Networking

Six Types of Networking Events That Can Grow Your Business

Posted on October 1, 2013. Filed under: Business, Business Development, Marketing, Networking, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

Networking1

Networking is an integral part of growing your small business, but most people don’t take the time to make a networking plan.  I recently hosted a tele-seminar for Independent Ladies Club called Master How to Develop a Powerful, Diverse Network with guest speaker Coach Kimberly.  She shared the reason why networking works is the connections you make, which leads to the relationship you create, and the relationships can help you to grow your business.  Therefore, it helps to be very strategic in your networking activities and knowing what types of networking events you would like to attend and who specifically you are looking to meet at these events.  Here are six types of networking events that can help you to grow your business:

  1. Casual Contact Networking–  This type of networking involves networking with individuals in a casual setting.  This could be things like a local chamber after hour events, a happy hour, etc.  The goal at these types of events is to make connections with individuals in a more relaxed “non-business” type of atmosphere.
  2. Strong Contact Networking–  This type of networking is an involvement in a networking group whose sole purpose is to pass business referrals to other members of the group.  Examples of this type of networking includes Business Networking International (BNI), PowerCore, and Chamber Lead groups to name a few.  Your goal with this type of networking is to create trusting relationships with the individuals in the group, which will increase their trust level in you and your services and they will  feel more comfortable to consistently refer business to you.
  3. Community Service–  Being involved in your local community can really help you and your business to be more visible and can be considered a form of networking in which you and your company are giving back and in return you can get new business. Although giving back may not lead to direct business, the exposure for you and your business almost always leads to indirect business in some way.
  4. Professional Associations–  This type of networking is good to create strategic alliances with other people within your industry.  Many people specialize in a particular area of a profession, so if they have a client in need of services that they don’t offer, they can refer the business to you.  Someone from your professional association could be a good fit to refer business back and fourth.  In addition, going to professional associations specifically designed for people in your target market is another great way to network and also reach potential prospects.
  5. Social/Business Groups–  As the saying goes, a lot of business transactions actually happen at social events.  Therefore, attending events that are social is a great way to develop relationships and make those business connections.
  6. Women/Men Organizations–  Being involved in clubs and organizations specifically designed for women or men can help you to create relationship with individuals who could be a great referral source.

What types of networking events do you attend and does it help to grow your business?

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The best kept secret to using social networking to grow your business (Part 2)

Posted on September 24, 2013. Filed under: Business, Business Development, Business Events, Event Marketing, Marketing, Networking, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

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In my last post, The best kept secret to using social networking to grow your business, I talked about a popular social networking site that doesn’t get as much attention as the other major sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, but is a very effective tool to grow your business, and that social network is Meetup.com.  As I mentioned in Part 1, there are two ways that you can use Meetup to grow your business, joining a meetup group or organizing a meetup group.  For the sake of this post, I will talk about how to organize a meetup.  Here are five ways to grow your business by organizing a meetup group:

1.  Start a Meetup specifically for your target market.  Once you know your target market, it is easy to start a group that caters to your target market.  Your goal is to create a community of individuals who are in your target market and provide them with valuable information and fun events.  The goal of the Meetup should never be to sell your product or service, but to offer some value to your community and in turn that should lead to business for you.

Tip:  Make sure the name of the group and/or the description of your group is very clear so that you are attracting the right people to join your Meetup group.  Adding the specific area (i.e. Women Business Owners of Atlanta, Foodies in Chicago, etc.) gives the feel of a large group designed specifically for the people in that area.

2.  Create more than one Meetup Group.  Meetup allows you to create up to three Meetup groups for one quarterly fee.  As of now, the quarterly fee is just $45/per quarter, which amounts to $15/month.  If you have three Meetup groups that amounts to just $5/month per Meetup group and you can create very specific niches of your target market and tailor your meetups to this specific niche (i.e. women who are vegetarians, men who are in finance, etc.).  The more specific your niche the more specific you can make your Meetup, but keep in mind a broad category will attract more people and a specific category will attract a smaller group.

3.  Have consistent Meetups for your Group.  The most effective Meetup groups I have seen have been groups that have consistent events that are planned out well in advance.  For example having a meetup every first Monday of the month or every other Tuesday, helps to show that your group is consistent in the events that they offer.  Even being consistent with the type of event you are having can help to build up your Meetup having a monthly or bi-weekly outing,  breakfast, luncheon, workshop, networking, etc.

4.  Create a leadership team.  It always helps if more than one person is assisting with the organizing of the group and running of the Meetups, so having a co-organizer or other members of the Meetup as your Leadership team is very helpful.

5.  List your business as a sponsor of your Meetup Group.  This is nice subtle way to put your business name out to the group without feeling like you are hard selling your products or services, you can even offer a discount to individuals from the Meetup who decide to purchase your products or services.

