Archive for May, 2012

Cool Product: Nitro Pro 7 – Adobe Acrobat Alternative

May 23rd, 2012

The Adobe Portable Document File (PDF) has become a popular standard for publishing documents online, for sending business documents out for review, etc. Adobe Acrobat Professional is the best known standard application for creating and editing PDFs. However, the Adobe PDF is an open, not a closed standard and you actually do have choice for PDF creation tools. If you want to look beyond the full version of Adobe Acrobat, the first place to start is with Nitro Pro 7 from NitroPDF. It is feature rich, robust, with a price well below what you would pay for a full version of Adobe Acrobat Professional.

Leaving Adobe Acrobat behind doesn’t mean leaving behind features. Nitro Pro 7 brings a lot to the table including:

Compatibility Being able to read files somebody else sends you is always a worry if you diverge from the application standards your coworkers, partners, and clients use. But since PDF is not some closed proprietary standard, you can open, read, and edit PDFs generated from Adobe Acrobat or Microsoft Office 2010 with Nitro Pro 7.

During testing, Nitro Pro 7 did not have issues with, or even come close to choking on PDFs generated in the current version Adobe Acrobat.

Productivity Nitro Pro 7 integrates with Microsoft Office and Windows providing one-button PDF creation from Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint (in 32-bit Microsoft Office only). If you are using a 64-bit version of Microsoft Office, the one-button PDF creation isn’t available but Nitro Creator 2 does show up as a Printer option in the Print menu. NitroPDF promises further 64-bit Microsoft Office support in a future release of Nitro Pro 7.

You can open PDFs in Google Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. Nitro Pro 7 also has a handy preview features that allows you to preview PDFs. It also displays PDF files in Windows folders as thumbnail document previews not the standard old static PDF icons.

Other productivity features of note include tools for digital signatures, PDF annotation, forms creation, and securing PDFs. You can also create PDFs from scanned documents and even send PDFs to Evernote from within the.

PDF Creation and Conversion Nitro Pro 7 can create PDF and PDF/A documents from the major document and graphic file formats. You can also use it to batch convert files to PDF and you have the tools to convert and combine separate files into a single PDF document.

The bane of anybody who has ever inherited documents is being able to only find the PDF version, the location of the original Microsoft Word document disappeared with the original author. Nitro Pro 7 includes a Convert PDF to Word feature, which lets you convert a PDF to an Office format. While the conversion wasn’t perfect (they never actually are) but you’ll get the information but, as always, will need to work within a Microsoft Word format to clean it up. You can also convert documents into Microsoft Excel (*.xlsx) files but don’t expect any formulas to make it through the conversion.

Final Thoughts Nitro Pro 7 is a solid alternative to purchasing the full version of Adobe Acrobat. You don’t lose file compatibility and Nitro Pro 7 packs some powerful features in a well implemented user experience. It also has a light footprint, which can be appealing to those who might see Adobe’s core apps as becoming more bloated with each new release.

Networking for More New Business

May 11th, 2012

Definition: Business networking = The process of meeting other people and exchanging resources for mutual gain.

I’m not talking about social media networking; I’m talking about face-to-face networking for business contacts that will help you grow your business. The kind of networking that builds concrete relationships, trust, and inevitably, results.

In the past several years networking as a marketing strategy and business development tool has really come into its own. Many good networking events are available to attend throughout the month. And great Internet sites like Meetup.com can help you easily locate the ones in your area that will best serve your needs.

Small businesses can leverage effective networking practices to win important customers, vendors, investors and partners. Networking forms the basis of many business relationships, and the ability to network well is one factor that may not only differentiate a business, but also ensure its survival.

It is easier than ever to network, especially if you keep the following best practices in mind:

1. Present yourself well. Business networking is often about first impressions, and first impressions are often about presentation. At face-to-face events, dress well, polish how you speak, make eye contact and generally present yourself to impress others with your professionalism and charisma.

2. Don’t overwhelm, but rather, interact. If you approach business networking solely as an opportunity to talk about yourself and your business, you’ll bore people. Make networking more enjoyable by limiting how much (and how repetitively) you talk and by seeking out chances to listen to and interact with the business networking group. Networking is not prospecting, so don’t treat people as prospects. Your goal is to develop at least some degree of relationship with each person you meet.

3. Network with Networkers. Business networking enables you to meet people whom you don’t already know. Many of the people you’ll meet won’t have the inclination to share their networks with you. Don’t try to overcome this attitude. Simply move on because you’re looking for networkers.

