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  • 23 Apr 2013 11:11 AM | Working Women (Administrator)
    Blog by: 
Shannon Spring -

    Traditional business “wisdom” was that work was not supposed to be fun, that’s why it’s called work.

    In reality, this is neither true nor wise. Humor is a great way to reduce stress at work. Happier people at work are more productive, better team players, and healthier, which translates into greater profits.

    Chris Robert, professor of management at the University of Missouri College of Business, says joking around on the job and humor can actually have a positive effect on productivity and employee retention.

    Proclaimer: Choose the ones that suit your sense of humor and are likely to be successful in your office, then label yourself Fun-Inspired!

    Here are 10 Tips for adding fun and productivity to your workplace beside being a likeable person!

    1. Have a company team-building day! This does not have to involve swinging from ropes or falling into the arms of the person you can’t stand. Hire a professional to customize a day of fun and games that will appeal to the personalities of your team and address the issues you face and goals you want to achieve. The grouchiest person in the office often lightens up when given the chance to play. Teambuilding helps coworkers create a new dynamic based on shared laughter, not forced trust.

    2. Humor encourages teamwork by building a sense of camaraderie. Have your group(s) come up with its own goofy cheer with each person contributing a line. Use it to start or end each meeting or as needed to reduce stress.

    3. Even a candy jar can be fun.
    Put one on your desk and anyone who takes a piece must pay you a compliment. This is a win-win!

    4. Have an office mascot - any funny looking doll, puppet, or inflatable dinosaur will work. The mascot will travel the office once a day, with each employee writing down the 1st thing that comes to mind when it reaches their desk.  Read some of these musings at the next meeting and try to guess who wrote what. Be sure the mascot is included in all company photos.

    5. Have a contest for ways to improve workplace morale. Vote on the best idea and implement it! Be prepared to hear “Fire Management”. Have a sense of humor and “fire” yourself at the next meeting, then rehire yourself on the condition that you’ll value employee input and start putting their fun ideas to work.

    6. Liven up meetings by using silly props such as a funny microphone shaped like a bird. You can only talk when it’s your turn to “squawk”. Any prop will do, but the wackier the better.

    7. Have a humorous celebration once a month giving small awards or certificates to people for “nonsense” things such as, who had the neatest desk, who broke the copy machine, whose hair is never out of place.

    8. Simple praise and recognition are fun to give and fun to get. Appreciating people goes a long way towards creating a happy workplace. Have a crowning ceremony for shining stars with a crown, music, and receiving line to pay the VIP personal and public praise! Don’t just think good things, say them.

    9. Have a team brainstorming session to resolve workplace challenges such as a specific customer service issue, or how to increase sales. Each staff member will write down a serious suggestion and a humorous one. Give prizes for the best idea in each category.

    10. Create monthly opportunities for people to know something about each other outside their work role which creates a fun-friendly environment. Try a talent show in the office where everyone can showcase a personal talent they have, or a group trip to the local bowling alley for some lighthearted fun.

    What are some of the things you think add fun to the workplace?

    For more information on how Shannon Spring can bring more fun and productivity to your workplace visit

  • 16 Apr 2013 11:28 AM | Working Women (Administrator)
    By: Robin Lavitch

    When I ask people how long it takes to form a first impression, I receive the typical response of three to seven seconds.

    Did you know that it actually takes only a tenth of second to form an impression about whether someone is attractive, trustworthy and/or credible, according to relationship expert Tonya  Reiman? We mentally make judgments about people so quickly we are not even conscious of having made these judgments.

    We quickly assess the appearance of an individual from their hair, dress, posture, and other subtle body gestures to see how similar we are to others.  We are aware that first impressions do exist, so we attempt to put our best foot forward, but what we think is our best foot, just might not be.

     Imagine what happens if we believe our right foot is our best foot, but someone else believes our left foot is best.  In the 1920’s Dr. William Martson, behavioral assessment psychologist identifies four different behavioral styles in his book titled The Emotions of Normal People

    The information is now currently packaged as the DISC Model.  There are other variations relating to animals, colors, and behavioral concepts called MIND the Matters, where MIND is the acronym describing the four distinct styles:  Motivator, Investigator, Nourisher, and Dominator.

