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MLM Woman

MLM Woman Issue 103
August 15, 2005

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From the Desk of the Editor

Welcome to the 103rd issue of the MLM Woman Newsletter. This month we feature articles on how to let go of your "stuff" and unclutter your life, six tips for effective listening, how to make sure your business cards are sending the right signals to your customers, how to steer clear of dream stealers, and how to find and keep the perfect virtual assistant for your business.


Linda Locke, Editor MLM Woman

Letting Go of "Stuff"
by Michael Angier

We've lived in the same home for eight-and-a-half years. During that time, we've never had a garage sale. And a few weeks ago, we did just that.

On the plus side, we got rid of a lot of things and even collected a few hundred dollars. We also met some neighbors we hadn't known and saw our unwanted possessions go to people who actually did want them.

From a strictly financial point of view--if you calculated the value of our time--it probably wasn't worth it. We would have been ahead to have simply loaded everything up and sent it to Goodwill.

But our objective was to purge our house of items we no longer want or need, and we accomplished that.

So how does this all relate to a better life for you? Stay with me, it does.

Most of us collect way too much stuff. I was AMAZED at how much we'd accumulated over the years. I never thought of myself as a pack rat, but we had hundreds of items to get rid of, and this was only the beginning.

Our epiphany occurred when we spent the winter in Florida. We went several months with only a few of our personal possessions and didn't miss them once. The house full of "things" we left in Vermont went unused and unwanted. Our question was: if we don't want it or need it, why do we have it?

Last weekend, as we sold and gave away many of our things, there wasn't once we felt the pang of loss. As we watched stuff being carted away we were relieved--we felt lighter.

We can all benefit from reducing the clutter and eliminating things we don't use.

By getting rid of things, you create more space. Your environment and your life will feel less cluttered. When you hang on to things, you stop the flow of abundance in your life. When you purge you re-open the flow and allow more of what you REALLY want to come into your life.

Action Point
Take a look around. Open up all your closets. Look through the garage. Open up the attic and/or the storage unit. Inventory your office.

Chances are there are numerous things you haven't used in a year or more. And if you haven't used it in a year, it's HIGHLY unlikely you ever will.

Be ruthless. If you can't bring yourself to part with something now, put it in a box with a date on it. In six months--if you haven't used it--sell or give it away.

I've yet to find anyone who has done this who regrets doing so.

Copyright Michael Angier & SuccessNet.

About the Author
Michael is the author of '101 Best Ways to Be Your Best'. SuccessNet's mission is to inform, inspire and empower people to be their best--personally and professionally. Download your free report "10 Essential Keys to Personal Effectiveness" at
http://SuccessNet.org/subscribes.htm. Explore their free access, eBooks and SuccessMark Cards at http://SuccessNet.org

Six Tips for Effective Listening

by Judith Richardson, MA

When you interact with clients, they should be doing 70% of the talking, which means you're doing 70% of the listening. Listening is crucial for effective relationship building -it's the only way you'll learn what your prospect or client REALLY needs. Follow these tips for effective listening:

Prepare in advance: Focus on the client, customer, buyer, and give him or her the best listening-to they've ever had.

Take notes: Taking notes shows your interest in the client, customer or buyer's message, helps you stay in control of the call, and provides valuable data to review later or share with your team.

Screen out distractions: Imagine you and the client, customer or buyer are in a tunnel alone and all you can hear is each other. Think only of the message.

Limit your talking: You can't listen and speak at the same time.

Listen for content: Listen to the words. Don't respond to your stereotype of, or past history with, the buyer. Stop judging the style of delivery.

Prove that you listened: Once you believe the client, customer or buyer has said everything, paraphrase what you heard. It confirms that what you are about to say responds to what they really said, and the feel heard!

About the Author
Judith Richardson, MA
As a caring, passionately curious woman who brings warmth, humor and compassion to clients and colleagues, Judith is recognized for her skill in facilitating high-value results while empowering organizations to create increased profitability and high-quality relationships. Featured in ICFAI University's Executive Reference on Diversity Management, author of Engaging Leadership, and Keynote at International Conferences, winner of International Coach of the Year 2004 and works with International Organizational Development across North America, Europe, Jamaica, Denmark, Sweden, Israel and Russia. www.ponoconsultants.com www.emergentfeminine.com Judith@ponoconsultants.com (902) 434-6695.

