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Her Startup and Connections to Success partner to advise prospective businessowners

Posted by Dress for Success Midwest Professional Women's Group on October 17, 2010

Khrystina Vaughan, founder of Her Startup, is dedicated to helping women launch, grow and give back through business. She is aware of the issues facing women worldwide as they struggle to provide for themselves and their families.

That is why she established a partnership with Connections to Success. Through their partnership, seven women recently were able to attend 90 Days to Launch, a 12-week intensive program that took female entrepreneurs from the planning stage to daily business operations.

The 90 Days to Launch program featured four guest speakers. Steve Balsarotti, an attorney with Polster, Lieder, Woodruff & Lucchesi, talked with the women about intellectual property and other legal concerns.

Linda Jacobsen, founder and president of Global Vision Strategies, delivered information on global business and cultural diversity.

Norma Boozer of National City Bank spoke on building business and personal credit.

Mary Baum of Mary Baum Creative Services did a presentation on marketing and market research.

A graduation ceremony was held at the Airport Renaissance Hotel for the women entrepreneurs who participated. Kathy Lambert, co-director of Connections to Success, gave the welcome and introduced Khrys Vaughan. Vaughan shared her passion about women’s economic status in this world through the statics she shared.

She said, “70 percent of the world’s population is in poverty and two-thirds of those are women.” Vaughan shared a story about a woman in Ghana who used an empty water bottle to start a pancake business, which allowed her to support her family.

Angela Lieb of LifeWorks Business Center was the keynote speaker for the graduation. Lieb told graduates, “This is the best time to start a business, despite the economy.”

Lieb shared the five keys to success for entrepreneurs n character, networking, experience, resources and personal brand. She said that it is important to have multiple streams of incomes: “You’ve got to have a couple of buckets.”

Lieb encouraged the graduates to admire women who continue to thrive despite their circumstances, like the woman from Ghana in the story Vaughan shared. She also said that new entrepreneurs should not be scared because “your experience is unique and valuable.”

Lieb asked the graduates to do a 30-second introduction. Ronda Fitch of My Kitchen to Yours said she wants people to have fun in the kitchen, bringing families back to the table. Her vision for giving back is to be able to assist people with utility bills so they can cook and be comfortable. Samples of her zucchini and banana nut bread were delicious. She sold all 20 loaves before the ceremony ended.

Entrepreneur graduate Jana Gamble is launching a new venture, One World One Race, to promote diversity, unity, equality and spirituality.

Anne Murray will soon launch Knights by Murray, providing medical garments for men in the health care industry. She states her clothes will “bring out the Knight” in men. Murray will give back by working with ex-offenders of non-violent crimes that are re-entering society.

Kari Pruitt, owner of Kari of Denmark, has an organizing and cleaning business, but also stages homes. She said she is organizing this town one space at a time. Pruitt wants to give back to the community by holding free seminars on organization for women.

Minister Gwendolyn Foster is giving back through her ministry, Set the Caged Bird Free, by providing services for the ensnared and emotionally wounded.

Joyce Marchand of Inspire Me Photography assists organizations with fundraisers combining her inspirational photography with motivational or scriptural prose.

Unfortunately, Kim Manoogian, life coach, was unable to attend the graduation.

For more information about Her Startup or 90 Days to Launch, contact Khrys Vaughan at 314-714-5675 or email Khrys@herstartup.com

Reprinted From the St. Louis American

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Overcoming Potential Obstacles in the Interview

Posted by Dress for Success Midwest Professional Women's Group on September 8, 2010

Do you think there are any potential obstacles that could stand between you and your next position? Here are some suggestions for handling some common obstacles:

Age

Obviously you can’t change your age, but you can overcome a perception that you may not be up to the job. You can project yourself as energetic with a lot to give. I suggest that job candidates give some thought ahead of time to stories that illustrate that they are able to handle the stresses and strains of the job. They should also convey subtly in the interview that they plan to be in the workforce for a while.

