Tuesday, August 30, 2016

How to Turn LinkedIn Groups into a Marketing Power Tool

LinkedIn Groups are a great way to expand your network, especially for B2B businesses.

Westchester Networking for Professionals is organizing a Growth Partners Excel Program - Mastermind Group starting in September 2016 for small businesses and entrepreneurs to help grow their business.  Click the link for more information.

Most business owners know they should join social networks to promote their companies. Each network offers different opportunities: Facebook is the most popular, so it offers the best opportunity to expand your audience and gather leads; Twitter is the most popular for customer service; and LinkedIn is extremely popular amongst professionals. Which is why, if you are a business that sells primarily to other businesses, you must be more active on LinkedIn.

When it comes to connecting with people who mean business and generating leads, few can compare to the power of LinkedIn. Business decision-makers prefer LinkedIn, and you want to reach your target market. LinkedIn Groups are a great way to connect with these decision makers, regardless of industry or location. Here's how to go about it.

Join Groups

Find industry-, topic-, and location-specific groups that contain concentrations of people who you would like to network with, and join them. Spend time looking at the level of participation and conversations. If all you find is updates and members promoting their businesses, move on, as this group will be of little benefit.

LinkedIn has a "groups you may like" function that suggests groups based on your current profile and connections.

Connect with Members

Once you've joined a group, you have a common, natural connection with each group member, and LinkedIn gives you the ability to connect based on the mutual group membership. It's a little thing, but it's a step beyond simply saying you want to connect.

Look for active members, and add relevant replies to a number of posts. This starts the process of some one-on-one conversation, and since your replies are publicly available to all group members, you can use this technique to demonstrate that you have a lot to offer.

Don't be afraid to reach out to people and ask to connect. Send them a short note on why you joined the group, and share something in common that made you want to connect. Don't jump the gun and begin selling just yet; it's more likely your invitation will be ignored.

Create Groups

Once you get the hang of Groups, you should consider creating your own topic group. This is not a company group; it's one that is set up to discuss a topic that your prospects, customers, partners, and even competitors might find worthwhile.

A word of warning: if you want your group to grow and give you the ability to benefit by virtue of your status as the group's manager, you have to commit the time to curate, moderate, stimulate, and facilitate group participation.

Add starter content that gets people talking. Participate in conversations. Promote. But above all, do not tolerate spam and self-promotion.

Keep the group running actively, and you'll build a considerable amount of trust with specifically targeted business owners. Every single member of your group can then be considered a powerful lead.

Take Action to Grow Your Business, Today!

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!

Monday, August 29, 2016

5 Steps To Prep For Leaving Your Job To Start A New Business

Westchester Networking for Professionals is organizing a Growth Partners Excel Program - Mastermind Group starting in September 2016 for small businesses and entrepreneurs to help grow their business.  Click the link for more information.

After you’ve chosen a career path, it’s easy to feel like you’re locked into that decision for the rest of your life. Maybe your job isn’t fulfilling, isn’t providing you with sufficient opportunities to develop your leadership, or you just feel like there is nothing new there for you to learn.

According to a survey from Deloitte, two-thirds of all millennials plan to leave their job by 2020 and 44% say they would leave their employer in the next 2 years.  If you have got the itch to leave your job, you are not alone.

The average American switches careers six times throughout the course of their life–meaning there’s a lot more room for second chances than you might think. You may know it’s possible to make a career change, but understanding how to take action in your own life is a different matter.

Meet Eric Finnigan, a professional copywriter and founder of Autopilot Email, an email marketing service agency that helps companies boost their revenues by $100k+ through automated emails. Today, Finnigan works a schedule on his own terms structured around projects he cares about. But just months ago, he was working a 9-5 for a corporate company that drained him.

I spoke with Finnigan about how he was able to leave his former career and restore purpose to his work on this week’s episode of Unconventional Life, “How to Leave Your Corporate Job and Pursue Your Dreams.”

Fresh out of college, Finnigan found himself broke and in debt, with all his credit cards maxed out and nowhere to turn. “I had this moment where I was like holy cow I just went to college and in theory I should be set financially, what’s going on?” he says. “It was kind of this panic moment where I realized I had to make money.”

Like many new graduates in this position, Finnigan was eager to start paying down his debt and immediately got a job. Over the next seven years, he would dedicate nearly all of his energy to getting promotions and salary raises until his financial insecurity faded to a distant memory.

Step by step, Finnigan climbed the corporate ladder to the position of Vice President, managing a $36 billion portfolio for his investment strategist company. His salary was abundant and he occupied a luxury apartment in NYC… yet something was missing.

“I would sit at my desk and think, do I really want this? I had this moment of yeah, I had succeeded in what I wanted to do, but what I had been working towards it turned out wasn’t the thing that was actually fulfilling for me,” Finnigan reflects.

Upon that realization, Finnigan decided it was time to make a change.

He still depended on his job as a source of income, so he didn’t just quit on the spot. Instead, he began investing all of his free energy into his lifelong passion for writing, which he never pursued because he didn’t believe it could be profitable. Within several months of studying the art of copywriting, Finnigan felt confident he could monetize it and quit his corporate job.

Today, Finnigan has created a livelihood around copywriting and has become one of the most sought-after contractors in his industry, running six and seven figure campaigns for many multi-million dollar clients. But the doubt and uncertainty that accompany making a major career change were not lost upon him. Below, Finnigan shares how you can succeed in making a similar transition.

1. Learn from others. Immerse yourself in the stories of others who have already made this transition and are thriving on the other side. Listen to podcasts and seek out news articles to encourage, motivate, and inspire you to do the same. You’ll begin to feel like it is possible for you, too, and you’ll benefit from learning from their mistakes and advice.

2. Ask for help. Ditch the mindset that you need to figure it all out on your own. “For me it was a matter of pride,” Finnigan says. “Have humility–you can make it much faster with help.” Asking for help might look like reading books, enrolling in courses, or finding a mentor. Guidance and accountability are essential to your success.

3. Hustle on the side. Use your current job as a safety net so you don’t put too much pressure on yourself to “figure it out,” which can actually be counterproductive. Be reasonable and give yourself time to develop your new skill until you feel confident that it will be able to provide for you financially. Be prepared to put in the hours both for your current job and your emerging passion. “I worked 4 to 5 hours a day in addition to my job,” Finnigan recalls.

4. Understand success isn’t linear. Unlike working in a corporate job, success isn’t linear when working for yourself. “It’s not like plug away for a few months and get your first paying customer, then in another few months get your 5th paying customer,” Finnigan says. “It’s frustrating coming from the corporate world, where you work hard and get a bonus at the end of the year.” While you may struggle at first, don’t be discouraged. Keep at it and be mindful of how you measure success–fulfillment is equally as important as profit.

5. Create your own urgency. “If there’s no urgency on your end, no one’s going to create it for you,” Finnigan says. Develop a timeline for your goals to keep yourself on track and be willing to let go of whatever may be holding you back.

Take Action for Your Business, Today!

Source: http://www.forbes.com/
Image Credit: Source: Eric Finnigan

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!

Successfully Making Business Development Transition From Summer To Fall

Westchester Networking for Professionals is accepting application for the Growth Partner Excel Program - Mastermind Group starting on September 20, 2016. Click the link for more information.  

Pop quiz: What are the two biggest days of renewal for business owners, professionals, and independent consultants? Answer: New Year’s Day and Labor Day.

While the renewal power of New Year’s resolutions are well known, the lesser known Labor Day resolution is a similar phenomenon. When the kids go back to school and summer vacations end, many in business see this as a last chance to make an impact on yearly goals.

“Fall is the biggest season for client decision making,” says Scott Hamilton, founder of the Executive Next Practices Institute, a forum for C-level executives. He says fall is no time to fall victim to the tyranny of the urgent items on the to-do list.

“Your choices for the rest of the year are to focus on the urgent, the important, or play Pok√©mon GO,” Hamilton advised a group of Orange County, California business leaders this week. “Focus on the important during the 15 weeks from Labor Day to Christmas.”

Also speaking at the meeting was business development expert Mark LeBlanc, author of the book Growing Your Business. LeBlanc says it takes more than focus. What is needed now is extreme focus. Here are his three best practices to maintain extreme focus as autumn takes hold:

1. Create a profile of your ideal week. Good news, everybody. You don’t control much in life, but you do get to control your time. Isn’t that why you became an independent professional, solo consultant, or small business owner in the first place? (For example: My day starts at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 5:30 p.m. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I don’t meet with clients, I focus on writing and planning. On Wednesday mornings I do volunteer work. Am I perfect? No.)

2. Maintain your daily focus. Mighty castles are built one brick at a time. All LeBlanc asks is nine minutes a day to make a call, send an email, and mail a card. “One a day, one a day, one a day, just like taking your vitamins,” says LeBlanc. He calls these “stormstarter” calls, emails, and mailings. That’s because they start a storm of new business development.

3. Develop your will-do list. Scrap those traditional “to do” lists. Instead, what three accomplishments will you complete in thirty days and ninety days?  These are the stars you guide your ship by. “Put everything else in a parking lot,” says LeBlanc.

What should you be sure to include on that will-do list? One new contact strategy is a teleclass on your area of expertise.

“The best clients are those who seek you out because they have already heard of you,” says Steven Van Yoder, author of the excellent book Get Slightly Famous, and an advocate of teleclasses. “Having heard you speak, people feel they know you personally, and are more confident about hiring you.”

The advantages are abundant. You don’t have to be personally present to give a talk that reaches your target market, says Van Yoder. Online chats and teleconferences, using your own or others’ telephone lines, can help you reach a lot of people eager to hear your message.

Teleclasses are a great way for businesses to provide information to prospects, clients, and customers all over the world, with minimal cost and effort. Unlike seminars and other meetings, they eliminate the need to travel. Both hosts and participants can attend from their offices, their favorite easy chair at home, or even by mobile phone while on vacation. (Summer isn’t the only time people take off – those holiday vacations are just around the corner.)

Source: http://www.forbes.com/
Image Credit: Shutterstock

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, August 23, 2016

The Growth Partners Excel Program - Mastermind Group

We're excited to announce that Westchester Networking for Professionals is forming a Mastermind group for our business professionals call "The Growth Partners Excel Program. Enrollment starts now for sessions beginning in September 2016.

We’ve learned that as entrepreneurs, surrounding ourselves with like-minded positive people can motivate us, keep us vibrant and on the right track to ensure the future of the success in our business. This is why we are developing this program dedicated to providing our community of business professionals  who are ready take their businesses to the next level and build successful businesses, an opportunity to learn and grow with like-minded individuals.

There is absolutely no selling or recruiting in this group, strictly building relationships and growing business. 

What is a Mastermind Group?
A mastermind group gives you access to a team of like-minded individuals who motivate and inspire each other to succeed.

When you need help in decision making for aspects of your business, whom do you have to turn to? Mastermind groups offer a combination of brainstorming, education, peer accountability and support in a group setting to sharpen your business and personal skills. A mastermind group helps you and your mastermind group members achieve success.

Participants challenge each other to set powerful goals, and more importantly, to accomplish them. The group requires commitment, confidentiality, willingness to both give and receive advice and ideas, and support each other with total honesty, respect and compassion. Mastermind group members act as catalysts for growth, devil’s advocates and supportive colleagues. This is the essence and value of mastermind groups.

The Growth Partners Excel Program will provide a group of up to 10 business professionals a community of supportive colleagues who brainstorm together to move each other to new heights in their business.

3 Reasons to Join the Growth Partners Excel Program:
  1. To SHARE your ideas and get feedback from other entrepreneurs so you can leverage their success and experience to rapidly grow your business.
  2. To receive ACCESS to a network of business owners from various backgrounds to obtain different perspectives, input, and resources.
  3. To become ACCOUNTABLE to others for key goals you have for your business and have a mechanism to help you follow through.

Are you ready to take you business to the next level?

