Wednesday, June 21, 2017

5 Tricks for Growing Your Audience and Business on LinkedIn

Try these tips to achieve more visibility and engagement to build your thought leadership brand and convert new business.  



Though social media has become a competition of virality, there are still a few sacred places that can be used for professional growth. Building a strong brand on Twitter and Facebook can do a lot for your personal network, but your brand on LinkedIn actually means business (pun intended).

LinkedIn is less about choosing the right selfie or mastering disappearing stories and more about using content to amass an audience and showcase your skill set. With 160,000 new articles per week on LinkedIn, many brands and consumers are using the platform to maximize their exposure. There is indeed a strategy for growth on LinkedIn that can help you start meaningful conversations with contacts and communities. Here are five tricks for expanding your audience and business on LinkedIn.

Trust in what’s trending.

Trending Storylines is LinkedIn’s latest update but the first feature to prioritize when it comes to garnering heightened exposure amongst your industry. Just last month LinkedIn launched this curated news feed highlighting the day’s trending news stories, personalized around one’s interests and connections.

Much like hashtags on any other social network, trending storylines allows your commentary on a certain subject to be found in the cumulative feed of others also speaking on that topic. This goes for published stories as well as status updates, setting the perfect environment to broadcast your point of view through both short- and long-form content.

Using trending hashtags alone has put my updates in front of a couple thousand users, where previously it only garnered a few hundred impressions. Yet, it's not just LinkedIn’s algorithm that rewards timely content; their staff also handpicks certain stories, which is another factor to consider when strategizing.

Pick the right picture.

Most of what’s viral on social media is more about the visual assets than the copy. The same applies for engagement when publishing on LinkedIn. As other forms of media fight for reader’s attention, the graphic that accompanies your writing needs to be just as engaging.

Within LinkedIn, the header photo is what leads people to click on your article just as much as the title. It’s what everyone sees first when scrolling down their feed or searching within a LinkedIn Group.

What kind of visual are you choosing to set your content apart? With the abundance of articles published per day on LinkedIn, you will need to implement something unique, eye-catching and a complement to the core of your article -- even if it means commissioning a freelancer.





It’s more about when.

As a business professional, writing to other business professionals, it’s vital that you take everyone’s schedule into consideration when looking to publish.

The best writers have aligned their posting schedule with anticipated activity on LinkedIn. As someone who’s a part of the audience you’re writing to, assume their role for a second when you’re deciding to push your content live. Monday mornings are usually inopportune times, as many of the readers you want to reach are catching up on the weekend’s emails. This same thought process applies to Fridays, when people are just as busy finishing their work in preparation for the weekend.

Both Hubspot and LinkedIn chimed in on finding that sweet spot, estimating that Tuesday through Thursday is the optimal time to publish. Recognized entrepreneur, Noah Kagan, found similar trends in regards to posting on LinkedIn. Kagan, who was an early employee at Facebook and Mint, founded the popular inbound marketing tool, Sumo. According to Kagan's data, posts published on Thursdays saw the highest average total views, closely followed by Sunday as far as user activity.

Distribution matters (a lot).

As you well know, your work isn’t done once it’s published. Dismissing distribution is simply doing yourself and your creativity a disservice. Whether you’re targeting consumers or delivering B2B focused content, syndication is vital on LinkedIn. Where are you sharing what you’ve written and with whom?

Consider pushing your work to relevant LinkedIn Groups because these communities are full of decision makers in your respective industry, which is a prime opportunity to introduce them to you and your brand. But, at the same time, it must provide true value to drive organic and invested traffic your way.

Distribution should be a larger focus when targeting businesses as well. Aside from trending storylines, LinkedIn announced LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms, helping bring in high-quality leads by removing the friction of mobile conversion. Through Sponsored Content, you can launch campaigns that support gated content to rack up on inbound leads.

Using the algorithm to your advantage.

Engaging in conversation with those who comment or share your content is crucial for growing your readership on any platform, but it's 10 times more important for your success on LinkedIn.

The algorithm can be used in a few ways to tap into additional networks through those who have engaged with your work. When a user likes or comments on an article of yours, it appears on his personal feed. LinkedIn’s product is built to present content that like audiences will find valuable; use this to your advantage by starting a conversation with those who have responded to your work. Interaction in the comments section of an article is the reason behind many of LinkedIn's successful content. Not to mention that the most engaged threads will get pinned to the top of the comment section.

Getting in front of the masses isn’t by chance, thankfully there are a series of techniques using your comments as a conversation that carries throughout LinkedIn. Tagging other individuals who have a following is another method of garnering more exposure. Don’t be afraid to mention other thought leaders to showcase other credible perspectives that your following and theirs would love to be aware of.

The platform’s algorithm rewards ongoing conversation, ultimately bringing third and fourth-degree audiences to what you’ve written.

LinkedIn is a community of hungry enthusiasts among a variety of industries. These distinct practices will help you achieve more visibility and engagement to build your thought leadership brand and convert new business.





