Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Are You an Absent Networker?

Have you been invited to networking events but declined? Does the thought of going into a room full of strangers fill you with fear? Do you think you wouldn't know what to say or that you would feel stupid?

You could be missing out on a good way to increase your sales. Different businesses benefit from different types of promotional activities but often a combination of several of those activities can increase business. Networking can be one of those promotional activities.

The best way to introduce yourself to networking is to find someone you know who already networks. They will have a range of contacts who can help you find the best type of networking event for you. If you don't have such a contact then do an internet search for business network in your area.

Depending on your circumstances you might find that some of the events just don't fit in with your schedule but you should be able to find something suitable. You may prefer to attend an event where you can simply mingle with other attendees rather than one where everyone is offered the chance to address the whole room for a minute.

Then it's a case of making contact and attending.

If that sounds quite frightening then read some articles on how to prepare for a networking event. Preparation will mean that you feel much more comfortable because you will know what to expect and you will know what is expected of you.

Think about your target market. Who are your best customers? Then think about what you have to offer them. Keep it as simple as you can so you can quickly and easily explain your business to someone else. Make sure you have some business cards to hand out.

If you are attending an event where you are expected to give a short presentation to everyone then read some articles on presentation. If you get nervous easily there are people who can coach you on presentation skills and hypnotherapy can help you reduce your nerves so you can feel more confident.

If you feel uncomfortable meeting new people then ask the organisers to introduce you to some people when you arrive. This is much easier than just walking into a room of complete strangers. Most good networking organisations will have someone to greet new attendees.

People who attend networking events are just like you - business people. Some of them may be sole traders with very small businesses based at their home and some could be from larger multinational companies. They are all people though and people who are interested in business.

If you are still unsure because you lack confidence in groups of people who you don't know then contact a hypnotherapist or NLP practitioner who will be able to help you increase your confidence.

Networking can be daunting if you haven't done it before but it can also be a valuable source of new contacts and a good way to keep in touch with other business people. Attending networking events can be a regular and enjoyable part of your sales strategy.

By : Sharon_Stiles

Business Networking - Making the Most of Face to Face Time

Since no one has figured out how to make more land, it is considered by many to be the best investment money can buy. But is it really? There is at least one thing that has the potential to yield a virtually unlimited return on investment - your time. Let's do the math.

1. Suppose you have determined that your average revenue from each client is $5000 a year.
2. Suppose you attend a two-hour networking event with a ticket price of $25.
3. Suppose you chat with 10 people and have a meaningful conversation with two of them.
4. Suppose one of those people becomes your client.

Would a net income of $4975 be worth the investment of two hours of your time? Wouldn't it be worth it even if the ticket cost $100?

Do your homework

Before you begin re-arranging your calendar so you can attend 30 networking events this month, consider the following to be sure you are getting the best return on the investment of your time.

* Be sure you know the average revenue impact each client has on your business.
* Evaluate how well the group attracts people who fit your ideal client profile or share it as a target market and could therefore be a good source of referrals, if not actual customers.
* Learn what you can about the mission of the group and the people in leadership roles.
* Once you've found a group that is a good fit, show up regularly and participate. Consider volunteering in some form. It's a great way to build relationships fast.

Size doesn't always matter

The percentage of ideal clients that the group attracts is far more important than the number of people it attracts. Using this formula, I have found groups with fewer than a dozen regular participants that have been excellent sources of ideal client relationships.

Keep your eye on the big picture

If you find yourself calculating the value of an event according to the quality of the cheese or chicken, you've lost your business bearings and have strapped on your consumer cloak. To borrow a line from Cher in the movie Moonstruck, "SNAP OUT OF IT!" and get back on business track.

These principles can be applied well beyond the realm of face-to-face networking. Once you understand the dollar value of a client, you can apply this same method of evaluation to anything that calls for an investment of your time. Choose wisely because you only get 86,400 seconds each day and every one is a nonrenewable resource!

By : Lisa_Almeida

Friday, October 16, 2009

Business Networking Tips

Networking has been good to me over the years. Apart from referrals, it has been the single most successful way of generating new business and building my professional network. It must be the salesperson in me, but there is nothing more rewarding than meeting and connecting with new people who end up as friends, associates or clients.

I just love the randomness of networking and the fact that you never know what fantastic people you will meet.

However, networking can be a very time consuming and very costly exercise if your not maximizing the opportunity you have in front of you. I often tell the staff of clients that networking is not about putting a beer or wine in your hand and talking to people. It's about talking with a purpose and seeing what common interests or common ground you have.

As my good friend Maurice Gilet from BNI says 'it's called net-working for a reason - it's not 'not-working'!

Here are some tips and information that you might find useful - so get out there networking!

