Thursday, May 28, 2015

Blogging Tips - Why Blog?


By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC March 2010

It was a request from a friend who lives far away – the ‘how to’ of blogging that is!

I must say, both the question and the request took me somewhat by surprise.

You see, although I am a technophobe who literally has no clue on how to actually set up a blog (mine was set up by a friend – a mentee actually), the value and content of a blog was not in question from the day that I heard about blogging.  It is an extremely simple concept and quite honestly I am confused by how complicated some people have made it out to be.

Simply put, it is an electronic journal that you can share with the world or not.  It can be locked up and accessible to specific groups of people (like a family who has been scattered to the four corners of the world) or even used as a means to share information with say senior managers in an international company, or you can leave it as an open forum and share the information with anyone.

Quite honestly, it is, in my opinion, one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to not only market yourself, but also provide “Joe Public” with information that they may need but not know where to go in order to obtain it or avail themselves of it.

In my opinion there is no a single solitary business on the face of the planet that would not benefit from having a blog and those that use the opportunity (note to self – get the ads up and running) properly and effectively, would also actually have an opportunity to make a lot of money whilst also actually making a profound difference in the lives of others

Each one of us, who run a Business, has something to ‘give’.  The more we tell people about what we do, the more they understand and the more they understand the more they become interested, the quicker we will ‘pop into’ their minds when they need our particular product or service.

Think about it for a moment – you may know of say 5 different bookkeepers.  They are all equally as good as each other, they all have excellent references.  One of the bookkeepers starts writing a blog that actually explains the different terms that bookkeepers/accountants use in a way that you understand and suddenly you start understanding the terminology.  Your bookkeeper decides to immigrate and suddenly you need to engage the services of a ‘new’ bookkeeper.  Which one would you choose?  I know that for me, it would be the one who has been blogging because, even though I haven’t physically engaged with them I have on some level engaged when I read the blogs.  There is now a connection with one bookkeeper that I do not have with the others. 

We are all experts in what we do or sell and sharing some of our knowledge and expertise as ‘tips’ will do more for our business than any expensive marketing campaign.  I actually find that doing the research for some of the articles that I write means that my knowledge is expanded too and that is always a bonus.

So – sharpen your pencils and start jotting down ideas on some of the things that you may want to write about or have an opinion on or even if you just want to write for fun – let’s explore the opportunity and see what we can come up with.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Networking 101 - Quality Relationships


PART 114

Quality Relationships

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – May 2009

Dr. Renate Volpe, in her nugget cards entitled “Networking Tips” says:

“It is not just what we know in life that matters, it is very much about whom we know and the quality of these relationships.”

Well quite frankly, I would like to take this one step further.  For me it is not just about who I know and who knows me – it is also about the people who you know that I don’t know and the people that I know that you don’t know!

I am often astonished by people who don’t want to meet with me to discuss possible synergies and mutual business opportunities because, well because they cannot see how the two of us can actually do business together.  It might be that we are in two completely obscure lines of work, where there is no synergy, or in fact any way that we could do any kind of business together.

So why would I want to connect to you (or this person)?  Well it’s quite simple – you see, I don’t know any of the people that you know and I would like you to introduce these people to me by way of a referral.

Conversely, you have no idea who I know and may very well want to meet with some of them too.

So the bottom line is this – until you know who I know, it is not a good idea not to want to meet with me – believe me you a missing a huge number of interesting opportunities!

So – let’s do this again – when would you like to meet with me?

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or  or

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Business Tips - An Abundance of Resources

BUSINESS TIPS – An Abundance of Resources

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC March 2010

Dr Renate Volpe, in her Leadership Insights nuggets says “Interdependence requires a shift in perception from a belief in the scarceness of resources, to the knowledge of an abundance of them.”
Wow!  What a profound statement and how absolutely true.  I think that on some level, as we grow into adults we begin to be ruled by our fears.  That’s just crazy – much like the ‘tail wagging the dog’!  Think about it for a moment – as children, we did not worry where our next meal was coming from or whether there were clean clothes to wear (or any clothes for that matter), we trusted that meals would arrive as would clothes and other necessities.  As we grew up though, we started the whole ‘fear’ cycle.  We became afraid of things on many levels, where the money would come from to buy the dance lessons or the new dress that we absolutely have to have or even fear of how our peers saw and what they thought of us.

So we get past the raging hormones of our teenage years, which always add to the conflict and as young adults we enter the Corporate world (well the majority of us do) and here the fear really sets in – we’re scared of what our colleagues may think of us, or that they will get the promotion before we do.  We form, what we think are strategic alliances and they generally fall down as none of us have been quite as honest and as up front and as ‘transparent’ as we should have been.  We grapple and grope our way to the top, stepping on toes and even heads of people as we strive to get ahead, because ‘well there’s only one position available and I want it!’

Hopefully somewhere along the line we have an Oprah “Ah Ha” moment and our mindset changes and we see that actually, there is not only ‘one’ position available but as many positions and opportunities as we are willing to see, available.

Even for those of us in our own businesses, the opportunities and abundance is there for the taking, all we have to do is actually see them and then do something about them. 

Remember though, that without the ‘action’ there is nothing.  It doesn’t matter how many opportunities come your way, if you don’t do anything about them then that is all that they remain – an opportunity.

So open your eyes and look around you – if you are really ‘looking’ and really ‘seeing’, you will be amazed at what is available.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Monday, May 25, 2015

Motivation - A Certain Set of Attitudes

MOTIVATION – A Certain Set of Attitudes

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – August 2009

Hugh Dawns says “A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.”

I attended a Women’s month function at GIBS last week and what an inspiring bunch of women I met there.