Make Sure You’re
Holding The Right Cards

by Debbie Allen

Does your business card reflect a positive image for your business? Does it clearly define what your business is all about at a glance? If not, you may be making some big mistakes in your marketing and need to take another look at the message you are putting out there.

Why? Because if a prospective customer views your business image as unprofessional or confusing, they will simply do business with someone else. You can’t afford to let that happen to you. Are you holding the right cards?

While presenting marketing seminars to thousands of business owners and entrepreneurs, Debbie Allen (sales and marketing expert) discovered a shocking reality. Many of the business cards presented a poor and unprofessional image of the business at first glance. Very few business cards or marketing materials had an effective message that described the business clearly. Most lacked a strong visual logo that defined the business and had no branded image or catch praise that set them apart from their competition.

With this newfound discovery, Debbie began to ask members of the audience to stay after her presentation to receive a free business card evaluation. This intrigued attendees, and many waited for up to an hour to have a chance to talk with her in person and to get feedback on how to improve their marketing message.

Another discovery! Many owners and managers are so close to their businesses that they don't see the most obvious mistakes. The reason for this is that they don't look at their business through their customers' eyes. They view it from a very narrow focus,
their own eyesight. This can be disastrous for a company's professional image.

Just as people judge individuals at first glance, so they judge a business image the same way. If prospective customers view the business image as unprofessional or confusing, they will simply walk away. Prospective customers will be lost to competitors who do a better job at marketing their company's image, brand and uniqueness.

The goal of an organization should be to create a strong, immediate message that clearly defines its business. The message must connect an emotional bond with the customers, both
verbally and visually. This same image and message must be coherent on all marketing materials ranging from a company's business card, advertising, packaging and signage to its

Once organizations recognize the need to improve their business image on their marketing materials, it can be easy to make the changes needed to update and improve. The solution is often a small investment in a graphic artist and a marketing consultant.

Where do you start? A great place to start is to take a close look at your business card as if you were a prospective customer. First compare it with the list of top 10 mistakes below then take the business card ranking quiz online at www.DebbieAllen.com

The 10 Most Common Business Card Mistakes

1. Scrambles messages with inconsistent design elements.
2. Does not clearly define your business services and/or products.
3. Does not make you memorable (in a good way).
4. Indicates unflattering things about your business.
5. Does not generate additional business.
6. Creates a cluttered impression.
7. Omits essential information, or is filled with non-essential information.
8. Looks out of date, or information no longer applies.
9. Is hard to read or confusing to the eye.
10. Lacks a point of interest, image or theme.

About the Author
Debbie Allen is an international business speaker and author of five books on sales and marketing. She has presented before thousands of people in nine countries around the world. Debbie is the founder of ‘International Business Image Improvement Month
(May)’ which was created to help people improve their marketing materials and present a more professional business image to attract more customers. Take her free online business card quiz to see if you’re holding the right cards at http://www.DebbieAllen.com

Dream Stealers™......... Beware!! They Are Everywhere
by Patricia Drain

Years ago, I met someone who was my first KNOWN dream stealer. I had just written my first book and was very protective of it. I named it, “Hire Me Secrets Of Job Interviewing.” I didn’t know if it was well written or would be successful, but that really didn’t matter to me at the time. The sole purpose was to help people get job offers.

I owned a Recruiting/Staffing firm in Phoenix Arizona. Every day it was my job to prepare our candidates to interview with our client companies for new career opportunities. The book had all the ingredients necessary to show how to get in the game of interviewing, answer questions that most of our clients asked, get the job offer, and make a decision.

I didn’t market the book or even tell anyone about it. Why?? Because I was so afraid that someone, especially someone in the same business I was in, would see it and make fun of me for writing it.

Be careful what you focus on. A couple of months after writing the book the dream stealer entered my office. She picked up my book and said very sarcastically, “You have got to be kidding ...YOU wrote a book?”

