How to Effectively Manage a Remote Team as a Small Business Owner

Working from home is a great benefit for both employees and business owners. It opens up larger talent pools for companies to source individuals from and allows people the opportunity to stay in one place rather than relocate to another. But despite its various benefits, remote work can still have its own set of problems.

While working from home, it can be hard to get everyone on the same page. As a business owner it’s vital to stay on top of your remote team and the responsibilities associated with it. Here are a variety of ways you can streamline your remote team’s process, so you can manage your team effectively.

1. Create Communication Channels

Going hours without speaking or messaging someone on your team is not a good sign, especially when you have team members working from home. If you’re not actively communicating with one another, you will have no clue where a project may be in production.

That’s why constant communication is one of the most important aspects of managing a remote team. When people worked in a traditional office setting it was easy to turn around or walk over to their workspace to talk about a problem or discuss a change. Now that your team is located in different places or even time zones, you need to have multiple platforms for communication.

While it seems like a given for remote work to have an instant messaging and video conference channel, select one that’s right for you and your work situation. If there is a free tool that will do everything you need, you can save some money for your business. Slack, Zoom, and Google Chat are common platforms for daily communication between remote employees.

Aside from conversation tools, also consider project management ones that team members can share materials on or mark the progress on a task. Software like Hive, Asana, and Trello allows your team to check off completed work or share materials with one another. Whichever tool you decide to use, make sure everyone understands how to operate it.

2. Set Daily Expectations

Goals are necessary for a variety of business operations, one of which is daily expectations. If your team doesn’t have a goal for the day, how is anything supposed to be completed? Now, each department is different when it comes to the everyday task to finish. For instance, an HR team will have a different focus than a writing team. It’s up to you, the manager, to work with your employees to establish what needs to be done by the end of each business day.

Start small when making a task list for your team. Maybe, in the beginning, it’s just logging their timecard. Once you’ve developed that steady rhythm, work with each individual and their working style to create larger daily expectations.

Every individual is unique in what they can accomplish in a day. While one employee can churn out multiple tasks and juggle different projects, another may want to focus on one thing for the week. That’s why you need to meet and learn about your individual team members, so you can play to people’s strengths and get things done.

3. Remember That We’re Humans

Unfortunately, the entire workforce has not become robots, yet. What that means for you is that burnout still occurs with your teams, especially when they are remote. Working from home can still often involve traveling to clients. These factors, amongst others, can lead to burnout and other negative health effects. For you as a leader, set the parameters and example for your team by shutting off from work at the end of the day. However, this doesn’t mean you log off every day at the same time, just differentiate circumstances such as a critical deadline.

It’s not just work deadlines you need to consider in your team’s daily lives. People have kids, hobbies, partners, emergencies, pets, personal lives, and other outside-of-work things that can pop up unexpectedly. If you haven’t already, create a leaving work for emergencies policy book or guidelines for your team. That way employees know the proper protocol for how to report their emergency and what qualifies as one. Situations like these pop out of nowhere, and can be frustrating, but remember your people come first, not the job.

4. Build Fun Opportunities

All work and no play are not conducive to keeping a remote team motivated. Take a break every few weeks or perhaps after a project is done to celebrate and relax a little. Virtual happy hours and other team bonding experiences became popular when the COVID-19 pandemic first made many businesses go remote. But now it’s time to bring back these virtual games to break up the workload and build bonds between teams.

Scavenger hunting, cooking, show and tell, or virtual home tours are all ways to get to know each other and not talk shop for a little bit. Ask your team if there’s an activity they want to do or if someone wants to lead a session. You’ll be surprised at what hobbies or skills people have outside of work. Kicking back to relax and just chatting is okay to do as well. Just mark time on your calendar every few weeks for fun activities like this to help your team unwind.

Closing Notes

Managing a remote team can seem daunting some days, but it doesn’t have to be the case. Using the right communication tools, setting daily expectations, remembering that everyone is human, and scheduling time for fun are all ways to make a team unit run efficiently. At the end of the day, your business’s success depends on your employees, and working together with them will help your end goals.

