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!!

Twelve Books

I work with small business owners to help them build their most successful and nourishing and fulfilling and energizing business. And I do that by helping them not only to get more clients, but by helping them get more ideal clients – clients that are nourishing to them, that are fun to work with, that remind them why they started doing what they do in the first place.

So that’s my goal and I’ve got a little “Build A Better Business” tip for you.

I would encourage you to make a list of the books that you want to read in the next year.

Now some people don’t read, but I would highly recommend that you spend a little bit of time everyday or every week reading.

And what you want to do is read books that nourish and fulfill you, that inspire you to do better work, that give you great ideas.

There’s nothing wrong with fiction or magazines or newspapers or comic books and stuff, a lot of these are… even novels are… filled with a lot of negativity, and I really believe in filling yourself with positive things and things that are motivating and inspiring.

So there’s a ton of books out there that I’ve read that have been really life changing for me, and so what I have done is I have actually created a list of the 12 books I want to read this next year.

I read voraciously and most likely I will read more than twelve, but I’ve got one planned out for each month of the next year.

Actually this was a tip that I heard from James Malinchak, and I really like it. I think it is a great idea to make a plan for the next year as to which books I’m going to read, and then I have one set out for each month that I can read and just really fill myself with positive, inspiring, motivational reading material. It doesn’t matter if it is a business book – a lot of my books that I read are business books and self help books and a lot about keeping a positive attitude and how to just live better in the world and be a more successful, whole, well rounded, spiritual, energetic being I guess.

So definitely create a list for yourself. Some of them can be books you’ve read in the past, that you found to be particularly inspiring, and some are books that you’re wanting to read.

Mix it up a little bit on your list.

If you want to, you could have a list of 52 books and read one book each week. But of course some people don’t have time for that. But if you do, if you are a voracious reader like I am, maybe you want to create a list of 52 books.

So that’s my productivity, “Build A Better Business – Have A Better Life” tip for you.

Make it a great week.

 

P.S. Use the comments to share with me some of your favoritest, most life-changing books!! I’m always looking for the next thing I want to read!

Your Best Business Enhances Your Best Life

Every week I get to work with a lot of small business owners to help them build their most successful and energizing business so that they really enjoy what they’re doing, so that they live a great life.

And I really believe that your best business is part of a well-balanced life.

Your business is not your entire life obviously.

I don’t know if everybody gets that, but you’ve got a lot of different areas of your life and they all interrelate with each other, of course your health and wellness, your fun and recreation, your family and relationship, your spiritual life, your business, your work, your job, your school, whatever it is that you are doing…

These are all parts of a well-balanced life, and your business is just one aspect of that.

And what we want to do is to get you to your healthiest, happiest, most successful and well balanced life by coming at it from the direction of having a successful and well balanced nourishing and fulfilling business. So of course, if you are enjoying your business, and you are having fun, and you can’t wait to go to work each day, and you’re working with great people that are fun to work with, and you have great ideal clients that are energizing and fulfilling and nourishing for you, and you really enjoy what you’re doing, of course that’s going to impact your whole entire life…so that you are having a healthier, happier, more well balanced and successful life.

That’s my end goal for you, anyway. And hopefully that’s your end goal for you, too.

It’s all yours – Make it a great week,

Theresa

What Do You Say?

I know it’s been a couple of weeks, but I hope you remember everything that we have gone over with respect to mistakes to avoid when building and positioning your business. Today I am going to go over one last big mistake that is all too often made by business owners when trying to develop their business.

Something that many people struggle with, and that if you do it wrong, has a tendency to really detract from the attractiveness of your businesses, is mastering their message. This is the message that you use in order to appeal to your potential clients and to bring them to YOU. It needs to resonate with your target audience and to address their personal needs and desires.

I mentioned this in our last positioning post, but in order to come up with a really great business message, you need to get into the conversation in the heads of the individuals that make up your target market.

You need to know what it is that they need and are looking for, and to appeal to those wants and needs. It should be personal and unique.

In order to be as helpful as you can to them, and in order to create a message that really resonates with them, you need to think about what is going on in their head throughout the whole process. For example, say you are a real-estate agent that focuses on downsizing seniors.

Maybe they have just lost their spouse and can no longer stand the thought of living in a home that is filled with so many memories. Maybe it is a senior couple whose kids have grown up and moved out, and they feel that it’s too big of a house for them and they don’t need all the extra work to keep it maintained. You need to think about WHY they may be choosing to downsize.

