How To USE People!

In this day and age the importance of building relationships is more important than ever.  As more and more people are becoming entrepreneurs the need to partner with individuals increases. Linking yourself and your brand to others can be a key in whether or not your business succeeds or fails. Or maybe you don’t necessarily want to partner with them but you want to make an inquiry to get some wisdom and direction. Better yet this particular individual has tons of followers or connections and you just need them to give you a SHARE on Facebook, or a reTWEET on Twitter, that shouldn’t be too much trouble. As innocent as that request or expectation may seem there are appropriate and inappropriate ways to connect with individuals to make these request known.

 

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Here are 4 keys to USING people….

 

  1. Don’t be so aggressive– Aggression is a key characteristic for most entrepreneurs which helps them to be effective in what they do. Taking charge, taking risk and being pushy helps them achieve plenty of their goals. However when trying to build relationships and connecting with new individuals being too aggressive can be a major no-no. Remember most of the people that you are trying to reach are business owners like yourself. Aggression can be taken as rude, which is a characteristic most people do not want to deal with.
  2. Don’t be selfish– I have people that I have never met  in person (only social media) or have just recently met, ask me:  How did I get on ABC? How did you get in Black Enterprise? How do you get a vendors license? How do you get your 501c3? Now I am all for sharing information and helping people to make solid connections and build relationships. However, I am not for people selfishly taking everything they can from me and not reciprocating the effort. Before I generally ask someone for their information I make sure that I am prepared to do the same. In no bank can you make withdrawals without first making some deposits!
  3. Don’t be a bug-If you have reached out to someone and they said they would get back to you, give them that opportunity. No one likes a person constantly bugging them about anything. Give them some space. If they haven’t gotten back to you after the initial contact,  reach out at a later time, (as sometimes people forget) and say I am just following up on our previous email. That is it, if they still don’t respond, then drop it and move on to someone else.
  4. Nurture the connection–If I give someone some excellent information or solid connection and I never hear anything at all from that person again then that speaks volumes about their motive. When people assist me I make sure to let them know that I truly appreciated it. Hey, Thanks for that information, it was really great and helped me alot. That makes a world of difference. Also later on I would follow up and ask them how they are doing? It is small talk but people remember little things like that.                                                                                                                                                                             It is nothing wrong with using people if you use them the right way. However it is everything wrong with abusing people. Use these keys to make connections and to build solid relationships and grow your brand!

Merry Christmas!! Are you Hiring?

Happy holidays everyone!

Doesn’t it seem like everyone is just a little bit happier and nicer. As the song goes, “This is the most wonderful time of the year”. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is such an exciting and fun time, unless of course if you are an unemployed man with a family.

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     Being unemployed during the holidays is not fun at all, add in being a husband and a father, and that can make a person very frustrated and depressed. In fact contrary to popular belief, December is the month when most people get stressed, upset and depressed.  So while some are thrilled and excited a good number of men, especially black men, are looking for something to smile about.
     Also this comes at a time when black women are soaring in the corporate world and as business owners.  I just read a report that stated, black women are becoming entrepreneurs at an alarming rate, which is a fantastic fact. So imagine a man, who cannot find work, being married to one of these smart, intelligent, and successful black women. No matter how strong he is, the fact that she is so successful is a tough task for some men. Men like to be seen as the bread winner, and the king, but when they cannot support their family that leads some men into serious depression, and some even to violence.
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     Some of these men maybe well educated, some may have just come home from prison, and some may just have been laid off by their companies. Either way, finding work is a big factor for them. God has called us men to work, because when we work we have a sense of pride and accomplishment. When we don’t it is as if something is missing. I remember when I first got married, I was unemployed for about 2 years. I used to see my wife go to work every day and I would feel sick. I wasn’t working because of lack of trying, I just had a hard time getting hired. I thank God that Keenya (my wife) didn’t make me feel worse than I already felt. She was very encouraging and supporting. Ladies, if you have a husband that has recently been laid off or fired, or is having trouble finding work, take these tips from me
1)      Be encouraging – I know it may be frustrating if you are bringing home the bacon, cooking it and cleaning it, but you will get more out of your husband by building him up than by tearing him down.
2)      Talk to him not down at him- So often I hear from men that one of the worst feelings they have is when their woman talks down to them like a child. That feeling is the worse. Men don’t want to feel like they have another mother. I can’t tell you how empowering it is for the woman you love to respect, honor and cherish you. Even though you may not be on top of your game at the moment, but to know she still has that respect for you is such an amazing feeling.
3)      Never compare -Men come in various forms and talents, each of us bring something special to the table. Another negative is for women to constantly compare other men to their mate. Again this may be a tough time as it is by not working but to hear comparisons will only make it worse. Appreciate his good qualities and talents. That will help keep his spirits up. I don’t care what those talents are, cooking, taking care of the kids, dart playing, whatever.
Now this goes without saying that he is looking for work, assisting with the home and not playing Madden all day lol.
This time of unemployment will eventually pass and your relationship will be able to grow from these tough times. But don’t let a little blip destroy something that has the ability to be great. Christmas comes once a year but the relationship is every day. Like in my situation,  I eventually found work and later on started <a href=”http://www.thatsuitsyou.org” target=”_hplink”>That Suits You</a>, (we provide suits for qualified men to go on interviews) I will always remember how I was treated during the tough times. People will never forget how you made them feel. Everyone loves sunny days but just remember rainy and snowy days are a part of life as well.

