4 Ways to Destroy Your Business Network

4 Ways to Destroy Your Business NetworkUnfortunately, we all make mistakes. We are only human after all. But some mistakes have seriously damaging consequences, such as those that lead to the loss of members of your business network.

Here are 4 of the top network-destroying mistakes that business owners make. Avoid them at all costs:

Being Selfish

It’s okay to focus on your own goals to some extent. After all, you want to be successful in your business. But too much “Me! Me! Me!” will only turn your business network off and leave its members not only uninterested in you but also avoiding you.

You have to give to get. Show interest in helping others when it comes to business networking, and they will prove more interested in helping you.

Being Overly Opinionated

It’s okay to have an opinion. It’s even okay to share it. But if you’re beating your connections over the head with your opinions, you probably aren’t making many friends. And avoid controversial topics in conversation, or at least keep the chatter light. Few things make people’s blood boil more than discussions of politics and religion.

You have strong opinions? We all do. Share them with the friends and family members who already love you. Stick to less inflammatory topics for your business network.

Being Unreliable

If you forget to return your Aunt Jan’s call or stand your best friend up for coffee, forgiveness is pretty well assured. If you fail to follow through with members of your business network, however, they will be quick to lose trust and move on to someone they view as more reliable.

Why should they send referrals your way or purchase from you if you don’t live up to your word?

Bad-Mouthing Others

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and bad-mouth other members of your network. And people will listen to what you have to say and even commiserate with you. The problem is bad-mouthing others gets some attention in the short term, but turns people off in the long run.

Ultimately, bad-mouthing makes you seem petty, vindictive, arrogant, an even childish. Take the high road.

While this list is by no means exhaustive, it does provide a good start. Avoid the above mistakes at all costs to stay on the right side of your business network.

Business Inspiration, Business Networking, Entrepreneurship , , ,

What Is a Shout-out?

shoutout

Looking to expand your network of followers on Instagram?  Having a difficult time getting new people to notice you? Try Instagram shout-outs to get your profile in front of more users and attract new followers.

Here’s how it works: Continue reading

Business Inspiration, Business Tips, Social Media Insights , , , , ,

Fall: Back to Business

Fall, Back to Business

Though most businesses don’t close for the summer, some do experience a slowdown as consumers and colleagues take a more laid-back approach to life for a couple of months.

Likewise, many business owners have the normal predictability of life interrupted by such things as summer vacations, kids off from school, or young adults preparing for college. Somehow, September and the return of fall just seems to mark the beginning of a new chapter in business.

Here’s how to get your business, or at least your mindset, back on track: Continue reading

Business Inspiration, Business Tips, Entrepreneurship, Uncategorized , ,

How Deep Are Your Connections?

how deep are your connectionsYou know this person. In fact, you might even be this person. Whom you ask? The person we’re talking about has a large network but doesn’t know anyone well.

This person does the right thing and reaches out, paying attention to meeting others and building his network, but his plan has one fatal flaw. It focuses on shallow relationships rather than true connections.

The Problem

It’s easy to understand the shallow network problem if you consider the concept of quality over quantity. When a business sacrifices the quality of its products and services for the sake of producing higher quantities, the results are typically poor.

Sure, the company may manage a quick boost of sales, but eventually customers start to complain, request refunds, and spread the word that the company doesn’t provide a reasonable value.

As a result, the business that puts too much emphasis on quantity suffers a loss of sales and difficulty meeting its goals. The same applies with business networking. Focusing on simply making as many connections as possible instead of establishing deep connections makes meeting your goals that much harder.

The Shallow End

When your focus is on adding as many people as possible to your network, you aren’t taking the time to get to know those connections. You may know their names and a little about what they do, but that’s it.

With such a shallow connection, you’re not building up the trust required for people to share valuable information and provide referrals. In fact, you’re not even giving them a reason to take an interest in you and what you have to offer.

Remember, all business people have something to sell. Other people, including those you network with, need a reason to care. Without this, the hundreds of people in your network will do you no good.

Deeper Waters

To make the most of your business network, focus on quality over quantity. Get to know your connections’ likes and dislikes, backgrounds, interests, pain points, etc.

Then, reach out to your contacts by name, asking and commenting about the things you’ve learned about them and taking every opportunity to establish common ground. By showing that you are interested in your connections and that you remember what’s important to them, you establish yourself as someone worth paying attention to.

Overtime, this builds the type of trust and interest that leads to sharing, sales, referrals, endorsements and even partnerships—all payoffs for your business networking efforts.

