Archive for March, 2012

How to Change Your Twitter Name without Losing Followers

Someone recently asked me for the link to an article we published in our old ezine, The Portable Business (discontinued October 2011), on how to change your Twitter name without losing followers.

At the time, I was changing my Twitter name and found this wonderful information from Alicia Cowan. Here is a reposting of that article for those of you who need to change your Twitter name and want to keep all your followers. It’s brilliant!

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How to Change Your Twitter Name without Losing Followers

By Alicia Cowan

I recently decided to change my Twitter username and wanted to do it in such a way that I wouldn’t lose my followers or access to my current profile. I’ve built up a great community on Twitter and want to preserve it. Besides, what if someone decided to use my current name once I’d changed it? One day I may decide to reinstate it!

This quick article takes you through the simple process I used. I retained all of my followers and other important profile settings–lists, favourites, tweets and people I follow. It’s a foolproof strategy and the smartest way to switch while retaining your profile.

Why do it this way?

It’s very easy to change your Twitter name. You can do it through the settings area of your profile. BUT WAIT!

If you just switch your name to something new, what happens when someone makes contact with you using your old name? They may not realize you’ve changed your name. The problem is, you won’t receive the message. It will be lost because your old username account no longer exists and that person will never know. What if someone follows you using your old username? They may have received a recommendation to follow you but they won’t know you’ve moved your profile. You could lose countless opportunities to engage with others interested in your product or service!

For this to work you need 2 things in place first:

  • A new available profile name. This bit can be tricky. My chosen name @AbsoluteAlicia was about 10th on my list of desired names!
  • An email address that is not currently associated with any of your other Twitter profiles. Each Twitter account needs a separate email address. You can’t have one email address associated with two or more accounts so you’ll want to make sure you have an email address in place before starting this process.

OK, here’s how you do it…

Step 1:

  • Change your current username to your new one in the settings section of your account.
  • Once you’ve added your desired name, Twitter will check to see if it’s available. If your chosen name isn’t available it will say so and you’ll have to pick another.
  • Once you have your chosen name scroll down to the bottom of the page and SAVE CHANGES.

Step 2:

  • Notify all of your followers that you’ve changed your Twitter name. Do this by sending an update message telling them your new username.

Step 3:

  • Next up, create a new Twitter profile using your old Twitter name. This is when you will need another email address.
  • Enter all the account information required for your new account, including your previous username. It’s important to do this step straight away to prevent anyone else taking your profile!
  • Once the account is created, skip all of the ‘find people to follow’ stuff and go straight in to settings to recreate your account adding your profile picture, email, web address and old Twitter name.
  • In the bio, explain who you are, that your profile has moved and where people can find you. By adding your new username in the bio, it will show up as a link taking people directly to your updated profile. Remember to save changes!
  • If you’ve got a custom Twitter background you can add that in too in the Design area of settings.

Step 4:

  • The next step is to send out a message on your new account with your old username. Don’t expect to get any followers here but just in case people come looking for you using your old Twitter name, you’ll want to make doubly sure that people know where they can find you. For the time being at least, this message will remain at the top of your profile ready to point people in the right direction.

I recommend that you come to check this account periodically, especially after the first few days of switching your name because you will get messages from people who don’t realize you’ve changed usernames, or they’ll forget, or people may follow you too. You can send them a message explaining that you’ve changed your name and where they can find you. If you using any apps on WordPress (Tweet this or @Anywhere) remember to change the settings there too.

And that is it! That’s the whole process, really simple–it takes 5 minutes and it prevents you from losing any contacts you’ve made through your old username and will ensure a smooth transition from one to the other!

RESOURCE: Check out my video version of this article. If you want to learn more about using Twitter to market your business, check out the fabulous e-book Twitter Your Business by Mark Shaw, for tons of practical tips, plus I’m a featured case study!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Alicia Cowan helps small businesses use online and social media to market themselves effectively and efficiently, so they stop wasting time and start increasing profits! You can find more tips on her blog.


Go Easy on Yourself (You’re Not a Robot, Ya Know)

All of us make mistakes. We all have learning curves when we’re trying something new. Every single one of us. One of the best things you can do in business is go easy on yourself. If you are constantly beating yourself up, you will ensure more of the same. Honestly, we are all our own worst critics. But you’ve got to be gentle with yourself. Here’s how you can do that and make things far less stressful for yourself in business:

1. Expect upfront that there are going to be snafus. No ifs, ands or buts about it. Just accept that and acknowledge it going in. No apologies.

2. Give yourself space. Your value is not in how fast you can kill yourself obeying a client’s wishes. Forget that! Establish work request policies and turn-around times that allow you to breathe and do a great job. If you don’t, you are creating conditions that will cause you to make more mistakes and feel worse about yourself and your work.

