Tuesday, February 12th, 2013 | Author:

There is a companion article to this one titled “How Not to Network When You’ve Just Started Working as a Financial Planner or Insurance Agent.” It is vital that as a new financial planner or insurance agent that you not sell, don’t talk about products and absolutely don’t try to gather personal information about people you just met. Networking is a process where you get to know, like and trust people then eventually they will want to do business with you. If their first experience with you is the typical sales pitch or the “let’s get together and discuss your needs” meeting, they will definitely know plenty about you, but they aren’t going to like it.

So how do you network when you are a brand new financial planner? First, make sure that you have a very good marketing or advertising plan so that you’ll have enough business coming in to survive on while you are building your network. Don’t even count on networking for bringing you any business for at least six months to a year. Sure, even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while, but consider those pieces of business that fall into your lap to be unexpected bonuses. Above all else do not sell while networking.

If you can’t sell, what is the whole point of networking? It is a process of building mutually beneficial, long-term relationships with people through the exchange of ideas, information and resources.

Start networking by making yourself useful, helpful and even indispensable to people, groups, events and associations. You’re going to have a big trust barrier to over come and if you work hard to show them yourself as a person and not a salesperson, you will have much more success in the long run.

You’ll find that some people are going to be very skeptical. You’ll need to focus on service to the community or to other people to overcome this. You want to be seen as a person first and a financial planner or insurance agent second. Focus on teaching people more about your hobbies, interests and passions that on your products and services and they will come to you.

Would it be nice to feel comfortable and welcomed at networking events? Focus on building relationships and proving your value and trustworthiness to the community and your business peers before you ever ask for the business. If you do this well, you might not even have to ask.

Want to really succeed in networking? Try the advanced (but easy) technique in the companion article to this series called “How to Network: An Advanced Networking Technique for New Financial Planners Who Want to Survive in the Business.”

About the Author: Beth Bridges is The Networking Motivator™ and creator of the 5 Part Networking Success Plan ™, a simple networking system that can help anyone from business owners to sales agents to college students develop a powerful network. Subscribe to the weekly Networking Motivator Newsletter at www.thenetworkingmotivator.com for a quick boost of networking inspiration, information and motivation.”

If you liked this article, tell all your friends about it. They’ll thank you for it. If you have a blog or website, you can link to it or even post it to your own site (don’t forget to mention www.meetingwave.com as the original source).

Sunday, January 20th, 2013 | Author:

Even more frustrating than getting people to RSVP to your events is to get them to show up. As a person who has spent seven years planning and promoting business-to-business events, I know this feeling. But after setting up and running over 1,000 mixers, meetings and business club gatherings, I’ve learned the secret to getting people to show up. There are two parts to this strategy: nagging and bribery. Nagging has been covered in good depth in other articles. Bribery is the more important of the two.

It is more important because you can have the best marketing in the world, but if your attendees see no benefit in attending, they will not show up. Regardless of how many different ways you remind them. In fact, you’ll probably make them mad by insisting they pay attention to something that holds nothing of value to them.

While the word bribery has a very bad connotation, a bribe is simple anything given or serving to persuade or induce a behavior or action. It’s the answer to “what’s in it for me?” It may be the main purpose of your event, or it might be something to make the necessary but dull part palatable. Like a spoonful of sugar making the medicine go done.

Make sure to have a combination of “feature bribes” and “benefit bribes.” Both are important but will bring you different people for different reasons. Feature bribes are things like an interesting location, great food, door prizes, and easy or free parking. A feature bribe will help get more people there, but they might not be the exact target market. You risk that they will only be there for the food or wine or prizes. But, having bodies at an event helps increase the energy level. There’s a certain balance.

A benefit bribe is not about things or places. It’s about people and relationships and what your attendees are going to get out of the event, probably in the long-term. These are benefits such as the people they will meet, gaining access to people they normally wouldn’t meet, having a unique experience, learning something, building their business skills or making great networking connections. You can use benefit bribes to almost exactly target the kind of people you want.

