Posts Tagged ‘networking’

5 Ahas of LinkedIn

July 27, 2012

LinkedIn is a brilliant marketing tool. Many business owners have a Linked-In profile but their only interaction is to occasionally invite (or to accept an invitation from) someone they’ve recently bumped into. Unwittingly they are providing loads of information for their competitors. Fortunately, not many of their competitors understand how to tap into that data!

Here then are 5 Ahas of LinkedIn aimed at helping you get a bit more from this wonderful resource.

Aha #1 – your profile should be like an elevator pitch

Your profile needs to be engaging and written in a way that succinctly describes how you help people. You have just 160 characters in your “Professional Headline” so make them count!

Business Owner, Director, Managing Director etc. are not effective ways of describing what it is that you do (they are merely job titles.)

Treat your profile as an”elevator pitch” and focus on the benefits that your customers get from working with/buying from you by telling a story.

Ensure you have a profile picture that show you in a good light – smiling and not too quirky.

To edit your “Professional Headline”:

  • Log in
  • Click ‘Profile’ then ‘Edit Profile’ then the ‘Edit’ alongside your name.
  • You will see ‘Professional Headline’ a few lines down (it’s a box that at first glance doesn’t include the full description.

Make sure you have links from your LinkedIn Profile to your web page and your twitter account.

Offer something to people who find you – a free half-hour of consultancy, a fact sheet, a sample of your product etc.

Aha #2 – use LinkedIn to Build Rapport – NOT to SPAM

Don’t just broadcast! Get involved.

Scan the activity reported toward the bottom on your home page. Say “Hi” “Congratulations” “Great Link” “Thanks for that” etc!  Share interesting relevant material with others.

Ask for recommendations from people you know well, satisfied customers and the like.

Better still give recommendations to your own service providers, customers and others in your network. Be genuine.

Join relative groups and join in the conversation.

Don’t spam. If all you ever do is publicise your events, products and services people will see you as a spammer. PLEASE  don’t spam people!

Aha #3 – LinkedIn’s great for finding potential clients

Use the Advanced Search facility to target specific prospects. You might be looking for specific industry sectors, people who hold specific positions within an organisation etc.

Go to ‘Advanced Search’ at the top right of the LinkedIn screen and tick as many boxes as relevant. I would also limit the search to 2nd degree and Group Connections. Use the post code box to set a geographic limit (if necessary) and when you’re done click ‘search.’

Look through the results and from the list look to begin a conversation with just one or two people a day.

You could do that by following them on “Twitter” (if they show a link to their twitter account) and begin the conversation.

Ideally, for 2nd Degree Connections, pick up the phone to the contact that links you and ask them to put you both in touch. I wouldn’t recommend using In-mail to make a ‘blind’ approach. It would be like a cold call – not impossible – just improbable.

Aha #4  – Tagging your connections is a great way of getting focussed!

Use Tags to segment your connections. This means you can send selected, targeted communications aimed at specific segments. This is much better than copying in everyone on all your communications. That (as I am sure you’ll appreciate from the experience of others doing that to you) just gets irritating for people who are likely to disconnect from or ignore you.

LinkedIn automatically assigns some tags (friends, partners, group members etc.) dependent on how you LinkedIn with the connection.

To assign your own tags:

  • Click on “Contacts” from the menu bar
  • Click on “All connections”  in left hand column – this brings up your contacts in the box.
  • Select a number contacts and assign a “Tag”… might be “accountants” or “potential clients” “influencers” etc. Only you can see the tags that you have assigned.
  • You create a new tag by clicking “Edit tags” which opens up a box – type in the “tag” you wish to assign to these connections.

To send a message to all members of a “tagged” group of your contacts simply click the “Tag” in the left hand column  and then send message in the right hand column.

You can choose specific members from a number of groups simply by ticking their name. This will add their names individually to the list. Again just click send message and your away!

Aha #5 – you can choose how you are found

Firstly you need to decide on how you would wish to be found. It’s a bit like deciding the key words you’d choose for your website.

Say you want people to find you as “hypnotherapist.” Then you need to ensure this word crops up as many times as possible in your overall profile.

The word count is what determines how high up in the returned search results you feature. A word of caution – ensure that in an effort to increase the word count that you do not turn your profile into an unintelligible mess!

You should get your chosen search terms into your professional headline, within your current and past positions, in your summary and within the section that details your experience too.

There you have it – my 5 ahas of LinkedIn. These tips are a small sample of ways in which you can make a big impact upon the effectiveness of your LinkedIn profile.

