Client Relations through Social Networking

It’s incredible how quickly social networking has become so integrated in our lives, but a majority of people do not use it to its full potential.  Using social networking to help grow your business and allow you to be successful is pretty simple and inexpensive compared to other forms of reaching out and advertising.

There are many benefits to using social networking to reach out to current and potential clients.  Since computers and automated systems have taken over a majority of the customer service process within companies, it’s a major benefit to show that you are still a REAL PERSON working with your customers.  Social networking is a superb way to let your clients know that you are a real person and to interact with them.

Interacting with clients through social networking allows them to feel that they are getting quality one-on-one attention.  Psychologically, people want to feel that their needs are being met and they are valued by others around them.  With social networking, you can build those relationships with your clients and are able to show that they are worth your time and energy.

Many people are on Facebook and Twitter (and other social networking sites), so take advantage of that.  Don’t rebuild the wheel; use the networks that already exist.  Inserting your name and your business into a network that already exists and functions successfully will save you a lot of frustration and energy.

Another major advantage is that you are able to just post a status (or even a tweet, which is 160 characters) to reach out to your entire network at once.  A lot of people even have their social networks connected on their phones, so you will be able to reach them at any moment in time, no matter where they are.  With a website, you will have to have someone who understands HTML coding/Wordpress (or something similar) and it takes a lot of time to update every time there is a change.  It doesn’t take much time at all to write a sentence or two and send it to your entire network at once.

There are so many types of social networking and so many ways to use them.  I have already talked about Facebook and Twitter, which are the more popular forms of social networking.  Another way to incorporate social networking is to make a blog page.  You can write articles relating to your business and/or industry that would be beneficial to your potential and current customers.  It is a great way to show up in search engines and spread your name to more people.

You can also link your different social networking outlets to each other, so people are able to just click on a link and go from your Twitter account to your Facebook to your blog to your website, etc.  A blog is a great way to compliment your website.  Websites tend to stay the same because it takes a lot of time and effort to change them.  It is not cost-effective to be changing it on a daily or weekly basis.  Having a blog gives you the opportunity to give a current update on different things you are doing or share your thoughts on particular issues relating to your business/industry.

Since so many people already use social networking, use it to your advantage!  Take the time to initially set up your different outlets and to update them regularly.  Putting in that little extra effort will help to set you apart and allow you to stand out to potential clients.

Networking Interview with James

To sum up our networking theme, I had my Blogging Intern, Samantha, interview a client, James V. Fix (an ADD/ADHD Natural Relief Specialist in western Montana), who has been very successful in networking to grow his business.

He excels at networking and talking to people – because his greatest strength is that he’s not too self-conscious and fearful to talk to other people about himself and what he does. He’s got a great way of doing self-promotion without it feeling self-centered and sales-y. He comes from a place of genuine care and concern for the person he’s talking to, and at the same time has the confidence in the results that he can produce. So it doesn’t come off like it’s just a big sales pitch.  In fact, when I brought the concept of networking up to him, he said “Talking to people and getting to know them is just so completely natural to me, that I don’t even consider it to be “networking,”  I’m just talking to people that maybe I can help.”

Here are the questions that she asked James during the interview, with her summary of his answers.

When you meet someone, how do you start a conversation with them?

The first thing that he does is introduce himself and explain briefly what exactly he does.  He specified that he takes a slightly different approach whether he is in or out of the office, which is generally a good idea.  So take note of this great tip: Knowing your setting and how to begin a conversation appropriate for that setting is very important.  James relies on people asking questions to continue the conversation and allow the opportunity for both parties to engage in a conversation.

When you’re not in a business/office setting, how do you bring up the topic of your business without sounding like you are just trying to make a sales pitch?

James started off by explaining that he asks about the other person first.  He asks what they do and lets them start the conversation.  If that doesn’t work, he will say something that sums up his day.  An example that he used was saying that he just worked all day helping people heal themselves.  He has found that a lead-in like that helps engage the other person into the conversation and allows them the opportunity to ask questions if they’re interested in finding out more.

What do you feel is the most effective way to meet someone and let them know who you help or how you help in order to get them interested in hearing what you are saying?

James’ advice is: “Be fearless!”  It’s important to inform people what you do and put yourself out there.  If you don’t do that, they won’t ever know what you do.  They might be missing out on an opportunity to gain something from the service you provide, and you may be missing out on a potential client.  If you don’t try, then you will never know.

He told a story about walking around the local Farmer’s Market and starting conversations to the vendors there about who he is and what he does.  That doesn’t seem to be the first place I think of when I want to go network with potential clients.  He made the point that they are a captive audience.

