Things NOT to do when preparing for a Layoff

layoffgreyUnless a layoff is inevitable, do not start looking for a new job when you enjoy your current one; a down market is the wrong time to change jobs. Contrary to what job-seekers often believe, employers frequently realize when someone is looking for another job. While in many markets this gut instinct or factual knowledge is un-actionable, in a down market it can be the one thing that brings your name to the top of the list for the next round of layoffs. Instead, take your time and energy building your network, not only will you be building a strong foundation of relationships, you might spare your job if a layoff is announced as you bring new projects and work into your company. So what should you NOT do when preparing for a layoff?

  1. Use work computers to search for a new job – A well known firm in the Baltimore area has a tracking system on their employee’s web-browsing. It was set-up to ensure that employees were not visiting inappropriate websites, but it has also been used prior to layoffs to see which employees were visiting
  2. Take 2 hours off for a “doctors” appointment – Most employers have learned to look for dress shoes and pants if you have been to the doctors’ office a couple of times lately but don’t seem sick.
  3. Get a job-seekers attitude – One of the most identifiable ways employers know when someone is looking for a job is through a change in attitude. Job seekers have a tendency to look short-term and begin to withdrawal emotionally from the office.
  4. Complain – Layoffs are hard on everyone, but they are especially hard on key decision makers. A great way to protect yourself being included in the next downsizing is to be apart of the group that is working to further the company and change things around. Try calling a client or potential client with the time that you would otherwise spend complaining to others at your company.
  5. Downplay accomplishments – You might not be winning as many new projects as you were two years ago, but be certain that you celebrate the successes that your company is having! It usually only takes one person who is willing to get excited about a success for others to want to become apart of the celebration.
  6. Stop Dreaming – The free market economy is an amazing economic system. What I have found interesting in my study of economics is that recessions are REQUIRED for a free market economy to thrive. Recessions force companies eliminate waste and focus on core competencies that allow the economy to grow past its previous heights after the recession is over. What this means is that a recession is the foundation to the next economic boom. So stop looking for another job and start positioning yourself for what you will accomplish during the next economic cycle.

Preparing Your Network for a Layoff

layoffThe key to recovering quickly from a layoff is to prepare your network prior to being laid off. Many people make the mistake of waiting until they have lost their job to connect and reconnect with important relationships. Instead of waiting, preparing your network for the possibility of a layoff serves two key purposes:  1) It reengages your relationships so that you have recently been in touch before you call them to let them know you are looking for a new job and 2) Oftentimes making a concentrated effort to strengthen your relationships results in bringing in new work, and since employers seldom layoff employees that are actively bringing new work in the door, you may just spare yourself being laid off all together. With this foundation, here are the steps you should take to prepare your network for a layoff:

  1. Identify your network – Believe it or not, many people never take the time to write down the people in their network. Personally, I maintain a “hot-list” of 20 to 30 relationships that are my core connections, and a longer-list (hundreds or thousands) of connections that that include most of the people I have connected with over the past two years. On my Hot List are the relationships that I can count on and that I have been purposefully building as mutually benificial relationships for years. The longer list contains information on where and how I meet each person and is categorized by where each relationship is in the relationship development process. Taking the time to identify your network will ensure that you are prepared with a list of who to contact and how to contact them in case you are laid-off. It will also serve as your list of contacts to reengage over the next several weeks as you work to prepare your network for the possibility of a layoff. Finally, I use this list as the foundation for developing a strong long-term relationship network.
  2. Connect and re-connect with your network – Your network is only as strong as the relationships in it. If you haven’t connected with someone in over a year they probably won’t be much help in the event that you are laid off. Your goal then is to connect with everyone over the course of the next several weeks. The INCORECT way to do this would be to pick-up the phone and call everyone on the list. This would just lead to hundreds of very awkward conversations. Instead, think about ways that you can help everyone on the list. I often send articles of interest to my network; for example I sent out articles last week about the current government bailout. My goal is to always help others in my network, not simply to brag about a recent accomplishment. Showing others in your network that you are interested in helping them goes a long way to building strong relationships.
  3. Build your brand– If you don’t yet use LinkedIn, it is a great resource. LinkedIn allows you to see when others change jobs and ensures that you never again loose a connection. This is especially important if you change jobs, so that others can find you even if you don’t have a work phone number or work e-mail address anymore. So, what does this have to do with building your brand? Simple, everyone has perceptions, and you can leverage online networking sites (or a blog for that matter) to build your brand. If you are always commenting on and posting information on historic architecture, others will begin to associate you as an expert in historic architecture. In the same light, if no one ever hears from you then you will quickly be forgotten. The idea is to stay visible to others in your network with a consistent image of who you are. How you brand yourself is how people will view you, and how you are viewed, quickly becomes who you are.
  4. Don’t look for a job – Seriously, the worst thing that you can do if you enjoy your current job and you are afraid of a pending layoff is to look for another job. I’ll explain more in my next post “Things NOT to do when preparing for a layoff.” I hope you’ll stop by on Thursday morning to read more!


