Archive for September, 2012

You May Only Share What Belongs to You

I need to bring up a somewhat uncomfortable topic and that is intellectual property.

It’s been brought to my attention that there are people sharing the contracts they’ve purchased from me and the ACA Success Store with others and that is a HUGE no-no.

Those products are my intellectual property. Your license to use them extends only to your business with your own clients.

Outside of that, you do not have any legal right to share them with colleagues, and you will get yourself into real legal hot water if you do.

If you come across posts on listservs and forums where people are asking others to share their contracts, you would be doing the members and the list/forum owner a favor by letting them know that the contracts they are sharing may be someone else’s intellectual property and they could be opening themselves up to legal liability by sharing them.

It’s not ethical and could cost them a pretty penny legally defending themselves. They can also potentially have their assets and bank accounts frozen by Court-ordered injunction if they are found to have misused someone else’s intellectual property in this manner.

It’s a very, very bad idea and list owners (if only out of self-preservation) should discourage those kind of conversations as they can be held liable as well. You do not want to be dragged into costly legal proceedings, especially if you are not the one doing the sharing, so it’s best not to promote or faciliate those conversations.

I know you’re trying to be helpful, but you can only be helpful with things that belong to you. My contracts and other products do not belong to you. They are strictly for your own personal use in your own business.

There is an alternative though, one that will allow you to be helpful AND earn you money at the same time.

Join my affiliate program so that you can refer others to the ACA Success Store and earn 25% commissions on every successful sale you’ve referred via your affiliate link.

Here are the details (super, super simple and easy): ACA Affiliate Program

Dear Danielle: Should My Client Say I Am Part of His Team?

Dear Danielle:

A client of mine has just asked me if I would agree to put my name and picture to be published in a paper magazine as a member of his team. He is a solopreneur and apparently he wants his company to be included in a directory of the industry to be published in the magazine. He doesn’t want to show he works alone (in fact, he doesn’t as I collaborate with him) so he wants my picture and contact info (which is the email address I use with his company’s domain) to be included. Do you see any issues if I accept his request? Thank you in advance, Danielle!Mirna Majraj, MB Asistencia Virtual

Hi Mirna 🙂

I know you’re in a different country, and I’m not sure what the laws are there, but in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Ireland and the U.K., and many of the European countries, the laws concerning the distinctions between employees and independent contractors (i.e., business owners) are all very similar.

And that is, essentially, no one is part of your business team unless they are an employee. If this is true in your country as well (you’ll want to consult with a lawyer to be clear), you want to avoid any appearance that you are one because there are legal consequences involved.

Here’s how I help people to understand this:  Are they going to include their attorney, their accountant, their designer and every other professional they are a client of in the listing as well? No? Then you shouldn’t be included either.

Your relationship with him is no different than the one he has with any other independent professional who is not an employee, but is a separate business.

If it doesn’t make sense to include them, it doesn’t make sense to include you in that manner either. It’s not the truth and it’s misrepresenting the correct nature of the relationship.

Here’s a blog post that talks a bit more about this (see the comments in particular): What You Need to Know About Subcontractors.

Some might be wondering what the big deal is.

Well, here’s the thing. Forget about legalities; it’s important and worth our while to maintain these boundaries because too often it becomes a “slippery slope” when we don’t.

Every time you allow clients to take liberties when it comes to your standards and boundaries, you’re chipping away at the integrity and foundation of the relationship.

These seemingly inconsequential concessions ultimately lead to detrimental effects in the relationship. Pretty soon, you’ve got a client who seems to think you’re his employee.

If you’re going to be successful and sustainable, for legal and practical reasons, you need to preserve those boundaries and not allow them to become muddied, blurred or misconstrued.

Plus, (and I’m sure he’s innocently not realizing this), it’s just dishonest to allow him to portray you like that.