It’s important to just hold a conversation and not come across sounding like you are just trying to sell something.  People know that you are trying to promote your services, but holding a conversation makes it feel less like a sales pitch.  People may not be as willing to listen to you or really pay attention if they don’t feel that you genuinely care. So your conversation has to be a two-way dialogue

Think about it this way: You are providing them with the information to make a decision as to whether what you have to offer is a fit for them, and it’s ultimately up to them whether they make that choice or not to look into using your services.  People that are truly interested will ask for more information.

Do you ever feel intimidated or self-conscious when you are talking about what you do?  What do you do to get past that?

Honestly, James said there isn’t a time that he wouldn’t talk about what he does if it can be brought up in a conversation.  There are too many potential opportunities that can be missed if you don’t take those chances.

In general, do you feel that you have more to offer others or that others have more to offer you when you are networking?

He believes that everyone has something to offer someone else.  It’s not that someone has more to offer someone else; it’s that those things are different and can complement each other very nicely.  Networking is a great tool to find those people who have things to offer or particular needs that go with what you have to offer or your particular needs.

One last tip from James is…

If he sees someone that he believes he may have met before but he thinks they may not have met before, he introduces himself and shakes their hand.  It’s important to always just go for it.  If you aren’t great with names, he pointed out that it’s better to just say that and reintroduce yourself again.  People do understand that you won’t remember the name of every single person you meet in your life.

If you are nervous about introducing yourself or don’t have a lot of experience with this type of networking, practice in front of the mirror or practice with your friends.  It’s okay to use the same few lines over and over again even if you feel like you are repeating yourself.  For that person, it is their first time hearing it.  They don’t realize that you are being repetitive.

To sum it up, the two most critical concepts to networking effectively that James exemplifies that I should underscore are these:

  • You have to genuinely care about the other person in the conversation, so if you don’t like people, your networking efforts will fall flat.
  • You have to absolutely know that what you have to offer is valuable in changing people’s lives. If you are not confident in your own skills, gifts and abilities, it will be much harder to talk to people about what you do because you’re not sure that they’ll get anything of value from you. That is death to a networking conversation.
  • And thirdly, although he didn’t say this in the interview, because I’ve known James for several years, I know that he is not attached to whether he gets a new client out of any conversation or not. He just loves interacting with people. So his primary focus is not on getting a new client, but on introducing himself and getting to know new people. If he has something that can help them out, so much the better because that’s his mission in the world.

I want to thank James for participating in this interview and sharing this information for the use on this blog.  I look forward to hearing your networking stories and feedback to share with other readers.

30 Days to Successful Networking

You have spent a lot of money and energy to advertise your business, but nothing seems to build your client base or reputation within the community!  You want to scream at the top of your lungs from the tallest building or pull your hair out from frustration (or maybe you already have).  The problem with those particular options is that it still won’t build your client base or reputation.  :-)

However, I have a 30 day solution that will help solve those problems, and it only takes a few minutes of your time every day!

You’ll either want to print this out so you can refer to it daily over the next 30 days, or else go through the next 30 days and note each one in your daily schedule.  Either way, just jump in and follow the 30 day plan outlined below, and you’ll be well on your way!

Day 1. Introduce yourself to three new people today.

Day 2. Send an email to two people in your network to keep building that relationship.  Ask about a common interest, their family, etc.  Make sure it’s genuine.

Day 3. Ask a family member or friend about their day, and be genuinely interested and actively listen to their response.

Day 4. Make a list of five things you have to offer others.

Day 5. Listen to someone tell you a story/talk about their day without interrupting or giving advice.  JUST LISTEN!

Day 6. Find two things you have in common with another person.

Day 7. Write down the top ten things you want to gain for yourself/your business through networking.

Day 8. Today, introduce two people to each other (either because of a common interest or you feel there is a benefit to them knowing each other).  Connecting people is a great shortcut to growing your network more quickly, because you soon become known as the person who knows everyone, and who everyone knows! This builds your credibility and authority big time!

Day 9. Smile at five people today.  You can then introduce yourself and begin a conversation, when appropriate. Do it again tomorrow. Make it a habit.

Day 10. Go to a networking event.  Your goal should be to meet and get to know at least three new people.  This allows your network to grow by three (and you gain access to their networks as well).

Day 11. Put seven to ten business cards in your wallet or purse.  It’s a good idea to always carry at least seven business cards with you EVERYWHERE! You never know when you will want to hand one out.

Day 12. Look up one article related to your business every day.  If it would benefit someone else in your network, share it with them as well that day.  This opens the opportunity for them to send you an article that may be very beneficial.

Day 13. When you hand out your business card to at least 3 new people today, hand each of them two or three cards. When they say “Oops, you gave me an extra one (or two)” just smile and say “Yep, you can share that one with a friend who could use it.” :-)

Day 14. Call three people you know today, chat with them, find out how things are going in their world, and towards the end of the conversation say something along the lines of “I don’t know if you can help me out or not, but who do you know that …” and fill it in with what kind of referrals you’re looking for.

