1-Minute Strategies: July ’10 — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Interviewing for a job? Ask whether this is a new position or whether you are replacing someone. If replacing someone, ask what happened with the person preceding you. If the individual was promoted or transferred, it could give you an idea what your career path there might be. If the person was fired, find out why, so you know what to avoid doing.

Avoid misunderstandings by asking others to repeat what they heard. For example: “Bob, before we wrap up this call, can you please confirm your responsibilities and deadlines on this project?” When you ask people to repeat what they heard, it significantly reduces the risk of a misunderstanding.

Trade in old electronics for cash or discounts. YouRenew.com gives cash for everything from laptops to gaming devices. Best Buy lets you exchange gently used electronics for gift cards. And Apple offers a 10% discount off a new iPod if you bring in your old one.

Humanize interoffice communication by relaxing some of the grammar rules you grew up with. For example, it’s acceptable to start a sentence with “and” or “but.” And contractions will not make you sound like a grammar slacker. Just the opposite: The more human and less stilted your writing sounds, the more readable it becomes.

Disagree with someone—and build goodwill at the same time—by repeating or affirming his thoughts before you share your views on the other side.

Show off your subject-matter expertise—and cultivate a new skill—by learning how to podcast. All you need is a microphone, audio recording software and instructions (which you can find here: www.apple.com/itunes/podcasts/specs.html). Podblaze.com and Podstrike.com offer free podcast-hosting services.

Leverage your knowledge of social-networking tools to help manage your company’s online presence. According to an OfficeTeam survey, while 44% of administrative personnel use tools such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and blogs for professional reasons, only 22% utilize these sites to promote their firms’ products or services.

Volunteer to gain experience with something new, but keep in mind these caveats: First, pitch yourself as an “intern” instead of a volunteer, which will look better on your résumé. Second, keep in mind that the value of volunteering is partly the inside track it offers you. Once you’re inside a team or organization as a volunteer, it’s easier to turn the gig into paid work.

Put some SEO power behind your company’s web site. SEO stands for search engine optimization, and it can drive people to your web site. Here’s how: Determine which keywords or phrases work best for what your company offers. Then figure out which keyword searches people are using online to find you, with a tool such as KeywordDiscovery.com. Now, incorporate those words and phrases into your web site copy, so you come up higher in search results.

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