Friday, May 18, 2018

Want to Be a Stronger Leader? Use this Map to Improve Your Alliances and Relationships


Relationships and alliances help you build momentum and move closer to your goals, They influence your outlooks and attitudes about what's happening around you. They even affect your longevity, resistance to disease, and mental wellbeing.

Yet in the hard work of building a business we often forget to be intentional about the allies we gather around us. We set visions for where we want the business to go, strategize on financial structures and campaigns that test product-market fit, and use design thinking to more deeply understand our customers and what they long for.

But relationships? If you're like most leaders, they simply "happen." We take them as they come -- but seldom apply proactive thought to gathering the right people around us.

You can change that. By getting intentional about your relationship strategy, the way you would about a product or financial plan, you can design a path to improving the connections that influence you most. I recommend a simplified version of a "sociogram," or map of relationships and social connections. Although there are various ways to construct sociograms, the simple one shared here offers an easy way to identify and design the alliances you want to bring to your leadership -- and life.

Here's how it works.


Draw Your Map


First, draw a small circle in the center of a piece of paper and jot your name and date in it.

Then draw two rings around it: concentric circles moving outward from the center. Leave enough room to do some writing in these circles.

Next, reflect on key relationships that influence you: people you interact with often, or who create significant impact on your life, or on whom you rely for stability, support, and collaboration.

Start to write the names of these people: the most influential ones near the center, close to your name, and the somewhat less impactful ones farther from the center.

Try to identify 8-10 names, and no more than 12. Consider both positive and negative influences. Identify important people from your past, even if you're no longer connected. Include personal as well as professional connections: loved ones and key work relationships belong on this map.

Be thoughtful about the process. You may put names down and end up replacing them with others that feel more influential. Keep refining until you have a solid map of the most influential 10-or-so allies in your circles.

Identify Patterns


Now, consider the roles of the people you added to your map.

Which are mentors, guides, or inspirations: people you learn from or see as role models, whether they know it or not?

Which are partners or collaborators, whether personal or professional? Is there someone who is your "Champion," always in your corner ready to cheer you on?

Which are dependents, relying on you for appropriate care or nurturing - or in needy ways that drain your time, energy, and attention?

Who might be a deterrent: a critic or challenger who complicates your path or burdens your life experience with negativity?

Do you have a catalyst, someone who sparks you to a higher level of vision, contribution, or presence?

Notice similarities between them. What patterns do you see? What gaps?




Design Your Ideal Map


As you reviewed this map you probably felt things you liked about it, some you didn't like about it, and some you wished to change. Use that thinking to develop the Sociogram you want to have surround you.

Put your name and a realistic future date into a center circle. Then, around it, like before: two concentric circles.

Need a mentor? Mark that in your closest circle, or move someone who could be a guide or inspiration closer to the core.

Notice some toxic forces close to the center? Push them out to the farther circle, or, better yet, out of the circles altogether.

Too many optional dependents? Soften their impact by moving them away from center. Maybe you'll see how this opens up time and headspace to move family or loved ones in closer.

Who is missing from your circles? A champion or catalyst? A partner?

Who needs to move closer to center? Who farther? Who needs to leave your circles? Who do you want to invite in? Invest some time to reflect on your ideal constellation of allies. It's the first step in designing the relationships you actually want.

Convert to Action


Compare the two maps. Everything different between them, is, in a sense, your desire for change. Now, all that's left is creating a plan of action.

Identify those desires and name the outcome you seek. Maybe it's something like "I want a go-to mentor I can meet with regularly to improve my long-term thinking," or "I want to limit the impact of negative personalities by reducing the time I spend with them."

Then think of barriers to these actions. You may not have a candidate for an aligned mentor, or you may need to navigate some politics to interact less with the negative force.

Next, identify ways to work through those barriers: how can you create the desired change and outcomes? Can you activate your alumni network to seek a mentor, or reconnect with someone you've lost touch with? Can you come up with a corrective plan for the difficult forces to see if they can change, or adjust your behavior so you interact less frequently? In other words, what can you do to make your desired change happen?

Reaching the success your second sociogram inspires may seem like an ambitious plan -- but isn't that also true of any product, financial, or organizational vision? Move toward realization of your ideal relationship map the same way you do with other goals: by setting a clear vision for what you seek and putting steps in place to help you achieve it.

Need motivation? Close your eyes and see yourself in that future circle, surrounded by allies who help you succeed. We can't do it alone. Designing the relationships that help you get where you want to go is, actually, a big step forward in getting there.



Source: https://www.inc.com


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

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Stop Playing Golf and Going to Happy Hours. Do This Networking Activity Instead


We talk every day about innovation, what's next, what piece of technology will disrupt whole industries. But we never talk about innovation when it comes to networking. Sure, social media has certainly changed it.

But face-to-face networking, as a whole, hasn't changed much. People still pass out business cards, still meet for Happy Hour and half-priced apps at their local networking group. And they still play golf.

Don't get me wrong, I love golf and I understand its previous networking appeal. It's quiet and leaves plenty of time to bond and discuss things. But it's not necessarily for Millennials it's not cheap and it's not a workout. And Millennials are now the largest age demographic in the workforce so preferences are changing.

If we know that people are looking to be more active then we need to re-evaluate networking activities as a whole. We need to make them less expensive so more people can be included. We need to make them more active because today's connected workforce is always looking to kill two birds with one stone. A networking activity that also doubles for a trip to the gym is crucial.