First off, people love to be able to “help you out” and secondly, using the phrase “Who do you know…” rather than “Do you know anyone who…” puts their brain into a different gear. When you say “Do you know anyone who…” their brain searches for an answer quickly, and the answer to the question is either yes or no. Most typically the answer is “No, I don’t know anyone who…”   However, when you say “Who do you know?” their brain goes into a different search mode, looking for the answer to the question “Who?” rather than the immediate Yes vs. No, so they’re more likely to come up with an answer.

Day 15. Today create a calendar of holidays that you want to send out professional greeting cards to your friends and associates. Include at least one different and obscure holiday that would be unexpected.  http://holidayinsights.com/moreholidays/index.htm

Include more than one during the year if that’s your personality. For example, in September there’s “Talk like a Pirate” Day. J Be sure to include any holidays that relate to your business – like Sept 16 is Working Parents Day and January is National Hobby Month and June 4th is Hug Your Cat Day.

Day 16. Today make a plan to mail out 5 Thank You or Gratitude or Thinking of You cards per week.  That’s only one per workday.

People love real mail that’s not bills. It will make you stand out because people don’t receive letters or notes or cards anymore now that email and texting is so prevalent. And it will reposition you at the top of their mind again.

Day 17. On your computer, create a simple card for your obscure holiday(s), or better yet, have your teenager do it for you. :-)

Day 18. Buy a box of business appropriate cards for the next holiday that’s coming up within the next month or two. Maybe Halloween/Thanksgiving/Valentine’s Day/Easter/Fourth of July/Cinco de Mayo/etc.

When you are preparing your 5 thank you/thinking of you cards per week, go ahead and prepare and address the next upcoming holiday card as well as the obscure holiday. Keep them each in a separate stack. This way, the week before the holiday, you have a stack of cards that you can just stick a stamp on, and mail out.

People will be pleasantly surprised, because they don’t expect to receive a card. They’re impressed that you thought of them, and you stay at the forefront of their mind. This system will set it up so that at least 3 times a year they are getting an unexpected card from you when other people aren’t sending out cards to them. (1st the Thank You/Thinking of You card, 2nd the next upcoming holiday, 3rd the obscure holiday.)

Day 19. Instead of sending Christmas cards, send Thanksgiving cards. They don’t get lost in the pile of other holiday cards that the recipient gets, it stands out, and it comes before any of the others start showing up in December.

Day 20. If it’s too late for Thanksgiving cards, send out Happy New Year’s cards. Again, it’s different; you stand out. It doesn’t come in the sea of other cards…And it impresses them that you took the time and energy and that you’re thinking of them.

Day 21. Start your own group around your interests and business. If you’re a caterer, you could start an “Simple Entertaining at Home” group that meets once or twice a month whereby you talk about easy ways to entertain, have parties or get-togethers, and/or simple entertaining food ideas that make you look like you spent a fortune and slaved away in the kitchen. Since people who entertain a lot are your ideal audience, becoming visible and developing credibility in that circle of people will help build your business and allow you to network with potential clients and give you an instant referral network that can tell people how great you are at what you do.

Day 22. Make a daily/weekly plan.  Write it down!  It only takes 10-15 minutes to write down your plan for the week, but it holds you accountable to get those things done.  Pick one of these tips for each day, and write down which one you are going to do for the week.

Day 23. Write down 5 goals for your business that you want to accomplish by this time next year.  That gives you 365 days to reach those 5 goals.  Pin them to your bulletin board; tape it on your mirror; write them in your planner; keep them where you will see them every day.

Day 24. Take your 5 goals and write down a couple things you can do to reach those goals or use networking to your advantage.  Again, writing it all down helps you put your plan into action!

Day 25. Use 5 new peoples’ names today.  For example, if you run into one of the parents of your kid’s friends, start the conversation with their name.  You meet so many people throughout your day that you may not remember every single person you meet.

Remembering someone’s name shows that you have taken an interest in them.  They will feel like you listen and have paid attention to them, and you will form a stronger networking bond with that individual.

I think it was Dale Carnegie who said something like “The sweetest sound to someone is their own name.”

Day 26. Let another person “win” today.  We have all been in some sort of group setting where the answer to the problem seems so obvious, yet everyone is talking around it.  When they finally get to the answer and decide it’s the best option, they all want to claim that they came up with it.  Let them!  Enjoy the process and know that the end result is what matters.  People will think of you as a great asset to the group rather than the person who just brings negativity.

