Tag Archives: networking

Six Degrees of Separation

Sheralyn

Many years ago Will Smith, prior to his Men in Black days, starred in a movie called “Six Degrees of Separation.” I remember at the time thinking it was a pretty good movie and memorable. In a pre social media world it was a social commentary on how small the world around us really is and how we are all connected. After two recent incidences involving people with whom I was interviewing or working with, it struck home once again how connected we are. In one, I interviewed a woman who it turned out, actually knew the publisher of the magazine for whom I was working. In the other, the mother of one of my daughter’s besties invited me to attend an event featuring her old high school buddy – whom it turned out I’d had the pleasure of meeting to discuss business with just one week prior.  In the words of a song “it’s a small world after all.”

What these experiences emphasized to me is the ongoing theme of the importance of networking. It seems to be something universally loved or hated.  For some it’s intimidating, others see it as too “salesy” and still others both love and embrace the challenge of walking into a room full of strangers and starting a conversation.  Regardless of where you stand on the issue, if it’s of any comfort to the haters, invariably I would argue that within just a few minutes at any event, chances are you will connect with someone who knows someone who knows you. It makes having a conversation easier as you discuss your mutual common interests. It also means we truly are all connected and that’s why the value of networking and a willingness to act as a referral source for one another, cannot be overstated.

What six degrees of separation also means to me is that more often than not, networking often doesn’t take place at a networking event at all. Rather, it is when you are “out and about” in the world at large, conducting business, working, or attending a charitable event. Heck, it even happens in hockey arenas and over the bleachers at your kids soccer game. Networking is about relationships. Period.

Here’s what I mean: In the example of the subject of my magazine article, not only did she know the publisher (helping cement our burgeoning business relationship) but the more I chatted with her, the more it became clear how we could be of service to one another.  I knew several people that might be in a position to help the organization with whom she was working and she in turn was able to put me in contact with a great potential opportunity for my future development. That’s networking in action and we weren’t even at a networking event, just having a coffee while she shared her story with me.

Networking isn’t about handing out as many cards as you possibly can – it’s about fostering a relationship with others, getting to know them on a personal level and even if you aren’t in a business that is mutually beneficial, you might know or be connected with someone who is. If you’ve taken the time to develop that one to one connection – your referral is guaranteed because you know, like and trust the person and in this world – that’s very valuable.  Not to mention, just like in the movie – you never know who might know whom! It’s a small world indeed. Business can come from anywhere and we are all just six degrees (at most) of separation away from one another. Make sure you are always acting with integrity and not just with your own, but with others best interests at heart too. Then you can sit back and watch how opportunity will come your way!

As Owner and Principal partner of “Writing Right For You” Sheralyn is a Communications Strategist – working together with entrepreneurs to maximize profit through effective use of the written word. Looking for web content that works, blog articles that engage or communications strategies that help you get noticed?  Contact Sheralyn today. Sheralyn is also the mother of two children now entering the “terrible and terrific teens” and spends her free time volunteering for several non-profit organizations.

Sheralyn Roman B.A., B.Ed.

Writing Right For You

Communications Strategies that help you GET TO THE POINT!

416-420-9415 Cell/Business

writingrightforyou@gmail.com

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Women On Top

 

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about life as an entrepreneur versus life in the corporate world and how it has affected me as a woman. I am thinking in particular about my ceiling in both worlds.  How much success can women achieve in both worlds?  How far out of reach is the ceiling and have us as women found the magic formula to breaking that glass ceiling?

Let’s start with the corporate world.  In my case our corporate structure is that of the “good old boys club”.  Senior executives are the picture of corporate with not a woman in sight.  Middle management is made up of about 10 percent women.  On the bottom of the totem pole, the structure is as expected – a male dominated production group and a female dominated office group.  To excel in an environment as this takes a lot of game play and sometimes ruthlessness.  You cannot be too tough or else you are labeled as “bitchy” or “moody” and you cannot be overly nice or you can be deemed to office “harlot.”  You not only have to play the game, but you also have to continuously prove your knowledge and capabilities to the powers that be.  This part has me baffled.  Why?  I’m sure those powers would not have made you a part of the organization if you were not remotely qualified to do the job or if they didn’t feel you were well suited for the position and the company.  How far up the corporate ladder can women get in an environment such as this?  It’s a far climb for us and especially rough when obstacles are placed in our way.  My feeling is that we are fighting continuously for what we deserve – even when it is earned.  Not many of us know how to demand what we have earned.  In my case, I have set my goals to what my definition of success would be in the corporate world.  Do I want to be President of the company? NO!! What I want is what I have earned – nothing more and definitely nothing less!!

As an entrepreneur I have the opportunity to be the President, Owner, Assistant, Director, coffee runner, pencil sharpener…you name it, I am in charge of it.  More women are going down the entrepreneurial path without really understanding how much more work it takes to be successful. As a female entrepreneur, when I attend networking events that are male dominated I get a lot of pats on the back and “good for you”, “you’re a smart girl”, “you did this all on your own” from the male networkers.  It is as if I am not perceived of being capable of achieving all that I have or that I have or that it is a surprise that a woman can really be successful in their world.  There are also always a few men who are there to be the “saviours” or “messiah.”  I remember being told by one man in particular who came to a female dominated networking event that he was there to help the women.  Take note, he said HELP not SUPPORT. Now, I will be the first to agree that we all need to support each other, but what I do not like is the notion that women cannot find ways to help each other succeed.  We are a resourceful group and we find ways to dig our way out of a hole.  There is still that mental and societal influence that makes us feel like being solopreneurs is the pinnacle of success.  Why not strive to grow your business into a multinational corporation? Sky is the limit-not the glass ceiling.  It truly depends on what your personal goal is.

For me, I enjoy the challenges of both the corporate world and the entrepreneurial world.  Women will always have to work extra hard to break that glass ceiling.  For most of us, the ceiling is not made by others, but by our personal limiting beliefs.  Identifying what is causing these beliefs is the first step towards breaking the ceiling and allowing ourselves to strive for the highest of highs.  I know one thing – this woman plans to be on the top when it comes to the entrepreneurial game. I will not stop until my business is where I want it to be – Canada-wide.  I will not let being woman be a hindrance.  It is not a crutch.

 

Dwania is the Founder and Executive Director of Canadian Small Business Women Contact Canadian Small Business Women:

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3 Ways to Network This Summer

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Summer is fast approaching and as the days get longer and warmer entrepreneurs put their networking goals on hold.  Sadly many people think of networking as work and forget that a strong network is built through relationships not rules or business card quotas. Contrary to popular belief summer is a great time to get out there and strengthen your network. Here are three ways you can network this Summer:

Get in the game
Outdoor sports are extremely popular in the summer. Whether you’re a player or simply a fan get in the game by joining a sports team or attending a sporting event.  There are also some great charity sports events such as golf or volleyball tournaments that you can get involved in.  Sharing a common interest such as sports, brings people together and helps form better relationships.

Leverage your lunch break
The warmer summer weather is a great reason to be outside and an even better opportunity to invite a new connection out to lunch. Most people enjoy being out of the office during the warmer summer months and are more likely to accept a lunch invitation. The season also makes a lunch meeting more informal as you can opt for outdoor seating and enjoy your surroundings.

Attend some festivals
Summer is famous for its festivals. Attending a few summer festivals is a great way to learn about new music and different cultures. It also exposes you to many potential connections.  Most festivals are free and open to the public so it’s a cost effective way to enjoy the summer and build your network.

  Praveeni Perera is the CEO and co-founder of Professional Edge Consulting a corporate training company based in Ottawa offering training and coaching services to clients around the world.  She can be reached via WebsiteTwitterFacebook or her Blog.

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Networking – it isn’t just about you!

Sheralyn

Many have shared thoughtful insight and opinion on the topic of networking but here’s what sometimes gets lost in the shuffle. Networking isn’t always all about you. It really isn’t. I teach emerging entrepreneurs about the benefits of networking and provide a “how to” on creating their own starter statement (most call this an elevator pitch) as a way to get the conversation flowing.  The reality is however, sometimes, the audience with whom you’re networking, just isn’t one you’ll ever do business with.  If that’s the case, should you still expend the effort? Heck yes!

Networking is in fact almost always about the referral.  It’s possible you will never have reason to do business with the financial representative you just met over coffee and unlikely you could buy from each of the lovely “Brand X” nutritional shakes or skin care reps you meet along your networking journey. But guess what? If you make a favorable impression on them or they on you, its entirely possible you might know someone else who is willing to do business with them and/or needs their product or service.  Because you took the time to have a great conversation, to network and get to know them, each of you are now more than willing to act as a referral source for the other. That’s how networking works.

