networking Archives -
By Karri Hill
On 28, Dec 2012 | In Marketing | By Karri Hill
It’s the start of another new year, and hopefully you, like many businesses, have seen an improvement in your bottom line as the economy begins to show signs of improvement. If you’re smart, though, you aren’t about to sit on the sidelines and passively wait for your customers and prospects to come to you as their own purse strings begin to loosen. Get busy and get proactive! Here are some things that can improve your marketing efforts and leave you in a better position come this time next year:
1. Assess & Analyze
What worked for you last year? What trends are you seeing, gaps in your customers needs that you can fill? It’s a very rare business that doesn’t have to change and adapt as customer demands change and technology progresses.
For most businesses, what worked beautifully 5 years ago isn’t going to work exactly the same way now. Don’t make broad assessments based on what you think, put it down in writing. Start a spreadsheet or chart exactly where your income was generated for the last few years. Add a column for incoming leads. Where did they come from and what did they request for services 5 years ago? How has that changed? If you do this, you will start seeing some trends. If you are wise, those trends will influence how you market and perhaps even your business mix.
2. Social Media, Social Media, Social Media
I’m still surprised by the number of businesses, both small and large, that don’t utilize social media. Either they’re completely absent, they’re not on the best platform for their business type, or they get bogged down in their business and let it languish. Make it your goal to improve your social media footprint this year!
What do I recommend? Put up several profiles, but carefully think about which ones will bring the most value to your business–these are the ones that your customers and peers are on. Now concentrate on keeping 2 or 3 of the most valuable social media platforms up to date. Post! Interact! Use pictures and links!
Social Media is all about networking, making new connections and increasing your visibility, but don’t just hide behind your computer screen or claim you’re too busy to network in person. You’re liable to find yourself with plenty of time and nothing to do.
Not a social butterfly? That’s okay. Stop thinking about a room full of people, and concentrate on making one new connection instead. The truth is that meeting 1-3 new valuable connections is far more worthwhile than meeting 50 people at an event that will leave you confused, wondering who is who, and unable to follow up effectively. Oh yes, follow up. Crucial. It’s how you cement the new relationship, deepen it, and that’s where the real value of networking begins.
By Karri Hill
On 18, Apr 2012 | In General | By Karri Hill
Earth Day 2011 Worksite Weekend
A lot of work was done by a dedicated group of enthusiastic volunteers on April 16 & 17.
Our client, On Target Performance Group, sponsored the Helping Hands Community Garden worksite, just north of the OSU campus in Columbus, Ohio. It was a chilly and windy weekend, but thankfully it didn’t rain, and everyone had a great time. We were quite busy clearing garden plots and helping to build compost bins and a couple of very imaginative herb gardens out of reclaimed concrete rubble.
Whether you’re operating on a shoestring marketing budget or not, stretching your marketing dollars and getting the most ROI for your business is always important. Here are 7 easy ways you can improve your marketing in 2012 without spending anything more than time.
1. Update or Start a Blog
If you already have a content-managed website, schedule an appointment with yourself to update it regularly by adding to your blog or news section. Be realistic. If you haven’t added anything in 6 months, you’re probably not going to become a daily or weekly blogger overnight. Shoot for once or twice a month. Dry on ideas? Bullet point a few ideas in a document you keep on your desktop, and add to it as you come across ideas; this will help prevent “blank page blues.”
If you don’t have a blog, there are many free blogging platforms that you can use and link to from your website. Take the time to tweak a layout enough so that users find it somewhat consistent with your website.
2. Get on LinkedIn
LinkedIn brings a lot of bang for the buck by allowing you to put up a profile and a company page. Free. LinkedIn also has a nifty WordPress App that will show your latest blog posts if you use WordPress as your blogging or website platform. Install and configure the app on LinkedIn, and then simply use “linkedin” as one of your tags when you post.
** Update, December 2012 : LinkedIn has recently eliminated the WordPress app. A bad move, in my opinion, but there’s nothing that says you can’t still get some mileage from your blog posts on LinkedIn. Simply post a link and a few lines about what your new post is about to LinkedIn, and consider adding a second website link to your LinkedIn profile that goes directly to your blog or news section.
3. Put Up a Fan Page on Facebook
Depending on the type of business you do, Facebook can be a great way to engage and attract new clients. Avoid the hard-sell and provide interesting, engaging and valuable posts.If you can figure out how to post a graphic or photo, you’ll get noticed in feeds more easily. Even if you don’t believe Facebook is the best fit for your business (and it’s not for many), then consider the fact that it’s free and provides an inbound link to your company website.