One of the issues that came out of the interactions was the fact that here in South Africa, failure is viewed in a very negative light.  The reality of life however, shows failure very differently.

You see, if you look at the history books, really successful people have all at one time or another been failures.  Their one redeeming quality however is the manner in which they reacted to, or how they handled their failures.  They got back up and tried again, and again, and again.  If the truth be told they continued to try until they got it right.

They certainly did not lie there broken in heart and spirit, moaning about how the government, the tax man, the economy, the competition (insert any thing else that you would like here) have caused their downfall.  They have picked themselves up, dusted themselves down, taken what they have learnt from the experience and tried again.

Whatever the circumstances that they have found themselves in, their attitude to what they actually want to achieve has been their driving force and it is what has fueled their passion.

So use your energy differently.  Instead of blaming everyone and everything for what is happening to you – turn it around and look at the lessons that you can or have learnt.  Use those lessons wisely, get back up onto your feet and with your eyes fixed firmly on the future – and try again.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Networking 101 - Protect Your Database


PART 113

Protect Your Database

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. May  2009

Networking, as most of you understand by now, for me is about building relationships.  Relationships for me, is not just about finding out what people can do for me, but also about finding out what I can do for people.

Many people, for whatever reason, only start Networking when they are desperate for business – it’s like networking becomes a ‘last ditch effort’ to resurrect their struggling businesses.  Going into a Networking meeting with that kind of attitude is already looking for trouble, as it is highly unlikely that business will be forthcoming at a Networking meeting.  Let’s be honest here, no-body really wants to deal with someone who is desperate.

This brings me to the point, where I usually meet with someone on a one-on-one basis, to find out more about what it is that they do so that I can refer them to the right people.  Sometimes this can turn out to be a ‘nightmare’ meeting, with me being almost ‘grilled’ for the names of people in my database.  I am then often harassed afterwards for the details of the people that I will refer, with no regard or consideration for what my time constraints may be.  To add insult to injury, these people also very seldom ask me how it is that they can be of assistance to me.  A completely one sided type of arrangement, I am sure that you will agree.

What happened to ‘mutually’ beneficial or reciprocity or even plain good manners?  What happened to treating people in the same manner and/or with the same respect that you would like to be treated? 

I know that I for one, feel almost like I have been pillaged and often quite resentful when I am treated like this and what this means is that when I go about my business and add contacts to my data base, chances are that should I meet with someone who you possibly could do business with, I may be just that little bit more disinclined to send them to you.

So remember, don’t just ask what I can do for you – also think about what you could possibly do for me.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or  or

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Networking 101 - Remember People's Names


PART 112

Remember People’s Names

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – May 2009

Dr. Renate Volpe, in her nugget cards entitled “Networking Tips” says:

“Learn to remember names.  Use visual images. Ask yourself what word rhymes with the person’s name.  Work out what is unique about the individual you have met.”

To be quite honest, this one is really difficult for me.  I really battle to remember names and faces and when I am meeting ten or more people at each networking meeting that I go to, I really struggle to get all the information in my head.  It really is important though and whatever works best for you is what you should use.

I tend to write on the person’s business card and somehow that helps me remember what it is that they do and where I met them – somewhere along the line, the face will pop up with the name following closely behind it, but it is a real problem for me.

Here’s the thing though – people feel important when you remember their names and recognise them. So it really is a good idea to try, one way or another to get their names and faces imprinted on your memory.

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or  or

Friday, May 22, 2015

Networking 101 - My Unfair Advantage


PART 127

My Unfair Advantage

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. September  2009

It is common knowledge that the most successful entrepreneurs network well.

We’ve all come across the “Old Boy’s Club” at one time or another and more often than not, we feel completely frustrated by the perception that we have been ‘locked out’ from an opportunity.

We’ve all also come across the statement “It’s not what you know, but who you know” and those of you who know me, know that I take that one step further and say that it’s also about ‘who you don’t know that know the people that you do know!”  Little wonder then that others are often quite resentful about what they consider as my ‘unfair advantage’, particularly if they think that their product and/or service is better or cheaper than mine.

For many others my ‘unfair advantage’ is often seen in a negative light.  Some think that I am receiving ‘backhanders’ or that I have a lack of ethics and/or integrity – the reality is that I am not engaged in anything sinister – I am however actively engaged in Networking and this means that I am doing business the ‘easy’ way and by me doing business the ‘easy’ way, means that someone else may not have the same opportunity of doing the business the ‘easy’ way and this is often a bitter pill to swallow.

Although the perception is that the concept of Networking is all the rage in business circles and that business decision makers and directors are meeting everywhere, the sad reality is that very few people actually network effectively.  The perception because of this is that Networking is a waste of time and I promise you, it isn’t.

In order to Network effectively, you need to make a commitment.  The commitment that you need to make is to your data base.  Your database needs to be built for mutual, profitable, long terms business relationships.

You need to know and understand what you want to achieve from each member of your data base.  In fact you are either a buyer or a seller or an information gatherer or a connector.

Listen out for opportunities – not only for yourself, but also for the members of your database.  Always, always, always add value to your database – you will be amazed at the value and the business that you will get out of it.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or  or

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Networking 101 - Beware of Information Overload


PART 111

Beware of Information Overload

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. May  2009

With the introduction of the internet we are exposed and even subjected, against our will, to a huge amount of information.

Gone are the days when we had to traipse off to the local library to do research, having to haul down dusty books that we hoped would have the necessary information that we needed.  Nowadays, with a click of a mouse, we have all the information that we need and then some.  Information in great abundance.

Abundance of information, is now becoming a problem.  You see most of us suffer from ‘Information Overload’.