For example, an interviewee can mention in the beginning of the interview what type of physical activity he or she did over the weekend. The interviewee can work this in during the ice breaking period which comes before the interviewer gets into the tough questions.

Salary

Job candidates need to determine beforehand what their bottom line is in terms of the compensation package. This should of course factor in current economic conditions. They should be armed with information about what they are worth and negotiate accordingly. But they should also show the interviewer that they are worth more than their salaries. In other words, they should demonstrate to the potential employer that the employer will get a return on investment that more than compensates for what they will be paying out in salary and benefits. Stories about past accomplishments can make the business case for appropriate salaries.

Health

If you look fit, that will go a long way towards dispelling any thoughts that the interviewer may have that you will be costly (in terms of health benefits) to the company if you are hired. If you’re not fit, it’s something you should start working on since this is a part of that first good impression that you want to make.

Personality Mismatches

You should do your due diligence prior to the interview to find out what the company’s mission/values statement is and what the culture of the company is to determine if this is a good match for both parties. If it is, you need to allay any fears that the interviewer may have that you might not be a good fit by connecting the dots for the employer. Speak convincingly about the alignment you see between your values and the company’s. Talk about what you know about the company’s culture and how you see yourself fitting in.

Cheryl Palmer, M.Ed. is a career coach and a certified professional resume writer. She is the founder of Call to Career, a career coaching firm that assists people in finding their niche or calling in life.

Combining her professional status as a career coach with her love of writing, Ms. Palmer has written articles such as “Thank God It’s Monday! which was published in Message magazine and “Finding a Job That Fits You Like a Glove” which was published in Community Jobs. Both articles were well received and have given her additional visibility in her field.

Cheryl Palmer has also been a guest on a radio show entitled Insight on Coaching hosted by Tom Floyd where she discussed the needs of Generation X in the workplace and how managers from other generations can get the best out of this segment of the workforce.

In an article on HotJobs website entitled The Art of Being Assertive, Ms. Palmer was quoted as a subject matter expert on how assertiveness can help a person advance in his or her career.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Cheryl_Palmer

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What’s Holding You Back? Managing Risk

Posted by Dress for Success Midwest Professional Women's Group on September 6, 2010

Starting your own business is taking a big risk. The easiest way to manage your risk is by seeking information and looking at the business by analyzing the pros and cons. Keep your expectations high while putting systems in place to guard against the cons.

If you come up with more cons than pros and can’t manage to create a system to minimize the risk of the cons, and implement it, you may find your business remains stagnant and becomes almost impossible to grow.

A good example would be trying to manage the risk of a home invasion or break-in. My home has deadbolts, door chains, and exterior motion detector lights to minimize my risk of a home-invasion or break-in. Someone who has an alarm system simply harbors less risk than I do, but we are both proactively managing the level of risk we are comfortable with. Because of this, I may have to accept paying higher insurance rates, or accept the entire burden of any loss that is a result of a home invasion or break-in.

Even if you’ve been in business several years, it’s always good to check-in with your industry and increase your knowledge of businesses in general, just to make sure your company stays at the leading edge and managing this risk will go far in helping you make better business decisions with less stress.
This is good for you, your company, and everyone around you. The better your risk management, the better everyone will feel about your success.

Take a moment to decide what level of risk you are taking with your current business model and whether or not you may need to reassess your risk and better manage your exposure to that risk.

Jeannine Clontz, is a successful entrepreneur, author, speaker, and trainer. Clontz teaches a 7-week business start-up class in conjunction with Connections to Success and the St. Charles Community College, as well as a 10-week Teleclass for start-up and established Virtual Assistants. Learn more about Time Management for Virtual Assistants by downloading her FREE report “A Fresh Look at Time Management for Virtual Assistants”, or request her FREE audio CD “What’s Holding Back my Business Success?”, and more by visiting: http://www.VAbizcoach.com; or contact her at: coach@VAbizcoach.com.

