How To Network

April 16th, 2019

Business networking has been with us forever. While the venues and opportunities grow and change, we learn more about ourselves and how to develop mutually rewarding relationships. Contacts can emerge through referrals and introductions whether face-to-face or via phone, email, social media, or networking websites.

Here are resources that can offer rewarding results. Let’s start with some How To’s:

How to Network Like A Pro – Forbes  

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesagencycouncil/2018/05/…/how-to-network-like-a-pr

How to Network Like You Really Mean It

Inc. Magazine, by Minda Zetlin

https://www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/8-things-power-networkers-do-make-connections.html

How to Network When You Don’t Like Networking

https://fairygodboss.com/articles/how-to-network-when-you-hate-networking

How to Network

Lots of information from YouTube networkers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfNN3b1dofQ

And, more resources:

10 Tips for Successful Business Networking

http://www.businessknowhow.com/tips/networking.htm

5 Things You MUST Do During Networking Events

http://www.workitdaily.com/networking-events-things-must-do/

12 Things Not To Do When Networking

http://www.careertoolbelt.com/12-things-not-to-do-when-networking/

Lots of books discuss the business networking process. One of them is Guerilla Marketing in 30 Days, 3rd Edition, by Jay Conrad Levinson and Al Lautenslager. Among their many suggestions is to develop networking goals. For example:

  • Meet 10 new people.
  • Receive eight business cards.
  • Note something of interest on each card.
  • Write a follow-up note to five of these people (or all).
  • Call and set up an appointment after writing to three contacts.
  • Continue the relationship with two of these.

The book also offers encouraging “Ongoing Networking Tips and Techniques” and  “Action Steps.”

Here’s to your networking success.

Benefits of Writing a Blog

April 2nd, 2019

People blog for a variety of business and personal reasons.  Here are a few to consider.

“Top 14 Reasons Why People Blog” 

 “Top 5 Reasons You Should Start a Business Blog”

“5 Powerful Benefits of Blogging for Your Small Business”

 “Why Blog? The Benefits of Blogging for Business & Marketing?”

“Why Your Business Needs a Blog”

“The Importance of Blogging for Your Website”

 “5 Steps to Turning Your Blogging Hobby into a Job”

“The 15 Real Benefits of Blogging”

Meet a Young, Successful Entrepreneur

March 7th, 2019

Jonathan Prizant knew in 2014, when he was a freshman in high school, that he wanted to start his own business. Despite being interested in pursuing a business education through school, he also wanted hands on experience in business. In 2015, Jonathan decided to launch a company that produces custom T-Shirts. Over the course of the next few years the company expanded from a small T-shirt printing gig to a full blown apparel decoration, graphic design, and branding agency. Skokie Printing Inc. grows every year. So does Jonathan.

The relative success of the small business hasn’t hindered his original plans, as he is also pursuing a college degree in business and marketing and will graduate in 2021.

“Building a business is a 100 percent learning experience. My father has no formal education and has been running an IT company company since the 90s, while my mom has a master’s in business. My goal is to have both: the first hand experience of bootstrapping a company and an official college business education. It’s a balancing act, but I’m proud to have the opportunity to experience both.”

While Jonathan is home-based, he works with part-time employees. Their goal is to respond to customers’ unique needs and interest in custom T-Shirts, jackets, embroidery and other possibilities. “Personal customer service is critical.”

“We offer a customized printing solution for any organization or an event. We apply a variety of different methods and can transfer anything from basic text and full color photos onto your garment via a unique approach.”

Currently, one of Jonathan’s top priorities is networking. “I’m more concerned with meeting business owners and developing lasting relationships with my clients. My ultimate goal is to expand from printing into all aspects of advertising and be the go-to guy for marketing small businesses and organizations.”

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Will you retire from work when you’re 65 or 95?

March 3rd, 2019

Some people retire when they’re 65 or 70. Others are not the retiring type and still work in their 90s. Others go back to work after retiring. Or you might want to volunteer. Your decision will probably depend on your financial resources, your personality, your interests and how rewarding your life style is.

