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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Networking in a Web 2.0 World

Traditional businesses in the offline world, or "bricks and mortar" companies, had the same needs as anyone doing business online today: getting the word out about their products and services. Way back when, pre-1994 and the Web, we used personal networking as a powerful channel to tell other people about our businesses and get referrals.

We joined the Rotary Club, hoping for the chance to be a guest speaker and have the opportunity to talk about our business. We joined the local Chamber of Commerce and charitable organizations; we served on committees, meeting people who could, it was hoped, refer clients to us, especially after they got to know us and knew of our integrity and business smarts.

Doing business today in an online world is much the same. Networking is still a powerful part of getting your message out to potential clients. The tools, however, have changed a great deal indeed.

If you were wondering what Facebook, MySpace, Squidoo, Stumble Upon!, Twitter,, and Digg have to do with growing your business, remember that successful business networking is founded upon people telling other people that you have something valuable to share. That's exactly what these new social networking tools do.

When you come across a website or an online business that is excellent and worthy of recommending to other people, you might send an I Like It thumbs up to Stumble Upon to add it to their list, you might Digg it, Twitter it, tag it, and bookmark it in As you accumulate Diggs and Thumbs Up from others, your own site begins to rank higher in searches, and other people who are browsing for interesting sites to Stumble Upon may just land on yours.

Recommendations and ratings from other people count for a great deal in an environment where there are billions of pages of information, including a lot of dreck. Democratization of publishing media has made everyone a publisher, everyone a videographer. So to make your worthy efforts stand out from the glut of words and sites on the web, recommendations are vital, just as they were when entrepreneurs networked in person at club meetings and industry events.

The same rules of etiquette apply online as well. Be generous in recommending other sites, applying thoughtful ratings to content you’ve viewed, and writing reviews that help customers decide to use that product or service. Give before you get. Nobody likes an entrepreneur who is so busy talking about his or her business that they never learn about anyone else’s. No one will give you referrals if you come across as a boor, so don’t just Digg or rate your own sites. In the social networking world of Web 2.0 networking means using these new tools to tag and recommend sites you have found to be of interest. With the appropriate attitude of giving for mutual benefit, you will eventually conduct the online equivalent of exchanging business cards – exchanging links to your site and blogrolling links to those you want to recommend.

Networking is still an important part of business, and today’s Web 2.0 tools make it easy.

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Friday, July 06, 2007

BizCom Makes or Breaks

Face it, your business succeeds or fails on its business communication. You may think that sales and marketing are the two most important facets of your business. They are indeed important, but they are both dependant upon good business communication.

Without sales of products or services, you have no revenue and shortly, no business. You know that well enough. But sales are made when your message is communicated correctly to your customer. Repeat sales, customer loyalty, and word of mouth referrals can only happen when a satisfied customer is convinced that your product fulfilled the promise made by your business communication. Marketing attracts customers to your company when the message clearly conveys an understanding of those customers' needs, and how your product can satisfy those needs better than any competing product or company.

Relationships are based on communication. If you can't communicate with someone, you can't build a relationship with them. Ever had an argument with someone who refused to pay any attention to what you said? Or who continually misunderstood you? Painful, wasn't it? The sales relationship you create with a prospect, and the marketing relationship you create with the public, can only be created and strengthened when you are communicating effectively with people in a way that they can receive and understand your message.

If you are not paying attention to your business communication, you are not paying appropriate attention to your business. You certainly cannot grow your business without ensuring your business communication strategies and tactics are ready to stimulate that growth. Take a few moments now to review your business communication activities and determine how they are faring, and how they can contribute to your future success.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Better is the Enemy of Good Enough

This is a Russian proverb. Rather than being a comment on quality, it reminds us that sometimes you just have to ship. We know there are things we could always do better. If you subscribe to the idea of continuous quality improvement, as I do, then striving for excellence is a worthy endeavor. Unfortunately, if you don't have a plan in place to release interim levels of quality, your business can get stalled, with no revenue, until you reach your quality target.

Much better, then, to keep pushing out product and keep growing the business while you concurrently keep improving the quality of your input, resources, and output.

This is a principle well understood by the software industry. Now, anyway. Iterative product development is a solid development methodology that allows the company to release good working versions of software knowing that there will be some fixes necessary. That doesn't mean they skimp on quality during development. (Well, not in principle anyway!)

