Mary Wu, Virtual Assistant

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Monthly Archives: October 2013

Tips and Tricks for October

Every month I will be doing a posting on timely tips and tricks. For the most part, these will be guided by the questions I run across from clients or while networking. In other words, if I have to dig out information, I’ll pass it along instead of having others need to look up the same information.

Scheduling multiple people. Okay — first I have to admit that I didn’t find this on my own. I found it on the blog at barrymoltz.com. Doodle is an easy scheduler. You create a poll, invite participants, and then confirm the date and time that the most people are available. Instead of having multiple emails flying back and forth, you can get all of the information in one place. And it’s free. The only question I have is, “Where was this when I was trying to arrange meetings for multiple professors when I worked at the University of Illinois?”

Emailing multiple people. Every now and then you’ll want to send the same email to more than one person. Some email programs allow you to do this automagically, but Google doesn’t have a “mail merge” button (like Microsoft Access does). However, if you know where to look, Google does have a way to do mail merge. This 8-minute video gives a clear step-by-step how to. (Thank you Anson Alexander).

Limit your reading time. There are quite a few blogs that I follow. I get resourceful and timely productivity tips from Evie Burke at One Insight Closer. As mentioned above, I find useful information at Barry Moltz’s blog. It would be nearly impossible to keep up with the social media industry without reading Social Media Examiner. There are others. But I do not have time to visit all the blogs I read every day. I do spend a few hours a week checking all the postings by using Feedly. It took a bit of organizing to group the information I read into different categories, but now I can take a few minutes to an hour with a cup of coffee and read all of my news or short bits of it.

Comparing email Services. There are many email service providers out there. I have used MailChimp and AWeber, but those are the only ones I have first hand experience with. I found this article from April 2013 (before the MailChimp change) that describes some of the providers.

“E-troducing” people. One way to be known as a person that is a valuable resource is to help connect people. You may often meet someone that you think would be a great client, provider, or power partner for another person (for instance, a realtor and a mortgage broker).  I spent some time struggling with the right “formula” for doing email introductions. One day I decided that I was going to write a template for doing introductions, but (as I often do when trying to figure something out) I wondered if someone had already done this. I did a search and found a great article on the Forbes site about email introductions.

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Doodle Saves Time (barrymoltz.com)

Create a Mail Merge with Gmail and Google Drive / Docs (YouTube.com)

Comparing email services: Aweber, iContact, ConstantContact, MailChimp, and MadMimi (changetheworldmarketing.com)

How to make the perfect email introduction (forbes.com)

Building Your Business Through Networking Part 4

ID-10066404Part 4 – After an Event

You’ve gone out, you’ve met some new contacts, you’ve collected some business cards. Now what?

Business Card Organization

One of the first things I do is organize any business cards I’ve received. I have an earlier post that goes into business card organization in detail. It’s worth your time to read it.

Follow Up

If you said you were going to get back to someone, do so within a day or two*. If someone expressed interest in your business, send them some more information or a link to your website, (LinkedIn, Facebook page). Last week I talked about keeping notes when you’re meeting people or when people are giving their introductions. This would be a good time to review your notes and contact people.

I have a basic rule in that if I can figure something out in 10 minutes, I’ll gladly send information to someone. Once I was at a networking event and one of the people was commenting on how they were overwhelmed with how to handle business cards. I came home and wrote up an email with links to my two business card organization postings. I’ve also sent e-introductions to people who that I thought could have a mutually beneficial relationship. Don’t ever be afraid to help people out.

Sometimes it’s hard to call someone because you don’t know exactly what to say. There is an article from Freelance Switch that gives some scripts for particular situations. To give credit where credit is due, I did not find this article myself but found out about it in a blog post from Evie Burke at One Insight Closer.

Meet Up

Sometimes you’ll meet people and you’ll want to know more about them or their business. Talk to someone or call or email them to set up a one-on-one. This is a good chance to get to know more about them and their business and for them to get to know more about you and your business.

This is not a time for “selling” but a time to build a relationship. I’m sure most people have stories about meeting with someone who spent 30 minutes trying to “sell” them something that they were not interested in buying. Don’t be that person (please).

As I mentioned last week, listening is one of your most useful networking tools. You might not be a client or a customer for every person that you meet, but you might know a good contact for that person. Every person you meet is not a potential client. But every person you meet might know someone that does need your services. Be professional, polite, and a good resource. And then …

MEET, GREET, REPEAT

Related Articles

*Sometimes you don’t get back to a person right away. If not, contact them later. This is less awkward if you pass along an article or idea that relates to your conversation.
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Building Your Business Through Networking Part 3

ID-10066404Part 3 – During an Event

Okay, you’ve got your business cards in hand, you’ve got your (what a friend of mine calls) “happy to meet you” clothes on, and you’re in a room full of people that are not yet associates. So what’s your next step.

Relax

If it’s your first time out, you’re around people that either are just as new and nervous as you are, or people that have been exactly where you are at some point in time. Most people really want to see you succeed. The more healthy businesses there are in a community, the healthier the community is overall. I’ve seen people that I know who are strong and confident but have that “deer in headlights” look when walking into a room of strangers, and I’m sure if there was a mirror around, I’d even see that look on my face. We all have times that we are less confident and assured. Take a moment, take a deep breath, and relax.

