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Friday, December 10, 2010

9 Body Language Do's and Don'ts to Help You Win in the Business World

9 Body Language Do's and Don'ts to Help You Win in the Business World
RISMEDIA, December 9, 2010—Today’s business world is more competitive than ever. As the economy shifts, competition for jobs, clients, sales—you name it—continues to be tight. If you’re sure you’ve been saying all the right things, but you still can’t get ahead, author Sharon Sayler suggests you consider what you’ve really been saying to potential employers or customers—not just verbally, but nonverbally.

“True communication goes beyond words, and great communicators use every tool they have to deliver their message,” says Sayler. “When you have control of your nonverbal language, you can communicate confidence with passion, persuasion, credibility and candor—factors that will help you soar above your competition in the business world.”

Sayler offers the following nonverbal do’s and don’ts that will help you win in the business world:

Don’t fill the air with um, ah, uh, and you know. It is natural to pause when you speak—it gives you a chance to breathe. What’s not natural is to fill the silent pause with um, ah, uh, you know, and other sounds. Verbal pauses are distracting and muddle what you are trying to say, because the audience sees you searching for the next words. Meaningless extra syllables or words make you look less intelligent. Your message will be more effective once you eliminate them. This may take practice.

Don’t use the fig-leaf pose. “When you place your hands in the fig-leaf pose, your body says, ‘I’m harmless,’ or, ‘I’m afraid,’” explains Sayler. “Not exactly the way to convey the level of confidence that a new employer might want to see in a new hire or that a client wants to see in the genius he needs to help improve his business.”

Do use hand gestures systematically. When we use only words to convey our message, we make it necessary for our audience to pay very close attention to what we say. Using gestures systematically, especially when giving directions or teaching, makes the audience less dependent on the verbal part of the presentation. The visual reminder created by gestures allows the listener two ways to remember: auditory and visual. It thereby increases the likelihood of accurate recall.

Don’t put your hands in your pockets. Thumbs hanging off the pockets and hands deep in both pockets say something similar to the fig leaf hand gesture, “Geez, I hope you like me.” Hands deep in the pockets jingling change say one of two things, depending on context: “Geez, I’m nervous and hope you like me,” or, “Geez, I’m so bored. Is this ever going to be over?”

Don’t hide your hands behind your back. Depending on the situation, grasping your hands behind your back can be interpreted as meaning, “Geez, I hope you like me,” or, “You better fear me.” Neither interpretation leaves a very good impression of you, so avoid this position altogether.

Don’t cross your arms. This stance is most frequently understood to indicate upset or discomfort. In business, others often interpret it as, “I am not open to discussion,” or, “I am annoyed.”

Do know when to put your hands on your hips. This is a ready-to-take-action gesture. It makes most people appear bigger, because they are actually taking up more space. Yet, it is often given negative labels by others, such as meaning you are annoyed, closed, or won’t listen—similar to placing your arms across your chest.

Do remember the eyes have it. Of all the nonverbal messages one can use, the eyes are the most expressive and really are the window to thoughts and emotions. Little or no eye contact is often thought to be associated with lying, but this is not always true. Experienced liars will look you right in the eye every time. It might also indicate lack of self-esteem or interest.

Do stop fidgeting. Unintentional gestures are emotional reactions or the result of the body’s desire for physical comfort and are often lovingly called fidgets. Even though fidgets can calm us, those pesky, jerky movements or anxious behaviors often make others uneasy.

How do you keep your confidence level on high? Please Share...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Your RPAC Dollars At Work

Your RPAC Dollars At Work

Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act: Provisions Relevant to REALTORS

By Ken Trepeta Print Article
RISMEDIA, December 8, 2010—The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has been working closely with the members and staffs of the House Financial Services Committee and the Senate Banking Committee to ensure that Wall Street Reform legislation did not adversely affect REALTORS®. Below is a summary of the most important actions NAR took on key issues and steps that NAR is currently taking to address outstanding items.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
NAR secured an exemption for real estate professionals performing traditional real estate activities from the jurisdiction of the CFPB except to the extent they are governed by existing laws such as the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) that will now come under the bureau’s purview. The legislation also requires that the Good Faith Estimate and the Truth in Lending disclosure be unified. That process has already begun and NAR is working with industry partners and the administration to minimize the impact.


