What are good questions to get the conversational ball rolling in your Networking Squared meeting? The best questions are open-ended, permitting the respondent to share an example or anecdote that illustrates the point of discussion. Some favorites are:
1. How do you help others: Save Time, Save Money, Make More Money or Get More Joy out of Life? 2. What was the highlight of the past year (or quarter) in helping a client? 3. (In reply to a statement) That sounds hard. How do you do that?
What are good questions to get the conversational ball rolling in your Networking Squared meeting? The best questions are open-ended, permitting the respondent to share an example or anecdote that illustrates the point of discussion. Some favorites are:
Who might you partner with on this case study/publication/speaking project? Start by reflecting on the work you most enjoyed or found most remunerative and where you wish to secure more engagements. Now, create a list of those previous clients who deemed your services and advice a resounding success. Add to it other professionals who collaborated in a key component of the project. Perhaps vendors who contributed substantively to the outcome might be valuable collaborators in this case study as well.
If the viewer’s eye is drawn to photos, what happens when there are no people in the picture? The world’s most popular radio station is WII-FM, namely What’s In It For Me. If a visitor to your website do NOT see someone in a featured photo, how will she identify with the activity or solution that is discussed?
It’s easy to turn your audio into print by following the Marketing strategy of C O P E (Create Once, Publish Everywhere). Summarize the key points of the discussion in a numbered list. Place the write-up on your letterhead and add the link to the podcast. Publish these Highlights as a post and article on LinkedIn, plus on your website. This makes it easy for someone to scan the topics and decide that she wants to listen to your remarks for 28 minutes.
It’s Give and Take, not Take and Give. Networking works best when you think about others and reach out to assist them. Accordingly, offer to be a resource to the people you know. Set aside time every day to make a phone call or two that will get a conversation started. Suggest an introduction to someone of potential mutual interest. Ask for some advice. Put the ball in play and see where it leads.
Don’t write the article; instead write a letter that proposes the article. Otherwise, you risk writing something too long or too short, meaning you will effectively write it twice.
Your LinkedIn presence has three components: profile, network and activity. For optimal results, focus on each one separately, in a sequence over a few days, following these recommendations.
Review your website as if a first-time visitor. Make three tweaks that do NOT require a designer. Consider the resources to ensure your website confirms you are who you say you are.
Review the list of a presentation and resources to start your newsletter, at least quarterly. Your contacts are eager to hear from you.
Play to the audience of your elevator pitch. It’s helpful to have several versions that you can tailor when you are speaking to one person, a trio of workshop participants or a room of networking group members. Consider also whether the audience is from the same profession as yourself, are members of a target market or represent a random assortment of occupations. Adjust your remarks accordingly.
Search online directories to find the podcasts most relevant to your target market. Also, search for Ten Best Podcasts in (name of industry).
These are among the most common networking groups. Consider letting your clients know about an upcoming program of possible interest, so you may attend together.
1. Professional membership associations
2. General business organizations
3. Interest groups (e.g., women-owned, ethnic)
4. Community service organizations
It’s never too late to re-start the conversation. Use these subject line prompts, or your own variation, making sure the question requires a response, not a yes/no answer:
1. Your name came up in conversation with ____ (Put the name in the body of the email, so the reader will open the note.) What are you working on now?
2. This article/podcast reminded me of our conversation about ____ (link). What do you think?
3. Remember this email? Please help me recall what happened next.
4. Your business card re-surfaced. What’s new?
5. Your name came to mind in a review of contacts. Let’s meet for coffee and catch up.
6. According to LinkedIn, you are now (at a new company) (in a new role). Congratulations! When shall we celebrate?
How often should you post and when is the best time? Daily posts are recommended. If you want to post more often, wait at least four hours before posting again. People post and publish articles at all times of the day. Research indicates the best times to post are Tuesday through Thursday, with activity peaking at noon and between 5:00 and 6:00 pm.