READ NEXT: CREATING HIGH PERFORMING SALES TEAMS

Guest Blogger Brian Thomas is a contributor to Enlightened Digital. He enjoys reading and researching tech and business. When he’s not looking into the latest trends, you can find him out cycling.

4 Tips for Startup Business Success

The majority of the difficulties in starting a business depend on doing the little things correctly. Any good coach will tell you at some point that the fundamentals are what get you to the top. There are many factors that play a huge role in the making and success of a business. So, if you are considering starting a business, here’s some important business success tips to follow:

1. Be data obsessed.

The more data you can track, the better your business decisions you’ll be able to make. Business always demands some “gut feel” decisions, but it is smarter to inform your gut as much as possible with all available facts.

Tracking key performance indicators for your company and understanding why they rise or fall can help you make decisions that will help your company grow and stay on track. By creating systems to provide you all the important and accurate data you need, you will ultimately make your business run smoother because you’ll be able to make better decisions each step of the way.

Be sure to have databases of people you interact with, that includes their names, job titles, business phone number, or even client’s feedback so that your decisions in the future will be based on all the information you have collected over time.

2. Pay attention to online reviews about your business.

Your business is “always on” even if you just operate from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Every company should set up Google alerts to monitor what their customers are saying about them, their competitors, and the market in general. Google Alerts is a fantastic and free tool for “listening” online. Be the first to know when a customer leaves a negative review or when someone praises your company online. Use these methods to remain ahead of the conversation and capitalize on it.

3. Be aware of your competitors.

Both your direct and indirect competitive options must be known and understood. You should continually be aware of your competitors’ activities, including what they are doing, how they market, and how they price their products. You may be the only one of your kind in your town or industry, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have indirect competitors.

RELATED ARTICLE: MAKE YOUR SMALL BUSINESS STAND OUT FROM THE COMPETITION

4. Have a greater goal: a strong mission.

People prefer to work for companies that are more than just a money-making machine. That’s not to say you can’t have sales or profit targets; it just means that if your employees feel like they’re part of something bigger, they’ll work harder and be more loyal. Customers also like to buy from companies that they believe have integrity and a valuable mission.

Here is an example of my own mission statement of why helping entrepreneurs matters https://www.paramountbusinesscoach.com/about-yoon-cannon/why-it-matters/

Certainly, there is way more advice I don’t have the space in this short article that go into making a startup business successful, but use these four starter tips to help you take some baby steps forward.

Overall, today’s business requires flexibility as well as solid planning and organizing skills. Many people start a business with the expectation of turning on their computers or opening their doors and immediately producing money, only to discover that making money in business is far more difficult than they anticipated.

You can avoid this in your business operations by taking the time to seek out experts to give you invaluable advice, feedback, support to coach you to success. Investing in yourself early on in your business will save you hundreds of thousands of dollars of costly mistakes, not to mention save you from years of struggling and spinning your wheels.

▶ Want To Explore What Business Coaching Might Look Like For You?

Book a complimentary discovery call with me here:

https://www.ParamountBusinessCoach.com/APPLY

QUESTION: What question can I answer for you next about growing your startup business? Share your comments and questions below.

Managing a Productive Hybrid-Remote Work Force for SMB Owners

As an entrepreneur, you’ve likely dealt with some unimaginable circumstances and challenging decisions over the course of the pandemic. Although the last few years might have been filled with some extreme lows, both professionally and personally, there’s still a light at the end of the tunnel.

Entrepreneurs, such as yourself, now have an opportunity to reinvent and grow their businesses in ways never considered before. By taking advantage of this new perspective, you can set yourself apart from other companies and invest in one of the most important components of the business – your people. If you’re looking for some helpful ways to show your remote or hybrid workforce that your company is worth investing their energy and future in, keep reading along.

Encourage Work-Life Balance

The pandemic has certainly heightened the need to be able to maintain a balance between work, family, personal obligations, and caring for our own health. Of course, this has always been something of value to individuals and professionals, but not at the same frequency it is now. From employees with aging parents unable to risk a trip to the grocery store, to parents of young children with changing school schedules, employees need the flexibility to adapt their careers to their life, not the other way around.