Tip 1

When choosing an event think about what type of companies are likely to attend (large or small) and the position of the person that will attend. It is well known that Senior Managers of most medium to large companies won't engage in business networking (because they think they don't have to) unless it is for a specific industry event or because the guest speaker and topic are of interest to them. Typically, they send their junior staff or sales staff but, don't be put off by this because you can still get a lot of the information you need you just need to get them talking and ask some questions. For example:

1. What do you do?
2. How's business?
3. Is it a large company? How many people do you employ?
4. Do you have more than one office?
5. What kind of clients do you deal with?
6. How do you find new clients (i.e. marketing, advertising or direct sales)
7. If I was to contact your company, who would be the best person to speak to regarding......

Tip 2

If you want to get the most out of any networking group, you will need to attend more than once so that people get used to seeing you and talking to you. When you have been about three times you should notice that people will start to recall your name and business name. Using the service of a new contact or sharing business referrals is based on trust and credibility and trust takes time to establish and build.

Tip 3

Have a goal for each event, i.e. two new contacts, one meeting, or two potential candidates. This way you can judge whether the event was worthwhile and whether it's worth doing again.

Tip 4

If the thought of networking and walking into a room full of strangers is intimidating for you, ask a friend or colleague to join you. This way the event will be more enjoyable and you will always have a 'safe haven' for those times when you are on your own or looking for people to talk to. Just make sure that you don't just talk to each other!

Tip 5

Arrive early so you can look at the name tags on the registration desk and see what type of people will be attending. There may be someone attending from a prospective client; by standing near the desk you can save time searching for them by watching who picks up the nametag.

Tip 6

Stand near the registration desk when people are arriving; people may think you are part of the event and will feel more comfortable talking to you.

Tip 7

Most importantly, always remember to follow up the contacts you have met within 24 hours. A simple email to those who just briefly chatted with or a phone call suggesting a meeting to those who expressed an interest. If you don't follow up the people that you have met, you are wasting the time and effort you put into going in the first place.

By : Karen_Andrews

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Power of Mastermind Groups

often recommend that small business owners and entrepreneurs have three key tools in their "success toolbox": a coach, a mentor and a mastermind group.

I've covered coaching and mentoring in another article and on my web site. Let's explore the role of mastermind groups in helping you to set and achieve your goals.

Mastermind groups are small (6-8 people) and made up of peers and colleagues who are on a similar path as you. Most groups are not local because this helps you avoid the potential issue of working on ideas with competitors. So instead, groups meet by phone for an hour or 90 minutes monthly to do goal-setting, brainstorming and to review action steps.

Mastermind group members should be working in a similar role (entrepreneurs, online marketers, freelance writers, etc.). This allows for an effective exchange of ideas and information that everyone can contribute to.

They should also be of an equal experience level to prevent experienced members from feeling there is no value in the group and less experienced members from feeling lost or intimidated.

A critical requirement of the group members is that they keep their commitment to meeting times. The ongoing appointment should be on every one's calendars and considered as important as a client meeting. To keep everyone accountable, many groups charge a meeting fee. Everything discussed should be considered confidential as well.

Groups should have a facilitator who is experienced and understands group dynamics. A facilitator is the traffic cop of the group-NOT a teacher or coach.

They make sure everyone stays on point, gets involved and the conversation flows. They can contribute when asked but that is not their primary purpose.

In the first few meetings, groups should explore what their individual value systems are. You cannot build a success plan if you don't know what you value in life and what you need for your own personal happiness.

For many people, more time trumps more money. Everyone has a different set of values and they should not be judged. Having members understand your values allows them to hold you accountable for setting goals that don't conflict with those values.

After value systems have been defined, mastermind groups should begin setting their individual goals. It is crucial that group members are capable of BIG dreams, bigger than they've had in the past and dare to say them out loud! Goals should be actionable with target dates that are short-term.

They must mesh with values. The group will hold members accountable who's action steps and goals routinely go unmet and ask them if this is truly something they want.

When you gather a group of driven, engaged individuals you have access to more resources, ideas and contacts than you would on your own. This is the hidden power of joining a mastermind group! They also help you identify, and remove, stumbling blocks you might have missed on your own.

Add a mastermind group to your success toolbox! I guarantee you'll see results.

By : Steve Schlagel

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Business Networking Skills - Five Social Skills Tips That Are Key For Networking Success

Networking skills are an absolute must for people who wants to grow their business. And the key is the word "skills."

Networking requires specific skills, and many of them are basically social skills. Read on for how you can improve your networking success by polishing your social skills.

Social skills help us connect with others, and that's what we need to do during networking. Some of them are mostly a matter of awareness and paying attention, while others take real practice.