So why am I bringing all of this up in an article about Networking?  Well it is really quite simple.  Some people who attend Networking meetings, try to get everything that they do into their 30 second pitch.  The result of this is that at the end of the meeting, the most that will be remembered is that person XZM had a huge amount to say.  What they were actually talking about is often not heard at all.

In this case – less is actually more.

If you have or wear several hats in business, rather pick one or two or at a push three issues or areas of expertise and then talk about these clearly and concisely.

Remember you are not communicating on a ‘one on one’ with someone who will actually refer you, but rather a group of people who don’t know you and who you need to ignite a spark of interest in.  Once interested in what you have to say, they will seek you out and then that is when you arrange for a ‘one on one’ meeting and at that meeting is where you share, in greater detail, what it is that you do.  Don’t forget to return the favour though – you need to listen carefully to what it is that they do to.

At the start though, remember – less is more, be clear in what you say, keep it short but make it memorable.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or  or

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Networking 101 - Have a Database of Resources


PART 110

Have a Database of Resources

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – April 2009

Dr. Renate Volpe, in her nugget cards entitled “Networking Tips” says:

“Have a database of resources to help other people.”

What does this mean?  Does it mean that you have to work your butt off to add people to your data base and then give your entire data base to anyone who’s looking for one?  Of course not!

That said, the more different types of people and the different types of resources that they bring to your data base, means more people that you can refer and add value to.

I have a neuro-surgeon in my data base – forget for a minute how I happen to have this man’s contact details in my data base.  I have often stood up at networking meetings and stated that if anyone needs anyone, chances are that I have one of whatever that they need in my database.  At this point I usually tell them that I even have a brain surgeon and that usually brings about fits of nervous laughter.

Here’s the thing though – some time last year, a good friend of mine was diagnosed with a debilitating disease and what her doctor told her and the information that she got off the internet just didn’t always make any sense – she was, as I am sure you can imagine, in a highly emotional state.  I was not only able to refer her to my brain surgeon, but because he (and his staff know me) I was able to get her an appointment within two weeks instead of the usual 2 months that everyone else had to wait.
Was he able to ‘makes things better’ – actually not, but what he was able to do was answer all of her questions, and put her at ease in terms of what she could do, versus what she should do and then of course what she shouldn’t do at all, and he was able to do this in a relatively short space of time.

I know that this is a case in the extreme, but think about it for a moment – if you need some sort of product and/or service or you are not even really sure about what it is that you need and I can be of assistance, it means that I add value to you as an individual and to the person that I am referring as well.  Chances are, going forward, that if you hear of anyone who is requiring my services that you will pass them along to me.

It’s all about ‘giving’ in order to get and believe me it works very well.

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or  or

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Networking 101 - Freebies


PART 109


By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. April 2009

Most of us like to get stuff.  “Freebies” are the order of the day and I doubt that there are many of us, who would actually turn a ‘freebie’ down.

But why do people hand out freebies?  It’s certainly not because they have a great love for us – how many of us, as individuals, actually even know the person who funded or ‘foot the bill’ for the freebie that we so enthusiastically receive?  Not many I suspect.

Actually they have an expectation – and that expectation is that they hope that we will enjoy the freebie and then because we have enjoyed it, we will begin to start purchasing it (as apposed to our usual brand). 

Then of course there are the freebies that are used for advertising purposes.  The reality of course is that they give you something for free and in using that item you are in reality advertising for them (think about every time you wear the t-shirt with the designer logo), and of course this means that you are endorsing them too.

So what makes you think that networking is any different?  Actually it isn’t.  As much as some people will send referrals your way, the expectation is that you will reciprocate and if you don’t, you need to understand that the referrals will just simply dry up altogether.

Successful Networkers usually believe in the ‘give to get’ type of philosophy.

On a personal level, I have found that the more I give, in terms of ideas and referrals, the more people give to me – not necessarily the people that I have given to, but the Universe always gives back and there are many ways in which to give back that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

As you go about your business, listen to what people want.  As you Network more and more, you will find that you will build up a data base, full of people who supply all sorts of products and/or services and when hearing what people need, you will be able to add value to yourself, the person who you are referring to and the person you have referred – that’s a serious win/win/win situation!

Pretty soon you will be forming strategic alliances and collaborations or joint ventures and partnerships and with each person that you form this kind of relationship with, you strengthen, not only your own business and their business, but you also strengthen the business of every person in your team and/or your database.

So go on – give a little – give a ‘freebie’, you will be on the road to getting a lot back in return.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or  or

Monday, May 18, 2015

Customer Service 101 - The Customer is always right


Customer Service 101 - The Customer is always right

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

We’ve all heard the phrase “The customer is always right”.  The phrase was apparently first coined in 1909 by the founder of Selridge’s Department Store in London.  It was used to instil a greater sense of awareness amongst the employees, of their attitude towards customers and how they interacted with them.  It is used today, rightly or wrongly, by business to indicate or give the impression of providing good service.

In many businesses today, particularly where there are call centres in place, this has become merely lip service.  Nowadays though, with the internet, e-mails and blogs, the networks and people who are linked with working networks, when a client chooses to complain, very few companies can afford not to listen.  With the introduction of industry ombudsmen there are even more complaint channels available to people who wish to voice their complaints.

This makes consumer power bigger and better than it has ever been.  The question of course is do we, as consumers, complain enough, or do we just put up with bad service, poor quality and indifferent sales people for the sake of a quiet life?

If a client takes the time and/or trouble to voice a complaint it should be seen as an opportunity, by the business, to right a wrong, or as a second chance.  The fact is that customers who complain give business the opportunity to improve their service and thereby retain the patronage of their clientele.