The moral of the story here is that building your business network is important. Just make sure you’re building true connections, developing relationships, and engaging. Otherwise, your connections are really just numbers on a list and not worth very much.

Uncategorized , , ,

How to Make a New Hire Who’s Aligned With Your Company’s Vision

Employment applicationIt happens to every employer. You’re faced with a batch of job candidates who seem perfect on paper, and you have to narrow it down to just one.

The right person for the job goes beyond the person with an appropriate education or the right amount of experience. It’s more than just finding someone who is competent and likely to show up on time. The right candidate is also well aligned with your company’s mission and vision.

Here’s how to get what you need:

Know what you want.

If you don’t know what you want, how can you expect to find it? And how can you expect anyone to give it to you?

Before you start your search for that dynamic new hire, make sure you have clearly defined your company’s mission and core values. If it’s been a long time since you’ve considered these, it’s time to get cracking.

Use social media.

You can learn a lot about a person from what he posts on social media, and not just how many cats he has and what he had for breakfast. Sites like LinkedIn give you an opportunity to check employees out prior to interviews, and many people maintain blogs these days. Twitter and Facebook are additional resources.

While you may have to weed through some personal posts that are none of your concern, you can get a feel for a potential hire’s vales and interests this way.

Share your company’s mission.

Don’t wait until you make a new hire to share your company’s mission and values. Put it all out there during the interview, and then use your observation skills to gauge a job candidate’s level of interest.

Is he enthusiastic about your company’s mission? Does his body language say he is bored? While this shouldn’t be the only way you evaluate candidates, it can definitely help.

Check references.

Some employers get a little lazy when it comes to checking references, and this is a mistake. Checking references is your chance to learn whether your candidate is a team player, a leader, an innovator, or a hard worker. While employers are unlikely to bad-mouth your candidate, the adjectives they use to describe her can be very telling.

Unfortunately, the best way to know whether a candidate will be a good fit for your company’s mission is to hire him or her. But don’t forget your role in this. Communicate your expectations early and often, keep your employees updated on your company’s goals, ask for input, and provide feedback so that your employees always know what’s required for success.

Business Inspiration, Business Tips, Entrepreneurship , , , ,

Generate New Clients by Attending Networking Events

Business network concept. Communication.Networking events aren’t just opportunities to rub elbows with other entrepreneurs. They’re also an opportunity to find new customers and clients.

Why?

Basically, if you’re selling products or services for consumers, every networking event is filled with potential customers. Entrepreneurs buy consumer products and services too. And if you sell products and services for business use? You’re still in the right place.

Here are some tips for generating new clients by attending networking events.

Have your elevator speech ready.

What’s an elevator speech? It’s basically a super-short, interesting summary of who you are and what you do. Short means about 30 seconds or less, allowing you to get the point across even if you don’t have the other person’s attention for long. Use it when you meet people for the first time. It’s an ice breaker that may lead to questions about your business. At the very least, the person on the receiving end learns who to contact when he or she needs the product or service you provide.

Give out business cards.

As you introduce yourself and strike up conversations, pass out your business cards. Sure, you have a great website, and everyone in the room has smartphones, but business cards give people a tangible way to remember you and what you have to offer after the night is over. Let’s face it. It’s hard to remember phone numbers and website addresses when you’ve only heard them once.

Don’t sell.

You’re not there to take orders and collect cash, right? You’re at a networking event to network. Go ahead and do that. If you are friendly and interesting, attendees will remember you in a positive light and be more likely to call on you when they need something. If you go around the event pitching your products and services, you’ll only turn other attendees off. It is okay, however, to insert what you do into relevant conversation. For example, if a group is discussing computer problems and you repair computers, share how you’ve handled similar problems for your clients.

Be helpful. 

Make sure attendees know you’re willing and able to help. Be willing to share information and resources or make introductions. Share insights and offer to meet up to continue conversations in the future. This makes you more memorable, which may lead to sales and referrals.

Ask for referrals and recommendations.

No one knows what you need unless you ask for it. Get to know at least a few of the event attendees, and share your goals and objectives with them. Share how referrals and recommendations can help your business, and be willing to reciprocate.

Generating new clients is an ongoing process. To increase your client base, you have to remember that potential clients are everywhere, even at networking events. With this in mind, you will always be ready to reel a new client in.

Business Inspiration, Business Networking, Business Tips, Entrepreneurship, Marketing Insights , , ,

How to Make the Best First Impression

How to Make the Best First Impression First impressions are everything when it comes to business networking. If you give others the impression that you are unapproachable, incompetent, self-centered, or disingenuous, few people will care about what you have to say and even fewer will stick around long enough to make a purchase.

