Tag: know like and trust

Are You Relevant? Prove it!

Being relevant to your followers and your clients is necessary for good business. Our language, topics, and direction affects the way people interact with us. It is one thing to be relevant, it is another to stay relevant, especially when our words can be around on the internet for many, many years, if not forever.

I am fortunate to have inside knowledge of a very popular blog (www.MTG-Realm.com). This is a very niche focused blog, that shares information on the game Magic The Gathering. The owner of this blog (Bob Barrie) collects and shares information of new cards and products. It is so popular that he gets 2000 – 14000 hits a day on the blog and has just surpassed his 5,000,000 visitor (that’s 5 million). His product is information and it is so relevant to his followers that it is the first place people come to find out new information on the game they love to play.

He often adds his humour and personality to the content by creating videos, stories, and posting humorous images which endear him to his audience.  Today he had a nice surprise when he found that an article he wrote 3 years ago was the topic of an article in the National Examiner. His information is so relevant to his audience that even three years later there is value. (Here is the original post)

So, are you relevant to your client?

Here is how you prove it:

1. Your clients refer you

MTG Realm often gets shared thousands of times a day. People know the information is reliable and they want to help others get the best too so they share his online location.

Do your clients actively help others by sharing your business information?

2. Your clients rely on you.

For MTG Realm, when someone finds something interesting online they expect to find confirmation on the MTG Realm site. Bob has their trust because he has reliable information when it is needed and expected.

Can your clients rely on you when they need you?

3. Your clients and other people you don’t know quote you

Just take a look at the story in the Examiner. A seemingly simple informational share became worthy of another person’s article.

Do you want or need this type of PR?

4. They reach out to you

People in the Magic industry and game world want to be associated with MTG Realm. They know that he has influence in that world. He is approached by business owners, online and physical stores, as well as players, other bloggers, and the PR company for Wizards of the Coast because they know he can add value to them.

Are your clients making an effort to seek you out and be connected?

5. They come back

The biggest compliment a business owner can have is to have returning clients. MTG Realm has some of the most loyal customers, lining up each season to be a part of his blog.  His content is shared over-and-over, year-after-year.

What percentage of your clients are return clients?

Take a look at these 5 questions above. Do you know the answers? Do you care enough to make the necessary changes so you can be relevant to your clients year-after-year? I hope so because I would love to hear your success story.

What have you done lately to be relevant to your customers and followers?

Gain Some Speaking Momentum

Are you thinking about adding speaking to your marketing mix to help increase the visibility of your business and the credibility of your expertise? It is truly a great way to do both. Here are some tips on gaining some momentum and increasing the demand for you and your topics.

Learn How to Speak

Here are four things you can do to increase your speaking skills.

  1. If you have never spoken in front of a crowd before, don’t let that stop you. Get some practice and start NOW! Ask colleagues, your networking group, family, peers, etc. if they would attend one of your talks or allow you to practice in front of them.
  2. Set up a teleconference call and simply start with an audio event. Even if no one attends you can record the call and evaluate what you liked and disliked about your own performance.
  3. Watch your favourite speaker and analyze what they are doing. You can even invest in events with great speakers. Pay to see them speak and take lots of notes.
  4. Learn from the best. Attend training programs on speaking. Join a speaking association like CAPS or Toastmasters, or mentor under an expert like Lisa Sasevich. There are many different styles of speaking and many different types of experts so find the one that can teach you to be your best.

Get Speaking

Let everyone know you are a speaker and ask them to connect you with people that are looking for people to speak for free. It is a great way to gain confidence and to get your name known as someone that is a valuable asset to their venue. Often the easiest venues to start on are audio or radio shows. There are hundreds, if not thousands of people out there on the Internet creating content, holding interviews, and highlighting people and they need content.

Other physical locations are on other people’s stages, at their events, or for your own event.

I started by asking people if I could offer some additional help to their clients by speaking for them. I have had colleagues create events for their clients and they bring me in as a bonus gift.

Have a Topic

When you are asking to be on people’s stages or shows you will be asked, “what do you talk about?” You need to have a great topic with an engaging title. This will make it easier for them to market the event and you. I recommend having a speaker’s bio or speaker’s sheet. Even better would be a speaker’s website. These are all low-cost investments for your speaking future and they will all add to your marketing effectiveness.

