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/

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Four Tips for Choosing the Right Social Media Management Company

In today’s internet saturated business world, it is imperative that a company have a solid social media presence. Many businesses choose to hand this responsibility over to a management or consulting company that specializes in maintaining social media accounts for clients.

Not all consultants can deliver all the successful social media interaction they promise, so knowing what to look for when choosing the right company for you is very important. According to Social Media Management Mavens: “generally, a good social marketing agency is one who can give you a fresh approach, offer unmatched skill, and provide solid advice for your business as a whole.” Here are four qualities to consider when choosing the right social media management for you:

1. Professional Presentation: This company will be controlling your online presence and the way you are presented to the users of social media networks. Tim Parker of Intuit advises: “Make sure their [writing] voice matches your company’s style — and that they have a solid grasp of proper spelling and grammar…Typos do not come across as professional.” Your potential social media manager must have the same commitment to quality that you do.

2. Dedication: You want to get the best out of this service, so as Social Media Mavens recommend, evaluate the potential companies’ “enthusiasm.” To ensure that your social media campaign is managed correctly, the service provider must be as devoted to your company as you are. The Mavens advise: “The right social media agency will eat, sleep, and breathe your brand. They will be a team dedicated to make your business shine, and they will love what they do!”

3. Social Media Presence: Does the company maintain an effective social media presence for itself? Is it monitoring itself as it promises to look after your interests? It is important to consider questions like these asked at PRWeb: “What social media networks have they used to craft their own social media influence?” and “Are they active members of any professional social media focused organizations or blogging communities?” Your potential management company should have the social media presence you envision for your business.

4. References: Finally, as Tim Parker at Intuit suggests, ask for references! As with any service you pay for, be it plumbing or snowplowing, it is wise to not take the provider’s claims of expertise and success at face value. Parker advises: “working with an individual, [the person should] provide three to five professionals references…. working with an agency … ask to speak with previous small-business clients to make sure that you won’t be ignored in favor of larger accounts.” Consider the references and ask to see other pages the service manages. Conduct your own review.

In essence, it is vital when choosing a social media management company to consider the role that social media plays in your potential service provider’s business. Remember the importance of presentation, dedication, social media presence, and above all, references!

SOURCES:  http://www.socialmediamanagementmavens.com/how-to-choose-a-social-media-marketing-agency

http://blog.intuit.com/employees/10-tips-for-selecting-a-social-media-manager/

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/8/prweb11004538.htm

http://social-media-marketing-services-review.toptenreviews.com/

http://www.itworld.com/software/350457/how-choose-social-media-management-service

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/

http://www.marriott.com/Multimedia/PDF/check_time.pdf

http://www.event360.com/assets/files/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

Clear Clutter and Streamline Your Thinking by Toni Earls

When running your own small business from an office or from your home, organization, both physical and mental, is always an important factor in your success. Not surprisingly, clutter has been found to be a significant factor contributing to stress and anxiety in your work environment.

According to Mikael Cho’s article, clutter can affect your productivity adversely. He mentions a study undertaken at Princeton University which gave participants the same task in an organized and a disorganized environment: “The results of the study showed that physical clutter in your surroundings competes for your attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress.”

Psychology Today echoes these findings with Sherrie Bourg Carter’s piece. She points out that although clutter poses a considerable threat to efficiency at home and productivity in a business environment, this fact often goes unacknowledged. “Messy homes and work spaces leave us feeling anxious, helpless, and overwhelmed. Yet, rarely is clutter recognized as a significant source of stress in our lives.”

 Carter suggests a day-to-day approach to cut down on clutter at your desk and increase productivity. She says that giving yourself a fresh start each day will be beneficial: “De-clutter your primary work space before you leave it… make a habit of cleaning off your work space before you go. Not only will this give you a sense of closure when you leave, it will also make you feel good when you return to a nice, clean space.”

One more point to consider is mentioned by Cho. He stresses that in our virtually connected business culture, clutter is not simply a pile of manila folders and un-filed papers on your desk. Electronic clutter can be just as debilitating: “Files on your computer, notifications from your Twitter and Facebook accounts, and anything that goes “ping” in the night competes for your attention. This creates a digital form of clutter that erodes your ability to focus and perform creative tasks.”

Scheduling time into your work day to devote to clearing out your digital clutter can help with this. By designating a particular time or multiple times every day to devote to dealing with business related emails and social media, you can train yourself not to jump every time a new message beeps, distracting you from the task at hand.

 SOURCES:

http://lifehacker.com/how-clutter-affects-your-brain-and-what-you-can-do-abo-662647035

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/high-octane-women/201203/why-mess-causes-stress-8-reasons-8-remedies

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. )

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/.