Tech Tools: Optimizing Communication with the Slack System

In today’s times, there is nothing quite as important as being able to collaborate and communicate effectively in order to get things right. In today’s world, time is of the essence and everyone looks to maximize communication opportunities. With the introduction of tools such as Slack – a system that allows you to collaborate and communicate with your team in a more effective manner – getting things done need not be as challenging as before.

slack

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Designed for Today and the Future

Slack is a platform that introduces tools for effective communication no matter how big your group or your project is. The program allows you to communicate with your whole team, or just a subset of it. It is designed to ensure you send the right kind of communication to the people whom you intended, and not anyone else. With globalization in full swing, being able to connect with everyone and anyone becomes very easy with Slack.

Features of Slack

Slack’s strong points are based on its well thought of features that are highly usable:

1. Channel Creation: In using Slack, you begin by creating open channels for your group or project. You can start off with a particular topic that you want to tackle and share with the whole team in one go. This is efficient because everyone becomes instantly aware of what they need to know, without you having to meet them in person. The channels are also discoverable and come with search functions for easy look-ups of past topics or information. Message sending is also easy and versatile, with the option to append files, images, videos, links and more.

slack channel

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2. Service Integration: Slack can be integrated with a variety of services that you and your teammates use regularly. These include Twitter, Google Drive, and Dropbox, to name a few.

slack service

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3. Gadget Syncing: When Slack is installed on your smart phone, tablet and computer, you can be sure that what is done on one gadget will be synced with the others. This way, even if you switch to another device you can still be updated on communication or information exchange on your Slack channels.

4. Software Configuration: Not only is this system capable, but it also comes with a certain degree of versatility. This is thanks to the ability to configure the software in order to receive particular Notification types. This way, you are only getting alerted on what you feel that you need at the moment, and then adjust your setting at a later time as your project evolves and your needs change.

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Off the bat, Slack is very intuitive, even for first time users. You can get started quickly and see everything right away. Spending more time on it will reveal handy extra features, like the ability to label channels or send direct messages to one team member.

And of course, the best part about this is that the app comes with a free version. This light version already comes with a 10,000-message limit, a searchable archive function, a maximum of five integrations, and multi-team support.

Slack takes every good thing from the tools you use and puts it all in one system for you – and it’s definitely worth checking out if it’s right for you and your team.

Blogging for Business – WHO and WHAT?

If you missed the Part One: WHY SHOULD I BLOG, you can read it here.

Part Two: WHO and WHAT?

Now we have established WHY you should be blogging, the next step is to pin down WHO are you, WHO you are writing for, and WHAT you could write about.

Go grab a lovely big A3 piece of paper, a sharp pencil and a cup of coffee and let’s figure it out.

woman typing

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Who are you?

What is your ‘why’ behind your brand? What is the story, the passion, the reason you are doing this? How are you going to help people?

What are the qualities you want to convey? What is the connection you want to make with your customer? How do you want them to feel about you?

Connecting to the person and the story behind a company can make a huge decision to a customers decision to do business with you.

Who are they?

It is absolutely vital you put a solid amount of time in to figuring out your niche.

Who is your ideal customer? How old are they? Are they male or female? Are they an entrepreneur, an employee, a freelancer or are they a homemaker? What are they worried about? What magazines do they read? Where do they socialise? Are they tech savvy? Do they want to be? Where do they live?

What?

What are you going to write about: the big question. Again, I recommend a nice crisp A3 sheet of paper and a sharp pencil. Start brainstorming ideas.

Start very broadly:
What are the interests, thoughts and topics that are linked to your business and interesting to your target?
What are the questions customers tend to ask you?
What are the challenges they face?
What do they believe you are an expert in?

Then do a bit of research:
Look at other blogs, magazines, websites related to your industry – what are they writing about?
Ask your customers – do a formal survey or just call them up for a chat. What are they confused about? What do they find mysterious about your industry? What information would they like to have access to? Who do they admire? Where do they want their business to go? How can you help them?
Let these questions and thoughts sit at the front of your mind for a few days – once you start thinking and talking about these questions the ideas may pop up at different times. Write everything down.

blogging

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Then, take it further by looking at different types of content. There is so much you can do which can tie in to all of the above:

Customer profiles or interviews
Staff profiles
Profiles of people in history
Profiles of partner businesses
Guest posts from partner businesses
Links to relevant articles around the web
Information about a package / rate you offer
Write-up an event you held
A day in the life in your business
Resource lists
Tutorials
Infographics
Images
Business background stories (focusing on your WHY)
Beginners guide to..
FAQ about your business

And don’t forget videos and podcasts!

