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Five Resources Every Entrepreneur Should Bookmark

Delving into the bookmarks of the most interesting man in the world

One of the reasons we feel comfortable writing to entrepreneurs of all stripes is that many of us are entrepreneurs ourselves. Some of us are being exposed to this roller-coaster for the first time here at Contactually, while others are long-time business-building junkies, here for yet another go-around.

But you could make a reasonable argument that nobody here is quite as knowledgeable about entrepreneurship as Contactually’s co-founder and CEO, Zvi Band. And while you may know him from Twitter, his involvement in the DC startup community, or this awesome eBook full of relationship management hacks for entrepreneurs, you probably don’t know a lot about how he stays up on the many things that affect his world.

One thing Zvi and I (and probably you) have in common is that we read a LOT of stuff online. In the interest of expanding my entrepreneurial expertise (and giving you something to read, and possibly sucking up to the guy who runs my company), I asked him to recommend some good sources of content.

So, without further adieu, here’s what Zvi’s looking at every day, along with some of my initial observations. read more…

Why We Love Our Support Team

When something goes wrong…

Let’s address the horrible, awkward elephant in the room — sometimes, you don’t have the experience you want with Contactually. Something might be broken, or have changed, or could just be confusing and weird. It happens.

We try to anticipate as many of these things as possible, but believe it or not, you lovable customers are all so DIFFERENT! You use Contactually for different things, in ways we couldn’t imagine (which we love, but can be scary for us), in different places at different times. Sometimes, we’re like a hockey team in a big game where there are 5,000 guys on the other team, and they all have pucks.

What the heck, let’s run with the metaphor a little longer. Our Customer Success team members are our defenders, running around and trying to intercept problems before they get you stuck. But behind them, always ready, is our last line of defense. It’s the goalie, Contactually Support.

Where would we be without Penny?

At some point, our metaphor breaks down, because we actually have more than one goalie. We have a bunch of them, and they work their asses off, often with people on our Product and Sales teams, to try to make things right in a crazy variety of problem scenarios. But as we get more and more users, who’s making sure that system works? Who keeps those goalies fired up, ready to go, and equipped to help the most frustrated Contactually users at their most challenging moment?

Penny does! And for the last two years, she’s been doing everything she can to make a better world for our customers.

read more…

7 Important Things to Do When You Join a New Team

What can you learn in six months on the job?

As I mentioned the other day, I’ve now been at Contactually for six months. That means it’s official — I can now quit without looking like a flake. JUST KIDDING, GUYS.

Still, while I’m not going anywhere, there’s something about working somewhere for six months, isn’t there? For most people, getting a new job is kind of like the opposite of being elected President. Instead of your first one hundred days being your best chance to enact sweeping, positive change, most jobs involve a pretty decent feeling-out period, especially if you’re building a new team within an organization, or are the first person performing a new job. Sure, you’ll try to get right to work, but every business, every market, and every product is a little different. It simply takes time to figure that stuff out, and it can be really frustrating at times if you’re eager to make a difference (but hesitant to break anything important).

I’ve gone through this process a couple of times, and I think my time at Contactually has been as instructive as anywhere. So based on that experience, here are some new-employee goals that I think can help anybody acclimate, win over, and improve their new organization.

read more…

Is Everything You Thought You Knew About Marketing and Advertising Wrong? (Part I)

At Contactually, we have business owners come to us all the time needing help to grow their business, get more leads and convert those leads to customers.  It’s really what Contactually is all about. As such, I wanted invite Jason Economides, CEO of ECO Business Academy and one of our esteemed partners for some marketing best practices and tips that any business owner could use immediately.  We interviewed Jason recently, and he gave us some really great answers to some pretty pressing marketing questions. Read on to learn more!

Marketingiswrong Is Everything You Thought You Knew About Marketing and Advertising Wrong? (Part I)

Contactually:  Hi Jason! Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me today. We really value your input and know from all of the sold-out webinars we have done with you, that businesses can really benefit from your knowledge and expertise.  I know how valuable your time is, so let’s dive head first into the interview.

So, first off, what do you think are the most important resources (e.g. collateral, tag lines, etc.) for a business to have when first getting started?

Jason Economides:  Well, frankly – and this always sounds like a sales pitch, but it really isn’t, the first key resource businesses need to get is professional help.

