Not only what are your Personal Brand Descriptors but do they drive you day to day?
When I ask people what their Personal Brand descriptors are I always, always, always get someone who says “Professional” or “Team Player” or “Multi Tasker”. Now clearly these attributes are incredibly important in a work environment but seriously, do you wake up and leap out of bed at 6am shouting “Yeay! I’m Professional”?
Really, does that drive you to challenge your self? To strive to be better? To stretch yourself? Are you proud when you meet someone new through business and the one take away they have from you is that you are “Professional”? Really?
Personal Brand Descriptors take a bit of effort. They must be authentic to you. They must be active, not passive. They should stretch you a bit. They need to be positive. Ideally they should be Emotional rather then Functional. They should be really obvious to people who meet you. They should come across at every touch point with your audiences; spoken, written, social media, video…
They are clear drivers for you every day. That’s why it’s so worth while taking the time to really work on them. Ask people who know you what words they would use to describe you. What elements of “You” do they value and why. What elements do they know are in there somewhere but they can see you keep under wraps.
Think about going to a Networking Event (Oh the Horrors!). I’m naturally quite a shy person so I abhor these events. So, without my Personal Brand Descriptors I go in to a conference and at the Networking break I’d firstly head straight to the loo for 5 minutes, then to the tea station, oh and then the iPhone calls – I look busy, unapproachable and in demand; but wont have to talk to anyone – then I head off wondering why I put myself through this because it was all a bit rubbish and I didn’t make any valuable contacts.
Now, consider I attend the “Horrors” of a networking evening armed with my own Personal Brand Descriptors; Curious, Engaging, Brave. I will go out of my way to embody these words because I know my brand and I know these are an integral part of this brand. It is not me actively going up to a stranger and asking “What encouraged you to attend tonight” it’s my brand (which I’m really proud of) because I’m being “Curious”, even if, initially, I need to force myself to do it. Then I find myself introducing someone I have just met at the tea station to someone I know through a sports club – because I am “Engaging” and I’m doing it all because despite myself I am “BRAVE”.
Don’t forget you tailor these Personal Brand Descriptors to your own authentic self so if you’re very quite and internal choose words that are authentically you but that stretch you a bit. “Listener”, “Interested” “Brave” (for a bit of Scary Spice!).
Know your story, know who you are, know your audience. Be passionate about it and let your descriptors drive you.
Yesterday I was giving a full day Advanced Workshop/Presentation to the Executive Institute of Ireland on Social Selling Through LinkedIn. It was being run in the absolutely gorgeous newly renovated rooms in the National Concert Hall in Dublin. Lots of light, huge airy room, massive screen, great coffee and pastries and then I had to teach Top Sales People with enormous monthly quotas how to Sell through #LinkedIn.
Here is my problem – I have been training companies for years in how to use LinkedIn through NOT selling!
However, I am so convinced of the power of doing business through LinkedIn that I decided to bring that knowledge to the table and turn it slightly on its ear. So, instead of “Selling” we worked on how to focus on warm introductions and recommendations and on how to get these prospects to arrive in your sales funnel at a much higher lever than the normal entry point. Here’s a little bit of what we covered.
People Do Business with People
It is human nature to chat, hang out or even do business with people you can personally connect with. Research shows B2B decision-makers count their interactions with salespeople as the major determinant of whom they choose – more than product quality, brand reputation and pricing combined! That means that if you, as the sales person, can give your buyer a personal hook to connect with you’re already ahead of the game.
I asked all the participants to tell me a bit about themselves at the start of the course yesterday. No one had ever met before. Everyone told me who they worked for, their title and what their company was famous for supplying. I asked each one again “Anything else you want to tell us?” Again, they told me the company had been operating for X years and employed X number of people. I was nearly dying inside!
Finally someone told me they were building a house… The room erupted… “Oh My God It;’s SO stressful!” “Do you have a good electrician?” “Where are you getting your bathroom?” “My brother has just finished here’s what he learned” “Here;s the number of a great painter”…. We had noise and conversations and numbers being exchanged. Simply because there was a Personal Hook people could easily relate to. How easy was that? We were having conversations, advice and information were being exchanged, everyone was engaged.
Now… How is that any different to LinkedIn? You MUST create Conversations, Exchange Information and Advice and Be Engaged! That is the core to any successful Sales Funnel. Give me something to connect with, show me some personality in your copy, some flair. That personal engagement will ensure that you are personally connected to your contact. That in turn means that they will come to you for information and advice, engage with your posted content and become the solution to their problems.
There are many ways you can do that on LinkedIn. The first, is to ensure your profile and the Summary piece especially are full of personality, watch your voice in your writing. You want them to be able to hear you speak when they read your Summary. They’ll only read the first couple of lines though (no time!) so make sure it is clear – What you do, who you serve and your value to them. All in the first 3 lines of your summary.
It is NOT a CV, do not mention that you’re experienced, motivated, a team player, self starter… these are all taken for granted now. Make yourself Stand Out. Show Passion. Tell Stories!
Make sure that you know very specifically who you are selling to, what their worries are and what solution they will value from you. Then fill the rest of your (2000 characters) summary with Keywords (Google Adwords, Tools – Keyword Planner) scripted into your key messages aimed at that specific audience with those specific problems (see below for campaigns). Don’t forget to put in a recommendation here. Use all the space. Show your personality!