Here are some helpful resources as you consider the next chapter in your life.

Consider your possibilities to see what “works” for you?!

Do Your Customers Love You?

February 12th, 2019

Because “you need your customers more than they need you,” Jeb Blount offers the “Seven Essential Principles of Customer Service” in his book, People Love You – The Real Secret to Delivering Legendary Customer Experiences.

As Blount explains, “The fact is customers are not loyal to products, services or companies. Instead, they are loyal to people they like, trust and believe in.” So while the mechanics and process of servicing customers are important, your real goal is to build “strong emotional bonds with customers that last a lifetime.”

Thus, Blount presents “The Seven Essential Principles of Customer Engagement”:

“Principle 1: You Need Your Customers More Than They Need You. The number one reason companies fail is a lack of customers. Whether you are the boss, account manager or sales person, top customer service professionals believe their mission is to help their customers win and reach their goals. They are advocates for their customers. And they believe that by helping their customers reach their goals, they will reach their own.”

“Principle 2: Customers Are People. They are emotional, irrational and human. They feel fear and stress. They are overworked and underpaid. They are time starved. They have ambition and goals. They have an insatiable need to feel important and appreciated. They have families and priorities. Each interaction with a person crates an experience that they remember. Though you may believe that your product or service has a greater impact on your customer’s experience than you do, remember that customers don’t do business with companies, they do business with people – you.”

“Principle 3: You Are Always On Stage. Business is a grand stage and…from that stage you deliver customer experiences. Everything you say or don’t say, do or don’t do, your facial expressions, tone of voice and body language can and will have an impact on your customer’s experience. Your words and actions have meaning. A misspoken word, display of raw emotion, or slip of the tongue will impact the relationships you have with customers. … This is where customer experience is born. Yours and theirs.”

“Principle 4: Customers Act on Emotion and Justify with Logic. “One of the core principles of the ‘People Love You’ philosophy is the universal law of human behavior: People act first (or buy) on emotion and then justify those actions with logic.’ Yes, there are ‘folks who will argue this point to the death.’ And, yes it is true that we all try to make logical purchasing decisions based on facts, numbers, observations and stats. But it is the emotion we feel that causes us to act.”

“Principle 5: Customers Do Things for Their Reasons – Not Yours. Account managers or customer service professionals should embrace the belief that though customers may not always be right, they are always first. They stand in their shoes and view situations through their customer’s perspective.”

“Principle 6: Customers Don’t Do Illogical Things on Purpose. While some managers believe ‘customers do dumb things on purpose’ … there is usually an alternative explanation for their actions. … Top customer service professionals assume positive intent. In other words, they recognize that the customer thought she was doing the right thing. They know that when a customer is doing the wrong thing, there is a reason and it is in their best interest as a service professional (because they need their customers more than their customers need them) to investigate why the person is doing something that seems illogical rather than simply judge it as such. This helps them to either gain understanding or uncover and remove the root cause.”

“Principle 7: Always Give More Than Is Required. Generally, when discussing customer service, the cliché is to ‘exceed customer expectations.’ But, Jeb Blount explains, ‘it is not always possible to exceed their expectations, since you may not know what they are or can’t exceed them. “At my company, we have a simple value statement that we live by. We always do more than we have to and we will be kind to everyone, no matter what. … Focus on what you can control – your actions. … That is, ‘give your customers more value that they paid for.’ We often forget about our expectations and instead think about how good we feel and our experience.”

Blount discusses the “Five Levers of Customer Experience that help you move people to love you by tapping into the motivations that are driven by human emotion,” and he explains how to “make breaking up hard to do.”

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How to Increase Your Business Referrals

January 13th, 2019

“The power of glitzy advertising and elaborate marketing campaigns is on the wane; word-of-mouth referrals are what drive business today,” John Jantsch, author of Duct Tape Marketing,  says in his book, The Referral Engine – Teaching Your Business to Market Itself. “Human beings are physiologically wired to make referrals. That’s why so many businesses can grow and thrive by tapping this business-building strategy alone.”