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Your Next Employer Is Calling

Posted by Dress for Success Midwest Professional Women's Group on September 5, 2010

Finally. You got a response from an employer asking you for a phone interview.

Here are a few tips for a stellar interview:

Preparation is key. Preparation includes not just preparing for commonly asked questions, but also preparing your environment for the interview. Job seekers should ensure that they have a quiet place for the phone interview with no interruptions. That means making sure that everyone in your household keeps all noise away from the place where you will be conducting your interview. You will come across as very unprofessional if the interviewer can hear the dog barking and the children screaming.

It’s also best to use a landline phone instead of a cell phone for your phone interview. You don’t want your call to drop while you are being interviewed. The other issue with cell phones is that reception can be poor in some areas. If you have to use a cell phone, try to find a spot where the sound comes through clearly.

Be likable. The recruiter has already determined from your resume that you have the qualifications for the job. What is most important at this point is that you confirm the recruiter’s positive impression of you. Your smile will come through over the phone even though the interviewer cannot see you. It’s also a good idea to say, “Hmm,” or “Yes” when the interviewer is speaking so that the person knows that you are paying attention.

Do your salary research before the face to face interview. Even though you as a job seeker don’t want to discuss salary prematurely (before an offer is made), it is very common for interviewers to screen potential candidates over the phone and find out if the two parties are in the same ballpark as far as salary is concerned. If the interviewer presses you for an answer about what salary you are looking for, give a salary range based on the research that you have done. That will still give you room to negotiate once you have made an offer. If you give a specific dollar amount, you then lock yourself in and don’t leave much room for negotiation.

Take advantage of http://www.salary.com and find salary surveys done by professional associations so that you know what the going rate is for your profession in the geographic location that you are interested in.

Practice your answers before the actual phone interview. As is commonly said, “You don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.” With the competition being so stiff for jobs in a period of high unemployment, you want to make the best of any interview that you get, so it is to your advantage to practice your answers to commonly asked interview questions. This will give you more confidence and decrease your nervousness in the interview itself.

*Send an email to admin@calltocareer.com today to schedule an appointment with an executive career coach so that you can ace your next interview.

Cheryl Palmer is a certified executive career coach and a certified professional resume writer and is President of Call to Career, a career coaching and resume writing firm. She has been featured on the Wall Street Journal, CNN, MarketWatch, The Ladders, ExecuNet, and Yahoo HotJobs. Cheryl was also a guest on a radio show entitled How to Find a Job Fast hosted by Chris Russell of Secrets of the Job Hunt where she discussed tips for finding employment more quickly in this economic downturn. In addition, she was a guest on WMOV where she discussed networking for your career with host Greg Gack on the radio.

Cheryl has a social media program for executives to aid them with reducing the amount of time it takes to land a new position. She also conducts webinars on social networking. You can sign up for a free webinar at http://www.calltocareer.com.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Cheryl_Palmer

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Five Tips For Writing Great Cover Letters

Posted by Dress for Success Midwest Professional Women's Group on September 1, 2010

Job seekers often have questions about cover letters. They want to know if cover letters are necessary and if they help people get jobs. The answer is yes in both cases. Unless you are applying online using a resume builder, and the online application does not allow you to attach a cover letter, it is assumed that you will send a cover letter with every resume that you send out. Even if the ad simply says, “Send resume,” make sure that you send a cover letter as well.

Here are some tips to make sure that your cover letter is effective:

Keep the cover letter brief. Three to four paragraphs are sufficient to make your point.

Tailor each cover letter to the specific position that you are applying to. Form letters will not catch a recruiter/hiring manager’s eye. Be sure to highlight the qualifications that you possess that are mentioned in the ad that you are responding to. You want to emphasize to the reader that you are a good match for the job.