If you would like to find out more – then get in touch with me, Ken Norman at New Tricks Training!

Are you Networking or just Connecting?

July 7, 2010
Networking is a funny old thing and often hugely misunderstood. I recently heard a self-appointed networking ‘guru’ tell an audience of aspiring business professionals that had they not got business by the second visit to a networking group, to abandon it. “Move on, ” he said with a sweep of his arm, “don’t waste your time.”
Connection

Connect?

“Rubbish!” I thought. But thinking about it I guess he was talking about connecting – not networking. A connection is merely  a link between two points and can be a perfectly valid way to seek business. You identify your market and then organise, or seek, a gathering of your potential customers or introducers. Get it right, do a good job and it could generate business. If you find that there is absolutely no connection then certainly move on. But why limit yourself to just a few (or four) connections.

Networking is quite different; it is not just a connection between two points but links between many, many points. When you are networking you have to recognise that your job is not to try to sell your product or service, rather to sell yourself. It isn’t just about the people in the room, it’s also about all the people that they know and, indeed, all the people known to you. That means that given everyone has roughly 250 acquaintances then anyone you’d like to meet is only five contacts away.
A Network

A Network

Only after a period of time (i.e. more than two meetings) do you start to develop deep relationships with people who you like as you get to know them better. Once you have established a good level trust others become confident in you and thus more likely to introduce you to the folk in their network. And, of course, you become actively excited to seek opportunities for them. This inevitably takes longer to develop but instead of a one-off sale from a connection (if you are lucky), you’ll find yourself involved with a network of friends and referrers that will deliver business, yes, but also information and support for years to come.

And then we come to the other thing that got my goat about this ‘guru’s’ talk – he said, “Networking is about one thing and one thing only… Business.” Really?

What I do know is, that like many people, if I meet someone who focusses purely on pitching their product or service I metaphorically “run a mile” (I could just about manage it literally but it would be terribly inconvenient.)

Had I been training that room of fledgling networkers I’d have said completely the opposite. That networking is NOT just about business. It’s NOT about selling or badgering people about your business nor is it about putting people on the spot. If you do that then please don’t come back for a third meeting – you’ll not be welcome  – you’ll need to find somewhere else to go!

People buy from people that they know, like and trust, so that’s the primary objective of networking, surely, getting people to the stage where they know you, like you and trust you. Once you have established relationships and given of yourself then a whole new world opens up: you find new suppliers, you meet new friends, you get free advice, you get market intelligence, you get useful information, you gain support, encouragement, feedback for your ideas, solutions to your problems, the list goes on.

IT’S NOT ABOUT GETTING BUSINESS AND MOVING ON IF YOU’VE GOT NONE IN TWO MEETINGS.

There, I’ve got that off my chest.

How to Remember People’s Names…

February 4, 2010

When we run a training course we take a good deal of trouble to remember the names of our delegates. That can be difficult when there are more than sixteen or so – but not impossible. It’s a great skill to have (it is a skill – rather than a gift – you can get better at it the more you practise) and always impresses.

As Dale Carnegie (author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People”) wrote, ”If you remember my name, you pay me a subtle compliment; you indicate that I have made an impression on you. Remember my name and you add to my feeling of importance.”

When building relationships – say at a networking event – it can fast-track rapport building. After all, if you forget the name of the person who just introduced themselves to you just three minutes ago, your brain tends to fixate on the fact you’ve forgotten – and if you’re not careful you then forget to listen as you tell yourself “I can’t remember her name…I can’t remember her name!”

So, here then are our Top Tips that will help you remember people’s names…

Stage One: Switch Off Your Brain!

Often our head is full of internal chatter at the point we meet someone new. You know the sort of thing: “Will they like me?” or “I really don’t like networking…”  or even “My goodness – what is he wearing?”  You might be playing amateur psychologist in assessing their handshake… “Ugh! What a wet-fish of a handshake!” All of this internal chatter (for want of a better description) can get in the way at a very important stage of commencing a new relationship. So prime yourself. Ready yourself by clearing this internal chatter. In short make yourself ready to receive the name of the person you are about to be introduced to. Tell yourself – “I’m about to hear a name – I must catch it!” and now you’re ready for Stage Two.

Hear It!

Stage Two: Hear It!

Sounds bloomin’ obvious, but now you’ve primed yourself to hear the name – you’ll be amazed at how many people don’t actually tell you their name when they introduce themselves. They’ll say hello – of course – but often people just don’t tell you their name (and this is one of the reasons you don’t remember it.)  Your brain, in the past, has tricked you into believing you’ve forgotten it!  So, now you’re primed and alert you’ll know whether they have or haven’t. If they haven’t just say, “Sorry I didn’t catch your name.” rather than the less supportive, “…and your name is…? Assuming they have told you their name check that you’ve heard it correctly by moving onto Stage Three…

Use it or Lose it!

