Friday, March 24, 2017

The 5 Least Important Skills for Networking Success

Recently, I wrote about better ways to network, based on a survey I conducted of almost 3,400 people around the world. In the survey, I asked participants what they thought the top characteristics of a great networker were. However, knowing what not to do can sometimes be as important as knowing what to do in developing a skill. In this article, I will walk you through the five least important skills needed to be a great networker, according to the respondents of this survey.

Over the last 30 years, I’ve found that most people assume that being an extrovert is an advantage in networking. But let’s take a good look at the bottom five characteristics. Four out of the five least important skills to be a great networker had something to do with being outspoken or bold -- characteristics more aligned with an extrovert than an introvert.


Based on the survey, the fifth least important skill for networking was being fearless. Extroverts tend to be more fearless and confident, but when it came to identifying the skills of a great networker, this was not very important to an overwhelming majority of people.

Asking for the sale.

The fourth least important skill was asking for the sale. Extroverts almost always ask for the sale quicker than an introvert does. Yet, this is a skill that most people think is not very important in order to be a great networker.


The third least important skill was being a self-promoter. This particular result seems completely counter-intuitive at first. How can self-promotion not be an important skill for great networkers? Well, the answer to that is easy. In order for networking to be effective, it has to be about the relationship, not the transaction. Many, many people get this one wrong. I think it is the single biggest reason why some people hate networking. They go to a networking event and have one person after another try to sell to them. Very few introverts can be called self-promoters, so this is one more example where being an introvert may not hurt your chances to network well.


The second least important skill was directness. This is an interesting one because being direct in your business dealings is often considered to be an attribute. However, when it comes to networking, it seems to be viewed more as pushy, which is clearly not a strength in building relationships. Again, extroverts are more inclined to come across as direct than introverts are.

Social media savvy.

The least important characteristic of a great networker, based on this survey, was in many ways very surprising. It was an attribute that could easily apply to both introverts and extroverts. It was being social media savvy. I included this in the survey because I have found that many people think that networking online is pretty much all they need to do to network effectively. I believe that online networking has great value, but it does not replace face-to-face networking. However, even I was surprised that it ranked dead last by 3,400 business people all around the world.

After viewing this data, I thought surely, millennials would rank this characteristic much higher. So, I compared the survey responses of people under 30 to this result. I discovered that there was in fact, a difference. The under 30 crowd ranked this characteristic second to last! Seriously, second to the last. Even millennials understand that social media skills are not an indicator of great networking ability.

So, if you want to be a great networker, understand the essentials of better networking as well as these much lesser important skills. The combination of knowing what to do, and what not to do, will help you to network like a pro.

Source: htt://
Image Credit: Shuttershock

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.
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Join WNFP Communities!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

6 Things You Must Do Before Your Next Networking Event

Selena Soo is a publicity and business strategist who helps experts, authors and coaches, build their brand and increase their influence. The founder of Impacting Millions was on a recent episode of Pat Flynn's Smart Passive Income Podcast, where she shared her top tips for networking with influencers, but these tips merely scratched the surface of her deep knowledge of networking, relationship building and publicity.

Below are some of her top tips for preparing for a networking event in order to maximize the number and quality of connections you make.

1. Write Down Your Goals For The Event

Before you head out to a meet-up or happy hour, get clear on your objectives so you can optimize your actions both before you go and once you're there. "Take time to think through why you're attending, who you want to meet, and what you'd like to achieve," Soo says.

Write down what you're hoping to accomplish, and the types of people you're hoping to connect with. If there's an attendee list, you can note specific individuals you want to meet, but even without a list, you can create "types" of people you want to connect with; potential clients, local media, fellow podcasters, etc. Consider exploring why those goals are important to you to make sure your objectives are clear. Without clear goals, you won't be able to measure if you've been successful.

2. Research The People You Want To Meet

If you're able to find the names of speakers and fellow attendees that you'd be interested in meeting, you need to do some homework so you have a basis for those introductory conversations. Arming yourself with information maximizes the chance that those conversations will be productive and memorable.

"Google them. Look up their LinkedIn page. See if they have a personal or business website. Look at their Facebook page or profile to learn about what's important to them or what they're working on," Soo suggests. "Knowing even just a few tidbits about their lives and business will help you spark a connection right away."

3. Reach Out In Advance

"No need to wait for the event to start connecting," Soo says. If you've researched the folks you're most interested in meeting, you can send them a personal email to let them know that you'll be there as well, and you're interested in connecting.

If you aren't able to track down specific contact information (or even if you are!) consider posting to your social accounts using the event hashtag that you'll be attending the event and you're interested in meeting like-minded folks. If the event is a large conference with an app or a designated Facebook Group or other community, consider posting an introduction there as well, to maximize your visibility with fellow attendees.

4. Plan Your Outfit

Yep. You read that right. "Consider planning your outfit at least a day or two before the event so you can put your best foot forward," Soo says. "You want your appearance to send the right message about your business."

Choose something clean, professional, wrinkle-free and appropriate for the event theme and location. If your event requires travel, be sure to check the weather so you're properly dressed for conditions, and consider a removable outer layer, since many event spaces will crank up the air conditioning to compensate for having so many people packed into a small space.

"In today's social media-driven age, there's a good chance you'll get tagged in someone's photo or video," Soo notes, "So you want to look your best."

5. Create A Contact Information Strategy

"One problem that often arises from meeting new people is that their contact info ends up all over the place," Soo says. "You get a business card from one person, a scribbled name and number on a napkin from another, and you write someone else's info on a random page in your event binder."

