Friday, October 20, 2017

Can't Stand Networking Events? Pretend to Be Somebody Else



Networking events have a decidedly mixed reputation in business. Lots of people can't bear them for all kinds of reasons: Introverts worry about clamming up, extroverts about being bored, and hard-driving types about it being a waste of time. You might have your own reasons to finding any possible excuse for avoiding them.

But in-person networking is not going away anytime soon. Sure, social media networks are terrific because they allow you to connect with new clients, share interesting articles, and you never have to leave your desk.

But let's be real -- as you're scarfing your lunch and reading your former CEO's latest think piece on office culture, you still know deep down that the face-to-face experience of business socializing can make an important difference for sales, industry connections, new knowledge, and who knows what else.

One of the ways I've grown my business from a stack of file folders (remember those?) to a multi-million dollar consulting firm is by using the skills I've learned as an actor and improviser to make these events more productive -- and, dare I say, often quite fun. And the good news is that you can, too.

The first thing to do is to approach the event as a play or a film. It might feel strange to think about it in that way, but the metaphor holds up.

You'll be making an entrance into an unfamiliar space. You'll hear -- and soon be adding to -- a cacophony of dialogue over the course of the evening. The people will be arranged in pairs or small groups which will change and rearrange in an intricate and fluid choreography.

Seeing the event as a play or film means that your conversations will be a series of scenes, and that allows you to perform as a new character. Yes, I mean perform -- literally.

You can then make "performance choices" and try things you wouldn't normally do, which increase the effectiveness of your presence and experience. You might not be rapping about the Constitution in front of thousands of screaming Hamil-fans, but the choices you make in these scenes matter.

So congratulations! As a new cast member of "Networking: The Musical!" you suddenly have a Playbill full of possibilities for how to perform at your next event.

Here are a couple of my favorites:

 

1. The Gracious Host


You're not actually the host, but you're doing what a generous host would do.

You go out of your way to greet people. You engage them in conversation, not because you're looking to get something from them, but because as the host, you know that will make them more comfortable (remember, it's not just you who finds these events awkward).

You ask them questions about why and how they came, and what they're finding useful about being there. You know that people are here to meet each other, so you're keeping an ear out for people who might connect well.

Did that guy say he's in social media marketing? He might want to talk with the woman with the hot new app. Is this couple going hiking next weekend? Maybe they want to meet the folks who rent out a mountainside full of glamping cabins.

The best thing about playing The Gracious Host is that your motivation to chat with people is totally altruistic; you get all the benefits of being there, while banking good networking karma for the future.

 

 2. The Curious Journalist


Perform as someone who is fiercely and genuinely interested in who people are and what they do. You are curious. You are generous. You are brave.

You aren't afraid to ask questions that are a bit provocative. "Do you have any tips for people who are bad at networking?" "What did you think you'd be when you grew up?" "What was the best career advice you ever got?"

And as someone who's extremely curious, you ask follow-up questions as well, making sure they're closely connected to what the person just said and not answerable with a simple "yes" or "no."

Both the "Gracious Host" and the "Curious Journalist" have one important trait in common: They listen. When you play one of these characters, you're paying much more attention to the other person in the conversation than to yourself.

Because you have more important things to do with your attention -- like asking questions, or making connections, or helping everyone else feel comfortable -- your awkwardness, or boredom, or self-consciousness just fade away. And you're free to reap the rewards of a successful networking event.

As they say in another (extremely profitable) show: You're not throwing away your shot.





Source:https://www.inc.com
Image Source: Getty Images



ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The 17 Essential Rules for Email Marketing



Earlier today, a subscriber to my free newsletter asked me to critique his marketing email. (I do this as a free service to subscribers.) During our conversation, I felt the need for a complete list of the rules for effective email marketing. Here they are:

1. Prune your list mercilessly.


It's not the number of email addresses in your list that count; it's the percentage of email addresses belonging to prospects who might buy from you. Delete addresses that don't open your emails and make it easy for uninterested "prospects" to unsubscribe.

2. Send emails during off hours.


Numerous studies have shown that marketing emails are much more likely to be answered if they are sent when prospects are not juggling all the daily emails that get traded during normal work hours.

3. Have a short, relevant Subject line.


Numerous studies have also shown that emails are more likely to be opened if the Subject line is 2 or 3 words, as opposed a sentence. Ideally, the teaser (the first 20 words of the email; see #5 below) should complement and reinforce the Subject line's relevance.

4. Use the recipient's first name.


Unless you're marketing to a culture that values formality, start your marketing email with the first name of the prospect, followed by a comma. No honorific (like "Mr.") and absolutely no "Dear..." Write as if to a colleague, not your Great Aunt Mable.

5. Pack a benefit into first 20 words.


In most email readers, the Inbox display includes the sender, the time sent, the Subject line, and the first 20 words (or so) of the email. Prospects decide whether to open your email based on those four elements.

6. Don't pretend intimacy.


Stock phases like "Hope you are having a great summer" are not only insincere (why would you, a stranger, care?), they uselessly consume the valuable visual "real estate" that appears in the inbox summary of the email.

7. Show your uniqueness.


Your email must create the impression that you, personally, are worth the prospect's personal attention. Find something about you, your product or your company that might be uniquely interesting or compelling to the prospect. (But see #12 below.)


8. Write from the customer's viewpoint.


Prospects are interested in themselves, their own careers, their own business, and their own customers (in that order.) They will shrug off and ignore any message that's primarily about you, your business, your product, your enthusiasm, or your opinion.



9. Remove all features and functions.


In most cases, prospects have no idea why they would want or need any individual feature of your product or service. Unless (as is seldom the case) the prospect has already studied your product category, a list of features is just visual noise.