Too often people go into these opportunities with a “what’s in it for me” attitude.  Recently, I was at an event where someone was selling a health food product with nuts in it.  I didn’t notice and when I asked if it was nut free she was quite sarcastic in her response. That’s not a person I want to do business with.  I made an honest mistake and I actually know two individuals who own and operate establishments where this person might have wanted to have her products featured. I did pass along the names of the establishments to her (I’m not that mean) but I certainly didn’t offer to act as a referral source because our networking conversation wasn’t a pleasant one.  I had no confidence in her product because I had no confidence in her.  It also meant I was unable to discuss my business with her so it was a missed opportunity for us both.

So yes you should still expend some effort even when the networking isn’t about you.  Think of the time spent as an opportunity to share your core values with the world. By sharing who you really are, not just what you do, you are sending a strong message to the world about what is important to you, how you do business with others and how you treat people. I don’t know about you, but knowing these kinds of things about a person is much more likely to encourage me to want to do business with them and I believe makes others more interested in potentially working with me.  Be the kind of referral you would like to get from others and meet others with the intention of acting as a great referral for them.  That’s what networking should be all about.

 

As Owner and Principal partner of “Writing Right For You” Sheralyn is a Communications Strategist – working together with entrepreneurs to maximize profit through effective use of the written word. Looking for web content that works, blog articles that engage or communications strategies that help you get noticed?  Contact Sheralyn today. Sheralyn is also the mother of two children now entering the “terrible and terrific teens” and spends her free time volunteering for several non-profit organizations.

Sheralyn Roman B.A., B.Ed.

Writing Right For You

Communications Strategies that help you GET TO THE POINT!

416-420-9415 Cell/Business

writingrightforyou@gmail.com

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Keeping it Consistent on Social Media

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With millions of people to reach online, spread over hundreds of Social Networks, how do you keep up engagement levels with your fan base for your small business? The simple answer is: consistency. The more consistent you are in posting, liking and commenting through your business profiles on social media, the easier it will be to break through all of the online noise with your message.

Finding Consistent Content

Quality content is the most important commodity in the online world today; it is also the most time consuming to create. Don’t worry – the good news is that you probably have more to share than you know of. Answer these questions to look for existing content in obvious places and as a starting point to help you to start thinking of what you can post, share and create:  

  • How many previous blogs, social media posts, videos or reviews can you repurpose?
  • Do you have daily/weekly sales or specials that you can share routinely?
  • Can you talk about any problems or concerns that your customers have that is relevant to your business?
  • Start thinking of your content as the voice of your business – What is your business passionate about?
  • If your business had an avatar, what would their personality be and how would their voice sound?

Posting Consistent Content

Once you have good content, it’s important to be posting it regularly. Social Networks function person-to-person, so be social! In order to be seen on busy social networks you have to be active, just like in real life. Posting content once a week just isn’t going to cut it. Ideally, brands need to be posting multiple things daily.

How does this work in practice? For example, if I have a daily special, then I might put a post about that special online each day at 8AM. If you publish a blog, make sure that you are posting that blog at the same time every week or month. Building around that single consistent daily post you can start to plan when (2-3x daily) and where (1-2 social networks) online you will share the rest of your content. Just don’t get so stuck on the plan that you don’t allow for any spontaneity in your posting!

Scheduling Consistent Content

Keeping up with this demand for visibility can be a huge challenge – content planning calendars are perfect for this. Using either a digital or paper planning calendar will help you to plan out what content you want to post, at what times and on what networks. It’s a good idea to stick to a basic posting schedule that allows for 2-3 posts daily.

Planning out 2-3 posts (or more) daily across multiple social networks can be a full-time job in itself (just ask me!), so busy businesses need to ensure they are not spending too much time each day thinking about planning their social media posts. You can save time by using apps like Buffer or Hootsuite to manage your social networking content calendars and pre-schedule posts for an entire week or month at a time. Additionally, there are many other Apps that work with specific platforms (ie. Tweetdeck for Twitter, Latergramme for Instagram, etc.) and Facebook has it’s own build in “schedule” for Facebook Business Pages. By pre-planning content, you can spend as little as 10 minutes a day online responding to comments and engaging with other brands.