I often change my summary depending on the specific work campaign Redstorm is running. So, I am often working to attract different target audiences with a different set of values. SMEs looking for an internal Marketing Department, websites and branding; Bluechips looking for LinkedIn Training or Personal Branding for their top tier executives – I advise everyone to open and save a word/pages document and spend time writing a couple of headlines and summaries based on their main key targets so it’s then easy to switch between them depending on your business focus at the time. I’m not suggesting you appear psychotic! Just tweaking the message and keywords to appear in different search results is incredibly effective.
The very first piece of real estate anyone sees in LinkedIn is your cover graphic and photo. So why did everyone bar one yesterday have the LinkedIn blue graphic? You need to Stand Out – Change the graphic! Use Canva to design a header graphic with your company colours and message of the month or campaign message on it. Change it regularly! Here’s mine:
It makes it really easy to see what I do. I have a clear smiling photo that shows my personality – you get a feeling for what it would be like to meet me face-to-face.
The next piece of real estate and one of the most high powered search areas in LinkedIn is your header. People have an awful habit of putting their title here. But that just means you’ll show up when a sales person wants to sell into “Business Development Managers”… Why not use this to give a shot of what you deliver? Keyword heaven!!! It doesn’t have to read well; it has to tell your potential connection what you will bring to the table. It has to tell the search engines to show you in their results. Be creative!
Can you see the difference between me putting “Marketing Strategy, Communications, Social Media, Digital Strategist, LinkedIn, Branding, Entrepreneur, Keynote Speaker” versus “CEO Redstorm”?
In Part Two of this “Social Selling – Linkedin for Sales Prospecting” I’ll be looking at how to successfully engage and create Great Conversations across the platform.
If you’re having any difficulty with your own profile give us a call on 087 2476600 and we can chat it through!
In this article, I’ll show you how to get the most from your LinkedIn company page, in five easy steps.
Why a LinkedIn Company Page?
The benefits of a well-oiled LinkedIn company page include engaging followers with company news, updates, events and relevant content.
There’s also the improved search engine rankings as LinkedIn pages often perform well in company searches. And let’s not forget lead generation opportunities from your content marketing.
In fact, research shows that 50% of LinkedIn members are more likely to purchase from companies when they engage with them on LinkedIn.
Here’s how to make your LinkedIn company page work for you:
#1: Optimize Your LinkedIn Page
Showcase what your business has to offer. Smart marketers who build out their products and services page tend to attract twice as many company followers than those who don’t.
Use this page to tell members what you do best and give them compelling reasons to follow you.
Remember that you can link to just about anything from your products and services page, including your latest and greatest white papers, case studies or how-to content.
You’ll best attract customers when you turn your products, services or anything else relevant to your business into focal points. Here are just a few examples of what to feature prominently:
Products: The software you sell or the apps you’ve built
Services: A list of your résumé writing services or your tax consulting brochure
Other: Webinars you host or your company’s white papers or ebooks
Use the products and services page to raise awareness of your brand, promote career opportunities and educate potential customers on your products and services.
Company pages are also very SEO-friendly. Google previews up to 156 characters of your page’s text. Be sure to edit your description so that it leads with powerful, keyword-rich sentences. Plus, members can search for companies by keyword on LinkedIn, so include words and phrases that describe your business, expertise and industry focus.
Finally, remember to include your company contact information, descriptions of offerings and your areas of expertise. Your primary attributes can also function as keyword tags.
Once you’ve done that, ask your customers to recommend the products and services they favor. Authentic advocacy equals credible endorsement!
#2: Engage Your Audience
With LinkedIn company pages, you can now like and share content as a company. Before, you could only do so as an individual. This is a big change, so use it toengage other members!
For example, your company page admins can like and respond to member comments that are made in response to something you post on your company page.Consider sharing your customers’ and prospects’ content—from their corporate blogs, product updates and company posts—to get these kinds of interactions going. And don’t forget content from their employees! You’ll develop trust with buyers while developing a more professional corporate brand identity.
Hands down, content that’s customized to your followers’ and customers’ professional interests resonates the most.
With LinkedIn’s targeted updates, you can easily tailor your message to your audience. For example, when you create an update, you can choose to share it with “all followers” or to a “targeted audience.”
Choose the latter to send your update to a subset of followers based on geography, industry, company size or level of seniority. Just as with any social network, LinkedIn is a community where targeted engagement is essential for success.
Company updates allow your administrators to directly engage with viewers and followers of your company page. You can post and share items like company news, promotions, relevant industry articles and YouTube videos.
When you update from your company page, use these two essential tips for creating compelling content:
Think like a journalist. Don’t bury the lead! Concise intros and snappy headlines are more likely to result in higher engagement than long, dry copy. You have only moments to show your audience why they should care, so being succinct is crucial. Grab your readers’ attention right away by starting your update with your most important thought.
Make your content valuable and “snackable.” Develop quality content that is quick to consume, so members will want to share it with their connections and networks. In fact, our data shows that the most successful updates include a picture, chart, video or link to an article. When you do not have a link or image to include, engage your audience by asking a question.
Lastly, keep in mind that professionals will check your updates on multiple devices.
#3: Attract More Followers
The more the merrier on the social merry-go-round. Here are some simple, effective strategies for attracting more followers with your company updates:
Engage your colleagues. Employees are 70% more likely to engage with your company updates, so don’t forget to ask them to do it! Initiate communication and make it easy for them to respond.
Cultivate a larger following with a multi-channel approach. Encourage your teammates to add a link to your company page in their email signatures. If needed, ask your designer for help creating a customized banner or button.
Add a Follow button to your website. Your web team can pull code for a Follow button from developer.linkedin.com to add to your blog or website. This lets LinkedIn members follow your company with a single click.