10. Avoid unfamiliar acronyms and buzzwords.


Most prospects stop reading an email the second they see an acronym or technical term they don't immediately recognize. For example, the term "CRM" means something to most business-folken; a term like "sales enablement system," in contrast, means squat.

11. Be precise rather than abstract.


Statements like "saves money and time" or "improves productivity" are so colorless and vague that they fade into the background. Instead, provide a real example that shows exactly what the prospect is likely to experience.


12. Don't toot your own horn.


People who don't know you don't believe your when you claim to be the best at anything. Worse, they're likely to assume you're either conceited or telling the opposite of the truth. For example, most people know it's a red flag when a salesperson claims to be "honest."


13. Try to start a conversation.


Unless you're marketing consumer goods, the purpose of email marketing is to get into a conversation with the prospect, not to sell to the prospect. Start with trading emails, then segue in the second or third email into an appointment for a brief telephone call.

14. Ask a yes/no question.


The lowest barrier to getting into a conversation is a simple question that requires a yes or no answer. Important: answering "yes" must not be an attempt to commit the prospect's time and energy. Example: "Is this of interest to you?" (good) "Can I send you some information?" (bad)

15. Include only 1 call-to-action.


The more calls-to-action that you stick into the email, the less likely it is that the prospect will take any of those actions. In almost every case, the most effective call-to-action will be for the prospect to reply to your email.


16. Never assign homework.


Contrary to popular belief, sending a prospect information will not convince them to consider your offering. Quite the contrary, sending a prospect "information" creates a barrier to having a conversation. You're saying: "Read this and then get back to me." Like that will happen.

17. Test, test, test.


First, test for open rate using different combinations of the Subject line and the first 15 words. Second, test for response rate using variations of yes/no questions. Finally, test for conversion rate by tracking which responses turn into purchases.


Don't have an Constant Contact email marketing account? Try for FREE!


 Source-https://www.inc.com
 Image Credit- Getty Images


ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

How To Run A Business Without Spending More Than 20 Minutes In Your Inbox Every Day



If you’re a business owner and you are finding yourself strapped for time, email should be one of the first things to go. For most people, it is not only the biggest time sink, but the least productive way they spend your hours. Email feels busy, but how many messages not worth responding to do you go through a day? How many could have been answered with form emails or directed to an FAQ?

I’ll be honest; I have little discipline when it comes to my inbox. I went as far as adding Gmail to an app that flashes warnings at me whenever I’m doing something labeled "not work." I still found myself cheating. My inbox was a constant distraction.

Since then, I’ve followed some guides and developed my own process. I'm getting everything finished and I spend only 20 minutes a day answering emails. It’s something you have to customize for your own situation, but I believe the following process can allow anyone to do the same.

Track How Much Time You’re Using 

 

You can’t fix a problem you don’t fully understand: You need to see firsthand how much time answering emails is taking away from productive endeavors. This is an easy step for anyone. Use any timer online or on your desk. Similar to when I first started counting calories, when I first started tracking my time spent on email, I realized my initial estimates were way off. I was spending about four hours a day just picking through my inbox. But even when I only checked my inbox at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., I was only part of the way there. I was still spending two hours a day looking at emails and found myself checking my inbox before bed as well.


Once you understand how much time you’re using, you can set a goal. I had a pretty big one: I wanted to go through my whole honeymoon without worrying about emails piling up. I broke up my milestones by months, and I measured with daily time spent on email. Last month, my goal was to get down to 30 minutes per day. I was a little bit ahead of schedule. Next month, I'll aim for 15 minutes, and then five. By August, I plan to spend no time in my inbox.

Eliminate And Automate


You’d be surprised how much lighter your inbox becomes when you make use of standard features like filters. For the first 30 days, try setting up filters daily. In Gmail, you can filter to archive, filter to labels, filter and forward to someone else, and the list goes on.

Have some fun and count how many emails you are receiving in a given week. Divide that by seven to get your average daily emails received. You can measure against this number at the end of week five. Unsubscribe from everything. If you must keep it, filter it to your archive. You can always run a search to find it later on. In my experience, you absolutely will not. I am still waiting to “need” a single thing from my archives.



Delegate


It might sound super fancy to have an assistant, but it really isn’t. If you are running a company, or several, I can almost guarantee this will save you more money than it costs. Pick up a copy of The 4-Hour Workweek, because Tim Ferriss had a lot to say about this topic. It inspired my method. I am still very much in the thick of it and am learning as I go.

This was by far the most time-consuming part of the process, but totally worth it. You need to work with your assistant to have them handle every email they reasonably can. You’ll need to be patient, as this takes a long time to learn. I am currently down spending only an average of 15 minutes (last night 42 minutes), two-to-three times per week going over emails my assistant doesn’t know what to do with (far from four hours, right?). Not one important email has been missed, yet I’ve saved hundreds of hours on emails in the past couple months.

Document

Your next 30 days is all about documentation. Create an FAQ for whoever you choose to delegate your mailbox to. Keep in mind, you don’t have to delegate right away. You may find that by the time you get to this step, your time savings are considerable and you can manage from here. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t document what you are doing. In the event you change your mind and/or your needs grow, you will be prepared to pass it off. I do this with everything.

I built my FAQ based on Tim Ferriss’ template that he shares in his book. Record login information for your various email accounts, the purpose of each account, some basics around setting appointments, a reply policy, when to check for mail, and other rules to follow. Finally, include the FAQ that is intended to provide context for your lifestyle and answer common questions so you don't have to go over the same ones over and over again.

