Category Archives: Business Networking

Networking: 3 Tips for Getting Back to the Basics

Let’s get back to the basics and best practices of networking.

Here are my three tips for effective networking – the old fashioned way.

networking-3-tips-getting-back-basicsFirst, you must be committed. You aren’t networking if you’re out for instant gratification.  An effective network is built upon a solid foundation of relationships that are built over time.  When you make a new business acquaintance, take time to learn as much about them as you possibly can.  Don’t look at them with dollar signs in your eyes.  Take time to get them talking by asking open ended questions and listening!  Are there common interests you share?  Do your children go to the same school?  Remember, people do business with people they like — with friends.

Second on my list of best practices is to follow-up after the meeting and be the first to provide assistance.  Stacking business cards on your desk or scanning them into your Outlook doesn’t create a network.  Sending your new acquaintance a brochure or sales letter doesn’t develop a relationship.  And calling to set an appointment or make a sale is really not going to do the trick.  However, taking time to develop a relationship is. For example, let’s say I meet you at an event and during our conversation you mention you are a dog lover.  Guess what, so am I.  We have a nice conversation and you tell me you’d like to know more about creating a dog-friendly office environment.  So what do I do?  I go back to my office and send a “nice to meet you” email, but in addition I include a link to an article with advice for pet-friendly workplaces. Continue reading

It’s time you learned about the art of referrals.

You have a business, but are people talking about it?

man holding card referralsWord-of-mouth is just as relevant today as it has ever been. When a business asks you to talk about how great they are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on, that’sword-of-mouth. When you provide good content that others can share, that is also word of mouth. Today, potential customers are more likely to pay attention to people they know and a large general following (e.g., Yelp) than if they see the same commentary in a company advertisement.

In fact, they’ll pay much more attention. The Word of Mouth Marketing Association published some research a couple years ago that found “the value of a word of mouth impression is from five to 100+ times more valuable than a paid media impression.”

You don’t have to spend all day convincing people to spread the word about your new business on social media.

Continue reading

Ask SCORE | How can I make business blogging more manageable?

According to Hubspot, B2B marketers who use blogs receive 67% more leads than those who don’t. Also, companies who provide relevant content in their blogs get 97% more links to their websites because readers share it.

These seem like very strong incentives to start and maintain a business blog.

Blogging can be an important part of a small business content marketing strategy. It can help you by increasing your online authority, building trust and credibility as readers see your expertise and knowledge of your industry.

It can also improve your chances of ranking better in online searches. Websites that generate new content regularly are favored over those that do not.  Continue reading

A face-to-face meeting is still the best way to build strong relationships.

by Gabrielle Boko, EVP of Marketing, Sage North America

Like most of you, I use an ever-broadening collection of devices and applications that make communicating and collaborating with colleagues, business associates, friends and family easy and instantaneous. So it may surprise you when I tell you that putting email, video conferencing, social media platforms and your phones aside in favor of scheduling face-to-face meetings is one of the best business decisions you can make all year. That includes attending conferences, events, and training meetings. In fact, organizers for these events now place more emphasis on facilitating in-person meetings.

As you get out of your office to meet with peers, customers, and others face-to-face, here are some tips for how to build relationships that will be much more meaningful and rewarding than simply growing your LinkedIn network.

Tip #1: Attend conferences and trade shows

When the Great Recession hit in 2008, companies understandably slashed budgets for exhibiting and attending trade shows and conferences. It was impossible to justify the high travel costs and time out of the office.

But conferences and trade shows are making a comeback, and your current and prospective partners and customers (along with your competitors) are increasingly returning to these events.

Even if your business is not exhibiting, the networking opportunities alone can make the trip and expense worthwhile. Actively participating in the conversations about the news and trends affecting your industry will help you build stronger relationships and make more meaningful connections with your peers, thought leaders, and potential clients. Face-to-face interaction is critical to achieving this level of exposure, and is definitely not something you can accomplish by staying at the office.

