A Short Trip Down Memory Lane
Most marketers, and even laymen for that matter, know that word-of-mouth is the best form of marketing – and that’s in two ways. Word-of-mouth can make you, or conversely, it can break you. This brings me to a recent presentation. (Dream clouds commence, sleepy music come on, and we make take a trip down reminisce lane.)
Date: 4/11/2011. Time: Approx. 9pm. Where: The 8_37 Group Meeting. My role: Presenter. Topic: Social Media.
I start the presentation. We joke. I do a little trivia, a few prizes are given out, and I immediately realize the number of individuals who are social media novices. This is okay. That’s why I was there – to help them understand how to leverage social media as a marketing medium for their business.
While I was presenting, I noticed a number of ladies were “Social Media adverse.” It wasn’t necessarily because they hated Facebook, Twitter or the likes. (Though some probably do think of these marketing channels as their arch nemesis.) The real reason that they were “social media adverse” was simply because they weren’t familiar with the tools, and now here’s one more thing they need to learn.
However, as the presentation continued, the ladies began to notice the importance of social media for their business. Why? Because social media is like word-of-mouth on crack. While the payoff my not be seen in immediate revenue, it has great payoff in generating awareness and leads. For the small business, social media is a winner (State of Social Media Webinar by Social Media Examiner and Hubspot).
Today, I realized how this blog post, which I started a little while ago relates so closely to these ladies. These ladies want to grow their business. However, they’re afraid of the social medium – a FREE medium, which is much less intimidating than face-t0-face interaction.
You’re Your Own Advocate
While these ladies are highly interested in running a prosperous business, they’re “adverse” to one of the most influential word-of-mouth mediums out there. And when you’re in business for yourself, word-of-mouth starts with you. Let‘s face it, if you don’t push yourself, no one else will.
Simply creating a website, a blog, Facebook page, and/or Twitter account isn’t enough. Everyone has one of these. So, you have to open your yapper – virtually and literally – and begin to scream. If you’re serious about growing your business, you have to keep your eyes and ears open, and pounce on every opportunity that presents itself.
Don’t sit in a closet, shying away, hoping that someone will find you. Instead, be like a lion to its prey. You go out there and find the opportunities for yourself. Give out business cards. Ask questions. And by all means, let them know you’re not only interested in having them as your client, but that you’re the best darn thing since sliced bread (and if you’re not, figure out how to be).
But I Hate Networking
Suck it up, princess. So do I.
I get it. Speaking to people one-on-one who you don’t know is downright uncomfortable. (How’s that for being transparent.) However, you can’t let your level of comfort keep you away from future business. Instead, you need to determine a strategy that will help you overcome, or at least manage, your networking jitters.
Here are a few tips to get you there:
- Say hello. It’s a basic greeting and an icebreaker. You don’t need a gimmick. However, after the “hello,” be prepared with a follow up. Ask their name, their business, how long they’ve been doing what they’re doing, and why they got into they’re doing?
- Pay a compliment. Yep, people like compliments – bottom line. However, they don’t like smoke being blown up their skirt. So, if you can’t find something believable so say, leave the compliments at the front door, and move on to another tactic.
- Ask questions about the person. This is a tip I received from a good friend. She stated, people love to talk about themselves. (We know this is true in many cases.) And when I looked back, I realized this is EXACTLY what she did to me.
- Showcase genuine interest. Just like with giving compliments, people can smell a fraud a mile away. However, if you can find something that’s really of interest, cling onto it and go from there.
Here’s a list of networking questions to get your started:
- What’s your name?
- What organization do you represent?
- What’s your role?
- Do you find it rewarding?
- What do you find challenging about your job?
- Why did you choose to pursue your current role?
- How many employees work for your organization?
- How long have you been doing this type of work?
- Do you have a business card?
- Can I contact you in the future?
Don’t Let Another Opportunity Go By
Getting the word out about your new business isn’t always easy, especially when there are a multitude of other businesses, small and large, new and old, similar and dissimilar looking to capture your audience. This fact alone is reason enough to take advantage of opportunity after opportunity to be you own advocate – your personal salesperson, getting the word out and building your business. Let’s face it, you want to be in this thing for the long haul, so make every opportunity to gain a future customer count.