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Does Your Small Business Use Social Media to Recruit Employees?

What types of workers are most in demand today? Employers are hiring employees who are experienced in their businesses, team-oriented, customer-focused, have a track record for achieving the results they want, and work smart.

So says a new survey from global talent management firm OI Partners/FS&F.

Companies are more frequently using social media sites to recruit employees than last year, posting jobs on their company Web sites, obtaining referrals from current workers, and hiring people first as contract or temporary employees.

Here are some key takeaways from the survey, which offers insights for small business owners looking to hire and people looking for their next job:

  • 54 percent of employers have increased hiring

  • 42 percent are amore concerned about retaining their current employees than they were last year

  • 33% of employers say it is taking longer to bring people on board this year as companies delay hiring to make sure that their business justifies the additional staff and conduct more interviews to confirm they are selecting the best candidates.

  • Employers are interviewing candidates by phone more often, having teams of employees conduct interviews, and are making greater use of behavioral interviews.


"Employers are being more selective in the types of employees they want, and the methods they are using to find and interview them," says Steve Ford, managing partner of OI Partners/FS&F. "Employers want workers who know their businesses and have accomplished goals similar to those they are seeking to achieve. Companies also are looking for people who work well together and realize how important customers are in this challenging economy.”

The survey also offers some job-search and interviewing advice for candidates.

"Employers in the survey are using LinkedIn and their company websites more than last year to find qualified workers, so these should have a higher place in a job search,” Ford says. “Also, practice for telephone interviews, being interviewed by several people at once, and responding to behavioral interviews with a variety of examples and situations from your experience to show you have the skills necessary to succeed.”
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How Surveys Can Help Your Small Business Grow

My first-ever job was doing telephone surveys for a company in Tampa. At the time, they paid 15-year-olds a premium to call a list of targeted zip codes and ask a list of questions.

So when I read about a company that offers free phone surveys, it got my attention. The company is called Free Phone Surveys. The firm provides a service that lets small businesses deploy automated telephone surveys to customers at no charge, and send text message rewards with special offers to survey participants.

Dorsey West, founder of Free Phone Surveys, offers five compelling reasons why every small business owner should make customer surveys an integral part of their immediate and long-term growth strategies. Let’s check out her reasoning:

1. Incentives for survey participation can attract repeat business.

Let’s face it. People are busy. If you want people to take your surveys, a little reward can go a very long way. What kind of incentive should you offer? Anything from a discount on a future purchase to a free drink or appetizer can be more than enough incentive for someone to take a few minutes and share their opinion. When customers come back to redeem your offer, there is a good chance they'll purchase additional products or services.

2. Surveys can help you capture valuable consumer marketing data.

Surveys provide a prime opportunity to collect important marketing demographic data that some customers may be hesitant to disclose, such as zip codes or telephone numbers, in a non-intrusive manner. Just ask for it at the beginning or end of your survey, and most people won't think twice about sharing this information with you.

3. Offering surveys can help you build better customer relationships.

When you or one of your employees personally asks a customer to take a survey in exchange for a special offer or discount, it becomes the perfect opportunity to initiate more in-depth conversations that can lead to lasting business relationships. Customers will feel like their opinion really matters to you and that you truly value their patronage.

4. Survey results can help you meet customer demand more effectively.

The primary objective for offering surveys is to learn what your customers like and don't like about your products or services. A careful analysis of survey results can show you what changes need to be made in your business to enhance what you're doing right and eliminate what your customers don't particularly enjoy.

5. Surveys can enhance your overall business image.

You can make your small business look like a major corporation just by the way you offer your surveys.

While I’m glad this service wasn’t around in the 1980s when I was taking home $6 an hour and enjoying long breaks with my friends, as a small business owner I am really glad that this free phone survey concept is around today. Between my experience as the survey company and the knowledge I gained writing Online Surveys For Dummies, I can tell you that surveys are indeed the best way to find out how customers feel about your products or services. And you can find out a whole lot more than that.

Not sure what questions to ask? Check out this video and get five tips for customer satisfaction questions:

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Deals on Facebook or StartupBuys.com? Try Them Both.

Have you heard the latest buzz about Facebook? The social media giant is pushing out a Groupon competitor. Why not? They have 500 million reasons to give it a shot (in fact, they have 500 million members around the world.)

“While many Deals on Facebook offer discounts, it's more important to us that you find interesting experiences around you to do with friends,” says Emily White, director of local at Facebook. “We've worked with partners and local businesses to help deliver the best social activities in your area. And once you've found a deal you like, having the deal on Facebook makes it easy to share, buy and plan with your friends.”

Still, this is in a limited roll out. That means your small business can’t get involved just yet. But you can get involved in another new Groupon-like venture that’s launching in all 50 states. The site is called StartupBuys.com and it aims straight at the heart of the small business owner that’s trying to find new customers.

"Most other group coupon sites usually take anywhere from 50 percent to 90 percent of each coupon sale. We realize that it's hard enough for a new, small business to succeed. That's why we don't take any portion of the proceeds from any coupon offerings by our members," says Kerry Blackman, founder of StartupBuys.com. "Unlike other group coupon sites, we charge only a small, monthly membership fee—and the first six months are free to try out. We don't even ask for a credit card to sign up."

Sounds promising, doesn’t it? Here’s how it works: The business has to be less than four years old. If that’s you, you can sell coupons from the site. The revenues go to your PayPal accounts immediately. You can track the views and sales of your coupons, and even see contact information of the buyers. On the flip side, the site offers vendors and suppliers with small business-oriented goods and services.

