networking

5 Ways To Get More From Networking

Business networking is a common strategy employed by businesses, especially when we start a new year. It’s a great way to establish new contacts and build strong relationships that can be mutually beneficial – producing a constant stream of quality referrals. But it requires more than being visible – and just showing up.

Here are a few reminders to help you build better connections and more win-win opportunities:

Avoid Selling. People like doing business with people they know and trust and this takes more than a one-minute conversation to develop. Don’t turn off potential prospects or power partners with a strong sales pitch! Be patient. Use networking to start a conversation and build a foundation for a future call or meeting.

Plan a Brief Introduction. If you met someone new at a party or your kid’s soccer game, would you spend 60 seconds introducing yourself? Then why do so at a networking event. Regardless of who initiates the introduction, keep yours short and concise. It should include your name, company, and area of specialty. Since many small business names provide a clue about the type of business, use the area of specialty to hit on a benefit or uniqueness. Be creative but brief.

Engage People With Questions. Questions are one of the most powerful engagement tools. Whether you follow your introduction with one or use one as a method to continue a conversation, questions say ‘I’m interested’. Have a few planned questions in your arsenal and use them effectively to build rapport and create meaningful discussions. Remember to be a good listener too!

Stay Memorable. Out of sight, out of mind. Even with the best intentions, most people forget those they meet at events within 2-3 days. So timely follow-up is important. Connect socially on Linked-In; it’s a great way to keep their name, face and specialty visible. Drop them a brief email or call them to schedule a meeting – in person or via phone. Since most people fail to follow-up, a good system consistently done can help you stand out in the crowd!

Be a Connector. While some event attendees may be potential customers or power partners, others may not. But meaningful conversations may help you connect that person with someone else – to solve a problem or forge a new alliance. It builds your reputation as a great resource and gives you the satisfaction that comes from helping others.

Networking, like any marketing strategy, works best when done consistently and with a purpose. Don’t just show up, make it count.

Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?

Would working with a business coach help you take your business to a whole new level? Then let’s explore the possibilities with a complimentary consultation. It’s a chance to get to know each other, discuss your goals and the obstacles that hold you back. Together we can determine if there is a good fit between your needs and my services.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email Joan@HybridBizAdvisors.com

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Networking: 10 Do’s & Don’ts To Make Your Efforts Pay Off

If you are a real people person, networking is likely something you enjoy. But for many owners and professionals, networking is hard work because it takes them out of their comfort zone. The good news is that effective networking requires skills that can be learned and mastered, even if you are not naturally outgoing.

If networking is one of your strategies for developing new relationships and potential business, then here are some do’s and don’ts to make yours pay off. Do’s and Don’ts to make yours more effective.

10 Ways To Get More From Networking

Have a Plan. There are a variety of ways to network. You can join business associations, chambers or groups, get involved with community organizations or your local rotary, attend social or business events, participate in workshops or classes, or go to trade shows.

All of these provide access to new people and a way to stay connected.  But they are only beneficial if they provide access to the people you want or need to meet. Be clear on what you want then take the time to research options, talk to like-minded business owners and ask questions. Then plan your networking and work your plan.

Set Goals. Specific, measurable networking goals help you monitor results, modify your approach, and keep you focused on priorities. Include goals around both activities (how much you will do) and results (outcomes you expect). Here are a few questions to consider as you establish your networking goals. How many events or seminars will you attend each month? How many groups will you formally join and participate in this year? How many new prospects do you want to meet each month or at each event? How many new alliance relationships do you want to build?

Prepare. Before you attend, take a few minutes to prepare. If you need a commercial, prepare one.  Check who else is attending and identify anyone you want to connect with. Also, remember to take business cards or other materials that are appropriate.

Take Notes & Get Contact Information. Business cards are an easy way to get contact information. Use the reverse side to make notes about the contact and any follow-up actions you commit to doing. Keep a small notebook or use your smart phone to jot down notes or contact information for times when business cards aren’t available.  As you gather contacts, think quality, not quantity.

Listen. Listening is one of the key skills for building relationships in business and in life. If you go to events ready to talk, you miss the chance to learn, help, give back, uncover opportunities and build relationships. Do you listen to hear and understand? Do you remain in the moment or think about the next person you want to meet? Master this skill and you will shine at networking.

