Setting Goals with Your Networking

I’m a big believer in the power of networking to grow your business. However, having overdone this myself, I also know how important it is to be intentional about where you network, how often you network, and how to get the most return for the time, energy, money, and effort spent. Here are some things to think about as you are planning your networking strategy for your small business this year.

Timing

Before you start making big plans to get out there and meet people this year, take some time to really think about how much you can handle. It’s easy to burn yourself out on networking everywhere, making this a less effective strategy for your business than it could be if you approach it realistically.

Where in your calendar do you have wiggle room to attend networking events? How often can you realistically be away from your business without it suffering? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Your energy will be impacted differently, depending on your answer to that last question.

Before you seek out the right networking groups, be certain you have an idea of what you can handle. This will help your networking efforts be more successful. Then you can jot down your networking goal of attending X number of networking events each month.

Picking the Right Group

Just as important as factoring in your time and energy, find the right group(s) is essential. There are plenty of options available from large, national groups to local meet-up opportunities. Each group will have their own schedule, leadership, costs, and set of rules to follow. Some groups are more formal with lots of expectations and rules because they are dedicated to getting results for their members. Others are quite a bit more informal with less rules and little to no cost, but your return on your time can vary. If you aren’t sure which networking groups to try this year, visit a few. Also, ask around. Other small business owners you know will probably have recommendations on groups they love to network in!

How You Network

Turns out that people approach networking differently. There is a traditional way of meeting and connecting with people and that works because it doesn’t surprise anyone. It’s expected that you offer to go on a coffee date or phone call to get to know one another better. In some groups, you are required to do a few of these each month. However, as networking progresses, people are finding that being generous, listening, be specific about their ask (instead of just delivering an elevator speech), and creating an easy way for people to say yes to you may be more effective than setting up a ton of get-to-know-you meetings. As you are identifying your networking goals, take some time to get creative and find out how you can stand out and do things differently as a networker.

Being Intentional

I’ve found, from talking to other businesses who regularly network, that it can be quite effective to set goals for each networking event. A tough goal to reach is to sign up 2 clients at each event. There are a lot of variables involved and most people need a chance to get to know you better and build trust before they are ready to sign up for your product or service. A reachable goal, however, could be to introduce yourself to 3 new people at each event. It could also be to arrange 2 coffee dates a month. How about practice your pitch 5 times this month? By getting intentional with what you want to accomplish, you can walk away from each networking event knowing that you are making progress towards your networking goals for the year.

I love networking. I truly consider it one of the most valuable tools in my business-building arsenal. I love networking so much that I now manage my own chapter of WEBO in Southeast Denver. If you are seeking a group of passionate, motivated women entrepreneurs and business owners on this side of town, I hope you’ll check us out here.

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Hollie Clere of The Social Media Advisor is a “#BeAwesome” Developer, Social Media, Brand Builder, Content Manager, Trainer and Author in LinkedInFacebookTwitterBlogGoogle+YouTubePinterestInstagram, and the tools to manage them.

Click here for Social Media TrainingSpeaking and Strategy Consultations.

#CustomerGratitude – What is a CRM?

To put it simply, CRM software is a tool that businesses use to track and nurture their relationships with leads and current clients. This is the best way to store and access all kinds of information on people including their contact information, notes, interactions with your brand, and more.

There are hundreds of different types of CRM’s available and each business is tasked with finding a system that works for their needs. There are plenty of features available, making a CRM an invaluable asset to organizing and running your company. Plus, it makes expressing gratitude for your clients much simpler.

How does a CRM help you appreciate your clients?

Automated Touches

We get it. You’re busy. It’s difficult to get the work done, sign new clients, run your business AND spend a bunch of time reaching out to your customers to let them know you’re thinking of them. While it’s not okay to automate all of your customer appreciation activities, the occasional email automation sequence is a good supplement when you’re swamped.

If one of the ways you like to love on your clients is to send them interesting and relevant content on a regular basis, your CRM could automate this process by allowing you to build a list and schedule those emails to multiple clients at once.

Personalized Communication

Just because an email is automated doesn’t mean it needs to look that way. Quality CRM software will offer you the option of personalizing the subject line so it looks like you crafted that email just for your client.

Store Valuable Data

With the right website forms, tied into your CRM, you can respond to leads quickly, personally, and efficiently as all the information will then be stored into your database.

Track What’s Important

Do you love sending out birthday cards or gifts? Get rid of the spreadsheet and plug those dates into your CRM! Track the client relationship from initial contact to the present moment with just a few clicks on your computer. Never forget an important conversation or date again.

If you are SOLD on getting started with your own CRM, we always recommend AllProWebTools. As a Certified Marketing Expert for AllProWebTools, you’ll have an expert by your side to answer questions and get you up and running in no time.

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Hollie Clere of The Social Media Advisor is a “#BeAwesome” Developer, Social Media, Brand Builder, Content Manager, Trainer and Author in LinkedInFacebookTwitterBlogGoogle+YouTubePinterestInstagram, and the tools to manage them.