Have you created a meetup group to help grow your business?  If so, share what has or hasn’t been working for your meetup group.

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The best kept secret to using social networking to grow your business

Posted on September 17, 2013. Filed under: Business, Business Development, Marketing, Networking, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Meetup Logo

With a lot of attention being given to the large social networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest, one of the best kept social networking secrets is Meetup.com.  Meetup is the world’s largest network of local groups. Meetup makes it easy for anyone to organize a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face. What makes Meetup.com so great is it merges the online and the offline worlds by providing consistent face-to-face activities for each group.

There are two main ways that you can use Meetup.com to grow your business, joining a meetup group or organizing a meetup group.  For the sake of this post, I will talk about how being a member of a meetup group can help to grow your business.  Here are five ways to grow your business by joining a meetup group:

1.  Join a Business Networking Meetup.  Meetup.com has several business networking groups, if networking is a part of your marketing strategy (and it should be if it is not), start with finding some local networking meetups to join where you can meet other like-minded individuals to network with, make business connections, and learn how to grow your business.

2.  Join Meetup Groups that cater to your target market.  Once you have clearly defined who your target market is, you can actually find groups on meetup that cater to your target market (i.e. looking for women in their 20’s, 30’s or 40’s check out meetups that cater to this group, looking for health conscious individuals there are meetups in your local area that cater to this type of group too, etc.).  Once you find Meetup.com groups that fit your target market, make an effort to join and attend the events and get to know the members.  Go to the events with an intention to make new connections which could eventually lead to business, do not go with an intention to sell your product or service at the Meetup, start with building a relationship first.

3.  Offer a special perk as a member of a Meetup group.  Once you’ve joined a few Meetup.com groups consider offering a special perk to the group in which you offer some type of discount for your services.  Each Meetup.com group is different in how they manage or even if they offer perks to their group, but this could be a subtle way to get your name and your business out to the members of the group.

4.  Join the conversation.  When you RSVP to attend a meetup add comments in the event section to start a connection online before the event even starts, or if the Meetup posts discussions, join in the discussion.  This is also a great was to connect and to get your name out there with the group.

5.  If you RSVP to attend an event SHOW UP.  I cannot emphasis enough the importance of building a relationship with the group and the organizer(s) by making sure you turn up to the event when you RSVP.  If at the last minute you are unable to attend, be sure to remove yourself from the event RSVP list, or reach out to the organizer to let him or her know you will no longer be able to attend, don’t just not show up, it looks bad for you and your business.

If you approach any meetup with the intention to get to know the members and make connections it will eventually lead to business.  If you approach a meetup with the intention to just sell your product or service you will not be as successful.  If you use Meetup.com how are you using it to grow your business?

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Top 7 Reasons Why Your Social Media Marketing Efforts Don’t Work

Posted on August 5, 2013. Filed under: Business, Marketing, Networking, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , |

Are you seeing the results you want from your social media marketing efforts?  Many companies have reported that they have not seen significant results from their social media efforts, so I put together a list of the top 7 reasons your social media marketing efforts may not be working for you:

  1. You don’t know your target market.  In order to be effective on any medium online or offline, you have to know your target audience.  By knowing who you are talking to, you can cater your content to the needs of your target market.  Take an in depth look into your target market including demographics (gender, age, income level, etc.) and psychographics (interests, likes, dislikes, etc.) and base your social media marketing on the needs of your target market.
  2. You don’t have a plan.  Many companies randomly post on social media sites without having a social media strategy or plan.  Your goal should be to have a plan.  Your plan should include a written strategy on what you would like to accomplish on that particular social network, a content calendar that shows what you will be promoting each month, and key indicators that you will use to judge the success of your social media marketing efforts.
  3. You don’t post good content.  Once you know your target market and you have a plan, you should be posting good content that your target audience will find entertaining, educating, and informative.  Only a small percentage of what you post on social media should be a direct promotion of your product or service.
  4. You don’t post consistently.  Whether you decide to post daily or weekly depending on your strategy and the platform you are on, you have to be consistent about posting.  There are many social media tools that can help you by enabling you to schedule your posts ahead of time.  One of the most popular, and my favorite is HootSuite.  This FREE tool can help you organize your posts and schedule when you want your posts to go out along with other features that they offer to manage your social networks.
  5. You don’t have a strong call to action.  When you do post about your product or service, make sure you have a strong call to action, tell your followers, fans, or friends exactly what you want them to do so that you can directly see the results of that promotion.  It could be, “bring this coupon in for X”, or “register to attend this event”, or “download this eBook”, etc.
  6. You’re not having conversations.  Much of what happens on social media is conversational, so your posts should be conversational topics.  You should also be responding to any comments to your posts to keep the conversation going.
  7. You’re not participating in social listening.  Social listening can be just as important, if not more important, than the social content that you post.  Using tools like Google Alert will help you to be aware of what people are saying about your products and services, your industry, your competitors, etc.  You can learn a lot by just listening to what people are saying and either responding directly or using that information to help create the content that your target market would find useful

What techniques do you use to make sure you are getting the best results from your social media marketing efforts?