It means that each iteration is a discrete set of features, and those are the things that they concentrate on getting right for each release. If a new idea comes up, or a new direction, it is scheduled for a future release. Thus they avoid the "creeping elegance" syndrome of delaying the product to make it better.

Writing is a similar process. It has always been iterative, with one draft or revision after another. Like software, or any other creative discipline, the product can always be tweaked, and polished, and improved.

But to keep your business afloat, and especially to keep growing, you need to get the product to the customers so you can take in the revenue. Without sales, you're going nowhere fast. It certainly takes discipline to hold the line on feature creep. It takes a rigorous process to ensure everyone involved focuses on getting the best product possible out now, knowing that it could be made even better.

When good enough is sufficient, why delay shipping to make it better? And if we factor in the Law of Discernment -- that if you spend XX more hours making it better but customers cannot tell the difference -- there is no profit in worrying overly much about the very best quality, only the quality that is good enough to get the job done.

To use two good business cliches, First things First, and Don't Sweat the Small Stuff.
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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Tyranny of Commitment

Commitment is usually a good thing. When you say you're going to do something, you should do it. When you tell your partners, your investors, or your staff that you will grow the business, then you should follow through with that and undertake activities that contribute to growth.

But every now and then, a commitment can take its toll. Witness my last five months. No updates to the BizGro blog because of another commitment that consumed more time and energy than I had even thought possible. I'm sorry about that. I just couldn't squeeze in the time to pay attention to it, even though it's something I love doing.

Since I'm not the type of person to back out on a commitment, I had to see this other project through, even though it was painful in many ways. Sure, I could have walked away, as others did. There were times when I wondered why I was trying to stand by people who didn't show as much commitment to the objective as they were asking of me. I know full well that had I jumped ship, the project would have sunk badly. I also know that I could have gotten out of it without any damage to my reputation, or my finances.

But there would have been a result, all right. My conscience would have taken the blow. At least I know I put in more than 100% on every aspect of this project. Some people might see that as pointless. Why continue on something that has little chance of success?

It's a matter of vision. I learned a great deal from that project. Not all of those lessons were good ones, but they were valuable ones. I learned a great deal about myself. And I hope others who worked with me during those five painful months saw something that they can recommend to others, for better projects.

We start businesses because we see a need that has to be filled. Fulfilling a commitment is no different. We take on a responsibility that has to be done, sometimes when no one else will step up to do it. We are rewarded, perhaps in intangible and hard-to-identify ways, by seeing it through.

If your efforts to grow your business are not going the way you think they should, stay committed. Change direction if necessary; change tactics as you see fit.

But don't give up. Therein lies the greatest growth.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Pattern for Change

Actively growing a business often requires some changes to be made. Many times, that change has to be made in the business owner first, before changes can be made to the company. If you've been in patterns of habits for a while, overcoming the inertia of that well-worn path can be difficult. Here is a useful plan for making and sustaining change that will support business growth.

1. Clarify your focus: What change needs to be made? You may think there are a number of things that have to be changed, but focus on the most important item first. Is it time management? Is it letting go of control so that others can take more responsibility? Is it addressing problems with suppliers? Clarifying your focus and selecting one problem to work on at a time brings together your scattered energy and concentrates the power on a specific target.

2. Study the problem: Gather information, research possible solutions, seek wisdom from knowledgeable people, read good books on the subject, and do whatever it takes to obtain a body of information from which your solution will come. This is a great time to connect with your mastermind team (See my article on The Smart Six™ Mastermind Alliance.) Bounce ideas off trusted advisors or your business coach; journal the problem and brainstorm solutions; explore the idea in whatever ways suit your style. This intensive research helps your subconscious formulate a workable solution by giving it the raw materials and ideas from which to draw.

3. Develop an Action Plan: Once you've gathered sufficient data, set your mind to work to come up with what you're going to do about the problem. Determine a course of action, and get started. If you're stalled at this point, it is usually because steps 1 and 2 weren't fully completed. You may need to do more research. Perhaps your focus isn't tight enough. Revisit those things until you are able to come up with a concrete plan. Initiate the changes you have specified in your plan.

4. Expand Awareness: As you execute your plan, observe the results. Evaluate whether the change is happening as you had envisioned. If not, why not? Take note of what is working, and what could be improved. Try to see both the big picture and the detailed view. This is the step in which you deepen your understanding of the situation.