Stage Three – Use it…or Lose it.

Use the name of the person you’ve just been introduced to. Use it in a conversational way. “So, David what is it you do, then?” “Tell me, David is this a group you attend regularly?” Assuming that his name is David he’ll be impressed! Honest. Some people have a real problem with this. They’ll say, “I can’t do that,  it sounds ‘salesy’ or ‘smarmy.'”  Well, work on it so it sounds genuine, then. If you’ve remembered his name you can concentrate on what he’s saying. It also means you can introduce him to other people and it means you can say goodbye courteously. People often tell us they have real problems, “moving on” at networking events.  This overcomes that problem. Just hold out your hand and say, “Well David, it’s been a pleasure meeting you,” and you’re on your way.

Other Tips:

David? David?

Association (works for some people) Are there any other Davids that you know? Call them to mind. Picture the new David standing with the other David. The very act of thinking this helps lodge the name in the brain (for the reason why, see Tony Buzan’s writing about memory – Use Your Head or The Memory Book and many more.)

Use your Own Name Help the other party out – use your own name in conversation. “People say to me, “Ken how do you remember people’s names so quickly?”” They’ll love you for it, especially if they’ve forgotten it.

Wear a name-badge in the RIGHT place Don’t rely on name badges to remember other people’s names – they’ll often wear them in places that means your eye-contact may stray where it’s not welcome! If YOU wear a name badge wear it high on you RIGHT-hand lapel. As you shake hands it will be in the natural line of sight.

Admit it! So many people have a problem remembering names they’ll forgive you saying, “I know we’ve only just met but I’ve forgotten your name.” Not ideal, but if it helps you stop worrying about it worth doing (once only please!)

Please share your Top Tips for remembering names – we’d love to try them out too! And if you want even more TIPS see our FREE Downloads Page

What does a car salesman have to do to earn commission?

May 15, 2009

I have the very great pleasure of working with the franchisees of Fire Compliance & Safety Ltd. The franchise is very keen to sell their Fire Risk Assessments in an ethical and appropriate manner.  I have been working with them to develop the teams’ sales skills.

Reflecting on good and bad experiences of being sold to (or NOT being sold to) one of the team, Shaun Harness, related a recent experience at the hands of car sales people.

So picture the scene: he wants a van for his business, he’s done his research, he knows the sort of van he’s after and narrowed it down to one of possibly four models. Bearing in mind there’s a recession on – the car and commercial vehicle markets seem somewhat depressed – he expected to have salesmen snapping at his heels for a deal.

On the contrary, at the local Ford, Peugeot and Vauxhall dealerships the “scruffy” sales team “with dirty shoes and frayed suits” remained resolutely sat on their backsides (presumably cold calling and filling in zeros on their sales returns.) He and his business partner, Caroline Hepburn, could not believe the lack of response to their extraordinary buying signals: picking up leaflets, opening and closing van doors, sitting inside and stroking their chins as they admired the paintwork. After walking straight out of two of the dealerships (devoid of any other customers) Shaun approached the sales desk at Ford and asked for assistance. He was told that the commercial sales manager was in a meeting. The team of four redundant salesmen (“…we don’t sell vans”) didn’t even ask for their details so their colleague could call them back. No doubt he arrived back at his desk to complain about what a quiet day its been!

VW Commercial van salesmen – the best??

Their experience at Volkswagen was quite different. The first thing they noticed was the place was heaving with customers!  A few minutes after they walked in they were warmly welcomed and asked if they needed assistance or whether they were happy browsing for a few minutes. When they were ready the same (very smartly dressed) salesman sat them down and had an amiable chat with them. The next thing he did was take their personal details (so he could stay in contact) asked them loads of questions, identified the ideal van – and sold them the van they needed. He negotiated sensibly with them and out walked two happy business people with the van they came in to buy – oh and some war stories about customer service! Well done to VW, no doubt the salesmen at the other dealerships would earn a bit more commission if they could actually sell.

For Shaun and Caroline, about to launch their new fire risk assessment business, the experience brought home much of what we’d covered in the training: build rapport (you can only do that if you actually talk to people – You Don’t Get Business Sat on Your Arse), watch out for buying signals, ask questions to fully understand needs and look the part – first impressions count for a lot!

The very best of luck to Shaun and Caroline as they set out to run their business.