Entries Tagged 'Business' ↓

How To Shake A Hand

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I shake a lot of hands and because of this I experience a variety of handshakes.  There are three things that some people do that make me lose interest in that person or what they have to offer.

Before I get into it, I found a video that briefly covers the three areas I am about to cover.

I really like that video, and not just because it was created before clip on mics. It explains the psychology of what the different handshakes mean.

In business, your handshake is an important part of your first impression and if you make a bad impression it can greatly effect your career.

The least annoying of the three is the limp fish handshake. To me it implies that the person has no confidence in what they do or what they are about. Sometimes they can’t even put in enough effort to slightly cup their hand.

What you can do about it

You have probably shaken hands before or you have at least seen it done. If it is a matter of not enough practice, find a partner and practice shaking hands.

If you have a limp grip, get a racquetball and squeeze it several times a day to build the strength in your hand so you no longer will have a grip of a two year old.

The second type of handshake that annoys me is the hand crusher. A firm grip is important, but it isn’t a squeeze until you feel bones snap type of situation. This is something that is common among high school teenagers, but you need to grow out of it and shake a hand like an adult.

When someone tries to pull that on me and I see their face start to contort as they squeeze my hand, two things come through my mind. First, “don’t you think it is about time to grow up?” and second, “this person is not going to be easy to deal with!”.

What you can do about it

You do know your own strength, so practice applying a firm grip but there is no need to flex your muscles. A handshake is not a contest. Well, it isn’t a contest for everyone else anyway.

The third and most annoying thing I see people do when shaking my hand is not a type of handshake at all. It is something mentioned in the last seconds of the video above… Eye Contact!!

When you shake someones hand, you must look at them in the eyes. To me it implies the person would rather be doing something else, they are granting me the courtesy of shaking their hand, they are trying to get to the person they really want to shake hands with, or something similar to that depending on the situation.

What you can do about it

If you are the one looking avoiding eye contact you probably don’t realize you are doing it, so what you can do is pay attention when you shake someones hand.

If the person you are shaking hands with is avoiding eye contact, say something to them like, “Nice to meet you”, or “Good to see you again”. Speaking to them will often draw their attention back to you.

The next time you shake someones hand be sure to give a firm, but not bone crushing grip and make eye contact.

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Are Buyers Protected With PayPal?

paypal credit card!

Image by laihiu via Flickr

Are you really protected when you buy something using PayPal?  I thought the answer was “yes”, but recently learned that it is “yes, if…”.

I have been using PayPal for years to buy stuff and to receive payment for things and have never had a problem, until recently.  When I consider purchasing things from companies outside the US, I would always check to see if they accept PayPal and if they do I wouldn’t worry about whether or not I got my money back if the item was not what they said it was.

I was looking for a specific item from China using Alibaba.com.  I have purchased things from several companies this way and have never had a problem. I have a couple rules that I follow when purchasing from China. First, the company must have been on Alibaba for more than 1 year.  If they pass that test I search the company name to see if there is any negative comments about them.

If there are recent negative remarks I do not buy from them.  If there are not any comments than they might be okay.

The second rule is to pay by PayPal if possible because I thought I would get my money back if I didn’t receive the items I paid for.

I found the items I wanted and the company was in their 2nd year with Alibaba. They also accepted PayPal.  I searched and there was no mention of anything negative about the company so I made the purchase.

When I went to send the payment, PayPal only gave me the option of e-Check which I have never had to use before.  I usually pay with a credit card so I have the extra protection from the credit card company as well.

It took 5 days for the e-check to clear and I then received a package in the mail 3 days later. I opened the package and imagine my surprise when there was make-up worth maybe $1.

It was 2 things of lip gloss and 2 things of green foundation.  I don’t have use for either and can’t resell them because they are mislabeled defects.

I quickly did another search on the company name and found that someone had posted something three days earlier about how they received make-up instead of what they ordered.  They spent a lot more money than I did.

I wasn’t worried because I paid through PayPal and knew I would get my money back from them, or so I thought.

I logged into PayPal and went to the Resolution Center to report a problem. It gave me two choices:

Item Dispute: I did not receive an item I purchased or the item I received is significantly not as described.

Unauthorized transaction: I did not authorize a recent transaction.

I chose Item Dispute.  On the next screen it explained some things:

Reasons for opening a dispute:

  • You paid for your item, but you haven’t received it.
  • You received an item that is significantly different from the seller’s description.

