Business owners need to get out of the office and attend networking events. Going to a networking lunch is a great way to build new relationships, cement current relationships and perhaps walk away with an appointment to meet with a potential client. How can you make the most of networking lunches? There are several ways to do this, but make certain you aren’t walking into the event focused on handing out as many business cards as you can. The point of the event, any networking event for that matter, is to build relationships.
Meet new people. Don’t congregate with only those people that you already know. You’re out of the office to make new acquaintances. Make the most of that opportunity. Walk up and introduce yourself. Welcome people you don’t know to your circle of friends. Make them feel welcome! Have an ice breaker question ready to toss out when you walk up and shake someone’s hand. It could be about the weather or the latest blockbuster book or movie. Avoid politics and religion.
Put your best foot forward. You’ve met someone new. You’ve both said your names… now what? Do you try a sales pitch? NO! You are getting to know this person, right? If you want to know him or her better, invite him to sit next to you at lunch so you can continue the conversation. When you’re at the actual lunch part of the event, remember your table manners. You know.. don’t talk with your mouth full, don’t interrupt, don’t reach across other people to grab the butter. You know, the etiquette that your mom taught you!
What do you talk about? Well, if there is a lunch time speaker, don’t be rude and talk over him or her. IF there is no program, interact with your tablemates. Introduce yourself. Let them know who you are and what you do. Have an elevator pitch ready, but don’t toss it out unless you’re asked, “So, what do you do?”
Another point of making the most of networking lunches would be to turn off your cell phone and pay attention to the individuals that are in front of you.
If you have a friend or colleague who refers you to another potential new client you need to thank that person. A referral is the highest praise a colleague can pay you and your business. When a colleague is asked for help with a particular project that he doesn’t do, and if your name comes front of mind, you are doing your job as it relates to running your business. You have been effective in marketing yourself, but more importantly, you have nurtured relationships to the extent that you are a go-to resource.
What do you do if you get one of these three types of referrals? First, you need to understand the referral type and then you need to nurture your referrals:
A cold referral. This is when a name is passed onto you by a colleague who may possibly have a need for your services. It’s not a lead where your colleague has “talked you up” but instead more likely it was a passing conversation that ended with…”I think you should call this person” and you are that person.
A warm referral. This is the type of referral where your name and your service or products were specifically mentioned. The referral source is likely waiting for you to contact him or her, but probably doesn’t yet have you on the calendar for a specific time to chat.
A hot referral or hot lead. This is the type of referral that every business owner dreams of. This person has said, “I NEED XYZ product and I need it now!” This referral type is waiting by the phone for you, or anyone to call, and help solve his pain point. He is ready to buy, you just need to be in position to be the one he buys from.
Regardless of the type of referral you receive you need to heartily thank the colleague who thought enough of you to pass your name and contact information along and who has supplied you with the same from the potential new client. If the referral turns into a client you will want to reach out and perhaps take your colleague to dinner or purchase a small gift to thank him for the new client.
You need to nurture your referrals as well as those individuals who refer potential clients to you.
Do you have a way to follow up with referrals you may receive? Do you nurture the cold, warm and hot referrals? For how long? Remember, it might take some people up to two years to reach out. Will you still be front of mind then? If you have a funnel follow up system in place you will be. Do you have that in place? If not, email us. We can help.
Whether you work from home or work in an off site location, you need to do an evaluation to determine whether your business has the necessary resources to make you successful. There are three things you need in order to have a successful business: Working space, materials to function and staff to help make it happen.
When it comes to space: Do you have a working computer? Do you have a desk that is comfortable to sit and and work from? Do you have the supplies necessary to be productive at your job? Do you have the website and online resources necessary to get your business known? Do you have the necessary training to continue to perform at peak levels? Business is always evolving and you need to evolve with it if you want to remain competitive. Constant learning should be part of your business plan.
Materials. The materials you need to run your business are the physical materials needed if you’re a manufacturer. They are the materials you need in order to provide a service to your clients. The materials should include your business plan, any licenses you need to operate in the state in which you’re located. The materials should also include onsite storage and backup for your intellectual property.
Your staff, or vendors on whom you rely. You simply can’t do it alone, nor should you try. The smart entrepreneur understands he needs to focus on his core competencies and hire out the rest. If bookkeeping is not your forte, you’re better served to hire a bookkeeper. If you’re not convinced, do this bit of math: take your hourly wage and determine how long it takes you to do bookkeeping tasks. Are you losing money doing your bookkeeping? Are there other core tasks that you’re putting aside in order to perform bookkeeping tasks? If that’s the case, it is time to hire someone, or more than one person, to take off your plate the tasks that aren’t bringing in clients or money.
Do you have what you need in order to be a success?
When you were working your way up the corporate ladder was there a leader with whom you connected? A leader from whom you learned a lot? If so, what can you do today to be a better leader for your employees?
Here are three keys that I have found that will help you craft a better leadership style. You just might become that leader who inspires others and that one special leader your staff remembers when they move onto their own endeavors.
Three Keys To A Better Leadership Style
Understand how your staff perceives you. Do you have an easy relationship with them? Do your people get nervous when you enter a room? Do your staff members offer suggestions on processes? Is there a level of trust between you and your staff? What can you do to enhance any of those areas and make your leadership style be one that others want to emulate?
Are you a mentor to your staff? Do you help them to grow and thrive? A good leader will want his employees to succeed and grow. Keeping employees in a box will lead to their stagnating and to their productivity waning. Make them feel as though you are a partner in their growth and success. Their growth and learning will help your business thrive.
Set expectations within your organization. If your staff doesn’t know what’s expected of them, if they aren’t aware of what they can to do improve, how will they know whether they are meeting or exceeding, or operating under expected requirements? This begins at the start of hiring someone when you set forth their job duties and responsibilities. Give your staff a metric to shoot for that they can measure themselves and their personal and business growth against.
What are some of the stumbling blocks you have toward being a leader that your staff looks up to? Do you need to hone your communication skills? Talk with a trusted staff member and ask them for their honest insight on your leadership style. If you feel it needs improvement, work toward making that happen. A happy workforce is your best option for a healthy bottom line.