Peak SBC, LLC  

 

 

The SBC Small Business Newsletter

presented by the Peak Small Business Center

 

 

January 4, 2003

Table of Contents

 

Welcome

Quote of the Week

Administration

Featured Resource - HTML PICTURE

Editorial

Staff Article - SUBMITTING YOUR SITE TO THE OPEN DIRECTORY
Guest Article -  VAMPIRE MEETINGS AND HOW TO SLAY THEM
Parting Comments

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Welcome

Thank you for subscribing to the Peak Small Business Center
Small Business Newsletter!

If you prefer to receive the html version, let us know by emailing us at:
mailto:cary@peakconsultinginc.com?subject=HTML

You can also view it online at:

http://www.peakconsultinginc.com/newsletters/sbnl_jan0403.htm


Quote of the Week

Humor is an affirmation of dignity, a declaration of man's superiority to all that befalls him.

- Romain Gary


Administration

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If you're interested in subscribing or switching, a simple blank email will do, as follows:

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Featured Resource

HTML PICTURE

HTML Picture is freeware application that converts any JPEG or BMP image file to HTML. Check the sample on the site that shows the InterKodex logo converted. (The image is a bit large, but you'll get the idea). This application could provide you with some very interesting effects for your site!

http://www.interkodex.com/default.asp?page=htmlpicture/info 


Staff Article

SUBMITTING YOUR SITE TO THE OPEN DIRECTORY
by: Cary Christian


With the major search engines charging for inclusion, the Open Directory, which charges nothing for inclusion if your site qualifies, has never looked better. Additionally, the Open Directory provides you with a backdoor into many of the major search engines at no cost since it provides core results to more than 350 search engines, including Netscape Search, AOL Search, Google, Lycos, HotBot, and DirectHit.

WHAT IS THE OPEN DIRECTORY?

The Open Directory Project (ODP) is a web directory of Internet resources maintained by volunteer editors who evaluate sites for inclusion in the directory. Yes, that's right. Every site included in the Open Directory is reviewed and approved by a human being! No spiders or robots, no trick search engine optimization techniques, just honest to goodness evaluation by a real person.

You can find the Open Directory at http://www.dmoz.org . It looks a lot like a search engine, but it is not. Sites that are reviewed and make it into the directory are listed in categories that start out broad and become more specific as you drill down into the listings. The sites you find in a category have been deemed to logically fit into that category. Sites do not make it into a particular category or subcategory because of their use of meta tags or other optimization techniques.

This levels the playing field for you. You don't have to be an SEO expert to get listed. But you do have to have a site that adds something of value to the directory.

HOW WILL MY SITE BE EVALUATED?

The goal of the ODP is to create a directory that is useful to its users. As a result, the editors are selective in granting their approval. You should be aware of the ODP guidelines prior to submitting. The following types of sites are NOT deemed appropriate for inclusion in the ODP:

1. Mirror sites - A mirror site is identical to some other site online but simply has a different URL. For example, if you have an affiliate site, your site will contain the same content as every other affiliate of that program. This type of site is known as a "Fraternal Mirror" site.

2. Sites with overlapping and repetitive content, even if not technically a mirror site, will not be accepted. Since there may be quite a few sites with similar content to yours, you can avoid this problem if you make sure you include original content along with your more widely-available content. (This is a good practice from a marketing standpoint anyway)!

This category of sites that will be rejected includes product sales pages where the manufacturer of the product should be listed instead. Again, you'll need to supplement this type of site with your own original and informative content.

3. Similarly, you should not attempt to submit your site to multiple categories using different URLs.

4. Sites that redirect - If your URL simply redirects to another site, your submission will be rejected. This is true even if your redirect is "cloaked" so that it is not readily apparent that a redirect is being used. The editors will catch this.

5. Sites under construction will be rejected. Your site should be complete and all the links should be working properly. However, if your site is not complete but contains original content that cannot be found elsewhere online, it might be accepted if the editor believes your content adds value to the users of the directory.

6. Affiliate marketing sites - This includes sites that offer little other than affiliate links, the "fraternal mirror" sites we discussed above and MLM representative sites. These sites won't be listed because of all the duplicated content. The main site of the affiliate or MLM program might be listed, but the affiliate or representative sites will not be.

If the URL you're submitting is an affiliate link, forget it. If it's a fraternal mirror? Forget it. However, your site will not be rejected just because it contains affiliate links as long as you provide original and useful content as well. If the editor deems your site to contain useful information when the affiliate links are ignored, your site should be accepted.

7. Needless to say, sites with unlawful content will be rejected.

8. Sites built totally from search results will not be accepted. ODP site listings must take the user to a specific page.

If you've created a site that offers useful information and does not violate any of the above prohibitions, you're ready to submit. Otherwise, create some original, useful content for your site before submitting. Let's look at an example of this.

Assume you are selling brand name physical products on your site. If your site consists of sales pages for the products you sell, you're not going to get your site listed. The manufacturer of the products you sell can get listed, but not you.

However, you've discovered some very unique ways to use these products that people generally do not think of. So you get busy and write some articles and tips and place them throughout your site to help your customers learn how to enjoy your products to the fullest extent. Congratulations! You've just created a site that contains useful content and that will likely be accepted for inclusion.

READY TO SUBMIT?

The hardest part of the process is creating a site that the editors will believe is worthy of inclusion in the directory. Submitting is the easy part. Simply navigate to:

http://dmoz.org/add.html  

and follow the directions. You'll find a brief description of the above prohibitions followed by four easy steps to get your site submitted.

STEP 1 - Determine whether your site is appropriate for submission. We've covered that above.