If the information you collect is disorganized or inconsistent, it's unlikely you'll be able to do meaningful follow-up, so spend some time figuring out how you'll collect and keep track of contact information.

Soo suggested designating a pocket or envelope as the sole place you'll put business cards so they're all in one place, and using a single notebook or sheet of paper to collect any other contact information not on a business card.

6. Be Prepared To Talk About Your Work

"Because people will likely ask about what you do, it's helpful to have in mind three interesting or compelling talking points about your business," Soo says. "These should relate to your ideal client in some way and show them how you help people."

When compiling these talking points, focus on those things that make you and your work most unique and keep it concise. The goal is to be interesting and memorable, but not to give a monolog.

"You don't only want to talk about yourself," Soo advises. "You can use these as jumping off points for back-and-forth conversations. This means asking them questions about what they do, and what brought them to the event."

Image Credit: Getty images

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

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

3 Common Email Marketing Mistakes

About half of all email marketing campaigns suffer from these easily avoidable errors.

I've been writing about email marketing frequently lately because email marketing is the last form of outbound marketing that still generates sales leads.

An email marketing campaign is useless, of course, if nobody opens your email. Thus it's important to know the five elements that determine if a marketing email is opened:

    1.    When it's sent. Emails sent during heavy working hours are less likely to be opened than those send off-hours.

    2.    Who's it from. Emails from strangers are less likely to be opened than those from colleagues.

    3.    The SUBJECT line. Emails with long, confusing SUBJECT lines are less likely to be opened than those with short, relevant ones.

    4.    The salutation. Emails that being with formalities ("Dear Mr. Jones") are less likely to be opened than those that begin informally ("Jane,").

    5.    The teaser. Emails where the first 10 to 20 words are meaningless are less likely to be opened those that begin meaningfully.

Those five elements are important because they're what appears in the INBOX in most email programs. The example below are screen-captured from Outlook, but the same problems were obvious when they appeared on my iPhone.

1. Meaningless warnings.

 In this example, the sender has wasted valuable "real-estate" on the INBOX display by displaying a message that's only meaningful after I've opened the email.

What's worse, the message implies that if I do open the email, I'll have trouble viewing it, which is not the best idea to plant in my mind when I'm considering whether to do so.

I'm pretty sure that this "If you're having trouble viewing" message is the default for one of the popular email marketing software vendors, proving that they are clueless.

I might also note that while the SUBJECT line is intended to be intriguing, it comes off rather hostile. The entire effect screams "Delete this and save yourself grief!"

2. Repeating the subject line.

In this example, the SUBJECT line is strong and compelling. Who wouldn't want to know how to create sales champions?

However, the example wastes the INBOX "real estate" by simply repeating the SUBJECT line. I already know that part. Do I really need to see it again.

In addition, the "Hello" is unnecessary and the "This is just a quick reminder about" message is uninspired and clipped off.

Yes, I might open this based upon the strong SUBJECT line (and the fact that I know the sender), but overall, the teaser is just being wasted.

3. Obviously fakery.

This one is truly lame. Notice the space between the "Hi" and the comma? That was where the email program was supposed to plug my first name.

Apparently the list this marketer is using didn't have my first name in a break-out-able field, so they just went forward without it.

That gaffe is immediately followed by a fake (and therefore insulting) statement of concern about my health and similarly fake enthusiasm about... whatever.

Combine all that an opaque and self-interest SUBJECT line and you've got an email marketing campaign that gives new meaning to the word "meh."

Image Credit: Getty Images

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

Friday, March 10, 2017

5 Ways Building Relationships With Influencers Can Benefit Your SEO Campaign

By now, the phrase “influencer marketing” is pretty familiar to most marketers. The basic concept is easy to grasp—you’ll be using the existing popularity and authority of social “influencers” to build a reputation and visibility for your own brand.

But influencer marketing isn’t a “hack” or a get-rich-quick scheme; like any other marketing strategy, it demands a nuanced approach to be successful, and is packed with far more variables than it appears to have on the surface.

As an SEO (search engine optimization) professional, I gravitate toward using influencer marketing as a tool to improve the effectiveness of my SEO campaigns. Recognizing that many search optimizers—especially new ones—may fail to see the potential here, and even more marketers misunderstand the true potential of influencer marketing, below I’ve listed five ways that building relationships with influencers can actually boost your SEO campaign.

1. Inbound links.

Inbound links are necessary for any kind of SEO campaign. Links are what pass “authority” from one site to another, essentially making them points of validation that convince search engines your site is authoritative and trustworthy enough to earn higher rankings. It’s becoming more and more difficult to get inbound links, but one way to get them is to build a relationship with a known influencer; they’ll often link to your site if you give them good reason to. For example, if you have a relationship with an influencer and let them know about some recent original research you recently published, that influencer might comment on it and link to your research, which, presumably, is hosted on your website. You’ll gain a boost in authority from the link, but just as importantly, the presence of that link will result in click-through traffic from other readers as well as increase its visibility so that other authors can reference it (with a link) it in their work as well.

2. Content visibility.

Depending on the nature of your relationship, you can also leverage your influencer’s audience to expand the visibility of your best content. Social influencers typically have tens of thousands to millions of followers, so getting an influencer to share one of your best pieces of content could instantly multiply its visibility. More readers alone won’t necessarily boost your rankings, but it’s a nice gateway to future points of value. For example, if your content circulates with an audience 10 times larger than what you could muster on your own, you’ll likely earn 10 times as many links overall—and that’s not even mentioning the reputation benefits your brand will earn.

