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When Should I Cold Call?

May 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Sales

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Who actually likes having the phone slammed down on them? Extreme perhaps, but that’s what puts many people off picking up the phone to find out who might be interested in buying from them. The telephone isn’t the big scary monster that some people think it is if you know what you’re doing. There must be a…


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Who actually likes having the phone slammed down on them?

Extreme perhaps, but that’s what puts many people off picking up the phone to find out who might be interested in buying from them. The telephone isn’t the big scary monster that some people think it is if you know what you’re doing.

There must be a sales manual out there that says if you’re going to cold call businesses, you should only do it between Tuesday and Thursday. Why? Because on a Monday people are thinking about the weekend and on Friday, guess what, they’re thinking about the weekend.

This may be true for people selling toner cartridges, water coolers or any of the multitude of items that are sold business to business every day, but it’s not so true for higher value services. In fact, I’d argue that there’s no reason to be cold calling – ever.

Before we think about when you should cold call, let’s take a moment to be clear about what a cold call is.

According to www.answers.com, a cold call is:

A telephone call or visit made to someone who is not known or not expecting contact, often in order to sell something.

For a moment, put yourself in the shoes of someone getting a cold call. Let’s imagine that you’re a senior manager in a mid-sized company. You don’t know this person who’s calling you, they don’t know you, yet they’re telling you they can help you to perform better at work or increase their revenue.

What’s going through your mind?

“Who is this person?”
“How did they get my number?”
“What makes them think I need any help? – Has someone been talking?”
“Why do they think they can do a better job than the company we’re already using?”
“If they’re as good as they say they are why are they calling me to tout for business?”

Now imagine this situation for a moment.

You’ve just settled down to watch your favourite TV show and the phone rings. It’s a dentist who tells you that they can fix your smile and make you more attractive to the opposite sex.

What are you thinking?

“Who is this person?”
“How did they get my number?”
“What makes them think I’m unattractive? – Has someone been talking?”
“Why do they think they can do a better job than my regular dentist who I trust?”
“If they’re that good, then why do they need to call strangers? – Have they frightened away all their clients?”

Do you notice any similarities with the earlier situation?
You relationship with your dentist is based on trust. OK, so you might not like going, but when you visit a dentist it’s good to know that you’re in safe hands. And how do most people choose a dentist – they ask other people who they go to and if they’re any good.

So back to cold calling.

I’m not saying that you should never pick up the phone to a prospective client. What I’m saying is that a random call out of the blue is not likely to get you very far. Managers and decision makers take calls from sales people day in day out and many of them are sick of it.

You might get lucky with a random call, but you can increase your chances by doing your research before you call:

Are they already using a company like yours?
If they already buy the product or service you’re offering from another company, they are likely to be more receptive than someone who has never bought what you’re selling before.

How far into their financial year are they?
If it’s a plc or limited company, you can check this information online. If they’re approaching year end, they might have money to spend (to soak up the VAT) or they might be out of cash. Either way, call a few months before year end to find out what their plans are for the next financial year.

Tap into your networks
Who do you know who can recommend you in to their company? Does your brother in law work there, does your friend who’s a Manager know anyone there, do you live next door to their accountant?

Name Drop
If you’re doing work for a similar company and there won’t be a conflict of interest, mention the results you’ve had with them (without revealing confidential information of course)

Send them something before you call
A letter, a brochure even a DVD of you talking about what you do could help you to cut through the clutter and get their attention. Then when you call, you can ask if they received the DVD and arrange a time to call for a more in-depth conversation.

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Choosing the Right Business Name

May 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Business Strategy

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When you first start out in business, the name you choose for your company usually is not all that hard to determine. It’s easy, in fact, to launch your business simply using your own name. What happens, though, when your business expands? Many times operating under …


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When you first start out in business, the name you choose for your company usually is not all that hard to determine. It’s easy, in fact, to launch your business simply using your own name. What happens, though, when your business expands? Many times operating under your own name is not the best choice for targeting certain markets.

