Nervous about networking

Nervous About Networking? Here’s Some Help

If You’re Nervous About Networking, Here’s Some Help


Networking is one of the best ways to connect with people to help grow your business or to try to find a new job. But, networking can be intimidating – trying to strike up a conversation with a stranger isn’t always easy. If you’re nervous about networking, here are some tips to help get you over the hump, according to LinkedIn.

  1. The Early Bird…

Arriving early at a networking event can be beneficial. Before groups start forming to chat, early arrivals can get the jump on seeking out people to strike up a conversation. Trying to mosey into a group conversation can be stressful.

  1. Have an Elevator Pitch

This is a short statement to a person about you and or your company. It should be no longer than 20 or 30 seconds. Describe what your business does and be specific to a particular product, solution or service it offers. Make your business stand out.

  1. Seek Out a Stag

If you see someone standing by themselves, go over and introduce yourself. Most likely, that person is as anxious as you are. Ask the person their name and profession. And, take it from there.

  1. Ask Open Questions

LinkedIn suggests asking open questions that don’t require a yes or no answer. This makes it easier to expand the conversation. When people are talking to you, make sure you listen and show them that you are interested in what they are talking about.

  1. Join a Group

Don’t be afraid to join a group conversation. You may find it easier to join in if just two or three people are chatting. Don’t barge in – ask them if they mind you joining. Listen to the conversation and join in when appropriate. Don’t try to take over the conversation.

  1. A Familiar Face

Try to attend a networking event where someone you know will be there. It’s so much easier chat with a familiar person to put you at ease and boost your confidence. From there, you can fan out and seek others to talk with.

  1. Don’t Have High Expectations

You can make yourself less anxious by not expecting to hit a jackpot of connections at any given networking event. Just try to talk with as many people you can or as many you feel comfortable. Give out your business cards. If you hear back from just one person, consider it a success. If you hear from no one, don’t let it get you down. You at least gained experience and confidence from the event.

  1. Follow-up

Don’t be afraid to follow up with people you met the day after the event. Look over their business cards and contact the ones that are of interest to you. Send an email or call them. It could be the beginning of a new relationship.

Don’t let anxiety stand in the way of trying to grow your business through networking. If you’re nervous about networking, following these tips will give you more confidence and get you noticed. The more networking events you attend, the better you will get!


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Networking For Qualified Referrals

The Benefits Of Networking And Building Professional Relationships For Qualified Referrals

Networking has gained popularity in recent years. The benefits of networking include growing contacts, gaining new clients and building long term professional relationships. Every business owner should join a networking group or get involved with networking activities. Networking isn’t about selling. It’s about building long term relationships.

Referral business is the best business. There is nothing better for business than a repeat customer or client.  Building professional relationships for qualified referrals is second to none as a way to build a business. It sends the message that you and your business are trustworthy and on the move.

According to author Larry James and writer Kim Baird of Amazing Business, the benefits of networking include:

Getting connected – The old saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” has never been truer. Building a base of connections creates a source of contacts that can help your business. Networking is all about building a network of connections and those connections have people that can also be tapped. Having an interconnected network of like minds opens up the door to a broad source of information.

New ideas – A network offers a source of connections with new ideas and perspectives for your business. It’s a great way to exchange ideas and keep up on the latest trends in your industry or line of business. Being a part of the network puts you in line as a knowledgeable contact that can offer help to others. This can help build your reputation within your circle of contacts as well as in your business line.

Being noticed – Networking raises your business profile. By regularly attending networking events gets you noticed. Your name and face will be the first to pop in your peers’ heads when they need what you offer. There is nothing better than a familiar face when it comes to business dealings.

Qualified referrals – These are people that have been vetted by the person making the referral. A qualified referral has the need for your service or product. The best referrals are generally from people within your network: people referring you to others and vice versa. By building a strong relationship with each person in your network earns their trust for referrals. Don’t be afraid to let people know the type of referral you are looking for-it’s best to have someone on board that will be of mutual benefit. Always keep in mind that referrals are earned by reputation. A person’s reputation is put on the line with each referral. Also, remember, it is better to give then to receive. By giving referrals can increase your value to others in your network. The more referrals you give, the more you will get.