Either way, the more often you do something, the more it will become second nature. So make an effort to do the following five things regularly, and watch the results you'll get.

1. Remember to say "please" and especially "thank you."

Saying "please" and "thank you" may be so basic that you don't think it even falls under social skill but instead is common courtesy. Be that as it may, courtesy is so important that it deserves to be listed here, and it's a large part of what makes up good social skills.

2. Make proper eye contact

Making eye contact frequently and appropriately can make the difference between coming across as likable -- and not. Look at the person when you're speaking with him or her, but without staring, and pay close attention.

Even if you're one of those people who actually can pay attention when they seem to be preoccupied with other things, maintaining eye contact will be worth your while. Don't just pay attention, but make sure the other person knows that you're paying attention. And eye contact is the traditional way to show it.

3. Repeat the other person's name

In a conversation, be sure to repeat the other person's name. It will make them feel very much acknowledged. It will also help you remember their name. There are a lot of quotes about how much people love the sound of their own name. The thing is - it's true.

4. Support others

Whenever you find yourself talking with someone, pay close attention. That's true especially if that person is new and possibly a prospect, but it's common courtesy in any case. Listen with an open mind, and look for ways in which you can help him or her.

5. Repeat something they've said recently

When you've had a conversation with someone and talk to them again, repeat something they've said. Ask them about something specific to follow up. It shows them that you paid close attention, and they will appreciate that.

By : Sue_Clement

Friday, October 2, 2009

Creating Your Network - Doubling Your Income

First of all what is a network? How does that relate to being an actor?

"A network is a large group of people who communicate, are interconnected and work together as a system."

If you create a network you double, triple, exponentially multiply your work opportunities a gazillion times. The more people who know you, like you, want to work with you, the more work you will get.

Then, the process of submissions, auditions and trying to get work is reduced to zero. Offers come out of nowhere from people who know you, have been referred to you, have seen your work.

It's like virus marketing or the internet which is a humongous network. Career-wise you can then focus on just doing the work-a film, a play, a new prime time series.

You become a working actor, not an actor trying to get work.

So how do you build a network? How do you get a team of people on your side to represent you? Submit you for roles? Hire you? Create projects for you? Develop your career until you are at the top?

Here is a roadmap:

1. Create a database of people you know- maybe that's only 10 at the moment: other actors, playwrights, directors, a few casting directors, agents you met through a "pay-to meet", a personal manager, an acting teacher.

Enter their names in a database with email capacity. There are many database email programs out there. We use Constant Contact.

There's also Icontact, eweber, infusionsoft, numerous companies and software but CC is easy to learn, has 5 minute tutorials and is free for the first 2 months - while you try it out. Then, if you sign up, it's affordable.

2. Grow your list weekly by meeting more agents, casting directors, writers, directors. Join organizations where you can network-NY Theater Meet-ups, AFI, Shooting People, Director's Guild, AFTRA, SAG, AEA, NY Women in Film and TV, LA Women in Film & TV, New Dramatists Guild, theater groups, acting companies...anything that will allow you to meet more people in the industry.

If you know 5 people you will probably NEVER get an acting job. If you know 50 you might get a call, an audition, a job once a year. If you know 500, you'll get a job once a week!

3. Enter all the names of your contacts and check out the graphics, templates and usage of the program. It allows you to send out everything from press releases to holiday cards, download a photo into your personal messages (create your own stationary), design flyers, etc.

Even if you are challenged on the computer-this is easy. It's all done for you with a few clicks. Not too difficult.

4. Start by sending out a few - "Hi! How are you doing'? Just wanted to say hello and tell you what I'm up to..." messages. As it becomes easier, send out an announcement when you are in a show, when you book a commercial, get a callback for a film, are appearing in an under 5 on a Soap, to wish them a Happy Birthday, Happy Labor Day, Happy Thanksgiving...there are templates for every reason, season and you can design more to relate to your career progress.

5. When you have a new demo reel or a new website, send a link in an email so they can see your most recent accomplishment and work .This seems like a lot of fuss but it's not any different than sending messages on Twitter, Facebook, or MySpace, only you are accomplishing a whole lot more.

You are building not only your network of people who like you. You are building your career. Just like in the Tipping Point (a book you should read by Malcolm Gladwell) you suddenly have reached a critical mass- a list of 100 or 250 or more.

Friends and Agents will forward your info on to other interested parties- Casting Directors who were looking for your type or tuned in to see you or Googled you when they were casting something. It all comes together. And you start working.

How long does this process take? Depends on how actively you apply the concept and follow up with the system. Months, a year or two. Isn't that better than staying in the same spot sending your resumes and post cards out and paying to meet one Industry contact at a time or having one audition at a time? Give it a shot!

Successful Marketing!

By : Gwyn_Gilliss