8 Tips for More Efficient Networking

The word networking makes people cringe, but it is vital to business success. That's why we've put together some tips to hep make networking easier.

Set Goals, then do your research. What are your objectives for networking? Research different events and groups and focus your time on those with the attendees or members that are the best fit.

Be Open, Networking doesn't just take place at business events and through online sites like linked In or Plaxo – it should occur every day. The person you meet at the airport or the long-lost friend you run into at the grocery store may not need your services, but they may know someone who does.

Help Others, Effective networking involves building mutually beneficial relationships. Instead of handing out as many business cards as you can, focus on how you can assist the people you meet.

Know how others can help you, Be prepared to answer questions about the problems you need solved and your ideal customer.

Stand Out, Use eye-catching business cards with photos of your products or a list of your services or on the back. Or give a small reusable item instead of a business card, such as a pocket calculator, sticky note dispenser or magnet.

Volunteer, Volunteering for an organization or at an event is a low pressure, high visibility way to meet people.

Give a speech or lead a seminar, Most groups will happily accept your offer, and it is an excellent way to position yourself as an expert in your field.

Follow up quickly, Send your new contacts something useful that will remind them of you for years to come. This could be an e-book on a custom USB drive, a report or relevant article in an attractive binder, or a journal book, highlighter or pen.

We have a variety of products to support your networking efforts. Call for some great ideas today.

Employee Wellness

I was just listening to a webinar with guest speaker Diane Darling  She was discussing effective networking for companies whose employees are worn out from the economy and are trying to figure out how to do their jobs and keep their jobs. She teaches the employees how to network internally so they can get along better, know who in the company they can go talk to if they have a question and how to approach these individuals. Her discussion helps the company figure out what the real cost is of losing people, or having an employee on-line for two hours trying to figure out an answer to a problem when they could have spent 5 minutes going down the hall to get that answer. 
 

Another way to figure out your cost of doing business is by how much you are spending on health insurance, time lost from work due to illness etc. Just like internal networking to keep your business humming along, you also need to ensure that your employees are at their best. Putting together a wellness program and rewarding employees that embrace the program will allow your company to see a decrease in sick days and possibly a lower health insurance bill  in the long run.

Follow this link to read the full article on Tips on How to Plan a Wellness Program

PowerTools Again – Its good for you!

Last night was the third meeting of our women’s networking group from the idea of PowerTools for Women in business by Aliza Sherman. It amazing how much good a 2-hour session can be when everyone is focus on the questions at hand. As I explained in a previous post it is not a leads type group. We are successful women business owners who come together over wine and cheese to discuss our businesses, how they work, how they don't and what it takes to build it to the next level.

We had a newcomer in our group last night who was so amazed and what we were discussing, that she said., “I am going to give up therapy, this is so much better!” and it is. Our topics last night included how to sum up what you do in one sentence. It is not as easy as it might sound. Our company has been looking in to different forms of growing the business and one of the websites I went to recently was a VC company. They had a list of criteria for sending information to them and the very first piece of advice they gave about writing your business plan (In PowerPoint slides no less) was how to sum up what you do in one sentence.  Some of us came up with very good sentences and others had long run on sentences. However you describe what you do, it should bring up more questions from those who ask allowing for more dialog.

We also discussed “the biggest mistake we made in business and what we learned from it”. This was very comforting to know that everyone goes through pretty much the same things you do in running your business.  We each feel better knowing that someone in their business made the same mistakes that we might have made in the beginning of owning our business or even more recently. When each business woman explains what they learned from this experience, it allows us too to learn from their mistakes and help correct our thinking on how to either avoid this particular mistake, or if we haven't made that mistake yet and are about to, how to handle this same situation better.

This has been such a great experience! Next month we are going to discuss creating a name for our group, as of right now we call it PowerTools. However, people look at you sometimes strange when you tell them that is what the group is called. So, this is “homework” for next month’s meeting. Every city should have a group like this. It is a very empowering meeting in a very casual and relaxed atmosphere.  When you leave the meeting you feel energized and ready to take on the world the next day!

PowerTools for Women – Sharing

Powertools for Women in Business  10 ways to succeed in life and work - Aliza ShermanRecently, I read a great book by Aliza Sherman called “PowerTools for Women in Business – 10 Ways to Succeed in Life and Work. “  Her book outlines 10 power tools that women should use to become more successful. The first of the tools is to share your stories. We all have stories of how and why we decided to start our own businesses, what motivates us, and what keeps us up at night.

This got me thinking that other business women in my area may feel the need to share their stories like I do. I love to talk about my business and what I am doing that is new. I love to share and help friends with their businesses too. There are a lot of networking groups you can attend, chambers and leads clubs you can join, but where do you find likeminded women who want to talk about their businesses?

Not just the “This is what we do for a living, and this is how our company can help you” type of talking, but the “I started my business 12 years ago and this is why I started it, this is where I have been and this is where I think I am going. However, I am not sure I am doing it right and maybe you have the same thoughts or have done the same things and went about getting where I am going in a different way,” kind of talking and sharing.

Inspired by Aliza Sherman and her book, last night was my first attempt at putting together a group of likeminded women in our local area. I invited 19 local business women with the criteria that they had to be the owner or at least half owner of the company. They had to have an outside office or retail establishment where they paid rent and they had to have at least one employee. I didn’t want to include the women who sell at home parties or run their business as a hobby. Business women who have to worry about paying the rent, how to hire, train and retain good employees are a bit different than women who work from home. In the end, we had a small group of 7 from all types of businesses and walks of life.

The evening was very successful, each woman was able to talk about why they started their business, the excitement of owning the business and what motivates them to get up and do it again every day. I had planned on five questions for the evening, and a kind of rotation so that everyone would at least answer three of the five; however after 2-1/2 hours we only had the chance to answer the first three questions. Each woman’s “sharing” lead to more sharing and by the time it was over, to my surprise, I was asked if we could make this a bi-monthly event.One of the women, the owner of our local newspaper, said she liked this group because we were all successful women who didn’t “need” something from each other. No favors, no leads, no commitment to do anything other than to be truthful about ourselves and our businesses. I loved the evening because I realized that by listening to others, many of whom I did not know and would never have approached for advice, let alone business advice, I could find new ways to work my business, and I made some new friends. I can’t wait until our next meeting!