4. Google+ For Better SEO
Yes, it’s another social media platform. Yes, it’s a little more time spent. While there are no guarantees that you will get better page ranking by being on Google+, I personally noted a huge jump in my ranking in Google searches within a few months of putting up a personal profile that I optimized for my business. Now that Google+ is open for business pages as well, it makes sense to have one.
5. Double Up For Referrals
How many people do you hand your business card to in the course of a year? Double that number by never handing out less than two cards. An extra card is a referral waiting to happen, and you don’t have to come off as pushy to encourage it. Simply hand over two cards and say, “Here’s an extra card in case you or someone else may need it.” Seed planted. Okay, this one isn’t totally free, but depending on how many business cards you order at a time, you’re creating opportunities for referrals for about 5 cents apiece. Keep in mind that the person who receives your card from someone else doesn’t know anything about you or your business, so make use of the back of your card to describe your business with some effective bullet points.
6. Do Someone a Favor
The world is full of people who only think about themselves and their business. Want to stand out in the crowd? Find a way to connect someone to a colleague, make a referral, write a recommendation or do something free, whether it’s for a charity or a customer. Expect nothing in return. Don’t you like to do business with nice people? So does everyone else.
7. Speak Up
If you want to create buzz about your expertise, look for opportunities to speak: business networking groups, conferences, etc. This isn’t a free commercial for your company; it’s about bringing value by sharing some of your expertise. Give some great insight or advice, and you get to be recognized as an expert, thought leader or resource. Hint: a nice PowerPoint to keep your topic organized and on track is really helpful and easy to create.
There you go! There are a lot of things you can do that don’t cost much or anything, and if you do them effectively and consistently, I promise you will see results!
By Karri Hill
On 31, Aug 2010 | In Branding | By Karri Hill
By: Lynn Parker, WomenEntrepreneur.com
After no requests for the topic for years, I’ve been asked to speak on “personal branding” twice in the past month. Because I pay attention to what the universe seems to want me to do, I’m taking notice. So do I have anything to add to the topic? Is personal branding something to pay attention to, as the universe suggests?
My kneejerk reaction is along the lines of Maureen Johnson’s BlogHer manifesto: I am not a brand! You can’t put people in boxes; we are more than what we say about ourselves, etc. But if I apply my definition of a brand, “the promise that you keep,” then I know that we all live our brand promise in everything we do, and that understanding and articulating that promise helps us be more of the person we intend to be, not less. I also know that our personal brand as it applies to our business selves is one expression of our whole self, and requires more conscious molding.
For insight, I’ve drawn on the lessons learned from the way we help companies figure out their brand promise. For businesses, we do research with customers and employees to determine the meaning behind their brand, then articulate it through a set of actionable brand tools. Here’s how we would adapt this process for personal branding, one that honors your individuality and complexity. The goal is to articulate the following: What sets you apart? What are your passions? What are your greatest strengths? What can people expect from you?
How to improve the performance of the hardest working tool in your arsenal!
Your business card should be quality stuff.
It does NOT have to cost you an arm and a leg. Cards printed on your computer on sheet-fed stock are too thin. Every attempt I have made in the past ended up with cards that are warped just from peeling them off of the backing paper. This will not do. Quality cards, printed on quality stock, bought in bulk (500 or more) cost less in the long run.
The same goes for the free cards offered by companies that print their logo on the back. Do you really want your customers and prospects thinking you can’t afford to buy decent business cards? The quality of the card you hand out reflects directly on you.
Your card should contain your contact information.
This sounds pretty obvious, but you and I both have cards that don’t contain enough contact information. I have a card passed on as a referral that only contains a company name, a phone number, and a website address. I would like to have the name of the person I am contactingat the very least. In this case, my philosophy of “Less is More” just doesn’t cut it.
In the same breath, I will also tell you that you don’t have to list every single way of contacting you if it isn’t relevant. For instance, if you work from a home office and you don’t see clients there, don’t list your address. If you are the kind of person that checks your email once a week whether you need to or not, either join the computer age, or don’t list an email address. You don’t want to be thought of as unresponsive if it takes you a week to read and respond.
Your card should clearly represent what you sell, provide, do, or are capable of.
This is your mini-brochure! Whether you are networking for a job or new clients, if someone can’t tell what you do, you are not going to get a call. It is easier and faster to find another person or company than to find out if you are a good fit. Provide a tool that works effectively.
This is vitally important if your card is passed along to someone else. The information on your card is all they have.
Don’t try to cram everything into a few inches.
Business cards have two sides, and many printers don’t charge a penny more to print on both. Use the extra real estate, keep it concise, and provide links to fuller information, like a website or a LinkedIn profile.
If a logo is applicable, include it!
This is your first brand impression, so integrate it. If your company is fully branded, use the fonts, colors, and wording that communicates your brand.
Handing out more than one card is a referral waiting to happen.
Make referrals easy!