Speaking is a very valuable way to increase your marketing reach, engage new clients, start a relationship with your followers, and create an image of you and your business that goes beyond anything traditional advertising can do. Since speaking is an ability that the average person is unable to do because of fear, a good speaker is seen as courageous and a leader. Be a leader in your marketing and start gaining some speaking momentum.

Creating a Live Event – The Basics to Get Started

Have you been thinking about creating your own event? Maybe something that allows you to be in front of your clients and gives you the opportunity to speak. I think that is a great idea. Speaking is a great way to create more credibility and trust with your audience and the people that follow you. Here are some basic tips that you will need to think about when creating your event.

Why are you hosting this event?

What is the purpose for you to host this event? Are you hoping to fill your list, are you selling a product or a book, do you want more clients in your service business? You need to know what your outcome of the event is going to be. This is the key knowing what you will offer and who to invite.

Example – Practice:

When I started speaking I simply wanted more opportunity to get better at it. I created a few 1/2 day events where I could hone the language around my expertise and my products and services. If you don’t want to come across as a ‘pushy sales person’ you need to also create the language that tells people you really want to help them. You want it to feel natural and genuine so this invitation doesn’t feel sleazy. Practicing with the right crowd will definitely make this easier.  The people that want your help will be grateful.

Other reasons:

  • Use the content to create a product
  • Invite people to a bigger event
  • Sell a product or service
  • Increase your list of contacts
  • Increase your influence, credibility, and expert-level
  • Offer additional customer support to your best clients

What Type of Venue?

You will need to know your target market well enough to understand what type of venue they will most likely be attracted to for this type of event. For some events the place will not matter, for others it will be critical. Just a simple business meeting atmosphere is affected by whether it is held in a loud restaurant or a private room with service. You get to decide the learning atmosphere you want you participants to be in.

Items that will affect your choice:

  • cost (will you recuperate the cost if it is expensive or do you need to?)
  • event length (do you need refreshments, meals, accommodations)
  • size (number of expected attendees, seating arrangements)
  • amenities
    • presentation technology (projector, computer, connectors)
    • flip chart
    • Smart board
    • phone systems or conference ability
    • tables for group work,
    • internet
    • setup provided
    • parking

Related Article on Creating an Event

What to Present?

Once you know why you are creating this event and where you want to host it you can then create the event content. This may seem backwards to you but if you are hoping to sell something at the end and your event does not lead into that product or service then there will be a disconnect between the need and the offer. If presented well people will need more of what you have just been offering. So start with the end in mind and work backwards to create your talk topic.

I hope your next event is a huge success. Next week I want to talk about how to plan the marketing for your upcoming event.

If you have other items you know you have needed to create an event in the past please let us know below in the comments.

What Do Perks Do to Increase Your Business?

Spending money on perks may not be in your budget yet, but it should be. Perks are gifts given to customers to thank them for patronizing your business. There are two types of perks, the proactive and the reactive. I’m going to use Starbucks and Horseshoe Resort as my two personal examples, but I’m sure you will have many more.

Reactive Perks

These perks are incentives given as a bonus for purchasing now. Maybe you have received an additional upgrade, BOGO (buy one get one) at half price, or “buy today” incentive. These perks are usually open to anyone that is willing to purchase from you that day.

A few examples of companies that use these well are department stores and grocery stores. Both these types of companies have weekly specials and events to entice people to purchase today for additional savings. The benefit to them is, while in their store it is likely you will see and purchase more items than you came for.

What can you do in your business to entice people to buy today and maybe see and purchase more items then they came for?

Proactive Perks

These perks are aimed at previous clients. People they know have purchased in the past and they want to incentivize with options to continue to think of them first when purchasing in the future. The goal in your marketing this way is to stay top-of-mind with your clients. Go ahead and tier your perks to give more back to the people that give the most to your business.

I have two personal examples of places that have done this really well. I recently got a piece of gold plastic in the mail that made my day. In fact, when I showed others this card the ‘envy factor’ went way up and I felt even more special than I did when I received my Starbucks Gold card with my name on it. Check out this story about how the little things matter, on my blog.