Take a closer look at your own business card and see how it matches these criteria:
Your name, title and company name
Description of your profession/service
Ideal client or target market
Contact information: street address, phone number(s), email address and website
Tag line that amplifies your offer
Distinctive logo or visual element that is not overused, e.g., not the scales of justice for an attorney
White or light-colored back, so the recipient can write a note there
Font size of at least 8 point for legibility
Substantial card stock that is not paper thin
Plan your post-conference activity. Take selfie-photos with the attendees you meet and event hosts. Post the pictures individually on LinkedIn with the name (@New Contact) and refer to the idea you discussed. Email the photo (and perhaps the link to the post) to the person with a note about your great conversation, along with the article or contact you promised. Invite them to connect with you on LinkedIn. You’ve started an in-person conversation; keep up the momentum.
Offer value to the crowdsourced participant. When inviting the attorneys to provide ideas for the law practice article, I explicitly stated that their name, law firm name and a brief phrase about their practice would be included in the article. Similarly, I indicated my newsletter would include a link to the websites of the LinkedIn coaches who gave permission to cite their remarks. This approach underscored the benefits to the attorneys and to the coaches.
Use several social media platforms, relevant to your target audiences, to promote the content of your email newsletter: LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, plus your email signature.
How many LinkedIn recommendations are appropriate? A bevy of coaches responded to this question posed on LinkedIn and offered divergent views. The wisdom of the crowd is between five and 10, and keep adding to them. Note that only the two most recent ones are displayed and the oldest ones are unlikely to be viewed.
Four DON”Ts to improve your invitations: Do NOT say Please join us. Do NOT mention our distinguished panel of experts. After initially naming the sponsor of the event, do NOT promote that company. Do NOT use reverse type (light color on dark background), which is harder to read.
Promote the difference you made. Case studies are a familiar marketing tactic to develop trust with potential clients. Prospects read about your experience with a business similar to theirs and get a sense of how you might work with them. When you present the success you achieved with another company, you’re indicating that you: speak […]
When you prepare to give a talk, remember to promote it before and after the event. Assemble a list of three to five takeaways. Recruit someone to take a photo, if there is no official photographer. As an attendee, plan to take notes AND photos.
Post the highlights of the event and a photo, with a substantive caption, on your LinkedIn profile and in relevant groups, plus on your Twitter account.
Make a list of your professional membership organizations, networking groups, LinkedIn groups and other communities. Peruse the membership directory and cross-check those names in your LinkedIn network. If you are not yet connected, compose a connection request to introduce yourself, citing your mutual association. (Note: I am currently engaged in this outreach with a 90-member virtual group; about one-half have accepted my invitation.) When you are already connected on LinkedIn, and it has been a while since your last interaction, get a meaningful conversation started.
Your free giveaway can keep on giving. Once prospects receive the link to the giveaway, or download the freebie, it is easy for them to share it with their colleagues and other contacts. This results in a wider distribution. Even if you may not know where the giveaway has been sent, by using a link shorten-er, you can track the number of subsequent clicks.
When your co-presenter for a speaking engagement is a client, a referral source or a networking contact, you provide a more comprehensive view that also aligns with the participants. Plus, the interplay between two speakers –- when one asks the other a question, for example –- enlivens the session and keeps the attendees engaged.
Prepare for your podcast interview by assembling a list of topics, illustrating them with examples and using visual imagery to spice up your language. After a series of points, circle back to summarize them. These tips will make your remarks more memorable.
Make it easy to find an available date on the calendar by blocking out federal and state holidays, plus days of religious observance. The website www.calendarlabs.com displays religious calendars for 2018, so you can quickly confirm a date is holiday-free.
Instead of the default LinkedIn blue background, make it True Blue You. Get the LinkedIn background format for the DIY-er. Open a free account on Canva; there is a LinkedIn background template, plus there are formats for other social media platforms. Experiment with different text, fonts, colors and images. When you are ready, save the file; then have a design professional review and polish your work for viewing on a computer and on a tablet.
You keep in touch with industry colleagues, current or former clients and business contacts, among others. When one of them introduces you to someone, who becomes a new client, congratulate yourself. Give yourself the credit you deserve. That is a referral from your network. That is not word-of-mouth.
