May 4, 2016

Professional Networking Tips

Promote Your Business by Building Relationships

Building the best business relationships usually means meeting in person. Find out why and how to give yourself an edge with the professional networking tips in this article.

Networking = Marketing

Professional networking at MeetupsBusinesses don’t survive without marketing. And almost all businesses benefit from increasing or improving various types of marketing. More than one tactic should be tested and used. Keep the best and eliminate the rest.

What marketing works best depends primarily on 3 things…

 

  1. Identifying your target audiences (and there are usually more than 1)
  2. The needs or solutions being sought by each target audience
  3. Where those target audiences hang out and how they can be engaged

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7 Best, Common or Creative Ways to Find Work.

I need work

I need work!

Need a job? Here are 7 ways to find work.

When I chaired the Tech Alliance at the Naperville Chamber of Commerce, I was always asked to help people find a job or connect with someone for business development.  Not surprisingly, in this economy, I still get approached from time-to-time and I find nothing more rewarding than helping someone out.  I appreciate when people have helped me, so I think of it as paying things back.

I got an email from James, a great guy, I hadn’t spoken with in several years.  Here is what he wrote and my 7 ideas to help him find work doing Apple computer support and training in Chicago’s western suburbs.

Hi Kurt!

LONG time, no see! Hope you’re doing well…

I wanted to run this by you – I have no idea if you can be of any help, but it didn’t cost me anything to ask!

I NEED more work! Like, I’m really getting quite desperate!! I’ve thought of all kinds of things, but after brainstorming a bit, this might be the best idea of them all!!

I am quite an expert now (if you don’t mind me saying:) with Apple products, and I’m ALWAYS being called by family and close friends when they have issues or don’t know how to use something. I’ve done enough consulting work to have made thousands and thousands by now! LOL

I wondered if you have any ideas on how to reach people with these services. You are connected to the technology world, that’s why I thought to ask you!

Any thoughts might be helpful. I know FB and LI are places, I wonder if there are any people or groups that you know personally that might be good for me to talk to..

Anyway, thanks for your time!!

James

He’s off to a great start, doing EXACTLY what he should be doing – Networking!  Talking to as many people as possible.  He’s leveraging the power of LinkedIn and Facebook too.

Here are my 7 ways to find work suggestions:

Hi James!

Nice to hear from you, but I’m sorry things are a bit slow. Been there, done that.

You’re not alone. Lot’s of peeps are looking for work, either a job or freelancing. The good news is, I have several ideas on how to find work.

1) Consider advertising on Craigslist. You free ads will be seen in the local area. Small biz and computer categories, I think. You could also promote photography.

2) See if you can get some testimonials on AngiesList.com. Lot’s of people search for reputable vendors there.

3) Hang out in forums and discussion groups. Answer a few questions, be helpful.

4) Meetups are a great place to network. Meetups.com I have one in Wheaton tomorrow. Come on by! West Suburban Business Networking You can find Meetups for all kinds of interests and attend, usually for free.

5) Probably helps to have a website – somewhere that people can find out more about what you have to offer. Many web hosts offer free sitebuilders and low cost hosting. You can also make free blogs at Blogger.com and WordPress.com. You may also attract organic traffic with optimized pages for terms like “Naperville Apple support”

6) You might find freelance jobs on elance.com

7) Facebook paid ads can be amazingly cost-effective. I’m doing them for several clients, including a north suburban hair and nail salon that’s getting new ciustomers on a budget of $10/day. You can target by geographical area, gender, household income and more.

Do you have business cards for this venture? You’ll need them and I would do something to stand out. Make it unique!

I think you need a one-sheet with descriptions of the work you do and something they can carry with them.  Certainly a list of services, if not packages.  And it might help to research what solutions your market is looking for.

Hope one or more of these ideas help. I may even need to use your services with a soon to be acquisition of a Macbook.

Let’s stay in touch and I hope to see you tomorrow!

Kurt

This book might help you find work.  

how to find work Take Your Career Back Jan MarinoI helped another guy get a pretty decent job recently.  I thought he could use some professional help with his resume, appearance, interviewing techniques and networking.  He had never really had to find a job.  He always was promoted from within and switched companies via contacts who recommended him.  He was never unemployed until a few years ago.  He’d hired people, so he thought he knew how to get interviews, but  finally realized that the job coach that I was recommending had some good ideas in her book, Take Back Your Career. I saw the author, Jan Marino speak at a Business United meeting earlier this year.

My dad always said that when you’re looking for work, you should spend 40 hours a week looking for a job.  He was right!  And with today’s technology, you have options for a Return On Investment like never before!

What are YOUR ideas for my friend James and anyone else who could fill out their 40-hour week of searching for a job?

Where Do You Get Online Leads?

Notes gleaned from the Twitter feed at Interactive Local Media West.

Lead generationYesterday they discussed leads at the #ILMWest Conference.  It’s a top subject of sales people, marketers, SMB owners and business development pros.  Where do you get leads?  Where do you get online leads?

What is a lead?  What makes a good lead?  The panelists said a lead could be most anything; a phone call, emails, form submissions, lead sheets, “likes”, and digital word of mouth.  Interestingly, they said that leads include “an intent to buy.”  Obviously an intent to buy makes a better lead than one that is not, like the difference between “Prospects” and “Suspects.”

According to a survey of small businesses by BIA Kelsey, 61% of small and mid size businesses rate the phone call as the most valuable lead…far surpassing other leads.  So, what will you do to make the phone to ring?  What has worked best to make your phone ring?  What marketing tactics yield the most leads with an intent to buy?  Where do you get online leads?  Where should you concentrate your marketing resources and initiatives to maximize website ROI?

Other interesting survey results.

What is your primary source of leads offline?

68% say word of mouth
20% say search engines
15% social media

What share of overall leads come from online?  33% say more than a quarter of their leads come from online. That surprises me.  I would think more than 33% would get a large number of their leads online and that more businesses would get more than 50% of their leads online.  I’ll bet very successful companies do.

What prevents you from converting leads to sales?

Adam Burrows, VP of Business Development for ServiceMagic suggests that you respond quickly – leads are perishable. Even a 24 hour quote response results in customers getting a quote from another source or business.  I believe it!  I’ve followed up on leads withing a couple of hours, only to be told that they had already made a decision. Learn from that – it gives you a competitive advantage!

Another #ILMWest panel revealed the results of a survey of a half million SMB websites in the U.S that indicate that small businesses still have room to improve.

  • Only 13 percent of smbs have a local phone number on home page.
  • Only 24 percent have an email address on the website.
  • 36 percent of websites are only a single page in length.
IMPORTANT: If you want the phone to ring, put your phone number on your website!  It may also help your search engine rankings.

IMPORTANT:
Some people prefer to email, especially if they’re online outside of normal business hours. Put an email address on your site!  Better yet, put the appropriate email on specific pages, such as a sales email on product or service pages, a customer support email on a support page and your Contact Us page should have all of them, including an accounting contact.

IMPORTANT:
Create more content (and pages) on your website.  I like to call it “owning a bigger share of the Internet.” Don’t confuse your website visitor.  Give them the right information in the right places.  Read why you should update your website content regularly.
I’ve blogged in the past about how to increase website conversions and how to tell what your prospects want.  Both articles will help convert your online leads.

Other important takeaways:
  • SMB focus is shifting to long term value, driving strategy and go to market plans.
  • 40% of small business ad budgets will be online in next 12 months.
  • 51% of SMB websites not found.
  • 61+% of SMB Facebook Fan Pages have zero fans.
Image by Flickr user Mark Anderson (Creative Commons)