Mike-Knudsen

September 16, 2011
by Mike Knudsen
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Better Business Communication

Effective Business Communication is about more than just being heard! - Good and bad communication affects outcomes with prospects, customers, employees and peers.

Learn about effective communication and how YOU can achieve better outcomes from your business interactions by paying attention to the way you communicate.

Learn how to listen more, learn how to read the response to your communication and learn how to sense how others feel about what you’ve got to say

Working with businesses of any size, Mike Knudsen delivers better business communication strategies and helps to put these into practice – Contact Mike to learn how to improve the effectiveness of your business communication.

communication knobs sm

March 10, 2012
by Mike Knudsen
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Effective Business Communication Strategies

What does effective business communication really mean? To many people it means “getting what I want” But is that being effective? Watch this fun animation and put yourself in the shoes of the characters as you watch it.

What is the difference in the communication approach and why does it matter?

To be effective communication must ensure all parties get what they want. We also want to ensure that the other party feels listened to. When we interact with others in business, all to often we may miss out the most important aspect of our communication approach:  “Listening”.   Working in sales, interviewing for new staff, interacting with your team, developing relationships with suppliers are all areas where effective business communication strategies can help deliver the results you want. It all starts with listening.

If true, it’s key to seek an understanding of the other party want before communicating how their wants and needs can be met. Taking this approach across all aspects of business communication requires an adjustment towards listen first, talk later. The big benefit is that anything you do say can be put in the context of the other party, allowing you to present your views and suggestions in ways that make sense to them.

Its really easy to try this in practice.  Next time you meet someone, ask them; “How are things” at the outset of the communication.  Take the time to listen to and explore the response you get and before long you will have a real insight into the person you have met. Now use your insight to direct your approach for how to communicate with the other person.

Not convinced yet? Doing it already? What are your experiences of effective business communication strategies?

Looking forward to some replies

Cash flow and the Banking Crisis

December 29, 2011
by Mike Knudsen
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Cash Flow, Credit and how the Banking Crisis Happened

How did the credit crunch and banking crisis happen?  Often asked and often discussed.  Someone realising that easy credit is a great way to grow a business.  Then someone worked out that credit derivatives is a great way to make lending appear safe and sound, even when perhaps it isn’t.  From then on, everyone had fun growing the economy.  But all good things come to an end.

Lizzy is the Owner of a Bar in the City …
She realizes that virtually all of her customers are unemployed alcoholics and, as such, can not afford to patronize her bar. To solve this problem, she comes up with a new marketing plan that allows her customers to drink now, but pay later. Lizzy keeps track of the drinks consumed on a ledger (thereby granting the customers loans). Word gets around about Lizzy’s “drink now, pay later” marketing strategy and, as a result, increasing numbers of customers flood into Lizzy’s bar.

Easy Credit Grows any Business (and any Economy)
Soon she has the largest sales volume for any bar in the City. By providing her customers freedom from immediate payment demands, she gets no resistance when, at regular intervals, she substantially increases her prices for wine and beer, the most consumed beverages. Consequently, Lizzy’s gross sales volume increases massively. Soon after Lizzie is invited to the Town Hall to help advice local politicians how to increase the amount of business on the high street.

What About Lizzie’s Overdraft?
A young and dynamic bank manager at the local bank identifies Lizzie as his fastest growing most profitable business customer. He recognizes that the customer debts constitute valuable future assets and increases Lizzy’s borrowing limit. He sees no reason for any undue concern because he has the debts of the unemployed alcoholics as collateral!

And Banks Like to Make More Money (in any way they can)
At the bank’s corporate headquarters, expert traders figure a way to make huge commissions, and transform these customer loans into DRINKIBONDS. These “securities” then are bundled and traded on international securities markets. Investors don’t really understand that the securities being sold to them as “AAA Secured Bonds” really are debts of unemployed alcoholics. Nevertheless, the bond prices continuously climb – and the securities soon become the hottest-selling items for some of the nation’s leading brokerage houses.

But all Good Things Come to an End!
One day, even though the bond prices still are climbing, a risk manager at the original local bank decides that the time has come to demand payment on the debts incurred by the drinkers at Lizzy’s bar. He so informs Lizzy. Lizzy then demands payment from her alcoholic patrons. But, being unemployed alcoholics — they cannot pay back their drinking debts. Since she cannot fulfill her loan obligations Lizzy is forced into bankruptcy. The bar closes and Lizzy’s 11 employees lose their jobs.

