Negotiating With Clients is in Your Best Interest

ID-1009160How did you determine how to price your services? One reason you may be suffering with finding new clients could be due to how much you charge. If this is the case, more than likely you’ve heard this objection from current or potential clients before. While you may not want to consider negotiating, it really is in your best interest. Here’s why:

  • If you agree to at least negotiate on a price with a potential client, they may see you as empathetic and willing to work with them. Many people allow their emotions to help decide how they will spend their money, so developing a positive rapport may help you close with a client who otherwise was considering not spending money on your services.
  • Negotiating allows you to explain to your potential client why your fee is fair for the value of service they’d receive. If they can search the internet and find others in your industry who offer similar services for cheaper, this is especially important. You know you are worth the extra money; you just have to justify it to the client.
  • While negotiating, a potential client may mention a service that you don’t offer, but your competitor does. Hearing this kind of feedback can help you later when you’re looking to expand what you offer.

In the end, some people will be impossible to negotiate with. No matter how low you go, they will never buy your service. Don’t continue to lower your prices to try to get them to use you. Remember that your business first and foremost is a way for you to earn income. Never negotiate lower than you are willing to go.

What tips do you have for negotiating your price with potential clients? Share them with us in the comments below!

The Downside of a Q&A Session

ID-10041287One of the most awkward parts of giving a presentation or lecture is the question and answer session after the main presentation. Not only is it awkward, it isn’t always necessary when it comes to business presentations.

Of course, question and answer sessions may be beneficial when you are giving a “How to” presentation, and you want to ensure your audience fully understands the topic.

Here are four reasons why a Q&A is not always your best bet:

  1. You never know what kinds of questions the audience may spring on you. You could be the most educated person in the world on insulating a home, but there is always that person who will ask a question phrased in such a way to where you don’t know how to answer them, and your credibility with the group is destroyed.
  2. Questions people ask during a Q&A portion may be better answered during a one-to-one. One of the best ways to build relationships with a contact is by spending some solo time with them, talking about what you both do and getting to know each other a bit.
  3. Q&As can be time drains. Sometimes people do ask valuable questions during a Q&A, but many times the process of getting people to ask questions, and having some questions asked just be duplicates of each other, can really kill an event agenda.
  4. Your Q&A is not an open forum. Sometimes, audiences will use a Q&A time to air grievances, complain, express difficulties, etc., but this is definitely not the time that you would want to address issues like these.

When you conclude a presentation, you should encourage your audience to speak to you after with any questions or one-to-one requests. This will give you an opportunity to hear questions, and address them individually, while developing relationships with potential contacts.

Why You Shouldn’t Always Follow the Golden Rule

ID-10040850What I’m about to tell you will seem counter-intuitive at first, but bear with me.

The Golden Rule is not the best way to ensure success in referral marketing. For those unfamiliar with this philosophy, it is commonly known as “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” While it is a good principle to live by, a great one even, this doesn’t help you in networking or referral marketing.

Instead, you should consider implementing the Platinum Rule in your networking efforts. This, put simply, is treating others the way they would like to be treated. Referral marketing is closely linked with relationships, and what better way to develop a relationship than adjusting how you treat someone to their wants and needs?

There are three people involved in a referral: You, the referral source, and the prospective referral. All three of these people come into play when you consider how to implement the Platinum Rule.

You. How do you work best? What are your strengths and weaknesses?

The referral source. How does the person communicate best, or like to be communicated with? How do they like to be treated? If you expect someone to pass a referral to you, you must communicate with them in a way that they appreciate and in a way that works well for them.

The prospect. How does the prospect like to be communicated with? What sales tactics work on the prospect? If you expect to close on the referral passed to you, you must be willing and able to communicate effectively with the prospect.

In the end, a networker’s greatest asset is their ability to be adaptable. You must always be willing to accommodate the people you are striving to develop relationships with – your comfort is not nearly as important as theirs.

What is an example of the Platinum Rule at work in your relationships? Let me know in the comments below.

Tips and Tools of the Trade…Show

For most business professionals, a trade show in your field is a great opportunity to get out and meet other professionals who own or work for businesses similar to yours. Here, you can garner new ideas to bring home with you and make your business better, receive valuable feedback on what you’re currently doing from other professionals, and possibly develop relationships and connections with people who may help you grow your business as part of a Power Team.

ID-10069835While trade shows can be extremely beneficial, they can only really help you if you go into it prepared and ready to grow. As the new year began, many organizations begin promoting their 2016 trade shows, and I’m sure countless of you have already registered for one, if not multiple.

Before you go, consider some of these do’s and don’ts to get the most out of your trade show experience.