We All Can’t Be Business Owners, Can We?

I remember listening to Dame Dash interview on NYC’s Power 105.1 Breakfast Club earlier this year. There was a statement that Dame made that had everyone thinking. They were either highly in favor of what he said or highly critical of it. He basically said that he felt EVERYONE should own their own business and not work for others their whole life. Some of the Breakfast Club members disagreed for various reasons and they debated the point most of the interview.

I must have watched this interview over 50 times, and I totally, 100 percent agree with Dame, and I will tell you why.

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Some of the reasons the Breakfast Club members (DJ Envy, and Charlemagne Tha God) and so many others disagreed with what Dame said were

1)Not everyone has the resources

2)Not everyone has the ability

3)Everyone can’t be owners because then who would do the work

4)Not everyone has the opportunity to be an owner

I emphatically disagree with all of these reasons as to why people cannot be owners because…

NOT EVERYONE HAS THE RESOURCES– If you read books about most successful people, so many build empires from apparently having no resources to begin with. The apparent lack of finances should not be a deterrent to achieving ownership. I say apparent because if we just look at what we see with our eyes we often miss out on so many opportunities which can only be seen with vision.

NOT EVERYONE HAS THE ABILITY-In this day and age whatever you do not know you can always learn. Whether through the internet, books, HOW TO FOR DUMMIES, or by partnering with someone who has that skill you lack. If you lack the ability to do a certain task there are several ways to overcome that. So even if initially you lack the ability to do something, it doesn’t have to remain that way. When someone is great in one area but needs help in another,  partnering with someone is a key strategic move done by many successful people all the time.

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EVERYONE CAN’T BE OWNERS BECAUSE THEN WHO WOULD DO THE WORK-I find this to be a very weird concern. Do you think Oprah ever thought, “I don’t believe I should build an empire because someone may need me to work for them”. Or Michael Jordan said, “I can’t worry about winning championships because I may be needed to work for someone”. No, those are not even concerns that business owners think or care about.  They are just focused on being the best person they can be. They are dedicated to fulfilling their purpose. The only people who may be worried about that are people that are looking for excuses not to own their destiny and control their future.

NOT EVERYONE HAS THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE AN OWNER-We have this misconception that opportunity comes to us knocking. I haven’t heard a knock, doorbell, phone call or email from opportunity. I believe opportunity passively waits around to be discovered and only the courageous, focused and determined are bold enough to take advantage of it.

So yes I believe we all can be owners, but will we? Probably not, but not because of the reasons listed. Many will not simply because they CHOOSE not to, but they definitely can, just ask Dame.

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The 3 T’s Excuses of Business

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Mostly everyone wants to make more money, have a business or have more free time. No matter the race, age or gender these are the most popular desires for most of us. The problem is we allow the 3 T’s to deter us from the things we really want.

 

The first T is Tools. We feel we lack the tools we need to effectively maneuver our life to where we need it to be.  We feel if I only knew more, or had more or had access to more I could live like I want to.  That thought may be so real in our minds we decide to remain in our current state. I say decide because I believe it is a choice. I believe despite the apparent lack of tools, we can still achieve greatness by stepping out in the dark and working, planning and moving until we reach the light. The moment we begin to pursue better,those tools become attracted to us, but as long as we are complacent we actually repel them.

