Monthly Archives :

January 2014

To Recommend or Not To Recommend…that is the question?

To Recommend or Not To Recommend…that is the question? 900 600 Kari Switala

Kari Switala One of the questions I hear most often in my Powerhouse Profiles & Profitable Prospecting Workshop is…how do I get more recommendations? Well…the answer is simple, you have to give in order to get. Remember the law of reciprocity? If not, here’s a quick recap: The Law of Reciprocity means: to give and take mutually; to return in kind or even in another kind or degree. You may have heard the Law of Reciprocity expressed as: “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine.” The law of reciprocity, simply explains that that when someone gives you something you feel an obligation to give back.

If you want to get more recommendations you need to give more FIRST. Now, I’m not saying that you should go out and recommend all of your connections just because you want to get 335 recommendations. You need to have a plan. Here are a couple of simple suggestions/tips to help you get more recommendations:

  • Linkedin recommends that you have 2-3 recommendations for each position you’ve held for optimal Linkedin results. To be more specific, especially if you’ve had a lot of positions, get 2-3 recommendations for the last 3 positions you’ve held that are relevant to your current position.


  • Sundays & Mondays are the best times to give recommendations. Why you may ask? It’s simple…think about how excited you are to go to work on Monday morning. Just imagine if you opened your inbox and found a glowing Linkedin recommendation from your client or peer. How would you feel? It would probably make your day and would encourage you to repay the favor.


  • Be strategic! Make a list of people you’d like to get recommendations from for your Linkedin profile. Star those people on the list that you could also give a recommendation to. I’m going to insert an obvious comment here…make sure the person you are recommending is someone that you have worked with or done business with that you can truthfully recommend (sorry it had to be said)! Start with your starred names and plan to write 2 thoughtful recommendations each week, until you reach your goal of 2-3 recommendations for each position.


  • Ask for recommendations. If you receive a call from one of your clients singing your praises, ask for a recommendation. If you feel uncomfortable asking while on the phone send them an email like this…”John, thank you so much for your call…it made my day! I would love to be able share your experience with others. Would you be able to write a recommendation on Linkedin about how my marketing strategies helped you exceed your sales quota by 46%? I would greatly appreciate it,” and be sure to include a link to your Linkedin profile. You can also request a recommendation. See the graphic below for instructions.


linkedinrecI hope these tips have been helpful. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to email me @ or tweet me @kariswitala!

Top Tradeshow Items & Tips for 2014

Top Tradeshow Items & Tips for 2014 900 600 Kari Switala

Guest Blogger: Cathy Verhage, Casta Marketing Group

37cd37cCathy Verhage is the Owner of Casta Marketing Group, Inc.  They’ve been in business for 11 years and pride themselves on providing exceptional service.  They help their customers brand their logo identity with promotional products and corporate apparel.  Some of their loyal customers include MOM Brands, RBC, Culligan, Hazelden, Northfield News, Pahl’s Market, Magnet 360 and Westwood Professional Services as well as many other customers across the country.

Tradeshows are key opportunities to get in front of your customers and prospects and do some serious networking.   I hope these tips help you make the most of the time in your booth.


You’ve probably felt like a carnival act at times when you try to get people to stop at your booth.  There are those “passersby” that avoid eye contact and make you feel a little odd as they avoid your booth.  The key to a successful show is getting the people you WANT at your booth.  How do you do this?  Here are a few ways our customers have achieved success.

  • Consider a pre-show mailer.  One customer mails postcards prior to the show with a key adhered to the card.  The card includes your booth number and a message to be sure to stop by your booth.  At your booth sits a treasure chest.  You pre-determine how many of the keys are winners that will open the chest.  Those winning keys get to select a prize like a pen, can cooler, etc.
  • Another customer gave silicone wristbands at their booth that were the entry ticket to their party later that night.  Word spread and people stopped by to get their wristband.
  • We’ve also done a “Plinko” board that is a fun, high energy game and makes people want to get involved.  You can have multiple winning levels with some higher end gifts for the bigger winners.
  • Put charging stations at your booth.  We can brand these with your logo and it keeps people at your booth for a while as they charge their phone.


Keep in mind your booth space and the size of the boxes promotional items arrive in.  You can get 1,000 pens in a relatively small box and it won’t take up much space.  Pens with a stylus on the end for your tablet or phone are the most popular new pens in 2014.  Items like drinkware are bulky and you may need more room.  Also consider items that are easy for travelers to take home.   Consider your audience!  Be mindful of the item you give away.  Should it relate to men, women, children, families, business professionals, elderly, pet owners, doctors, tech gurus, etc.



Looking for a COOLER idea?  I love passing out collapsible coolers and reminding people these make great carry-on items.  You can pack your travel items in the padded cooler and have a great item while on a trip to the beach or theme park.



The iwallet has been one of the most popular new items.  These adhere to the back of your phone QPic-1(removable 3M adhesive) and are handy to keep your ID, credit card, business cards and hotel key card.  Best part is they won’t deactivate the hotel key card.  These are small, lightweight, useful and appreciated.

Contact Cathy at Casta Marketing Group for your 2014 Tradeshow Items at 952.431.9047 or


Starting the New Year Off on the Right Foot!

Starting the New Year Off on the Right Foot! 900 600 Kari Switala

Guest Blogger: Heather Kantrud, True-Grit Leadership



 Heather Kantrud is a business and leadership development coach who utilizes horses in her work at the Ranch in Lakeville, MN.  This gritty country girl from North Dakota puts together Lone Ranger VIP days  for individual leaders, or workshops for executive teams/business groups.  Unlike Vegas, what happens at the Ranch does not stay at the Ranch—strategic planning from the experiential learning is carried forward into work and life.


Good leaders have a plan, great leaders have a vision.  Martin Luther King did not say, “I have a plan.”  He said, “I have a DREAM!”  Although planning needs to happen in order to reach goals, it is important to have a vision/dream that is overarching and not lost in the details of planning.  What is your dream/vision?


As we start a new year, I am reminded of the importance to reflect back on 2013, in order to go forward into 2014.  Let me start by defining reflection as:  serious thought or consideration, thinking, contemplation, deliberation, meditation, rumination.  Although I reflect on a daily, weekly and monthly basis, the change of the new year is a reminder for me to dig a little deeper in order to get the big picutre.  Here are three tips for your success in 2014.


Get your pen and paper out, and ask yourself these questions:

  1. What are my accomplishments this past year?
  2. What am I most proud of?
  3. What are the successes/wins?
  4. Which goals did I reach (did I have goals?)
  5. What would I have liked to “do over”?
  6. What were my mistakes or not so proud moments?
  7. What do I need to stop doing?


These questions can be reflected on for several areas of life:  business/work, personal, spiritual, financial, emotional, etc.  Now that you have reflected on this last year, what goals can you set for yourself/your business in 2014?  Be specific.  Statistically, 90+% of people DO NOT write down goals.  However, of those who do WRITE them down, 90+% of those goals are accomplished.  This seems like a no-brainer, so what’s holding you back from your pen and paper?


Bookends.  Let’s chat about the 80/20 rule:  80% of our day is determined by what we do with 20% of our day.  What we do with our first hour awake and our last hour awake directly effects the 14 hours in the middle, as well as how we sleep!  Start the day before anyone else is up, perhaps a half an hour (or l5 minutes to start with).  Take this time to read something inspirational, pray, reflect on the day ahead, read/listen to leadership development (I like SUCCESS magazine or other books like David Horsager’s The Trust Edge).  Remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing, and cast a glance at your vision/dream.  EAT a HEALTHY breakfast.  Then, half an hour before bed, spend some time reflecting on the day, journaling, ingesting positive information (not fear based news/TV!!) or truth.  Those 15 minutes in the morning and evening will change your life.  If doing both morning and evening is too much to start with, pick one and work on consistency.  One small change done on a consistent basis will effect the bigger picture faster than trying to make a big change and not following through after a month.


Last but not least, CELEBRATE!  Too often we breeze by our successes, even huge ones…always moving forward to tackle the next challenge or goal.  This week, my dear friend and I are going to dine out and attend the PINK concert.  We have agreed this is time to share our successes from 2013, encourage each other and enjoy our friendship.  So, Cheers to you and your success in 2014!!

Contact Heather to learn more about True-Grit Leadership: 651-226-2296 or email her at

True-grit logo

A New Name…A New Chapter!

A New Name…A New Chapter! 900 600 Kari Switala
When I started my business 4 years ago my vision was to create a business that would provide for my family and allow me to explore my entrepreneurial spirit. Not unlike, probably many of you.
Fast forward 4 years and here I am with a business that is growing rapidly and becoming more than I could have imagined when I first started it. And this is where the story gets a little interesting. The first 15 days of January were insane with new business and speaking opportunities (thank you BNI). I was getting ready to celebrate my 37th birthday and reflecting on how much had changed with my business, when I got an unexpected email.
Thinking it was a new prospect, I happily opened it only to find it was a trademark infringement notification from a large company on the East coast. My immediate thought was…what? How am I being seen as a competitor to this larger company, I’m just a solo-preneur with a little business in Minnesota. After a mini pity party, I decided to look at this situation as a new opportunity and a new chapter in my book.
I’m telling you this story in hopes that none of you will find yourself in this situation. I think its important to think BIG when starting a business…and of course, make sure to get your business name/logo trademarked by an attorney.