DO research the multiple trade shows happening in your field for the year before making the final decision on which to attend. While you can attend more than one, you should only attend as many as will benefit you. Talk to contacts whom you know have attended a specific trade show in the past to get their feedback, do a quick Google search, and always read all of the promotional brochures you can get your hands on. 

DON’T go to the trade show without a specific goal in mind. Want to meet someone who can give you advise on using social media to hit your target market? Looking to build a relationship with someone who has been in the field 20 years longer than you have? Going in with a specific goal can go a long way.

DO become familiar with the layout of the space that the trade show will be in. You can identify quickly if there are certain booths you’d like to make sure you hit, and perhaps even mold your own booth to fit in (or better, stand out) from those positioned near you.

DON’T just hang out by one booth, or if you’re working the show, your booth. You can’t expect your potential contacts to come to you. We never expect this in our day-to-day business, so why would we expect this at a business convention with hundreds of busy professionals, all with their own businesses and goals in mind?

DO make sure you get to as many seminars that make sense for you, and attend group activities. You’re there to make contacts and get to know others in your field, or in the fields represented at the trade show. Don’t waste your time at the show by not circulating and getting to know people.

DON’T forget the follow up! Meeting someone in the first place is only have the battle. You have to actually follow up with them after that initial introduction to really begin to establish a meaningful relationship.

DO go into the trade show with an open mind, and a willingness to both learn and teach.

Are you planning to attend any trade shows this year? What are your goals for them? Share with me in the comments below!

So You Want to Network Up?

Earlier this week, I appeared on Copy Chief with Kevin Rogers as a special guest to talk all about referral marketing. If you missed it, you can check out the whole podcast here, but today I would like to specifically elaborate on one segment from the podcast.

tam-48-ivan-misner-copy-chief

Around the 20-minute mark, I tell a story about a man named Mark who invested a lot of time and energy to develop our relationship. By the time he turned around and asked me for a favor, a least a year after we had met and begun our relationship, I was so appreciative of everything he had done for me that I was willing to do whatever favor he asked for.

You need to be interested, not interesting. People don’t want you to sell to them, they want you to be interested in investing in them. If you’re networking up, or trying to network with someone very successful, you need to find a way to stand out. You need to make that powerful person want to help you, by expecting nothing in return.

So how do you do that? It isn’t one of those things that you can just do overnight, or wake up one day and decide you’re going to develop a relationship with someone.

First and foremost, you have to have an idea. A great idea. An idea that you can implement and it will positively impact the person you hope to build a relationship with. Something helpful, something that that person cannot do themselves. This idea should set you apart, and should be unique to both you, and to your future contact.

Once you have developed your idea – and I mean fully developed; you can’t go to someone with a half-baked plan in your head – you need to reach out to the person that your idea benefits. Handwritten notes can make you stand apart. Emails and social media messages can work, but often will not help you stand apart, and depending on the person they may not be managing their own accounts. A well thought out handwritten note may be your best bet.

From there, your strategy relies strongly on your idea and the person you are working to help. To hear me discuss some other related topics, check out the podcast with Kevin Rogers on Copy Chief here.

Marketing Your Business for the Holidays

holidayAre you taking advantage of the holiday season when it comes to marketing your business? You should be! Festive posts really attract audiences who are feeling sentimental, or those who are looking for some services specifically around the holiday season.

Marketing for the holidays doesn’t mean adding a few snowflakes to your Facebook page, and seasonal networking doesn’t mean drinking egg nog with a contact you haven’t spoken to all year. Instead what this means is utilizing the season to show others how much you appreciate them, whether you appreciate their business or their support. Get small gifts for your clients, send out a sweet holiday-appropriate email blast, or even mail a card via snail mail. People love feeling like they’re being appreciated, and it really does increase your reputation with them to show those feelings.

Other ways to take advantage of the holiday season is to offer discounts or other offers to customers who follow your social media. Announce on your Facebook that you will have free shipping on all orders placed between a certain time frame, or say when someone makes an appointment for your service, if they use the phrase “Happy New Year” they get a discount. There are plenty of ways to get creative around the holiday season.

How do you market and network during the holiday season? Share with me in the comments below!

Network Your Way Into a New Job

ID-100244639In so many industries, landing a job is all about who you know – whether you define a job as a new client in your business, or a complete career change. People want to work with someone that they know, or someone that a person they know is familiar with. That being said, you can often network your way into a job. I often speak on using networking to expand your business, so this time we’ll take the route of a change in career.

First and foremost, never go into a conversation with a new or seasoned contact expecting a job offer or possibility to come out of it. When was the last time you offered or agreed to help someone who expected your help unconditionally? Not only that, but it is rare that all of your contacts will readily have opportunities that they know of to refer you to. Going into a networking event expecting a lead for a new opportunity will leave you disappointed.