Ironically, the reality of the situation is that very few of us take the time and trouble to complain or express our dissatisfaction directly to a company usually because the perception is that it is not really worth the effort.  Many South Africans just tolerate bad service.  What we usually do is ‘vote with our feet’ and of course our voices, when we tell all of our friends, family and colleagues or in fact anyone who will listen about the bad experience that we had.  This does not help the situation at all, as we have not dealt with the root of the problem.

Human nature being what it is though, means that we usually complain a lot more that we praise.  So when we moan and groan quite liberally to all and sundry we very rarely spread the news when service or quality is exceptional.  The result of this of course that we as consumers have the ability and potential to make or break a small business.

Clearly it is of the utmost importance to deal with customer complaints effectively and efficiently.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Networking 101 - Identify Specific Events


PART 108

Identify Specific Events

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – April 2009

Dr. Renate Volpe, in her nugget cards entitled “Networking Tips” says:

“Identify specific events such as industry association gatherings, ward or academic evening which you can attend.”

In 2005, after I attended my first networking meeting I was so wound up and amazed by the number of opportunities that, that one meeting opened up for me that I ended up running around like a Dura-cell bunny!

I went to every single meeting I could find, I pestered people into setting up meetings with me and was devastated when they did not pitch. In short, I ran myself ragged, running here and there and all over the place without any sort of plan in my mind except that I had to network and connect with people. Not a good idea hey?

Once I calmed down though, I realized that I needed to be more selective.  So instead of going to everything that was happening, I started attending functions and meetings that were attended by like minded individuals who were closer to home.  So that meant small business owners in the Cresta area.  I further curtailed my ‘30 meter dash to the middle of whatever is happening’ by also slowing down on the number of meetings that I went to.  I started having a ‘meeting day’ so that I was left with time and space in which to do my work and not be interrupted every two hours to dash off to a meeting.

I found that I could comfortably cope with four meetings a month, anymore than that I couldn’t cope with the number of ‘one-on-one’ meetings after the event that I insist on, to start building the relationships needed before any business was conducted.

As I experimented and found my feet, I targeted more and more events that would encourage the type of person that I wanted to do business with and only met with individuals who truly wanted to meet and do business with me.

Slowly, but surely I have built up a huge network that continues to grow on a daily basis.  I have met some incredible people, some of whom are extremely influential and well connected, but who remain people who want to make a difference.  I have referred  many, many people who have ended up doing great business as a direct result of those referrals and yes, I have also met a few sharks along the way.  In life those are to be expected from time to time.

So, start at the beginning – go to events that are likely to attract, like minded individuals and grow from there.

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or  or

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Networking 101 - Get Some Diversity Going


PART 107

Get Some Diversity Going

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. April 2009

Here’s a question – how about adding diversity to your networking as a business person?

Now that got your attention going didn’t it?  Many of you have heard me say “Mix with like minded persons or people in the same kind of line or if you are a start up, network with other start ups”, and now I am going to completely rock the boat and say . . . .

For a deeper and more profound networking experience, mix with people who are completely different from yourself.  Connect with individuals who are definitely opposite to you.  People who don’t look or dress like you, who certainly sound nothing like you.  People who come from different cultures, different ethnic backgrounds, different education and different walks of life.

Ok, let me explain why.  Networking is not only about people who are similar and/or people who are diverse from you – it’s actually about both!

You see, when you started your networking journey – to mix with those that walked the same path as you, or who experienced the same problems as you and so on, made it easier and less stressful for you to interact with them. You had things in common, so it felt comfortable and familiar.

So then, why should a brain surgeon meet and interact with someone who owns a construction company? What could they possibly have in common?  Well the answer is both ‘nothing’ and ‘everything’!

What we often lose sight of as we are networking is that that it is very seldom about ‘instant gratification’ and in view of that, can you just imagine the opportunities that would be uncovered if those two individuals were connectors?

Whilst you are thinking about that, think also about the number of and kind of opportunities that you have probably missed along the way because your mindset was one of ‘how can Jane Doe possibly be of help to me and I certainly don’t want anything from her!’

In retrospect, how short sighted is that?  Look at how you are limiting yourself!  Look at the constraints that you have inflicted upon yourself.  Look at all the opportunities you have lost!

Take heart though and don’t beat yourself up too badly.  Don’t be too hard on yourself.  You see, opportunities are never lost – if you don’t take them up they just become someone else’s and believe me some more will come along that are tailor made for you.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or  or

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Networking 101 - Be Visible


PART 106

Be Visible

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – March 2009

Dr. Renate Volpe, in her nugget cards entitled “Networking Tips” says:

“Do be visible and well liked.”

In all honesty, this one had me in stitches!  You see many people are somewhat taken aback with my ‘no nonsense’ type attitude and some are even a little ‘scared’ of me (although that also makes me laugh), but that said, most respect me because if they ask a question, they are sure to get an answer even if that answer is not necessarily the one that they wanted to hear.  I often tell people that if they don’t want to hear the answer, then perhaps they should refrain from asking the question!

Being visible for me, is not dressing up like a turkey, although in all fairness to myself, I do love bright colours (I think everyone should add colour to their lives) and wear bright t-shirts and shorts.  Being visible means that every time that someone goes onto the internet they find me, every time they sign onto a Networking site, they find me, every time they go to a Networking event, they see me or hear about me.  That for me is what is being ‘visible’.

So get in there, write a blog, get a website, write some articles for the newspaper or magazines.  Give of yourself, your experience, share some of the things in life that you have learnt.

As for being liked – well I would rather be ‘respected’ and quite frankly, as it is said ‘other people’s opinion of me are none of my business’ and that I truly believe.

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or  or

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Networking 101 - One on One Meetings are Essential


PART 105

One on One Meetings are Essential

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. March 2009

Being able to have a ‘one on one’ discussion with someone that I have met, very briefly  at a Networking meeting (or anywhere for that matter) is of the utmost importance for me.