Free yourself from the frustrating time sink that is email. Analyze all of the ways that you're spending your time. By tracking, automating, delegating and documenting, you can get your duties as a business owner narrowed down to the most important strategic decisions.





 Source: https://www.forbes.com
 Image Credit: Shutter stock

ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

You've Been Networking Wrong All Along -- Here's The Right Way To Do It



Nearly every entrepreneur in the world is familiar with The Oprah Effect which essentially describes the power of Oprah’s endorsement particularly when it comes to consumer goods and services. Imagine what a simple mention of your brand by Oprah would do for your business? But it’s not just Oprah. In today’s connected world essentially any influencer with a large committed following or tribe has the power to transform an entrepreneur into an idol overnight. Sure, we’ve all heard the saying “Your network is your net worth” but as an aspiring entrepreneur just starting out your business, how do you go from being a nobody to rubbing shoulders with the greats?

I turn to Selena Soo, a business and publicity strategist, for some expert advice on how to network the right way. Soo has helped her clients land multiple six-figure book deals, and get featured in big name articles and magazines such as O, The Oprah Magazine. Soo actually grew up in Hong Kong so she's very familiar with the ecosystem here. Her main focus is helping entrepreneurs develop strategic relationships that will take their business to the next level.

Be clear on who you want to connect with


The first thing you need to do is take a step back and think about about exactly who you want to network with and how they will directly enhance your business. Networking for the sake of networking is a waste of time. I can’t tell you the number of meaningless meetings that I took in my early years because I had the mentally that I just needed to be out there. All that got me was a stack of useless business cards and a whole lot of wasted time. Rather than do that, take a more intentional approach with who you target.

“I always encourage people to put together an influencer list of the people they want to connect with, but on their influencer list it's not only the most famous out of reach people that may take years to develop a relationship with. It's also people in your immediate circle, also people that are super connectors. Maybe they're not household name famous, but behind the scenes these are the people who are making it happen," says Soo

And while I’m an advocate of shooting for the stars myself, trying to go right in and connect with Tim Ferriss or Oprah Winfrey will take time, if it ever happens at all. Be realistic with who you connect with as well. There might be people within your closest circle of friends that can help you if you just formed a deeper relationship with them. Just remember to always keep in mind your end goal and use that filter to help you manage your time.

Give and you might receive
 
The second step is to add value. We’ve talked about how entrepreneurship is about serving others first. But let’s face it, all the important people that you want to connect with already know enough people. They don’t need another friend to be very honest. So what can you possibly offer them that they don’t already have? One of the surefire ways to perk up the ears of an influencer you are trying to connect with is good old fashioned flattery. Human beings love it. Whether it is praising them on social media or writing an epic article about them that you pitch to a major publication, all influencers no matter how big or small appreciate the affirmation. If you don’t have a social media following, a high traffic blog or any connections at media outlets, Soo has a very simple, yet powerful way for you to add value and that’s by expressing appreciation.




Source-https://www.forbes.com
Image Credit- Shutterstock

ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Why Do Professional Women Need Networking More Than Men?


 Even though it's 2017 and much progress has been made, it's no secret that professional women are still at a disadvantage in the workplace.

As countless studies have documented, the farther up the corporate ladder one goes, the fewer women you'll see. Women are underrepresented at all levels of business, from first-level managers to CEOs.

The same is true of entrepreneurs - just 40% of all American entrepreneurs are women, according to the 2016 Kauffman Index of Startup Activity.

While progress has certainly been made over the last several decades and even over the past few years, the glass ceiling is still stubbornly holding strong.

This is why networking, an important component of any professional's career, is even more important when it comes to women - whether they want to climb the ladder to the C-suite or start their own business.

Here are just a few of the reasons.

Women begin to fall behind from the earliest years of their careers. Networking can help stop this progression.


According to the recently released Women in the Workplace report by McKinsey & Co. and the Lean In Foundation, women start losing ground almost immediately upon entering the workplace. In entry-level positions, the ratio of men to women is 54% to 46%.

Just one step up the ladder, at the manager level, the percentage of women falls to 37%.

This is an institutional issue, one that's ingrained in our broader workplace culture. But networking is one step that we, as professional women, can ourselves take to challenge and change this reality.

By forcing ourselves to make connections with others in our company, especially at higher levels, we improve our chances of being the exception, rather than the rule.

Let's be honest: Statistically, our male colleagues are more likely to be promoted than we are. Networking with colleagues and superiors is something we've got to do more of if we want to attempt to level the playing field.


Women naturally tend to have fewer connections with work colleagues than men, and we're less confident about utilizing the ones we do have.


Even though women are generally strong collaborators and communicators, we tend to have fewer business-related connections than men do. In addition, our social connections tend to be divided into personal and work, with less overlap than most of our male colleagues.

This presents some challenges when it comes to building our careers or building our businesses. As research has shown, professional men are more likely to be comfortable asking someone in their business network for a favor or for advice - even if that connection is relatively weak. Women are often more hesitant to ask a connection for anything, often out of the fear of being perceived as opportunistic, or even weak.

If we're going to achieve equality in the workplace, we've got to push past these fears and learn to ask for the things we want. We need to put some time into building these work relationships, just like we do all the other relationships in our lives.


As professional women, we have a responsibility to the younger generations of women who are struggling with the same issues we are. We must pay it forward.




I know from experience how energizing it can be to have another woman whom you admire offer you guidance and support in your business endeavors. In fact, I've made it part of my mission to do the same for young women I meet who are starting out in their careers.

Of course, I'm hardly alone. Ask any successful professional, male or female, how they got to where they are, and chances are they had someone - or several someones - helping them along the way.

