Friday, April 28, 2017

5 Tricks You Are Missing for Networking at Business Events

  

As business people, we know we need to "network" as a way to build relationships that will help us in business and life. But attending a networking event like a conference can pose challenges, especially when it comes to making the most of your time there.

The worst thing you can do at such an event is approach it like a game where the winner is the one who hands out or collects the most business cards. Put that on your "Not-do" list. Nobody likes the person that deals business cards like playing cards and they certainly won't have any incentive to help you build your business down the road.

Rather, the best networkers have a goal of walking away from any networking event with between two to five solid contacts that they formed over a meaningful conversation of at least five minutes. It's about the quality of the contacts rather than the quantity.

So what are the secrets every great networker uses to make those quality connections?

1. Choose Your Event Wisely

Not all networking events are created equally - at least as far as you're concerned. The best networkers assess events before deciding to attend them based on the kinds of people they expect to be there. Again, you're looking to connect with people you can help and who then can in turn help you. If you don't think there will be many people who fall into that definition, it's probably not worth attending. If you can, get an attendee list and have a few targets in mind - people you'd love to meet.

2. Pick Your Spot

One of the overlooked aspects that every great networker understands is to find a place at an event where you can maximize your chances of meeting the people you most want to connect with. Your first option is to stand by the food. Your next is the bar. And finally, you can take up position near the door. Since everyone in the room is likely to come by one of these three places, any one of these three options will allow you to strike up potential conversations with people you want to connect with. Once the crowd has rotated past and haven't seen your targets, go looking for them.

3. Help Someone Out

When you get your chance to strike up a conversation, don't make it about yourself. Rather, seek to understand first and try and find a way to help that person in some way. Maybe it's by offering to make a referral, or by giving them a recommendation for an insightful book or a website. It could even be offering them some advice. Regardless, the best networkers understand that the path to good relationships are paved with generosity. If you haven't found a way to help, one of my favorite questions is, "how can I specifically help you?" to force the issue.


 4. Let Them Know What You Need

After you have taken the opportunity to understand and help your new connection, you're free to talk about what you do and how someone might be able to help you. Be as clear as you can about your business is about and what kinds of people you're interested in connecting and working with. Who is your ideal client and why. The best networkers don't ask for any specific help, as that obligation has already been established. Rather, it becomes clear how your new contact can help if they are able to and since you started first, they will try if they can.

5. Offer To Exchange Cards

It's only after they have had a mutually productive conversation with someone that the best networkers then ask if the other person would be interested in exchanging business cards. I usually ask, "would it be okay if we share cards?" If they say, yes, great - you can present them your card. But it's important to ask first and not just awkwardly stuff your card in their hand.

If you can put these five networking secrets in place, you will have maximized your chances of not only making great new contacts, you may find that your new acquaintances can pay forward your conversation after the event is over. If the person you connected with meets someone along the lines of who you described as your ideal client, they will remember that and then be able to hand over your card to them - creating an instant lead for you in the process.

If you can repeat these networking secrets on a regular basis, you will be amazed at all the new opportunities that will come flooding your way.




 
Image Credit: Getty Images
Source: inc.com


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


Thursday, April 27, 2017

The 1 New Habit That Will Improve Every Relationship You Have


If there's one magic bullet that can instantly improve nearly every interaction, it's context. It doesn't take long to establish, yet context is too often completely ignored. How many times have you seen someone snooze or scroll through a presentation, only to find out at the end that they should have been paying attention because the information impacts them? In a perfect world, we'd all be curious and alert all the time, paying attention even before someone spells out what's in it for you.

This isn't a perfect world, but we can make it a little better by taking the time to clarify context in our interactions.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you make context a habit.

1. Context forces clarity. When you take the time to explain what's in it for someone else, you're also taking the time to make sure your own thinking is clear. Putting yourself in someone else's position helps to establish focus, which enables the relationship to grow and mature. It's easy to speak from your own perspective and assume that other people understand where you're coming from. But what if they don't? It will cost you.


2. Problem solving. When teams work together to solve a problem, participants need as much context as possible around the problem they are trying to solve. I once facilitated a session for a global travel company. They thought they needed to invent some spectacular new innovation for their customers. They spent a lot of time thinking about the many possible innovations they might create to make their customers happy. In the end, when their customers were brought in to discuss their issues, the problem turned out to be much easier to solve. The biggest complaint their customers had turned out to be the easiest fix imaginable. The font on the forms they had to fill out was too small. The customers explained the context of this one tiny problem that had so many tendrils, and how it sometimes forced them to seek the company's competitors, even those who offered fewer options but laid them out more clearly.


3. Water-cooler chat. Give people a few data points without context, and they will invent an entire epic of their own creation. People draw their own conclusions based on incomplete information, and together they will analyze every aspect of what you might have meant by what you said. Instead, spell it out. Start every meeting, presentation and conversation with context. "We picked this platform and we're going to use it," is begging for a behind-the-back review of possible motives. "We picked this platform after an extensive review of four of the best, feedback from employees, benchmarking against industry standards, and we are aware that it may not be exactly what we need, but we are willing to take a risk, try it out and see how it goes. We look forward to your feedback."


4. When in doubt, ask. Context is a two-way street. Don't let someone plow forward until you understand the context of what they need from you. Are you expected to provide help? Resources? Knowledge? Listen quietly and say nothing? Take the message to your boss or your team? Change how you're operating? If you don't know, ask.




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



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

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Don’t Let Growing Pains Take Your Business Down



 In the past year, several high-profile entrepreneurial companies have been in the news for not-so-positive reasons. Once held up as role models, these businesses and their high-profile founders (I won’t name names) are now struggling to survive. The common denominator in their downfalls? There are several, but the main culprit is too-rapid growth.

Growing fast might seem like the answer to a small business owner’s prayers. But often, the perils of rapid growth illustrate the saying, “Be careful what you wish for—you might get it.”

What lessons can you take away to help avoid the risks of rapid growth?


1. Company culture matters.



Growing businesses run into trouble when their PR persona doesn’t jibe with what’s actually happening inside the company. If you promote your business as an egalitarian, forward-thinking innovator, but your workplace is actually rife with sexual harassment, it’s only a matter of time until customers find out about the disconnect and dump you like a hot potato.

To-do: It’s easy to keep control of your company culture when there are only a few of you. However, as your business expands, be sure to instill the same culture in all your new employees. Employee handbooks, onboarding practices and systematized training help ensure everyone’s on the same page. Make sure your managers embody your company culture, too.

2. With capital comes complexity.


Getting a fat round of funding from angel investors or VCs looks like the answer to your dreams—but often becomes a nightmare. In return for the money, you now have investors looking over your shoulder and second-guessing you, or even directing you.

