Your Business Arsenal: The Four Weapons You Need To Succeed

January 19th, 2013

There are many things you need to know and acquire before you start and while you are operating your business. But the four most important “weapons” that you need in your business arsenal are a professional website, a business Facebook page, professional business cards and a 30-second “elevator” pitch.

Website: Your website should be professionally designed and contain detailed information about what you offer and your contact information. If you have a shopping cart to sell your products or services, be sure that you include the pricing on the page so your buyers don’t have to go through the entire process before knowing what they will have to pay. An “About Me” page is great so your buyers can get to know you before they buy. A blog will keep your prospects and customers up-to-date on the latest news and a weekly or monthly blog entry will keep your website flowing in the search engines. Include a link to your Facebook business page on your website.

Facebook Business Page – Create your business page by clicking the “Create a Page” button. The option to create a business page is at the bottom of your personal profile and on the first page when you log in. It is also on the top right of your profile. Include as much information as you can about your business page so everyone who views it will see what you offer. Be sure to include a description of what you offer, contact information, including your email address, phone number and website. You can also make your page attractive by including a photo of yourself or your logo. Design an eye-catching cover photo too. If you are the owner or founder of the company, link your business page to your personal profile. Link your business page to your Twitter page.

Business Cards: All business owners know that business cards are essential tools in their networking toolboxes. Business cards must be easy to read and contain your company name, contact name and contact information. Black text and a clear font are best. Card scanners may be used to capture your card information. Scanners do not capture white text. If you have a logo and/or a photo or yourself, those make the cards even better and more memorable. Hand them out at networking events after you have introduced yourself with a firm handshake and a smile, looking the other person in the eyes.

Elevator Pitch: You will need an assortment of 30, 60 and 90-second descriptions of what you offer. Your “elevator” pitch or “speech” is a concise compilation starting out with your name, your company name, what you offer and sometimes to whom you offer it. Say your name and your company name at the end to reinforce the listener’s memory. My 30-second elevator pitch goes something like, “Cindy Freland and I own (company name). I am an award-winning virtual assistant. I do all your time-consuming tasks so you can concentrate on your revenue-generating duties. I am also known as the Facebook Queen and I help you self-publish your book. Cindy Freland, (company name).” 30 and 60-second “elevator” pitches are best for networking events, including Meetups, Business Networking International (BNI) and Network Referral Group (NRG). 90-second pitches are mostly used in speed networking events. In speed networking events, you start out by sitting at a table with seven or more people. Each person gets a chance to introduce themselves. After each person has given their 90-second elevator pitch and gives out their business cards, they move to the next table and they give their pitch again. They do that about five times and meet up to 40 people within two hours. It’s a great way to meet many people in a very short time. Most chambers of commerce offer speed networking events.

Cindy Freland is the author of many business articles and business and children’s books. Freland is an award-winning virtual assistant and founded Maryland Secretarial Services, Inc. in 1997. She can be reached at (301) 352-7927 or or visit her web site at

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: 6 Tips to Include Photos on Your Facebook Business Page

September 11th, 2012

You’ve heard that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” It means that an intricate idea can be reflected in a simple photo. People are visual and can remember and identify with pictures more than they can with just words. When you use a photo, graphic or video on your Facebook business page, you attract a lot more prospects. The following ideas may help you gain more attention, likes and, therefore, customers:

1. Cover Photo: Timeline allows you to have a huge photo on the top of your page. Take advantage of it and design a combination of photos, text and a colorful background so your page is captivating. Be sure that you follow the Facebook rules when designing your cover photo. A few rules just off the top of my head are, don’t include any calls to action, including “like this page.” Another one is, don’t include contact information that can be included under “About.”

2. Graphic Images: You can use Microsoft PowerPoint to design graphic images to post with text on your page. Include up to six words but two words are more eye-catching. Choose a graphic that matches your subject and provide a colorful background.

3. Photos in Status Updates: Take a digital camera with you everywhere. When you attend meetings or business networking events, take group photos and close-up photos of individuals. People like to see pictures of themselves and other people interacting with each other. Take photos of your customers and include them with their testimonials. Post photos and testimonials on your website and your Facebook page. You get more exposure when you “tag” people in photos. The photo will post on their profile when you “tag” them. Photos of your products are great additions to your page too. Don’t forget to include photos of people using your products. Always try to include a photo or graphic when you post events. Post a photo with your text as often as you can. I like to post on my page up to four times a day, including weekends. Sundays have been proven to be very good days to post.

4. Pinterest: “Pin” product photos to a “board” in Pinterest then upload them to your Facebook page.

5. Profile Photo: This is the perfect place to upload your logo. Remember that this is the photo or logo that will be seen in all your posts. So make it colorful and interesting.

6. Video: Photos and graphic images are great but videos are best to attract attention. There are many web cams but I use a Microsoft LifeCam HD-5000. If you want to record what shows up on your computer monitor, you can find many software programs online. You can also use Debut to record videos of yourself. Be sure your background is not cluttered or it will get more attention than you or your topic. Debut is free to use for a while then you will pay a small amount to use it for life. As of the writing of this article (September 4, 2012) the cost was $30. One to three minute how-to videos or infomercials prove that you are the expert in your field. Upload your videos on YouTube for even more exposure.

Cindy Freland is the author of many business articles. Freland is an award-winning virtual assistant and founded Maryland Secretarial Services, Inc. in 1997. She can be reached at (301) 352-7927 or or visit her web site at

Cindy Freland Takes the Podium

August 19th, 2012

Cindy Freland, President, Maryland Secretarial Services, Inc., takes the podium in the Oval Office October 2001.