As professional women, we have so much to give to younger women who are just beginning their careers. Networking with them is just as important as networking with those who are in positions similar to our own, or positions we aspire to.

If we had a strong mentor who helped us achieve success, then we can honor that person by sharing our own gifts, talents, and experience with another. If we attained our position with little more than our wits and lots of hard work, then we can help make another woman's path a bit easier.

Networking is key to achieving our professional goals, and it's even more vital for ambitious women.




Source: https://www.inc.com
Image Credit: Getty Images
 
 ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

3 Steps to Make Networking Easier



Many people ask me for tips on how to have a successful and positive networking experience. One of the major components needed to succeed in networking is energy. Contrary to many beliefs, networking does not have to be hard. Most people who have difficulty networking create voids, shortages and obstacles for themselves that are not necessary. These unnecessary obstacles stop them from successfully connecting and networking with others.
Add a touch of inspiration.

The first step to networking is to decide whom you would like to meet and for what purpose. Once you utilize imagination principles, you will become inspired and able to attract those types of people into your life. Figure out beforehand what experimental values you can receive from meeting and talking with these people. Through discipline, strategy and awareness, you can figure out where the types of people that you want to meet hang out. Whether you think the best place to meet this person is at a bar, pool, club, library, church or wedding, it doesn't matter. Strategize how you will make the best use of not only their time, but your own time as well. The goal is to stay focused on the type of person you want to meet, as well as why meeting them could be a good opportunity. Use those reasons to become inspired and turn all of your possibilities into probabilities.

Have a good question.


Taking the time to plan prior to a meeting is important. When you do get approached by the person you want to meet, there are very simple steps to be statistically successful at networking. Smile, say hello and be prepared with questions that are more interested than interesting. Set yourself apart from the other thousands of people that this person meets. Think about one simple question to connect to the person such as "What do you do?” or “How are you?” or “Is there anything I can do for you?” Realize that the worst thing that could happen in this interaction is not all that bad.

Follow-up is important.


The final stage of networking that many people forget is the need to follow up. It is essential to have a system to codify all of the people that you meet, as well as how you're going to follow up with them. It may be as simple as using a pen and paper to help keep track of everyone you have talked to, or as complex as a CRM system. Even though you made a good first impression, a simple follow-up will let someone know that you appreciated meeting them and value your growing relationship. You don’t know how many other people that person has communicated with that day, so it is important to remind them of your interaction by following up. It could be something as simple as a brief email, which could have a big impact.

By combining imagination, inspiration and action principles, you can attract all the right people with the right ideas. Be someone who allows things to happen, instead of someone who makes things happen. Stop creating voids, shortages and obstacles, and start connecting to the people that can help you manifest everything you desire in life and business.






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


ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

How To Build A Personal Brand That Drives Business Growth


Competition across industries has never been more cutthroat, fierce  especially in the online space. If you want a chance at survival, build a high-value business, stand out from the competition and create a class of your own, you need to have a recognizable brand that customers trust.Customers, however, don't connect with brands anymore. Nowadays, brands live and die by the personalities that represent them. A big brand can spend millions trying to get you to remember their logo, but it's far easier to get people to recognize a face.

Humans are hard wired to trust and connect with faces, voices and words directly from a person. If you can build this trust and connect with your audience, you can make it tough for your competitors to compete with you on price.

You will have prospective customers queue up to buy from you at a price you set.

Here's what you must do in order to build trust and line up prospective customers to buy from you.

 

Educate your Prospects

Wrapping your pitch in information can leave a lasting impression on your prospective customers.

Customers don't care about products and brands. But they do care about themselves. Produce content that addresses your prospects' problems or challenges and makes their life better and they will begin to trust your word and eventually buy from you.

Neil Patel does a great job at educating his prospects - marketing professionals and founders that are interested in scaling their businesses by leveraging SEO or Search Engine Optimization.

His blog teaches the in and out of implementing SEO and leveraging content for growth. Neil shares all his strategies and tactics down to the very last detail.

This instills confidence in his audience that trusts his word and knowledge and helps bring customers to his consulting business. Build a personal brand by sharing insights on your own blog, LinkedIn or contribute to publications.

 

An Engagement Loop of Value

Capture the interest (read lead) of your prospects with the value (as stated above) and create a loop out of it. Keep your prospects engaged with a series of value offerings, instead of just one time.

Hub Spot offers tools and templates for free that aid their prospects and customers in their area of business. These consistent and automated offerings are free and act as a bait to hook prospects onto Hub Spot's value before making a purchase decision.

Needless to say, once hooked, it's only natural for those prospects to lean towards buying Hub Spot once they're ready to make the purchase, versus another brand they haven't been engaged with.

 

Create Online Authority  

Thought leadership helps build a recognizable and trusted brand that people would want to buy from.


Identify your unique proposition that ties in well with the value that your business offers and craft supportive messaging. The messaging or communication can be customized depending on the mediums and channels that you leverage.

For instance, business coach Charles Gaudet created Predictable Profits as a unique proposition that ties in well with the value that his consulting business offers - business growth.

In the process, he has authored The Predictable Profits Playbook that lends credibility to his consulting business.

Similarly, Aaron Ross, author of Predictable Revenue wrote the book prior to launching his sales consulting career. He shares his insights and strategies that he used to scale Sales force to $100 million in revenues.

Aaron Ross has created a personal brand where he's recognized as a leading voice in the sales industry and he leverages this to build his sales consulting business as well as Predictable University - an online sales training program.

Every single brand and entrepreneur mentioned in this article has leveraged their personal brand to create a differentiated value that helps them stand out in the industry, making it hard for others to compete with them on price.





