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Posts Tagged ‘networking’


Web.com Small Business Toolkit: StartUp Weekend (Startup Events)

February 19th, 2013 ::

Startup Weekend

Want to start a new business or spinoff of your existing business but you’re thinking, “A new business is too hard and will take too long!” How does starting a business in a weekend sound (and maybe finding a partner to boot)? StartUp Weekend events are held around the world and are 54-hour weekends filled with hands-on experiences where entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs can find out if their startup ideas are viable.  Typically, half of Startup Weekend’s attendees have technical or design backgrounds, and the other half have business backgrounds, which leads to some very fruitful teams. How’s this for a success rate? Eighty percent of past attendees say they plan on working with the team they met during their StartUp Weekend.

10 Ways to Stay Competitive in 2013

January 9th, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

Is your small business doing all it can be to stay competitive in 2013 and beyond? The latest Citibank Small Business Pulse survey spotlighted 10 actions the most successful small business owners take to keep their companies competitive. Are you doing them?

1: Do your research and get educated. Some 88 percent of small businesses surveyed say they regularly work to stay up to date and knowledgeable about their industry and changes in the market.

2: Work hard and do what needs to get done. Successful small business owners are dedicated—so much so that more than half (53 percent) say they didn’t take a vacation last summer.

3: Update or upgrade technology. Nearly 70 percent of respondents say they recently updated or upgraded their computer systems, and 51 percent have made a major change to their business technology.

4: Know your clients. More than two-thirds (67 percent) say they are spending more “face time” with customers to keep their businesses ahead of the pack. Such client relationships also help entrepreneurs stay on top of industry and market trends.

5: Keep a close eye on cash and budgets. Many small businesses say they are keeping cash in reserves and spending cautiously. No wonder: Some 58 percent admit that cash flow issues have been a major challenge in the past few years. However, 73 percent feel they are doing a good job of managing their cash effectively.

6: Be involved. Small business owners are taking part in their business and local communities: 51 percent have built a network of suppliers and partner companies, and 47 percent say they have become more active in the community and local organizations.

7. Be prepared. If another economic downturn occurred, 80 percent of survey respondents say they could handle it. They’ve learned from the recent recession, in which many of them took steps such as running leaner, cutting operating costs and renegotiating contracts.

8: Plan ahead. Some 27 percent of small business owners say they can predict their cash situation four to six months ahead, which enables them to plan for the future.

9: Stick with your aspirations. Despite the challenges of entrepreneurship, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of business owners polled say they are living their dream; three-fourths say they would do it all over again.

10: Market, market, market. More than half (53 percent) of small business owners say they’ve upped social media and online advertising in the last year, while 54 percent improved their websites and search engine presence.

Image by Flickr user Generationbass (Creative Commons)

5 Steps to Connect With Industry Influencers

December 5th, 2012 ::

Meeting an influencerWhen you’re growing your company and building a brand, one of the best ways to accelerate that growth is by connecting with the influencers in your industry – the Tony Hsiehs, Mark Zuckerbergs, Thomas Kellers and Martha Stewarts. One recommendation from them, and you could see a significant uptick in sales.

Here’s how to start building those connections to influencers:

1. Start small

If I was a fledgling clothing designer, cold-calling Anna Wintour, the Editor-in-Chief at Vogue, would be a total waste of time. Instead of going after the top influencers, start connecting with others who share your interests or expertise. Do this by joining the Facebook and LinkedIn groups, Twitter hashtags, and influential blogs that are relevant to you and your industry.

2. Actively participate

The more you chime in on the conversations, the more exposure you will get, from your name and company name to your ideas and expertise.  Each connection you make will grow your network and move you up the networking ladder, so to speak, towards viral growth.

3. Get them talking about you

One of the best ways to get people talking about you is to share your wisdom. Help others, answer questions, and share your expertise freely. Be sure to ask for help and feedback as well in order to strengthen the connections you have.

4. Ask for introductions

One of the beautiful things about LinkedIn is the ability to look up your connections’ connections, allowing you to ask for a warm introduction to someone you can possibly do business with. As you build your network elsewhere, don’t be afraid to ask for warm introductions, including to influencers.

