June 30, 2013

Appreciation Marketing – Go Networking

Do you market your business? Do you place ads in every publication, on billboards, on television, on radio, and everywhere else you can? Why not take advantage of the easiest, most reasonably priced, most direct, and most personal way of marketing? Networking is where you yourself promote yourself and your business.

Where do you go to network, and what type of meetings do you attend? Do you like groups where the attendees are restricted in number by industry represented, or do you like groups which allow multiple attendees from any industry? Maybe you prefer groups which are specific to a single industry, or do you favor groups that welcome anyone and everyone at each meeting, including career seekers.

How about the meetings themselves? Do you prefer a group where everyone just mingles, having random conversations? Do you seek groups where the attendees each introduce themselves in turn and then seek out whomever they wish to get to know? Perhaps, you like the groups where you are penalized for not passing referrals to other members or where you are restricted to only referring members.

In other words, there are all types of groups with all versions of agendas. You must find your comfort level at whatever type of group or meeting agenda you like. It does not matter what you decide, I encourage you to network, and network often. I have always said that I will attend at least once any group or meeting to which I can gain admittance.

It does not matter the subject of the meeting or the type of group. Look at the members of the group and decide if they fit what you want as clients or prospects. Then take a different look and decide if the people that they may know are the people whom you want as clients or prospects. Remember it is not who you meet and get to know, but the main point may be whom you can help market their business and exchange referrals.

You are not at a networking meeting to sign a new client. You are there to market, not to sell. You are sewing seeds that will one day grow into a garden. Market, exchange contact information, and follow up. Get to know those whom you meet as people, not as prospects or referrals. You will do business with people that you know, like, and trust. Do the marketing right, and the sales will follow.

Be prepared to market yourself and your business at every networking meeting. Be ready to deliver a 15 second, 30 second, 1 minute, 3 minute, or 5 minute summary of what you want to say. If you cannot take all the time allowed, ask for questions. Be professional no matter how much or little time you have. Just enough information to get others to ask for more data is sufficient. Do not give a long presentation.

Every networking meeting is the time for you to show your professionalism. Have your name tag on, your business cards and a smile to provide to others, and chat with those whom you do not know. Be willing to contact the people that you meet so you can start building networking relationships, if possible. Then support each other, and start to gain partners, referrals, clients, or all 3 from these relationships.

As always, please leave me your comments, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691. If you need help in networking, look to your partners or let me help you. Networking meetings are everywhere, but you must be willing to attend them with the right attitude. Remember, professionals go networking professionally.

June 23, 2013

Appreciation Marketing – Name Tags (Continued)

Last week’s posting discussing name tags motivated many comments, emails, and phone calls. I never realized that a simple subject would result in so much feedback. Therefore, I thought that I would continue the discussion this week, adding some of the ideas that I received after last week’s posting.

While wearing name tags at every meeting that you attend is very important to your marketing, wearing one in the wrong place may not be useful. Name tags should be worn on the upper right hand chest so that the wearer will shake hands with the hand from that same side. This will allow the name tag to be close to the other person and easy to read. The easier the name tag is to read, the more impact it makes.

Last week I said that the only information you needed on a name tag was the name of your business (if you have one) and your name. Some people believe that only your name should appear, but I disagree. The name of your business will provoke questions and comments, usually requests for more information about your business that leads to better networking. I value these questions and where they lead.

What about your contact phone number and email address? That should be on your business or contact card. The person with whom you exchange business cards will have that information without having to copy it from your name tag. Meeting attendees should not have to write down anything more than their notes. Leave your name tag for attracting the attention of others and their comments.

Should you place your business logo on your name tag? If it will aid in marketing your business, it may actually attract inquiries. Remember that the idea is to have a name tag that is easy to read, and nothing should distract from that intent. Do not clutter up the tag, and you must have a font large enough to be read easily.