But it also has to be general enough that people can have a conversation while doing it because again that's still the most important part. I would love to network while doing CrossFit but not everyone is as crazy as I am.

So when I was in Las Vegas last month for Adobe Summit, we took people on a bike ride. Simple, athletic, outdoors and the creation of a common experience everyone can share. And the excitement of doing something other than golf worked.

"Some of the best networking I did this year at Summit wasn't inside the conference itself but on the highways around Las Vegas--on my bike. When people are doing something active and the endorphins are pumping it's a way to forge a much more natural, and lasting, connection. Networking doesn't always have to mean sipping drinks and wearing name tags. It's as ripe for disruption as any other business practice," said Ryan Holmes, founder and CEO, Hootsuite.

Beyond the health benefits of exercise, cycling has three major benefits in the workplace - it fosters creativity, builds a sense of camaraderie and collaboration, and can positively impact performance.

Brad Rencher, executive vice president and general manager, Adobe Experience Cloud, broke down those three reasons for me and gave me insight in to the mind of a young top executive at a company and how they are rethinking work-life balance and networking: creativity, camaraderie, and performance.




Creativity


To me, there's no better way to think critically though a tough problem than on the back of a bike. That's why I schedule cycling meetings with my team when our schedules and discussion topics permit us to get out of the office. It's our chance to ditch the to-do list and step outside to get fresh air and open up our minds to think creatively though our challenges.

Camaraderie


Our rides foster camaraderie, whether they're internal team rides or external rides with partners and customers. During a ride, you're working together to make it to the finish line-inspiring each other to push forward and make it through tough climbs. This sense of teamwork builds deep, lasting relationships that go beyond the ride. In fact, a partner who joined a ride this past year at Cannes told me, "We all walked away feeling we connected with each other on another level, which obviously helps business discussions."

Performance


I cannot speak enough about the importance of balancing your day job with exercise. In fact, according to a recent study by the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO), Brigham Young University and the Center for Health Research at Healthways, employees who exercise three times a week for 30 minutes are 15 percent more likely to be higher performing individuals. Any physical activity, whether it's cycling, a walk around the block, or even painting, goes a long way toward resetting your focus and making people better when they're on the job.

It doesn't have to be cycling. But it does need to be something your team is passionate about doing and wants to share with others. Make it an experience. Make it more active. make it something that creates a collective bond that you can share and remember call back to over time. That's what makes a networking experience memorable. And the point of networking is to be remembered, not forgotten. 



Source: https://www.inc.com


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

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

How Much Time Should You Invest in Networking?


I’m at a Starbucks with a colleague as I write this piece. As we’re sitting here working, she’s telling me about how she just went into business for herself full-time. She knows that networking is a part of a successful business, but she’s wondering how much time she should invest in networking.

This is a very valid question. It’s also one I get all the time. I understand where she’s coming from because at this stage in her business, she still feels like there are a lot of unknowns. As a result, she needs to balance between figuring out the behind-the-scenes of her business with networking.

I can tell you from my personal experience that networking even in the beginning stages has led to the business I have today. Therefore, I do think you need to invest in networking. The real question is how much? Here are some tips.


Ask yourself these two important questions…


Sometimes, you don’t need to figure out how much to invest in networking. What you really need to determine is whether or not a particular event is worth your time. I, for one, have attended plenty of networking events that went nowhere. Over time, I learned to develop a series of questions to help me determine whether or not I should attend an event.

Will I make an immediate return on my investment?


At the end of the day, whether or not you should invest in networking comes down to the word “investment.” When you invest, you expect to make a return. Therefore, you need to determine what the return would be for a particular event.

Here are some ways to make an immediate return:

  • Getting paid to attend
  • The ability to sell
  • Education

In the beginning stages, you may be more concerned with seeking education to grow your business. Often times, you can get some sort of education when you invest in networking events that are designed to teach attendees.

Is there a person/brand attending that I want to meet and potentially do business with?


The other way in which to determine whether or not to invest in networking is to consider who will be at events. For example, I go to events if I know a particular brand will be present. This is one of the strategies I use to get influencer deals and it works like a charm.

If a particular person is leading or attending an event, then I might go as well. That’s actually how I met one of my first mentors in the beginning stages of my business.




Final Thoughts


That’s it. If the answer to these two questions is no, then I won’t invest in networking unless I feel like I have extra time. As you can see, I focus on whether or not attending an event will actually lead to more commas in my bank account. I did this in the beginning and I still do it today. The reason is that I don’t like taking on more than I have to. The stress isn’t worth it.




Source: https://www.business2community.com
Image Credit: rawpixel | Pixabay


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, May 16, 2018

Not Having These 8 Networking Skills Will Cost You


"It's not what you know, it's who you know" is one of the oldest sayings in business. Often, your ability to bring real value to your company hinges on how well you build and leverage your personal network of relationships. And when you aren't doing a strong job of networking, you ultimately cost yourself, and your business, money.

Without strong networking skills, you might be missing out on the shared knowledge and tips about opportunities that simply aren't available through normal channels. Be it a promising lead to a new business opportunity or a subcontractor who is more skilled than her peers, you can end up paying more and earning less if you're not building the right relationships.



You don’t make small talk



If your first response to meeting someone at a conference or in the office is to offer up your business card and ask about their work, you might be unintentionally keeping them at a distance. Don't get into a bad habit that could cost you your next raise. Networking is ultimately about people as much as it's about business, and having a stronger personal relationship with your contacts will ultimately make them more valuable to you -- not to mention make your interactions more pleasant.