5. Add value

Once you get that sought-after introduction to Richard Branson, you have to go beyond a “Hey, I’m Monika! SO nice to meet you!” and offer something of value. Would you like to guest blog for them on your area of expertise, or maybe solve a problem you know they are having?  Think about the best way to build a relationship, add that person to your network, and possibly do business with them.

If you are connected to an industry influencer, what other relationship-building tips can you recommend? (Going to college with someone doesn’t count!)

Image courtesy of partner.kansas.gov

Web.com Small Business Toolkit: WebPort Global (B2B Connectivity Tool)

November 27th, 2012 ::

WebPort Global

Participating in a B2B marketplace can help your business grow and thrive by enabling you to make crucial connections. WebPort Global was conceived and built as a customizable platform to help form trusted relationships and collaboration for small and midsized businesses. Use WebPort Global to improve marketing strategies, work together on projects, share documents and more. You can also connect with others to share expertise, advice and information. Try it for 30 days free; after that, membership is $29 per month. The WebPort Global blog community features experts who share their perspectives on business, global trade and marketing news.

5 Networking Secrets for Your Small Business

October 19th, 2012 ::

 By Rieva Lesonsky

For small business owners looking to grow their business, it’s easy to get so caught up in the world of social networking that you forget to get out in the real world and make connections. But networking the “old-fashioned way” is still one of the best strategies for business growth, especially for small businesses that rely on a local market or that sell business-to-business.

If you’re looking to revitalize your networking skills, my friend JJ Ramberg has a new book out that will get you off to a great start. Ramberg, host of the popular MSNBC show “Your Business,” gathered real-life advice from the thousands of entrepreneurs she’s interviewed to write It’s Your Business: 183 Essential Tips That Will Transform Your Small Business. While the book focuses on much more than networking, here are some of JJ’s suggestions for building business relationships.

  1. Be the first person at networking events. If you’re shy (like me), you probably think getting to events late is the way to go. In reality, by getting there right when the event starts, you’ll be forced to talk to others and help welcome new arrivals. Soon you can’t help but feel more confident. By contrast, if you get there late, you’ll be stuck trying to work your way into groups who are already having energetic conversations. Ugh!
  2. Meet face to face. How many times have you had a lengthy email back-and-forth with someone that could have been handled in 30 seconds of speaking in person? Instead of emailing or voice-mailing about major issues, Ramberg highly recommends meeting in person. Even phone calls aren’t the best way to resolve sensitive issues with a customer or vendor, but spending some time together over lunch or coffee enables you to tune into each other’s facial expressions and body language without distraction, helping resolve conflicts and cut through confusion.
  3. Meet someone new every week. If you never leave your business, nothing new will even happen to you, writes Ramberg. She suggests tapping your networks (both online and offline) to get connected with new people, then suggest meeting in person for coffee to get to know each other and learn how you can do business.
  4. The one-hour/two contacts rule. Spend one hour a day developing your contacts and network. If you make two new contacts or develop two new leads in the first 10 minutes of that hour, quit for the day. By devoting time to growing your network daily, you’ll keep your business moving forward.
  5. Just keep showing up. Was it Woody Allen who once said that “99 percent of success is showing up”? The same applies to networking events or business organizations. Keep going to your association or industry events, Ramberg writes. “Once you’ve attended a few times, you’ll suddenly be seen as an insider” and more people will want to meet you and work with you.

Image by Flickr user Shashi Bellamkonda (Creative Commons)

Web.com Small Business Toolkit: ThomasNet.com (Manufacturer Marketplace)

September 27th, 2012 ::

ThomasNet.com

If you’re not familiar with the Thomas Industrial Network, which connects manufacturers and buyers, or even if you are, you’ll want to check out the new and improved ThomasNet.com. With over 610,000 suppliers represented, the website has relaunched with better search capabilities, more models and drawings, and a new Deal of the Day feature. If you’re a buyer looking for a detailed product resource, Thomas’ team of content engineers has aggregated detailed information and line item detail for over 100 million parts from over 30,000 suppliers. The new site also makes it easier for buyers to find local suppliers, quality-certified suppliers and companies that meet their supplier diversity requirements.

