Category Archives: networking

Invest in Your Career in 5 Steps

If you have a job, you might not be thinking about your career. Having a good job today doesn’t guarantee you will have one tomorrow. You might  transition to a new role or jump into a new field or  industry. Perhaps you are moving on to unfamiliar territory. Whatever your current path, consider these steps to invest in your career:

Learn  how to be indispensable to your employer. An intrapreneur figures out how to turn an idea into a profitable product or service   When there is no rule book,  can you figure out the problem and suggest a constructive solution?  Become the solution provider.  You add value to your team and co-workers when you are seen as a problem solver.  Common sense is not negotiable. Be uncommon.

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Build Brand Evangelists

You launched your business and sales are starting to ignite.  It’s time to discover your brand evangelists.  These are your customer champions!  Motivated users who are passionate about your product or service.  Initiate these 5 steps to capture their memorable user experience:

Reach out to 2 new customers each day. Pick up the phone and make that call. Start by thanking them for their business. Show some love, because customer shelled out hard earned money to buy your product.  Ask what they liked best about your product.  Before customers buy from you they have to KNOW you.  Followed by LIKE and finally TRUST.  If you have fostered trust,  you have made a sale. Discover what led them to your product.

Gather meaningful feedback.  Identify precisely how your product has improved their life in big or small ways. Did you save them time, money, or provide a new experience that was a WOW? Tease those pearls of information from their lips to your ears.  How did they find you?  That is a critical insight to understand. If someone else spread the word you now have another person to call and thank.

Ask for any improvements.  This may seem like a risk, but maybe there is a tweak or two or three that you may have not considered important when you launched.  That  feedback is critical as you improve your product or service further down the line.  Passionate customers usually have a lot to share.  Start by asking what would make it better.  Listen, learn and adapt.

Ask for a testimonial.  When a customer is genuinely excited about your product, it is time to spread the word.  A word of mouth recommendation is the single best marketing gift you can receive.  Recommendations lead to customer engagement, which reinforces the positive image of your business.  More new leads, more new customers, and more referrals.  All because you published trusted testimonials on your website, and/or on your blog.  Social proof delivers the credibility,  and starts the KNOW, LIKE, TRUST cycle all over again.

Offer a small token of appreciation.  Thank your customer for their time and their endorsement. Offer up a small measure of happiness, a coupon towards a discount on a future purchase for example.  It’s not the monetary value, it’s the thought that counts.

Continue to engage with your evangelists.  That’s a how small business wins in a socially connected universe.

Ready to Switch Careers After 50?

Changing careers after 50 can be intimidating.  A new approach may be required. Kindle your reinvention with these high energy tips:

Embrace  lifelong learning..  Seek the unexpected.  Cultivate a curious mindset and READ.  We live in a digital age. The sheer volume of information is fertile ground for learning about unique cultures, places, experiences and opportunities. Read constantly;  articles, blogs, books, and blather.  Your capacity to learn is as great as it ever was.  Continue to stretch and grow by examining the world from a different perspective.  If you are an interesting person,  others will seek you out for all sorts of reasons. Which leads me to the second lesson.

Network like you mean it.  Most people network when they are unemployed, or soon to be.  They reach out with their self serving contact requests.  Networking is being engaged with other human beings.  Old school networking is transactional.  New school networking is figuring out how you can collaborate and help the other person get where they are going.  Take time to see how you can make a small difference in someone else’s life.  It’s not about YOU, it’s about them.  Learn the skill, you are never too old.

Hone your technical skills.  If you are not e-relevant, no one will hire you.  Take the time to learn about social media and how to brand yourself in the market.  Computer skills?  Mandatory!  Buy a smart phone, learn to tweet and text.  Stay current, stay engaged in technology!

Stride with confidence.  Learn to sell yourself, your ideas and your solutions for your next adventure. Want to change fields or industries?   Apply for the job and sell yourself to the hiring manager. Fear is a great motivator.  By 50, you should be using fear to your advantage.  Find solutions for a company, use your skills and talents to add value to the bottom line.  Discover a nonprofit you believe in, and give it the energy and passion it requires.  Will you stumble along the way?  You can count on it.  By now you are working on making a difference, not just a contribution.

Be an agent of change and get moving.  Find your own true North.

Networking Karma

Networking is an essential skill in growing your business.  It starts with building a relationship based on an honest connection.  To be an asset versus a one time conversation, start giving before you get.   Figure out how to collaborate with the other person before thinking about what’s it in for you.  Determine what value you can add and dish it out freely.  Maybe your help is in the form of good advice, or in the form of  simple, honest appreciation.   Are you a relationship connector?  Facilitate that connection for someone else.  Access to a key resource is priceless.  Embrace the premise that you will help them move forward.  Then deliver on your promise to connect.  Your success correlates to your network.  Connected people understand the power of relationships to engage and enlarge their network.

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Deliver an Effective Sales Pitch

You have probably heard hundreds of sales pitches in your life.  Some immediately captured your interest, while others were tuned out almost as soon as they began.   What made the difference? The most effective sales pitches were those that were well prepared and delivered with confidence. And even if you were not interested in that product or service at the time, you remembered the pitches that made a positive impression when conditions changed or somebody asked for a recommendation.

Now that you’re an entrepreneur, you want the sales pitch for your small business to have that kind of positive impact on your prospective customers. Don’t worry that you’re not a “born salesperson;” in truth, few people are. All it takes is research and planning—the same steps needed for every other business decision you make as an entrepreneur.