At a networking event the other day I got talking to a rather fabulous business woman and the conversation went like this;
Mrs Fab “So and So is coming today.”
Me “Oh, really. I’ve not seen her in years. I must ask her how business is. Mrs So and So does this and this and is very unique in that.”
Mrs Fab “She doesn’t do this and this, she does that and that.”
Me “No I’m sure she does this and this. She was on the radio talking about it.”
Mrs Fab “She definitely does that and that I know because I was talking to her yesterday!”
Leaving me flabbergasted that I had Mrs So and So labelled so wrong and so for years had been under the illusion she did this and this. Turns out she did do an aspect of what I had thought she did for a living but because I had not chatted to her since, I didn’t know about the vast array of other things her unique company did. Which meant that I couldn’t possibly have been out there being a good networker for her.
The moral of this story. If you don’t network regularly what illusions are being created about what you do?
Turns out if I had known truly what Mrs So and So did for a living I could have put work to her at least twice in the last few years, as I couldn’t find anyone on the planet that does what Mrs So and So does.
Assumptions get made all the time in networking. And here is what assumptions do for your networking success:
Not good right?
So how do you stop networking assumptions from happening?
Allow other networkers to learn what they want to learn about what you do. NOT what you THINK they need to know.
Reinforce your networking with good social media networking. That means your message is the same where ever anyone goes. So that they really feel like they can connect with you. (Not repeating the same stuff I hasten to add.)
If you don’t understand what someone does, ask questions. How can you be a successful networker for your new contact if you don’t understand the nature of their profession?
Be consistent with your action.
And love it, because let’s be honest networking is just so good for business!
Do you have a picture on your LinkedIn/Twitter profile? And is it actually picture of you and not a cartoon dog?
I was trying to track down some old uni friends. Figuring that by now they should be pretty high in whatever career they had gone into I turned to LinkedIn. It is, after all, the network for the business person.
Now if you’re looking for someone with a reasonably uncommon name, it’s not too hard to find someone. And the first person has a name that’s totally unique on LinkedIn. So easy.
But for the second person I was looking for there were 138 results in the UK alone and in the world 450. And for some reason they hadn’t added our shared university to their profile so I couldn’t use that.
But luckily they had a photo and even though it’s a fair number of year since we left uni, they haven’t changed much. So that’s another connection made.
And for the third person there were 8,912 results. Adding our university reduced it down to 8. And again the photo came to the rescue and saved me from having to look at each profile in detail to work out which was the one I was looking for.
So photos – handy when people want to connect with you. And connecting with people – handy if you want to do business. Bit of no brainer really!
Speaking to strangers should really be simpler shouldn’t it?
Yet when we see someone that we really want to say ‘hello’ to, inspiration nearly always fails us, and we end up reverting back to terrible conversational habits.
Let me give you an example.
Imagine a time that you really wanted to speak to a stranger: it could be someone you want to network with, a prospective customer who’s walked into your shop, the person who you end up sitting next to every day on the bus… but never quite managing to speak to.
Even if you manage to squeeze out a ‘hello’ you know it’s going to be followed, rather boringly, by the world’s worst ice breaker question:
“How are you?”
It’s so safe, so utterly predictable, so uninspiring! A bit like sweat pants really.
And also completely impossible to answer! I defy ANYONE to think up a good, succinct response to such a question. I mean do you say the automated response of ‘fine thanks’ (which is both untrue, and offers the other person in the conversation no material to respond to) or do you burst into tears, sigh deeply, or scream with joy, and tell them the whole story of how you’re really feeling (including your life history, details of your tangled love life and financial woes in the process)?
Hmm tough one.
I actually think it’s way better to be a lot more specific than this and give someone something specific to respond to. My logic is if you make it easy for a person to respond to you, then you’ll get better responses from them.
Along with people who work for the Inland Revenue, and traffic wardens, I’m also very suspicious of questions generally. They make you feel a bit put on the spot-no?
“What do you think about the Olympics then?”
Ha! I thought that would catch you out! Questions are also hard to answer when you’re not ready for them. Maybe if you had ten minutes to think about it, the ‘How are you?’, would be easier to answer. When you’re speaking to strangers though you don’t have ten minutes: you have to make them feel comfortable in the moment.
We do this by making specific ice breaker statements. Watch this video to learn a little more about my unique conversation kick starting system:
If you attended my talk for the BWN on Tuesday the 20th of March in Essex you will know there are tons more details that I just didn’t have time to squeeze in on the day.
To make sure I get to teach you the true secrets to negotiating low prices, effective networking, doubling your sales (or just winning an argument with your partner) I’m going to host a one off coffee morning event.
I usually only work on events in central London but to give you this fully interactive (that means some audience participation and real learning) seminar I’m going to come to your local area at a time that is convenient to your group in April. The day will be content packed, with take home exercises, and a really fun relaxed feel… plus I have a feeling attending is tax deductible!
