Monday, October 30, 2017

A Simple But Smart Way to Build Meaningful Relationships with Your Customers

And very few people bother, making it a great opportunity for the rest of us.



I had a lawyer for many years who taught me a lot about engaging with clients. Every month or so I would receive a letter with an article that was very relevant to me, ripped out of a magazine or newspaper, along with a personal note from my lawyer, saying something along the lines of "I saw this and thought of you, hope you find it interesting and helpful. Cheers - Tom."

I was always nicely surprised when yet another note arrived, and they were always unexpected. And most importantly, I was extremely grateful. My lawyer made me feel valued as a client, he was interested in what I did and he cared enough to take the time to actually find and read an article, cut it out and forward it to me, with all of the hassle associated with posting a letter.

Now forward a few years. It's become much easier to do this. We all read a great deal and we all see things that are probably very relevant to our clients. Forwarding articles or information that you think might be helpful or of interest is easy, and the perfect way to show that you actually do care about your customers and clients. There are of course a few rules:
  • We have to be genuinely interested in our clients.
  • We have to take the time to get to know our clients and this means asking better questions.
  • We have to be on the lookout for ways to help them all of the time.
  • We need to be prepared to do this selflessly, not just as a way to get business.
  • We need to connect in positive ways like this rather than just contacting them to sell them something or waiting for them to contact us.
  • Be prepared to send them information or ideas that you find for both work related topics as well as things they might be interested in outside of work.
  • Watch your timing - sending them something every day is probably too much, after all, who has the time, but every few weeks is perfect.

I've got a few clients of mine who do this with me. Now they pay me for my services, yet they are the ones who send me articles that they come across that they think I'll will find interesting and helpful - and I'm incredibly grateful to them for doing this and I definitely go above and beyond the call of duty for them. Now I know they are being very genuine in their actions, our relationship as a whole is much stronger, so we both win.

Way too many people spend no time building relationships in business. They only make contact to sell something and after a while, the person on the buying end can start to feel a little resentful. I think that we all need to take a long term approach to building strong relationships with our customers, which means we need to invest time and energy.

But who has the time to do this? Only the smartest and most successful of sales people and business owners in my opinion. In a world that is becoming increasingly competitive, we need to spend as much time and energy maintaining relationships with our existing customers as we spend on the hunt for new ones. A simple thought that is commonly overlooked meaning it is the perfect opportunity for the rest of us.



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


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

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How To Build Strong Business Relationships


An essential part of business success is having a strong network. In fact, a Harvard study found that 85% of professional success comes from people skills. Though it certainly must be easier to build a network if you’re inherently part of a world of business and money, all you really need to build a good network is to be willing to meet new people and step out of your comfort zone.

Networking also doesn’t have to be as soul-stealing as it’s reputation suggests. Networks are really just a collection of friends, teammates and acquaintances. And in good networks, relationships are balanced. People help each other equally and genuinely care about the well-being and success of each other.

Give to get

In that vein, networking can’t be one-sided. If you want help from people, you have to help them. One of the most helpful things I think that people can do is connect you with people who are experts in what you’re trying to do.

So anytime a friend or acquaintance tells me what they’re working on, I try to think about who I know that might be able to help them. In turn, they do the same for me.

Regularly reach out to people in your network. Ask them what they’re up to and how you can help. That strengthens your relationship and makes it mutually beneficial.

Ask for what you want

I know how easy it can be to hesitate, hedge and hope someone guesses what you want. It can feel uncomfortable to ask for help from someone.

But in order to get what you want, you have to ask for it. It’s better for the other party too because they don’t have to guess what you need and the relationship is more open.

Of course, the most uncomfortable thing to ask for is money. Two years ago, my business was working on setting up our crowdfunding campaign. When we started, we cloaked our requests in words like, “if you want” and “if you can spare it.” When we made our language more direct about halfway through our campaign, we were much more successful.

Go live

One of the best ways to grow your network is to get out of the office. Often you don’t know what people you need to connect with. If you did, connecting with them would be as easy as shooting off a quick email.