Don’t Sell. While most people like to buy, nobody wants to be sold. Not on the phone, not at your business, and especially not at an event. Use your networking to build a foundation for future opportunities. Be patient.

Take Initiative. Most of the people in the room are there for the same purpose you are – to meet new people, reconnect or learn something new. So don’t hang out in the corner or sit down at a table. Mingle! Be willing to approach people, introduce yourself and simply break the ice by asking a question or comment. If you struggle with this, consider preparing a few relevant questions ahead of time.

Do Create Win-Wins. Networking is not about collecting business cards, but rather about creating mutually beneficial relationships. In other words, helping others and getting help in return. While help may be in the form of customer referrals, it may also be new connections, resources, information or ideas. Networking should never be one-sided. Don’t go in with a ‘what’s in it for me’ attitude or people will peg you as a user. On the other hand, abundant giving without receiving will cause resentment. It’s all about balance – and creating win-win relationships. Seek out the right people so you can give with abundance and receive with abundance.

Get Involved. Did you ever notice how well you get to know people when you work together on a project or committee? It’s a natural. So don’t just show up at events. Join a committee, serve on the board, or contribute your services to the organization to help them grow. It’s a great way to give back to the community, build your reputation, get to know like-minded people and develop some friendships along the way.

Have a Follow-Up System. A brief conversation at an event rarely produces an immediate customer or power partner. It is merely the starting point for building the relationship. Too often these opportunities are lost simply because there is no follow-up. A good networking system should provide a method to capture contact info, initiate meetings or calls, send relevant information, etc.

Networking, like other marketing strategies, needs to generate a return. Make sure your time and money investment pays off on the bottom line.

Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?

Would working with a business coach help you take your business to a whole new level? Then let’s explore the possibilities with a complimentary consultation. It’s a chance to get to know each other, discuss your goals and the obstacles that hold you back. Together we can determine if there is a good fit between your needs and my services.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email Joan@HybridBizAdvisors.com

time wasters to avoid

How An Audience Statement Can Help Your Marketing

Audience StatementWhether your marketing includes networking, referrals, strategic alliances, direct mail or social media, the best results start with a clear audience statement.  Not to be confused with a commercial or elevator speech, an audience statement is a short paragraph that outlines vital information about your ideal customers.

In marketing, it serves two purposes.  First, it helps you create more meaningful messages for potential customers so they respond to your efforts.  Second, it helps you get quality referrals from others.   The clearer you are about what you want, the easier it is for others to find them for you!

How To Create An Audience Statement

So how do you create an audience statement?  Start by making a list of everything you know about your customers.  Go beyond basic demographics.  What do they like, enjoy or want?   What are their concerns, fears or challenges?  Using the list, craft a short paragraph.  Here’s an example for my business.

 “My audience is primarily made up of small business owners who value results and relationships, are open to new ideas, committed to learning and passionate about their business and personal success.  They have a lot of ideas but struggle with the how-to execute or where to start. In some cases, they can’t find the time to juggle all the responsibilities of running a business.  These business owners need someone they trust to help them plan, prioritize, stay focused, make it easy and get it done.”

Once crafted, share it with others involved in marketing your company and memorize it so you can easily and passionately tell others who ask.  Refer to it when preparing any marketing – from direct mail to social media.

Now that you have your audience statement, make a list of how your products or services can help them.  How can it solve their problems, ease their fears or make their life better, simpler or more profitable?

Related Article: What Are the Missing Ingredients In Your Marketing?

Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?

Would working with a business coach help you take your business to a whole new level? Then let’s explore the possibilities with a complimentary consultation. It’s a chance to get to know each other, discuss your goals and the obstacles that hold you back. Together we can determine if there is a good fit between your needs and my services.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email Joan@HybridBizAdvisors.com

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Ready to Create Quality Business Connections?

It’s no surprise that networking is a common approach entrepreneurs use to meet new people, expand their network and build relationships that are mutually beneficial. While personal introductions and recommendations can lead to new business opportunities, building connections is not easy and it takes time.

