Making the Most of Common Networking Scenarios

A few months ago, Robert and I chatted with networking guru and internationally acclaimed author of Smart Networking, Liz Lynch. We loved her book because of its honest, straight-forward and practical guidelines to help entrepreneurs create and take advantage of networking opportunities. Well, it turns out that so many BusinessCast Podcast listeners enjoyed Liz that we invited her back!

In BusinessCast Podcast #105, we play out three of the most common networking scenarios; the ones that all entrepreneurs find themselves in at one time or another. Liz effectively tackles all three head-on providing practical insights to make the most of each situation.

And, if you’re like most BusinessCast Podcast loyal listeners and can’t get enough of practical advice about networking, listen to our first interview with Liz about her book, Smart Networking.

Finally, in her book, Smart Networking Liz speaks about the growing use of LinkedIn. If you’re considering this online networking tool or want to learn about how to optimize its use, check out our recent interview with Doyle Slayton a LinkedIn expert.

Don’t forget to enter the contest to win a Blackberry Bold! All it takes is 100 words (or less) on why a Blackberry Bold will help your business.

Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Leveraging LinkedIn – Online Networking for Entrepreneurs

More and more entrepreneurs are jumping on LinkedIn — which is one of the most popular online/social networking tools. But, to what end? So, Robert and I dig into this question.

In BusinessCast #104 – Getting Linked In, we speak with Doyle Slayton who has done a terrific job at using LinkedIn to build his professional profile. Doyle shares some of his experiences of how he’s used the LinkedIn to successfully build the “SalesBlogcast Group” to be one of the largest, fastest growing, most focused and user-friendly resources on LinkedIn.

Whether you’re new to LinkedIn or are an experienced user, here are some useful LinkedIn- related resources:

1) Why Use LinkedIn – This often quoted Guy Kawasaki article is ususally mislabelled “How to use LinkedIn” but really answers the question “why this tool can be useful”. So, while it doesn’t give you any hands-on insights, it still is worthwhile reviewing to determine whether LinkedIn is right for you. For those entrepreneurs who want some more background, here’s a source that prides itself on being the “unofficial source for all things LinkedIn“.

2) Who is on LinkedIn anyway? Here’s a PowerPoint presentation that gives an overview of the demographics of LinkedIn users.

3) Thinking about using LinkedIn to build your business and business network? You’re not alone. While there are thousands of articles that chip away at how to answer this question, here’s one that provides some good hands-on advice.

After listening to Doyle’s passion in BusinessCast #104 – Getting Linked In, you’ll likely want to check out and sign-up to his thriving SalesBlogcast Group or his SalesBlogcast blog.

Don’t forget to enter the contest to win a Blackberry Bold! All it takes is 100 words (or less) on why a Blackberry Bold will help your business.

Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Franchising: A Business Model for the Times

A few weeks ago — in BusinessCast Podcast #94 – Franchising for Entrepreneurs, Robert and I had a lively discussion with Lorraine McLachlan, President and CEO of the Canadian Franchise Association (www.cfa). We wanted to get a clear sense of the role that franchising can play for current and future entrepreneurs. And, Lorraine provided us some keen insights and plenty of enthusiasm!

To help you decide if/how you can leverage this powerful business model, the CFA undertakes some powerful research. And, recently, they released some news on the latest franchising trends . Given the current state of the economy, it turns out that this may be the best time in years to explore franchises — whether you’re a potential franchisee or franchisor.

Robert and I will be at the Franchise Show on February 21st and we’ll bring you the real scoop from franchisors, franchisees and other entrepreneurs just like you who are wondering how to tap into the wealth of franchising experience, this tried-and-true model and the CFA.

Don’t forget to enter the contest to win a Blackberry Bold!

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Connecting for Business Success

Today, it’s hard to find real business “truths” because everything that impacts your business changes so quickly — for example: the new technologies you need for your operations, dramatic swings in customer demand, new competitors entering your market, the rising cost of production and sales, the challenges in securing investment resources, evolving employee expectations etc.

But, one truth is constant: your business will only succeed if you are connected to the right people at the right time.

Finding, nurturing and leveraging the right business connections is exactly what Donna Messer, President, ConnectUs Communications Canada — guest for BusinessCast #95, Connecting for Business Success — does day-in and day-out.  Just like every entrepreneur, she has a network of suppliers, customers, advisors, colleagues, media… and the list goes on and on. But, unlike most entrepreneurs, Donna has honed a process for efficiently connecting them with each other so that participants find value in the connection and in the initiator of that connection, Donna. The result: Donna has become an important influencer in dozens of different industries.

Listen to BusinessCast #95, Connecting for Business Success and you’ll find some practical nuggets of wisdom that will help build your connecting skills/opportunities — and therefore ensure your business’ succeess.

If you want to read about how entrepreneurs just like you tackled some of the other most common business problems, check out Your Business Success Stories.

Don’t forget to enter the contest to win a Blackberry Bold!