There’s nothing to be ashamed of in being a solopreneur. In fact, you could be doing him a huge service by helping him see how he can promote that as a competitive advantage, that the fact that he IS a solopreneur who works with key strategic partners and experts allows him to be more agile, flexible and responsive in meeting his clients’ needs. (Suggest he even use that as a script if you want.)

There are an infinite number of ways it can be worded so that he can still include you, but with a more truthful, accurate depiction about who you are in relation to his business (i.e., his Administrative Consultant and one of his key independent experts).

Plus, I’m a firm believer that ideal clients, if they truly value you, are willing to help you as well. And it certainly doesn’t help you to dishonestly pretend that you are part of his “team.” If he thinks about it, he will probably see that he’s asking you to compromise your ethics. And it’s not polite to put you in that position.

That being the case, suggest to him that if he would like to include you in the article or listing, the best way he can help you and your business (and what you must insist upon since you are not an employee) is by including your full name, the name of your business, the link to your business website and/or your contact info.

You’ll be helping him stay in integrity (and maintaining your own) while giving him the opportunity to support your business at the same time.

PS: At the start of your relationship with any client, be sure there is discussion about the nature of the relationship so there is no misunderstanding moving forward. Also, inform clients how they should refer to you and introduce you to others:  as their Administrative Consultant or even simply Administrator. It’s not up to them what to call you and by informing them, you ensure they don’t come up on their own with something that you don’t prefer. The last thing you need is a client introducing you to others as his secretary or assistant.

How to Respond When Clients Ask “How Much Do You Charge Per Hour?”

A week ago I promised my mailing list community that I would share with them a script for responding to prospects when the first thing out of their mouth is What’s your hourly rate?

I feel you!

It can be the most irritating question in the world when it’s pretty much the first words they utter right out of the gate.

But guess what? You have a lot to do with why they are asking that in the first place.

And no, it’s not because you don’t have pricing on your website. Pricing for professional services doesn’t belong on your website.

But we’ll discuss that in a moment.

First, I want to preface things by saying that the response to that kind of question is different depending on the context.

For example, selling products is a completely different ballgame than selling professional services.

There’s a completely different context, different process, and different conversation involved for each of them respectively.

On my blog, we’re always talking about retained ongoing monthly administrative support. This is what is known as a collaborative partnering relationship.

This is not the same thing as selling products or piecemeal project work (i.e., secretarial services).

So, it’s important that you understand that the scripts I’m going to share with you are for the context of retainer clients (i.e., clients who pay a monthly fee for ongoing, monthly administrative support).

Unless you are selling a cheap commodity, clients need have context in order for your fees to make sense.

If there’s going to be any kind of mutually beneficial relationship, you can’t answer that question off the cuff. There’s a bit more to it than that.

There are simply things you need to find out first from the client before you can even begin to understand their needs, goals and challenges, and then devise your support plan recommendation for them.

When the first thing a prospect asks is What’s your hourly rate?, that’s a clear sign that:

  1. they have not bothered to read your website (and, thus, are not a good prospect), or
  2. your website has not properly educated them, and failed to provide them with the right information in the right way (which is more commonly the case).

When you don’t provide your site visitors and prospects with thorough information, you don’t give them any other criteria with which to evaluate the value.

They will always resort to the pricing question when that’s the case.

This is something you can correct:

  1. Stop parroting the same tired, boring, homogeneous (and ineffective) party line that EVERYONE else in the industry is reciting chapter, line and verse. You’ve GOT to stop this people, seriously! This is your business, not a high school clique where you’re only allowed to belong if you conform with the crowd. Blending in is NOT what you need to do in business; you need to STAND APART from the crowd, come up with your own message and speak in your OWN voice).
  2. Adding more thorough content and information. Because you don’t want them asking How much? You want them saying, I’m intrigued. I can see you understand the business and profession I’m in and the kind of challenges and issues I face in moving forward. I’d like to schedule a consultation to find out more about how you can help me achieve X, overcome X or solve X.

In the context of your business, as an Administrative Consultant who works with clients in an ongoing support relationship, your goal is to find retainer clients.

What you need to do in that case is gear all of your information toward that goal, educating clients about what you’re in business to, how you help them, how it works, how you work together, etc.

Think of your website as a form of mini or pre-consultation itself. Have it answer all the questions a potential client could conceivably ask you or want to know.

The more information you provide, the better you prequalify your prospects (because the ones who are not a fit will weed themselves out) and the more likely your ideal prospects will take the next step (i.e., scheduling a consultation).

You want to provide a nearly exhaustive amount of information on your website — everything except pricing.

There are many reasons why pricing on your website works against you as a professional service provider:

  1. You are not a cheap commodity that can only be quantified by price. When you portray yourself as nothing more than something on a shelf that they can get at one of a thousand other places (the only differentiating factor being your rates), you actually create the very price-shopping mentality you seek to avoid. You want clients who are truly interested in the value of the work in helping them move forward, achieve their goals, overcome challenges and grow their business. By insisting on that standard and holding yourself and what you do in that esteem, you weed out the cheapskates and those only looking for quick fixes. If you make people who can’t pay, don’t want to pay, or who are impatient with your process your clients, you will be the engineer of your own business unhappiness, unprofitability and unsustainability.
  2. You cut your nose to spite your face. Some people argue that posting prices helps get rid of the price shoppers who waste their time. But when you do that, that’s the thing nearly every visitor to your site zeros in on to the exclusion of everything else that’s more important — including all the information that conveys your value. There are far better ways to prequalify clients, my friends!
  3. You throw the baby out with the bath water. Here again, when you try to get the price-shoppers to weed themselves out, you’re also scaring off all kinds of other perfectly suitable client candidates who may simply misunderstand what things would really cost and mistakenly think they can’t afford this kind of support relationship. They need context, but they’ll never get that far if you scare them off before that can happen.
  4. It’s not the time and place. Ongoing administrative support is a bigger relationship. It requires more of an investment and commitment from the client, and, therefore, requires a bigger conversation. Prospects need context in order to make sense of your fees and that only happens in consultation, not on your website.

So this is what you’re going to say when the first thing out of a prospects mouth is What’s your hourly rate?:

I can’t answer that question off the cuff because my goal is to ensure you get the best support you can afford. Your business needs, the challenges you face and your underlying goals and dreams are unique. We need to meet first in a consultation where I can gather more information and learn more about those things before I can create a support plan just for you and tell you what it would cost.

There is a way to provide a frame of reference for potential clients that doesn’t promote price-shopping. You do that by simply letting them know the minimum monthly investment they would need to make in order to work together. So what you would add onto the comment above would be this:

What I can tell you is that the minimum monthly investment any client would need to make in order to have my ongoing monthly support is $X per month.

And on your website, instead of listing fees, you would instead talk about your pricing methodology and its benefits, how and why you bill as you do, and include that statement about the minimum monthly investment they would need to make.

Remember, the goal is to get them in consultation and talk to you further, not your website, so that you can provide needed context for your fees.

When prospects ask the rate question, the other thing they’re trying to determine is whether or not they can afford it.

Letting them know the minimum monthly amount helps them do that in a way that gets them to look at fees from a more value-based perspective and encourages the opportunity for further discussion.

My wish for you would be to get away from billing by the hour (selling hours) entirely because it cheats you and cheats the client by putting your interests at odds with each other.

It’s a very archaic, UN-beneficial way of charging for your value — for you and the client — and actually discourages prospects from seeing your value.

Your goals for getting paid for the value of your time and expertise should be in sync with the kind of goals and results the client is looking for from the work and how that work achieves their objectives and helps move them forward in their goals and the pursuits they’re aiming for.

You don’t want that question boiling down to how fast you can kill yourself doing the work so that the client doesn’t have to pay as much. That will be the death of you and your business.

When you employ my value-based pricing methodology, here’s what you get to add to all of the above:

I don’t charge by the hour and here’s why:  hourly billing cheats you because it puts our interests at odds with each other. Billing by the hour, I obviously make more money the longer things take, and you, naturally, prefer things to take the least amount of time possible so that you don’t have to pay so much. That’s a horrible dynamic for us to work together in! And so I don’t. The work that’s going to truly get you results, move you forward and keep your business humming along smoothly can’t be dependent upon a clock. And when you work with me, it doesn’t. I want to achieve real results and progress for you. That can’t happen by selling you hours. Your needs, goals and challenges aren’t cookie cutter and so I don’t offer cookie cutter solutions. Instead, what I do after we meet in our consultation is come up with a support plan recommendation. From there we can hone it until it’s just the right fit. And you will pay one simple monthly fee for that support. That’s it. No worry about hours running out. No overages. It’s easy to budget for and all our focus will be on the work and accomplishing your objectives, not on the clock.

There’s much more to learn and understand when it comes to pricing and how to talk about fees with clients. I’ve packaged all that up for you in my Value-Based Pricing and Packaging Toolkit, which I encourage you to check out. (Be sure to read the testimonials and success stories.)

Dear Danielle: Should I Delegate My Blog Commenting?

Dear Danielle:

The good news is I’m starting to get more readers and comments on my blog. The bad news is, it’s taking more and more of my time to respond. Is replying to blog comments something I should delegate or something I should handle myself?Deidra Miller, Magic Wing Administration

Personally, I think it’s something you should handle yourself.

I know there are “experts” out there who say you should respond to every comment and to delegate if you need to so that you can. Hey, it’s their blog. That’s up to them.

To me, though, if a blog has an actual person behind it and it’s intended to connect with people, even if it’s still for business, then that blog author’s interests as well as those of his or her readers’ will be better served if the responses to comments are made by the blog author. You can’t delegate personality, authenticity or your unique charm and perspective.

And the thing is, if you have people who support you in other areas of your business, that should be freeing up your time so that you have more of it to respond personally on your own blog.

Some things aren’t meant to be systemized or automated or delegated.

My philosohpy is to just be a person. Not a robot. Not a faceless, nameless corporate machine.

Plus, not all comments require a response. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.

When people respond to literally every comment, it becomes a bit of a cartoon, the back-and-forth one where they’re going, “Thank you.” “No, thank you.” “No, thank YOU.” “NO, thank YOU!” And on and on ad nauseum, lol.

I don’t do anything because I’m supposed to. I do it because it feels natural and makes sense.

When I comment on someone else’s blog, I don’t necessarily expect a reply unless, for example, I’ve asked a specific question. A lot of times comments are just statements.

Not every comment requires a direct response. I think most smart people get that. And sometimes all a comment requires is a little smiley face of acknowledgement.

But, of course, if they’ve asked a question or you can clearly see there’s more to say or that they want acknowledgement, then you definitely want to reply.

That said, don’t feel you have to respond instantly. While some replies you can whip up on the fly, others require a bit more thought and mental bandwidth. Save those for when you have more “space.”

Of course, it can be easy to forget to respond so what I do is put the emailed comment notification in my daily online tickler folders so that I have a reminder.

My thinking is, don’t stress over being fomulaic in your approach. Just be a person. Reply and add to the conversation when and where it makes sense and you’ll be seen as a real person with something to say who offers genuine—not artificial, canned or forced—interaction and conversation.

Make No Mistake

This is what I have to deal with some days…

So I wake up this nice, beautiful morning, full of cheery anticipation for the day and there’s an unsubscribe email to my blog.

No big. I’m not for everybody. I’m not trying to be.

I actually like it when people who are the wrong fit unsubscribe so that I can be me without anyone harshing my groove and continue to help those who appreciate it.

This person writes:

The blog isn’t really a blog it’s just a straight out promotion machine. Every post geared around selling something.

Somehow, this confused person got the crazy idea that I’m supposed to spend my life and my time helping everybody and giving everything away for free.

Looks like she also missed the 498 other posts out of 500 that weren’t promoting anything. Such keen observation skills. 😉

And at the same time this person is being nasty, she’s got the ACA membership button on her website and word-for-word content she’s ripped off from my blog here, the ACA site and the products she’s purchased… um, content she obviously expects to attract clients with to earn money from.

Perhaps she needs to stop stealing from people, particularly those she wants to criticize at the same time. You think? Gotta love the hypocrites… (or not, lol).

Look, people, the ACA is a professional association, this blog an extension of that.

Professional associations are for BUSINESS people.

And business people don’t have welfare mentalities of entitlement, expecting everything to be handed to them for free.

They understand that in with the free things they enjoy (and there are a LOT of things I enjoy giving away for free to help others), there are also some things they need to pay for and that there is likewise necessarily going to be some promotion around that on occasion.

How else will anyone know about these things unless I tell them? Duh.

And for any post in which I include links to products in the store (for example), I do so to avoid the 20 or 30 emails all asking me where to find that product because there wasn’t a link. I’m nothing if not practical.

Business people get that. They certainly understand that these things cost time, money and energy.

And just as they wouldn’t appreciate any client who expected them to work and give everything for free, by the same token they don’t expect their colleagues and other professionals to work or give everything to them for free either.

(Whoa! Living in integrity and consistency? What kind of concept is that?!)

One of the reasons I don’t give away everything for free is because it attracts ugly, ungrateful people.

I know this first-hand because when I first started all of this, I did not charge for anything.

And that’s because I didn’t start the ACA as a business. It was born out of a passion to help others and transform a cottage hobby industry into a true profession.

I soon realized what an extremely poor business example that was.

Even though I do what I do out of love and a passion to help others succeed, I can’t teach others about business while being a doormat and devaluing myself and the experience and expertise I have to offer at the same time.

And that is part of the problem. Perhaps I really do need to start thinking of the ACA more like a business, just like I do my Administrative Consulting practice.

The funny thing is I’m still actually a very bad example of promoting because I don’t do it near enough! My bad, because that then sets the wrong expectations and understandings around what people should be here for and why.

I should really be doing MORE promoting than I do so that I attract less of the freebie-seekers, and more of the people who respect my time and therefore my generosity more and are as equally appreciative of both the mentoring, information and tools I charge nothing for as well as those I do charge for.

It’s the very thing I try to help you avoid in your business.

People who are only there for the free buffet are the WORST people on the planet; they are the cheapskates who cheapen our entire culture and society, making it nearly impossible anymore for quality and integrity to exist.

Think customer service has gone to the dogs? Can’t believe all the nickel and diming the airlines are doing anymore?

Guess what? You have the cheapskates of the world to thank for that.

They want the best, they just don’t want to pay for anything. Sorry, Charlie, you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.

Anyone who expects you to give, give, give without anything in return, ever, is a user, a taker and a hypocrite. They contribute nothing to the world while stealing from everyone else in more ways than one.

Now, you might mistakenly think this post is a vent, but it’s not. I write this post with two purposes in mind:

1. I want you to understand the business lessons here.

Business is business. You have to get out there and promote yours if you expect people to know about you and what you have to offer. That means not just networking and being helpful, but also making offers at times. Stop catering to freebie seekers (including those who want to begrudge you promoting your business while they themselves expect to be paid). Those people make for the worst clients because they expect you to work for free (or nearly so), appreciate nothing and criticize everything. When you promote and put yourself out there, the people you attract are those who are perfect for you. Do more of it. Don’t worry about those who go away or want to be ugly to you; they aren’t your ideal clients. That’s the whole point. You want to get those people away from you. Let that whole natural selection process work for you, girl.

(I’ll let you in on a little secret; even though I’m naturally very unfrilly and plain speaking in the way I write, there are times that I’m intentionally more direct and abrupt because I’m trying to sort the wheat from the chaff. I like smart, thinking, rational, discerning people who appreciate candor with a bit of spice and an unsanitized, real personality. I find the precious, overly-sensitive snowflakes and woo-woo pixie-dust butterflies who cavort with rainbow-tootin’ unicorns tiresome, unstimulating and uninspiring. Funny thing, too, the first group tends to have better manners than the other, always remembering to say thank you and extending little kindnesses in return such as telling others how I’ve helped them and referring them to the ACA and my products.)

2. Make no mistake, this is a business blog… for business-minded people only.

And in with my free mentoring and advice and the many other goodies I don’t charge for, there’s going to be some promotion of paid products, services and learning occasionally.

If you don’t have the business mindset to understand that, I want you to unsubscribe right now. You are NOT who I’m trying to help, and certainly not for free.

(And no, I’m not interested in your reasons; just politely show yourself to the door. You know the way out.)

Want to Be a Lean, Mean, Client-Supportin Mo-Chine?

All the money in the world is no good to you if you’re working all the time to earn it and have no time left with which to savor and experience life and LIVE.

Guess what? You don’t have to work from sun-up to sundown just to earn a living.

Let me show you how you can have a financially successful business with breathing room AND time for a rich life working a 3-day week. I’ve just released the self-paced, “home” version of my latest class Power Productivity and Biz Management for Administrative Consultants.

But don’t let the name fool you. This is NOT another “how to stuff more hours and more work into your already over-stuffed, over-crowded, overwhelming day” productivity courses.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Instead, I show you how to do LESS so that you can not only provide BETTER support to your clients and earn better doing it, but also how to have more time for your own life.

One of the reasons I gave the class originally and subsequently now provide it as a self-study system is because over the last year I was hearing from countless people in my Laser Mentoring Sessions about how they were working round the clock, often with tons of clients, yet still barely earning a living.

And life? What’s that? lol. They had absolutely nothing left for themselves much less time to live or experience any of the reasons they went into business in the first place.

The strategies, concepts and step-by-step systems in my new guide are the same ones I use in my own practice and teach others about in my laser mentoring sessions.

Just the other day, I heard from one woman I started working in my Laser Mentoring Sessions several months ago:

“I wanted to connect with you and let you know that because of you, I am a much happier person. You remember how ragged, tired and worn out I was when we had that interview a few months ago? Well, I am now working about 1/3 the time, if that, and making more money (not at 6 figures yet, but have that goal in the forecast). I am more confident (still have a ways to go, of course), but I am seeing some successes and feeling great about the direction that my business is taking! I have goals and plans to do more, but I’m baby-stepping for now. Don’t want to take on too much, too fast, and wind up right back where I was. I hope you can feel how appreciative I am!”

You, too, can get the simple systems which you can implement QUICKLY and EASILY to transform your business into a lean, mean, client-supporting mo-chine that takes better care of clients and creates more value while allowing you to work only 3 days a week, making more money and having more time for life.

Check it out here >>

Do You Need to Earn Some Extra Money?

The other day, I was chatting with a colleague by email. She was sharing some health issues she was having related to weight so we got to talking about diet and exercise.

I told her I was huge fan of Jillian Michaels’s stuff because she’s not about fad diets and gimmicks; rather, she’s all about the science and knowing your numbers and eating healthy, nutritious, organic food.

When I recommended that she get Jillian’s books (particularly Winning by Losing), my colleague said she didn’t have money for food right now, let alone books.

Well, that just broke my heart, as I’m sure it does yours. I immediately set about mailing her my copy.

And then later, a lightbulb went off. Duh! I have an affiliate program!

She is already a follower of my advice and mentoring, trusts me, and has some of my products and thinks highly of the value, quality and integrity of the information and education I provide in them. She could totally be referring others to my Success Store and earning 25% commissions from every sale for the recommendations she gives anyway!

And it doesn’t require any extra work or time beyond her usual participation in online industry groups other than replying to posts or emailing or PMing people privately whenever those opportunities to refer arise.

And, of course, she can also upload our affiliate image graphics to her website with her referral link attached for completely passive referrals.

So I told her to be sure to register so that she could start earning some side money to help improve her situation. It was a no-brainer!

It’s these types of opportunities that feel so good, so gratifying… to have something that allows me to share in success and give back financially to those who support me in my movement to elevate our profession and help others succeed by empowering them with proper business tools and education.

I see all kinds of opportunities on LinkedIn and various other forums, listservs and online groups where you could be referring others to the ACA Success Store (such as when they are looking for contracts—we have the best!—or want to learn about things I teach on such as pricing and packaging, how to consult with clients, writing their magnetic marketing message, etc.) and earning yourself some income at the same time. There are women who are earning an extra $400-600+ a month doing this, which is nothing to sniff at.

Could you use some extra money (who couldn’t, right, lol)? Well, then, let me send you some every month! I would LOVE to! Simply sign up to start earning today.

Dear Danielle: What Contact Management Service Do You Recommend?

Dear Danielle:

I wonder if you’ve any experience or recommendations for contact management services, something that could be used online collaboratively with clients to help them manage their contacts. I’m thinking in general terms of keeping track of folks that one might meet at networking events where they exchange business cards and want a central place to access them later. Ideally, there would be a way to tag them to sort them later (i.e., potential client, supplier, colleague, etc.). I know Salesforce offers this service. I just wondered if you were aware of anything else out there. Thanks in advance! —BL

This is always a tough kind of question for me answer because I don’t keep track of that kind of thing as I don’t do that work for clients per se. Stuff like this, without reason or intention,  too often falls into the category of mindless busy work that I don’t want my business or my day bogged down with. I have to save my energies and focus for the more substantive work that I do for clients.

It’s one of those topics that is hard to answer generally because to give more useful direction, it depends on your own target market, how the information will be used, what are they storing it for (what do they want to do with it later), and whether there is truly a useful, purposeful reason to keep track of that kind of info.

The reason I say that is, just collecting business cards and contact info is not good networking. It’s also against CAN-SPAM laws (and just plain old marketing etiquette period) to harvest emails like that. If the intention is to use the information for marketing purposes, it’s really a form of cold-calling which people absolutely detest. It’s poor, ineffective methodology that creates wasteful effort.

I am aware of Saleforce and the people I hear from who use it think it’s pretty darn nifty. I do think it’s a tad more suited to sales types of businesses (hence the name, lol), but it is built for systemization and automation which is useful for all kinds of scenarios. I don’t work with sales types at all so I don’t have any personal experience with it beyond that.

If you’re just looking for a place to enter business card/miscellaneous contact info, most all of the online collaboration suites have shared contacts. I use this function in Airset to store commonly used contact info. For example, I work with attorneys, so it’s useful to enter their clients’ contact info into the shared contacts database on matters we are working on as well as the contact info of the courts, court services and vendors, opposing counsel, etc.

There are also card readers that can be purchased where the biz cards can be fed into it and it scans the info and transfers/stores it into a database that you specify. As I mentioned before, personally, I wouldn’t ever do that work for clients, and if they were intent on mindlessly storing their biz cards just for GPs, I would tell them to get one of those.

But for marketing and networking purposes, I steer clients toward using a list builder, management and dissemination service like Aweber, and get them to start building an opt-in list. The idea/methodology is that they offer their site visitors and contacts something of useful, meaningful interest and value—for free—that they can obtain by signing up with their email address.

This way, it’s voluntary and fully compliant with CAN-SPAM laws. And by them opting in, you already have an indication of their interest and consent to continue to keep in touch with them after that, which is not only better, more effective marketing etiquette, it also establishes who the client’s warm/hot prospects are so that their best efforts can be more focused.

So, I don’t really have any services I can recommend in answer to your specific question (maybe others will chime in), but I hope some of the business thinking is useful to you. All my best!