My Starbucks Gold Card Perk

The other event that happened recently was when I was looking for a venue to host my 2-day business workshop with my partner Lara Veltkamp. We had visited a few venues. Horseshoe Resort wanted our business and made it easier for us to experience their facility by giving us access to some of their offerings. By creating a relationship with us so we could feel what it was like to be a part of the day-to-day events and the atmosphere it made them the top runner for the location.

Additional Incentives – Issue reaction

The third place you should recognize that you may need to give an incentive to return and buy again is if your client had an issue with their purchase. You do not want many of these, but take a look at the lifetime value of your average client and decide if giving away something is a great investment in continuing the relationship. This cost comes out of your operations/customer support budget but may include some of the same perks you would give a great client.

How Do I Afford This?

To calculate what would be valuable to a client of yours you need to know how much your client is worth. Determine what an average client brings to your company in sales over the lifetime of your relationship with them. If you were to lose that client, it would cost your business their lifetime purchase value. Every client you lose, because you are not their first choice to return, is increasing your marketing budget.

Determine how much it costs to get a new client? Your time in particular is used up in so many channels of marketing just to reach the new customer. You can justify the cost of an incentive campaign by knowing what you spend, what you gain, and what you can save.

So, how much are you willing to pay into your marketing campaign to ensure that this client never leaves you.

If you do not have a marketing budget then you are not set to grow your business. Ask yourself, “do I want to get more clients, work less, and still make more money?” If you answered yes to this then you need to stop winging it and start planning your business.

Do you have more examples of some great perks you have received for being a valued client?

 

Need Some Forgiveness and Kindness?

OK Barb, where are you going with this? Last week I found out how loving myself can affect my business and now you are going to tell me about forgiveness and kindness? When are we getting back to concrete business?

Did you have a twinge of this thought when you read the title? It’s OK because I promise I will tie this into some concrete business ideas, contacts and opportunities.

Recently one of my shifts in my marketing was to change my networking focus. This shift took me to the Evolutionary Business Council (EBC). The focus of the EBC is to increase the reach of its members through the giving and sharing of others. It is truly effective and has connected me to some amazing people creating some incredible change in business. Two projects I want to talk to you about are around forgiveness and kindness.

If you are following me online recently you would have seen the reference to “Project Forgive“. This well planned marketing and outreach campaign has achieved its first milestone of raising $100,000 to start producing Shawne Duperon‘s movie about forgiveness. This inspiring documentary is on track to be a global success even though filming has yet not begun.

I was given the opportunity to help share the information that led to accomplishing this first milestone. There was no promise of remuneration, so how does this help my business?

Help WantedForgiveness

There are many others helping this cause. The partners, Shawne Duperon and Teresa de Grosbois, have a very comprehensive marketing plan that included incredible communications reaching out daily to those involved and connecting personally with a genuine heart to see everyone on the project succeed somehow.

Because of this I have been introduced to others by them in a genuine personal introduction. You cannot effectively write this type of language for yourself and have someone convincingly perform it. I was honoured by their love to see those that help be helped. With this type of introduction I have been invited to share my passion with other large audiences, allowing me to get my word out to so many more and increasing my reach for my business.

In a short time frame a community has grown up around this cause. In this community are entrepreneurs and industry leaders of note, which I am now connected to. It would have taken more than a year in a traditional service club to create these types of connections and it is just starting.  I have seen an increase in my list and my online contacts. I am now reaching more people and can help more people because of that.

If you can find a cause that aligns with your business, creating a project to fund it is one way to make it happen like Shawne and Teresa have done or you can support a project as I did and find gratification being a part of a team where so many others succeed.

Kindness

That brings me to ‘kindness’. Today I was asked if I could help share a million acts of kindness. This aligns completely with my beliefs and seeing Charmaine’s Kindness site (not yet live) fill up with videos and stories of acts of kindness will be exciting.

My part will be to add one video. This ‘Yes’ has opened the door to personally connecting with Charmaine Hammond, another incredible author, speaker and successful entrepreneur and be a part of something way bigger than either of us.

