Business Growth: How to Build Business Relationships After a Networking Event

rawpixel-com-267082.jpgIn previous blogs, I’ve discussed how to effectively attend networking events. You’re now quite adept at working the room and making the most of your opportunities. And, some of the connections you’ve made have the potential to develop into valuable business relationships. However, attending the event is only the beginning. Whether or not you’re able to build successful business relationships after attending a networking event depends on how well you follow-up.

Business owners often share with me that their networking event was not successful because they didn’t get any ‘real’ leads, but the truth is, that leads are not built in a day and this is why follow up after attending a networking event is so critical. In order to build business relationships after a networking event, you’ll need to follow up. I’ve outlined below seven tips I believe will help to increase your success at the networking events:

  1. Review and prioritize the connections you made: Review your notes and the business cards that you collected. Google the people you met and interacted with. Make a list of the ones that you believe could be a potential client, strategic partner, vendor or referral source and prioritize in order of importance.
  2. Send an email within 48 hours: Send a quick “nice to meet you email”, and personalize it by mentioning some of the things you discussed at the event. Suggest a face-to-face meeting for coffee or lunch and include a few date/time options.
  3. Connect on LinkedIn and other social media networks: This will help you build your online connections and a potential referral network. Connecting on social media also ensures that you and your connections will always be able to contact each other.
  4. Pick up the telephone and make a call: We’re so used to email, social media and text, that making a phone call has become a novel idea. Pick up the phone, have a chat and suggest a time to get together.
  5. Deliver on any promises that you made: In the course of discussion, did you promise to send your new contact some information he/she was looking for? Deliver on your promises as quickly as possible.
  6. Introduce people to each other: Add value. You may have met someone who you believe would be a great connection for someone else that you know. Make the connection. They’ll both thank you for it.
  7. Create a monthly follow-up plan: Building relationships takes time. A monthly follow-up plan will help you cultivate your contacts and build successful business relationships after attending a networking event. It’s also a great reminder.

Are you following up after attending networking events? Want more advice on building successful business relationships after attending a networking event, or general advice from other business owners like you? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!

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Marketing: How to Keep Your Brand’s Good Name Intact

office-620817_1280I have met many business owners that have worked hard to build their business and to establish their brand’s good name. Many of them don’t anticipate damage that can be caused by one disgruntled employee or a less than favourable online review. In today’s competitive marketplace, I know it takes hard work to stay one step ahead of the competition, and maintaining a positive image to the public and your customers is vital to your business’ longevity. I have outlined some ways your company can protect and promote your company’s good name.

Why is it so important to keep your brand’s reputation intact? Thirty years ago, as much as 95% of the average corporation’s value consisted of tangible assets, according to a report by Thomson Reuters and Interbrand. Today, 75% of the average corporation’s value is intangible. This means that your company’s greatest asset and its value is its name. Perception has become reality and how people perceive your brand will dictate whether or not they want to do business with you. Are you seen as honest, trustworthy and ethical? People want to do business with companies that they trust and share values with, even if that company’s products and services are of similar quality and cost to that of their competitors. Your company’s good name is what differentiates you from your competition. I’ve outlined below a few tips on how you can keep your business’ good name intact:

Keep your brand’s good name intact:

  1. Enhance your corporate image by communicating your successes. Feature awards, testimonials and great press on your website and in social media.
  2. Associate yourself with governing bodies that stand for quality and integrity within your industry. By joining, you’ll be able to use their logo which in many cases will provide instant credibility. Be selective and only join the organizations that will create the most positive impact. Once you’re a member, feature their logo prominently on your website and other collateral.
  3. Use social media wisely. It can be your best friend or your worst enemy. I believe a well thought- out social media plan that targets your audience can help ensure that only designated employees post on social media and that they stay on message, appear transparent and trustworthy.
  4. Ensure that your messaging is authentic. No one wants to read what they perceive to be advertising.
  5. Monitor what’s being said about your company on the Internet and in social media. Designate someone to check the Internet and social media daily for anything related to your company.
  6. Respond immediately in a positive tone if a negative post is spotted. Don’t argue the point. Never respond in anger. If a customer had an unhappy experience, apologize and let them know you’ll try to make it right. Offer to contact them privately offline. Give them every reason to become a satisfied customer.

Are you doing enough to keep your brand’s good name in tact? If you’d like to discuss how TAB could help you with your business, find out if a TAB Board is right for you!


Managing Change: Reactive versus Proactive Business Strategy

startup-849805_640.jpgIf there is one thing I can guarantee any business owner, it is that your business will experience change. Sometimes workplace change can occur very quickly and in today’s marketplace, it can occur quite often. Although change can be difficult and presents new and interesting challenges, it isn’t necessarily negative. Change may take place in order to respond to a new opportunity. As I tell my clients, the key is having the right strategy in place to manage change, which can often be the difference between success and failure. When managing change, there are two main business strategies – reactive and proactive.