Look at the bigger picture from the perspective of a dentist, landlord and supermarket clerk. What is their desire or need in the community? For themselves? For their business? Which are the most pressing issues for them regarding time and money? Invite a dentist, landlord or clerk for a coffee chat, ask these questions and listen as you put yourself in her shoes.
Make an appointment with yourself to address one of the seven Communication goal questions each day for the next week. As a reminder, when setting a Communication goal, the acronym S M A R T guides you to successful completion of the goal: Specific, Meaningful, Action Oriented, Realistic and Timely.
When you agree with and like another’s LinkedIn post, make this opportunity work for you. Take the time to respond to the person and the discussion, as you like it. COMMENT to indicate: what you agree or disagree with; how this confirms or disproves the trend; what the discussion overlooks; how this relates to another topic or lesson learned; why this is or is not a best practice; or any other interesting aspect.
Photos of a destination appear barren and forlorn without visitors. Putting people in photos will attract and retain the reader’s attention. It will lead her to imagine herself on the scene and ideally prompt a visit to your destination.
If the annual report is dead, and is not to be produced, it’s time for the nonprofit to devise — and revise — other communication vehicles to ensure that newer supporters are fully informed about the breadth and depth of programs and services. Here’s how.
Everyone should review these tools and accounts in an Annual Communications Audit. Approach various social media platforms from the perspective of someone who is not familiar with your company and services. Where might they look for information (website, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter)? What would they find there? Is the content current (timeless or within the last week)? Take a few minutes to check the latest entries on your LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts, and others that your audiences visit.
Posing problem and solution questions will highlight the types of issues that the respondent likes to tackle, the approaches she offers and the clients she targets. Based on the answers, you may determine how this person meshes with your contacts and resources.
One week before you attend a networking event sponsored by a membership organization, contact key officers and committee chairs to apprise them of your interest in the group. The Program Chair, Membership Chair and Communications Chair, as well as the chairs of any committee that aligns with your profession, will be eager to meet you. At the event, ask them to introduce you to the President of the association, which enhances their stature and helps you join the inner circle of leaders.
Networking is not about ME; it is about YOU, the other person. These are the reasons to attend Networking events: Be seen as a connector/Recruit resources. Make introductions. Maintain contacts. Learn from the speaker. Stay up to date informally. When you are seen as knowledgeable and trustworthy, you will attract clients and prospects.
Like other marketing activities, this holiday card is not about you, personally. It is about the you on the other side of the table, the person who is opening the envelope. Keep the image and discourse neutral. The United States has many faith groups. Respect them; you cannot be sure another person shares your beliefs about a seasonal holiday and may take umbrage.
Speaking at events is one of the top five ways to attract new clients. Where can you find speaking opportunities? Try: Networking group, Classes taught by colleagues, Professional membership associations, Business associations, Local merchant associations, Chambers of Commerce, Municipal public library, City and county small business services agency, City and county economic development corporation, Associations of nonprofit organizations and United Way, Center for management training.
Media Relations activity is like gardening. You clear, plant and cultivate. Then distribute. It’s up to you to propagate the news story you’ve placed by sharing it everywhere you can. Don’t trust that the wind (social media) will carry the seedlings (news coverage) of its own accord. As the gardener, you have to play an active role. Root around for ideas and find fertile ground to plant them.
Five key marketing activities are Networking, Speaking, Writing, Trade Association and Digital Presence. Consider which approaches are most comfortable for you and which will be most effective in reaching your target market. Set goals for participating in these marketing activities monthly.
Review the images on your website on a scheduled basis to ensure their relevance to both the organization’s message and the external environment. In addition to photos and context, references to pop culture, for example, can become outdated and reflect poorly on the organization.
Your business or nonprofit group held a conference. Considerable effort went into preparing the event; once over, strategize so that the conference still remains relevant. Undoubtedly, the issues addressed will persist. Treat the conference as a launch pad or a way-station in the extended conversation and cultivate future exchanges for fruitful follow-up and action.
When someone you met at a conference searches for you online, what will she find? What you say about yourself?
Or is there a blank or incomplete space?
You have the positive obligation to shape your digital presence and tell your story through multiple channels. As a business or nonprofit professional, place yourself in the most favorable light.