Source: http://www.entrepreneur.com 
Image Credit: Shuttershock


ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level. 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, June 20, 2017

How To Write A Persuasive Marketing Email




When you send a marketing email, it’s a bit different from a regular email.


You’re not just sharing information, you’re trying to drive engagement that supports your business in some way.

You’re trying to drive action without being too pushy and turning your subscribers off.
  
What’s the secret to writing a successful marketing email?

The best email marketing campaigns have a clear focus, authentic tone, and information that’s helpful to the reader.

Use these tips to write marketing emails that drive business:

    •    Infuse the personality of your business.


Imagine you’re having a face-to-face conversation with a customer. What would that experience be like? Your reader should feel like you’re speaking directly to them as well. Extend the great experience you regularly provide to create an engaging content strategy.
 

  • Make sure the subject line is true to the content of your email.
There are many tips about how to write good email subject lines. The most important tip? Be clear about what the reader should expect when they open the email.


  • Take advantage of the preheader text to entice the reader to open your email.

The preheader text is like a second subject line. It gives you an additional chance to entice the reader to open your email. Use this to your advantage, especially when it comes to increasing your mobile open rates.






  • Keep content clear and concise.


Picture, Paragraph, Call to Action. The best emails have a clear focus and are designed to encourage a single action from the reader. Clear, concise content also makes it easier to read your emails.
 

  • Only include information that helps the reader take the action you want them to take.


Remove anything that veers from the action you want the reader to take. Doing so helps you get to the best length for your email newsletter. If it’s not helping your reader take the desired action, it’s a distraction. Remove it.



  • Plan on sending more than one email.


It would be great if all you needed was one email to do the job. The truth is people are busy and your business isn’t their top priority. It’s not that people don’t want to take action, it’s just that they get distracted. Plan your email marketing calendar to include a short series of three emails around a particular promotion: an announcement, a reminder, and a last chance.


  • Ready to write your marketing email?


Put these tips to use and start seeing more meaningful results from your email marketing today.


These content tips, combined with a customizable email template, make it easy to create a persuasive email in minutes — like the example below.



Source: http://www.forbes.com
Image Credit: Shuttershock.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. 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!

The Top 7 Benefits of Email Marketing (Pay Close Attention to No. 5)





The numbers show that email marketing is still a widely used, and successful, marketing channel.

However, your small business can use email marketing in many different ways. How do you choose your approach? One way might be the following chart from the Email Marketing & Marketing Automation Excellence 2017 Report:




Top Benefits of Email Marketing

The chart illustrates the seven top benefits of email marketing (ignoring “Other”), each of which is a worthy goal depending on what your small business is aiming to achieve.

1. Generating More Leads

Encouraging visitors to sign up for your email marketing list is just one way to generate more leads. Another strategy is to encourage your email subscribers to forward your emails on to friends, families, and acquaintances or to share it on social media.


2. Improved Sales

If every subscriber on your list turned into a customer, you’d be in small business heaven. Unfortunately, that’s probably never going to happen. However, you can increase your sales by focusing the right email campaigns on the right people. The secret to doing this is email list segmentation, a process that enables you to nurture each of your list subscribers with the right message at the right time, eventually moving each through your funnel to becoming a customer.


3. Improved Conversion Rates

In order to sell, you need to convert and the key to email conversions is to nurture them using content. Like #2 above, the key lies in email list segmentation however, it helps to know what type of  content to use at each stage of the sales process. Once you nail that, your nurturing efforts will be much more effective and, your overall conversion rates will increase.


4. Reduced Marketing Costs

If your small business marketing budget is tight, you’ll be interested in low-cost ways to promote yourself. Happily, there are a lot of email marketing tools out, many of which offer a free tier of service and low prices when you need more features and functionality.


5. Identifying Better-Quality Leads

The last thing you need is to waste time on bad leads. That’s why, before marketing your small business, it pays to have a lead qualifying system in place. Happily, email marketing itself is a lead qualifying system that demonstrates a prospect’s interest based on:
  • The fact that they signed up for your list in the first place;
  • Whether they open your emails; and
  • If they click on any of the links within your emails.


6. Integrating with Other Media to Boost Response

Integrated marketing is a powerful tool in any marketer’s kit. One of the best integrations for email is with social media where your emails can include:
  • Social share icons;
  • Super-sharable content; and
  • Deals to share which then give a referral reward back to the subscriber who shared it.


7. Shorter Sales Cycles

Email marketing is a great way to get your most convincing content in front of prospective decision makers. If you’re nurturing the right subscribers via email as mentioned in No. 5 above, and you’re using both segmentation and the right content as mentioned in No. 2 and No. 3 above respectively, then you can speed up your sales cycle by getting the right content to the right decision maker at the right time.

Now that’s powerful stuff.






