Monthly Archives: February 2015

8 Tips To Help You Break The Ice – Networking Tips For Introverts

Playing to your strengths is a big part of success. Many introverted or shy individuals make the mistake of limiting themselves, feeling that because they don’t seem to fit the traditional image of an entrepreneur, they have little chance making it big. This is a mistake as success comes in many forms and in most cases there are many alternate ways to reach the same goal.

Attending networking events is a common trend and they are designed with certain personality types in mind – those confident, charming, chatty people who can talk up a storm with a perfect stranger. Of course, that same situation would be overwhelming and stressful for an introvert, leading only to sweaty palms and trembling with fear.

While it might be impossible to hide in the shadows and successfully network, there is no reason why you need to be the main attraction in order to make new connections. Instead, play to your strengths, networking in a way that allows you to show your true personality.

1.  Keep It Real.  If you know that large networking events make you nervous, don’t worry about it or over think the situation. Instead of trying to meet with and connect with everyone, aim for one or two good conversations.

2.  Plan ahead. Prepare a few icebreakers or conversation starters to help keep things flowing, include a few open ended questions on topics that can get a conversation started. The majority of people love talking about themselves, so ask questions about their interests, hobbies and business.

3.  Set A Cut Off Time.  Setting a time limit is a great way to get those nerves under control as you know how long the event will last. Give yourself half an hour to get in, get a drink and meet one new person. You might find that you feel much more comfortable by then and ready to stay longer and make more contacts.

4.  Get an Introduction.  If there is someone you would like to meet at an event, finding a common connection to introduce you can help kill some of the initial awkwardness and nerves. If all else fails, asking the host of the event to introduce you.

5.  Use Your Empathetic Listening Skills. Most introverts make great listener as they are less inclined to talk so master the art of fully engaged listening.  Use that to your advantage, and stand out as an attentive person who sees the value in others.

6.  Talk About Yourself. Sharing personal stories might be challenging, but having a few go to personal anecdotes is a great way to add to the conversation. However, if you spend the whole time listening and asking questions it might feel like an interrogation after a while.

7.  Practice meeting new people. Meeting new people and practising in less stressful situations might be a good idea. Try talking to someone in the elevator, the park or a local bar to practice your skills and see what works and what doesn’t.

8.  Start off small. In time you will become more comfortable with networking, but until then try not to push yourself too hard and take on too much. Starting small will help you build confidence and you’ll be more successful in your networking efforts.

Break The Ice: 8 Networking Tips For Introverts

By: Maryland GovPics

Most people know that to be successful, you need to utilize your strengths but what if you are introverted or shy?  You may be excellent at your job but if you clam up everytime you are expected to network then how will people find out about what you do?

For the introvert, a networking event can be torture because they are designed for a certain kind of personality – the naturally confident person who can easily walk into a crowded room and find people to talk to without any worries.

Of course, being visible is an important part of networking but you don’t have to be at the center of attention.  Too many extroverts in the room would be insufferable and the introvert will still be a valuable contributor to discussions, albeit on their terms.

Here are some helpful tips to make your next networking event a success if you are a nervous networker:

1.  Manage expectations. If you get nervous just thinking about attending a networking event then don’t put expectations on yourself that are not realistic.  It’s okay if you don’t make 20 new contacts or cannot tell the funniest joke. If you can have just one high quality conversation it will be better than 20 shallow ones anyway.

2.  Prepare.  Plan before you go and come up with several icebreakers. Great conversations often result from questions that are open-ended. People love to be asked questions about their work, hobbies and, of course, themselves. So ask things like “How long have you belonged to this organization?” or “What part of your job do you enjoy the most?” are guaranteed to get the conversation flowing.

3.  Set a time limit.  Before you go, decide how much time you will spend at the event. This will make your commitment less open-ended and you will not feel as intimidated. Give yourself 20 minutes to pick up your name tag, get a drink and meet one person new to you. Many times you just need some time to feel comfortable in the environment and you will find you want to stay longer.