To-do: Before you seek financing of any kind, know what you’re getting into. If you take money from investors, you’ll need to report on results, live up to their expectations, and maybe even give up some control of your business. The alternative could be losing it entirely.

3. You’ve got to pay the bills.


Buzz and hype can take you far, but if you aren’t paying your bills on time, you’ll eventually crash and burn. Rapid growth brings new costs, as well as the temptation to splurge on fancy office furniture or an expensive advertising agency to maintain your image.

To-do: Keep careful tabs on your company’s cash flow. You may need to monitor it daily to stay on top of things. Weigh any new expenses carefully, focusing on spending in ways that will benefit your business—not your ego.


4. Hire wisely.



When rapid growth stretches your small business’ staff too thin, it’s a recipe for disaster. Overworked employees can’t do their best, and your company’s product or service quality suffers. Eventually they become resentful, spurring morale problems and potential PR disasters.

To-do: Employees are the foundation of your business, so don’t scrimp on hiring. Have plans in place for how you will add staff as needed. That doesn’t necessarily require hiring full-time employees; it could mean knowing where to find the best independent contractors, virtual employees or temporary workers.

5. Walk the walk.


You’re busier than you ever thought possible, getting next to no sleep, and walking on air from the excitement of your business dreams coming true. It’s all too easy to start believing that the rules don’t apply to you. If you expect your employees to work for peanuts or your vendors to wait for payment while you’re signing the lease on a snazzy new sports car, you’re in for a big surprise.

To-do: Never ask your team to do something that you wouldn’t do yourself. Of course, you should focus most of your time on high-value activities, but you also need to be willing to get down in the trenches when it counts. Showing employees you understand their sacrifices and your partners that you honor your commitments will help your reputation grow along with your sales.



Source.com: https://www.theselfemployed.com - http://www.score.org



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


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

How Successful People Spend their Lunch Time with Westchester Networking for Professionals


Don't have time to attend business lunch events? Well, every business person should have lunch at some time of the day, how do you spend your lunch time? ...Eating alone in your office at your desk.

Successful people spend their lunch time away from the office with other like-minded business professionals at a Westchester Networking for Professionals Business Lunch & Learn Networking Series.

Not only will they enjoy lunch time away from the office, but lunch time is spend in a more productive manner with engaging and conversational networking, making new connections and seeking new business opportunities. A lot of deals have been made over lunch.


If you're interested in experiencing a Business Lunch & Learn Networking Series with Westchester Networking for Professionals, attend our next event Marketing Talks on Thursday, May 18, 2017 from 12:00 pm - 2:00 pm in Elmsford, NY with our Guest, Michael Dardano, marketing and sales expert of BuzzPotential.

You'll have an opportunity to introduce your business, so don't forget your business cards.

Limited seats available, for event information visit Westchester Networking for Professionals website at http://www.wnfp.org.


CONCLUSION
Get out of your normal routine of eating lunch at your work desk - get out of the office and make the most out of your lunch time. 




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

Why Almost Every Marketing Email Your Company Sends Is Junk Mail

 

You've done everything you can to make sure your emails won't be considered junk:

Each subscriber goes through a double opt-in process. Every email has a link to unsubscribe with one click. And you give away useful content more often than you pitch.

So why am I saying almost every email you're sending is junk mail?

Let's take a step back and consider what "junk mail" is. Junk mail is "mail that is not wanted," says the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

They're Not That Into You


Let's use your email open rate as an indicator of whether or not your subscribers want your emails.

If you're average, then your email open rates probably range from 15.2% to 28.5%, depending on your industry. That means as much as 84.8% of your subscribers don't open your messages.

Even though they gave you their contact information at some point in the past. Even though they jumped through hoops to confirm their subscription. And even though they gave you permission to keep communicating with them.

They don't want your email. Therefore, to them, your email is junk mail.

I'd even go a step further and say that it's not enough for the recipient to read your emails. Email rises a step above junk mail only when the reader treats it like an email from a friend, from somebody they know and like and want to hear from.

Too bad, we can't measure that. But it's safe to say the numbers would be even lower than your open rates.

How to Send Wanted Emails


So now the next question is, what can you do so that your subscribers treat your email as if it were coming from a friend? How can you reach the status of a friendly and familiar ally to your subscribers?

The answer: make your email marketing a conversation.

Get people to, not just read, but also to take action and respond to you. Make your email marketing not a one-way flow of offers and pitches, but an exchange of ideas, feelings, and opinions.

Here are some practical ways to do that:

  • Make the sender of your emails a real person in your company. No more sending emails from no-reply@yourcompany.com or even info@yourcompany.com. Use a real person's name.
  • Ask questions. People enjoy being asked about themselves, so solicit your subscribers' feedback. Ask them about their needs and challenges. Ask what makes them happy.
  • Respond and respond promptly. Whenever someone emails you or your company, send a timely response. It doesn't matter if they're already a customer or someone visiting your website for the first time. And if you have to hire people just to respond to emails, do so.
  • Most importantly, check your intention. Be genuinely interested in your subscribers and in developing a relationship with them. See them as individuals with names, faces, loved ones, personal lives, dreams, and hopes--not as dollar signs.


The easiest way to do this is to take every opportunity to interact with your subscribers and get to know them. This will change even the way you write your emails, because you'll be writing to a specific person, not a nameless, anonymous list.

And when you do that, then you'll no longer be writing junk mail.






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

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

Monday, April 24, 2017

Networking for Entrepreneurs: 7 Ways to Make a Connection


Successful small business owners know they only got to where they are now because of the people who helped them along the way. A strong professional network can help you achieve things that you'd never accomplish on your own, from solutions to seemingly impossible problems, to word-of-mouth recommendations that grow your customer base.
Whether you're handing out your business card at an event or reaching out via social media, networking is only effective if you're smart about it. Entrepreneurs and business leaders shared their best advice for growing your startup through your connections.
- See more at: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6420-entrepreneur-networking-tips.html#sthash.SAfSiaRH.dpuf

Successful small business owners know they only got to where they are now because of the people who helped them along the way. A strong professional network can help you achieve things that you'd never accomplish on your own, from solutions to seemingly impossible problems, to word-of-mouth recommendations that grow your customer base.

Whether you're handing out your business card at an event or reaching out via social media, networking is only effective if you're smart about it. Entrepreneurs and business leaders shared their best advice for growing your startup through your connections.