Once you have considered the WHY, you need to think about what comes along with it. So, with our downsizing seniors, when they’re thinking about moving into a smaller, easier-to-maintain place, they’re probably going to have to get rid of some of their stuff. What can you do to help your client’s with the process?

Something else to consider – How might they be feeling about leaving the home that they have lived in for so many years? They may be disheartened to think about losing their connection, their touchstone to all those family memories, in the home and the neighborhood where their babies grew up. Because they have such an emotional bond with the place.

Maybe they are worried that they will have no idea how to go about selling and buying a house since the market has obviously changed drastically since they bought the place.

Maybe they don’t have anyone to help them move, and have no idea who to turn to.

It’s all so overwhelming, and can even be terrifying for some.

Think about this: When anybody is doing anything, there is a reason for it. By figuring out what that reason may be and by being sensitive to it, you can better appeal to potential customers in your specialty field.

Thinking about their worries and concerns allows you to address them beforehand, thereby preparing yourself to have all of the necessary things in place already when they come to you.

By tapping into the conversation within your potential client’s heads, you can position yourself as the person best suited to meet their wants and needs. It allows you to better relate to them.

People like to feel understood, and it is comforting when the person you go to seems relatable and accommodating. You need to keep all of these things in mind when creating your message.

This also ties into the last two mistakes that we went over before. Your message needs to set you apart from the crowd. It needs to show you and your business are different than the others. It should be presented in a unique and creative way that will catch the attention of you prospective clients.

But most importantly, it should position you as the obvious choice. It would make much more sense for a senior couple who is downsizing to go to someone who specializes in such things then to some generic agent who is just looking to move as many people in and out of houses as quickly as possible without taking their special needs into consideration.

Let me give you two examples, and then I want YOU to decide which would be the obvious choice for this situation.

Real-estate agent number one’s message: “Hi. My name is Joe Schmo, and I have an incredibly high sell rate. I would love to help YOU sell your house as quickly as possible, too!”

Real-estate agent number two’s message: “Is your house too big now that your kids have all moved out? Has the maintenance just become too much? My name is Joe Schmo, and I’m the downsizing senior specialist. I can help you to sell your home and to get settled into a new place that’s a better fit for you. I can make the entire process easy and as stress-free as possible, and I will work WITH you to make sure that your every question is answered and that every concern is addressed. You are not alone. I’m here to help you.”

Which one would be the obvious choice? If you don’t say the second, then we really need to talk! : )

Nobody wants to feel as though they are just a means through which someone else can make money. That makes them feel devalued and like you just don’t care. By tapping into what is going on in their minds, you can avoid that, and show them that you care about them as individuals.

They won’t mind the expense, because they will feel that it’s worth it for the specialized and genuine care that they get from you. In short, you will resonate with them, and they’ll be tickled that they chose you.

As I’ve said before, positioning is not the simplest thing in the world. There are a lot of things to be considered, and there is no one quick fix that will suddenly make your business boom.

However, that being said, all of the mistakes we have talked about are relatively easy to avoid. Being aware of them is the first step in avoiding them. They definitely take some time to work through, and a heck of a lot of thought, but the time and effort is well worth it in the end.

I will be going into further detail with respect to some of the most important things that you can do in order to position yourself in a way that sets you apart and that will ensure you greater overall success.

If you have any questions or there is anything in particular that you would like me to write about, LET ME KNOW, and I will do my best to answer your questions or point you to someone who can.

I’m excited to move into the topics of positioning, branding and defining yourself as different from all of the others out there because this is MY passion. It is MY specialty, and I can’t wait to share it with YOU!

Until next week…

Make it Great!

 

Who’s Your Client? Everyone With A Pulse and A Wallet…

We’ve recently discussed how one of the biggest business positioning mistakes that you can make when marketing your business is to take too generic of an approach. If you don’t separate yourself from the crowd, you and your business are no different than any of the other ones out there.

This week I’m going to go a little deeper into this concept with a closely related concept, because so many people make this mistake: Trying To Appeal To Everyone.

Too many people try to appeal to the masses thinking that it is the best way to get the most clients and to make the most money.

This approach may seem like the rational way to go, but in reality…it is one of the biggest mistakes you can make when creating and marketing your business.

By trying to make your business appeal to everyone, you end up really appealing to nobody.

This goes hand-in-hand with being too generic. If you try to appeal to everyone, then it is almost impossible to be unique.