Source: http://www.smallbiztrends.com
Image Credit: Shuttershock


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

3 Common Mistakes to Avoid With Advertising on Facebook, According to a Social Media Expert



As a social media consultant and speaker, Andrea Vahl spends a lot of time on Facebook. But instead of checking out her friends pictures and profiles, she focuses on ads placed by all kinds of businesses. What she sees sometimes makes her shake her head.

"Facebook ads can feel very overwhelming when you first start, and the main mistake I see business owners making is only using the Boost Post option on Facebook," said Vahl, the co-author of Facebook Marketing All-in-One for Dummies.

Vahl describes herself as "passionate" about helping businesses understand and leverage the power of social media to actually grow their business. I talked with her about best practices for advertising on Facebook.

Here's what she told me:

Galek: Should I boost my post?

Vahl: The Boost Post option is very 'easy' to use but doesn't optimize the ad in the best way all the time. If you are looking to get more website traffic, then optimize the ad for Traffic in the Ads Manager area.

How do I tell if my ads are costing more than I am making?

The second mistake marketers make is not looking at the ad reports correctly. For example, make sure you are looking at the cost per link click rather than just the overall cost per click to compare which ad performed best to drive traffic.

Should I always stick with my first ad?

The other big mistake that people make is not split testing multiple ads. I often find that one image will do better in terms of cost per click over another and it's not always the one I think it will be. If you are just running one ad, you may not be getting the lowest cost you could be.

How do I target my Facebook advertising?

Right now, one of the biggest trends is re-targeting your ad to your warm audience so that you are being seen more often by the people who are most interested in your business.

You can target your ads to your website visitors, your email subscribers, people who have seen your Facebook videos, and now people who have engaged with your Facebook Posts in some way. When you target your ads this way, you can save money by showing your ads to a smaller, more highly-targeted audience.

Any business can find success with Facebook ads. I've seen all different types of businesses that get good results from Facebook ads, including local businesses, B2C, B2B, online, and offline.

If you can target your audience well with the keywords then Facebook ads can work for you.There's one exception -- if your audience is so specific that you are better off reaching out via different methods, like phone calls then maybe Facebook isn't the best place.


How should businesses get started advertising on Facebook?


Slowly. You should spend about ten to 20 percent of the ads budget in the testing phase. Test different demographic targets and images if possible to see which ads convert the best. Then spend the remaining budget on the ad or two that performs the best.


Do you have any tips and tricks when it comes to the Facebook world? Please  comment and share them below.





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



ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level. 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, June 19, 2017

How to Get Your First 50 Customers (Without Paid Advertising)

Launching a new product? Here's how to make your first 50 sales-- in a way that gets you many more.


Nothing is more exhilarating than getting your first customers.

And in your haste to sell, you may think that buying ads is the best way to make your first sales. That may certainly be the fastest way, but sometimes, slow is better.

When you launch a new product, you're still testing the market, and the indicator you're measuring is actual sales. I recommend a slower but more insightful way of getting your first customers: getting into conversations with your prospects.

Connect with prospects and get their feedback on your offer. Exactly how you do this will depend on how much existing access you have to your market, and how reputable of a person you are in their eyes.

How to Sell Through Conversations

If you don't have an audience, then you'll have to draw from family, friends, colleagues, and social media connections, as well as anyone they might refer.

Get on the phone with them and ask them what they need (in relation to the problem your product addresses), what their challenges are, and so on. Eventually, shift to questions (not statements) about how you can help them.

Finally, ask if your product is something they'd be interested in. Tell them what it is, what problem it would solve for them, and what outcome they can expect from using it. Then ask if they want to buy it.

If they say "yes," then tell them the price and close the sale. Congratulations, you just got your first customer!

If they say "no," ask them why not. Reassure them that you're not pressuring them into buying, but you'd really like to understand and get feedback on your offer.

And if they say, "maybe," then push back. Get a definite yes or no.

Sales conversations are high-touch and not scalable, but that's fine for your first 50 sales, because at that stage you aren't just selling, you're also figuring out what the effective messaging for sales is comprised of.

How to Sell through Email

If you do have an audience, such as a list of at least 2,000 email subscribers or a group of engaged followers on a social media platform, then you have a few more options.

You can still conduct person-to-person sales conversations. But if you want something more scalable, then you can "converse" through email or a series of blog posts.

Passive Email PS

If you're in semi-regular contact with your ideal customers, a really easy approach can be to just add a P.S. line to your email signature, such as "Did you know that I offer [benefit/outcome]? Ask me about how I can do that for you."

This is a good dialogue starter. You can then get them on the phone with you and proceed as described above. Or, you can give them more information through email and eventually make your offer.

Email/Blog Series

This can be done through email, your blog, or social media posts that introduce the idea to your audience and bring them to the point of buying your product. Here's what to include in this email or blog sequence:

1) Float your pilot idea.

Float your pilot idea by telling your audience your story so far. Share the origin story of the product, what specific problems and desires you learned about in your research, and why you are uniquely able to help them solve those problems.