Don’t think that you can “weed out” the lookie-loos or tire-kickers by stripping off all the feature bribes. But even great networkers and serious business people appreciate the added attraction of good food or a nice location. And, the people who are attracted by the features can become great business partners; they just need the experience of spending time with the kind of good networkers who are attracted to your events.

About the Author: Beth Bridges is The Networking Motivator™ and creator of the 5 Part Networking Success Plan ™, a simple networking system that can help anyone from business owners to sales agents to college students develop a powerful network. Subscribe to the weekly Networking Motivator Newsletter at www.thenetworkingmotivator.com for a quick boost of networking inspiration, information and motivation.”

If you liked this article, tell all your friends about it. They’ll thank you for it. If you have a blog or website, you can link to it or even post it to your own site (don’t forget to mention www.meetingwave.com as the original source).

Sunday, January 13th, 2013 | Author:

If you’re a business owner, salesperson, or independent agent, you know that the bottom line result you need from networking is to positively influence your business. If you want to achieve those results, then you need to have some overall goals for your networking activities. Determining which of these goals are most important will help you create your action or activity goals. You’ll know what to do in order to get what you want.

What kind of overall goals can you set for your networking? There are six general types of goals:

Information
One person can’t possibly know everything that’s needed for success (“know it all” is not a compliment). You need other people’s knowledge. The sharing of information is a major component of business networking.

Ideas
Sometimes other people’s ideas about your business are going to be the best ones you ever had. They’ll give you a different perspective at the very least.

Resources
Your network can help you find loans, vendors and employees with less time, expense and error.

Marketing
If you don’t have a budget for advertising, PR, sales promotions, or communications, networking is the way you are going to get your name, product and service out there.

Reputation
Developing a positive, trustworthy reputation is worth money in the form of referrals, resources and sales that you make because of it.

Referrals
This is the payoff for developing your reputation, seeking out information and sharing ideas. Referrals give a high return on investment because you didn’t have to pay for advertising or direct mail.

Several of these goals build on each other. When you gather ideas and information, you can get access to more resources. By building on your reputation, you’ll get more referrals. When you market your business, you’ll be able to build your reputation by shaping the message that you are going to put into the business environment. And of course, referrals are one of the most cost effective ways of getting new customers, with a very high return on the investment in time and energy spent in networking.

Start by setting these overall, general goals and then look at your daily, weekly and monthly networking activities. For help on setting your activities and actions goals, see my article titled “Networking Success Strategy: Set Up Your Action Goals to See Faster Results.” You’ll get a list of very specific, action-oriented goals to help reach your overall networking goals.

About the Author: Beth Bridges is The Networking Motivator™ and creator of the 5 Part Networking Success Plan ™, a simple networking system that can help anyone from business owners to sales agents to college students develop a powerful network. Subscribe to the weekly Networking Motivator Newsletter at www.thenetworkingmotivator.com for a quick boost of networking inspiration, information and motivation.”

If you liked this article, tell all your friends about it. They’ll thank you for it. If you have a blog or website, you can link to it or even post it to your own site (don’t forget to mention www.meetingwave.com as the original source).

Monday, January 07th, 2013 | Author:

When you’re a membership or events director, networking group manager, or other event planner, coming up with ideas for events is the easy part. Get people to attend is the hard part. Success comes to those who suit up and show up, but even the most extraordinary networker needs a little encouragement. The new networkers need even a little more help in getting themselves to your event. I’ve talked about the two major strategies for getting people to your events in previous articles. Here are four more ideas to help you build your groups.

Build Trust
This is especially important if you’re starting a new group or adding a new event. If you’ve always delivered great events in the past, then people will trust you when you tell them it will be worth their time. If you’ve never put on an event before, you’ll need to draw on the personal trust you’ve built up with your network in other ways.

Create Buzz
Get people talking to each other about the event. When you talk about it, it’s advertising. When other people talk about it, that’s publicity and word-of-mouth. You might be a bit suspect, but other people are interested and asking each other if they are going to attend has more value.