    When we create an impression, our own behavioral style will influence
    how we judge and evaluate others and how they judge and evaluate us.

    As a Motivating Style, it is natural to dress in a trendy fashion with colors, patterns and textures that draw lots of attention.  Whereas the more reserved Nourisher Style would much prefer to wear natural and neutral styles to blend into the background and even walls as if they were a chameleon so they don’t get a lot of attention.  In this scenario, the styles are literally opposite and given how quickly we form first impressions, the first impression from either party would not be favorable.  The Motivator would think the other person is too reserved and the Nourisher would think the other person is over the top!

    Can we undo first impressions or are these lasting impressions?

    Body language expert Carol Kinsey Goman suggests 7 non verbal ways to make a first impression. She confirms studies have found that nonverbal cues have over four times the impact on the impression you make than anything you say.

    The key to managing our relationships is to acknowledge how we are being perceived.  If we pay attention more to this and interact with others interests in mind, identifying the best foot is irrelevant because our focus shifts to connecting. 

    To learn more about Robin Lavitch visit,

  • 09 Apr 2013 10:26 AM | Working Women (Administrator)

    As 2013 continues to unfold, some clear, important success themes have emerged from our community.

    Here are some of the highlights so far:

        •    Personal Brand and social media strategist Deborah Shane opened our year in January highlighting 13 Marketing Musts for 2013, focusing on content marketing via social media.

        •    Jennifer Samuel-Chance led a series of exercises to help you build the confidence to articulate your story.

        •    Entrepreneur panel with Fran Powers, Dawn Pici and Elizabeth Markie presented the best tools to connect with your audience and deliver solid, impactful content to become better presenters.

        •    Certified business coaches Barbara & Juliet Kyes outlined the top 10 strategies successful business owners use to get more out of their time and self manage their 24 hour clock.

        •    Our social media Panel with Charise Strandberg, Kim Garst and Deborah Shane talked about the latest social media trends and best practices for small business success.

        •    Author and expert Lisa Huetteman, presented best practices of value-centered leadership highlighting why creating the right culture is essential for long term business success.

        •    Our First Annual Leadership Lunch in honor of International Women’s Day brought together Tampa Bay’s top women in business for networking, leadership, building core strengths and mentorship.

    Some of the questions we are tackling and working on this year are:

    What does it take to sustain success?
    Every one of us has to create their answer for this question. Depending on our situation and stage in life, we must create our best formula and strategy for sustaining our success.

    What do I need to do every day to make sure I am advancing professionally?
    Keeping up with your skills, industry information, market connections are all paramount. Keeping up with the pace of change is a daily occurrence.

    How do I know when to change my course and tweak my plan?
    Things change so fast that a plan we put in place may not be applicable or working. Don’t wait or procrastinate. Make changes when you know things are not working or moving in the best direction.

    The course, path and professional advancement continues to unfold for women in business.

    The latest State of Women-Owned Business Report by American Express Open published in 2012 provides some interesting insights into the current trends among WBEs.
        •    There are 8.3 million+ women-owned businesses in the United States
        •    WBEs are generating nearly $1.3 trillion in revenues and employing 7,697,000 people
        •    Between 1997 and 2012, women-owned firms increased 54%, 1½ times the national average of 34%

    “There are many reasons to be positive. I strongly believe that the next five to 10 years will see a dramatic change for the better. Women managers can contribute to this by understanding that there are certain expectations related to organizational leadership, and developing their skills accordingly” says Professor Ginka Toegel,  in her Forbes article Disappointing Statistics, Positive Outlook.

    As we continue to work on all of the areas, skills and fundamentals for success, we know that our commitment, dedication and consistency to them are what moves us forward.

    Was the Dali Lama on to something, when he proclaimed “Western Women will Save the World, or will women worldwide save the world?