Networking opens up a host of new opportunities for your business such as partnerships, joint ventures and client leads. Often times referrals and leads turn into clients. Nothing beats a base of contacts that can be at the ready to help you. You may be surprised at what new business opportunities await through networking.


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How To Plan An Event

Planning Makes A Perfect Event

If you’re considering to hold an event, it’s success will be determined on how well it was planned. Whether it be a small party, wedding, conference, seminar, concert, fundraiser, training or networking event, planning is key. Here are some tips on how to plan an event from Wild Apricot and About Money.

Event objectives – The first step in planning an event is to establish a set of objectives and goals. You should ask yourself a few questions such as what is the event about and what you hope it will accomplish.

Organize a team – Having a team is crucial to a successful event. Appoint a manager to oversee the entire program and have either subcommittees or people in place to be in charge of such key areas as selecting the venue, catering, publicity, volunteers and speakers.

Set a theme – Choose a theme for the event so that it will not only stand out from other events but also be attractive to the particular group you are targeting. Consider designing a catchy logo and slogan so that it will be noticed online or through social media.

Budget – The caterer and venue represent the largest cost of an event. For limited budgets, a buffet is less costly than a served dinner and a disk jockey can save some money rather than having a band. It’s not a bad idea to have a contingency plan for unexpected costs. Keep within what you can afford.

Sponsors – Seek out sponsors that would not only help with the costs but increase participation. Check out local organizations or businesses as well as national corporations. A local business could sponsor raffle prizes, flowers for the tables or small gifts for participants. Large corporations may be interested in covering the dinner or offering large prizes. Reach out to community organizations who could help with the venue and or provide staffing for the event.

Create a working plan – You’ll need an overall plan that encompasses a budget, costs, logistics, entertainment, staff and management of guests and speakers.

Set a date – After you have plans in place, it’s time to set a date. Be aware of religious, state and federal holidays and even school vacations. Check with your speakers, sponsors and special guests to make sure they are available. Give them plenty of notice for the date of the event.

Publicity – Set up a website or a dedicated web page for the event and use Facebook and Twitter for promotion and updates. Send out press releases to local media detailing the program. Email is a great way for not only promotion and updates, but also providing last minute reminders. Create a Facebook page or a Facebook Event listing where your contacts can spread the word. When using Twitter, create a hashtag and use it on all web pages.

Post event networking function – Consider having a post event networking function and promote it in your marketing strategy. It’s a great way for your attendees to develop contacts and it will set your event above the others.

Planning an event can actually be fun and if done right, will be a memorable experience for everyone.


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Preparing For A Networking Event

Do you prepare for the networking events you attend?

A networking event is a great way to connect with business people if you’re trying to expand your business or find job leads. While networking events can be truly rewarding, some find them a bit intimidating or even awkward. Properly preparing for a networking event can set you apart from the others. Here are some tips on how to get the most out of a networking event.

Prepare Yourself

Before leaving for the event, think about what you want to achieve and what type of connections you want to make. Think of some topics to discuss to get a conversation going: current events, sports and hobbies are usually good ice breakers. If possible, find out who will be at the event to make it easier for you to navigate the room. Bring plenty of business cards and dress accordingly.

At The Networking Event

Once you have arrived, ask the organizer if they could help direct you to people that would be of interest to you. Instead of walking around aimlessly, it’s best to single out the right people. Look for those whose business or organization meets your goals. Seek out those who are alone and strike up a conversation. Also, take the initiative and join in a group discussion. Be a good listener. Letting the other person speak first can put that person at ease.

The Elevator Pitch

This is a 30-second or so brief, but, to-the-point “pitch” of your talents or business. It is named for a conversation that could be completed during an elevator ride. Convey exactly what you are seeking, whether it is a business opportunity or a job. Be concise and enthusiastic. Express your personality. Make it interesting and memorable.

