In person networking is one of the most enjoyable and rewarding opportunities to grow your business. But many entrepreneurs invest their time and money without getting the results they expect – often because they have no clear expectations.  If you find yourself turning up at networking events and leaving with the feeling that you’ve wasted your time, not to mention your money, then take a look at my 10 hot networking tips before you head out the door to your next event.

Networking tip #1
Get clear about your ideal client and niche aka target market

Before you even begin networking you absolutely must be clear about who you want to attract as a client. Simple but true – you have to fish where the fish are. Just the same it’s amazing how many people are trying to reach their ideal clients in a room full of people who will never need or want to buy from them.

Networking tip #2
Prepare your 30 second introduction message aka elevator speech

Some events have a formal structure to introduce yourself and often it’s as short as 30 seconds or 1 minute. Be prepared! With such a short amount of time you must make every word count.

Include your name and company, who you help (describe their problem) and what you do for them (that relates to their problem) and most importantly, what results they get from working with you. Then you’ll get the attention and interest of anyone on your wave-length and that’s enough – for now.

Networking tip #3
Research the live networking opportunities available in your vicinity

Once you know who you want to meet up with, the next step is to find the meetings and events in your locality where they hang out. Often you can attend as a visitor and become a member if it works out.

Do not waste your time where the group is so general it will be like looking for a needle in a haystack. That will only lead to frustration and missed opportunity because you could have been somewhere else more rewarding.

Networking tip #4
Plan and schedule your attendance at events

Look at networking as one of your key marketing strategies and once you’ve identified the venues or groups you want to mix in then block the time to attend.

Remember, this is an ongoing strategy so it’s not a race to see how many events you can turn up to. Rather it’s more about the quality of the time you invest in finding the right relationships to create and nurture.

So be selective and pace yourself so you don’t burn out.

Networking tip #5
Set an intention

Before you even leave your office set the intention you have for attending the event. It could be to find a new client, meet a possible JV partner or promote an upcoming event of your own and get a specific number of people interested in that.

Whatever it is, you must have one – an intention that is. Otherwise you will find yourself floating around with no focus on what you want to achieve from being there. It’s amazing how setting the intention will influence the outcome. So be specific and your actions will support your intent.

Networking tip #6
Take your business cards

Amex said it first “don’t leave home without it” and it’s an absolute must to have a card or other means to leave your details with prospective clients. But when it comes to your business card I don’t recommend you hand them out unless someone asks for it.

That may seem controversial but how many times are you given a card you have no interest in and no intention of following up.

And when someone does ask for your card – offer them two – one for them, and one to pass onto a friend or colleague. If they are interested, they are bound to have contacts who would be interested as well.

Networking tip #7
Arrive early – leave late

Once you’ve decided to invest your time and money to attend a live networking event you may as well get there early and be prepared to leave late.

Getting to an event early let’s you meet the organisers without the crowd so you can introduce yourself and ask any questions you may have of them.  Like what speaking or workshop opportunities they may have or who else might be attending. As well as some quality time with other early arrivers.

Then if you really click with someone you can linger afterwards without having to rush off and risk losing an ideal opportunity to connect on a deeper level.

Networking tip #8
Don’t feel like you have to ‘work’ the room

What I mean by this is, do not attempt to talk to as many people in the room as possible. It’s much more productive to stick with your preset intention of who you want to connect with and what outcome you want. So when you’re in front of the right person be satisfied and stay in that conversation until it’s concluded.

Naturally you should move on – without guilt – if there’s no match up. You’ll be serving the other person as well because they’ll also be free to mingle.

Networking tip #9
Relax and enjoy yourself

Now while I’m a firm believer in having a strategy and a plan with a set intention, once you’ve got all that in place it’s time to relax and enjoy yourself.

Networking isn’t hard work if you’re well prepared and all the benefits from getting out there will flow to you if you are having a good time.  The more authentic and natural you are the more attractive you will be. So trust in getting your intention delivered and simply go with the flow.

Networking tip #10
Follow up

It goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway. If you invest all the time and money to get out there and network and don’t follow up with the potential clients or connections you make then it’s all been for nothing. The good news is you’re in control so that’s entirely up to you!

Build my 10 tips into your in person networking and you should see get more results out of the time and money you invest because it will show up as more business opportunities and more clients. Plus you’ll have a whole lot more fun!

No branding, no differentiation. No differentiation, no long-term profitability. People don’t have relationships with products or services, they are loyal to brands. If you want to attract and keep loyal clients you must build your know, like and trust factor through your brand.