Add a Follow button to your website, making it easy to grow your LinkedIn company page follower base.
#4: Follow the 4-1-1 Rule
The 4-1-1 Rule was coined by Tippingpoint Labs and Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute. The rule states:
“For every one self-serving tweet, you should retweet one relevant tweet and most importantly share four pieces of relevant content written by others.”
Consistent posting: Create an editorial calendar of updates within your company, and highlight relevant third-party material. Then share it with company followers. Image Source: Tippingpoint Labs.
Apply this simple rule to your activity on your LinkedIn company page, and you’ve struck gold. You’ll authentically engage in conversations, build awareness and interact with LinkedIn members without giving the impression that you’re a self-centered know-it-all.
For marketers, the 4-1-1 Rule is particularly useful when applied to building relationships with prospective customers. This kind of trust hinges on your ability tofoster an informative dialogue regularly. It also keeps you at the front of prospects’ minds as they move through the buying phase.
As Jay Baer says, “Sell something, get a customer for a day. Help someone, get a customer for life.”
#5: Analyze for the Prize
Company page administrators have access to LinkedIn Analytics that help them better engage with their followers and monitor their success. There is a goldmine of insights available to help you focus and refine your strategy, including:
Engagement % — Engagement = interactions + clicks + followers acquired. In other words, this metric answers the question, “Of those who’ve seen my update, how many are truly engaging with it?” Look at updates with higher engagement rates, and note the type of content, people targeted, date and time. Then you’ll know how to optimize future content around what’s proven to work.
Demographics — From seniority and industry to company size and function, demographics give you a snapshot of your followers. With this information, you cantailor the type of content you share on your company page, as well as the tone in which it’s delivered. Demographics will also help you determine segments to target with targeted status updates.
How You Compare — Knowing how your company page compares to your competitors’ pages is a great way to determine whether you should change your strategy.
Host a company “Lunch & Learn” to evangelize the power of company updates, and share tips and tricks with your team. This can have a significant impact on your company page’s overall reach.
Consider third-party apps like GaggleAMP and Addvocate to show employees which updates are most important for your company and are pre-approved for sharing.
Over to You
What do you think? Are you using LinkedIn’s company pages to connect your business with the professionals you most want to reach? How do you update your followers on company news, products and services and job openings?
This article originally appeared in the Social Media Examiner
One of the most pressing questions whether you’re a social media newbie or a social media maven is: What’s the best way to post information or share content to optimize your reach?
A study was recently conducted with more than 200 companies to determine how social media professionals may optimise their engagement with both business-to-business and business-to-consumer conversations.
Researchers evaluated numerous factors such as the number of words in a post, the time of the posting, the day of the week as well as punctuation and the usage of hashtags.
As with many communications and marketing tactics, the answer depends entirely on the targeted audience.
The key finding: Mondays and Wednesdays are the best days to post on Twitter if you want to reach consumers. For LinkedIn, Monday is your best day.
But if you want to reach other businesses, Tweet on Wednesday and post to LinkedIn on Sunday.
And what about the use of hashtags? Hashtags are best saved for business-to-business-oriented posts but don’t work nearly as well if consumers are your target.
The biggest surprise for me was that the use of questions marks significantly minimizes your click-through rates between 25 and 52 percent as compared to posts without questionmarks.
Check out this infographic for details on how to maximize your social sharing efforts. It’s an Eye Opener!
Are you designing and scheduling your social media for real results or do you need a hand with all the busyness?
What do you find gets the best results?
Here are 10 very simple steps to make sure that your social media marketing programme starts smart, has a strong launch and allows you to get the most from your new B2B communications.
1. Determine Social Media Marketing Programme Goals
Though it’s a brand new era, the place to begin is with the age-old exercise of goal-setting: Will you be working to generate new leads and sales, increase awareness of your offerings, decrease marketing spend as compared to traditional media, ensure the relevance of your company, decrease purchasing cycles, extend the reach of your market footprint… or achieve other goals?
Remember, you’ll be investing time, budget, and resources into your social media marketing programmes, so the first step is to determine exactly what you’re seeking to achieve in return.
2. Conduct Three-Point Research
A well-planned initiative always involves research at the outset, and with social media there are three key types of research that you’ll need to conduct—customer, competitive, and community:
To ensure that your programs deliver a high level of value, identify your customers’ business needs, challenges, and technology preferences.
To differentiate yourself from your competitors, understand which programs, tools, and content they are (and are not) employing.
Learn which online professional communities—and influencers—are relevant to your business sector so that you can start building relationships with them.
3. Set a Strategy
Now that you’ve determined your goals and done your research, you can move on to setting your strategy.
A (very) common misstep by marketers starting out in social media is that they identify a tool before setting a strategy: They just know “We need to get on Facebook, Now!”—but don’t know why they should, much less how they’ll use their presence to achieve business benefits.
Once you’ve set your strategy for reaching your goals, the set of tools you’ll need becomes very clear—whether your social media marketing strategy is to educate your audience on a business subject, produce an outlet for like-minded professionals to network, initiate a new communications channel or application that saves executives time and solves business problems, or create a new outlet for crowdsourcing product development.
4. Identify your Marketing 2.0 Toolset
Providing an unprecedented array of tools, technologies, and platforms, social media offers B2B marketers more choice than ever, at the most affordable costs. So choose wisely and make sure that the tools you choose support your strategy (step 3) and map to your audience’s comfort levels (step 2).
Some professional audiences are more comfortable participating in online forums than they are using Twitter or Facebook, whereas others might prefer content delivered in text, such as in the form of a blog, rather than via audio podcasts or online videos.
5. Define ROI Metrics
Now that you’ve designated your goals, strategy, and tools, it’s time to define a set of metrics to evaluate your program’s ROI.
Depending on your goals, metrics might measure the number of leads generated, increase in sales, the number of brand mentions and whether they’re positive or negative, improvement in search engine rankings, level of user engagement, and so on.
The point is that you’ll need to closely track progress, so you’ll want to define which metrics you’re assessing, how you’ll assess them, and how often. And you won’t only need them for your own department… Trust me, your boss will be asking for them, too.
6. Train Your People
Because these two-way tools give rise to powerful, customer-led communities, many marketing practices have drastically changed. The BIG action point here is to not only prepare your social media program but also prepare your people for social media.
Ensure that everyone involved with the program understands the fundamentals of marketing and communicating with these new media, practices that increase success rates, and what practices to avoid in order to decrease risk.
7. Create Content Processes
Social media marketing programs don’t have specific start and end dates—once they’re launched they keep going and need constant attention and care. Far too many marketers create the program, but not the processes needed to support the program.
Creating processes is key in ensuring that your programs remain “fresh” with new content and are managed by resources that can answer users’ questions in a timely fashion, interact with the community on a regular basis, and take care of issues when they arise.
8. Implement Monitoring Systems
In this new world order—where everyone has a voice and everyone is empowered with the tools to amplify their opinions, preferences, and ideas—monitoring online conversations is not a luxury, it’s a priority.
Whether a customer is expressing a compliment, voicing a complaint, or offering a suggestion, you need to know about it, no matter where on the Web it’s being mentioned.
There are plenty of free and paid services that will enable you to monitor online mentions; you’ll also need to identify which resource will be tracking brand mentions and responding to feedback when necessary.
9. Launch… and Promote!
Now that you’ve done the upfront work, built your program, created your processes, trained your people, and instituted brand monitoring systems, you’re ready to launch.
But just as we learned during the Web’s early days, the “build-it-and-they-will-come” mentality is a surefire way to fail.
It’s a good idea to stay in beta (or soft-launch mode) for a couple months to ensure all features and processes are working optimally, but when you’re ready you’ll most definitely want to promote your new social media marketing program and have a plan for doing so.
10. Facilitate Internal Communications
Once you’ve shared your program with the world, share the lessons learned and the progress of your social media programs with other departments and groups in your organization that would also benefit from those insights—such as Management, Customer Service, PR, Sales, and R&D.
You might distribute monthly reports, or make a quarterly event of holding brown-bag lunch briefings where you invite representatives from relevant departments to discuss findings and next steps—and let social media be a way to open up conversations within your own company, too.
What tools do you use to market through Social Media and how do you measure? We’d love to hear in the comments below!
So, what do you do when you’re at a conference and are hit with the inevitable question “What do you do?” Do you captivate strangers right off the bat? Do you get people asking questions and following up with you later? Your elevator pitch is a powerful marketing tool that tells your story in less than a minute. They are useful for every business person to have in her arsenal of networking tools to help with business, career and personal development. Many people actively dread networking but a strong pitch is an easy way to get motivated and broach those first few encounters.
The 10 tips below can help you craft an elevator pitch that people actually listen to, remember and respond to. Make sure you’re prepared with your own killer elevator pitch when the next opportunity presents itself for you to use it!
Here are our top tips to help you perfect your pitch and network like a pro.
1. Find the Sweet Spot
One of the key mistakes people make when answering what they do is to automatically start at the macro level, with their industry or job category. “I’m in IT,” or “I’m in social media”. While such broad descriptions may be true, it’s too abstract. You can be sure the other person’s eyes are glazing over. Remember, your pitch doesn’t need to tell your entire story; a great pitch succeeds if it draws interest from the other person and gets them wanting more.
2. Exude Confidence & Enthusiasm
Whether you’re dating or networking, confidence is a major plus. When answering what you do, don’t mumble through the response. Don’t apologise. Don’t assume that people won’t understand or care. By making that assumption you’ve lost their interest before you start. No matter how obscure your job or company, begin with the assumption that the other person will be interested, keep it simple, be excited and give examples.
3. It’s not all about you
People generally want to know what you can do for them. Your pitch should address your audience’s problems and offer solutions. It should focus on the benefits that the audience will get from working with you, so they understand why they can’t live without you!
4. Tell them what makes you better than the rest
Don’t be afraid to tell your audience what makes you different from your competitors. In other words, toot your own horn and explain exactly what you bring to the table that your competition does not.
5. Tell a story
What is the problem like without your solution? Explain the size and scale of the possibilities. When appropriate, throw in an analogy that helps your audience quickly relate to your product. Focus on the problems you solve… “My clients are typically struggling to… and I help them by…” Talking about how you help people, your job or business becomes instantly relatable and identifiable.
6. Ask Questions
Sometimes we become so focused on trotting out our pre-prepared Elevator Pitch that we forget to actually make conversation. The best way to be remembered is to build a connection. For this reason, never consider the other person “your audience.” Ask them questions, interact with them fully.
7. Practice, Practice, Practice!
No one will want to listen to your elevator pitch if it sounds like an elevator pitch. Practice your pitch in bright, noisy, awkward situations. That way, you’ll never be rattled by environmental distractions. Make sure you can deliver it in a conversational tone that does not sound like you’re reading a speech from cue cards. Try recording yourself and then watch your pitch from the perspective of your audience. Try it out on a group of friends or colleagues, and ask what specific points they remember. This instant feedback will help you determine what to cut or change in order to make a connection and be memorable.
8. Use everyday language, NOT industry jargon
Don’t get overly technical. Too many pitches get bogged down in legal, technical, or otherwise overly embellished language. Keep it simple and memorable.
9. Don’t try to Sell
The purpose of the 60-second pitch is simply to generate enough interest in your product or service to warrant a formal meeting. A “win” here is simply to have the other person understand what you do, the benefits you offer and to remember you.
10. Have a killer closing
Leave them with a memorable 1-liner that they can repeat to others. If you leave them excited and wanting more, you’ve done your job. From there, it’s just a matter of exchanging contact info and scheduling that follow-up meeting.
Savvy networkers always have their networking tools with them at all times. The Networking tool kit includes: Your elevator pitch, an ample supply of well branded business cards with all your relevant details, any pertinent collateral material (flyers, brochures, etc), your marketing message for the event – three bullet points you want people you meet to remember – and a confident and enthusiastic demeanour.
2. Set Your Goals
Successful networkers always have an idea of what the goal is for each event they attend. Know, before going in, what the outcome is that you want for yourself at each event. Do you want to meet 3 people and focus on getting to know them really well? Are you looking for an introduction to a certain type of client? Are you looking for information or connections that will get you that information? When you have a plan, it is easier to stay focused and achieve your expected outcome. Be generous with your own knowledge and connections.
3. Arrive Early
Resist the urge to arrive late. It’s almost counter-intuitive, but showing up early at a networking event is a much better strategy. As an early attendee, you’ll notice that it’s calmer and quieter and people won’t have settled into groups. It’s easier to find other people who don’t have conversation partners yet. Many people dread walking into a room and introducing themselves to a bunch of strangers, you will not be alone in this. If you’re early, you can relax and focus on learning about the other people in the room. You will be judged by others, like it or not, based on their first impression of you, so be enthusiastic, engage in conversations, dress well, smile and be confident.
4. Ask Easy Questions & Be Genuine
Don’t wait around the edges of the room, waiting for someone to approach you. To get the conversation started, simply walk up to a person or a group, and say, “May I join you” or “What brings you to this event?” Don’t forget to listen actively to their replies and engage fully in the conversation. Everyone knows when someone is “schmoozing”. Be genuine in your interactions with others at an event. It comes back to building trust, to building “Brand YOU”. When you are interested in learning about someone and their business you will leave a lasting impression as someone who genuinely cares. People choose to work with people they like and have an affinity with. Take care with other people.
5. Listen With Focus
When someone is speaking with you, give that person your entire focus. LISTEN ACTIVELY. Really hear what the person is saying, ask questions, engage. The greatest gift that you can give to another person is to truly hear what that person is saying. How rarely do we hear “She made me feel like the only person in the room”? Take a business card and if possible make a note about the person or conversation that will be valuable to them in your follow up.
6. Be a Giver and a Connector
Networking about is about connecting with people and getting to know them without the need for immediate gain. Be a known as a connector and you will be held in high esteem. Networking is about generosity. Quite simply, give and you shall receive. When you are generous, people will notice and respect you. And, people generally do business with people that they respect, trust, and like. Act like a host at every event you attend by connecting people. Always invite people who are standing by themselves into your group – they will really appreciate it. If you connect with someone and do something for them, your generosity will be repaid a hundred fold, often when you least expect it.
7. Share Your Passion
Win people over with your enthusiasm for your product or service. Leave a lasting impression by telling a story about why you were inspired to create your company. Talking about what you enjoy is often contagious, too. When you get other people to share their passion, it creates a memorable two-way conversation.
8. Don’t Hijack the Conversation
Some people who dislike networking may overcompensate by commandeering the discussion. Don’t forget: The most successful networkers (think of those you’ve met) are good at making other people feel special. Look people in the eye, repeat their name, listen to what they have to say, and suggest topics that are easy to discuss. Be a conversationalist, not a talker.
9. Don’t Sell – Educate.
The Savvy Networker knows that the immediate sale of a product is not the goal in networking. No one likes a direct hard sell. Networking is about building relationships with people who will be happy to tell others about who you are and what you do. Keep your exchange fun, light and informal. The idea is to get the conversation started. People are more apt to do business with those whose company they enjoy. At every opportunity, teach others about who you are, as a person, and what it is that you do. Always present a clear emphasis on the type of client that you are looking for. In doing this, you will be building a salesforce that can reach far wider than you can on your own.
10. Follow Up
After the event, send a short note to each person that you had direct contact with – not just an email – getting your brand across their desk. If there is a referral that you can supply, include that in the follow up note and mention something you discussed when you met or a blog entry or tweet of theirs you have read since. A great way to follow up with them online is not only to follow them on Twitter, but also to make a brief post about your conversation with them. Promoting other people is a great way to create value for them and build the relationship. Do not automatically send a LinkedIn or Facebook request. So often people immediately send social networking link requests to people they just met. However, different people have different policies about whom they link with. If they believe in only connecting with those whom they have established relationships, you make it awkward if you send them a link too early (which they then ignore). Best is to ask people if they would welcome such a link at this time. Be respectful of the fact that they might use social networking differently than you do.
Following up is, sadly, the most neglected part of networking. Since so many people fail to follow up, you can really stand out by just doing this simple act of reaching out to remind someone of who you are and what you do … and that you are interested in exploring a relationship.