The most important thing to remember is that an abandoned online presence is worse than no presence at all. You have real people waiting on the other end of “the internet” that want to hear what you are saying, so don’t let them down!

Teach Me Social owner Kelly Farrell has been helping empower Canadian Small Business owners through social media for over three years. Her team now offers services ranging from training sessions for small business owners and their teams, to full-service social media account management. Visit teachmesocial.ca to learn more about our service offerings or to contact us today for a no obligation consultation, including an audit of your existing social media channels.

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Stolen Moments

Sheralyn

As entrepreneurs we are often overwhelmed with the day to day management of our business. It can be difficult to juggle the expectations of clients, family and for some of us, other work commitments. Perhaps you are still working full or part time while launching your business. Trying to find balance and live up to your own expectations is daunting. Today I remind you to take time to breathe and to take advantage of “stolen moments.”

Of course it is critically important to devote time and attention to your business and be fully committed to it while concurrently avoiding the dangers of multi-tasking. To be successful requires your full investment. The reality of life however, is that this is simply not always possible. So when it isn’t, take advantage of those stolen moments.  Today for example, I write this blog from the “parents room” of the dance studio my daughter attends. It’s actually quite quiet. Yes I could have run errands and been flustered as I flew around town trying to accomplish groceries, banking and prescription pick up in my two hours of “free” time but instead I chose to grab a coffee, bring the laptop and sit and catch up on some of my writing. With two blogs, an article and a draft vision statement for a non-profit agency all due on the same day (poor planning I know!) this is the perfect use of two hours of “spare” time. I’m actually sitting still for starters, enjoying a hot cup of coffee while it’s still hot and getting work done. If you are still dividing at least some of your time between work elsewhere and self-employment, this kind of stolen moment is sometimes, the only way work gets done.

At a networking event recently, I sat with a group of women who shared their stories of managing business and family life. Universally, a common theme surfaced. That is, women continue to berate themselves for just about everything, even success. My mother had an expression for this “With enemies like you, who needs enemies!” Wise up Women!  If we multitask we think we should be sole focused, if we have tunnel vision, we are “failing” at multitasking. We are told we must be 110% devoted to our business but don’t forget to build in downtime! Article after article says we need to find balance in our lives yet still others suggest we must eat, breathe and sleep our business or we will never achieve success. This mixed messaging is overwhelming, burdensome and unnecessary.

Today I suggest to you that whatever you are doing is okay, as long as it’s working for you. Your business, your success, matters most to whom? You, not anyone else, therefore it should not be subject to any other persons opinion of success. So take advantage of the stolen moments along the way, making them work for you in whatever way makes sense for you.  However, I would also remind you that taking advantage of stolen moments must apply to both your personal and professional life. After all, balance is important. Like they say on the airplane, you have to put on your own oxygen mask first in order to help others. For me, that means while this week I work from the Dance Studio, perhaps during next weeks two hours of “down time” I will do something just for myself and without any guilt. When you are managing a small business, you MUST take advantage of these stolen moments, whether it’s to be productive or to give yourself permission to take a break so that you can be more productive in the future. So breathe and take advantage of the stolen moments, where ever and whenever they present themselves!

 

As Owner and Principal partner of “Writing Right For You” Sheralyn is a Communications Strategist – working together with entrepreneurs to maximize profit through effective use of the written word. Looking for web content that works, blog articles that engage or communications strategies that help you get noticed?  Contact Sheralyn today. Sheralyn is also the mother of two children now entering the “terrible and terrific teens” and spends her free time volunteering for several non-profit organizations.

Sheralyn Roman B.A., B.Ed.

Writing Right For You

Communications Strategies that help you GET TO THE POINT!

416-420-9415 Cell/Business

writingrightforyou@gmail.com

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MAKING YOUR RRSP’S OR TFSA WORK FOR YOU!

Amina

As a Real-Estate investor, I attend a lot of networking groups to meet like-minded investors, make new connections and of course learn something new that will help me improve or increase my portfolio.

As a mortgage agent, I have been researching how to help myself and others get access to 2nd mortgages but most people don’t know that you can use any of your registered accounts (RRSP, RESP, RIF, TFSA, etc) to invest in an arm’s length mortgage.