Work The Room

Don’t be tied to one person during the event. Mix and mingle. Be confident and keep your arms by your side. Folded arms convey a negative attitude. Have an exit strategy ready when your conversation winds down. It’s best not to force a conversation that seems to be done. Say how much you enjoyed talking with them and, depending how the conversation went, offer to keep in touch.

What Not To Do At The Event

Because some people are intimated by networking events, they will bring a friend. It’s best to go at it yourself so you won’t spend the whole time just talking to the person you came with instead of going around meeting people. Don’t go around the room handing out your business cards to everyone you see. Strike up a conversation with someone first before offering your card. Be selective with whom you want to talk with, don’t try to meet everyone there.

Following Up

Don’t wait on following up with the people you met, especially those that seem promising. Send the person an email and reflect on a point of the conversation. Personalizing the follow up rather than just saying it was a generic “it was nice meeting you” can go a long way.  Another way to contact with a person is through LinkedIn. Send them an invitation to LinkedIn to continue building the relationship and keeping in contact. Don’t be a “stalker,” repeatedly trying to contact someone that hasn’t responded to your email or call. Give the person a couple tries, if they don’t get back to you, move on.

There are many benefits to a networking event. Being prepared can put on track to expanding your business connections.

Are you interested in marketing your business with an effective digital marketing program? Contact me to discuss how we can help you market your business online.


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Supporting Local Businesses

Are You Supporting Local Businesses?

In an increasingly homogenized world, locally owned businesses have an economic advantage and stand out with their distinctive service and character, according to the Institute for Local Self Reliance. Compared to national chains or large corporations, the local business recycles a much larger share of their revenue back into the local economy, enriching the whole community. That’s why supporting local businesses is so important.

Forbes says that local small business is – quite frankly – big business. According to the Small Business Administration, there are more than 28.2 million businesses operating in the United States as of March 2014 with about 63 percent of new jobs being created from small businesses between 1993 and mid-2013.

Independently owned local businesses are too often overlooked for all the wrong reasons. Customers assume that pricing will automatically be higher at a small business compared to a corporate-owned entity. Many perks are offered by small businesses such as customer care, inventory assortment and community support.

Forbes offers these reasons why local businesses should be supported:

Customer service – is more personalized and hands-on at a local business. Generally, you deal with the owner of the business, be it a construction company, a plumber or a store. Their personal commitment to their business certainly helps in these efforts and typically stronger customer care is experienced. Among the reasons why is that they have a more hands-on role within the company, therefore building a stronger sense of care for the job they do. Additionally, smaller companies are more flexible in their customer support with a willingness to bend rules if necessary.

Product diversity and options – These are often greater at small businesses compared to chain stores or corporations. Sure, a big box merchant may have a larger footprint in your local community, but that doesn’t mean they have more variety to offer. When you walk into a chain store, you know exactly what you will find. However, when you walk into a local business, you are often surprised by the inventory options.

Giving back to the community – Local business owners are more likely to give back to the community such as by supporting local causes. Actual dollars kept within the local community is significantly higher when dollars are spent at a local business compared to a corporate one. For every $100 spent at a local business, $63 stays in the community. Small businesses deliver community character and economic advantages to the town they are positioned in, but also strengthen partnerships among neighbors, residents, other small business owners, community leaders and even schools by offering social and economic relationships.

Inventory – Smaller merchants have the same access to vendors as big box stores do. If you need an item and it’s not available in their store, it’s likely they can get in touch with the vendor right away and order it. Most small store owners are eager to go above and beyond in their customer service support and this is just one way they can do so for their customers.

A marketplace with thousands of small businesses is the best way to ensure innovation and low prices over the long-term. A multitude of small businesses, each selecting products and providing services based on their own interests and needs of their local customers and not a national sales plan, guarantees a much broader range of product choices, says the Institute for Local Self Reliance. Consider supporting local businesses that are such an important part of your community.


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