4.  Ask for an introduction.  If you are hoping to meet a certain person, look around and see if there is someone you already know who can introduce you. If all else fails, ask the host if they will introduce you.

5.  Practice empathetic listening. As an introvert, you are probably an amazing listener who will be fully engaged in what the other person is saying. You will have the advantage because many people talk a lot more than they listen and you will stand out as someone who values what they have to say.

6.  Share personal stories. Give yourself a challenge to open up a little. If you keep asking questions without sharing anything about yourself, it starts to look like an interrogation. You need to put yourself into the conversation so that it will flow naturally.

7.  Practice. If you are still feeling unsure or nervous, pick a no-risk or low-risk event. Go to one in a different town that is nearby where you will not run into people you know. Try out new stories or conversation starters.

8.  Take small steps.  Take small steps. As you practice more, you will find that you will become more and more comfortable in social situations and you will be able to share parts of yourself better. Even in the office, why not take a short break and walk around to socialize casually with your officemates. Then, about once a week, invite someone to go to coffee or lunch with you.

5 Must Have Driving Gadgets

By: James Bond

There’s simply no denying the fact that everyone today has their favourite gadget or time saving device.  From smart phones to tablets, GPS systems and satellite radio, we are spoilt for choice.

In recent years, companies have been creating some pretty amazing gadgets for us to use in our cars. Thanks to programs and websites such as Kickstarter and GoFundMe, innovative ideas are coming to us at a lightning pace. Now, the types of technology available for our vehicles is simply amazing.

Take a look at some of our top picks below that feature some pretty neat ideas for your next morning commute.

1. EZBabySaver is an innovative gadget invented by a 12 year old schoolboy from Tennessee.  He had entered a rubber band contest at school when he was in the fifth grade.  After hearing of numerous infant deaths that had been caused by parents leaving their infants in hot cars unattended, Andrew created a simple but highly effective device which consists of a long string of intertwined rubber bands that attach to the back seat of the drivers door and seat.  In essence, the driver will have to turn around to unhook the EZBabySaver to get out of the car at which point they’ll notice the sleeping infant in the backseat.

2. AA Roadwatch App – more than just a gadget, this App will save you time spent sitting in traffic jams and show you how to avoid them.  It takes information from TomTom devices and is available on both Android and iOS devices.  There is even a one week free test drive before you need to commit any money to its purchase.

3. McDonald’s Fry Holder
Image – http://www.ufunk.net/en/gadgets/mcdonalds-japan-french-fries-holder/
Thanks to the very fast-paced world we live in, being forced to eat on the go has become a bit of a necessity. Whilst driving down the road, nothing is more frustrating than spilling your fries all over your car. The fast food giant McDonald’s has come out with a handy little accessory called the fry holder.  It can handle both large and medium containers of French fries.  The holder molds around the fries which then allows you to conveniently set them in your cup holder ensuring easy access.

4. Halfords 12V Handheld Portable Vacuum Cleaner – What happens when you do still accidentally spill those fries? Well, one great option for your vehicle is one of Halford’s new vacuum cleaners that is not only portable but also powered by the cigarette adapter within your car.  You will never again have to worry about running an extension cord from your house to your vehicle, as this little 12V vacuum will provide you with all of the suction power you need in order to clean your vehicle with ease. All you have to do is plug it in, clean up the mess and slap it back in the trunk. At a very reasonable price tag, the portability and compactness of this little vacuum is sure to help you keep the interior of your car free of small messes.

5. Dyson DC44 Animal – What happens when you have a really big mess in your car? Well, that’s when the new Dyson DC44 Animal comes into play. Costing £250, this little vacuum can handle just about any mess you can throw at it within your car. If it isn’t enough that this vacuum can handle your car with ease, you can also use it in your office and in your home. If you’re looking for a powerful portable vacuum cleaner that can handle the biggest messes with ease, then your search is over.