  • 08 Mar 2013 12:36 PM | Working Women (Administrator)
    Guest Post by Julie Robbins-Founder IdeaWorks and IdeaActive

    If you’re like me and run your own company (no matter what the size or stage of growth), you know exactly what it’s like to burn the wick at both ends to build even the tiniest bit of business momentum.

    At the top of every entrepreneurs “lessons learned” list should be qualifying prospects.  This is the key to enjoying your work, building client successes and growing your business faster and more efficiently.  Qualifying relationships saves precious energy, money and our most important commodity, time!

    Here’s an 8 question prospect qualification checklist that has worked well for me and can help you attract, qualify and retain the best customers and determine if a client is a good fit for you and your company model.

    1)  Does this company or individual have a favorable reputation as a highly regarded company?

    2)  Do they understand the value of a strategic business plan?
    3)  What is their growth potential in the next 2 years?
    4)   Do they have a realistic sales strategy and marketing plan and objectives?
    5)  Are they principled and realistic?
    6)  Do they have a budget that will allow for the proper attention and resources needed to dedicate to achieving growth and revenue goals?
    7)  Do their company values mesh well with your own?
    8)  Do you sense you can we work well together in long-term, close professional relationship?

    Always lead with your heart, head and gut. If an opportunity seems too good to be true, it probably is.  If you sense red flags of any kind, don’t ignore them. Finally, if a prospect stands for a shred of something you and your company cannot get behind; move on, as they probably are not a good fit.

    Here are 26 additional questions you can use for qualifying, building rapport and handling objections.

    What are some of the techniques and tactics you use to qualify new business and customers?

    Julie Robbins is the founding partner of IdeaWorks and IdeaActive, a new type of Performance Management Company that designs and implements marketing roadmaps fully integrated with clients' business plans while focusing on measurable growth.  For more information connect with
    Julie on LinkedIn:
  • 08 Mar 2013 12:33 PM | Working Women (Administrator)
    What’s your R-O-N or Return on Networking?

    We spend a considerable amount of time networking in person because we know it’s still the most important way to meet the right people and build relationships with our colleagues, peers and potential new customers.

    When you return from a networking event or conference, sorting it all out in an organized, systematic and timely way is the key to beginning the conversion from connection to relationship.

    The National Association of Sales Professionals reports 48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect and 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact. So, getting your follow up in motion as soon as possible and being in the 52% who follow up is smart.

    Set aside some time immediately to prioritize the contacts you made, think about your follow up strategy and make sure you follow up in a timely manner. You will want to get back to people while you are both fresh in each other’s minds.

    Here are 9 things to do that can increase your R-O-N and accelerate converting connections into actionable relationships.

    1) Sort through all the cards and contacts you made and prioritize them. Review all the cards and contacts from the people you owned a moment with, or had a meaningful exchange with. Tip: write notes on the back of the cards to remind you of what you talked about.

    2) Prioritize who you need to follow up with first and why. Although we gather cards at these events, prioritizing the warmest connections and ones that make the most sense to follow up on should be followed up on first.

    3) Review all the sessions you attended and notes you took. If you attended a conference, take the program and review all the sessions you attended and what was presented to remind yourself of the flow of how the content was presented. This will help you with your follow up strategy. Set aside time to go through all your notes and highlight the key ideas from the speakers and presenters and list the key take away you got from them. Think about and plan how can you implement the information or tactic immediately.

    4) Review the handouts and information you took home. Review all the handouts, worksheets, post cards you took home and educate yourself for the follow up process. Visit blogs, websites and social media pages. Take advantage of any incentives offered to you by the speakers and conference presenters.

    5) Draft a customized follow up letter or email to each person on your follow up list. Personalize and compose a thoughtful note to each person that shows them you paid attention to what they said and the commonality of your conversation.

    6) Invite people to connect with you on social media. This is the bridge that can help you get into people’s communities, streams and conversations and get you noticed. Use the social media that they are most active on, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter as engagement points. Get into their conversations and invite them to get into yours.