Your own good name
There is nothing wrong with starting out using your own name. It’s a good idea, in fact, because it helps build name recognition and familiarity with you. Plus it’s easy to expand your company by adding new associates and revising the practice name to include ‘and Associates’ in it.

As time goes on, however, and your business continues to grow and serve new markets, there are some disadvantages (and advantages, of course) to maintaining your name as the business name. Some examples of this include:

Disadvantages:

  • Your name does not reflect the focus of your business
  • Your name may not be as attractive to corporate markets
  • Your name makes it hard to divest yourself or adjust the extent of your role within the company

Advantages:

  • Your name is recognizable and well known
  • Your name is a source of pride to you
  • Your name is simple, straightforward, and easy to use

In most cases, as your company grows and changes the business name should grow and change as well. This is not as easy as it sounds, however, as we will discuss in the next section.

Selecting the right name for your expanded business

When the time comes to select a different name for your company, there are a number of considerations to keep in mind. Whatever name you choose, it will become your brand and your image so it’s important to think carefully about the brand and image you want to project.

Is it unique? – Coming up with a unique name can be very hard. You not only have to be aware of trademarks and other business names, but you also have to ensure the name you select accurately portrays your brand and image. For instance, a name like ‘Successful Accounting’ certainly portrays a distinct image, but is it unique enough to stand out in the market place? On the other hand, a made-up name like is certainly unique but does not do much to support a specific brand or image.

Is it too specific? – The business name must be specific enough to portray your brand, but not so specific that potential customers see it and automatically assume you can’t provide them with the services they need. For instance, if you include your local town in your name or they fact you work with small businesses, corporate clients might not consider you for their needs. Going too corporate, though, might cause smaller clients to view your company as not appropriate for their needs.

Is it easy to find? – Your web site is integral to your business and naturally you have done your best to optimize it for search engines. When you change your business name, though, you need to revisit the SEO of the site in terms of the new name. Choose a name that is too obscure and people will have a difficult time finding you on the web.

Tips and practical advice
There are many different ways to go about choosing a new name for your business, ranging from brainstorming with your associates to hiring professional consultants to make suggestions. Between these two ends of the spectrum there are any number of other processes you might choose to pursue.

Whatever approach you choose, remember that choosing a name is not something you can do overnight, or even in a week or two. It requires time, careful thought, and thorough consideration. It’s much like making a pot of coffee; you put all the ingredients together and start the brewing process, but it takes some time for everything to percolate and turn into a finished pot of coffee.

Choosing the right business name for your company may seem like a lot of work, but in the end it can be well worth the effort. So what do you think? Is it time to think about revising your business name?
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How to appear confident and successful…even if you aren’t – yet!

[WisP level=”not_logged_in”]Whether you are a entrepreneur that is just starting out or you are climbing the corporate ladder, it is critically important for you to appear to be the kind of successful person that you are aiming to be. You know the old expression that people should dress for the job they want rather than the job that they have? …


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Whether you are a entrepreneur that is just starting out or you are climbing the corporate ladder, it is critically important for you to appear to be the kind of successful person that you are aiming to be. You know the old expression that people should dress for the job they want rather than the job that they have? The same idea applies to entrepreneurs, except that it is their whole attitude that must change, not just the clothes.

In sports, it’s well known that attitude is just as important as ability and many technically brilliant sportspeople who fail to control their state of mind often fail to achieve the kind of succes they want.

In the classic book, ‘The Inner Game of Tennis’ by Timothy Galwey, the technical ability to play the sport was known as the ‘outer game’, i.e. what other people see, and the sportsperson’s state of mind eas the ‘inner game’. In the same way, to succeed in business one must work diligently to overcome the negative states of mind that cause them undue stress and distraction. Here are some tips to do exactly that:

  • Identify the things that upset your confidence. Maybe this is the friends and family who do not understand what you are doing professionally and tease you about it. Maybe you are still learning some of the technical aspects of what you do. Whatever the case, once you realize what these things are, distance yourself from them as much as possible. 
  • Actively manage your subconscious state of mind by changing your habits. Learn to use more positive language on a consistent basis, and develop ‘anchors’. An anchor is a frequently repeated activity (such as putting on glasses, putting your hand in your pocket) that reminds you to think positively whenever you perform it. 
  • Practice projecting a confident image with proper posture, voice control, and body language.