To lead a workshop that will attract new clients, look beyond the membership of a professional organization and the four walls of a classroom. Develop an interactive session and offer it to your connections for their professional development and that of their peers. At this contact’s office, you’ll collect their colleagues’ cards and their appreciation.
Tap into your network for advice and your own brain-stretching. Networking meetings are not only about individuals and their presentations. It’s the collection of multi-disciplinary perspective each one brings to the table. Informally advising your colleague will help you exercise your brainstorming muscles, build trust among contacts and garner ideas to develop your own business.
When writing an article, an author or reporter traditionally thinks of the five W’s – Who, What When, Where and Why, plus How – as questions to be answered.
Consider how that familiar paradigm looks when the reader is put at the center of the discussion.
What is COPE?: Create Once, Publish Everywhere.
Clients, prospects and supporters are looking for resources and information across multiple platforms: online, newspapers, magazines, newsletters and video. Whenever you create content, take steps to share and promote your insights. Whenever you are the subject of media coverage or another’s blog, you can respect copyright and reference the media outlet.
Email is here to stay.
Email has a larger reach; there are THREE times more email accounts than Facebook & Twitter combined.
Email delivers to the recipient 90% of the time; only 2% of Facebook fans see posts.
Email converts with a 3% click-through rate vs .5% click-through on Twitter.
YOU control the distribution of email, not Facebook or Twitter algorithms.
You probably love to give advice to others. We all have insights on (un)usual business issues and strained relationships, plus tips for gardening, exercise and travel.
Ever get that AHA moment when you realize the suggestions you offered work for your own situation?
You may not believe it, but you’re probably sitting on 5,000 contacts in various pools of connections.
Imagine the opportunities they represent for new business, new alliances and new volunteers directed your way.
Possibilities for you to refer connections to them also abound.
Consider: “It’s not business, it’s personal.”
Or “It’s personal.” (meaning It’s not business)
These slogans were designed to reference a close, even intimate, working relationship. Some clients prefer to be reassured and reminded, on a frequent basis, that a vendor or partner has their interests top of mind at all times.
Consider that what is personal from a client’s perspective may not be reciprocal. Many clients think primarily of themselves and may have a limited interest in the individual private lives of their contacts.
Why do people say they hate networking but they love referrals?
What is the flip side of referrals?
Match your Communications activities to your goals. Highlight select programs by consistently featuring stories about the participants or clients, services, staff, allied partners and results. To ensure consistency, coordinate with colleagues across the group for a steady flow of new content.
Consumer goods are well known for flaunting their other-ness. Apple urged customers to Think different. In the beverage industry, 7-Up was the Un-cola. For cars, one manufacturer nearly denied its heritage: This is Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile. Consider the attributes of your cohort to see where you might be most different and distinctive.
Your co-author speaks to her peers in their language. An article may not be accepted by, for example, a legal publication, without relying on the legal expertise and writing style of an attorney.
Who might be your sounding board? Members of networking groups. Former clients and former co-workers. Set up a phone chat with a social networking contact whose thoughtful blog posts and comments exhibit insights. The retired executives who serve as coaches at SCORE counsel business owners for free; ask to be paired with someone who worked in your industry.
Share your content with reporters. Case studies, articles, blog posts and presentations testify to your credentials as an authoritative expert. You will position yourself as a source to comment on solutions to problems faced by others in that industry or serving a similar population.
Your email signature is a fundamental component of your brand, as are your logo, website and business card. Every team member should have an identical signature, to reinforce the organization’s positioning and messages. After a revised email signature template is developed, provide the model and instructions for an update to all personnel, along with a two-day deadline for implementation.
Make a list of photos to be taken at an event, as if you plan a wedding. Prepare to stage photos with the management team, Boardmembers, key staff and special guests. Hover near the principals, with the photographer ready to aim and shoot. Keep groups to a maximum of five people. Note the name of anyone who is not immediately familiar, to identify the person for a caption and perhaps share the photo with the attendee later.