Charge and Refund
It seems counter intuitive that free events get the most RSVP’s but the fewest people showing up. Taking the time and making the effort to pay, even a small amount, seems to create a great value in our minds. We don’t mind blowing off a free event, but not something that we’ve paid for. You can take advantage of this tendency, even if you want to have a free event. Charge people in advance, then refund them when they show up. Only cash their checks and deposit their money if they don’t make it. It’s like they get paid to attend.

Random Goodies
Door prizes are great, but so are goodies randomly given to people when they check in. Advertise that the nth person who shows up will get a free registration to the next event or some other incentive. You can probably get one of the other attendees to donate a prize of their services or a discount in return for promoting them as donating the prize. You’ll have them lined up to do this for the next event.

It takes some creativity, but you’ve got to capture the interest and imagination of the people you want to attract. You may think that you don’t need gimmicks or tricks to get people to attend. That’s right, you don’t… but you need to work with our tendency to slow down and lose interest. You’ll want to surprise and encourage people. As your events grow, you’ll find that the people themselves will become the attraction.

About the Author: Beth Bridges is The Networking Motivator™ and creator of the 5 Part Networking Success Plan ™, a simple networking system that can help anyone from business owners to sales agents to college students develop a powerful network. Subscribe to the weekly Networking Motivator Newsletter at www.thenetworkingmotivator.com for a quick boost of networking inspiration, information and motivation.”

If you liked this article, tell all your friends about it. They’ll thank you for it. If you have a blog or website, you can link to it or even post it to your own site (don’t forget to mention www.meetingwave.com as the original source).

Sunday, December 30th, 2012 | Author:

I have to admit that I didn’t know who Dean Karnazes was when I saw that he was the guest speaker for the Trail of Two Cities Marathon this past November. But after I read his bio and saw what he had accomplished, I was looking forward to hearing him speak.

While Dean told us that he thought he wasn’t a great speaker, I personally found him interesting and inspiring. After his talk, I was very eager to get in line, meet him and get his autograph. I was willing to stand there as long as it took.

There were two of his books available to purchase and I had to have my own copy of “50/50: Secrets I Learned Running 50 Marathons in 50 Days-and How You Too Can Achieve Super Endurance!”

If you have any interest in marathons, running, event planning, or just plain “how in the world did he do that” stories, you will very much enjoy this book. What I really wanted to know was how he worked out the physical logistics of getting to each state in one day. That almost seemed like the harder part, because if you read what people have said about Dean’s ability, there’s no question in my mind that we was capable of doing the running.

The book is fun to read. Not only does it give you a fascinating behind the scenes look at how they did it, but it also was genuinely good storytelling. Dean himself is a likable guy who has stayed humble and true to himself and his family. We discovered that the people helping to sell the books at the marathon expo were his Mom and Dad. It’s the kind of guy that Dean is and the kind of family that he is a part of.

There are wonderful stories of the people Dean met, which are inspiring in themselves. There is also plenty of great running and endurance information. None of which will help you be able to run like Dean. Turns out that he has amazing genetics that deal with the lactic acid build-up. That’s not in the book, it was on Stan Lee’s show “Superhumans.”

Still, the information will help any runner go longer and further. And, if you’re an endurance athlete of any kind, you’ll enjoy the story. It would even be motivating and energizing for those who are just trying to make it through a hard time in their life. This is a worthy read that will be a permanent part of my library.

About the Author: Beth Bridges is The Networking Motivator™ and creator of the 5 Part Networking Success Plan ™, a simple networking system that can help anyone from business owners to sales agents to college students develop a powerful network. Subscribe to the weekly Networking Motivator Newsletter at www.thenetworkingmotivator.com for a quick boost of networking inspiration, information and motivation.”

If you liked this article, tell all your friends about it. They’ll thank you for it. If you have a blog or website, you can link to it or even post it to your own site (don’t forget to mention www.meetingwave.com as the original source).

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012 | Author:

For those who are new to business networking, one of the more daunting parts can be meeting new people. They wonder, “How do I meet people? Just go to a networking event and walk up and stick my hand out?” Well, yes. That is one way and it shouldn’t be unwelcomed by people who go to networking events. While you may eventually want to feel comfortable and confident enough to meet people like this, there are two other methods that are excellent ways to meet people. These are especially good if you are introverted, new to networking or if the person you want to meet does not normally attend business to business networking events.

