Monday, October 29, 2007

Halloween Treat to Avoid IRS Trick

Halloween, my favorite holiday! With less than 48 hours to go I hope you're prepared with plenty of treats and a nifty costume. (I'm handing out candy this year as 'Ugly Betty').

Now, is also a good time to get prepared for....da da da dummmm ...pre-tax planning for your 2008 tax bill. Oh, it's scary just how fast April 15th arrives.

Now is a good time to put all your records in order for next year and maybe even do a bit of planning to keep more of your hard-earned mediation income and make tax day less of a nightmare. If your Quickbooks is a mess (or if Chart of Accounts puts you in a trance), let me suggest some help.

Joanne O'Connell, the super Virtual Assistant who runs Executive Business Cents knows how to put a charm on the most vexing of accounting problems. Joanne helped me enter and reconcile a year's worth of data to clean up my books. And, her fees didn't feel like a hex!

Reach out to Joanne before unnecessary financial mistakes drain the life from your business.

Try. Fail. Learn. Growl!


6 Questions about Mediation Marketing Coaching

“What is individual coaching like?” That’s one of the most common questions mediators ask me. Normally, I take care of this with a brief call or email, but I thought it would be helpful to share what happens at a ‘typical coach session’ in an article, too. Let’s dive right in.

What Will We Talk About?

Anything you want that will help you achieve your goals. Really- no pressure. Whether you know exactly what you want to talk about or you need a kick start, you can have exactly what you need during your coaching session. Some mediation marketing clients come to me with a specific concern they want to attack like nailing down a niche or feeling more confident as marketers or generating a list of article titles. Others start with a fairly broad notion- I want to do mediation- and we go from there.

All calls start with greetings and a simple ‘catch up’ so we can decide what to focus on for that session. All calls are recorded so you can concentrate on your thoughts and the exchange of ideas, not taking notes.

Is It All Talk?

Absolutely not, this work is action oriented. Sure, we’ll spend time discussing interesting questions meant to give you more insight into your own interests, strength and barriers. However, coaching is not therapy. Often by talking you’ll be re-discovering ideas and concepts you already know (but aren’t doing). Creating action steps and new plans flow naturally from these conversations. And, that usually means homework. Action brings results.

Will The Coach Pressure Me?

No. I’ll certainly ask about the homework because part of what I offer is a way for you to hold yourself accountable. However, there aren’t any penalties or hard feeling. I’m there to support you in the way that is most effective and comfortable for you. Just like mediation is about self-determination so is coaching. People who coach with me want successful mediation practices so they usually do their homework and more.

Is Coaching Expensive?

I worried about this, too, when I first tried coaching. I’ve purchased coaching programs that cost several thousand dollars and ones that were just a few hundred per month. I came away from these experiences understanding what makes for good coaching and a few theories that I put into practice with my own Breakthrough Calls.

Coaching doesn’t have to be expensive. The expensive coaching programs aren’t necessarily better – they simply cost more, which sometimes is equated with quality. Here’s the real question you want to ask yourself:

Can this coach help me with the issues I currently face and achieve my goals?

With the right coach, the value you receive- better resources, better marketing, more clients- will far outweigh the cost. I think good guidance and support should be value driven and affordable so that’s what Breakthrough Calls represent.

When Will Coaching be Finished?

There isn’t any set number of calls to this mentoring program. Just like websites and gardens, building a successful mediation practices requires frequent tending of your conflict resolution skills and marketing skills. There’s always more to learn. You can book sessions whenever you need or want them. Use the calls as you see fit: monthly check ins, quarterly roundup calls or maybe just a question or two.

But what’s it really like?

Fun and focused. We get a lot done but in a fun, humorous way that’s inspiring and hopeful. Clients say they leave the calls with clarity, a positive outline and….homework.

If you'd like to try coaching a Mini-Breakthrough Call is a good way to get your feet wet.

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow!



Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Sales Calls for Mediators

Back in the day, when I first starting courting corporate work, getting a human resources person to take a meeting with me was tough. Just getting a live person on the phone was a miracle. Then, once I got the meeting I frequently encountered what I call stall tactics. You know, the person is interested but wants more time or isn't and doesn't know how to say no. Thankfully, I developed determination, finesse and some good strategies for managing these barriers.

If you struggle with what to say, check out this article in the New York Enterprise Report that offers a quick response to the four famous stall tactics:

  1. Send me something in the mail

  2. I don't have the budget for that (my personal favorite)

  3. I don't have time to meet

  4. Call me after ....the holidays, next month, next year

Here's what I might say to each of these roadblocks:

1. I can, but meeting allows me to really learn about your needs and create something specifically for you. Twenty minutes, 3 questions and we'll be done. Fair enough?

2. Ok, I understand that. If money was available and you knew this project could solve your problems, would you proceed with this? Great, then let's get creative on finding funding? Maybe a grant?

3. Sure, you're busy. Given what you've told me about the costs to your organization now, can this problem wait to be solved?

4. No problem. Why don't we just set up a tentative appointment now for a month from now for twenty minutes- with the proviso we'll reschedule if necessary.

Of course you can use or modify these at will. Let me know how you make out.

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow!



Thursday, October 18, 2007

Happy Conflict Resolution Day!

On Halloween, we give out candy and treats. For Chanukah, we give gifts. How the heck do you celebrate Conflict Resolution Day? Many, many wonderful ways.

Today, I'm hosting a no-cost teleseminar entitled, So You Want to Be a Mediator at 2 p.m. We'll answer questions about how to enter the field, being an ADR entrepreneur and just getting to know each other. Because the best part of any celebration is being together.

So You Want to Be a Mediator
Teleseminar TODAY
2 p.m. Eastern

To join the conversation, send a blank email to NOW. This call won't be recorded so I hope to talk with you live.

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow

PS Dyanamic Duo: A One Page Business Plan and Elevator Pitches Made Easy are like Batman and Robin- they go together. Sign up for the pair (10/26 and 25th) and save a bundle.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Provocative Mediation Question

Is it ok to make money? It's a question that every mediator has to grapple with eventually. I don't have the answers (I'm hoping you'll tell me in the comments below). I do have this observation.

We Just Don't Talk About Money

We don't talk about financial measures as a profession or status as individuals. I don't know why we don't. Maybe it's because doing so would be impolite. Maybe it's because doing so as individuals would make us feel vulnerable or judged. It seems to be a major barrier to our growth, at least to me. I'm really like to understand this more, especially since benchmarking is common with other professionals.

A quick internet search and I can easily find the average fees and annual incomes for other professionals like doctors, lawyers, and accountants. That's truly helpful information when you're running a business. Personally, I'd love to know the average cost to acquire a client for mediation firms. Or what's the average annual growth rate. Or even, just the average starting salary for a new mediator.

Could be I haven't been looking in the right places. Anyone out there got any ideas on where to find these numbers or why we seemingly don't care about them?

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow!


Friday, October 12, 2007

Is Mensch a Top 10 Blog?

Michael Steizner over at Writing White Papers is seeking nominations for the Top 10 Marketing Blogs. What's very cool about this polling is that it opens up a completely new source of terrific marketing blogs to read. You are staying up on new marketing trends and ideas by reading blogs, right? It's a great way to be inspired, informed and supported.

I'm biased, of course, in thinking that Mediation Mensch is surely one of the 10 top mediation marketing blogs. If you agree, why not shoot Michael a comment on his blog before Oct 31st.

Many thanks to Colm Brannigan for the heads up.

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow!


Friday, October 05, 2007

Better than Papelbon: What's Your Best Elevator Pitch?

Nobody likes doing an elevator pitch. It's nerve-wracking. A bit embarrassing. And, surely you never quite get out all the words you practiced for so long. And, yet... if you nail that 30 seconds of flirtation, new clients and connections await you.