Day 27. Give someone a “compliment sandwich” today.  Knowing how to give feedback to people you associate with is sometimes very difficult, but it needs to be done.  Whether it is your professional or personal network, here is a great tip to get started.  Start with a compliment, but you must be sincere: “That video that you used really helped to make your point.”  Then, you give the feedback/criticism: “I think you could have been more interactive when speaking to the audience though.”  Finally, you end with another sincere compliment: “Overall, it was obvious that you love sharing your expertise about the topic.”

Day 28. Make a Facebook/Twitter page for your business.  Social networking is a free and easy way to start building a network quickly for your business.  If you already have one, look to see if any information needs to be updated.  All it takes is someone clicking the “Like” button on Facebook or the “Follow” button on Twitter, and you have access to that person.  You can post status updates and tweets about anything.  People are all about the Internet, but Facebook & Twitter are two sites that still allow that personal touch.  It allows people to still feel like they are doing business with another person rather than a computer.

Day 29. Start liking or following other pages.  Choose 5 new pages to like/follow today.  A friend of mine is a photographer, but she is just starting out.  She has “liked” some other local photographers’ pages, and she has gotten some great advice from them.  Also, if one photographer is booked or needs a second photographer to help out with a particular event, my friend has been able to take advantage of those opportunities.  This gives her experience and sample photos to display and build her reputation.

Day 30. Reorder your business cards, because by now, you should have given away nearly all the ones you had. Now’s the time to tweak it and make changes to it to add the oomph and power to your card that will allow it to be more effective for you.

Here is a bonus:

Day 31. Do it all over again for the next 30 days, starting with tip # 1 again!

I guarantee that if you follow this 30 day plan, by the end of a month you’ll have met a ton of new people, but more importantly – a lot of new people will know who you are and what you do.

If you’re ready to turn those everyday conversations into lifelong clients and referral sources, you’ll want to order my “Turn Conversations Into Clients” in-depth training program.  Check it out at

http://abetteryoucoach.com/products-services/c2c/ and see if it resonates with you!

Make it Great!

I’d love for you to leave a comment below sharing your most successful networking tips and stories with us. Can’t wait to hear – Please share!

Networking Do’s and Don’ts

Have you ever felt that you didn’t belong in a particular situation?  Say you are married and you go out with a few of your single friends for an evening.  You may feel uncomfortable and decide that you don’t belong.  It doesn’t make for a very fun evening.  Now, you may be wondering what this has to do with your business and networking.

There are going to be times that you are outside of your element, but you need to make the best of any situation.  When you are at a networking event, you may feel that same feeling you did when you were the only married one out of your group of friends.  The good thing is:  It’s always your choice to make the best or worst of the situation!

I have compiled a starting list for you to consider:

DO’S:

-Keep in contact with your network.

It is important to stay fresh in the minds of who you are networking with.  Sending a holiday card or an e-mail to ask how their kids’ sports teams are doing are a few ways to keep in contact with your network on a genuine basis.

-Build relationships, not expectations

Be genuine, and get to know the people in your network.  Building a relationship with a person is way more valuable than networking with them and expecting something in return.

-Make a good first impression

First impressions are very important; we hear that constantly.  It applies to your networking goals as well.  No matter what you do, the first impression someone gets is everlasting!  Make it a good one.

-Dress for success

You may be comfortable wearing jeans and a t-shirt, and your business may allow you to do so.  If you are attending a networking event where people are looking more professional, you should too!  Taking the time to make yourself look your best will help you portray confidence.  People seek out confident people to network with, so be that person everyone is seeking out!

-Fake it till you make it.

If you’re intimidated or shy or hesitant to get involved or start a conversation, pretend like you’re a friendly, outgoing and confident person and do it anyway. As a former shy person, I’ve used this strategy hundreds of times over the course of my life to help me move forward and make connections. I used to say to myself “Pretend like you’re a friendly and outgoing person, and you will be a friendly and outgoing person.”

I even used this tactic when I was younger and put in charge of running my own branch (and later, district) office. I’d tell myself “Pretend like you’re a district manager, and you’ll be a district manager. People coming in here to apply for a position don’t see you as anything but professional and in charge. They have no idea you’re uncomfortable unless you telegraph that.”

And guess what? It worked. I ran a successful branch and district office. I had the respect of my people as well as my peers and superiors in the business. All because I did what I needed to do, I was good at it, and I didn’t telegraph my discomfort and lack of confidence.

And the bonus was that the longer I “pretended” to be confident, the easier it was to forget I was “pretending.” Then I wasn’t pretending anymore – I actually was confident and successful.

So … take it, use it, own that phrase: Fake it till you make it. It works!

DON’TS:

-Don’t be a business card collector

It’s great to have business cards for people in your network, and it’s a great idea to give out your business card when networking with others.  Just don’t collect business cards.  Take the time to form a genuine relationship with the people you are meeting.  If you have nothing in common or don’t see a mutual benefit from being a part of each other’s networks, don’t exchange business cards.