    7)    Create a follow up phone call list to prospects you want to contact immediately. Don’t wait, pounce and be proactive with people you feel a strong intuition about. Qualify specifically, what you see as the synergy and prepare to lay out and discuss some collaborative ideas.

    8) Plan on connecting and introducing people in your network immediately that can benefit from knowing each other. When you demonstrate your “give” first, you set the tone for your brand in the relationship.

    9) Create a 30 day follow up plan. Relationships take time so plan on a 30 day custom follow up plan. Be specific, thoughtful, and consistent and interact with them as regularly as possible.

    These 9 actions can demonstrate your professionalism, mutuality and genuine interest in developing relationships with people that you meet in person.
    , reports when planning your follow up strategy:
    •    Facebook is the top driver of leads 54%, followed by Twitter 32% and LinkedIn 14%.
    •    Twitter was best for generating leads that had the highest conversion rates.

    A thoughtful, dedicated follow up strategy is essential for networking success. Get organized, make the plan and work the plan and watch your relationships grow!

    What follow up strategy has worked best for you after a networking event or conference?

  • 08 Mar 2013 12:31 PM | Working Women (Administrator)
    Blog By: Deborah Shane

    LinkedIn Takes Top Spot as Social Tool and Perfect Eco-System for Professional Advancement

    Working Women of Tampa Bay has been a BIG fan of LinkedIn since launching our business in 2008. As a weekly in person networking group for women in business to connect, educate and support each other, LinkedIn is the perfect online platform that compliments in person networking with the online connectivity in between events.

    According to a study by the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, Center for Marketing Research, under the direction of researcher Nora Ganim Barnes, PhD: LinkedIn replaces Facebook as the top social tool!

    This is pretty impressive but not surprising given the importance of online professional networking for branding and credibility. LinkedIn offers a turnkey, intuitive and resourceful eco-system for building professional connections and relationships, job search, business information and endorsing connections.

    Three key social media trends and statistics worth noting according to the 2013 study report are:

        •    8 in 10 companies, 81% use LinkedIn, up from 73% a year earlier.
        •    Blogging was up 44% from 37% a year earlier.
        •    YouTube is down from to 30% in 2012 from 45% in 2011

    This is the year to get more active on LinkedIn and take advantage of all of its resources to find key people, connect with them, stay up to date on the latest industry articles, sharpen the skills needed to compete and brand yourself in your professional space.

    Make a stand on LinkedIn and develop your profile so you are considered an “all star” and be dedicated to using it consistently.

    Read the entire Inc 500 article here, and see more studies from The Center for Marketing Research.

  • 23 May 2012 10:51 AM | Working Women (Administrator)
    Blog By: Patricia Rossi

    Social media is the new frontier...for business and personal communications. It has taken communication and marketing to a global scale at the speed of light. If you are using social media, then you have already experienced the magic, wonder, and value of it. If you haven't harnessed social media be careful as you don't want to appear as if you are sitting on a donkey while holding the keys to a Ferrari.

    Here are 20 keys to help you shine, be successful and strengthen personal and business relationships via social media.

        1.    Always make an appointment to video chat.
        2.    Make sure your surroundings are presentable when video chatting.
        3.    Resist the temptation to multitask.

    Click here
    to read the complete article.      
    Many of our relationships that began in business turn into valued friendships. Barry Moltz helped me with the launch of my book by writing an article and also interviewing me on his radio show. Barry, along with coauthor Becky McCray, just released Small Town Rules: How Big Brands and Small Businesses Can Prosper in a Connected Economy.
    The secret to self confidence is to know and understand the rules of social engagement before you are in the middle of an uncomfortable situation. Check out Everyday Etiquette for tips.
    My Business Success Series will show you how to navigate common and uncommon social situations that present themselves in professional as well as personal settings. We are all walking biographies – what story are you communicating to others through your unspoken soft social skills?
    Check out the 15 videos that are available in my Business Success Series.