5 Useful Driving Gadgets

By: JOHN LLOYD

We all love our gadgets, and over the last few years they have become an integral part of our everyday lives.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s a smart phone, tablet or a SatNav on the dashboards of their vehicles, people always have their devices on them. A growing number of companies have developed accessories for vehicles and innovation seems to continue. Here are some of our favorite vehicle accessories that have made it to the shelves or are coming very soon.

1. The EzBabySaver – This is a very affordable accessory designed by a 12 year old from Tennessee.  The designer got the idea after hearing about a number of infant deaths caused by their parents leaving them in the back of hot cars during the summertime.  The device consists of a string of elastic bands that are attached to the driver’s side door as well as the driver’s seat.  The driver is forced to turn around to remove the band in order to exit the car at which point they notice the sleeping child.  Such a simple idea will save lives throughout the world and is such an easy device to make from items found around the home – the humble elastic band.

2. The AA Roadwatch App – The AA Roadwatch Pro App can help you avoid traffic, regardless of where you are, and with an intuitive user interface it makes it easy to plan your route.  The app works by taking information from TomTom and then shows where there are traffic holdups and how severe they are.  The App can be downloaded for iOS and Android for a few dollars.  There is a free week’s trial available which will give you chance to try the app before going on to buy it.

3. The McDonald’s Fry Holder- A vital accessory for those who love McDonald’s fries.  The holder molds itself around medium and large fries boxes, allowing you the safe option of eating your fries whilst stuck it traffic.

4. Halfords 12V Vacuum Cleaner (12V)- There’s no excuse for not vacuuming your vehicle now.  This lightweight, powerful handheld vacuum plugs into the vehicles cigarette plug and it’s ready to use.  No need for extension leads or dragging heavy vacuums out of the house.

5.  Dyson DC44 Animal.  If the vacuum above isn’t powerful enough then consider the Dyson DC44 Animal.  You can use it not only in the car but in the home or office as well.  It’s more expensive than the Halfords vacuum but you certainly get what you pay for in terms of suction, versatility and usability.

All of these gadgets offer an element of fun but are also very practical.  Which one will you try out?

About Antique Furniture Restoration

By: Chalon Handmade

The art of antique furniture restoration is a combination of a highly skilled and technical trade and a work of art. It doesn’t matter whether the furniture is a forgotten family heirloom which has suffered decades of neglect or is a recently purchased piece of history in need of restoration – there are ways and means to ensure that they are restored to their former glory once more. Antique furniture restorers are a unique breed, passionate in their craft and dedicated to the cause. They are an incredibly important piece in the puzzle to preserve our history and culture.

Antique furniture restorers are dedicated to bringing antique furniture and/or works of art back to the condition they enjoyed when they were new, or to preserve the antique piece against any future deterioration.

There are many different levels in which antique restoration may happen. It could be a very simple procedure like removing grime and dirt, polishing away a veneer, replacing parts to restore the functionality of a piece or giving the antique piece a complete rebuild. All scenarios should be in the antique furniture restorers armory.

Glossy Finishes

The repair of antiques may consist of restoring functionality of the piece – replacing or repairing the broken leg of a table for example. The art of restoring a piece of antique furniture correctly is just that – an art form. Before stripping down any type of furniture there is one golden rule – to retain the original pattern as much as possible. This refers to the thin surface layers of metal and wood – the wear, the polish and the sheen of which all demonstrate the age and provenance of the piece.

In many cases antique furniture it sent to be restored after bad, amateur repair attempts have been made.   It is important to leave restoration of any valuable antiques in the hands of the professionals. This will ensure that the piece will at least retain or hopefully increase in value after the restoration has been completed.

Talents Involved in Antique Restoration

Antique furniture restorers need to have many skills at their disposal. One piece of furniture could comprise of wood, metal, leather, glass or fabric. The real skill is knowing the best way to treat each of the individual materials in order to achieve the maximum results with the least amount of negative impact whilst restoring the piece. Antique restorers must therefore have a thorough knowledge of chemicals and how they will react to each material.