-Don’t talk about yourself all the time

No one likes a self-centered person who focuses on themselves the entire time.  People will actually be drawn to you more if you listen to them talk about themselves.  Taking the time to listen to another person talk and showing interest in what they are saying is way more valuable than talking about yourself the entire time.  After all, we were given two ears and one mouth so we can listen twice as much as we talk.

-Don’t expect anything from people

Networking will benefit you in the long run, but it should not be your immediate goal.  Building a network and connecting other people is just as important.  If you are the type of networker who makes connections between two other people, they will keep you in mind when they are trying to do the same.

-Don’t wait for someone to talk to you

Take the initiative!  Go talk to them!  Put yourself out there and meet people.  The girls gathered in the corner with their friends at the high school dance are not the ones that the guy asks to dance with him.  He asks the girl out in the middle of the dance floor making the best of the night.

-DON’T BE SHY!!!

Along the same lines, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.  You have nothing to lose, only something to gain.  Put a smile on your face, be confident, and don’t be shy! And if you are shy, remember those six little words:

Fake It Till You Make It

Now that you know what  to do and not do to make the best of your networking experience, why not CHOOSE to make it a GREAT EXPERIENCE!

Remember, this is just a starting point.  There are many other things that could help/hurt your networking efforts.  Please share your feelings about the do’s and don’ts listed above and your own networking do’s and don’ts based on your experiences.

Seven Networking Tips

Do you know someone who landed a job because they knew someone that already worked at that company?  Did you grumble that it wasn’t fair or that they should have had to go through the same laborious process as everyone else?

Sounds like a little sour grapes to me. But there is a secret…

The secret is networking.

Knowing people and having connections is imperative to your success.  The concept related to the “Six Degrees of Separation Theory” is very relevant to showing how humans naturally network in their everyday lives.

I have put together a list of seven tips to help you network successfully.

1)      Keep building on that relationship.

It is not very effective to meet someone and begin a professional relationship with that person if you have no intention of keeping in contact with them.  The purpose of networks is to help each other in different situations; that is not possible when you lose contact.  Have you ever heard the phrase “Out of sight; out of mind”?  Keeping in contact with your networks and building on those relationships helps to insure that both parties will be there when the other needs some type of support from the relationship.

2)      Give more than you take.

I am sure that at some point in your life, you have had a friend that is always taking from everyone around them and never gives anything in return.

You know exactly who I am talking about…  I’m sure you have had that friend that calls you constantly to complain about their “big dilemma” of the week.  Being the positive friend that you are, you talk through the problem of whether they should wear the green dress or the purple dress to the party this weekend, but then they rush off the phone before you get to tell them the good news that you are getting married!  They never take the time to inquire about what’s going on with you. How frustrating!

Those types of friendships are draining and usually don’t last.  Don’t be that type of networker!  Networking is not just about what everyone else can do for you.  It is in your best interest to be the person who gives more, because people will be more likely to help you when you need to take a little down the road.

3)      Professionalism is key!

In order to form a professional network that works for you, it is crucial to keep it separate from your personal network as much as possible.  You want to be known throughout the community and with your client base as responsible and trustworthy in order to build a positive reputation.

You may also like to go out with your friends for drinks on a Saturday night.  In general, people do not link alcohol to responsibility and trustworthiness.  It is very important to draw the line and keep these two networks separate from each other in order for your personal network to not have a negative impact on your professional network.

4)      Focus on what you have to offer others.

Along the lines of giving more than you take, it is important for you to focus on what you have to offer others in your network.  If you have a lot to offer, people will begin to recognize you as the sought-after “go-to” person.  They will begin to ask for your advice and rely on you.  This can also help get your name and positive reputation out there… Sounds to me like free advertising!

5)      Go out of your comfort zoneTalk to people everywhere!

You never know who you will meet when you just start talking to people.  Think about this tip the next time you are standing in line at the grocery store.  Instead of being frustrated or annoyed because the lines are so long and you are in a rush, start a conversation with the person in front of you or behind you.  You never know what may come of it.  They may just be a nice person to talk to while waiting in line at the grocery store, or they may be your next customer… Who knows?!

6)      Be open to meeting new people and hearing their story.

Just talking to a new person may not be enough.  In order to really get to know someone and add them to your network, you must be willing to hear their story.  Everyone has had different experiences.  In fact, I remember hearing a saying that goes something like “Learn from other’s mistakes because you will never live long enough to make them all yourself.”

This saying can also go the other way—you can also learn from other’s success stories. So learn how to ask a lot of questions and be genuinely interested in the answers. They will actually think that you are the most fascinating person they’ve met, because even though they did most of the talking, they’ll subconsciously be “falling in love” with you because you’re actually listening to them, and not interrupting them and not trying to one-up them like everyone else that they have a conversation with. They’ll find it refreshing and you completely loveable, even though they might not even recognize why they feel that way about you.