The second one applied to me so I entered the Transaction ID and continued.

It then brought me to a screen and asked me to select box that closely matched my problem.  There were many problems like the item was similar, but not what I ordered or it was a fake, etc. I choose the item was different than as described or something like that.

I then put in my story  and submitted the dispute. Within seconds I received an email saying that the transaction was not covered under PayPal’s buyer protection.

I could not believe it.  I called PayPal to find out what was going on and he person I spoke with explained that they don’t cover purchases outside of eBay because then it comes down to the buyer saying they didn’t receive what they ordered and the seller saying they sent what they ordered.

He said with ebay they can look up the auction item and verify.  Now to me that does not make any sense.  The same thing can happen with ebay and has in fact happened to me.

One of the buyers said they never received the item they purchased. This was the day they would have received it which was really odd.  I didn’t get delivery confirmation so there was no way to track it. All I had was the receipt. Long story short, PayPal believed me because I had over 200 transactions with no complaints, but that was before eBay purchased them.

I did some digging on their story and I found an ebay seller that did not get a tracking number or delivery confirmation.  A buyer complained to PayPal so the seller sent all sorts of information.  The buyer has complained about not receiving the item on numerous auctions and was suspended by eBay. The seller scanned the receipt from the post office and forwarded all the other information to PayPal.

PayPal came back and said sorry, you didn’t have a tracking number so there is no proof they received it.

Do you see what kind of problem a policy like they have can cause.  Scammers, both buyers and sellers, are taking advantage of the system. Long standing verified PayPal users are losing out to brand new accounts, but like the gentleman told me, if PayPal decides to reopen the case and investigate it further I may get some monetary compensation.

If you are a buyer and you want to make sure you purchase is guaranteed this is what you have to do according to the email I received from PayPal:

To qualify for PayPal Buyer Protection:
* Use PayPal to purchase an eligible item on eBay.
* Pay for the full amount of the item with one payment. Items
purchased with multiple payments are not eligible.
* Send the payment to the seller through the Pay Now button or the
eBay invoice.
* Open a dispute within 45 days of the date you sent the payment,
and escalate the dispute into a claim within 20 days of the date you
opened the dispute.
* Keep your PayPal account in good standing.

At that point I thought I was out the money.  PayPal would not allow me to use my credit card for that purchase like they had for all of my other purchases so I did not have the credit card company to turn to.

I called my bank and explained what happened.  They said I could fill out a dispute form and I would get my money back.  I filled it out and will have my money, but for how long?

The lesson of the story is that PayPal is not a safe way to buy goods unless you buy off of eBay.

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Printable Flash Cards Website

I made a set of cute flash cards to print out and help my son with his math, and thought you might want some too!  Once I figure out how to make them downloadable (advice?) I´ll put them on my blog over here: http://mariah.typepad.com/bidnod/Over the holidays including Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years my flash car website took a big hit in traffic. I was getting around 4000 visits a month, but during November and December my traffic dropped down to just over 2000 visits a month.

This has caused me to take traffic generation for that website more seriously.  I am at the top of google for some of my keywords, but my primary keyword is still placing me many pages deep.  I haven’t done very much to get links for that keyword, but now I decided that I need to.

Here is why:

The main keyword I am targeting is printable flash cards.  When I started out looking for a niche I found that printable flash cards was searched around 40,000 times a month.

The term I am ranked for and drives the most traffic is printable number flash cards. I am number 2, but can get the number 1 spot if I do some optimizing.  Printable number flash cards is searched about 1,300 times a month.

Those are the broad results.  I figured out a few months ago that the exact numbers are the numbers to use.  Let’s go over those again.

Printable flash cards broad results – 40,500 Exact results – 8,100

Printable number flash cards broad results – 1,300 Exact results – 110

Looking at those numbers there is a big difference. I am #2 for printable number flash cards, yet I get almost all of the searches clicking on my site.

If I can get to the top 3 for printable flash cards, my site will most likely be clicked on the majority of searches.

Let’s say 70% of them click my site.  Right now I am getting a click through rate of 3.61% on my ads.  That would be 8100 x 70% = 5,670 x 3.61% = 204 x $0.046 (my average click earnings)= $9.41

These are December numbers which are low, but still not impressive. If I get my site up to the top, I would make more than $9.41 extra in an average month because the search volume increases through the school year.  I would also have more affiliate sales with the increase in traffic which would bring the earnings even higher.

