Attending local networking events helps drive clients to your door, literally and virtually? These official events have helped my business grow and prosper. Finding the perfect networking event that suits your business just isn’t that easy or convenient enough to always match your schedule.
I have another suggestion. One that you can adjust to meet your schedule, without the stress or high pressure you are put under at those formal events.
I call this strategy - Personalized Networking Events.
• I create a list of businesses that might benefit from my services
• After researching them and deciding just how I can help improve their lives, I stop by unannounced, or even better write them a letter.
• I introduce myself and briefly touch on a few details of how they would benefit from using my service. I give them a business card and schedule a follow up business meeting.
• At the follow up meeting I present an outline of solutions that I think would interest them and talk further on the challenges of running their business.
Most of my meetings take place in a virtual environment and we rarely meet face to face. But we do communicate by phone, skype, email and message boards. It has become a very personal and quick way of doing business, which more and more people are choosing. The savings in time alone are tremendous and of course the expenses are kept down to a bare minimum.
First: Do your research and don’t forget to check these people out in Google News articles. Their company may have been featured or received an award or had some noteworthy event that has been reported recently. Company websites offer a wealth of information and conversation topics.
Second: Save your notes and carry them with you. The Evernote App is fantastic for this. You can have links to the website and have contact information and your notes at your fingertips. If you don’t have a smartphone then use a notebook or a daytimer.
Third: Find a reason to contact them. Share some interesting information or a news article that you feel would be useful to them. Your aim is to make a personal connection with these people and establish a good rapport.
You may find that, this personable, relaxed approach to networking is more to your liking. I enjoy it immensely and have been rewarded with several new and long-term clients.
A Working Lunch,
By Wendy Works
A business lunch can be a powerful tool when it comes to capturing the loyalty of new and potential clients. Don’t be afraid of it. If you are not used to this type of venue, then you can quickly master the tips and tricks of hosting and you can own the lunch.
1. Be ultra-organized. E-mail all invitations and confirm the guest list. Make sure that you mention that reservations have been made for a specific number of people, that way nobody will include any friends, family or even worse their legal advisers. Let everyone know who will be attending along with their profiles.
2. Check out the restaurant reviews online and also get opinions from people you know who have been there. If possible make a visit at lunch time and see how quickly people are being served; is there a preferred seating that would complement your meeting; does the menu offer vegetarian dishes. Ask the restaurant for suggestions from the menu and any specials they may wish to offer.
3. Dress in conservative business attire. Leave your phone on until everyone has arrived then make a show of turning it off and hopefully everyone will follow your lead. If there are more than two people meeting for the first time ask everyone to introduce themselves. Sometimes name cards on the table can be quite helpful.
4. Never be rude to the restaurant staff (repeat 3 times). Being rude can be a real deal breaker. A business lunch can show more about a person’s character flaws and strengths in only one hour than a hundred emails. Things like: How they handle poor service; are they drinking too much alcohol; do they have bad table manners (talking with their mouth full of food); or inappropriate conversation topics.
5. Learn some formal etiquette. Which water glass is yours? Which Bread plate? Remember BMW it isn’t just a great car it also is a great way of remembering the correct order of the table. B is for bread (on your left) M is for meal plate (in front of you) and W is for water (on your right). Forks and knives? Just work from the outside in for each course and dessert utensils are laid out at the top of your plate. Napkin should be folded in your lap.
6. Always pay with a credit card. If you pull out cash then it might start an avalanche of people chipping in for the meal. You could make arrangements a head of time or slip your credit card to the server during the meal.
Keep lunch to a minimum of two hours and then stand up and thank everyone for attending. Make sure when you get back to the office that you send a nice thank you note to everyone who was kind enough to attend.
Business lunches are extremely important. It is one of the benefits of working in the city where you can meet everyone for lunch, but try to keep the cost down and the conversation flowing.
