Life and business as we knew it has changed considerably with what seems to be a nightmare you can't wake from. Yes, the dreaded "C"word COVID or Corona, take your pick. It has turned business upside down and inside out. Where do we go from here and what do we do? In my humble opinion an age old strategy is to stay connected and network, network, network!
As the creator and contagious connector of Connect Her, I have found there are 4 key ways you can network your way through a pandemic - yes, even in lock down!
How have you used this time?
We have all been in the situation somewhere, sometime, somehow stuck with someone that isn’t a talker or gives yes or no answers even to open ended questions, the conversation stalls and so does your brain so you ended up talking incessantly. Maybe you have a Connect Her Connection meeting or Coffee catch up and you think, oh no, I have met this person before and I know everything about them.
Guess what? We don’t know everything about everyone. Sometimes just using a weird, strange or unusual question into the mix can open up the flood gates. It is interesting, when we use a question which isn’t quite in context of our usual ‘networking’ questions you can see the mood shift. You can almost see the shoulders relax, the face relax and a giggle or laugh emerge bringing spontaneity into the conversation.
Here are some conversation starters to get you started.
What would you like to get better at?
What made your brain grow today?
What problems or challenges did you work on this month?
What is your favourite way to feel calm?
What is one quality you look for in a friend?
What is your best client?
What is your favourite day of the week?
When do you feel you are more productive in the morning or the afternoon?
How can someone become famous?
Android or Apple?
Tell me about something you do every day?
How often do you check your emails?
What do you do to relax after a business day?
Describe your perfect day?
What do you like the most about the person sitting next to you (on the left) (on the right)?
What do you do to have fun?
If you could invite two other people to join us, who would they be?
What is the one thing that is your absolute must have for a business meeting?
How do you communicate with your customers?
Do you send thank you cards to your clients?
Did you know that not saying thank you to a customer hurts your business more than saying thank you helps.
Let me say that again.
Not saying thank you hurts your business more than saying thank you helps.
What I mean by that is our customers and clients expect to receive a thank you; especially if they spend a lot of money with us. They expect us to at least acknowledge and thank them.
If I buy a house, I expect a thank you.
If I buy a car, I expect a thank you.
If I buy a Snickers I don't necessarily expect a thank you.
Big ticket items = increased expectations
If you don't send thank you cards to your clients, do you know what they are thinking?
They are thinking you don't care about them!
Studies show the reason why we lose 68% of our clients and customers is because they don't think we care about them.
Here is a simple solution I found to let my customers know I care about them.
For $5.48 a year I can send 4 custom greeting cards to my clients to keep in touch with them and let them know I appreciate them.
How much is one dedicated, loyal, and happy client worth to you? Is it worth $5.48 a year?
If so watch this 3 minute video for more information:
Once you watch the video, email me back and I'll be happy to help you get started.
Whether you are a small to medium business owner, solopreneur, network marketer or on-line marketer there are times where we find ourselves hiding out in our business. Daily grind, regular tasks, product creation, clients, and all the other things that come with being a business owner can drive us further and further into our business and further and further away from connecting with others.
By driving ourselves further away from connecting with others we are really doing an injustice to our business and ultimately to ourselves. We human’s are creatures of connection; we love to connect with other human beings.
There are a multitude of benefits to getting out and about and connecting with others, including:
· Refresh our ideas
· Personal invigoration
· Enhancing our knowledge base
· Opening up opportunities both personally and professionally
· Gaining new perspectives
There are several ways we can get out and about that can be cost effective and easy to implement:
· Attending networking events
· Business owners informal meetings
· Skype meetings
· Mastermind groups
· Attending seminars and live events
· Attending community projects
· Attending local commerce chapter meetings
Before attending it is wise to set an objective as to what your purpose for attending the event maybe. It could be anything from making a new business connection through to gleaning a new idea for your business, the list is endless.
Aim for at least one event per week for a minimum of one hour, this should get you kick started into getting out of your business and into making some valuable lasting connections. Set 2011 to be your year for social interaction and out of hibernation.