What to do instead:

Open conversations with a discussion of shared interests before letting the conversation organically flow into business topics. Engage people about what matters to them to make a much stronger impression and cultivate a relationship you can sustain over time.




You don’t follow up




After attending a networking event, you're likely to return home with a stack of business cards or friend requests from the many people you've just met. It can be easy to just sweep them aside in favor of more pressing concerns, but that's a mistake. Just because it isn't a job requirement doesn't mean you shouldn't reach out again -- it's an important skill that money can't buy. People will quickly forget names and faces, and without adequate follow up, you're unlikely to show an adequate return on the time you spent networking.


What to do instead:

Reach out and touch base with any interesting people you met, particularly those people you spent the most time talking with, even if it's just to send a brief email or post on social media. People remain more connected to those contacts who follow up promptly, and you can cement yourself in their memory just by offering a brief "hello." Be persistent -- it's a trait billionaires have.




You aren’t networking at work



At the end of a long day, the last thing most people want to do is attend networking events or socialize with work contacts, rather than head home to relax. When you wait until after normal business hours to do all of your networking, though, it can leave you feeling drained, something that rarely fosters the personal connections that develop into valuable business relationships.


What to do instead:

Do your networking at work, building relationships with the people at your business and the people outside your company you're in regular contact with. Using work time to socialize with other people in your field isn't shirking responsibility; it's building the bonds that will keep you connected to people even after they move on to different jobs. Building networking into your work day is one of the best ways to ensure that you're developing a network without stretching yourself too thin.





You aren’t active on social media



The torrent of messages and posts that come with your social media accounts can be overwhelming at times, and they can definitely reduce your productivity. However, just because a tool isn't useful all of the time doesn't mean it isn't essential some of the time. Social media platforms are ideal for facilitating networking, and many people rely on them to keep in touch with people, making tools like LinkedIn and Facebook much more reliable for networking in some cases than calls or emails would be.


What to do instead:

Maintaining a LinkedIn profile is one of the easiest ways to get a clear sense of your personal network and how far it reaches. You even have the option to see how your connections might provide you with an "in" with a certain person or at a certain company, increasing your chances of getting a job. It's also a great way to keep personal and professional social media usage separate if you're uncomfortable with business contacts seeing your personal posts.





You don’t try to expand your network



It can be easy to settle into a routine, maintaining a short list of contacts you're regularly in contact with, and feel like you don't necessarily need to expand it. While it's always good carefully cultivate relationships with your closest associates, too little time spent expanding it can leave your network narrowly focused and with limited value.


What to do instead:

Expand the boundaries of who you communicate with so you can reap the benefits of a larger pool of expertise. Plan lunches, coffee dates and drinks with people at your company that you don't typically interact with, or even fellow professionals you associate with outside of work. You never really know where you might discover a great relationship; sometimes, the connections you're most surprised by prove to be the most valuable. Marketing yourself doesn't cost very much, and it yields high returns.




You don’t do your research



Heading into a meeting or networking event without knowledge of who you might be meeting and their industry will probably leave you unable to really understand how you can potentially help each other. Your networking efforts will this ultimately prove frustrating if you don't adequately research the people and companies you're interacting with ahead of time, as you'll be unable to make those meaningful connections.


What to do instead:

A clear sense of who you're meeting with and how you can help each other will typically make your networking efforts bear more fruit. Learn about who you're meeting, what their company does and how you can help them reach those goals. When you come into the relationship armed with knowledge, you can create more opportunity for everyone involved.


You don’t start with the end in mind



Setting goals is usually an important step in any process. Without clear definitions of success, it can be difficult to know how to approach a situation. That's as true for networking as it is elsewhere in business. If you don't have a sense of what you want to accomplish at a certain event or meeting beyond "networking," your efforts will be unfocused and not produce the results you want.


What to do instead:

Enter all networking situations with a goal in mind. This doesn't mean you're locked into pursuing a certain outcome, but simply that you have clear expectations and a sense of what you need to make your investment of time worthwhile. Networking is most effective when it's focused on developing mutually beneficial relationships, so don't be afraid to define your idea of success prior to starting the process.


You aren’t thinking win-win



If your network consists solely of people who are going out of your way to do you favors, it's probably not going to remain strong for long. Without some degree of reciprocity, your business relationships will remain one-sided and unlikely to produce much value for you or your business in the long term.


What to do instead:

Make sure that you are providing as much, if not more, value to the rest of your network as they are providing to you. The best business networks are those that benefit everyone involved, so listen to requests from your contacts and find ways to grant them when possible. What's more, if an opportunity arises where you can create value for a contact, don't hesitate to reach out. The more you help your network, the more it will help you.



Source: https://www.entrepreneur.com
Image Credit: Shuttershock | theleetgeeks | Flickr.com | Pixabay | Pexels | StartupStockPhotos | energepic.com


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

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

3 Secrets Behind Maximizing Advertising Spend


As a small business owner with big goals, you’re willing to spend money to make money. But you still make it a priority to spend smartly, so investing in something like advertising takes consideration. Once you make the decision to advertise, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the best results for your money from your advertising spend.

When your marketing and sales pipelines are running smoothly and you know your customers, online ads are a great way to accelerate customer acquisition and revenue. Research from Wordstream indicates that Google search ads drive average conversion rates of around 3.75%, so the opportunity is indeed real.