  • 09 Apr 2012 8:30 PM | Working Women (Administrator)
    Blog by: Brenda Tillmann, The Sales and Client Relations Mentor, founder of Brenda Tillmann International

    When you are in business, you are in sales and at some point in our business; we all have experienced dry spells - just like in the dating world. So when that happens, what do you do?  Do you become desperate? Does every potential client start looking like "Mr. Right" to you, no matter if he fits your ideal client profile or not?

    Settling for the wrong customer can be a huge waste of time and money. You'll find yourself running around in circles trying to please this high-maintenance customer and miss viable opportunities to truly make a difference in your best customers life or business. 

    Develop a profile for your ideal client so that you are not tempted to close any old Joe Smoe that comes along.  To assist you getting really clear who this may be, take a look at your existing clients. This is the ONE individual in your business that you simply can't believe you get paid to work with. The one who happily pays your fees and appreciates the value you bring to their lives.  What does this person look like?   

    Take a few minutes to reflect on all of your clients and write down demographics of each person, make a list of...

        •    What problems your ideal clients have?

        •    What issues they need a solution for to get to the next level in their business or personal life?

        •    What roadblocks do they face when trying to achieve their desired goals?

    A pattern should emerge so look for it. What do they have in common? When you know who your ideal clients are, you will stop wasting time by chasing the wrong kind of prospects.  

    As you enter the "dating" stage, you may have a list with thousands of prospects on it.  But just as in love, so is it in business:  Timing is everything.  Not everyone will want to work with you or as I like to refer to it, have a relationship with you.  It’s important to realize, these prospects will move forward according to their time frame, not yours.  Now that doesn’t mean you have to wait around for them to take notice of you. 

    You will need a plan, a strategy, to move them through your sales funnel allowing them to essentially raise their hand to let you know they are interested in you.  You will become more efficient when following up if you have a system in place to find out who’s really into you, who kind of likes you, and who is still deciding what they think of you.  What are the deal breakers?

    Don’t be a serial dater and don’t wait too long to call after a date!  Failing to follow up is a common problem for many entrepreneurs because they are busy chasing other opportunities. Too many business owners give up on their prospects way too early by thinking that if the sale doesn’t happen on the first meeting, it never will. Statically it’s been proven most consumers (81%) do not buy until at least the fifth contact.  

    What system do you have in place to make sure you are not the guy or gal who didn’t call?  To ensure that your leads don’t get lost, automate your email with auto-responders that deliver quality content from free reports, video tutorials, email series that they can learn from so that when they are ready to buy, they buy from you.  This is called nurturing your prospects.  

    But be careful not to move too fast!  Give the relationship time to grow before you ask for the sale.  Would you ask someone to marry you after only knowing him or her for five minutes?  Put yourself in his or her shoes, would you say, “yes” to a marriage proposal to someone you just met?  There are still discoveries to make about your prospects and they most certainly want to know more about you, too.  It’s crucial to their success as well as yours to make sure you are a right match before asking them to commit to a purchase. 

    So before you get down on one knee to propose, make sure:

        •    Your prospect knows the benefit you provide by educating them.

        •    Use social proof to demonstrate how you’ve served others and the successful outcomes of working with you.

        •    Give them a free trial so they can experience the benefits you provide. This will make them realize they can’t go another day without you!  

        •    Implement an automatic “warm fuzzy touch” plan with email or direct mail that will gradually take them by the hand and lead them through your sales funnel.  

    When you take your prospects through this simple and easy process, your ideal clients will naturally progress forward while the others opt-out…this is a beautiful thing!

    Marketing is like dating and can be fun. Especially when you provide a valuable product or service that people really need and can benefit from.  You’ve got something worthwhile to offer the world so get out there and get in the game!  Attract your ideal clients by playing up your positives, differentiate yourself from the competition, build meaningful relationships, and apply the rules of dating to your marketing and you’ll see your nurturing efforts consistently turn interested prospects into sales.  

