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!

Stuff I Love – Kunaki

If you’ve ever wanted to publish your own training CD or DVD, (or even an entertainment one) Kunaki is the place!

It’s cheap, it’s fairly simple to upload your files, and they even have a simple design tool to create the cover of your CD or DVD if you don’t have the skills or capability to design a fancy-schmancy one – although to be honest, lately I’ve taken to hiring a graphic designer from oDesk or Fiverr.com to design a more professional looking cover for me.

I just give the designer the dimensions that Kunaki specifies, then when they’ve created my cover, I simply have to upload it and voila´– there it is.

If you want to see my latest, you can see it at Turn Conversations Into Clients.

Now, I have to tell you that there is virtually no customer service at Kunaki. It is all very self-serve and driven by technology – not humans. And they only do single disc products. If you do multiple disc packages, you pretty much have to do each single disc, and then put the package together yourself. Or maybe the better option is to find a different cd/dvd fulfillment place that can do multi-disc products.

This is how they explain the process on the Kunaki.com website:

How is digital manufacturing different from traditional manufacturing?

You design and configure your product (case, disc, inserts, cover art, contents) with our publishing software. The software renders a precise 3-D replica of your product and lets you modify and review different possibilities. The software compiles your product’s content, packaging, art-work into a single digital file and uploads it to our facility.

Then a seamless, automated system accepts orders; manufactures, prints, assembles, packages, wraps, and ships your product in minutes.

Digital manufacturing eliminates setup costs, coordination, human error and most labor costs. This yields a constant low production cost for all quantity levels — so you can order smaller quantities with minimal upfront and warehousing costs.

 

But the pluses are nice –

First off, very reasonable – I’ve never seen such low prices – depends on how many you order at a time, but about a dollar or so per CD.

You don’t have to order multiple copies (although you can.) You can order as few as one or as many as thousands at a time.

They’ll even dropship to your customers for you so you don’t have to keep a basement or garage full of your product and do your own fulfillment.

They’ll include a barcode on your product if you like.

They have systems in place to make it easy for you to sell through CDBaby and Amazon…

I could go on and on, but…

Well, why don’t you just go to the website and see for yourself – just go to http://www.kunaki.com/, but remember – I warned you: don’t expect anything fancy.

But if you’ve been wanting to create your own product, maybe an audio training or DVD and you want a professionally created product – not something that you duplicate one by one on your CD/DVD writer – then check out Kunaki.

I’ve been using them for almost two years now, and the only issue I’ve run into is when I forget to order at least one copy of my product at least once every six months. Because they delete your files if there’s been no orders in 180 days.

That’s a pain to have to re-upload everything, but really not the end of the world. I’ve decided I’m just going to include it in my calendar every five and a half months, and that will resolve that issue.

Make it Great!