3. Set client expectations. Thoroughly discuss your workflow policies and turn-around times. Talk about the fact that mistakes are inevitable here and there and how to communicate (including how you expect to be treated) when they are are made. Don’t forget to remind them that smart management policies like yours are what facilitates great work and successful relationships. You simply cannot do good work for clients if you don’t have protocols in place for these things.

4. Fire ill-fitting clients. Get rid of any client who drains your energy, including those who expect you to work with them like an employee. Working with ill-fitting clients sets you up for failure and brings down your professional self-esteem. You can’t afford to work with anyone who can’t work within your protocols, who constantly complains, belittles and is never pleased, or who otherwise doesn’t create positive reciprocal energy in your business.

5. Look at critics as learning partners. There’s usually a positive side to everything. See what you can learn in these situations and view them as opportunities for improvement. When you try something new, there will be people who aren’t happy with the effort. That’s okay. Learn from what they have to say if it’s helpful, but don’t internalize any upset beyond that.

6. Know when to ignore abuse. There’s a difference between constructive feedback and gloating. Be grateful for constructive feedback and thank those people who provide it. You can even glean useful bits from those who only want to point out your flaws to make themselves feel better. Just remember that you aren’t obligated to indulge or engage with those folks. It’s okay to ignore and delete.

7. Que Sera, Sera! Whatever will be, will be. This is life, darling. There isn’t a darn thing you can do about the fact that when you put yourself out there, you put yourself on people’s radars and a few may want to shoot you down. So what. Instead of cowering, congratulate yourself for learning and growing! Celebrate the success of taking a risk! These are the things that make you feel wonderful about yourself. And when you feel great about yourself as a person, you bring even more wonderful stuff to your clients as a professional.

(Originally posted March 1, 2010)

Noble Poverty

We always see little phrases here and there that clue us in to our society’s issues around money and the “noble poverty” mentality. For example, “Oh, I don’t want to get rich from this…” That type of thing.

And sometimes I will hear or pick up on things where it’s almost as if some people don’t feel they deserve to earn well. Sort of like a “This is good enough, it would be greedy to want more.”

Granted, we all have different ideas of what financial “success” is. One person might think it’s making millions; for others, it’s six figures. Heck, I think a lot of people feel if they can just keep a roof over their head, they’re doing fine, lol.

For me, I live a simple life by choice and don’t have much materialistic wants or needs. Not that I don’t have any, but I just have never been the type who yearned for the status of mansions and Bentleys and keeping up with the Joneses. Know what I mean? I value experiences more highly than things. When it comes to things, style and quality is more important to me than how much something costs or whether it has a designer label or is a status symbol.

A six figure income for me is plenty and I live a great life. I think for anyone in a service profession such as ours (where overhead and operating costs are practically nothing, relatively speaking), the $100,000 mark is an excellent initial financial goal to strive for.

Generally (and, again, I’m referring specifically to our kind of service profession), when you are able to get near that mark, you are making a healthy profit to sustain the business and most likely earning far more than you ever did as an employee.

(Side note:  I’m not saying anyone should “settle” for only ever making $100,000 a year if they have higher aspirations. That’s not what I’m saying at all! In fact, those who are able to achieve that first six figure level increase their confidence and business understanding commensurately and go on to earn much more beyond that. But most people in our industry are barely earning $10,000 a year and those are the folks I’m wanting to help.)

It’s a goal that challenges you to up your game and gives you a benchmark to shoot for. It’s an entirely doable and realistic goal with the right guidance and information. And once you start earning into that realm, and not living hand to mouth, there are more ways for you to invest and leverage your money so that it grows from there.

Yet, I hear over and over again the little clues in people’s phrases that they don’t feel worthy of that kind of goal. They “put themselves on sale” as Suze Orman oftens refers to it, practically apologizing for being in business and needing to charge for their services. All the “discount this, save money that” messaging in our industry is a symptom and demonstration of that belief system.

I’m just curious about people’s thoughts on this… where do you think this societal guilt comes from when it comes to money and earning well? Why do people feel guilty charging for their services? Is it a gender thing? What do you think would help people (particularly women) increase their self-esteem and feel more deserving of earning a great living? What would need to happen or change in order for them to feel good about charging better and feel confident in asking for their fees?

Dear Danielle: How Do I Get Clients?

Dear Danielle:

Brief question–how do you get clients? I know this is on every Administrative Consultant’s mind in America whom is starting out. I know that this kind of business is referral-based, but my God! I know that you can’t just jump up and think you are going to get rich from this (not my intentions). However, it’s one person I did some donated hours for, I have tried working with another client and lowered my prices to accommodate her. Still a no-go on this one. If I would have said it was free for the service, she would have been all over it. I think if I had at least two clients, I would feel like my business is progressing forward. But not having anyone gets discouraging at times and you wonder if it’s worth it if your business is solely based off referrals, you know? –ST

(FYI: This “Ask Danielle” question was originally posted on my old blog back in March 2010.)

