Tag Archives: Networking

Public speaking tips to boost your business

Afraid of public speaking? My unscientific research proved the fear of public speaking more common than the fears of spiders, heights, darkness and flying. Learning to speak well is a surefire way to boost your business.

First, you’ll have to promote yourself as an expert in your field. I started out speaking and presenting to small, city- and county-based lawyer Bar associations, in front of as few as 4 attorneys. My pay was prestige, and I used these early events as currency for larger, more regional opportunities, such as my recent seminar at the State Bar of Alabama’s Annual Meeting & Legal Expo.

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Looking for Leads?

The "original" networker?

Benjamin Franklin had the right idea when he established the Junto, or Leather Apron Club, in 1727.  Among other things, the clubs’ purpose was to exchange knowledge of business affairs.  In other words, network.  During club meetings, members were asked a series of questions regarding community members and their successes and failures.  Strategies and ideas for acquiring wealth were shared throughout the club.

What a great idea for you to develop your own source of leads!  Form your own local business network.  Make it a point to know noncompeting businesses in your market and create a community where you can get together and discuss business ideas, local marketing, zoning issues, etc.  It’s likely your best leads will come from people outside of your industry, so court them in your networking group.  Many of your existing clients probably cater in some fashion to the local community, so make sure they are first to be invited to your group.  The best networking groups often invite a guest speaker or presenter to talk about something pertinent to the group or their industry.  Leads and referrals will happen naturally.

In addition to gathering new leads, networking can often provide a lifeline of support and can help you develop knowledge and skills.  Networking is a great way to boost your reputation and can be a key source for information relevant to your business.  You can network through social events, organized meetings and conferences, business trips, or even electronically through online messaging systems.  If creating your own networking group isn’t feasible, consider joining an already-established network.  Many industries already have networks set up that can range in size from just a few members to hundreds of members.

Learn from others who have succeeded in industry.  Reach out, swap ideas and come prepared with a notion on how the group could succeed.  Who knows?  Maybe you’ll meet a new friend to throw some business your way.

References

Networking Like A Pro

man extending handshakeIt’s that time of the year again, when holiday parties, social events and get-togethers begin to fill our calendars. To make the most of in-person networking, try these conversation starters (or enders, if you’re trying to meet as many people as possible!):

Starters
Keep questions like these in your repertoire, so they flow naturally:

  • How long have you been a member of this group / club / association?
  • What made you decide to join?
  • What other groups / clubs / associations do you belong to?
  • How did you get started as an ______? (assuming you know what they do already)
  • What projects are you working on now?
  • If I were to refer people to your business, what should they need?
  • Have you been to this location before?
  • Have you attended other events here?

Enders
Wrapping up is often challenging, especially if the other person won’t let you come up for air. So you’ll need to do your best to exit gracefully. Whatever you do, extend a handshake before parting!

  • I need to see ____ before she leaves, it was nice meeting you.
  • Would you excuse me, I need to use the bathroom (make sure you leave the room!).
  • Before I go, could I have your card?

Things Not To Do

  • Avoid “filler” conversation, like talking about the weather, a recent sports game, etc.
  • If you’re into direct sales (like Avon or nutritional supplements), please don’t solicit new members, or gasp, try to sell your product on the spot

I hope these tips help you in your upcoming gatherings. What did I miss? What are your favorite conversation starters or enders?

Photo credit by Henkster.

Face to Face Networking Ideas

light bulb ideaIn today’s connected, social society, we focus heavily on our digital networking. But often, it’s traditional, face to face networking where business gets done. Here are a few ideas to help make your introductions and meetings powerful:

  • Check your arrogance at the door. It’s OK to be upbeat, positive and confident, but there’s no need to gloat. If you’re business is doing well, say so, but remember, you’re always looking for new and interesting clients (or projects).
  • Keep business cards in your pocket at social events. Remember, the event is social, so be discreet when handing out cards. In fact, make it a rule to only hand out a business card at a social event when asked.
  • Know what you want before asking for it. Be specific about the types of clients, companies or industries you work with; and also be specific about the types of problems you solve.
  • Be prepared with several introductory statements. Sometimes, you only have a chance to say your name, occupation and who you help. But if asked for more information, have a situation or client story to tell which relates to how you solve problems.
  • When saying what it is you do, focus on outcomes. For example, instead of a boring “I’m an attorney” try “I help fathers negotiate the divorce process”. It’s impactful, meaningful and memorable.
  • Practice, practice and practice some more. If it sounds canned to you, imagine how the person hearing it for the first time thinks?

I hope these ideas help, and look forward to meeting some of you at future networking events!

Photo credit by Buckey.

Five Things You Didn’t Know About LinkedIn

blackboardAs readers of this blog will confirm, I’m a huge fan of LinkedIn for selling and consulting. I wanted to share a few additional features many casual users of LinkedIn probably are not aware of:

LinkedIn has a store, where you can buy branded merchandise. Up for sale include mugs, shirts, luggage tags and even reusable grocery shopping bags. For me, I’ve got my eye on the lapel pin for in-person networking.

The LinkedIn blog is frequently updated with all the new and cool enhancements on the network. Writers use the content here for their own blog posts. And for those of you who like to comment on blog posts, the structure here publishes your profile URL, which is a unique twist, and may help you with optimization.

A fairly new feature is the ability to reorder the elements on your profile. Via simple drag and drop, you can move the pieces of your profile around to best highlight your skills, expertise or experiences and stand out from the crowd.

I launched my first DirectAds campaign earlier this week, and the results seem promising. The targeting is robust, but the $10/day minimum is pretty high when compared to Google and Facebook ($1/day or so). More to come on the results of my campaign.

LinkedIn also makes it very easy for you to promote your profile with badges. When logged in to your account, the badges are automatically updated to include your profile URL.

I hope you find these features useful to your networking goals on Linked In, and I welcome your comments, and connection requests.

Photo credit by ilco.