2) Ask your audience if they want it.

Talk about your product as a modality for a solution. Ask questions like:
 
Would you be interested in a product that does [X]?

What would be the most important thing for me to include in such a product?

What would be your biggest hesitation, concern, or fear around using a product like this?

3) Announce your product.

Declare that you're going to create and offer your product. Follow up by giving people a sense of how the product is going to work, what outcomes it delivers, and roughly how much it's going to cost.

4) Open your cart.

Officially announce that your product is now ready for purchase.

Email people and remind them to buy as many times as you can come up legitimate reasons to be reaching out. And if you decide to close the cart after your first 50 customers so you can get feedback and iterate, then give your audience plenty of warning about that.

If getting your first customers becomes too much of a struggle, that tells you that your message-to-market fit isn't quite right.

Otherwise, you can use what you learn from your first 50 sales to make your next 100, 1,000 sales.








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


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

To expand their professional networks, entrepreneurs are seeking smaller and smaller crowds.



 In 2008, Sol Orwell, the co-founder of the nutrition company Examine.com, was at a loss. He was attending a big digital marketing conference in Seattle, hoping to expand his network, but the event was so packed that he didn't know where to start. His friend had no such hesitation. He told Orwell he was going to "meet some friends." Twenty minutes later, he returned holding a stack of 40 business cards. "At the time, I was blown away," recalls Orwell, who thought his friend was a networking genius. "But now I think, Did he do anything more than have short conversations?"

Today Orwell has a much different idea of successful networking. He still attends at least one large conference a year, but that's not how he builds his relationships. Instead, he hosts monthly dinners of six to 12 entrepreneurs, where conversations might jump from business to culinary trends to travel hot spots. And every Friday, he parks himself at a coffee shop in his hometown of Toronto and invites local entrepreneurs to join him for leisurely conversations.

Orwell is not alone in questioning the conventional approaches to networking. Because frankly, those approaches -- abetted by technology and hype -- don't work that well. The rise of social media and digital communication means your entrepreneurial hero is just a tweet or an email away, but it also means successful entrepreneurs are bombarded by so many networking requests that they delete most of them on sight. And the boom in massive, circus-like conferences makes it easier than ever to harvest large numbers of business cards, but the sheer numbers of attendees make forming real connections harder.

As a result, in the past decade, small-scale, invite-only events for entrepreneurs -- from monthly dinner salons of fewer than a dozen people to upscale weekend retreats that cap out at 150 guests -- have begun to redefine the networking landscape. Entrepreneurs are willing to spend anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 for access to smart, like-minded people who are also in search of reciprocal, long-lasting relationships. As Orwell explains, these conferences and retreats are "a lot more welcoming" than the huge conventions. "There won't be wantrepreneurs, but people you can have actual conversations with," he says.

Shane Parrish, whose productivity and decision-making newsletter, Farnam Street, has a devoted following of more than 100,000 subscribers, was one of those businesspeople frustrated by the state of networking. (He estimates he personally gets 300 networking requests a month.) So in 2014, he started offering annual three-day workshops. These events, which cost about $2,300, are open to the public but are strictly capped at 50 people. Even just a few more, Parrish says, makes it harder for attendees to break out of their comfort zones. When they do break out, he says, the payoff is significant. "Everyone is struggling through similar problems, but they're smart and they're not your friends, so they're not telling you what you want to hear," he says. "You can grow a ton."

Parrish also hosts much smaller and costlier retreats for 10 to 15 people in places like Hawaii and Paris, in which each participant has one hour to troubleshoot some problem -- be it personal or business-related -- with the group. "To me, that's real networking," Parrish says. "You're getting to understand people and their context so you can help them achieve their goals.


"Everyone is struggling through similar problems, but they're smart, and they're not your friends, so they're not telling you what you want to hear," says one organizer. "You can grow a ton."
The organizers behind these sorts of small-scale conferences say the ideas exchanged from this casual back-and-forth are a lot more useful than the promised "content" that many large conferences advertise. "You don't get value from big-name speakers," says Jayson Gaignard, the founder of MastermindTalks, an invite-only community for entrepreneurs, which includes an annual three-day conference of roughly 150 people. If you want to sit there as someone talks at you, Gaignard says, you can "listen to a podcast on the way to the gym."

MastermindTalks has become famous for its exclusivity ("a lower acceptance rate than Harvard" boasts Gaignard's LinkedIn profile) and price tag (about $10,000), and so participants have come to expect at least some access to the superstars of their profession. Gary Vaynerchuk, James Altucher and Damien Escobar have all attended, but their appearances -- unannounced until the last minute -- feel impromptu and informal. As Gaignard explains, standing around and drinking beers while peppering Vaynerchuk, the marketing guru, with questions is a much different experience than listening to him give a talk from a podium.

