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.

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!

 

Stand Out or Be Benched!

Once again, its Super Bowl time and the buzz of football fans’ excitement fills the air! Due to the special occasion, I thought I’d share with you some of my thoughts on how marketing your business is like football.

Yes, believe it or not there are connections between this crazy sport and your business…

Marketing is just like any competitive sport in that, in order to play the game and be successful, you have to stand out from the crowd.

If we’re talking professional sports, you could still make some money sitting on the bench with all of the other players that are competing for your position, but it is the player who is actually out there on the field showing his/her stuff and making the big plays that is going to make the big bucks.

Think about a football team. It is made up of a bunch of different people who specialize in certain parts of the game. Although there are a number of different positions, there are always at least 3 or 4 people vying for the same position. Obviously not all of them can play at the same time, and of course, the one who is the best is going to get substantially more time on the field.

It is the one who plays the most that people recognize and cheer for. He not only gets paid way more money than the other 2 or 3 guys on the bench, but he is the one that others consider to be a success.

The other people sitting on the bench are just some other players that may get to go in every once in a while, and may even have a good play here and there, but nobody will remember them. As far as the fans are concerned, they are just like every other guy on the bench, and therefore are not perceived as “as good as” those who actually get playing time and are watched by millions of people all over the country.

The business world is exactly the same.

No, you’re right – there is technically no bench and 99.9% of the time no business will be viewed by millions on TV. However, the concept holds true.

Those businesses that do not stand out from the crowd won’t ever gain the recognition needed to become truly successful. If you have no customers, it’s equivalent to never getting out onto the field to show your stuff.

If you never get out onto the field to show your stuff, you might as well not be a player.

Same goes for your business. Why be in business if you don’t get to work your magic and help those you’re most able to serve with your gifts, skills and experience? Might as well shutter the doors.

You have to be playing your game in order to make your business thrive.

The way in which business success is different than sports is that it’s not necessarily the best of the best that gains the most recognition and that conquers the market.

It is the business that really sets itself apart from the others as reliable, trustworthy, and knowledgeable and that creates a message which allows them to stand out as something special in the mind of their prospects that will see the most success.

If your potential client doesn’t see you as the obvious choice with exactly the solutions that they’re looking for, they’ll look right through you. You’ll be as invisible as someone who got cut from the roster. You’re no longer even a backup choice at that point.

There may be other great quality, dare I say even better businesses out there that give better service for a cheaper price.

But if nobody knows who you are, no matter how good, bad or indifferent you are at what you do, then you are no different than the subpar businesses that people regret going to.

Unless you differentiate yourself and your business from the masses, you will always be a benchwarmer that is the backup plan in case the starter isn’t available for some reason or another. Or maybe, like we said earlier, you’re cut from the team and never get the chance to create the winning play.

In order to even get a chance to play, you MUST set yourself apart.

How do you do that? Well, the first thing is to know what you want your business to stand for in the minds of your customer.

And that something had better be attractive to them.

Because believe it or not, the game is not about you – it’s about how your prospects and clients perceive you.

And as you know, the only thing that matters from their perspective is whether or not you can deliver the answers, solutions or transformations they’re looking for.

So put yourself out there as a player that is ready to compete and show just how much of a stand out player you can be. All of your prospective clients are like scouts looking for the next best thing…by setting yourself apart as different and focusing on your strengths, you can make sure that YOU are that business.

While watching the Super Bowl this week, think about how your business is like football. Comparing business marketing to sports may seem like a stretch, but if you think about it, the two concepts really do have a ton in common.

Let me know if this concept resonates with you, and how.

Until next week, enjoy your football and I hope your team wins!

 

Would You Buy The Box Of Cereal That Just Said “Cereal” On The Box?

Although positioning your business is by no means rocket science, it isn’t the simplest thing in the world to do, either. It’s multifaceted, and as such, requires a multidirectional approach. You can’t just do one thing and call it good.

In order to create a truly successful business and to clear out a space in the market to call your own, you must approach positioning from a number of different angles.

Many people either neglect, or don’t know how to use, some of the important positioning tactics available to them.

One of the most commonly made positioning mistakes is being too generic. Defining oneself or one’s businesses in a generic way, using generic ads and campaigning messages, explaining one’s business to others in a way that they have heard a million times before…the list goes on and on. Blah blah blah…

The LAST thing that you want to be is generic. Have you ever heard someone say that they aspire to be generic? That they would really love to be one of the sheep that follows some other go-getter blindly?

NOBODY WANTS THAT! And you shouldn’t settle for that either.

And yet, millions and millions of passionate service professionals and business owners who genuinely have the ability to change lives get stuck in that generic mindset.

And then they wonder why it feels like they’re invisible and they’re not attracting the clients that they need to survive.

Let me explain it to you –

You Can Not Attract Energizing and Fun Clients to Work With You

If You Look Like Everybody Else

Who Does What You Do

 

In fact, right now, print this page up, and then cut that blockquote piece out and post it above your work space.

Get that done?

Okay, onward…

Uh-oh…some of you didn’t do that!

And after I asked so nicely, too…What’s that all about? : )

Here’s another one for you to cut out and paste over your desk…

Would You Buy The Box Of Cereal

That Just Said “Cereal” On The Box?

 

You have to think outside of the box and emphasize what makes you and your business unique. If you have had experiences that help you to relate to your target market, emphasize that!

If you offer something that nobody else does, make sure that everyone knows it! And do so in a creative way…

Celebrate and focus on what makes YOU different from the rest!

Showing that there is something that sets you apart from other businesses in your market is the first step to gaining potential clients’ attention and recognition. However, like I said before, it is not the ONLY step.

Next week I will go into another positioning mistake that altogether way too many people make and how you can avoid doing the same.

Until then, ask yourself these questions. How is what I offer different than what my competitors offer?

What makes both me and my business unique?

How can I present my business in a way that makes it stand out from the crowd?

If you can’t think of anything, well then think about what steps you can take to make your business unique and different from the other generic commodity businesses.

I know that it may feel like a big task, but it is a necessary one.

Make it a great week, and see you on the flipside!

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!