Far too often, people view networking (and especially networking events) as a means to close sales. In fact, they measure the relative success of networking based on how many direct sales opportunities they generate. This is certainly misguided.
Joining any networking group and expecting immediate results is unrealistic. I am often asked by people in networking groups how long it takes before seeing benefits (referrals)?One way to answer the question would be for you to ask yourself, “How long does it take for me to make a buying decision when I’m the prospect?” Do you normally begin doing business with someone after one meeting, one networking event, one phone call discussion? Probably not.
You have to invest the time in building rapport with others to get the most out of your networking efforts. If you’re not willing to invest the time, then you probably should find a thick phone book and get busy making cold calls.
The lesson to be learned here is to be patient, spend time building rapport with others, and make sure you let everyone know that you want to help them first. When you’ve accomplished those things the referrals will come your way.
Many of the more popular social media applications (LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, for starters), give you the ability to post an update that reveals to the world, more or less, “What are you doing now?” While there are some who only utilize this as a means of sharing the type of bagel they are consuming, the truly savvy social media adventurer sees this as a great opportunity.One way you can start to maximize the benefits you garner from social media is to take advantage of the power the status update holds. You can do this in one of three ways:Mini Press Release: The status update allows you the opportunity to periodically forward out short pieces on the happening in your world. Like tiny press releases, you can provide others a quick summary of the meaningful things you are doing. “Giving an insurance presentation to the Association of Executives,” tells the world you give speeches. “Delivering imprinted mugs to Dale’s Deli,” announces a sample of your product offerings. Or, “Working on writing a blog piece entitled The Power of the Almighty Status Update,” alerts others (and yes, this went out) that you have a blog.
Add Value: Effective networking is about adding value to the world and trust that the value will come back to you in some form or fashion. Your status update is a wonderful place to give a lot with just a little effort. “Your most valuable possession is your attitude,” gets people thinking and helps them have a better attitude. “Remember, now is the time to start thinking about ordering calendars for next year,” serves as a reminder to many, even if you are not the one selling the calendar. “Ask your agent how the new car insurance laws affect you,” provides those around you a potentially valuable insight.
Create Discussion: A big part of success is being relevant and a big part of being relevant is creating exposure for yourself. Your status update affords you an opportunity for exposure on a daily basis. “Who is going to win the Super Bowl?” This draws people into a conversation that you have created. “What is the best ad specialty item you have ever received?,” This not only creates discussion and potentially valuable market research. “Other than Chamber functions, what are some good networking activities?” Responses to this serves to demonstrate the value of your network.
Yes, your status update can be just another means of imparting cute and trivial information about life. Or your status update can be a powerful tool you can use to cast yourself amongst all those curious eyes on social media.
Listen: There is an easy way to grow your network. It has nothing to do with getting your business card out. It has nothing to do with the amount of people you meet or the number of events you attend. The easy way to grow your network is … well, click AmSpirit-Listen to listen for yourself.
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Every business has overhead. Also referred to as indirect expenses, overhead are/is expenditures a business must make to function, but this outlay does not contribute directly to the generation of profits.
For example, most businesses need to buy (or lease) office furniture for employees to be able to function. Without the furniture, the employee could not effectively work. The office furniture itself, however, does not produce profit.
Some other examples of business overhead could include …
- · Utilities: Gas, water and electricity keeps things running, but may not add direct value to the product or service.
- · Taxes: These governmental expenditures add nothing to the cost of goods sold, but they do serve to support the underlying infrastructure as well as provide protection from fire and theft.
- · Professional Service: Legal and accounting services are necessary, but they do not doanything to ramp up product (or service) value.
- · Insurance: This provides for protection against certain catastrophic events (fire, flood, theft, etc.), but nothing to directly improve sales.
Like any other business, professional services franchises likely incur many of these overhead items. There are three, however, that you might not consider … three that are vital to business success. Business cards. Coffee. And Tire Tread.
Success within the professional services industry (whether or not the business is franchised) hinges on relationships. As all things being equal people do business with those they know, like and trust. To build this involves networking – getting up out of your office and connecting with people.
So, if you are contemplating a professional services franchise (or better still, you own one), you need to factor in [to things] those three things. To be successful, you will have to …
- · Down more than a recommended amount of coffee; and
- · Log countless miles on your car.