The new year often brings an upswing in events to get you in front of new people. But the bitter cold and snow this February has certainly made it challenging to get out there.  Fortunately, you can still be visible when you are stuck indoors.  By combining social networking with live events, you can build valued contacts in any climate.

So while you wait for the weather to warm up, why not begin building a stronger presence on social networking sites like Linked-In. When done right, it helps you connect with other professionals and build a quality network online.  You’ll have more success if you remember two things:  be helpful and be engaging.   Share your knowledge.  Connect others.  Be a resource.

When you do get back out there and attend business networking events, make your efforts pay off.  Here’s five tips to do it right.

  • Prepare. Many events today have online registration.  Check out the list of attendees and refresh your memory so you can use names when you see people you’ve met previously.  Plan how you will introduce yourself in less than 10 seconds.  And if you need a commercial, have one prepared.  With a little planning, you can make a bigger impact.
  • Focus On Building Not Selling.  Creating strong, long-term connections takes time. People are more willing to engage when you make them feel comfortable. This is not the time to sell.  It’s time to be inquisitive!
  • Ask Questions.  Nothing says you are truly interested better than asking specific questions. Make the conversation about them.  It’s a great way to learn more, find ways to help and demonstrate you care.   Build rapport with questions – and remember to listen too!
  • Stay Memorable.  Most people will forget contacts they met at an event within 3 days – unless you make it a point to stay in their head.  Whether it’s an email, phone call or invitation to connect socially, make sure you follow-up quickly – within 48 hours!  Don’t blow the chance to make an impact, follow up!
  • Connect Others. When you feel someone would benefit from an introduction to someone in your network, take action to connect them.  It shows your willingness to help and both parties will remember! They may even reciprocate – and connect you with someone else!

Like most marketing, integration of online and offline networking works best.  So take advantage of both methods – social and live events, to expand your network.  Be proactive.  Have a system.  Take the necessary steps to start building those relationships today.

Need help building systems for networking and other areas of your business?  Then check out my Ultimate Systems Guide for Small Businesses.

Ready to Put Your Business on the Path to Success?

Would working with a business coach help you take your business to a whole new level? Then let’s explore the possibilities with a complimentary consultation. It’s a chance to get to know each other, discuss your goals and the obstacles that hold you back. Together we can determine if there is a good fit between your needs and my services.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, call me at (856) 533-2344 or drop me an email Joan@HybridBizAdvisors.com

time wasters to avoid

It’s Time to Get Back Out There

Time To Get Back Out ThereWhile September may not be the official half-way point, for many businesses it feels that way.  The kids are back at school and the slow-down many experience during the summer months is behind you.  Ready to refocus and finish the year strong?

Then it’s time to get back out there!  To re-connect with customers and prospects in your pipeline. And maybe start some new relationships.

5 Ways to Reconnect With Customers
  • Network.  Most chambers, business associations and other groups see a slow down during the summer – but start up strong in September.  It’s a great way to connect and develop new relationships with business owners, prospects, and potential alliances.  Check out some local groups and events – and get out there.
  • Reach out to customers. For most businesses, 80% of revenue (and even more of the profit) comes from the top 25% of your customers.  When was the last time you spoke to them?  Check in with them, set up a meeting (not a sales pitch), grab lunch, or go play a round of golf.
  • Pick up the Phone.  How many unconverted leads are in your database?  Prospects you spoke to earlier in the year – but haven’t yet become customers. Maybe the timing was not quite right. Why not pick up the phone and give them a call.  They may just be ready to say yes!
  • Research.  Looking for reasons to connect?  Need some feedback or new ideas to help with your year-end planning? Now is a great time to put a survey out there – to customers, vendors, alliances and/or employees.  Remember, innovative ideas come from a variety of sources – but only if you ask.
  • Promote.  Why not run a special at your store, online or through your ‘social’ network?  Looking for ideas?  Check out Holiday Insights for wacky holidays.  Did you know that September is Self-Improvement, Baby-Safety and National Courtesy Month (to name just a few) – plus 30 bizarre holidays that may inspire you.

You have four months left.  Make them count, make them productive, make them profitable!

More Ways to Grow Your Business

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