Well, first, I had to chuckle because there’s nothing brief about the question, “How do you get clients?” LOL. Not laughing at you, but it’s sort of like asking, “How do we achieve world peace?” It’s a BIG, complicated question with no quick, simple, pat answer.  It’s difficult to start a business, as you recognize. For a large number of people, they are not going to get clients right away. While they’re waiting, there’s a lot of learning and studying they can be doing to better understand marketing and client psychology. Here are a few thoughts to help you get started in the right direction…

1. Stop donating hours. When you give away your value (the very product you are in business to earn your living from), you devalue it in the eyes of clients. Worse, all giving stuff away for free does is attract freebie-seekers. These are not your clients. They will be gone as soon as you take the free buffet away. If they can’t afford professional services, they either shouldn’t be in business, or they should at least not expect you to subsidize their business (to your own detriment) until they can. These are very selfish, self-centered thinking people. You have your own bills to pay and people to take care of. You can’t put your time and energy into those folks. You’ve got to market to people who can already afford you and who don’t expect you to be footing the bill for their business. If you keep giving it away for free, you’re just going to keep getting more of the same. “Why pay for the cow when you can get the milk for free?” applies here. If you’re dishing it out, they’re gonna take it. You are attracting what you are giving. So stop the gravy train and get serious about serious clients.

2. I’m not sure why you think this, but this is not strictly a referral-based business. A business can become mostly referral-based once they’ve established their business, had a chance to get their foot in the networking door, and have clients and others who happily recommend them. If you’re new, you don’t have that right off the bat. But there are things you can do and ways you can network that will better draw/attract prospective clients to you. What will help here is having a target market to focus your message on and give you direction on where to find those folks you wish to be talking with and expend your efforts and energy there (which are limited and need to be conserved for the highest and best possible use). Two of the most important criteria in deciding on a target market are that 1) it must be one where the people in it generally are earning enough money that they can afford professional services, and 2) there are enough of them that it’s easy enough to figure out where they are (offline and off) and then find ways to interact with them, come up in their search terms and be found by them.

3. Never, ever bargain with or negotiate your fee. All you are doing is teaching clients to devalue you and your support. You start doing that and they forever after expect freebies and discounts and that everything is up for negotiation. You don’t even have to tell me what you’re charging. I can pretty much guarantee that you are undercharging–all these issues you describe are always symptomatic of rates that are way too low. They cater to and attract the wrong crowd. On top of that, I’m willing to bet the conversation on your site is all about cost and discounts and freebies and savings and how much cheaper and more affordable than an employee you are, yada yada yada… am I right? That’s exactly the problem. I would tell you to raise your fee. You likely will be ALL kinds of uncomfortable doing that. And while you’re doing that, you also will need to learn how to market differently and change your message. But when you do those things, you will begin to attract a clientele with an entirely different mindset and more professional business sense. Those folks are looking for skill and quality and competence, not handouts. You simply can’t waste your time and energy–and money, because that’s what it boils down to–on folks who can’t afford you and would have you harm yourself financially in order to help them.

4. Adding onto the idea of changing your message, you’ve got to frame what you have to offer in respectful ways. You’ve got to hold what you do in high esteem and talk about it in respectful terms. If you use words like “generalist” and “mundane” and “affordable” and the like, you are lowering the perceived value of what you have to offer. You are teaching prospects to look down upon your work and view it as lowly, and thus, not worthy of professional fees. And the industry as a whole has GOT to get off the cost conversation and all the employee comparisons. If you have any of that stuff on your site, take it off immediately. You are creating and attracting the very mindsets you are complaining about now. If everything you put on your website is about how cheap you are, how much they can save, how much more affordable you are than employees, save this, get a discount on that, guess what you are focusing people on? MONEY. You can’t make your marketing message about that–unless you want to continue to attract nothing but people who are looking for savings and discounts and bargains and cheap and affordable. Stop talking about costs whatsoever. That’s the last thing you should be talking about. And if you don’t have anything else to talk about with regard to what you do for your clients and your value to them (the results you help them achieve), then you’ve got a lot more work to do about understanding what you are and what you do.

Marketing and attracting clients is an area of ongoing learning and study. It’s not anything that can be answered quickly or simply in a mere blogpost, but I hope this at least gets your wheels turning. The very best way I can help you is to recommend that you get my e-book, “Articulating Your Value: How to Craft Your Own Unique Marketing Message to Get More Clients, Make More Money and Stand Apart from the Crowd.” This is a self-study guide that will help you determine your target market, define an ideal client profile, differentiate yourself with your own unique marketing message and value proposition and package up that info in much more attractive, marketable ways.

