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Posts tagged ‘networking’

Tips To Network Successfully

I’m so excited to lead a new networking chapter in Fairfax, Nexco. It was founded by a great group of businessmen whom I consider friends, and I’m honored to have been chosen to be the voice of this particular chapter.

I’ve done a lot of networking over the years, and I hear people say all of the time how much they hate networking. I disagree. I think networking can be fun, and quite beneficial if done right.  Follow these steps to not only enjoy networking, but to do it successfully as well.

 

First off, remember that networking is not about you landing a job/client. It’s about gaining information from a business and giving enough information about yours in order for them to use that as a stepping stone. It’s a means to an end, not the end.

 

When you enter the room, first go to those you know. It will make the transition easier, especially if your nervous. Plus, those you know, know you best, and may already have met someone they think would be a good referral for you.  When you meet someone, don’t make it all about you. Networking is much like dating; it’s an opportunity to get to know them and in turn, for them to get to know you. This is where you gauge whether there is a connection between your businesses, or possibly between them and one that you know.

After a networking event, reach out to those you wish to continue a conversation with. Ask them for coffee within 2 weeks of meeting. This way, the conversation stays fresh, and any topics that were hot or would be considered leads will still be warm when you meet.

Before you meet, do research on the business you’re meeting with. You want to look invested and interested in what they have to say and to offer. By being educated, they may be more interested in connecting you to other professionals as well.

 

Now, for that pesky “I hate networking” feeling of yours. Make yourself a promise to go to x number of networking events (tomorrow’s event is a great start!) and to make X number of connections, and when you do, reward yourself with whatever small thing makes you happy. Part of what makes networking so overwhelming is, well, the actual events are overwhelming. But, as I say, the only way to eat a whole elephant is to take small bites, so relax! Think of this as an adventure, and a positive path to your success!

 

Join me tomorrow at Brion’s Grille in University Mall in Fairfax from 11:30-1pm for some great networking with local businesses!

So, What Do You Do?

How many times have you heard this question? It can essentially make or break an introduction, and depending on how you answer, can either peak a person’s interest, or have them look over you to find someone else to try connecting with.

 

Networking isn’t easy. It’s time consuming, and can be disheartening when your networking is just NOTworking (see what I did there, heheh). A lot of why you may be in a networking rut may have to do with how you begin your conversation.

 

When someone asks you “What do you do?” How do you normally answer? Do you say, “I’m a commercial real estate agent” or do you say “I assist and consult clients in finding the ideal location for their businesses” ?

 

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with saying you’re an XYor Z, but there are likely thousands just like you in your area which doesn’t quite differentiate you in the asker’s mind. People will likely also wonder to themselves “Do I need that service?” I know I don’t need a commercial real estate agent, but if I were to hear the description instead of the title, it would instantly get my brain storming to think of the right referral for them-and I would most likely follow through with it as well.

 

The flipside of this can be just as deadly-telling someone TOO much of what you do. There’s no need to detail every aspect of your business. For example, if you were to visit my Services page, you would find a long list of what my company offers. But, when I’m networking, and someone asks what my company offers, I tell them “We offer office management virtually, we offer bookkeeping, and we offer social media maintenance needs including blogs and newsletters.” Keeping it short, keeps the door open for a possible meeting. That would be the place to expand on your details. Not in the first 30 seconds of meeting someone.

 

One of the great parts of networking is the referral possibilities, but how can someone refer business your way if you say “Oh, anyone looking to buy a place for their business!” No, people don’t want to have to think -be specific, “I’m looking to connect with those in the medical field who want to branch out and open their own offices or those in health and wellness, wanting to dedicate a space for their clients.” This will help the person you’re talking to think of a possible referral or prospect for you.

 

Communicating effectively will save you time (and sometimes money) when networking. Make the time you spend connecting with other businesses more efficient and perfect your networking savvy!

Networking 101-How To Take Networking To The Next Level

Part of owning a successful business, or even a growing business is networking. Yes, a lot can be said for advertising and word of mouth-referrals are even great, but most of your business (my business anyway) comes from serious networking.