Success

You know what they say, “If you want to be successful at something, surround yourself with successful people doing what you want to do.” So forgive yourself for not seeing that connecting to a project and helping it succeed without compensation will help grow your business. ‘Project Networking’ is not the traditional marketing channel. Now engage that kind heart of yours to drive your passion, find your cause, and connect in a way that gets you in front of your clients and surrounds you with the type of people that you want to become.

Reach out to Shawne, Teresa, or Charmaine and let them know you can help them create an Academy Award winning documentary or add to the 1 million list.

I Love You Because…

I Love You Because… I Love U Because...

We make hundreds of decisions each day, from ‘where should I sit in Starbucks’ and ‘what should I eat for breakfast’ to ‘should I make that cold call’ and ‘what should I say’. When we make decisions in life and in business they are based on our beliefs and experiences.

Some beliefs we have can control our perception of our experience and hence our response to a decision we have to make. For instance let’s say a friend says to you, “I love your new coat.” You may respond in a few different ways, such as:

  • Thank you
  • Thanks, I got it on sale at Marshall’s
  • Thanks, I am not sure it looks right on me

Each of these responses creates a different feeling in yourself and your friend. The first says, you are grateful for the compliment. The second response says you recognize you are somehow not completely deserving of such a nice jacket and the third response says you are not confident about your purchase and you are fishing for a way to justify the expense.

This is your Love Belief. Your Love Belief is your love in yourself is based on these feeling you have around the choices you make; your ability to competently shop, to dress appropriately, to spend money, or simply to make a decision all add to that feeling.

If you cannot accept the gift of a compliment from a friend then how are you going to accept the criticism of a client or competition in your business? You have to be confident in your decisions and your ability to get things right.

Love Belief Exercise

Here is a quick exercise to help you start the process and grow your Love Belief.

  1. Think of one or more people you love. They may be close family or friends or they can be mentors, leaders, people you idolize or look up to.
  2. Start with this statement, “I love you because…”
  3. Fill in the statement with the reasons you love the person or people you identified in step 1.

    For Example – I love you because…

    • You make me feel safe
    • You make me feel I can accomplish anything
    • You are helpful
    • People love you
  4. Replace the first statement with “I love ME because…” and then read the answers your wrote for the other people.

    For Example – I love ME because…

    • I make others feel safe,
    • I make other people feel they can accomplish anything.
    • I am helpful
    • People love me

Even if the statement does not completely fit yet, these are the things you would like to see in yourself.

Loving yourself will lead to becoming a more confident and competent business leader. People who experience you will be more drawn to you, building rapport will be easier, and having the opportunities to get in front of your clients will increase.

10 Things You Could be Doing Today to Get More Clients

What are you doing today to get clients? Every day of your business should include client-attraction activities. Here are my top 10 things you can add to your day. There are a lot more, so don’t stop here. Do what works and then add some more.

  1. making warm callsMake Calls

    Call the people that have said in the past they are interested in purchasing from you or working with you. Check in with them to see if they are ready to move forward.

  2. Create An Event

    Use the event to market to your opt-in list for the weeks leading up to the event. It can be a free teleseminar, training, product launch, or a trade show. Committing to doing the event will give you the incentive to get started. Committing with money will help you get it filled.

  3. Networking

    This is an important part of your business. You cannot run a business in seclusion and networking is a great way to build the ‘know, like, and trust factor’. You are building relationships with people that may be able to get you other marketing opportunities or can introduce you to your client. Add at least one networking event each week to your calendar.

  4. Mailing Campaign

    Using traditional mail can get you in the hands of the people that may not open your email. Try sending something out each month to let people know what you are up to, wish them well, or inform and make sure you add a call-to-action.

  5. Blog – Podcast – Vlog

    Regular communication with your audience helps keep you top-of-mind. Be consistent with your effort, more than once a month is necessary. This media is used to inform and engage, so make sure you are bringing lots of value to your topics and answering questions that your clients want to know about.

  6. Joint Venture

    Create a joint offer with a strategic partner. Identify 2 or 3 key strategic partners that will help you reach more people in your business. You can use each other’s lists to connect with more people and grow your own potential client list.