James Clear, who pens a popular newsletter on human potential and runs eight-person retreats in destinations like Sedona, Ariz. and Breckenridge, Colo., eschews big names altogether. "I want people to feel like they're with peers," he says. Clear organizes his retreats around a specific theme or profession and is highly selective in terms of the people he invites.

Referrals, it seems, are how most people gain access to these events. And how do they get referred? Orwell says this happens by building relationships, over time, with people who either lead these retreats or have attended them. "People just try to rush everything," he says. "They try to befriend everyone. Instead, follow the people you really find interesting, and that will naturally let you have conversations with them." Once you've formed a genuine bond with someone who is connected, he says, you're more likely to be referred.

It's a chicken-and-egg problem, to be sure: You need to connect to the right people in order to be invited to a conference that will help you connect to the right people. But because these events tend to be very small, hosts say they have to be very particular about whom they invite in order to ensure a positive experience. "If there are 100 people and there's one annoying person, you can move on," Clear says. "But in a retreat for three or four days with eight people, one person can really ruin the chemistry." Therefore, he invites only people he has met in person or with whom he has had multiple Skype calls.

Gaignard is even more methodical. When considering new invitees -- again, usually through referrals -- he either meets with them personally or has a 30-minute "triage" call, in which he "gathers intel" about the individual and subscribes to "all updates" on every member's Facebook feed, which he says "helps me keep a pulse on anything and everything about them." Once accepted, attendees fill out two intake forms totaling 80 questions. These strategies help Gaignard connect people with overlapping strengths and needs. "If you're having trouble with culture in your business and there's someone who's really killing it with culture, I'll seat them next to you," he says.

For the most part, event hosts say their guests come not to promote themselves but to share their expertise and learn something in return. Yes, there's a professional ROI; attendees might partner in new projects, pass along contacts and cross-promote each other's work. But they are also filling an existential need. "Entrepreneurship by definition is a lonely venture," says Clear. "It makes sense that these conferences would be popping up in this space." Or as Gaignard explains it, "Ways to connect are abundant; community is scarce."





Source: http://www.entrepreneur.com
Image Credit:  Andrea Ucini


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. 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, June 16, 2017

99% of Networking Doesn't Work, But These 6 Things Do

How to change your approach to networking for the better.



Building a network with intention and purpose is more critical than ever before. According to a recent Harvard Business Review article, 99 percent of any networking event is a waste of time. The trick is to focus on the one percent that isn't.


A few years ago, I was looking for a publisher for my first book, SPIKE Your Brand ROI. After my third rejection letter, I was stumped. The topic was original, timely, and well-researched. Having worked as a journalist for two major publications, I knew it probably wasn't my writing.


I swallowed my pride and called an editor to ask why I'd been turned down. The answer was informative: My lack of an online platform was keeping me from securing a book deal. From that point on, I made increasing my network and connections a priority. Here's how you can too: 



1. Network in buckets


Perhaps you already have a platform, but nobody's noticed. One way to shine a spotlight on your platform is to lend it to someone whose own platform is already well-established.


Take a tip from professional speaker Phil Gerbyshak, who gets most of his work via referral on social networks. "If you have a podcast, column, or blog--interview people instead of just meeting people," Gerbyshak advises. "Figure out your list of questions for people you want to connect with ahead of time, and know that each person should fit into networking buckets, including a bucket for random connections."


By intentionally segmenting your networking efforts, your outreach will be more effective. Be sure to research the person you are trying to connect with and review what they like, post and write about. It will help you make a connection that is more meaningful.



2. Share and share alike


We all want other people to share our brilliant content, but that works both ways. Follow people you respect and notice what they are trying to promote. Think about their career and business goals and figure out how you can help them.


Share their content on social media. Tag them in the post, retweet them, provide hash tags and include other people they may want to connect with in your promotion. If you can help them, most of the time people will return the favor.


"When growing your online network, you must remember that a like, a link, a share, and a follow do not replace your face-to-face network," says Thom Singer, host of the podcast Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do. "It is not an either or. The online network must support real-world connections or much of if will be wasted."



3. Just ask


Sometimes just asking will get people to help you. Many people in my network are writers. I have no qualms about asking them how they got a column in a publication I am targeting. Don't be afraid to ask your network for referrals to their peers. When you connect, do so in a genuine way without appearing to sell yourself.


Once you're connected, check in occasionally to keep the contact going. They may post about a networking event, conference, or body of research you wouldn't normally know about.



4. Make connections


If someone comments on your latest LinkedIn article or congratulates you on a work anniversary, send them a message thanking them for their comment. If you follow up with an invitation to talk offline, you'll be surprised how receptive people are.


On Facebook, if someone likes one of your posts who is connected through a friend or peer, send them a personalized message and ask them to connect. Doing this alone will help you extend your network through your friends.



5. Scratch their back, they'll scratch yours


Mutual back scratching has worked since the first cave man got an itch. Help others build their networks and you'll end up adding to yours. If you think two people might have common perspectives or business interests, send them an email introducing them to each other.