STEP 2 - Do a search in the directory to make sure your site is not already listed. This is simple enough. Do a search on your company name, site title and on your URL.

STEP 3 - Identify the single best category for your site. This is perhaps the hardest and most important part of your submission process. You need to get this right not only to have your site accepted, but it has a major impact on your target market being able to find you after you are listed. Spend some time with this step. It really is important.

STEP 4 - Once you've located the category you want to submit to, go to that category and click the "add URL" link at the top of the page. If the "add URL" link isn't there, you haven't drilled down into the subcategories enough and you'll have to get more specific.

Once you click "add URL" you will be taken to a page and presented with a short and simple form to complete. Read the page carefully as it will give you information about the category you have chosen that will help you be sure you have selected the most appropriate category.

Remember that search engines are going to be accessing your ODP listing. Therefore, some search engine optimization concepts are applicable (related to your site title and site description) when completing your ODP submission form.

If possible, include keywords in your site title. For example, our Peak Small Business Center might better be titled "Small Business Resources." You don't have to change the name of your site, just the "title" meta tags in the header of your page.

When writing your site description, do not include promotional language or hype. Write your description dispassionately. Simply describe what your site has to offer. Again, use your site's keywords in the description.

All that is left is to read the very short submission agreement and press the submit button. You're done!

It may take anywhere from four weeks to several months for your site to start appearing in search engines that use ODP data. But when it does, you're going to be SO glad you did this!


Copyright (c) 2003


Guest Article

 

VAMPIRE MEETINGS AND HOW TO SLAY THEM
by Peg Kelley 2002-2003
http://www.facplus.com


Meetings can be like mythical vampires - sucking the life out of intelligent and creative people. And sucking the funds out of businesses. Unfortunately, there are too many of these meetings in business today.

A UCLA study said the "typical" meeting includes nine people.  What are the dollars associated with this? Suppose the average salary of meeting attendees is $40,000. Their hourly pay is about $20.00. Nine people for one hour costs $180.00. Not bad, right?

But consider the implications. People don't spend just one hour a year in meetings. A 3-M survey in 1998 reported people spend between one and 1.5 days per week in meetings. They also said 25% to 50% of those meetings was wasted. Conservatively, say 25% or two hours per week is wasted in meetings...times nine people. 18 hours a week. Times $20.00 an hour. 18 times 20 times 48 weeks = $17,280.00.

This is a conservative number. For only nine people. How many people are in your company? And how much time do they spend in meetings each week? These figures do not include the preparation time, fringe benefits, meeting and travel expense or, worst of all, opportunity cost. Really, what could these people have been doing for your business if they weren't tied up in ineffective meetings week after week?

So, what can we do about these vampire meetings?

First, look at your regularly scheduled meetings. What is the objective? Are they all really necessary? Can the agenda be covered via paper or email? Does everyone have to be there for every meeting?

Once you know this meeting must be held with these people, set a
meeting objective. Share it with people before and at the start of the meeting. Post it on a flipchart. Typical meeting objectives might be: Generate ideas to overcome our funding problem, Gain understanding of our new retirement plan, Get updates on three key projects, etc. The advantage of having a clear objective for your meeting is that people will police themselves and stay on-topic. And if they don't, you can point to the objective and say, "We have 30 minutes left and still have to achieve this goal for this meeting." Knowing and sharing the objective is a wonderful way to manage the group's energy and focus.

Another way to keep your meetings productive and efficient is to manage the people dynamics. One of the most common energy drains is when one person talks and talks and others never get to say a word. If possible, have a meeting facilitator whose job is, among other things, to make sure everyone gets appropriate airtime. When you do not have the luxury of a content-neutral facilitator, then the chairperson must manage the group. In this situation of one dominant personality, the chairperson can enforce brevity for all. Explain that you want everyone to give his or her thoughts in a sentence first and then elaborate on it. So, when that individual starts his/her comments with an unfocused beginning ("20 years ago, I worked at a company and there was this woman named Ann.."), you have the permission to step in and say, "Could you give us your point in a sentence first, Paul?" Being even-handed in implementing this approach is vital.

Another technique for this situation is to paraphrase the speaker's point. Interrupt when he or she takes a breath and say, "So you're saying that." and when they agree, you turn to the rest of the group and ask if anyone has anything to add or a different perspective. Thus you use the power of paraphrasing to help the speaker be concise while taking back the control of the group.

How you close a meeting is very important. Much like mythical vampires who fade away at sunrise, many meetings tend to splutter to a close when the allotted time runs out. We've all been in meetings where the chairperson is trying to set up another meeting while attendees bolt for the exits.

Energize participants by doing this, instead. Five minutes before the end, call a halt to discussion and revisit each of the agenda items and state what was decided. Then identify next steps with specifics. "Sandy, you will investigate prices for this, right? When can you have it done?" Then set the date for the next meeting.

By pointing out what has been accomplished, identifying next steps, and setting the next meeting, you will create a sense of momentum and people will feel the time spent was productive.

Like a wooden stake, these tips will slay pale, unproductive vampire meetings and replace them with lively, effective ones.  Attendees might actually look forward to your meetings! And you will, too.

++++

Peg Kelley, MBA, has been a professional meeting facilitator for 25 years & is co-author of the booklet "39 Secrets for Effective and Enjoyable Meetings" available at her Facilitation Plus website at www.facplus.com

 


Parting Comments

We hope you have enjoyed this issue of the Peak Small Business Newsletter and found it useful.  Please visit our website at http://www.peakconsultinginc.com to check out all the resources we provide. 

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