Business Networking – How To Make Successful Connections

It’s funny… the things you remember about people.

I only met him once, although I didn’t actually meet him. It was at an engagement party, and this well-dressed 20-something, a friend of a guest, had put himself at the center of the conversation. I stayed along the perimeter of his circle of polite listeners as he pontificated about his business. I couldn’t tell you much of anything he said, except for one thing:

“You’re really on your own. If someone isn’t bringing me business, they are useless to me.”

I was only a teenager, but even I knew enough to realize that this big shot was not only boorish, but also tremendously shortsighted. As I grew older and eventually started my own business, I always remembered the importance of developing relationships.

Networking has added much to my life, as well as my business. We are fortunate to be entrepreneurs in a time that offers so many opportunities for networking. Whether in person or online, the chances to make connections are numerous. Keep in mind, however, that these opportunities can cut both ways. Used well, they can offer you many business relationships that can last for years. Used poorly, they can result in you doing your business far more harm than good. It is crucial to understand what networking is… and is not… to be able to do it effectively. Remember this:

Networking IS building relationships and developing trust. It is about meeting people, asking questions, listening, and getting to know people. It is about helping and sharing.

Networking IS NOT an opportunity for a sales pitch. This is neither the time nor the place for the hard sell, nor is it the venue in which your primary thought should be snagging new clients.

So how do you network effectively? Let’s start today with the valuable opportunities that present themselves in the form of live events (clubs, seminars, local events, etc.). You begin before you even enter the door.

BEFORE YOU GO

• Decide which events are best for you to attend. Not all events are a “fit” for you or your business.

• Attend with an open mind. Going in ready to learn something new is not only a healthy attitude, but it also keeps you from talking too much about yourself.

• Make sure that you are dressed appropriately and have your business cards readily available.

• Turn the cell phone to vibrate! Nothing turns people off quite like an incessantly chiming cell phone. Do not plan to take any non-emergent calls during this time.

ONCE YOU ARRIVE

• Stop and look around the room. This will give you the chance to take a breath and focus before approaching anyone.

• Break off from people you know. You are there to meet people you don’t know.

• See someone alone? Approach them and introduce yourself. It is very likely that they are nervous in this setting, and your reaching out to them will be appreciated and remembered.

• Since it will be difficult to remember everyone you meet, make an effort to connect very well with two or three people.

• When talking with someone, be mentally and physically present. Listen so that you can ask relevant questions. Maintain eye contact while engaged in conversation. Letting your eyes wander around the room while talking or listening suggests to the individual that you are bored with them and looking for your next contact. Often people do not realize they do this, and yet it speaks unpleasant volumes about them!

• Speak pleasantly, confidently and clearly. Without making it into a sales pitch, let people understand how you can help them, even in a non-business way. For example, if the person with whom you’re speaking is a theater buff and you have access to discounted tickets, this would be a wonderful way to start a relationship.

• Disengage in a polite manner. For one reason or another, you may have to end a conversation. Some individuals make that easier for you to do than others. You can simply excuse yourself to the restroom. You can tell them that there is someone with whom you need to have a word. You can explain that you do not wish to take up all of their valuable time. Always remember to thank them for their time to ask for their business card. Deftly done, you can leave a conversation in a positive manner and with no hurt feelings.

AFTER THE EVENT

• Send along a note (handwritten is a nice touch) to the people you met. It could be to thank them for their time, to express the pleasure you had meeting them, or to offer to schedule a meeting, coffee, or lunch.

• When you do offer to arrange a one-on-one meeting with someone with whom you really connected, be sure to call and follow up on it.

• Put the email addresses of those people you met on your email, newsletter, or ezine list only if they requested that you do so.

• Do not forget to fulfill any promises you made to someone you met there (Remember the theater buff and your discount ticket connections?).