3. Audience building.

Networking with influencers is also a fast way to grow your social media audience (as well as recurring traffic to your site). Social media runs on a “tree falling in the forest” system; no matter how good your content is, people will only follow you and continue reading your material if they know it exists in the first place. Getting an influencer to share that material could introduce a new audience to you. Again, this alone won’t increase your search rankings, but over time, a larger audience means each of your published pieces will have instantaneously better value when you syndicate them.

4. Collaborative content.

Don’t discount the potential for working together with influencers on mutual content projects, either. This probably won’t be an option to you in the early stages of your influencer relationships, but once you have an ongoing, mutually beneficial setup, this may become a natural element of your partnership. Working together, you might pool your resources to create and distribute an industry report, or you could conduct an interview series or create a podcast in which you exchange thoughts and opinions on a popular topic. Either way, you’ll both get the benefit of borrowing from each other’s authority, you’ll earn more visibility than you would alone, and you’ll both earn a host of new links pointing to your respective domains. This is a long-term partnership, so the payoffs have no upper limit here.

5. Publishing opportunities.

Even though you’ll likely earn some links naturally with your content and influencer marketing campaigns, the best way to build links consistently over the long term is through highly valuable content on external, authoritative publisher sites. The problem is, these publisher sites have extremely high standards for content, and are selective about who they let write. Networking with influencers can, over time, open up doors that would otherwise be closed to you. For example, one of your influencers might be close with the editor for a national publisher, and could get you an introductory opportunity to make a guest post. Sometimes, a foot in the door is all it takes to start building a bigger online footprint.

Finding the Right Influencer

Much of your success in influencer marketing will be finding the right influencer and starting your relationship on the right foot. The best influencers are ones who are active constantly, with big followings, and an interest in engaging with others.

When you reach out, make sure you remain conscious of the fact that they’re busy people with their own goals and priorities—make an offer before making a request. Then, prioritize achieving the goals I listed above, always making the relationship mutually beneficial, and doing what you can to preserve your dynamic.

Image Credit:

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

Thursday, March 9, 2017

4 Tools You Need to Create an Email and Social Media Marketing Calendar

It’s a common problem with email marketing and social media marketing: You know you need to send regular emails and post to your business’ social networks, but it’s hard to make time for it and you’re always struggling with what to say to your customers.

Before you know it, you haven’t sent an email since before the holiday rush, your last Facebook post was a month ago, and your customers think you’ve abandoned them.

Don’t lose hope! You can make marketing a regular part of your business day with these four tools that will keep you on track and help you come up with topics to talk about.

1. Email marketing plan template and calendar

Having an email marketing plan in place will help you align your marketing efforts. And it’s easier than you think.

In just 15 minutes, you can use our email marketing plan template to outline the dates and events that are important for your business throughout the year.

Then, use our 2017 Email Marketing Calendar to plan the dates that you’ll send emails during the rest of the year.

2. Facebook Reminders

Facebook is rolling out a new Reminders feature that alerts Page admins to post before major holidays and at specific days and times that they select.

If you’re not sure what the best time and day are to reach your audience, use Facebook Insights to determine when your fans are most active and engaging with your page, and what content they’re interested in.

This data will help you come up with a regular posting schedule that you can set in the Facebook Reminders calendar.

3. Twitter Events

If you’re looking for ideas for what to share on Twitter, check out the Events feature in Twitter’s Analytics platform.

Start by going to, click on the Brand Hub tab, and then click Events. The Events feature allows you to browse by looking at an overview of upcoming events with information on how many tweets have been shared, and which countries are tweeting the most about them.

Take a deeper dive by clicking into the categories here: Events, Sports, Movies, and Recurring trends.

You’ll find a list of popular events, with information like category, location, date, or audience size. Click into the event name for more details.

For example, the Valentine’s Day event details share statistics on how many tweets were shared for the holiday in 2016, demographic information, and a list of top tweets and live tweets.

Check out events to see if your business has a connection and join the conversation on Twitter. If you’re part of a larger conversation, your tweets have the chance to be seen and shared by more people.

4. Monthly infographics

If there are gaps in your marketing plan, keep an eye out on our blog for our monthly marketing and holiday planning infographic.

Every month, we share a list of important holidays, themes, content ideas, and marketing statistics. Here’s an example from February:

The right tools make your marketing easier

With just a little planning and the help of these free tools, you can make the time for marketing and get back to business.

And once you get your plan in place for the year, you can reuse it the next year and add new promotions to the list.


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!

Five of the Best Email Marketing Platforms You'll Find in 2017

Many brands prioritize email marketing as a major part of their marketing efforts. It's no wonder, as the Direct Marketing Association has found that the tactic delivers a 4300 percent return on investment. That certainly indicates that email marketing is an appropriate place to spend budget.

However, like all things, email marketing is changing. Simply blasting out an impersonal message to thousands of contacts with little or no context is no longer going to cut it the way it might have in the early 2000s. If you aren't personalizing your email campaigns, they're very likely going to fall flat, and you're going to miss all those potential sales that would be attainable if only you invested in the right tools.

