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Plant a Seed and Watch Your Business Grow

Do you have all the business you could possibly want or need? If you’re like me, you’re still growing your business. Marketing is an ongoing item on my agenda, and I’m always looking for new ways to market my services. Where do you begin the process of attracting more business? How do you get the ball rolling in the direction you want your business to be heading? Well, it’s really simple. Start planting seeds! If you can start your garden growing this spring, why not start your business growing too?

You can start by telling everyone what you do, including those people in your life you see every day. Talk to your hairdresser, dentist, financial advisor, or babysitter. You just never know who they might know who may want or need your products or services. Leave business cards with those people, so they can hand them out to others who may be interested in contacting you. That old saying that includes the line “the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker” may just ring true after all.

Plant seeds everywhere you go. Typical ways to market your business are fine, but the best way is by simply using word-of-mouth. “Who do you know…” can be a very powerful statement when you are talking to others about what you do or what you sell. Let your presence be known. Be creative! I have a Team 100 list of the top professionals I know. When someone either in my professional circle or my personal circle is looking for a particular service, I’m able to refer them to someone I know and trust. All of the professionals on my list are able to refer me to those they know as well. It’s a win/win situation. My name is on their list, their name is on mine, so the seed has been planted, and keeps growing.

These are just a couple of great ideas to help you get started in growing your business (if you want more business that is!). Taking some small action every day is better than doing nothing at all. Following a simple action plan consistently will most likely lead to several great opportunities down the road. Who knows? If you put in the effort, you just may find new business knocking on your door instead of the other way around.

Spring into action…and watch your business grow by leaps and bounds!


To Your Success!

Rick Nelson
Visit http://www.homebasedbusinessprograms.com for more great information.

On Networking Groups (Part Two)

In “On Networking Groups – Part One”, I spoke briefly about the four types of networking groups. Now, let’s take a look at a category of networking groups.

One category that most people are familiar with is the Chamber Of Commerce. Chambers serve a long standing role in the business community. It is a role of development and support. A Chamber Of Commerce can offer business both small and large with networking opportunities, training programs, legislative assistance and a host of other benefits. A Chamber Of Commerce can be a local, statewide, national, or international organization with separate memberships for each. If you belong to an area Chamber of Commerce, you do not belong to a state or national Chamber. Each plays their own role in the business community.

Some Chambers of Commerce take more of a role in the community to influence policy while others might focus more on business development. Most of them however have a wealth of information for the member that goes unused by most.

For example, let’s say you have a business and you have a question about a city ordinance that relates to your business. Most often a Chamber of Commerce can provide you with the answer to your question. Each of them has a database of members that can often be accessed through some point. Usually computers are made available to members with databases that can be searched for information on other members.

When looking for networking opportunities within a Chamber Of Commerce, most people think only of leads groups or the common after hours. The reality is that any function hosted by a chamber of commerce holds opportunities for networking with other business owners and business leaders.

Chambers of Commerce generally have a yearly membership of several hundred dollars for an individual or company. There are various levels of membership that can be had. Most Chambers offer an executive level membership that includes exclusive meetings between a more elite level of business people. When looking for this type of prospect, you can often gain access to them by joining at this level. The problem you might have is actually paying for this level or attending the functions as they are provided.

I and many other experts on networking recommend anyone who networks to be a member of several groups. This should include a Chamber of Commerce. Keep this in mind when considering a Chamber of Commerce. If you are involved in your community in other business networking organizations like the Rotary Club, a local Merchant’s association, or smaller networking group, you might want to consider joining a Chamber of Commerce in another part of town. This will make you a part of that community as well and open the doors to increased prospects and opportunities.

In any event, you should always attend a Chamber of Commerce function in any area several times and find out what types of assistance they can offer for the growth of your type of business. Do not join any group just for the sake of joining a group. Find out what types of members attend the functions that are offered to determine the amount of exposure you will have to your target prospect.

When you attend a Chamber of Commerce meeting for the first time, look for the most popular person in the room, the one who everyone seems to want to talk to and get to know them first. This way you will make faster connections to the rest of the group. Often the leaders of the group can help you to get in the mix quicker.

Look for people who do what you do and analyze their strengths and weaknesses for opportunities to build alliances with them. If they have been a member for a long time, it is likely that they have most of the business in their industry at this point in time. It is hard to compete in such circumstances, so try an alliance before you bang your head against the wall trying to compete or just giving up.

Chambers of Commerce have been around for many years and there are all types, including minority and international. Be sure to visit many before deciding which to join and your membership dollars will serve you better.


To Your Success!

Rick Nelson
Visit http://www.homebasedbusinessprograms.com for more great information.

On Networking Groups ( Part Three )

I am about to share with you something that I talk to people about a lot. It is focused networking.