But if you don’t know what you’re doing and aren’t willing to learn, these campaigns can be a quick drain on your marketing department’s resources, from ad spend to work hours wasted tweaking campaigns with no hope.

Success in online advertising involves multiple factors. You need to optimize how much your advertising brings in, how much it costs and what other resources it consumes. And you need to juggle this all consistently, all at the same time.

How do you balance and improve all these factors in tandem? The following advertising spend tactics will help you in multiple areas. Consider prioritizing them in your ad strategy.


Retarget Warm Leads


One of the best ways to make the most of your advertising spend is to retarget people who’ve already interacted with your brand. This could be audience members who have interacted with but not converted from other ads, website visitors referred by your social posts, or anyone else who’s visited your pages or clicked on your links, depending on the ad platform.

This gives you a second opportunity to win over leads who are warm but haven’t converted. It often takes more than one try to bring someone into your sales funnel, and retargeting provides your second chance, third chance and so on.




Depending on how you accomplish your retargeting, you can use ads for a variety of different goals. For example, it’s an effective way to get a paid campaign back in front of someone who didn’t convert the first time and maximize its ROI. But it can also be used with platforms such as Facebook ads and custom audiences to show your existing website or social media audience a paid campaign.

Retargeting is an especially great use of your ad spend because it helps you focus on your best prospects, those who’ve already shown some interest in you. Think of it like Pareto’s Principle for advertising.

By focusing more of your advertising spend on higher potential prospects, you can get a higher return. This is how Lumension was able to increase lead volume by 81%, even while cutting their PPC budget by 30%.

Track Your Entire Funnel


If you’re testing multiple points in your marketing funnel and retargeting people to bring them back into it at multiple touchpoints, you’ll need to be able to accurately track that impact on your business.

Yes, you have your ad campaign data, but that’s not enough to understand how the conversions play out long-term. For example, if a lead generation campaign involves a follow-up sequence once an email lead is generated, you’ll need to tie the results from those email marketing efforts to the PPC campaign that originally acquired the lead.

Once a customer is in that state between having clicked on an ad and fully becoming a customer, you need to look to other tools to get a better view of your audience in the whole process of becoming a customer.

With Google Analytics, you can easily set up goal tracking and a conversion funnel to watch the bigger picture performance from your ads. Because they’re both Google products, it’s easy to aggregate your AdWords performance data to Analytics. But what about Facebook, Bing and other platforms?

By using a data consolidation tool (like SuperMetrics), you can save time managing the metrics of it all by automatically updating all PPC data in your Google Analytics reports. Supermetrics offers several data consolidation solutions, including integrations with Tableau, Excel and Google Data Visualizer, but if you’re already used to comparing your referrer data in Analytics, this is the way to go.

Look at how all your marketing channels work together here to get the best understanding of how different channels like advertising contribute to the whole. Double down on what’s working well, and kill what isn’t.

Test Your Campaigns


One of the easiest ways to start improving your ad campaigns and capitalize on your advertising spend consistently is by testing new changes, methods and strategies often.

Always having a test going means always seeking ways to improve your campaign, getting better results. That might mean a lower ad spend, it might mean higher click-through rates or conversions, and it often means both. That’s why testing is so important to prioritize.

Running A/B and multivariate tests in your marketing allows you to try out new tactics in a controlled manner. Basic A/B testing focuses on testing two versions against each other, while multivariate testing looks deeper at different combinations and variations of campaign elements.

They’re an opportunity to continuously fix underperforming campaigns and turn them around, or even find new opportunities for improvement inside already successful funnels.

You can test virtually any element of your campaign, from audience targeting and ad copy through to your landing page or an offer’s post-conversion page. The closer a test is to the conversion, the quicker you may be able to see results. For example, ComScore was able to increase conversions by almost 70% by testing product pages directly.

With so many ways to test, you can start with the areas of your campaign most in need of improvement to make the biggest impact. Once improved, move on to plug another leak.

Get the Most From Your Advertising Spend



When you get serious with your advertising spend, you won’t want to set campaigns live and just let them be. Instead, to get maximum results, you’ll want to improve your chances of converting any way you can, from testing for improvements to retargeting warm leads.



Source: https://smallbiztrends.com
Image Credit: Shuttershock



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, May 14, 2018

Is Email Marketing Right For Your Business


Email marketing is a great way to stay in touch with current customers as well as engage with new prospects. However, it may not be the best approach for your brand. How do you decide if email marketing is right for you? Here are a few things to consider.

First, Do I Know You?


Where did you get their email address from? If you are doing a cold introduction, make sure you acknowledge it and give your prospect a chance to unsubscribe. No one likes spam, and you want to make sure that your message is not labeled as such, There are many reputable vendors to purchase lists from as well as generating your own, but we’ll talk about that in a later blog post.


Second, What Is The Reason For Your Call?


Think about your goal for the emails. Email marketing is a lot like blogging, you want to provide good quality information on a consistent basis. Don’t try to push a sale or set an exploding offer. I say that because that definitely shortens the life of your email campaign. Pressing for an immediate decision may lead to a high number of unsubscribes from your list.




Third, How Are You Sending Emails?


Using your personal email may lead to getting your domain blacklisted. Additionally, without an easy way for people to unsubscribe, and you keeping up with it, there is a chance for larger fines and problems.

Finally, How Are Your Emails Being Designed?


