Indoor Furniture, Outdoor Furniture – What’s the Difference?

In the world of furniture manufacturing, there are companies that specialize in indoor furniture, outdoor furniture and between the two there is a limited amount of crossover. Outdoor furniture is built differently than the indoor variety, and while you can always use outdoor furniture inside, the opposite is not always the case. If you are debating moving some furniture for outside for a party or a much longer period of time, know what should and shouldn’t be used, and what can be made over to better handle the elements.

Be a material girl:

You don’t have to be Madonna to figure out that some materials are better suited for the outdoors than others, depending on type of furniture. Outdoor materials need to be sturdy enough to withstand variant temperatures, a certain amount of moisture from rain, dew, etc. and humidity.

Common sense dictates that there are certain materials that should never be taken outside, unless you’re absolutely sure that the weather will be perfect. For instance, carpeting is a disaster when it gets wet. It takes forever to dry, and can mold, and it also gets really stiff when it’s cold. That’s why rugs not meant for the outside should stay inside. Likewise, materials like suede, fleece, and dry-only materials should also not be taken outside. Companies manufacture cushion and deep seating fabrics that mimic the feel of more luxurious materials, but are fully waterproof.

Then there are certain pieces that can go outdoors for limited periods of time before you have to worry. Wicker, for instance, though technically considered patio furniture, is not that strong and holds up much better in sunrooms and away from prolonged exposure to sun and rain. Then there are things like thin pottery, ceramic and plastic pieces that are waterproof but not suitable as furniture, outdoor or in. They aren’t strong enough to withstand extreme temperature changes or strong, inclement weather. Untreated metal is also okay to get wet for short periods, but for much longer than that and you risk it rusting.

Then there are those materials intended for use as outdoor furniture. Outdoor materials are especially hearty but still look visually pleasing. Examples of tables, chairs, planters, and more can be seen made out of the following: treated wood and hardwoods, galvanized metal, powder-coated metal (aluminum, wrought iron, zinc hardware), stone and cement (as tables, benches and umbrella stands), marbles, clay and reinforced ceramics (as planter pots), poly resin plastics and waterproof nylon (used in canopies and as cushion covers).

This list only begins to scratch the surface of the multitude of materials that make up our lives. In all, use your best judgment about whether something can go outdoors. Take into account weather patterns. If it’s really nice out, you can be more lenient about what you take outside as furniture. Outdoor conditions can change rapidly, though, so keep an eye out.

Treating Wood

The best thing you can repurpose for use as indoor furniture/outdoor furniture is wood. It’s no more difficult than adding some varnish and it might save you from unnecessarily buying all new furniture. To begin with, take a look at the wood you’re working with. Stay away from old wood that’s in bad condition, as it will deteriorate at an even more rapid pace once taken outside. Next, check what species of wood you have. Some of the naturally stronger woods, like teak, pine, cedar and cypress, are great for the outside. These woods are already strong and durable on their own and require little extra protection. More delicate woods will require extra sealant and even then they probably won’t last as long outside as hardwoods.

To begin the weatherproofing process, you will need to cover wood with a fade-proof, UV-resistant finish. Sand away any lacquer that may already exist on your furniture. Whatever finish is on there is most likely intended for inside, and while it will give furniture a high gloss shine, it’s not the right kind of varnish that will protect it from moisture and the outdoor elements. After the surface is smooth, even and clean you can apply a sealant, usually an oil-based varnish, unless you’re working with a wood that produces its own oils, like teak and cedar furniture. Outdoor atmospheric elements will dry out wood more quickly than furniture that’s kept indoors, so it’s important to protect the surface and heartwood against cracking, rotting and warping. Once that’s complete, you’re good to go. From then on, simply oil and clean your wood furniture once to twice a year to keep it healthy.

Does a Driving Record Affect a Person’s Ability to Rent a Car?

People who do not rent cars often from rental car companies are not always aware of how their driving record will affect their ability to rent a car, or if it will matter at all. When renting a car, it is a good idea to check with the rental car company to inquire about any disclosures or specific rules they may have about your ability to rent a car and your driving record. Some rental car companies will check with the Motor Vehicle Department to ask for a copy of your driving record. In order for them to do this, you often must submit a written form of permission for them to gain access to this information.

Rental car companies each have their own regulations and requirements that must be met in order for a person to rent a car. Some rental car companies will check a person’s driving record the first time a person rents a car from them. After the first time, if the car is returned in good condition and there were no collisions or fender benders in which the car renter was responsible, the driving record is generally not checked again by the same company unless a significant amount of time has passed before the next time the person rents a car from the company.

If you have a less than stable and perfect driving record, it is possible that you may be charged a higher fee for renting a car. Some car rental companies specialize in renting cars to drivers who have had accidents and speeding tickets in the past. Drinking and driving offenses are not always overlooked by car rental companies; and depending on the offense and how long it has been since it occurred, this could prevent you from being able to rent a car, even if you do have a valid driver’s license.