In each business, we have a target market or the perfect prospect. If you have been in a particular business for any length of time, you should know what type of person or business owner falls into this category for you. If not, it is time to figure out who this might be.

In networking for business it is important to have a well rounded networking schedule. You should attend many different types of groups in order to reach a broad spectrum of people. If you only attend a business after hours, you may run into several people who provide the same product or service as you. In this environment, it is important to know what makes you different from them. In most cases this is not a company thing, but a personal thing. When you have reached the point that you can relate what makes you different, you will do very well in a competitive environment.

One of the groups that you are likely to attend is a trade association. In my first exposure to networking many years ago, I attended meetings for a group that specialized in the creation of multimedia. I went to the meetings each month in the hope of building a relationship with others who might be able to help me find some work in the field. The opposite happened. I found myself in the ultimate competition. I should have been there to learn about trends in the industry and to get background information of my competitors, there was literally no work to be had in an environment with all of my competition!

What happens if you attend the trade association meeting of your target prospect? It is likely that you may be the only person in the room selling your product or service. If you do your homework before you go and discover the mission of the group, it is easier to prepare for that kind of opportunity.

In this environment, you may be sitting through a presentation by a speaker that you know nothing about, so to maximize your networking opportunity, arrive early and leave late. Talk to as many people as you can in the time that you have to network before the presentation begins. If you see someone in the group that you know, approach them and ask them to introduce you around in the room. This will help you to shortcut the process of meeting people. It also gives a friend an opportunity to refer you personally in a group of their peers.

It is important to be creative when looking for meetings to attend. Attend many, and you will have more opportunities to work with. Set a goal to visit all the types of groups at least once a month for maximum exposure and optimum contacts.


To Your Success!

Rick Nelson
Visit http://www.homebasedbusinessprograms.com for more great information.

On Networking Groups (Part One)

I have been trying to think about how I can talk about this subject and address it in a way that would be fair and balanced without injecting too much personal opinion and have decided to first talk about the types of groups and then later on be more specific. It is important to remember that you will have preferences that may not align with mine, but that each of us share a common goal in our networking. More business and possibly more friends.

So lets begin by analyzing the various types of groups. There are many different types of groups, but it is easier to categorize them by the meeting format rather than using individual categories like chambers of commerce or women’s groups.

Most groups fall under one of 4 main categories. These are Social Networking, Business Networking, Leads Groups and Networking with a Program.

Social Networking

Social networking is a part of our daily lives whether we realize it or not. Each time we attend any function that involves a group of people we are networking on a social level. Whether we are attending a charity event, going to a party at a friends house, going to a religious service, or attending an organized social networking event, we are in a networking environment.

In most cases a large part of participation in these groups is not related to business. However, there are always opportunities to meet people who could be or know prospective clients. When you attend these types of functions, it is advised to have some business cards in your pocket in case you meet someone else who is networking for their business, but remember that business networking is not the primary purpose of the function, so be very casual in the way you approach others about your business.

Social Networking Tip:

Never assume that any individual at these functions is not a good prospect for your business. You will find many opportunities there. It is just good to remember that people are there for many reasons and may not want to talk about business.

Business Networking

Believe it or not there are very few groups or organizations that are simply “business networking groups”. This category, for the purpose of our discussion is reserved for groups that do not have speakers or programs. An example of business networking would be similar to a chamber of commerce after hours. In business networking, you simply gather together with other business associates to talk about your businesses.

I find it much better to have a lot of time to talk to people about my business rather than have a brief period to talk and then have to sit down and listen to a program. This format enables you to really get to know people in the allotted amount of time. In some cases you can even do business with someone who you have met for the first time.

This format allows you to get to know people very well and sometimes helps to jump-start the relationship without having to meet for lunch or coffee at a later time. The only thing that makes this format difficult is if you are shy. For the shy individual it is sometimes not easy to just walk into a room and start talking to people they do not know.

Business Networking Tip: Build a core contact group of people that you see at several different meetings. This will give you a broad base of contacts through these people as they are building their networks. Always get to know the “most popular people” in the room. They will often know most of the others and can help to expand your network quickly

Leads Groups Leads groups are very structured. This is the largest segment of business networking. There are several formats to leads groups that vary in slightly different ways. In most cases the leads group involves sitting around a large table. Usually a leads group is limited to one person per industry. So if you wanted to be a part of a leads group that already has one of your type of industry, you could not join that group until there is an opening for you created by that person leaving.

Usually leads groups are about 5 to 20 persons in size. In most leads groups you are given a set amount of time to stand up and talk about your business ranging from 2 to five minutes depending on the size of the group. This is a dedicated time, no one else speaks and you take turns.

