Category Archives: TIPS

Business Networking: Nurturing Loyalty

loyalty

When it comes to promoting your business by going to network functions, events, and even marketing in general, there is usually one question that hovers over you at the beginning: “When is this going to start working?”

We’ve all been there in different aspects of our life. When we began to walk as infants, we didn’t just walk. We ran, even if it was because we were just trying to keep up with out momentum. When it came to learning to drive, we all wanted our license as soon as we completed our road test.

In business, we usually want that money rolling in, RIGHT NOW! Which is fine, but not always the best approach. Business networking is about building relationships. Fly-by-night clients aren’t what makes a business grow and thrive. It is the clients that you develop a rapport with that come to you whenever they need your services, for months, years, even decades. Business relationships develop trust, which draws out loyalty, which leads to more networking.

As an example, let me tell you about how I found my current hair stylist. When I first started going to get my hair cut on my own, and not at my dad’s barber, I found a hair stylist that just seemed to get my hair right, for a decent price. It took a few adventures, but I found her, and continued to go to her for three years. how’s that for loyalty? Well, it gets better. That stylist moved, so I was stuck looking around for that perfect cut at a perfect price, usually with some problematic cuttings. Finally, I was referred to a stylist from a friend, and went to her through the end of high school and even into college. I went away to college, and was so loyal that I grew my hair out a little rather than go to another stylist. Then she moved. Once again I searched, was referred to someone, and have been all over Long Island, from Suffolk to Astoria, Queens, to Nassau County for the past ten years, and still always make the trip to my stylist at the center of Long Island.

This loyalty has even extended to other people I do business with. I’ve been going to the same mechanic for ten years. My accountant has been doing my taxes since I got my first job. My car insurance agent has seen me through four cars. These aren’t relationships that just stuck. They have been nurtured, which is why they last so long, with the residuals to match.

Why Owning a Business is a Constant Learning Process

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As an entrepreneur, you probably know a thing or two about owning a business. You know what you’re selling, you know who you’re selling to, you know how to market what you’re selling, and you know who you can get to help you sell. And that’s just the basics of your knowledge.

But like anything in the world, there is always something new to learn about business. Whenever new technology or sales techniques are introduced to a company, the people in that company don’t automatically know the information or know how to apply it.

This is why constantly educating yourself in business is so beneficial. When social media sites like Facebook and Twitter came out, did everyone know exactly how to implement them for marketing purposes? No. Even those techniques are still being tweaked years later.

But where do you go to get this information? Conventions in your area are helpful. Not only do conventions and expos introduce you to new products and companies that can help your company, but they usually feature seminars and classes to help you implement those products and companies.

Some business networking groups offer classes so that you can build your business with contacts was well as build your business knowledge. Infinite Business Connections launched a Lunch N Learn series recently, which merges the traditional business networking group with an educational class, ranging from building a client list to digital marketing to making sales potential into sales.

Digital Networking Do’s and Don’ts: What is SEO?

social_media_strategy111

Since you are here at Long Island Entrepreneurs, you probably know a thing or two about computers and the internet. You’ve signed up for most of the big social media networks. You’re probably set up a website for your company. Maybe you’ve even used some of those advertising credits that hosting companies offer, or even paid money out of your own pocket.

You’ve done all of the above, but you haven’t had the results that you wanted. You’re not alone. Because marketing yourself and your company on the internet is so easy and inexpensive, just about everybody is doing it, making your networking attempts seem more like registering in a giant phone book.

This is why we have broken down some “Do’s and Don’ts” in digital networking. Our second topic is “What is SEO?”

Of course, you’ve heard the term “SEO” if you own or are in a business with a digital presence. From what countless salesman have pitched over the phone and in emails, you’re SEO is broken. It needs to be fixed. You could have so many more clients if you give some attention to your SEO. All of this can be true, but there are certain things to do and don’t do.

First off, what is SEO? SEO stands for “Search Engine Optimization.” Search engines like Google and Yahoo use systems to collect information about everything in the internet, and indexing it in order based upon certain criteria. Besides the good old, “Give us money and we’ll put you at the top of search engines” criteria,” of course.

This indexing takes into account how a search term is incorporated into content, like a news article or picture caption, how much traffic that content has had previously, and other less direct categories. This means that content is king. If you use a blogging platform like WordPress, you can even push content into a picture with a background description or a caption. A search engine can’t index a picture, but it can index a pictured based on how the picture is explained. This same idea goes for videos as well. The internet can’t “see” or “hear” the video. It needs alphanumerical content around it in order to index it, and make it searchable.

If your content isn’t searchable, then it won’t be found by those most important potential clients: the ones that don’t know that your company exists… yet.

Digital Networking Do’s and Don’ts: Social Media Posting

social_media_strategy111

Since you are here at Long Island Entrepreneurs, you probably know a thing or two about computers and the internet. You’ve signed up for most of the big social media networks. You’re probably set up a website for your company. Maybe you’ve even used some of those advertising credits that hosting companies offer, or even paid money out of your own pocket.