Risk Retention – Qualified Mortgage Exemption – At NAR’s request, Congress included a qualified mortgage exemption from potentially costly (for both lenders and consumers) risk retention requirements. Congress gave the regulator flexibility in determining what a qualified mortgage is, but it must be no less than the standards laid out in the predatory lending portion of the bill, which includes such concepts as underwriting based upon full documentation, ability to repay, and limitations on fees among other things.

Qualified Mortgage Safe Harbor – A safe harbor from the “ability to repay” requirement was created that limits the total points and fees collected by lenders and their affiliates to three points. This provision was included over NAR’s strenuous and repeated objection. NAR is working to get Congress to restore an exemption for affiliates duly constituted under RESPA.


Accredited Investor – Gives the SEC the authority to review the current standard and update it to reflect inflation and the characteristics of the modern economy. The bill excludes the investor’s primary residence from $1 million net worth standard. The SEC review may raise the threshold for defining a customer as an accredited investor, forcing companies that sell securities to them to register the products with the SEC.

Commercial End Users - Legislation appears to allow commercial end users—including owners, operators and developers of commercial real estate—to continue to engage in swaps used to manage commercial risk without being subjected to central clearing. However, regulators would now be authorized to impose initial and variation margins on these un-cleared trades.

Securitization – Requires banks that package loans into CMBS to keep 5% of the credit risk on their balance sheets. Directs regulators to exempt low-risk mortgages that meet certain minimum standards.

Appraisers are to be compensated at a rate that is reasonable and customary for appraisal services in the market area of the property being appraised. The Home Valuation Code of Conduct (HVCC) will sunset when CFPB issues interim final regulations implementing the appraisal provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act. A subprime mortgage requires a written appraisal of the property to be mortgaged.

An applicant must be notified that the appraisal is prepared for the sole use of the creditor. It is also unlawful to coerce, extort, collude, instruct, induce, bribe, or intimidate an appraiser in an attempt to influence the independent judgment of the appraiser. In addition, an appraiser may consider additional, appropriate property information to support an appraisal, provide further detail, or correct errors. Finally, the Appraisal Qualifications Board (AQB) Qualification Criteria for licensed and trainee appraisers becomes mandatory for the states (currently voluntary).

The Dodd-Frank Act is complex and mandates numerous new regulations over the next 18-36 months. NAR will be working diligently to minimize the impact of these regulations even as we work on the legislative front to address other issues.

Ken Trepeta is the director of Real Estate Services for the National Association of REALTORS.

What are your thoughts?

3 Frequently Overlooked Ways to Boost Revenue

3 Frequently Overlooked Ways to Boost RevenueBy Loren McDonald Print Article
RISMEDIA, December 8, 2010—(eM+C)—During the busy holiday season, real estate professionals are looking for new ways to stand out in crowded inboxes. With prospective buyers envisioning themselves in a new home in 2011, now is an ideal time to engage prospective clients and start building loyalty. By focusing on a few, but often overlooked key areas, real estate professionals can yield incremental revenue opportunities and gain an edge on the competition. Here are five ways to give your e-mail program a boost:

1. Make it easy for consumers to opt in and provide information. Take advantage of the seasonal increase in online traffic by ensuring every page on your website has a benefit-driven e-mail opt-in form. Collecting the e-mail addresses of interested buyers, even if they don’t make a purchase right away, will grow your database and allow you to continue to market to these consumers throughout the year.

Take this one step further by creating a preference center that allows consumers to help you make the e-mail relationship as relevant as possible. Remember to ask for important information during the opt-in process, such as subscribers’ preferences related to format and frequency. Invite subscribers back to your preference center throughout the relationship to update their choices or address a more detailed, but still relevant, list of questions.

2. Use a welcome program to engage new subscribers. It’s always important to welcome new subscribers with open arms, so don’t let the holiday hustle and bustle cause you to overlook this important step. Effective welcome programs can drive subscribers back to your website and motivate them to keep you in mind when they are ready to purchase a home.