    Brenda Tillmann, The Sales and Client Relations Mentor, is founder of Brenda Tillmann International and the creator of the Romance of Selling System™, the proven step-by-step program that shows women business owners exactly how to utilize their natural relationship skill set to sell with ease which literally transforms their sales results...guaranteed! You can get your F.R.E.E. Audio CD and receive her weekly sales & client relationship building articles on establishing more high-value relationships while consistently closing more sales at:

  • 29 Mar 2012 8:00 PM | Working Women (Administrator)
    Blog By:

    Your business card matters. It’s like a resume. It lets people know how you feel about yourself, your business and most importantly them. Your business card gives you an opportunity to make a stellar first and lasting impression.

    Here are a few ways to make sure you are making a memorable impact with your business card.

    1. It represents you. Your business card is a visual reminder of your company and most importantly you. Make it visually appealing. Use high quality graphics that are appealing to the eye. Invest in a nice heavy card stock not printing paper thickness.
    2. You can get 4,997 cards for 49 cents. Just kidding! But you can buy cards for a minimal amount of money. So, no marked out phone numbers or emails… if your information changes invest in new cards. You are worth it and so is the recipient.
    3. Never present your cards like you are in the middle of NYC’s Times Square handing them out in a wonton manner. If you respect your business card, hand it with grace and respect. Then, other people will treat it in the same manner and hopefully keep it as a reminder to build a business relationship with you in the near future.
    4. Before heading out to a networking event,know where your cards are. Put them in a place that you can easily locate in a smooth, relaxed manner. You don’t want to appear to be break-dancing or putting out a fire by patting yourself down like your clothes are on fire in search of a card.
    5. Always have some cards with you. If you say you have forgotten your card while at a networking event, it might appear as if you aren’t credible and competent.
    6. If you want to quickly and easily convert business cards into contacts. Check out and download the app. You will be able to snap a picture with the app, a business card is automatically converted into a contact. It will also show your LinkedIn profile.
    My Business Success Series will show you how to navigate common and uncommon social situations that present themselves in professional as well as personal settings. We are all walking biographies – what story are you communicating to others through your unspoken soft social skills? 

    Take a peek at the 15 videos that are available in my Business Success Series.

  • 16 Mar 2012 8:37 PM | Working Women (Administrator)
    Blog By: Vonda White, founder and CEO of Collegiate Risk Management and Student Insurance Inc.

    Recently I read an interesting article on, called “The fastest-growing job in America.” It discussed how the bad economy has taken away once-upon-a-time great jobs and how people are trying to make ends meet. They found a trend in how people are making money and surviving in this low job market.

    What’s the fastest growing job in America, you ask?
    That would be… the entrepreneur or in their words, the “hustler.”

    That word seems a little distasteful, but a lot of Americans have to “hustle” now and work 2-3 different jobs – as much as 20% of people are deemed underemployed, or juggling multiple gigs to pay the bills since the recession started in 2007. Yes, there will always be careers and work… but probably not how it used to be. Unfortunately, you might as well forget all about pensions, retirement plans and a guarantee of 40 hours every week. And if you’re lucky, your career won’t vanish because of technology or new social trends. Like CD store clerks, bookstore owners and even newspaper journalists.
    There is a fascinating dynamic reshaping of our thinking, in regards to what we do for a living. Some people will go into professions, but others are learning to become professionals or multi-skilled job creators for themselves. Yes, it can be a little scary to start your own business. Most people are afraid because they don’t want to lose the security of a paycheck or health insurance. However, the reality is that layoffs and buyouts are happening every day and the economy isn’t going to get better anytime soon.

    Take a leap of faith and hustle your way to entrepreneurship!

    That’s how this great nation began and that’s what America is all about! You can be and do anything. Don’t let the bad economy get you down. You can succeed even when the odds seem to be against you!

    Vonda White, founder and CEO of Collegiate Risk Management and Student Insurance Inc., built two companies that serve thousands of students nationwide with student health and accident insurance and various ancillary insurance products. A highly successful entrepreneur, Ms. White has received numerous awards and much recognition for her efforts.

    To learn more about Vonda White, visit:

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