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Are You Chasing New Business or Attracting New Business? Find out 4 Steps to Attract New Business!

Posted on June 20, 2013. Filed under: Business, Business Development, Marketing, Networking | Tags: , , , , , |

Have you ever wondered why despite a down turn in the economy, some businesses are still able to attract a lot of customers?  Most of the time they have mastered the art of attracting new business.  Here are four steps for you to stop chasing new business and start attracting new business:

  1. KNOW YOUR TARGET MARKET–  Too many businesses are trying to get EVERYONE as a customer.  When you focus on everyone, you are really focusing on no one, so the key here is to target a specific type of person or group who would find your product or service EXTREMELY useful.  Once you have narrowed down your target market including specific demographics and psychographics, then you are better able to attract that specific person to your business because you know WHO you are looking for.  Also, once you understand WHO your target market is, you are better able to communicate with them in a way that shows you understand their needs.
  2. OFFER SOLUTIONS SPECIFICALLY FOR YOUR TARGET MARKET–  Make sure that your marketing message is specifically talking to the needs of your target market.  When a person knows that your product of service was specifically designed to alleviate a problem or situation he is having, he is more likely to pay attention to you and your product or service.  You have to be able to communicate how your product or service is the PERFECT solution for the problem your target market may be having, but you have to do this in subtle way, not necessarily just saying, “we have the solution”, but by communicating in a subtle way how your product or service provides a solution.
  3. MAKE YOUR BUSINESS ATTRACTIVE–  How does your business look to the public?  This means everything from what your business card looks like, down to the look of your website, and even how you present yourself and your business when you are at a function.  If your business comes of as unprofessional, unorganized, or confusing, then you will not be able to attract new business.  The key is to make sure that every aspect of your business is PROFESSIONAL, your product or service is ORGANIZED well, and your message about what your company offers and how your product of service will help your target market is CLEAR.
  4. MAKE YOUR BUSINESS KNOWN IN YOUR COMMUNITY  If your target market has never heard of you, it will be hard for you to get their business, so it is important that your business shows up both online and offline in the areas where your target market is, and not only show up, but show up consistently, so people will get to know you and your business and over time will understand more about your business and how it will be beneficial to them.

So be sure that you are not CHASING new customers, but you are ATTRACTING new customers by using the steps listed above.  What other techniques do you think helps to attract new customers to your business?  Be sure to leave a comment below:

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5 Reasons Why Your Networking Should Be Organic

Posted on April 9, 2013. Filed under: Business, Business Development, Networking | Tags: , , , , , , |

Image Source:  Boston North Business Association

I recently hosted a webinar for Independent Ladies Club entitled, “Master the Art of Successful Networking”, the speaker Erika Anderson talked about how networking should be organic and not forced, and we should think of networking as building friendships.  This made me think about the top 5 ways to network organically:

1.  Treat networking like dating–  When you meet someone at a networking event you shouldn’t think of them as someone who should be ready to purchase your product or service today, tomorrow, or even next week for that matter, but someone who you would like to get to know more about and to find out if there is a possible business connection.  Just like dating, successful networking takes time and effort to get to know someone on a deeper level.

2.  Listen more than you talk–  Communication is key with any type of relationship and is especially important when learning about someone at a networking event.  Some people have a habit of talking about how great their business is and what a great product they have, and they never take the time to truly listen and learn from the other person.  When you truly listen and understand, you get to know what the needs of an individual may be and you can think about how you can help him or her.

3. Make a connection on a personal level–  No matter how different we all are, there are usually key things that we can connect on, like hobbies, places we’ve lived, places we’ve traveled to, schools, sports, music, etc.  There is always something you can find in common with someone.  Try to connect on that personal level.

4.  Always think of someone in your network that would be a good referral or referral source for the other person–  When you listen carefully, you understand the needs or target market of the other person and  you can think about who you know that would be good to introduce them to or connect them with.  This is a great way to strengthen your connection with someone by showing you’re making an effort to help them out by introducing them to other people in your network.

5.  Strengthen the connection by connecting on social media-  more and more people find it acceptable to connect online for networking purposes.  If you meet someone at a networking event follow-up with them and deepen your connection by connecting online.  I recommend connecting on professional social networking sites like LinkedIn instead of more personal social networking sites like Facebook.  It’s a great way to keep the connection going long after the networking event has ended.

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