 

Not everyone wants to walk into a room full of strangers and introduce themselves, much less try to attract interest to their business. But, if follow these key tips, you’ll be less likely to hold the walls up and more likely to make some valuable connections.

 

Most networking events are  pretty firm on their start and end times. If you show up late, you’ll likely see circles of people already formed, and find it difficult to break in. Get to the event a bit early, and you’ll give yourself enough time to drink in the room, figure out a strategy, and create a circle of people yourself!

 

Networking is not about closing a client-that comes later. This is your opportunity to introduce yourself and your business to those who may not know you, and to meet businesses you may benefit from (or know someone who will). Keep the conversation light; ask simple questions to open up the conversation and smile. Engage in the person, keep eye contact, and make sure you seem interested.  People pick up on these body cues and will know whether you are truly focused, or are just listening for key words that may benefit you, and only you.

When the conversation has warmed up, feel free to share what your product or service is, IF they ask. Give a 30 second elevator pitch that sums up what you do, or offer, and keep it open ended to give them an opportunity to ask you more questions about it. The more they get to know you, the more likely they will be to either share your business, refer you business, or become the business!

Remember, networking is the beginning not the end. If you’ve exchanged cards with someone at the networking event, or, if the event sent out a list of email addresses, follow up with a quick summary of what you talked about, or about your business. You talked to so many people, it’s hard to keep track of all that information-the same goes for everyone else at that event. Be sure to follow up within 48 hours while you’re still fresh in their mind.

 

If you’ve networked before, what would you say was your most valuable tool?

 

Working From Home Can Be Hazardous To Your Health!

Working from home can be a great solution for solo-preneurs, telecommuters, and those who have small children who would rather work with them than without them, but many don’t realize a home workplace can intensify problems rather than alleviate them.

 

Make your home-office a healthy environment by creating physical and mental boundaries. For example, it’s important to give yourself a breather between work and home. For many, that generally translates into a commute. But what do you do when your only commute is coming down (or up) the stairs? Some go to the local coffee shop to grab a coffee and drive back home to create an official start to their day. Since I have three kids in three different stages in life, I tend to have a cup of coffee between the time my oldest leaves for school and the middle has to wake up to get ready for school. That hour of time is enough time for me to prepare mentally for my work day. I also NEVER work in PJ’s-I take a shower, put on pants with a zipper and button, wear makeup and do my hair. These simple acts make me feel like I’m going to the office, as opposed to just down my stairs.

 

It’s not easy to mentally separate work from home, believe me. If possible, try to dedicate a room to become your office. If you don’t have that available to you, create a work space that looks like an office, and avoid pictures of your family, or decorating with your home’s design in mind. Reflect your business to make you feel as though you’ve entered an office-not a corner of your living room.

 

While working from home may be great for those who hate the distraction of coworkers, it can actually make you feel quite lonely. Consider joining a meet-up group or a networking group to get you out of the house, and keep you out of a mental funk.

 

Don’t get too distracted by the doldrums of your home-your office is your oasis, and keeping your mental and physical health in check will not only make you a healthier person, it will make you a more successful business person as well!

 

 

 

Workplace Rules For Fresh, New Graduates

There have been so many news reports, special editions, etc., on the high unemployment rate and how there just aren’t any jobs available. Being on this end of it (the employer side), I hear an entirely different story; how there are so many jobs available with no qualified workers to take them. So which is it? Are there really no jobs out there, or is there really a low rate of people willing to take them?