Now Accepting Application for Sessions beginning in September 2016.

Source: http://www.thesuccessalliance.com/

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!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Why Your Business Contacts Ignore Your Emails

The strength of your company and career is dependent upon the relationships you've built over the years. Even so, most people let important contacts fall off the radar, often for years at a time.

Then something happens and suddenly you want to get back in touch with a somebody you've neglected because (let's face it) you had better things to do than keep the relationship alive and well.

In my free weekly newsletter (in addition to providing links to my most recent posts), I offer free critiques of reader emails. Based on what I've seen, here's how most people attempt to reactivate a neglected contact:

SUBJECT: Long time no see
Hey, John,
I hope you're doing well!
I've started selling mcguffins and I would love to explain to you why our mcguffins are the best in the world!
What's the best way to get on your calendar? You can reach me at 888-555-1234 or check out our website at www.mcguffinsRUS.com.
I look forward to hearing from you!
Jim Jones
McGuffins Inc.
1234 ABC Blvd.
Central City, OH, 44130

Email like this almost never get answered, primarily because the hidden message is: "The only reason I'm contacting you is because I want something from you."  Beyond that, here are some other reasons such emails go unanswered:
  1. The email is all about the sender and what the sender wants, which is irrelevant to the recipient. 
  2. The tone of fake friendliness is insulting and even faintly disgusting.  The capper is the "sincerely" at the end when the email is obviously self-serving.
  3. The request for a meeting, and therefore the expenditure of the other person's time (and thus money) is completely out-of-line.
  4. The Subject line is irrelevant to the recipient and actually reminds the recipient that the sender has neglected to maintain the relationship.
  5. The email makes the common error of having multiple calls-to-action, which tends to reduce the response rate (too many choices).
  6. The final sentence is not only self-centered but presumptuous.  After this shameless display of "me me me," why would anyone want to respond?
To be clear, the example I've provided above is much better than average. Many such emails actually contain feature lists, biz-blab, and other gobble-de-gook guaranteed to make the recipient hit the delete key.

Ironically, it's easy to reestablish contact with a neglect business contact. In fact, I have an almost 100% response rate to my "reactivate a contact" emails.  I'll explain exactly how to do this in tomorrow's post.

Meanwhile, though, I'll tell you the secret (which I'll explain in detail tomorrow). The secret is 1) get over yourself, 2) put aside your own agenda, and 3) get curious about the other person.

Again, I'll be going into more detail tomorrow, so stay tuned.

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

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, August 19, 2016

5 Reasons Why Social Entrepreneurship Is The New Business Model

Today’s young people are as concerned with making a positive impact on the world as they are with making money. A whopping 94% want to use their skills to benefit a cause. Meanwhile, only half of Americans have confidence in the free market system, down from 80% just 15 years ago.

Against this backdrop, social enterprise has taken off as a new formula for success, combining capitalism with a do-gooder mentality. These self-funding, for-profit businesses also have a mission to tackle global issues such as alleviating hunger, improving education, and combatting climate change. To achieve their high-minded goals, the companies might fund specific programs, partner with governments or existing philanthropic entities, or follow a one-for-one donation model, and work on either the local or international level.

I spoke with several leading social entrepreneurs, all of whom are incredibly enthusiastic about what they do for a living because it allows them to live their passion, embracing a career with meaning. Here are five reasons why they believe social entrepreneurship is the new business model:

1. It connects you to your life purpose.

Honeycomb is a social impact SaaS platform bringing businesses and philanthropy together to make the world a better place. The company has facilitated over $2.4 million in social impact to over 500 non-profits in less than four years.

Honeycomb cofonder Melissa Levick said, “ Having social impact built into your business model allows you to live your life on purpose.  It’s about connecting your brand’s why with how it can be used authentically to serve the world. It’s not a gimmick or a marketing tool. It’s a genuine mechanism to solve social problems while feeling connected to a higher purpose.”

2. It keeps you motivated.

Ido Leffler had tremendous success with one of his first businesses, the natural beauty brand Yes To (Carrots, Cucumbers, etc). When thinking about what to do next, he and his business partner Lance Kalish decided to build their company on three key pillars: working with incredible people, making great products, and benefiting an impactful cause.