You may also face the possibility of not being given the option for insurance on the rental car and will be required to pay for the rental car insurance if your record of driving has been an unstable one. Speeding tickets, drinking and driving, collisions, reckless driving tickets, and fender benders all put a negative smear on your driving record. While these tickets and offenses may not necessarily prevent you from being able to rent a car, it can make it more expensive to do so.

Taking a driving class will help to put positive marks on your driving record and this can make all future car rentals and auto insurance prices more affordable for you. Researching several different auto rental companies and making price comparisons for high risk drivers can help you to find the best deals. You may simply need to put down a larger deposit than someone who has a good driving record. These deposits are refundable if there are no accidents while you rented the vehicle and if you return the vehicle in the same condition that it was rented.

Six Obstacles to Networking and How to Overcome Them

Networking is like so many things in our lives – exercise, eating more fiber and less fat, quitting cigarettes, saving money, writing goals – that we know are not only good for us, but are the keys to success. We know because we've often done them enough to see and feel results, but we did not keep up with it. Or we've seen our friends doing these things and enjoying great health. Or we've seen the news articles about the studies that prove these things are beneficial. We've even read the books by the experts and celebrities who clearly spell out these actions and habits as the reason for their wealth, health, and happiness.

We know all this, and we know that networking is a vital business development activity and an important life skill, so why do not we do it? Because there are obstacles in the way of our success, some obvious and some so subtitle that we do not know they are there. Of the six major OBSTACLES to networking, nearly all of them are created inside our own minds. Therefore, it is simple (but although not easy) to change our thinking and to remove them.

The six reasons why we do not network are:

· Misconceptions
· Dislike
· Having no purpose
· Not Knowing How
· No time
· Shyness

Misconceptions
Are you holding onto false beliefs about networking that are mostly negative? Do you think it's just schmoozing, or that it's all about selling, or it's only for outgoing people? Did you try it once and when you did not get results, or did not feel comfortable, you decided it was not for you?

The basis of any of these fallacies is that you believe it does not work or that it will not work for you. This error in thinking that is very easy to disprove. Simply look at the millions of business people who are successful because of the relationships they built through networking. Read books by Dale Carnegie, Harvey Mackay, Andrea Nierenberg, and Keith Ferazzi to be convinced of the value and the principles of networking.

Dislike
Do you dislike networking because you do not feel like selling or being sold to? Do you avoid it because of other people and their poor networking skills? Have you had negative experiences that caused you to have misconceptions about networking?

If you avoid networking because you do not like the way other people do it, you need to radically shift your thinking from annoyance and dislike of these people, to compassion and seeing an opportunity to help them change bad habits. And just like daily life outside of networking, we need to simply deal with those few who do not have good skills and keep searching for the right people to build relationships with. If you've had negative experiences with networking, you need to research your organizations much more thoroughly. We do not eat raw food for the rest of our life because we burned our hand on the stove once. Avoiding networking because of other people is cutting our noses off to spite our faces.

Having No Purpose
Do you see networking as an endless series of pointless cocktail parties full of vapid conversations? Is your contact database not growing or even shrinking as people move away? Do you only network when it's time to change jobs or when business is slow?

If you do not have a strategy and a long-term outlook, you will network based on short-term need, such as losing a job. This can be very unsatisfying because desperation is unattractive. Experienced networkers will avoid your "help me now and I'll forget you later" approach. Harvey Mackay calls it "digging your well before you are thirsty." Your purpose in networking is to build a vibrant, growing, and responsive assortment of relationships you can count on, and who can count on you. The development of mutually beneficial relationships will make every conversation important and purposeful, there will be no more pointless chitchat. Instead, you'll see each time you make contact or converse with someone as another vital but small contribution to the networking structure we are building

Not Knowing How
Do you feel okay with meeting people, but wonder what to do next? Or you are building your contacts, but do not see results from it. Are you unsure what kind of conversation is appropriate if you're not going to sell?

If you lack technique or are unsure how to take networking from the early stages of meeting someone to a defect relationship that is going to create value for both parties, then you may create in your own mind the perception that networking does not work. Or that it's okay for other people who do not have money for advertising, but that it's not necessary for you.

Networking begins with basic social skills such as having conversations that are other-centered. We may feel comfortable in purely social settings like soccer games or birthday parties where we can talk about our children or the happy occasion, but we believe that business networking occasions should be all business. Remember that businesses are run by people, and those people have families, interests, and personal needs. Getting to know someone first is not only perfectly acceptable in the business world, but is the basis of building mutually beneficial relationships.

Once you're comfortable with learning about people for themselves and not as a prospect or sales target, the next step in knowing how to advance the relationship. The most effective and easy way to do this is to give first. Send them information, an invitation or even a referral for business. They will gladly work with you in return.

We sometimes think that we should automatically know how to network just by virtue of being in business, but this is the one topic where there is a gaping hole in our education and training. Financial planning companies are notorious for bringing in their new associates, giving them detailed Financial training, no networking training, and then sending them out to network one of the most difficult industries there is. The range of skills that are needed in networking include conversation skills, the ability to perceive and fill other people's needs, organization, and a clear process for creating a return on the investment of time. This range of techniques requires study and application, like any complex skill.