Supporting a flexible work arrangement as an employer is more critical than ever before and establishes trust within the employer/employee relationship. When employees are given the freedom, they need to be successful in their personal lives, it makes it easier and more enjoyable for them to be motivated and productive during their working hours. Rather than feeling stressed and anxious about a personal obligation, with flexible hours they can step away from their work for an hour and make up that time when they’re feeling calm and focused.

Adjust Benefits to Support Employees and Families

With the personal and professional lifestyle changes brought about by COVID-19, employee benefits should be reviewed and adjusted accordingly. According to the American Psychological Association, one-third of Americans developed mental health issues related to working from home coupled with the stress of the pandemic. Consider rethinking employee benefits to better suit their needs in this post-pandemic world. For example, enhance your well-being benefits to cover flexible schedules, caregiving, financial well-being, and mental health services. Whether it be online therapy, a life coach, or simply a way to navigate new challenges, evolving benefits will positively impact the way employees work.

Hold Financial Literacy Training

Financial issues have been increasingly prevalent because of the various changes in employment, pay, childcare, and so on. That said, your employees might feel strapped when it comes to making financial decisions that impact their future. Providing virtual training that allows employees who’re both remote or hybrid to continue building their financial literacy can help them feel empowered in their daily lives and more satisfied professionally. Employees might be wondering if they need to start setting more money aside and building an emergency fund for difficult times. This is recommended by financial professionals in general, but especially over the last few years, it’s been clear that you can never be too prepared.

Others might be looking to grow their family and, with that, are looking to purchase their very first home, upsize, or move. Employees might be uninformed about how to get preapproved for a mortgage, especially if this is their first time investing in the market. Providing resources that outline the documentation needed to start the process, when to get preapproved, and how long the period lasts is all helpful information that can guide them in coordinating their next steps with less stress.

Create Team Bonding Opportunities

Team bonding is a great way to inspire connections and get to know your employees on a more personal level. Even if it’s partially virtual, having conversations and activities that go beyond work deliverables and sales discussions is extremely beneficial for the company at large. Of course, building a strong professional team is key to your success as an entrepreneur. With that being said, to continue to foster those relationships, it’s helpful to know your people both personally and professionally.

Don’t leave it all up to your employees, as a business leader and entrepreneur you should also get involved in team bonding experiences. Host a trivia night, scavenger hunt, recipe swap, or happy hour. If you have a hybrid workforce that comes into the office on certain days you can schedule a field day at a local park, a hike, or a team picnic outside. The point is to simply make room for communication outside the walls of the office and create more personal relationships.

Establish Open Communication and Organizational Transparency

When times are tough or uncertain, employees want to feel like they can trust their employer to be empathetic to their changing needs. Establishing an environment where employees feel comfortable asking questions and voicing concerns is healthy for everyone. Creating a transparent work culture comes with some effort required, but it’s more than worthwhile. If your employees don’t feel they can trust you, there might not be a long-term relationship formed between the two, and therefore you’ll experience some issues with retention. Providing your company with regular financial updates that showcase the health of the business as well as being transparent when it comes to new opportunities in the company, changes in leadership, promotions, problems, and so on will help your people feel connected and involved.

Invest in Coaching Leadership

Leadership can make or break your success as a business owner. If you have strong, effective leadership, you’re likely to run a much smoother operation and experience positive growth. If you have employees who don’t like or respect management and other members of your leadership team, you’re bound to run into turmoil.

By investing in proper training for current and future managers, you can establish a better system of trust and authority. In addition, expanding leadership’s knowledge of the different types of workflows and support needed by some employees can be beneficial. If leaders can understand their team and the way they work, they can create a schedule that allows them to be productive without unnecessary stress. Most individuals aren’t natural-born leaders, and even if they do a great job, there is always room for improvement.

Prioritize Employee Recognition

According to Forbes, a happier team is not only more creative and energized but they actually have the ability to get more work done! The key to productivity is happy employees which translates to improved customer service, efficiency, and satisfied customers. According to Tanner Learning Group, 79% of employees leave their place of work because they don’t feel appreciated. This makes sense, but the numbers are truly astounding. By simply taking the initiative to create a recognition system, regularly checking in with your employees, and asking them how you can make them feel more valued, this number can be drastically reduced.