Think about it for a minute – at a Networking meeting, chances are that you have had about 30 seconds (if you are lucky) to tell people who you are and what it is that you do.  In the instances where you have tried to engage in conversation with someone, that conversation has been interrupted – several times, by people wanting to give you their business cards or wanting to give business cards to the person that you are trying to engage in conversation with.  If the truth be told the whole vibe is frenetic.  People are pumped up with the possibility of doing business and all the opportunities that abound – everywhere.  For me, whilst this is all very exciting, it’s just not conducive to doing good business.

I need to have a ‘one on one’ meeting with the individual where we can sit quietly and I can find out who they are and what it is that they do.  Where I can have a glimpse of the persona and get a ‘feeling’ of the person.  You see at some point I will most probably be referring this person to the people in my data base or referring people in my data base to this person, which ultimately means that my credibility will also be on the line.

People have often likened this meeting to an interview and I suppose on some levels it is, except that we are both ‘interviewing’ each other.  We both get to tell the story of who we are, what it is that we do, what our passion is and where we could possibly fit into each others networks.

Quite honestly you will be amazed just how much synergy people have with each other irrespective of how little it would appear to be at first glance.

Actually, if the truth be told – when people show reluctance to meet with me or constantly ‘forget’ our appointment, it is a clear indication to me, that they have no idea about the concept of networking. 

As they say in the classics, ‘every picture tells a story’ and in Networking this picture is crystal clear.

So the next time someone asks to set up a ‘one on one’ meeting with you – take the challenge and meet with them, you’ll be amazed at what comes out of that meeting.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or  or

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Customer Service 101 - Sick of Poor Service


Sick of Poor Service

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

So why is it that many customers do not complain?  Well one theory is that it is because of the physical reactions to their own bodies that make people reluctant to make the complaint in the first place.

According to Harris Interactive, 85% of the respondents in a survey said that they had “customer experiences so appalling that they have:
•    Used foul language (29%)
•    Developed a headache (21%)
•    Felt chest pain (6%) and
•    Cried (5%)

The most common frustrations being:
•    Not being able to understand a customer service agent (44%)
•    Being put on hold, listening to bad music or repetitive messages (45%)
•    Spending a great deal of time on a Web site or automated phone system searching for important information and not finding it (39%).”

Actually my pet hate is not even mentioned in this lot, although I am sure that I cannot be the only one to experience it.  It’s the customer service call centre person who will not put you through to a supervisor or a manager or anyone for that matter, despite the fact that he/she cannot or will not or does not have the grey matter to assist you.
Clearly the reality of the situation in South Africa is that good customer service doesn’t seem to be on the agenda at all.

Part of the problem I suppose is that many customers, who want to complain often don’t know how to complain, where to go to complain or even what to complain about, strange as that may sound.  On the other hand there are many companies who don’t have the necessary infrastructure in place to handle queries and complaints and the result is that you get passed on from one person to the next, obviously explaining the whole story each time you get passed onto another poor soul who has no clue how to help and so just passes you on again!

Talk about frustration!

The onus, I am afraid is on us, the consumer.  In order for Companies to actually do something about bad service, it is up to us to get the message through to them that things are wrong and that we want change to take place.

We, as consumers have the power to ensure that businesses give us better service, but we have to speak up, take action and get the ball rolling.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Networking 101 - Be Authentic


PART 104

Be Authentic

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – March 2009

Dr. Renate Volpe, in her nugget cards entitled “Networking Tips” says:

“Be authentic. Choose to be consistently YOU.”

This is also something that everyone should be aware of.  It’s very easy to play a part or to try and portray the persona that you would like people to see and relate to.  The problem with this of course is that like most lies, it will eventually come out and when it does the damage that will have been done, in all probability will be irreparable. 

For me it is just easier and a whole lot less complicated to be me – warts and all.  At least that way, I don’t have to remember what I said to whom – no matter how often I tell you the tale or the story, it will be the same story because it is the truth.  No matter how many times you meet me or engage in conversation with me, it will be the same me – a few days older, perhaps a little grumpier, sometimes busier but all the same me.

Credibility is built on trust and consistency and believe me if you are not consistently who you are, your credibility will be found to be seriously in need.

Besides which – and here is the million dollar question – why would you want to be anyone other than who you are?

Be all that you can be, but be you!

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or  or

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Networking 101 - Get Your Mindset Right


PART 103

Get Your Mindset Right

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

For many of us, Networking is not an easy thing to do and for introverts especially, the next part is extremely difficult.  Getting your mind set right is of vital importance.

Getting you and your business visible, credible and profitable means that even the shyest of us need to crawl out into the open and get busy.  We have to make sure that we create a certain skill set and what have to get out there and meet and mix with people.

Get yourself to as many networking meetings as you can find, even if it means attending meetings held by your local Chamber of Commerce.  If you are able to, get yourself writing a regular column in your local newspaper, start a blog.  Get onto other people’s websites and/or networking websites.  Participate in discussions and share experiences or information.

As you become more and more visible in the business community, your own credibility will begin to develop.  Don’t be shy to ask for testimonials and post them onto your website.

Once people start recognising you they will understand that you are here for the long haul and before you know it you will start receiving quality referrals.

Make sure though, that you always deliver.  If the message on your phone says that you will call back, they make sure that this is exactly what you will do.  If you make a promise – make sure that you deliver more than the minimum. 

Build your reputation so that no matter where you are, someone will have heard of you and someone can vouch for you.

