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Shandon @ The Research Ace

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About Shandon @ The Research Ace

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    Regular Member

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  • Location
    Dallas, TX
  • Interests
    Science, Research, Business, Networking, Photography

Previous Fields

  • LinkedIn
  • Skype
  1. So I have a poll up on linked in that hopefully everyone can help with. I think the results would be very interesting! "When you make business decisions do you primarily go with your gut or base your decisions on research/information? " It would be great to get your votes and comments! http://linkd.in/fM1zCR Thanks in advance!
  2. Ok here are some examples on my end Mine ended up being pretty simple starting out... Hi everyone! My name is Shandon Collins and I am the senior research consultant and owner of The Research Ace which provides custom research consulting, data analysis, and virtual assistance to all business owners and industries. Our main goal at The Research Ace is to provide solid, reliable and unbiased research and services to all of our clients and help them come up with the best solutions to their business questions or problems. Feel free to contact me to find out more of how we help move businesses forward and give them their time back. Again, I am Shandon Collins, Senior Research Consultant and Owner of the Research Ace. Now that I've done this a few times, I interject with referrals that I may be looking for that week or give other examples of what I do. For example: Ever wish you were a fly on the wall to find out what your competitors are doing, what is going on in your industry, or what makes your competitors so successful? Luckily for you I can be that fly! I am Shandon Collins, Senior Research Consultant and Owner of The Research Ace which provides... or Hi everyone! My name is Shandon Collins and I am the senior research consultant and owner of The Research Ace which provides custom research consulting, data analysis, and virtual assistance to all business owners and industries. You can think of me as "The Research Lady". We cover everything from data presentation, and research services such including market research, business research, product feasibility analysis, customer surveys, etc. You name the research and we either do it or find someone who can! Examples of good referrals for me include any business owners who is looking to start up a business and wants to know more about their competitors, current business owners who would like to move their businesses forward and looking for ways to do so, or marketing firms looking for PR research for finding the best angles to suit their clients. I have a variety of services so feel free to set up a one-on-one meeting with me to find out more! Again, I am Shandon Collins with The Research Ace. I try to tailor my speech to my specific audience. Since it seems that most of the networking groups I go to are more interested in market research, that's what I push in my groups. After a few one-on-ones with networkers in the groups you will start to feel them out and learn what is popular and what isn't. It's all about finding the right group for your niche! I was very nervous with my elevator speech and definitely the advice to practice it over and over as much as you can until it becomes second nature was a life saver for me. So now I can switch it when it feels right
  3. Well it looks like you have a very large list of skills! That's great! I guess what I would do is start by ranking these skills from those you absolutely love to those that you like least. See what is at the top of the list and maybe you can come up with an ideas that way? I'm a newbie too and this is kind of what I did when I was figuring out what to do
  4. The reason why I have asked the question is because i'm tired of clients that doesn't pay or those that doesn't pay on time, it's very stressful, you do the work and submit on time but when it comes to paying they drag their feet. This is the reason why I think that we need to protect ourselves and either ask for a pre-paid retainer or a deposit of 50% or more of the given estimate. It really makes the client commit more to the services and can really weed out those who are slow payers. We can avoid those who drag their feet by just asking for payment up front. Most of the consultants I know only work through a retainer for this same reason!
  5. See... That's the reason why I have decided to either take a 50% deposit of the estimate (and final payment due before giving the final product) or monthly retainer depending on the project and my clients needs. I think what I am going to do (is when I am done with a project or milestone, I will set up a web conference where they can see a sneak peek of the product from my screen but will not be able to receive it until they pay. I think it's really the only way that we can protect ourselves to be honest. It has me so paranoid!
  6. Not a stupid question at all!! Well one way that comes to mind is the use of secure servers. This is the same way that others can work on their files from the office and basically bring their work computer home without carrying it out the door! The client would likely have to set up an account and a password for the VA to remotely access their information from afar and of course give the server information for the VA to access it. It is possible but involves a LOT of trust! Shandon