It’s no secret that happy employees make for a successful business. Although this is true, it’s much easier said than done when addressing the needs of every employee, increasing productivity, satisfying customers, and making your company a great place to work. By slowly implementing some of this protocol into your remote or hybrid workplace, you can begin taking steps towards those goals and seeing the positive impact on your employees.

How to Build a Dream Team as an Entrepreneur

How to Build a Dream Team as an Entrepreneur (for Startups) 

startupThe purpose of this guide is to help you build your startup from a team of one to a team of many. You’ll know how to identify your startup needs, find the right people to fill those needs, and how you can bring those people together to create a high-performing team.

If you want to get your ideas off the napkin and on the ground running, it can be helpful to prioritize the growth of your team. These are people that you can mold into your workflow, and bridge the gap between your expertise and business knowledge. Not only will you have to expand it, but also make sure these individuals have a strong foundation to launch from. 

Have a Clear Vision for Your Startup 

If you’re reading this you probably have an ideal plan for your business, but the development of a business idea still has to be completed. Either way, solidifying the vision is a great first step toward a clearer direction. 

Once you’ve outlined your idea or “vision”, set SMART goals for building your future team. As a refresher, these are goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timebound. They can always be adjusted throughout the different stages of your startup so don’t limit yourself, or feel limited to sticking to your original plan. 

During the stage of crafting your business’s vision, find individuals to network with and learn from. They may have gone through a similar process before, or have a well-rounded knowledge of establishing a startup. If conversations go well, and you build trustworthy work relationships with others, you can always further the mentorship process and ask them to be an advisor for your startup team.

These don’t have to be full-time employees, but more of a mentor or phone call away if you needed a helping hand. Without one, you could be missing out on necessary industry and experience-based knowledge so take additional time to prioritize those networking events, and connect with as many people on LinkedIn as you can! 

Once your advisor or board of advisors is established, make sure to take the time to review expectations and schedules with them. Take their areas of expertise and experience into consideration when developing a strategic plan for your business. ask questions such as: How involved will they be in the process? Will there be weekly or monthly meetings? 

Evaluate Your Startup Needs 

As an entrepreneur, you may pride yourself on being self-sufficient and independent, but you doing everything by yourself can actually lead to burnout. Skills that you may lack, another person could really excel at. Instead of thinking that you can do everything the best way, delegate the tasks to other people and work along with their strengths to help build your business.

Write down what skills you can improve upon, and what the main needs of your business are, and find the gaps in between each to create roles for your future team. Remember, self-awareness and honesty are key to benefit from this exercise. 

Hiring people who are different from you helps to create a well-rounded team with a diverse skill set. Diversity leads to more creative solutions to problems. Hiring people who are not only equipped with different skills and backgrounds but also different personalities and interests can lead to more success. While keeping diversity in mind, there are a few key abilities and traits that you should also look for when bringing on team members. 

First and foremost, startups can be completely unpredictable. Most of the time, they may be strapped for resources, tools, and possibly money. You will want people who can bounce back from mishaps that are bound to happen when you’re working in a company that’s in its early

stages. People who are adaptable, innovative, and capable of multitasking will thrive in this ever-changing and evolving work environment. 

Use Your Connections to Your Advantage 

This may seem obvious, but making connections is essential when you’re recruiting new business team members. Take advantage of networking events, industry-focused workshops, and other opportunities that may broaden your social reach.

As mentioned earlier, it’s important to first find someone (or maybe even multiple people) you trust to serve as an advisor on your team. Depending on what you’ve identified as your business needs, you’ll need people to fill those roles. Typically, the starting lineup of any company will include these positions: 

  • Chief executive officer 
  • Chief marketing officer 
  • Product manager 
  • Chief financial officer 
  • Chief technology officer 
  • Business development manager 
  • Sales manager 
  • Customer service expert 

However, don’t feel tied down to building your dream team around these positions. You can adjust or delegate multiple roles to team members. 