1. Offer your help first


"Many individuals come into a networking event with a problem or challenge they're facing and immediately seek answers from others. When you meet people, ask questions and discover how you can provide value to them first, instead of the other way around. Ask yourself what you can bring to the table, and share tips with others to be helpful. When you give advice, it's much more likely to be reciprocated." – Scott Roen, managing director of global digital, BlackRock

2. Become a resource on social media


"Use platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to produce, comment on and engage with relevant industry content to build trust among your followers. You'll also generate inbound networking — contacts will find and reach out to you, so you'll spend less time having to actively seek more contacts." – Frans Van Hulle, CEO and co-founder, ReviMedia and PX.com

3. Do some basic press outreach


"A critical part of networking as a small business owner is to build relationships with your local media, as they are the ones who can help to tell your business story on a larger scale. [Read] your city ... newspapers [and] watch your local nightly or morning news. This will give you a sense of what is happening in your community, and will help you determine which reporters are most likely to take an interest in your business news. Once you have established a list of reporters, send an email introducing yourself and let them know you appreciate their work. When the time comes for you to share your own news, your name will already be familiar." – Paul Koulogeorge, vice president of marketing, advertising and PR, Goddard Systems. inc

4. Get customers involved in your process


"We have a 'Mombassador' program at The Little Gym where we invite our most loyal, enthusiastic customers to become advocates for our brand and help spread positive word of mouth throughout the community. These moms typically hand out referral cards, welcome new parents as they join the gym, attend open houses and grassroots events, and post about The Little Gym on social media sites. They are almost like networking assistants on a mission to help us gain more visibility in our local community." – Karalyne Ley, owner, The Little Gym (Knoxville, Tennessee)

5. Stay in touch with former connections


"It's essential to develop relationships with contacts because they can convert into milestones for your business and career development. I had the chance to open the second location for Hungry Howie's Pizza after connecting with a former employer who was looking into growing his one-location pizza brand. I decided to open a second location of the one store brand of Hungry Howie's Pizza and we now have almost 600 locations in 21 states. Without that original contact, this would have never happened." – Steve Jackson, CEO, Hungry Howie's

6. Always be ready to offer samples


"Put your product in their mouth! I always carry samples of our coconut chip snacks just in case I happen to see someone noteworthy. On a recent flight I spotted a famous musician and gave him a sample which easily started a conversation. It was as if I handed him my demo tape and had him listen to it right there." – Vincent Kitirattragarn, CEO and co-founder, Dang Foods

7. Participate in your local small business community


"Participate in advisory committees, attend every expo and conference applicable, and get yourself out there. You generally get out of it what you put into it, and if you expect people to come to you, it will never happen. You have to put in the time and energy to make it happen through your own efforts." – Ashley Morris, CEO of Capriotti's




Image credit: Denphumi/Shuttershock
Source: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com
Denphumi/Shutterstock
Denphumi/Shutterstock
Successful small business owners know they only got to where they are now because of the people who helped them along the way. A strong professional network can help you achieve things that you'd never accomplish on your own, from solutions to seemingly impossible problems, to word-of-mouth recommendations that grow your customer base.
Whether you're handing out your business card at an event or reaching out via social media, networking is only effective if you're smart about it. Entrepreneurs and business leaders shared their best advice for growing your startup through your connections.
- See more at: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6420-entrepreneur-networking-tips.html#sthash.SAfSiaRH.dpuf
Successful small business owners know they only got to where they are now because of the people who helped them along the way. A strong professional network can help you achieve things that you'd never accomplish on your own, from solutions to seemingly impossible problems, to word-of-mouth recommendations that grow your customer base.
Whether you're handing out your business card at an event or reaching out via social media, networking is only effective if you're smart about it. Entrepreneurs and business leaders shared their best advice for growing your startup through your connections.
- See more at: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6420-entrepreneur-networking-tips.html#sthash.SAfSiaRH.dpuf
Successful small business owners know they only got to where they are now because of the people who helped them along the way. A strong professional network can help you achieve things that you'd never accomplish on your own, from solutions to seemingly impossible problems, to word-of-mouth recommendations that grow your customer base.
Whether you're handing out your business card at an event or reaching out via social media, networking is only effective if you're smart about it. Entrepreneurs and business leaders shared their best advice for growing your startup through your connections.
- See more at: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6420-entrepreneur-networking-tips.html#sthash.SAfSiaRH.dpuf
Successful small business owners know they only got to where they are now because of the people who helped them along the way. A strong professional network can help you achieve things that you'd never accomplish on your own, from solutions to seemingly impossible problems, to word-of-mouth recommendations that grow your customer base.
Whether you're handing out your business card at an event or reaching out via social media, networking is only effective if you're smart about it. Entrepreneurs and business leaders shared their best advice for growing your startup through your connections.
- See more at: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6420-entrepreneur-networking-tips.html#sthash.SAfSiaRH.dpuf
Successful small business owners know they only got to where they are now because of the people who helped them along the way. A strong professional network can help you achieve things that you'd never accomplish on your own, from solutions to seemingly impossible problems, to word-of-mouth recommendations that grow your customer base.
Whether you're handing out your business card at an event or reaching out via social media, networking is only effective if you're smart about it. Entrepreneurs and business leaders shared their best advice for growing your startup through your connections.
- See more at: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6420-entrepreneur-networking-tips.html#sthash.SAfSiaRH.dpuf
Successful small business owners know they only got to where they are now because of the people who helped them along the way. A strong professional network can help you achieve things that you'd never accomplish on your own, from solutions to seemingly impossible problems, to word-of-mouth recommendations that grow your customer base.
Whether you're handing out your business card at an event or reaching out via social media, networking is only effective if you're smart about it. Entrepreneurs and business leaders shared their best advice for growing your startup through your connections.
- See more at: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6420-entrepreneur-networking-tips.html#sthash.SAfSiaRH.dpuf
Successful small business owners know they only got to where they are now because of the people who helped them along the way. A strong professional network can help you achieve things that you'd never accomplish on your own, from solutions to seemingly impossible problems, to word-of-mouth recommendations that grow your customer base.
Whether you're handing out your business card at an event or reaching out via social media, networking is only effective if you're smart about it. Entrepreneurs and business leaders shared their best advice for growing your startup through your connections.
- See more at: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6420-entrepreneur-networking-tips.html#sthash.SAfSiaRH.dpuf
Successful small business owners know they only got to where they are now because of the people who helped them along the way. A strong professional network can help you achieve things that you'd never accomplish on your own, from solutions to seemingly impossible problems, to word-of-mouth recommendations that grow your customer base.
Whether you're handing out your business card at an event or reaching out via social media, networking is only effective if you're smart about it. Entrepreneurs and business leaders shared their best advice for growing your startup through your connections.
- See more at: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6420-entrepreneur-networking-tips.html#sthash.SAfSiaRH.dpuf
Successful small business owners know they only got to where they are now because of the people who helped them along the way. A strong professional network can help you achieve things that you'd never accomplish on your own, from solutions to seemingly impossible problems, to word-of-mouth recommendations that grow your customer base.
Whether you're handing out your business card at an event or reaching out via social media, networking is only effective if you're smart about it. Entrepreneurs and business leaders shared their best advice for growing your startup through your connections.
- See more at: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6420-entrepreneur-networking-tips.html#sthash.SAfSiaRH.dpuf
Successful small business owners know they only got to where they are now because of the people who helped them along the way. A strong professional network can help you achieve things that you'd never accomplish on your own, from solutions to seemingly impossible problems, to word-of-mouth recommendations that grow your customer base.
Whether you're handing out your business card at an event or reaching out via social media, networking is only effective if you're smart about it. Entrepreneurs and business leaders shared their best advice for growing your startup through your connections.
- See more at: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6420-entrepreneur-networking-tips.html#sthash.SAfSiaRH.dpuf