7)      Find common interests.

It’s not very effective to start a conversation with someone you just met by asking for something.  In fact, that person will probably not even be interested in getting to know you.  Your best bet is to try to find common interests to build a foundation for your relationship with that person.

Being genuine in wanting to get to know the other person allows you to form a relationship and be memorable to that person. And again, the easiest way to find common ground is to ask them questions about things that you are genuinely interested in. So the weather or their family or something on their desk or mantelpiece may not be the best topic of conversation if you don’t actually care about listening to them talk about that. Even though you asked, your disinterest will definitely show.

With that being said, being memorable and standing out (in a good way, of course) is one of the major reasons why it’s important to network successfully.  It’s important to get your name out there with a positive reputation to back it up, but it’s even more important that people REMEMBER YOU!!

Why is Networking Important?

While networking is a critical piece of the human experience, understanding why it’s important to you will help you benefit personally and professionally.  Growing your best business by developing your networking skills is vital as well.

So…Why Network?

Networking allows you to build connections with other people when you normally wouldn’t have a reason to know them.  You are able to go out of your comfort zone and meet people and grow your business.

For example, real estate agents rely on networking to grow their business.  Buying a house is one of the biggest decisions that a person will make in their lifetime.  Would you rather buy a house from John Smith on the internet that you know nothing about, or would you rather buy from Stacy Ray that you met at several open houses?  Because Stacy  took the time to step out of her comfort zone and attend those open houses and stayed in contact with you, she has now set herself up to become your first choice when deciding between two real estate agents.  Not only does reaching out and building a network benefit your business, it allows you to grow as a person and become more comfortable in a myriad of situations.

Think about your group of friends… How did you all meet each other?

Chances are that you had a couple friends (We will use Jane and Mandy for the sake of argument) that you knew from work or school or some other activity.  The next time you all got together, you brought a friend, Jane brought a friend, and Mandy brought a friend.  The size of your group of friends just doubled.

Now imagine that your business works that same way.

You have three customers that are very impressed with your services, so they each refer one of their friends to you (which happens all the time).  If all three of those friends become your customers, your client base has just doubled.

Building a network is like building a web that continues to branch out farther and farther when more and more people are involved.  If you have twenty satisfied customers reaching out to their friends and family, there are more possibilities for you to gain more potential customers.

Growing your network is directly linked to growing your business.  Taking the time to build a positive reputation and have satisfied customers (even if it is only just 3 or 4 to begin with) is essential.  Reaching out to people and growing your business through networking allows you to put your name and reputation out there in an unbiased way.  Basically, let your network speak for you!

While your product/service is phenomenal and you are honest and are sincere about everything you say, someone sharing their story about their experience with your business will outweigh what you advertise and tell people about your product/service.  Word of mouth is a lot more powerful than people give it credit for.

Feedback is very important to a business in knowing what needs to be changed or left alone.  Building a network around your business allows you to meet other people who are running a business (whether it is the same product/service as yours or not), potential customers, more referral sources, and people who have experience in your particular area that can benefit your business.  Use other people’s ideas!  After all, two heads (or many heads in this case) are better than one!

What’s your most impactful networking story? Did you get a great client or a chance to make a major impact because you stepped out and showcased yourself, even though it might have been outside of your comfort zone? Tell me about it – I’d love to hear your comments below!

 

Finding Your Passion

Passion

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Imagine you are looking back on your life when you are 100 years old…

 

How do you want your life to look?  What do you want to have accomplished in your life?  Who have you touched or how have you made a difference in others’ lives?

Once you hit a certain age, finding your passion and turning that into something you can use to serve others while providing a fabulous income for you and your family is something that you are longing to do.  You want to be in the position that you will not just enjoy your work, but you’ll feel so nourished and fulfilled by running your business that you can’t wait to jump out of bed in the morning to go share your gifts and passions with some more of those people that you’re meant to serve.

But here’s the stumbling block for a lot of people – see if this resonates with you…

Maybe you don’t know what your passion is?

To address that, here are a few questions for you to consider:

What are your interests and hobbies?
Photography is a common hobby among people.  The people who take that hobby and turn it into a photography business have successfully found their passion in life and used that to make their business.  This also allows them to be successful because they are passionate about what they are doing and it shows in their work.

Fitness is another hobby that many people have.  If one of your passions is fitness, there are many possibilities that stem from that as well – one example being to become a personal trainer.  Think about it: Your enthusiasm for fitness could help someone else become passionate and make a life-changing decision to be more health-conscious because of your passion. And that life-changing decision could literally SAVE their life. How awesome would that be? To know that in following your passion, you have created those kinds of powerful impacts in the world?

