Posted by: midpen | February 7, 2011

The Ever-Useful Business Card in the Digital Age

Remember the “Beam” function on your Palm V? It allowed you to transfer my contact information to another Palm Device what was set up to receive. No need for business cards! Funny thing though – I almost never used that function, preferring instead to get and pass along small pieces of cardboard with printing or engraving on both sides.  Even today printers of my acquaintance report that their volume of orders for business cards remains steady, slowly increasing with the tempo of economic activity. Why is the business card so successful a business tool? How will it change in the years to come, and what should you be doing to get more out of your investment in this marketing collateral?

Technology consultant and productivity specialist John Waller will brief us on new ways that the old time business card is enhancing our business, and inform us about “helper applications” that we should consider to get the most out of this tool.

  • Are you using both sides of the card for content?
  • Do you have all the necessary contact info on your card (including social media addresses)?
  • Have you made any special concessions to people who might be using your card with Smartphones (like adding QR codes to the back of the card)?
  • What is the best kind of scanner & software combo to use for capturing BC information and using it?

Join us for a great Discussion at MPPA on Tuesday, Feb 15th at 7:30AM. be sure to Pre-register so we have an accurate count. As always, you can buy breakfast, or just a beverage.


About our February 2011 Presenter

John Waller, Area VP, The On Hold Experience

John has been involved in technology since 1987. He started out in alpha numeric pagers, cell phones and digital pagers. He sold headset for over 13 years, and currently markets on hold messaging for businesses.

John founded the Silicon Valley Palm Users Group, worked for Palm as a trainer, and lectures frequently on productivity for small business.  He is currently writing a book on “How to be More Productive in the New Millennium”.

Posted by: midpen | December 23, 2010

30 Minutes a week can Double your Search Engine Presence

Randy Steyer of Get Found SEMSpecial Thanks to Randy Steyer, of GetFoundSEM for preparing and delivering the MPPA presentation this month: What Can be Done in 30 Minutes a Week to Double Your Search Engine Presence.

We all know that SEO (search engine optimization) is a technical solution to getting better placement for your business in organic search results. But it costs several hundred dollars a month and needs continuing investment. Are there other things small businesses can do to get more viability on Google and other search engines? Randy says “YES”, and tells us how, using some simple to use social media tools.

Ignoring the competition.  With social media, it’s easy to track your competitors. There are media tools to help you stay abreast of their activities; for example you can track your competitors by using sites such as TweetBeep and Google Alerts to receive auto alerts each time your competitors are mentioned on-line,

Ignoring what your customers say about you. “The customer is always right” has no better application than on social media channels. A negative comment about your company can identify an important gap in your services or performance. Some businesses are wary of responding to customer complaints in public forums, but demonstrating that you care enough to reach out and fix a problem can showcase your business in a positive light.

Arguing on social medial channels. Your brand can be judged not only by the fact that you responded to a customer, but also by how you responded. Arguing with a customer, especially in pubic, is a losing battle. Remain professional and unemotional.

Failing to live up to promises and commitments. If you promise a customer on Twitter or a blog that you will handle a matter, make sure you do so. Dropping the ball in a public way only creates negative consequences. Social media can make customer issues more complex because you now must monitor more places where customer may be discussing you brand or airing an issue. but it’s worth the effort.



Posted by: midpen | November 3, 2010

Selling Yourself

Carol Costello, Author and Sales Trainer

Carol Costello, Sales Trainer and Author of The Soul of Selling

“I can sell for other people, and I can sell any product in the world—but don’t ask me to ‘sell myself!’”

For consultants, coaches, and many other professionals, the idea of “selling ourselves” can make us feel uncomfortable. We know we have something terrific to offer the world, but saying so, we fear, will sound boastful. We were taught never to brag, and some of us were even discouraged from ever talking about ourselves.


Negative inner voices mental chatter about selling often goes on steroids when we think about “selling ourselves.”This is what some of my clients have told me:

  • “I can’t stand to be rejected—and I shouldn’t have to do this anyway.”


  • “Selling is even more manipulative and sleazy when I’m selling myself. I don’t want people to think of me like that.”


  • “I have no idea how to make the ‘ask’ or close, let alone handle objections.”