Do your colleagues treat your clients and prospects with respect? It’s polite to begin an email with Sidney, or Dear Leslie,. These forms of address acknowledge the virtual distance between the writer and the recipient and do not overstep the bounds the way that Hey Nicky, does. Write complete and grammatically correct sentences. Use restraint in tone, limit exclamation points and avoid emoticons. Finally, consider that the email might be forwarded to the CEO or another senior executive who has the final say-so on the buy decision.
You and your colleague worked very hard to get the reader’s attention; don’t let your email be discarded because it was disrespectful.
Take the reader by the hand. Start with the end in mind, i.e., what you want the reader to do, and write clearly. Include the necessary details (event date, time, location and fee), as well as phone number to request additional information. Make your newsletter easy to read with headings and subheads. Use bold and bold italic font for emphasis. Proofread by reading aloud every word in the sentence, from the period backward.
Make the most of your radio appearance. While the live segment is being edited in digital format, you can prepare to start the redistribution process. The more platforms where the radio interview appears (email signature, website, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, as appropriate), the broader your reach, far beyond the listening area of the radio station.
Why should a board member or volunteer care about news? The president of a foundation once remarked, “I give money to nonprofit groups that I’ve heard of. One way I hear about your organization is in the news.”
Because many nonprofits with a budget of less than $2 million do not have a professional to manage contact with the press, it is the responsibility of the board — and an opportunity for volunteers — to support the organization in its media outreach. Otherwise, multiple opportunities for fundraising, promotion and collaboration might be missed, as discussed in When Nonprofits Fail to Communicate.
Do you have to list your company’s or nonprofit’s website in your profile? Of course not. On the other hand, why ignore the free real estate on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook where you can reference your professional successes? Even a cursory mention may invite someone to visit your organization’s website or click through to your business or nonprofit’s page on LinkedIn or Facebook. The potential for a prospect or referral to learn more about you should not be overlooked.
How might you get a politician’s attention? Put your business or organization (and yourself) on the leader’s radar screen BEFORE you ask for any assistance. Attend a program the elected official is hosting or look for her or him at a community gathering. At the event, speak to an aide about a shared interest or concern, then ask to be introduced to the politician. Write a letter commending her for introducing legislation. Offer positive feedback on his stance on an issue in the community. As with any sales outreach, it’s best to have interacted with the individual prior to making the pitch.
Save Time, Save Money or Get More JOY Out of Life. A restaurant and a museum offer a less tangible service. They create a transformative experience and people are willing to spend their time and money to capture an elusive mood, engage their senses or master content. Compared to the quantitative terms like time and money, these moments where participants get more JOY out of life are best described as a before and after. Even those who are not patrons or supporters can recognize the possible uniqueness of being connected to such an experience.
Sometimes stations butcher a news story. In industry lingo, the news story was bumped, cut or killed. Those are the terms that reporters (and Public Relations professionals) use to describe the assault on the fruits of their labors. Typically, a television reporter visits an event, conducts an interview with the principal organizer of the program […]
A similar approach uses the acronym STEEP. Speed, you must make a public statement quickly. Transparency, you must be available and accessible at all times during the crisis. Empathy, show your concern for those affected. Expertise, engage a respected consultant to analyze the situation and make recommendations. Pledge, that you will do everything possible to prevent recurrence. Professor Peter Horowitz of Baruch College follows this approach.
Reporters call the people that they know, so introduce yourself in a professional way. But, when you receive a call from a reporter to whom you have not been introduced, be on your guard. Consider whether the reporter knows something that you do not — or that you are not prepared to talk about right then. Let’s strategize now, before you get that call, so you’ll be prepared.
Who do you know that could use a helping hand? Look at your list of former clients to identify someone who might value a thoughtful introduction. She or he might benefit from a connection to a vendor, prospective customer, employee or donor. Plant the seed with an e-introduction that describes the two parties succinctly and their shared interest. Then step back to watch the relationship bloom.
Who do you know who knows Someone Special? You probably abhor name-droppers, yet someone you know has a contact who might refer you on to the next person whom you’re eager to meet. LinkedIn offers various ways to approach this issue, via searches among connections and by companies. Best of all, locating a person among its 300 million members will yield the names of the intermediary contacts who will put you on her or his radar screen. Everyone knows someone worth knowing. You don’t know who that person is until you ask.