Why Cofebuz and some incredible links

treeandfieldIn an effort to explain what Cofebuz is all about I have recently added the following description to the sidebar here at Relationships are the foundation of success in business and in life. Cofebuz is dedicated to creating and maintaining the relationships that build companies and individuals. 

It is my hope that through Cofebuz you will gain insight into building networks and relationships that create success in business and in life. Oftentimes this takes the form of writing on marketing or networking, but it can also take the form of discussing challenges and ways to overcome those challenges. In addition it is my personal goal to build relationships with each of you; I do this by working to provide you with help and insight during the time you spend reading Cofebuz. 

On that note, this past week there has been a plethora of great information that I am certain you will find helpful. Here are the links and information: 

  1. The Stimulus Bill, Sector by Sector – This is a great summary of the economic stimulus package that congress is working on that was sent to me by Matt Handal of Trauner Consulting Services.
  2. LinkedIn for A/E Professionals? – This article by Mel Lester of The Business Edge provides a great overview for those that are just getting into, or are interested in getting into, online networking. While it is written for the design and construction industry, many others will benefit from his clearly defined outline of the benefits and downfalls of online networking.
  3. Proposals… and proposals – What do you do when your marketing staff needs technical help, but the technical staff tends to ignore proposal deadlines? Some experts weigh in on Mark Buckshon’s Construction Marketing Ideas website.

The Business of Building Relationships

business-relationshipsGuest post contributed by Holly McCarthy

No man is an island, and neither is a business. To survive and grow in the current business environment we must ensure that we maintain strong relationships with not just our customers, but also with our suppliers and other business partners as well. More than the profits we make, it’s the goodwill we earn that’s remembered long after we’re gone and only the business remains. Relationships in a business context are not that different from those we maintain personally or socially – they involve mutual trust and respect. Here’s how you can build business relationships that will stand you in good stead through the ages: 

  • Offer credit and discounts: When you’ve been in the business for a while, you tend to know instinctively who you can trust and who you cannot. The ones that are trustworthy tend to be more loyal when you offer them trade credits and discounts. Credits allow them to put off paying you immediately for the goods or services you provide while discounts allow them to save money.
  • Honor trade credits: Similarly, if you’re at the receiving end of trade credits from your suppliers, pay up according to the promised schedule to avoid unpleasant fallouts and unnecessary altercations and misunderstandings.
  • Look inwards: Successful business relationships are not just those that are built with people who are externally connected to your firm; in fact, your most valued relationships should be those that you form with your employees. They are your family at work, and by keeping in touch with their needs, problems and issues, you earn their loyalty and dedication. By staying abreast of the projects they’re working on, their performances, and their general demeanor at work, you have firsthand knowledge of almost all the employees who work for you.
  • Stay in touch: What most people who’re aloof or selfish don’t understand is that people don’t like to feel that they’re being used. So if you call someone and keep in touch only as long as they can do something for you, you run the risk of being labeled selfish. Business relationships are not like their social counterparts in that you don’t have to call just to touch base, but there is a way to keep in touch even without the social niceties. If the services of a valued supplier have not been used for a long time because of some reason or the other, it’s best to call and assure them that you will need their services sometime in the near future.
  • Build your people management skills: You may be the shrewdest businessman around, but that doesn’t mean you’re the most-liked. It’s a well-known fact that the goodwill you earn is more valuable than the profits you make as a cutthroat shark, so build your people management skills and learn to interact with suppliers, vendors and customers in a gracious manner.

This post was contributed by Holly McCarthy, who writes on the subject of construction management degrees. She invites your feedback at hollymccarthy12 at gmail dot com.

Logos after the financial crisis

With the recent financial crisis several companies have been redesigning their logos in an effort to better reflect their current status. I wanted to share them with you to help provide some perspective this week.
















Note: I have been unable to identify an original source for these files. If you are the source or can confirm the source please provide a comment so I can give credit where credit is due.