While you may feel you can’t afford time away from the office, think about the more than 200 million people who do so every year. That many people can’t be wrong.

Sage Summit 2015 is a great opportunity to discuss new ideas, gain insights for decision making and improve your problem solving through powerful conversations with peers and leaders.

Tip #2: Don’t ignore current customers at the expense of selling to prospects

Acquiring new customers is not the only way to grow your business. You should also be constantly working to up-sell your existing ones because the sales cycle is (or should be) much shorter.

However, do not just show up to an event or meeting and expect to walk away with a PO in hand. Do your research ahead of time so you know the successes a customer has achieved thanks to your product or service, and so you can also anticipate what problems or issues may come up during the meeting. That way you will be able to confidently explain how you can help solve them too.

Tip #3: Invest in “weak” relationships

Sometimes “weak” relationships — those with people we know but not that well — hold a lot of power, and revisiting them can prove extremely beneficial. Take time to reconnect or get to know people you have crossed paths with in the past. You can increase your knowledge, discuss new concepts, and consider different viewpoints. Who knows? You may discover how to optimize your business management processes or build your company’s value.

Tip # 4: Immediate follow-up

Make sure to follow-up within a few business days after a meeting, event, or conference. If you met someone for the first time, connect on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, email or whatever networking platforms are most relevant to you and your business. Continue to invest in those relationships by taking time to engage and exchange ideas through various methods, until you can meet again in person.

Believe me, your customers, partners and even colleagues in remote offices will appreciate the time and effort you demonstrate by setting and attending in-person meetings. Face-to-face meetings are crucial in building stronger relationships and making more meaningful connections with peers and thought leaders in your industry.

One final networking tip: Be real; don’t try to sell yourself or your product. Don’t be the person that goes from person to person, passing out business cards – that’s like the in-person version of adding seemingly random contacts to your LinkedIn network.

Gabie is excited to attend Sage Summit 2015 this July in New Orleans. Sage Summit brings together subject matter experts and top business leaders to inspire small and medium-sized businesses with the energy, insights and guidance to achieve their own visions of success. Register with the code SCORE.

Gabrielle Boko is Executive Vice President of marketing for Sage North America. Born and raised in Alaska, Gabie has innovation in her blood, and has built her career in marketing, sales, and channel development with leading technology innovators. She brings that passion for growth companies to her role at Sage, a company focused on helping small and medium sized companies realize their ambitions and achieve success.

10 tips for successful business networking.

by Stephanie Speisman

Want to make your business networking more effective?
Here are ten tips to keep in mind.

Effective business networking is the linking together of individuals who, through trust and relationship building, become walking, talking advertisements for one another.

Keep in mind that networking is about being genuine and authentic, building trust and relationships, and seeing how you can help others.

Ask yourself what your goals are in participating in networking meetings so that you will pick groups that will help you get what you are looking for. Some meetings are based more on learning, making contacts, and/or volunteering rather than on strictly making business connections.

Visit as many groups as possible that spark your interest. Notice the tone and attitude of the group. Do the people sound supportive of one another? Does the leadership appear competent? Many groups will allow you to visit two times before joining.  Continue reading

Top 10 ways to maximize your networking approachability.

By Scott Ginsberg

When you’re at a networking function or social event, are people naturally drawn to you or do you unknowingly push them away? In this excerpt from The Power of Approachability, Scott Ginsberg outlines ten different ways you can maximize your approachability.

Scott GinsbergAfter reading and researching thousands of books, articles and other resources on communication, first impressions, networking and conversation, I’ve learned one thing: none of them address what approachability means. Or maybe they just don’t take the time to define it, stress its importance and offer suggestions on how to maximize it.

That research was my impetus for writing The Power of Approachability. I wanted to give people a clear picture of what the idea meant, along with many small tips and suggestions to put that idea to use – one conversation at a time.

So, straight from the pages of the book, here are my Top Ten Ways to Maximize Your Networking Approachability.  Continue reading