But in a lot of cases, it’s the unexpected people who will really add to your network. So build strong relationships with people in all aspects of your life.




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



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

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Profitable Business Relationships Are About Personalities, Not Just Skills

78% of Business Owners feel "personality" is the most desirable quality in employees.



How do you build genuine business relationships? The kind of relationship that will eventually lead to long-term friendships, personal growth, and even hyper sales growth for your company? Being really, really good at what you do for your business is a start, but, it's more about who you are.

"Our research shows that the number-one predictive element of an individual's success is the number, the quality, and the depth of social capital--the personal relationships among those that they do business with," said Keith Ferrazzi.

Ferazze is CEO of Ferrazzi Greenlight, author of Never Eat Alone and Who's Got Your Back?

"Skills can easily be learned. There are tips, tactics, tools, that sort of thing that help somebody be more effective. It's everything from more effectively knowing how to use LinkedIn, to knowing how to walk in a room and connect fairly instantly with somebody," Ferrazzi added.

"The process is really something that we don't apply as readily as we should to relationship management. It's odd that we have budgets, financial plans, task lists, etcetera, but where do you see a relationship action plan? Where do you see a people list? It almost inevitably isn't managed."

Mindsets, on the other hand are more complex. "One of the mindsets is that you have to be able to do this in a very authentic way. You're not faking anything. The intent is really to build a true personal relationship."

It's true in all facets of the business world. Take hiring employees, for example. "The first thing to look for when searching for a great employee is somebody with a personality that fits with your company culture.

"Most skills can be learned, but it is difficult to train people on their personality. If you can find people who are fun, friendly, caring and love helping others, you are on to a winner," Richard Branson wrote in a LinkedIn article.

Digital education company Hyper Island surveyed over 5,000 business leaders for a report. The report was entitled "Tomorrow's Most Wanted." It found that 78% of those surveyed cited "personality" as the most desirable quality in employees. This was followed in importance by "cultural alignment," and then finally "skill-set."

The survey also found that for specific personality traits, 14% of respondents listed drive as most important, followed by creativity (12% of respondents), and "open mind" (11%).

Still not convinced? Here's a closer look at why personalities are important, what traits people look for, and how you can improve your personality.


Why Great Relations Are About Personalities, Not Just Skills

Your personality is what makes you interesting and unique. Think about it. You could be a the most-talented coder in the world, but if you can't hold a conversation then why would clients want to be around you?

I understand that business relationships are obviously about business, but it's also a rapport that can be strengthened outside of work. So, if you're into hiking, wouldn't you want to work with that coder who's also an outdoor enthusiast?

Also think about the people who you surround yourself with. I doubt that you spend too much time with the friend who constantly flakes out. What about the one who sucks your energy, is always moping around, complaining, or asking for a hand-out?

You probably spend time with people who are reliable, upbeat, and actually brings something to the relationship. If that's who you surround yourself with in your personal life, don't you think the same is true in your professional life?

Finally, your personality isn't going to fade away. Your good looks and certain set of skills may. But, you can always learn a new trait. Your personality, however, is going to be with you throughout the entire course of the relationship.


Personality Traits That Build Solid Business Relationships

You're personality is more important than skills when it comes to strong business relationships.



But, what exact personality traits are people most attracted to?

1. Honest, trustworthy, and reliable. "These are three cornerstones of a good character," says Lynn Taylor. Taylor is a national workplace expert and the author of "Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job."

"You can tell a hiring manager that you are these things, but your demeanor and the conversation will be far more credible. They are critical because trust is at the core of any sustainable relationship."

2. Empathy. "Successful business leaders have mastered an intangible, often overlooked factor that allows them to focus on the future with clarity: empathy." This is according to Jayson M. Boyers, as reported to Forbes. "While that may surprise many, I am certain that the ability to connect with and relate to others--empathy in its purest form--is the force that moves businesses forward."

3. Professionalism, high-energy, and confidence. First impressions are everything. People can determine whether they want to work with you within 30 seconds. This is based on your appearance, handshake, and body language. These non-verbal cues can display if you're a confident, energetic professional or not.