Another strategy is to research people who are where you want to be in your industry. Then, look at who they are connected, what groups they like and what events they attend. Next, mirror your connection strategy to match theirs.



6. Be worthy--and worth the effort


People make snap judgments, especially online. Curate your personal brand with every tweet, comment, blog or Facebook post.


"Post quality, thought-provoking content," said Jay Karen, CEO of the National Golf Course Owners Association. "The good stuff gets shared, liked and forwarded and I always notice a rise in connections and followers."


Both on and offline, make it clear you're someone of value, with interesting thoughts and opinions. If that means posting less frequently, so be it. Let your presence make it clear that you're someone worth connecting with and referring business to.






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


ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level. 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, June 15, 2017

5 Networking Tips for Freelancers At Events



Whether you’re already established as a freelancer or are considering moving away from permanent employment in favor of going solo, you should be constantly thinking about ways to stay ahead of the competition. Whether it’s finding the best professional contractor accountants, creating a strong portfolio or getting to grips with the latest changes, every aspect of business is down to you.

As a freelancer, you don’t need to be exhibiting to make the most of an event. If you’re looking for ways stay ahead of the game, we’ve gathered together 5 top tips for networking at an event – to ensure you’re making the most of your valuable time by securing contacts and ultimately increasing your workload.


1. Plan

The old adage ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail’ has never been truer than in the life of a freelancer – particularly when it comes to networking. Networking events are attended by any number of professionals across a broad spectrum of industries and, if they express an interest in your services, they’ll expect you to be fully prepared. From answering unexpected questions to having examples of previous work to hand, no stone should be left unturned when putting your networking strategy together.

Whatever your industry, freelancing is competitive – and whether it’s ensuring your CV is up to date or establishing your rates, the way you present your service is a reflection of what you have to offer interested clients. You can never be too prepared or know enough about the industry in which you’re working – and the more knowledgeable you are, the more valuable you will be to prospective customers.


2. Know your audience

When it comes to deciding on which events to attend, this is where your planning and research will come to fruition. By learning from others in your industry and being active in online communities, you can cast a wide net and more effectively hone in on a relevant audience.

From finding the best location for you to targeting the right audience once you get there, being clear on the demographic you’re trying to target – whether you’re reaching out on social media or promoting the event by word of mouth – will maximize your chances of securing prospects. Your marketing skills might help you make hundreds of contacts as you explore the event – but if you’re not clear on the services you’re offering, your pitch will fall flat and your efforts will be a waste of time.


3. Stand out

As a freelancer, you’re working alone and events offer a chance to sell your skills – so make sure you’re putting yourself out there and networking with as many potential clients as you can. Approaching individuals or teams at an event can be nerve-wracking for a freelancer, but don’t discount the importance of making new contacts – as even a five minute conversation with an interested client could ultimately lead to a new contract. Visiting as many exhibitors’ stands as possible will allow you to build on your pool of contacts and help you make potentially lasting connections.

Events are a hive of activity and, as a solo exhibitor, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd or dwarfed by bigger businesses – so you’ll have to fight to make yourself known. Events provide a platform from which you can network face-to-face, helping you establish valuable relationships – so throw yourself into the event by expressing a genuine interest in the individual needs of each person you meet, letting them know how your offering can satisfy these needs.


4. Create and maintain social connections

Having reached out to exhibitors ahead of the event, you can use social media to stay in touch and expand your contact list after the big day is over. When networking, make sure your social media details are visible to potential clients – making it as easy as possible for people to make contact with you after an event.

As a freelancer, there’s no more useful social media platform in your arsenal than LinkedIn. The app can be downloaded to your smartphone, allowing you to connect with clients and prospects from remote locations and respond to any queries in a timely and efficient manner – helping you to maintain an active social media presence and maximising your chance of securing work. You can integrate multiple platforms by adding a link to your LinkedIn account in your email signature, ensuring clients can contact you through a range of professional channels.


5. Follow up

No matter how thoroughly you’ve researched or how well you’ve networked, a failure to follow up can mean a well-executed event falls apart in the final stages. Whether it’s sending out a couple of emails or using social media channels to approach prospects in a more informal way, be timely with your follow up – as other freelancers will be competing for the work you’re interested in securing.
A quick and enthusiastic approach to follow-up can turn potential prospects into paying clients – which is the end goal. This is the point at which all of your planning and preparation comes together – so don’t miss out on building lucrative relationships by failing to follow up.

So, whether you’re just starting out in freelancing or you’re a seasoned pro, these top tips can help you on your way to successfully networking at an event and staying one step ahead of the competition.








Source: http://www.theselfemployed.com   
Image Credit: istock




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. 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!