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Outsourcing to Freelancers

May 6, 2011 by  
Filed under People Management

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Time to get help with your growing business? Using freelancers or outsourcing is the way to go if you don’t want to employ staff. How should you go about bringing freelance support into your business?…


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Time to get help with your growing business? Using freelancers or outsourcing is the way to go if you don’t want to employ staff. How should you go about bringing freelance support into your business?

  • Identify exactly what it is that you’re planning to outsource or get help with – you can do this by listing what you do on a daily basis (and whether YOU are really the person to do it) and what you’d like to get some help with (at this stage, don’t be too concerned about whether you think you can afford it).
  • Break it down – what are the steps involved?
  • Start to group activities together – for example writing invoices, collecting payments and sending out welcome packs to new clients could all fall under the heading of ‘administration’. In another example setting up your website or blog, finding a system to run your newsletters and capture the details of people visiting your site could fall under ‘internet marketing’
  • Plan ahead – what’s coming up in the next few months? If have just been booked for a corporate project think about what will happen to the development of your coaching practice while you are engaged in delivery on that project – where will you need help?

The next part of outsourcing (and the part where many people get stuck) is finding someone who can help you. Here’s what to consider:

  • Skills – do they have the right skills to do the job for you?
  • Experience – can they show you what they’ve done before?
  • Recommendation – what do their current and past clients/customers say about them? Ideally talk to people you know and ask them to recommend someone they have already used successfully.
  • Accessibility – will you be able to contact them when you need to? Take note of their time zone if you are working with them internationally. Adherence to deadlines – will they deliver on time? Find out about their current commitments – for example find out if they are due to take a break when your work is due or if they are overloaded with work from other clients.
  • Personality/Ethos – make sure there is a fit between who they are and the work you’ll be asking them to do. A big-picture people person may be fun and motivating to work with, but are they the right person to be doing your highly detailed administration?
  • Team-spirit – for some work you might look for someone who brings ideas to the table and for other types of work someone who will follow your instructions to the letter – know which approach you want for each job.
  • Budget – have an idea of how much you’re prepared to spend and how much additional revenue you will need to bring in to pay for the work to be done. Equally, there may be some things that unless you bring in an expert, you can’t increase your revenue – for example, if you’re at capacity you can’t take on any more coaching clients unless you get someone else to handle your paperwork and admin.

Where do you find the right people? Ask around – talk to people. You can also try doing a Google search and checking out their website or trying business networking sites. Nothing, and I mean nothing, beats actually talking to them. If they are local, arrange to meet with them. If they are not, at least speak to them on the phone or on Skype. It’s amazing how much you can tell from the tone of the person on the phone to see whether you are going to be able to work together.Finally remember the old adage ‘if you think hiring professionals is expensive, try hiring amateurs’. It’s often paying a little extra to get someone who knows what they are doing. It might be tempting to ask your nephew who’s good with computers to design your website, but it becomes very awkward when you need to push for a deadline or when it’s not quite what you needed.
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Small Business: Automating your marketing

May 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Administration

[WisP level=”not_logged_in”]Most entrepreneurs we speak to admit that they can have a fairly inconsistent approach to marketing. It gets done when they have time or when sales are down. This creates a feast or famine situation – you’re either doing well or scratching around for business.

So what can you do if you’re running a small business without a dedicated Marketing team? …


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Most entrepreneurs we speak to admit that they can have a fairly inconsistent approach to marketing. It gets done when they have time or when sales are down. This creates a feast or famine situation – you’re either doing well or scratching around for business.

So what can you do if you’re running a small business without a dedicated Marketing team?

