Category Archives: Networking

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Weekend Favs October 28: Fueling Small Business Growth and Marketing Innovation

Weekend Favs October 28: Fueling Small Business Growth and Marketing Innovation written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week. This weekend’s selection of tools can significantly aid in your marketing strategy, paving the way for small business growth.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but I encourage you to check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from an online source or one I took on the road.

  • Resume Worded – If you are looking for a new job or just want to keep your profile updated you now can work with Resume Worded which has been designed by top recruiters. Their AI-powered platform instantly gives you tailored feedback on your resume and LinkedIn profile, helping you land 5x more interviews, opportunities and job offers.
  • Getitout – Marketing works better with personas. But creating them for every project and client? Not fun, at least until now. This website extract personas from competitors. Generate professional texts. Then paste them into all your websites, emails, and marketing tools.
  • Clay – If personal relationships are not your forte, Clay has come to save the day. Clay uses AI to power its tools for cultivating amazing personal and professional relationships.

These are my weekend favs; I would love to hear about some of yours – Tweet me @ducttape

If you want to check out more Weekend Favs you can find them here.

Five Tips That Make Asking for Referrals Less Intimidating

Five Tips That Make Asking for Referrals Less Intimidating written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Asking for referrals can be tough. It can feel like you’re being pushy or imposing on someone’s time. But in reality, the majority of happy customers are more than willing to give a referral when asked.

While the first hurdle in asking for referrals is getting over your own insecurities or mental blocks associated with the process, here are five additional tips that make asking for referrals less intimidating.

1. Provide Great Service

This one might seem obvious, but the first step to feeling good about asking for a referral is providing the best service possible. Of course you’re going to feel sheepish approaching a customer who had a less-than-stellar experience with your company. But if you are honest, responsive, and helpful from start to finish, then why shouldn’t your customer be excited to pass your name along to others?

We’re all human and mistakes do happen. There will be times when a customer has a sub-par interaction with your business. That doesn’t mean that you should run away and consider that customer a lost cause. If you are proactive about reaching out, apologizing, and asking for a second chance to wow them (and then delivering on your promise the next time), you might just create an even more loyal customer. People appreciate honesty and businesses who are willing to go the extra mile, so when you make that effort—even if it’s after an initial mess-up—you should feel confident asking for a referral after you’ve proven your mettle the second time.

2. Start a Conversation

Sometimes it can feel difficult to ask for a referral because it feels like you’re selfishly asking for a favor out of the blue. One way to mitigate this feeling is to establish a meaningful conversation with someone before you ask them for a referral. Send them a congratulatory note when you see on LinkedIn that they reached a milestone in their career. Forward them an article that you think would be of interest to them. Donate to a Kickstarter related to their business’s newest product launch. There are lots of simple ways that you can show support for someone that will make asking them for a referral further down the line feel like more of a part of a conversation rather than a demand coming out of nowhere.

Of course, there is an art to doing this. You don’t want to make a grand gesture of kindness and then turn right around and ask for a referral. No one wants to feel like they’re being bribed into saying something nice about you and your business. But if you show a genuine interest in what someone is doing in their business life, they’ll feel even more open to saying something genuinely kind about you when you ask.

3. Provide Various Ways to Gather the Referral

It’s always best to ask someone for a referral directly; people are far more likely to refer when they’re asked than they are to go out of their way to do it on their own (even if they had a positive experience with your company). However, you want to be sure you’re making it easy for customers to refer you, whether you’re asking them directly or not.

Include a link to sites where customers can provide a review (whether that’s Yelp, Facebook, or a tool like in your email signature. Customers who see this reminder each time they communicate with you might be more likely to review you when they have a spare minute if they’re presented with the opportunity to do so on more than one occasion. You can also create a “refer a friend” button or page on your website. This makes it easy for you to collect referrals from customers by sending them a link to the page, while it also allows customers you haven’t reached out to directly to still submit a referral if they feel so inclined.

4. Create Partnerships

One of the best ways to generate referrals is by creating partnerships with other business owners. They’re facing the same struggles as you when it comes to generating referrals, so it’s easier to ask them for referrals. They understand how intimidating it can be to ask customers to pass your name along, and so they’ll be all the more willing to do so for you and your business (and you will be willing to do the same for them).

Work to find businesses that are providing a good or service that makes sense with the work your company does. If you own a shoe store, talk to the cobbler down the street. If you’re a DJ for weddings and events, speak with the local party equipment rental company.

Asking a fellow business owner for referrals is not only a bit less intimidating than asking a customer, it also establishes a steady flow of referrals. Business owners will continue to come across prospects who are in need of your services, whereas past customers might only meet someone every once in a while who’s looking for the good or service you provide.

5. Be Specific In Your Ask

Some people are hesitant to ask for referrals when it seems like a broad ask: “If you know anyone who needs what I do, let me know!” One way to counter this is to do a little research.

Let’s say you’re a website designer who already has a list of local businesses you’d like to target. You’ve looked at their sites and have some specific thoughts on how to strengthen each of their designs to help them grow their business.

Go onto LinkedIn and see if any of your current clients have connections at these businesses. If so, you then have a specific referral ask that you can make. Reach out to your current client and say, “I see that you know the marketing manager at Company X. I’ve been wanting to get in touch with someone over there about their website design; I’ve got some concrete ideas about how to organize their site that could help grow their sales. Would you be willing to put me in touch with your connection?”