4. Positive attitude and sense of humor. People who project a positive attitude tend to be more healthy mentally and physically healthy, socially attractive, and successful.

Meanwhile, a person with a sense of humor can also lighten the mood.

5. Self-motivated, helpful, and passionate. Going above and beyond without being told to because the person genuinely cares about the relationship or the products/services that they represent.

6. Intellectual curiosity. This shows the other party that you have solid problem solving skills and want continually learn new strategies, skills, and technologies.

7. Flexibility. "If you can demonstrate that you can switch gears with poise, as circumstances require, that will advance your cause," says Taylor.

Other attractive traits are being able to:


  • Communicate effectively
  • Stay organized
  • Collaborate with others
  • Remain calm, patient, respectful, and helpful no matter the situation.

How to Improve Your Personality

For the longest time it was believed that your personality was set in stone. Fortunately, that's not the case and you have the power to improve your personality by:


  • Developing a stronger emotional intelligence so you're aware of your own, and other peoples' feelings.
  • Becoming a better listener so that you can understand people's pain points.
  • Reading so that you can enhance your interests and knowledge.
  • Breaking out of your comfort zone in order to meet new people and have new experiences.
  • Becoming more respectful of others.
  • Feeling more positive and confident.
  • Creating a unique value proposition for your brand so that you differentiate yourself.


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


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

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The 7 Relationships Billionaires Commit to Every Day

It can be as simple as "No Relationships - No Business"!



Good business is nothing but a set of positive & productive relationships all bundled together. Create more, better and deeper relationships than the next guy and you just might have a business.

What kind of relationships are we talking about?


    1.    Vendors. I am not aware of a business that does not rely on a number of vendors that support the business. Everyone outsources something. Office space, legal, accounting, recruiting, widgets, mustard, scissors . . . the list goes on. Treat them well and they will treat you well; kind the golden rule of relationships.


    2.    Advisors. I can't state often enough that the long tail of entrepreneurship is survived by building an informal set of advisors that are willing to serve you (and not the business per se). There will be dark times. Who are you going to reach out to for advice or just to listen to you vent?


    3.    Friends. No, not the show (though if that brings you comfort go for it). You will need to blow off steam. You will need to exercise. You will need that camaraderie that has this subtle but powerful effect on your mind. Friends are there for all of that. It is why I play ice hockey late on Monday nights. And the beer.


    4.    Family. Who loves you unconditionally? Who supports your brilliant mind with that unfiltered encouragement? Keeping close to family including parents, siblings, spouse, and children provides you with balance. They support you and call bullshit when its needed. Yet, they are the first group we push down the list.


    5.    Investors. Your investor relationship if pretty important for the business, and you. Don't be that person who only tells them good news (big rookie mistake that will come back to haunt you). Your investors are more like family than vendors; you have to make that call on a regular basis to share what is going on.


    6.    Employees. You cajole, you raise your voice, you plan, you change plans, you celebrate, and you grieve with these people every day. They ride the roller coaster with you. They sacrifice and commit to your vision. Create, build and augment these relationships EVERY day.


    7.    Customers. I listed these guys last as they are the most important relationship you need to foster. Regardless of whether you are a $9.99 per month SaaS company or a food truck, you better wake up every morning with your customer on your mind. I am still amazed at the founders/executives who think their product is front and center to their business.







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

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

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

The Role Of Positive Relationships In Starting A Business



Think you are ready to start your own business? Congratulations, you're in good company. Entrepreneurship is right up there when it comes to building wealth quickly, and it can easily be gauged from the fact that 28 million U.S. business owners are driving 40% of all retail sales in the country. However, while it’s easier today than ever before to earn a living as a self-employed entrepreneur, being successful at it is not always a walk in the park.

Success is something that all entrepreneurs and wannabe entrepreneurs desire, yet it seems to elude most people — at least to the desired extent. So, what makes some business ventures successful while others fail?