  7. Aww thanks y'all! I appreciate the support. It was really nerve racking from me because I am very young and this group has some pretty heavy hitters who are much older and have been in the "biz" for a while. In the past 2 years, they have racked up $6.5 million from referrals amongst each other (some of these are commercial real estate but STILL!) so I feel pretty small amongst these guys. I think the big thing is trying to keep your confidence level up. As others have said, you know your business more than anyone else and that's what my mind set was. I also looked through the members and noticed that my speciality not in that group yet and I knew that it would benefit them. I found them on the infamous meetup.com It's great and I'm getting a great response from the members. I really wanted to put it out there that even a little newbie shrimp in the sea like me can still spark some interest out there in the business to business circles so hopefully I can inspire someone else to do the same because you guys have certainly inspired me!
  8. Hi Michelle! Let me clarify, I meant a discussion forum section/topic for the VAcommentators. I think it would be cool to get the juices flowing with ideas of what to do. I definitely think that there are many ways that we can all work as VAcommentators. So let's get on it people!!
  9. Hey Everyone! So I figured that I would give an account of my first networking experience as a newbie to the business world (and VA world). I think it would be cool for the newbies to networking to see how others experiences were and what we learned so we are all prepared and can learn from each other. Soooo... Feel free to add your first experience and/or comment on others experiences! The demographics on the group I was visiting is as follows: A Business to Business networking group Luncheon Meets every 2 weeks Exclusive to each business category/specialization to avoid competition when sharing referrals About 30 active networkers Joining process (have to join meetup, meet with the moderators to determine if you are a good fit, fill out an application, agree to policies and procedures) No dues (WOO HOO!) I was SUPER nervous going into this. I was going alone and I have never meet any of these people. Although I love presenting, I definitely was still nervous about what their impression might be. I can't let my fellow VAs down! Plus, whether I was a fit for the group would be a deal breaker for me. Anyways, I walk into the meeting room at this nice restaurant they chose as their home for luncheons and there were a few people there already. I smiled and said hi, asking the best place to sit since there were several tables. They said I could sit anywhere. The moderator who invited me asks, So are you Vivian? Of course, I introduce myself and he greets me and introduces me to some of the others in the room, we shake hands etc. This one business man in particular (who completely looked like the definition a dominant business associate to a tee) shakes my hand and asks, So who are you here with? Who do you represent? I smiled and said The Research Ace. He of course has never heard of it and asks Oh, so what do you do or what do they do? Oh yes folks. THE question. In my head, I was like Geez! Already? I just walked in!! Totally caught off guard. I basically just did a mini (semi-flustered i'm sure) version of my 30 second intro as a had rehearsed several times in the car alone on my way to work for the past few days (which is a great suggestion by the way Kathy, thanks!). He thought on it for a moment, and gave the "acceptance nod" of Hmm.. ok, I'll buy it, I get that. I gave silent sigh of relief as the hot beam of the proverbial spotlight came off of me and we all started on some small talk and laughs which really helped loosen me up as others started to come in. Once everyone came in, we commenced with the 30 second intros/pitch. It was great! Some had intros that were basic, some had intros that were interactive (raise your hand if [fill in the blank]), some started off with questions, there was great diversity! Being the communication lover that I am, I made sure to take notice of the groups culture and the way that each person presented themselves, and then took that information and revamped my intro a little bit based on how others addressed the audience (as it is always smart to know how your audience can relate to you before you speak and you can get clues by gauging communication styles). My intro came out surprisingly fluid despite my nervousness and I think that the group liked it as I saw some nods and smiles in the crowd which is always a good thing! After the intros were done, we moved on to a group member showcase, where one of the member present work that they have done and basically showcases their services, then had a case study presentation by another group member, and a Q&A session for another group member all which were about 15 mins each. After the presentations, we had a great session in which table went around and gave their Thank Yous. This was a GREAT part where everyone gets a chance to thank someone in the group who gave them a referral, one-on-one meeting to learn more about each others businesses and how they can help each other, an introduction, services, etc. It was SO inspiring to see how many thank yous were given in this group. Everyone seemed to really look out for each other and look for ways to give referrals. I actually gave a thank you myself to my moderator who invited me as a prospective member and expressed how it was my first meeting, that it has been great thus far and how I hoped to help them to the best of my ability to help the group with referrals as I hope that they may be able to do the same. We then had quick talk about what was going on out on "the street". For example, ABC company is looking to expand 62% so it might be a good lead for someone in