Renowned American antique restorer Sarah Johnson said that you have to have sufficient nostalgia to know and utilize the common methods and materials which were in use when the furniture was built. They were fabricated long before power tools had ever been invented. Furniture workers in those times would use hand planes and fish glue – something which antique restoration experts need to be adept in the use of for the best results.

Although it may not always be possible to restore any antique piece of furniture to the original state it is possible to return it close to the original state using the right combination of skill, care and respect. These repairs will often become a part of history itself and are an integral part of preserving our culture.

Divorce Advice For Men With Children

By: Graham Richardson

There comes a point where if a marriage isn’t working it may be time to accept that divorce is your best option.  If you are both in agreement then the process may not be too challenging and is merely a legal procedure.  However, if children are involved then it may be more complicated as you seek to divorce amicably and without upsetting the children any more than you have to.

Civilized Agreements

Invariably, the children will live with the mother, and you will be responsible for paying child support.  Many couples agree to this between themselves and both parties stick to what they have agreed but if either party cannot agree on access arrangements or how much support should be paid then a court of law can decide for you.

In the future, one parent may go against what has been agreed – maybe as a result of an argument with the other parent – and stop payment or access.  This invariably upsets the children and should be avoided at all costs.  If a court has made the arrangements then they can review the behaviour of the parent who isn’t upholding their side of the deal and ensure that they do.

Court Agreements

For some couples, where the relationship has broken down beyond being able to communicate in a civilised manner with each other, it is best to go through a family court to ensure everything that needs to be addressed is done so in a proper manner.  As the court date approaches, ensure you have any documents or evidence that will strengthen your case including child support payments and notes of any unacceptable behaviour of the parent if applicable.  Older children, who may be able to express how they feel about the divorce, may be asked by the judge to discuss how they feel about their current living situation.  A Cafcass report may be compiled before the court date if it may help the decision making process.

Parents should work together to decide what access rights work best for all involved.  The children may spend weekends with the father or part of the week.  Holidays such as Christmas and summer need to be agreed and this can all be discussed with the judge to come to an amicable arrangement.

 

What You Need to Know

There are a few things you should absolutely know when you are going through a divorce.

  • If you do not pay your child support, it is not going to look good for you in court.
  • Aside from remembering to make your payments, try to be the better person and compromise with the mother so that everyone gets along and in particular, the children are as unaffected as possible.
  • Even if it is difficult, try not to let the divorce have a negative effect on your life, especially when the children are with you.
  • Seek the assistance of a family lawyer who can represent you in court.  Don’t try to take on the process unless you feel you have sufficient legal knowledge to be successful.

Alleviating Back Pain at Work

By: Wonderlane

Most of us can relate to back pain at some point in our lives – whether it follows an accident or is as a result of poor posture from sleeping or sitting badly.  Could your workplace be a major trigger for back pain?  We investigate some ways to prevent and manage back pain the the workplace.

Back Pain Prevention

Ultimately, we are all responsible for our own safety in the workplace and putting ourselves in undue dangerous situations is unwise.  However, management have a duty of care to ensure correct training and safety is undertaken to make sure employee’s backs are protected when being asked to handle heavy objects or in the provision of seating in the workplace.  The provision of a basic manual handling course should be part of the induction process for new staff and refresher courses offered for longer serving members of staff.    Staff who sit down for much or all of their shift should be instructed how to adopt a correct sitting posture and the told of the importance of taking a break and stretching correctly to avoid back pain.

Back pain management

When an employee informs management that they are suffering from back pain, there are several ways that management can support the member of staff.  It may be possible to temporarily change working hours and practices so that employees can have more breaks to allow stretching exercises to be performed.  If the employee is responsible for lifting heavy loads, the management may consider changing the role so that heavy lifting isn’t required.  A change of seating, or cushioned support may be offered for desk based staff. Professional advice may be sought from health and safety specialists where appropriate.

Back pain has serious effects on productivity. In the UK, it is the second most common cause of absence from work. However, all the effects of back pain in work places can be avoided by simply responding appropriately by promoting a healthy culture of back pain prevention and management.