However, if you position yourself to appeal to a certain demographic or segment of the population, rather than trying to appeal to everyone, you can play up the ways in which you are unique and how your solutions are beneficial to that specific group of people. By trying to appeal to too many people, you stretch yourself thin and minimize any difference there may be between you and your competition.

The most successful businesses have streamlined their target market to include only specific groups of people. This allows you to better appeal to, and to better address, your potential clients’ wants and needs. In doing so, you will significantly increase your allure to those people and will as a result gain more of them as clients.

Let me explain what I’m talking about with an example or two.

Say for example, that you sustained some physical damage from a car accident several years ago, and you’re tired of suffering and not being able to sleep through the night and move your body in a certain way with ease, so you’re looking for a massage therapist.

You have a choice – you see that there are about 100 choices to select from. You can pick a masseuse that has a generic “let me help you relax and heal the pain” message, or you can select a masseuse who actually specializes in deep tissue massages for people who have sustained injuries in an automobile accident and have significant scar tissue hampering their mobility and movement.

And that’s all that they do.

That’s their specialty.

They are the expert.

Who are you going to choose?

Any masseuse may be able to do a massage that feels good in the short term, but are they really skilled in working with scar tissue from previous injury?

Sure, they may be qualified – they may have learned how to do that in massage therapy school…

Just because someone is qualified to provide whatever service you’re looking for, doesn’t mean that they specialize in it!

Think about that – qualified does not equal specialized.

Here’s another example I use all the time – Stop me if you’ve heard it before…: )

(Uh-oh, Warning: personal story coming – you may want to close your ears and hum : ) )

I gained a lot of weight when I became pre-menopausal. Up until that point I hadn’t had any weight issues. I’d been at a healthy weight for my whole life. But then hormonal changes, slower metabolism, getting more sedentary, and not really paying close attention to what I ate, all kind of crept up on me, and I gained quite a bit of weight.

Frankly, I was never so obese that I broke 200 lbs, but even so, I have no business being anywhere close to 190. So for my frame, it was quite a bit of weight.

And then a few years ago I shook myself awake and recognized, hey – time to address this issue before it gets worse. So I started doing all of these things that I know will take the weight off – I was becoming way more active, started really paying attention to eating healthier, got off of fast food and junk food, high fructose corn syrup, carbonated soda, started drinking way, Way more water, etc.

And nothing was working.

I got even more determined – really focused on walking at least 10,000 steps a day.

Even started running a little, really started reading package labels, eating more natural foods and staying away from a lot of these processed and modified foods, etc. Kicked up the running to where I could run for three miles.

Did I lose some weight? Yeah I did – a little.

But I was so-o frustrated! Because I was putting all of this focus and attention on it, devoting a lot of time every day to the activity and keeping track of what I ate, and it should have dropped off like I was in my first week as a Biggest Loser contestant.

But it didn’t.

Over the course of several months, I lost a few pounds. All the pounds put together over the months: not even a good week 9 or 10 for a Biggest Loser contestant.

And of course, every day we are bombarded with weight loss messages. There are weight loss programs out there by the hundreds. I was certainly not at a loss to find some help if I wanted to.

But I didn’t want a generic weight loss program.

I felt like I was doing everything a typical weight loss program would recommend. I was watching what I ate; I was getting a significant amount of activity every day, etc.

What I really needed was for someone to show up with a message that said something like “Menopausal weight gain getting you down? Do you feel like you’ve tried everything and your body just isn’t cooperating? Don’t know what else to try? Well, I specialize in helping menopausal women really fight the weight gain that comes from those hormonal changes and metabolism slowdowns that naturally occur as we age. Call Me Today. P.S. The bonus is that one of the side effects of you and I working together is that we get those hot flashes and night sweats under control, too! Naturally!”

If anyone, ANYONE had presented me with a message like that, I would have been all over it.

I didn’t care about the generic weight loss messages – because they didn’t speak to me. I knew the basics. I just didn’t know what to do about the things specific to menopausal weight gain.

Why would you go to someone to fix your problems, when they may not know how to do it any more than you do? That’s a lot of time wasted and money spent on something that might not provide you with the maximum benefit that you could be getting.

And that ladies and gentlemen, THAT is why you should specialize. When people want something, they want something specific. People have specific needs. If you focus on a more specialized area, and a smaller group of people, you will actually appeal to more people.

