Eliminating Profit Robbing Telemarketing Calls to Your Business

Most of us small business owners don’t have the luxury of having a secretary or office manager to screen our calls for us. It can become overwhelming when answering sales call after sales call from telemarketers prevent us from doing what makes us money. To top it off, we can sometimes be talked into spending our hard earned money on products or services that are often overpriced and/or not needed in the first place.Each time we add a new business telephone number or change the business location of the ones we currently have, our telephone numbers are placed on a telemarketing list as a “new business.” Our business phone lines are then overrun by harassing telemarketers that want to be the first to sell a new business what they don’t need. You see a “new business owner” generally hasn’t fine tuned their decision making skills to the point that they can just say no and hang up. These skills come with time and experience. Telemarketers know this and target these new business owners because seasoned owners won’t fall for their tactics.I am always adding or changing toll free and regular phone numbers. To prevent this constant barrage of calls (I call it “the first wave”) or to at least limit them, I have developed a strategy that is working right now. You, as a small business owner, can take what you need from this and add to it your own ideas that you have found that work.First, the “Do Not Call” list! This list was set up for consumers and not businesses. We as consumers are afforded a lot more rights under the law than we are as business owners. Either way there is no mechanism the government can use to determine whether the number you put on the list is a business number or a residential number. I am not telling you to put your company’s number on the list. I am simply explaining that if you did, it would work. Any number that is put on this list almost instantly sees a drop in calls from telemarketers. You can find this list by doing a search for “do not call list” on your favorite search engine.Secondly you must accept the fact that if you need something for your business then you will seek it out and find it yourself! Train yourself to never buy “spur of the moment!” Spontaneous purchases can kill a business. Once you realize this then you will never change your phone service just because someone called and was nice to you. You’ll never buy twelve dozen light bulbs or two thousand feet of extension cord. If you need a first aid kit then go buy one at the Home Depot and don’t buy a dozen from a con man on the other end of the phone. First aid kits, extension cords, light bulbs and phone service are all the top sellers to the construction business, your industry may differ but I am sure not by much. You must say no and it is absolutely OK to be rude and to hang up mid sentence. The point is that once you have trained yourself to say “no,” then you can follow step three.Third, you must tell the caller that not only are you not interested but you want them to remove your company and phone number from their list. You must do this every time.
Watch out for “free” items, “we want to save you money” or “can I ask you why” because these are their favorite tricks to get you to spend. I try to be as polite as I can so that they will actually remove my phone number. Sometimes you may need to call an 800 number that they will give you in order to be removed from further solicitation. I recommend that you call and have your business’ phone number removed right away because these companies can actually sell your name to other companies as an “active” number and that will only make matters worse. The problem then spreads like a virus. The bottom line is to tell them no and to ask them to remove you from their list before you even hear what they have to offer.Another way that I minimize the distractions of telemarketing sales calls is to use caller ID. Unfortunately, only local companies that acquire work locally can utilize this method. My concrete cutting company services customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine, so when I get a call from California or some odd area code, I will prepare myself to be firm and up front before I answer the phone. If my calls are forwarded to my cellular telephone and I find out the call wasn’t from a vendor or supplier then I will simply program the number as DNA into my cell phone. This stands for “Do Not Answer!” You can program up to ten numbers under one contact name in most cellular phones and give it a distinct ring tone. I have DNA1, DNA2 and so on and I am up to DNA9 right now. If I see or hear one of these numbers come in I just push the button that sends them directly to voice mail.Lastly and very important is the use of a device that is called the “TeleZapper.” The TeleZapper sends a digital tone through the phone line telling automatic dialers used my many telemarketers that the line is currently disconnected and or not in use. The automatic dialing computer subsequently removes your phone number from its list. This not only stops them from calling back it also prevents them from selling your phone number as an “active number.” This device became almost extinct once the “Do Not Call” list became a reality because who needs to “zap” a telemarketer if you are not getting any calls? It still works great for the small business and you will see a dramatic drop in telemarketing calls if you use it correctly. This device will not work if you forward your calls to another phone or if you use a voice mail provided by your phone company and your calls are sent to that voice mail box. It will work when a call is picked up by an answering machine in your office. The TeleZapper is very difficult to find anymore in retail stores but it is still readily available new on eBay or online.© 2007 Affordable Concrete Cutting Massachusetts, MA All Rights Reserved

Do You Know How to Be an Engaging and Highly Effective Educator?