First Casualty: the Suppliers,
Overnight, DRINKIBOND prices drop by 90%. The collapsed bond asset value destroys the bank’s liquidity and prevents it from issuing new loans, thus freezing credit and economic activity in the community. The suppliers of Lizzy’s bar had granted her generous payment extensions and had invested their firms’ pension funds in the DRINKIBOND securities. They find they are now faced with having to write off her bad debt and with losing over 90% of the presumed value of the bonds. Her wine supplier also claims bankruptcy, closing the doors on a family business that had endured for three generations, her beer supplier is taken over by a competitor, who immediately closes the local plant and lays off 150 workers.

But What About the Banks?
Fortunately though, the bank, the brokerage houses and their respective executives are saved and bailed out by a multi billion pound no-strings attached cash infusion from the government. The funds required for this bailout are obtained by new taxes levied on employed, middle-class, non-drinkers who have never been in Lizzy’s bar.

And the Morale of the Story is?
If there isn’t one – We are all doomed!  Perhaps there is a lesson for everyone that building a business based on value rather than credit and managing a business for cash flow rather than profit has more longevity, more to offer for the stakeholders and ultimately offers more satisfaction and pride for everyone involved. And plenty of businesses are trading strongly through the economic conditions.  They pay attention to delivering value to their customers and managing their cash flow at the same time. They spend little time with their bank manager because they don’t need him.

Business mentoring tall

December 28, 2011
by Mike Knudsen
1 Comment

How to Find a Business Mentor?

Finding the right business mentor is critical and can be made easy. A combination of preparation and a simple approach to selecting the most suitable mentor for you will help ensure that your business mentor provides long term benefits for you and your business.

Before you start looking, ask yourself 3 questions:

  1. What outcomes do I seek from business mentoring?
  2. What additional skills and experience do I seek from a business mentor?
  3. What mentoring personality and style would help me the most?

Armed with the answers to these questions, your search will be much easier. You can identify potential mentors through many different routes including personal recommendations from people you know, on-line through Google, and through various web directories. Once you have identified potential mentors, you can use their websites to learn more about them. Websites will often highlight the personality, style and approach of the mentor and already at this point some may stand out to you as a person you could work with. Having a look at testimonials and references is another angle that can help identify the most suitable mentor. Testimonials give you information about the type of clients and the type of work the mentor covers. Use all these sources of information together with your criteria for the ideal mentor to short-list a handful of potential candidates.

At this point, make contact and have a chat on the phone with the mentors on your short-list. After each conversation ask yourself: How would I feel working with this mentor? Based on your feeling, pick 2 or 3 and and arrange to meet with them. All good business mentors will be happy to meet with you to talk through your business and mentoring needs. The meeting helps both parties find out if you can work together and create a mutually beneficial outcome. After the meetings go back to your criteria and ask yourself – “Which of the people I have met would help me the most?”

Picking a business mentor is a long term decision, so taking these steps is a good investment for you and your business. Importantly your investment is one of time rather than money. Once you have identified someone who you feel can really help you, ask them how they propose to work with you and at that point be clear to them about your budget. Having followed this process it is likely that you and your preferred mentor will find a way to work together that suits both parties as well as your budget.

Learn more about Business Mentoring>>

consumer-loyalty

December 18, 2011
by Mike Knudsen
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9 Laws of Consumer Loyalty in the Digital Age

Today, people have uninhibited access to platforms, channels and tools to express themselves at will. That group’s voice, employed individually or collectively, can reach the masses to organize game-changing movements across the world. Yet, despite the universal potential for connectivity, businesses are still struggling to understand the real impact of connected consumerism.

On a basic level, consumers need to feel that they are being heard, that action is taken on their behalf. Gaining followers on Twitter or Likes on Facebook is one thing, but to connect and foster real relationships, organizations must learn how to listen and adapt to consumer engagement.

The reality is that society and technology evolve faster than a brand’s ability to adapt. The good news is you have a role in defining where things go next. It all begins with attracting the attention of connected consumers and delivering consistent value to ultimately earn their affinity.

