Top 10 Tips to Boost Your Business Network

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  1. Know yourself and your brand. Are you hip, trendy, and cool? If you are, then the networking group you join should match your style and your attitude. Sure, you want to meet different types of people for your business, but you also want them to “get you.” And you want them to be fun to work with, right?
  2. Know what you want. When you attend a networking event, what is it you want from the event? Contacts? Referrals? People to brainstorm ideas? One colleague joined a marketing group – to learn about writing marketing copy. Then complained when she did not land new business. New business was not the focus of the group. If you want new business, join a leads group. It’s also important to go into a group with a goal. When attending your next conference who would you most like to meet? Make a plan. 
  3. Know what you bring to the table that no one else does. What makes you or your product unique among your competitors? Don’t tell me it’s your quality, service, and price. Yawn. Since everyone says this, it does not stand out. And, if you’re only competing on price, you’ll lose customers to the next guy who has a lower price than yours.
  4. Know your audience. Who is your target audience? Know that not everyone is your ideal client. At one networking event I attended, a beauty product rep said, “I work with anyone with skin.” People in the group were confused. “Anyone with skin” was too broad and unfocused so they didn’t know how  or who to refer to her. Who is your favorite customer or business and how can you find their clones? Knowing who you want to work with – and who needs to know about you – makes it much easier to attract the right clients for your business. And helps others help you best.
  5. Know that the more you give, the more you get.Networking is not all about you. You’ve got to fuel your network to fire it up!™ Keep others in mind when networking.
  6. Know how to start a conversation. Develop at least three open-ended questions you can ask a person in your new networking group. Here are a few to get you started:
    • What brings you to this conference?
    • How did you get started in your business?
    • What’s the coolest thing that’s happened to you all week?

Keep your questions open and inviting. That way you can start a warm conversation.

7. If you’re shy, know that it’s A-OK to team up with a friend to attend events and meet new people. It’s much easier to introduce your friend to others and then introduce yourself.

8. Know when a group’s a great fit for your business – and when it is not. Join at least three types groups. 1) A Peer group for brainstorming, education, commiserating, and more importantly for creating alliances; 2) Prospects: a group that is your ideal target market or knows your ideal target market; 3) Professional business group or leads group. Joining a peer or professional group can also increase your search engine rankings, your visibility, and your credibility because they often publish a directory of their members on their membership website.

9. Know that in order to make the most of a group you’ve got to take an active role. Networking is more than just showing up.

10. Know that networking is simply having a conversation with friends. A good networker gives to and maintains their network.

© 1993 – 2015 Wendy Terwelp | All rights reserved.

Testimonials: Boasting or Beneficial?

In one of my groups on LinkedIn a member asked, “How important is it to post testimonials on the website? It seems to be necessary to some but few feel it’s too much of self-gratification.”

I feel testimonials are mission critical to a business website and immediately address the “Why should I hire you?” question potential customers are asking. I thought I’d share my response:

Think about it like this, do you ask friends for a great restaurant suggestion? When several friends recommend the same place for the same reasons (great food, fabulous service, fun atmosphere, etc.) do you make the decision to go to that restaurant? And when you do and have a wonderful experience, do you share that information with others? I’m guessing you do.

That’s what testimonials can do for a business, provide social proof. Depending on which study you review, purchasing decisions based on mentions and recommendations range between 72% to 90%. People have always used Word of Mouth and recommendations to determine a purchasing decision long before the advent of the web. Now, the reach has expanded.

Amazon reviews, LinkedIn recommendations, “likes,” are all testimonials of sorts.

Having them on a business website are critical – as long as the following occurs: 1) they’re true and authentic, 2) they have quantifiable results, and 3) they provide names or other clearly identifying information.

When I see only vague generalities, like “great work,” accompanied by no name or simply initials, then I doubt the veracity of the testimonial and the quality of the work.

It’s not bragging if it’s true and therefore self-gratification does not play a role. When you have experienced great results and wonderful service, it’s natural to want to spread the good word. Let your clients spread the good word about you!

© Wendy Terwelp | All rights reserved. | http://knocks.com (Full disclosure: You’ll see testimonials / social proof throughout my website.)

Is your LinkedIn bio lost in translation?

Lost in Translation

How many times have you read someone’s LinkedIn bio and wondered, “What in the world are they talking about?” It’s full of jargon, terms, and acronyms foreign to anyone outside the bio subject’s industry.