Finally, Just Do It!
On my last webinar "Maintaining The Passion In Your Business" a couple of weeks ago, I touched on the topic of skills trading. This has sparked some major conversation with the listeners and some of my clients since the webinar.
What is skills trading and how can it help me? Do you have a particular task that makes you cringe when you have to do it? Is there a task that you don't have the skill set for? I am sure you have answered yes to at least one of these questions. I actually answered yes to both of the questions.
Whether you are a stay at home Mum, small to medium business owner or working in a large organisation there are tasks that just don't fit with our drivers or skill set. We are all very different beings and something I love to do is a loathe to another. As a small to medium business owner I don't have every single skill required to run a small to medium business. I have my limitations. The smart thing is I know I have limitations and have identified them.
Skills trading is not new, it has been around for centuries. You have what someone else needs and you barter for a win/win outcome. The difference is there is no physical product exchange but trading of your skills.
A few months ago I had a task that needed completing. I didn't have the time, the skills or the inclination to even attempt doing this particular task and I was on a dead line. I dug deep intp my little resources kit of 'people I know and trust' and phoned around to see if anyone in this little kit had the time and the skills I required. After a couple of phone calls I hit jackpot. Another small to medium business owner had exactly what I was looking for and enough time on their hands. After some discussion we came to an agreement my task would be completed by the other business owner and in return I shared my skills and did some of her tasks. It was a win/win for all involved. The best part was there was no financial exchange which kept our costs down and our jobs completed.
An ideal way to identify skills you can share and trade is to complete a skills and resources assessment. This assessment helps you to identify areas you can trade. It is amazing when you are working to a limited budget what can be achieived by thinking out side the square. Ask yourself what skill do I have that would be a benefit to another and I love doing? This is an ideal way to kickstart you in thinking beyond financial payment and into a skill trading mindset.
For me, I use skills trading on a regular basis. Just this week I used skills trading to have manuals and seminar bags made up for next weeks seminar. I have less stress, less mess and all my seminar manuals and bags ready to go for my seminar. My manual maker has 2 hours of sales calls to potential clients to take her business to the next level. How can you use skills trading in your life or business? I would love to hear some of your ideas or how you have already used skills trading.
For weeks now I had been agonizing over a small issue I wanted to do with some of my technology. I had surfed the web trying to find the answers, spoken to different people and racked my brains. All to no avail.
Yesterday, I had a my regular catch up with a friend and fellow business owner. We were discussing all the bit and pieces from the past month about business and life in general. Through the discussion I mentioned my little technology issue. My friend had also been pondering this same issue for the last month. A small comment from my friend spurned a longer discsussion and from this, a couple of suggestions were thrown around and then voila! The answer came to us both. It had been sitting there all along, we just didn't know it. You can imagine the elation we both felt at this little issue being fixed in just a matter of 10 minutes or so.
The conversation caused a Synergistic effect which helped solve both of our problems. Synergy is the combined action or functioning, the co-operative action of two or more. In other words, two heads are better than one. As we joined forces on our little issue we worked better as a team to create a solution. Two parts being greater than the sum of one.
I wonder how many times in our lives we can create a Synergy to build a better outcome for both parties?
It gets you thinking doesn't it?
Do you know the saying "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush"? Basically, it means it is better to have a small actual advantage than taking the chance of having a greater one.
Just down the road from me there is a little shopping centre. For the last two years there have been two vacant shops. The leasing terms and the rental are very high, small business owners turn away from renting the premises. My husband and I regularly discuss if it were us we would sooner have both shops leased for a lesser rent than leave them empty and not having any return.