Click here for Social Media TrainingSpeaking and Strategy Consultations.

#CustomerGratitude – Customer Appreciation Tips

When small business owners talk about customer appreciation, the first thought that often comes to mind are gifts. While sending gifts can be a great way to encourage loyalty and appreciate your clients, it’s not the only method to nurture these valuable relationships.

Here are some ideas, outside of gifting, to help you become a customer appreciation superstar:

Staying Top of Mind

Out of sight, out of mind is not just an expression – it can easily become a reality. Being a business owner can be overwhelming and it’s way too easy to overlook loving on your people on a regular basis. However, not staying top of mind with your customers leaves the door wide open for another vendor or business to swoop in and take that opportunity to really build a solid, relationship. Loyalty and trust are earned and, if neglected, quickly transferred to someone else willing to put the effort in. This may mean finding a way to delegate some of the time-consuming tasks that are keeping you from being intentional and present with your clients.

Being a Giver

Being a giver isn’t just about gifts. Givers walk into the room with a heart of service, looking to support other people and make their day better. If there is always a tally involved for you to step up and give your time, energy or attention, then a mindset change needs to happen.

People are drawn to givers. Why? Givers don’t show up only looking to get something out of the experience. They don’t have the expectation that in order to give they must receive in return. There are no hidden agendas, spammy motives, or unfavorable conversations when you are interacting with a listener, a nurturer, or a giver. Anything you can do to show up for people with an intention to serve, will do wonders for you in terms of relationship building.

Invite Them Along

This technique isn’t as well-known but can be super effective if done in a generous way. If you have an upcoming event, function, or networking opportunity – this is a great moment to invite a client to come along with you and share the benefits! Not only is this a great way to give back, but it also sets you up to enjoy one on one time and get to know them.

Collaboration

As you look at each new year, ask yourself whether or not there are opportunities to collaborate with your clients. Can you throw an event together and both promote it to both your audiences? Can you team up on a project that will benefit you both? Collaboration is the glue that ties successful businesses together. No business is an island and your reach will be more expansion with there are more people working together.

Whatever you decide to do to appreciate your customers, just know that every touch and every conversation is building the relationship. Relationships breed loyalty, referrals, and word-of-mouth in ways that no other business connection can. Client appreciation is about more than saying, “Thank you.” It’s also about creating a connection that stands the test of time.

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Hollie Clere of The Social Media Advisor is a “#BeAwesome” Developer, Social Media, Brand Builder, Content Manager, Trainer and Author in LinkedInFacebookTwitterBlogGoogle+YouTubePinterestInstagram, and the tools to manage them.

Click here for Social Media TrainingSpeaking and Strategy Consultations.

#CustomerGratitude – Top 3 Ways to Show Gratitude to Your Clients Off Social Media

In our last blog, we featured some ways that you can express gratitude to your current clients using social media. In this article, we want to focus on some offline ways to love on your clients and appreciate them all year long.

Give Them Face Time

While it can be tough to set aside time for every client, if you pace it out all year long, it can make a big impact on your relationship building. What many small businesses do is focus the majority of their energy on acquiring new leads and clients and forget to nurture their existing one. A little bit of attention goes a long way in this busy world. It inspires loyalty to take time to connect with each of your valued customers.

Mention Them to Others

Name dropping can be a good thing when you are sharing your love for your clients! Keep your ears open for the opportunity to share their information with others. This not only spreads the word about what they do, it also builds bonds between you and others. Soon, you’ll be known as a powerful connector in your community and people will respect your efforts to build up the local community and support their local businesses.

Have a Client Appreciation Plan

How often have you thought that it might be a good idea to do something nice for your clients but haven’t been able to make it happen yet? If there isn’t a plan in place, it’s merely an idea without wings. Get your client appreciation plan off the ground by sitting down and being intentional with how you will nurture those relationships. Whether the plan is taking them to lunch quarterly, sending the occasional card, making regular phone calls or investing in thoughtful gifts to surprise and delight them – you need to write down what you plan to do and put it in your calendar! That way you’ve set a timeline and are making client appreciation a priority and not just a random to-do item.

Whether your plan is to nurture your clients online or off-line (or both), the key is to have a plan. If you think generously and remain in a place of gratitude and you’ll find that client appreciation is one of your favorite activities. The impact of taking the time to love on your colleagues goes way beyond mere client retention. It’s a legacy that every small business owner should aspire towards.

Be sure to Follow us and Let’s Engage!

Hollie Clere of The Social Media Advisor is a “#BeAwesome” Developer, Social Media, Brand Builder, Content Manager, Trainer and Author in LinkedInFacebookTwitterBlogGoogle+YouTubePinterestInstagram, and the tools to manage them.

Click here for Social Media TrainingSpeaking and Strategy Consultations.


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