Understand that when I say “specific groups of people” I don’t necessarily mean small groups of people. You can still target your efforts towards a large group; the members just have to have common wants and needs. There needs to be something that they all have in common that makes them good candidates for your services.

What’s the specific group that could have been targeted by my need? Women who had never had weight issues until they hit menopausal age, and then they’re struggling to deal with it.

It’s not like that’s a small market.

It’s simply smaller than the market defined as “everyone who’s overweight”.

Well, now you’re wondering “What about all of those people who you don’t appeal to anymore?”

Okay…What about them?

Realistically, you never appealed to them or anyone else before. In order to really appeal to someone, you have to be able to address their specific wants and needs and to help them overcome whatever obstacles they are facing.

That is why you have to get into the immediate conversation in their head. Like that menopausal message above would have stepped directly into the dialogue I had with myself every single freaking day and night for several years – if anyone had provided it – but no one had a message like that for me.

I don’t know anyone that can fix anything and everything, and even if that is you – you still need to focus on your specialties and who you can provide the most benefit for.

You really need to hone in on: How can you truly serve those you’re most able to help?

Along with narrowing your target market, you need to define your own niche and concentrate all of your efforts towards that specific area of the market. You focus on what you do best.

You figure out what you are passionate about, and build your business around that. This is one of the easiest ways to help you figure out what your target market should be. I will go more in depth on defining your niche and target audience in the future here, so keep them in mind.

For now, think about what we have gone over in the last couple of weeks and how it applies to your business.

If you still think you need to go generic and undifferentiated with your marketing and promotional message, I don’t know how else to convince you. I’ve given you some of my best stuff – I even pulled out my “I got fat” story to share with you. : )

Next week is Super Bowl week and we’ll talk about how that pertains to your business. After that, we’ll come back to positioning, and we’ll go over another big marketing mistake that you should avoid making at all costs.

Make it a great week!!

 

P.S. Bribe: If you want to know how the “I got fat” story has worked out for me, just drop a note in the comments below. If there’s enough clamor and ruckus – I might even share with you! : )

 

Global Entrepreneurship Week!!

Although you may already know it, this week is Global Entrepreneurship Week. For the past three years, one week in November has been designated as Global Entrepreneurship Week throughout the world. This year GEW runs from November 14 – 20.

Global Entrepreneurship Week first started in 2008 and has grown to become the world’s largest celebration of innovators and entrepreneurs everywhere. Through thousands of different activities, gatherings and campaigns, people throughout the world join together with the common goal of changing the world for the better.

Events focus on inspiring and recognizing exceptional innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. GEW advocates innovation and progression and supports the unleashing of ideas and taking the necessary measures to ensure that great ideas are realized.

According to Kauffman Foundation, it is all about “spotting opportunities, taking risks, solving problems, being creative, building connections and learning from both failure and success. It is about thinking big and making your mark on the world – doing good while doing well at the same time.”

Although it is aimed at everyone, there is most certainly some focus on the younger generations since they are the future leaders that will create a future for us all.

Global Entrepreneurship Week is a movement supported not only by thousands of organizations worldwide, but by iconic individuals and world leaders. In fact, Barack Obama just recently gave a speech on the matter during which he proclaimed the month of November as “National Entrepreneurship Month.”

This year 123 countries including Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Gambia, Switzerland, the US and many many more have committed to participating in this multinational celebration. Over 100,000 events are scheduled to take place, and it is estimated that over 10 million individuals will take part in GEW related activities. The activities scheduled to take place range from huge competitions and happenings to smaller local events.

Not only are they meant to celebrate and promote entrepreneurship, but are a means through which people can network and possibly even find potential investors. I would encourage you to find the nearest event, or create your own!! You never know what you could run into or the magic that could be released from just the right encounter!

Two great sources with lots more information about what is going on this week and how you can participate include http://www.unleashingideas.com/ and http://www.unleashingideas.org/. Definitely go to visit either one of these sites. There are some inspirational stories, innovative ideas and a lot of great posts on both. You can even add your own event to the festivities if you want to!

You can also go to your social networking sites to find out more about GEW and the activities near you.

How do you feel that YOU have brought innovation to your work and community? What kinds of ideas do you have for activities that could promote the values of GEW? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas on the matters at hand, and to learn from your past and present experiences. Either leave a comment by clicking the bubble icon on the upper right hand corner of this post or leave a comment below!

Stay tuned, because next week we’ll be going back to the components of your business website, and we’ll talk about some of the essential pieces you should not forget.