Begin by sending new subscribers an initial message, distributed immediately after they opt in. Use this message to confirm subscription details and restate your e-mail program’s value proposition. Ask to be added to their address book, invite them back to fill out a profile and/or request additional contact information. Follow up your welcome message with a timed series of e-mails that show subscribers even more of what you’re about.

3. Provide an experience that encourages social sharing. ‘Tis the season for social sharing. When a loyal fan shares your messages to their social networks, you extend your reach by 24.3% on average, according to a recent Silverpop study. Make this possible by first researching which networks your subscribers are most likely to share on. Facebook and Twitter are the obvious choices, but depending on your niche, other social networks may also yield impressive social-sharing rates.

What is your database management and social media strategy?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

For Your Clients: 4 Tips to Keeping Homeowners' Insurance Costs Down

For Your Clients: 4 Tips to Keeping Homeowners' Insurance Costs DownBy Stephanie Andre

RISMEDIA, December 2, 2010—Saving money has never been so trendy. Long gone are the days of irresponsible spending, so why be irresponsible with your homeowners insurance? Taking a little bit of time to research your options might just help you save a little in the wallet and put more in the bank.

Here are four tips from

1. Shop around. Some insurance companies have been raising house insurance costs to recoup losses from the financial crisis. Others are competing for new customers by offering lower rates. By shopping around, people can find better deals on homeowners insurance.

2. Re-evaluate coverage amounts. Many policies have inflation protection provisions, which automatically increase coverage amounts. This was a good item in the years leading up to the crash, but today they should be looked at more closely.

3. Check personal credit reports. Homeowners insurance companies check credit history before figuring rates, similar to how lenders do. This is done to help them assess the risk of payment and likely individual responsibility. Check your credit report and make sure it’s accurate so you can get the best possible rate.

4. Small claims can become expensive. Homeowners should have the highest deductible they can comfortably afford and repair minor items out of pocket rather than filing a claim. Filing a claim for every broken window or leaky pipe can increase premiums by 10-15%.

Have any tips you would like to share?

3 Simple Ways to Stay Connected during the Holiday Season

3 Simple Ways to Stay Connected during the Holiday Season By Paige Tepping

RISMEDIA, December 6, 2010—With the holiday season in full swing, real estate professionals have one more thing to add to their list—staying up-to-date with their clients even while out of the office and on the road. While the industry does slow down during the holiday season, real estate professionals must take the time to stay in front of their clients—past and present—so that when the spring selling season arrives, they are still top of mind.

Blogger Jen Robinson and Aptela, a leading provider of business-class phone service, offer the following tips for real estate professionals to stay on top of their social networking initiatives while still finding time to enjoy the holiday season.

1. Create a schedule. With the arrival of the holiday season comes the extra demand on everyone’s time as we all prepare to spend time with family and friends. While it is easy to get caught up in all the happenings of the season, it is crucial that real estate professionals schedule time to keep up with their social networking presence. Create a manageable schedule ahead of time so that you can devote a few spare minutes to networking with your friends, fans and followers.

2. Ask for help. Keeping up with the multiple social networks you belong to can be a time consuming job, one that is especially difficult during the holiday season when you may be traveling for extended periods of time to see friends and family. If you won’t be able to keep up with your social networking, you may want to think about having someone blog, tweet or post status updates for you. Be sure to pick someone that you trust and don’t be afraid to lay a few ground rules.

3. Disconnect. Many individuals look at the holidays as a time to disconnect from the technology they depend on throughout the year, and are looking for a much needed break. If you plan on taking advantage of the down time, be sure to let your friends, fans and followers know ahead of time so they know to watch for your return after the holidays.

Do you have any suggestions? Please share...

4 Steps to Creating FAN-atical Clients

4 Steps to Creating FAN-atical Clients RISMEDIA, December 6, 2010—You wear their team colors and refuse to wear those of their greatest rival. You cheer for them win or lose but are always full of advice on how they could improve (just in case the coach ever gives you a call!). You'll do what it takes to watch them play whether that means braving icy weather or missing yet another Sunday lunch with the family. These are the makings of a true sports fan and the factors that connect you to tens of thousands of like-minded strangers.