Anyone can teach. We teach each other every day. For example, we give instructions to each other for such things as cooking, putting together furniture, and completing household other tasks. However, teaching someone is different than the process of educating someone. Consider the difference between informal learning and formal learning. An example of informal learning would be following a recipe to learn how to cook. In contrast, formal learning occurs within a classroom and usually is accompanied by evaluation and assessment. It may seem that teaching and educating are the same thing; however, the difference has to do with the place or context for learning.This is the same distinction can be made for teaching informally (giving instructions) and teaching students in a formal classroom environment. A person enters the field of education as a profession – either full time in traditional academic institutions or as an adjunct (or part time) instructor. The reasons vary for why someone would choose to be in the classroom. A traditional full time professor may likely be responsible for conducting research, teaching, and publishing scholarly work. An adjunct instructor may teach in a community college, traditional college, or an online school. When someone teaches students in higher education he or she may be called a facilitator, instructor, or professor. This is important as there isn’t a job with the word educator in the title.The questions I would like to answer include: What then does it mean to be an educator? Does it signify something different than the assigned job title? What I have learned through my work in higher education is that becoming an educator is not an automatic process. Everyone who is teaching adult students is not functioning as an engaging and highly effective educator. However, it is possible to learn how to educate rather than teach and that requires making a commitment to the profession.What Does It Mean to Teach?Consider teaching as part of the system of traditional, primary education. Those classes are teacher-led and children as students are taught what and how to learn. The teacher is considered to be the expert and directs the learning process. A teacher is someone who is highly trained and works to engage the minds of his or her students. This style of teacher-led instructional continues into higher education, specifically traditional college classrooms. The teacher still stands at the front and center of the class delivering information, and students are used to this format because of their experience in primary education. The instructor disseminates knowledge through a lecture and students study to pass the required examinations or complete other required learning activities.Within higher education, teachers may be called instructors and they are hired as subject matter experts with advanced content knowledge. The job requirements usually include holding a specific number of degree hours in the subject being taught. Teachers may also be called professors in traditional college classes, and those positions require a terminal degree with additional research requirements. For all of these roles, teaching is meant to signify someone who is guiding the learning process by directing, telling, and instructing students. The instructor or professor is in charge, and the students must comply and follow as directed. Here is something to consider: If that is the essence of teaching, is there a difference between that and educating students? Is the role of a teacher the same as that of an educator?What Does It Mean to be an Educator?Consider some basic definitions to begin with as a means of understanding the role of an educator. The word “education” refers to giving instruction; “educator” refers to the person who provides instruction and is someone who is skilled in teaching; and teaching is aligned with providing explanations. I have expanded upon these definitions so that the word “educator” includes someone who is skilled with instruction, possesses highly developed academic skills, and holds both subject matter knowledge and knowledge of adult education principles.Skilled with Instruction: An educator is someone who should be skilled in the art of classroom instruction, knowing what instructional strategies are effective and the areas of facilitation that need further development. An experienced educator develops methods that will bring course materials to life by adding relevant context and prompting students to learn through class discussions and other learning activities. Instruction also includes all of the interactions held with students, including all forms of communication, as every interaction provides an opportunity for teaching.Highly Developed Academic Skills: An educator must also have strong academic skills and at the top of that list are writing skills. This requires strong attention to detail on the part of the educator and in all forms of messages communicated, including anything written, presented, and sent via email. The ability to demonstrate strong academic skills is especially important for anyone who is teaching online classes as words represent the instructor.The use of proper formatting guidelines, according to the style prescribed by the school, is also included in the list of critical academic skills. For example, many schools have implemented APA formatting guidelines as the standard for formatting papers and working with sources. An educator cannot adequately guide students and provide meaningful feedback if the writing style has not been mastered.Strong Knowledge Base: An educator needs to develop a knowledge base that contains subject matter expertise, as related to the course or courses they are teaching, along with knowledge of adult education principles. I know of many educators who have the required credit hours on their degree transcripts, yet they may not have extensive experience in the field they teach. This will still allow these educators to teach the course, provided