If you feel like the number of connections is looking limited, don’t hesitate to use hiring platforms to build your team too. Indeed, Linkedin and Glassdoor are reliable for finding and recruiting top talent. If you’re not confident using this method by yourself, consider involving your advisor in the hiring process. They can assist you in interviewing and choosing candidates, and it never hurts to have a second opinion on something that’s going to affect your business. 

Another thing to have handy in the hiring process is an employee checklist for candidates you’ve decided to move forward with. You’ll want to make sure your employees are set up for success early on in your business beginnings. On the note of successful beginnings, make sure your team is properly compensated whether it’s monetary or otherwise from the start of employment. 

Take your advisors, for example, they’re not just doing you a favor by mentoring you through your startup journey. There are a few ways to go about compensating advisors, one of the most common is to utilize the FAST Agreement from the Founder Institute. This is a flexible approach to providing compensation as it depends on the company’s maturity and the level of advisor engagement.

compensate top talentAs for your other team members, you may be wondering how you can not only compensate top talent but also entice them to work for you. For startups strapped for financial resources, it might seem like working for a startup is undesirable. Job seekers might opt for work at a larger company with higher pay and better benefits. But, how long does it take until those benefits are outweighed by a lack of satisfaction?

It all depends on an employee’s value, and how they are able to connect with your start-up’s overall mission. Even though a larger company is most likely more established, it does not mean they are prioritizing employee growth and opportunity. It’s all about how you advertise your business to those who you want to hire. Relate to an audience and show them that, even though you’re smaller and in a more development phase, it could give them a lot of experience! 

Working at a startup and on a smaller team fosters a sense of belonging and purpose as well. There is a clear goal for the team to work towards, and reaching that goal is the most satisfying feeling. Furthermore, a startup with a clear vision and personable leadership is more attractive than a big corporation with less than ideal morals and goals. As stated earlier, a startup may lack resources and constantly change. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing though, it gives employees a challenge that they can benefit from professionally. 

Making and utilizing connections is an effective way to form a team but it’s also crucial for finding support outside of your internal team. You’ll need people to advocate for your startup to help you achieve your goals. Accelerator programs are a great resource for breaking through a heavily saturated market.

Rafael Ilishayev and Yakir Gola, co-founders of the delivery company Gopuff, understood the importance of having an advocate in the early stages of a startup through their small business accelerator program. These are great for business-minded people who are starting their own companies because it gets them in front of the right people to find funding or other resources that can set them up for success. 

If you’re looking to expand, take advantage of the resources and opportunities that these company-created programs give you especially as you’re growing your team. And who knows, maybe one day you can give back to the entrepreneurial community with your own accelerator program or fund! 

Instill Strong Values In Your Team 

When you have finally assembled your team, consider having them take a personality assessment. This test can give you an idea of how individuals will work with you and the rest of your team. Remember, it’s less about who is on the team and more about how the team works together. Once you’ve done this, you know how your team can most efficiently work together. 

But, that’s not the end of things. What foundation are efficient and high-performing teams built on? A few things; trust, consistent communication, respect, and honesty. If your team consists of people with all these traits, they’re more likely to be there to support you and each other. From day one, you need to set up the expectations of these values for your team.

Re-evaluate Your Team as Needed 

Now that you have your team and know how best to work with each other, it’s important to keep track of your progress as a business. If you find your team is missing something, like a specific skill set or perspective, consider bringing someone on to help. You can either hire someone to fill a role on your internal team or you can outsource an individual or an entire team. 

Let’s say you’re lacking the marketing tools to propel your business and you find your team unsure of how to tackle this issue. Ask yourself, “Do I hire a team to do in-house marketing, or should I outsource?” While there is no right or wrong answer to this question, and it depends on what works best for your business, this outsourcing vs hiring guide may help you find perspective on what to do if you find yourself in a situation like this. 

At the end of the day, your team is what makes or breaks the success of your startup. Hence the saying you’ve probably heard countless times, “Teamwork makes the dream work!” By utilizing the tips mentioned above, you’ll build the startup team of your dreams in no time.

Blogging to Generate Leads: A Guide to Blog Marketing

Lead generation is crucial to any business – but that doesn’t mean it needs to be expensive, or difficult. Blogging to generate leads is one of the most powerful, easy and effective ways to generate leads; and these 3 methods will have you inundated with new leads in no time.