This serves a few purposes. It shows to your current client that you’re serious about your business, know your stuff, and do your research. This makes them feel more at ease in referring you to their connection. It also makes you feel more empowered in your ask. You know exactly what you want, and you’re confident enough in the services you provide to be unafraid to ask for that referral.

Asking for referrals can be scary. But if you provide excellent service to your customers, there’s no need for you to feel shy. People are excited to spread the word about a great business, and if you’re able to drum up the courage to ask for referrals, you’ll be sure to get great new leads for your efforts.

The Introvert’s Guide to Successful Networking

The Introvert’s Guide to Successful Networking written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Networking is a critical skill for any business owner to develop. It allows you to find the best talent for your company, establish new strategic partnerships, and expand your client base. There is definitely an art to networking, and there are some steps that everyone should take before they head out to their next conference or industry cocktail mixer.

For introverts, though, networking can prove to be a real challenge. If large groups and chatting with strangers is something that makes you cringe, then networking is not going to come easily. But that doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel. There are some tips and tricks that can help even the shiest of the shy make meaningful business connections that can help them to grow their business and further their career.

Network From the Comfort of Your Home

The advent of social media has been a dream come true for introverts. A site like LinkedIn allows introverts a bit more control over the situation—they can reach out on their own terms, have time to consider how they want to open the conversation, and then are able to talk over a written chat. This removes the fear of having to maintain a conversational volley like you would in a real-life setting, and it gives you the opportunity to craft thoughtful responses to those you’re speaking with.

Joining LinkedIn groups is a good way to meet new people online. Target groups that are related to your field or a niche in your industry. You might also consider tapping into alumni networks or trade organizations. Once you’ve joined a group, join in on the conversation. Share some content that is useful and relevant, and once you get into a conversation on a thread, that opens the door for you to then reach out to that person one-on-one in a direct message.

Once you’ve chatted with someone on LinkedIn, it’s easier to make the leap to meeting in real life. If you’ve found common ground or have talked already about a business issue you share, it can be easier to then make the ask and invite them out to coffee or lunch to continue the conversation in person.

Build In Quiet Time

Once you work up the courage to attend a networking event or meet with a colleague, client, or prospect one-on-one, it’s okay to take time to assess what you need to make your interactions successful, and to give yourself some breathing room before and after the meeting.

For a lot of introverts, crowded networking events or even one-on-one conversations are draining and stressful. Build a half hour buffer into your schedule before the meeting or event to allow time to decompress, gather your thoughts, run through the questions you plan to ask or topics you’d like to cover, and to really get your head in the game.

And you should go into these meetings with a game plan. Don’t leave it to chance. If you’re going to an event, do some research about who else is attending and learn a bit about them. Write down a few questions that you’d like to ask. Sometimes it’s helpful to even rehearse asking these questions at home with a friend or loved one who can act out the role of another networking event attendee.

It’s alright to take some time after the meeting, too. Grab some fresh air and walk back to the office rather than hopping right in the car or on the subway. Take the time to do a mental debrief, focusing on what went well rather than dwelling on the one or two awkward silences or flubbed lines.

Be a Good Listener

For a lot of introverts, their biggest fear is having to hop into an already established group at a networking event, dazzling them with insight and wit. It’s perfectly fine for you to not be the life of the party at a networking event. In fact, there are a lot of extroverts jockeying for that role, so you can benefit from doing something that, as an introvert, already comes easily to you: listening.

When people are in a networking situation and are either the extrovert vying for everyone’s attention or are the introvert terrified of having to make small talk, they sometimes forget that conversation is a two-way street. Rather than trying to be in the driver’s seat in a conversation, let the more extroverted person lead the way. You can contribute a lot just by listening intently and asking thoughtful questions of the other person. In fact, if you’re listening carefully, you’re probably making a great first impression—you come across as someone who’s attentive, smart, and engaged. This is actually an important part of building meaningful business relationships, rather than purely transactional interactions, that can serve anyone well in the long run—introverts and extroverts alike.

Phone a Friend

Big networking events and large conferences often strike fear in the heart of a true introvert. If you don’t think you can go it alone, find a friend to bring along with you! Having an event buddy, someone you like and trust, will help to put you at ease. When you’re more at ease, you’ll be better equipped to handle conversations with strangers and a large group dynamic.

It will also take some of the burden of carrying every conversation off of your plate. Your event buddy may even help to push you out of your comfort zone and get you to tag along for the conference cocktail hour or post-event impromptu karaoke night.

Don’t Forget to Follow Through

Sometimes just surviving the networking event is stressful enough. You might be tempted to pat yourself on the back just for making it through, and then move on mentally to your next task. But attending the event is only half of your work!

The next day, you want to send a personalized follow-up to anyone you spoke with. This is the easy, low-stress part, since you can send an email or LinkedIn message from the comfort of your desk. Because it seems easier, it can be an easy step to gloss over or forget, but in reality it is the most important part of networking.

If you go to an event and then let all of the business cards you collected just gather dust in a drawer, what have you accomplished? Or if you wait a month to reach out to the people you met, they’re not going to be able to place you, or if they do, they will be unimpressed by how slow you were in reaching out.

Setting aside an hour the next day to write thoughtful notes that reference a specific thing you discussed with that person will really help you to stand out. They might not have an immediate need, but when they are looking for someone who does what you do (or a friend asks them for a recommendation), if you’ve created a positive impression, you just might be the person they think of first.

For most introverts, attending a networking event sounds about as fun as getting a root canal. But when you approach networking with a plan in mind, it can be a lot easier to get over the discomfort of interacting with strangers in a group setting, and to really make meaningful connections.