An email is a lot like your website or a landing page. It needs to display well on all device sizes, have clear imagery and text, and have a clear path for your prospect to follow. If you make people work too hard to purchase, they may just keep walking.

These are just a few things to consider as you start an email marketing campaign. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be digging into several of these questions, as well as offering recommendations on ideas and tools to enhance your campaign.

If you have a specific question, be sure to post it in the comments below and we’ll respond.




Source: https://www.business2community.com
Image Credit: geralt | Pixabay



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!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

4 Reasons Why Nurturing Business Relationships Makes Money



I’m currently working on a huge project for one of my clients where I get to interview successful entrepreneurs from all types of industries. On a recent interview I did, I had the pleasure of speaking with a friend and colleague who is a genius at building business relationships. According to her, it’s these business relationships that keep growing her revenue.

In a world where so much is being done online, we often forget that we are dealing with people. It’s people who pay you, which is why building business relationships is so important. Here are x reasons why nurturing business relationships makes money.


Trust is a big part of making money.


People will not pay you unless they trust you can fix their issues. Period.

In fact, I find this is often a key component missing in sales conversations. Business owners are often taught to go after anything that moves. This doesn’t work for two reasons. First, you’re better off finding a select few group of people you can cater to. Second, you need to build trust first.

There are several ways of building trust in business relationships both online and off. Here are a few of them:


  • Consistently providing great quality work.
  • Truly listening to other people when they speak.
  • Acting with integrity in business.
  • Walking your talk.
  • Consistently creating quality content over a period of time.

Building trust in business relationships is not limited to these actions, but they are certainly a good place to start. 




They can make transitions easier.


When I interviewed my friend and colleague on the topic of business relationships, she shared a great story about quitting her last job. Because she had built solid business relationships at her last job, when she announced she was leaving to start her own company a ton of clients went with her.

The way she explains it, these clients know she’s good at what she does. They want to do business with her, not just anyone. This made the transition into running her own company much easier.

They can send referrals.


Just because someone may not pay you, doesn’t mean they won’t send someone else who will. For example, I recently had a consultation with someone who wasn’t yet ready for my six-week business program. She did, however, refer a friend who is now one of my students.

These things happen in my business all the time. Because I put forth the effort to build business relationships, people know they can refer others to my work.

Colleagues can become sounding boards.


Every business owner needs a sounding board or two. In building business relationships, I now have a group of colleagues I know I can go to for help. This comes in handy when I have questions, doubts or fears. It’s also how I’ve been able to find valuable team members. It’s because of these relationships I’ve been able to build the business I have today.

Final Thoughts


Business relationships can help you expand your current business into new horizons. If you don’t prioritize building relationships, consider this your permission slip to get started.




Source: https://www.business2community.com


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

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

15 Biggest Email Marketing Turnoffs for New Customers


Email marketing remains one of the best ways to communicate with your audience. However, nobody likes their inbox spammed with too many messages that provide no value, so here are some of the biggest email marketing turnoffs any business should keep in mind when approaching new customers.


1. Template Emails


There is nothing worse than making the investment, as a client, into a new product and service and receiving a template email correspondence. Your first email to a new customer should be personal and offering next steps, gratitude for their business and a way to contact you with any questions or issues. Make the customer feel like you personally care about them. – Jennifer Mellon, Trustify

2. Excessive Emailing


In an effort to better understand your users’ needs and provide an exceptional customer experience, it’s easy to break a cardinal rule when it comes to email marketing: overkill. Excessive emailing frustrates new users and leads to unsubscribes and churn. Be sure to coordinate your engagement outreach, survey gathering and abandoned cart emails so they don’t get in the way of your good intentions. – Matt Bendett, Peerspace

3. Misleading Emails



Some businesses still send out messages with misleading subject lines, implying that the recipient has won something or that they can get something for free. When they open the email, it turns out they have to buy something. Anything in the subject line or message that’s not completely honest will only ruin your credibility. You can send compelling messages without such tactics. – Shawn Porat, Scorely

4. An Immediate Sales Pitch


Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to reach an audience and grow a brand. However, subscribers are very smart. If someone is willing to give you their email address, you need to provide them with value and appreciate the relationship. This is where autoresponders can really come into play. If you want to lose a new subscriber right away, try to sell them in your welcome email. – Zac Johnson,Blogger

5. Poor Format


Most people prefer to skim through content and email is no different. It’s critical to avoid big chunks of text. Instead, use short sentences and lots of line breaks. Make sure your first sentence captures the reader and then get to the point quickly. You only have a few seconds to get your message across. – Ajay Paghdal, OutreachMama

6. Lack of Substance


The difference between an email that new customers will read versus one that will be filtered into their spam folder is substance. Even if you send emails with pertinent information and exclusive offers, customers will be discouraged to take advantage if it looks like generic promotional spam. Adding some interesting copy will help make a better impact with customers. – Bryce Welker, CPA Exam Guy




7. Communication Without Permission


One of the biggest turnoffs to a new customer is to be suddenly bombarded with emails. Instead, initial emails should be informative and set expectations, i.e. we will be sending you an email once a month to let you know about our offers and to share news you might find useful. That way, the customer feels you care about their time and their understanding of how you communicate with them. – Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design

8. Inconsistency


Many times, people will dive into email marketing overpromising and underdelivering. They will tell their new customers to expect a weekly newsletter from them, only to deliver a couple of newsletters a year. To make sure you’re keeping your promise, use email service providers to automate the weekly newsletter and keep customers posted on what they want to see from you. – Jared Atchison, WPForms