I remember when I was younger my father used to keep a very unique system for organizing his bills and invoices. He owned his own moving and delivery company and was working many hours on the job and away from his home office. His method was the coat hanger method. He would straighten out a metal coat hanger but leave the hook intact and bend the bottom into a rough knot. As the bills were paid he would thread them onto the coat hanger by piercing a hole through the center. First, he would record the date paid, check number and amount. Whenever he needed to refer back to the particulars of an invoice he would just go to the coat hanger, which was hanging on the wall in the office. Knowing the approximate date it could be found by flipping down through the pages. Nothing ever got misfiled or misplaced. I always admired the creativity of this system, an easy solution for staying organized without spending valuable time on daily tasks such as filing. He may not have had time to set up a conventional system or maybe didn’t know exactly how to go about it, but you have to admire his ingenuity. He must have picked that up during his military days in the Canadian Army.
When you are dancing around as fast as you can and you just can’t find the time to set up a more formal system that will help you become more organized and efficient, then you need to create a temporary one. A system that will stand the test of time or maybe one that is just a temporary patch for the busy season until things slow down. Of course, a file cabinet is the most popular way of keeping your business organized, but the paperless office is also growing in popularity. Virtual filing is a quick and easy way to keep track of all your paperwork. Just scan and save to file folders on your computer. Back this up every day on a disc or memory stick. For safe keeping store the stick somewhere off your property. Somewhere safe and secure. There are also trustworthy places on line that will store your computer files for you.
Resolve to keep your desk cleaned off at the end of each work day. Either put everything in its place or the creative place you may have thought up. All pencils and pens in the little cup. If worse comes to worse, then have an empty desk drawer where you can scoop up all the papers and notebooks on your desk and put them out of site for the night. First thing the next morning, pull everything out of the drawer, review, sort and file what you can. This way all paperwork is secure and out of site until you are ready to deal with it.
Pick a time each day for recording your daily receipts and expenses. Don’t forget to empty your wallet and note your purchases for that day. Make out a tentative schedule for the next day and prioritize by letters (a,b,c) or a numbering system.
No matter what system you come up with as long as you have a system and you stay organized you will be better able to focus on your work and won’t be distracted by searching needlessly for misplaced articles.
Have you created a New Years Resolution or a New Years Commitment? I like mine to be always on an upbeat note. I think if you decide to stop complaining or procrastinating in the coming year, then just by being a negative statement it may set you up for failure. Instead, why not try making your resolutions more rewarding and positive in nature?
For business owners it could be a specific reward you give yourself, after you complete a given task.
For instance; you commit to cold calling 5 suspected, clients or customers and when you have completed this task, you will reward yourself with a day trip to one of your favorite places. Or, you could say every time I update my to-do-list I will add a task that will bring pleasure, something fun or relaxing.
There are zillions of possibilities you could add to your New Years Commitment. It’s like paying yourself to stay focused on the sometimes monotonous tasks that are making your business grow and prosper.
Concise email messages are more likely to be read and answered than long drawn out ones.
Try to make your point in the opening sentence. Grab their attention first and then add intricate details in the next few paragraphs.
Most emails should be limited to only a few paragraphs, use attachments for submitting larger amounts of data.
If you want to address more than one topic then use more than one email. This will make it easier for everyone involved to sort, file and recall it.
Use the subject line to your advantage. You may wish to use your name and an interesting topic.
Time is the one big resource I need more of in order to experience substantial growth in my VA business venture.
Have you ever noticed how time seems to have sped up in the last few years especially if you are involved in something as fascinating as starting your own business. I find that by working faster and organizing my work and personal schedule in strict blocks of time, results in a more productive day.
I like to be working at my VA business by 6:30 in the morning and allow 20 minutes to read and answer emails. Without a strict time limit I find I take a lot longer to get through them. After that is personal obligations. Let’s face it we can’t let our chores and needs go completely, but we can do it at super speed as if someone just pressed the fast-forward button on your life. After completing that, I go for a half hour walk with the dog which I find very mentally refreshing, great exercise and afterwards the dog leaves me alone until time for our next walk at the end of the day. The rest of the workday is spent on education; promotion and completing work assignments. I like to finish up around 2pm but it's not always freezable.
By sticking to this schedule I find I can get so much more done and at the end of the day have a feeling of great satisfaction of my accomplishments. Without strict schedules people tend to waste their time wandering from one website to another discovering interesting things to read but much like watching television it is something we can all do with a lot less of.