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Networking for Entrepreneurs: Part 2

In BusinessCast podcast episode #92 – Networking for Entrepreneurs, Robert and I interviewed the inspiring networking guru and author of Smart Networking, Liz Lynch. She shared some of the background and core lessons that can be found in her book. But, do we think that her book is going to become the new networking benchmark? Short answer: yes!

Here’s a rapid book evaluation and review which outlines why this is an important resource for any busy entrepreneur looking for practical tools they can use in the short- and long-term. Specifically, Smart Networking:

1) Identifies and addresses the most common obstacles to effective networking. For the most part, these obstacles are ways that people feel about — and therefore approach — networking. Smart Networking addresses these mental blocks head-on rather than avoiding or ignoring them. This is a refreshing approach that will appeal to anyone who hesitates with the prospect of networking (pgs 11-32).

2) Succinctly outlines a straight forward approach to ensuring networking success: be found, be personable and be credible. This foundation may sound simplistic but, the reality is that everyone can build on at least one  of these principles (pgs 33-44).

3) Provides practical and foundation-setting tools that can be used by every current or budding entrepreneur regardless of industry (pgs 45-62).

4) Identifies actionable strategies that entrepreneurs can implement based on their own skills, willingness, availability and budgets (pgs 63-119).

5) Addresses available online tools and communites as a method to optimize networking efforts and results  (pgs 120-164).

6) Outlines a realistic and measurable networking plan (pgs 165-177).

Bottom Line for Entrepreneurs: Smart Networking is a critical networking tool — ideal for those who want to begin or hone their networking activities. Also, check out Liz’s site which complements the book with tools including an initial (and free) self-assessment.

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

BusinessCast Round-Up

Well, Robert and I have done over 20 shows since our last BusinessCast Podcast round-up. These shows are always popular because they give all entrepreneurs — i.e. new subscribers and loyal listeners alike — a quick and easy way of hearing what business-critical issues we’ve covered over the last handful of months. So, in BusinessCast Podcast #89 – Greatest Hits Vol. 3 we highlight some of the most essential topics and key learnings from BusinessCast episodes as far back as episode #67.

Specifically, in Greatest Hits Vol. 3 we highlights shows AND key BusinessCast blogposts where we provided practical tools and advice to help entrepreneurs address key issues such as:

  • Building Profile for Your Business
  • Developing Sales Incentives That Increase Revenues
  • Tackling Crisis Communication
  • Establishing a Strong Foundation in Mobile Marketing
  • Speaking Confidently in Public
  • Securing Financing
  • Emerging Stronger When Good Employees Leave
  • Finding the Right Business Partner
  • Increasing Cash Flow
  • Dealing Effectively with Cross-Generational Values
  • Overcoming Sales Objections

In so doing, we also recount some of our most memorable guests, including:

  • Catherine Swift (Canadian Federation of Independent Business)
  • Michael Younder, Senior Product Marketer (Research in Motion)
  • Paul Chato, President of YourWebDepartment and member of the Canadian comedy troupe the Frantics
  • Bruce Hunter, Fortune 500 heavyweight and insightful author

And, we do it all in under 20 minutes!

As always you can listen to each of the shows we touch upon in Greatest Hits Vol. 3 by clicking on the BusinessCast Podcast Archives.

Finally, a quick thank you to all BusinessCast Podcast fans who voted for us in the 2008 national blog and podcast competition. The BusinessCast Podcast Canada’s was voted as Canada’s 2nd most favourite podcast!

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Social Media/Networking Event: Sept. 29, 2008

Over the years, The Society of Internet Professionals (S.I.P.) in Toronto, Canada has built a reputation for hosting practical ‘how to’ events that help small business entrepreneurs, leaders and managers leverage the power of the Internet — for purposes of promotion, business development, increasing operational efficiencies, etc.

Next month, S.I.P. will be hosting The Business Face of Social Networking – which elaborates on one of the most popular topics explored on the BusinesCast Podcast blog over the last few weeks: Social Media/Networking.

More information on The Society of Internet Professionals.

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

13 Steps to Perfect Public Speaking

 

Whether you’re speaking at a company event, a social function, a sales pitch, an industry conference or a meeting of media, there are some fundamental rules that you can apply so that you capture the “hearts and minds” of your audience.

 

Here are the 13 Steps to Perfect Public Speaking which we’ve pulled together by distilling the ‘best practices’ cited in the leading public speaking books and courses into easy-to-use steps.

 

1. Choose the Right Subject. The right subject is what you know. Only speak on those topics and issues with which you are comfortable.

 

2. Define Success Measures. Define for yourself how you will know that the presentation was indeed a success. For example, common measures include: the number of questions you are asked after the presentation; the types of questions you are asked; the types of invitations you receive to speak at other events or venues; the kind of people who follow up with you; an increased ease with which you can contact presentation attendees; the amount of press coverage you receive, etc.

 

3. Anticipate, and Plan for, Challenges. Assume that there will be some obstacle to your presentation’s success – and then plan for it. For example, make back up arrangements, assuming that your slides or your microphone won’t work. Also, be sure to plan for a noisy room and bad lighting. Finally, prepare for the most likely points of contention that your audience could raise.