Keep the WHO is mind during this – who you are, who your customer is. Keep the ideas flowing – write everything down! Keep going, keep researching – the more ideas now, the better. Don’t worry about relevance or titles yet, just keep writing down ideas.

Next week we will talk about the HOW.

How does this brainstorm of ideas get turned into a structured, planned social media campaign? How is this going to be manageable for me when I have so much going on?

 

This article was written by WoolfWorks founder, Michaela Anchan and was featured in Executive Lifestyle. 

 

TED Talk Inspiration: Nigel Marsh

Work-life balance is always a struggle for almost everyone. Nigel Marsh gives us the reality of working your way towards a well-balanced family, work and personal life.

“Now my point is the small things matter. Being more balanced doesn’t mean dramatic upheaval in your life. With the smallest investment in the right places, you can radically transform the quality of your relationships and the quality of your life.“

Tech Tools: Make CRM a Breeze with Streak

If you are running a small- medium-size business, chances are you have already heard about a CRM system. A CRM, or a customer relationship management system allows you to better handle the different business-related inputs that keep your company alive and operational.

streak logo

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Because there are so many aspects to consider, CRMs with varying features can be quite confusing at first. Today, we take a look at one hard-hitting CRM app, Streak, that seems to be able do it all smoothly, easily and seamlessly.

A CRM for Today and Tomorrow

While technically not a full-blown app in itself, Streak is more of a plugin that you integrate with your Google email account, for Safari and Chrome users. Setting it up is quite easy, as all you need to do is go to its website (link: http://www.streak.com) and install the plugin in from there. Opening your Gmail account soon after installation has finished, you will find your email dashboard with additional bells and whistles all ready for you to use.

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The beauty about Streak is its desire to keep things customized to what you really want to see and work on. At the onset, it asks you which elements you would like to be tracked in your Gmail account. These include the usual CRM stuff like story leads, deals, mail support, and more. There are a number of business processes to choose from, and it will be up to you to select the ones that you want to prioritize and show up in your email.

streak snooze

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In operation, Streak pops its head up in and around your usual Gmail routine. These take the form of email feature enhancements, like an option to snooze an email while you are reading it (moves it from the inbox and pulls it back in when you want to). On your part, you just need to remember to reply to it soon after. When writing emails, there is a scheduler that allows you to set when you want the email to be sent – perfect for preparing an entire campaign and letting the plugin launch it at the right time.

Other features include Snippets, which can speed up the process of sending lots of emails that require custom templates and Email tracking, which notifies you when your emails are read and seen as well as the number of times it was opened.

For the Organizational Folks

Fans of organized inboxes will appreciate being able sort mail into pre-determined or labeled boxes. You just need to designate your labels, and then the software will automatically sort any and all emails that pertain to those labels. Through Pipeline, you can also view the relevant conversations and tasks related to specific emails, for better tracking and monitoring. Both boxes and pipelines can also be shared with the members of your team, which takes the task of having to meet them for updating on business matters off your hands. In addition, the sharing function also enables your team to collaborate or follow-up on contacts.

streak pipeline

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Pricing

Fortunately, Streak ‘s basic features are offered for free – and this already allows a maximum of five team members to collaborate with. However, to fully experience the full power and range of functions the CRM has to offer you need to invest in the paid plans (ranging from $19 to $119). The paid plans allow users must—have extras such as actionable boxes, email tracking, and scheduled email sending.

Final Word

If you really rely on Gmail to conduct your business, it makes perfect sense to invest in this CRM to optimize your operations. It is very simple to use, to the point of being intuitive from the get-go. It makes email more flexible, and its Gmail integration is so smooth, you will not feel like you are looking at a totally different interface. This CRM is worth it if you are looking for a way to make your business operations smoother, simpler and more coordinated.

 

Blogging for Business – WHY?

Part One: WHY SHOULD I BLOG

What’s the advantage of blogging for your business?

We all hear about how you must blog – ‘content generation’ is a huge buzzword, and there can be such a feeling of guilt if you haven’t started, aren’t keeping it up or haven’t established a regular schedule.

It can be helpful to go back to basics and think about WHY you should be blogging, and what you hope to get out of it. How do you want it to help your business? We all want to generate more revenue, how can blogging help that?

1. It’s a great way to have a conversation with your target market.

You get to talk to your customers and clients directly. You get to say what you want, share the opinions, tips and topics that best reflect your business and you get it in front of their eyes – it’s a second best to ringing them up and having a chat.

