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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.
- The Perfect (Elevator) Pitch (businessweek.com)
- Branding 101: Five Tips for Solopreneurs (entrepreneur.com)
- Building Your Business Through Networking (marywuva.com)
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Every month I will be doing a posting on timely tips and tricks.
It’s back to school time. I know people who recently started, some that are starting in a few weeks, and mine are going back next week. But what does this mean for you as a small business owner, entrepreneur, or coach?
$ALES$ That’s right, even if you don’t have kids, or your kids are well before or past the age of school, you can still take advantage of all those school supplies being on sale. You might not think that you need crayons but all those things that you need for your office are on sale. For example, mini staplers that can fit into a middle school locker can also fit in a purse or briefcase. Yesterday I grabbed some notebooks so that when I need to give a client a printout of a report or action plan, I can do so in an organized manner. Unless you have a locked office I’m willing to bet that sometimes your pens wander off your desk.* I plan to hit Target this week with both the family credit card and the business credit card in my pocket.
Sharing contact information for business partners. Did you know you can send someone’s contact to someone else if you have his or her cell phone number? Two different ways I’ve discovered to do this on my Android device are through the “message” app and through the “contact” app. In the “message” app (where you would normally send and receive text messages,) type in the name or the number where you’d like to send the contact. On the side (where you have the “send” arrow,) there is an “attach” (paperclip) button. Click on the paperclip and choose contacts. Search for the contact you wish to send and then select that contact, click “done,” and send the contact. Another option would be to go into your “contact” list, choose a contact, go to the “menu” and click “share namecard via,” choose messaging (or email or the best option), then (if you’ve chosen messaging) enter the name of the recipient. You should be carrying business cards of your power partners with you; but when you don’t have them, this is another way to easily share their information.
Just ask for help. The other day someone asked me how to do something. I didn’t know but told her I’d look into it. For this particular issue, I was fairly certain that someone on my personal Facebook page would know (I tend to know a few geeks.) So I posted the request to Facebook and had an answer within a few hours. I’ve also been known to post questions to virtual assistant groups or other groups I’m in.
Just give help. Last week at a networking event I was near a woman who asked a question about business cards (which was touched on in two of my earlier posts). When I got home, I sent her my posts on business card organization, both part 1 and part 2. Later that week I ran into her at (yet another) networking event whereupon she gave a rather complementary testimonial on how helpful and organized I was. This was well worth the 10 minutes of my time it took to send out an email with some links.
What are your favorite tips and tricks? Please share in the comments.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
*In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams has a theory that ballpoint pens slip off to their own planet and live (the ballpoint pen equivalent of) the good life. For their sake, I hope it’s true, because the ballpoints never stay on my desk.
Among business people and entrepreneurs and solopreneurs there are a few people that are highly organized in all matters. Then there’s the rest of us that struggle with organizing different projects (whether they be files on the computer, photos in the photo directory, or things cluttering the desktop).
In this post, I will not attempt to organize your entire life (though I do know some organization experts), but I will give you some hints on handling business cards. (One small step for an entrepreneur, one giant leap for your desk surface).
First, we’ll need some business cards. That shouldn’t be a problem if you’re out networking. You may have gotten 30 at the last speed networking event you went to.
Next we’ll need two simple items that you most likely have in your home, a Sharpie and some zipper sandwich bags. You might be wondering what these common items might have to do with organizing business cards, but bear with me.
Before you head out to your networking event (or immediately when you arrive home), write the name of the event you are attending on the sandwich bag. For instance, you can write “Chamber Luncheon” or “Women in Business Breakfast.” While you are at the event (or when you leave), place all the cards from that event in the sandwich bag.
You might be asking, “Why am I putting these in a bag?” Remember what I said earlier about those of us that are less organized? If you are the type of person that ends up with a purse, pocket, or briefcase full of cards at the end of the week, and you don’t remember where they all came from (it happened to me in a former business venture), you will appreciate having them grouped by occasion.
Now that you’ve gotten home and you have all your cards in appropriate “files” (even though the files are, for now, sandwich bags), you can arrange them as best suits your needs. I have a Google Drive Spreadsheet file listing the name of the contact, all their information, and the event and date where I met them.* After you have entered all the information, you can take your business cards and put them in a small business card file, you could dispose of them (since you have the information), you can put them in an attractive basket on your desk, or you can do what I do and put them in the plastic shoe box. (Confession time, the reason I put mine in a plastic shoe box is because we use those for organizing many things in my household, so there’s always one or two extras around here; plastic shoe boxes are not required).
There have been a few times when a number I don’t know has shown up on my caller ID, and a quick look at my spreadsheet has helped me identify the person calling.
Next week, we’ll talk about what to do with the contacts once you’ve entered the business cards.
*If you’re using an iPhone or Android app to “file” your business cards, it’s still a good idea to make a note of when and where you met a person.