Should you spend a lot on money on a name tag? If it will market you and your business better, a special tag may be great, but someone starting out can print a name tag from their computer or have one done by a vendor. Remember to use a substantial weight paper and a plastic holder for what you have printed. Replace the tag, and holder, whenever necessary so that it is not dirty or worn.

Of course, you must make an effort to have a name tag with you to wear. Make it a habit to have one available wherever you may be. You should never forget your business cards (but some people do all the time), and you should never forget your name tag. You don’t have to wear it as you walk down the street, but you should carry one with you in your pocket, backpack, briefcase, purse, as you go to a meeting.

Name tags can make you new friends and allow former acquaintances to recognize you at meetings. Make it easy for your clients to do business with you, wearing a name tag whenever you attend a meeting, both outside and inside your business. It is a mark of professionalism, your passion for your business, and your personal connection with your clients.

Please leave me your comments, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691. I’ll be glad to receive your opinions either in agreement or disagreement. Let’s connect at the next business meeting where we can see each other’s name tags.

June 16, 2013

Appreciation Marketing – Name Tags

Attendees at business meetings frequently wear name tags. Whether the meeting is one within your business or one where people from various businesses gather, name tags are a way of allowing attendees to recognize, and remember, those whom they have previously met and fix in their minds those whom they meet for the first time.

We have all met someone at a meeting, and we know that we have met the person previously but cannot remember their name. Also, someone may greet us that we simply do not remember ever meeting before, but they know us. Both these situations and others can be smoothed out if everyone at a meeting was wearing a name tag.

First, what do we need a name tag to say? It can be as simple as your name and business name. Don’t have a business name; how about just your name? The information should be legible and not confusing, visible so someone doesn’t have to lean so their eyes are within 6 inches of the name tag. I want mine visible from across the room.

Second, don’t use your business card for your name tag. You may have the cutest, most interesting business card, but too much information just makes it impossible to read and the type font is too small to be read easily. Make meeting someone easier for the other person. You don’t want to be remembered for the wrong reason.

Third, wearing a name tag makes the meeting more memorable for both of you, and people will remember you better when you meet again. Just seeing your name tag may trigger the memory of your previous meeting in their mind. Help them not to be embarrassed because they don’t remember meeting you previously.

Finally, I believe there is another benefit that is most important to you. If you have your name and business name on your name tag, people will start conversations with you by using your name, asking what your business is. Wouldn’t you want others to ask what your business does, and what it can mean to them? This is a great form of marketing.

Marketing is everything that we do in our businesses. It is what we do from the time we wake up until we go to sleep. We can engage in positive marketing, or we can engage in negative marketing. We must make it easy for our customers to enter into a business relationship with us and to move through that relationship. It starts with the first meeting and continues through establishing a business partnership.

Name tags can and should be worn at every business meeting, networking event, and anytime that we are in the presence of other business people, prospects, clients, or just the general public. I attended a networking meeting this past week where the majority of the attendees did not have name tags. Many of them were standing in silence, while others were walking up to me and asking me, by name, what my business does and starting a conversation.

Do you have a name tag that you wear at every meeting that you attend? What does it say, and is it legible for those who will read it? Is it positive in your marketing, and does it result in others engaging you in conversation about your business? Please leave me your comments, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691. Let’s connect at the next business meeting where we can see each other’s name tags.

June 9, 2013

Appreciation Marketing – Contacts and Dates

Last week we discussed following up on the contacts from the business cards that we have collected. After that initial follow up what do you do over time to keep this relationship solid and help both of you succeed in business? What are the steps that you should take to keep the relationship alive?

I am a birthday admirer. Maybe it’s my age, but I love birthdays. I believe that your birthday is one of the most important days in your life. Why did you stop wanting to celebrate your birthday? Did you have a bad experience, or did someone forget you and you don’t want them to be embarrassed? Having birthdays sure beats the alternative.

If you engage in a networking relationship, ask your partner what their birthday is; don’t ask for the year, just the month and day. Then celebrate their day each year, no matter their age, or yours. Send them a card or buy them a gift, or both. Just let them know that you remember them and their special day. You will make them feel special, and again, it beats the alternative.