The second T is Tired. Wow, how often do people say they want more but they are so tired. Success doesn’t just happen, we have to work for it. Unfortunately if someone doesn’t want to work, or is always tired, they will never reach that destination. You will never reach the full destination on 1/4 tank of gas. The truly successful are willing to push the car until they reach the goal, not say well I tried but I am out of gas. Push beyond the tired point, push beyond your normal limits, push beyond your give up point. Tremendous success requires tremendous effort!!!

 

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The Final T is Time.  We are all giving the same amount of time each day, so the excuse that I don’t have enough time is not valid. I know successful people that have several kids, and multiple  jobs. I also know unsuccessful people that have no kids or any jobs.  So it is not how much time we have but what we do with our time that truly matters.

Finally true success is definitely attainable but it will require us to push ourselves beyond our give up point and move pass all excuses

 

I am at a Networking Event…. Now what?

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As an entrepreneur you have most likely heard how important it is for you to “GET OUT AND NETWORK”. If you are on social media (and I strongly recommend that you are), you have without a doubt seen numerous flyers, invites or post about networking events. Network, network, network, is being shouted all over the place. So as an upcoming business person you decide to go and see what the hype is all about.

Now coming from someone who attends networking events regularly I can definitely share a few tips that I have learned. First, let me start off by saying that like anything else, networking is what you get out of it. Meaning, just by listening to some, they would give the impression that simply attending a networking event would guarantee you an increase in clients or knowledge. No, being successful at these events requires you to master the 3 S’s; Selective, Strategy and Smart.

Selective: Being selective in regards to the events you go to, and the people you spend time engaging with. Like I mentioned earlier there are network events going on several times each week. The most popular days seem to be Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. So knowing this you have to plan accordingly and be very selective to which events you believe would be most beneficial to your brand and business. Attending too many events can be counterproductive as you may meet more people but not necessarily the right people for you. Also the travel and hours of attending too many events will definitely cause fatigue.

Strategy: Strategy is displayed by seeing where the event will be held, who is attending the event and how many people are they anticipating.  All of these are very important and will help you in being strategic about attending or not. If the event is far away but they are anticipating some key people in your field attending, you would make the decision that it will be worth the travel. However, if they are expecting a large turnout to an event near your home but not one person attending fits your brand you might decide to sit this one out.

Smart: Perhaps the most important S is be smart. After being selective and strategic, when you arrive at the event, be smart. Dress the part. A good networking experience is like having several mini interviews throughout the night. The rule; make a good first impression stands, so always dress to impress. It would be foolish to do all this work preparing for the NETWORK event and then simply stand against the wall and make it a NOWORK event. Be smart and work the room, listen to different conversations, use a firm handshake when meeting people and be very specific and brief when introducing yourself. If there is a connection with people, there will be time to get deeper into your business. Be smart, always have several business cards. To many times I am at these events and people say , “I don’t have anymore”. Not smart at all.

Finally, although there most likely will be food, music and drinks and it may seem like a party, it isn’t. You are at work, building your brand. Sure, have fun but the priority is to make connections and spread the word about your business.

Follow Gerard Kersey

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@thatsuitsyou (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Periscope)

@pksesquire  (Facebook, Twitter)

CAN YOU RELATE TO YOUR RELATIONSHIPS?

 

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This is an interesting question that I have to ask because I found that a lot of people really can not. In this impersonal social media and email era, the skill of dealing with humans is being lost in a lot of ways.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am a HUGE social media junkie, I also prefer email and text over speaking on the phone as well, however I still know the importance and skill it takes to deal with people face to face and one on one. Seems like a contradiction but it really isn’t. I believe to be truly successful in today’s world you must be able to be efficient at both.

How many times have you received horrible customer service from a store or business? How many supervisors do you know that know their job but have zero people skills? Or How many people do you know that can only think about themselves? They want you to help them, support them, come to their event,  but don’t even for a second think about reciprocating for you. Yes, true people skills really seems to be lacking today. More importantly the people guilty of these actions seem totally oblivious to their actions. They are the same ones going to social media to say how crazy everyone else is!

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Despite this deterioration, don’t allow this to deter you from still displaying your excellent people skills and nurturing your relationships.  The  reason being, those with great people skills still seem to go further in life and have healthier relationships. But what if you are one of those people who we are talking about who walks around with a frown but  swears to everyone you are really smiling.  There are many people who are destroying critical relationships and they have no clue that they are doing it.

What do you do to repair or maintain your relationships?