Source: https://www.inc.com

Image Credit: Getty Images

ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Why You Don't Need a Website To Build A Successful Business


Websites are famous for being your storefront in the digital age. Every expert will tell you you must have a website to capture leads. And that's true...if you're building an e-commerce or online business. For other types of service based business, having a website can be a distraction from the real work you need to be doing: getting clients.

Below I explain how you get clients without a website in order to create a successful service-based business.

 

1. Build your network before you quit your day job.

Like many people in 2010, I drank the lifestyle design Kool-Aid and got wasted. Freedom over my schedule?  Flexibility to travel? Working for myself??!  Sign me up. High off Four Hour Work Week, I resolved to leave my job. I had a rough idea of my next steps when my friend and author Vanessa Van Edwards said to me, "Don't do that."

Confused, since she herself was already a successful lifestyle entrepreneur, I said, "What? Why?!"

"Don't quit your job. You're about to make a lot of mistakes. Trust me. Make mistakes while you still have a salary."

Turned out, she was right. I had no idea how to prospect, write proposals, package up services, or price things properly. I spent the next 6 months building up a side-hustle that let me make those mistakes with a safety net (my day job).

In that time, I attended as many events as I could, listened to every podcast on sales and entrepreneurship, wrote a ton of terrible proposals, got rejected by prospects I shouldn't have been rejected by, and made a lot of bad cold sales calls and cold email pitches.

Listening to Vanessa's advice saved me tens of thousands of dollars in burnt runway cash and a lot of mental anguish. By the time I was ready to go full time, I was confident in my skills as a consultant and sales person - and even had some glowing testimonials under my belt.

 

2. Get out of 'transactional' thinking. 

You know the daunting 3% completion rate on online courses? I'm the 3%. I love learning, reading, and homework; So when I discovered the MOOC world, I couldn't get enough.


One of the best courses I took was Earn1K, by the author Ramit Sethi.

With a Bachelor's in Literature and a Master's in Psychology, I'd had zero business training in my life, save for some memorable conversations with my dad who is an entrepreneur. Until that point, I believed business wasn't "for people like me." In my mind, business was for people who were "numbers people," money hungry, and didn't care about changing the world or doing good.

Turns out, none of those things is true.

In Sethi's course, he taught us to think about business in terms of "solving problems." It wasn't transactional, like I'd thought. Business was about "adding value" to others.

This was an enormous mindset shift for me.

Sethi taught me to stop thinking about what I can do and start thinking about what people need.

That changed everything.
In the academic world, I'd been trained to think about myself. My interests, my research, my goals, my credentials, my my my....In the real world, I needed to learn how to make a case as to why anyone should care.

From that point on, every interaction I had changed from "Here's what I can do!" to "What do you need help with?"


 

3. Learn to shut up and listen.

When I implemented the "What do you need help with?" approach, everything changed. I wasn't pushing my services onto anyone. I was pulling their problems out and offering to help them solve them.

Before I took Sethi's course, I'd sit down with prospects and spend 30 minutes talking about myself - what I could do and why I have the answers. It was annoying at best, unprofessional at worst.

Learning to shut up was one of the most effective sales tools I've learned to date. My close rate shot up exponentially because I learned the subtle art of asking questions.

I made prospects do the talking instead of me. Then, I'd restate what I heard. "It sounds like you're struggling with XYZ. And you need help with ABC, does that sound right?"

Prospects eyes would light up, "YES! That's exactly it. Can you help me?"

Because when you articulate someone's problem, they credit you with the solution.

In those initial consults, the goal wasn't to sell my service - it was to get the prospect to trust me. Listening and asking questions gets people to trust you.

And when people trust you, they buy from you.

 

4. Focus on sales generating activities instead of ego-boosting ones.

There was a technique Sethi advocated called "Direct to the source" and I used that almost exclusively for my 3+ years in business.

The idea was to go directly to the people who had a problem that you could solve instead of focusing on things like "building your brand."

As someone who worked in branding and marketing, this was sacrilege.

Still, the idea made sense to me: first, see if you can get someone to say "yes" to hiring you; then, worry about having business cards.

I gave myself a 3-month deadline to test out this approach before I threw it out. My plan was to focus exclusively on getting clients by finding out what problems people had and selling them a solution.

No business cards, no logos, no stationary, no case studies, and no website. All of those things would be a distraction from what I needed to do: Get paying clients.

Three months turned into three years of going directly to clients. That turned into a steady stream of referrals and eventually having to tell people no.

In all that time, only one person ever asked for case studies or my website. And that person had no money to hire me. Go figure.

 

5. Remember that everyone is a prospect.

If you're reading this thinking, "But how did you get people to sit down with you in the first place?!" I will tell you: It was that 6-months of learning to endure the discomfort of doing a bad job. Of failing. Miserably.

I got used to pitching myself and doing it wrong (really, really wrong). And doing it again. And again. And again. Until eventually, I sucked a little bit less.

In that time I discovered the key: everyone is a potential prospect or referral source. Everyone.

And when you combine that insight with the "How can I help you?" approach, you begin to see business opportunities everywhere.

For the next three years, I focused all my attention on getting clients, until I finally hit a point where two things happened.

First, I was commanding higher rates and started to need more credibility indicators to bolster my trustworthiness. Second, a good friend told me she wouldn't refer me anyone until my online presence was "less sketchy."




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

ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Monday, October 9, 2017

[WATCH VIDEO] 3 Ways to Creatively Follow Up With People After Networking Events




 So, you go to a networking event and come home with a stack of business cards. What do you do next? Do you stash them in a drawer, or do you follow up?