Successful small business owners know they only got to where they are now because of the people who helped them along the way. A strong professional network can help you achieve things that you'd never accomplish on your own, from solutions to seemingly impossible problems, to word-of-mouth recommendations that grow your customer base.
Whether you're handing out your business card at an event or reaching out via social media, networking is only effective if you're smart about it. Entrepreneurs and business leaders shared their best advice for growing your startup through your connections.
- See more at: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6420-entrepreneur-networking-tips.html#sthash.SAfSiaRH.dpuf
ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level.
Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Why Building Relationships with Your Employees Is Better Than Just Managing Them


The wealth created through authentic business relationships stimulates growth and innovation, advances commerce, and benefits all. Relationships sustain more than momentum—they create and sustain relevancy. But these high-level relationships take time to cultivate. By valuing relationships, maximizing the utilization of resources, investing in your people, and always looking for ways to improve strategic-resource sharing, your business sustains momentum. The key word? Relationships.

To seize the opportunities great relationships create, leaders must evolve from managing and live with an entrepreneurial spirit that values relationships and invests in people, including themselves. Then they must deploy two supporting characteristics: first, lead to leave a legacy, which holistically supports better relationships through reciprocity; and second, work with a generous purpose, which requires a commitment to collaboration, sharing, and giving to grow.

Hundreds of studies of Millennials and shift populations show your employees, partners, and customers want to have relationships with you, one another, your business, and your brand. Lessons from the longest study on happiness—the Harvard Study of Adult Development—which tracked annually the lives of 724 men of varying economic statuses show that “Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”

I can’t think of better foundational or fiscal reasons—happiness and health, not to mention growth and innovation—for building great relationships. So why aren’t you building them? Because you’re likely still stuck in the templates of business past. You lack the ability to see that building these relationships doesn’t start with others; it starts with you, which is why you must continuously invest in yourself to sustain your relevancy. This investment will require you to find the right people who can further guide you and teach you to invest in yourself. It requires you to answer a foundational question of living with an entrepreneurial spirit: How can I nurture and develop a relationship that invests in mutual success for the future rather than what I need now?

Only after answering this question can leaders truly value relationships in the broader workplace and marketplace and encourage entrepreneurial mindsets in others. But you can’t have leadership, let alone a successful business, without strong management of and thus accountability to processes and systems. Management is important for saving time and completing the most mundane tasks, as well as for knowing what steps to take when you need to put out fires. Managing people, however, isn’t the same and can’t be done by templates, accountability to job descriptions, and letting the business define the individual. Relationships must be mutually rewarding and beneficial. They value individuality, allowing that individuality to prosper, multiply, and add value to others. They’re about giving not getting and creating that mutual success. They’re about sharing and taking business to the next level so you can grow.


Of course, you can’t operationalize relationships without good management. When people can’t automatically provide me with information—numbers, data, materials—they need, that’s a management problem, because I haven’t provided the tools they need to manage it or manage the people the information comes from. I can help those people deal with this management issue through my relationship with them and by coaching them to have a better relationship with others. But the real solution is to have a management process in place that demands the information so no one needs to rely on a personal relationship to ensure that things are done properly. The management process should do that and then “Leadership à la Relationship” can take things to the next level.”

That next level is what it means to grow by creating a culture of reciprocity in relationships through leading to leave a legacy and working with a generous purpose of giving. First, ask the legacy questions:

  • What is the legacy that my promise has created for those around me?
  • Do my employees believe that their jobs aren’t just jobs—they’re opportunities to shape their legacies?
  • Do my customers, clients, and partners believe that I do?
Then, you ask the generous purpose questions:
  • How do I give back to my people?
  • How can I share my expertise beyond my everyday work?
  • Do my people, customers/clients, and external partners believe that my company promotes sharing among and giving back to my people and the communities and causes they and the company embrace?  

Relationships should always be reciprocal. Unfortunately, they’ve become too much about getting without giving. Real relationships can’t be about something that exists for our own benefit or getting a return on an agreement to work together in any capacity, be it a mentorship or a contractual agreement. They’re about perpetuating the momentum that each person brings to the relationship.

The same must be true in leadership: It should never be one-sided, nor should the leader always be the one generating the ideas or making the decisions. Leadership means actively listening and advancing the ideas of others (and injecting recommendations along the way to further strengthen or add value to them). If you’re the type of leader who needs all the attention, you won’t seek to cultivate wisdom in others.

Reciprocity is key; cultivating wisdom requires being in touch with what matters most to your employees and giving them the room to express their opinions and put their ideas to the test. The more you can gauge and unleash the passionate pursuits of your employees, the more effective you’ll be in challenging them to stretch their thinking and expand their endless possibilities.

Relationships in the marketplace must also go beyond the transaction—to evolve beyond the sale. Because what influences the marketplace? The individual—much more than ever before. Because we’ve shifted to individuality in the marketplace, customers are looking well beyond a brand’s products and are measuring a brand by intimacy and relationships with them as they make their selections. Customers want to share how great and authentic the story is behind what they consume. If all you have is a transactional relationship, then as soon as another brand offers a better deal, they’re gone.

Why don’t we all do the things required to create great relationships? Probably because they require hard work to do and maintain. But if you can invest in your relationships, stay authentic, and not get stuck in the past, you will continue to stimulate growth and innovation, advance your business, and benefit everyone involved.

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


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


Friday, April 21, 2017

How to Build Your Business Relationships Like An Introvert


Contrary to popular belief, introverts make great networkers and can have incredible success building business relationships. During the course of writing my book Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships In A Hyper-Connected World, I interviewed a number of individuals whose professional success was achieved through the power of their networks, and in the course of interviewing them, discovered they were introverts.

Manisha Thakor is one of my Build Your Dream Network interviewees. She describes herself as profoundly introverted and has taken control of networking (and her career) - rather than allowing the fear or dislike of the process sideline her ambitions. Manisha is director of wealth strategies for women at the BAM Alliance, a community of 140-plus independent registered investment advisors. A Zig Ziglar quote reset how Manisha chose to start approach networking.