Not only will I be hosting the event in your local area, Essex, at a time that is convenient for you to attend, I’ll also be offering tickets at a fraction of their normal cost: with none of the hassle of travelling into London.
So if you want to continue to improve your communication tactics, make more sales, learn negotiation tactics taught at the best Business Schools and have fun! Please send a paypal payment of £50 to email@example.com by Saturday the 31st of March to secure your place.
I’ll look forward to seeing you again soon
This was a question I posed at The Colchester BWN yesterday in a 5 minute promo slot (incidentally I didn’t talk about my business at all and gained 2 new clients yesterday – there’s a powerful message in there about how to do a promo slot right?)
A good thing or a bad you ask, right?
Valentines comes around once a year, and once a year you are expected to get lovey dovey cats eyes, think about your loved one, shower them with affection, and your time and energy. But hang on for just one day of the year?
I have been very happily married for 16 years and my hubby 1st kissed me 19 and a half years ago on Valentine’s day and I still get flutters in my belly just thinking about him and a silly grin on my face (OK this is no Disney Fairy tale – I still berate that I’m the only one that can carry things up the stairs or put dirty socks in the wash!) But is that from putting effort and energy in once a year?
It’s from always considering his needs, his passions and his feelings. Every day when he gets home from work I always say “How was your day?”Recently he said why do you always ask me that? And I said “Because I care” and I care for more than one day of the year.
(Me Loving My Husband and Me Loving My Business)
Now let’s flip over to your business (before you all throw up with my lovedupness – made up word, but I like it!) Do you treat your business like Valentine’s Day?
Do you once in a while say “Right let’s look at our marketing, let’s power up the results. Let’s check out our website and if people are engaged by it and getting in touch”
Do you think daily;
Is our website getting the right message across to our potential clients? Does it match up to what we have been doing recently?
When I attend networking events am I saying things that compliment the marketing message on our website?
Am I getting our business in the local press, talking about what we have been doing recently and the great story that is hidden about our company?
Do I use this press release information and my marketing material on social media?
Do I sing about this when delivering my 60 seconds promo slots?
Do I think daily – How do I interact with potential clients, When do I, Where do I interact with them?
Do you always ask in the back of your mind where your next client is coming from?
Because if you don’t you are a once a year, special occasion Valentine’s Day business owner. And Guess what that does for your sustainability? For your Growth? For your Success?
8 years ago I had severe clinical depression and nearly died (twice – just for good measures!) and my husband was my rock, we know that whatever life throws at us we will be able to deal with it, together, as a team. Once a month we pick a row with the kids and get them off to bed early so that we can light candles, cook a nice meal and snuggle up in a mountain of cushions and watch a film and be just us. It’s always a Tuesday night because, hey Tuesday was never a special night of the week and it needed a bit of attention. Regularly putting in effort keeps our relationship fresh, special and wonderful.
Valentine’s Day is never going to be enough to create something lasting for all time.
So ask yourself are you having the same attitude to your business?
If so isn’t it time you gave your business full time love?
For ideas on loving your business full time, gaining more customers and making the sales (without spending sacks of money) get in touch or head over to the Free reports and the BWN blog as they are both packed with ideas to rocket your sales. As a business coach and as founder of The Business Womans Network both my coaching clients and business women that attend the BWN are seeing great results in their business because of the way I work – I would love to hear all about your business and how I could support your success too.
As Essex Coordinator I often get told “There are so many networks to chose from, how do I know yours is any good?”
And its a fair point. There is a ton of choice out there – which is great for the consumer…..and the network. You see we never placed ourselves as a rival, on the contrary we regularly promote other networks and business groups, why? Because if its good for business we want to be telling you about it.
A different approach you may say, well yes, but then it works. You see we are here to do the hard work for you. Try out the networks, the seminars and workshops and we share with you the good stuff. You can expect to hear about those ideas at every event in the business ops slot at 10.30.
But lets get down to the nitty gritty – you network because ultimately it leads to leads and sales and profit and success. On top of those things at the BWN you can expect support (it can be a lonely world for a business woman – and its great to know what you are experiencing or finding tough someone else has the answers to – probably because they have been through it too!)
You get motivated into action – so often women say to me, thanks to coming to The BWN last week, I picked up the phone/got in touch/changed my website/got up and spoke about my company/challenged their decision/went for it/took my business to the next level. And that results in even more success.
The BWN blogs and “What Business Women Say” pages of our website are packed with testimonials of how we have helped business women get what they want for their business and their success – all in an environment that is always welcoming (never clicky!) motivational and business focussed – we may mention what gorgeous heels you are wearing but then its straight back to business. Because we know that’s what matters to you.