The success of any business depends on several factors: habits, beliefs, passion, flexibility, attitude and, believe it or not, your relationships. There’s an age-old adage that goes along the lines of, "You are only as good as the company you keep." Human beings are hard-wired to be social, with the desire and need to connect with others. We thrive on healthy relationships; and yet, we often overlook the role of positive relationships in our success.

It doesn’t matter how hard you strive to be successful on your own; the people around you play an equally important role in getting you there. After all, they are the ones who remain your greatest advocates even when the going gets tough.


Entrepreneurship And The Power of Positive Relationships


Starting a business of your own is a challenging task — something that requires you to be in the absolute best frame of mind. It’s a road filled with uncertainties. This is a time when you need all the support in the world that comes from having positive relationships with those around you. It helps you feel healthier and happier as you take a plunge into the future. Strained relationships are harbingers of stress and anxiety, and do not bode well for your endeavors. Not having the support of your near and dear ones can hold you back from achieving your goals as well as hitting your milestones.

Relationships with your friends, family and those around you come with a mixed bag of emotions — love, generosity, kindness, and even hatred, envy or resentment. Both positive and negative emotions have the power to impact your successes or failures in business respectively. It is crucial to understand this and work on building your relationships first before venturing out in search of success.


Positive Relationships Are Fun And Build Confidence


If you are planning to be an entrepreneur (and in the process of starting a business from scratch), then you are probably already familiar with the challenges in store. It’s daunting, and quite possibly, you could end up spending all or most of your time worrying about building the brand and the business. No wonder, then, it’s a common belief that entrepreneurs are serious people who don’t have fun. Thanks in part to the troubles in the early stages of entrepreneurship — finding more money, managing resources and team conflicts — work-life balance can seem unattainable. However, daunting as it is, the life of an entrepreneur doesn’t need to be lacking in fun and enjoyment.

Positive relationships with family and friends can help you get out of the rut and help you relax. They can also help you build your confidence quickly, and enhance your creativity. Be as grateful as possible: For example, make it a point to note three positive things your partner did that day — something nice that they said, did something out of their love for you, or showed generosity to someone else. Despite everything, do this to remind yourself of what you appreciate about them. It will help you feel positive not just about yourself, but about your work as well.

Besides, if things take a downturn for a while, you need the extra confidence that comes from those who understand you recognize your talents even more than you do yourself. You definitely want to be in the company of positive people who comfort and guide you — people who support your decisions and encourage your efforts, even when the chips are down.

Having a successful relationship with those around you is a precursor to succeeding in business as well — a fact backed by evidence. According to Noam Wasserman, a Harvard Business School professor, it’s 'people problems' that sink most startups. He feels that 65% of all businesses fail, not due to under-capitalization or lack of planning, but due to conflict and relationship breakdown between partners. Strive to address any relationship issues as early as possible, before they get out of hand. Let people know that your trust in them will help overcome any difficulties over time, and together, you will prevail.

Relationships are complicated, and business relationships are even more so. The art of succeeding in business relationships stems from your experiences handling your personal relationships. Much like personal relationships, business relationships need a strong foundation. Positive relationships teach you the much-needed skills for succeeding in business — the skills of complementing and of mutual admiration.


Finally, you need to realize that personal relationships do not take a backseat as you prepare yourself for building your empire. Your business goals do not, after all replace your family responsibilities, daily routines and chores. Account for these responsibilities when setting out on your entrepreneurial journey. Having positive relationships as the guiding force behind starting your business will help to clarify your goals and the type of business you might choose to build.



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


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

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

3 Powerful Networking Strategies that Never Fail



 As an entrepreneur, you already know where your bread is buttered. It’s the customer, the follower and the community. Without these people, your business cannot thrive, much less survive, in the online jungle of success.

In order to communicate your expertise effectively to the people who will become your potential audience, you must fertilize the field by allowing them to get to know you. This is done through a series of networking strategies, which can benefit your business and allow it to reach its full potential.