  7. Social Media

    Engage people online. It is possible to create a great connection with someone online, strong enough that they will send clients your way. As proof this is possible here are two people I have never met but could easily recommend for business: Shawne Duperon, and Teresa de Grosboi. Here are two people that others recommend regularly: Seth Godin and Darren Hardy.  That said, you should solidify this relationship and build on it by making an effort to connect offline as well.

  8. Host an Open House

    If you have a physical location create an open-house day where you invite your clients and the community to come see what you are doing. Make it free and fun. Remember to invite the local media (news and papers), political figures, and community leaders. If you know they are coming make sure you let people know who will be there in your marketing leading up to the day.

  9.  Speak

    Get out there and say something. Make your opinion valuable and be visible. There are many speaking venues in your community. Check your industry associations, the chamber or board of trade, local schools, groups or start your own group. Become the expert in your field people will turn to and think of; especially when they are ready to buy.

  10. Article Writing

    If you are able to write then use this media to become an expert online. Become that someone sought for their knowledge about your industry. There are plenty of places online where you can get your articles published (e.g. EzineArticles.com)

Remember to add some client-attraction activities to your day, every day. If you are not constantly filling your funnel you will not always have people to sell to and then you won’t have a viable business.

Only sales = staying open.

The ‘Give’ That Will Give Back

We have all heard the statement “If you give you will get back” and sometimes that is appended with “in spades”. It starts in grade school with the teaching of ‘The Golden Rule’ (do onto others as you would have them do unto you). There are several businesses that base their foundation on this idea, like  BNI whose philosophy is “Givers Gain” and eWomen Network which uses “Give First”. But what some people sometimes feel is they give and give and never see anything back (or at least not what they have put into it.) Here are some tips to make your ‘gives’ really meaningful so that others will truly see you as a giver and will give back.

Give without Expectation

This one is hard because we have been told to expect reciprocation, or that is what many of us read into the statements above, but it is not necessarily reciprocation. When we give we should not be expecting for something in return.

I worked with someone that would give all the time and then spend much of her time in tears because these people where betraying her by not giving back. Maybe she was giving to the wrong people and expected something they were unable to give, but more likely it was that she always gave with the expectation that these people would become or continue to be ongoing clients.

What would have been a better way of looking at it would be to hope that these people had the ability to help someone else out. Then this person would have been seen as a true giver and people would have wanted to help her out instead of feeling indebted to her. Being in debt to someone is a crappy feeling and is a form of payment. Don’t make people feel this way. When you are in ‘the giving place’ the gifts come back to you, often from unexpected places.

Know People’s ‘What’

When you are talking with people don’t be listening for what you can get from them, but be thinking about what you can do for them. It will put you into a true giving place and will also make you a better listen. Great listeners are often thought of as great people. We all like to be heard, so put your listening ears on and focus on their ‘What’ or their need. It will be easier for you to help them if you can.

Make an Effort

Giving takes more time than most people allocate for it. You will need to make time to contact and connect the people you have promised to help. Sometimes I’ve had to make more than one attempt to connect with someone I know but the better I get at helping people the easier it is for me to reach people. When I make a concerted effort to help someone once, they are more likely to be available for me to connect them with someone else. Remember, this is also part of your marketing so you will have to put aside not only time to do the networking, make the connections, and follow up, but also set aside time to help others reach their goals. If you are not putting aside time for marketing each day then do it now. Start with 30-90 minutes a day, schedule it in, and follow through on focusing your efforts on your marketing and the people that you can help.

Share your Goals

People cannot help you if they do not know what you need. When they have put on their listening ears and are giving you the gift of their attention then use it wisely. Know what it is you are working towards and what you need to achieve it. Be specific so they can really make the connection between what you need and what they can do to help you.

Be Thankful and Genuine

People love to help because it is like giving a gift. When you give a gift it is not only given to the recipient but it is also a gift to the giver. We love the feeling of being able to give something that makes others happy. So, when someone gives you a gift (a referral, their time, their full attention, or more) remember that it is also a gift for them. Accept it graciously and say thank you. As simple as that sounds it is often hard for us to accept gifts. Here is an easy example to see where we go wrong.