I’d like to share with you two of the tips I offer for selling yourself in my book, THE SOUL OF SELLING (


1. When people accept or reject when you offer, they are not “accepting” or “rejecting” you; they are choosing about a particular gift, ability, service, or offering that you represent. Consequently, don’t take “no” personally.

2. Some people think of the sales conversation as a face-off in which someone “wins” and someone “loses.” You win if someone else buys! Instead, imagine standing side-by-side with another person, viewing together what you offer. You might even hold the offer at arm’s length, so both of you can consider it together. Remember, it’s not you. You are just coaching this person about whether the offer is right for him or her at this particular time. Either way is fine; you’re just the coach.


Questions? Comments? Let us hear from you!

Posted by: midpen | October 12, 2010

Your “Service Selling Sweet Spot”

Carol Costello

What would make selling terrific fun for you, so that you actually looked forward to doing it? How could you use selling to feel great about yourself and increase your bottom line with ease and grace? When I ask people these questions, I often receive blank stares. It’s almost as if I’d asked about their plans for their funerals!

People who succeed at sales have almost always found their own “Selling Sweet Spot”—a means to sell that makes selling more than just the means to an end but fun and fulfilling in and of itself. Without that “Sweet Spot,” selling can be exhausting and even painful.

In 30 years of selling and 15 years of training people to sell based on my book, THE SOUL OF SELLING, I have found that selling must achieve three key functions for people to enjoy doing it and be successful at it:

1. Guarantee results. Selling without successfully closing sales is about as much fun as a root canal. When we take the guesswork out of results, we take the stress out of selling

Front Cover: Soul of Selling

2. Serve people. We need to feel good about ourselves and build authentic and generous relationships—or we won’t want to keep selling.

3. Feed the soul. What’s in selling for us in terms of fun, satisfaction, self-esteem, prosperity, and personal growth?

Each of us needs a custom-tailored selling system that lets us honor ourselves, honor our contacts, and honor what we are offering—and also gives us the numbers we want every time.

Take some time to discover your own “Selling Sweet Spot” using these criteria. It will be different for each of us. You can use the six-step method I developed for both new and experienced sellers in THE SOUL OF SELLINGor brainstorm on your own or with friends to find your “Selling Sweet Spot.”

Questions? Comments? Let us hear from you!

Posted by: midpen | October 12, 2010

What to Do When you need a Lawyer NOW?

(Don’t Miss Mark R. Figueiredo’s talk at the MidPeninsula Professional Alliance breakfast meeting this October 19th. Register with this link to join us for a great talk!)

Things are going well at your business when all of a sudden, a visitor shows up and hands you a summons and Complaint. Yes, that is a lawsuit. Your day is no longer so great as it was before. What do you do next?

The first thing you should do is consult your attorney. Do not call the other side to try to quickly resolve things. Although you may mean well, what you say could and probably would be taken out of context and used against you. Also, remember, that while your communications with your attorney are confidential and privileged, your communications with anyone else are not.

Although you will have time to respond to the lawsuit, do not wait until the deadline nears. You may have claims for a counter-suit, which claims may need time to analyze and develop. If your attorney does not handle this type of lawsuit or if you do not have an attorney, seek out one with experience handling the type of lawsuit you are facing.

Your attorney will want to see the lawsuit and your documents relating to the dispute. You should gather whatever documents may be relevant and get a package ready to provide to your attorney. Be sure to also gather up insurance policies. If you do not have them handy, contact your insurance agent. The lawsuit may be covered by insurance, in which case your attorney and/or your insurance agent can assist you in submitting the claim for insurance coverage.

When you meet with your attorney, provide as much information as you can, including unfavorable information and arguments that the other side can be expected to make. Your communications with your attorney are confidential and privileged. The more information you provide, the better your  attorney can assist you.

Posted by: midpen | October 6, 2010

Crafting Your College Essays

I hope most of our readers are long past the time to worry about college admission essays. But noted writing coach Anne Knight has kindly allowed us to reprint a recent article on the topic, in the hopes that some of you might get some indirect benefit. (My son is working on his essay right now, and found this info very helpful!)  If you’d like more info on Anne or what she does with college bound students, you can check out her website:

“Of all the essays I’ve ever had to write, this is the hardest!”