9. No Welcome Email


Think about this: you just gave your favorite website your email address to send you relevant news, and you go to your inbox to see if they sent you something yet. Nothing. Not even a welcome email. Welcome emails get viewed the most and they are an opportunity to set the stage and expectations for future emails. – Syed Balkhi, OptinMonster

10. Feeling Taken From Rather Than Given to


New customers are trusting you with their info, and it’s crucial not to break that trust. Lack of email etiquette/boundaries, and communicating without offering something of value, are just a few of the things that turn new customers off. Companies should be mindful of this and always aim at sending communication that their customers (especially new ones) cannot wait to open. – Dalia MacPhee, DALIA MACPHEE

11. Offering Too Many Products


We receive the best returns on email marketing when the email focuses on a single product. Using a single email as a broad spread of products does not generate nearly as much interest as focusing on the details, benefits, pricing and turnaround of a single product. Each email is targeted to a list of customers who would be most likely to consume the advertised product. – Carmine Silano, CheerSounds Music

12. A Poorly Written Subject Line


Thanks to Twitter, we all know how to craft a good message with limited characters. A good marketing email should tell who you are and what you want, as well as why the recipient is receiving it. This way, the customer will be able to know what they are about to open and will be more inclined to do so. – Ryan Bradley, Koester & Bradley, LLP

13. No Clear Ask


Despite the spam potential, I’m generally open to receiving marketing emails, especially for new software products. This helps me stay on top of the new trends. Unfortunately, many of the emails I receive have no clear value or ask. I don’t really know what they are offering and what they want from me. This should be clear for the recipient. – Brian Samson, True North

14. Tacky Taglines


Nothing turns someone off in an email marketing campaign more than a super pitch as a headline and pure sale copy. Inherently, there is an understanding between a recipient and sender of sales intent. However, the sender needs to offer information useful to the recipient that opens a dialogue. You should start building a relationship through useful content, then transition naturally to a sale. – Matthew Capala, Alphametic

15. Automation Overkill


I think it’s great to find tools that help you use your time wisely, but when used incorrectly, automation can be detrimental to the customer experience. There’s nothing worse than knowing when the next “just checking in” message will arrive in your inbox, and when it’s clear to the customer that they are on an automated list, automation serves as a waste of everyone’s time. – Kevin Yamazaki, Sidebench



Source: https://www.business2community.com


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

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Join WNFP Communities!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Now that Tax Season is Over, What’s Next? Time to Plan a Tax Strategy for Next Year - Elmsford, NY


Although tax season is over, you may have questions about your taxes or you may want to learn ways to avoid tax penalties and new strategies to reduce your tax liability for next year.

Attend Westchester Networking for Professionals Business Lunch & Learn Networking Event on Thursday, May 17, 2018 at 12:00 pm in Elmsford, NY.

You'll have an opportunity introduce your business to local professionals while enjoying lunch and getting some advice from our guest speaker on the topic of “Tax Planning for Your Small Business”.

Registration is now available online at a discount ticket rate, paying at the door will be more.

Interested? Click the link below for event and registration information.  05/17 Lunch & Learn Event 

Unable to attend, feel free to share the invite with others.




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!

3 Strategies for Smarter Advertising on Any Budget

Smarter advertising is needed … whether you’re managing a multi-million dollar marketing budget or scraping ad campaigns together with pennies.

Many of the pricey ads that appear in Times Square or during the Super Bowl get a lot of attention. However, their cost doesn’t determine their success.

By thinking creatively & taking advantage of advancing technology, smaller brands on limited budgets can enjoy the same positive results as bigger players.

Get inspired by smaller brand strategies below, and see how their ads compare to recent big-budget favorites.




1. Smarter Advertising By Thinking Outside Traditional Media


Not every ad campaign needs to air on TV during primetime hours.

To better promote the MiniCooper to unimpressed drivers in the United States in the early 2000s, Mini’s Let’s Motor campaign spent its $25 million budget less traditionally, with positive results.

The brand, which was trying to increase exposure in the US market, traded pricey TV ads for face-to-face interactions with their audience at malls & busy public places.

Instead of trying to beat already established brands on their home turf, Mini chose a new strategy.

In the end, the effort doubled brand awareness after one year. $25 million may still seem like a huge budget to a small brand, but with many automobile companies spending $2 to $3 billion dollars on advertising per year, the individual campaign was comparably affordable.

Don’t forget to consider new channels or places your dollar could go further, even if you’re alone among your competitors. Rather than getting stuck in a rut, you could find yourself ahead of the curve.

2. Partnering Wisely


The Art Institute of Chicago doesn’t have the deep pockets of a major corporation, but with a savvy idea for a partnership with Airbnb, the museum, working with Leo Burnett Chicago, took $500,000 and created their most visited exhibit ever—and a $2 million boost in revenue.

As the first US museum to ever exhibit all three paintings in Van Gogh’s “The Bedroom” series together, the Art Institute of Chicago wanted to raise awareness and ticket sales ahead of its historic opening.

To do it, the museum trusted Leo Burnett Chicago to build a replica of the bedroom depicted in the paintings. Then, each bedroom was made available for anyone to rent on Airbnb.

Talk about smarter advertising!

Rather than investing in routine or traditional advertising, Leo Burnett improved the brand’s reach drastically by choosing an unexpected platform.