While your goal as an entrepreneur is to improve your business and increase your sales, these are not the first fruits of business networking. What comes initially are the relationships that develop with people we can help and who can help us. Ironically, when we de-emphasize the selling aspect, these relationships will, in one way or another, lead to increased sales over time. Even that business owner who may not seem to have much to offer you today, may be the connection who, tomorrow, brings business to you in ways you hadn’t foreseen. Networking takes time and effort, but it proves to be more than worth the investment, sometimes in ways we hadn’t imagined.

Action – One Of The Keys To Business Success

There are many keys to success in business, but one of the biggest is taking action.

People think action simply means being busy, but nothing could be further from the truth. The key components to a successful business are not just action, but taking deliberate, massive, focused action, consistently, over time.

When you’re doing something every day that’s focused on your goals, that’s what will catapult your business. That’s what will take you from the bottom rung of the ladder to the top – all in one fell swoop, because it’s deliberate, massive, focused action.

Fear can’t set in to stop you if you’re taking action.

That being said, you need to be clear that just taking any old action in your business doesn’t get your goals, your mission and your vision to where you want to be in a profits and from a numbers perspective in your business.

Anyone can be busy, and as a matter of fact, most people are busy in their businesses each day. The question isn’t are you busy, but are you productive? Are you taking the right actions?

For example, social media is an amazing marketing tool for your business, but if you’re spending three or four hours a day playing on social media, as opposed to focused, directed, specific actions, with a purpose, on your social media sites then you’re just being busy – you’re not being productive.

When you get on your social media sites in the morning you have to know what your purpose is, what your intention is, and what your business focus is for that social media marketing. Then do that, and move on to the next thing.

When you are completing things, accomplishing things and getting things done so you can move on to the next thing on the list, then you know you’re working with focused action. And, that is, after all, the only kind of action that counts.

Deliberate, massive, focused action, with a purpose is what’s necessary in your business, not just willy-nilly, randomly throwing mud on the wall and calling it being busy.

People who take action that is directed and focused on the goals they set for that day get so much more work done and are so much more profitable in their business, and this action is the key to your business success.

Remember, massive, deliberate, focused action is what counts. Completions count. A long to-do list isn’t making your business any profits. Go take some deliberate action in your business and watch your profits soar!

Make Sure There Are No Leaks in the Marketing of Your Plumbing Business!

The success of your plumbing business depends a great deal on the marketing efforts put in by you. No matter how skilful and knowledgeable you are in plumbing matters, you will be able to translate this skill into earnings only when you get customers. The paying customers in need of your services are out there, but the question is how they are going to find and reach you.

Businesses like plumbing generally operate locally and as such need to target prospects in a particular geographic location. Therefore, you need to find the most effective ways to market your business in your region. Remember that successful plumbing marketing does not require you to pump in huge amounts of money into it. Rather, it calls for an investment of deliberation and planning. The best way is to think like a customer with a plumbing requirement. How would he/she go about finding a good local plumber? In nearly all the cases, internet is the source everyone turns to. This means that to make a success out of your business, you have to ensure that it is easily found online. This is the first step that will lead the potential customers to walk through your door or pick up the phone to ring you up.

The small business owners have an increasing number of local marketing options available and they must choose judiciously to maximize the ROI on their marketing expenses. One effective and low-cost option is that of using online local business directories. These directories are very popular among public for finding local sources for fulfilling their needs for all types of products/services. As a local plumber, it is very crucial that you get your business listed in a reputable, high-traffic local business directory.

Getting your business listed is quite simple; the bigger issue is to find the best local business directory from among the many directories existing online. Conduct a research to zero in on one that is well-respected and has an impressive loyal following. It must not focus unduly on pops-ups and advertisements. It should allow you to give your detailed business information like physical address, web address, phone numbers, areas and hours of operation and location map, along with business profile and marketing video clips. Another desirable feature of the directory is that it should allow the customers to rate and review your plumbing business.

The directory listings are usually offered free of cost. There are even some directories that carry your plumbing business listing without your request or acknowledgement. It is advisable to claim the listing as yours and ensure that it has authentic information. The local business directory listing is a great way of increasing the visibility of your business among the customers as well as the internet search engines. You must use it to maximize your online business success.