It can be intimidating to try to keep the conversation going, and you may not know where to start. That's why Entrepreneur Network partner Kate Volman has compiled three creative strategies for following up with new connections.

One option she shares is to go online and find your new contacts' social media accounts. Get to know who they are and what they're sharing. If they're sharing their own content, like, comment or share it yourself. This could be your foot in the door to working together.

Volman offers this strategy, as well as two others that involve a surprising medium: video. To learn more, click play on the video above.
 



 Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com


ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Friday, October 6, 2017

I Took 250 Coffee Meetings in 400 Days. Here's What I Learned About Networking


When I quit my job as an IT consultant and joined the technology startup community in Chicago, I didn't know a single soul.

When I say that I didn't know anyone, I mean it in the most literal sense. I didn't know a single person. No one to call or email. Every connection I had was involved in the IT consulting community, which believe it or not, is drastically different than the startup community.

So, I did what any truly lost entrepreneur would do and took 250 coffee meetings in 400 days. I went from being alone to building an active community of people I can always rely on for my career and personal growth.

If you're looking to build a network, and enjoy coffee, here are my three top tips--along with the help of two other relationship experts--on how to create a professional network using coffee meetings:


1. Find and befriend the super connector in your community.


The first decision I made to get connected in the Chicago tech community was to get involved with the community leaders, also known as the "super connectors." Instead of working from the bottom up, I wanted to work from the top down.

This is easier said than done. Busy people don't want to become busier. They need help from people that can add value to them.

I got involved by offering my services for free. I offered to help with development, marketing, and writing. At the time, I wasn't that good at either of these, but it was good enough to break me in.

Lesson: Start from the top. Find out what help the super connectors need. Offer your help.

 

2. Get great at asking for coffee.


Some people are always open for coffee, some need a strong reason, and some people simply don't meet with strangers regardless of how strong your ask is.

However, If you don't ask, you'll never get the meeting.

Here is an example email that I'll send to someone I want to meet because they are interesting.

Subject: Hi, John--Coffee in Chicago?

Hi, John--I'm a big fan of your work. I've learned a lot from you, and I've been able to incorporate so many of your tips into my career.

Can I buy you a cup of coffee next Tuesday? I know you're busy, but I would love to share my story with you and also figure out a few ways that I can help you. I'll come by you. 
Thank You,
Robbie

It needs a story about why you would like to have coffee with this person. I'm not saying you have to stroke their ego, but it helps.

If it's for business, I'm usually more direct and tell them exactly how I can help them.

Here is what Amy Dordek, managing director at Chicago-based sales firm Growth play, has this to say about asking for coffee meetings:
"As a result of the mentoring that I do--especially with women startup founders or young women professionals--I do get asked for coffee more than I ask. I'm grateful and honored when people think to introduce me. When I do ask for the meeting, I offer the reason for my request, what I believe will be in it for them and what I hope to accomplish.

"My requests may sound like this, 'Susie suggested that we meet because of (a particular reason) and thought it would be mutually beneficial for us to connect. I'm available later next week and would love to host you at my office as we have great coffee!'"

Deborah Knupp, another managing director at Growth play, talks about how to make it easier for the other person to say yes to your request:
"Understanding what's in it for the other party--the why--to meet is an essential consideration before making the ask for a coffee. The more other-centered and mutual you can be with the request, the higher the probability that your investment time will yield a benefit."

Lesson: Be Direct. Add Value. It's about them, not you.

 

3. Build a foundation of trust during the meeting.


Your goal for every meeting should be to not only have a deeper understanding of how you can help them but to establish trust that you can be someone they can count on in the future.

Lesson: Get to know them. Ask pointed questions. Be respectful of time and most importantly, make sure you pay for their coffee!

To summarize, coffee meetings are a powerful way to make more connections and build better relationships. You probably can't take 250, but you can at least start with five.





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

ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Stop Wasting Your Time at Networking Events. Consider These Alternatives


You know those dreaded networking events? We've all been there. Awkward introductions, forced interactions, people just sitting around and counting down the minutes until it's acceptable to leave. What's the most you ever got out of these events? A couple of business cards you didn't use? A few more LinkedIn connections than you had the day before?

These events were once the cornerstone of business socializing and relationship building. What's changed? Effectiveness of the method.

Traditional forms of networking often lack cohesion, agenda, and purpose. Further, these events rarely have calls to action, and without a facilitator to direct the course of what people should be doing, engagement plummets and little networking is actually achieved.

The current moment in the entrepreneurialism era has exposed traditional networking methods for what they are: stale, outdated, and flat-out not working. The world is catching on, and organizations left and right are cutting their networking events due to poor turnouts, lackluster enthusiasm from participants, and less than glamorous feedback.

But the value of your contact list and professional collaboration remains true. In fact, networking is not only still relevant, it's more important than ever. It's not fading away, but rather it's being reinvented to improve on its past failures, ultimately to enhance the experience and outcomes of those who are looking to connect.

 

The new wave.


So, what are we seeing now?

Networking is evolving. Smaller, more vertically integrated events with tighter groups of people are demonstrating the new wave of connecting with other professionals. For example, entrepreneurial boot camps and camping trips are now emerging as popular methods for millennial's to achieve their networking goals.

Take, for example, Survive and Thrive, a boot camp hosted at a resort for mission-driven entrepreneurs to collaborate with like-minded investors, partners, speakers, and mentors in an intimate environment. Survive and Thrive, along with many programs similar to it, is shifting the networking experience from conference rooms to trails and tents, making the experience far more personal, yielding better results for those who attend.