Try to find the name of the person who will be receiving the resume if at all possible. Recruiters/hiring managers will pay more attention if they are being addressed personally.

If you do not possess a qualification that is listed in the ad, don’t mention it in your cover letter. There is no need to draw attention to any deficits. Generally speaking, hiring managers put out a wish list of qualifications. Those who come closest to meeting all of the qualifications are usually the ones called in for the interview.

Let the reader know exactly which ad you are responding to. Oftentimes large employers have several ads running at one time. To make it easier for the reader, mention where you saw the ad, and if there is a reference number, be sure to include it in the cover letter.

Cheryl Palmer, M.Ed. is a career coach and a certified professional resume writer. She is the founder of Call to Career, a career coaching firm that assists people in finding their niche or calling in life.

Combining her professional status as a career coach with her love of writing, Ms. Palmer has written articles such as Thank God It’s Monday! which was published in Message magazine and “Finding a Job That Fits You Like a Glove which was published in Community Jobs. Both articles were well received and have given her additional visibility in her field.

Cheryl Palmer has also been a guest on a radio show entitled Insight on Coaching hosted by Tom Floyd where she discussed the needs of Generation X in the workplace and how managers from other generations can get the best out of this segment of the workforce.

In an article on HotJobs’ website entitled The Art of Being Assertive, Ms. Palmer was quoted as a subject matter expert on how assertiveness can help a person advance in his or her career.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Cheryl_Palmer

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The Value of a Mentor & How to Find One

Posted by Dress for Success Midwest Professional Women's Group on August 30, 2010

Invest in your professional future by building a relationship with someone who is more experienced than you and who is willing to share that experience – a mentor.

Mentors can offer advice, ideas and contacts, and they can help you create a roadmap to your dreams.

How do you find a mentor, and how do you maintain that relationship? Read on to find out.

How to find a mentor?

Before embarking on a search for a mentor, ask yourself what you want to learn from him/her. Perhaps you want to learn a specific skill, get assistance in implementing a project, or get guidance on how to expand your network, balance your career and personal life, etc.

Once you’ve determined your goals, it’s time to find the right mentor. Check with your employer’s human resources office to find out if your employer offers a formal mentor program. If not, your alma mater may provide a mentor program – particularly in your area of study. There are also websites that offer mentoring matching, like

* MicroMentor
* Menttium
* Small Business Mentoring and Training
* FORTUNE/U.S. State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership
* WOMEN Unlimited

And don’t underestimate the value of networking. Consider attending events in the field of your interest – meeting people, and following up with those who seem like they might be able to and interested in mentoring you.

Similarly, you can make a list of companies/organizations that you respect. Compile a list of the key executives; these are usually found on the “About Us” section of the establishment’s website, or you can search by company on LinkedIn. Do your research by reading any available bio on your prospective mentor and information on their employer prior to contacting them. When you contact your prospective mentor, introduce yourself and state your interest in their company and position. Ask if they could talk briefly over lunch, a quick office visit or call.

Once you’ve found a potential mentor, you need to gauge if it’s a good match. Are they a good listener? Do they have valuable knowledge and act with integrity? Are they positive, supportive, accessible, empathetic and willing to share their wisdom with you? Another observation to make is if your communication styles match. If yes to the questions above, explain your professional ambitions, challenges and desires – and ask if they are interested in working with you to navigate these issues – would they be open to being your mentor?

In this meeting, you might go so far as to establish the goals of the relationship, the duration of the program and how often and how (in person, by phone, by email) you will communicate. Try to establish clear objectives and evaluation measures. Make sure that trustworthiness and confidentiality are part of the agreement.

How to nurture the relationship?

Mentors are there to develop talent, teach valuable skills, and provide tools and resources. Other benefits include assistance with strategic planning, building your contact base, and increasing your knowledge and your opportunities to strengthen your professional standing. Keep in mind that your meetings or conversations can be brainstorming sessions for professional development that is mutually beneficial, as well.