Here are 5 tips for making the best first impression possible:

1. Put a smile on your face. When you’re smiling, you look exponentially more approachable and friendly than when you’re not. Make it a habit to smile often at networking events, when you’re speaking with customers and business partners, and just in general. Those individuals who struggle with shyness may find this hard to accomplish. In such a case, fake it until you make it.

As more and more people approach your smiling face, you will loosen up, and soon the smiles will come naturally.

2. Make eye contact. Nothing makes you look shiftier than avoiding eye contact. When you’re having a conversation with someone, maintain eye contact with him for at least 90 percent of the time. This accomplishes two very important things. First, it makes you seem genuine and trustworthy. Second, it shows the person you’re speaking with that you are focused and interested in what he has to say. If your eyes are darting all over the room, it looks as if you’re trying to find an escape route.

3. Exercise good posture. Slouching, while at least temporarily comfortable, just makes you appear lazy. Sitting or standing up straight, on the other hand, makes you appear confident, energetic, and ready for anything. Likewise, it says you’re alert and interested in the conversation or event.

4. Listen more than you talk.No one likes a person who drones on and on about himself, especially when his comments seem boastful. Do share details about who you are and what you do, but make listening to what others have to say, and asking thoughtful questions, a priority.

5. Use confident body language. If you don’t exhibit confidence in yourself, why should anyone have confidence in you? Use a confident stance, with your feet set wide and your shoulders squared but relaxed. Don’t look at your feet, and always give a firm handshake.

A good first impression opens the door for people to take interest in you. It gives them a reason to consider your products and services, offer to help you, or even refer others to your business. What are some other ways to make a good first impression?

Business Inspiration, Business Networking, Business Tips, Entrepreneurship , , , ,

4 Must-Have Business Networking Connections

must-have business connectionsIn today’s business world, you really can’t know too many people. Every connection has the potential to help you in some way. However, some business networking relationships will show less obvious benefits, at least at first, and there are a few types of connections you really must have. Continue reading

Business Inspiration, Business Networking, Business Tips, Entrepreneurship, Marketing Insights , , ,

How to Make Helping-Out Less Time Consuming

How to Make Helping-Out Less Time ConsumingA big part of networking is helping others instead of only asking others to help you. But while you may genuinely like helping others, doing so can eat into the time you have to run your business.

So what’s a business person to do?

Here are 4 steps you can take to guard your time while also paying the help you receive from other entrepreneurs forward.

Multitask

You have to eat, right? Or maybe it’s coffee you can’t do without. Arrange to meet the person who needs your help when you’re planning a break from your own work anyway. 15 minutes at a local coffee shop may be all your peer needs. If not, turn lunch, or even dinner, into meeting time.

Gather a Group

Finding time to meet up with several people individually can prove difficult. Instead, arrange a time and place to meet with at least a few of the people who need your help at once. This way, you can help four or five of those on your list in the same amount of time you’d set aside to meet with just one. If you can’t get everyone together at a convenient time, don’t give up; proceed to tip#3.

Employ Technology

If getting together with those in need of help won’t work for you, consider using technology to bridge the physical gap. Use conference calling to share your knowledge with multiple people at once or use a video conferencing option to meet with your peers virtually.

Create a Tutorial

If a fellow entrepreneur asks a question and you think your answer may help others, go ahead and make a tutorial for it. You can create a tutorial, or even a series of tutorials, in the form of a blog post, video, or podcast. With this option, you can not only direct the person who asked the question to your tutorial, but also share it on the Internet, building your reputation as an expert on the subject.

Helping others in your business network doesn’t have to be a drain on your time. Use the above tips to make helping out work for you.

Business Inspiration, Business Networking, Business Tips , , , , ,

How Vacationing Helps Your Business

Vacationing Helps Your BusinessWe’re all well versed in the importance of hard work. As we’ve heard many times, and learned firsthand, hard work pays off. However, keeping your nose to the grindstone gets hard when you’re doing it day after day, over months and even years. And entrepreneurs are known for working overtime, doing just one more thing before knocking off for the day or even working nights and weekends to fit everything in.

While this type of dedication can be admirable, there’s something to be said for knowing when to relax and unplug too. Taking a vacation can help you feel refreshed, avoid burnout, and look at your business from a new perspective. Continue reading

Business Inspiration, Business Tips, Entrepreneurship , , , ,