Common Questions for Our Professionals

Here’s a roundup of the latest Q&As on Stik.com/answers – our community area where people who have questions can get answers from true professionals.

Popular questions currently looking for answers:

“What is the most important consideration when hiring an interior designer?”

“Who can help me with my relocation needs?”

“Is it getting any easier to get a home loan if your credit isn’t perfect?

“How often should I have my carpets cleaned?”

Know the answer to any of these?  Jump right in!

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Four ways to make sure your business shines online

Every year, hundreds of millions of consumers visit online feedback sites to help them make spending decisions. Here are some tips for maximizing positive reviews for your business, and for handling online criticism.

1.      Provide excellent service from the start. This may seem obvious, but the better your customer service is, the better your customer ratings will be. This applies not just specifically to customer service ratings, but also to overall ratings. Focus above all on meeting your customers’ needs and on making them feel good, and they will return the favor by writing favorable reviews.

2.      Remain level-headed.  While it may be frustrating to receive negative feedback, you must avoid getting too emotional; responding angrily to negative customer reviews will only exacerbate the problem. Whether your response is public or private, it is always best to be patient, polite, and diplomatic.  If you have trouble keeping your cool, it might be a good idea to appoint a trusted employee to handle customer reviews.

3.      Take criticism as an opportunity rather than as an insult.  No one likes receiving negative reviews.  However, they do provide important insight into how you can improve your business.  Try to remember that receiving some negative reviews may be inevitable, but they do lend authenticity to your business profile. Treat customer reviews seriously, implement constructive feedback, and take advantage of the free market research to make your business better than ever!

4.      Always seek out reviews, particularly from your happiest clients.  Positive reviews have a snowball effect.  As you accumulate more positive reviews, you will attract more business, and this cycle will cause both your customer base and your reviews to grow exponentially.  By asking customers for reviews, particularly those customers who are most pleased with your service, you can catalyze this process and take full advantage of the network effect.

 

Is coworking space right for your small business?

Leasing a co-working space can be a powerful tool for your small business, keeping your costs down, broadening your professional network, and simplifying your taxes.

What are co-working spaces?
Co-working spaces are far more than just offices shared by several startups and small businesses.  They are powerful collaborative communities that leverage shared office facilities, private spaces, and pooled professional resources to help all co-workers achieve maximum efficiency.

What are some advantages and disadvantages of co-working spaces?
Co-working spaces provide many advantages for startups and small businesses.
1. Cost-savings: sharing office space allows you to share expenses, which minimizes costs and gives you access to superior facilities that you could not have otherwise afforded.
2. Flexibility: a co-working arrangement is much easier to get out of than is a standard lease, and this gives you the mobility to expand or relocate your business without the headache and expense of breaking a lease.
3. Simplified taxes: it is much easier to deduct co-working expenses than “home office” expenses, the relevant laws and regulations are far less complex, and the deductions are less likely to elicit an audit.
4. Enhanced professional network: perhaps the greatest advantage of a co-working space is the close proximity to other like-minded entrepreneurs. By offering advice, and by sharing insight gleaned from experience, you and your co-workers can create a dynamic, fruitful, and mutually-beneficial work environment.

Co-working spaces also have their obvious disadvantages. There can be a lack of privacy, the cultures of different startups may not be entirely compatible, and there will likely be a steady stream of unfamiliar faces appearing in the office, making security a concern. It is up to you to decide whether or not the benefits outweigh the potential disadvantages.

How can you find a co-working space?
The Internet is a great place to start. Sites like Deskwanted, ShareDesk, and SharedOfficeSpace.com are excellent resources.  But perhaps the best way to find co-working spaces is personal referrals. Leveraging the valuable insight of someone you know and trust, you can find a co-working space that can help propel your small business to the next level.

Google+ & Social Search – Stik.com Co-Founders Present at LeadsCon

This week Stik.com Co-Founders Jay Gierak and Nathan Labenz presented Google Leader to an audience of 1,200 people at a marketing conference at the Mirage hotel and casino in Las Vegas. The reaction from attendees, including executives from Wells Fargo, Merrill Lynch, Allstate, and other Fortune 500 companies, has been incredible. One reporter wrote that I “channeled my inner Zuckerberg” while describing the power of social search.

Folks paid $1,000 to attend this conference, but we’re giving you the goods for free. Check out more info at stik.com/google-premium and see the whole presentation here:

Boost Your Recommendations and Reviews with Your Email Signature (Outlook 2010)

If you’re sending dozens of emails as day, as most of us are, take advantage of this simple means of driving potential customers to your Stik.com profile.

Add your unique URL (http://www.stik.com/INSERTNAME) to your signature line and encourage the people you interact with to view and add to your recommendations.

The recommendations and reviews you’ve received from your customers will speak volumes to those considering enlisting your service. So make that connection easy for them.

Scroll through these screenshots to see how I did it.

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For Microsoft Outlook 2010 users, the steps are easy:

  • Click “File” in the top toolbar on the left
  • Choose the “Options” on the left
  • In that box, click on “Signatures…” box on the right
  • Choose to create a new signature by clicking, “New…”
  • Enter a name for your new signature, like “standard,” and click OK
  • In the next window,  add your desired text with link to your Stik.com profile:
    • Highlight text and click on the link icon above the editing box on the right
    • Enter your Stik.com profile URL in the Address field and click OK
  • Choose what type of email correspondence you’d like to use this signature for (i.e. new messages, replies) and click OK

When you compose a new email, the signature will automatically appear.

Stik to who know!

Nathan Labenz
Stik.com Co-Founder
Visit me at Stik.com

Rotary Partners with Stik.com to Raise ‘Pennies for Polio’ at No Cost to Supporters

In a new twist on fundraising, local Rotary clubs are asking supporters to open their desktops rather than their wallets.

Through a partnership with the networking website Stik.com, Rotary clubs around the world, including the Macomb Rotary Club and Sterling Heights Rotary Club, have started the Pennies for Polio campaign.

Read the full article on Patch.com»

OR

Check out the campaign at www.stik.com/rotary.

F8 Previews in Review

Earlier this week I published two columns (one on BusinessInsider and one on AllFacebook) previewing Facebook’s F8 conference.

As speculation built that Facebook would be launching a major media service, I worried that Facebook might be focusing on the wrong opportunities:

For the economy as a whole, more media means more advertising opportunities. That’s great for Facebook’s short-term bottom line, but not so great for the rest of us. We don’t like the advertising we have. Too often, it’s an annoying shouting match between competing brands: banks and insurance companies, reeling from a loss of consumer trust, trying desperately to win us back.

Facebook’s great potential is in better advertising. Yet, the social network appears to be ignoring some important foundational steps in that direction.

You can read both posts to learn about the projects that I think Facebook should be giving more time and attention.  I’m not suggesting anything too radical — rather, I am mostly encouraging Facebook to open a few game-changing advertising tools that it has previously tested for general public use.

The big announcements are now behind us, and the tech press is swooning over Facebook’s new gadgets, but we’ll have to let the dust settle before we know if the new tools are as suitable to commerce as they are to media.  To Facebook’s credit, they have opened up a whole new set of flexible tools for developers that should make Stik.com and other high-value social sites better in one way or another.

Hat tips to: