Tuesday, May 31, 2016

7 Surprisingly Common Problems That Restaurants Face

Do you have some of these common restaurant problems?

The food industry is a high-risk business proposition. You’ve got a lofty level of competition and a lot of details to perfect. According to an often quoted study, 60% of businesses fail in the first year. How do you ensure your restaurant’s success?

You can help increase your chance of success by understanding seven of the surprisingly common problems restaurants face and developing strategies to combat these issues.

Common Problem #1: The Menu

One of the most common problems restaurant owners face is the menu. A good menu is a balancing act. Do you have too many or too few menu items? Are your dishes priced appropriately? Does your menu have a coherent theme?

Keep your menu size in check. Instead of offering a five-page menu, consider offering a smaller number of dishes and doing them really well. People need to know what your restaurant is about – keep your menu aligned with your restaurant’s unique proposition.

Lacking focus, large menus take longer to order from. They also require more ingredients. The more items on your menu, the more ingredients you have to buy.

A too-large menu means longer ticket times. When you have too many different dishes cooking at the same time and not enough of the same items in the same pans, you’ll spend more time producing orders. Each table takes longer to serve, and you’ll turn them over at a slower rate.

Concentrate on the layout of your menu. Is it easily readable? Here are some tips for your restaurant menu:

  • Group your most profitable items together.
  • Don’t use dollar signs.
  • Let your menu be a tour guide. This can be accomplished through photos and/or creative text. Consider hiring a copywriter to craft a compelling menu.
  • Keep your menus clean – no grease and no food or water stains. Get rid of worn or torn menus.
  • Update your menu and prices at least once a year.
  • Build your menu around popular items.
  • Make sure your staff is thoroughly trained and has memorized the menu.
  • Don’t forget to put your menu on your website and make sure it is easily accessible from a mobile phone.(tweet this)

Travelers using their mobile phones are more likely to visit your restaurant if they can see at a quick glance what you are offering.

Common Problem #2: Customer Service

First impressions are important. Poor customer service is often a deal breaker for customers. Your food may be outstanding, your table settings exquisite and your ambiance delightful, but if your service is bad, customers will remember.

The key to success is happy customers who want to return again and again. To ensure your success, your entire team – from management to hostess to wait staff and busboys – must be dedicated to your customers’ well-being. Every contact your staff makes with customers must be pleasant, welcoming and accommodating.

The way you handle your customers along every step of their dining experience has an impact on whether you’ll retain that customer. If they weren’t greeted when they walked in and when they left, they might mention it in an online review. As the digital arena continues to grow, online reviews are consistently important to your success.

Common Problem #3: A Unique Selling Point

Are you a bakery or a bar? A diner or romantic experience? Your customers need to know why they should eat at your restaurant and not at your competitor’s.

While a superb menu and excellent customer service are vital to your success, they are not a unique selling point. They are merely meeting the expectations of your customers. It is time to exceed them.

You need an original idea – something even better than great food and service. Come up with a unique reason for people to eat at your restaurant. Consider Sonic. They offer a nostalgic 50’s feeling. Burger King tells you, “You’ll have it your way.” Chipotle is known for integrity with its food.

A unique selling point offers your customers a feeling that enables them to remember you long after they are gone. Let your food, your service, and your unique selling point and identity make an emotional connection with your customers.

Common Problem #4: Management

Don’t overlook one of the most important pieces of the puzzle – management. You need to know how to analyze your business to make sure it runs profitably. Many small restaurants don’t pay attention to the following items as they manage the day-to-day operation of their restaurant:

  • How many customers are you feeding each day? Break it down by mealtime.
  • Keep track of ordered menu items. No one ordering the fish fillet? Maybe it’s time to take it off the menu.
  • What are your most profitable menu items?
  • What does it cost to make each menu item? What’s the profit margin?
  • Do you have a budget for labor? Are you sticking to it?
  • How much do you spend on labor compared to your restaurant sales?
  • How much loss is involved in your inventory?
  • Do you have sales goals? Are you meeting them?
  • What is your profit and loss for each week you are open?

Common Problem #5: Hiring and Training Staff

Most successful restaurant owners know the importance of hiring and training the right employees. Yet, a common problem exists as many restaurants hire the wrong people and have a high turnover rate. An incompetent staff can also irreparably damage your current and future customer base.

When you put great emphasis on your staff, you’ll reduce costs over time and enhance your diners’ customer service experience. Pay extra attention to finding the perfect employees and don’t settle for a warm body. Once hired, train your staff and offer training manuals, checklists, goals and incentives.

Inspire your staff as well as your management team. Train them to address any situation, good or bad, that arises. Make sure they are enthusiastic and motivated to pursue your goals and adhere to your restaurant’s unique concept.

Establish and maintain a solid management structure so everyone knows and understands their own, as well as their team member’s responsibilities. Your management team should be exemplary, committed, motivational and adept at running the restaurant in your absence.

Common Problem #6: Marketing

Many owners fail to pay enough attention to marketing making this a common problem in the restaurant world. Following are a few areas to attend to now in order to avoid the pitfalls that not-enough marketing incurs:

  • Formalize your brand standards. This includes mission statement, logo, graphics, guidelines, etc.
  • Make a marketing plan. Daunting? Start small and work up to a six month or yearlong plan.
  • Get a responsive website that looks great on desktop, tablet and mobile phone.
  • Engage in social media and digital marketing.
  • Start an email database.
  • Create a customer loyalty program.

 Be creative with your marketing. Whatever your budget, there are inexpensive ways to market your restaurant.(tweet this)

Common Problem #7: Capital

Finally, we come to an area where many restaurant entrepreneurs run into big problems. This looming problem is capital, and more specifically, a lack of it. Restaurant owners need enough capital to run their business so it can fully establish itself. Owners should plan to have at least enough money to run for one year. Additionally, restaurant owners need to have enough financial resources to cope with unexpected costs and increases.

Source: http://restaurantengine.com
Image Credit: bloomsbury & Geoff Peters

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, May 24, 2016

How Can Entrepreneurs Improve Their Personal Relationships? 8 Experts Weigh in.

It’s not uncommon for committed entrepreneurs to pour everything into their business. And by everything, I mean everything -- because running a business becomes an obsession. Entrepreneurial fervor can dominate your daily thoughts, conversation, time and financial stability. And it can adversely affect your relationships.

It’s not that entrepreneurs don’t want to spend more time with loved ones, it’s that there aren't enough hours in the day -- and taking a break from your business can feel like a step backward.

I began to experience this problem myself in 2014 when I launched my copywriting and content marketing business -- as I hyper-focused on my work ethic, many close friends became distant. My dating life suffered, too.

That's why I asked other entrepreneurs for their best advice to overcome this challenge. Following is a collection of tips and quotes from eight successful founders, CEOs,and solopreneurs about how to improve your personal relationships while remaining productive and dedicated to your entrepreneurial efforts.

1. Assess your priorities.

Almost every entrepreneur surveyed mentioned prioritizing goals as one of the most effective tactics for making time for and maintaining personal relationships. Social Media Examiner founder Mike Stelzner explained it best when he said, “You can’t start something new without stopping something else.”

So, when you tackle new challenges, such as starting a business, you need to drop other activities from your day-to-day routine. To better maintain your work-life balance, assess your daily tasks by setting those priorities you must accomplish for both your mental sanity and business success.

Prioritizing can help you hone-in on what is really important and reduce unnecessary stress when other tasks compete for your attention. This process also helps identify whether any of your basic needs are out of whack -- for example, when you skip meals, slack on physical fitness or miss time with your loved ones. If any of these are true in your life, you may need to make a change and reassess how your business is affecting your life.

2. Create boundaries to align business goals and personal relationships.

To keep a balanced approach to your priorities as they relate to both your personal and business needs, you should set clear limits differentiating the two. For example, social media keynote speaker Neal Schaffer suggests entrepreneurs maintain a consistent schedule and boundaries to keep up with their personal commitments and avoid overworking.

“Create boundaries for your business that exist in a 9-to-5 corporate world," Schaffer says "such as deciding the hours you will work each day and sticking to it. Additionally, I make sure that I meet a friend or someone in my network for lunch on a weekly basis.”

If you struggle to cram your work into eight hours, you can add “no work” blocks into your calendar. For example, every few hours, go for a 15-minute walk -- or follow Schaffer's advice and take a two-hour lunch twice a week to connect with friends or a spouse. Those blocks can help you recharge, avoid burnout and improve your personal relationships while ensuring that you still allocate enough time for your other priorities.

Schedule a minimum of 90 minutes per day, with larger blocks (or even full days) cut out every five to 10 days. Experiment with different types of breaks to see what works best for you.

3. Separate work life from home life.

One of the benefits of being your own boss can be the freedom to work from home. If you decide that your living room also doubles as your office, you should be aware that the lines between work and home life can become blurred. So, again, differentiating the two is an important step, particularly when your family or roommates are home with you.

This was one of the more difficult challenges for freelance writer Kristi Hines to overcome. “I had a hard time 'leaving' work on a daily basis," she says. "I ended up renting an office outside of my home, which has helped me separate myself at the end of the work day, so I can focus on spending time with the family without thinking about emails, blog posts and so forth.”

If you don’t have the luxury of renting your own office space, you can still create separation by setting ground rules for yourself and other housemates.

Develop an at home work routine.
Get properly showered and dressed at an appropriate hour for work, even if you’re just moving 
from your bed to your living room.

Create an office environment. 
Make a space that is designed solely for work; avoid your bed and the couch.

While there are many other ways to work from home, these tips can help you and your housemates better distinguish when it’s time for work and when it’s time for rest or family. These can help you avoid conflict later.

4. Host your own parties.

For entrepreneurs who maintain a large network of friends and professionals, on top of their business and personal relationships, finding balance can be even more challenging.

Convince and Convert founder Jay Baer says he finds that it can be difficult to keep up with larger networks, particularly when he is on the road, traveling. He suggests that entrepreneurs manage their personal connections and networks by hosting events.

“The most efficient way to keep your relationships up is to have a lot of your friends in the same room," Baer says.. "So, even if it’s not in your nature, learn to throw great parties, and do it at least three or four times each year. Invite everyone you know, and you get to catch up with a lot of folks in one day.”

If you’re frequently on the road, plan for a family get-together or a night out with a group of your friends when you return. Your events don’t need to be extravagant or even scheduled on a weekly basis, but making a concerted effort to spend more time with your network can help alleviate the distance friends may be feeling when you are particularly busy.

Baer also mentions that managing relationships can be accomplished to some degree through online channels, such as Skype, Blab or Facetime. Face-to-face interaction, albeit digital, can be a powerful way to build stronger relationships with your connections -- particularly when compared to a text message, email or phone call.

5. Prioritize mutually beneficial relationships.

One of the most rewarding feelings while networking for your business is creating a win-win situation for all parties involved. This same principle can be applied while developing your personal relationships as well.

Brian Honigman, content marketing consultant and CEO of Honigman Media, adds: “Like everyone else, my time is limited and valuable. Being an entrepreneur has helped me reflect on relationships in my life to better understand if they are mutually beneficial and make both people happy. I've done my best, which is far from perfect, to make time for the people in my life that really matter and let some relationships fall to the wayside, as they didn't mean much to either of us.

"I've become more selective and more focused on the important friendships in my life, and you should too.”

Nearly all respondents mentioned letting go of past connections as a recurring challenge, but also a necessary step in their process to building stronger personal relationships.  

So, start by thinking about the people closest to you. Are you open with them about the needs of your business? Are you devoting an appropriate amount of your energy toward those individuals? Are some of these people connected to your business in any manner?

Identifying who makes the cut can be a gut-wrenching operation; however, it can help you better determine which people really need your full-time support and alleviate any anxiety you may have built when paying less attention to the others.
For example, you should worry less about grabbing a beer with an old high school friend and focus more on giving your aging grandmother a hug and attention. Finding your key relationships can help your develop your own support group -- an “inner circle” if you will.

6. Focus on your support group -- cut negativity.

Founder of Social Selling Labs Koka Sexton offers a similar perspective to that of Honigman and advises that entrepreneurs focus on people who really support their ambitious efforts.

“For the people who do support you, you need to make time for them," Sexton says. "I believe that the people who are there for you as an entrepreneur are going to be more understanding when you can't go out as often or do the activities they are used to having you around for.”

Sexton goes on to mention that entrepreneurs should remove any negative people from their life, which can be difficult: “It’s not easy to let go of friendships, but if you want to be successful, you cannot allow yourself to be around these negative people.”

Start by identifying your support group. This could include your spouse, your mother, your best friend. Make sure that you establish boundaries in your work schedule to incorporate the needs of these people.

Next, assess the individuals who bring negativity into your life, and determine whether they are worth your limited time and energy.

Finally, ask yourself whether you should continue to allow those people to bring their negativity -- or if they are serving as a motivating factor and pushing you forward.

This process can help you clear your conscience when you begin letting relationships become distant, and also help you really appreciate the people that have always been there for you.

7. Recognize that quality outweighs quantity.

Entrepreneurs are often reminded that there are only 24 hours in a day -- and while you can’t cram more hours into your day, you can focus on improving the efficiency, productivity and quality of our relationship and business efforts.

Fellow Entrepreneur contributor and co-founder of ContentMarketer.io Sujan Patel adds, “While there has been an overall reduction in the amount of time I spend with my friends and family, the quality has drastically improved, which has resulted in much stronger relationships with a handful of people I truly care about.”

Focus on creating quality relationships with the individuals you are closest with. Turn off your cell phone at the dinner table, remove yourself from work banter, engage in quality conversation, ask thoughtful questions, listen more and enjoy every moment that you get with them.

Offering a quick lesson in efficiency, Patel mentions that he has developed several personal relationships with his professional peers. This “blending of relationships,” he says, has helped him become really good friends with the people he works with.

8. Allow others to pick up your slack.

Tailored Ink founder Han-Gwon Lung adds a final lesson that managers, leaders and entrepreneurs can really get behind: Delegate tasks to keep your sanity and your closest relationships. “The only way I achieve work-life balance while running my own company (and scaling it) is by finding people more talented than myself in some areas and having them do the work for me," he says. "Then, I get the hell out of their way.”

You may have to trust me on this one, but it’s okay to not be perfect at everything -- and you shouldn’t have to bear the load of your entire business on your own -- at least not forever. Start by assessing your core weaknesses and rank them in order of priority for your business. Remember that prioritization is a recurring theme.

For example, your list could look like this: 1) web coding; 2) graphic design; 3) administrative tasks; 4) email marketing.

It’s important to recognize that even tasks that you can accomplish on your own may not fit your optimal skill set. So, put them on your list if they cause frustration or angst, or take too long to accomplish effectively. From there you can better determine how much time to spend on each task and whether you should get outside help to improve your efficiency.

Finding new ways to manage your weaknesses can free up additional time for you to spend with your closest personal relationships while simultaneously growing your empire.


Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is an organization consisting of professionals and entrepreneurs which focuses on the success of our Members. We help our Members establish lasting relationships and generate new business opportunities towards the growth of their business.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Monday, May 23, 2016

5 Tips for Building Strong Relationships With Clients

Forming strong relationships in every area of life is an essential component to success. The relationships you've formed with various types of people in many different areas of your life can serve as a foundation for your creating strong ties with clients.

It's always worthwhile, though, to reflect on what truly makes a relationship last.
Forging solid business relationships seems simple on the surface, but these ties require time, effort and tact. Developing and maintaining these connections can sometimes feel draining and even burdensome, but the rewards can be significant. A personal connection, whether developed over weeks, months or years, can lead to positive word-of-mouth, increased sales, additional connections, job security and satisfaction.

Keep the following tips in mind and strengthen the most important aspect of your business: the relationships you have with your customer base:

1.Treat others the way you want to be treated. This classic lesson seems like the simplest of tasks: Yet it is often the one forgotten. When engaging in business with a customer, put yourselves in the person's shoes and provide the same level of service and respect that you would want.

2. Honesty is key. Stretching the truth about your products or services in any way can seriously hinder your reputation. If you can be honest and realistic about any services that your business cannot provide, customers will appreciate this and a foundation for a lasting relationship can develop.

3. Remember that your customers are people, not numbers. After a first conversation with a client, remember not only the name but something about the individual as a person. Remembering a fact about the person will prompt you to recall how your business can suit the person's needs. And these little details can have a big impact on building the relationship.

4. Keep things lighthearted. Nothing is more upsetting than asking for a product and having a clerk or owner be rude. In contrast poking fun at yourself will help the client feel more comfortable so that he or she can better open up to you about a need.

5. Be cognizant of body language. People can tell, consciously and subconsciously, how you feel about being around them. Keeping your arms and legs uncrossed, smiling and making eye contact are great ways to ensure that a customer remembers interacting with you.

Each connection is unique and should be treated as such. Often the best tactic is to just be yourself and not overthink things. Take a genuine interest in a relationship and the rest will take care of itself.

While meaningful relationships, professional or otherwise, require significant time and effort to build, they often fall apart much more quickly. Take a relationship for granted, expect too much or appear apathetic, and rapport will deteriorate in a hurry.

Forming long-lasting, meaningful relationships is vital to any organization's success. So avoid these pitfalls to instead reap the rewards of positive, mutually beneficial business relationships throughout your career.


Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is an organization consisting of professionals and entrepreneurs which focuses on the success of our Members. We help our Members establish lasting relationships and generate new business opportunities towards the growth of their business.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Friday, May 20, 2016

The 5 Keys to Building Really Great Relationships

Good relationships are the foundation of any great business. How are yours doing?

Do you sometimes feel like you could be much closer to someone than you actually are? That a relationship with coworker feels disconnected, or could be greatly improved, but you just don't know how? Check out these five key things every great relationship has, and see how many you can apply to your own.

1. Communication

Although this is the most obvious of things, many people forget how important communication is when connecting with someone. People, in general, are not inherently bad; if they do something that's not to your liking, chances are that they have no idea what they're doing hurts you. Verbalizing the things you want--or don't want--is the sure way to make sure that everyone is on the same page.

2. Quality time

Nobody likes feeling like they're second priority. Spend time with those that you hope to build relationships with, and actually be present for the experiences you share together. Put down your phone, aim to be fully present, and get beyond surface level 
conversation. You'll undoubtedly reach a stronger relationship as a result.

3. Laughter

Laugh a lot with someone else--that's the easiest way to know you like them. You can spend time doing fun things, like watching comedies or going to concerts, or simply talking and enjoying each other's company. Knowing that you both are sharing in the same revelry is absolutely essential to fostering camaraderie.

4. Generosity

Even though you may not think that people notice, it pays to be kind. People always remember when you buy them a cup of coffee, loan them an umbrella when it's raining, or reward them for landing a new account. Being generous with each other is an easy, but usually sincere, way to show that you care about and value this person without needing to say much at all.

5. Commitment

Following through is one of the most important aspects of relationship building that gets neglected today. The ability to commit to your words--whether it's something as simple as getting lunch or something as important as a promised promotion--is inarguably the thing people look for most in good relations. Don't make the mistake of being the one who flakes.

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

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is an organization consisting of professionals and entrepreneurs which focuses on the success of our Members. We help our Members establish lasting relationships and generate new business opportunities towards the growth of their business.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Master the Art of Relationships Because Business is Not a Solo Sport

Imagine having a power Rolodex full of influencers and market makers. For younger readers, a Rolodex is what we used to keep our contact information in the old days. Today, you probably keep your power Rolodex on your smartphone.

Now, imagine that you are about to make a big move in your business, and you would love to have those influencers help you get the word out and even help you establish credibility with your audience. Relationships are an essential part of a business, and having real relationships with influencers opens up new possibilities.

In case you want to be considered an authority or a thought leader yourself, click on this list of 10 ways to position yourself as the authority in your market. It should help you understand the art of relationships -- a critical factor to your success. Nothing gets done without relationships, because business is not a solo sport.

Are you wondering how you create meaningful relationships with others? Well, it starts with intention. Look for areas to serve others and be valuable to them. And, you must do it well in advance of ever calling upon that relationship.

I reached out to Selena Soo, founder of S2 Groupe, who understands this art of relationships. Selena is a publicity strategist who works with visionary entrepreneurs.

“You have to go above and beyond to create deep relationships.” Selena says.
Selena has her own power Rolodex stored in her phone and can call upon those influencers when needed. After talking with her, she is also thoughtful and valuable to these influencers. This is seen by their actions when Selena was ready to launch her business and even as it continues to grow. 

Selena is a master of going above and beyond with top influencers. She considers these cherished relationships, not just Facebook friends or Twitter buddies. Here are a two examples of ways Selena has nourished these relationships -- and one way she leveraged her network when in a jam.

The feedback that blew him away.

It started with a chance meeting on the streets of Manhattan. Selena has followed Ramit Sethi’s blog for some time. Ramit is a New York Times bestselling author and the founder of iwillteachyoutoberich.com, and Selena was a big fan. They chatted, and Selena was invited to Ramit’s New York meet-ups to hang out with his friends.

Selena purchased a training course that Ramit offered and kept the conversation going. One day, Ramit reached out to her to get feedback on a new website. Selena could have looked at the site and typed up a few quick comments, but she believes in exceeding expectations. She took the time to gather some friends for a quick focus group, where she documented the conversation amongst them. She gave him pages of notes on the website -- and it blew him away. 

Ice cream and the dinner party.

In 2014, Selena appeared on an extremely popular podcast, Entrepreneur on Fire hosted by John Lee Dumas. Instead of just a thank you card, she wanted to do something memorable. Selena sent over her favorite gourmet ice cream like goat cheese and red cherries. Well, that got the relationship started off at a different level.

When John Lee planned to be in New York, he immediately thought of connecting Selena. Selena had an even better idea. She decided to throw a dinner party for him. This small event was a great way to connect John Lee to other influencers in Selena’s network and a fantastic example of going “above and beyond.”

Getting out of a jam.

Recently, she hosted an event in New York inviting her clients and guests to learn from her about building relationships. The irony of this is Selena’s ability to fill the stage with influencers like Derek Halpern, founder of SocialTriggers.com, and Ryan Lee, a serial entrepreneur that has amassed several businesses that net him more than seven-figures per month. 

What is interesting here is that Selena was in a jam with her event, she had 200 people in the room flying in from around the world and the main speaker could not make it. And she needed a big name to step on stage in a few days. Derek does not do much public speaking now and has publicly stated he has seriously limited his appearances. However, because of the relationship that was established long before… Derek ended up speaking to save the day. He would only do that if he had a strong and committed relationship with Selena.

I hope these examples give you ideas about building deeper relationships with the influencers in your market. 

Your network can help you out when you need them if you invest into those relationships with the expectation of not being paid back. If you go above and beyond, those relationships will want to do the same for you. 

Image Credit: shutterstock

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is an organization consisting of professionals and entrepreneurs which focuses on the success of our Members. We help our Members establish lasting relationships and generate new business opportunities towards the growth of their business.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

5 Steps to Seriously Improve Your Networking Skills

No matter what profession you’re in, networking is the fuel that accelerates success. Not only is it useful for learning directly from individuals you meet, but the benefits of association and growing your own authority are just as powerful.

For some of us, the word networking can leave a bad taste in our mouths. Many of us aren’t sure where to start, what to say when we connect with someone or how to maintain that relationship. Although I truly believe there’s an art and science to networking and building authentic relationships, I’m going to distill what I’ve learned over the past few years. So, here is my no-BS guide to networking.

Stage 1: Mindset

Before you think about networking, remove the word "working" from your system. We hear people talking about putting on their "networking game," and I can't help but wonder how many showers they'll need to take afterward to rid themselves of the inauthenticity. It's likely that the people you're trying to reach get approached by dozens, if not hundreds, of people just like you; and it's not difficult for them to weed out the people who are "putting on a face."

The best networking comes from genuine relationships, not a business card exchange. No matter whom you’re trying to build a relationship with, treating that person as a friend rather than a business contact will take you much further with the relationship. So, think about how you would approach a potential friend. Find something you have in common with, keep it light, make jokes, and above all, show that you care.

Stage 2: The destination

Doing something for the sake of doing it is rarely a good idea, nor is it a good use of your time. It’s the old analogy of having a fully gassed car without a final destination to head toward.

As many of you may already know, I’m a big believer in goal setting and focusing on pouring energy into accomplishing the stated goal. What is your dream job? How do you envision your future? What do you need to be doing to be the most fulfilled, happy and driven version of you? Write down what your goal is for five years from now. Then write down what goal you need to hit one year from now in order to get you closer to your five-year goal. Finally, write down what goal you need to hit 90 days from now in order to get you closer to your one-year goal.

For example: Let’s say your goal is to make $1 million in five years. You would need a vehicle, whether that is your own business, investments or something financially viable to get you to your destination. In this case, your goal one year from now might be to have your business launched and to hit $5,000 per month in sales. 

So, what would you need to do in the next 90 days in order to hit $5,000 per month in your new business, one year from now? It might be finding the right partner with a complementary skill sets, or acquiring your first paying customer in the next 90 days.

5-year goal: Make $1 million

1-year goal: Hit $5,000/month ($60,000 per year) in sales with new business

90-day goal: Get your first paying customer

Now, it’s time to write down your goals. Yes, physically write them!

Stage 3: The map

Now that you have your final destination for five years from now, including focused, short-term goals to get you there, design your map. Keith Ferrazzi has a powerful strategy called the Networking Action Plan (NAP), which he explains in Never Eat Alone, to connect your networking strategy with your goals. 

Step 1 is to write down your goals and final destination (which you completed in Stage 2). Step 2 is to look at the three goals you have written down. Then, next to each of your goals, write down three people who will either kickstart or accelerate your goal. These could be people you are already connected with, who are second-degree connections from you, or people you have no connections to.

Examples of who your top 3 could be include mentors or advisors, clients who will advocate for you, investors who believe in your vision, team members who may be co-founders or key hires, a boss or manager who could propel you to a raise or strategic position within your organization or superconnectors that will connect you with any of the above, to build your network. 

If you’re looking to start a company, the three people could be a potential partner, an investor and a potential client. For a best-selling book, the three could be your agent, promotional partners or editor.

It’s important to invest some time doing thorough research to be confident that the three people are essential in helping you accomplish your goals faster.

Stage 4: Building a human connection

Hw do you foster a real connection when you speak with someone -- whether it’s on Skype or on the phone or in-person? Personally, I think it boils down to these factors:

  • Ask insightful questions (to get the other person thinking). You can know a lot about a person by the quality of the questions he or she asks. Tony Robbins often shares that the quality of your questions correlates to the quality of your life.

  • Ask better questions, receive better answers. Peter Thiel challenges us to ask ourselves: “How do we accomplish our 10-year goals in six months?” By asking better questions when you’re speaking with someone, you not only put yourself in a category of someone that thinks differently, but you force the other person to think in a new way that helps him or her grow.

  • Pay attention (as if your life depended on it). This may come naturally for some people, or be extremely difficult for others. 

In our smartphone era, paying attention is a demanded “skill” many of us lack. How many times have you spoken with someone who is constantly fidgeting, looking around or interrupting your every sentence? By simplying maintaining eye contact, listening attentively and responding with relevant questions, you’re separating yourself from the rest of the pack and are well on your way to fostering a genuine relationship.

Listen. Ask good questions. Repeat.

Stage 5: Superconnecting

The fastest way to grow your own network is to introduce two people who can benefit from each another. As simple as this strategy sounds, it's one you hardly see most people do. When’s the last time someone deliberately went out of his or her way to introduce you to someone after listening to your struggles? If you’re the rare breed that has experienced this, you’ve met a superconnector. 

With over three billion people online today, it’s increasingly difficult to separate the fog from the light, and the role of superconnectors will become increasingly important to make that distinction. Here are few of the most powerful ways to become a superconnector yourself.

  • Don’t keep score. This is by far the key difference between superconnectors and everyone else. Superconnectors have an abundance mentality, and they’re always willing to give, connect and share.

  • Make friends, not “contacts.” In other words, value quality over quantity. Put away your business cards, and form genuine friendships with people you meet. I force myself to never talk about business in the first encounter with someone, unless I have to. It’s 10 times more valuable to develop connections with five quality people at an event than 50 “contacts” whose names you won't remember.
  • Connect other superconnectors. Do you know two connectors who could benefit from meeting? Have they already met? Introducing two superconnectors will be the easiest connection you make because: They are naturally friendly and most likely will have friends in common. And you'll not only help others further their goals, but will come to mind for them, for future potential connections that will benefit you.
  • Interview people. This may be one of the fastest ways to grow your network, if done strategically. You could do this in the context of a research paper, book or, my personal favorite, a podcast. I’ve been fortunate enough to connect with the likes of Eric Ries, Adam Braun, Jason Fried, Gary Vaynerchuk and others who would have been difficult to connect with had I not started #SKIM Live. 

  • Follow-up. This is the missing step we all forget to do. But following up to see how the introduction went, or randomly following up a few months later with no agenda will not only help you maintain your connections, but foster the relationship to a different level. In a world of take take take, being able to show that you care about someone as a friend will put you in a whole different category with any of your connections.

Can you think of someone you need to follow up with right now?

Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com

Image Credit: Shutterstock.com

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is an organization consisting of professionals and entrepreneurs which focuses on the success of our Members. We help our Members establish lasting relationships and generate new business opportunities towards the growth of their business.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The 10 Communication Skills Every Entrepreneur Must Master

Contrary to their portrayal in pop culture, entrepreneurs aren’t purely “idea people,” dreaming up revolutionary new concepts and introspectively coming to profound conclusions about their industry -- though they are that, at times. Instead, entrepreneurs spend most of their days in the trenches, working hard with others to make those ideas a reality. How entrepreneurs communicate tends to dictate whether or not they are ultimately successful; even great ideas can flounder if a leader isn’t communicating effectively.

That said, there’s more to communication than just “communication” -- there are actually several distinct skills within the subject that you’ll have to master, sometimes independently:


Conversation is one of the most basic forms of communication, but don’t underestimate it. A simple, friendly conversation with your employees can build trust and expose issues before they become serious. An innocuous bit of small talk with a stranger can turn into a sales opportunity. Learn to speak in an approachable, friendly way that you can apply to any situation.

2. Body Language 

Much of communication is nonverbal, so mastering your body language presentation is a must. In any situation, posture matters -- sit or stand up straight with your shoulders back and your head high and straight. Look people in the eye. Don’t fidget. Keep your hands out of your pockets. And these are just the basics! Mastering body language can allow you to command a room.

3. Writing 

You don’t have to be a perfect writer, but you do need to learn to be direct and concise in written forms. You’ll be emailing and texting people within and outside your organization regularly, and it’s important that you communicate your ideas clearly in this medium, with minimal opportunities for misinterpretation.

4. Presenting

You’ll be presenting in a few different formats as an entrepreneur, but they can be collectively grouped into one skill. You may be presenting company financials to your top employees or investors. You may present your business’ services to an interested buyer. You may even give a speech about entrepreneurship at a speaking event. In all these cases, clarity, conciseness, confidence and poise are all key.

5. Negotiating

You have to negotiate for almost everything in a business, so the better you are at negotiating, the more successful your business will be. You’ll be able to secure better terms for your office’s lease, more reasonable salaries for your most talented employees and even more lucrative options for your top clients. Negotiating effectively is more than just using the right words; it employs timing, a knowledge of the right facts and the ability to remain confident throughout the process.

6. Mediating

Though your role as a mediator will be less often necessary than your role as a converser, for example, there will be times when you have to step up and resolve a conflict. It might be between two employees with differing opinions about whose responsibility something is. Or it might be between two competing vendors who suffered a lapse in communication. In any case, you’ll have to acknowledge both sides and help them work out their own problems.

7. Debating

Debating here doesn’t necessitate arguing. It can be a healthy discussion of two or more alternative options in a productive, respectful setting. Your job in a debate isn’t to win against the enemy -- it’s to present your case and opinions clearly. Doing so, whether you're dealing with investors, partners or employees, can help you elucidate your ideas with greater strength and clarity.

8. Leading

Your responsibilities as a leader are multifaceted, but from a communications perspective, your biggest responsibilities are instilling confidence, trust and passion in your team. You’ll be inspiring people through everyday messages, public and private, and retaining your poise as a leader throughout those situations is key to achieving and maintaining a powerful image.

9. Cross-platforming 

Today’s field of communication is much wider than the fields available to generations past. Phone calls, texts, emails, video chats, instant messages and other mediums are all commonplace, and you’ll need to know which ones are appropriate for which applications. Choosing the right medium and implementing it properly is key.

10. Listening

Listening might be the most important communication skill of all, since it ties into so many applications and situations. Active listening can help you converse, debate, lead, negotiate and mediate, and it makes you seem more thoughtful, empathetic and invested in the people around you.