You can have everything in life you want -- if you will just help other people get what they want

Manisha is growing her wealth-management business one small networking event at a time - networking events she designs from the theme to the invites. As she shares in my book, "...her aim with each event (from her Lean In Ladies Lunches to Playing Big evening reception) has been to make connections to help every attendee solve a problem or address a business challenge." Of course, gaining new clients was her ultimate goal, but Manisha pursues her particular goal by being helpful and continually at the top of her network's mind.

This mindset carries into Manisha's digital networking strategies. She regularly sends out a newsletter packed with thought-leadership and industry insights. She also records the MoneyZen podcast that is sent out through her business network of independent financial advisors and shared with their clients. MoneyZen is Manisha's joy-based approach to personal finance, honoring the core values of simplicity, freedom and abundance. Incorporating her personal values into business activities has been a purposeful networking decision.

Whether you're an introvert or not, if creating your own networking events to build client relationships resonates with you as a business strategy, here are Manisha's four success tips:

       
  1. Select attendees carefully. While you may start by inviting everyone you meet (or everyone referred to you), curate the guest list over time. As Manisha shares in Build Your Dream Network, "Knowing exactly who she was looking to meet opened up opportunities to invite more of the potential clients she was looking for".
  2. Have an actionable takeaway. Manisha's primary goal for each event is for the attendees to leave with investing information they can put to use right away. And by giving them that information, she meets her second goal: attendees know exactly the type of services she offers.
  3. Create a follow-up strategy. Manisha's follow-up strategy is her newsletter. Event attendees are on the distribution list which she uses to frequently circulate some of the best articles she has found.
  4.  Build your network early. This classic networking advice is something Manisha took to heart early in her career. It takes time to establish trust, so Manisha's guidance is to start building relationships early and to keep at it using the networking tactics that work best for you!
Image Credit: Getty Images
Source: http://www.inc.com 

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


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Entrepreneurs, Beware This Terrible Way of Networking on Social Media

Approaching someone you don't know to ask them a favor doesn't work online any better than in real life.


There’s a trend emerging on social media. Someone you don’t know but who may be connected to some of your friends or your network sends you a friend request. Shortly after, they send you a private message or email telling you what they want from you.

Every single day, I get these type of friend requests and messages. Someone’s first interaction with me is to ask me to write about them or their company, or they want to pick my brain about how to book paid speaking and consulting gigs internationally. No “hello,” no small talk. They just get right to what they want and and how it somehow benefits me.

This is a terrible way to network and will never make a connection with fellow entrepreneurs. Social media works a lot like real life. You wouldn’t walk up to a stranger, say “hello” and then try to kiss them. There are three things you should understand in regards to networking.


1. Lead with value.


Human nature is to focus on what we want and what will help us. Networking done right leads with value for the person you're approaching.

I’m not going to give you the old-school advice to tell people you will work for free just to get their radar. It can be as simple as sharing a book suggestion or a helpful article that complements what that person has shared on social media. It's not about a grand gesture, it's about finding some way to approach that person with value.

Also, understand that trying to get them on the phone right away is too much. They don’t know you, a phone call right off the bat is not a great ask. Your asks should not exceed the realities of your relationship.

2. Do your research.


It amazes me how many people lead with the message “what do you do?” Hello, have you heard of Google?

If you are trying to get to know someone, start with their social media posts. Google what they’re up to and read their website. Do your research before you approach a person with a silly question. You don’t want to be that person whose first impression gets them ignored forever.

When you’re doing your research, look for something that interests the person you’re approaching and use it to get their attention. I’m not telling you to be a stalker, just do some light research to understand the person and what they do.


3. Realize there is no silver bullet.



A lot of times, entrepreneurs want to connect with an “influencer” or someone they follow. They think they’ll get some magical “answer” that takes them to their goal. Just about 100 percent of the time, it’s not. A conversation with the right person can unlock some strategy piece in your mind but there are 10 other steps that go along with that conversation.

The reality is that you are your key to creating success. You are the one who has to do the work that leads to results. It would be great to connect with someone who can help you move faster, but it’s not necessary. We have all the tools, technology and access we need to begin building a successful business without connecting with someone else first.

You can make good business connections that lead to joint ventures or collaborations but only if you approach the conversation and relationship in the right way. Lead with value but don’t go overboard. Spend a few minutes doing some research and send a message that shows you respected the person enough check out what they’re up to. Understand that you, more than anything, are the key to your own success. Even if you can’t connect, you can still build on your own. Here’s to you and networking in a way that helps your business.



Image credit: Shutterstock
Source: http://www.entrepreneur.com

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

Monday, April 10, 2017

7 Ideas to Improve Brand Loyalty Through Email Marketing




Email marketing serves a number of purposes, integrating multiple separate marketing channels and funneling your audience into one place. However, most email marketers end up narrowing their focus to only one email marketing goal: click-throughs. It’s certainly important to optimize your emails for click-throughs, as more traffic to your site usually translates directly to more revenue.

However, there’s another dimension of email marketing strategy that could lead to an even longer-term return on your investment: brand loyalty. This is how you can generate repeat business on a consistent basis. If you can facilitate greater brand loyalty through your content marketing campaign, you’ll generate customers who are willing to buy from you over and over again—and not from your competitors.

Using Email Marketing to Create Brand Loyalty

Here are seven strategies to help you do it:

1. Important updates and reminders. Your first job is to use your email strategy as a way to keep your customers informed, with important updates and reminders. For example, if your company is planning to have a major sale in the coming months, you can announce it to your email subscribers first, giving them a sense of exclusivity, and then send them periodic reminders as the date gets closer so they can adequately prepare. This helps your brand stay top-of-mind with your subscribers, and demonstrates value to them. Just make sure what you’re announcing has some real value to your subscribers or you’ll end up annoying them.

2. Free gifts. Offering a free gift is a common tactic used to attract people to subscribe to your email newsletter in the first place; it’s an exchange of value that prompts them to hand over their personal information. This is good for attracting initial subscribers, but it won’t prevent them from unsubscribing if their only interest was getting the free gift. If you want to show them recurring value, and keep them subscribing for the long term, consider offering them free gifts periodically, reminding them why they’re subscribed to you in the first place. These don’t have to be expensive; in fact, you could even stage a free gift as a giveaway for similar results.

3. Discounts and special offers. It’s also a good idea to offer discounts and special, email-exclusive offers to your subscribers. For example, you might give your email subscribers early access to one of your upcoming sales, or you might distribute a coupon code to only your email subscribers; this gives them a feeling of value and of exclusivity, bonding them more deeply to your brand. You could even encourage them to share these special offers; the feeling of exclusivity will remain, they’ll get to show off their rewards, and you’ll probably get some new subscribers out of the deal, too.