If you aren't investing in an email marketing platform, you're going to have an incredibly difficult time offering the level of personalization that's required to really make the most of your campaigns. Not sure how to choose the right one? Here are five of the top picks for 2017:


Possibly the most popular option is MailChimp, almost definitely because they offer a free plan for small businesses, and integrate with a multitude of third-party providers. While it lacks some of the most robust features of some of the following platforms, it's very well suited to the needs of smaller teams, startups, and solo workers. This is a no-fuss option, and the paid option is very reasonable at $10/month.

Some drawbacks are that the free plan does not include auto-responses, and setting up a paid plan is not an instant process. You'll also need to reload your browser whenever you want to see an updated report, which may not matter unless you're eagerly waiting for results from your latest campaign.


If you want an easy-to-use solution that offers a little bit of everything, has a generous free option and live support, VerticalResponse is a good option. You get access to many features through their free plan -- including 4,000 emails per month - and can upgrade as your lists grows or you want more advanced capabilities.

Features you'll find most useful are Autoresponders and Advanced Reporting. VerticalResponse's Autoresponder feature automatically resends an email to customers who didn't open it the first time - which is said to improve open rates on average by 30 percent. Advanced Reporting tools like heat maps, geographic location and device indicators provide insights about your subscribers, letting you know how your emails are read, so you can improve on future campaigns. The drawback is that you'll need to bump up to a paid plan to access these features.


If you're an e-commerce merchant, SendGrid may be the perfect platform for you - they have their roots in transactional email delivery services, though over time they've transitioned to offer a full complement of email marketing tools.

This platform is ideal for the organization that has an engineer on staff that can make use of their robust and powerful API, though much of its usability is out of reach for organizations that do not have a tech lead available for this type of work. This tech-heavy solution also eliminates the headache of maintaining an SMTP email server.

Constant Contact

If you're looking for a smooth user experience geared towards first-time users, Constant Contact may be a good fit for you. It comes preloaded with built-in templates for email blasts, and easily imports contacts from major email providers like Gmail and Outlook. The platform also creates signup forms and integrates easily with Google Analytics. A mobile app is available for on-the-go work.

The editor is very easy to use, which makes it easy to start sending out customized campaigns within a day or two of loading the software. You can try out Constant Contact with their free 60-day trial. It runs about $15/month. One drawback according to some users is that at times it tends to be prone to glitches and delayed loading of the dashboard. It's also important to note that the default storage is limited to five files.


While I like this platform for its clever name, which is a combination of "email" and "marketing," I also like how great it is at its standout feature - auto-responses and customizations. If you're a seasoned pro at email marketing and are looking for a fully tricked-out platform, Emma may be your best bet.

If you aren't a seasoned pro, you probably will pass this platform over, however, as they require a minimum of 2,500 contacts to start. It's also the priciest of the bunch at $49 a month for the Pro Plan. If you're going to use all its extra features, the fee is well worth it in my opinion.

Image Credit: Getty Images

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

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Is Your Professional Mask Limiting The Quality Of Your Relationships?

I’ll never forget my first business card.

I’d just started my first "real" job out of college and was asked to complete a purchase order for business cards and the company database. Despite the fact that no-one ever called me Margaret, I listed it as my first name. I somehow thought that Margaret sounded more…  important… more professional… more Thatcher-like.

It took about two weeks before I was correcting every person I encountered. “Oh no, just call me Margie,” I’d insist, “Margaret is my real name, but it’s not really ‘me."

I laugh now of course. But that was me at 22 - eager to impress and yet to realize that the people who impress most are those who try least.

It’s a lesson I’ve had to learn various times since. That it’s not only "OK" to be myself, but that I’m actually sabotaging my own success when I try to be anyone else.

Of course we’ve all seen the slogans.

“Be yourself. Everyone else is taken.”

Yet why is it that so many of us struggle to simply be ourselves; to lower our masks - to prove, protect and impress – and to own our, complete with all that we are and all we’re not?

At the very heart of it lies fear; fear of not being "enough" as we are and finding ourselves left out of the pack. A relic of our cave dwelling days when being shunned from the tribe was a death sentence, we all carry around with us a deep fear of being unwanted, unvalued, unimportant, or unloved. It all goes back to our cave-dwelling days.

It is because our desire to belong, to be liked, to be admired and to avoid losing face is hardwired into our psychological DNA. It's why expressing ourselves authentically and becoming all of who we truly are – complete with our fears, failings and foibles - is the work of a lifetime.

Of course I’d be lying if I told you I never gave a care about what people thought of me. I do. In fact, I have a long way to go to be free of the urge to compulsively check how many people have liked my posts on Facebook or retweeted my tweets. (And I'm very grateful you're reading this now!) However I’ve also learnt from wrestling with fear countless times (I’m getting better at winning!) that simply acknowledging our hesitance to let down our guard and reveal ourselves is, in itself, a brave step toward emancipation.

We all yearn for connection. Yet the irony is that we forge the strongest bonds when we let go trying to impress those we seek to connect with.  It's the times we have the courage to confide our disappointments, hurts, heartaches and miss-steps (alas, we all make them) that we open the door to deepening trust and cementing bonds. We may only want to share our happy snaps on Facebook and those bits of our lives that make us look good and like we've got it all together. Yet in our increasingly shallow sound-byte world,  we connect far more deeply through our vulnerabilities than though our victories.

In a world that pressures for conformity, finding the courage to be fully ourselves – owning every aspect of our past, personality and imperfections - is one of the most difficult, frightening and liberating things we can ever do.  Fear of losing our ‘public identity’ can imprison us. Yet our willingness step away from who we think we are supposed to be and to lay our pride and vulnerability on the line for the sake more important things is essential to our success in leadership and life. I'm not talking about wearing your insecurities on your sleeve or bearing your soul to the world. I'm just talking about not letting your fear of losing face sit at the drivers seat of your life. Too often it does.