“The Curse of Knowledge” is what Chip and Dan Heath call this “symptom” in their book, “Made to Stick.” To an industry insider, these terms are common, used daily, and understood by all involved. So much so, that to anyone outside the industry, it’s confusing and just plain gibberish.

In the above picture, you see typical everyday terms used by human resource professionals (HR), eCommerce, Accounting, Marketing Communications (MarComm), and Chief Executives (any Chief-level role is considered a “C-Suite” professional). Were you lost in translation looking at the picture? While Google can help define the terms, people wanting to hire you won’t take the time to Google it. Instead, they’ll move on to the next bio whose writer makes things easy to understand.

How can you avoid the “Curse of Knowledge?” Have a family member or non-industry friend read your bio BEFORE you put it on LinkedIn or other social networks or your book jacket or use it as a speech introduction. (Can you imagine a person introducing you who is not familiar with the jargon?) If your mom has no idea what you’re talking about, you’ve got “The Curse of Knowledge” and need to reword the bio.

If you must use some jargon, spell it out first, then use the acronym afterword. Like this, Full-Time Employee (FTE). This is actually a cool benefit, because you’re using good keywords (think search terms) twice. That way, depending on who’s conducting the LinkedIn search, you’ll have a greater chance of getting the call.

Don’t want to try  this at home? Check out my LinkedIn bio-writing service. I’ll do the work for you.

Received referrals? Act fast!

George_Blomgren_med - picGuest Expert, George Blomgren,
MRA, The Management Association

When you are networking and receive additional names from your networking connections, treat those referrals like gold.

Here’s why: Let’s say I shared the names of a couple of trusted colleagues with you after meeting you for the first time. It’s important you follow up with those referrals quickly. Chances are good, I’ll reach out and let that person know you will be in touch.

If you wait to contact them, you lose the advantage and make yourself look bad. Plus, if you don’t follow up, and I reach out and find you haven’t acted, you dropped the ball. I invested some of my reputation in you by handing over a friend’s contact info, and now I regret it. Nothing good can come from that!

Should you reach out quickly and professionally the opposite happens: you look responsible and professional, plus everybody is impressed.

One more reason to act fast: A great salesman once told me that there’s always a temptation, after closing a big sale, to go home early and celebrate. He advised me to do the opposite. That’s the perfect time to keep making phone calls. You’re on top of the world and everyone can hear it in your voice. The same applies here. You just had a good networking meeting and landed a couple of fresh leads – strike while you’re feeling good!

George Blomgren is the  Director of Recruiting Solutions for MRA – The Management Association. George has 20+ years of talent acquisition (aka recruiting),  and operations experience. Prior to joining MRA, George ran the advertising and marketing department for a fast-growing network of local employment websites.

Holiday Networking and Your Brand

The holidays are fast approaching and that means parties — those of your friends, family, office colleagues, professional associations, and more. A great time to network.

Here are some things you can do during holiday gatherings that improve your brand and build your network:

  •  Attend holiday gatherings. I know, you’ve been invited to so many and it can get a bit overwhelming. I encourage you to participate and take an active role.
  • Be professional. You never know who will be at the event. Work events included. The spouse or significant other of a coworker could be a key connection for you later on. Many of my clients have gotten hired over the holidays.
  •  Take online networks offline. It’s the holidays, just because business may have slowed down, networking doesn’t have to. Good chance your online network has time for a coffee or lunch.
  • Take time to call a friend and other connections in your network. If your friend doesn’t have time for lunch, make time for a brief call. With the recent fires and other events, it’s important to stay in touch and strengthen your ties. These events affect people globally, not just locally.
  • Develop and practice your networking sound bite before heading to a party or other holiday event.
  • LISTEN. Listen to the conversations and identify areas where you can help. You’ve got to fuel your network to fire it up!™
  • Follow up with whatever you promised.
  • Connect via the appropriate social network(s). LinkedIn is terrific in that it provides regular updates right to your inbox, so you can quickly follow up with a congratulations note or related email.

Networking is all about building and maintaining relationships, not about making the instant sale or begging for a job. Build the relationship first. It will lead to the rest. Networking this way will have a positive effect on your brand and propel your career.

Have you got a holiday networking story to share? Share in the comments. I look forward to hearing from you!

© updated 2018 | Wendy Terwelp

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com