It is important to nurture the relationship, to be accountable and to be realistic with your expectations. Your mentor may have more experience than you, but you can still contribute to their quality of life. Take time to show your appreciation by showing your gratitude — send a thank you card, treat them to a meal, send them information that is beneficial to their business/profession, write a note of praise to their boss on how valuable your mentor is, or volunteer to help them with a project.

Whether your mentor relationship is short or long-term, try to stay connected with them as you progress in your career. After the mentorship program, the mentor can serve as a reference. Above all, show your gratitude for your mentor’s insights and efforts. Perhaps one day, you will pay it forward and be a beacon of hope, yourself. As Oprah Winfrey said, “A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.”

Reena De Asis is a MarCom professional with experience in the corporate, agency and non-profit sectors. When she’s not initiating a corporate volunteer program or organizing a renovation mural project, Reena immerses herself in live music or savoring chocolate nuggets of wisdom. Words to live by: “My life is my message,” by Mohandas Gandhi. Her passion is http://www.laworks.com

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What’s Holding Back Your Success? Make the Decision to Move Forward!

Posted by Dress for Success Midwest Professional Women's Group on August 30, 2010

If you’ve been in business for any amount of time, or have been working for a while at getting a business started, you know that this is not easy. There’s no immediate success without very hard work. You have to really want to have your own business, and want it badly.

You need to be totally committed to doing what’s necessary to make your business work. It also may mean you have to make some sacrifices, making certain that your business comes first and that you set boundaries for family, friends, and clients.

If you want to be an entrepreneur, if you want to make a good income and eventually have more time for family and fun, you will have to start by making some hard decisions about what you’ll need to do to succeed.

Having a business means no excuses, and no complaints. Either you have the drive and motivation or you don’t.

Make the decision now to take the steps to grow your business with the knowledge that you will need to immerse yourself into making this a top priority, and doing things that may now be ‘outside the box’ for you.

Talk to other successful business owners and change something to take your business where you may not have considering going. Try a new marketing plan; put together a system to reach past clients as well as prospective clients. Drag yourself away from something that’s taking too much of your time and not producing results, and make the decision to move forward.

Jeannine Clontz, is a successful entrepreneur, author, speaker,and trainer. Clontz teaches a 7-week business start-up class in conjunction with Connections to Success and the St. Charles Community College, as well as a 10-week Teleclass for start-up and established Virtual Assistants. Learn more about Time Management for Virtual Assistants by downloading her FREE report “A Fresh Look at Time Management for Virtual Assistants”, or request her FREE audio CD “What’s Holding Back my Business Success?”, and more by visiting: http://www.VAbizcoach.com; or contact her at: coach@VAbizcoach.com.

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Setting Attainable Goals

Posted by Dress for Success Midwest Professional Women's Group on August 23, 2010

I was looking through a magazine and stumbled upon something I hadn’t seen in years, a glass piggybank.  I recall the first such bank I received as a child when I opened my first savings account.  It forced me to continue to save because I didn’t want to ‘break’ it until it was completely full, or I had enough to purchase something I really wanted.  My eyes were always on the prize.

By the ‘80’s piggybanks had changed; they had stoppers in the bottom to remove money whenever you wanted. By not having to keep adding to your savings until you’d reached your goal, many times they were never met.  The bank became a place to gather loose change and such, but it took away the demand, if you will, that you reach a goal or lose it all, by having to ‘break the bank’.

It makes me think about my business goals in somewhat the same way.  I have to find ways of making myself accountable to reaching the goals I’ve set.  Last year, I setup several reminders to check in on my 2010 goals. When I got the first reminder, I realized, – YIKES, now where did I put those goals?   I was not focused on reaching them.

It’s difficult when you’re the boss, isn’t it?  How can we set goals and make ourselves accountable for the goals we need to keep our businesses afloat in these challenging times?  