To channel the spirit that Global Entrepreneurship Week is based upon, go out and make it a great week and think about how you as an individual can make a change for the better in the world!

After all, that’s what we’re dedicated to – passionate service!

 

Networking: A Business Owner’s Best Friend

I guarantee that you have heard the phrase “It’s all about who you know.” As much as we would like to discount the notion, you gotta admit, there is definitely an element of truth to this phrase. Some people take it a step further and say “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you,” which of course moves us closer to the truth of the matter. But I like to take it even further than that, and I say “It’s not who you know, but who knows what you do and how you can help.”

As a business owner, your success can depend on who you know and who the people you know know. The more people who know you, the greater chance there is of people knowing about your business and what you do and who you serve, and consequently, the greater the number of people who will think about YOU first when looking for the services that you provide. As such, networking is ESSENTIAL for business success.

When it comes to networking, simply knowing people is not enough. You have to build and maintain RELATIONSHIPS. In order to do that, you have to actually put forth an effort. And therein lies the problem, because everyone wants immediate solutions, and relationships take time. Not only time to grow, develop and strengthen, but time out of your busy life that you may or may not have readily available.

If you want someone to care about you, you need to not only stop and be interested in them and what is going on in their lives, you need to figure out how you can be of service to them as well. It’s not all about how they can help you – although most people networking act as if that’s the bottom line. I don’t remember who said it, but you’ve probably heard the expression, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” Don’t turn into a used car salesman whenever you talk about your business.

I just got back from a conference with about 300+ attendees, and I probably met and got to know about 40 or 50 awesome and passionate service professionals: people that I conversed with and engaged with in a vibrant dialogue, getting to know each other and discussing what we did, and some of our struggles and how we were focused on moving forward and what our next steps were for growing our businesses bigger and better than ever, etc. It was fun and engaging and pleasant and even energizing. We laughed; we brainstormed; we connected with each other.

Then there was one person who was all about using the conference to “sell herself” and get clients. Every conversation she had revolved around her business, what she did and that everyone needed what she had. It felt very invasive and pushy. It was the difference between midnight and high noon; the difference between apple pie and cowpie. A conversation should not be one sided, and you should not come off as if it’s all about you and the only reason you would deign to have a conversation with me is because you are trying to sell me something. You need to listen, and to show interest in a person if you want to create a genuine relationship with them.

Now I suspect that she most likely didn’t realize that she was coming across that way. I’m sure she thought she was just as social and friendly and personable as everyone else at the conference. Perhaps, though, it’s time for her to grow into that lesson, or the Universe may have a stronger, more impactful way for her to learn (think the Wicked Witch of the East if you’re not sure what that “more impactful way” could be…)

The best thing you can do to develop those relationships with people is to ask questions about them, their life and their business and anything else that’s important to them. If you help people in a particular arena of their life, there’s nothing wrong with focusing your questions on that area – for example a health coach asking questions about someone’s busy life and family, and how they manage to handle the stress and overwhelm of it. Or a printer asking questions about how someone’s business is going, or inquiring about the progress on the volunteer event that the person is coordinating. In general, you don’t have to do much of the heavy lifting keeping the conversation going if you’re asking questions. And if you’re smart, you’ll pay attention to the answers. Because the way that people answer questions and talk about their lives and what’s important to them will give you tremendous insight into who they are and how you might be able to offer solutions to the problems they’re facing.

Don’t look at networking like a work activity. Look at is as a friend-ing activity. You’re making new connections, new friends, and you can never have too many friends!!

Speaking of friends, they are a great place to focus your initial networking on. They already know you, and obviously like you at least a little bit if they have stuck around long enough to become your friend. Family is another great resource because they are essentially obligated to like and support you. People who you have known for a long time and with who you have a good relationship can often sell you better than you can sell yourself. Referrals and testimonials have a ton of value, and can be extremely persuasive. They can give you a whole other level of credibility. PLUS, they have a ton of other friends who they can introduce you to or recommend you to.

People that you are close with are not the only acquaintances to keep in mind when networking. It can also be extremely beneficial to go to someone that you have met in the past. For this reason, it is important to maintain relationships with people you trust and respect. A good example of someone who may fall into this category would be one of your professors from college. People you have worked with or done services for in the past can also be great resources. You do not have to call these people on a weekly basis or pretend to be their best friend. It is as simple as making contact with them once every few months. Shoot them an e-mail asking how they are doing, or in the event that you come across something that you think they would be interested in as well, let them know. You can send a letter or card thanking them for their business if they are previous clients. Just maintain contact and make sure that you do not fall off their radar.