this area, etc. We also had a moment where we can speak of good news, if business was picking up etc. We ran out of time for group one-on-ones (speaking about each others business at the tables we were located). Afterwards, a few of us mingled I asked for some business cards and switched with others, talked to a few others, one of which is interested in talking with me one-on-one about services etc (excited!) and I get to do one-on-ones with the leadership of the group. Overall it was a great experience for a very structured group. What I Learned - Research the networking group you join - Don't just join whatever networking group you can. Join one that makes sense and read their purpose. The moderator talked adamantly spoke of how there were people who tried to get into the group but literally did not read that they are a business to business only group. Why would you want to join something that isn't a good fit for you or the group? It is just inefficient for everyone. I'm glad I researched my networking groups and read up on some of the members because it gave me insight on what I really wanted in a group and what I could provide to a group in return. - Practice makes perfect! - Reciting your 30 sec intro out loud in the car a few days before and right before your meeting can really help you remember it so that it flows naturally. This was extremely helpful for a newbie like me who is NOT used to pitching myself to others in 30 seconds. Get yourself mentally ready before you get in there! - Observe other members at the meeting and define their "culture" - see if the group's mentality matches yours, try to find out what kind of culture you are in and see if the group really fits with what you are doing. - I like structure - I didn't realize how much I liked structure in a meeting until I went to my first networking meeting! I really admired the structure and planning of the meeting group so that it was very efficient amidst 30 people. The speaking sessions were timed with a timer. It was great to get through so many things and learn so much while staying on time and I really appreciated it as a newbie. Now I'm sure each networking group has its own culture and feel to them and each of you have your own comfort levels. Make sure that when you pick a group that it really fits and make since with your business. I think we all owe that to ourselves to ensure we aren't wasting our precious time. I really like my group so far and time will tell how it will pay off! Again, feel free to post your own experiences for other newbies to see! Of course, it doesn't have to be as lengthy as mine, but I think it could really help them get ready for their own first networking experiences.
  10. Well, actually there was a reason. I chose the Ace of Spades for its strength and symbolism. It is known as the trump card and the highest card in the deck. An Ace of Diamonds or Hearts doesn't quite fit with what I do and since I represent the research industry and I come from a technical background that is very precise, distinct, and competitive. When you think of research that you want conducted, you want research that is strong, accurate, trustworthy, and ultimately superior. So if I'm going to be an Ace, why not be represented by a trump card, the best in the deck! Plus, when clients need research consulting or services, they can pull out their trump card and call on me . I also have a background in communication studies, so symbolism is something I try to think about on a regular basis when it comes to communicating my ideas. Pictures are worth a thousand words, right?
  11. Well, I'm sad to see it go, especially since I was just getting started with the VAcommentators How many VAcommentators are their currently? Also, maybe providing a topic for VAcommentators to share their different strategies for promotion would be helpful as well. I definitely am wanting to be a VAcommentator and I have signed up, its just hard to figure out what other ways to promote VAnetworking without completely sounding like I'm a car salesman or going overboard because that is never appealing. Anyway, it would be nice to know how many current active VAnetworkers there are so that we might be able to recruit. I wouldn't have a problem trying to help with recruiting for newbies since I am one I just think from the newbie point of view, if we had a topic for us that would allow us to get more ideas on how to promote it would be easier and less overwhelming... Just a thought! Shandon
  12. Hey Julie, Since I am low on funds starting out I decided to become a sole proprietor and I will eventually turn LLC when I get some more clients under my belt to pay the bigger fees . Luckily, in the County that I am in the assumed name certificate is only $16 . I have a separate business account as well so that I can draw the line between business expenses and personal expenses and I have have a business savings account for when I take out my taxes from each invoice so I'm ready when the tax man cometh. Both are of course obtainable when you get your DBA certificate or business permit (whichever is needed where you are). Looks like this link has some good information for registering in Alberta http://sbinfocanada.about.com/cs/startup/a/regalberta_2.htm
  13. Good luck Terri! I agree putting your best foot forward and dressing business casual is appropriate for this type of situation (of course, this was drilled into me for years ). I have my very first networking meeting on Friday. I have my business cards now and I'm bringing a few brochures just in cases. I'm pretty darn nervous just as you are. I just hope I don't completely bomb my 30 second intro!
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