Marketing Automation Can Help Build Trusted Relationships



 It is human nature to trust people who we feel know and understand us. A study published in The Journal of Neuroscience may offer a clue as to why. The study involved an experiment where participants were given a dollar that they could keep or “invest” with a partner — either a friend, classmate or computer — in order to earn more money. The partners, however, needed to share the dollar amount with each other as well. Not surprisingly, participants repeatedly trusted their friends and classmates more often than the computer, regardless of the partner’s responses.

Researchers also monitored participants’ brain activity during the experiment and found that their brains’ reward center was more activated when their friends shared the money versus the classmate or the computer. In other words, it was more pleasurable for participants to do business with a friend.

We can associate this same trust tendency and reward response as it applies to consumers and businesses as well. This is part of the reason why nearly every shopping website we visit now displays items based on our previous purchases, geographic location or demographic information we may have previously entered. When it is personalized, our brain is telling us that it is more worthy of our attention and consideration.


Automating Trust

The importance of trust is driving the growth of the $5.5 billion marketing automation market because it helps businesses face the reoccurring, complex challenge of reaching potential and current customers in the right channels with the right content at the right time to nurture the relationship.

This is a significant challenge for marketers who are typically tasked with making each customer feel like they are truly known by the brand — but, in many cases, they have never met the customer. Marketing automation enables businesses to overcome a lack of familiarity by creating highly personalized and relevant content, tracking engagement and nurturing relationships through consistent contact based on their preferences — all of which ultimately helps develop trusted relationships.

Successful marketing teams are leveraging automation to distinguish their brand through actions that connect, engage and build trusted relationships with customers while building the company’s reputation. Marketing automation does this in three key ways:

Personally Engaging

In business, recognizing customers’ unique pain points and goals — and offering them something of value without asking for anything in return — helps move along the trust-building process faster. Marketing automation allows marketers to personalize content to different segments of their audience, whether the goal is to reach more customers, increase awareness, build trust in the company or simply sell a product. Whether sending email campaigns with actionable tips and a link to an article or by sharing valuable web content (success stories, industry reports, webinars) that can’t be found anywhere else, marketing automation gradually builds trust over time and demonstrates credibility while leading customers further into your brand discovery.


Attentive Listening

Any relationship requires consistent, thoughtful attention. Building trust means staying true to your word and being reliable and reputable. With marketing automation, you can keep track of your contact’s preferences in terms of frequency of communication and interests, in addition to listening to their behavior across multiple channels, to deliver a personal and relevant message. This is possible because metrics within the platform tally up visitor’s activities — filling out forms, email opens and so forth — to determine levels of interest. Using the insight these tools collect means marketers can maximize each interaction, meeting customers where they are in their decision-making process.

Right Timing

Not only is the personalized and relevant content important, so is determining the best outlets and frequency for distributing your content. Meet your customers where they are. If they’re active on social media sites, that is where you should be also. Save time and maintain a constant presence on social media with scheduled social postings that come out often enough to be expected but not too often to be considered annoying and predetermined (a trust killer).

Marketing automation can help brands succeed in bridging the trust gap by keeping customers feeling engaged, valued and sold on your brand. This not only creates advocates for your brand but also leads to a longer and more profitable relationship. By presenting relevant content at the right time, the customer feels like the brand is paying attention and understands their goals, which fosters trust and creates long-term engagement.






Source: http://www.Forbes.com
Images: Shuttershock


ABOUT WNFP
Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business networking association dedicated to helping small businesses and entrepreneurs develop, expand and grow. We offer affordable opportunities to help create a positive impact and advancement in your business interests and personal quality of life to take you to the next level. 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, June 14, 2017

Want to Build Relationships? Find Ways to Laugh Together.

 A new study finds that laughter is the key to creating social bonds. 


Humor and laughter can be incredibly effective tools in the workplace. A study from Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania found that people who were comfortable cracking jokes in the office were perceived as more confident and competent. Another study, from VU University Amsterdam and the University of Nebraska, found that meetings filled with laughter lead to more productivity and more innovative solutions.

Now, researchers from the Turku PET Centre and Aalto University in Finland and the University of Oxford in the U.K. have found that when people laugh together in social situations, it releases endorphins in the brain that create pleasurable and calming feelings that make people feel safe and bonded together.

In the study, participants brains were scanned twice. The first scan was conducted after they sat alone in a room for 30 minutes. The second followed after 30 minutes of watching comedy clips with close friends. The study identified an endorphin release in three different parts of the brain after the session of social laughter.

According to the researchers, this kind of relationship building practice is unique to human beings as a species. And, it’s contagious.


“Other primates maintain social contacts by mutual grooming, which also induces endorphin release. This is however very time-consuming,” University of Oxford professor Robin Dunbar explains. “Because social laughter leads to similar chemical response in the brain, this allows significant expansion of human social networks: laughter is highly contagious, and the endorphin response may thus easily spread through large groups that laugh together.”

So the next time you want to make a new friend, tell a good joke.








Source: http://www.entrepreneur.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. 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, June 1, 2017

8 Essential Qualities Necessary to Be Great in Relationships

The variable we most control in relationships is ourselves.




