Articles by: Lauren Prebel
Networking Tips: Secrets to Networking Success
“The richest people in the world look for and build networks, everyone else looks for work.” – Robert Kiyosaki
Networking is without a doubt one of the most important efforts to get your name out there and grow your business. Like the old adage says, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. Whether you’re a freelancer working out of a house or working in an established company, getting out there and meeting folks can do wonders.
As Go Media’s Account Manager, networking is an important part my job. In fact, each member of the sales team has a minimum number of networking hours to hit each month. We recognize the value of getting out there and spreading the Go Media word. Sure, there are days where the last thing I want to do after a full day at the office is go and mingle with strangers for hours, but I look forward to networking most of the time!
Often times, the hardest part is finding and getting yourself to the events. It can be uncomfortable to walk up to people you don’t know and start a conversation, but the potential outcome can be worth the 30 seconds of awkwardness.
Some people are natural born social butterflies, while others aren’t. For those who are looking to network more, here are the tips I’ve learned from my experiences:
Bring a wingman (or woman). If you have a fear of flying solo, bring an outgoing friend or colleague along! It’s important to not isolate yourself though. Don’t sit in a corner and only talk to the one person you know. If you’re going to do that, don’t bother attending. The goal is to make new connections, after all.
Find a common ground. It certainly helps to have something in common with the person you’re chatting with, other than the weather. This is can be tricky, but helps to establish a level of trust. I tend to jot down notes on business cards with this sort of information. It creates a personal touch when following up at a later day. Otherwise, the little things tend to be forgotten after chatting with dozens of people.
“If people like you they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you they’ll do business with you.” – Zig Ziglar
Listen! Take interest in others and what they do. This is key. Networking is not just about telling others about you, it’s about making valuable connections that ideally result in mutually beneficial relationships. There are countless leads that I’ve sent to folks I’ve met while out networking while never receiving one in return and that’s OK! Don’t keep score.
Master your 30 second pitch. After you’ve started a conversation and someone asks you what you do for living, have a concise response in your back pocket that touches on the value you bring. If you start rambling, you’ll lose your listener fast. It’s important not to be too ‘salesy’ (no one likes that guy). Be authentic. Be you.
Casual followup. Now that you’ve collected a slew of business cards, don’t let them sit in a stack never to be touched again. A few days after the event, shoot a quick email following this simple outline:
Thank the person for taking the time to chat with you
Touch on something personal (i.e. the ‘common ground’) that is not business related – humor always helps!
Reiterate how you can help or be of value in a casual, not pushy, way
It’s important to not bombard your connections the minute you get back to your desk or call once a week to ‘chit chat’, though. Reach out to them when it matters or if you have a lead for them. Maybe even invite them to another event with you!
“The bigger your rolodex, the bigger your business.” -Anonymous
Mastering the art of networking takes time and experience. There are going to be uncomfortable moments and maybe even some rejection. Most events offer small plates and cocktails (which certainly help to loosen people up). Just don’t overdo it or you’ll be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
What are your tips for networking success? Please share with me in the comments below!
A big hello to you all! I’m Lauren, Account Services Manager (a.k.a. ‘sales girl’) here at Go Media. I’m thrilled to be connected with such an amazing community and look forward to sharing my contributions.
Moving from a Customer Service to a Product Oriented Service Firm
Out of a desire for company growth and expansion, Go Media has recently shifted to a product-based system of selling design services. What does switching from being a custom service firm to a product oriented service firm look like?
1. Narrow your service offerings so you only do a few key things, but do them better than anyone else!
2. Build production processes around those few key offerings so they can be taught easily. The goal is to refine your process to the point that even a mediocre designer will achieve spectacular results when following your process.
3. Build strong marketing around those key items, following steps from the likes of Roxanne Carah Marante. Create sell sheets, e-newsletters campaigns, POS pages and the like that effectively communicate the process, benefits, and value!
4. Build templatized proposals around those services so you spend less time writing and more time selling. Writing custom proposals for custom services can take a long time, not to mention that they often require the specialized or expertise knowledge of a few select employees.
The designing itself is still custom, but everything around the designing itself is extremely structured! For all of you artists out there who own a business or freelance, there are some HUGE benefits to selling your design service offerings like products. Benefits include:
Selling a project that has such a clear definition is significantly easier to sell! The sales team can easily walk a client through the branding process. Proposals can get churned out faster and negotiating is objective. Having clearly defined products streamlines our internal processes and ensure that our entire team, from sales to project management to production, is on the same page from start to finish.
Teaching your process and offerings to employees becomes seamless! They learn easier and FASTER. Specific to a sales team, instead of needing the expertise of one or two people in order to write a proposal and land a project, sales people can work more independently while the creative team focuses on production! For the entrepreneurs out there, having a product-based business model means that your business can thrive without you if you have a sales team that knows the process and products like the back of their hand!
Teaching your client about what’s being offered is just as paramount and also becomes effortless! Point of sale and marketing pieces can easily be created, outlining all of the features and benefits clearly and concisely. While it’s essential that you and your sales team have this knowledge, stand-alone marketing pieces that will effectively delineate and communicate your value to the audience is hugely beneficial!
As mentioned in #1, a well-defined system with outlined deliverables from the onset of the sales process helps to keep customer expectations in line. The client knows what to expect at each stage throughout. Specific to Go Identity mentioned above, the steps, deliverable(s), and amount of revisions are clearly defined from the onset, leaving no gray area, or unrealistic expectations, as to what is being delivered.
The design service industry is easily susceptible to earning little to no profit margins based on amount of hours worked versus the cost of the project. Having a standardized process and selling defined products at strategic price points helps to ensure that projects stay on scope. Selling services like products help to avoid the common ‘blackhole’ of the sometimes never-ending revision, feedback, revision, feedback cycle.
Moving from a custom-oriented service firm to a product-based firm has benefited Go Media in numerous ways. Share your experiences with us below!