Pitching Greatness

I'm sure Jon Papelbon would agree that pitching greatness is a art and science- in baseball and in business.

I'm thinking about the difference between a boring elevator pitch that outlines services, locations, cost savings, etc and a crisp, humorous pitch that catchs my attention and imagination. On October 25th, I'm hosting a call, Elevator Pitches Made Easy, for mediators to take their best shot and get just-in-time feedback. The best pitches- definitely, the ones that make me say hmmm- are provocative. Compelling pitches draw me into the conversation further with just a few well chosen words until I'm asking questions and thinking about next steps.

The analogy that comes to mind for me is seduction. Although that word has a pretty racy past, the dictionary describes it as ' deliberately enticing someone into an act'. Getting clients to work with you as their mediator could be considered a seduction. And, if that's the case it makes figuring out your pitch a lot more fun, I think.

Help Sharpen My Ears

As the 25th approaches, I feel the need to perk up my ears. So, here's a serious invitation. You are cordially invited to add your very best elevator pitch to my comment section. I'll get a tune up and you'll get a exposure for your website and maybe even some on the fly coaching! Add your pitch below now!

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow!


PS as a little fall fling, I'm bundling One Page Business Plan with Elevator Pitches Made Easy. Register for both for just $65


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Getting a Foot in Corporate's Door

Many mediators ask me what's the secret to landing a workplace gig. I've worked with many companies large and small on a variety of projects. There isn't a secret but here are a few tips to share.

Be Broad. Unbundle your Skills

From designing an internal mediation program for Polaroid to serving as a facilitator as Colonial Gas merged to acting as conflict coach for senior executives at Fleet to training managers at Milipore, each project required different skills and knowledge beyond simply mediator. Make sure you are well-rounded in the kinds of professional activities that businesses need - consulting, training, coaching and mediation.

Quick story. Bank of Boston was my first corporate client. I got my foot in their door after a year of effort (more below about that) to do a basic conflict workshop for their human resources department. That single job turned into four very productive years of collaboration on all sorts of projects dealing with conflict, including mediation. Why? Because I saw myself - and helped them to see me - as a problem-solver who used mediation as one of my tools.

Be Prepared, be Overly Prepared

Attracting the attention of a prospective client is a little like dating. You have to make your interest clearly known (and a bit of flattery never hurts). Research your company. Set a Google Alert for its name. Read the local business paper for references about them or interviews with their key employees. Then demonstrate that knowledge and interest in each contact you have with them.

While courting Bank of Boston I followed their every move, especially those by Helen Drinan, former VP for HR and Greg Rice, Director of Employee Relations. Connecting a company with a person is very helpful in creating a thoughtful pitch. Those insights into Greg's character and management style allow me to tailor my communications to fit his needs and interests. Eventually, my efforts paid off with an invitation to audition (my training) for a select group. The rest as they as is history.

Be Persistent - in a Nice Way

It's important to stay top-of-mind with prospective clients so they call you when the need arises. It's equally important not to make a pest out of yourself. So where's the boundary line? It's a tough question and only you can decide.

Personally, I discovered that calling a prospect every 4-6 weeks and sending two notes/emails about relevant topics in between works for me. I also realized that forcing myself to make one extra call generally pays off. So if you're torn between a note and a call - make the call.

Try to contact at least two related people, say the sales manager and the president and cc the other. I think it can stimulate internal conversation about you or at least make someone hesitate before sending your note to the circular file. Oh, it's really useful to keep a chart of your communications with a company. It's hard to recover from sending someone the same great article twice.

More to come

Of course there so much more to consider and learn as you approach corporate clients, but this is a good start. I hope folks will share your questions, challenges or successes in the comments. If there's enough interest, I'll consider hosting a coaching group on marketing to businesses.

Try. Fail. Work. Grow!