Two friends meet each other in a store.

Patty, “Hi Sue, you look amazing. I love your hair”

Sue, “Thanks, I need to get to the gym more often plus I really need to get my hair coloured soon.”

Why don’t we just say “Thank you”,  accept the gift, and keep the negative talk for another time.

When you give, make it real. Give it and let it go. Don’t spend time or energy waiting for it to come back. Give for their benefit, not your own. Genuine gifts are the ones that create a person that others will want to be in a relationship of reciprocity with. Become that person.

Aside – My friend and colleague Jackie Ramler has a program in her business that supports her employees’ giving to charity. They each get to pick their own charity and then they get one day paid a month to volunteer for their charity. That gift has given her back the most incredible team to work with.

What is the Importance of a Great First Impression?

Chances are you have been told many times in your life it is important to make a good first impression. We have been told by our mothers to dress appropriately, brush our hair, smile, sit up straight, etc. to give that good impression. What truly is the importance of giving and leaving a good impression, especially a first impression?

In law, a first impression refers to a case that holds a completely original issue of law. Wikipedia explains, “Since the legal issue under consideration has never been decided by an appeals court and, therefore, there is no precedent for the court to follow, the court uses analogies from prior rulings by appeals courts and its own logic.”

When we look at a first impression like this for our business we have to realize that a person or company meeting us for the first time, or hearing about our product/service for the first time, may have no reference point to make a judgement on our value. They may actually incorrectly apply the biases or prejudices from other experiences to your business.

In psychology (as explained in Wikipedia), “a first impression is the event when one person first encounters another person and forms a mental image of that person.”

When we apply this to our business we recognize that how we are seen in our business and how our business is accepted can depend on how we were perceived by the other person forming that impression.

We have control over the image we put off and the information we share but not how it is perceived, so we must work hard to make sure the impression someone forms about us on our first meeting will help us easily make a second connection with these people, especially if they are a potential client. So let’s look at three things that can be affected by a great first impression.

Time and Money

No one wants to be judged based on someone else’s past poor experience. It is up to you to make a first impression that says, “I am likable and worth knowing”, so that people will more quickly recognize your brand and potentially purchase from you or refer your business.

If it typically takes 7 marketing touches to get your business brand remembered by your potential client then you don’t want to lengthen that by first having to undo the wrong information (if you even get the chance). In marketing, the shorter your sales cycle the less money and time it costs you and that is always a great thing in business. Starting with a great first impression will potentially save you a lot of  time in your sales cycle.

I have found that, when speaking with someone for the first time, being very clear about the business benefits for the client and offering help instead of jumping to ‘sales mode’ creates a trusting first impression that gives people a feeling that you know what they need and you are willing to help. This is a much better first impression then coming across like a pushy sales person.

Awareness

When creating marketing material for advertising many people you will reach may be getting their first impression of you through different media. Your message must have a consistent brand image (not just logo, but language, and feeling). The same rule as above applies. Show benefit and offer to help. You want people to become aware of you and your value to them as quickly as possible. They will ignore you if you have no brand or perceived value for them. They will take note of you when you are amazing and they will take note of you when you are incredibly irritating. It is just as detrimental on your business to be ignored as to have to undo a negative impression first. Always aim to be amazing.

Referrals

It is known that it is easier to do business with people that know, like, and trust us. If we create a great first impression we can sometimes jump to a sale, particularly if the sale requires a lot less trust (e.g. purchasing a commodity like flowers or baked goods). If you are in an industry that requires a lot more trust before someone will purchase from you, like a financial planner, accountant, or general contractor, your potential clients will most likely come to you through a referral. A great first impression can help your potential clients get to the same level as if you had been referred to them. Be open and genuinely honest with them. Again, sharing your knowledge to help others in a way they can recognize you as having something they need will help you more quickly build trust.

Only One!

Don’t wait to make the perfect first impression. You only get once chance to do this, so, consistently make an effort to always create a great first impression and you will spend less time and money generating positive awareness of you and your business.