Embarrassed I said, “Yes, all I am trying to do is help our clients get a job and to also be aware that interviewing is a game, so they shouldn’t take it personally.”

In response, she said, “I am also writing a book about interviewing. At the present time it is all in my head. It’s OK though because I have a mind like a computer. All the chapters are compartmentalized, I even have a clear picture of my cover. I must say however MY book is MUCH thicker than yours and much “meatier” In fact, I noticed that your chapter on resumes is just a few pages, mine has over 100 pages so far.”

I don’t know what came over me but I saw her for what she was in that instant. A DREAM STEALER, AN INTIMIDATOR, A BULLY.

“You know the difference between your goal and mine???” I said. “No what?” She replied.“Your goal is still in your head.....I wrote mine down in the form of a book.”

Sweet revenge.............Is her book done to date........NO! Did my book get picked up by a major publisher because it was simple, easy to read, and could help thousands of people get a job? YES!

I tell you this story because I was reminded just weeks ago about all the Dream Stealers ™ that have come into my life over the years. It was on this trip down memory lane that I realized Dream Stealers ™ are everywhere!!! We must be aware and prepared
to run……… not walk away from them. I knew I had to share with others that Dream Stealers ™ come in all varieties. Teachers, friends, associates, even family members. They might even tell you very good reasons why you should listen to them because it is “for your own good.”

My last dream stealer was the force behind this story. Actually my last dream stealer I actually PAID. That’s right I paid him $1000 to TRY to steal one of my dreams. It happened in Las Vegas…….

My partner Debbie and I signed up for his seminar, paid our money, got on a plane, checked into a hotel, took a cab to his event and proceeded to have a dream stealer tell us what we can’t, shouldn’t and couldn’t do. When we decided to walk out on his training session after identifying him as a dream stealer we asked for our money back. (something neither of us have ever done in our lives) We were very uncomfortable with the situation but we promised each other that as soon as we got the money we would both buy items that would remind us of future Dream Stealers ™.

Debbie bought a small but perfect diamond that would remind her not to let ANYONE take the “twinkle” out of her dreams. My reminder was the famous BOSE ear phones that would remind me NEVER listen to ANYONE who tries to steal your dreams through
intimidation or wrong information.

If either of these stories rings a bell for you or reminds you of any of the Dream Stealers ™ that have been in your life so far, or are about to appear, get a reminder that works for you. A reminder that will help you become aware everyday.



About the Author
Patricia Noel Drain is the co-founder of MAXIMIZING SUCCESS, INC. The next Life changing Wealth Building Bootcamp will be held in Phoenix AZ Oct 28-30 2005. For more information go to http://www.maximizingsuccess.com and tell them Patricia sent you. Ms. Drain is an international author and speaker living in Arizona. Visit her online at http://www.buildagreatbusiness.com and http://www.patriciadrain.com

How to Find and Keep the
Perfect Virtual Assistant (VA)

by Suzanne Falter-Barns

If you've got a dream, you need support -- and a great way to do that is with a VA or virtual assistant, which is an assistant who works for you hourly from afar by web, email and telephone. But how do you find the one that’s right for you? After hiring several – some of whom were great, some of whom were not – I’ve learned a thing or two about this process. My own VA, Lorraine Carol, has joined me in summarizing this list based on her experience as well.

Here’s what we've determined will best work for you and your VA in setting up a great, mutually supportive relationship that serves you both.

1. Decide the type of work you want them to do. Is it marketing oriented? Or more general? Do you want them to glide seamlessly between personal tasks like online birthday shopping and professional tasks? Your clarity will set up a clearer, easier relationship from the start. Do note that some VA’s are really niched towards certain tasks, such as marketing, real estate, etc..

2. Put together a really clear description of your needs. Then post it on various VA sites, including:

http://www.canadianva.net/files/va-locator.html (in Canada)

3. Decide how much time you’ll need up front. This amount is determined with your VA, based on the list of tasks you assign and they agree to complete. The real shortfall of many VA’s is that they take on more work than they can complete without pulling all-nighters, etc. The worst VA’s I’ve used simply can’t say no, so are unavailable when you need them, and shoddy when they do the work at hand.

