Monday, February 27, 2017

7 Ways to Better Networking


Many people (including me) offer advice on what it takes to be better at networking. One thing often is left out of that equation, however: Networking involves interacting with others, so it's worth asking what the average person believes it takes to become great. If we want to make the kind of impression that works to build a powerful personal network, we must be cognizant of others' expectations and adjust our behavior accordingly.

I recently gathered nearly 3,400 survey responses from business people around the world. I listed roughly 20 different characteristics and asked respondents to pick the behaviors they’d most like to see in a great networker. From this sample, I've identified the seven top characteristics and ranked them in order, according to survey answers.

1. Be a good listener.  

At the top of the list is being a good listener. Our success in networking depends on how well we can listen and learn. The faster you and your networking partner learn what you need to know about each other, the faster you’ll establish a valuable relationship.

A good networker has two ears and one mouth -- and should use them proportionately. When you're engaged in conversation, listen to the other person's needs and concerns so you can find opportunities to help him or her. In many ways, networking is about connecting the dots. Listening will enable you to help people make the connections they seek.


2. Develop a positive attitude.

Your attitude, or how you take things in general, is the first thing people see from you. A consistently negative attitude makes people dislike you and drives away referrals. By contrast, a positive attitude makes people want to cooperate and associate with you. This is why positive business professionals are like magnets. Others want to be around them and will send their friends and family to them, too.

3. Collaborate to serve others.

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Helping people puts that care into action so others can see it at work. One survey respondent said “people want to network with individuals who have a collaborative attitude.” You can help others in a variety of ways, from e-mailing a relevant article to putting them in touch with someone who has the knowledge or access to assist them with a specific challenge.

Several respondents commented they didn't want to network with people who are "in it for themselves." A willingness to collaborate is essential to building trust and establishing strong relationships.

4. Be sincere and authentic.

You can offer the help, the thanks and the listening ear, but if you aren't sincerely interested in another person, she or he will know it! People who've developed successful networking skills convey sincerity at every turn. One respondent said "it's all about the authenticity" that someone shows you. We've all seen people who are seemingly good at networking but lack sincerity. Faking it isn’t sustainable.

5. Follow up.

If you offer opportunities to someone who consistently fails to follow up, you'll soon stop wasting your time with this person. It doesn't matter if your call to action is a simple piece of information, a special contact or a qualified business referral. One respondent said that when it comes to networking, “the fortune lies in the follow up” and many people just “don’t follow up anymore.”

6. Prove your trustworthiness.

One respondent said it best: “It doesn’t matter how successful the person is, if I don’t trust them, I don’t work with them.” When you give a personal reference, you're putting your reputation on the line. You must be able to trust your referral partner and be trusted in return. Neither you nor anyone else will refer a contact to someone who can’t be trusted to handle it well.

7. Be approachable.

One respondent said people “will forget what you said and what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel." Effective networking starts with approachability -- and while this characteristic appears last on the list, everything flows from this manner of thought and action.
Each of the characteristics in this article ties into the notion of “farming,” not “hunting.” It's about building mutually beneficial business relationships. Only then will you succeed in creating a powerful, personal network.

As a young man, I studied under Warren Bennis. At the time, he was the world's foremost expert on leadership. He taught me that understanding the characteristics of a great leader is important, but it's even more important to understand how to apply those characteristics. "Know what you are good at and work to enhance those skills," he told me. "Know what you’re not good at and surround yourself with people who can help you improve those skills."

The same holds true with networking. Working to better your skills and learning how to use them effectively is what really counts.



Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com
Image Credit: Shutterstock

ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Friday, February 24, 2017

How to Make It Easier to Read Your Emails


Has this ever happened to you?

You send out an email with information about a program or sale.

You’ve made sure to answer all the relevant questions, but you still get replies asking about the very thing you answered in the email.

Why don’t people just read the email?!?

Before you give up and cry, “People just don’t read anymore!,” let’s make sure you’re doing all you can to make it easy for them.

After all, you want people to read and take action rather than ignore and delete. And when it comes to reading online, it’s a lot different from reading a book, magazine, or newspaper.

Use the following tips to make your emails easy to read and act on.

First, answer: “What action do you want the reader to take?” 

Many times the reason people ignore emails is because there’s just too much information in them.

Think about how often you check your email while in line at the grocery store or in between meetings. Not a lot of time to dig into tons of information.


By asking the question, “What action do you want the reader to take?,” you focus yourself, so you only include information that supports the reader taking that action.


When something sneaks in that doesn’t help with your goal, you know to exclude it from your email. Less is more.


Keep your content concise and scannable.

Now that your email content is focused and driving toward one particular goal, you still need to present it in a way that’s easy for the reader to consume.
 

People typically see the email before they read it. If the content of the email looks intimidating to them…DELETE.
 

Keep the content concise and put the most important information up top. Make your email text scannable by using short sentences and break up large blocks of text into short paragraphs. Be sure to use bullet points when listing items. 

How long should your email be?

A good rule of thumb: picture, paragraph, and call to action.
  • Relate your image to the topic of your email. Choose an image that shows what the reader may expect, feel, or experience if they take the action you want them to take.
  • Use a headline to grab the reader’s attention. Headline text should be larger than body copy to pull them into your email. Use 22-point font.
  • Make sure your call to action stands out. Use a button or white space around your link.
Use a mobile-responsive email template.
 

If it’s not easy for your reader to see your email, especially on a mobile device, you’re in trouble.
 

A mobile-responsive email template responds to the device it’s being read on. Whether it’s on a mobile phone, tablet, or desktop computer, you can be sure your email looks great and is easy to read.
 

Constant Contact has a full selection of mobile-responsive templates, so you don’t have to worry about your message looking great — on any device.

Summary:

    •    Keep your email focused on one goal
    •    Use a picture that supports your content
    •    Make your text scannable
    •    Use short sentences
    •    Break up paragraphs
    •    Use bullets
    •    Make sure your call to action stands out 


Try out these tips to see what impact it has on your overall results. And maybe, just maybe, you can spend a little less time wondering why people won’t just read your email. 



Source: https://blogs.constantcontact.com


ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

How To Shift Your Perception Of 'Networking' To 'Relationship Building'


I remember the first time I heard this phrase. As I replayed the words in my head, I thought about the journey that led to the creation of our first South American office. I thought about the business relationships my partner and I formed and the friendships we made along the way. I thought about how so much of our work in Brazil doesn’t feel like work, but rather like building bonds.

In the U.S., “networking” has a mixed connotation (at least to me it does). Indeed, for many, the word conjures images of large, impersonal conference centers, unwieldy client management software and pesky emails. However, as my experience in Brazil taught me, networking — when viewed as relationship building — can be an incredibly valuable personal and business skill. We just need to change the way we think about it.

It all starts with education.

As the co-founder of an education company, I urge families to consider their alumni network when selecting a university for their child. What you learn in your classes certainly matters, but it’s as important to think about what happens beyond the classroom. I encourage families to look at post-graduation employment rates and even where students are working after graduation. More importantly, families should consider how students are getting these jobs and to what extent alumni are involved in helping new graduates.

Reframing the conversation about college admissions this way develops students who are better prepared for the workforce; they recognize that the school they attend is not just a place to acquire knowledge, but to build relationships. The same holds true for working professionals: When selecting a graduate school or any other form of higher education, it’s essential to ask yourself not only what you will learn, but who you will meet there.

Seek opportunities to reach out.

There are few things that bother me more than emails that feel templated or forced after an initial interaction. Whether you meet someone at a conference or in a one-on-one setting, always be sure to follow up with a note that references specific points from the conversation, and continue to keep your exchanges personalized from there on out.

Networking is not a one-size-fits-all activity, so your approach shouldn’t be, either. When you think of networking as the opportunity to make friends, it’s only natural that you’ll feel compelled to share information and exchange knowledge. Think of what would pique the interest of each one of your contacts. This way, when you stumble across an interesting article or learn something new, you’ll know just who to share it with. If you keep your contacts at the top of mind, they’ll feel the same way.

Stay organized. 

Years ago, my company attempted to implement Salesforce, but given the personalized, customized nature of our interactions, we found we needed a system that was (you guessed it) more personalized and customizable. So, we made one of our own.

For my co-founder and me, it’s important that the platforms we use offer maximum flexibility and accessibility on the go. With this in mind, we created a Trello board — which we designed according to our own needs — to track our interactions with our clients and prospects: who they are, how we met them and when we were last in touch. Most importantly, the very exercise of creating such a system forces you to be thoughtful about how you’re building relationships. No matter what system you use, it’s essential to keep your contacts organized; just be sure to choose one that works for you.

Reframing my sense of how networking works has transformed me from a skeptic into an enthusiast, albeit perhaps a little late. I truly believe that starting a conversation about networking and its value in college (and even high school) will change the culture that surrounds it, and in the process, create more thoughtful future business leaders.

Just think of all the new friendships waiting to be made.



Source: http://www.forbes.com


ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

5 Huge Mistakes That Salespeople Make in Cold Emails

Email marketing campaigns should start with a clear, no-nonsense, straightforward message.


 As I pointed out in yesterday's column on sales mega-trends, email marketing is the only form of outbound marketing that still works for B2B products. Unfortunately, most companies aren't very good at writing emails that people read and answer.

For the past five years, I've published a free weekly newsletter where provide links to my latest columns and critique sales emails that readers send me. In my experience, cold emails tend to suffer from the following problems:

1. False Friendliness

While it's true that most people, all things being equal (and even when they're not equal) prefer to buy from their friends. However, any attempt to force friendship causes people to raise their emotional barriers.

In face-to-face meetings, this tendency among salespeople to be too friendly manifests itself in handshakes that last too long, compliments that are too fulsome and too frequent use of the other person's first name, etc. Ugh.

In sales emails, the "too friendly" tendency manifests itself in phony inquiries about the other person's health or vacation, over-enthusiastic praise for trivial matters and (again) too frequent use of the other person's name.

Effective sales emails are polite and professional rather than effusive and emotional.

Wrong:

Dear Jill:
I hope you're having a wonderful week! I noticed that Acme released a new product last month. Good work! I hope it sells well. Jill, the reason I'm writing is to find out if you're the person responsible for purchasing software for Acme.

Right:

Jill,
Are you the person responsible at Acme for software purchases?

2. Self-Centered Enthusiasm

Many salespeople (and indeed many people in the culture at large) wrongly believe that expressing your own emotions will draw a positive emotional response from others.

While that may be true inside a relationship, it's not true when dealing with people who don't know you and have no reason to want to know you.

Unfortunately, many sales emails are chockablock with unnecessary and distracting emotional commentary on the sender's emotions, beliefs, motives and opinions.

Effective sales emails are about the customer rather the salesperson.

Wrong:

I believe that everybody wants to find the best value for their money which is why I am a writing to you. I'm certain that when you'll be delighted when you look at our products and prices and I would like to meet with you to discuss this.

Right:

My company can probably provide this product to you at a lower cost than your current vendors. Does this interest you?

3. Spray and Pray

Many salespeople weirdly believe that customers want to buy the products that provide the most features for the lowest price. But that's only true if customers have no better way to evaluate value.

Customer pick feature-rich products only when they're not clear which features have specific value to their specific situation. They want to know "what in it for me" and if they can't figure it out, they go for the feature-rich option.

To make matters worse, many customers are turned off when they're confronted with too much information and put decision-making on hold until they have time to sort everything out, which may never happen.

Effective sales email present a single, meaningful, unique benefit rather than a "spray and pray" list.

Wrong:

Even though our price is low, our widgets have the following features:
    1.    Double, redundant framistats.
    2.    Fifth-generation vebblefetzers.

Right:

Our widgets can reduce your inventory costs by reducing missing stock items by 20%.

4. Generic Benefits

Salespeople who "get" the idea that customers aren't interested in product features often make the mistake of replacing them with benefits that are too generic to be meaningful.

Every B2B product in the world either increases sales or decreases costs (aka saves time and money). Any product that didn't do these things wouldn't exist because nobody would buy it.

When customers see generic benefits, they shrug them off as just so much noise. What's worse, they're likely to feel that since you couldn't be specific you must not have thought things through.

Effective sales emails identify one or two specific unique benefits.

Wrong:

Our widgets will increase your sales allowing you to profitably grow your company. They will also save you time and hassle so that you can spend more time doing things that you enjoy.

Right:

Our widgets can reduce your inventory costs by reducing missing stock items by 20%.

5. Self-Praising Opinions

Some salespeople seem to think that they live in a world where customers believe something just because somebody tells them it's true. Customers, however, are exceedingly skeptical of any claim that a company makes about itself.

Repeatedly claiming that you have the "best service" or the "best product" or that your company is "industry-leading" or "innovative" convinces nobody. People just skip over that kind of marketing mush. If anything, people think you're lying or exaggerating.

Effective sales emails offer credible proof (or the potential of credible proof) for any claim.

Wrong:

Our industry-leading company has state-of-the-art products and the best customer service in the business!

Right:

An independent survey showed that our customers on average are happier with our products and services than with those of other vendors.




Source: http://www.inc.com
Image credit: Getty Images



ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

03-09 Business Lunch & Learn: How to Build Effective Business Relationship


Do you have any plans for lunch on Thursday, March 9, 2017? 

Westchester Networking for Professionals will be hosting our next series of Smart Talk Business Lunch & Learn Networking Event open to all business owners and entrepreneurs seeking informative information to help grow and develop their business.

This event will feature Mr. Timothy Stewart, our Guest Speaker sharing his knowledge and expertise on the discussion of building effective business relationships. This would be a great opportunity for local business professionals to introduce their business to others while enjoying a fabulous lunch.


Join Westchester Networking for Professionals at Rini's Restaurant in Elmsford, NY at 12:00 pm. Online tickets are being sold on www.wnfp.org at discount. Admission will be accepted at the door, but a slightly higher price. For event details and registration information visit Westchester Networking for Professionals website.




ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

How To Decide If A Networking Opportunity Is Worthwhile Or A Waste Of Time


To go or not to go? That is the question to ask yourself in deciding whether to attend a networking session. Will it be a productive opportunity or waste of time? Answer these four questions to decide if a networking event will be time well spent.

1. Do you like who you see?


Who is attending the event? Look online at the list of attendees. If this information is not posted on the Internet, inquire with the event organizer. Do you see listed individuals who you have heard of or organizations that inspire you? Networking is the opportunity to meet people. If you do not see people that interest you, you may want to pass on a particular opportunity.

2. Is there down time or designated time to network?

Beware of events that center around meals or are jam-packed with sessions one after another. Networking is a one-on-one sport. You cannot network if you and everyone else are listening to a keynote speaker or panel. There must be down time or designated free time to have individual exchanges.

If the schedule does not include down time or time to network and you still want to attend the event, carve out time to network. Get to the event early, before the first session starts, to meet and greet others near the registration table or at breakfast. Stay after the last session to talk with individuals. Ask if the person has time for a drink later that day to continue the discussion.

3. Do you feel nervous or slightly uncomfortable?

If you feel comfortable attending networking events, this may be a sign that you are meeting with the same type of people you have been networking with in the past. To start expanding opportunities for yourself, consider networking events where you can meet individuals of different experience levels or backgrounds. It helps you to stand out, in a good way. You can make an impact just by placing yourself in a situation that you are not usually in. Being different makes it easy for people to remember you and you to add unique value.