Attending a conference with other participants from around the country such as the upcoming National Women’s Day conference or this week’s International Web Summit in Dublin opens up a world of opportunities for growth, learning, and fellowship. Why not take a little time to plan ahead so that you can maximize your results from attending.
1. Set Goals Before You Go
Before you leave for the conference, write down some goals that you want to accomplish during the conference. Be specific but holistic – not “I want 50 new business cards”! These goals could include items about specific skills you want to hone, questions you want to have answered, people you want to contact, areas for which you want to have referral contacts, etc. Set three to five goals for each day of the conference (some goals may stay in place each day) do a mind check on them throughout the day and then hold yourself accountable for them at the end of each day.
2. Be Prepared
It always astonishes me how often I meet people at conferences who can’t succinctly tell me what they do and why I should work with them or recommend them to my clients. Get your Elevator Pitch polished and ready. Be prepared to chat about your work – have three bullet points you always get across. Have your business cards to hand (not buried in your bag across the room), with strong branding and all your relevant details clearly printed. Ensure your website is up to date with your latest announcements or offers and that the branding on your site is the same as the branding on your cards. Bring samples if relevant, it’s always easier to touch or taste than to understand a waffling description. These are the most basic marketing must haves and it’s amazing how many people you meet without them.
3. Dress to Impress but Efficiently
The way you dress and your overall look tells me a lot about who you are, what area you work in and the way you do business. It may be unfair but it’s true. You need to always look professional but with your own style and flair. Plan your look for a conference, keeping in mind the people you will want to talk to and the message you want to leave with them. Hotels and conference centers are notorious for having great variations in temperature, so dress in layers that can be removed and added on. You will probably be spending more time on your feet and doing more walking than usual, maybe reconsider those killer heels unless you wear them daily. Be comfortable, you’ll exude more confidence.
4. Be Attractive
Everyone goes to a conference to learn and have fun, but no one enjoys being around people who are boorish, self-centered, or needy. Don’t be a seller or a clinger, be a conversation maker. Show enthusiasm for what you do, ask questions, introduce people, draw people into your circle and use humour to make people feel welcome and interesting. Be yourself. Have a friendly exit strategy ready it’s easy to get stuck with a group who are not helping achieve your conference goals.
5. Network, Network, Network
A conference is a priceless opportunity to make yourself and your brand known and to get to know others. You’ve already set some goals that will get you started. Now be alert to other opportunities. Always remember the person you’re chatting with may never buy from you but it’s who they know that counts. Be sure they understand what you do and the type of client you’re looking for – make it easy for them to refer you. Be a good and active listener and engage in the conversation if you want others to remember you. Get a card from everyone you meet and make a note on it as an aide memoire. Be active networking online throughout the conference, using hash tags give a live feed on the key learning points for each speaker on Twitter, give relevant updates through LinkedIn and on your company facebook pages. Comment on other posters updates, start conversations and meet up face to face.
6. Learn From Every Experience
You will learn a huge amount from attending a conference. There will be wonderful speakers with knowledge and experience to share. Take just one or two points from each session – Imagine you have to sum it up in a single tweet (Better still, send that Tweet!). You will learn a great deal as you network with colleagues. And there will be some mistakes you make that will also teach you important lessons. Learn from every single experience that you have. Keep a note of your key learning points both positive and negative.
7. Lighten Your Load
Conferences are great places to pick up “Stuff”. You’ll collect business cards, brochures, handouts, t-shirts, bags, books, tapes and random samples. Before you know it you will have more things to haul home then you can imagine. Working in Marketing I am a divil for this, I collect designs I like, marketing ideas I think might benefit clients, web shots etc. Needless to say most I never look at again. Lighten your load throughout the conference by trawling through the collateral you collect, make notes on it on the conversations you had with the provider and be ruthless in what you jettison. If you are abroad, simply post it home… It’s much easier to mail a few pounds of material to yourself than it is to haul it back on a plane. Make a note of everyone you met regardless of their value to your business, keep the cards with you. Make notes of what you promised and to whom to make follow up fast and easy. Do this at the end of each conference day.
8. Back at the Office
When you return to the office after the conference, be sure to promptly do whatever you have promised to do. Make contact with everyone you had conversations with, even just to say it was good to meet them, or to thank them for their advice. Don’t just send an email – write a letter – you are bringing your brand and message across their desk, again making it easy for them to refer you. Connect with these people on LinkedIn and Twitter using a personal message and if they accept your invitation you have access to their online networks, leveraging your relationship as a referral. Contact attendees you met based near you and arrange to meet up face to face to discover more about each other’s business. The more they understand what you do and the type of client you are looking for the more confidence they will have to refer business your way. Remember 14% of EU businesses say they will buy from an advert, 78% say they will buy from a referral. Go through the notes you made and look at where the learning can be applied – act on it!
To most business owners who have spent years and thousands of euros building their brand and developing a client base, chucking it all away to reinvent your business probably seems like the height of insanity. And if you do it on the fly or haphazardly, it probably is. But there are many reasons to tweak your business model, or to try out a whole new one, that make perfect sense. If you do it thoughtfully, it could be the best business decision you ever make.
Here’s our guide to reinventing your business, one smart step at a time.
Know When to Make a Change
The first step is deciding if it’s the right time for a change. Carol O’Kelly, a strategic marketing specialist and business development mentor says she sees a pattern with small-business owners. “Most people who come to me have been running their businesses for about seven to ten years,” she says. “They spend the first three years absorbed in getting things started. Then they’re in a growth phase for three or four years. Then they hit a hole, can’t sustain the business or don’t find the work challenging anymore and want to try something different.”