The Referral Engine encourages you to take an objective look at your business and reevaluate your marketing strategy as well as your business model. Get ready to “craft a strategy that compels customers and partners to voluntarily participate in your marketing, to create positive buzz about your products and services to friends, neighbors and colleagues.”

When we buy products or services, we are really buying experiences. Yes, referrals start with the quality of your professional knowledge, skills, services and products. However, as Jantsch explains in The Referral Engine, the “first step in the design of your referral system is to unearth the simple remarkable difference that is your chief competitive advantage. … It’s not enough to be an accountant who gets the tax return done before April 15 or your money back. If you want people to talk, you’ve got to be the accountant who gets the tax return done before April 15, then gets your oil changed at the car wash next door while you discuss your return in his office.”  And, that’s just the beginning.

If you need help developing a “core talkable difference” or innovation for your start-up or mature (needing some reinvention) business, The Referral Engine is loaded with resources, examples, and strategies to help you identify new strategies for building your business and endless referrals.

What does your business do and what does it mean to your customers? Who are your ideal customers? What is your added and “extreme” value? How do you and your staff engage customers in a memorable way that leads to word-of-mouth referrals? Why do or should they choose you over a competitor? Do you know which referral system would work best for your company?

“In preparation for writing this book,” Jantsch says, “I conducted an informal survey of several thousand small business owners. Unsurprisingly, I found that 63.4 percent felt that over half their business came by way of referrals. “But,” he notes, “of that same group, 79.9 percent readily admitted that they had no system of any kind to generate referrals.”

Is it time for a new approach?

“If you love to cold call and dig spending money on advertising, then The Referral Engine is not for you,” David Meerman Scott says in praise of the book. However, if you appreciate the value and potential of referrals, then, as Seth Godin notes, “This book will pay for itself in one day.”

 

Challenges of the Self-Employed

January 2nd, 2019

You might be considering self-employment as your new year’s goal and could find these perspectives helpful. If you are already your own boss, please share your experiences.

4 Big Challenges Today’s Self-Employed Professionals Face

https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/9996-self-employment-challenges.html

The Challenges of Being Self-Employed

https://www.theselfemployed.com/working-from-home/challenges-self-employed/

Five Challenges of Being Your Own Boss

https://timsstrategy.com/5-challenges-of-being-your-own-boss/

Risks and Challenges of Being Self-Employed – How to Reinforce Your Small Business

https://www.next-insurance.com/blog/risks-challenges-of-being-self-employed/

The Self-Employed on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/theselfemployed/

You will find many more resources when you Google “Books about self-employment” and “Magazines about self-employment.”

Happy New Year !!!

What is Your Brand?

December 10th, 2018

How do potential customers perceive your product or service? Do you have an “attractive” brand that communicates what they can expect from your business?

Define your audience. Are you trying to reach college students, working parents or corporate executives? Find adjectives that describe your business approach (i.e. traditional, reliable, playful, whimsical, fun). “Look at the marketplace and find examples of your competitor’s branding,” notes Luke Renn, Luke Renn Design. “Then determine what you like and dislike about their branding. Always be unique when creating your own identity, but keep in mind what has been successful in the marketplace.”

To start, your brand identity will be expressed through a logo, colors and typography. Keep in mind, the most effective logos are typically simple (think of the Apple logo). Once you’ve created your fundamental branding, it can be applied to many types of marketing materials: “business cards, envelopes, website, social media, t-shirts, banners, vehicle graphics and much more,” notes Renn. Behind these potential ideas, however, is your target market and audience and how they respond to your brand. Remember their expectations and your commitment to them. It’s an ongoing process of establishing a solid image or impression with an individual, group or organization.

You and your brand should build trust and confidence. Branding reflects what others think about your abilities. You want to develop a solid personal reputation. People like supporting local businesses and other professionals. Know your audience…what are their expectations?