Leffler created Yoobi to make school supplies fun again and solve a big problem along the way: Teachers in the U.S. spend an average of $500 out of their own pockets every year on school supplies, and millions of kids don’t have the tools they need to realize their potential in the classroom. For every Yoobi item sold, the company donates supplies such as colored pencils, staplers, and notebooks to schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Why found a social enterprise? “I think the biggest question once you’ve reached success is one of motivation,” Leffler said. “What keeps you going? For us, it was this idea that we didn’t want to just be ‘widget guys.’ We wanted to make a real and lasting impact on people’s lives. It’s that simple. At the end of the day, giving back in the way that we are is much more rewarding than any business success I can think of.”

3. It brings you lasting happiness.

Corporate360 is a multi-million dollar outbound marketing data software start-up that founder Varun Chandran created without external funding. The company also runs an NGO in Chandran’s hometown of Padam, in Kerala, India.

The social enterprise’s main programs include improving sanitation, drinking water, and housing for the villagers. The company has gifted a school bus and an ambulance to the local government. Every academic year, the Corporate360 team distributes school kits consisting of bags, books, umbrellas, and lunch boxes to the local students. In addition, through its SmartWorker software, Corporate360 hires women, youth and physically challenged individuals from low-income families, training them to perform simple digital data tasks and connecting them to a life-changing source of income.

Chandran himself grew up in Padam extremely poor, the son of a farmer. This is a big reason why, for him, the definition of success includes making a difference in other people’s lives. “I have discovered a larger purpose,” Chandran said. “My biggest happiness so far in life is being able to go back to the village where I was born and ‘adopt’ it. When I first made money, I traveled to 32 different countries and bought everything that I had ever wanted, but I realized that I still wasn’t happy. I found real, lasting happiness through my social impact work. At the same time, it makes me feel more responsible for working hard to build the business so that I can contribute even more. It’s a win-win situation, and I enjoy it to the fullest.”

4. It helps you help others discover their life purpose.

NEWaukee, based in Milwaukee, is the only social architecture firm in the country that operates on a social enterprise business model. “We believe that the place in which a company is located and how invested that company is in the local community have a direct correlation to the ease with which it sources the talent needed to make its products and the customers needed to buy its products,” explained NEWaukee co-founder and CEO Angela Damiani.

The social enterprise model allows NEWaukee to offer hundreds of events and programs annually to the public for free, build public parks and works of public art without the need for taxpayer or philanthropic investment, and support twenty-four different non-profit organizations at no charge. “We’ve developed a mechanism for corporations to put the human back into human resources while simultaneously making the Milwaukee community a more equitable, accessible and vibrant place for all to enjoy,” Damiani said.

On a personal level, Damiani feels honored to “live and breathe this work every day.” She said, “Not only have I found my own passion through creating this business model, but also I am delighted to help others find their own life purpose through our projects and programs. We are serving our clients while shedding light on their potential to be their best and brightest.”

5. It is what today’s consumers want.

WE’VE provides hand-selected, skilled artisans from Cambodia, India and the U.S. with a global online marketplace for their goods. All the eco-friendly products are sustainably created. In addition, WE’VE collaborates with the artists to support their families and local communities.

WE’VE Founder and CEO Eve Blossom said, “As consumers, we have redefined ourselves as citizens of the world. More and more people are interested in products and services that align with their values. We are considering our purchases in a holistic sense, examining the price of products not only in terms of the amount paid at the register, but also the total cost of production along the way, including pesticides and poisons used, sweatshops employed, and other, broader human consequences. A whole industry has grown around this revelation, as businesses are being built on a smarter framework of ecological, economic and social sustainability. The most fulfilling goods and services are those that connect us in relevant ways to other people and help us live in concert with our values .”

Source: http://www.forbes.com/
Image Credit: Studio Emp,  Kendal Lovejoy, Varun Chandran, Jason Klein,  Rick Dean

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!