Many factors can push a small-business owner toward reinvention – it may be a market driven push, the need to spend more time with family or lack of financial sustainability. You may just be bored. All are legitimate reasons for change. But you need to be practical, too. Any change involves risk. You need to set out very clearly why you feel you want to change and be specific about it.
Decide What You Want
After the decision is made to change, you need to decide what type of change is necessary to meet your goals. “Once you decide there’s something you can do better, you need to decide whether to make a little tweak or a major overhaul,” O’Kelly says. “You have to decide what’s best for your brand. It’s a matter of looking at your core competencies and concentrating on what you’re best at.”
“Entrepreneurs have more ideas than they have time for. The absolute first stage is deciding to cut off all those other ideas and focus on one. Making a decision to make a decision is the hardest thing for entrepreneurs to do.”
The easiest way to figure out what to change – and at what magnitude – is to work backwards. Are you chiefly interested in reducing the hours you spend in the office? Are you sick of selling office supplies and think running a dog bakery is your destiny? “Once you have clarity on your goals and values,” O’Kelly says, “you have a compass to guide you and help you decide which ideas are good and which are simply the desire to do something different.”
Follow the Plan
The next step is something every business owner should be experienced at – developing and following a business plan. You need to approach each change as if you’re starting from scratch. You need to think it through thoroughly, figure out who the competition is, how you are going to beat them and what the costs are.
Entrepreneurs and owner/managers tend to rely on intuition a lot, but you need to make sure other people think your plan is a good idea. Sit down with a mentor for an hour and justify your proposed changes.
Make the Switch
During the transition, you’ll likely be running two businesses at once as you phase out the old business model and ramp up the new one. “Sometimes reinvention means running two businesses simultaneously for almost a year,” O’Kelly warns. “It’s overwhelming, and business owners are often so excited about the new model, they want to let go of the old model. It’s not fun.”
The solution is to create a detailed exit strategy. Allow time to negotiate new leases, bring on new employees or train current employees. Be transparent through the whole process with vendors, customers, employees and, most important, your family. Give everyone notice that changes are coming, when they will happen, what it means for them and why it is important for you.
Mentor and Manage
Even those committed to sticking to their business plans can start to deviate. O’Kelly suggests bringing in outside help. “Business owners sometimes need people to bounce things off of to keep them from going off in crazy directions,” she says. “Some people go through a grieving process. They’re letting go of a piece of something they’ve built and need to process that. There’s a lot of stuff to deal with, but if you don’t, it will come back and bite you hard.”
Although the process can be rough, reinventing your business can be a rush. “It’s an exciting place to be.” O’Kelly says.
More publicity… Less competition… Talent waiting to be scooped up… Here’s why starting up in a recessed economy may give your business a better shot. Do you have one good reason to start your business right now?Regardless of what people around you (including the media) may say, right now is the best time to get into business. Here are our Top 10 reasons you should start your business now-despite the current downturn:
1. Everything is Cheaper
Let’s face it – There is great value now in economic markets. This is the right time for fantastic deals in virtually every category, from land and equipment to commercial office space, personnel and fit outs. Some people have waited years to find value in these markets – and now that time has come.
2. Qualified People Are Hungry For Jobs
Having highly qualified people is the lynch pin of success in any business but it is an area where start-ups can fall. Start-ups are often unwilling and always unable to spend enough to get the highest level team to ensure the success of the business. This all changes in a recession. There are people now available willing to accept lower remuneration and keen to get a slice of the pie in a start up. Mindsets change in a recession too – those individuals who would normally never consider working in a small start-up are changing their focus on work directions. This all means that you will be able to source a really strong team at the outset for a fraction of what it would cost you in a growth environment.
3. Great PR By Going Against The Trend
The media loves a good story, and if you are optimistic by expanding,re-branding or getting into business now, you will find yourself and your new business in that category. Great PR like this will go a long way towards launching or branding your new business without it being seen as “Selling”.
4.Suppliers Are Giving Better Credit
Because the credit markets have virtually shut down, the B2B credit flows are keeping money circulating out of sheer necessity. That means a bullish outlook for companies looking for good terms on stock and inventories. When everyone is looking to survive, great deals can be had.
5. Believe it or Not There is Still Finance Out There
Individuals, family and friends who traditionally invested in stocks and shares will be less enthusiastic to do so at the moment but they’ll still want to put money into ventures likely to show revenue streams and eventually profits. That means they may be willing to finance a portion of your new venture, or the expansion of an enterprise that has proven itself over time. If you have a solid business plan that delivers real numbers, your chances of raising the capital you need increase exponentially.
6. Businesses Are Changing Suppliers
Everything is now on the table. As a smart Start-up if you can come in with greater value and an understanding of where your prospect is hurting you have a good chance of winning new business. You also have the advantage of being the “new kid on the block” when it comes to pitching your products and services. Many companies are desperate to find new partnerships with new businesses that have a different, better or more innovative way of delivering those products and services.
7. You Can Buy Everything You Need at Auction
In addition to everything being less expensive, you can find great deals at auctions, especially in terms of any large equipment and office furnishings. Auctions are also a great place to find hardly used or “gently” used restaurant and bar supplies at great prices. It’s an opportunity for you to get set up for a fraction of the price it would cost you in a growth market.
8. Ownership Equals Tax Incentives
Business ownership offers a variety of tax benefits that aren’t available to employees. While taxes should never be the sole reason to go into business for yourself, it should be one reason to add to you “benefits of business ownership” list.