Whatever you do, do it with reliability, integrity and credibility.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or  or

Friday, May 08, 2015

Networking 101 - Networking Takes Time


PART 102

Networking Takes Time

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

People are in such a hurry these days!  With the advent of the internet and computerized everything, instead of slowing down (because the machines do everything for us) we seem to have speeded up (to keep up with the machines I suspect) and everyone can be seen rushing around like mad things. Networking seems to have caught the bug too.

One of the major reasons that people don’t see Networking as a benefit is because they don’t get instant gratification.  They expect to write the big deal there and then.  Well people, let me tell you this – that is very unlikely to happen!

Let me tell you a story.  Those of you that know me, know that I come from farming stock.  Yes, that’s right – my parents were farmers and I grew up on a huge 10 000 acre farm in the now Zimbabwe.  We grew tobacco and maize and popcorn.

Spring for me, was one of the most exciting times on the farm.  The very tiny tobacco seeds were mixed with water and liquid fertiliser in big watering cans with oversized sprinklers (to let the seeds out of course) attached to their nozzles and the workers walked up and down the rows of the newly prepared beds watering the soil (but in effect sowing the seeds), in the long seedling tunnels that were protected from the elements.

Huge area’s of land were dug up with tractors dragging metal implements that cut rows of soil and workers walked behind with broomstick like poles that they pushed into the now soft soil with every pace that they took.  Workers walking  behind them dropped a single mielie pip or corn pip into the hole and workers behind them then covered the hole up, effectively planting the maize or corn that would become ‘pop corn’ as we know it.

Every morning I bounded out of bed long before the sun peeped over the horizon, and woke my father up as my excitement bubbled over – I could not wait to get to the fields or the seed tunnel to see if the tiny, tiny plants had pushed through the soil. I could hardly contain myself as my father ate his breakfast and drank his coffee and it seemed like hours before we were ready to leave for the fields.

Daily the workers tended the fields making sure that weeds were pulled and that the seeds were watered and that fertilizer was given to the soil in order to feed the newly forming plants and that the ‘bad’ bugs were kept at bay and the ‘good’ bugs were encouraged in order to keep the plants healthy and strong.

After what seemed like years, but in fact were mere days, the tiny plants peeped out of the soil and stood proud and every morning when we checked I could see that they had grown a little taller.  Still the workers tended the fields and the tunnel to ensure that the plants were watered and fed and day by day the plants grew a little taller and a little stronger.

When the tobacco plants were about 3 to 4 inches tall, in the tunnel it was time to transplant them into the fields.  They were carefully removed from the soil and once again, the tractors with the metal implements tilled the soil into long rows that the workers walked behind with their broomstick handle like poles that they pushed into the now soft soil with every pace that they took.  Workers walking behind them put a single tobacco plant in the hole and workers behind them secured the plant into the soil.  The plants were then hand watered every day that there wasn’t rain until they grew big enough and strong enough to withstand the water from the sprays. 

On a daily basis the plants grew and the workers increased their efforts to keep the weeds and bugs at bay to assist the growth of the plants and ensure that they grew healthy and strong.  Some of the mielie and corn pips did not germinate and a few gaps here and there bore evidence to this fact.  Several of the transplanted tobacco seedlings did not survive their transplant and it was sad to see how they withered and died.  Nothing could be done about them though and we concentrated on the living plants, making sure that they grew strong and tall to maximize on their sale potential.

Why am I telling you all of this?  Interesting as it may be, what does it have to do with Networking?  Well it’s like this you see – a farmer who planted a seed today and expected to sell the produce of that seed today would be considered quite daft – I am sure you would agree.  Yet people who go to Networking meetings expect to reap those rewards on the same day.  That’s an unrealistic expectation too.

Building relationships with people, takes time and those relationships need to be tended and nurtured, just like the plants on the farm.  Taking the time and the trouble to build those relationships will result in an abundance of work coming in, as long as you understand it’s not a quick fix.  It’s not instant gratification.  It’s about building worthwhile, mutually gratifying relationships.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or  or

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Networking 101 - Getting the Conversation Going


PART 101

Getting the Conversation Going

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Dr. Renate Volpe, in her nugget cards entitled “Networking Tips” says:

“Work at finding a balance between serious and lighter conversational topics.”

I am quite guilty of not doing this.  In all honesty, I get so fired up and excited about what it is that I do that that tends to be the only thing that I talk about.

Getting a conversation going however, is also of vital importance and most of us would rather ease into what it is that we do rather than jump right in feet first.

Having an idea of what is happening in the world around us, is always a great ice breaker, especially if it is something light hearted and amusing.  Steer clear of politics and religion though as these can usually end up as heated debates and all thought of discussing business opportunities will fly out of the window.

I subscribe to several ‘news’ type newsletters that arrive in my inbox once or even twice a day that cover not only issues happening in South Africa, but also the world, sport, entertainment (including the latest gossip in Hollywood) and Business.  They have the usual array of ‘funnies’ like Zapiro or Madam and Eve or Taxi and whole host of others too. Two of these that spring to mind are or – the signup to the newsletters are free and it gives me the opportunity of keeping up to date with most of what is going on without cutting down several trees into the bargain.

There are also a host of Myzines that I belong to that also have incredibly solid information, again on a host of topic, but geared mainly for the ladies (sorry guys, but you can also read them), such as or   Both of these have got so much great stuff, that I suggest you actually limit yourself in terms of the time that you spend in the forums and the pages because if you don’t you may very well find yourself spending the whole day there and not getting any work done.

Remember though, always have fun, don’t put yourself under such tremendous pressure that you are too nervous to even utter a word in case you make a mistake with the facts.  This is not a test and you don’t have to learn everything off by heart.  Even if you only remember one line of the story, I am sure that it will spark some conversation and then you can just sit back and listen.  Sooner or later someone will bring the conversation back to the issue of business or Networking.