If you’re reading this, you probably know that this essay is the personal statement required of students for admission to many colleges. What you also need to know is that this essay is important. In fact,

A well-written essay can make the critical difference in college admission.

Especially for highly selective colleges choosing from a pool of stellar students, your essay helps admissions officers know you as an individual rather than as just a set of scores and grades.

Your essay alone is unlikely to win you admission. Since past performance is the best predictor of future performance, colleges weigh most heavily your GPA, the rigor of the academic courses you’ve taken, and your SAT scores. But if you’re a senior, there’s not much you can do to modify your GPA and SATs.

You still have time, however, to write great essays!

Just how can your essay convince a college that you deserve admission? This is a subject that I will be speaking and taking questions about at the College Fair to be held September 18 in Milpitas, CA.  If you cannot attend this event or want to get started on your essays, the following tips will be useful.


  • Your essay must provide information about you that’s new. Don’t elaborate on what can be gleaned from your transcript or lists of activities, honors, etc. included elsewhere in your application. Remember, you should be applying to colleges to which you have a reasonable hope of admission, which means that your grades and scores will be similar to those of other applicants. Consequently, your essay is your opportunity to distinguish yourself from students whose data is virtually identical to yours.
  • Your essay not only reflects your choice of what to say about yourself but the style in which you say it.  Writing that is sloppy, cliché-ridden, boastful, or dull will not help your chances for admission. If your essay reveals you as a quirky thinker and imaginative writer, you move closer to the “Admit” pile.
  • Your essay should convince admissions officers that you are analytical, reflective, and likeable. Ideally, these are qualities you genuinely possess; if you don’t, now’s the time to begin acquiring them!  Just what are they anyway? In brief, an analytical person knows how to think and regularly engages in that activity. An essay that simply recounts your experience, not matter how extraordinary that experience, will not make a positive impression. You must make clear that you have analyzed how you came to the experience and what you gained from it. The deeper your reflection on it, the better! For example, if you win a contest, your pointing out that you received a medal is just a fact. Your recognition of the value—or waste of time!—in working toward that win and how it changed your ideas or life will reveal its deeper significance. Likability? Not surprisingly, admissions officers like students who seem analytical and reflective and have a sense of humor or wit.  What they don’t like are arrogance and cluelessness.


  • UC essays (2 essays, 1000 words for both): reveal different aspects of yourself in the 2 essays. Essay #1 asks you to “describe your world” and analyze how it has shaped your “dreams and aspirations”—NOT how it has shaped YOU.  Pay attention to this distinction!  If your love of the outdoors informs your goals in Essay #1, don’t also focus on the outdoors in Essay #2, which focuses on a source of your pride.
  • Common Application essays (2 essays; I recommend that the longer be approximately 700 to 900 words; the shorter is limited to 150 words).  Topic #6, Topic of Your Choice, generally gives you the best opportunity to craft a narrative from which your attractive qualities can emerge.  Don’t just write that you’re “creative,” “kind,” and “persevering.”  Your narrative must reveal you as possessing these virtues.
  • If you’re a straight A student or a sports/music/arts superstar, you need to convey your sterling qualities without seeming arrogant.
  • If your story veers the other way—you dropped out school, were kicked out of school, done time, flunked courses, etc.—you must convince colleges that you’ve mended your ways and learned from your mistakes.
  • The writing:  It must be correct: make sure there are no errors in grammar, spelling, and punctuation.  It must be interesting: use vivid active verbs, vary sentence structure, and rack your brain for original but unstrained similes and metaphors.

Writing essays that portray you in a way that is authentic, error-free, and compelling requires the analysis and reflection your essays should embody.  Excellent essays increase your chance of college admission.  And that’s not all: by the time you’ve completed them, you will have deepened your understanding of yourself.

Posted by: midpen | June 25, 2010

Getting Started Using Facebook for Business

Digital media Expert Rachel Melia

Rachel Melia to speak at MPPA in September 2010

…our Speaker for Tuesday  September 21, 2010 will be digital media expert Rachel Melia. She will be talking about this topic, so don’t miss it. Reserve your space early by clicking here.  Here is an article written by Melia, for those of you who want an advanced taste of the topic.