Leads groups are good for people who are shy or for those who have difficulty in a meeting with no structure. If you are a member of a good leads group, members are actively seeking referrals for other members. This can lead to a great deal of business if you consider the fact that everyone has a personal network of about 200 hundred people. This does not mean that it is the best format of meeting or not a good format, but rather it is good for you if you prefer structure.

Leads groups generally meet early in the morning or for lunch.

Leads Groups Tip: Be sure to enable the members of your leads group to help you. Give them tools that they can carry to represent you when they encounter someone who needs your product or service. Be sure that everyone understands what you do and who your best prospects are.

Networking with a Program A lot of trade associations and chambers of commerce follow this format. The meeting usually starts with open networking for a period of 15 minutes to an hour. It is then followed by a presentation by a guest speaker or a current member.

In this environment, you will not have much time to really get to know people unless you always attend the meetings. In most cases these meetings are best for initial contact followed up by meeting prospects for coffee or lunch. It is advised that you use a system of taking notes and qualifying prospects for later follow-up.

Generally these meetings end after the presentation and people linger for 15 to 30 minutes before clearing the room.

Networking with a Program Tip: Get to know the leaders of the organization. In most cases they will know a great deal about the members as they work their way up the ranks into a leadership role. These individuals can be of the most help when seeking prospects or referrals.

Summary As I said at the beginning of this article, your feelings on these definitions may vary from mine. It is important when seeking meetings to attend or groups to join that you have defined goals on what you are trying to accomplish. Be specific when setting these goals.

Remember business does not always come in the first contact or meeting. Be consistent for best results. Try to balance your networking with a combination of the types of groups and meetings that you attend. Each has it’s own unique benefits and can help you with a well rounded presence in the business community.


To Your Success!

Rick Nelson
Visit http://www.homebasedbusinessprograms.com for more great information.

On Networking Groups ( Part Four )

What is a leads group? Leads groups seem to be the most popular form of networking judging that comment by the fact that there are more leads groups in existence that have been around for a long time than most other types of groups.

Leads groups are often referred to as closed groups. This means that there can only be one type of a business represented in a group. Lets say that I am a web designer. In a closed group I would be the only web designer represented in the group. Other web designers would be allowed to visit, but if they wanted to join the organization they would have to find a group that did not have a web designer. If there was no opening in an existing group for a web designer, the person would have to go on a waiting list until an opening became available, or a new group was formed.

Most leads groups meet once a week. There are some that only meet once a month. Leads groups offer something that a lot of people need. Structure and discipline. What do I mean by this?

Structure – In a leads group you do not have to be a master net worker. As a matter of fact, you can be a shy person and still have success in a leads group. Most leads groups allow a given amount of time to tell other members about your business. This usually ranges from one to five minutes. In this allotted amount of time you can go into great detail about your business including describing what type of leads you are looking for. The format is usually accomplished by sitting around a large table, and a leader moderates the time and asks questions. The meetings are generally held early in the morning or at lunchtime.

Discipline – In a leads group you are expected to show up for the meetings. Theoretically, if a leads group had only 15 members and several people did not show up, it would be difficult to have a reasonable meeting. To insure against this happening most groups require that you assign a substitute when you can not attend. This substitute should be a person in the same industry as you so that the balance of the group is not affected. In this situation, if you have a tendency to miss a lot of meetings, it would not be good to join a leads group. If you miss a lot of meetings without a sub, you will be ejected from the group.

The upside? In a leads group you will get to know people very well over time and get an idea of their abilities to fulfill the needs of a referral. This is good if you do not have time during the week to meet with people one-on-one in order to get to know them. A dedicated group will provide you with a steady stream of leads that you can utilize to expand your business.

The downside? Well, sometimes the leads become a paramount obligation and people feel pressured to pass them. If they are passing leads that are just names and numbers without a true expressed need, the leads generally lead you nowhere. Another issue is a member of the group whose quality of product or service does not meet the standards that you would want to refer to someone. It is difficult to pass a solid qualified lead to someone who will not provide the kind of service that you would expect them to.

There are also a few groups in existence that are in essence leads groups. They allow freedom to go to any meeting you wish as long as you are a member. The format is the same, seated at a table, and there is usually a time limit. The problem with these groups is that people wander in and out and without a lot of time to talk individually, you still have to set appointments outside of the group to really get to know someone. Without the discipline, the freeform leads group usually does not last for a long period of time. Often these groups open and close with great regularity leaving the members to search for another meeting to attend.

In closing, I would like to add that there is no wrong or right group to belong to. Visit groups and you will find the ones that are right for you. It is often beneficial to belong to three types of groups to get the most out of your networking efforts.


To Your Success!

Rick Nelson
Visit http://www.homebasedbusinessprograms.com for more great information.