Networking is something every entrepreneur should practice. It should come second nature to you daily and, in order to make a habit out of something, studies have shown you must do something for 66 days before it takes hold. Let’s take a look at the top three networking strategies you should add to your wheelhouse.

 

1. Focus on relationship building.


There are people with whom you will want to connect your business with, and you can only do this by establishing relationships with them. As the digital age progresses, we preach relationship-building techniques more and more, however, we tend to have micro-conversations within our social media communities only to walk away without benefiting from them.

I'm sure you have heard of creating social media personas for your business. These are the people you will target with your message and your strategy. However, have you heard of relationship-marketing personas? It's basically the same thing, but these are people you feel have the most connection and promise with your brand.

Create your list, and begin searching for personas who fit the bill to begin your relationship-building process. It’s not the small conversations that will make a friend and colleague for life. It's a mixture of many things which will connect you to these people.

Relationship-building should be the most natural thing you do as an entrepreneur. Be yourself and the right people will be attracted to your personality and the message of your business. One entrepreneur asked me if she should only focus on building relationships with people in her niche. Honestly, I think that idea is ridiculous. Be friendly and helpful to everyone and anyone who crosses your path.

 

2. Branch into the unknown.


While most social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook only encourage you to network with people with whom you have already met, John White disagrees. White is the social media director at beBee, a trending platform based on affinity networking which has more than 10 million users. beBee is a personal branding platform designed to find content based on the relevancy to the user -- not just what their friends are posting.

“If you network with the same people over and over again, you can expect to get the same results in your career," White said. "Affinity networking helps you make the connections to take new steps in your career by networking with those that share your professional and personal interests.”


This is why branching your business into an unknown pool of people is never a bad bet. While your recent social networks are only connecting you with "safe" places and people you already have a connection with, it’s important to know there are others out there who can use your point of view and expertise.

Try visiting pages in your social network you haven’t been to in a while. For some, LinkedIn Groups is an unknown area. For others, it may be a Google+ community. Either way, the idea is the same. When you lodge yourself into these places, you are pushing a new opportunity for connection and networking for your business. Your perfect customer or audience member could be residing in a place very close to where you network anyway. You just have to find them.

 

3. Ask “How can I help?”


All of the best net workers are social butterflies. People love them, not because of their expertise, but because of the way they make their approach. Just like the butterfly, they land softly on their destination -- not like the elephant, who stomps mud holes wherever he goes.

A soft touch is needed to connect to new people around you. One of the ways to create a soft landing is to offer your services as a solution to a problem they might have. You can learn what their problems are by using social listening tools and tweaking it to your expertise. Either way, when the notification is given and you have donned your superhero outfit, take flight to their problem and offer them a solution.

Softly is the key here. If you barge in with the answer, like the elephant, you may cause more harm to your brand than good. Begin the conversation by understanding why they have the problem in the first place, and work your way to the solution. People will organically gravitate towards someone who is always willing to be open and help with their problems, and it will always make a great ice breaker with someone you’re trying to connect with.


Should you be up to habitualize the lost art of networking for your business, you must understand these three networking strategies to always be effective. The most important thing while performing all of these strategies is to remember these are real people you are involving yourself with.

However, if you can adopt these strategies, you will find more people will gravitate toward your message and the positive way you engage with them.




Source: https: //www.entrepreneur.com
Image Credit: Raw pixel Ltd | Getty Images

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

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

12 Reasons Why Your Emails Aren't Driving Business


Email marketing is one of the most effective methods of content marketing . . . if you know how to do it right.

While we can all admit that we need to engage more in a strategy to maximize our email responses, it can be tough to know where to start. After all, we send and receive emails every day yet never really study the science of what makes a campaign successful. Not to worry, though, as I've compiled a few helpful tips for you:

 

You're not sending confirmation emails.


Confirmations are one of the surefire ways to up your subscriptions, yet only 26 percent of well-known companies send them. Furthermore, confirmation emails add a layer of trust for new customers, assuring them that their submissions have been recognized. Take the time to set this up; you'll see more results right off the bat.  

You don't have a call to action.