9. You Can Find Great “Low Money” or “No Money” Deals
Many current business owners want out at any cost, meaning you can negotiate great win-win deals that allow the current owners to exit while giving you an opportunity to turn around what could be, if run right, a very viable business.And finally . . .
10. You’ve Lost Your Job, and You Have To Do Something
Sometimes, the best business decision is the one you are forced into, and the incentive (as well as need) for income is often enough to push you to go out on your own. It is also a great opportunity for you to strike out in area in which you have always been interested but had not considered part of your planned career.
There you have it:
Redstorm’s top 10 reasons to start your business in a recession. There’s no better time to start than now. Give us a call on +353 1 2360909 if you’d like to chat through any opportunities you are considering.
Wonderful flashy graphics, bright colors and spinning messages, they may look great but do your potential customers actually know what you are trying to say?
I think the biggest mistake we make in marketing is making everything so difficult for consumers to understand that they just don’t get what it is we do. And if they don’t understand it, they won’t feel compelled to act or buy… Marketing is about informing consumers about your products and services and telling them why they should pick you over your competitor – it really is that simple.
Are you doing that? If you are not it’s time to really analyse your marketing strategy and evaluate the point you’re trying to get across.
How do you do this? It’s by moving a customer from the point of just attracting their attention to inspiring them to actually take action – which is making a purchase from you. There are four basic (but often forgotten) steps to doing this.
Step 1: Get their attention
You have competition, it doesn’t have to be a lot of competition – but you have competition. It is up to you to get the attention of your consumers. Do you know how to do that? You speak to their need. You inform of them of the solution that you provide for that need. If you don’t provide a solution that benefits their business – it’s time to get back to the drawing board.
Step 2: Create a marketing message that speaks to them
You know your solution, and you know they need it, now you have to create a message that says “I’m your answer.” Have you done that with your marketing message? If not, why do you think they will buy your products or services? If you don’t inform them about your product who will? Craft your marketing message so it’s easy to understand and a consumer doesn’t want to walk out of a store without purchasing your product or service. Your marketing message has to speak about the solution as well as creating an urgency for the need. Have you done that? If not, again take it back to the drawing board!
Step 3: Evaluate different marketing methods
You have to examine the different marketing methods available today and really evaluate which ones will work for you, with your target market in mind and your budget in sight. Be aware of, and informed about, different marketing methods and which ones will work with your market. It’s not a one size fits all deal and these new marketing tools are changing every week. It’s an exciting time for marketing with all the new mobile and digital tools becoming available and the winning marketeer is the one who harnesses these new tools tightly and creatively for their business.
Step 4: Use marketing methods that are visible to your consumer
The reason you need to evaluate the different marketing methods and tools is so you can select those that are more visible to your potential purchaser. The great thing about marketing a small company is the ease with which you can create tightly targeted campaigns depending on your given audience for specific products or services. Don’t feel that a nationwide TV campaign is a must if a creative digital and mixed media campaign is affordable and successful. When you select the right marketing methods, you create a market position for your business that your potential consumers will see. When you select the wrong methods of marketing, you might as well throw your money out the window.
Choosing a name for your e-business requires just as much time and effort as naming a brick-and-mortar store. Here’s how to get started.Q: I’m opening an online store and was wondering how important the name of an online business really is. Should the name reflect what the business sells, or is it better to come up with something catchy and easy to remember?A: What’s in a name? When it comes to your business, a lot more than you might think. Deciding on a name for an online business is no less important than deciding on a name for a brick-and-mortar business. In each case, coming up with the business name is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. The right business name can help you rise above the crowd, while the wrong business name can leave you trampled in the rush. With the economy in a slump and competition on the rise, now more than ever it is important that you put considerable thought into coming up with the perfect name for your business.Unfortunately, this is a task that is easier said than done. We live in an age when a business called “The Body Shop” might repair wrecked cars or sell bath products to teenagers, so before you send your letterhead to the printer, consider the following points to help you select the business name that’s right for you.The first thing you should do is determine if the name is already in use by someone else. You’d be surprised at how many entrepreneurs forget to research this point and open a business with a name that is already in use. If the name you choose is available, you should immediately reserve the name and apply for legal ownership.Another important thing to consider, especially for an online business, is the domain name for your business. The domain name is the Web site address (or URL) a customer will use to find you on the Web. Is the domain name for your business name available? If not, is there a domain similar to the business name you’re considering?You’ll undoubtedly discover that securing a suitable domain name is actually harder than choosing a business name. Most logical domain names are already reserved, but you might get lucky. Keep in mind that domain names should be short and descriptive. Whatever you do, don’t use a domain name that is a confusing amalgam of letters and numbers that’s hard to remember and even harder for your customer to type.One good way to approach the task of naming a business is to do so from your customers’ point of view. Your business name should clearly define your offering and communicate your message to customers. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes for a moment. If you were looking for a business that provides your product or service, what would you expect that business to be called? The name of your business can also spark subconscious reactions in customers that may drive them to you or drive them away.Finally, let’s talk about things to avoid. Experts agree that you should avoid using generic terms like enterprise, corporation, partners and unlimited as part of your everyday business name. These terms are fine for the legal business entity name, but are often too unclear for everyday use.Here’s to your success.
Redstorm CEO, Carol O'Kelly, is a very hugely respected, award winning, keynote speaker in the areas of Personal Branding, Strategy, Communications, Executive Presence and LinkedIn. She has a huge passion for what she does and for the clients she works with. From C-Suite Personal Branding work to Communications Strategy projects and her Advisory roles, she brings all her energy, enthusiasm and focus to her work.