"The new face of networking looks a lot more like collaboration, and that's what we are creating," said Marva Allen, Survive and Thrive's CEO and co-founder. "Non-traditional, interactive environments are disrupting conventional networking methods, providing entrepreneurs with access to not only vital information, but the resources, partnerships, and exposure to investors they need to achieve their business goals. The results and impact that we drive feed off the creativity that play affords."

These programs often boast featured guests, such as prominent business executives and celebrities, and offer sessions for entrepreneurs in attendance to actually pitch their ideas to them. Sounds different than your typical office get-together, doesn't it?

As the young workforce continues to obsess over unconventional business methods and professional culture, expect more innovative forums for gathering professionals together to keep emerging.

 

Networking on social media.


Beyond the physical brand of networking events that continue to live on, it's important to understand that nowadays, networking is synonymous with interaction.

The rise of social media has completely altered what it means to network in 2017, and the online world has torn down geographic borders in connecting people to their desired audiences. Whether it be customers, investors, clients, or partners, social-media interaction is shifting the landscape of professional networking in a big way.

Just look at what's happening: organizations are networking nonstop just by tweeting at, responding to, and engaging with their targeted audiences through direct messages, discussion boards, and fan pages, where their messages can be broadcasted far more effectively and efficiently through these mediums than ever possible at an in-person event.

"Social platforms are essentially becoming mass networking landing spots," said Alex Yong, journalist at Small Biz Trends and the Observer. "People failing to realize this risk are falling behind as their competitors use these internet-based environments to expand their networks and create powerful collaborations."

 

Your Next Move


Before you plan or attend your next networking event, ask yourself what you want to get out of it and how it can get you closer to achieving your goals.

Don't just limit yourself to local, in-person networking gatherings if you want to see the best options and most opportunities in the field you're playing in. Consider newer, more effective alternatives to networking that can take you and your business to unprecedented territories.


  

Source: https://www.inc.com

ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

What is Inside Sales and How Can it Benefit Your Small Business?


Inside sales is about selling things to clients without meeting them face to face. It’s been called remote sales and was done by phone and is mostly now accomplished online. Here’s an overview of everything you’ll need to know to make it work for your small business.

Inside sales is cost effective and delivers results. How? Smart sales reps use the best tools available to them. They want the ones where they can reach clients quickly and gather data to follow up with.

That includes tools like:


Email Marketing 

It’s good if you have a solid list of emails addresses to send pitches to. It’s even better if you’ve got good CRM software to sort and juggle all the info email marketing bounces back at you. Sales force has a tool that sets up in minutes.




Automatic Dialing Systems

Integration can be the name of the game for inside sales teams. A pre-recorded message that gets sent to a list of contacts works great when you’ve got an online interface to use as a command post. Small businesses use this type of integrated marketing to boost sales numbers.

 

Social Media

Social media channels are a great inside sales tool. Posting inside groups and networks boosts visibility for small businesses that know how to leverage everything from Twitter to Facebook. Answering questions and posting resources fosters the kind of interest that leads to sales.

 

Inside Sales Networking

Those are just a few of the tools you can use. When it comes to networking, inside sales reps are looking to internet resources like LinkedIn to make good connections. This a great way to develop an association with professional bodies and trade organizations.

Benefits of Inside Sales to Small Business
Using inside sales techniques for your small business has many advantages. At the top of the list is bringing your efforts in line with buyer preferences. People are busy like never before and reaching out to them in cyberspace is the best way to make contact in today’s world.

 

Work Life Balance

Being a sales rep used to mean being on the road and away from your family for long stretches. With the technology available today, inside sales reps can leverage their skills with tools like Skype, webinars and YouTube without ever needing to pack a bag.

 

Deeper Insights

Getting to know your target market and prospects better is one offshoot from using social media as an inside sales tool. Today, you can learn more about possible clients online than you ever could face-to-face.


 

The Downside of Inside Sales

There are some disadvantages to having just an inside sales team under your roof. For example, some prospects might actually want to touch and feel what they are thinking about buying.

Other customers might prefer a face-to-face relationship. Finally, if you’re selling to a re seller who is going to turn the product around, an inside sales rep doesn’t get to see how it’s being displayed and promoted.

Inside sales isn’t a once size fits all solution for every small business and everyone that wants a sales job in the field. Some sales reps like to look people in the eye and shake their hands before they make a sale. If you’re like that, this might not be the go-to strategy for your small business or every member of your sales team.

Companies that sell farm equipment in small towns might be better with an outside sales strategy. The same goes for office equipment and  window and door replacement companies and similar business that need more contact with customers.


On the other side of the coin, B2B small businesses like book keeping services and tech companies are well suited to inside sales teams. Many products that work remotely fit the bill here.

 Source: https://smallbiztrends.com
  Image Credit: Shutter stock

ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Want to Run a Successful Business? Start by Investing in Personal Development



If you're in business long enough, you will realize that entrepreneurship and personal development go hand in hand. For some, they start the business first and then get into self-development. For others, like myself, self-development came first.
 

Regardless of how or when business and self-development merge, one thing remains true: Successful people do not hesitate to work on themselves. They also don't hesitate to drop the cash to do so.
 
Here's a recent example from my own life to illustrate what I mean. I recently went to a presentation from Tony Robbins' company at my co working space. At the end of the presentation, I noticed only three of us signed up for Tony Robbins' conference in Palm Beach in November. 

I also noticed we were all entrepreneurs in the finance space. It just so happens that a lot of my colleagues who also worked in finance had recently gone to the same conference in New York. This intrigued me because it's been my personal experience that people who truly get money know a good investment when they see one. They also act fast and they are always thinking about potential ROI (we're pragmatic, after all).