So let  me ask you a question:

If you decided to let go the need to prove your worth or protect your image, how would it liberate you to make a change or take a chance toward what you want most for yourself - in your relationships, career, leadership, and life?  

John F. Kennedy once said, “Conformity is that jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth.”  This isn’t about being a non-conformist for the sake of it or to prove what a wild renegade you are! That is no more brave than obedient compliance.  It’s about owning the difference your difference makes rather than spending your life trying to morph yourself into whatever flavor of "same" and "special" you think will gain the most glory, build the biggest brand or minimize the chance of criticism. After all, when all you do is try to conform, all you offer is conformity, depriving the world of the full quota of potential, passion, personality and perspective that you have to bring.

After winning the Grammy ‘trifecta’ in 2015 (with best new song, record and artist) Sam Smith confided, “It was only when I started to be myself that the music started to flow and people started to listen.”  It’s no small irony that Smith’s fear of not being liked was his biggest roadblock to becoming the star he is today.

The same is true for each of us.

Sure, we’re not all destined for music stardom, but each of us has something unique and magnificent to do in our one-and-only precious life and we can never do it while fear pilots our decisions, driving us to comply to the image of the person we think we are should to be.  Sure, your personal brand is important, but if it’s incongruent with the one-of-a-kind person that you are, it’s likely you’ll never become all you have it within you to be. I mean, how can you blaze your own brightest path if you’re not bringing your bravest self along for the ride?

Yes, it takes a brave person to risk disapproval, step away from the pack, to embrace your imperfection and to own your individuality. Ah yes, that would take someone with a very big heart. But let’s be clear: it takes no bigger heart than the one that beats inside you.

The truth is that in selfie-obsessed culture that celebrates superficiality, people are hungry for those who refuse to surrender to conformity and political correctness. Whatever you think of President Trump, his ascension to the White House shows just how hungry millions of American voters were for someone who didn't vanilla down what he thought so as not to cause offence.   Accordingly,  it is those who have the courage to embrace their difference, to speak their truth and show up fully who make the biggest impact on those around them and grow their influence as leaders.  They may not always have the following of the Kardashians or gain the power of Trump, but they have the respect of those who matter.

So how you put all of this in to practice? Daily. Hourly. One small brave decision at a time: to lower your mask, embrace your difference and, quite simply, to be yourself.

As you bring more of yourself to your work and those you encounter along the way, you’ll deepen the relationships you care about most and build news ones that open doors of opportunity that would have remained closed otherwise.  Most important of all, you’ll embolden others to do the same - lower the walls they’ve built to protect and the masks they’ve worn to impress, and to bring more of themselves to how to work, live, love and lead.

Of all the wisdom ever written on the importance of being oneself, I think the best comes from the Cat in the Hat, courtesy of the beloved Dr Seuss.

“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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!

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.


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

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The Secret to Organic Networking

Networking to expand your network doesn’t work. I’ve tried it. I’ve exchanged thousands of business cards and connected with hundreds more over LinkedIn. But nothing happened…not until I adopted an organic networking approach.

Organic Networking

Connection isn’t arbitrary. In business, in romance, in friendship, people connect over value; that’s how networks start. And they grow in relation to the value shared.

Let’s say you pan for gold and catch a couple flecks. You might connect with a local jeweler or a hobo on the street, but that’s about it. When you dig deep and come up with a thousand bars, however, you’ll have people come out of the woodwork to share your value and to make it grow.

That’s the idea behind organic networking.

Though we don’t have hoards of gold to start our networks, we all have something even more valuable: information that makes life better for others. (Unlike gold, information is inexhaustible.) We all have advice and experience that can help someone excel in their relationships, careers, hobbies or passions.

It might not be much value at first. But if you direct all of your energy into growing that value instead of looking for quick networking breaks, you’ll have an unlimited supply of value with enough time and persistence. With all that personal investment, you’ll be crazy about sharing your value. That’s when your network starts to explode.

My organic networking breakthrough

I started my writing career because I wanted to help people avoid the heartbreak I had experienced. I didn’t know much more than what I had done, and that it had caused me pain. But even that little bit was valuable enough to build a small audience. I got published.

Then I dug deeper into relationships. I wanted to share more value and to make a bigger difference to my audience, and by breaking down my experiences I discovered that I sucked because I didn’t know myself. So I started meditating and journaling and reflecting on anything that could grow my self-knowledge.

I wrote about my insights and transformation every day, and I got better at writing. I got better at storytelling. I got better at giving people value that could enhance their lives.

Then I started getting connections.

Recently, one of my entrepreneurial idols reached out and wanted to hop on the phone. Gerald saw my website and had some points to share on where I could be more effective. I was honored by the call. I listened, thanked him, and was just saying good bye…But he stopped me.

My idol asked me for advice on relationships.

This guy charges thousands and thousands of dollars for consulting and mentoring. But here we were on the phone, talking like we’d known each other forever, joking around and enjoying each other’s company. Our connection was sincere because we both had value that we’d worked hard to share.

Gerald had gotten enough value from my relationship articles on a site called MindBodyGreen that he wanted to talk to me in person. Had it been someone who didn’t have value to share, I would have charged him like I do my coaching clients. But this guy is known for value, so it was my pleasure to share advice with him.
Through our mutual exchange of value, Gerald and I got something even more valuable than any piece of information: we established a genuine connection. The more value we share, the more that connection will grow. I’d take half a Gerald over 10,000 LinkedIn connections.