Blogging to generate leads through SEO

Search engines represent the most direct route for generating leads. Prospective customers search for businesses and products through the likes of Google and Yahoo!, and click the most relevant links – with 33% of all search traffic going to the business ranked #1 in the search engine results page. Blogging allows you to climb these rankings by filling your webpage with relevant keywords and links.

The more times you include a particular keyword in a page, the more likely that page is to appear high-up in the search engine rankings. Blogging allows you to regularly create keyword-rich pages, boosting your websites search engine visibility and directly generating leads.

Great blog content is also regularly shared; and the more people share it, the more links your website receives from other sites. This is great for lead generation for two reasons:

1. The more links your site has, the higher it will appear in search engine results. This generates leads because of your increased visibility.

2. If other websites share your blog content, your post becomes visible to a whole new target audience – generating traffic and leads as a result.

Blogging to generate leads through Social Media

Social networks, like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn , allow your business to engage with thousands of potential leads. Each social network is home to industry-relevant communities – from health and fitness through to digital marketing – and every single community member represents a potential customer.

Your business can attract these leads by blogging. Social networks are built on sharing, and by making your blog a resource of problem-solving, industry relevant content, you encourage people to engage with and share your posts. If your business is blogging to generate leads in the health and fitness industry, create content that answers the common questions in that niche:

* How can I lose weight?

* How can I gain muscle?

* What’s a protein shake?

Sharing this content across social media attracts visitors that are looking to answer their questions; and by the answers, you achieve two things:

  1. You bring your visitor one step closer to purchasing a product or service.
  2. You create gratitude for your business, for providing your visitor with beneficial information.

In other words, blogging to generate leads not only creates the lead; it also sales-qualifies them.

Blogging to generate leads through email marketing

Great content is half of the puzzle; and to generate as many leads as possible with your blog marketing, you need to publish consistently and regularly. By tackling the latest industry issues, and periodically releasing new and beneficial information, you create an incentive for your visitors to regularly return to your business website. This allows you to create a blog subscription call-to-action, and build an opt-in email mailing list.

Opt-in email is a tried-and-tested lead generation technique. It allows you to communicate and engage directly with your blog readers; building trust and appreciation of your business, and encouraging visitors to become leads, and eventually customers. By sending out a monthly blog summary, you ensure that your lead is regularly benefiting from your great blog content, and as a result, they’re more likely to respond to your promotions and special offers. Best of all, you can keep track of your leads through email open rates, and continue the process of lead-nurturing with further, targeted emails.

QUESTION:  Do you regularly use keywords, social media and mailing lists alongside your blog? Have you used blogging to generate leads for your business? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

Blogging is just one key piece in your overall marketing strategy. Be sure to grab your free copy of MARKETING CHECKLIST for SERVICE BASED BUSINESS OWNERS here.

Marketing Checklist for Service Based Businesses

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Top 3 Business Networking Mistakes and How to Fix It

Networking is a crucial skill every entrepreneur should develop that can help you grow your business. But, many small business owners avoid networking thinking it requires schmoozing and slick selling. Successful networking is actually the opposite.

Here is what I have found to be the top three business networking mistakes. And, don’t feel bad if you’ve made any of these mistakes. Many of us have once made these same mistakes too. Let’s just focus on which one might be hurting your business and get to work on fixing them to start seeing positive results from your business networking.

Networking Mistakes #1. Using your 30 ­second commercial to recite a long list of all your services.

How do you answer the question, what do you do?

I’ve watched people’s eyes glaze over many times as they try to process the long list of services the business owner is rattling off. Here are a couple examples:

BEFORE Example 1:

“I am the owner of ABC Natural Healing Center. We offer: acupuncture, chiropractic care, Myofascial release, NAET, Neuro Emotional Technique, Pulsed Electromagnetic Field Therapy, Reiki and yoga classes. Come in for an appointment at our offices in Anytown.”

Yikes! Most people probably don’t even know what half those things are!