Shaking Things Up With Marketing for the 21st Century

August 19th, 2012

Things are just not the same as “the good-old days.” We have to shake things up a bit. We have to put our thinking caps on to see where our marketing dollars should be spent. To quote a friend of mine, Bob Burg, “people do business with people they know, like and trust.” So how exactly do you get them to know, like and trust you? You establish long-term relationships with them. You have to “touch” people up to ten times to get them to buy from you. You need to contact them up to 10 times with emails, direct mail, social media, phone calls, networking, etc.

Below are a few ways to help get the word out about your business and establish long-term relationships:

1. Website – Every business should have a professionally designed website.

2. Social media – You should be on the top three social media platforms, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Post at least once a day on each.

3. Blog – Post at least once a month on your blog. I use WordPress but there are many from which to choose. Just search online.

4. Articles – You are the expert in your field. Write articles and submit them to as many places as will take them. I have several articles in

5. Video emails – Don’t just send a text message. Shake things up a bit, surprise your prospect or client with a video email. You can also do broadcasts and screen shares. I use But search online for more.

6. Networking – Attend as many networking events as possible. Some are free others are very inexpensive. Join your local chamber of commerce and attend the mixers. I also suggest

7. Newsletters – Include the articles you write, specials, new services and products. I use Constant Contact but there is MailChimp and many others.

8. Personalized Cards – People love to get personalized mail. I use Send Out Cards to send my new clients a postcard or greeting card and sometimes even a small gift.

9. Recorded Phone Calls – These are great to remind members of a meeting or in an emergency. But they are also great to advertise new products and services. I use But you can find more options online.

10. Webinars or Workshops: You are the expert so help others learn too. The best way to get people to listen to you is to teach them something. and have webinar options and you can find more online.

11. YouTube – A YouTube channel will help you get your videos online. Don’t forget to post them on your LinkedIn and Facebook pages.

12. Press Release – Have a press release professionally written and email it to as many magazines and newspapers as you can. Also, search online for free websites to post them.

13. Contact Manager – Keep a list of your clients and prospects. I use QuickBooks Contact Manager, but you can use Excel, GoldMine, ACT! or others. Just search online for more.

You can use one or a combination of these services to help grow your business. Remember, you cannot do the same old thing, you have to shake things up a bit.

Cindy Freland is the author of several business networking articles. Freland is an award-winning virtual assistant and founded Maryland Secretarial Services, Inc. in 1997. She can be reached at (301) 352-7927 or or visit her web site at


Pinterest Boards

August 19th, 2012

Pinterest is a social media website where you can promote your business using graphics, photos and text. Try it, you’ll, love it. Watch this short video by Cindy Freland to find out more.

Pinterest Boards

Bowie Business Journal “Wedding Trends”

August 19th, 2012

“Wedding Trends” April 2012

Sharon White, The Cake Courtesan, Joy Thorpe, Bowie Florist, and Cindy Freland, Maryland Secretarial Services, Inc. (Host), discuss “Wedding Trends” on Bowie Business Journal April 2012.

Outsource: Keep 60% More Of Your Revenue

August 19th, 2012

How many times have you had to stop doing what you do best, whether it’s writing, designing, or meeting with prospects or clients, and you had to do something else because there was no one else to do it? Those time-consuming, nagging projects, like typing, filing, social media or stuffing envelopes, need to be done but you hate doing them. You might not even know how to do them or you might not have the staff or your administrative assistant is on vacation or ill.

Doing it all yourself is costing you up to 60% of your revenue. You may think that doing it all yourself is saving you money. But just think how much more time you could spend meeting prospects or making those revenue-generating phone calls if you outsourced those nagging administrative tasks to an experienced Virtual Assistant (VA).

VAs are business owners who provide professional administrative, technical, or creative (social) assistance to clients – usually other independent entrepreneurs and small businesses. VAs work from their own office (hence “virtual”), thus making it a fairly popular (and growing) profession in centralized economies. It is estimated that there are as many as 35,000 VAs worldwide. They charge between $15-45, depending on where they are located.

VAs are experienced professionals who know the quickest and best way to complete tasks. Therefore, what may take you hours to complete, may only take a VA minutes, saving you time and money. With the VA doing the work, it enables to you do your revenue-generating tasks.

The following is a list of just a few of the duties that can be taken “off your plate” and given to a Virtual Assistant:

1. Bookkeeping: Make it easier for your certified public accountant (CPA). A VA will organize your income and expenses into an Excel spreadsheet or enter them into your QuickBooks.

2. Business Card Scanning: Have the business cards you collected at networking events placed into a usable format such as Excel or CardScan. You can then easily make phone calls, send direct mail or send an email. From this Excel file, a mail-merge can be done to send out a direct mail piece.

3. Desktop Publishing: have your flyers, business cards, brochures, letterhead and envelopes designed and printed

4. Filing: Most VAs work from their homes but some will come into your office to work. They can do all your filing and organize your office so you can find things easily and you will be more productive.

5. Internet Research: find material for a book, article or research local business owners

6. Mail-Merge: format letters and labels for a mailing using your client and/or prospect list

7. Phone Calls: schedule appointments, flight and hotel arrangements, follow-up phone calls

8. Social Media: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts can be set up. Profiles and business pages can be created and updates can be posted daily.

9. Stuffing Envelopes: Complete the mailing by folding and inserting the letters into envelopes, affixing the mailing labels, return address labels and postage and sealing the envelopes.

10. Word Processing: proposals, agreements, letters, forms, interrogatories, orders, documents

With all these responsibilities and possibly others taken “off your plate,” you will be less stressed, more organized and free to do what you do best, which is generating up to 60% more revenue for your business.

Cindy Freland is the author of several business articles. Freland is an award-winning virtual assistant and founded Maryland Secretarial Services, Inc. in 1997. She can be reached at (301) 352-7927 or or visit her web site at