5. Design a Supportive Environment: The way to sustain change is to ensure the environment supports that change. If you've decided to delegate responsibility to others for day to day operations so that you can concentrate on business development activities, for example, redesign your environment to support that change. Perhaps that means you are out of the office more, so you create a mobile office. Maybe you move your COO into your office and start working at home. You notify your staff of this change so that they begin to direct issues to the COO instead of you. Make it easy to go forward with the change, and difficult to go back to the old pattern.

For smaller, uncomplicated changes you may find that you run through the above steps almost instantly. For more complex changes, it may take time to work your way through the process. Either way, when it is necessary to make changes to improve the business, it is essential that those changes be sustainable, so that your business growth will have lasting results.
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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Laser Marketing

The most important activity of any business is marketing. Without marketing, you have no customers. It's marketing that creates the interest in, and demand for, your product or service. Marketing gets the message out about your business. It offers potential customers another option for where they should spend their money.

One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is to consider marketing as secondary to other business activities. This usually happens because business owners don't know how to effectively market in the first place, and because they don't know how to choose marketing professionals to help them with this very important task.

A reliable marketer knows how to tightly focus your marketing efforts to get results. Like a laser that is tuned on a target, a highly concentrated marketing effort directed toward the right people has a penetrating effect. It can bring substantial returns and help you grow your business.

First, you need to be specific about your market. Who is your market? Why would they buy from you, and not a competitor? (This is your USP in action.) What is it about these customers that makes them buy? And the most important question, What problems and pains does this market have that your product or service can solve?

When considering your market, think not only demographics -- age range, locality, income level, etc., but psychographics -- men who golf at least twice a week, who own one or more purebred dogs, and who vacation in Mexico. The more you know about your best customer, and your target customer, the better you are able to laser your marketing efforts.

Applying your USP (Unique Selling Proposition, see my article USP - Key to Business Success) to this very specific market, and demonstrating in your marketing messages how your company can alleviate the problems of the customer, will be the tightly-focused laser beam needed to get that market's attention.

When you laser your marketing message in this way, you don't have to convince customers to buy from you. They can immediately make that decision for themselves once they read your message. They can instantly determine that you have the solution for their problem, and they are sold before they even contact you.

Laser marketing is the most effective way to keep your business in front of the customers who are hungry for your product or service. This allows you to keep costs down, to ensure your marketing is reaching the right people, and to obtain the best results from those markeitng efforts.

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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Three States of Living Matter

At the beginning of a new year, many of us like to review the past 12 months, and revisit our plans for the coming 12 months. If we are forward thinking, we probably have a look at the 5-year and 10-year plans we may have made, as well.

It is always said of business plans that they are dynamic documents which should be regularly read, revised, republished, and consulted. I agree. I also like to extend that thought to any plan. A plan is one approach to getting from point A to point B, whether in time or space. It is the approach you've chosen. It may not be the most correct way to accomplish your goal, but it is the one you've researched, analyzed, scoped. specified, funded, and are now implementing. You've made a commitment to that plan and those tactics over other possible ways to get the job done.

However, life happens. Sometimes the universe changes the variables with which we are working. We encounter obstacles that were different from what we had anticipated. Our actions have different consequences that what we had predicted. We need to adjust. We need to rethink the plan.

Smart people understand that reworking a plan is a natural part of project management. Any time the conditions, variables, resources, or outcomes change in a project, it is advisable to take another look at the project plan and make adjustments accordingly. It may mean increasing funding, pushing out a deadline, reassigning personnel, reducing requirements, or changing other aspects of the plan. Dynamic plans live and breathe. They grow.

There are only three states of living matter in the universe. Anything live is either growing, is stagnant (in stasis) or decaying.

When looking at plans for your business this year, it is valuable to ask:
  1. Where are we now?
  2. Are we growing, stagnant, or decaying?
  3. Where do we want to be?
  4. What do we need to change, to get the growth we want to have?

You want your business to thrive, to grow, to be a living entity. Re-evaluation of your current state can help you decide what to do next.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Talking to Customers

A customer enters your store. If you approach them and ask "May I help you?", what is the most likely response? They reply "No thanks, I'm just looking." That "No" from the customer brings everything to a halt. Conversation over. Interaction with customer over. Opportunity to sell, gone. Sales = $0.00.

Instead, greet your customer with "What brings you into our store today?" Almost any response the customer makes is an opportunity for you to begin to develop a relationship with that individual. Even if you don't make a sale that day, you want that person to think well of you and your store, and return another day when they might be more inclined to buy.

Even if the customer says something like "Nothing really, I'm just browsing", you can take the opportunity to mention some specific sale items, or ask further questions which may draw out the need or want they have for specific merchandise.