How you can grow your network organically

Don’t worry about networking until you have insane value that you’re crazy about sharing. Instead, focus your energy on refining your craft, or your service, or your goods. Put that value out for the world to see; get on publications that cater to the audience you want. Then keep at it.

As your value grows you’ll get published on bigger sites, which will get you more exposure, and more opportunities to connect with other people who are sharing value.

Don’t know what your value is?

1. Think about your biggest problem. For me, that was relying on my parents as an adult.

2. Work so hard at solving that problem that you become an expert. I studied writing and personal development until I had what I needed to make money and live on my own. Once you’ve become an expert,

3. Devote your life to mastery. Then you can help thousands of others achieve the same and better results. After I became independent, it felt so good that I wanted to help millions of millennials do the same. So I studied writing with greater diligence. I studied entrepreneurship. I studied the millionaires who were making a difference on a mass scale.

When I dug deep enough for a ton of value, I built a site to bring it to the world.

Within two weeks of launching, I landed the one connection I had sought for two years. I asked the guy for mentorship before, sent him emails, pitched him. Nothing. When I let go and just focused on my value, he came to me and I didn’t have to do a thing. Organic networking in action.

The alternative is to approach people from a point of neediness. You say, “Hey, I’d like to connect.” But really, you just want them to advance your career. Nobody wants that kind of connection. Nobody has time for it, and it’ll make you look like an amateur.

Your time is better spent refining the quality of your product or service.

So dig deep. Go all in on that one passion that you want to make a difference through. Become an expert. Be consistent. Then shoot for mastery. Once you’ve made that thing valuable enough, people will come to you.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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!

3 Tips for Networking Like a Pro from the CEO of Startup Grind

Love them or hate them, networking events can lead to amazing opportunities for entrepreneurs. You could strike up a conversation with your next business partner or shake hands with an investor who’s looking to add a company just like yours to their portfolio.

Of course, those are best case scenarios. Worst case scenarios involve standing in the corner checking your phone, avoiding eye contact with the people

you know you should go talk to, or staring into your cocktail all night—and none of those are going to move your career or company forward.

Derek Andersen, the founder and CEO of Startup Grind, is an expert when it comes to networking events. Since 2010, Startup Grind has hosted 5,000 events in 200 cities and 100 different countries around the world. Andersen has spoken with some of the top minds in tech, and his organization helps one million members become better entrepreneurs.

If you’re making the effort to go out and network at events like Startup Grind but struggling to get much value out of them, then you might benefit from some advice that Andersen shared with me in a recent interview. After all, he knows a thing or two about making the right connections.

Check out his best tips for getting the most value out of any networking event below.

1. Ask, "How Can I Help?"

No one goes to a networking event because they want to be pitched. They go to events because they’re looking for people who can help them with their business or product. Pitching to every person in the room isn’t only obnoxious and unprofessional, it's counterproductive to your own goals and progress.

“What I like to do when I go to these events is just say, ‘How can I help you?’. Instead of sitting down next to somebody and pitching their brains out, listen and try to genuinely help them move their project ahead," Andersen said.

And the more you try to be helpful, the more it will pay off in the long run. "I’ve found that if you do that dozens and hundreds of times, those things will come back around to you,” Andersen said.

As a general rule, Andersen suggests you try to

at every event you attend. Say hello. Ask about their company. Ask what you can do to help, and make an honest effort to do so. Call it karma, or the law of reciprocity, or simply building your reputation as a helpful person—either way, your goodwill won’t go unrewarded.

2. Focus on Building Relationships

A lot of people go to networking events hoping to make “contacts.” That may be the traditional mindset for networking, but it's one that's outdated and sterile. If you're not looking at your new potential contacts as what they are—people—you're missing out on potentially golden relationship opportunities.

If you’re making the effort to go out and network at events like Startup Grind but struggling to get much value out of them, then you might benefit from some advice that Andersen shared with me in a recent interview. After all, he knows a thing or two about making the right connections.

One of Startup Grind’s core values is, “We believe in making friends, not contacts,” and it’s obvious from our conversation that Andersen lives this value.

“Some of my best friends I met at Startup Grind," Andersen said. "And not just me. There’s lots of people like that. That’s probably the thing I’m most proud about, is all these connections in these different cities. The people that run these cities—they’re some of each other’s best friends, and they really look out for each other.”

Want to catch people’s attention and come off as fresh and authentic? Focus on making friends and building authentic relationships. People will be more likely to remember your name, and you’ll give off a much better first impression.

Who knows—you might even create some lifelong friendships.

3. Try to Learn Something from the Speaker

Unless they’re the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, it’s very possible that not every speaker at an event will blow you away with their credentials. Maybe you don’t think they’re accomplished enough or you’ve never heard of their business, so you decide to carry on a more interesting conversation you’re having with another attendee while the speaker gives their presentation.

The impulse to tune out a “boring” speaker is understandable, but it just isn’t smart to throw away that value.

“If you’re going to take the time and energy to go to an better get something out of it,” Andersen said. “There should be strategic reasons to go to events, and it shouldn’t just be to get free food.”

Your goal at networking events should be to pay attention and try to learn at least one new thing. Even if the speaker doesn’t offer direct advice, you can always get new ideas by listening to their story. Does the speaker have unique insights into your industry? Is there something they did to improve their business that you haven’t considered for your own?