Your Business Brand is a critical part of your marketing mix and done well will shout out to the marketplace at every touch point so that your potential clients get a real feel for who you are and what you are about. Not just a mental image but a heart felt emotional image and one that invokes a response.

There are 5 key phases to achieving a successful business brand and skipping any of them can sabotage your results. It’s not enough simply to create a business brand and launch it into the market place because there’s so much competition out there. You’ll have to be strategic, persistent and consistent if you want to stand out in the crowd.

And it makes no difference whether you are a solo-preneuer, a small business or a large corporation you still need a company brand or personality that expresses your uniqueness so you can differentiate yourself from the competition.

Here’s the 5 key phases to achieving a successful business brand.

 1. Brand Preparation

Remember, your brand is the promise of the experience your clients will have when they use your products or services. And it is this promise that you want to infuse into your brand.

You must begin with you and do the inner work to discover

    • Your unique brilliance which is the core or the essence of you and what you bring to everything that comes so naturally to you that you don’t even have to think about it.
    • What you and your company are a stand for – your brand promise that your clients can always depend on when they engage with you.
    • Who your choice client tribe is so your brand promise speaks to them directly.
    • What you are an expert at or in or have a specific skill or talent for.
    • Your brand’s key emotions.  How do you want your clients to feel when they engage with you or use your services?

2. Brand Trademarking

Here’s a step that many business owners leave until last if they consider it at all, at their peril. When you’re about to invest a lot of time and money to create a business brand it’s imperative that you own the trademark.

Without a valid trademark protecting your business or brand, there is nothing to prevent competitors from trading off your reputation and hurting your business.

On the other hand you could be using some other company’s registered trademark and risk being shut down or even sued. Getting a registered trademark at the outset is the best way to protect your business name and reputation. Here’s a valuable resource from Pinnacle TMS you might find useful.

3. Brand Creation

Now that you’ve done the preparation and taken steps to secure your trademark the creative process will be easy and fun especially if you provide your graphic designer with a well written design brief that includes:

    1. Short summary of your brand and business
      • Target audience – ideal clients
      • Values to communicate with your design
      • Feelings and emotions to evoke
      • Stylistic preferences
      • Colours that you like and dislike
      • Examples of images that you like
      • Anything else you want the designer to know

4. Brand Implementation

Now that you have your creative design completed it’s time to print your collateral, like letter head, business cards and brochures as well as any other itms you have in your marketing arsenal. Do a comprehensive stock take and make sure to replace all old branded items simultaneously.

Likewise for all your on-line platforms such as your website, blog and social media – .roll out your new branding at the same time.

It’s a great idea to start with a launch to create some buzz – be creative, run a competition or hold an event to make a splash!

5. Brand Building

Now that you’ve launched your brand, the real work begins.

Building your brand involves the continuous and consistent application of your brand’s image in all areas of your business, communication channels and media.

Brand building is a continuous process and thanks to modern technology smart brands can take advantage of new tools and rocket up there, even globally, really fast.

Consistency and persistency is the name of the game. It takes years to build a successful business brand and seconds to destroy it. Whether you’re writing or speaking, stay on message and stay on brand and reap the rewards.

I agree with Confucius who is reputed to have said “Man with open mouth waits long time for roast duck to fly in!” Too many trainers, consultants or coaches don’t know what they’re worth or don’t have the confidence to ask to be paid well for the services they deliver. Even when their clients get fabulous results they still often undervalue their role in the outcome.

That’s why too many talented self-employed professionals struggle with undercharging and this is especially true of women.

When the subject comes up about raising their fees many women talk themselves out of it because they start listening to the monkey chatter in their head instead.  This means they end up playing safe and either don’t raise their fees or just nudge them up a little.

The flip side is that being known as cheap is actually harmful to your brand as well as your bank account so it can actually work against you. Double jeopardy!

My tip is to stay focused on the outcome you deliver and keep in mind that your prospective client is looking for value so you can feel confident to charge what you’re worth.

Here’s 3 sure signs it’s time to raise your fees.

  1. Your clients are telling you – you should charge more
    While this may seem extraordinary it’s not actually that uncommon to hear clients say things like “I got much more value than I paid for” or “you’re worth more money” or even “you should charge more for what you do”.So if you’re hearing comments like this it’s definitely time to raise your fees.
  2. You haven’t raised your fees for 12 months or more

I believe you are either moving forward or going backwards, never just standing still. And this applies to your fees as well.  If you are not raising your prices at least once a year (twice is better) then you are falling behind.