Ask for an Introduction From a Mutual Connection

If you want to meet someone in particular, ask your current friends or contacts if they know the person and if they would be willing to introduce you. This is where you find out if you have done a good job of building trust with them. If you’ve working on a mutually beneficial relationship, they should be happy to introduce you. Not only will it benefit you, but if you treat the new person right, it will reflect well on them.

There are two ways they can make this introduction. They can do it in person by arranging a coffee or lunch meeting (remember, the person you want to meet is probably not attending events) or they can call, write or email an introduction. Then you would need to follow up. This is often used in a job search, with the mutual friend giving a referral. Treat it in very much the same way, with respect and a non-selling agenda.

Connect on Social Media

While it sometimes seems like people will connect with virtual strangers on social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, there are a lot of friend requests that get ignored because they have no idea who you are or what you want. For the greatest possibility of getting a connection and to start the relationship off with good information, do not use the standard invitation on LinkedIn. Write your own brief, but meaningful introduction. This will open the door to future communication.

On Facebook, there is an option to write a personal note with a friend request. Take time to tell them why you want to connect. “To sell them something” is not a good reason. You’d be surprised at how many invitations boil down to that.

If you’re interested in an article on specific ideas and wording on what to say in your LinkedIn and Facebook invitations, leave a comment on this article.

About the Author: Beth Bridges is The Networking Motivator™ and creator of the 5 Part Networking Success Plan ™, a simple networking system that can help anyone from business owners to sales agents to college students develop a powerful network. Subscribe to the weekly Networking Motivator Newsletter at www.thenetworkingmotivator.com for a quick boost of networking inspiration, information and motivation.”

If you liked this article, tell all your friends about it. They’ll thank you for it. If you have a blog or website, you can link to it or even post it to your own site (don’t forget to mention www.meetingwave.com as the original source).

Category: Articles  | Tags: ,  | 3 Comments
Sunday, December 16th, 2012 | Author:

Are you a small business owner who goes to networking events with some hesitation because you don’t want to run into network marketers? Or maybe you don’t go at all because you’ve been hit up for business by someone in direct sales? Instead of avoiding networking, why not take the radical step of seeking out network marketers and the people who teach them?

If you’re a small business owner, perhaps with a local retail store, an insurance company or even a real estate business, you know that networking is an important part of your marketing and sales plan. It’s probably not your main source of business, but it’s a skill and a process that can enhance the rest of what you do. For a network marketer, it’s probably the only way they are going to get business.

Yes, there are plenty of people in the business who aren’t subtle, who go for the sale and turn off a lot of people. But this is an industry that has survived and thrived, turning regular people into millionaires or at least someone who makes a decent living doing it. There’s a lot to learn from those who are successful and who are teaching people in the industry.

One way to learn is to actually join a business yourself. Not to make a living, but to have access to the training they offer. Most of it is on the business model and the pay structure, but the bigger companies bring in heavy hitters to help their people. I’ve seen Jeff Olson present on the Slight Edge at no cost and then met him in person at the after party. Friends of mine who are serious in the business have seen Bob Burg, Les Brown and Brian Tracy speak and train.

Another way to learn is to find those in your area who have been successful in the long term in the business. You’ll have to look; they aren’t the ones pushing a business card at you. They are the people who help the hostess at business events, who are the linchpin in a referral group or leads club, and who volunteer with the chamber of commerce. They are true givers and their time, ideas and resources are yours for the asking.

You don’t have to be in the industry to benefit from it. Seek out and observe those who have built a business on their ability to develop long-term mutually beneficial relationships. Invest time with them and they will shorten your learning curve and help you take your business networking to a more profitable level.

About the Author: Beth Bridges is The Networking Motivator™ and creator of the 5 Part Networking Success Plan ™, a simple networking system that can help anyone from business owners to sales agents to college students develop a powerful network. Subscribe to the weekly Networking Motivator Newsletter at www.thenetworkingmotivator.com for a quick boost of networking inspiration, information and motivation.”