 

In an age where entitlement has become less a generational issue and more a cultural issue, it’s important to teach those  just coming out of college expecting a $100,000 base salary job right after graduation, what the workplace is really like. “Today’s workplace doesn’t tolerate slackers.” Says Gen Y career expert Dan Schawbel. In an unstable economy, young people either rise to the top or sink to the bottom. To ensure you stay at the top of your game, follow these simple guidelines:

 

  1. Getting Hired Doesn’t Insure Permanency:  Companies are constantly merging with others, and opportunities are continually presenting themselves. Don’t believe you have a secure job. Nothing about work is secure; do your best at your present job till the very last day, and always have a skill to fall back on.
  2. No Job is Too Big For You-You Are Not Too Big For Any Job: Mcdonald’s the best you can do after graduation? Take it. Any skills, any constant work is work! Yes, it’s frustrating when you don’t get the job you’ve spent 4 years in college for, but guess what? Most people don’t. Take what you can get, and start building your work foundation from there. You never know what skills you’ll end up with if you don’t try.
  3. If You’re Early, You’re on Time; If You’re On Time, You’re Late, and If You’re Late, Go Home: This was one of the first lessons I learned when I took on my first consistent job at the age of 11 (yes, you read that correctly-11).  I’ll never forget the blazing red haired manager at my uncle’s store who first said this to me, and laid the foundation on which I base all of my business on. If you want to keep your job, make a glowing impression, and keep all your bridges intact by just being a few minutes early to work every day.
  4. Work Well With Others: There are four distinct generations in the workforce. Each of these generations has a different view of the workplace, and communicates at a different level. If you learn how to build relationships with each generation, you will inevitably become more successful.
  5. Your Future Is In YOUR Hands: It’s up to you what your reality looks like; where you are on the career ladder, and whether you ever own your own company are become the head of the one you are employed at. No one else is responsible for you. Be accountable, take charge, and in turn, you will be a success!

 

 

As a small business, I feel it’s my duty to help others when they are interested in launching a business of their own. Frankly, I think a lot of our economic problems would be solved if we simply shopped exclusively with small businesses, but I understand that isn’t always realistic. A friend of mine recently decided to branch out on her own and start her own business, and I couldn’t be happier. I do believe she will be a huge success, and so can you ( you small business owners!), and here are my suggestions on building a strong foundation to build a successful business upon!

 

First, you need to create a vision; not a business plan. I think business plans can get confusing and frustrating, and the idea some people have-that they can’t start a business without one-will stop most people from even trying. I say, build your plan as you build your business. You can’t know what’s going to happen in the next five years, so how will you project for your business? It is important though to have a clear vision of what you are, what you want to be, and how you think you can get there. If you don’t know how, don’t fret-that will come to you eventually.

Make a list, make a ‘vision’ board, use cut outs, magazine pages, whatever it takes to help you pull together a tangible goal for your business. After this, make a list of your ideal clients. Write down the characteristics of these people; while you’re at it, write down who you DON’T want too. This will help you clearly visualize and recognize what behavior or types of clients to avoid. Writing all of this down, making a board or list of what you want and don’t want will motivate you and bring you closer to materializing your business. It’s important to know what to identify in your ideal client, so when you meet them, the light bulb in your head goes off and that voice says, “Hey! You! You’re the one I want!”

 

After you’ve visualized and created what your business will look like, it’s time to hit the street! Well, not exactly; but you do want to make your presence known. I say this all the time at networking events, to clients, and to friends, you must hit all the marketing trifecta’s points in order to be successful. Point 1.)Network: You must network and become well known in your area. Everyone you meet at these events essentially become mini salespeople for you. If they like you, and get to know you well, they will refer you. Point 2.) Social Media: Don’t just hit all of them thinking one of them will work; instead, concentrate on those platforms that make the most sense to your business, and link up with those professionals you meet at those networking events! Point 3.) Touch Back: Send an email to all those you networked with to touch base and expand on who you are. This will help you stand out in their minds. Touch base with referrals also; and don’t forget to touch base with those you meet with. It’s best to keep in the front of people’s minds, instead of falling into the background.

 

If you start your business off with these in mind, you’ll be on the right track! Of course there’s the financial side of things, but that’s best left for a future blog. Tell me what you think are the best places to start when launching your business here! And, if you have a small business, and are at the point where you can’t run and maintain it at the same time, peruse the website and contact me if my companies administrative details will help you further your success!

 

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