Your primary goal should be to ask for career advice from trusted contacts who you admire. These people may be able to answer questions you have, give suggestions for how you can get where you want to be, and perhaps introduce you to new connections who maybe able to help you, too. Alternatively, they may shed light on aspects of a career that you had’t taken into account, which may cause you to reconsider your goals.

Have you ever networked your way into a new job? How did you use your network? Let me know in the comments below!

Does Your Business Card Take Care of Business?

Earlier this week, Danealle Marshall of a BNI chapter out of Orlando, Florida, BNI Gold Partners, reached out to me via Twitter to ask a great question that a lot of business professionals will face during their career.

I love this question. Why? As I often say, giving out and receiving business cards is an extremely powerful part of connecting with new contacts. That being said, sometimes your business card can be what sparks someone’s memory of you. Why wouldn’t you want yours to stand out?

In 2003, I released a book with Candace Bailly and Dan Georgevich titled “It’s In the Cards!” In this book, we discuss the powerful tool that is your business card, and how so many people may be under-utilizing this networking tactic.

ID-100275566To answer Danealle’s question, and to build off of some of the ideas we published over a decade ago in the aforementioned book, here are four things that I have seen in my years in business that have really elevated some business cards.

  1. Mix up the orientation. It is such a small change, but making your business card vertical instead of the more traditional horizontal orientation can really help it stand out. People receive and look at innumerable horizontal business cards on average, but you are likely able to remember the last time you saw a vertical card.
  2. Utilize graphics. And no, I don’t just mean your company’s logo. If you include your Twitter handle, consider using the Twitter bird logo instead of using the word “Twitter” on your card. Another option, though use with caution, is including your picture. This can work, but only if the rest of your card is completely spot on and has more of a creative feel. I recommend this more for marketing agencies, or those more right-branded ventures.
  3. Color your card accordingly. Have you ever heard that fast food companies frequently use red and yellow in their logos because these colors subconsciously promote hunger? Think about your product, and about your brand, and if you choose to use color on your cards (which I recommend to at least do minimally), use a color that conveys what you want contacts and consumers alike to associate with your brand.
  4. Consider your company and alter your card accordingly. I’ve seen some very cool cards that really cater to what services or goods a company provides, but I will warn that these can get costly. I’ve seen a video company with cards shaped like a clapboard, and a software engineer whose cards looked like HTML coding. Where this gets ineffective is where you take it too far – bakeries should steer away from an edible business card, despite the appeal.

Have a question you want me to answer in a future blog post or podcast? Write me at AskIvan@bni.com to submit your questions.

How to Leave a Conversation at a Networking Event

conversationEvery conversation must end, some earlier than others. When you’re at a networking event, your top priority should be to get to know someone well enough to begin developing a lasting professional relationship with them. Even if you establish a foundation for a business relationship, eventually the conversation must end. So how do you leave without souring the mood? Or, more difficult, how do you end a conversation that may not being going well?

Schedule a follow up meeting

If you are positive that this relationship will benefit both of your businesses, why end the conversation by planning the next one? Exchange contact information, say you’ll reach out later to meet, and make good on your word. Literally pull out your calendar and schedule time to connect again. If your new contact feels your relationship could be mutually beneficial, they’ll have no problem scheduling something or agreeing to try to in the near future.

Simply exchange cards

If you are still trying to decide if this individual will be a good relationship for you in the long run, simply exchange business cards and perhaps send a follow up email to them later. Starting to get to know this new person will help you figure out how you can help them grow their business, or how they can help grow yours.

Bow out pleasantly

If you’re really struggling keeping the conversation going, end your conversation by thanking them for their time, telling them how wonderful it was to chat, and say you are hoping to catch up with them later. Bowing out gracefully can feel awkward, but is your most painless option here.

What is your go-to method to end a conversation? Let me know in the comments below!

Three Essentials for Women in Business

femalesIn my decades as a professional networker, I’ve seen the professional atmosphere change dramatically. The internet, of course, has been a huge influence on this change. However, outstandingly, more and more women have begun to take the plunge and start their own business. Earlier this year, the U.S. Census Bureau released a study that said that women were starting businesses at 1 and a half times the national average.

Despite this though, not all recommendations for starting a business will succeed equally for men and women, and some are more true for women. Here are three quick tips especially helpful for a female entrepreneur.

Don’t be afraid to be wrong

Sometimes, we worry that being wrong or having a problem is a sign of a character flaw. Women, particularly, can be susceptible to feeling this way due to societal pressures. When you allow yourself to ignore a problem, or try endlessly to stop a problem from existing (despite the fact that it is very much present), you allow the issue time to manifest. Instead of letting something spiral out of control to save possibly your ego or pride, identify your problem and quickly do something to correct it.