Right now my page rank on the site is 1/10. My extreme sports site has a page rank of 3/10. I have written articles for the sports site and done some squidoo and hubpages stuff as well.  For the flash card site, I think I have only written one squidoo lens.

If I write 5 articles for the flash card site that should bring the site into at least the top 5 pages within 3 months.

Sales Are Coming In

Source: I (Matt Hoover) took this photo. http:...

Image via Wikipedia

This past week I finally saw some sales on my extreme sports site.  I have been getting people filling out the registration form, but they weren’t going all the way through the process of buying something.

The first sale was a little odd and did concern me.  It was through paypal, but the “ship to” address and name were different than the one on the account and it wasn’t verified.  The telephone number was also different.  The product they ordered was out of stock so I didn’t have to call to verify the order or anything like that.

The second sale was different.  It was  a new paypal account so nothing had been verified. The name and address where the same.  I googled the name and found it to be a real person that seemed to live in the area.   I tried the address, but they must be unlisted.  There is more I can do to verify before sending the product.

Those were the only two sales so far, but I didn’t expect a big rush anyway. Over time more and more sales will come in.

My blogs are all still active and they are all now being seen by the search engines.  So far I haven’t received any revenue from them, but it does take time.  I do get more followers on twitter everyday for at least one of the blogs after a post.

The ebook I wrote is also still bringing in revenue even though I haven’t done anything to promote it for months.  It isn’t much, but I do seem to get a check every couple of months.

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New Extreme Sports Website – SickSport.com

universalduotone_supudFor a few years now, I have been wanting to get a website up to sell extreme sports equipment.  I started out with an affiliate site for paintball and airsoft guns, but both companies for whom I was an affiliate went out of business.  I then remodeled the site and found a few different affiliates with a range of products.

I then decided now was a good time to create the site that I have been wanting to build for sometime.  I originally was going to use http://SickSportsGear.com, but after the weeks of time I put into the current site I just could bring myself to start over for the third time.

I have decided to use http://SickSport.com for the extreme sports equipment website.  I am using zen cart, a free open source eCommerce solution, on the back end.  It isn’t as SEO friendly as Wordpress, but it is much better for an online store.

Finding suppliers for the site was much more difficult than I thought it would be.  Searching Google brings up thousands of sites where they act as the middle man between you and the distributor.  Most of their prices are more than most sites, so it doesn’t make sense to go that route.

One resource that is time consuming, but free and real is ThomasNet.  It is a database of manufacturers, distributors, and service providers for many categories.  There are thousands of listings and most of them weren’t helpful for what I was looking for, but I did find a few.

I also searched a few of the products that I was going to offer and noticed that several sites used the same ID number for that product.  I learned that the letters were abbreviations for their supplier and the numbers were the ID numbers the supplier used.  Many websites get there products from the same sources.  Finding the sources can prove difficult.

One conversation I had with the outsourced help for a sports related website told me they drop ship from several different companies.  My question was if they offer drop shipping for businesses, but they thought I was asking if they drop shipped products from other companies.  I haven’t learned who they get their products from yet, but over time I’m sure I will.

Another strategy to find suppliers is to join the related association.  If you are looking into a sports website, join the National Sporting Goods Association.  You will then have access to hundreds of sources for products.

Forums are another great source for information.  Many questions are answered by other users and they often post links. Post a question in a related forum or even yahoo answers.  Many people are eager to help if they can.

I have around 400 products on the site now with more added everyday.  I haven’t received any sales yet, but it has been less than two weeks.  I am getting organic traffic from Google so it shouldn’t be long before I make my first sale.

Is Your Task A Maze

mazeDo you remember trying to figure out the right path through a maze as a kid?  When I was a kid I would always do mazes backwards.  I found it much easier to start from the finish and make my way to the start.

In life the same approach can lead to success.  If you have a goal that you wish to accomplish it really needs to be defined.

What ever your goal may be, it needs to be defined enough so you will know when you get there.  Goals like “make lots of money” or “be happy” aren’t clear or measurable, but if you wanted to make an extra $500 a month from the Internet or own a Dodge Charger SRT-8 (I got one!) you will know when you reach that goal.

Once you have your goal clearly defined, brainstorm ideas that can help you reach that goal.  Do you have a skill or hobby that you could turn into a business?  Do you have a service that you can offer to others?  My wife enjoys making cakes and started a business baking cakes for weddings, birthdays, and special occasions.  She markets the site on facebook, craigslist, and organic searching.  She gets about two cake orders a month right now from it, but her traffic is going up every week.