Be aware though not to fall into the trap of just keeping up. Obviously the cost of living continues to go up yet at the same time you continue to gain so much more experience year in, year out. This means you deliver ever increasing value and your fee increase needs to reflect this as well.

  1. You are signing up 75% or more from your enrolment conversationsThis is a big one. In marketing terms we call this ‘closing the sale’ or ‘getting a conversion’ and the higher the conversion rate the better. But here’s the kicker. If you are selling services your clients are buying the results they want from working with you. And the closer you get to 100% the more important it is to raise your fees otherwise you could end up overworked for too little return.Now this may seem counter intuitive but when you raise your fees you can earn the same amount serving less clients. Alternatively you can continue with the same client load and earn more money.
    If any of these signs are true for you, my coach’s challenge is to raise your fees.

10 Top Tips To Creating a Successful Marketing Plan

Most people wouldn’t set off on a year long journey without a plan and a map. Yet so many small business owners and entrepreneurs do just that year in, year out when they fail to create a marketing plan for their business.

Many find the task too daunting so they never get started or they get bogged down in too much detail and never get it finished.

In reality, creating a marketing plan is a lot easier than you think and here’s my top 10 tips to help make yours a success.

Tip  #1
Block out time to create your marketing plan

Doing this task piecemeal will drag it out and drag you down. It’s really a creative process so set aside a day or two of dedicated time way from your business while you’re working on it. It will pay off in the long run. Plus you’ll have a lot more fun.

Tip #2
Get help

Unless you are an expert, creating a marketing plan on your own can be limiting. If you are not working with a consultant or a coach think about teaming up with a colleague and help each other.

Brainstorming is a great opportunity to uncover new ideas and sound them out.

Include your key employees. First, because they’ll have good ideas and second, they’ll have buy-in to implementing the finished plan and working with you towards the goals.

Tip #3

Planning anything can be a largely left brain activity so before you jump into the practical aspects of creating a marketing plan it’s a good idea to allow your creative right brain to have free reign first.

There’s no better way to do that than to visualize what you really want. What does your ideal business look like?

If you’re not familiar with visualizing, use a guided process. Either way, make sure you journal the outcomes to connect to along the way.

Tip #4
Review your past results

Unless you are just starting your business you must review your past results before you embark on your next plan. What worked, what didn’t? What did you enjoy and what lessons did you learn from your failures and your successes?

Use this process to eliminate, increase, or add new strategies and activities.

Tip #5
Set a bold income goal

Now you have a vision for the future with an assessment of the past, it’s time to set your income goals. Without a goal you cannot decide what strategies and actions you’ll need to get you where you want to go.

How much money do you want to make?

You want this overarching goal to be a stretch but realistic, so go for at least 30% more than you earned last year as a start point.  When you surpass that it’s time to raise the stakes and set a new money goal.

Tip #6
Decide where the income will come from and set your targets

Once you have your bold money goal, the next step is to decide where this income will come from.  Go back to what you want your business to look like and choose 2 or 3 streams of income to focus on. Then match them to the percentage of dollars each will contribute to your overall income goal.

Some things to consider:-

  • Information products
  • Workshops
  • One-on-one programs
  • Group programs
  • Continuity programs
  • VIP days

For instance, if you want to run workshops for say 50% of your income then how many, with what number of attendees, at what investment will you need to bring in the dollars?

Tip #7
Decide strategies to reach your income goals

With a clear idea of the source of your income you can now plan the strategies you need to help you reach your income goals.

Keeping with the example of workshops bringing in 50% of your income; now you know how many attendees you need as well as the investment they need to make – what strategies will help you achieve that?

If you need to build your list, public speaking is one of the quickest ways to get your message out there and add prospective clients to your list.

Tip #8
Determine actions to support strategies

Now that you have identified your strategies, it’s time to decide the exact actions you will take. For instance, if you will be using public speaking then start by researching the possible opportunities and contact the organizers.

Let them know how your information can benefit their audience and get booked into their planning calendar. Make sure you are prepared with your presentation as well as the offer you want to make.

Tip #9
Calendarise your actions

It is crucial that you immediately transfer your actions into your calendar to make sure you continue to implement as planned.  Otherwise you run the risk of being distracted with time wasting activities instead of the income generating strategies and actions.

Tip #10
Monitor and adjust

The final step to ensure your marketing plans lead to success is to frequently monitor your results and adjust if necessary.

While this is one of the simplest things to do, it is often overlooked but do this at your peril. If you aren’t meeting your income goals month in, month out then the sooner you make adjustments the better.

And one last bonus tip – keep your marketing plan brief, specific, documented and visible and you’ll be halfway there to getting the results you are striving for.