 Great businesses are built upon a foundation of great relationships. Do you ever wonder how some people seem so natural and at ease in relationships, while others really struggle to maintain them? Is it a difference in temperament, like introversion or extroversion?

It could be, but as a psychologist, I can say the approach to relationships for each temperament is different; yet, both hold the same core beliefs. To follow is a list of the things we need, regardless of temperament, to be great in relationships.

1. Not defined by our past.

We all have a past. It is only when we cannot accept, have not yet healed or forgiven our past that it has the power to negatively impact our relationships today. We need to use our experiences to grow so that we stop repeating negative or unproductive patterns.


We run our own lives. It is imperative we acknowledge and work to mature the more unrefined and defended aspects of our personalities, where we tend overcompensate for the insecurities developed from our experiences.

Use your past to positively change your future. Establish the self-awareness necessary to create mutually beneficial and reciprocal relationships.

2. Know who we are.

To be great in relationships we must have emotional depth. To develop that depth, we must soul-search and be unafraid to show our imperfections.


We are all human. We all bleed the same color. When we accept this, we will expect less perfection from ourselves and stop demanding perfection from others.

When we’re authentic, we don’t need to try so hard to look good in the eyes of others. We can show up as who and what we are, flaws and all. When one of our flaws creates an issue, we must acknowledge this with ownership, an apology and a plan for what we will change in ourselves to not let it happen again. When we know who we are, we can self-correct, which serves to build trust.

3. Independently content.


A person who is content on their own is the best type of person to be in a relationship with. Relying too much on other people to build us up or make us feel valuable makes us difficult to be in a relationship with.


It is our responsibility to feel good enough about who we are, on our own. We cannot enter relationships putting the responsibility of our success or happiness onto anyone else. We must respect that each and every person we connect with also needs to be responsible for their own success and happiness. The formula for relationship success is: We take care of ourselves for other people, and we expect other people to take care of themselves for us. This way, each person brings a whole, intelligent, educated, and responsible Self to the table.

4. Contribute rather than criticize.

One of the most common reasons people leave relationships is because they feel someone is constantly trying to change them. Relationships cannot function well under constant criticism.


The more we focus on inspiring, the more likely other people are to manifest the change we desire from them. The more we micromanage, put people down and ignore what they’re doing right, the more unhappy, unproductive and rigid they become. When we contribute, rather than criticize the motivation is different; we are giving people information to help them, rather than to change them to serve us.

When we focus this way, the changes inspired in others are the productive changes all involved are looking for, including the person who is making changes.




5. Show vulnerability.


One the best ways to establish positive relationships is to be vulnerable. When people view us as perfect, we come off as less approachable and more intimidating. This is not a relationship-building formula.


We must allow ourselves to be vulnerable. Letting our flaws show makes it easier for others to connect with us. When we show our vulnerabilities, others feel more open in expressing theirs without fears of recrimination. Why would we open up to someone who is not ever open about who they are? We wouldn’t. We must allow others a peek into our humanity. This open quality builds a trust that cannot be reached with a thousand words.


6. Generous.

Nurturing others, making deep connections and building solid networks is how we grow a great business.


To nurture means to give. We must give willingly, and not make our giving seem like a major unwanted sacrifice to our receivers. We can look at giving in two ways: as sacrificing something we don’t want to share and subsequently being bitter; or, we can give generously and view it as something positive and necessary that can only serve to benefit all parties, including us.

This shift in our mindset allows us to give without strings of hostility or resentment attached. When we give in this manner, we get to enjoy watching what we give help others to become more successful. People in great relationships uplift each other.

7. Let things go.


Forgiveness is the marker of a healthy relationship. We cannot be good with people in tandem to holding grudges. There is nothing productive in continually punishing another person into feeling guilty or ashamed for a past wrongdoing.


If some unforgivable deal-breaker has occurred, cut ties with that relationship and move on. If a relationship can stay intact after a mishap, we must keep in mind people cannot work to their full performance if we are micromanaging every little fault they have, or every little thing they aren’t doing perfectly. We must not sweat the small stuff in our relationships. We must make room for imperfections and areas of weakness, and do what we can to support people in those areas.

8. Lighthearted.


Relationships that are too serious are not enjoyable to be a part of. Yes, business is serious stuff, but to build successful teams and develop great networking relationships, the work environment must have a sense of playful lightheartedness to it.


Make work a place you and others look forward to each day. Strive to make meetings, business trips and other engagements as interesting and enjoyable as possible. Humor bonds people because humor is almost always spontaneous and impulsive. It’s fun to share positive experiences and memories with our colleagues, so it’s important to smile and to be friendly.

When we are lighthearted, people want to be in our company and to play along. No one wants to be left out of what is fun, growth-promoting or exciting. To be great with people, and to build lasting networks and connections, we must be attractive to others from the inside out.





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

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