Reactive business strategies respond to an unanticipated event after the fact. A reactive approach to business is all too common. Unfortunately, this approach may lead to lost new and emerging opportunities, or losing out to a more aggressive competitor who bursts onto the scene. Being reactive is inefficient and extremely stressful. It doesn’t allow you to plan because you’re too busy reacting. A typical example of a reactive strategy is to wait for business to decline before investing in marketing and promotion. Reactive companies tend to fail in the long run. Look at what happened to companies like Nokia and Blockbuster.

Proactive business strategies anticipate the events, plan for them and take action. They are ready to capitalize on new and emerging opportunities or respond to new competitors. Research is very important to a proactive business strategy. You have to analyze the market thoroughly, pay attention to the trends and adapt to them before your competitors do. The reality is that no business can be proactive all the time, however if you focus on a proactive strategy, you will be more effective at dealing with challenges and as a result, more successful. A typical example of a proactive strategy is to invest in marketing and promotion to gain a greater market share in anticipation of increased competition, instead of waiting for business to decline first as in a reactive business strategy. Apple and Amazon are perfect examples of proactive companies.

Creating a proactive business culture is hard work but it pays off. It starts with a change in mindset. You need to be ahead of the curve. Instead of racing around putting out fires, anticipate and plan for success! Here are some tips to help create a proactive business culture:

  • Schedule time to plan
  • Clearly define expectations and goals
  • Refine and improve business processes
  • Research your industry
  • Pay attention to trends
  • Stay on top of the business climate
  • Know your competitors
  • Identify risks
  • Search for and find problems before they happen

There is no doubt that adopting a proactive business strategy is the ideal approach to help you shape the results of change. However, sometimes changes come so quickly that we do need to react and therefore a reactive strategy needs to be applied. If you’d like more advice on how to create the right proactive or reactive business strategy, or are looking for other business advice, check out how TAB can help!


You’ve Built A Wealth Of Business Expertise – Now What?

office-1209640_1920Many senior executives want to share the lessons they’ve learned from their 20+ years of experience at several large corporations, but with the changing landscape of corporate culture, these execs are being ‘pushed’ out or looking for new opportunities.

I’ve spoken to countless senior executives that have climbed the proverbial corporate ladder, and have been dedicated to progressively building their careers at a huge multinational for years, even decades. However, they are finding that the face of the company is changing and a younger group of individuals now reflect the corporate culture. Some are facing the possibility of being phased out, or are looking for ideas and direction for what may become the next chapter of their career.

There is little doubt that today’s rapidly changing, globally competitive environment often requires a shift in mindset and competencies, and a growing number of senior executives in their 50s are evaluating their value and long-term growth plans. These professionals were hired by large multinationals when in their 20s and have enjoyed travelling the world, solving business issues, creating new processes and plans, organizing teams, going to tradeshows and conferences, and engaging in high-stake meetings with their colleagues in Asia. Where do they go from here?

When you have fully invested in your career and have a wealth of knowledge, the question is how can you share your wisdom and help others reach their goals?

If you are interested in learning about an opportunity to leverage your business expertise and provide guidance to business owners while giving you the freedom to work at your own pace, build equity, meet local business owners and become part of your business community, check out this website or simply contact me to discuss your situation.


Put an End to the Feast and Famine of Owning Your Own Business

indexI’ve seen it time and time again, business owners, whether they own an accounting, engineering firm, marketing agency or IT company, are left feeling vulnerable due to the feast and famine of income streams.

When I meet with business owners they share with me their concerns about their struggle for consistent revenues; one month the financials look great, but next month, they are not on target and they begin to stress about making enough income to cover their expenses. Sometimes this cycle is endless and it can take a toll on the many business owners striving for income predictability and growth.

When a business experiences the feast or famine scenario, things like hiring staff for a project today in hopes that there is work for them tomorrow can result in more stress and pressure on the owner to bring in more business.

Owning a business can be one of the most rewarding experiences, but so often business owners are conflicted with decisions about hiring the right staff, committing to paying rent for the appropriate space, investing in office equipment and technology, not to mention marketing. Without consistent and predictable revenue it is hard to make long term plans that will allow owners of professional services businesses to accomplish their goals.

If you are interested in learning about a professional business that will put an end to this feast or famine scenario but still give you the freedom to own a business, check out this website or simply contact me to discuss your situation.


Employee Relations: Social Media In and Out of the Workplace

28011015990_8ff191ee0f_bEven though I know some small business owners still have not embraced social media in their business, but in 2017, there is no denying that social media is now pervasive in our culture. When used wisely in the workplace social media is a powerful tool that can connect individuals, increase productivity, enhance sales and marketing efforts and create brand champions. However, social media also has a dark side. Inappropriate social media used by employees can cause serious damage your company’s reputation, leak sensitive information and/or leave you libel for cyber bullying or harassment. With social media use at an all time high and still growing exponentially, it’s more important than ever for every business to have a clearly defined social media policy.