Cost vs. Value Based Services

meninfieldI received a call the other day from LaShae, the owner of a small service business that was looking for some advice on marketing at her company. There was an air of frustration in her voice regarding the effectiveness of recent marketing campaigns which included an ineffective post card mailing, a series of cold calls to potential clients that to date have resulted in dead ends, and a recent website optimization. Everything that she shared with me has been part of successful marketing campaigns at other companies so why wasn’t it proving to be effective at hers? I believe that there are two primary reasons why:

You must combine marketing activities to multiply effectiveness

Everything you do in marketing has a hit ratio; that is, the number of desired responses you receive as a result of your efforts. From post card mailings that result in return phone calls .03 to .06% of the time (3 to 6 return calls for every 1000 cards mailed) to true cold calls that result in future direct communication 2 to 5% of the time. (2 to 5 meetings for every 100 phone calls). The key to building a successful marketing campaign is to combine (multiply) several approaches together with a concentrated group of people. The example I gave LaShae during our conversation was the same approach I identified in “Warming up a cold contact.” The key to this approach combining a series of events to effectively multiply the hit ratios together (2 x 3 x 4 = 24% hit ratio) instead of simply sending out independent campaigns that result in adding your effectiveness together (2 + 3 + 4 = 9%). This traditional method of marketing is a relatively expensive way to drum up new work, but it is effective. In the case of LaShae’s business there needs to be a cohesive link between marketing activities to increase their effectiveness and return a cost effective return on investment for the company.

A value based service industry approach

LaShae’s business provides a “value based service” to clients. Let me explain: services are sold based on both value and cost. Services that can be differentiated from others in the industry are chosen more based on value than cost, while services that are very similar to that which other firms provide are more often based on cost.  Since the services that LaShae’s company offers are value based, she needs to focus her marketing on helping others see her value. The most effective way for a small company to do this is through building credibility in relationships. Note that the warming up a cold contact model above simply follows the Relationship Development Process. A less expensive way to build these relationships is networking. Proper networking yields referrals and introductions that pre-qualify your value before you begin a relationship! Instead of spending hours developing mailing lists, post cards, and making cold calls, your network can provide you with a wealth of potential clients from 3rdparties (people that gain no direct benefit from giving the referral). By using referrals instead of direct sales your potential clients will feel that you have been pre-qualified as one of the best in the area at providing your services.

Cost vs. Value Based Services

Think about your company, are you are providing a value based service (differentiated such as an elite health care architect) or a cost based service (providing a service that is very similar to your competition such as a roofing contractor)? If you identify that you are providing a value based service instead of a cost based service check to see if your marketing approach helps walk potential clients through the relationship development process and ensure that your clients are viewing you as a value based firm. If you provide a cost based service and want to build your profitability, think about ways to differentiate yourself in the market to enable your firm to become a value based service company.

16 Things I Wish They Had Taught Me in School

sunriseIf you have ever checked out the blogroll here at you have probably been to Henrik Edberg’s The Positivity Blog. I like to think of his blog as a motivational blog, while I consider cofebuz a business blog. Henrik continually comes up with some great material that I highly recommend reading. One of his “most popular posts of 2008” was the blog 16 Things I Wish They Had Taught Me in School. As I read through the list one of these “things” caught my attention:

#4 – First, give value. Then, get value. Not the other way around.

“This is a bit of a counter-intuitive thing. There is often an idea that someone should give us something or do something for us before we give back. The problem is just that a lot of people think that way. And so far less than possible is given either way.

If you want to increase the value you receive (money, love, kindness, opportunities etc.) you have to increase the value you give. Because over time you pretty much get what you give. It would perhaps be nice to get something for nothing. But that seldom happens.”

I find it interesting that Henrik captures the essence of what we regularly discuss when it comes to success in business. I believe that this is due to the fact that it is impossible to separate relationships and business. In the past I have struggled with an “It’s Just Business” philosophy only to realize later that there is no such thing as “Just Business.” Take a moment to read the other 16 Things I Wish They Had Taught Me in School, it is a great read!


earthGreatness does not happen overnight, it is a life long dedication to the pursuit of something that is far greater than oneself. It is the culmination of thousands of hours of thought followed by millions of actions that surround a central theme. This self sacrifice and dedication to that which is seemingly impossible is what yields greatness.

Mother Teresa helped the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying not once, but consistently throughout her life. It was her self sacrifice and dedication to helping those in need that made her great.

The many founders of the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP) including Paul Newman, Kenneth Derr, and the current Chairman Harold McGraw are all examples of people that have made a decision to pursue something greater than themselves.

In 2009 I hope that you pursue something that is greater than yourself and in doing so, discover the joy and excitement found in helping others.

Happy New Year!
Tim Klabunde