4. Any group might just be a business networking group. People define themselves as members of groups such as one’s profession, religion, gender, language, favorite sports team, and others. List the affiliations that matter to you, and then consider them as networking possibilities. Subsequently, you can network through such events as church picnics, support groups, tailgate parties, environmental causes and gender-specific professional organizations.

5. Be selective and diligent. Thousands of official networking events take place every day, and the Internet offers access to millions more; unfortunately, the availability of all of these opportunities leads some business people to take a shotgun approach to networking, which results in the failure to pay sufficient attention to any one opportunity. Identify and act on the highest-value opportunities rather than chasing every possible audience. Narrowing down opportunities will allow you to focus more.

6. Always network. Without turning yourself into someone who is prepared to collar all passersby with your spiel, treat social events; a party, a ball game, a play or any event, as an opportunity to meet new acquaintances who can later become part of a more formal network. Don’t waste time with overly skeptical people. Preach only to the choir. If someone doesn’t get it, don’t try to make them get it. Just talk to somebody else.

7. Help others. While your ultimate goal may be to find clients, customers, investors or to otherwise improve your own business chances and conditions, you are also in a position to help others. Offer whatever resources you can; advice, contacts, support, partnership or investment, in order to increase your value to your business network. This kind of enlightened altruism will eventually rebound to your advantage.

9. Be yourself / Be cool. The best way to network is to be unconscious of the fact that you are networking. Don’t let your mind dwell on the purpose or mechanics of networking. When you spend time with your friends, do you constantly have the purpose of maintaining your friendship in mind? No, you lose yourself in the moment. That’s the kind of approach you should bring to business networking.

Good networking requires you to balance a methodical approach with the ability not to take yourself too seriously. One way to achieve this balance is to keep your methodical self behind the scenes. Plan the events you’ll attend, define your purpose and immerse yourself in your own mini-infomercial. But once you start interacting, maintain a casual and friendly demeanor. You’ll be pleasant to be around and pleasant to listen to, which will differentiate you from the crowd and increase your chances of success. And in business networking, success is defined by becoming known by more and more people. The increase in business you desire will be a natural result. Remember that a key point to networking is that it’s not who you know that counts, it’s who knows you. So get out and network and become known by more and more people.

 

Cool Product: Constant Contact

May 3rd, 2012

email marketing made easy

I’ve been using Constant Contact to give my emails a professional look for almost a year and a half. I’ve now put out 17 issues of my newsletter, The Small Biz Bulletin (get it free – see the Join Our Email List link to the right —–>), and have noticed that dozens of businesses on my emailing list have adopted this product for their use too. So, it’s high time I did a Cool Product Review on it.

Constant Contact email combines your email campaigns and your social networking efforts into one easy-to-use service. It’s intuitive and easy to use for all skill levels. It breaks down the set-up process into three easy steps: “Create the look, select your audience, then schedule and send.”

Email Campaign Creation

You start by picking one of over 400 templates as the basis of your email, or create your own. The templates come in a variety of layouts, colors and patterns, are easy to customize as well as to insert text, images, documents, blog content, links, surveys, polls, videos and more. There’s a social-share toolbar and buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and others to send readers directly to your various social media properties.

Campaign Reporting

You’ll get comprehensive reports on your campaigns, including bounces, spam complaints, opt-outs, click-throughs, forwards and more. And Social Stats reporting tools tell you the number of Facebook shares and likes, tweets from Twitter and more, that your messages receive. You can also see the number of total social shares and page views your email campaign has generated.

Contact Management

You can add customers to your list by typing them in, importing a spreadsheet list or your address book from Gmail or Outlook. Contact fields are customizable so your contact database can hold all the info you need to keep on each contact.

Help & Support

Support includes a searchable knowledge base, tutorials, FAQs, a user manual, a blog, user forums, recorded demos and webinars. And the phone support is the best I’ve ever had for any product I’ve ever needed help on. They will even edit your email directly to fix a problem.

Try Constant Contact for Free!

You can try Constant Contact for free for 60 days to see if it fits your needs. If you do want to try it, click on the link below (or the logo at the top) and you will also receive a $30 credit when the free trial is over. Full disclosure: Yes, they will be kicking me back a $30 credit too, but if a couple hundred of you stick with it, well it could be sweet! Thanks!

Click here to get your 60 day free trial and your $30 credit if you continue beyond the trial period.