This leads me to my next question…
What do you enjoy doing that doesn’t feel like work?

If you are passionate about what you are doing in your business, that passion turns into a better service or product for your customers.  You also will most likely be more enjoyable to work with.  The most important part is that work doesn’t feel like work when you love what you do.

Who do you love to work with? What kinds of people do you love to be around?

Football fans love to go to the game more than just watching it on TV… Why is that?  The game is so much more enjoyable and fun when you are around other people who love football (and the team) just as much as you do.  Use this same concept for your business.  Finding your passion and turning it into your business allows you the opportunity to spend your time at work around the people who inspire you.

What is preventing you from doing what you are truly passionate about?

Whether it is money, pressures from family, time, or some other factor, people tend to find reasons for why they can’t do something.  The question you should be asking yourself is “Why not?”  Or maybe the more impactful question is: How can I do that?  Figure out how to figure it out. When you are truly passionate about your business, nothing else should really keep you from following that passion. You deserve to be energized and fulfilled by your work.  The fear of failure also plays a major role in why people don’t want to pursue what they really love.

A question that I ask people a lot is…

If money were no object, what would you be doing?

What I mean by that is people tend to not do what they are truly passionate about because they feel that it costs too much or they won’t get enough money in return.  While money is an important factor, it’s not always everything!  In order to find your TRUE passion, you need to think about it while you’re eliminating the money factor. That part can be worked out later. Let your imagination partner with your passion to create all kinds of potential options for your most energized and nourishing life.

Now that you have determined what your passion is…

What do you want to get out of your passion?

Hopefully, you have decided that you want to pursue your passion and form your business.  Building a business around your passion would be everyone’s dream.  I mean… who wouldn’t love to go to work every day and do exactly what they love to do?  Back to the photography example…  If you love photography, why wouldn’t you allow yourself to love working in a world where all you did all day was compose stunning photos and create visually stunning works of art?  It sounds like a dream come true to me. J
…And helping people find their passion and build a business that energizes and nourishes them is exactly what I do!

Ready to make your everyday life fit closer to that dream you imagine?  Leave a comment, share your dream, your goal, your vision, your passion…I’m interested to hear where you want to go.

 

Welcome Back Readers!

One of my major goals is to help professionals who are dedicated to passionate service to position themselves so that they are no longer “just one more real estate agent, hairdresser, health coach, chiropractor, housekeeper, dentist, massage therapist, energy healer, dog-walker, mechanic, attorney, handyman, network marketer, etc.” in a vast sea of  many, many generic “_____Insert Job Title Here_____”

This in turn, enables them to attract an energizing and fulfilling client base, filled with ideal clients that allows them to truly serve those they’re meant to serve from their best, most generous and passionate place … following their mission, creating the genuinely successful business of their visions, making the income they desire, and enhancing the life of their dreams.

As discussed in one of the first posts here at DareAndDoGood.com, I want this blog to become a valuable resource that helps you grow your business. I refer to myself as a “holistic business coach” because my philosophy embodies the concept of improving your whole self, and caters directly to how your business fits into your entire life.

I believe that improving your business shouldn’t only come from strategy change and marketing. And by combining new strategies with a simple change of attitude or perspective you can potentially see even bigger results.

I came up with a list of potential topics (several of them have already been discussed to some degree in other posts), but I want to know what YOU want to know!  I have put up the list again below:

Lead generation

Networking

Positioning

Attitude and perspective

Client Attraction

How to set yourself apart from the crowd

Ways to balance your career and your life

Business trends

Social networking

Client relations

Branding

Plus, any topics YOU want to discuss. (This is the part where you share your thoughts!)

In order to provide the best information to you that I can, I am interested in hearing what topics would be of interest to you or benefit you & your business.  Leave a comment on this post expressing which topic(s) would be beneficial or of interest to you as the reader.

While this coaching blog could never replace the value and benefits of my one-on-one business mentoring and the positioning process that we go through, it will start you down the path of becoming a more balanced and satisfied business owner.

So here’s to you making the best of your BUSINESS and your LIFE.

Make it Great!

Theresa

 

The Benefits of Virtual Offices for Start Ups

The Benefits of Virtual Offices for Start Ups

By Guest Writer: Nick Lewis

Many start ups, particularly one or two person businesses, simply lack the capital for a dedicated premises at first. Beyond that, when the work can be done at home, such as for primarily online businesses, the extra expenditure just doesn’t make sense.

But there are certain advantages that come with having a premises. The happy compromise is a virtual office.

Legitimacy

The primary benefit to having a virtual office is the legitimacy that comes with it. It allows you to have a dedicated business address outside of a clearly residential area, and without people finding out where you live (more on that later), as well as a dedicated landline that doesn’t double up as your home telephone number.

