Network: 5 Things You Need to Know

Networking: 5 things you need to know

How to Network – Is Networking Important?

Do you ever get the feeling that no matter what you do or how you do it, it’s just not good enough, or not what people want? Maybe you just aren’t looking in the right place? If so, i’d say you need to start networking, get out there, tell people what you’re all about and how you can help them. Begin to network locally and then move further a field. Tell them what you have to offer and how it will benefit them, but don’t go heavy on the big sell. The idea of networking is to spread the word and build links.

The world it seems isn’t interested in people who want something from it. The world isn’t interested in whether you really wanted that job or not, or why you can’t get ahead in the business world, or why everyone else but you seems to be lucky ! The truth is? The world isn’t interested in takers, it’s interested in givers, people with passion, dedication and excitement. People who are willing to give rather than to take.

I learnt a valuable lesson from a friend of mine when I was younger. ‘Stop wanting and start giving’. I hadn’t a clue what he was talking about. What was the point in life if you wanted nothing and gave everything? At some point, you’d become financially and emotionally bankrupt and in my eyes that wasn’t the answer to a great life.

But that’s not what my friend meant. As we travelled down the path of life together for just for a few years, I came to understand what he meant. Life is about service and in the giving to others. Not in the taking from others or the ‘not caring about others’. To understand what people are really like and what they want we need to network.

So many of us are caught up in the rat race of materialism, so much so that we are unable to see what is important and we look down on those who have no see-able wealth.

Wealth isn’t about money, or status it’s about what you give and become as a person. If you give your whole and expect nothing in return everything you’ve ever wanted will come your way . . . eventually. And Business is no different. A valuable tip on how to become successful at networking is to be who you really are in business as in life and use every chance meeting as an opportunity to network. Don’t fake it.

I’m not one of those people that subscribe to fake it until you make it. I’m one of those people who says, ‘Show me’? Business likes those people who say show me? Tell me? Give it to me! Business likes those people who are successful, those people who never give up. Business likes those people who are genuine, who are givers, who are social, visible and those who help others. The easiest way to help others is to build links, who network and to help others in the process of helping yourself.

Those people, who build productive links, are not scared of letting go of control, of letting go of information, or of someone else steeling their ideas. Link builders build valuable networks and strong working relationships with other like-minded people and organisations. Business Networking is the way new business grows their business fast. Whether it is through the help of virtual assistants, life coaches, accountants or other business support organisations, building links costs nothing and aids the growth of more than one business.

Business networking is invaluable in starting and growing a business and is probably the most cost effective way of marketing. It’s a good way to build contacts and to gain loyal customers. Again, it’s also the perfect opportunity for you to create opportunities for others too.

Business networking offers a way to reach decision-makers which might otherwise be difficult or impossible to reach. It’s a way for you to make you, and who you know work for you.

The principles and techniques of business networking are mostly common sense. As long as you have an ounce of sense and a large vat of courage you’ll do well. Five of the top tips for building strong business networks are set out below:

Attend Industry Meetings – Often

You might be surprised to know that face-to-face meetings still go on. Yes, in every neighbourhood and every industry. Participating in meetings, conferences, and tradeshows is a great way to build strong relationships within your industry. Why not join your local Chamber of Commerce or Business Link and attend their meetings, to catch up with industry developments and build new contacts. Why not look for other ways to increase your visibility within your business community and on a wider basis. Sponsor community activities; get seen doing the right things in the right places by the right people. Show people you care, don’t sit back and wait for business to come your way, because it may not.

Seek Referrals – Always

Nervous? Then start off small. You have at least one or two customers who love your service or product? Ask them to refer a friend who would love your service or product. Sounds cheeky but it’s really not. Ask them to recommend people, take their details and offer a reward for the referral. Your customers almost certainly know colleagues like themselves who need your product or service. It is perfectly acceptable to ask for a referral and request permission to use their name as an introduction. Once your potential customer hears their friend’s name, you will have a much better chance of gaining their business.

Testimonials – Ask and Yee shall receive 

Remember those customers who loved your product or service? The ones that gave you a referral? Ask them for a testimonial of your product or service as well. Your customers are your most important supporters. They will more than likely agree as they want you and your business to succeed, mainly because it reinforces their decision to use your product or service. Once you’ve secured the testimonial, post it on your website, on the back of your business cards, flyers, Facebook page and even Twitter. Anywhere you can get information published, publish it. Just make sure it’s a free avenue. You should also publish on other people’s sites to gain further coverage. Post on sites that would be interested in promoting your products. It’s not a difficult task it just needs a little bit of courage and a lot of cheek.

