by Chris Swingle
had spent almost 30 years with General Motors as a facilitator and trainer before earning a doctorate in communication from State University of New York at Buffalo. She knew she could help people and organizations improve performance through good communication.
What she didn't know was how to start a business. She followed advice from Alan Weiss, author of Getting Started in Consulting and Million Dollar Consulting: "He told me to network," says Sears, who's based in Scottsville. "He said to get out and present everywhere."
She jokes that if she had found three people on a corner, she probably would have pulled a chart stand out of her car and started talking.
Now president of Workplace Communication, Sears helps business leaders develop trusting cultures where employees can communicate openly and honestly. That leads to better business relationships, which increases productivity, reduces stress and builds effective teams. She found audiences and opportunities to meet more people through the Rochester Professional Consultants Network (RPCN). She became a member of the network in 2008 and began marketing her business in 2009. She also has benefited from RPCN talks and forums, where she learned how to get her business going.
"I didn't join to look for work," says Sears. "I joined to look for knowledge. The learning was exceptional."
She learned strategies to launch and build a business, including marketing. Among the useful steps that RPCN prompted Sears to take was joining an accountability group, in which consultants met regularly to help each other stay on track toward their goals.
The helpful professionals she's met through RPCN are why she's stayed in the group.
RPCN has given her multiple opportunities to give presentations on topics such as impression management, the deadly sins of interpersonal communication and the importance of mindset. Your attitude is critical to your business success, she says: "If you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right."
Her advice to new consultants is to attend RPCN meetings and speak up. "Ask the questions you need answers to," says Sears. "Every person in the room has had to find the answers at one time or another."
She tries to help others by recommending Weiss' books and offering to meet RPCN newcomers at their first meeting to make them more comfortable about being there. She spreads the word about RPCN when she gives talks to people thinking of starting their own businesses, such as at RochesterWorks' meetings about the state/federal Self Employment Assistance Program. Sears also has passed along job opportunities to RPCN members, pulled a member in on a project and given business to other members.
Her clients typically find her through word of mouth. "Things have just really gone well," says Sears, who also now blogs about communication for the Democrat and Chronicle.
Among her favorite tips to share is to never assume. "Every single day of your life, you make a false assumption," she says. She recently was concerned that someone who hadn't replied to her email was upset. It turned out that the person hadn't seen the message. The way to avoid such mishaps, she says, is better communication - and follow-up.
Here is a video interview with Beth Sears.
, is a freelance writer based in Rochester.