If you liked this article, tell all your friends about it. They’ll thank you for it. If you have a blog or website, you can link to it or even post it to your own site (don’t forget to mention www.meetingwave.com as the original source).

Sunday, December 09th, 2012 | Author:

When residents, business owners and even tourists get involved in a community, they make it a better place to live in, do business with and visit. If you want to play a positive role in the future of your neighborhood, city or region here’s a simple plan for making your contribution count for the greatest impact.

1. Decide which community you want to get involved with.

Unless you live in a very small town, your community is actually made up of many different but overlapping sub-communities. There’s the general business community, arts and culture, ethnic groups, religious groups, industries, cause-related communities, neighborhoods and even further divisions of each of these groups. Since you cannot be all things to every group, decide on one or two to focus on.

2. Or, choose based on what you want to accomplish.

Instead of beginning with a group and finding a need, you can also start with the end in mind. Why do you want to get involved in the first place? Some businesses are looking to “do well by doing good.” This can also apply to individuals; if a contribution of time or effort is made in order to gain publicity, the beneficiaries aren’t any less benefited. Some people who get involved do it because of a desire to make the place they live a little better, whether that “place” is defined as their neighborhood, their city or their planet. Others because they have been personally touched by a cause. There’s also nothing selfish about doing something helpful simply because it makes us feel good about ourselves.

3. Determine if it’s “time, treasure, or talent” that you have to offer

These handy saying is used to describe the components of philanthropy. Some people have the time to spend doing what needs to be done, others don’t have time but are willing to donate money and those with specific skills such as marketing, web design or home-building can give of their special abilities. For businesses, often it is “treasure” in the form of grants, donations or sponsorships. In return, many organizations provide them with recognition on a donor wall or on the back of a t-shirt. Individuals who are looking to build their reputation in the community, especially to promote their business, are better off making the contribution in their area of expertise. It can build a portfolio for a new designer or it can showcase your abilities to a target market. Sometimes, you just pitch in when and where you are needed. Which ever of the three you decide on set your goal or limit at the beginning of the year so that you never feel resentful of what you’re giving. And for those who have a hard time saying “no” it also gives you a way to keep from over-extending yourself.

4. Pick your organization or activity.

By answering the first three questions, you should have a good idea of what kind of organization you are looking for, but here’s a list and a brief description of a variety of places to look.

  • Chambers of commerce: Great for connecting with the businesses community
  • Charitable organizations: Always in need of money and people willing to help raise funds, many are associated with churches
  • Service clubs: Combining business networking and charitable fund-raising, they usually have weekly meetings
  • Health organizations: Raising funds for research and increasing awareness to help with diagnosing and prevention
  • Cultural groups: From arts to zoo, organizations that improve the quality of life in a community.
  • Animal welfare: Volunteers and contributors can directly impact their local area though pet adoption and reducing overpopulation.
  • Local organizations: Look in your yellow pages under Non-Profits or Associations for a surprising list of groups with a wide range of goals and activities.

5. Stick to it.

Just like networking, one hour or day of participation is probably not going to bring you the results you were looking for. Whether it’s exposure of your business name to the community, making a difference in your neighborhood or finding meaning in your life, your goal will probably not be satisfied with just one moment of effort. While the amount of time, money or skill you have to give at one time may not seem significant, most organizations will tell you that it’s the volunteers who can always be counted on – even for small things – that make the difference to them.

Getting involved in your community can be very beneficial to your business. You will be able to help those who would otherwise not get help. It makes your community stronger and more enjoyable to live in. Research has even shown that those who volunteer are healthier and live longer. Whatever your reasons for getting involved in your community, you’ll find that the benefits for you, the organization and your community far outweigh the time or money spent.

About the Author: Beth Bridges is The Networking Motivator™ and creator of the 5 Part Networking Success Plan ™, a simple networking system that can help anyone from business owners to sales agents to college students develop a powerful network. Subscribe to the weekly Networking Motivator Newsletter at www.thenetworkingmotivator.com for a quick boost of networking inspiration, information and motivation.”