The distinction is arm’s length – which simply means that you cannot invest in your own mortgage or somebody that is related to you by blood. An arm’s length mortgage is one where you invest in another investor, a friend, a colleague, etc.

The process to use your RRSP, TFSA or other registered account is very simple.

You start by setting up a self-directed mortgage RRSP with a trustee that allows 2nd mortgages. There are only 3 in the market today, which include Olympia Trust, B2B Bank and Canadian Western Trust.

Once that fund is set up with the trustee, you then convert the assets to cash within the existing account. At this point, you can direct the trustee to transfer the cash to a new account within the RRSP – the key is that the funds must be in the RRSP.

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Things that you must consider:

-the mortgage that you are investing in cannot hold a title in the RRSP

-it must be administered by the trustee

-you can only lend on Canadian real estate

-only Olympia Trust will allow a position of 1st, 2nd or 3rd mortgage, which simply means that you can have other funding in place behind or in front of the fund as you are lender

-if the mortgage lending amount is over $50K, each side must have a lawyer

-all costs (appraisals, lawyers fees, commitment fee, etc) are borne by the borrower not by the lender (you)

 

This is a great way for borrowers or investors to grow their portfolio’s as it provides funding from people who have money in their RRSP’s . We all eventually run out of two things – the availability of capital and the ability to qualify for funding. You don’t have to go through the bank as you are dealing directly with the investor who is lending you money. Furthermore, if can work with your lender, it benefits you as the borrower to pay only the minimum for the first year and then the balance after the term is over + the principal as it helps with your cash flow. For the lender (private investor), they also benefit as the full payment at the end of the term allows them to roll out the money again into another investment without incurring any extra fees.

As the borrower, you are more than likely to keep getting a loan from the same investor once you show you can be trusted and keep to the payment schedule set out at the beginning of the term.

For larger projects you can consider syndicated mortgages. It works similarly but this is a pool of RRSP funds and is registered as one mortgage – the share of the amount paid back is split as to the amount that was contributed. So if one person put 10%, another put 20% and another put 70% – it would be split accordingly.

In this situation, you can also defer the payments from the borrower as it is a win-win for both the lender and the borrower.

In any situation – you want to make sure it’s a win-win for both parties. Especially when it comes to real estate investing.

Would you like to learn more about how to put your RRSP to work for you? Please contact me today if I can help you or if you know of somebody who can use my help!

I can be reached at amina@aminas-ms.ca or 416 697-5443.
To Your Wealth! Amina

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Name That Tune…

Sheralyn

I may be dating myself but years ago a show on TV called Name that Tune asked contestants to “name that tune” in as few notes as possible. What you ask is the relevance of this memory? It brings to mind that moment your eyes begin to glaze over at a networking event when someone tells you EVERYTHING you ever DIDN’T want to know about their job, position, title, company and number of years on the job. I know you know what I’m talking about and I know exactly how you can avoid it. Just follow “The Rule of Ten.”

In Name that Tune, the music was so good and the “hook” so memorable that people instantly recognized the song. That’s what you want for your business.  An introduction that is catchy and memorable – your own personal “hook.”  The Rule of Ten is my personal guideline to developing a solid, short and simple introductory sentence that succinctly describes you and your product or service. It’s derived from the “Tenplate for Success” which includes ten critical communication tips for those in business. Taking ten means taking the time to distill your business mission statement or your vision into just ten words (or less!) using catchy lingo that will draw in the audience, inviting them to have a conversation with you. Isn’t that the whole idea behind networking? You don’t want the  “glaze over,” you want to encourage and enable a conversation. For that to happen, all you need is something catchy to get the conversation started.

So – what is the Rule of Ten? It’s simple: Take your main product or service, your goal or vision for your business and distill it down to the BEST TEN WORDS that describe your service and sound enticing to potential customers. Think it can’t be done? It can. Your first attempt might rival War and Peace but I assure you, with a little effort, some fine-tuning and perhaps a hint or two courtesy of Google Thesaurus, you CAN create a ten words or less elevator pitch that gets your potential customer talking to you not running from you.