Instead of seeing an opportunity to make a sale, see every customer conversation as an opportunity to get to know that customer. Individualized service will often create customer loyalty where selling on price will not.

Don't sell, or pitch items. Talk to your customer instead. Some examples: "Are you looking for something for yourself or for someone else? What [kinds of products] appeal to you (or the person you're buying for) the most? What similar items do you/they already have? What price range were you thinking of? What colors would suit you/them the best?"

Once you determine your customers' wants and needs, you can point them to products that fit those requirements. Showing high-end items when the customer is planning to keep her expenditure low, is a waste of your time and the customer's.

Speaking of wasting time, you might think that taking this amount of time to talk to customers is not the most effective use of that time, especially if the customer you've spoken to for the past 20 minutes does not buy a thing. Well, what else would you be doing? What other activity applies effort directly to the bottom line, if not customer sales?

How do you think of your business? Is it "We sell X"? Or is it "We help customers find the right X for their situation"? Be customer-driven instead of product or service driven. And the only way to do that is to talk to your customers to find out what they need and what they want.

Once you do, you can give it to them, and they'll gladly pay for it. They'll return for more. And they'll tell their friends about you. That's the most reliable way to grow your business.
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Monday, January 02, 2006

Happy New Year!

I wish all of you a spectacular New Year, filled with prosperity and business success, as well as personal growth, peace and happiness.

Make this your best year yet!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Is it a Job or a Business?

I have encountered clients who desperately want to grow their businesses, but are already feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work they have to do to keep their current operations running smoothly.

In most of these situations, we discover that they don't really have a business, they have a job that they've created for themselves. They've actually created a self-employment situation. They may have employees, a range of products, repeat customers, and an infrastructure, but they have no freedom. You have a job if you absolutely have to be there (or reachable by phone) for the business to continue running. It's a business, if you can be away from it for months and have it still continue to thrive.

Many services businesses are really jobs. A client who is a graphic designer had a storefront, employees, an organization chart, and all the accoutrements of a business. Yet she did all the graphic design work herself, and met with all of the clients. Her business could not grow until she recognized that she could only work so many hours a day. She had to let go of the idea that she had to do everything herself. While much of the practical work, such as layout, compositing, printing, etc., was handed over to employees, she still felt the need to be part of every design consultation, and every concept. Her business was constrained in size and scope until she could train and trust others to carry on her methods.

You may have started your business based on your own particular talents. That doesn't mean you're stuck there. By creating a few systems, you can free yourself from having to personally drive the business, and do the work day in and day out.

Others can be trained, taught, and groomed to meet your standards. You can put into place policies, procedures, techniques, and quality control to ensure your vision and your talent are being fulfilled. You can create systems that function without your direct involvement.

Instead of seeing this as diminishing your role, see it as an opportunity to expand your ideas and capabilities to a broader market. That will allow your business to grow.

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Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas!

I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas. I hope you have a blessed and joyous holiday, no matter what you celebrate at this time of year.

May the New Year bring you greater prosperity and business growth!

Beth Agnew

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Managing Business Projects

Entrepreneurs and business owners rarely think of themselves as being project managers. Yet most of their activities day to day involve one project or another. In the most basic sense, every task or event is a project. Planning an anniversary party, getting the car serviced, establishing a relationship with a new supplier, and hiring a new employee, are all projects.

Given the pervasiveness of "projects" in our society, it's surprising that we don't seek more formal project management training. The development of good project management skills is required for anyone who wants to be successful in business.

Managing a project means controlling the flow of tasks, resources, and variables from one point in time to another, to achieve a specific objective. It involves 5 distinct phases, though in smaller projects, these phases may be short and run together.
  • Planning and Analysis Phase
  • Specifications and Design Phase
  • Development Phase
  • Delivery Phase
  • Maintenance Phase

People don't like to think about project management, preferring to let events unfold. However, events left to themselves will unfold chaotically and with unexpected consequences. By actively managing a project or task, you can foresee problems, and catch mistakes in early stages.

It's time consuming and stressful to be continually stamping out fires, or worse, having to break off meaningful business-critical bottom-line activities to deal with distractions and minor crises. By managing your projects you can focus your effort in the areas where you can gain the most value. This takes far less energy, and allows you to spend your time taking those actions that build your business.
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Sunday, December 11, 2005

System or Infrastructure?

Do you have systems in place in your business, or only an infrastructure?