How about this example:

BEFORE Example 2:

“I am a business coach. I offer personal one on one phone coaching, group coaching, training courses, mastermind programs, marketing consulting and speaking engagements. I also have a free newsletter and I offer free webinars and business coaching discovery consultations.”

Why this does not work effectively.

People tune out on the PROCESS you use. But, people tune in on the PROBLEMS you solve. Click To Tweet
Solution: Tell people who you help and what specific problems you solve.

AFTER Example 1:

“I am the owner of ABC Natural Healing Center. We help kids and adults recover quickly from sports injuries, back pain, headaches, insomnia, anxiety and many other chronic symptoms without using pharmaceutical drugs or surgery.”

My Own AFTER Example 2:
“I am a business growth expert. I help solo entrepreneurs and small business owners recover quickly from sales slumps, scattered focus and overwhelm. I can help you create and hit the right business goals in 90 days or less.”

Networking Mistakes #2. Focusing on converting customers at networking events.

If you evaluate whether a particular networking event was a good or bad use of your time based on whether you made a sale or picked up an immediate referral you are probably focused on the wrong goal. Objectives for networking events are different than for trade shows.

First, understand It’s not your fault.

  • It’s only natural as a business owner to want to see immediate results from your networking efforts. After all, much of your success was due to your unbridled commitment to being results focused.
  • You invested several hours to attend the networking event, so of course you feel as if you should get something from your time.

Why is this a networking mistake? … Because that’s not how people buy.

People don’t buy from companies. People buy from people they know, like and trust. Click To Tweet

Solution: Focus on making new friends not just new clients.

Since you are networking to grow your business, it might feel contrarian to NOT focus on getting new clients out of it. But, if you’re trying too hard it shows. People can feel when someone is looking at them as just their next sale.

In order for networking to be successful, you do need to connect with people. Be genuine and sincere in making new friends. That’s not to say you should be passive and avoid talking about your business at all. But, first, focus on just being yourself, and not just you the “company” or you the “sales­ person”.

Years ago I attended an evening networking event for coaches. I was taken aback by a woman who sharply interrupted a conversation I was having with another attendee. Without any announcement or waiting for a pause for permission she shoved a flyer in our hands and told us to sign up for her certification training today because the $2,000 price expires tomorrow.

Here are key reasons why this tactic doesn’t work:

  • Her sale offer was to spend $2,000 today, but $2,000 is not an impulse­ buy price point.
  • The problem wasn’t so much that she handed me a flyer. The problem was how clear she made it she was on a mission to leave with lots of sales.

There were about 80 people at the event. Instead of leaving with 1 or 2 sales, she could have easily left with 50­ to 70 new subscribers, especially because this was such a targeted group of people. Over time, she could convert 25­ to 45 new customers which is far more valuable to her business than the immediate 1 or 2 sales.

This is a much easier networking strategy, but it does require having a list building system.

Networking Mistakes #3. Not having a list building system.

What is a list?

  • This is an email list of people who are potential customers and clients who are subscribed to be on your email list.
  • You can not simply take the email addresses off of business cards or directories of people you met and put them on your list. That is actually against the CAN­SPAM laws.

Why have an email list?

You may have heard the expression, the “fortune is in the follow up.”

The problem is it’s really hard to keep up with the follow up when you’re taking the manual approach of sending one email at a time. A list building system makes follow up a cinch.

What is a list building system?

  • It starts with having an irresistible, free lead magnet.
  • A lead magnet is a free offer people receive instantly when they opt in with their email address.
  • You let subscribers know they will also receive more tips from you through email.
  • You stay top of mind and convert more clients over time when you follow up with valuable tips you deliver through your email system.

Remember, 10 new subscribers is worth far more to your business than 1 new sale.

SOLUTION: Shift your focus from getting more sales to getting a more subscribers.

It takes time to build trust and confidence. When you have a subscriber list you can scale building a relationship with your group of prospects.

Networking is one of multiple marketing tactics you need to have included in your marketing plan today. Be sure to grab my free printable MARKETING CHECKLIST to develop your winning marketing plan today.

Marketing Checklist for Service Based Businesses

QUESTION: Share your comments. What is getting in your way of creating a list building system for your business and networking?

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