Today’s biggest trends — the mobile web, social media, gamification, real-time — are changing the landscape for business, government, media and consumerism. However, as consumers become better at personalizing their online experiences, they re-evaluate the people, organizations and information with whom they choose to connect. Therefore, the keys to long-term engagement and relationships are intelligence, empathy and resilience.

Although this is the end of business as usual, it’s also the beginning of a new era of visibility. Businesses now have the opportunity to become relevant in new channels and networks by forming meaningful alliances. To do that takes far more than gimmicks, contests and clever videos. It takes consistent value that the user can appreciate over time.

Connected consumers discover and communicate differently than their traditional consumer counterparts. To connect with them, companies must identify potential challenges, trends, POVs and interests. To adapt, organizations need to examine the impact of technology on consumer behavior, and to understand its effect on consumer decision-making and peer influence.

To attract consumers and earn their loyalty, businesses must follow the “Laws of Attraction and Affinity.”

1. Identify where connected consumer attention is focused.

2. Define a higher purpose — genuine intentions that will attract connected consumers and give them something to align with.

3. Establish an identity and a presence worthy of affiliation. Give people something to believe in — something exciting to be a part of.

4. Design your engagement strategies to be beneficial and shareable — this is, after all, about shared experiences.

5. Localize the value, content, storefront and engagement program to match the culture and activity within each direct-to-consumer (D2C) community.

6. This isn’t a power play; stay consistent and dedicated through meaningful interaction.

7. Remain true to the original mission and intention. Do not be swayed by short-term temptations.

8. Recognize and reward community participants — reciprocity is a strong pillar of community relationships.

9. The adaptive business will listen, learn and change based on the needs of the connected consumer. That way, a brand will consistently stay relevant and valuable.

Article Source: http://mashable.com/2011/11/16/connected-consumer-affinity/

About the Author: Brian Solis is principal of Altimeter Group, a leading research-based advisory firm. Brian is also the author of The End of Business as Usual, which explains how to tap into today’s biggest digital trends. Follow him @briansolis.
decision sign post sm

October 28, 2011
by Mike Knudsen
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Feeling like Alice in Wonderland?

“Which road do I take?” (Alice)
“Where do you want to go?” (Cheshire Cat)
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then, said the cat, it doesn’t matter.”

What happens when your team feels like Alice?

In life as in business, having direction is critical.  Lack of direction affects performance.  Ask yourself:  Where are you and your business today?  Where would you like it to be? How do you get there? Imagine asking everyone in your organisation.  Would the answers be the same? Think about your favourite sporting team: ‘Are they aligned when performing at their peak?’  – How do they find and maintain direction. High performance teams invest heavily in developing clear visions and shared perspectives.

Are you investing enough time in alignment?

Investing time with your team to explore, develop and renew your company strategy is a great way to increase productivity, deliver better service to your existing customers, reach new customers and ensure that your employees are engaged.  All of this will deliver top and bottom line returns

 “Shared vision and alignment lifts performance ”

This is true in any market and any market conditions.  In tough times lack of shared vision and objectives are more likely to stop your business reaching its goals.  What could happen if you and everyone in your team took the time to find answers to those questions?

How you can take action

Create the time and space, prepare your team. Expect and welcome challenges and different opinions. Follow a process designed to balance open discussion with reaching conclusions. Make sure conclusions lead to action.

Outside help?

Using outside facilitation can allow you to participate fully in the process alongside your team. An experienced facilitator brings structure, process and outside business perspective. The facilitator is skilled in engaging everyone in the process. You and your team will gain new skills and perspectives. You will gain insights into your business and your team.

Feel free in business - see description

August 23, 2011
by Mike Knudsen
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Why Didn’t I Think of That? Developing New Business Ideas

The saying goes that everyone has at least one novel in them. Well, we reckon that everyone also has at least one golden, unique idea in them. However, ‘bolt from the blue’ and ‘eureka’ moments are not daily occurrences, so how can you uncover your great business idea?

What Makes an Idea ‘Great?’

An idea is great if it stimulates your business and helps it grow. A great idea will not lead you on a certain road to growth without careful nurturing to take it from theory into practice. It must be matured to a useful and productive end. Indeed, there are many challenges that you must face to turn your gem of genius into something worthwhile.