If you liked this article, tell all your friends about it. They’ll thank you for it. If you have a blog or website, you can link to it or even post it to your own site (don’t forget to mention www.meetingwave.com as the original source).

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012 | Author:

Small businesses owners must find ways in a depressed economy to lower costs and operate more effectively. With the advent of many new online tools, companies can get the assistance they need at a low cost or for free. The free online business can help manage things like scheduling or accepting payments via mobile devices.

Google Docs

One of the easiest ways to manage a project is through Google Docs. This online tool just requires a user to register their e-mail address that ends with their domain name. Once this step has been completed, the business owner just needs to upload documents. Anyone who is working on the project can see the latest information and data at one-click of a button.

Evernote

Another great tool is the popular Evernote application. Evernote is used by businesses to take notes and create blog posts. It contains everything the company needs to collaborate and allows the writer to keep all of their articles in one spot. This platform enables the business owner to access their notes from anywhere as long as they have a mobile device and a connection.

Freshbooks

One of the most difficult and time consuming things for businesses to do is to keep all of their financial information in order. Freshbooks makes the process easier by allowing the company to send professionally branded invoices. The small business can keep their expense reports in order and track payments. This innovative service even allows the company to take payments via eCheck, credit card or PayPal. Although it offers upgraded feature for a price, the free version is more than adequate for most business needs.

Appointy

For the CEO on the go, Appointy is a must have. This application offers advanced appointment scheduling features and can send reminder alerts. Users can update their work calendars or accept pre-payments through the online platform. To enhance the experience, Appointy also offers a host of discount coupons. The only drawback to the program is that the free option only provides a limited number of schedulable appointments.

Dropbox

In a world where cloud storage is a must, Dropbox truly stands out of the crowd. This cloud storage platform lets users store all of their files. It will regularly sync data on the computer’s hard drive with the online server. If something happens to the user’s computer, they can instantly re-download all of their important files. Dropbox is also made to allow users to sync their documents across a range of devices and personal computers. The free version of Dropbox offers a total of 2 GB of space. For more storage space, users can opt to purchase a low-priced plan.

Square

Online payment processing never has to be difficult again. With Square, small business owners can easily accept payments from mobile devices. Customers can use their iTouch, iPhone or iPad to send in a credit card payment. Just like PayPal transactions, the small business will pay a small fee for each transaction on Square.

Hootsuite

With the advent of social media sites, many businesses now have Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. To keep the various sites in order, business owners can use the free Hootsuite application. Instead of logging into Google Plus or Facebook individually, Hootsuite lets everything be accessed from one entry point. Overall, this application saves the business valuable time and money.

Quora

In the past, business executives had to attend years networking meetings in order build-up a network of trusted business contacts. With innovative applications like Quora, this is no longer necessary. Small business owners can easily access the Quora website and post a question about their business. Other entrepreneurs and CEOs will respond with valid, useful answers within a short period of time.

Google Alerts

Among their many unusual applications, Google Alerts stands out as a key online business tool. People can set up their account to alert them about developments for their business, name or industry. If someone is discussing the company online, Google Alerts will instantly notify the company with the information. This allows the business to quickly respond to customer complaints and manage their online brand. If the client or a reporter posts a favorable review, the small business owner can also respond with a message of thanks or a free offer.

Free Conference Call

Instead of wasting valuable resources on airfares, companies can conduct their meetings online. At FreeConferenceCall.com, businesses can host webinars or conference calls without spending any money. If the company wants to, they can record the meeting or a message for future use. Anyone who missed the webinar can simply logon and watch the meeting unfold at their convenience. This application works great for briefing new employees and for creating an atmosphere of collaboration.

Skype

Another online communication tool that has achieved a high level of popularity is Skype. Designed by Estonian web developers, Skype is a useful tool for anyone who wants to place a call or use video chat for free. For small businesses who are struggling to enter the international markets, Skype offers an alternative to high-cost telephone calls. The application is completely free and only requires an Internet connection to work.