Is social media part of your business strategy? A recent study by Access Markets International reports nearly 70% of US small businesses use social media, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and blogs.  If you haven’t jumped in yet, you are at a competitive disadvantage.  At around 500 million active users (60% larger than the entire US population), Facebook has the largest audience of the social media destinations and is a great place to do business.

There are a few ways you can use Facebook for business, so let’s look at the options.  First, you can use your personal profile.  Facebook makes it easy to set up lists within your list of friends, so you can set up a list for business and post information to this list.

Or, you can set up a Group or business Page.  Pages have become much more popular than Groups.  The benefits of a Page include: posts show up on the Walls of people that Like your page, posts appear with a business image versus an individual’s personal profile picture, and Pages show up in search engine results.  You may want a Group if you want to limit membership to a select group (anyone can Like a Page).

For the majority of businesses, a Page is the way to go.  Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Develop objectives.  Is your goal to establish yourself as a thought leader within your field, increase leads, build community, sell product, provide customer support? It is important to create objectives so your strategies map back to business objectives.
  2. Choose the Page name and set up the vanity URL.  The vanity URL makes it easy for people to find your Page.  When you have at least 25 fans you can set this up.  For example, your vanity URL would be something like  Be very careful about choosing your vanity URL as this cannot be changed.
  3. Pick an image for the Wall.  This image will show up on the top left of the Page and the entire image, or a portion, will be used for the thumbnail when you post.  For ease, you can select a square image.  The thumbnail uses a square image, so if you choose a square image, your thumbnail can be your entire image.  Or, you can select an image up to 180×540 (but make sure there is a square portion that will be suitable for your thumbnail).  Mari smith facebook page
  4. Develop a content strategy.  A good rule of thumb is to post once a day.  If you have more or less to share, you can post more or less frequently.  The most important thing is to post content that is valuable to your subscribers.  Mix up the posts.  Posts can include links to blog posts, relevant articles, tips, special offers, new products or services, events, pictures, videos, etc.  Mix it up and get creative.
  5. Promote your Page.  Users generally don’t find Pages from searches. Instead they learn about Pages from sites and other promotions.  The best initial way to promote your Page is to use Facebook’s tool and suggest your friends Like the page.  Some other ways to promote your Page include adding a Facebook icon on your website and blog, adding an URL (or link) on all marketing materials – business cards, email signatures, email and newsletters, presentations, direct mail, and adding your Page link to your LinkedIn profile.  Advertising on Facebook can be very effective as Facebook offers highly targeted ads at often low rates.
  6. Increase interaction.  For your page to go viral you need people to comment and Like your posts, and write on your wall.  Interaction is also important because you want to appear on the “Top News” tab versus the “Most Recent” tab, and Facebook favors Pages with higher interaction.  Tips include posting highly relevant content, phrasing posts to entice interaction, and including images.
  7. Develop a conversion strategy.  If a primary goal is to increase Likes, you can add a Welcome tab where visitors land that tells them about the page and asks them to Like.  Other conversion tactics might include adding an email sign up form and promoting live events. More advanced tactics might include providing a store front and running a contest. Social Media Examiner screen shot

Facebook really is a game changer for small businesses.  It offers free access to a huge population of active internet users.  Many small businesses are benefiting.  So why are you waiting? Jump in!

About the Author of this Post:

Rachel Melia is a marketing consultant specializing in digital marketing – online advertising, social media marketing, and mobile advertising.  Her services include Facebook Quick-Start and Tune-Up packages, as well as ongoing management of Facebook Pages.  Email with questions or visit for more information.

Survey after survey screams the same story: Events are the most effective marketing tool (based on ROI measurement) available to most businesses and organizations. Yet, if that is true, why aren’t all businesses doing them?

Numerous studies show Events to be the most effective marketing tactic

Margie Boyce of Plan Ahead Events, Santa Clara, and Nathan Emmett of The Winchester Mystery House made a great presentation to the MPPA this month and cleared up the mystery. According to them, not enough time to prepare, inability to get the right venue, lack of ROI, and budget risk are the main reasons companies don’t use meetings more often.

Margie and Nathan were able to explain how to overcome those issues, without excessive cost and inconvenience.  The handouts from their lecture are available for download: Making Events make $en$e_Final.  It all boils down to:  use a Professional  Event Planner – they often work for free. Many times the deals they can negotiate with the venue, because they generally have long standing relationships with these places, are considerably better than those available to the public directly. The difference can be enough to pay for the efforts of a professional, to take on the hassle of the meeting prep and execution.