If they have a spouse and/or children, you could celebrate those birthdays also. Think how a business associate would feel when their spouse or child receives a birthday card from you. That gesture would help redefine the term “business partner” and never let them forget you. If they cannot remember your name, they cannot recommend you.

How about their anniversary? Maybe they don’t celebrate a wedding anniversary due to losing their spouse, but if they do, sending a card or gift would be a nice gesture. Again, you don’t need the year, just the month and day should be sufficient to remind you. Including their spouse by name would be nice and show how special they are to you.

Of course anniversaries don’t have to just be for marriage. How about a “business marriage”? You should celebrate the date that you began engaging in a business relationship with your customers. Thanking them for letting you “be of service” to them would a nice gesture of appreciation. After all, they put money into your pocket.

In addition, there is the anniversary of their business’s start. Today, staying in business is a cause for celebration, and it is an event that should be noted as an accomplishment. Each year that a business stays in business is special and shows their consistency and validates their method of doing business. Show them that you join them in that celebration, recognizing that your partner is special.

Of course, other events may not be causes for celebration, but may be noticed. I recently was told that I was the only person, outside of family, who noted the passing of a business partner’s pet. I just wanted to show my concern and offer to help in some manner to ease the pain. It was not done to gain anything, but to show my support.

So, what is your plan to develop and maintain those business partnerships that you value? How do you show your networking relationships that you are their partner and friend? Please leave me your comments, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691. Maybe we can share some new ideas, or maybe we can help each other be better at what we do. Remember that, if your relationships are neglected they will wither and die no longer bearing fruit for anyone.

June 2, 2013

Appreciation Marketing – Business Cards & Contacts

To follow up on our discussion last week, what do you do with all those business cards that you collect at networking events or chance meetings wherever you go? You should engage in a conversation with anyone, anytime, and anywhere, because you never know who you may meet and who they may know

As we have discussed before, there is no prize to the person who collects the most business cards, just like there is no prize to the person with the most contacts on LinkedIn or the most friends on Facebook. The prize of successful business goes to the person who follows up the best with all those contacts.

Many people just don’t like cold calling strangers. They don’t enjoy picking up the phone and trying to recruit an unknown person into a business relationship. It takes a person with a tough demeanor to cold call on a regular basis, and rejection from strangers can demoralize even strong people. Plus, it can take time away from running your business.

How about calling the people whose business cards that you have collected? They have already met you once, and you exchanged business cards with them. They should remember you and should not react in the same way as if a stranger called them. You should be more comfortable calling someone who themselves should be looking for new business partners. That’s why they were networking in the first place.

Don’t try to recruit them as customers. Call them to offer to meet for coffee and an informational chat. You can get to know each other and establish a networking relationship. People do business with others that they know, like, and trust. You offer to begin building that relationship and help each other succeed in business.

People who are serious about business networking will want to discover if this type of relationship is possible. Otherwise, since you don’t know each other, how could you decide to business together? Moreover, how could you provide referrals to each other? A business networking relationship may result in a new client for either, or both, of you. Even more, it may result in referrals for either, or both, of you.

Your networking partners should believe that you each have an interest in both of you being more successful. You should both strive to help each other improve your businesses, your marketing efforts, and your everyday lives. Your networking partners will give you advice before you ask for it, and everyone should set egos aside when looking for assistance. Open, honest communication must be the norm.

Are all the referrals that you pass to your partners referrals for possible clients? You may get a request from a networking partner for someone who performs some service that no one in your network does. Then, you may refer your partner to someone who may have that person in their network. Referrals can lead to referrals to referrals to referrals, and I have tracked a referral back several stages more than once.

What do you do with all those business cards that you collect? Do you throw them into a drawer, never to see the light of day, or do you try to develop relationships with others who may become your networking partners? Please leave me your comments, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691. Let’s connect and chat about you. Maybe we can form a networking relationship with each other, if we aren’t already business partners.