4. Circulated content. One of your greatest tools for encouraging brand loyalty is your ongoing content marketing campaign; By providing value and answers to real questions, anyone familiar with your brand will be more likely to stick around in the future. Email is a perfect tool to enhance the effectiveness of this campaign; for example, you can evaluate the effectiveness of your most recent content, pick out some top performers, and promote them via email blast to get even more recognition for them. Your subscribers will enjoy having the top-tier content delivered straight to their inboxes.

5. Email-exclusive content. You can go another route in the content marketing frame by offering email-exclusive content. This content is only distributed to your email subscribers—at least at first. For example, you might give them early access to download an eBook you’ve written, several weeks before it’s available to the general public. You could also distribute smaller pieces of content, such as fact sheets or digestible “quick guides” that have some kind of practical value for your readers. The key is to give them something valuable that nobody else is getting.

6. Participation bonuses. You can also give your users opportunities to engage with your brand—and rewards for doing so. For example, you could host a competition that encourage your users to write testimonials for your products or your brand in general, and enter participants in a giveaway for a hot item. Alternatively, you could ask for feedback in the form of a survey or user comments, and personally thank or reward anyone who participates. When users engage with your brand, in any way, they’ll feel closer to it, and they’ll be less likely to go to a competitor in the future.

7. Social integrations. Though somewhat simple, you can also encourage more brand loyalty by integrating your social media platforms with your email marketing strategy. This mode of cross-pollination encourage some of your already-loyal social media followers to subscribe to your email list, and encourages some of your interested email subscribers to get more involved on the social media front. Either way, you’ll be encouraging more user participation with and exposure to your brand, which will foster a stronger sense of cumulative loyalty over time.

Note that the effectiveness of these seven strategies will depend on the nature of your business and the type of users you’re trying to target; they won’t work equally well for every business. Take some time to develop your other marketing strategies in unison with your email campaign, and sort out the tactics you think are most effective. If you’re in doubt, simply try them and see what happens; your results will indicate whether your chosen tactic was a success.

Image Credit: ShutterShock
Source: smallbiztrends.com


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

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Get Involved & Connect with WNFP Community


Seeking Committee Members

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a membership based business organization with a member led committee which plays a significant role in the growth and success of the organization. WNFP is currently seeking candidates to serve as an Officer or Committee Member to support to work and mission of WNFP.

Committee involvement areas:
  • Membership Committee
  • Signature Events Committee
  • Publications Committee

Participation in a committee is voluntary and varies by your commitment and availability. As a member, you will be required to attend committee meetings, meeting is held in person or via conference call and lasts approximately 1-2 hours.

Members must be able to commit and dedicate 4 - 6 hours per month, depending on the project and communicate with Officers via email and phone regularly.

For more information, contact Executive Director Theresa Todman at ttodman@wnfp.org or call (914) 266-0347.




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

Monday, April 3, 2017

Why purchased email lists are a huge no-no for your email marketing


Nothing is more important to your email marketing than your list of subscribers. The success of your campaigns, not to mention your business, depends on an interested and engaged list. You may be tempted to hurry along your list building efforts by purchasing an email list, but giving in to that moment of temptation can lead to poor email results and possibly damage your mailing reputation for a long time.

In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the reasons that a purchased email list is a big don’t for email marketing.


Email service providers won’t allow purchased lists


First, as long as you’re using a reputable email service provider to send your email campaigns, you won’t be allowed to use a purchased list. At all. Most ask up front that the email list is opted in, meaning those on the list opted in to specifically receive emails from your company, and some will ask list members to re-opt in as well (double opt-in). Add to this that ESPs monitor everything in their system and will know if you’re trying to send to a questionable list. This allows them to have a good sending reputation and to get the emails they send on behalf of their customers delivered. If something causes a problem, impacting their business and customers, they’ll be sure to find the culprit and bar them from their system.

Bad addresses, bad delivery rate


Addresses on a purchased list are likely to be poor quality. At the very least the addresses will be old and unlikely to be used much, if at all. You’ll see higher bounce rates because of this and more likely to see higher complaints as well. The overall campaign stats will be underwhelming if much of the list is undeliverable. One other thing that can happen with old addresses is that they become spam traps or honeypots. These are email addresses used specifically to find people using questionable lists and will cause serious damage to your sending reputation resulting in fewer emails getting to the inbox. If you hit a spam trap used by a domain like Yahoo! or Gmail, or an anti-spam company like Spamhaus, you’ll find yourself blacklisted or blocked from sending.


Too many bounces



If you decide to ignore all the warnings about how bad sending to a purchased list really is, you’ll still have problems beyond dealing with your ESP. Since most of the addresses will most likely be older, they probably aren’t active and anything sent to them will bounce. Typically, a bounce rate below 2% is optimal, and if it goes over 5% there’s a definite problem with the list. If there are some active email accounts on this type of list they’ll be more likely to delete the email, since they don’t know who sent it or why. Or worse, the email will be marked as spam and you’ll be on your way to a bad sending reputation. The ESP you’re using will also note the poor response to your email campaign and start asking you some tough questions about how your list was built. You’ll find fewer people actually interacting with your email with a purchased list, no matter how large it seems.
Invading the inboxes of strangers

Remember you’re sending email campaigns to people. You design your email to make it easy for a person to read and add calls-to-action to encourage your readers to click. You know that there is a person at the other end of that email address. If people didn’t ask to hear from you and suddenly receive an unexpected email in their inbox from a sender they don’t recognize it’s nearly guaranteed that they will delete it and report it as spam. Forcing your way into someone’s inbox without permission is like showing up to a dinner party hosted by someone you don’t know, uninvited. It’s not a great way to start a relationship with a customer or client. Most people are savvy about their email address and will know if they signed up for your email list or not. And besides, there are also anti-spam laws around the world to take into consideration. If you can’t see a problem with sending unwanted emails, remember that most of the spam laws bar purchased lists from being mailed to.

“Everyone buys lists”


Sometimes an email marketer will be following the rules about email lists and not doing anything questionable when in walks the boss demanding to see a bigger, better, and more active email list. She’s heard that the big competitor down the street has a huge list and all they did was buy it. Why didn’t you?  “Everyone buys lists, no one really cares where the addresses came from!“ While this certainly does happen, everyone doesn’t buy lists and those that do can run into some serious problems, as we’ve seen. A large list doesn’t mean a high-performing one. You want the people on your list to open your email and take an action. A smaller list of engaged readers will benefit your business far more than a large list of uninterested ones. The best approach is to grow your list organically, get your readers to opt-in, and send interesting and targeted emails.
Growing an email list

There are many ways to grow an opted in email list, it all depends on what type of business you have. An easy one to get started with is a sign up form on your website (there are heaps of sign up form options in our App Store). You can customize how the form looks and what data you collect. You can also use it on your blog, or on Facebook if that’s a good channel for your business. If you do in-person events or have a brick-and-mortar store you can have people sign-up in person or using the Enlist app. For even more ideas check out our free Email List Building guide.