Compare “I am a freelance writer and editor providing website content, editorial, blogging and advertising services for the small business entrepreneur” vs. “I help small business succeed using words that work!” or this one: “At a loss for words? I’ll help you find them!” In the first intro perhaps all you’ve heard is the word “Writer” and immediately images of a lonely, rumpled and wild haired women in front of an ancient typewriter comes to mind.  In the second or third example however, you’ve created the possibility of a conversation between you and your prospective client.  “Really,” they might say. “How do you use just words to help business?” There’s your opening, your invitation to have a conversation with a prospective client, without any pre-conceived notions that might possibly be associated with the word “Writer.”

Tammy Elliott of The Leadership Forum in Caledon calls this finding your passion and letting it shine through in your “5 second intro.” Using this technique helps you position your passion as a value statement and your client is much more likely to connect with you if you are like-minded and have similar values. Using words like “help” implies genuine caring, enthusiasm for what you do and again, it encourages a conversation over an eye-glaze. Try it. Throw a bunch of words on a page and then start working with them. Break out the Thesaurus or Google words.  Choose the best ten, formulate your catchy sentence and then give it a try at your next networking meeting. Have fun with it and hopefully soon your customers will be singing your favorite tune!

As Owner and Principal partner of “Writing Right For You” Sheralyn is a Communications Strategist – working together with entrepreneurs to maximize profit through effective use of the written word. Looking for web content that works, blog articles that engage or communications strategies that help you get noticed?  Contact Sheralyn today. Sheralyn is also the mother of two children now entering the “terrible and terrific teens” and spends her free time volunteering for several non-profit organizations.

Sheralyn Roman B.A., B.Ed.

Writing Right For You

Communications Strategies that help you GET TO THE POINT!

416-420-9415 Cell/Business

writingrightforyou@gmail.com

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5 reasons you should join a mastermind group

sandra

When I first heard the term mastermind, I was intrigued.  I like the idea of a group of people working together to support one another with their respective goals.  I have participated in masterminds as a facilitator and as a participant.  I have seen and experienced the benefits from both perspectives and I strongly recommend finding one that suits your needs.  Here are 5 reasons why I believe every entrepreneur should be a part of a mastermind group.

  1. We can’t do it alone

    When we try to do it all on our own, we inevitably make painful and often very costly mistakes. Being a part of a mastermind allows us to learn from the mistakes and successes of others.  It also offers us the opportunity to realize that we are not alone in our struggles and challenges.  It’s nice to know that there is life after failure.  It’s even better when you know that you have a group of people that are committed to helping you achieve your goals as you are to them in the pursuit of theirs.

  1. Different minds, different perspectives

    Ideally, you want to be a part of a mastermind group that has varied skill sets, experiences and ways of processing information. You need you left and right brain thinkers at the table.  We can benefit from the creative viewpoint as much as we can the analytical.  Having these different thinkers in the group gives you access to a variety of viewpoints that you may never have considered.  I love the saying that we don’t know what we don’t know because it’s true.  Being part of a mastermind gives you access to the wealth of knowledge held by each participant.

  2. Accountability

    Meetings give each participant a change to update the group on who their week or month has been, depending on the frequency of the meetings. This is where each member celebrates their successes, talks about what’s working and what isn’t and what they commit to accomplishing for the next meeting.  Sharing your commitments holds you accountable to the rest of the group and allows the group the opportunity to offer any help they can in the achievement of your goal.  The magic happens because all of this help and support I s never one-sided.  Reciprocity is the magic ingredient that makes masterminds thrive.

  3. Expand your network in a meaningful way

    Sure Linkedin will show you how wide your network is because of your connections, but what does that really mean? When you’re a part of a mastermind group, you hear A LOT of “I know someone who can help you out with that!”  I don’t know about you, but those words are music to my ears, especially when that connection can help me with something I’ve been wrestling with for a while!  The more time you spend with your group, the better they understand your business and what you need.  Whether it’s someone to help you coordinate your next event or a client referral, your group members are there to support you, just as you are there for them.  Social media is great, but there’s still something to be said for that personal, intimate connection that can only be developed with time.

  4. Awesome camaraderie, support and encouragement

Here’s the thing –when you join a mastermind group, whether it’s a six-month or year-long commitment, you can’t help but develop a strong bond with the other members.  You’re baring your soul, sharing your struggles and celebrating your accomplishments with these people on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis.  When you are committed to the group, the process and each other’s success, the magic really starts to happen.  There are groups that have been going for years, if not decades because they know firsthand that masterminds really do work!