There are a number of ways to reach out in order to develop new relationships. One great way is through social networking sites. I know that I keep coming back to networking sites, but I can’t emphasize enough just how beneficial they can be for you and your company. With respect to networking, they are especially great because people who you don’t know can get to know you through your profile, and because there are MILLIONS of potential clients out there that spend a TON of time on them.

Joining networking clubs and/or associations that pertain to your career field is another great way to meet new people, create new relationships, hear different perspectives, and to have some fun while you are doing it all. : ) You can attend meetings, seminars or industry mixers as well.

Really, networking can be done ANYWHERE. All you need to do is embrace your outgoing side and put yourself out there. Be friendly, be real, listen, and talk about what it is that you do. You never know where you could meet potential clients or someone who can be of help to you and your business in other ways. Maybe the guy sitting next to you on the plane has a best friend who runs a website that runs great ads for really cheap. Maybe the lady doing your nails is part of a club of women who could all really use your services. Or perhaps the student you ran into at the library wants to do the same thing as you and has some really great ideas that could take your business to the next level. The point is…you never know!!

If you truly are passionate about what you do and serving those you’re meant to serve, people will see and appreciate that, and want to be a part of it.

Along with this, ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS keep business cards with you. You can make a great connection, but the card can seal the deal. It is a constant reminder of you and your business, and of course it contains all of the contact information that anyone would need to get ahold of you. Don’t be afraid to hand one to an acquaintance, you will be happy that you did.

Networking does not need to be as difficult as it often can seem. It’s all about people skills and promoting what you love. With that, there are certainly a number of guidelines that should be taken into consideration. Don’t ever be pushy. Nobody wants something that is being pushed on them, and nobody wants to help someone that is so obviously self-serving. Do not overuse on person. If you go to the same person over time, they are going to get tired of it and begin to question your motives. SPREAD THE LOVE!! If you expect, or want help from others, you have to be willing to dish it out yourself in large helpings. It should be a give-give, and a win-win situation for all the parties involved, not just a take-take endeavor. Conform to general social rules, and be a good person, your most kind, generous and loving self, and a friend, and you should be just fine.

I recently met and had dinner with Sue Clement (a Referral Pro) at a conference, and she gifted me with her fabulous book called “Insider Secrets to Referral Success – Uncover the Power of Your Network.” (and signed it for me, too!) She really focuses on creating a “Referral Network” so if you want to take your networking to the next level, her book is a definite must-read! You can get it here: http://www.SueClement.com/referral-success-book (just click on any of the links in this paragraph to take you there)

In what ways has networking benefited YOU? I would love to hear your stories, and I’m more than happy to answer your questions. You can either click on the speech bubble on the upper right hand side of the post, or click on the reply button on the lower right hand side to leave your comment. Look forward to hearing from you.

Make it a great week!! Why not? It’s all yours!

Live your life without limits

You’ve heard the saying before “Life is what you make it.” I want to take a moment today to share with you a story of a man who is the epitome of this saying.

Nick Vujicic is a motivational speaker, author, and a movie producer, who was born with no arms and no legs. His life is a testament to living life without limits. His attitude of letting nothing stop you from pursuing your dreams is beyond anything I’ve seen or read. (I know you will agree with me.)

Being limbless has not stopped him from pursuing his dreams – and he has become an inspiration to all with his limitless mentality.

Though only twenty-eight years old, Nick Vujicic has a unique ability to challenge your beliefs and your perspective. He encourages his audiences to dream big and inspires them to improve their own attitude regarding the obstacles in their lives. His accomplishments, in spite of his disability, are a constant reminder that the every day challenges we face can be overcome.

Nick offers a challenging perspective of using the gifts you’ve been given to the best of your ability He believes that the power of making the right choices in life will allow you to never give up, but instead to get up. Expect to be envious of the man with no arms and no legs.

Below are links to an excerpt of one of Nick’s motivational speeches “No arms, no legs, no worries” This is a 2 part video (roughly 20 minutes total) and I highly encourage you to watch both parts if you have the time. If these videos leave you wanting more – his full DVD “No arms, no legs, no worries” is available for purchase through sites such as amazon.com

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yo_24_qTNac

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bL3GR4iAW0&feature=related