Yes, sports fans are loyal and passionate—so much so that, for many, their team seems like a close friend or family member. Marketing expert Maribeth Kuzmeski says this intense emotional connection to what is essentially just another brand begs the question: What can today's business owners do to make their customers as passionate and loyal to their products as sports fans are to their favorite teams?

"I am a huge Green Bay Packers fan," says Kuzmeski, author of the new book ...And the Clients Went Wild! How Savvy Professionals Win All the Business They Want. "I learned about football, the Packers, and what it means to be a fan from my football-loving grandmother. We cheered for our team when they were terrible and basked in the glow of the wins when they were better. But we never considered moving to another."

While Kuzmeski now lives in a different football town where another big NFL franchise gets all the attention, she insists that the Packers are still "my team." And it's that level of loyalty that she strives to help her clients create in their customers.

In her new book, Kuzmeski explains that in order to truly get clients to "go wild" about your business, there must be an overriding and strong emotional connection—similar to the one you might feel for your favorite sports team.

If you want to learn how to create a die-hard-sports-fan level of loyalty among your customers, read on for Kuzmeski's four absolutes for inspiring that kind of passion:

Offer something unique. Whatever you're offering your customers can't just be better; it has to be different. In order to gain exposure, it helps to be or to offer something unique—or do something that no one else dares.

A great example of a company that understands the "different is better" mantra is Buc-ee's gas stations. They have focused their number-one offering on what people dread most about stopping at a gas station: the bathrooms! Each of the thirty locations has incredibly clean, substantially sized bathrooms, along with full-time attendants to keep them in tip-top shape. And happy customers regularly post testimonials on the company's blog. Buc-ee's built their entire business around the bathrooms—a feature they knew they could use to differentiate their business.

Create something valuable (and viral!). This strategy is two-fold. First, you must have something valuable to say—a message your customers will want to pass on to others. Then, you have to make it easy for them to pass that message on. When it is really easy for customers to pass along information about your brand, they will.

"You might kick off this strategy by creating a simple, repeatable message," suggests Kuzmeski. "People have an average attention span of only seventeen seconds, so you have to get their attention quickly. A short, clear message will certainly do the trick. Think about Google. For the most part, the company does not advertise, and certainly did not advertise its initial offering of its web search site.

Understand the difference between features and benefits. Too many businesses accentuate the features of their products or services rather than the benefits—which are what your clients really care about. Benefits are value statements about the features of a product or service, with an emphasis on what the customer gets. For example, "Open 24 Hours" is a feature. The benefit is that the business will be open whenever the customer needs it. Or say you've been in financial services for twenty years. That is a feature. The benefit for your clients is the experience, working knowledge, and years of training that result from your length of time in the business.

"Too many companies leave it up to their prospects to figure out the benefits of their products or services," notes Kuzmeski. "Remember, you may be steeped in information about your products and services, but they aren't. When you try to sell them on features alone, you're asking the customer to do all the work—and she probably won't. Bottom line: It's in your best interest to draw a crystal clear picture of a product's or service's benefits for a prospective buyer."

Don't just say it. Do it! Often, the things you can do to turn your customers into diehard fans are right under your nose. They're the things you do every day, or those things you do simply because you want to provide your customers with the service they deserve.

Kuzmeski tells a story about one of her financial advisor clients who didn't have to proclaim that he provided excellent service—he lived it. And going the extra mile ended up paying off in a big way.

"One day, this financial advisor got a call from a pastor explaining that an elderly woman at his church was completely lost," relates Kuzmeski. "Her husband had recently passed away, and she didn't know where any of the important papers regarding her estate were located. The advisor ended up going to her home to help her find her insurance policies and other important files. He ended up helping her uncover documents indicating $700,000 in assets! And he didn't charge her a penny.

"Based on what he did for her, he created a survivorship program and quickly started receiving referrals from all over his community," she adds. "Rather than ask to be trusted, he had shown he was trustworthy. Instead of asking her to trust him, he had shown his client she could trust him."

"Making screaming, loyal fans out of your customers won't be easy, but it is absolutely possible," says Kuzmeski. "You simply have to give them a product or service worth going wild about. Hit on all of the absolutes I've provided, and before you know it, you'll have clients who stick with you through thick and thin and cheer you on every chance they get."

What have you done to create fans out of your customers? Please share...