1 February

Networking 101: How to Make the Most of Your Acquaintance Resources

By now, you’ve likely learned that your business associates and acquaintances can be an extremely valuable commodity for any entrepreneur. No matter what line of business you’re in, having meaningful connections with others in your field and your community can help your business ventures exponentially… but how?

The Key to Successful Networking

When it comes to networking, there’s one key concept to keep in mind: it’s always better to focus on having true connections with your associates than it is to branch out and stockpile a laundry list of networking individuals. In other words, as with most relationships, focus on the quality of your relationship versus the quantity.

While you may be tempted to get out there and spread your business card all over town and collect those of others with fervor, networking is more than simply meeting an individual in the same line of work. It’s also not about the “big” names in the business either. Networking takes – wait for it – work. Yes, you need to work at developing meaningful connections with your network or it won’t get you anywhere. So, how do you do that?

Stay Relevant with Meeting Room Functions

Developing and maintaining relevant networking connections is a multi-dimensional process that involves both getting to know your associates as well as making it known what kind of worth you bring to the table as well. Networking is about a mutual growth in which we offer help to others while gaining connections and opportunities simultaneously (but without expecting anything in return).

In order to achieve this, you’ll need to find ways to stay relevant and at the front of the minds of others in your area and field of interest. You want to be the one they think of when they have a need in your area. How do you do this? Offer your time and/or your services. Try hosting a training seminar or workshop to offer valuable advice or tips to help others. Don’t have the space to do this? Check out meeting room rentals or event spaces you can utilize regularly to impress your connections with both professional presentation as well as valuable information.

Be Helpful and Be Appreciative

“As you meet new people and build your network, keep in mind the value of each relationship. Reaching out to someone you’ve met once when you need something isn’t going to build trust – you need to offer your resources to open the door for mutual benefit down the road,” explains Forbes.com.

In other words, if you want to have truly valuable networking experience, you need to remember the road goes both ways. You need to invest your time and effort into developing meaningful relationships in order to get the most out of potential future opportunities from them. Take the time to get to know your acquaintances, invite them to relevant opportunities like workshops or conferences, and be sure to show them you appreciate their time and acquaintance. Invest your time and effort into building not just an expansive network, but a quality network that’s rich with solid potential.

15 March

How to Build Your Virtual Business: Creating an Online Presence

Whether you’re just starting out with your new business, or you’re a well-established hub who’s looking to expand, creating an online presence is essential to success today. With current trends focused so heavily on the web (online shopping, reviews, networking, etc.), creating a captivating virtual business can truly make or break your brand.

“Whether you are a local restaurant with ten years of industry experience or a startup that hopes to revolutionize commercial-grade cookware, taking your brand online can positively impact your company.” – Forbes.com

So, you know you need to have a successful online presence, but how? I mean, how many of us are truly web-design gurus here? Even if you’re fairly handy with technology and can fumble your way around web design templates, you’re still not likely to be a closet design genius.

Creating an online presence that works for your company can be a stressful and frustrating time – but it doesn’t have to be. By equipping yourself with the right tools, you can ease some of the tension and confusion around designing your virtual business. Let’s take a look at how to simplify the process one step at a time.

1 – Take Stock of Your Brand for Your Virtual Business

The first step you need to take when expanding your virtual business, is to take stock of your brand. What do we mean by this? Look at what you have developed on site so far and take note of your key items. Do you have items that are top sellers, or products and services that are popular locally? Look at your business or brand strengths and incorporate them into a plan. Be sure to note all things you wish to achieve with your online business. This will give you a basic outline for building your business on the web.

2 – Familiarize Yourself with Web Lingo

It may seem daunting, but one of the best ways to ensure online success is to do a little research on what’s out there. You’ll want to familiarize yourself with terms like Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Google Analytics to help you build a solid platform that’s ripe for virtual traffic. Understanding the basics of virtual marketing techniques can help you decipher what avenues will be best to represent your individual business needs online.

3 – Be Consistently Present

Once you have decided which online presence is best for your virtual business (social media, web pages, blogging, etc.), you need to get to work. By that we mean, you need to be consistently present online. If you’re blogging, make sure you’re producing pieces daily. If you’re on social media, share relevant information frequently (at least once a day) to get your brand out there. Staying consistently present is key to developing an online presence.

4 – Drum Up Traffic

A successful virtual business requires a steady flow of traffic to your site or interactions with your posts. How do you do this? You build a following. And how do you do that? Well, in addition to being consistently present as we noted above, you need to drum up some interest in your virtual business. This can be done in a number of ways, depending upon your specific business, but some of the easiest and most common ways include:

  • Running promotions or contests (“Like and share this post for a chance to win!”)
  • “Online Only” sales and promo codes
  • Offer referral discounts for friends and family of current clients
  • Interacting with your customers/clients frequently and personally online

5 – Track Your Progress

Lastly, as with anything in business, it’s always important to track your virtual business progress. Keep logs of what type of promotions worked best or what posts generated the greatest attention. Doing so will help you see how your target audience is reacting to your online presence and will give you the tools to tweak your approach as you go.

Keep in mind that all businesses are unique to their own existence, so no one single approach will work for everyone. The best advice? Do your research, keep track of what works (and what doesn’t), and stay at it!