  • Ask a close friend. Ask someone who will give you honest feedback.  They can tell you if you come off selfish, or inconsiderate of others. If so don’t be offended, make adjustments.
  • Speak to people how you would like to be spoken to. Sounds simple, but if we really heard how we speak to people sometimes we would be shocked. No one likes to be spoken to like a child even when they are in the wrong.
  • Look in the mirror. There are times when we know we are wrong but at the moment really don’t care because we are so focused on ourselves. Take a good look at yourself and realize when you are at fault. If you are be responsible and change your approach.

I can’t stress enough how important relationships are in  today’s society. So often we think money is our number one resource, when in actuality our number resource is people. Remember it is not always WHAT you know, but WHO you know!

IF THE SUIT FITS. .WEAR IT!!!

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Just think of all the big occassions in a typical mans life….he is wearing a suit right? Whether it’s a wedding, or court date, job interview or heck even their own funeral.  Suits are worn on these occasions because men want to feel special and important.  Not only do they feel special but women love to see men look their best and a suit definitely  helps that to happen. A well tailored or fitting suit, with a power tie, cuff links, crisp shirt and polished shoes,  whoooooowe….

When you see a man walking down the street dressed like this, you don’t know if he owns the block or just has an interview on the block.  What a powerful feeling, what a confidence builder, what a great experience.

Unfortunately many men all over are missing out on these experiences because they lack the knowledge of the importance of dressing professionally and /or they lack the finances to purchase them.

I see so many of our young men who don’t know how to tie a tie or have never worn a suit. Many of them because they lack a male figure in their lives to show them and train them. I thank God my father was around to show and teach my brother and I. When boys lack these positive male figures in their life it can hinder them in so many ways. No disrespect to women who have done great jobs when they had to but I believe there are things that a man can bring that is truly significant in a young mans development

So my brother and I want to help young men experience that feeling of wearing a suit, learning how to tie a tie, and then showing others the same. We formed a non-profit called WWW.THATSUITSYOU.ORG. We recieve donated suits and ties and provide them to men who complete job training programs throughtout the country.

Men, churches, businesses, men stores all over contact us to donate clothing to us to assist us in our vision. We want to help men all over to get back on their feet and support their families.

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@thatsuitsyou

 

 

I DON’T HAVE TIME TO DO SOCIAL MEDIA FOR MY SMALL BUSINESS

Kiev, Ukraine - August 26, 2013 - A collection of well-known social media brands printed on paper and placed on plastic signs. Include Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram and Tumblr logos.

So often when I come across an interesting small business I immediately run to Twitter,  Instagram or Facebook to get more information or just to make a quick connection with them. I can’t tell you how disappointing it is to find out that many of these small businesses do not have a social media presence.  I am not talking about 2 or 3 but from my studying more than 60 percent of the small businesses I came across did not have an active social media presence. Not only businesses but so many churches across the country have totally ignored this opportunity to reach the masses.

Make no mistake plenty of people are like me and would much rather link up with a business on social media before going to their website. So when business neglect to add this vital feature to their profile they are missing out on customers, exposure and more importantly income.

Now I’ve had small business owners tell me, yes I am all over social media; Facebook,  Instagram and Twitter. However, when I go to the page the profile is incomplete,  it contains an old logo and they haven’t posted anything in 24 weeks. Now to social media pros this is a no-no. This is worse than not having any accounts at all. People will not follow your accounts if they see that you are not active and will have questions about your business as a whole.

Also business owners will say, “well I don’t have the time”. They would rather function on the part of the business that they are good at, which is understandable, but not acceptable.  Being a business owner will require you to wear many different hats and some of the hats are not as comfortable as others, but all are needed. Like you would do with any other part of your business if you are not qualified to do it, you hire someone who is.

As for the churches, from the several I have contacted many have some mystery person who I could never reach who “runs” their social media department.  Again another missed opportunity.  In today’s world,  social media is a monster and must be tapped into with just as much tenacity as any other area of your business.

Social media was so instrumental to me in running  Www.thatsuitsyou.org, (a non-profit where we provide suits to men for work), I was able to connect with businesses like BLACK ENTERPRISE,  ABC, CBS, MLB and individuals like BILL RITTER, DON CHAMPION and TOM LLAMAS. Also everyday business and individuals from all over the country. I was actually on the cover of a magazine in Hawaii simply based on social media. So I know the value that it can bring. As a result I began managing social media accounts for individuals and churches who realized they needed one but didnt know how to manage one or just didnt have the time to do it.