How many Canadians are using social media?

  • 73% of millennials use social media daily (Statistics Canada)
  • More than 14 million Canadians check Facebook every day (Miller Thomson)
  • More than 400 million tweets are sent daily (Miller Thomson)
  • LinkedIn has over 8 million Canadian users (Miller Thomson)

What is a social media policy? A social media policy is a code of conduct that establishes clear guidelines and expectations for your employees. It clearly defines which social media sites employees may access and what is and is not appropriate for employees to post about their company on these sites. Typically they include restrictions on disclosing confidential information, trade secrets, financial information and/or potentially offensive material. A social media policy will also clearly state the consequences for breaking the rules. 

Why is a social media policy so important? There used to be a clear distinction between your private life and your work life, but social media has blurred all that. People post on social media anytime and from anywhere, often without too much forethought. Millennials, also referred to as the social generation, are notorious for sharing everything, including the minutiae of their lives, without a filter for what is private or work related. “Any company, big or small, needs a social media policy to protect their reputations,” says Aliah Wright, author of A Necessary Evil: Managing Employee Activity on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn…and the Hundreds of Other Social Media Sites. “Even if their company has no social media presence, their employees may be creating one by virtue of their actions online.”

7 tips for creating an effective social media policy:

  1. State the purpose/objective of the policy
  2. Clearly define what constitutes social media. Is it social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn? Does it include blogs? Online forums? Videos?
  3. Decide who is responsible for managing and participating in social media – everyone involved in your company’s social media should know who is responsible for the different tasks
  4. Establish guidelines for overall conduct and be clear about what is considered unacceptable behaviour – releasing confidential or proprietary information, offensive language, cyber bulling, airing grievances online…
  5. State the consequences for breaching the policy? Disciplinary action? Termination?
  6. Make sure that your employees understand the social media policy and provide training sessions if necessary.
  7. Monitor social media usage to ensure that the policy is being followed

Does your company have a social media policy in place? Want more advice on social media policies, or general advice from other business owners like you? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!


Business Growth: How to Improve Your Customer Retention Rate

blog-member-retention-tipsI work with many business owners who are very often so focused on customer acquisition that they forget about how important and cost-effective customer retention is. According to the Harvard Business Review, acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one. Research by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company shows that increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.

One strategic business approach that I often recommend is to go deeper with the clients you have rather than invest the time to attain new ones. I’ve outlined below several tips to help you improve your customer retention rate:

Are your customers leaving you? If you want to improve your customer retention rate, you need to be aware of how many customers are leaving (the churn rate) and determine what is causing them to leave. Ask yourself what as a company you are doing that is causing your customers to leave.

Customers don’t buy from companies; they buy from people. 60% of all customers stop dealing with a company because of what they perceive as indifference on the part of salespeople (Peppers and Rogers Group). Have your salespeople become complacent? Are you making an effort to make your customers feel valued or do you take them for granted? Are you rewarding your loyal customers for their business?

Listen to your customers. Talk to your customers – after all, they chose you. Invest the time to ask them how they feel about your products/services. Understand what they are looking for and what their plans are for the future. Personal relationships are powerful and inspire loyalty. The customer experience is key to your success.

It’s not all about price. Companies are often totally focused on being the lowest cost provider. While being competitively priced is very important, there will always be someone who can come in at a lower price. Price alone won’t keep your customers; delivering the best value will. Value is a combination of price, trust, customer service, delivery, relationships and support.

Has your company lived up to expectations? It’s one thing to win the business; it’s another thing to keep it. Make sure your brand has delivered on its promise and your product/service meet or exceed expectations. Take a look at creating a great customer experience. Managing customer expectations is an important part of customer retention. Set realistic expectations. It’s better to under-promise and over-deliver.

Communicate! Communicate! Communicate! Communicating with your customers will keep you top of mind. Remember, there is always going to be someone lurking in the wings to swoop in and steal your business. Find out how often and by what channels your customers want to receive information. Always address your customers’ concerns immediately. If you make a mistake, own it and fix it. Your customers will appreciate your honesty and your efforts.

Do you prize deliverables over results? Every deliverable must be able to show a measurable result that will positively impact your customers’ business and help them achieve their goals and objectives.

Bonus Tip: Conduct an exit interview. There is no company in the world that retains 100% of their customers, no matter how good they are. If one of your customers is leaving, take it as an opportunity to improve. Conduct an exit interview to learn why they’re leaving. This information is extremely valuable and can help you to make changes in order to avoid a similar situation in the future.

Are your customers leaving you? Want more advice on customer retention, or general advice from other business owners like you? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!