Are You Networking for New Business? Some Answers to Why and Where

Is networking a component of your marketing plan for your business? If it is not, it should be. Let me first talk to you about why networking is an important way to get more clients and increase your business and then we’ll talk about where to look for your best networking opportunities.

Why Networking?

I know I always say, “you can start a business on your own but no one can succeed in business alone”, and I believe that, so let’s begin with how this attitude might help you grow your business.

Word-of-mouth is the most powerful way to persuade someone to purchase from you. If I am told by a trusted friend or colleague about a new business, product, or service and I need what they are offering, chances are I will patronize their business. How many times have you purchased something large, invested in training, or given your hard-earned cash to a business without first knowing if you wanted to do business with them. Probably never. There are places we won’t go to because of a bad experience we have had or someone we know has had and that is certainly not what you want for your business.

So, how do you influence the word-of-mouth (WoM) marketing that is being shared about your business?

1. No WoM

To do business without networking you need to understand these few things.We know that it takes about 7 touches before a potential client will take note of your brand and about 20 before they will purchase from you. With traditional marketing campaigns you will need to make all these touches, in the right place to connect with your potential clients. This is a valuable way to get your brand visually recognizable to your local community and beyond.

It requires no networking time, but a lot of money to create your ads and distribute them.

2.  Low Level WoM

Friends like to help friends – your customers will share with others. If they are happy with you then get them to do that. Ask for a testimonial you can put on your website, create a referral program and implement a keep-in-touch program that will allow you to stay in contact with your best clients. Your customer is worth way more than their initial or ongoing purchase.

Create a time when you can network with your clients. A client appreciation day, a VIP day, a third-party networking event you can invite your clients to. Find ways to be around your clients so that they know you on a personal level and will be more compelled to refer you.

3. Full Networking Plan

You will want to reach out to the influencers, the people that will talk about you to others. A networking plan looks at not only connecting with your clients, but with your strategic alliances and others in your community or industry that will be able to refer you.

Where’s the Best Networking for Me?

Online versus Face-to-Face

You can certainly build great relationship online with people you may never meet face-to-face. I can tell you I have purchased from people and companies online with no intention of ever flying to meet them. But I often do my purchasing because someone I do know has recommended the site. As our world gets smaller, the importance of actually knowing people becomes even more crucial.

Referral Focused Networking

Because I am a director with BNI I’m going to be a little biased here, but take the general overtones and apply it to what fits for you and your ROI. There are many different referral networking groups. Their core focus is to create a room full of people that are as eager to help you grow your business as they are to get business for themselves. Join a group, like BNI, that has a program that works, is tested, and is managed. You do not want to spend your networking time building a system or structure to manage the group, you just want to use the system.

Service Clubs or Community Networking

Belonging to a service club or volunteering for a community project can bring you credibility and connections. As you are seen as someone that is reliable and wants to give back to your community, other people’s trust in you will increase. If you happen to mention you have a store or service it is likely they will come to see you when they need your product or service. As they get to know you and see you regularly they will send others as they hear the need for your product or service.

Associations and Industry Specific Events

You can focus on joining an association or go to trade shows and conferences where your clients would be members and attend. This would gain you trust and credibility directly with your potential client. Volunteering at these events or speaking will build up your professional expertise and help them remember you when either they need you or when they hear others in need of your service. For example I belonged to the Trillium Medical Technology Association in Toronto with my first company where my potential clients were members. It helped me to know directly the economic pressures that were affecting their businesses.

You can also go to associations and events where you can meet others that support your clients for their different needs. These are your strategic alliances. As the owner of a technical writing company I went to a conference and trade show for medical device manufacturers and made many connections to translators and CAD software providers because they are often asked to help provide content, which they did not want to do.

What Next?

Get out there and network with your potential clients, your clients, your competition, your strategic alliances, and others that might see or meet your clients on a regular basis. You will need to network regularly, so set aside time and a budget to do this. You will also need to be connected in more than one place, so find at least two regular groups that fit your needs and your personality.

These are the key benefits on where and why to network. We did not talk about the importance of the relationship you need have to be a great networker. The key to being a great networker is being able to help others. This is the “How” of networking. As the narrator of Hammy Hamster would say, “That’s another story for another day.”