Anyway, because I'm a genuinely curious person, I started asking the other future attendees of Unleash the Power Within why they thought it was a good investment. Here's what I got.

You're getting a return somehow.    

Here's what fascinates me about money people: They know they are going to get a return even if they don't know what that looks like yet. They have this innate trust that they will learn skills they can apply to improve their bottom line.


The truth is personal development does give you a return, even if it doesn't always look like money. It could help you improve your communication skills, it could help you become a better leader, it could even help you stay calm. All of these can improve both your business and your quality of life.




Self-awareness is just as important as hustle. 

If you want to build a successful business and lead it, you need to become acutely self-aware of your own neuroses.


We all have fears, challenges, thoughts, experiences and traumas that could very easily take us out if we let them. Some of these are subtler, like the fear of success. Personal development helps you identify what these things are so you don't succumb to them.
 
As Anthony K. Tjan notes in the Harvard Business Review, self-awareness also helps us determine our own successes and failures. In doing so, and in learning from our mistakes, we see what we need from other people and search for those individuals who can complement our skill set.

Self-awareness also helps us cultivate emotional intelligence, which allows us to relate to other people and lead more effectively. In other words, having a deep understanding of yourself can lead to more success while bringing other people along with you.
 

What got you here won't get you there.

Perhaps the most popular reason I heard for why business owners should invest in personal development can be summed up by saying, "What got you here won't get you there." 

  

At this moment you are programmed for your current level of success. You also have the skills that you to where you are. But if you plan on excelling and going even further, you need to acquire new knowledge. Period.

  
Most of us entrepreneurial freedom seeking types are always looking to improve ourselves. While we're content with what we have, we also know we have more potential. Personal development helps us tap into that.

 

Final Thoughts

Personal development and entrepreneurship are intricately linked. You can't be a good leader without having an understanding of yourself and you can't expect to reach your full potential without acquiring new skills. That's why you see so many successful people investing in their own self-development.

 Source:https://www.inc.com

 ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

5 Benefits of Creating a Facebook Group for Your Business

   
Many entrepreneurs create a Facebook page for their business, expecting it to be a goldmine of engagement, referral traffic and sales. Unfortunately, most business pages fail and turn into a dead zone. To make pages work, you need to run paid ads, placing them directly in front of your target audience.

It’s difficult for most businesses to create an engaged page without an advertising budget. Also, most consumers view a business page on Facebook as an advertisement. This leads to frustration and many business owners abandoning Facebook. Rather than do that, switch your focus to building a Facebook Group for your business.

It’s a viable way of building a highly engaged community of individuals who are likely to be interested in your business. I recently created a closed group, E-Commerce Rock stars, because I truly believe Facebook Groups provide several benefits. Here are five reasons I decided to create a group, and why you should also consider it.

 

1. It provides more personal engagement.


The majority of business pages on Facebook lack the type of engagement the page owner craves -- likes and comments that fuel the discussion. This is where a Facebook Group thrives. The right discussion can really take off because it’s not as intimidating as a business page.

Most consumers don’t want to join the conversation on a post made by a business, but if it’s in a group setting, that barrier is removed. It gives you the opportunity to be more personal. You are the face behind the group, not a company name and logo. Consumers want to engage with a person, not a company.
 

 

2. Drive focused attention to a call to action.


In a group, you have the ability to pin a post to the top. This is a great place to put a call to action and guarantee you draw eyeballs to it. You don’t want to throw up something overly spammy, but an invitation to join your newsletter is perfectly fine, especially if you provide value to the group members.

Not every group member is going to jump on your offer immediately, but if you remain value-focused, you will see group members join that want to receive more of your content. I am a member of several Facebook groups, and I have been converted on pinned posts in the past simply because of the value offered within the group.

 

3. Receive immediate feedback from polls.


Groups are a great source of immediate feedback, and if you build a niche group from the beginning, the feedback you receive will be extremely valuable. By creating a poll in your group, you can receive feedback on any subject matter or question you might have.

This can provide beneficial for every business -- from consumer brands to B2B businesses. “Facebook Groups allow you to poll your members, and receive feedback as well as start a conversation around any topic. From product concept feedback to customer experiences, it’s a source of the most raw and honest feedback you can find in an online environment,” says Steven Zeldes, CEO of AvaCare Medical.


I’ve seen several successful polls in groups that I am a member of on product design, packaging and price-points. It’s generally high-quality and valuable from a business owner’s point of view.
 

4. Announce offers.


I created my e-commerce focused group to gather entrepreneurs that build online businesses for several reasons -- bounce ideas back and forth, share experiences, ask questions and create a community of the best in the e-commerce game.

I also did it to announce an offer down the road. Creating this group gives me a highly targeted audience to present the offer to when that time comes. But, that is a long time away. In the meantime, I’ll be focusing on creating a value-packed community. Without that element, nobody will be interested in the offer.

 

5. Build trust by providing value.


All four points previous discussed above require one element -- trust. Without trust, you won’t have a highly engaged group, you won’t drive interest to your call to action, your polls won’t receive feedback and any offers you announce won’t be well received.

To build trust, you must provide value. Things like sharing first-hand experience, answering questions and simply providing the community can all help strengthen the relationship between you, your members and your business. Holding question-and-answer sessions and creating exclusive content for your group are just a couple examples of how you can provide added value.



                                                                     
 Source:  https:// www.Entrepreneur.com
  Image Credit: Studio EAST | Getty Images                                                            

ABOUT WNFP                                                                                                    Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

Stay Connected with WNFP! 
Join WNFP Communities!