 

Web.com Small Business Toolkit: ZebraCard.me (Business Card Tracker)

September 20th, 2012 ::

ZebraCard.me

ZebraCard.me is an easy way to track your business card usage and the results of your networking efforts. The innovative business card tracking solution allows users to gather data in real time and monitor the path of their business cards in circulation. Each ZebraCard contains a QR code or barcode for business card information, which points to a URL where each user’s interaction with your business card data is tracked. This allows users to know what personal networks and touchpoints recipients access after receiving and scanning the card. You’ll know right away if the person you gave your card to checked your website later, and you can follow up with the appropriate type of contact.

Web.com Review: Small Business Resource: Create. Work. Inspire Business Edition Workshops: Interactive Business Workshops

August 30th, 2012 ::

Create. Work. Inspire: Business Edition Workshops

Create. Work. Inspire: Business Edition Workshops are a new collaboration between computer giant Dell and Manta, an online community of small business owners. The first workshop is set for September 14 in Miami, then the series heads to Los Angeles in November. The interactive sessions will feature expert speakers on business innovation and other challenges in business growth. You’ll also have opportunities to network with other small business owners, including a cocktail hour networking session featuring treats from local businesses.

Another highlight of this Dell/Manta collaboration is the selection of the “Small Business of the Week.” One lucky entrepreneur will win a Manta premium business listing for one year and be featured on the Manta.com website, giving them exposure to millions of other small businesses in the Manta community. Registration information will be announced here.

When Building Business Relationships, Face Time Works Best

May 30th, 2012 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

I love email, social media and all things online. But I also spend a lot of time on the road meeting with clients and prospects. Why? Because when it comes to building your small business, I’m still a huge believer in the power of face-to-face communication. A new study from Cisco proves that plenty of business leaders agree with me.

Cisco’s Business Intelligence Unit surveyed business leaders globally and found that 89 percent say face-to-face communications are useful both in internal business functions, such as employee coaching and training, and in communications with partners and customers.

Some of the common situations when companies prefer face-to-face communications are:

  • To discuss/resolve major issues with customers such as a service or product failure or dissatisfaction with the partnership
  • To renew contracts
  • To brainstorm
  • To introduce clients or customers to people in your company

Executives pinpointed six key factors that matter to effective communications and noted that four of them could only be achieved in person:

  1. Engagement and focus on shared content (92 percent)
  2. Tone of voice (81 percent)
  3. Facial expressions (81 percent)
  4. Words someone is using (72 percent)
  5. Subconscious body language (72 percent)
  6. Conscious movements or gestures (67 percent)

The most important use of “face time” was in meeting with customers. Interacting face to face with customers was cited as more important than doing so with partners, suppliers or co-workers.

When it comes to sharing critical information, email is the most commonly used tool for business leaders (cited by 66 percent) but is widely seen as inferior to meeting in person. The telephone was the next most common tool (25 percent), but it, too, falls short of face-to-face meetings for most execs.

What’s the takeaway for your business? You may be trying to save money by doing everything online, by conference call or videoconference, but it’s important to know when you’re selling your business short. If you’re trying to build relationships, gain trust or hammer out an agreement with a client or customer, realize that sometimes, you’ll need to meet in person. Otherwise, you could be saving on travel costs, but costing yourself a customer.

Image by Flickr user Victor 1558 (Creative Commons)

 

Lanyrd: Social Conference Directory: Small Business Resources

May 25th, 2012 ::

Lanyrd

Conferences can help you meet people in your industry, find new leads, learn about new trends and more. Finding the right conferences, though, is somewhat of a challenge. Lanyrd can help you sort conferences by interest and location, plus find out what conferences your friends and colleagues are attending. What’s more, you can track what’s going on at the conference even if you can’t attend. Once the conference is over, Lanyrd can help you find slides, video and podcasts from the conference. If you spoke at the conference, this tool is a great way to help build up your speaker portfolio.