Wrap up


There are a number of crucial reasons to invest time into growing your email list instead of buying one, as we’ve covered here. Buying a list may seem like a quick fix, but in the long run it will lose money and damage or ruin your sending reputation. If you want your email to get to the inbox so it can be read, make sure your email lists are opted-in and have been grown the right way. The time spent building a good email list will pay off when you have a high-performing list of people who can’t wait to read your emails.





Source: www.campaignmonitor.com

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

Friday, March 31, 2017

Hate Networking? Stop Doing It Wrong


How many times have you found yourself in the back room of a swanky uptown restaurant, readjusting your Sharpied-on name tag sticker and furtively glancing around the room looking for someone--anyone--who looks even vaguely familiar?

Maybe you pull out your pocket comfort device and start scrolling the time away; Maybe you slip out early with an exhale of relief. Even if you consider yourself an extravert who can deliver a killer elevator pitch, networking events can feel like they're eroding the last brittle piece of your soul.

When I first struck out on my own, I knew I needed to expand my circle, and fast. Beyond that, I needed to do so in a different state: I'm from Arizona. And in 2009--if you wanted to be in tech--you wanted to be in California.

There are few things more daunting than walking into a strange room, in a strange state and speed dating your way to a healthy LinkedIn profile. The fact is, no one can succeed at business alone.

Who you know in this world is even more important than the ideas you have, and building your network of peers, media outlets and potential partners is vital. Still, the act of 'networking' turns so many people off -- here's what got me through it.

Have a plan

Start valuing the quality of your connections and focus on making introductions that matter. Make a list of people who would have value to you, but more importantly, that you can also add value to, and plan your attendance where they will be. Advice I read is to "get out there and shake as many hands as possible," which to me is as pointless as sending out as many cold emails as possible.

There has to be an element of trust in the room already or else these cold handshakes will just be limp attempts to force a relationship. I chose to start going to software user groups as I could help them for free, in a controlled setting and ultimately they made up the audience I was trying to sell into. After the first event I attended I walked away with three customers and a critical partner.

Birds of a Feather

But alright, I'll acquiesce that you sometimes have to put yourself in the uncomfortable position of rubbing elbows where you simply don't know the attendee list.
The key is to make absolutely sure you're attending the right event. Would you potentially make more valuable connections at a large gala where you're wined and dined, or at a small roundtable with five leaders in the same position as you? No matter your seniority or status, your goals when networking should be focused on mentoring and learning. Do not focus on selling!

Create Backchannels

Larger circles always start with a few key connections. Therefore, create relationships based on going the extra mile for those key gatekeepers you meet. Make it your goal to make these connections feel that they are the most important person in the world.

We send physical gifts to connections we want to foster as a way of breaking through. After you have forged the relationship you can leverage that to navigate into other circles. That's why I hate blanket networking events and try not to send my employees to them. If I can turn to one of these relationships and get an introduction made via LinkedIn, that's critical. Nothing is more powerful than a referral because it breaks the trust barrier.

Cheat

Get the attendee list. Even if this is just the list of companies who will be in attendance, use it to lay the groundwork for a successful event. You'd be surprised at how many times reaching out directly to the event leader will yield this info. Just make sure to do it verbally - I marvel at the usage of email in these personal exchanges - pick up the phone and call someone.

If you can't negotiate it from the host, start calling attendees you know to see if they have insight. Ultimately, you're trying to get information you can use to introduce yourself prior in a digital format. When I meet someone for the first time and they don't respond with that familiar exclamation, "Hey! Yeah, we just connected on LinkedIn," then I haven't done my job right.

Go Higher

For C-suiters, treat networking groups like a working social hour. Curate your own small group of five or so executives to meet regularly to sit down with the stated goal of helping each other work through problems. Even if you don't all come from the same industry, you'll see how universal business problems can be.

Time is sensitive, but having a trusted growth advisory board or leadership council that can empathize with similar experiences (and stick to a regular schedule) can do wonders for your organization.

Test the Waters

Despite your best efforts to network the right way and call on friends and acquaintances to make introductions, your employer might burden you with mandatory group attendance. Make the most of it.

Even if it means trying out ten groups or events, keep going until you discover which is the right one for you. If you're not sure where to start, ask your boss what exactly they hope you get out of the experience and what they expect you to bring back, and marry that with your own ideas about what you need for personal growth.

Networking is a necessary evil in today's climate, and a bit of an enigma for many young entrepreneurs and seasoned CEOs who haven't been in practice in a while. Before you curse your next networking event, take a deep breath, stick to your goals and remember, it's all about who you know.




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

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

Thursday, March 30, 2017

How to Build Great Relationships With Mentors and Advisors

 

Great businesses are built with a lot of effort and a handful of key decisions. Effective relationships with mentors, advisors, and directors are based upon four main areas of concern and agreement between the parties; the Relationship, Value, Time Horizon, and Compensation.

The Mentor


Relationship
: A mentor is an informal relationship. Mentors are committed and generous with advice, experience, or introductions, but don't guarantee any specific amounts of time, regularly scheduled meetings or deliverables.

Warning: Mentors don't purposefully use their relationship as bait to hook you into a paid engagement for consulting services. This doesn't prevent transactional relationships or business partnerships evolving from the initial mentor/mentee dynamic, but the intention of the initial relationship is not transactional or with an alternative agenda.

Value: To the entrepreneur a wide variety of mentors is smart, because it will expose you to several (sometimes conflicting) opinions (i.e. mentor whiplash). This deepens your experience in critical thinking and decision making, and builds confidence as you learn to trust your gut and live with the outcomes.

The Value of being a mentor is to truly give back to your fellow entrepreneurs in a spirit of generosity, being a model of resilience they can latch onto when times are tough and they feel alone.

Time Horizon
: Completely organic and unpredictable. Some mentor/mentee relationships begin and end over a 20 minute session and others form into meaningful professional and personal peer-to-peer relationships over years.

Board Advisor


Relationship: More Formal/but not legally authorized to bind the corporation. As early stage companies grow out of idea stage into a viable offering, they will typically begin to formalize several items including their entity formation, capital access strategy, issue founders stock, and set up the initial bylaws to prepare for full scale operations.

It is at this point that certain domain experts become valuable and needed to advance towards an established early milestone. At this stage formalizing outside Directors on the company's board is typically pre-mature for one or both parties.

This is where the advisory role is a key asset to attract and formalize with regards to what type of help, access, time commitment, and introductions are requested, and what type of compensation is sensible.

For a fair and quick template I suggest something like the F.A.S.T. agreement as a great starting point template for companies and potential advisors. This will save time, align expectations, and avoid confusion.