Consider partnering with other brands for smarter advertising. Choose companies your target audience already trusts and pitch a partnership that could be mutually beneficial.

3. Get Inspired, then Scale


Lamenting the fact that you can’t afford to buy prime ad space?

Try taking inspiration from larger brands who can, and then scale down.

One 30 second ad in the Super Bowl cost $5 million dollars in 2018.

Facebook and Instagram, by contrast, have advertising options that fit a variety of budgets, and a newer Facebook feature called Flex Targeting allows you to send your ads out only to customers who match profiles you set up ahead of time.

This is a great way to make sure you’re spending efficiently by reaching the right people.

Even large brands are becoming more sensitive to where their ad dollars are going, with Proctor & Gamble as the latest big-name brand to improve its efficiency by slashing a bloated budget.

A few things large, expensive ad campaigns are often (though not always) good at? Beautiful imagery, effective messaging, and good laughs.

Even if your next ad campaign will look nothing like a Super Bowl ad, large-scale campaigns can serve as inspiration.

While being able to spend more may always remain a goal for you, it isn’t the ticket to effectively increasing brand awareness or your customer base.

Even established brands have to be realistic about what they can spend.

Smarter advertising is a constantly evolving strategy!

Smarter Advertising Is The Future


We’ve seen firsthand what happens with stale advertising. It takes daily optimization and innovation to keep conversions steady during your campaigns.

That, along with the new trends and “rules” of digital advertising, mean you need at least one person dedicated to your advertising efforts.

Lastly, pricing alone doesn’t dictate the success of your campaigns.

Even small budgets have seen big wins … and that’s truly what smarter advertising means!



Source: http://bsquared.media


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, May 8, 2018

4 Easy and Effective Email Marketing Tips for Your Small Business


Email marketing allows you to reach a highly targeted audience at a low cost. In fact, experts at Campaign Monitor, an email marketing company, estimate that an effective email marketing message has the potential to result in $38 in revenue, for just $1 of marketing investment.

Here are some email marketing conversion tips all small businesses can use:


1. Include descriptive tags with your images.


Online publication MarketingCharts cites data revealing that the average person receives more than 400 commercial emails a month. Emails that include images can help your small business stand out in an already-crowded inbox, especially if you choose those that evoke an emotional response to a product, a promotional campaign concept or your brand.

However, email marketing now comes with a “catch 22,” given that at least half of all email messages are checked on a mobile device, according to experts at Litmus, an email analytics company. While mobile devices may positively boost response to time-sensitive messages, small screens aren’t always conducive to images. If a recipient opens your email only to see that images have been blocked, you could be banished to his or her spam box indefinitely. The more often that happens, the harder it is to form a reputation as a sender whose emails are recognized as legitimate: According to the experts at Sender Score, 28 percent of the email messages that are sent reach a user’s inbox.

Descriptive ATL tags can help you improve conversion, and decrease the risk of images in email marketing. Nonprofit organization WebAIM point out that ALT tag copy that is applicable in both context and functionality ensures the meaning of an image translates, even if the recipient can’t see the picture. Review the ALT tags for images on your site and in your email campaigns for relevancy, using descriptive words that will make the customer want to take action.

2. Don’t send messages that aren’t targeted.


While you may not have robust data on prospects, you can learn a little more about what they respond to with each message you send. Diligently track open and click-through rates with each campaign, including the optimal times to send messages based on response and headline tests. Place email recipients in segments based on your findings to build an effective drip campaign that is personalized and relevant based on their activity. Internet Retailer reports that retailer totes Isotoner improved its email marketing campaign revenue by a whopping 7,000 percent when it used analytics based on past email activity, site search history and past purchases to deliver highly targeted email messages.

3. Don’t ask for too much.


Segment your email marketing campaigns so that each recipient is served the most relevant offer based on his or her preferences, and that he or she is presented with one clear message, call to action and a seamless checkout experience -- whether on a desktop or mobile device. Prefill special offers the email message may include so customers aren’t required to key special discount codes that are part of your email offer at checkout. Partner with a reputable mobile payment provider for a secure and branded checkout experience to eliminate concerns with payment security, or require the customer to take additional steps to complete the transaction. For example, Mobile Commerce Daily reports that despite the popularity of PayPal by retailers in online sales, evidence suggests that it kills conversion by nearly 15 percent (particularly when consumers are shopping on a mobile device), because it requires additional steps to make a purchase.

4. Use emails to form a lasting relationship.


Email campaigns should build upon one another, and acknowledge what you know about the customer, based on his or her past activity. In fact, marketing firm Epsilon cites data indicating that “triggered” emails targeted based on a recipient’s engagement with past messages have open rates that are 76 percent higher than those with generic messaging. If you cannot convince your customers to click on your message, you can’t convert them, regardless of your pricing or product quality.

Email marketing is an affordable way to communicate with prospects and customers, gain valuable insights about their preferences and increase sales. However, it requires strategy to convert message recipients into buyers. Follow these steps to improve the ROI you realize from every email you send.



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



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, May 7, 2018

33 Questions to Help You Overcome Shyness--So You Can Be Awesome at Networking, Speed-Dating, Mingling or Schmoozing



I've got a confession to make: Inside this seemingly confident, frequent-public-speaking, supposedly outgoing CEO exterior is a very shy introvert.