If you have a reasonable mastery of these 10 critical communication skills, you’ll be in a good position to succeed in your position as entrepreneur. As happens with any other skill, it’s impossible to perfect these abilities without practicing them; you’ll have to practice them actively, honing and fine-tuning your approach along the way. Don’t expect perfection right away; just do the best you can and be aware of how you present yourself, and the rest will come in time. 

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

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is an organization consisting of professionals and entrepreneurs which focuses on the success of our Members. We help our Members establish lasting relationships and generate new business opportunities towards the growth of their business.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

9 Networking Blunders That Undermine Your Reputation

I’ve been called the "queen of networking" for longer than I can remember. At one point, I felt like this was, perhaps, an insult, since so many people think networking is a bad word. But I later realized that’s simply because too many people do it poorly, thus giving networking a bad name.  After countless conversations, speeches, and seminars teaching people how to better network, here are the nine ways that you might be contributing to the bad wrap that networking gets.

1.You don't get buy-in.

One of the linchpins of networking is the ability to create value-add relationships for others, which begins with an introduction. That intention is pure and necessary. Where the error begins is when you blindly send a three-way email introduction (or worse, just give someone the third party’s contact info) so that you and your original conversation partner know the introduction is coming, but the third party is in-the-dark.

I much prefer to take the extra step of calling or emailing before making an introduction to get the buy-in from the third party. This preps everyone and makes the introduction seamless and more importantly, invited by all parties.

Of course, there are circumstances where this isn’t necessary because you are certain it’s a value-add to both parties and/or you have such a trusted relationship with the third party that you know it will be a warranted introduction. When deciding how to proceed, put yourself in the shoes of the third party and ask yourself, “If I got a blind email connecting me to this person by this person, how would I feel?”

2. You don't follow up.

Follow up is critical both to keep the momentum going once an introduction is made and to close-the-loop afterward. The biggest problem is when someone makes an introduction for you and you never let that person know what happened as a result. This is a fast way to inadvertently signal to that person that you don’t value their time or that they leveraged their reputation with the other party. Do a quick follow up and share what occurred (as well as to say thank you).

3. You keep bad company.

It’s no wonder that when we were kids, our parents were so concerned about whether or not we were hanging out with the ‘bad kids’. You are the company you keep, both by osmosis and by the perception of others. The good news is, if you keep great company, you get to ride on their reputational equity as well as glean great traits from them. But when we keep poor company, they bring us down and lessen the way others perceive us.  Consider doing some housekeeping.

4. You take too long.

I believe that 24 business hours is the maximum amount of time you have to follow up with someone before you begin to look like you don’t care or think you are too important. We are all busy and pulled in a lot of directions. But your reply can be as simple as, “I’m back-logged on email right now and wanted you to know that I saw your note. I will get back with you as soon as possible, and look forward to connecting soon!”.

5. You only look out for yourself.

One of the primary reasons networking has a sullied reputation is so many people who claim to be "networking" are simply out for their own advantage. It’s best to shift your mentality to being curious when you meet or connect with people. Ask them meaningful questions and really listen. See what you can learn and how you can find connection points. Always ask how you can help them in some way, not with an expectation of what you can get in return.

6. You only think up.

It’s not uncommon to think that the only way to advance is to buoy yourself to people with higher titles or more perceived power. While it’s fine to connect with people who are further along in their careers, don’t forget that there’s also value in meeting people in every direction of where you are in your career trajectory: down, laterally and up.

7. You underestimate the power of someone’s Rolodex.

When you meet someone, you’re not meeting just them, you’re meeting hundreds of people.  As we can see from social media, people have hundreds (if not thousands) of contacts. While some are naturally stronger than others, keep in mind that they are a gatekeeper to the people they know and to whom they could introduce you. Don’t write someone off because you don’t see immediate value.

8. You don’t do what you say you’re going to do.

This is a quick way to chip away at trust and lessen your credibility. If you say you’ll follow up with an email today, do it. If you say you’ll be at the dinner, be there and be on time.

9. You think you don’t need to network.

As someone who hosts monthly networking events in three cities for hundreds of people at each event, I often hear this when I extend invitations. When you say you “don’t need to network”you’re saying you will never be in need of the help of others nor do you want to meet anyone new to help them.

Networking is a fancy word for relationship building, so you’re basically saying that you are happy to live with the circle you’ve created and have put up a wall to anyone else. What you may mean is that you’re not currently looking for something you think you can gain from meeting new people (refer back to point 5) or that you don’t like big events, in which case, express that.

If you see yourself in any of these networking faux-pas, consider working on them in the New Year to expand your circle!

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

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is an organization consisting of professionals and entrepreneurs which focuses on the success of our Members. We help our Members establish lasting relationships and generate new business opportunities towards the growth of their business.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!