Value: The value of the Board Advisor can be tremendous as you move your business to a more formal and operational entity. It can round out holes in the founding team from both experience and technical expertise as well as help 'recruit' key resources and potential capital providers to conversations around your opportunity.

Keep your legal governance minimal until the time comes for establishing board governance, term sheet valuation and shareholder value metrics, and management oversight procedures.

Time Horizon: This commitment is formalized yet flexible and less time consuming than a Board of Directors role. It can be fluid in its duration and exist in parallel to the Board of Directors as a stair step to a board-run company.

Compensation
: Commonly given in the form of equity slivers that vest over time for specific deliverables.


Board Director


Relationship: A formal officer of the corporation with binding and fiduciary responsibility to the shareholders of the company with the ability to hire/fire the CEO of the company and approve or deny major capital raises, acquisitions, and key hires.

Value: As your company moves into commercialization the value of a Board of Directors formalizes many of the necessary management processes by which you will build enterprise value and measure governance and performance for the investors. It also serves as an important way to speed up key account activity or capital raising efforts as you select Board members who have credible relationships they are willing to share.

Time Horizon: Outside Directors in private companies are typically not needed in the early stage but will begin to show up as institutional or sophisticated capital providers invest into the enterprise and wish to assign a representative who aligns with their interests.

Compensation: This position is always compensated. Depending on the stage of the business, compensation can come in several forms that typically combine equity with vesting schedules and cash or reimbursements.

For a great summary from my friend Brad Feld (so that I am not reinventing a wheel that rolls nicely) read his blog post on Board compensation.

In Summary


Hopefully these distinctions will allow for better clarity between those helping and those needing help, so that frustration and or disappointment can be mitigated more frequently on the road to growth.




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

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

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Why Do You Need SEO for Growing Your Business?

SEO is all over the place today – whether you’re writing an article to go to Ezine, an “about us” page to go on to someone’s website or even posts on your own blog, everyone wants to make sure they’ve incorporated SEO. Before we talk about the grave importance that SEO has when it comes to online content, let me give you a brief description about SEO.

The world has become quite a globalized one. Businesses don’t compete with others within national boundaries anymore. The doors to international business have been thrown wide open in most countries and business carry out their operations all over the world. But just because a business based in San Francisco is allowed to conduct business in New Zealand doesn’t mean that it physically sets up an office at the other end of the world. This is where the internet comes in.
 



Why do businesses need websites?


The internet has become a virtual marketplace – a market where businesses from all over the world communicate with other businesses from all over the world. Like all businesses need physical marketing to let people know about them, they need virtual marketing to let the world know that they exist too. How else can they gain customers if the world doesn’t know that they exist, that they have any services or products to offer and that they’re good at their job? In the virtual marketplace, a company or business’ identity is established by its online face or its website.

Now add to this the fact that every business has competitors, and with globalization, these competitors have only increased in number. So like any two good salesmen of two companies would do, the websites of these companies need to outshine each other. Outshining each other doesn’t mean that one needs to use flashier colors and larger fonts. It means that they need to show up higher on the list of results that a search engine brings up.

The search for a service


As a customer looking for a service, say a portable air conditioner service, you are probably going to go to Google or Yahoo or Bing and type in the words ‘portable air conditioner’ in the search box. What comes up then is a list of firms and individuals who can offer you the service you want. Have you wondered why someone comes up on the third position in a search result and why someone else on the seventh?

That, is the result of SEO. SEO or Search Engine Optimization has everything to do with ensuring that your website or blog or any online content for that matter comes up higher on the result list of a search engine. A popular method has always been to use keywords, words that people are likely to type into the search box when looking for a particular service, while composing the content for your web page. So if you’re selling baby nappies, your website will have a lot of usage of the word ‘baby’ and ‘nappy’. How will that be of any use, you ask?


How search engines work and why SEO is in such demand?


Google’s search engine is not a dormant one, neither is Yahoo or Bing. Their crawlers are busy scoping out all the websites available online at regular intervals and making a database; and when someone types in a bunch of keywords, they dive into that database and pull out websites that mention those very keywords. The more the keywords, the higher the page will show.

The basic need for SEO is due to the human habit of not really pressing on the button that says ‘next’ at the end of the page of search results. The first ten entries or at the very maximum, the entries on the first two pages of search engine results are the ones that get looked at – so you need to make sure to be on that first page.

For that, you need to make sure that your website is search engine optimized. It’s a rough world out there. If you’re not among the top few, you’re likely to go unnoticed; and the craving for attention has made SEO the new motto for success.

Planning Your SEO Strategy


So, what exactly are the so called strategies to master online marketing? Viral marketing direct marketing, social media, blogs and marketing techniques like Pay Per Click (PPC) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and YouTube videos are the most basic means to marketing online. The site should have powerful and unique content and filled with the necessary requirements. Search engines analyze the text and compare with other related sites.

The supreme role of keywords couldn’t be stressed more. It ensures that your site gets listed high in the search engines. It could mean the life or death of a site or its competitors’ sites! PPC is the pay per click campaign and all that needs be done is to pay the search engines based on the number of clicks to your site. Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing, and Microsoft adCenter are the three largest PPC providers.

It’s not over until it’s over! Once out on the virtual world, it’s a race to prove who the best is. In spite of a good marketing strategy, it can still spell trouble if a few things aren’t taken care of.



Nobody has the time to read boring stuff. Either get them hooked or lose them all. Make the site worth a visit. 
Everybody loves gifts. Why not give perks to those who visit the site either by free gifts or free information related to object? That should hold people’s enthusiasm. 
Hire someone to do your dirty work. Not being good at making the site content-rich or creating a landing page that people wants to keep returning to is A-okay, as long as a little bit is invested to get that done. 
Creativity is the rule. Have something new and refreshing to dish out tothe visitors.
The trends are changing by the minute. If there’s no foresight, it’s better to pack up before even beginning. 
Turning a blind eye towards the competition can be suicide. Be a peeping Tom. Doesn’t hurt to know what the others are doing. 
This is no time for ego. If in doubt, or in trouble, talk to experienced people. They would have a thing or two to say. If they don’t, no loss. 
The primary difficulty with online marketing is its lack of human interaction which sets it at a disadvantage. The entire online marketing strategy has to be implemented to counter this, to reach out to all the people out there.


Online marketing earns a quick buck and with a little perseverance can turn out to be a treasure chest. Job seekers and those looking for a career change find the area exciting and the work-at-home possibility even more so. It is the ideal platform for those disenchanted with the usual course of events to keep their brains engaged. Online marketing could be the closest thing to an ideal job- earning heaps without even breaking a sweat.











Source: http://tweakyourbiz.com
Image credit: Grippster.com


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