For example, you are an attorney in a room full of management consultants and strategists. Your training to anticipate and counter an opponent’s argument is a skill that can help strategists stay a step ahead of the competition. Or, you are a young professional at an event focused on leadership development of more experienced professionals. If you are invited or are able to obtain a ticket, go to the event and take advantage of the opportunity to meet individuals with more authority and influence. Embrace being outside of your comfort zone to position yourself for new opportunities.

4. Are you ready to tell people what you want?

Do you know what you want out of your career? Do you know the next step you want to take? For networking events to be worth your time, you must be ready to articulate what you want out of your career.

Do not mistake this for asking for a job. This is your opportunity to share with people your goals, what you are looking to do next and the values you are looking for in an organization. If you don’t know what you want to do with your career, you can’t tell them. And if you cannot tell them what you want, they can’t help you. Sharing with others what you want is not a magic bullet to securing your next opportunity, but it helps to speed things up. When others know what you want, they will think of you when they come across opportunities.

The next time you are confronted with an opportunity to network, ask yourself these four questions. Not all networking events are helpful. You need to decide whether they are worth your while. Ask for the information you need to evaluate the playing field, embrace the opportunity to get outside your comfort zone and expand your opportunities.

How do you decide whether to attend a networking event?



Source:http://www.forbes.com
Image credit: Shutter shock

ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

10 Tips for Maintaining Customer Relationships Online


To grow a successful business, you need to be able to market to customers online and then communicate with them effectively. There are plenty of methods you can use to improve your online customer relationships. Here are some top tips from members of our small business community.

Keep These CRM Influencers on Your Radar

If you want to improve your relationships with customers, then you need to have the best information at your disposal. That means you can benefit from following the CRM influencers listed in this Salesflare post. Small Business Trends CEO Anita Campbell is honored to be included.

Use Social Media Emoji to Humanize Your Business

When attempting to really connect with customers online, it helps if you can humanize your business. And using emoji on social media can help, as this post by Aleh Barysevich at the Social Media Examiner explains. You can also see commentary on the post over on BizSugar.

Get These Marketing Tools for Local Business Owners

Marketing a local business can require a unique set of skills different from those needed to market other kinds of businesses. But there are plenty of tools out there to help you market your local business to the right customers. In this Mobile Marketing Helper blog post, Kevin Cortez shares some essential tools for local marketers.

Go Online to Benefit Your Brick and Mortar Business

Even if you have a store or business that only sells to customers in person, you can still benefit from getting online. You can find some potential benefits for brick and mortar businesses going online in this Revel post by Caitlin Stanley.

Learn About the Cost of Google AdWords

Google AdWords can be a really helpful tool for businesses looking to expand their online reach. But you need to learn about the pricing structure if you’re going to take advantage of it. Gary Shouldis of 3Bug Media discusses more here. And BizSugar members chime in with their own thoughts too.

Amp Up Your SMB’s Performance and Productivity

If you want to connect with more customers, increase sales or otherwise improve the chances of your small business succeeding, you need to find ways to improve your business’s performance and productivity. Itai Elizur details some tips for doing just that in this post on Smallbiztechnology.com.

Build Links Without Creating Content

Content marketing can be a powerful tool for businesses. But it’s not the only way to increase your reach online. This Marketing Land post by Andrew Dennis explains how you can build links without creating your own content.

Define and Create Your Brand Voice

You need to have a consistent brand voice in order to effectively communicate with your customers over time. And you can define and create the right voice for your brand using the tips in this post by Jomer Gregorio on the CJG Digital Marketing blog. You can also see input on the post from the BizSugar community here.

Take These Steps for SEO Strategy Success

To get your business found online, you need an SEO strategy. But some business owners might not know where to start when creating that strategy. For five steps to a successful SEO strategy, check out this Search Engine Journal post by Sergey Grybniak.

Grow a Site to 10,000+ Visitors a Month

If you want to reach more customers for your small business, you need to get them to your site first. In this post from Basic Blog Tips, Anil Agarwal details how you can quickly grow your site in terms of visitors each month.



Source: https://smallbiztrends.com
Image credit: Shuttershock


ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!