The answer is to systemise your marketing and even your sales process. This isn’t as complicated as you might think. I’m guessing that you have certain sales and marketing activities which aren’t really unique. For example someone visits your website and is interested in getting more information so they send an email to the address on your contact us page. Either you or your assistant has to reply to the email attaching some information and then remember to follow up with them to find out whether they are likely to hire you or buy your products. If they do decide to buy you’ll have to process the sale. If they don’t buy on that particular occasion someone has to remember to contact them again at a later date.

This could all be automated.

The bottom line is if you do any marketing activity more than once you can probably automate or part-automate it.

Many marketing software packages enable you to do the following:

  • Capture people’s contact details and add them to your opt-in database
  • Automatically send an email to them with the information they have requested
  • Follow up with them to see whether they have any questions
  • Email them with your latest offers
  • Send out a sequence of emails at set intervals telling them more about what you offer
  • Suggest and up-sell additional items when customers are using your shopping cart
  • Automatically subscribe and unsubscribe people
  • Schedule seasonal Marketing messages weeks or months in advance

In my own business I have used a package called 1shoppingcart to automate marketing activities and it’s so much more cost effective than trying to do all of these activities manually. It gives us more time to spend with clients.

In a people-focused business your customers and clients like to see who they’re dealing with. How about using video to share your presentations or to share tips with them? YouTube is filled with informercials and demonstrations from businesses.

Automating your marketing can take some time planning, but it really is worth it.[/WisP]

How to find the time to think and plan

May 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Business Strategy

[WisP level=”not_logged_in”]Many businesses are seasonal and so some months are busier than others. During the quieter periods, rather than panicking and desperately trying to drum up business when customers are not buying, you can use this time to focus on thinking and planning for development of your business. …


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Many businesses are seasonal and so some months are busier than others. During the quieter periods, rather than panicking and desperately trying to drum up business when customers are not buying, you can use this time to focus on thinking and planning for development of your business.

Pay attention to how you proceed with this process

The book The E-Myth Revisited points out a common mistake made by business owners during planning activities. That is, they tend to work in their business rather than work on their business.

You can avoid this mistake, starting with setting aside a half day or even a full day to focus on review and planning. Go back over the past three to six months and answer these questions:

     

  • What has worked well and should continue?
  • What has not worked well and should be eliminated?
  • What are my business goals?

This last question is particularly important, because goals inevitably change over time. One of the best ways to evaluate your goals and related business activities is to use Brian Tracy’s concept of Zero Based Thinking.

For every goal and activity, ask yourself the following:

Knowing what I now know, would I get into this business, job, or situation again?If you answer yes, continue doing what you’re doing and look for ways to make improvements. However, if you answer no, get out of what you’re doing as quickly as possible and start over again with a clean slate.

Critical decisions to make

As you work through the evaluative process, it is critical to make certain decisions along the way. These include setting financial targets; determining what you need to continue doing; determining what you need to stop doing; and identify whom you need to connect with in order to reach your goals.

Regardless of where you are in your business development, I highly recommend obtaining The E-Myth Revisited as a valuable business resource.[/WisP]

What to put in your business plan

May 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Business Strategy

[WisP level=”not_logged_in”] Checklist for headings for your business plan:

Before you start writing your business plan, think about your audience. If you are writing your business plan for your own use, then make sure you include information that’s relevant for you. If you are preparing it for someone else to look at, e.g. your bank manager, find out exactly …


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Checklist for headings for your business plan:

Before you start writing your business plan, think about your audience. If you are writing your business plan for your own use, then make sure you include information that’s relevant for you. If you are preparing it for someone else to look at, e.g. your bank manager, find out exactly what they will need to see in the plan. Some banks offer information and business templates so that you put the right information together for them.

Your business plan is a document showing details of how you are going to develop your coaching practice, the timescales involved, whether you will be working with anyone else, e.g. associates or freelancers, and how you will look after your finances.