To permit a business to grow, it needs more than just a framework. Manageable, repeatable systems, which can operate independent of the business owner, are necessary before a business can reach its potential.

While infrastructure is important, and is often a first step in establishing a strong business model, you will need a working operation that goes beyond who sits where and who's responsible for what.

Infrastructure, or company organization and plans, is animated by systems that embody policies, procedures, methdologies, and expected outcomes. A system is dynamic, subject to change as efficiencies are discovered. It is portable, and does not rely upon the charisma or skill of the business owner, a shop foreman, or a key staff member.

Infrastructure: sales dept, marketing dept, customer support dept, etc.
System: marketing generates leads which sales turns into customers, which are serviced by customer support.

Infrastructure is diagrammed in an organizational chart; systems are diagrammed in (work)flowcharts.

Think of the difference between filling orders for customers, and an order fulfillment system. While there are multiple ways for any company to pick and ship customer orders, there are also "right" ways to do it. Having a warehouse, inventory, employees, and a shipping supplier (all infrastructure) won't get the job done without a system in place to manage the workflow and ensure all the details are covered.

An order fulfillment system specifies the best practices to use to get the orders out. When infrastructure breaks down, say the shipping supplier is unable to meet your deadlines, the system provides for an alternative. If the system falters, no amount of infrastructure can save the day.

Repeatable systems can be utilized by anyone. Call it process, workflow, best practice, or "just the way we do things", a system can grow with the business, even if infrastructure can't keep up.

What systems do you have in place to allow the business to run without you?

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Thursday, December 08, 2005

Caring for Customers

It doesn't take a business genius to figure out that customers are your key to success. Without customers, no business can survive. Just as having customers means the business can function, caring for your customers means that your business can grow -- sometimes exponentially.

We live in an increasingly stressful world. Downsizing, shaky economy, and the threat of terrorism preys on our minds and adds to the disquiet we experience every day. Coping with road rage and gridlock, taking care of children plus elderly parents, having to pull in two incomes to make ends meet, being fearful of the next disaster -- all of these things erode our confidence and our peace of mind.

As a society, we've never been more beleaguered than we are now. More people are depressed or ill, taking time off work, and burdening the health care system. Productivity suffers as workers drone on, just trying to get through the day.

We are desperate for human touch in this high tech world, and we crave companionship, intimacy, and love.

Your business success will rise dramatically if you start to offer customers small gestures of caring. Hair Color Xperts (HCX) focuses on color, cut and care for their customers. When their salon visit is over, every woman is given a rose. The day after their appointment, someone from the salon calls to make sure they are satisfied with their experience, and gets customer feedback on anything that can be improved. At that time, the customer is also asked to book a next appointment or asked for referrals.

Just the simple acts of giving a flower and calling to follow up, set HCX apart from the crowd of hair salons. Aveda salons offer a free hand or face massage while the customer is waiting for their color to set or hair to dry.

When a stressed woman is looking to make her next hair appointment, what kind of establishment do you think she'll choose -- one that seems to genuinely care about her wellbeing, or one that wants to get her out of the chair as quickly as possible to make room for the next customer?

Men are not above needing care and compassion as well. While it may be a bit more of a challenge to think of ways to express caring concern in manly fashion, it's not impossible. The solid, two-hand handshake, or hand on the shoulder can work, along with a sincere voice and eye contact. The point is to express care for that person.

Do your call center personnel have instructions to deal with customers as quickly as possible? Or are they instructed to listen to the customer and do whatever they can to solve that customer's problem and meet the customer's needs?

What caring touches can you add to your business, to strengthen your customer relationships? Follow up notes or calls; small gifts; savings coupons for spas or personal care products; something unique to your industry?

All it takes is the mindset that your company cares for and about its customers. A company that cares about its customers is a company that grows by word of mouth and repeat business.

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Saturday, December 03, 2005

Customer-Centric Business Model

To grow your business, you might need to adjust your business model. By business model, we mean the structure, focus, and operational methodology of your business.

Business growth usually means paying more attention to customers. If you do not have a customer-centric business model that is tightly focused on attracting, delighting, and maintaining customers, you might want to make some changes so that it is. Depending on your industry, that concentration on meeting customers' needs can result in exponential growth.

In software development, for example, a customer-centric business model means that no project is undertaken unless there is absolute certainly that there are customers clamoring for that software. Developing a software program just because it's "cool" is not enough anymore. The market must clearly express a need for or problem for which your product is the solution.