If you’re really engaged and thinking about what you’re hearing, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find at least one kernel of wisdom in a speech or presentation that you can apply to your own work.

Although networking events can sometimes seem hit-or-miss, you should have a lot more “hits” if you follow this three tips. According to Andersen, if you walk away from an event having met a few people and learned something useful, you’ll have done a lot more than most of the other attendees.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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!
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Monday, March 6, 2017

Why Hyperlocal Advertising Works So Well for Local Businesses

If we listen to conventional wisdom, businesses should be using TV, radio and online banner ads to attract new customers. But when it comes to local businesses, these channels simply aren’t as effective as turning to local marketing.

Many local businesses are finding that hyperlocal advertising — in any media channel that is primarily focused on the needs and issues of the people in that immediate vicinity or community — are more effective than traditional mass-market ads.

Community-based newspapers and magazines, metro blogs, online neighborhood community platforms, plus out-of-home advertising (OOH) like posters at bus stops and digital screens at the gas pump are all good examples of powerful hyperlocal channels.

Let’s take a closer look at why they work so well.

Why Hyperlocal Advertising Works

Local Tribes for Local Brands

In the digital age, it’s become easier than ever for small businesses to gain global attention. But is this really the right way to go? It depends on what niche you’re operating in, but in many situations, what local businesses really need are more local customers. The smart use of targeted, hyperlocal advertising can be a powerful way to connect you with a growing, passionate, local tribe.

Because local businesses generally have more budget limitations than the bigger players in the market, they must invest their advertising dollars more strategically, focusing solely on the most effective channels. For many local businesses, this means investing in hyperlocal media to get immediately in front of a local, relevant audience.

This strategy works, because people are paying loser attention than many marketers realize — especially when presented with contextually relevant opportunities as they move throughout their daily lives. This is definitely the case when we’re outside: Research from the Outdoor Media Association found that consumers are 2.5 times more alert when they are out and about than when they are at home consuming content on their own screens.

You can also create a powerful branding tool when you tap into a culture that’s unique to a local community. For example, a bank that advertises a good luck message to the local college team will be viewed as a relevant partner in the community. Finding these local events, associations and hot topics can help local businesses engage prospects in a more relatable manner.

As a local business, your marketing should feel local. Take advantage of local stereotypes that could help personalize your marketing campaign, as well as any challenges that you’ll need to factor into your campaign planning. Does your area get hit with a lot of snow? Create a campaign around that challenge and offer customers a “snow day special.” Find out if there are any local events that may be relevant to your campaign, or local partnerships that could provide a mutual benefit. Understand that in order to build a loyal local customer base, it’s important to be viewed as a part of the community.
Hyperlocal advertising is a great way to achieve this kind of relevance.

Rediscovering OOH in the Local Context

As mentioned earlier, OOH works especially well on the hyperlocal level, simply because it adapts to how people are living and moving through their cities and towns — with billboards and signs near transit hubs and along the main traffic routes, and smart screens in stores and public spaces with lots of foot traffic.

Consider these statistics about the power of out-of-home ads:
  • According to a Nielsen report, 70 percent of purchase decisions are made while shopping or otherwise in stores.
  • Some 79 percent of consumers take action after seeing an OOH ad.
  • Approximately 59 percent of consumers take an interest in time/day/location specific OOH advertising.

Video screens are great for OOH advertising, largely because they’re great for other engaging, locally relevant information too. Location-based video screens often offer content relating to local events, traffic and weather information, nearby special offers, and useful tips and recommendations. For instance, grocery stores can include recipes that highlight ingredients that are on sale for the week. This translates to a better experience for consumers, which is absolutely necessary for better, sustained engagement.

In addition, OOH gives businesses the chance to place visually engaging messaging in strategic locations — such as at the front of the store in full view of checkout lanes — when customers are most bored with the shopping process. According to research from Millward Brown and supermarket video ad platform Impax Media, digital signs are better at capturing attention and promoting specific items than static ads. Not only that, but they resonate well with customers:
  • 96 percent of shoppers noticed the in-line screens.
  • 84 percent of them viewed the content to help them pass the time in line.
  • Half of the customers surveyed said that digital screens in the checkout line improved their opinion of the retailer.

Solutions like Impax’s represent a milestone in OOH advertising. Retailer content drives the programming mix, while additional non-retail information like local weather and news, event listings and other information keeps customers’ attention while they wait. By giving people the information they find most useful alongside relevant ads, it’s easier for brands to create strong positive associations in the customers’ minds. And brands can tailor their content based on locale-specific attention data, translating to higher relevance and engagement.

As we navigate what marketers are calling “the attention economy,” this kind of in-retail OOH ad delivers exactly that attention, in a way that shoppers find interesting and enjoyable.

A Holistic Local Media Mix

The most effective advertising strategies for any brand must take a holistic media approach. OOH ads, in the context of a larger media strategy, can make all your advertising more effective by reinforcing it on the local level.

When advertising includes a hyperlocal out-of-home element, its impact spikes. As the chart below from UK-based OOH trade group Outsmart demonstrates, the return on traditional media is compounded when combined with OOH advertising:

Source: Outsmart

Local OOH placements also perform better than any other paid media types when it comes to audience recall:

Source: Outsmart

The strategy behind where and when to use OOH is based on a simple idea: People in certain contexts will be more likely to pay attention, remember and take further action — such as making a purchase, for example — than others. For instance, customers who are already in a store are more likely to make purchase decisions that stray from their original intent — and to take advantage of relevant on-the-spot offers.