First, take a look at what types of goals you might want to set for yourself.  Some to consider might include:

  • Sales/income
  • Number of new clients
  • New equipment/software
  • Knowledge-based achievements (certifications; classes)
  • Adding staff or sub-contractors

As you can see, there are many types of goals you can set for your business.  I usually try and have three to four of these areas covered in my yearly goals; that way, if one seems to be lacking, I can transition more time and effort into making that particular goal a priority, or adjust it to give myself a clearer way to achieve it.

I think the next most important thing is to put it in writing – something about memorializing it makes it seem more attainable, and real.  You might even consider sharing your yearly goals with a colleague or peer and ask them to check in with you several times a year to make sure you’re on track to achieving them.

Equally as important is making sure that you don’t beat yourself up if you don’t attain a particular goal.  Goals are something you are aspiring to achieve; they should help you be accountable for where you want your business to go.

2008 was a perfect example of that for me.  I was right on track with my sales/income and new client goals for 2008, right until the stock market crashed in October.  Suddenly, everything changed.  By the end of the year, several goals had not been met.

I rewarded myself for those goals I did achieve, took stock of those I didn’t, and tried to understand why; then I realigned my goals for 2009 and again for 2010, to offset these changes, and added several new categories of goals that will help me keep my business on track and growing.

Goals are meant to inspire you and invoke you into taking action.  Don’t let them bring you down if you don’t achieve them; re-adjust them. Find a cheerleader, someone who will help you stay on track with your goals, but will also encourage you and help you see the positive changes and growth you have experienced.

Re-invent yourself and keep making deposits in your unbreakable piggybank of growth.  Stay positive and watch what happens.

Jeannine Clontz, is a successful entrepreneur, author, speaker, and trainer. Clontz teaches a 7-week business start-up class in conjunction with Connections to Success and the St. Charles Community College, as well as a 10-week Teleclass for start-up and established Virtual Assistants. Learn more about Time Management for Virtual Assistants by downloading her FREE report “A Fresh Look at Time Management for Virtual Assistants”, or request her FREE audio CD “What’s Holding Back my Business Success?”,  and more by visiting:  http://www.VAbizcoach.com; or contact her at: coach@VAbizcoach.com.

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What’s Holding You Back? Surround Yourself with Supporters

Posted by Dress for Success Midwest Professional Women's Group on August 9, 2010

Starting and growing a successful business isn’t easy.  You need to surround yourself with like-minded people.  And that means people who encourage and support you in starting and maintaining a business.

As hard as this is to say, you may have to minimize connections with family and friends who are not supportive of you in a positive way. It is detrimental to the health of your business to be in the company of anyone who will encourage you to, ‘get a real job’, or insinuates that your job is less important or not making a contribution to the family finances.  This can really chew away at your resolve and determination to own your own business.  You have to maintain a positive attitude and only like-minded friends, family, and peers will keep you on your game.

That’s why making time to continue growing and learning whether by reading, participating in seminars and groups are so important to continual business success.

Make the commitment to surround yourself with positive supportive people as you start and grow your business.  Join one or more industry associations and get involved by volunteering or participating regularly in forums.

Join several well respected social networking groups and set aside a minimal amount of time each day or week that you’ll participate in these forums.  This will increase your network of ‘positive’ support and help you strengthen your resolve to grow a profitable business.

Jeannine Clontz, is a successful entrepreneur, author, speaker, and trainer. Clontz teaches a 7-week business start-up class in conjunction with Connections to Success and the St. Charles Community College, as well as a 10-week Teleclass for start-up and established Virtual Assistants. Learn more about Time Management for Virtual Assistants by downloading her FREE report “A Fresh Look at Time Management for Virtual Assistants”, or request her FREE audio CD “What’s Holding Back my Business Success?”,  and more by visiting:  http://www.VAbizcoach.com; or contact her at: coach@VAbizcoach.com.

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