Elene Marsden comes to our Suffolk events. Elene cornered us at the end of the event this week to tell us what The BWN was doing for her business success. And we just love to hear that it’s not just business ideas, support, motivation and empowerment…..
I just love attending the Business Women’s Networking sessions. Networking for me is not all about making a sale, it’s about developing relationships and connecting with likeminded businesses. So when I attended the December BWN meeting in Essex I was especially pleased when Kathy Ennis from Ennvision listened to my 60 seconds promo slot about ACT and immediately placed an order with me.
Kathy had been looking for a way to organise her contact information, have all her emails stored in one place and most importantly she wanted a way to group her contacts for her marketing campaigns. She’d heard about ACT from Robert Craven, a business guru and was pleased to find she could buy the software from a fellow BWN member. I know Kathy is happy with her purchase and will tell her business associates about it.
Networking is all about planting the seeds and waiting for them to grow and sometimes they grow like sunflowers- fast and strong! And that’s the power of networking and in particular the BWN – serious networking for serious business people
To learn more about getting your business cards organised (from that mountain on the edge of your desk!)
/www.betteractnow.com/uk/DontBuyACTUntil.php www.corazonit.com www.youtube.com/elenemarsden
To Meet Kathy and learn more about what Kathy does – www.preparetogrow.co.uk
Great that great networking gained Elene a client and Kathy solutions – love it!
Thanks for sharing with us what BWN networking does for you and your business – we look forward to doing a ton more to help you and your business success in 2012.
By The Way – Other included – motivating you, inspiring, supporting you, being there when you felt isolated and like no one understood what running a business was like and how tough it was – and included some great comments like:
If you run your owns business you’re bound to have had days where you think – Why AM I Doing This?
It can be lonely.
Hard work with little satisfaction.
Disappointing. The list is pretty long!
But don’t forget it can also be a rewarding and a fantastic one.
So how do you deal with those “aaaaaaahhhhh!” days?
Never forget why you went into business, your vision, your passion – it’s all still there, reignite it by remembering everything this career choice gives you.
List the negatives, what’s your top bug bear? Is it email mountains, admin in-trays or social media overload? Outsourcing the jobs that don’t directly pay can free up your time & more importantly your mind and energy to concentrate on the success of your business.
Having no boss has so many advantages but if you did what would they say should be your top priority? A boss also is there to acknowledge your achievements, so if you don’t give yourself a pat on the back, who else will?
Remember to ask yourself lots of questions ALWAYS. Asking good questions leads to good answers – get noisy and always question what is the best course of action, what do you need to be doing? What’s – When’s and How’s.
Who can you rely on to motivate and inspire you? Who will support you and pick you up again – social networking, a coffee with a friend, networking, business meetings, mentoring, coaching – what will you rely on?
Knowing what motivates and inspires you will spur you on – so the next time you have a tough day – You Will be Ready for it!
You see an effective marketing strategy WILL deliver leads, and if you are getting quality leads then guess what that leads to?
You guessed it, more customers.
But I do appreciate it can be tricky to factor in time to market your wares as well as to make and deliver them. So what can you do to make life easier?
Before you even think of aiming to make marketing easier to manage. Do you know what works?
If you don’t know this STOP right now. You see, you need to know what is working to deliver great leads and enquiries so that you can replicate that. So first of all concentrate on researching and analysing what works.
WHEN you know this information you can then use tools such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to schedule your social media. Taking into account when your ideal clients have the time to read your offerings, comment, reply, etc.
Next look at the real world marketing that works for you. Picking up the phone, public speaking networking, meetings, etc. What have the biggest impact and concentrate on making them deliver MORE to you.
For instance networking can only be effective if you dedicate to it. Know what you want beforehand. Attend regularly to build relationships so that people want to do business with you and most importantly follow up after EVERY event.
This approach needs to be applied to all areas of marketing that you have and constantly consider this…
What are you doing so that people are automatically keeping up to date with you and your business?
How can other people support your marketing strategy?
Affiliations, discounts, special offers for loyalty etc.
A VA could be a great resource for you too. What areas of your marketing could you outsource to someone else to do?
At The BWN we have a number of great VA’s that attend our events that would happily produce your newsletter, look after your social media and pick up the phone for you. (You can check them out here – https://www.thebusinesswomansnetwork.co.uk/the-business-women-of-the-bwn/)
Unless you are a larger company with a lovely thing called a “marketing budget” this is going to come down to you and if you don’t find a way to create a marketing strategy that fits into your busy life you will always have dips and troughs of customers. Now wouldn’t it be nicer to just have that steady flow of new customers heading to your door?
(This blog came out of a number of conversations with business women this week and has sparked this blog so thank you for sharing. And it has also sparked the next BWN Business Clinic with me – to learn more.)