Just this week, the little bird in the hand saying came to top of mind again. For months I had been searching for a venue to hold my seminars. I wanted a venue that the room was intimate but not too small, good lighting as I use a data projector and there needed to be catering. Well, I found what was the perfect venue for my seminars and hired the room for the day. I sent an email to the venue the next day letting them know how fabulous the room was, also how great their staff were. (I believe in sending through positive feedback as businesses rarely get compliments.) I decided I would also book the room again to use for my next seminar. On the return email I was informed the cost of the room had tripled. I was very surprised as you can imagine. The other part to this was that two of the participants had also considered that they would like to hire this room for their workshops.
Now I am not miffed with the venue as they have to make a profit also and their charges are their charges, that's life. It did make me think though, how many days will the room stand empty as the hiring costs have tripled? A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush don't you think?
Has this saying ever rung true for you in your business? I would enjoy hearing your experience.
For the last few years I have worked from a home office which can be a lonely existence if you let it. Prior to this I was on the road and had minimul contact with work colleagues. Again a lonley existence. Before this I had worked in a busy corporate office where you were always surrounded by people you could bounce ideas off, socialise with and generally had a healthy level of contact.
After about 7 months of working from a home office I decided to create a network of people to help maintain my sanity, keep me informed and assist in maintaining some connection to outside business.
Each month I meet with two business owners for a morning coffee at a local cafe. At this get together we dicuss everything from technology, staffing issues, business, local events, you name it, we discuss it. It is amazing, discussing a small issue that can seem insurmountable while working away on your own, with some healthy input can produce a simple solution.
I also ensure that I attend one or two business networking functions every month or two. Attending the networking functions help to give you a fresh new look at your business, your office and your outlook. Most networking events have a guest speaker on the day, speakers can also give you the ability to view your world in a new light.
If you are a business owner and are feeling the same challenges I did I would love to hear from you. If you have created your own support network I would also be keen to hear how this has assisted you in your business.
We are constantly told to network, network, network. Networking helps to build business,foster contacts and leads, create opportunity for career change or promotion, increase learning opportunities etc,etc,etc.
Recently I was at a conference where it certainly was networking heaven. Attending were key industry figures, peers, suppliers and industry leaders. I had my 'elevator pitch' down pat. I had spent time working through my pitch to inform and not bore my audience. I was prepared, confident and ready to build my networks. I only wish that some of the people I encounted had also pre-prepared their 'elevator pitch' before embarking on their networking experience.
Speaking with several people over the course of the four day conference, I came to the big question. 'When does self promotion become too much self and you lose the art of promotion?'
After 15 minutes of listening to one attendees self promotion I felt my mind wander and I started to glaze over as I looked around for a good exit strategy.
There is a fine line on the self-promotion platform. Where is that line? Does the line change with the audience? These questions I posed to myself in my glacial state. The line is thin and can become blurred. A 60 - 90 second elevator pitch should give your audience a brief introduction with them wanting more, opening up the opportunity to ask further questions. This should also allow you the opportunity to ask your listener further questions. The wonderful art of conversation is now at work.
From this 10 - 15 minute converstion business cards can be swapped, opportunities for future mutal business enhancement can be considered, even so far as possible future strategic alliances contemplated. However, if the conversation becomes so self focused these opportunities can be lost.
It is a part of human nature to want to talk about ones self. Who best knows you? You! You are the expert on you and your business. Given it is human nature to want to disclose information on oneself then the art of networking is finely balanced on engaging your audience to also impart information of themselves back to you. Why do they want to listen to you? WIFIM - What's In It For Me? What is in it for your audience?
If you find yourself getting lost in 'self' take a breath and consider this question...What would be the ultimate question I would want to be asked at this networking event? Now you have it, ask your listener that exact question. See their reaction to your interest in them. It now can move the focus to the listener and demonstrate your desire to find out more about them. All of a sudden you can elevate their perception of you with a short well constructed question.
Personally, I go as far as having 6 - 8 pertinent questions prepared along with my elevator pitch. My questons I change and adjust slightly to suit the situation at the time.
Next time you are thrust into a networking situation consider this 'when does self promotion become too much self and I lose the art of promotion?
I would like to hear from you on your networking experiences