According to Word stream, emails with a call to action increase clicks by 371 percent, and sales 1,617 percent, which means this strategy could boost your business tremendously. Start giving actionable responses in your copy or headlines (e.g., Shop now) to engage more subscribers.
 

Your content isn't relevant.
 

While it's important to have content that drives sales, that content has to be relevant to your audience. Remember, you're partly a source of education/entertainment for your subscribers, so keep that in mind when creating a post.
 

You're sending emails at the wrong times. 

Believe it or not, there's a science as to what time to send an email. According to Hub spot, the most optimal time for click-through is 11 a.m., which, depending on your industry, might be a good piece of advice to test out.

 

You're not optimizing your subject lines.


This is similar to your call to action, only it entails gauging what words to use in subject lines, to gain the highest response. As noted in another study by Hub spot, nearly half (47 percent) of marketers surveyed said that they test the optimization of their subject lines. This might work well for you too, if your open rate is low.

 

Your emails aren't personalized.


Personalized emails are a small gesture, but one that's been proven to help increase your open rate. In the study by Hub spot, it was found that personalized emails had an open rate of 17.6 percent, versus 11.4 percent for non-personalized messages. Plus, there are plenty of services that can automate this process for you, such as Mail Chimp.


You're not using email as a primary channel.


Even given how much we love to consider social media as the reigning king, email is still the bread and butter of content marketing. In a study by Mailigen, 89 percent of marketers stated that email is their primary channel for lead generation. So, yes, email still has a lot of value for your outreach, which could help bolster your business.

 

Your emails aren't designed for mobile.


Mobile accounts for 54 percent of opened emails; therefore, if you're not optimizing your content to gain a response from it, you could be losing out on over half of your customer base. A quick fix for this is to use templates or customized design kits that will be responsive.

 

Your emails have too many images.


Images are a great tool to use for email, but as noted in the Hub spot study above, the more images you have, the more likely it is that your click-through rate will decrease. Don't let your pictures and graphics be distractions, but rather tools that help increase engagement.

 

You lack branding.


If your email doesn't look like it's coming from you, then what's the point in even sending it? Customers are going to feel much more secure with emails that follow your branding guidelines. Reason: They'll evoke trust, as well as a sense of care. Take the time to invest in your branding, and it will pay off tremendously in the long run.

 

You're not hitting the right metrics for your industry. 

 

As noted by Smart Insights, the average click-through rate for an industry can range from 15 percent to 28 percent, so it's important that you compare yourself only to the other folks within your field. Trying to aim outside of this group might be great down the road, but for now it's imperative that you gauge where your competition lies and how you can fall within a reasonable metric.

 

Your content is too long.


No one likes to read long emails, so don't plague your customers with them. This is one of the quickest ways to lose subscribers, and in turn, recommended/new leads. Focus on the most important points of your message, include a call to action, and be informative and entertaining.
 

If these goals don't seem like something you can accomplish consistently, it might be a good idea to bring on someone to do your email copy for you. Doing that could pay off tremendously much sooner than you'd expect.

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



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


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

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Monday, October 23, 2017

3 Reasons Email Can Make You Amazing at Content Distribution



Marketers use an average of six different channels to distribute content, and when you look at what those tactics are, you notice most of them are social media-related. There's definitely value in using social in your content distribution, and with so many free social media tools available, I get that it's easy to focus your efforts on it.

But before you give yourself a pat on the back for being active on social, you should know there's another way to distribute content that you might be overlooking -- and it's one you and your team use every day. I'm talking about email.

On an individual level, you've probably had to use different email hacks to get responses from people who've ghosted you before, but email marketing as a whole is actually very effective; in fact, it converts three times better than social. That's why I get so confused when I hear leaders say they mostly rely on social shares for their distribution.

Has email gotten such a bad rap as the No. 1 way for concerned grandmas everywhere to irritate people with old mass forwards that business leaders and marketers have dismissed its value as a legitimate content distribution channel? Is there a misconception that email has been around for so long that there's got to be a newer, better way to reach audiences and get content into their hands?