A Joint Application Development (JAD) model for software development involves every department of the company in the development process. There are regular cross-functional meetings where representatives from finance, HR, customer support, QA, marketing, sales, and development get together to plan, troubleshoot, and support the development of the product. In this way, each area of the company has a stake, and a vested interest, in the success of the project.

Also called an integrated business model, this way of working together to get, keep, and satisfy customers ensures strong customer loyalty and that there are no surprises for the company.

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Saturday, November 26, 2005

Network to increase your Net Worth

Networking is one of the most powerful ways to develop profitable business relationships and increase the flow of prospects to your business. Business growth depends on continual marketing, so get out there and talk to people!

How to Network for Results:
1. The power of a NAME: Make sure your name and contact information is on cards and brochures you can give to those you meet. If you wear a nametag, position it high on your chest and near your left shoulder. If it's on a string or lanyard, adjust it to hang over your breastbone rather than close to your waist. There is nothing worse at a conference than sitting down to lunch with people whose nametags are now in their laps. People want to learn your name, and use it when they talk to you. Instead of forcing them to squint, bend, or stare at your navel to figure out your name, make it easy by placing your name close to your left shoulder. Also, take the initiative to mention your name clearly and audibly. Similarly, it's important to correctly catch the other person's name. If you cannot hear or understand it, ask for one repetition. Ask for their business card so you can reinforce the name you heard with what you see on the card.
2. Decide ahead of time how many people you want to meet at each event. You're not going to be able to meet everyone. If you're tired from traveling or sitting in many sessions, you may not feel as motivated to get out there and meet others. With a number in mind of how many contacts you want to make, however, you'll be motivated to meet your target. This ensures that the networking opportunity is not wasted.
3. Make it your mission to help other people at the meeting feel comfortable. Help others network. Talking to strangers can be a scary activity for many people. If you help them by introducing them, by getting the conversation rolling, or just by being friendly, you make a favorable impression.
4. Network with the goal of giving, rather than getting. The purpose of networking is to develop relationships with people in your industry or others with whom you might do business. By offering to help others instead of trying to get business for yourself, you make a great impression on people. They are more likely to want to refer business to you because they are confident you will be generous to those new clients, and that will reflect well on them too.
5. Find out enough about the person you meet to be able to recommend them to a potential client. This means understanding their Unique Selling Proposition, and what kind of clients they are looking for. Make sure you know how they can help someone else in your network or anyone else you might meet.
6. Give out your business cards, and ask for three in return: one to keep, two to share. If you hold the intention of finding 2 opportunities to refer clients to your new contact, you will be reinforcing the idea of abundance, and the multiplier effect will work in your favor.
7. Circulate. Spend just enough time with each new contact to establish the relationship and get it on a good footing. Some recommend a maximum of 10 minutes, but take the time you need to ensure you have gathered the basic information. Then move on. This also gives the other person a chance to continue meeting new contacts.
8. Get out of your comfort zone. At meetings and events, we often run into associates and friends, and want to spend time with them because it is more comfortable to do that than meet new people. While there's nothing wrong with socializing with friends, you can lose a valuable opportunity to network if you don't actually NETWORK.
9. Jot information on the back of the business cards people hand you. This helps you remember additional details about your new contact. It's even okay to do this while you're speaking with them. Have your pen ready, and say "Let me just make note of what I need to know to send you some business." No one expects you to remember everything without making a note. And by making that effort to write it down, you demonstrate that you are serious about trying to assist them. Don't make it the center of attention, though. Once you've got a preliminary note, turn your attention to the individual you have just met, and try to really understand what they can do for a client. Later, you can flesh out those notes with other details you remember. You might want to include a notation on where you met, as well.
10. Follow up afterward. Seeds need tending and nurturing in order to grow. The seed you have planted with your new contact will only grow if you follow up with that person to maintain and strengthen the relationship. You don't have to go to lunch with everyone. Is there a magazine article that might interest your new contact? Send it. Did you find a news item that relates to their business? Give them the link. It takes three solid contacts with someone to make them remember you. After the event, find opportunities to make those three genuine and sincere contacts.

What should you do if you get home and find the business card from someone you don't remember? Give them a call. Say, "We met last week at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon, and I just want to make sure I have the right details about your business so that I can recommend you to someone why who might need your services. Could you tell me again what kinds of clients you're looking for?"

Everyone you meet is a potential billboard for your business. Make sure you take every opportunity to create new relationships.

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