You’ve done all of the above, but you haven’t had the results that you wanted. You’re not alone. Because marketing yourself and your company on the internet is so easy and inexpensive, just about everybody is doing it, making your networking attempts seem more like registering in a giant phone book.

This is why we have broken down some “Do’s and Don’ts” in digital networking. Our first topic is posting in social media.

One of the first things you must do when you push forward into the social media landscape is post. It’s fine to set up an account on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, or any of the other multiple social media networks and ask friends and family to like or follow you, but if you don’t post, the potential clients that don’t know you won’t be able to find you.

However, more is not better. Social media posts must be relevant to your business in both fundamental and creative ways. For instance, if you are personal trainer, you can post an article about the daily steps toward creating a healthy lifestyle. Not only are you marketing your part in that healthy lifestyle, but you are presenting your knowledge of the subject, knowledge other people may wish to share in their own networks. It is the share that brings in the new, potential clients.

Like I said, more is not always better. One of the quickest ways to get unliked or unfollowed is to post the same thing every minute of the day if possible. Try to set a schedule for posting, 1-3 times a day. Test different hours in the first week you start out and see when your posts received the most activity. This way, your posts will become efficient, and it can be an exciting part of your daily routine instead of an agonizing one.

The Do’s and Don’ts of the Holiday Office Party

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The holiday office party can be one of the most fun aspects of any company, but also one of the most anxiety-ridden.

The concept is simple: an office event where co-workers mingle and talk about more than budgets and sales. They can expand on those five minute water-cooler chats about the kids, sports, and life in general. You can even meet people from other departments that you probably don’t see except at office parties, like the accounting department that seems to be locked on the second floor before, during, and after normal business hours.

But how much mingling is too much? Yes, even at the office party, certain guidelines must be met to make sure that the events of the office party don’t spill into the actual office.

Do’s

1) Do Mingle.

Just because you’re in the sales department doesn’t mean you have to talk to people in the sales department all night. A company is a family. Catch up with whoever you can. That way, you’ll remember So-and-So’s name when you pass him in the hallway.

2) Do Enjoy Yourself.

It’s a party. You are allowed to smile, have fun, and not talk about work.

3) Do Send Out a Thank You Card or Two.

It’s not apple-polishing to thank your boss for the party. It shows that you don’t take things for granted. And be especially aware of co-workers that helped plan the party and thank them as well.

Don’ts

1) Don’t Be Excessive.

It’s a party, but you will have to see this people in the office, usually five days a week at eight hours a day. Try not to eat, drink, or flirt excessively that will get the office buzzing.

2) Don’t Talk About Work.

The concept of office parties is to engage with co-workers in a more personal level, and there is nothing more impersonal than talking about work. Just look at Ebenezer Scrooge.

3) Don’t Talk About A Raise.

This is not the time to work on those New Year’s Resolutions.

Fitting Business Networking into a Busy Holiday Season

holiday-networking

We have spoken constantly about the need to make time in your business to network in past articles because it is important enough to repeat again and again. Networking creates relationships. Relationships create opportunities. Opportunities create sales. It’s a business structure that has been around since the first time there was bartering competition.

But the holidays give us even less time to deal with anything besides the holidays. You have gifts to shop for and wrap. You have relatives coming by that you haven’t seen all year. There’s food to prepare, homes to decorate, and maybe some snow to constantly shovel.

With all those other activities consuming your time, it’s okay to cut back on networking your business a little, or take a break from events, right? No one is looking to start up a business relationship during the holidays, right?

Wrong.

While people may not be looking to start a business relationship during the holiday season, they will be hitting the new year hard with plans for their business. By investing just a little bit of time to market your business during the holiday season now, you may not ink a contract in the next few weeks, but you may be at the forefront of peoples’ minds when they start to figure out the financial plans for the new year.

Wouldn’t you rather have the holiday tree cut when you need it instead of having to look for a saw?

Building Your Client Pipeline

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Everyone says the same thing in business. “I need more clients!” But no one says how to get those clients, nurture them, keep them, and eventually have them extend your networking pipeline without even knowing it. The reason is that there is no easy answer. There is no magic formula that gives you active, hot leads that are ready to give your business a shot.
When constructing a networking pipeline for your business, consistent work is going to be the key to success, not where you start.
When I first started this networking business, I had to start from scratch even after filling up my Rolodex. Although I had 2 years of building events, I legally couldn’t reach out to the contacts I made due to a contract with the firm that I was working for. So I started over. I took the first steps of networking all over again, with friend and family, a warm market.
But then I expanded by talking to everyone about my goals and told my story. I didn’t sell them there on the spot. I just told my story of what I was trying to accomplish. with perseverance, my list began to grow. I partnered with people, and my list grew. I tried new things, and my list grew. Of course, through this process people came and left, but that was okay because I was always adding people onto the list, and sometimes the people that had left had also left their own lists.
What activity do you do every single day to grow your list and keep it active?
How many lunch dates do you have a week?
How many people have you helped get what they needed?
This is all part of building relationships. Relationships builds a strong business base. And a strong base is the key to success.