Napoleon Hill, in his book Think and Grow Rich, describes a mastermind group as “a friendly alliance with one or more persons who will encourage one to follow through with plan and purpose.”  He dedicates an entire chapter to the concept in the book for a reason.  Being part of an effective mastermind group can be just what you need to help you take your business exactly where you want it to be, or even further than you ever imagined!

If you’re considering joining a mastermind, then you should definitely think about becoming a Canadian Small Business Women member! I’m pleased to be partnering with CSBW and offering preferred rates on participating in my 6-month mastermind program. For more information on the different membership options, visit the following link. I look forward to achieving massive success with you!

Sandra Dawes is a certified life coach specializing in helping women who feel unfulfilled with their 9-5 follow their dreams and pursue their passions. She holds an Honours BA, an MBA as well as a certificate in Dispute Resolution.She has completed her first book,Embrace Your Destiny: 12 Steps to Living the Life You Deserve!

Connect:

www.embraceyourdestiny.ca

www.facebook.com/embraceyourdestiny

www.facebook.com/embraceyourdestinythebook

www.twitter.com/sandradawes

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Grant Misconceptions

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Are you a business looking to apply for grants and a bit confused about the process? Well, we’re here to help you demystify some general misconceptions about grant funding and applications.

Misconception #1: Anyone can apply for a grant

The majority of grantmakers narrow the pool of grant applicants to registered charitable organizations and nonprofits. Incorporated businesses and startups are usually left out of the grant equation because, unlike nonprofits, they have the ability to sell a product or service for a profit. That’s why it’s important to be 100% sure your organization is eligible for funding before starting the grant-writing process.

This is not to say that there is no funding out there for small businesses and startups. It is just unlikely it will be in the form of grants, and rather in the form of tax incentives, hiring credits, and when possible, venture capital funding.

Misconception #2: Grant applications consist only of ‘writing’ and ‘submitting’

Grantwriting is based less on your style of writing and more on your capacity to plan a detailed project successfully. Forget flowery language, and focus on the content.

For first-time grant applicants, it is important to research grantmakers’ mandates, as well as their previously funded initiatives. Grantmakers want to make sure your organization is accountable for the funds they distribute to you.

Seeing as they don’t know you personally (yet), the onus is on you to make your case, and back it up with targeted research, data, and information. Take time to prepare grant applications. Make sure you are able to thoroughly analyze your project’s strengths and provide tangible solutions to mitigate any weaknesses.

Misconception #3: If your project is good, you’ll receive funding

This is by far the biggest misconception of all. In fact, there are a lot of great projects out there, created by trustworthy organizations, that will never receive funding.

Grantmakers tend to award funds based on a project’s expected impact in the community. Because grantmakers tend to receive a lot of applications during any given grant cycle, it’s their responsibility to find the ‘best’ projects within very large pools of applicants. They do this by reviewing applicants’:

  • Existing partnerships with community organizations and stakeholders
  • Social media networks and reach
  • Past organizational successes

If you are a new organization, it is likely you won’t have this information yet. To make it easier for your project to receive grant funding consider collaborating directly with a partner organization to build a track record for your project, as well as expand support for it in the community.

Misconception #4: Receiving grant money is easy and quick

The task of the grant reviewing committee is to thoroughly assess hundreds, if not thousands of applications per grant. Of course, this takes a lot of time and patience. That’s why grant funding decisions often take anywhere between 3-8 months, depending on the size of the grant (the bigger the dollar amount, the longer you are likely to wait).

So, if you are counting on a particular grant to fund your latest project, make sure you have alternative funding options at your disposal just in case grant funding is delayed, or doesn’t come through.

Some Final Questions    

Want to know how to avoid unnecessary pain when applying for grants? Prepare answers to the following questions before starting the application process:

  • Which community members and stakeholders will benefit the most from your project?
  • How will you involve participants during the planning and execution phases?
  • How will you measure or evaluate the impact of your project?
  • Do you have a workplan outlining all project steps, timeline, and resources?
  • What experience and/or qualifications does your organization have to carry out this project?
  • If activities continue beyond the term of the grant, how will they be sustained?

Written by Marisol and Silvia Fornoni, Founders of JDC.

JDC supports socially conscious organizations with finding sustainable ways to tell their stories using visual design, engaging content and non-traditional media. We help you with anything from organizing fundraising campaigns to web design and social media management.

http://www.joint-development.com

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