Blog – At least once a month

If you don’t already have one create one and quick. Everyone has one and for good reason too. Publishing a personal blog on your company website is a great way for your customers to get to know you, your business, your products and services. Blogs also allow comments which enables interaction. You can create new relationships and grow your business network this way too. Your Blog is a place where you can share stories that validate your expertise or position on a controversial topic. Plus it will generate traffic to your site if it has the right title and contains the right info i.e. Keywords. Search engines now identify keywords in blogs which should, if you have the right keywords generate traffic to your site. Woo hoo.

Be nice – I mean Social

You can grow your business network by using social media sites and apps, such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. For business opportunities LinkedIn is by far the best media site. Before you jump into social media, you need to fully understand the medium, how it works, and how you can use it to benefit your business. LinkedIn is a great place to start and grow your business network. Twitter is a microblogging site that will complement your blog. You can even start up a Paperli newspaper from your Twitter feeds with no effort at all and send it to your subscribers.

Using a combination of dedication, commitment, tried-and-tested business development tactics along with new social media strategies, your business network will grow, as will your company. Take time out to learn how to build global links and how to market your product or service.

 

If you are interested in receiving help and support on this topic, contact us through our webpage.

 

STARTING AND GROWING A BUSINESS ON A SHOESTRING – THE BASICS



budget, finances, business, small business, administration, outsourcing


With every business venture there a significant ups and significant lows but this doesn’t mean that the business is not worth the effort. Most failing or failed business people tell me that it was down to a lack of cash flow. This may have been the case prior to the internet explosion but now days it is just an excuse for not being business savvy.  Why do I say this? I say this because nearly everything that you need software or tool wise can be found on the internet for free. ‘What about services I here you say, they’re not free’! No they are not but for this aspect of business you have two choices. You can learn to do it yourself for nothing by researching on the internet or by taking online ‘free’ courses in your chosen subject or by using such sites as www.fiverr.com,  www.e-lance.com, www.freelancer.com, and www.o-desk.com.
 

The number one business tip that all new businesses need to adhere to is:

Put your money where it will be productive.

 

Below you can find a few money saving tips on how to start and develop an effective and efficient business on a small budget

  • Don’t hire staff, outsource.

There are plenty of places that you can outsource your jobs to from virtual assistants to video editing firms. Now days anything can be undertaken cheaply and to be honest from my experience the quality of work is to a high standard because people are using these sites to gain experience, build international portfolios and in most cases to supplement their incomes. Try Fiverr.com for any business related task. If you want a more office based task try o-desk.com, freelancer.com or e-lance.com. We are on all four and do very nicely from these sites. Administration tasks can also be outsourced through a number of sites including www.e-lance.com www.freelancer.com, www.fiverr.com, and www.o-desk.com.

 

  • Don’t layout £$000’s on software packages

Don’t spend huge amounts of money on software that you can get for next to nothing each month. We are not talking about free illegal downloads from share sites. We are talking about gaining the best business software that you need to run your business effectively and efficiently at the least cost possible. We’ll explain what we mean in a moment. But before we go on to explain, we want to point out that large multi-conglomerate organisations are also in a position where they can’t afford to waste money. That’s what makes them successful: they make sure that the right staff, business model and leadership are in place to deal with a growing customer base, product development and international relations, marketing and production. Take a look at why google are so successful:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/article/20130628195308-4802093-google-s-strategy-explained Small businesses need to apply the rules that large businesses do but on a smaller basis to succeed. Don’t go out and buy the best of the best when you are just starting out. You just don’t need it and if you do need it we’ll show you how to get it on a shoestring or for FREE. We like FREE!

So Here we go:

  • Bookkeeping: Most small businesses need their bookkeeping doing for them as this is the most time consuming task that the business demands and let’s face it most people run in the other direction or have panic attacks when numbers come in to the frame. You can outsource this to a company like ours that will do all of the hard work and give it back to you in a format you understand or you could outsource it on e-lance. Either way, you don’t have to worry about your books or the cost of employing consultants or staff to take care of it. A one off fee leaves you knowing where you stand. If you decide that you still want to take care of your own books you can find free bookkeeping software from Turbo Cash called Turbocash 5, this appears to be the best free tool available. You can find the free download here: http://www.turbocash.net/
  • General Software: Let’s use Adobe Photoshop as an example. It’s a lot of Money and it’s just another software package that you need but can’t afford. You have two options. You can use Irfanview, downloadable for free from a number of sites or you can continue to use Photoshop, but pay monthly by creating an account with Creative Cloud. We spend $8 a month on our subscription and that gives us access to adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and Lightroom. This comes to $96 per year and you can cancel at any time. If you are unable to create your own marketing, promotional material you can hire a good graphic designer for all of your needs from here: www.fiverr.com. I have used Fiverr on a personal basis with success for nearly two years now. They have created, movies, flyers, digital artwork, book covers, you name it they’ve created it and I haven’t been unhappy about the work delivered once.
  • Customer Relationship Management: ‘What’? I hear you shout. Don’t worry it’s a fancy name for saying: ‘This is how I am going to look after my customers and manage my affairs’. There are so many cheap, value for money CRM packages out there now that you can pay for on a monthly basis. Insightly have a free package which will be good enough for a start-up or newly developing business or you can opt for their $7 a month package which will provide you with everything you need. You can find them here: https://www.insightly.com.
  • What about business cards and Flyers: Always have a business card at the ready. Give it to everyone you come in contact with after building rapport with them. Don’t just hand them out or they will go in the bin or wallet never to be used. Most people now do not use business cards they use mobile contacts. So always have your contact details set up in a text so you can text them to potential customers following your rapport building session. Look at every conversation as a potential sale and you won’t go far wrong. If you still want to use business cards then the cheapest place to get them is www.vistaprint.com. They have just about everything you could want for marketing and advertising at a reasonable cost and the quality isn’t bad either.
  • Marketing: Yes marketing! It is a major part of your business and if you neglect it you won’t have a business. You can have the best product or service in the world but if no one knows about it, you fail! Marketing can be done in many different ways. Currently social media is the way to go but be sure not to put all of your eggs in one basket. There are many social media platforms out there and whilst it’s important to be on as many as possible the main forums are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. Pinterest, Tumblr and Stumble are also good platforms to be seen on.
  • Don’t forget about e-mail marketing. Grow your list and send out promotional items, useful free information and value to your customers. You can use mailchimp for this process or through an autoresponder attached to your website. Awebber is by far the best tool for achieving this task and comes at a fee of £19 per month. Mail chimp however, is FREE. If you want to take a look at a review for both tools check here: http://mywifequitherjob.com/mailchimp-vs-aweber-a-comparison-of-two-email-marketing-providers/
  • Website: You do not need to hire someone to build a website for you. You do not need to spend £$000’s on website maintenance. If you are a technophobe then use Godaddy. It’s simple and easy to use and they even do the hosting for you. You will need to purchase a domain name which you can do with them too. If you are better able to use computer based programmes WordPress is the best you can get. Be careful though. If you buy from wordpress.com you cannot install plug-ins which you will need to develop your site. Buy from wordpress.org and then download plug-in’s from WordPress. You can take a look here: www.Wordpress.org.
  • SEO for your website: ‘What’s that’! Don’t worry it’s just a fancy name to say. This is how google, Bing and other search engines find, track and see your website. It’s one of the ways that you will drive traffic to your website. WordPress provide a free all incorporated plug-in for SEO you do not need to buy one or even download one from any other source. Take a look here to see how google sees your site: http://www.browseo.net/how-google-sees-your-website. Type in a URL at the top and take a look.
  • Do not spend hours and hours of your time on the phone looking for customers, it doesn’t work it just drives up your costs and deflates your motivation. The best way of getting local customers is by networking. Join your local business forums or associated forums and mingle, don’t be shy. Rehearse your patter and stick to it. Remembering that people aren’t interested in your product or service they are interested in how it will improve their situation or life experiences. Don’t sell them your product or service; sell them a solution to their problems. The main thing to remember here is that you are an expert whether you think you are or not and people want to listen to your solution for their problem. So give them what they want in a humble way.
  • Social media is the next best thing for local and global customers. Make sure you have a positive and ongoing presence and that you provide valuable content on a regular basis. If you can’t figure out what you should be writing about, nip over to www.feebly.com or www.Buzzsumo.com and post other people posts to your site. This is not illegal; you are not steeling anyone else’s work you are helping them to get out there. In helping them you help yourself, and Google will pick up that you have great content on your site. This helps to raise your rankings. We’ll discuss this in a future blog.

Hopefully you’re not feeling too overwhelmed with the information provided and we have done our best to explain the basics of business to you. We have designed a series of blogs to help you get up and running on a shoestring. Each blog is a bite sized chunk to help you get where you want to go.

After reading this blog you should be able to go away and implement it for yourself before you move on to reading stage two of the process. Let’s recap what we’ve covered below:

  1. Bookkeeping and administration
  2. Software packages
  3. Marketing
  4. Social Media
  5. Customers
  6. Website
  7. Website SEO