2. It gives you credibility in your industry.

The moment you are an author on a particular topic you position yourself as an expert. Imagine a customer is trying to choose between two landscape gardeners. He looks online and found one has a simple website which looks good, one has a simple website but also has a blog filled with expert articles on weed control, best choices in flowers for the local climate, shrubs of the week and fertilising tips. Who do you think he is going to call?

3. If you give a little, people want more

If this gardener does a series on how to do basic landscape gardening yourself, perhaps creates an e-book around it, her customers are going to imagine just how much more fabulous she can do things as a professional.

4. Branding and Positioning

Your blogs give you a great chance to further develop your brand and position in the market place. Your topics can be targeted and developed to reinforce your brand. A high-end interior design store is not going to write about where to find the cheapest bed linen in town, nor will a yoga studio post about the new burger bar down the road. Keeping your themes and topics consistent with your brand is crucial in connecting with your target client.

5. Driving traffic to your website

Blogging effectively can be a great way to drive traffic to your website. Identify keywords that are bringing traffic to your site and use those keywords again and again. Blogging creates pages of text, which can be picked up on a Google search – use it to your advantage!

and the best part of blogging?

6. Blog posts work while you sleep!

Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week your articles are out there to be read by customers, picked up by Google and referred to by customers. They are your representatives working hard out there in the world, for a very low wage!

Modern office workplace

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Clarifying WHY you are blogging is important. It helps form the foundation of your social media strategy, and ensures that your blogging is targeted and planned.

Next week, the next important question: WHO are you blogging to?

 

This article was written by WoolfWorks founder, Michaela Anchan and was featured in Executive Lifestyle

Tech Tools: Trello – A List Lover’s App Dream Come True

Most multi-taskers will tell you that if there were an easier way to manage everything in their personal and professional lives, they would be first in line for it. After all, who wouldn’t want to have something that can streamline every project or activity and make it easier to manage? For this and so much more, there is an amazing app that is quite possibly your dreams come true: Trello.

trello-logo

What is Trello?

Simply put, Trello is an organizational app available to both iOS and Android users. Yes, there are many of those out there. You probably already have two or three right on your tablet and smartphone. But this one blows all the others out of the water. It is a completely flexible and visual way of organizing your projects, routines, teams and what-have-yous in a way that many other apps like it cannot. It allows you to involve other people in your tasks, so it is also an essential app for group projects.

Everything at a Glance

The strength of Trello lies in its ability to show you everything you need to see in a single glance, while still maintaining a clean and orderly aesthetic. While other apps will have you clicking tabs to see what’s inside, Trello has your pertinent information right in front of you. This gives its users the power to look at the bigger picture while still being able to focus on aspects that need a closer look.

trello to dos

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Well Thought-Of Design

The makers of Trello clearly thought to include features and layouts that will give one the best user experience. Here are some of the great things about its aesthetic, design and feel:

  • Horizontal card layout. For any project, subsections are organized into cards that are lined up from left to right. Like windowpanes, you can see at a glance the tasks and actions that are currently happening in each subsection. The orientation is just right to take a look at the latest activities, as opposed to scrolling down or opening tabs to check for updates.
  • Movable cards. Each card in front of you can be moved around to suit your preferences. For instance, you can sort them from left to right based on project completion. As the cards are not fixed, you have the flexibility to adjust how you see your information based on your needs.
  • Real-time updates. What will really tickle a multitasker’s fancy is the fact that Trello updates progress and new inputs in real time, provided you are connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi or mobile data. This is great if your entire team is on board Trello for a project or several projects. One glance at your board will inform you right away of what each person is doing to achieve the intended goal or result based on their actions and inputs.
Trello-Welcome-board

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Other Features To Fawn Over

Trello also has amazing efficiency-oriented features that every user will enjoy and find essential:

  1. Upload and sync options. You can upload files straight from the cloud or your computer to the cards, and everyone gets it right away. Your other devices where Trello operates also get updated as well.
  2. Checklists and due dates. These allow you to see and monitor the completion of important tasks and be aware of dates and deadlines.
  3. Search, label and filter options. The information you need is yours in a second with these options for categorizing, sorting, and looking for information. This is very handy when you need to pull up something in a jiffy.
  4. Optional features. As Trello only presents your essential information on the screen, other features you may find handy at a later time are present once you turn them on. Called Power-Ups, these extras allow you to vote, add a calendar, and more.
trello check list

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Liking what you’ve read so far? You will probably love how Trello is free and allows you to make as many lists as you need, start on all the projects you want and add as many people as necessary. Clearly, Trello is a powerful tool that will give everyone – from multi-tasking moms to busy bee freelancers – the ability to be more in control, more informed and more goal-oriented than ever.