There is no surefire way to ensure your idea becomes a success, but you can learn how great ideas are developed, how risks can be managed and obstacles overcome.

How to Incorporate my Idea into my Business?

One way to ensure your business idea is successful is to use feedback from prospects and customers to learn if they agree that your idea is worth pursuing. Something that might seem brilliant to one person might be unappealing or not feasible to another. By gaining a range of informed perspectives on your idea, you can shape it in ways that will ensure its success. By asking for feedback as a force of habit on all your ideas, you find out not only what is a good idea, but also how to develop it beyond its initial form and create a successful extension to your business.

Click here to see how feedback might work for you.

BBPN

An example of how you can develop your idea is by taking an iPeer – Product and Services Industry Survey. This survey is carefully designed to help you reflect on how you position and communicate your product or service idea to your prospective customers. By being pro-active and open-minded you can develop your idea and improve your business potential exponentially.

Click here to take the iPeer Product and Service Delivery Survey

industry-benchmarking

August 12, 2011
by Mike Knudsen
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Peer to Peer Benchmarking – A Great Way to Learn

The GlassTalk 2011 survey was carefully designed and created to work with and provide useful feedback for people from the glazing industry about how to communicate effectively and learn from one another to improve the industry and, consequently, their own business. BBPN created the survey, and succinctly collated the information to produce a report that would create a fresh perspective for those who participated willingly and openly.

There are clear and stringent rules to follow when creating a useful survey that will provide the correct participants with the feedback that will improve their business. Specifically to GlassTalk was the innovation to divide the industry into three distinct, yet explanatory, sections of the glazing supply chain for questioning: manufacturers and suppliers; fabricators; and finally, retailers and installers.

The reason behind this was two-fold: an intimate knowledge of the industry meant that it was obvious that the different parts of the supply chain perform different tasks and therefore have different motivations; it also allowed the feedback of the survey to bring the industry together as a complete communicative whole and as a result augment cross-industry understanding, trust and co-operation.

The survey also questioned what people desired from a potential customer and other parts of the supply chain. Ultimately, when all of the information was collated, obvious patterns began to emerge that showed underlying trends that were inherently successful and should be further explored. It also showed what was unsuccessful.

However, this information is futile if not communicated clearly and effectively to expose underlying trends that would confirm or shock pre-conceived ideas that those in the industry held. Click Here to learn what the survey discovered

Read More…

mike-knudsen-online-communication

August 8, 2011
by Mike Knudsen
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Overwhelmed by the web? Keep a diary!

So here I am, writing something else for you to read. Thanks for passing by.

But I’m guessing that this is not the only thing you have to do today. Perhaps you also have work to do. Perhaps you also have things to write yourself. Perhaps you have other blogs you want or need to read. Some days, does it all seem too much?

Do you also get frustrated by all the online work you have to do in addition to the “normal” stuff – like commenting on Facebook or Tweeting on Twitter? Now you’ve also got to think about the new Google +1 too. When will it ever end? Every day the amount of online work just keeps on piling up – then there’s all the mobile work as well. Oh for the days when all we had was a pen and some paper…!

If you feel overwhelmed by all the additional communications work you have to do these days, fear not, you are not alone. Indeed, according to a new study performed by the University of Cambridge for BT, 34% of adults get the same sinking feeling. In fact the study showed that frustration with online communication was considerable.

But the study also revealed an interesting feature. The participants were asked to record a diary of their technological communications.It seems that merely keeping this diary helped change behaviour. After making hour by hour notes of their online communications activities people in the study were able to see what they were doing and took action to change things. Prior to that, it seems, they were only guessing.

Result? Less frustration – and probably better communications too.

Often we get annoyed, frustrated and stressed as a result of assumption. We assume we have to do all that emailing, Tweeting and Facebook wall posting. But if you keep a diary of exactly what you do with these kinds of services, you might get a different picture to what you think happens. Your perception may not be reality.

What the BT study actually reveals is that our online communications activities stresses us out because we have no real “handle” on what we are doing. Keeping a journal or diary of online communications may help you see the wood from the trees.

And that may well reduce your frustration or stress.

Article Source, Graham Jones: An Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of more than 30 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet.