How to Ask For a Raise

Are you feeling undervalued and underpaid at work? Are you ready to make a case for a salary increase but unsure of how to go about it? Asking for a raise can be a nerve-wracking prospect, but by following a few key steps, you can increase your chances of getting the salary you deserve. In this article, we’ll provide insight on when to ask for a raise, the best way to plan for it, and how to present your case.

Is the timing right?

Knowing when to ask for a raise is an important factor in the success of your request. Generally speaking, these scenarios are ideal:

  • You’ve made significant contributions to the company.
  • You’ve taken on new responsibilities.
  • You’ve received a glowing performance review.
  • You’ve been with the company for a certain amount of time. (At least 6 months; it takes time for a company to get to know you and understand your value.)
  • You’ve received a better offer from another company.

If one of these applies to you and you’re ready to move forward, make sure you step back and take a pulse on things first. Is your boss especially stressed right now? Is the company in the middle of a new business deal? Is it the holiday season? There will be times when delaying your request is in your best interest.

How to prepare.

In order to make a compelling pitch for a raise you’ll need to arm yourself with information that demonstrates the value you have added to the company. This could include performance reviews, letters of recommendation, customer compliments, before-and-after metrics such as sales figures, and other quantifiable statistics on the success of your work. Gather evidence of your achievements and successes, and be prepared to show how they benefited the company.

Employers typically have their own ideas about how much their employees should earn, so you’ll also want to conduct research on salary trends in your industry. Utilize published salary data and reports from resources such as salary.com, payscale.com, and LinkedIn. When comparing industry data, make sure you consider factors that may influence the numbers — such as location, education level, and experience. (For example, salaries for a similar job may be higher in a city with a higher cost of living than yours.) Taking the time to research salary trends will give you a better understanding of the current market rate so you can make a more convincing argument when asking for a raise.

Now that you have all the data and information, it’s time to practice. Develop a practice guide using these tips:

  • Create an outline of your pitch and memorize it.
  • Go through the motions of what you’re going to say and present.
  • Take notes along the way so that you can edit and improve on the fly.
  • Record your practice run to ensure that you aren’t coming off too aggressive or entitled.
  • Make sure you have a clear idea of what you’re willing to accept.
  • Be ready to negotiate; practice negotiating skills with friends or family.

Make your case.

You’ve done all the prep work and now it’s time to make your case. A few quick pointers for your delivery:

  • Make sure your tone is respectful and positive from the start.
  • When presenting your accomplishments it’s critical that you explain how they have benefited the company.
  • State why you feel like you are underpaid, and what you feel a reasonable salary increase would be.
  • Try to anticipate any questions or objections your boss might have.
  • End on a positive note: thank them for their time, and tell them you’re looking forward to their response.

Making your case in this manner will demonstrate your professionalism, show that you’re confident in what you’re saying, and give you the best chance of success.

If they say no.

If, after you’ve made your case, your employer still says no, the best thing you can do is stay positive and remain professional. Even if you don’t get the raise you were asking for, it doesn’t have to be seen as a failure. It’s important to understand that it takes time and effort to gain the trust of your employer and that a successful negotiation requires both parties to come away feeling satisfied.

As such, it’s important to graciously thank your employer for their time and for listening to your proposal. This shows that you understand their perspective and that you’re willing to continue the conversation in the future. It’s a good idea to ask if there is any specific feedback you can use to improve your case next time. If they’re willing to discuss, take notes and ask specific questions to ensure you have a clear understanding of their feedback. In the end, it’s all part of the process. Your employer wants to ensure that the salary increase you are asking for is fair and equitable, and that it’s in the best interests of the company.

Improve Your Networking Skills During the Holidays

The holidays are a time of celebration and togetherness with friends and family members coming together to share gratitude, goodwill, and cheer. It’s also when many people take some time out from their hectic schedules to reconnect with loved ones. And while it’s tempting to retreat into our own private cocoons for the duration of the season, we should also make sure that we’re not isolating ourselves so much that we miss out on opportunities to build new relationships or strengthen old ones. To help you embrace the holiday season and walk away with more than just happy memories, here are five tips on how you can better your networking skills during the holidays:

Make an Effort to Engage

We’re so busy in the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life that we often forget that it’s our efforts that make networking opportunities happen. We may be a bit protective of our time, but if you want to get more out of your social interactions you have to put yourself out there. Starting off with an informal greeting will help break the ice and establish rapport with others. Asking someone how they are doing or if they have any special plans during the holidays will show you have a genuine interest in them before you get into any conversations related to business.

Pay Attention to Body Language

People tend to focus on their families during the holidays so it’s important to remember that not everyone may respond positively when you try to connect with them on business matters. Taking note of a person’s body language may help you get a feel for how open they are to conversation. Sometimes people will just not be interested in chatting, but if they do happen to be open for conversation, embrace the opportunity. And don’t forget to be mindful of your own body language. People gravitate towards confidence, not nervousness or uncertainty.

Dress for Success

Holiday parties tend to be more dressy than a dinner with friends on a Tuesday night. Put away your jeans and sneakers and opt for a festive dress or tie. Looking your best will also help you feel more confident in social settings and give off the impression that you are there to socialize.

Stay Connected Via Email and Phone Calls

One of the best ways to stay connected with your network is by regularly checking in over email or with phone calls. Consider sending your connections a “happy holidays” email this year so that you’ll be on their minds. By keeping communication channels open, there’s always a chance a connection could reach out to you with a business opportunity or question during the holidays or beyond.

Conclusion

Networking comes down to believing in yourself and your abilities. You have to be willing to put yourself out there, knowing that while it may not always be easy, it could pay off in the future. Networking isn’t easy but it is worth it. The holidays are a great time to grow your business and expand your social circle, so take advantage of the opportunities available to you.

7 Email Marketing Best Practices

When it comes to marketing your business, email marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to connect and build trust with your target audience. Regardless of industry or niche market, it’s imperative that you have a solid strategy in place before you start sending out emails.

With that in mind, here are some tips on how to get started with email marketing:

1. Have a Branding Strategy in Place

Your branding strategy should include the colors, fonts, tone of voice, and overall aesthetic that will make your emails cohesive and professional. The best way to do this is to create a style guide for your company that includes all of these details.

2. Make Every Character Count in Your Subject Line

On average less than 35% of marketing emails are opened, and even then, only an estimated 1.38% are clicked on.

Your subject line has one job—to get people to open your email. Once they do, you have a whole screen’s worth of content to convince them to click through to a landing page of your choice. Best practices suggest that you have 60 characters or less (approximately 9 words) to pique a person’s interest enough to open the email. Without that open, your awesome email content will never see the light of day.

However, there are some words (and even symbols) that could trigger a spam filter and send your email to a dreaded “junk” folder—ensuring that it will never be read. In order to avoid this utilize one of the many web-based subject line checkers that will help identify spam words, tab words, and other things to stay away from.

3. Use a Clear Call-to-Action

Your CTA (call-to-action) is the most important part of every email. It should be something that’s clear and easy for your customers to understand. The best way to do this is by making sure you include a clear CTA in the beginning of your email so that people know what they are clicking on. This will help increase your conversions, as well as allow you to track the effectiveness of your campaign.

In addition to being clear, your CTAs should also be concise. Make sure they give your customers all the information they need without unnecessary bloat or clutter.

4. Don’t Be Afraid to Split Test

Split testing your email marketing campaigns is a great way to find out which elements are likely to drive the most engagement. Depending on your email marketing platform’s capabilities, you may be able to test different combinations of content, design, offers, and CTAs to ensure that they are all performing well. Then you can use the test results to tweak your approach and increase the effectiveness of your campaign.

5. Avoid Buying Lists

Building your subscriber list takes time. But while you’re waiting, avoid buying lists and sending to people who haven’t opted in to receive your emails. This can result in a massive uptick in abuse reports, which can get you in trouble with your email service provider, and land future campaigns in spam folders. Buying lists can also be a scam if it turns out the lists are full of outdated email addresses that no longer exist. If you try to upload an outdated list, this could also send a red flag to your email service provider and prompt them to freeze your account.

6. Give Users an Out

As hard as you try to provide relevant and engaging content to your audience, not everyone will want to stay subscribed to your emails, and that’s okay. In order to make things easy on everyone (and avoid getting reported as spam), be sure to include an easy unsubscribe option in your email. Most email template builders come with this feature already equipped, but if yours doesn’t, it’s important that you add one.

7. Timing is Everything

Before you start sending out email campaigns, you’ll want to think about which days and times work best for your list. Most industry experts tend to agree that marketing emails perform best when sent on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, or Thursdays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Using these parameters can give you a good place to start testing to your list.

 

Final Words

Email marketing is an excellent way to connect with your audience and build trust, but it won’t work without the right strategy. With these best practices in mind, you can ensure that your email marketing campaign is successful.

Dealing With Difficult Customers

The customer is always right. Or so they say. In order to grow your business, you need to be able to deal with difficult customers. However, dealing with them isn’t always easy. Especially if you have a type A personality and don’t like people questioning your decisions or dictating how you run your business. Most small businesses can’t handle difficult customers well enough for it not to affect their bottom line and growth rate negatively in the long term.

Below are a few things that every business owner should know about dealing with difficult customers so that they become easier to handle in the future.

Be genuine and caring.

First and foremost, show your customers that you have their best interest at heart. If they feel like you only care about the bottom line, you’ll never get anywhere and your business will never be able to grow. Show them that you really do care about them and that you are willing to work with them in order to make a mutually beneficial relationship happen.

Honesty is paramount.

Always be transparent and honest with your customers. This gives them peace of mind in knowing that they can trust you while also feeling like they can reciprocate and trust you as well. This also helps endear them to your company which helps build long-term relationships rather than short-term ones where they may not feel connected enough to continue working with your company in the future.

Know when to say no.

It can be difficult to know when a customer is being unreasonable and asking too much of your time which will put an unnecessary strain on your business, or is asking for something that you just cannot do. You might also decide that it would be better for them to find a different vendor rather than have you work with them in the long term because you aren’t able to give them what they want. However, it is important to know when there is a point where you need to say no, because if you continue to take on more projects and choose customers that ask too much of your time, it will become harder and harder for your company as a whole to grow and sustain itself in the long term.

Communication is key.

Communication is key when it comes to dealing with difficult customers. Take the time to explain your thinking and why you made the choices that you did. If they don’t agree with what you did, let them know that you can work something out. On the other hand, if they continue to be a problem for your business, then things might get more complicated for both of you.

Offer a little more than what you are currently paying for.

One of the most important things you can do for difficult customers is to offer a little more than what you are currently paying for. If you have a feeling that your customer might be demanding more in the future, offering them something extra now will make it easier for them to be willing to work with you again when the time comes.

Conclusion

You need customers to make a living, but you also need to remember that not all customers are made the same. Dealing with difficult customers can be frustrating, but it can also be rewarding. By staying open to new challenges, and knowing when to say no, you will eventually develop the customer service skills and empathy necessary for handling all kinds of customers.

Top Executives Wish They Had Known This When They Were Younger

Everyone experiences the ups and downs of life as they grow older. Perhaps you’ve been through some hard times recently, or maybe it’s been a while since you’ve felt any major lows. As we age, many things in our lives slow down or shift to a new stage that requires us to make adjustments.

You may have found yourself wondering what you could have done differently as an adult if you had the chance to redo your twenty’s all over again. Here are a few lesser-known secrets from top CEOs; things that they wish they had known when they were younger:

How to work with people better.

It’s no secret that people are important to the success of any business. And as we age, we usually find out that some people can be a lot harder to work with than others. Many execs believe that learning how to better work with people would have made things easier in the early days of their careers.

Having confidence to fail.

If you’ve ever lost, failed, or even been in a situation where you felt like you didn’t know what to do, it may have been difficult for you. The thing is, many top executives wish they had more confidence in failure as a younger adult. They wish they had embraced their failures as opportunities to learn and grow, rather than internalizing them.

How to build teams and manage employees.

Building a team and managing employees is an important part of being a leader, and many execs wish they had known how to do this sooner. For example, when working with people who are in their twenties, some CEOs may find themselves getting frustrated because they don’t understand the way these younger employees process information or communicate with one another. To avoid this frustration, it would have been helpful to understand the basics of team building and staff management earlier in their careers.

How to deal with rejection.

When you’re young, it’s easy to think that you can change the world. But that means there will be a lot of people who don’t want to work with you. Even if you get lucky and land your dream job, there are going to be plenty of people who don’t want to make room for you on their team. Many top execs wish they had learned how to cope with rejection sooner.

How to negotiate.

Some executives wished they had known more about negotiation tactics when they were younger. Negotiation is an important skill that top executives need in order to maintain a healthy relationship with their co-workers and bosses.

The importance of personal development.

Many adults in the workforce struggle with this. It’s especially true for executives who may feel a lot of pressure to be successful at work and provide for their family. For example, you’re expected to deliver results or people will wonder if you’re capable of that. People can become too focused on their current state, which often leads to them neglecting personal development efforts. When you neglect personal development, you run the risk of becoming an ineffective leader as time goes by. If this sounds familiar, it might be worth considering taking some time off work and focusing on yourself before your next job interview or promotion attempt. It’s never too late for personal development!

The Importance of Leadership During a Crisis

Crisis management is something that many leaders don’t understand. It requires more than just being charismatic, having lots of business contacts, and delegating to staff. When a real crisis hits, teams need someone to lead them through the chaos and give them a sense of stability. Someone to provide guidance and reassurance. Someone who will give them direction and clarity on what they should do when faced with adversity.

Here are four tips to effectively lead your team through a crisis.

1) Be assertive, confident, and decisive.

When a crisis hits, your team needs to know where you stand and what you plan to do. They need to know that you are not only capable but willing to take charge and make things happen. The best way to demonstrate this is by leading from the front. This means being ready to face whatever challenges come your way instead of hiding behind others to do it for you. You must be prepared to step into the role of leader and provide direction and clarity.

Managing a crisis may seem overwhelming at first, especially if you’ve never been in a similar situation before. Just remember that you are in control and you can handle this. It doesn’t matter if you’re a CEO or an employee. In any situation, leadership comes down to two things: knowing what needs to be done and doing it.

2) Communicate with your team.

Communication (both verbal and non-verbal) is the foundation of effective leadership. Without it, nothing else matters. When you communicate clearly and honestly with your employees, you build trust. Trust is essential in any organization because without it, people won’t follow you when it matters most.

In the face of a crisis, you need to be able to listen to your staff and coworkers so that you can develop a firm grasp on the situation you’re facing, synthesize all of the facts and circumstances, and be able to clearly and effectively communicate your plan to address it. Remember to keep your tone positive and reassuring — your job is to guide your team through the crisis, not cause more uncertainty or panic.

3) Always have a plan.

Managing a crisis begins long before one actually happens. Do the research ahead of time. Gather industry data on best practices and case studies, and then use those insights to develop your own plans. Formalize them, put them in binders, and make sure all members of your leadership team are familiar with them and know where they are.

4) And always have a backup plan.

To be an effective leader you must think ahead and plan for contingencies. If you aren’t able to anticipate problems, then they will catch you off guard and derail your entire operation.

Plan for worst-case scenarios. Prepare for every eventuality. Always have backup plans so that you can react quickly and confidently to unexpected situations.

How to Dress for a Networking Event

Networking events present great opportunities to meet new people and expand your professional network, regardless of whether you are new to your industry or an established name. But deciding what to wear to a networking event can be difficult. If you dress too casually, you risk coming across as unprofessional or sloppy. On the other hand, if your outfit looks like you just came from a board meeting, you could be seen as stuffy or unapproachable.

Finding a way to balance two completely different styles can seem impossible, but it’s essential when you want to leave others with a great impression. Below are a few ideas to help you strike that perfect balance.

1. Plan ahead.

We’ve all done it: You wait until the last minute to pick an outfit, and then realize you’re missing a piece, or part of it isn’t clean. Since every networking event has the potential to change your career, you owe it to yourself to be prepared. If possible, plan your outfit at least a week before the event. You might realize that you don’t have the right color tie or shoes, so this buffer time will give you some breathing room to find what you need. (Bonus tip: Choose a backup outfit in case something comes up and you need to go to plan B.)

2. Consider L.O.T.S.

When planning your outfit you’ll want to factor in several key aspects of the event: Location, Occasion, Time, and Season. For example, a winter evening gala at the Ritz? Tuxedos for men; dresses for women (and layering for everyone). A summer daytime retirement BBQ at the park? Think lightweight and airy, such as shorts and a casual button down for men; sundress for women. A spring morning mixer at the vineyard? Outdoor casual.

Knowing those four details will help narrow down your options while ensuring that you’re properly prepared.

3. Find your fit.

Your outfit might consist of several well-fitting pieces, but all it takes is one thing to ruin your entire look. (Exhibit A: blazer with sleeves too short.)

To nail that perfect fit, make sure that nothing restricts your movements. Test it out by walking around in it, touching your toes, raising your arms over your head, and twisting your torso. If you’re able to do all of that without struggling, it passes the test.

Next, walk over to your full-length mirror. Do any pieces look baggy? Check the closet for substitutes that might work better.

Lastly, do you feel good with your look? Being uncomfortable at an event can affect your confidence, mood, and body language — so make sure that you’re happy with your look before leaving the house.

4. Keep it simple.

While your attire can certainly help you make the right impression, you want your personality and social skills to be what people remember. Avoid wearing anything that might distract others from your conversation, such as flashy jewelry, bright colors, or bold patterns. When it comes to networking events, safe and traditional > avant-garde.

5. Don’t overthink it.

There’s a lot to consider, and a lot on the line. But if you plan ahead, properly prepare, and consider all the event details — you’ll feel less stressed, and more confident about your choices.

If, after all of that, you’re still feeling unsure or overwhelmed, think about clothing brands that market business casual fashion and try replicating one of their looks with items you already own. Need visual examples? Run a Google image search for your type of event. (Example: “summer cocktail attire for women”.)

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