Your Fire Safety Tool Kit

By: Ken Thorne

No one ever wants to imagine a fire burning through their home, however if you are prepared for any accidents that may occur you stand a better chance of saving lives and property. We’ve prepared a list of essential items that every home should have to keep you safe in the event of a fire.

Fire Alarms And Smoke Detectors In A Good Working Condition

Every floor in your house should have a working fire alarm and smoke detector. These essentials should be placed in the most critical places where a fire might start. Install them in places such as the kitchen, the fireplace, near wooden burning stoves and close to your bedroom. If a fire starts when you’re asleep, the fire alarm placed near your bedroom should wake you up immediately.

Conduct regular inspections to make sure they are working perfectly. Ensure batteries are checked at regular times and replaced when necessary.  Whilst fire alarms and smoke detectors can’t help you fight a fire, they are crucial in the detection of a fire and will give you valuable warning to escape or tackle the fire if safe to do so.

Fire Extinguishers

Every home should have at least one fire extinguisher and a logical place to situate it is the kitchen.  Often a house fire can originate in the kitchen due to an oil or grease fire and a small extinguisher suitable for containing this kind of fire should be within distance of the kitchen.  Larger extinguishers can be located near the garage, laundry room or other rooms where a fire may break out.  Teach adults and older children how to operate the extinguishers and educate them which extinguisher can be used of which type of fire.

Fire Blankets

The kitchen is the ideal room to situate a fire blanket to combat any fires that start when using hot oil.  A fire blanket is also ideal for wrapping round a body that is on fire.  Ensure everyone in the house knows how to use a fire blanket.

 

Fire Escape Protocol

Formulate a fire escape protocol that all members of the household can remember in the event of a fire.  It should include details of how to get out of the house and out of harm’s ways.  Designate a meeting point where all members of the family can be accounted for – this could be at the bottom of a driveway or at a neighbours home.  Delegate roles to individual family members, especially if there are young children or elderly relatives that may need assistance.

 

The Fire Safety Tool Kit

By: Program Executive Office Soldier

A fire tragedy is something we never want to talk or even think about. However, we still need to be prepared for it when it happens. A small fire breaking out at home could soon escalate into a devastating inferno if not dealt with fast and effectively, leading to the destruction of your property and possibly hurting the people within. To handle a fire effectively, you have to be prepared well in advance. To help you react swiftly in the event of a fire, we have prepared a list of things that you should have in your own home fire safety kit.

Working Fire Alarms And Smoke Detectors

It is important that you have a fire alarm and smoke detector installed on every floor of your property, especially in places that are prone to fires. Ensure that you have these gadgets installed in your kitchen, near wood stoves or any fireplaces. Also, you should have them installed near your bedroom so that it becomes easier to hear the sound of the alarm when it goes off. Check the batteries often and change them regularly so that they are always in perfect working condition. Whilst these gadgets do not necessarily provide physical protection and cannot fight a fire, they serve a vital service by acting as an early warning system. This is helpful as it gives you time to safely get everyone out and ample time to deal with smaller fires that you can handle before they spread or to call the fire department.

Fire Extinguishers

A fire extinguisher is one thing that should be in every home safety kit. Every home or office needs to have at least one extinguisher within the premises. It is important that you have a multi-purpose extinguisher near every place that can termed as fire prone (like in kitchen, the garage, near fireplaces, the laundry room etc). Smaller extinguishers are easier to handle and are best for use in the kitchen where there are greater probabilities of having to deal with small oil or grease fires. Larger ones are better in the garage, workshop or laundry room. If you can, have a large multi-purpose extinguisher in a central and easy to reach point of your home and make sure to teach everyone how to use it.

Fire Escape Ladders

This is one option that most people never think of. In the event a fire breaks out, there is a possibility of second floor hallways becoming blocked off by the raging inferno, blocking the only way out. A good way to ensure that there is always a safe exit out of the building is by installing a rope ladder or foldable ladder in each room and making sure that everyone learns how to use them. For smaller children or persons who cannot use them, assign an adult or older child to assist them when tragedy strikes.