 

4. Get Comfortable by Rehearsing. Conduct at least one dry-run before your presentation. But, do it with people who are representative of the target audience. Also, give yourself enough time to modify your presentation based on their honest feedback.

 

5. Speak to Your Audience. Only use language that your audience will understand. And, don’t rely on them to ask you for clarification. Chances are they won’t and that means that you’ll lose getting your messages across. Furthermore, speak to the values and priorities of the audience.

 

6. Connect with Your Audience.  Look into the eyes of your audience. Complete a thought before moving your gaze to another set of eyes or to another part of the room.

 

7. Focus Your Messages. Have no more than three things you want your audience to remember from your presentation. Say these key points at the beginning of the presentation and again at the end.

 

8. Tell Stories. Audiences are captivated by stories that pull on their emotions. So, use vivid images and descriptive language so that your audience ‘feels’ as well as thinks about your experiences.

 

9. Monitor the Audience. Whether it is you – or you in conjunction with a colleague somewhere in the room – watch for how the audience is responding to your presentation. One of the easiest techniques is to pose a question to the audience. This technique can also serve to give you time to catch your breath or get re-oriented if you lose your space.

 

10. Stay After Your Presentation. Devote time to speaking to people after your presentation. This gives ‘wallflowers’ a chance to ask their questions and for you to connect with those people most interested in your topic.

 

11. Find Enjoyment. Find something about the presentation that excites you. Hopefully it’s the topic, the audience or the experience itself. But, it may be the opportunity to ‘set the record straight’ or to elicit a strong reaction from an audience. Whatever it is, find some reason that you want to be there – otherwise, the audience will sense your lack of passion.

 

12. Follow-up. Make sure that you – or your colleagues – follow-up after the presentation to answer any questions and/or pursue possible leads.

 

13. Don’t Be Perfect. Keep in-mind that audiences want you to succeed. So, they are rooting for you – after all, they’ve come to hear what you have to say. But, audiences don’t identify with absolute perfect presenters. Rather, they identify with ‘human’ – i.e. imperfect but passionate presenters. So, feel comfortable knowing that by not being perfect actually helps you be more of a success.

 

Listen to the BusinessCast podcast #70 – 13 Steps to Perfect Public Speaking.

 

Remember: Subscribe to the BusinessCast Podcast at iTunes

Social Media: In-site and In Perspective

I was fortunate enough to be invited to a Forrester Research webinar recently that explored how ‘social media’ (i.e. web 2.0) sites and services are being used for the purpose of generating new business leads. 

But, as much as some entrepreneurs have embraced the emerging capacity of the Internet — i.e. Early Adopters —  the vast majority are yet to really tip their toes in to ‘social media’. And, Its easy to understand why: business owners like you want to understand how these sites, functionalities and businesses will help you achieve your goals. At the same time, you want to make sure that you’re investing in the genuine article rather than just plain ‘hype’.

Over the next few months, Robert and I dig into some of the more robust social media tools – on the BusinessCast podcast and in this blog. But, rest assured that we will only do it with you in mind. In other words, we’ll delve into their business usefulness and tackle them with the same type of discipline (and good humour) that we address all subjects. After all, our focus is your success.

Let’s quickly take a look at ‘social media’ from 30,000 feet. First, keep in-mind that these business’ raison d’etre is to allow for or encourage the sharing of information/content online. Having said that, let’s make sense of the vastly ‘disorganized’ and seemingly haphazard selection of popular social media sites by placing them into a framework that puts them into perspective. To that end, click on the accompanying ‘starfish’ thumbnail image which organizes the most popular social media sites by the purposes they serve.

Social Media Sites

Social Media Sites

 

 

 

 

Trade Your Business – Part 2 – Getting In Agreement

 

In “Trade Your Business” (show # 60) we “unbundle” bartering. One of the tools we identify that can help ensure that bartering helps your business – as well as prevents time-consuming and potentially expensive misunderstandings – is a bartering agreement.

 

Here are some of the key components that you should include in such an agreement: 

  • Description of the product/service being exchanged
  • The dollar value of the items/services being exchanged
  • Acceptable substitutes (if any)
  • Start date (if a service is being provided)
  • Key milestones (if a service is being provided)
  • Delivery date (or end date – if a service is being provided)
  • A measure of quality
  • Acceptable form of remuneration – if the bartering is not completed in the specified time period (e.g. returning a percentage or withholding work)
  • Indication of whether the bartering contract can be transferred to someone else or held over to another date
  • Sign-off by those entering into the agreement
  • A signature by a trusted third-party who has read the agreement and has witnessed its signing

Going through this process is invaluable because it clarifies expectations and helps you identify those people with whom you do/do not want to barter. Of course, it may also highlight the fact that you may need further legal advice or that bartering isn’t right under certain circumstances.

 

Before your consider bartering as a good business tool to control costs, enter into new networks or dispose of unwanted inventory, make sure you listen to “Trade Your Business” (show # 60).

 

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