More than that, simply add in a virtual receptionist and the appearance of professionalism is yours for a fraction of the cost of renting a real premises and hiring a full time receptionist.

Anonymity

A real difficulty for many start ups is that their business premises doubles up as a home. This means that many are unwilling to give out their home address and phone number because, rightly, they don’t want members of the public, or worse, disgruntled customers, to come knocking on their family’s door.

However, a fixed line phone number and a genuine, physical address, are essential parts of establishing legitimacy and trust. A virtual office allows you to take advantage of that without giving away your home details.

Efficiency

Virtual office services can also help increase efficiency. Every small business experiences the problems that come with having very little capital for staff at the beginning. It means that job roles have to be doubled up, including customer service – someone has to answer the phone, causing a major distraction to their primary job role.

Virtual office services like virtual receptionists and telephone answering services can take that distraction away so you can concentrate on your core business and deal with enquiries and the like at a time that better suits you.

Although you still have to call everyone back, if all your messages have been collected by someone else (without the off-putting effect of voicemail) then you (or whoever’s job it is) can deal with them all at once.

And because such virtual receptionists or telephone service agents are shared by a number of businesses, this comes at a fraction of the cost of hiring someone to do it full-time, particularly when there may not be enough calls to make a dedicated receptionist worthwhile.

About the Author: Nick Lewis is writing for CS Notepad, Brighton based telephone answering service, virtual office and virtual receptionist firm – www.csnotepad.co.uk

Make Money Bringing An Offline Product Online

How would you like to make money by bringing an offline product online? If you at least know how to navigate your way through the internet, you will find a lot of people who can make use of your ability and time.

Notice that some businesses, though they may have a good and potentially saleable product, do not seem to know how to make really good sales. They limit themselves to traditional methods which would probably earn them some decent revenue, but it does not fully maximize the marketability of their product.

They find themselves a good spot in a mall where foot traffic is heaviest, display their wares on glass shelves alongside a long row of other products and sit it out through the day. Yes, it may be hard to believe but there are still those who do not take advantage of what the internet can do for their businesses. If you tap into this sector of businesses, they can be an excellent potential source of income.

Lack of motivation or knowledge are probably the main factors that keep them from exploring other avenues of selling, particularly on the internet. These business owners will most likely be receptive if you offer to take their offline product online yourself. Your role is to open their eyes to the vast potential market on the internet and convince them to make you their sales agent online.

You need to identify first which products among the many will most likely sell well on the Web. Almost anything of value can be sold on the internet but to really make money taking an offline product online, choose your products well. Think unique, one-of-a-kind or hard-to-find products which are of good quality.

If you go for common items such as bags, jackets and apparel, go for unique styles and designs. Personalized items too can attract a lot of views from online shoppers. Do your research. Surf through the internet for the most common items sold online but take a step further and take note of what is not yet being sold online and start from there.

If you seriously consider making money taking an offline product online, take time to really shop around.  Go to trade fairs and bazaars where you see products that are not normally found in malls and department stores. Visit specialty shops and look for unique, hard-to-find but usable merchandise. As you go around, take note of how these stores market their products and check if they are already present online.

Build up your list of potential products to sell and eliminate as you go along. Trim it down to the most unique, beautiful and possibly most saleable items. It is best to start with a few items first to see how well it goes.

Do a simple market study before offering to sell a product.

This study must show the target customers, market size and the market demand for such a product.

The data must help convince the supplier that selling online is a good move or that it is what they need to do to give their sales a boost. Your positive opinion or gut feel about a product is a good input but it will not suffice when negotiating with its suppliers. Focus the discussion on the additional revenue that an online presence can bring them.

Discuss how the selling arrangement will be handled. Be open to suggestions. The best scheme to make money taking an offline product online is to sell on a commission basis. This is convenient and most importantly, almost risk-free for both parties.

You can take the profile and pictures of the products, display and promote them in your website and get a commission for every sale you make. Orders are taken through your website and you in turn, process the purchase directly with your supplier.

Some suppliers may offer you to sell on a consignment basis or supply you with items that can be returned if unsold after a fixed period. Such an arrangement is convenient and cuts down on the shipping costs since you do not need to transact and ship each and every time you receive an order.  However, keeping and maintaining the goods on consignment will definitely require more of your time.

Choose the selling arrangement that best suits you.

As in any other business, diligence, passion and creativity are required to make money taking an offline product online. Remember that with the ease of searching and shopping online compared to actual mall-shopping, competition can be tougher. So always begin by choosing a product well and you will definitely be on your way to earning big bucks.

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Sharon McCarley is a freelance writer & researcher for the popular “Teach Me How To Make Money” blog. For more creative ideas and ways to make money, whether you’re looking to earn money online or offline, or to get in touch with Sharon, check out www.TeachMeHowToMakeMoney.com now.
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