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The Power Of Small Business Networking Compels You

Does it really? A sunny afternoon, sitting in your chair, the phone is quiet, e-mail is slow and you “have” to fold laundry or vacuum or think of something for dinner. What’s wrong with this? NO ACTIVITY! It is so easy to create “busy to be busy” and avoid the fact that sales are slow and you really don’t know what to do. Guess what… STOP! Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.

Don't Let Distractions Become Your BusinessTime To Build A Plan

Open your eyes and pull out a pen and paper and write down five people whom you haven’t spoken to in a long time, five prospects who haven’t called you back, and five leads that you should talk to. Next write out three ways your product or service can help other businesses be successful – NOT YOURS! Now, pick up the phone and dial. Leave messages for each one telling them that you have something wonderful to tell them about and to call back as soon as they get the message. If you get them live, set up an appointment to discuss how you can work together to develop results… not success, not sales, not revenues, not money, not moving the conversation forward – just plain old results. The reason you don’t label the outcome is because results can mean different things to each person and you want to “close” them on communication and activity not a quick sale.

Turn Ideas Into Action

Evaluate your success. Did you  reach five of the fifteen? How many appointments? Regardless of the results write down five ideas/issues that came from the conversations or messages. Review them and put them into an e-mail with the subject line… “Help! I need some advice from you because I trust you.” Craft each e-mail message to discuss the ideas and ask for feedback from ten to twenty contacts from your secondary network. You will experience up to 10% response indicating ways to deal with your ideas or issues. Note  I said secondary network. Your primary network knows you, has done business with you, or is active with you socially. The secondary network might be part of your trickle marketing, friends of friends, or people whom you were referred to in the last 60 days because they were a potential “good fit” for your company. They all should be on the outskirts of your “know, like, trust” group but potentially interested in your product or service.

Networking Power

Everything I have discussed so far can be considered “sales 101” in the sense of creating not stagnating in your business. Distractions are far easier than conducting business and I guess that is why we call it work. Having said that, what we are addressing is the difficulty every business owner faces daily in regards to activity, lead conversion, time management, and critical thinking. Setting up a patterned system to contact, promote, and stimulate networking will lead to unrealized rewards. The key is consistency, follow-up, and defined strategy. Don’t waste time with contacts, businesses, or people who don’t really move you forward to your goals.

Who Should I Talk To?

The only thing you can control in your business is you. Your time, energy, drive, self-management, and passion for success. You have to clearly define your goals on paper and talk about them with others prior to launching campaigns, going to networking functions, or … folding laundry. The reason small business owners let distractions take over their focus is because it is easier to complete something immediately tangible than to struggle with a long-term initiative. When was the last time you decided to review billing, evaluate year-to-date numbers, or analyze resource capability rather than picking up the phone or sending a directive e-mail? I suffer from the same issues and literally rise from my chair and walk in a circle and sit back down to re-focus.

Develop Good Habits

Take the time to analyze your reaction to stress, lack of activity, and how you deal with distractions. Develop a system to break the status quo and launch new activity-driven campaigns or initiatives and  better your business today. For example, in the first part of this article, focusing on five cold prospects, five active leads, and five potential targets gears you up for action not stagnation. The system should include simple actions that are performed in order, be measured, and slightly changed for maximum benefit. Strengthen the habits that lead to positive outcomes and ignore ones that lead to distraction. Now is the time to start. Don’t wait, don’t think, just do! Remember, the only one you have control over is… YOU!


Can An Artist Excel In Small Business?

Business Is An ArtYesterday I went to a gallery showing for an artist who I met last year. The draw was the simple fact that she invited me and I enjoyed her art. At the time of the invite I really didn’t “know” her or cared to “understand” her ability. Fast forward to the event held at Gallery Five 18 which showcases some exceptional local artists from the Boise area. I entered the gallery with an open mind but not really knowing what to expect. To my surprise I met Connie Karleta Sales (for the “first time”) a true artist who expressed her determination to change the world around her, one city and exhibit at a time. Her approach to art was both refreshing and innovative as well as the foundation for telling her incredible story of personal change and love of writing and drawing. What iced the cake was when she led a discussion surrounding writing, impressions of art, and how people truly feel when “experiencing” art. I have to tell you, I admire her for her courage and collaborative design.

Is This A Business?

You are probably asking yourself why this experience is detailed in a blog about sales and marketing, small businesses, and start-ups. Don’t fret, I wondered the same thing. The answer lies in the approach that a talented artist took to marketing opportunity in her own way. Like all professional artists Connie expects to sell art in shows and events and relies on people to become patrons of her art and evangelize their affection through purchase or word-of-mouth. This is a classic supply and demand strategy built on educating the potential market and providing a venue to experience the product before making the decision to purchase. The benefit of this marketing style will manifest over the long haul and not the short-term.

Keeping An Eye On The Future

In sales and marketing we all know that simple and direct are best. They rank right alongside value and honesty. If your product or service is not credible and message-enabled, it will not sell. In Connie’s case she developed her “pitch” through use of personal history, artistic relationship, and a demonstrated visual skill. All are necessary to activate buyer interest and lay the ground work for future relationships. She conducted follow up and updates to her invitees prior to the event and made sure to provide an environment that was  conducive, both to the artist and audience.

Know, Trust, Like

Any sales strategy has to incorporate the benefits of the product or service into a messaging platform that is linked to buyer need or desire. Prospects become buyers when they develop a concrete knowledge base about the company, trust both the message and value of the offering, and like the result and/or representation of the product/service to the market. Connie achieved these critical components naturally yet leaving room for constructive criticism and opportunity for change.

The most interesting thing about this interaction is Connie never openly discussed sales or marketing strategy or attempted to provide legitimacy through collateral, information manipulation, or a “canned” sales pitch. She allowed her art (product) and its history to speak for her. The result was a wonderful experience that enriched her audience and stimulated discussion, learning, and reflection. The strength of a simple but passionate marketing message makes all the difference particularly within the world of the so called “starving artists”. Hats off to this entrepreneurial spirit who is stepping out of obscurity into the limelight. Find out more about the gallery and Connie at their respective websites which are hot-linked in the body of this article.

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