On top of all this, there is a social networking component to the site. You can post your business sourcing needs and offerings, use a forum to connect, network, form groups, participate in Q&A and otherwise communicate with each other and suppliers to them, for advice, sharing of know-how, experiences and information, post relevant business events to promote their businesses, and even post jobs.

What do  you think? Worth trying? Or are  you going to stick with Groupon?
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Amex Contest Offers Big Break From Facebook

Does your small business need a big break? American Express Open just launched the “Facebook Big Break for Small Business.”

It’s a national contest that aims to help transform the way small businesses use Facebook to connect and engage with customers. What does that transformation look like? More authentic and more personal. Of course, it takes a little practice.

That’s why American Express OPEN is footing the bill for hands-on training at Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif. Five small businesses will win a two-day in-depth, one-on-one business makeover. Oh, AMEX is also offering a cool $20,000 in cash to drive your social media strategy forward.

"Small business owners are experts at customer engagement, but the tools and techniques for finding and engaging customers are quickly evolving," says Julie Fajgenbaum, vice president of Brand and Customer Marketing at American Express OPEN. "It's critical that business owners understand these new channels and platforms, which is why we are collaborating with Facebook to educate on the benefits of engaging customers through social media and provide real, tangible tips on how to do it effectively."

What should you expect? If you win, you’ll be tutored on how to maximize the power of Facebook to better market your businesses, products and services to existing and new customers alike. This is practical and personal training on best practices for using Facebook Pages, Ads and Social Plugins.

But don’t worry if you don’t win… Everybody who enters will get to see the training as documented on OPEN’s Facebook Page and the OPEN Forum. You can also tap into a slew of “how to” videos. And even if you don’t win, you could still walk away with $2,500 in Facebook advertising to help you target new customers.

Nearly half of small businesses said they use social networking sites to communicate with customers and market their products, according to the latest results from the semi-annual American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor. This represents a substantial increase from 2009, when only one-in-ten respondents reported actively using social networking sites. Facebook is the most popular social media site for small business owners, according to the 2011 survey.

"Facebook is committed to the success of small businesses," says Adele Cooper, director of Global Customer Marketing and Communications at Facebook. "Using Facebook, a business can find new customers, let their customers recommend and share information about their business, and create loyalty by hosting an ongoing two-way conversation. This word-of-mouth-marketing is unique to Facebook and allows businesses to create a more personal and engaging relationship with their customers."

Here’s how to enter: Visit http://www.facebook.com/OPEN and submit answers to a short questionnaire describing how you would use the competition's winnings to better their business. During the first round of judging, 10 small business finalists will be selected by a panel of judges. Each submission will be judged based on the following criteria:

•    Commitment to their business and growth;
•    Overall social media need where Facebook could improve their business;
•    Energy and enthusiasm for small business.

Finalists will then compete in a final round of judging where OPEN Facebook fans will be asked to vote for their five favorite small businesses to win the trip to Facebook and $20,000 prize.
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Career Change Is Inevitable. Are You Ready?

Is your career changing? If you are like the majority of people in the workforce today, the answer is probably yes. Companies thrive on change, and most change very quickly.

But how are you handling your change? Are you going with it, or hoping that you can ride it out? Or, are you wishing that your change would go away?

Change is not easy for most people. We like our routines and want to know what is coming our way. Change throws us off course. It makes us think and makes us do more work. Change forces us to look at ourselves and come up with a new plan or perspective. Change adds fear and uncertainty to our lives. The truth is we just don't like it very much.

But change is inevitable in your career. Maybe it's a new boss that you weren't expecting. Or, a new job or career. Maybe your industry is going away or your company is closing. Maybe your skills are not needed anymore. Whatever the change, you have a decision to make. Either bury your head in the sand or tackle it head on.

So How Can You Effectively Handle Change In Your Career? Follow These 4 Steps Below.

1. Don't Wait Until It's Too Late

You know what I mean. You see change coming, but you believe it won't affect you. So, you go along your merry way and then "bam" all of a sudden, you are hit in the face with change, and your world is turned upside down. Don't let this happen to you. As soon as you see change, accept it. Expect it to affect you. Expect it to alter the way you see yourself and your career. This way you will take it seriously and do something about it.

2. Understand That You Have The Power To Make Your Change

When change is upon us, and we haven't prepared for it, we feel powerless. We feel like something is happening to us, and forget that we have a say. If you put the power back into your hands, you will feel better. You will have hope. Hope gives you energy and the momentum to move past fear and uncertainty, and into something that will be better suited and less stressful for you.

3. Research Your Change

Most people fear change because it can happen quickly. But there is a way to slow change down and that's through the power of research. Anticipating change early on will give you time to plan for it. Do your homework. Ask yourself what the change will mean to your career and what your choices are. Then, go online and get your answers. And what you can't find online, get from people. Research makes your decisions easier and more powerful because you know what your options are, and you can act based on sound reasoning and judgment and not how you feel in the moment.

4. Make Your Change

There are times in life when you have to take a leap of faith. Once you have accepted that change is inevitable and you have done the legwork, it's time to go for it and implement your change. Want a guarantee that it will work out or this is your last change? I can't give you one. But I can tell you that your change will be easier to make when you ride the tide instead of going against it.

So, what do you say? You only have one life to live, so it might as well be a life you love!

Guest Author Deborah Brown-Volkman, PCC, is the President of Surpass Your Dreams, Inc. a successful career, life, and mentor coaching company that works with Senior Executives,  Vice Presidents, and Managers who are looking for new career opportunities or seek to become more productive  in their current role. She is the author of "Coach Yourself To A New Career", "Don't Blow It! The Right Words For The Right Job" and "How To Feel Great At Work Everyday."  Deborah can be reached at www.surpassyourdreams.com.
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