Contactually:  You obviously don’t mean a psychotherapist….

read more…

Meet the [fur]Team, Episode 1: McCord

IMG 6576 682x1024 Meet the [fur]Team, Episode 1: McCordAs our company gets bigger and bigger, it’s important for us to recognize the employees that make a difference both internally and externally. For that reason, we think it’s about time we formally introduced you to the office’s favorite employees (no contest). In this new series we’ll be getting to know the most adorable members of the Contactually team: the pups. We’re an incredibly dog-friendly office and there isn’t a day that goes by without at least one of them sniffing around the office. They work hard, they play hard, and they provide a friendly and snuggly respite for all of our employees. You’ll get to know each of the office dogs over the next few weeks. Try not to squee each time. I dare you.

General McCord

As an avid student of 19th century history, McCord uses Contactually to stay connected to his diverse network of university professors, historians, and Civil War enthusiasts — a network that continues to grow thanks to his position as Vice President of the DC Civil War Round Table. He gets a huge kick out of living in the DC area because he’s just a stone’s throw away from the rich history in DC, VA, and PA. It’s pretty much the perfect spot for him.

When he’s not organizing a Gettysburg-themed mixer, or looking for participants in his bi-annual Bull Run 5k, McCord spends his time organizing friendly re-enactments of some of the Civil War’s lesser known battles. He uses Contactually’s Pipeline feature to track this complex process through each stage, from battlefield booking to determining who’s on each side. With as many as eight or nine potential battles in negotiation at any one time, Contactually saves McCord a ton of time. Sure, he generally uses that time to watch the History Channel and bark at plants, but it’s nice to have the option.
 Screen Shot 2014 09 29 at 3.46.26 PM 1024x337 Meet the [fur]Team, Episode 1: McCord

Speaking of history, McCord was recently stuck to the television and news reports as he watched the historic vote in his homeland. He won’t tell you if he voted yes or no for Scottish independence (he doesn’t like to talk politics in mixed company) but you can bet your bottom dollar this is one proud Scot. Nothing makes him happier than relaxing in his favorite shade of plaid (he looks pretty great in a kilt, too).

He has been with the team for just under a year and a half and he fits right in. Second shortest only to Moby, his low center of gravity and his sausagey exterior help give him the commanding presence any General should have. At six years old he’s a seasoned war veteran with many years of tail chasing and barking at inanimate objects under his belt.

McCord is also a connoisseur of rare bourbon, but that’s something he mostly enjoys in private.

cef86c7f e1f7 448b aa5f d832aecd880c Meet the [fur]Team, Episode 1: McCord

Why It Feels Like All You Ever Do is Answer Email

The modern currency of productivity

Email is a very sensitive subject for a lot of people. In a lot of offices, it’s become a sort of work currency, where a person with a lot of emails in their inbox is a person who is faced with a lot of work. When someone says they’ve gotten to inbox zero, the assumption is that this is a pretty huge accomplishment, involving a lot of work. I’ve had many intelligent, hard-working colleagues at other companies who never seemed to MAKE anything; as far as I knew, they spent all day answering emails.

Until a few years ago, I always felt a little sheepish about this, because by comparison, I didn’t really get that much email. In fact, if you emailed me at any point from 2004 to, say, 2010, you probably got an answer in about half an hour, provided that I had an answer to give. I even developed then-harmless habits that are now a huge problem, like writing friendly (but ultimately useless) replies stating “I’ll look into it”, or reading every email I get as it comes in. In the peak of my non-email-getting career, my wife was getting twenty emails for every one I received. Email didn’t cause me stress. It was a break from my actual work!

And while I always felt a little guilty about the whole thing — especially given how much everyone complained about their hundreds of unread emails — I really shouldn’t have. read more…

Introducing Contactually’s New Home

We’re moving on up.

No, we didn’t get bought by over the weekend or anything. But while you may mostly know us from sales calls and support tickets, the fact is that we are a bunch of living, breathing human beings (also, dogs) who get up and go to work every day. Since the day I started — almost EXACTLY six months ago — that place has been our extremely cramped office on 18th and S, here in Washington, DC.

Fortunately, thanks to customers, supporters, and advocates like you, we’re doing pretty well these days. So as our we add more engineers to build a better Contactually, and grow our Customer Success team to make sure you’re getting value out of your account, we’re also moving to bigger, better digs to make all that progress possible. When you’re working at a growing startup, nobody wants to lose a day moving a bunch of boxes. But we’re all VERY confident the move is going to make our lives (and by extension, your lives) much easier, so it’s a price we’re willing to pay. After all, this is Contactually’s home!

read more…

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