When planning out what you will do, you don’t have to know everything.  The important things to know are where you are now and where you want to end up.  You can work on the details as you go.  If you tried to plan out every step you will take along the way, you will probably never start.

Sometimes the path we think will lead us to our destination will lead to something else that will get us where we want to go.  Other times we hit a dead-end and have to turn around and go a different direction.  You will learn so much more by taking action than by planning.

Once you are clear on your destination the maze will clear up and you will see the road to take and the destination ahead.  It will no longer be a maze of turns and dead-ends, but will be a straight path directly to your goal.  Instead of relating your journey to a maze it will be a game of connect the dots.

My E-commerce Site Delays

DollarSignI originally had intended to launch a new e-commerce site today, but had a major setback with the manufacturer.  The product was supposed to take about 15 days to create and then about a week to ship so I gave about a month from when my order was confirmed to when I wanted to launch the new site.

After 17 days with no word from the manufacturer, I sent an email asking when the product will ship out.  I received a reply stating: “We will  try our best to ship you the order tomorrow.  Will let you know the tracking no. the next day.”

Okay so it was going to be a little late, but I was excited they were shipping out the next day.  This was six days ago.

This morning I received another email.  I use gmail to check my various email accounts for me and if you aren’t familiar with gmail when you receive an email it will show the subject followed by the beginning of the body of the email.

This is what I saw this morning: “Dear Jordan, I am so sorry to tell you that. Our factory…”.

That is all I could see.  I thought of all the horrible things that could follow that fragment.  Our factory… burned down, was raided by the police, was destroyed in an earthquake, lost your order, doesn’t have record of your payment.

I was a little nervous about seeing what the next few words were the followed. I reluctantly opened the email and discovered they messed up my order and I could either accept the errors or wait an additional 15 days for them to fix it.  I opted to accept the mistake since it wouldn’t effect sales.

I order this product from China.  I have ordered products from China in the past without any issues so I wasn’t too concerned.  About six years ago I ordered a bunch of glow sticks to sell on eBay.  They were bracelets and sold for around $25 for a tube of 100.  After shipping a tube would cost me about $3 each, but they came in a tube of the same color so I had to sort them to put 5 colors in each tube.  I put some time into it, but did make a profit over several months.

I am not sure if the product will really be shipped out “A.S.A.P.” as stated in the email but I sure hope so.  I pushed back the launch to October 1 now which should give the product enough time to get here.

The goal of this new e-commerce  site is to fund my other sites and projects that I have slated.  It is going to take some time to build up traffic, but I only need to sell about 10 items and then I can order 50%-100% more than this initial order.

I will post some updates here from time to time about the progress of that site so be sure to check back.

New Site Marketing Blitz

Later this month I will be launching a new e-commerce site.  My goal for that site is to get the systems in place and enough traffic so that in six months I will be able to have a call center answer the phone and a fulfillment company ship the product.

If anyone is aware of a good fulfillment company please post a comment below with the link.

By outsourcing the majority of the tasks I will be free to pursue other business ideas I have and travel with my family a little more.

For my new site marketing blitz I am trying to keep it simple enough that it won’t be overwhelming and I can break the tasks up easily to accomplish them quicker.

There are four parts to my strategy:

  1. Find keywords
  2. Write and submit articles
  3. Social Bookmarking
  4. Comment on blogs

Keywords Research

This step can get very complicated, but I will try to briefly describe what I do for keyword research.  First I search for the topic that I am interested in, to see if there is high demand.  This would be easier to show in a video so I will do that.

Write and Submit Articles

After I have a list of about 10-20 keywords I want to target, I pick the phrase that has the lowest results, but is still searched a decent amount of times.  With this phrase in mind, I right an article for ezinearticles.com with the keyphrase as the title and then I have it naturally occur a few more times in the article, but not too many.

The article needs to be at least 450 words to make it more relevant making sure it still creates value for the reader.

In the bio box I put a couple sentences about the author and then add a link to my website or the page in my website I want to target.

Next I go to HubPages and Squidoo and write another article about the same keywords. It has to be unique to work.  On these sites I link to the ezinearticles post instead of my site to build up the page rank of the article.

My theory behind using the hubs and lenses to link to the article is that if I can get the article to be more relevant then the link from it to my site will help my site more than having three low page rank sites linking to me.