that they take time to read the course textbook and find methods of applying it to current practices within the field.Many schools hire adjuncts with extensive work experience as the primary criteria, rather than knowledge of adult learning principles. Those instructors I have worked with who do have a strong adult education knowledge base generally acquired it through ongoing professional development. That was my goal, when I decided on a major for my doctoral degree, to understand how adults learn so that I could transform from an instructor to an educator.Becoming an Engaging and Highly Effective EducatorI do not believe that many instructors intentionally consider the need to make a transformation from working as an instructor to functioning as an educator. When someone is hired to teach a class, someone other than a traditional college professor, they often learn through practice and time what works well in the classroom. There will likely be classroom audits and recommendations made for ongoing professional development. Gradually the typical instructor will become an educator as they seek out resources to help improve their teaching practices. However, I have worked with many adjunct online instructors who rely on their subject matter expertise alone and do not believe there is a reason to grow as an educator. For anyone who would like to make the transformation and become an engaging and highly effective educator, there are steps that can be taken and practices that can be implemented.Step One: Continue to Develop Your Instructional PracticeWhile any educator can learn through time on the job, it is possible to become intentional about this growth. There are numerous online resources, publications, workshops, webinars, and professional groups that would allow you to learn new methods, strategies, and practices. There are also social media websites such as LinkedIn and Twitter that allow for the exchange of ideas and resources within a global community of educators.You can also utilize self-reflection as a means of gauging your effectiveness. I have found that the best time to review my instructional practice occurs immediately after a class concludes. That is a time when I can assess the strategies I have used and determine if those methods were effective. Even reviewing end of course student surveys may provide insight into the perspective of my students.Step Two: Continue to Develop Your Academic SkillsI know from my work with online faculty development that this is an area of development that many educators could use. However, it is often viewed as a low priority – until it is noted in classroom audits. If an educator has weak academic writing skills, it will interfere with their ability to provide comprehensive feedback for students. For online instructors, that has an even greater impact when posted messages contain errors with spelling, grammar, and formatting. The development of academic skills can be done through the use of online resources or workshops. Many online schools I have worked for offer faculty workshops and this is a valuable self-development resource.Step Three: Continue to Develop Your Subject Matter ExpertiseEvery educator has subject matter expertise that they can draw upon. However, the challenge is keeping that knowledge current as you continue to teach for several years. The best advice I can offer is to find resources that allow you to read and learn about current thinking, research, and best practices in your chosen field. This is essential to your instructional practice as students can ascertain whether you appear to be current in your knowledge, or outdated and seemingly out of touch. Even the use of required textbooks does not ensure that you are utilizing the most current information as knowledge evolves quickly in many fields.Step Four: Continue to Develop Your Knowledge of Adult LearningThe last step or strategy that I can recommend is to gain knowledge about adult learning theories, principles, and practices. If you are not familiar with the basics there are concepts you can research and include critical thinking, andragogy, self-directed learning, transformational learning, learning styles, motivation, and cognition. My suggestion is to find and read online sources related to higher education and then find a subject that interests you to research further. I have found that the more I read about topics I enjoy, the more I am cultivating my interest in ongoing professional development. What you will likely find is that what you learn will have a positive influence on your work as an educator and will enhance all areas of your instructional practice.Working as an educator, or someone who is highly engaged in the process of helping students learn, starts with a commitment to make this a career rather than a job. I have developed a vision related to how I want to be involved in each class I teach and I recommend the same strategy for you. You may find it useful to develop teaching goals for your career and link your classroom performance to those goals. For example, do you want to complete the required facilitation tasks or would you rather put in the additional time necessary to create nurturing class conditions?After developing a vision and teaching goals, you can create a professional development plan to prompt your learning and growth in all of the areas I have addressed above. While this strategy may require an investment of time, it is helpful to remember that we always make time for whatever we believe is most important. Being an educator is not sustaining a focus on job functions, rather it is cultivating a love of what you do and learning how to excel for the benefit of your students. Becoming an engaging and highly effective educator occurs when you decide that teaching students is only part of the learning process, and you work to transform who you are and how you function, while working and interacting with your students.

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