In addition to graphic design Luke Renn’s brand also includes being an actor and voice-over artist.

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If You Are Writing a Book, You Might Consider Self-Publishing It

November 7th, 2018

“Self-publishing offers wonderful opportunities to writers who are willing to invest time, money, and effort to produce a quality book. To do it properly requires a leap of faith and the willingness to accept some risk,” explains Kim Bookless, a publishing consultant who works with authors. “Start by considering the process.” www.kimbookless.com

“If you understand the pros and cons of the process, it can be rewarding – and challenging. As a self-published author, you will have control of your book, including the retail price and how and where it’s sold. You will retain all rights to the book, and you can keep more of the royalties than you can with traditional publishing,” adds Bookless.

What is involved in self-publishing? “To do it well usually requires at least six months depending on how much editing your manuscript needs.” The undertaking can include two to four types of editing, book design, proofreading, ebook conversion, printing, distribution, marketing, and other activities. You will need help from experts; DIY (doing it yourself) is not recommended. If your budget permits, you can consider hiring a project manager to guide you through the process and take much of the work off your plate.

Two important considerations are your goals and budget.   As you contemplate self-publishing, evaluate yourself and your resources.

  • Do you have an entrepreneurial mind-set?
  • Do you have a budget that will cover the work and expert involvement?
  • Are you comfortable with risk – financial and emotional?
  • If needed, could you work with a full-service self-publishing company?
  • Do you have the time to market your book, which includes conventional marketing/PR and social media?

Three Important Questions to Ask Yourself

Kim Bookless explains, “Your answers to these questions will determine the entire publishing process, including which self-publishing method is best for you.”

  1. Why are you publishing the book? For example, if you want to put your book on the market, plan to invest more money in editing and design than if you’re writing a family history you don’t plan to sell.
  2. What are your goals for the book? For example, if you’re a professional and you want to self-publish a book to give you credibility and market yourself or your company, you’ll need to invest in top-notch editing and design and have a solid market plan for your book.
  3. How much money can you afford to invest in the book? When you add up the fees for all the services, it can cost thousands of dollars to produce and distribute a quality print book. If you’re on a tight budget, consider starting with an ebook. Even better, postpone the self-publishing process until you can save the money needed for the professional editing, design and marketing.

A Perfect Example

When asked to give an example of a successful self-publisher, Kim says Duane Scott Cerny, author of Selling Dead People’s Things, comes to mind immediately. Frustrated with pursuing a book deal from a traditional publisher, he turned to self-publishing and never looked back.

According to Kim, “Duane did everything right:

  • He had a strong author platform in place before he published.
  • He wrote a great manuscript on a marketable topic.
  • He followed all of the recommended self-publishing steps, including investing in professional editing and design.
  • He works diligently to market his book and promote himself as an author.”

Duane’s hard work has been rewarded with strong book sales, excellent reader reviews, and many opportunities to discuss his book online and in the media.

Bottom Line

Kim’s best advice: “To give yourself the best chance for success, do research to ensure there’s a market for your book then follow the steps to produce the best book possible. Accept that you’re taking a risk, educate yourself on the self-publishing process, invest in professional editing and design, and work hard to market the book.”

Holidays…It’s Time to Job Hunt!

November 6th, 2018

You may want to relax and enjoy the holidays, but November through January are considered optimal job hunting months. You’re networking at holiday events, your boss may be more relaxed and open to “promotional” conversations, and many companies are trying to fill positions during this time.

If, while focusing on the holidays, you wouldn’t mind fine-tuning and improving your job hunting strategies and skills, then you might be interested in a few resources.

Top 11 Reasons to Job Search During the Holidays: 
https://www.thebalancecareers.com/top-reasons-to-job-search-during-the-holidays-2062214

10 Tips to Job Hunt Successfully During the Holidays: 
https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2015/12/03/10-tips-to-job-hunt-successfully-during-the-holidays/#660818fe672d

Happy Holidays!