Your plan should include:

  • An executive summary – this is an overview of the business you want to start and a summary of the key points covered in your plan. Remember that if you are looking for investment or a loan that the person reading your business plan may make a decision based on the executive summary alone.
  • A short description of your business – who you are, the services and products you will be providing and who will buy them.
  • Sales and Marketing strategy – why you think people will want and pay for your services and products, how you plan to let people know about your services and what you are going to do to promote yourself.
  • Personnel – your credentials and those of the people you plan to work with. Remember to include details of any associates or freelancers you will be working with (if you plan to do this).
  • Operations – how you are going to run your practice. This does not have to be lengthy, just include details of any processes and systems you will be using.
  • Financial forecasts – income and outgoings month by month for the first year, then forecasts for annual turnover and profit.

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Delegation Tips for Leaders

May 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Leadership

[WisP level=”not_logged_in”]Delegation is one of the areas that comes up often in executive coaching sessions. The ability to delegate effectively is the key not only to good management, but to good leadership as well.

For many senior people who have risen through the ranks and know in their heart that they could do a task better than someone else, it…


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[WisP level=”Business_Cookery_Resources”]
Delegation is one of the areas that comes up often in executive coaching sessions. The ability to delegate effectively is the key not only to good management, but to good leadership as well.

For many senior people who have risen through the ranks and know in their heart that they could do a task better than someone else, it can be a challenge to delegate – particularly if it is important to get the job done right first time.

Exercise caution here because a failure to delegate is a deadly trap.

The leader who does not trust his or her team enough to delegate, is doomed to spend every day swamped with other people’s work and so stressed that their decision-making ability is compromised. Not good if your role is to oversee, be strategic and drive the organisation forward. This might seem dramatic and perhaps a little over the top and yet you can probably look around you to see people micro-managing and not stepping up to their role as one of your team. If you would encourage them to delegate, perhaps it’s time to lead by example.

Here are some tips to help you delegate more often to the point where it becomes natural:

  • Ask yourself if you are the only person who is able to perform the task – if you were out of the office for an extended period what would happen to it? If someone else could cover for you, then as a leader doing it yourself is probably not the best use of your time.
  • Define the task – what exactly needs to be done? In executive coaching sessions, we find that many of our clients have not clearly defined the task to themselves, let alone to anyone else. If you’re a ‘make it up as you go along’ or ‘I just know how to do it’ kind of person, it may help to work with a coach or colleague to get how to do it out of your head and onto paper. This could form the basis of a training manual for other people.
  • Identify the person to delegate to – who is capable of doing the task, or could be capable if they were trained? Yes, short-term it might seem more expedient to do it yourself rather than show someone else, but in the long-term if you train others to do what you do, you will reap the rewards for years to come. At the moment if doing everything yourself is having an impact on your stress levels, it’s worth it to be able to let someone else share the workload, isn’t it?
  • Brief them effectively and give them the chance to ask questions. It can be tempting to make assumptions about what people know how to do and if it’s lived inside your own head for some time, you may be surprised about the things people aren’t able to pick up by osmosis.

Finally, keep asking yourself the question, ‘Is doing this task really the best use of my time?’ If you can work out an hourly rate for your own time and you could be paying someone else to perform the task a lot cheaper, it’s an easy business decision to make. If you still feel resistant to delegating, then working with an executive coach is a good option to help you uncover what’s behind that.

Executive coaching gives you the confidential space to practice your delegation skills, improve your time management and blossom into the leader you know you can be.

Copyright Hannah McNamara HRM Coaching Ltd

Hannah McNamara is the Managing Director of HRM Coaching Ltd an Executive Coaching company based in London, UK with clients all over the world. They have a team of Executive Coaches available to choose from and will manage the coaching programme for you from start to finish. for more information call +44 20 7939 9910 or contact us.
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How to Engage Employees

May 6, 2011 by  
Filed under People Management

A Short Guide for Senior Managers

What is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement is more than a buzzword, it’s about creating a culture and an environment where employees want to go the extra mile and are proud to work for their employer. Read more

Is Your Online Brand Good For Business?

May 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Marketing

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Marketing your business via Social Media and Online Networking has become a popular and cost effective way of growing your business. The platforms available such as Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook allow you to establish your niche and communicate to them directly. …


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[WisP level=”Business_Cookery_Resources”]
Marketing your business via Social Media and Online Networking has become a popular and cost effective way of growing your business. The platforms available such as Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook allow you to establish your niche and communicate to them directly.