If you go into a store to buy a new coffee maker, it’s reasonable to think that you’re also going to buy coffee beans and coffee filters; while you’re there, you may also see an in-aisle ad for doughnuts and think, “Mmm, I could go for a doughnut with my coffee in the morning.” You didn’t originally intend to purchase those doughnuts, but the advertising, viewed in the right place at the right time, influenced you to make the purchase.

It’s also straightforward enough to augment your offline local ad buys with online ones. Facebook Ads, for example, allows you to target people based on location, and you can combine these geo parameters with other targeting methods to reach only the people who are truly most likely to benefit from your product.

Google’s new Map Ads feature allows businesses to advertise in map search results, promote locations with map pins, and connect those map pins with in-store promotions. If you’re using promoted pins, you can customize your local business page to highlight products that are currently in stock in a way that’s easily accessible to prospects — with the end goal of getting more physical traffic to your store.

With local, targeted, social campaigns, brands can reach customers as they journey their way through various cities and towns, and keep their attention afterward by using platforms such as Facebook and Twitter for continued engagement.

Putting It All Together

For local business, it all comes down to finding and engaging the local customer, in a way that enhances (rather than disrupts) their everyday experience in the community. Context provides powerful motivation to make purchases, and is the key to making products and services more relevant. Using local insights along with local reach is the fuel behind hyperlocal media like community publications, events, targeted ads and OOH media.

Going local delivers highly relevant and highly targeted offers throughout the various stages of the customer’s journey, both literally and metaphorically. When done correctly, your customers will feel like you’re speaking directly to them, understanding what they want and need in a highly personal way. When this happens, you’re fostering higher brand affinity and bringing people closer to doing business with you.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Top 10 Behaviors to Avoid When Networking

In this video, Entrepreneur Network partner Ivan Misner goes over the 10 behaviors that you should not exhibit in a networking group.

Sharing your problems and grievances with fellow networkers and guests is not a good idea while meeting and socializing with others in the group. Winging presentations, being late and using your phone are other things to avoid, too.

Networking is key to the success of a company. In fact, a single referral source can bring a chain reaction of new business to your company. That's why it's vital to make your time and efforts worthwhile in networking groups. Success in these groups will happen when the rest of the group members trust enough to open up their best referrals. That's why it's vital to avoid these behaviors and demonstrate professionalism.

To learn more, click play.


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

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

5 Tips for Stress-Free Networking

Successful entrepreneurs know that networking is not a numbers game. It’s not about how many business cards you pass out or collect. It’s not about how many products you can sell or whom you can instantly impress, exploit or schmooze to get what you want.

Proper networking is a gradual process of making genuine connections with people and cultivating those relationships for the long term. Here are five ways to take the stress out of networking, expand your sphere of influence and form solid, mutually beneficial relationships.

1. Give with no expectations in return.

The most effective networking takes place when you are willing to tithe your social capital. In other words, look for opportunities to be of service to others instead of thinking about how others can meet your needs. Train your ears to hear a problem so you can present a solution.

For example, if a colleague or client mentions that she needs a good painter, you might not know one, but someone in your network probably does. Do a little research and pass along the information. She will remember you and be forever grateful for your kind and unsolicited efforts.

2. Network with one person at a time.

Instead of spending small amounts of time with a lot of people, spend more time with a smaller number of carefully chosen people. You may find it comforting to know that the strength and longevity of your relationships depend more on the quality and far less upon the quantity of your connections.

Stop believing you have to meet everyone in the room. You don’t. At the next networking event, introduce yourself to someone who is sitting alone. More often than not, it’s the short, casual, one-on-one conversations that turn into potential business opportunities.

3. Approach people who are different from you.

It’s natural to gravitate toward people who are just like us, but you do yourself a disservice when you socialize with the same people all the time. Don't be guilty of "clustering." This is when people who know one another get into groups, either sitting or standing, while they pretty much ignore everyone else around them. Staying in familiar territory defeats the purpose of networking so expand your horizons and occasionally break away from those you know or see every day.

4. Share a personal story or two.

Most of us have a habit of launching into business talk too soon, so take time to form a connection that has some substance. The best way to do this is by telling your story or by trying to get others to reveal their stories.

Stories are the most basic tool for connecting us to one another. People attend, remember, and are transformed by stories. Many of us grew up listening to stories passed from generation to generation by our parents or grandparents. Stories have a unique power to move people’s hearts, minds, feet, and wallets in the storyteller’s intended direction. Share a little bit about yourself -- how you became interested in your profession, who inspired you to start your own business, or where you grew up.

5. Listen more than you talk.

As the saying goes, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak." Focus more on the other person and less on yourself and you will be perceived as being the most engaging person in the room.

Start out by asking the right questions and then listen to the other person’s response. Some of my favorite questions include: “What do you like to do in your spare time?” and “What motivated you to start your own business?” Most people enjoy talking about themselves, and these kinds of questions prompt people to open up. In time, they might even reveal their background, motivations, philosophy and challenges. Even though you might not agree with everything the person says, all you have to do is be a good listener.

Keep your networking efforts simple. Become interested in others, find out what matters to them, and then center your conversations on their interests and priorities. When you are genuine and sincere, your network (and eventually your net worth) will organically grow.

Image Credit: Compassionate Eye Foundation/John Wildgoose | Getty Images

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!