Create a brand that you would want to use

It seems like a no-brainer, but you wouldn’t believe how passion can play into the success of your business. If you ensure that you are creating a brand that not only are you passionate about, but you would want to use, then the chance for burn out diminishes exponentially.

Ask for help when you need it

Research has shown that women frequently feel more hesitant to ask for help if they need it than men do. Why? This ties in with the fear of being wrong. Struggling to handle everything on your own will just ultimately lead you to downward sloping. Don’t allow yourself to fall into the trap.

If you are a female entrepreneur, what tips to do have for others who may be aspiring to follow that path? Leave your thoughts in the comment field below!

Five Easy Ways You May be Networking Wrong

wrongnetworkingNo matter how much practice you have networking, there are always ways that you can improve. I’ve noticed a few common mistakes with networking that you can easily fix to get the most out of your relationships.

 

1 – You’re showing up late to a networking event, meeting or one-to-one.

This should be a no-brainer, but so often someone will slip into the back of a meeting five, ten or thirty minutes after it has started. How many times have you gotten a text from someone saying they were running late? Or, worse, not gotten a text at all? Such a minor issue can leave long-lasting negative ramifications in your personal and professional relationship. Avoid it, and leave to your meetings or events aiming to arrive early.

 

2 – You’re giving the appearance of untrustworthiness.

No matter what anyone says, your outward appearance can and will affect how you are perceived by potential business connections. If your first impression of someone involves their messed up hair, wrinkled pants, and an overall disheveled look, you’re not going to want to do business with them. That being said, would you expect someone to work with you if that was their first impression? Get your act together, iron your shirt, and always be prepared with your name tag and smile.

 

3 – You’re not making meaningful connections.

A referral-based relationship is more than just, “I do business, you do business, let’s do business together.” It is important to establish real relationships with your connections to encourage a long-lasting, prosperous relationship. If you’re only talking shop, you’re selling yourself short.

 

4 – You’re only thinking about your own gain.

You simply cannot expect to get anything out of a referral relationship if all you care about is getting something for yourself. Your connections will be more likely to give you business if you show your willingness to help them. Learn to use the law of reciprocity, and see your networking efforts become prosperous.

 

5 – You’re forgetting the follow up.

Most businesspeople love working with someone who is considerate, and your follow up etiquette is an easy way to show just how considerate you can be. Bonus points, your follow up technique can leave a lasting impression on someone who may have not thought you were memorable. Remember, thoughtfulness always counts in the end.

 

Are you offending any of these networking commandments? Did I forget any cardinal mistakes? Join the discussion in the comment field below.

Thoughtfulness always counts

Many spend their time at a networking event working the room, making meaningful connections with those around them, receiving and handing out business cards. As the event winds down, businesspeople go their separate ways, looking forward to their next event to grow their network.

It’s a nice story, but it really only covers part of your responsibility as a networker. Thoughtful, heartfelt follow up after events continues establishing those connections and makes your networking stronger. Your connections don’t have to be your best friends, but it certainly helps if they think you’re a caring person.

For those wondering, “Am I a thoughtful networker?” here is a quick checklist of three ways to be thoughtful. If you don’t already, try implementing these into your networking route.

 

handwritingSend handwritten cards

Thank you, happy birthday, condolences. There are plenty of excuses to bust out the stationary and send a handwritten card to a colleague or peer instead of an email. What makes this thoughtful? This effort involved. Emails are simple – you sat at your computer, typed a quick message, scanned it for typos and made necessary connections, and hit send. Done. Handwriting a card requires thinking through your message before you write it, and requires your attention to prevent errors. Not only that, but sending requires more than a click of a button.

 

Remember to follow up

Did you close your conversation with someone by saying, “Let me ask so-and-so about that and get back to you”? If you did, actually do it! You might forget that you promised to find out some trivial piece of information for them, but they certainly didn’t. Nothing could be more embarrassing for you than being called out for having forgotten to follow up on something you’d given your word that you would. As networkers, one of our greatest assets is our word – don’t let something as minor as a memory lapse steal yours.

 

Schedule time outside regular networking events to get to know them

This may seem like Networking 101, but it seems to be a frequently forgotten step of networking. Not only is it vital in helping you get to know your business connections (and vice versa), many will be flattered that you are interested in getting to know them better. Not only is this step thoughtful, it is critical if you want your connections to truly help you grow your business. People love to talk about themselves, and the more you learn about the new members of your network, the more they’ll want to know about you in turn.

What does thoughtfulness in networking mean to you? How many of the above steps do you do? What do you think is missing from this list? Let me know in the comments below!

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