Watching your customers online and following their live feeds and discussions provides you with invaluable insights into their interests and concerns. Something that previously would have cost you thousands to find out is now freely available to you.

However – and this is a big warning to you! – while there are a great deal of people finding new business contracts and profitable relationships online, there are also others that are losing out BECAUSE of online networking. How? Because they haven’t taken the necessary steps to protect their own personal brand and online identity.

When looking to enter into a new business relationship it is quite standard to ‘google’ someone to find out who they are. The results can bring up all sorts of images and information that you would prefer people not to see. When you’ve finished reading this, try Googling yourself and see what comes up.

I’m willing to bet that if you’re on Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace or Bebo, your profile came up (it may have been hidden a few pages into the search results). Even if the person viewing your profile isn’t a member or isn’t signed in, they’ll probably have seen your profile picture. Anyone starting to sweat at this point?
Just taking Facebook as an example, your public profile page appears on Google and in many cases displays a selection of your friends. Hmm…even if your profile pic is perfectly presentable, what about the photos of your friends? Would they impress a potential business associate?

Ok, so if you’ve now started to think about what you can do on a practical level to undo any damage to your reputation, here are some things you can do right now. The tips are about profiles on Facebook, but the principles apply to all social networking sites.

• Change your profile name so that it doesn’t include your full name as it appears on your business webiste – abbreviate your name or use a nickname. Your real friends will know who you are.
• If you do want prospective clients or customers to find you or you’re using the site for professional networking, seriously think about having TWO profiles, one for friends and one for professional contacts.
• Check your privacy settings and put them up to the highest level. If your friends have a habit of tagging photos of you, go onto the page where the photo appears and click ‘Remove Tag’. Then go to your Privacy settings and alter the settings relating to who can view your pictures and videos. I recommend you set them at maximum privacy if you can bear to.
• Look very carefully at what comments and pictures other people have posted on your profile. If they aren’t saying the right things about you or they are likely to reflect badly on you, delete them and make sure that you check regularly to see that the amusing but crude pictures, jokes and YouTube videos people tend to share don’t keep coming back to haunt you!
• Now go to your Applications. If you’ve added applications that won’t impress people, remove them straight away. Business contacts are rarely interested to know which person from ‘Friends’ you are most like.
• Now to your Groups. Even if you’ve got your privacy settings up to the max, the instant you join a Group, you’re appearing on the online map. The Groups you join say a lot about you and in many cases mean that your full profile is visible to any other members of that Group. If you in a moment of madness joined the ‘Why I hate my boss’ group or ‘interesting places I’ve had sex at work’, it’s probably time to leave that group.
• Now to your Friends list. Do you really have 347 friends who you see on a regular basis? You’re probably giving every one of them full access to your profile. Just because you’ve decided that photos of you will only be visible to your friends, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t going to show them to anyone else. Especially if you’ve accepted a Friends request from a colleague or ex-colleague. If you really don’t want certain people to see what’s in your profile, you can either adjust your Privacy settings to restrict what people can see or consider removing them from your friends list.
• If you communicate with your friends via the Wall feature, remember that you are having a very public conversation. If you post something like “I was so drunk last night I can’t remember what I did” on a friend’s wall, you have absolutely NO control over who is going to see it. Use the private message boards or old-fashioned e-mail for personal communications.
• Finally, if all else fails, close your account and start again (although it is easier said than done to get your profile data removed from a social networking site).

Now, before you rush off to update your profiles to make them squeaky clean, if someone is searching for you online, you still need to come across as you. If you’re a fun-loving person who only wants to deal with people and companies who have a sense of humour and have some energy about them, that’s what they are going to be looking for on your profile. If you only include air-brushed professional studio photos as profile pics and have no applications at all on your profile, there’s a danger that you’ll come across as a bit dull or not their kind of person. So there’s a balance. Be yourself, but within reason.

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