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or  or

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Networking 101 - Playing it Forward


PART 100

Playing it Forward

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

For me, part of becoming a more skilled Networker or Networking more effectively, is not just about me doing things better, but it is also about me teaching others what I have learnt about how to Network.  You see, if I am the most effective Networker around and no-one else around me knows how to Network effectively, I am not going to get what I want out of Networking.  For me to effectively ‘work’ my Network, I have to have a network, that effectively ‘works’ their Network too.

So it is very important, not only for me to know and do the right things when I am Networking, but it is in my own best interests for the people that I Network with to know and do the right things when they are Networking to.

It is also very important that we start thinking the right way to and if we are to make our Networking endeavours as successful and  as magnetic as they can be may involve us changing our mindsets.  It’s means opening up our eyes and taking off out blinkers and having a look at absolutely everywhere – not just the usual spots. 

How about looking at individuals and/or groups of individuals that never think about Networking or who don’t look at your particular Networking type groups because your profession or the size of your business is not where they look for what it is that they do.

I know from experience that ‘employees’ in a Corporate environment don’t feel the need to network because well, it’s like this . . .  they have a comfortable job that gives them a steady income and they have a marketing department that markets and brand the company and they have a sales department that goes out and sells and brings the business in and therefore they don’t need to meet people and Network.  The people that they usually meet are ‘needy’ small business owners who only want something from them and they don’t need anything those small ‘needy’ business owners have to offer. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

We all need to interact with people and when we meet with someone, whether it is at Networking type meeting  or  a social dinner or a beer in the pub down the road, we need to exchange ideas, exchange information learn new things – it’s a natural phenomena that is built into every single one of us.  Think about it people, whenever you meet someone you always ask what they do and you invariably tell them what you do.  It’s exchanging information about one another. The next step is exchanging ideas and most of us even exchange opinions.  We try and understand the other person point of view (well most of us do) and we try and get them to understand ours.

So why is Networking any different?  It’s our mindset that needs some serious work. 

At a Networking event, we exchange information about one another, we exchange ideas (this is how you can be of assistance to my business and this is how I can be of assistance to yours) and we exchange opinions. 

So whether you are a small business owner or an employee in a large Corporate – you need to Network and there is no reason what-so-ever, for the experience not to be a mutually beneficial one.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or  or

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Networking 101 - An Easy Way to Reach New Clients



An Easy Way to Reach New Clients

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

It is well documented and well known that the easiest way to increase your sales is to rope in and resurrect your existing and/or dormant clients.

The second easiest way to get new clients is from referral Networking.  Let’s face it, the majority of us would rather make use of a supplier that someone has recommended than someone we have found in the yellow pages.  I know for sure, which one I would rather use.

So how do you go about getting referrals?  Well for me it is a ‘no brainer’.  I do it through Networking.  I have been Networking for a number of years now and the relationships that I have built up as a result of those networking events, pay up big time – really big time!

In the last week alone, I have formed 3 different collaborations with people within my own database and the result is that I have now got 3 different projects on the go.  How exciting is that.

How did I originally meet these people?  Well two of them I met through two different Networking meetings and the other was referred to me.  How easy is that?  It sure as hell beats knocking on doors and doing cold calling.

Remember though, you have to build the relationships and maintain them and you have to recognise the opportunity and then act on it.  Don’t be discouraged if things don’t happen immediately.  Stay focused and keep going – pretty soon the business will just start flying in.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or  or

Monday, May 04, 2015

Motivation - Changing Your Habits

MOTIVATION – Changing your habits?

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – December 2014

It is said (am I am not sure who the author is, but it’s not me) that if you “change your habits you will change your life”.

I went on a T Harv Eker’s MMI (Millionaire Mind Intensive) seminar in March of 2014  and WOW, did I get a mind F&^$ or what!

It’s no secret that I challenge myself on a regular basis.  It’s no secret that I like to be challenged and have my mind stretched, and OMG was my mind stretched.  Not only was it stretched, it was buckled and bent and turned upside down, but in such a positive great way!

Turns out that all my life I have been “thinking” things wrong.  Now I am sure that I am not the only person who has gone through life like this.  Not that we are necessarily doing things wrong, but that we’re thinking things wrong!

Let me try and explain -  at the beginning of the 3 day seminar we were asked to write down whether we agreed with or not, a number of statements, all around how we think about money.  Now let me be clear on this, it wasn’t just a few statements, if memory serves me correctly there were around 80 or so of these statements.

Fast track to the end of the seminar, after many “Ah Ha” moments (as Oprah Winfrey calls them), we were given the instruction to go through another similar exercise to see if our answers and therefore out mindsets had changed in any way.

I diligently started going through the statements and logged my answers.  At around ¾ of the way through the exercise, I started getting the ‘déjà vu’ feeling that these were exactly the same statements that we had previously done. I went back to the beginning of the work book and wasn’t too surprised when I saw that the statements were, in fact the same.  What did surprise me however was that my answers were completely different.  What had changed was my mindset and it had actually changed without me being aware of the changes.

The challenge now of course is how to keep the momentum of what that mindset change has uncovered.  It’s about “how” you stop doing something the way you have always done it.

Well in the first instance, you have to make a decision to make the change and then you have to change the habit.

How do you change a habit?  Well how did you get into the habit in the first place? By consciously doing something repetitively until you did it without thinking.  So for me it’s about firstly being aware of what I am doing at all times and as I find myself performing the old habit, to stop immediately and then straight away perform the new habit!  A word of caution here – don’t beat yourself up when you find yourself performing the “old” habit – rather give yourself recognition for the fact that you have noticed that you were doing the wrong thing and “kudo’s” for changing it to the ‘new’ habit!