WordPress and Tumblr

To reach a larger audience, companies need to create a blog. Through their blog, they can work on developing a brand and an interactive site for their customers. Traditional web designers often charge thousands of dollars to create a company website. With simple options like WordPress and Tumbler, companies can create their blog for free. WordPress offers a number of customization options that help to differentiate a business from its competitors. Users can select from a variety of layouts and designs as well as a library of free graphics.

Wave Accounting

Unlike other accounts programs on the web today, Wave Accounting is completely free for users. It allows small businesses and freelancers to track invoices and manage all of their accounting data. Users can send out professional quality invoices and create reports. They can also easily track their business expenses and manage all of their accounting needs.

SCORE Templates

Hiring a lawyer costs much-needed funds that many small businesses lack. With SCORE templates, users can avoid the high costs of legal help. The innovative application allows users to download business plan forms, contract samples and a host of other templates. From financial forms to day-to-day operations spreadsheets, SCORE lets a small business owner access the tools they need to succeed. To make it even easier, SCORE templates has set up physical locations around the country. This non-profit exists entirely to provide free resources and make running a small business easier for the owner.

Meeting Wave

Meeting Wave allows business owners to meet new people in their field and connect to new clients. It also offers solutions for online web conferencing and inexpensive communication. People just have to register for the site and decide the type of person they want to meet. They can decline the meeting for any reason. As long as one other person registers, the meeting will take place.

Google Analytics

The last useful tool for small business owners is Google Analytics. With this application, users can track where their website traffic is coming from and see how many people visit their website. If the company runs a new advertisement or creates a blog, they can instantly see how successful their new marketing project is and make changes. The completely customizable program allows users to understand the demographics behind their company without every spending a dime.

This article was written by Jo Greig on behalf of Phoenix Training, who offer bespoke business training, for sales, leadership and management.

Sunday, November 18th, 2012 | Author:

At first, social media was purely social. And then businesses discovered the power of social networking. They jumped on board, made some mistakes and finally settled down to make a serious impact on their bottom line. All this happened a long, long time in the past… at least six months ago. The use of social media for businesses is still in its infancy and is obviously still in rapid evolution. There is plenty of analysis on what impact social media is having on business, marketing and sales. What about the impact that online, social networking is having on face to face business networking?

They Haven’t Integrated It
A study by SmartBrief, an online media company that aggregates industry newsletters, surveyed 3,000 online businesses shows that the vast majority have been using it for less than 18 months. They are probably still learning how to use the ever-changing features and interfaces. The “computer” part of it is probably still in the way of using social media for making personal connections and communicating more directly with customers and clients. While the front-running adopters are now making social media an integrated part of their marketing, sales and networking programs, the rest are still learning the process much less the personal nuances of relationship-building using social media tools.

Confidence Takes Time
In the same survey, the majority of companies who had been in social media for 2 or more years said they felt confident with their strategies. But only 10% of those who had been in it for 18 months or less felt confident. For those who are new to networking whether it is online or in person, this shows that there is a learning curve. We can assume that those who felt confident have been working on their social media on a consistent basis. Since no one has done a study of confidence levels on personal networking, perhaps we can use this as a benchmark and say that 12 to 18 months of steady effort is a reasonable guideline for building business to business networking skills.

Broadcasting Not Connecting
Another very interesting part of the research showed that while a majority of long-term users felt confident with their program, they were still using it more like advertising and less like networking. More of them were interested in increasing traffic to their website and building brand awareness than listening to and identifying customer needs. This has been an age-old problem with face to face networking and it doesn’t seem that the social networking experience – at least right now – is going to help train us to be less sales-oriented and more relationship-oriented in our personal networking either.

While many companies and blogs are focused on looking forward at how social media is impacting business, it’s interesting to look back and see how social networking influences and impacts our personal, face to face networking. Looks like it is still evolving, but heading to an interesting place.

About the Author: Beth Bridges is The Networking Motivator™ and creator of the 5 Part Networking Success Plan ™, a simple networking system that can help anyone from business owners to sales agents to college students develop a powerful network. Subscribe to the weekly Networking Motivator Newsletter at www.thenetworkingmotivator.com for a quick boost of networking inspiration, information and motivation.”

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