosted events your VA can help you with speech writing and even planning the event. There are just so many things that you could get help with without having to have an office.

 How do you find your virtual assistant?  Ask around your community of realtor contacts. There is a boom right now of Realtors using virtual assistants, so ask someone you know if they have used one, if they haven’t chances are they know someone who has. Don’t jump right in either. Once you find a VA you think you would like to use, give them a small task. See how well you like the results, how fast the turn around time is, and whether you had good communication. If it works out then you can use that person to do other things for you. If it doesn’t work out, you just find another one and try again. That is the beauty of a VA if you don’t like the result you don’t have to fire anyone you just don’t use them again. Check out your VA’s website, read their blog, and check out their social media accounts, it will be helpful in finding a legitimate VA with a record of good work.

pic for blog

April 2013 Client of the Month

This month’s Client of the Month is Nancy Whitehouse-Bain, Realtor with RE/MAX Property Promotions in Leominster, Ma. McClure Virtual Business Solutions assists Nancy on an ongoing basis with various administrative tasks. Nancy has been a full time broker for over 18 years and as s Top Producer she specializes in Single family homes, Multi-families, Condominiums, New Construction and Land listings.

Nancy’s accomplishments extend to her being a Certified Distressed Property Expert – CDPE, Certified Buyers Representative – CBR, Member of 100% Club – Top Producer, RE/MAX Hall of Fame, 2009 Platinum Producer and 2010 Gold Producer.

In addition to her accomplishments she is affiliated with the Northern Worcester County Board of Realtors, Massachusetts Association of Realtors, Gardner Chamber of Commerce, RE/MAX International.

She is married to a wonderful man named Scott, and has two children, Dean and Sabrina as well as two step-children, Ashleigh and Jordan. Nancy enjoys playing basketball and racquetball when she gets the chance. For more information on your local real estate market, contact Nancy at nancw@propertypromotions.net and don’t forget to check out her website for real estate tips and trends athttp://www.wykesandwhitehouse.com/.

4 Things to let your Virtual Assistant Handle by Britney Balg

If you have elected to use the services of a Virtual Assistant (VA) you have thought through how much it will save you over having an on-site assistant. You’ve probably thought about how nice it will be to not have to deal with the hiring/firing process or having to carry all the insurances associated with a full time employee. But what can a VA actually do for you? Every VA offers different services but these are 4 things that most Virtual Assistants can do.

Bookkeeping:  It’s one of the easiest things to hand over to your Virtual Assistant. You will have to relinquish some of your control but if you find the right VA it won’t stress you out because the job will get done right. Having your bookkeeping needs taken care of will allow you time to focus on bigger parts of your business.

Online Research: Online research can  time consuming and difficult to some. Outsourcing this task to your VA will free up a lot of time for you.  The results can be put into a simple format for you to easily take the information you want from it.

Database Creation/Maintenance: Creating a database is easy if you know what you are doing but can be difficult to get going if you are inexperienced at it.  You can give your VA your information and in no time they can create a database to meet your needs. If you have already made your own database from time to time you will need to update and maintain it. You could even set up scheduled maintenance with your VA so you never run into any problems accessing and using your database.

Social Networking:  Social networking is one of the most important things when it comes to promoting yourself or your business. Like anything else though, it is very time consuming. It is 24-7 networking. So it is nice to have someone to help you keep up with it. Multiple usernames and passwords, remembering to update, re-post, tweet, and doing it all on time are all things a VA can take care of for you. It takes away a lot of the stress of social media.

Remember, every VA is different. They offer many other services that may be advantageous to you.. Look at what things seem to cause stress or cause snags in your daily business and let your Va take over. Learning how to utilize your VA will make the most of your time and your dollar.

THE NEW CONVENTIONAL OFFICE by: Annette Bouchard

As a conventional employer your responsibilities vary from interviewing people, hiring them, training them and then sometimes firing them if they are not adequately suited for the position. All of this time is money to your business. The act of firing someone can land an employer in court fighting about unlawful termination or discrimination. Because of those things a lot of business professionals are turning to virtual assistants. With a VA you can avoid all that hassle. You hire the VA to do a job or project and if things go well, you continue to hire them. If it doesn’t work out then you move on and it’s that simple.

With a VA you are not bound to conventional office hours. Depending on the terms of your contract with your VA you can expect to hand over the work and have it completed by the agreed upon deadline. You wouldn’t dream of asking your Office Administrator to input data after 5:00pm, in order for it to be available before 9:00am the following day. A Virtual Assistant doesn’t close the office at 5. There are VA’s available during regular business hours but many are available to work nontraditional hours providing flexibility with no added expense. The virtual assistant is quickly becoming the more practical business solution.

The way we do business is evolving and traditional models don’t fit all businesses anymore. A VA is a great way to manage your business. The new conventional office allows a business owner the function of a full office with less responsibility and a lot more flexibility.

Aside

MVBS March 2013 Client of the Month

The McClure Virtual Business Solutions Client Of The Month is Capt. Mike Hogan and the team at  Hogy Lure Company in Falmouth, Massachusetts. MVBS assists Mike and his team on a regular basis by providing ongoing administrative services. Capt. Mike founded Hogy Lure Company in 2004 when he left his Boston-based office job and moved back to Cape Cod to run inshore and offshore charters. During these fishing charters he became aware of the need for large-style soft baits that mimicked the larger live baits for specific situations of trophy class fishing. Capt. Mike began experimenting with soft plastics until he finally developed the special blend that the company uses today for their very effective and highly recommended lures.  The incredible success of the Hogy Lure led to their incorporation in 2005 and their 1st patent that was received in 2009.

Hogy Lure Company has grown significantly over the past few years and they have sold their unique lures to over 22 countries.  Their success has not affected the way they design their lures.  Hogy Lures are American made and only top grade plastics and their  hand poured method are used to create their soft bait lures.

For more information on Hogy Lure Company, their products and fishing in general visit their awesome website at www.hogylures.com. To check out their ongoing specials visit them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/#!/profile.php?id=100000808507450&sk=wall. Fish Big. Fish Hogy.Image