As long as I've got a job to do (facilitate a planning session, advise a client), I'm perfectly comfortable in front of even a large group of people. But put me in an unstructured setting--like a networking event or a cocktail party--and I'd rather wash dirty plates than mingle.

Since my role requires me to put myself out there, I've adopted a technique that helps overcome my anxiety. That technique is simple: As soon as I'm introduced to someone, I ask one to three really good questions.

As readers of this column know, I'm a big fan of asking questions. After all, the Greek philosopher Socrates knew that questions are more engaging than providing information. And leadership coach Bill Bliss writes that "Questions allow us to learn and grow, connect with people, challenge our beliefs, improve the performance of our team, and develop better ideas."

But my secret reasons for using questions to break the ice are: A) Doing so is way more interesting than chit-chatting about the weather; B) Asking questions makes me confident that I am making an impression (and not just saying the same thing as everyone else); and C) Questions put the spotlight on the other person (which helps me manage my discomfort).

Want to try this technique? Here are 33 questions to choose from:


Blast from the past


1. What was your first job?

2. Who was your idol when you were growing up?

3. What your first experience with a theme or amusement park?

4. What was the first concert you went to?


All about you


5. How do you kick back and relax?

6. What's your most unique hobby?

7. What genre of music helps you do your best work?

8. Where's the most memorable place you've traveled to?

9. How do you most like to spend a free weekend?

10. What's something you bought recently that you're really happy with?




What's your favorite?


11. What's your favorite recent movie--and why?

12. What's your favorite color--and why?

13. What lunchtime meal would you prefer to eat--and why?

14. What's a flavor of ice cream you love but never order--and why?

15. What's a word that just makes you happy every time you hear it--and why?

16. What's your favorite song from a genre you don't usually listen to--and why?

17. What travel destination would you most like to visit next--and why?

18. What is your spirit animal--and why?


Professionally speaking


19. What achievement are you most proud of this year?

20. What's one important lesson you've learned since you've been in your current job?


21. What's one piece of advice would you give to someone who just joined your company or team?

22. What is the project you're most looking forward to working on this year?


Let's get personal


23. What gets you out of bed every morning?

24. What's one thing no one knows about you?

25. If you were to choose another profession, what would it be?

26. What scares you?

27. What can you do that most others can't?

28. What are three things you can't live without?


If. . .


29. If I could share dinner with anyone (alive or dead), who would it be?

30. You just found a genie. What's your first wish?

31. If you could live in another country, where would you live?

32. If you could live inside a television show, which would it be?

33. If you had only one day left on earth, what would you do first?




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!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

What is the Difference Between Advertising and Marketing?


The difference between small business advertising and marketing is that advertising is a paid media placement to promote your business, i.e. buying an ad. Advertising is a specific technique and one part of marketing. Marketing in small business is a much broader set of activities to promote your product or service.

Advertising might be a TV commercial, a radio spot, a quarter-page magazine ad, a newspaper classified, a billboard or an Internet display ad.

Marketing in small business includes social media, free business listings, strategic product pricing, publicity, email marketing, content marketing, search engine optimization and more. It also includes advertising.

While advertising shares similarities with some other forms of promotion, advertising is usually more within your control. Small business advertising may better drive the results you need. Small business advertising also amplifies the impact of other forms of marketing, by making sure more people see your messages.




Advertising and Marketing


Here are scenarios to illustrate the difference between small business advertising and marketing in a small business:


Advertising: You develop a creative advertisement about your new product. Then you pay to place that ad where you’d like it to appear. You have complete control over the message of your small business advertising. You also have control over where it appears.


PR and publicity: You announce a new product with the help of a publicity agency. A media outlet covers it. Unlike with small business advertising, you have no control over where or whether your story will appear. Nor do you have control over what they write in response to your press release and interview.


A sales event: You run a special sales promotion in your store for the new product. You carefully craft the promotion and pricing to make it seem like a good deal. But you still are faced with getting the message out about the special sales event. This is where small business advertising comes in — to better drive results. So you create ads that draw attention to the sale, to get people to the store to ask for your product. Without advertising to highlight your event, it may not be as successful.


Social media: You put the word out about your new product through your social channels such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. However, only your followers and a limited number of others see your social updates. Those who see the update love the authenticity and some buy the product.


Content marketing: You write and publish content on your blog or on other sites, as a method to develop thought leadership, develop a personal brand, highlight your company brand, improve your position in search engines and develop a dialogue with customers.


Marketing in Small Business


The above five scenarios are all part of marketing in small business.

Often it’s not a case of advertising OR marketing. Rather, you can get better results by combining advertising and other types of marketing for a one-two punch.

Here’s an example of how content marketing and social media combined with advertising will bring a bigger impact. You write an awesome blog post. You share it on social media to get visibility there. But sadly, only a handful see your social media update or blog post. So you decide to promote your social media post. You boost or promote your update (i.e., place a social media ad) to get your message more widely seen by thousands, get more social shares and drive more sales.

Small Business Advertising


Some refer to combining advertising with other content marketing techniques as a “POEM.” POEM stands for Paid, Owned and Earned Media. In a content marketing setting, owned media is the blog post you write. Paid media is the boost for the social media post. Earned media refers to the sharing others do after seeing your social media share more widely. See more examples of using Paid, Earned and Owned Media.

Do you now see the difference between advertising and marketing in small business? And do you see how small business advertising can amplify other marketing techniques?





Source: https://smallbiztrends.com
Image Credit: Shuttershock




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!