Crappy Clients Will Drag You Down

I came across something recently that had me reflecting on some of the bad clients I took on in my early days of business. I was reminded that it wasn’t until I let go of all unideal and (let’s be frank) crappy clients that I really started making serious money and having more joy and happiness in my business.

There are so many ways that bad/unideal clients drag you and your business down. They create negative energy. They demoralize you and lower your professional self-esteem. They zap your energy. They deprive your ideal clients of your quality time and attention. They keep you from making more money. Oh, we’d be here for days if I tried to list everything, lol!

This is a huge problem in our industry. There’s a sort of subtext that instills and encourages the harmful mentality that “you had better be grateful for whatever clients you can get.” And it’s precisely because of this thinking that so many in our industry are just struggling to get by.

You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge, as Dr. Phil likes to say. And so we have to have the conversation in order to learn from it and get to a better place.

When we’re new in business, we often aren’t conscious about the clients we take on (“any business is good business; I need the money!”), and even if we are somewhat aware, it can be a bit of a learning curve to start getting clear about what we want and who we prefer to work with. Things aren’t always clear. We don’t always recognize the pitfalls or see the consequences. And often, we feel like (because we are new), maybe it’s something we are doing that is the problem.

If I’d had an industry to turn to back then (I didn’t discover the industry until several years after I’d already been in business), I’m sure I would have gotten a lot clearer and conscious about this MUCH sooner.

Oh my gosh, I remember the client/ex-friend that I had to sue in order to get the thousands of dollars she owed me.

I remember the client who was really nice, but thought the world revolved around her and constantly kept me waiting when I had an onsite appointment with her (although looking back, I’m not sure why I thought there was anything “nice” about that).

I remember a few bookkeeping clients who it saddened and disappointed me to learn were pilfering employee funds (e.g., tax monies and child support withholdings) to buy themselves expensive toys while stealing from their employees and not paying the tax man.

And yet I would still bend over backward trying to be helpful and make a fit out of them. For some reason I had the idea that the “client is always right” and superior customer service was the ultimate responsibility I had as a business owner, which I prided myself on. Who cares if they walk all over you! If someone had just simply said to me, “You know what, bad clients are bad clients. You are not a failure if you kick them to the curb. Lose the losers!” I could have saved myself SO much time and heartache.

Of course, as with everything, there’s always a positive side to every bad experience. From these bad experiences, it brought about my thinking and consciousness about the kind of clients with whom I truly wanted to work.

And I learned many tough, expensive, but ultimately invaluable, business lessons. For example, my friend/client I had to sue to get what she owed me? Well, my part in that was that I was being a pushover and teaching her to disrespect me and take me for granted by giving her “friend” discounts and letting her get into debt with me for my services. You can bet I don’t do that anymore.

I learned to insist that clients respect my time and to let go of anyone who consistently missed appointments or otherwise wasted my time. Once I quit doing onsite visits, I had more time and energy for “virtual” clients and made more money because of it.

And I learned to immediately let go of any client the minute I found them lacking in character, integrity or honesty. (Spending child support payments withheld from employee paychecks is one of the most despicable acts I can think of.) Trust your gut. Don’t let your desire to give benefit of the doubt cloud your better judgment. It’s not a “mistake,” isolated incident or lapse in judgment as they often try to make you think (especially after the “mistake” has been pointed out to them several times). People like that just don’t change their stripes. If they’ll do it to someone else, they’ll do it to you; it’s only a matter of time. It’s best to get them out of your life (the sooner, the better) and leave them for the universe to deal with.

Once I started becoming more aware and conscious about these things is when my business and happiness really started taking off. Nowadays I work with people who value and respect what I do for them. They’re grateful and appreciative. They’re smart and funny. We have great conversations and fun working together. And they care about me as a person as much as I care about them.

And so I say now for those of you who are newer in business, you absolutely have the permission, right and even obligation to lose the losers! You and your well-being are no less important than that of your clients. In fact, your success and attentive client care DEPEND upon your happiness. It’s simply impossible to have space for your most ideal clients if you are keeping it occupied with poorly fitting, unhappy-making ones.

Be more discerning about the clients you take on. Have a consultation process. Start an ideal AND UN-ideal client profile that you continue to hone and update throughout the life of your business. Begin formally documenting your standards and boundaries now, if you haven’t yet, and honor them, always. Read your UN-ideal client profile anytime you are tempted to ignore them. Never take on any clients without any regard or due diligence (that’s your consultation process). I promise, your business will become better and more profitable and prosperous for it!