Whatever you reason may have been for not having a strong social media presence prior to reading this, make every effort to change that as you could be costing yourself customers and money by being ANTI SOCIAL!!!

How do you see me?

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I remember this like it was yesterday. My family went on one of those shopping trips to Reading, PA to take advantage of all the discounted outlets. It was 1985, and I had to be about 14 or 15 years old. I was feeling grown, so a few of my cousins and I went off to do our own shopping. I had about $200 that I earned working during the summer. Within an hour I had a little less than $25 left—I really made the most out of the money I had and I figured I was done shopping. However as we were leaving I noticed a sign by the exit stating “All items under $20”. There were a pair of Polo sneakers that fell in this under $20 category. So I stared at the sign and the sneakers and began to calculate how much money I had left. Should I spend my last dime on these sneakers? Were they damaged? Did I really want them? All of these thoughts were going through my mind, and that’s when I sensed someone staring at me. I turned and saw it was a white woman who I figured was a supervisor or employee in the store. She then proceeded to say out loud to security positioned across the room—“Make sure all these sneakers have security alarms on them!!!”

Now, as a 14 year old boy I didn’t really pay attention to her motives until I got back on the bus and thought about it. I was in the store thinking whether or not I should make a purchase but from her perspective she saw me and assumed I was trying to figure out how to steal the sneakers. I was not dressed inappropriately, I wasn’t loud or menacing, I wasn’t posing a threat to anyone. I was just a regular teenager shopping in an outlet store. However, to her I was a black teenager in a store and that made the world of difference on her skewed perspective of the situation.

This experience has stayed with me for my whole life. My question is—what caused this biased view of me? If I were white or of a different race would she have reacted the same way. As I became an adult, I found out that the situation from years prior was not an isolated one. Time and time again I would experience similar reactions from people in various settings—the culprits were mostly white but other races as well were just as guilty (including black people). I walk down the street and people grab their bags or switch their bags from one side to the other. I walk into stores and security is alerted. Actually when I worked at a department store as a teenager they instructed us to make an announcement to security if 2 or 3 black males came in together.

I thought about it and realized that people spend a great amount of time watching television and surfing the internet. Most people get their information from either one of those sources—whether it is the news, reality TV, social media or some website. People utilize these outlets to educate themselves on many different matters. The images from most of these outlets overwhelmingly depict black people (especially males) as criminals, thieves, drug dealers, unintelligent, and unsuccessful. Thus, this is the image most people have of black men. This is the image people see when black men go into stores. This is the image people see when black men go for interviews. This is the image people see when black men walk down the street. This is the image police have of black men. This is the image the store employee had of me when I was contemplating buying those sneakers.

 

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As I think about it, mostly all of the heroes in movies or TV I watched growing up were not people of color. Blacks were actually the villains, the bad guys, the enemy. No real super heroes, no black men saving the day, no black men being celebrated and praised. They were depicted as the total opposite. Some will say, “well we have a black president now, and things have changed recently”. That is true to a degree but the last 6-8 years cannot erase the previous years so quickly in our minds and our perceptions.

It can be stated that a lot of crimes are committed by blacks so these media outlets are just displaying the reality. However if the only interaction of black people you have comes from what you see on TV or discover on the internet, then your perception of blacks in general will be off. Image plays a tremendous role in life. If a black man goes for a job interview but the person interviewing him has a distorted perception of black men then his chances of getting that job are greatly diminished. If a black man starts a business and his potential clients have a distorted image of blacks then he will suffer because people won’t trust him to run an excellent business.

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10993463_788746271181023_6895259486174446207_oThat is why I am so happy for the work we are doing at That Suits You. We first and foremost try to change the image that black men have of themselves—this is of utmost importance. Once a person has a positive image of themselves they are more prepared to handle the adversities of life. We give presentations and work to encourage men young and old to help each other to achieve greatness in life.

We work with programs all over NYC who train men to get back to work or to start their own businesses. Once they have completed their training we provide the icing on the cake by donating suits, shirts and ties to them to assist them with their outer image. The suits are only a reflection of how they feel on the inside. We know that not everyone may not see a man differently because he’s in a suit, but we know that wearing a suits greatly helps men in increasing their confidence, strengthening their inner image, and getting their lives back on track.

We may not be able to change everyone’s perception of black people but we can definitely help men have a better perception of themselves.