Margie Boyce of Plan Ahead Events says that using meeting planners leads to better meetings and more of them!

Margie Boyce offers "No Surprise Meetings"

Nathan Emmett, Group Sales Manager at Winchester Mystery House

Service Businesses have a particularly tough task — how to make sure that you have a pipeline of customers always ready to purchase your service? For many businesses, the solution is to invest in all types of lead generation programs.

While lead acquisition is important, I have come to believe (and advise my clients) that it is only one of a collection of strategies that, implemented together, will impact their bottom line. In addition to identifying potential customers, service businesses in particular, need to focus on scoring their leads, nurturing those that are not ready to buy now, and getting realistic about the other factors that influence eventual conversion to paying customer status. I call all of these elements, The Philosophy of Lead Generation, and I will be telling all how to become sensitive to them, and implement an integrated program to the betterment of your bottom line.

Please use this link to pre-register and prepay for the meeting (November 17, 2009) with either full breakfast ($17.95) or Beverage only ($5.95)

Tom Pencek Presents, The Philosphy of Lead Generation, at MPPA Nov

Tom Pencek Presents, The Philosphy of Lead Generation, at MPPA Nov


Tom Pencek brings more than 20 years of experience in sales, sales management, service development, and marketing to satisfying the needs of his clients. He has worked for several of the biggest names in computer manufacturing, founded two companies of his own, and for a decade been engaged in the biomedical area. Recently, he was awarded a Service Marketing Professional Certification by Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA). Technically trained in the Midwest (Marietta College, Biology) and New England (Boston University, Scientific Writing), he also brings real-world experience that testifies to the value of clear communication in the service marketplace.

Tom has helped technical and non-technical clients alike ferret out key customer needs and guided the creation of profitable and trust-building service programs to meet them.

Please reserve next Tuesday, October 20, 2009 for MPPA’s October program. We have enticed one of our most popular speakers to come and talk to us about his new book, the “Accomplishing More With Less Workbook.”

Join us in making the workplace less hectic and interrupt driven, more satisfying and results driven instead. We work and live in an era of interruptions. The very moment you begin a task, you are stopped by emails, IM’s, colleague visits, phone calls, meetings, and now, tweets and Facebook updates. The very technologies that were invented to enhance productivity have made it nearly impossible. Not only this, we are bombarded by an unprecedented information overload dominated by the Internet and globalization. This puts unreasonable demands on our work and personal lives, and as a result, we suffer, feel helpless, and our accomplishments decline. This needs to stop. We invite you to join us in this movement. Will you join us?

Pierre Khawand, Founder & CEO of People-OnTheGo, the creator of the “Accomplishing-more-with-less” framework and resulting workshops and teleclasses, is revealing some of the most compelling productivity principles and setting the stage for this movement.

As always, please pre-register and prepay on the web. We have two options:

Click here to register for the meeting and full Breakfast at a cost of $17.95 or coffee/tea only at a cost of $5.95.

You can also pay at the door (cash only) for $19.95 or $9.95 respectively.

Author of Accomplishing More With Less Workbook

Pierre Khawand: Author of Accomplishing More With Less Workbook

Note: You will also see the new “Accomplishing More With Less Workbook” and be able to get your copy then.

Pierre Khawand has more than twenty years of experience in the software industry. He has led several technology ventures and completed successful mergers and acquisitions and founded People-OnTheGo in 2001 to enable business professionals to communicate and collaborate more effectively using leading edge technologies. His best selling “Accomplishing more in less time, less effort, and less stress” workshop enables managers and executives to better cope with information overload and competing priorities. Pierre is the author of two popular blogs ( and He has recently published the Accomplishing More With Less Workbook, and he has previously published the Smartphone Experiment book—how to select your smartphone in 5 easy steps. Pierre holds a Master’s degree in Engineering from the University of Michigan and has completed several Executive Education programs at the Stanford Graduate School of Management. Pierre Khawand can be contacted via e-mail at or phone at 415.503.1649.
If you have questions about the program, Please contact Tom Pencek at 650-799-7261 or

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