Fire Blankets

Fire blankets are another vital aspect that need to be present in any fire safety kit. These should preferably be stored in the kitchen as they are the best at tackling small fires in the kitchen. Hang one of them in a convenient and easily accessible point of your kitchen and ensure that you are familiar with how to use one. These blankets could save the day in the event a fire breaks out.

Have An Escape Plan

It is important that you teach everyone living in your house about how to get out and what to do in the event a fire starts. Identify a spot outside your home where everyone will assemble (preferably a landmark everyone is familiar with or on a neighbours driveway and which is a safe distance from the house). If you want your children to learn your plan, have them draw up the floor plan of your home and map the routes they are to follow before walking them through it to ensure that they get it. It is also important to ensure that everyone knows their responsibility in the event of a fire. It is vital that they know that no one should bring out anything from the house or should go back into the house for anything.

How To Create Great Video Content

Videos are the latest technological innovation to capture our imagination and can be viewed on our TVs, computers, smart phones and even out shopping in supermarkets and shopping centres.  In today’s competitive market place, it’s easy to see why more and more advertisers are using video to inform people about their products and services.

Video Content Yields Excellent Returns

Innovations in the technologies used to produce videos have made video content more affordable than ever before. Creating video content is more accessible to individuals without advanced technological skills. The demand for video content is also increasing since more people have access to devices that can play videos. If you offer products or services, neglecting video marketing could be a costly mistake since you can get a high return on this investment.

Video content has become a must-have communication tool for businesses. Video allow you to reach out to your audience, share information with your staff and increase awareness of your brand. Video is an ideal communication tool since it allows you to deliver information in a quick and easy manner.

There are additional benefits to using video content, including boosting your page ranking in search results since video content can have a positive impact on your SEO campaign.

Producing Videos

Here at Big Yellow Feet we have been offering quality video production services for more than 12 years. We have created testimonals, TV ads, talking heads and some of our videos have won awards. Our video production team is experienced and knowledgeable. Over this time we’ve picked up a great deal of knowledge about what works in video production.  These simple steps will help you stay on the right track as you produce your video content.

Define Your Audience

You need to clearly define your target audience before getting started. You probably know a lot about your audience and can figure out how to reach out to these people if you take the time to think about it. Ask yourself what kind of content your audience is interested in, how they look for this content and where they watch it. A lot of business owners make the mistake of assuming their audience is just like themselves. Once you know your audience better, think about what you want to tell them.

Choose Your Message

A lot of videos are very short. You will find that many videos uploaded to YouTube last under two minutes and some sites such as Vine limit the length of your video to six and a half seconds. You need to stay on topic so that watchers get your message. You should have one core message and some supporting facts but should not try covering more than one core message in a video. If you have more to say, create more videos.

Your audience will not hear what you don’t say. This is a very easy concept to remember. You need to come up with one sentence that sums up your message and that your audience will remember. However, you should not assume that this simple sentence is the key to getting your point across. If your core message takes less than 90% of your time, your audience might not get the point.

The visual element of video content will help you get your point across. Watchers are very receptive to what the visual element of your video implies. You need to choose images that back up what you are saying. Make sure the visual element of your video is relevant to what you are talking about, both in subject matter and tone.

The images you show in your videos should keep the watchers engaged. Images that are eye-catching, interesting and relevant will add a lot to your video. The style of the footage and the editing are other important elements you need to work on.

Establish A Budget For Your Video

Budget is one of the main concerns for most marketers.  A poorly produced video could harm your image and it is important to remember that some ideas cannot be properly executed unless you have the right budget. If you find that you cannot afford the video you envisioned, it is best to choose another idea. Creative thinking is what you should focus on if you have a limited budget. If you find that the video you wanted to produce will be too expensive, give yourself more time to come up with a more creative idea.