I do the same process for each keyword I chose.  I only do about 3-5 a week, however, to make it more natural. If I had 20 all in one day and nothing else it wouldn’t be as helpful over the long term.

Social Bookmarking

After I have completed the article series, I then bookmark each one on about 15 social bookmarking sites. I create a different account for each one series and save the series as well as my site in each one ensuring that the bookmarks are public.

I get a little traffic from the social bookmarking sites, but the main reason I do it is for the links.

Comment on Blogs

The last step is to give helpful or valuable comments on blogs.  Don’t spam the blogs and write something like, “Nice post! You might like my site http://jordanenglish.com“.  I never approve those kind of comments and that is true for most blogs.

In addition to commenting on blogs, I create a quick free blog at blogger.com and wordpress.com.  I put a couple paragraphs about a keyword and then link to my site.  In the links of blogroll section I link all sites and articles.  In the past I have created a new blog for each keyword, but if you create one of each for your topic and then add new posts to it, it will do better for you.

I hope this was helpful.  This is my simple link building technique and I know it can work for you too.

Update On The Restaurant Fiasco

In an earlier post, I mentioned the drama that took place around my wife and I selling BBQ from our front yard with verbal permission and a cop came and told us we didn’t have permission then proceeded to give me a ticket.

On a bit of a tangent, I was speaking with a neighbor who had stopped by to buy some BBQ about the situation and he said that when he was at the city office getting a business license a call came in from the corn selling folks about somebody selling peaches from their front yard a couple doors down from their tent.

The lady said if they receive a complaint, they have to investigate.  He said she didn’t seem too thrilled about having to call the cops on somebody for selling peaches from their home.  It made me wonder if somebody, like the drive-inn restaurant two doors down from us, called to shut us down  or if the cop that was called to stop the illegal peach selling operation was in a good mood and wanted “bust” somebody else.

We were scheduled to appear in court August 31 at 10:00am.  Charlie was going to be there to tell the judge what had happened, but was talking to everyone he could about it before then to try to take care of it.  He was finally able to speak with the guy that told him it wouldn’t be a problem.  The guy suddenly remembered what really happened when he was confronted by Charlie.  He was supposed to talk to the prosecutor about what he said, but he didn’t think that would do anything.

I think a city official saying it wouldn’t be a problem to sell BBQ from my front yard is a big deal since I got a ticket for not having permission from the city to do business in my yard.  I don’t know if he spoke with the prosecutor or not, but I think he did.

I got a call today from the city and they told me they dropped the charge against me and I don’t have to go to court.  I am happy the guy that “remembered the wrong conversation” to the cop didn’t have so much pride that he stuck to that story instead of admitting he was at fault.

There is hope for our city officials.

A Sequence In My Online Distance Learning Technology

I mentioned before that my wife makes wedding cakes and people are always asking her what flavors are good together.  One example is chocolate and mint.  The lady scrunched her mouth up making a disgusted look and let out an eww sound.  My wife then said the same thing, but reworded it a little. She called it Mint Chocolate Brownie.  The lady then got a happy look and said oh yum.

If she only said the name of the flavors, most people would not think it sounds appetizing.  Like combining raspberry and lemon or calling it raspberry lemonade.   Does strawberry and coconut sound good?  What about Tiger’s Blood? They are the same thing.

Making up a name for a combination is also better than just saying what they are.  For instance almond with peppermint may not sound good, but calling it California Christmas gives it a fun name that sounds like it would be delicious.  I just put two random flavors together and said the first thing that came to mind.  I don’t know if it would taste good, but the name makes it sound like it would.

This same thing has been done for years.  I remember when bottled water started to show up in convenience stores.  I thought it was the craziest thing I have ever seen.  You can get water from a drinking fountain or buy it.  Hmm.  They weren’t selling water, they were selling natural spring water bottled at the source.  Well guess what. The drinking fountain water is natural spring water too, but it wasn’t packaged that way so we don’t see it as the same.  Water is natural, it all comes from a spring at some point, the drinking fountain is a source.

A pen is an executive scribe device, a three ring binder is a storage system, a hamburger is gourmet angus beef patty on a home-made roll.  I could probably come up with better names if I spent more time on it.

The point is to come up with something different. I have never been in one, but Starbucks is a perfect example.  They don’t have small, medium, and large sizes.  They have Short, Tall, Grande, and Venti.  By creating a culture with its own lingo people feel loyal to the culture and want a Grande not a Medium.

What are you selling that can be repackaged or rebranded?