You see you need to understand and recognize the fact that that habit took time to establish itself and that no matter how greatly you desire instant gratification, the reality is that you are not going to change your habit overnight.

Understanding that and encouraging yourself in a positive way will be far more helpful than beating yourself up for occasionally slipping up.

Has my habit changed?  I’m pleased to say, Yes it has!  Do I still slip up – of course I do, I am after all human.

Has my life changed – absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt and all for the better.

So as your mindset changes, so too must your habits and as your habits change to accommodate your new mindset, so too your life will change.

You still have to take that first step though and that is to change your mindset and the next course then, is to change your habit – your life will then change all by itself!

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Customer Service 101 - Power to the People



By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

It is said that collectively, we as consumers are incredibly powerful!  Strong words I am sure that you will agree!

You see, we vote for a company either with our wallets, our words or in fact our feet.  Every time we make a purchase for a service and/or a product, we are voting with our wallets and telling that particular company that we approve of their service and/or product.  On the other hand, every time we choose not to make a purchase or we use one of the competitors we are voting with our feet and in doing so we are actually telling that company that we no longer are choosing to purchase their products.  Then of course when we complain about a service and/or product we are voting with our words.

It is those words that can cause the most damage.  You see when we vote with our feet – it definitely has a negative impact on the bottom line, but when we vote with our words the negative impact on the bottom line is far greater because not only has that company lost our sale, but in all probability it has also lost the sale of all the people that we have spoken to.

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending upon which way you look at the problem, statistics show that only 10% of the people who are not satisfied with a product or a particular service actually initiate any kind of action.  This, in real terms gives the companies somewhat of a false sense of security in terms of the level of service and actually does us consumers an injustice.  Why you may ask – well if the truth be told, the perception is that the service is not as bad as it actually is.

It is for this very reason, that every single complaint should be viewed in the most serious of light.  Action must be taken as soon as the complaint is received and Companies should take all complaints as extremely serious.

As a service provider you should be continuously trying to find ways in which to ‘up’ the level of your service.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Networking 101 - Brand Yourself



Brand Yourself

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Dr. Renate Volpe, in her nugget cards entitled “Networking Tips” says:

“Brand yourself.  Find a way of making yourself memorable.”

I know that this is a subject that I have touched on many times before, but perhaps it is time to re-visit it.

You see, I have been going through my database, it’s something that I do on a regular basis, when I send mails out.  This time though it has also been a clean up.  So as I sent the mails out, and they bounced back, I made a concerted effort of deciding whether I should contact the person and ascertain why it is that their mails are bouncing or if it was time to remove that particular person’s information from my database. 

It’s a good thing you know, to ‘clean’ out your database from time to time, to ensure that it is current and up to date.

Now here’s the thing, you see about 70% of the bounced mails belong to people who I have no recollection of.  Looking at the information that I have on them, I can tell you where I met them and even the name of their business or who introduced them to me, but I cannot remember what they look like or even what they do. 

That’s a problem – I know that I have a really bad memory for names and faces, which is why I always add in the additional information about them (where I met them, or who introduced them to me and so on), but not to remember what they do – well that for me is not good.  I usually have even a vague idea what it is that people do, particularly if they have made a really great impression on my mind – which obviously in terms of the people who I cannot remember have not done.

To make a good impression on my mind (or anyone else for that matter) means that the branding has to be particularly strong, especially in the instances where the name of the Company does not give out any kind of clues as to what the person does.  I mean if the name of the Company is ABC Plumbing, it’s pretty certain that the person is a plumber, but if the name of the Company is ABC Consulting, then I have a problem.

So make sure that your branding is very strong, that the way that you present yourself or what it is that you do, makes you stand out in the crowd and not just for a moment, but also for time to come.  So that even people like me, who have a bad memory for names and faces, will not forget what it is that you do.

If I don’t remember what you do, then I cannot refer you or your services and having your name and contact details in my database actually serves no purpose what-so-ever.

For more information on Renate, please visit her website at

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or  or

Friday, May 01, 2015

Networling 101 - Choose the Right Event for You



Choose the right event for you

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

For the longest time, networking has been about handing out cards.  Think about it for a moment, if you went to a Networking event, it was usually at one of the Chambers, you were usually encouraged to wander around with a cup of tea in one hand and a sticky bun/cake/sandwich in the other and off you went to engage with some poor unsuspecting person, who was usually caught on the back foot, or you were caught on the back foot.  Networking, these days is just so much more!  Don’t get me wrong, there are still some that prefer the ‘old’ traditional way of Networking, but as in most other aspects of our lives, Networking has also moved forward.

So what other options are there?  Well, apart from the ‘Chamber’ type networking, there are several different types of meetings that you can go to – some are dinners, some are breakfasts, some are during the day.  Some have themes with guest speakers or presentations, some have a combination of a whole lot of different things – you need to find what you are comfortable with. On a personal level, I prefer meetings that are semi facilitated.  As an introvert, I find it difficult to just walk up to strangers and just start talking – I guess that is why I am not too fond of ‘cold calling’ either.

Then there are the social networks such as ‘Facebook’ and ‘MySpace’.  These are essentially fun networks, where people who are passionate about Networking can and often do, do a lot of business.

Actually, if the truth be told, people who are passionate about Networking can actually network anywhere.

Where ever you Network though, remember that building and maintaining networks is all about building relationships.  So stay in touch, send out newsletters, or interesting  titbits of information to do with your business that would make people want to know more, invite people to the new places that you discover and share with your database.

Share your knowledge, share your experiences, share what you have to offer, who you are and what it is that you do – you’ll be surprised at just how much fun you can have.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or  or