Do you have to answer the tough question? Yes and no. It’s always best to respond to a reporter’s question, whether nasty or nice, to prove you are open and trustworthy when dealing with others. When your answer to a tough question is a statement that does not merit repeating, the question evaporates. You are not cited as unavailable for comment, which may give the appearance of not being forthright.
The clock is ticking on your 15 minutes of fame. After you speak to a reporter, prepare to spread the word, even before you see the article. When the news story is published, you’ll be ready to launch the amplification process, so your target audience may encounter you in multiple venues, a positive reinforcement.
A traditional website layout may make your business appear out of step. A pre-2011 design could fall short of visitor expectations. Compare your site to those of your competitors and see if you are on, ahead of or behind the curve. Then budget accordingly for an update — and also for the next one three years later.
It’s not always who or why — but HOW. Be sure you highlight the HOW of the product or service to show your impact on people and organizations. For ULTRA Testing, their HOW means that clients receive better outcomes and exceptional people get jobs. That’s a clear win-win and readers see the benefits for everyone
It feels like a light bulb. Prospective clients are more likely to identify with the needs of satisfied customers than with self-proclaimed expertise. When reading brief case studies, the potential client imagines that the solutions described will have a similar impact and will solve their problem. Voila!
Interns can catch the story idea you pitch. Interns have to get approval of story ideas from editors, as do staff reporters. Interns might even be more invested in the story, because it offers them a chance to shine and stand on their own two legs. Consider how an intern may open the door to another contact at the same publication.
Show how your national group has local impact. Plan ahead to line up area customers and supporters, as well as provide background facts, to ensure credibility.
Photos given to reporters and shared via social media accounts must adhere to your objectives. Reputation management entails confining the discussion to the facts and ensuring personal privacy is respected and maintained.
Look beyond The New York Times. The online formats of industry trade publications are hungry for fresh content, daily. Provide actionable information and visuals to land this coverage.
Keep your insights accessible. Incorporate imagery and limit use of technical language; your readers might forward your ideas to colleagues who are less conversant with the issue.
Public Relations activity affects more than sales. Miserly Communications spending may save dollars, and also affect how customers, prospects and industry observers remember — or overlook — your organization.
Reporters always want to know what lies ahead. Be the one to anticipate the trends about to happen.
A photograph is worth 1,000 words. People in the picture are an engaging testimonial in your brochures, on your website, in media outreach and in your emails.
An active photo grabs attention. Focus on a staff member interacting with a client or a visitor, who is seen from the back or in profile.
Teach your contacts and prospects in partnership with other groups. The fundamentals, advanced techniques, new technologies or latest trends in your field are vital subjects for sessions sponsored by organizations whose marketing muscle will fill the room.
As a Guest Blogger, you can write whenever it suits your schedule. You’re free to produce timely, insightful content and, chances are, the host will welcome the respite from their frequent writing frenzy.
Harness the power of a client testimonial at a membership group’s event. A case study comes to life when a client tells your shared success story. Audience members visualize themselves participating in the process and achieving similar results, fueled by your insight and services.
Why you? And why now? That’s what reporters will ask. Introduce yourself, your organization, your event, etc., to journalists at appropriate publications in a memorable way. Reporters call the people they know and they do not call people who wait for the phone to ring. Find a reason to put your name in front of the press as an authoritative source on a timely matter.
Who do YOU know? Board members, advisory board members, former officers. Everyone knows someone worth knowing, so spend some quality one-on-one time with the inner circle to build lists of contacts and locate candidates whose presence will enrich your group’s fundraiser.
Always Be Celebrating Success. Make sure your contract or engagement letter allows you to possibly mention your work with the client in future media outreach and marketing activity. This way you don’t need to ask for permission after the project is completed.
Confirm spelling of all names. After a phone interview, send a follow-up note to the reporter with relevant names, websites and email addresses in a large font.
Make a list of topics to tell the reporter. Print in a large, easy-to-read font to consult when you have a phone interview.