4. Make sure they are capable of doing the work you’re assigning. One way to determine this is to use references; it helps if they’ve done the same tasks for someone else. On the other hand, some VA’s will be doing new tasks for you they’ve not done before. And if they’re affordably priced and willing to do some learning on their own without charging you for that time, that can work, too. Be flexible … but don’t agree to pay for training time unless your VA is learning something very specific to your business and few others.

5. Try a small test assignment to start. Don’t leap in with all of your work at once. Give your new VA a test project or two to work on and see how the chemistry develops. In the beginning, it’s too easy to gloss over potential problems with rose-colored glasses. Make it clear this is a test run.

6. Look for a can-do attitude. I’ve heard this complaint from some that VA’s they’ve hired try to turn work back to them, or seem balkish about taking on tasks that weren’t in the original agreement. The fact is, some VA’s will rise to the occasion and happily accept all kinds of work; others won’t. The success of your own VA depends entirely on what kind of business you’re running. Is it an improvised affair in which the type of help you need changes all the time? Or are you looking for someone to do repetitive tasks that are often the same? Try to be clear about that up front to find the right match for your needs.

7. Look for a good ‘listener’. A great VA will take your emailed request and try to make sense of it before coming right back to you with multiple queries. Great VA’s make your life and your job easier – not overly complicated. One VA I had (who didn’t last) was constantly haranguing me to send her exact URL’s on each web page I wanted her to fix instead of going into the links I described verbally. By the end of our time together I felt like I was working for her. I wouldn’t be paying a VA $30+ per hour if I had time to take care of all of this stuff myself.

8. Make your requests crystal clear. By the same token, you need to send requests that are as clear as you can make them. That helps your VA make things seamless for you.

9. Try not to throw a lot of last minute work at your VA. Unless, of course, that’s how you work and you made it clear up front when you hired your VA. Most of the good VA’s are tightly booked and simply can’t turn around a last minute project in a moment’s notice. Try to give them a feasible amount of time for response.

10. Set up regular tasks and systems they can count on. Then make sure you meet the agreed on deadlines. Consider even putting these agreements into writing. For instance, if your VA broadcasts your ezine every Friday, make sure they have your copy by Wednesday.

11. Look for the proactive VA who anticipates problems. One thing I love about my current VA is that she anticipates problems. Early on she determined that I wasn’t a detail person, and that she needed to be. She knows how to manage me and my scattered work style so disasters seldom occur, simply by anticipating things that could go wrong and bringing them to my attention. This endearing trait has made me a lifelong fan of this woman.

12. Do not become overly dependent on your VA. Know how to do everything you request of your VA yourself … because there will come a day when a VA can’t help you for one reason or another and you’ll have to go it alone. It’s totally worth your time to learn Front Page or another basic web building application that does not require html knowledge, for instance, as well as your shopping cart application. You’ll be glad you did when you’ve got a sudden deadline and no one but yourself to make things happen.

13. Keep a manual on how to run your business. This is something I finally learned after I’d trained several VA’s on the workings of my business. My current VA and I periodically add updated information – and this serves both of us. I’m covered if something goes wrong and I have to replace her. She’s covered if she forgets how something works and has to go back and relearn or re-tweak.

14. Pay your VA when requested. That keeps everyone happy, and breeds loyalty which could become important down the road. I’ve learned that good VA’s tend to attract more and more work as they go on – which they may or may not accept. The word gets out, and they get deluged. So be sure to take tender loving care of your VA if you want to stay on the short list. Their assistance is simply too important to neglect.

©2005 Suzanne Falter-Barns LLC

About the Author
Suzanne Falter-Barns is an internationally known author and speaker whose work has been featured in Woman's Day, SELF, More, Fitness, and more than 100 radio and TV shows. Pick up her free article, '36 Guaranteed Time Savers' at www.howmuchjoy.com

Lorraine Carol is a virtual assistant who specializes in helping coaches and entrepreneurs pump up their profiles without breaking their budgets. Does your business need a tune up? Fill out 'The Works' free questionnaire and find out at www.simplyvirtualworks.com

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