Introducing YOU

During the introduction portion, don’t get too nervous. State your name and business, say a little bit about your business, state your name and business again, and sit down (and relax). Make sure you state your name and business at the open and close of your introduction. If there’s time, before the official start of the event, make sure to walk around and say “Hello” to some people that are new to you.

If you’re at an event that you often attend and you see someone new walk in, go to them, say “Hello,” and ask about their business. Introduce them to one or two people they might need to know.

It’s not about selling yourself

Well, it is, but it really isn’t. It’s about getting to know other people and letting them get to know you. Epictetus was a first century Green philosopher who was the first to point out that we have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak. There are a few good reasons to do this when networking

  1. Listening, especially to people that are regularly attendees of the group, will help you understand the town and expectations of any group.
  2. Listening will help you better understand the business and the needs of the individuals in the group.
  3. People love to feel heard.

Take notes

I have been to networking groups with as many as 80 people. Very few people could remember all those names at the end of an event. One thing that I do at any event is to make sure to have a piece of paper and a pen. I take notes on every person that I meet. I also have “secret” notations for people that I want to have a one-on-one with (more on those next week) or people that I want to touch base with for another reason. Sometimes when I receive a business card I may put a notation on the card (e.g., send this person information on Google hangouts).

Determine your description

At almost all networking events, you will be expected to introduce yourself. Sometimes you’ll have 30 seconds, sometimes you’ll have a minute. I’ve even been to one group that allows you to have introductory time without a stopwatch (but they expect you to keep things reasonable). You don’t need to worry about the time limits if you practice a 30-second and 60-second introduction in advance. Personally, I typically run about 5-10 seconds short but I do know a few people that suggest using all of your time. If you visit the same groups regularly, you can talk about a different aspect of your business at each meeting to give people a feeling for the different services you offer.

Mingle

Sometimes you might share a ride with a friend or colleague to an event. Sometimes you might run into someone that you know. While it’s great to catch up with old colleagues, when you’re at a networking event, you’re there to make new contacts.

Have your contact information handy 

Order business cards. You can do this online or from a local vendor (and if you’re in the Naperville area, I have some recommendations).

I’ll confess though, i cheated on this the first time out. I had ordered some business cards but I had also decided to go to a networking event. The cards did not arrive in time, so I went to Office Depot or Staples and purchased some blank business cards. My cards arrived later that weekend.

The first few times you go out you might be stammering over your 30-second introduction. There might be times you forget your business cards. You may get nervous or flustered or forget some points you wanted to make. But the important thing is that you go out and you meet people.

MEET, GREET, REPEAT

We will continue this topic next week and talk about follow up.

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Building Your Business Through Networking Part 2

ID-10066404Part 2 – Before an Event

Determine your brand

How do you want to come across? What impression do you want to give customers and colleagues? This is both easier and more difficult than it sounds. Sometimes you figure out your brand easily and sometimes it comes with a bit more difficulty. Two people I worked with before opening my (virtual) doors were a business coach and a graphic artist. Once you know what image you want to project, the rest comes along naturally.

This can be changed As an example, Yahoo recently made a change to their logo. I’m not suggesting changing things willy-nilly, but don’t keep from starting because you can’t decide on your brand. Start with your basic idea, but remember, things can change so don’t be afraid to get started.

Determine your landing sites

Whether you want people to find you on a website or on a Facebook business page or a simple email address, before you go out to meet people, determine how they will find you when they want your services. As before, these can be changed. You should have some kind of interaction with your website on a regular basis to keep it fresh in the search engines (and you should be interacting with your clients or associates if you have a Facebook page). You should also have a profile on LinkedIn with some contacts in your network. (After you get started and meet more people, you can add to your network).

Determine your description

At almost all networking events, you will be expected to introduce yourself. Sometimes you’ll have 30 seconds, sometimes you’ll have a minute. I’ve even been to one group that allows you to have introductory time without a stopwatch (but they expect you to keep things reasonable). You don’t need to worry about the time limits if practice a 30-second and 60-second introduction in advance. If you visit the same groups regularly, you can talk about a different aspect of your business at each meeting to give people a feeling for the different services you offer.

Have your contact information handy 

Order business cards. You can do this online or from a local vendor (and if you’re in the Naperville area, I have some recommendations).

I’ll confess though, i cheated on this the first time out. I had ordered some business cards but I had also decided to go to a networking event. The cards did not arrive in time, so I went to Office Depot or Staples and purchased some blank business cards. My cards arrived later that day.

The first few times you go out you might be stammering over your 30 second introduction. There might be times you forget your business cards. You may get nervous or flustered or forget some points you wanted to make. But the important thing is that you go out and you meet people. After that, it’s like the label on the shampoo bottle says:

MEET, GREET, REPEAT

We will continue this topic in the coming weeks, and talk about the meeting, the greeting, and the repeating.

Related articles

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net