Whether you believe those excuses for email avoidance or your team has found another reason to neglect email marketing, I've got news for you: Email is alive and well. And if it isn't a pillar of your distribution strategy, it needs to be. Here's why:

 

1. Email makes personalization simple.


A couple of years ago, my family and I went to Disney World. My oldest daughter, who was 2 at the time, met pretty much all her favorite characters; they greeted her by name and made her believe the entire experience was personalized just for her. She felt so special and had the time of her life.

That is how you want to make your audience feel -- like everything you're communicating to them and sending them is designed specifically for their unique needs. Email is one of the easiest ways to send that personalized content directly to them.

Email, as a distribution platform, has a high capacity for personalization. As someone who loves to meet and talk with new people in person, I get how weird that might sound. It's odd to say that email is this warm and personable channel when it's still coming through a screen.

But when you segment your audience, create email campaigns for them, and send engaging content to the right segments, you're demonstrating that you understand your audience members and want to empower them with the right content. That makes them feel special, and it's an effective all-around approach to distribution: Segmented emails get 14 percent more opens and nearly 60 percent more clicks.

It's hard to deliver personalized content directly to your audience on any other platform the way you can via email. And even if you could do that, it'd be hard to scale -- which brings me to my next point.

 

2. Its level of personalization is scalable.


I've heard complaints before from more traditional leaders about how often people today rely on email instead of just picking up the phone when they want someone's attention. But when was the last time you (or any other human being) successfully made thousands of calls and had productive, lead-nurturing conversations in a day? That's what I thought.

No matter how large your audience grows -- whether you are just starting to grow your following or have tens of thousands of people on your list -- you can use email to get your content directly to them. There's no limit to how many different segments you can target or how large those segments can become as your audience (and your business) grows; email makes it possible to send each of those segments personalized content, keep your brand top of mind, and do it all at once.

 

3. You can consistently track, analyze, and optimize your efforts.


What good is any content distribution tactic if you don't know how effective it is? With email, pretty much everything is measurable: rates of delivery, open, click-through, subscribe and unsubscribe, etc.

And that's standard across most platforms; you get a dashboard view and in-depth analytic into how your email campaigns perform so you can always keep improving. But even if you want to send one-off emails to influencers for outreach or to a lead in particular outside of these campaigns in your email platform, you can track that, too.

I use a tool called Mixmax to help me schedule and send emails from my individual account, and it comes with basic analytic that let me know if and when someone opens an email or which links he clicked. Those emails aren't managed through HubSpot like our other email campaigns. Yet I'm still able to track them and figure out what's working because email is incredibly easy to track and optimize.


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


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


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

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Friday, October 20, 2017

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are a couple of my favorites:

 

1. The Gracious Host


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

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

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

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

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

 

 2. The Curious Journalist


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

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

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

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

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

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





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



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

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The 17 Essential Rules for Email Marketing



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

1. Prune your list mercilessly.


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

2. Send emails during off hours.


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

3. Have a short, relevant Subject line.


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

4. Use the recipient's first name.


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

5. Pack a benefit into first 20 words.


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

6. Don't pretend intimacy.


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

7. Show your uniqueness.


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


8. Write from the customer's viewpoint.


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



9. Remove all features and functions.


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

10. Avoid unfamiliar acronyms and buzzwords.


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

11. Be precise rather than abstract.


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


12. Don't toot your own horn.


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


13. Try to start a conversation.


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

14. Ask a yes/no question.


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

15. Include only 1 call-to-action.


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


16. Never assign homework.


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

17. Test, test, test.


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


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


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


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

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

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



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

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

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

Track How Much Time You’re Using 

 

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


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

Eliminate And Automate


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

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



Delegate


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

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

Document

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

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

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





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

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

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

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



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

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

Be clear on who you want to connect with


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

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

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

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




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

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

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Why Do Professional Women Need Networking More Than Men?


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

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

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

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

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

Here are just a few of the reasons.

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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


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




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

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

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

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

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




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

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!