No Time to Network
Are you ready to network, but you find you just do not have the time? Do you pencil in networking events, but then have too much work to do and can not leave the office?

There are only two reasons you do not have the time to network. Your life may really be so complicated with jobs, second jobs, childcare, or elder care that you typically work 16-hour days every single day of the week. But, if you watch one single hour of mindless television a day, you are just making excuses to not network. You do not lack the time; You just do not want to make the time.

Any busy person who discovered a new passion or a fun new hobby has found that it is possible to find the time when you really want to do something. Suddenly, your schedule opens up, you find new efficiencies, or you are able to reprioritize. If you're not able to do that with networking, revisit your beliefs and your purpose. The time will almost magically appear if you are clearly focused on the value of networking.

There are also ways to be much more efficient and effective with the time you spend networking. Instead of very general events with a random group of people, take time to research exactly whom you need to add to your network and target your networking time accordingly. A leads group is also a time-efficient way to network because it is focused on giving and receiving referrals. You may even want to create your own networking events and activities. This would be a larger investment of time, but the return is much greater when you are the organizer and host.

If you have a short-term perspective, you will feel that the time invested is not paying off. If you think you're wasting time, you will not spend it. But if it is a long-term project that will compound, it is much easier to find the time to invest. We so often have to deal with the urgent tasks that are not important, instead of networking, which is not urgent but very important.

Shyness
Do you feel like you can not be a good networking because you are an introvert? Or do feelings of shyness hold you back from networking? A majority of people in the population report feeling some shyness at different times. These feelings contribute to the misconception that only outgoing people are good at networking. Having no clear purpose and need to work on our social skills can compound feelings of shyness, which are basically a lack of self-confidence. Preparation and planning can create confidence, which causes us to be successful which make us more confident.

There are also networking events that are better suited for a more introverted person. Large, non-agenda mixer meetings can be difficult for anyone if you are unfamiliar with the group. Use the buddy system and focus on smaller, more personal events to build your confidence.

Conclusion
Think carefully about your excuses for avoiding networking in relation to these six common obstacles. Nearly every one of them is founded in the way we think. Once we've removed these obstacles that come between ourselves and our goal of effective networking, our success is assured. Apply diplomacy to make sure you're not allowing bad thinking habits and doubt to creep back in. From now on, it's simply a matter of time and consistent effort.

Do You Know Your Objectives in Networking?

Networking is Much More Than Socializing

Casual networkers view networking as a form of socializing without focus and without goals. Effective networkers view it as a process of relationship building with very clear goals and objectives.

Business networking, like any other business activity, must be a productive use of time. To maximize your networking effectiveness, you should therefore clearly define your goals and objectives.

Following are some of the most common objectives for business networkers:

Broaden your exposure in the marketplace and create a positive impression on as many people in your business community as possible.

Identify those who might be prospects for your products or services

Build relationships with those who offer products or services that might be of value to you or your clients.

Build relationships with those who might become referral or strategic partners.

Build relationships with those who are influential in your business community.

Build relationships with those who can further your career.

Build relationships with those who might provide business counsel or become advisors or mentors.

Those with whom you network are experts in their fields. They can answer questions about their area of specialization, share their business experience and knowledge, and may in some instances become mentors. No one can know all there is to know about business and the advice of others can at times be extremely valuable. Networking at trade association expos and conferences will allow you to meet executives from other companies who might some day be your employer or be able to recommend you for an opening they have heard about. Earning the respect of those in your local community can lead to offers when positions become available. We have all heard the idiom: “It is not what you know, it is who you know that counts.” Building relationships with the most influential members of your business community is a key to your success.

Referral partners are individuals who are able and willing to send you referrals in exchange for your help sending referrals to them. To find them at a networking event, you must have carefully thought through who the best referral partners for you might be. You must also have a strategy for turning a casual meeting into an opportunity to develop the relationship. As a business person you and the firm for which you work have needs for a wide variety of products and services. Networking is an effective way of meeting those who provide these products and services in your local community. Your customers also need a variety of products or services for business and personal use. If you can direct them to reputable providers of those services, you will be more valued as a resource and their loyalty will be enhanced. Keeping your client’s needs in mind as you meet others at networking events, should be a habit you develop.

Most view this as the primary objective of networking. To identify prospects and create sales opportunities, you must be prepared to describe your business and its benefits clearly and succinctly. You must also be ready to qualify “suspects” and, if necessary, present your Unique Selling Proposition. The goal of an initial networking contact is not to close a deal, it is to create a follow up opportunity. Networking is an extremely effective way of creating awareness in your business community. For many start up companies, it is the only form of marketing that can be afforded. Fortunately, networking can also be the most effective form of marketing available.

Most business professionals view networking as a means of marketing their business, but overlook some of the other objectives that may be equally or even more important. Too much emphasis on selling at networking events can leave a negative impression. If you want to make a positive impression, make sure the discussion centers on them, not you.

What goals and objectives have you set for your networking activities? Which are most important? How will you measure your success? Like any other business activity, you must approach your networking with goals and a plan to achieve them.