Friday, January 30, 2009

Networking is the Law of Attraction in Action

This week at our local networking meeting, I was discussing with some of members how quickly we have grown. Just a year ago, we were a regular group of about five members. Then we grew to fifteen and averaged to twenty for a few months straight. I predicted then, as the economy began to take a downward turn, that we would be growing immensley as more and more people would begin to realize the importance of doing something that made them stand out and creating realtionships to maximize their personal and business growth.

This past three weeks, we have grown again. We maintained an average of thirty regulars before the holidays. As the new year began, we are having numbers in excess of fifty regular attendees, and new members every week. In fact, we have grown so much, that we have to lock our door as fire regulations will not allow us to take anymore people. This has its pros and cons, of course. The pro's far outweigh the negatives.

Interestingly enough, we do not 'follow the rules' of the standard networking groups. We only recently adopted an agenda to accomodate the large numbers. Up until now, we have concentrated on unique ways for us to grow as individuals and in our businesses by putting each other first, and maintaining a sense of community and family. We do not pass out cards for leads and are done with it. We do have speakers each week, but they are our own members so that we learn more about each other on an personal basis. This one facet alone, has enabled each of us to make deeper relationships and referrals based on trust. In fact, most of us have used each others services and provide testimonials to each other through our personal experiences. After all, it is a lot easier to say, "I have a friend who I went to for ... and they were amazing!" than, "I have this guy I met at a meeting - I have his card". Which one would you pick? Thought so.

Anyway, apparently we are getting noticed. We have had local newspapers advertise and visit our group (secretly!), people talking about us on Facebook and other networking groups, etc. In fact, we even have some local celebrities talking about us in their blogs! The point is, if you want to bounce back from all this negative crap about the economy and how 'hard life is', and blah, blah, blah...get up and do something about it! Use your head and think, and then use your body and get out and move. If you don't, call us, we have some great referrals for business liquidators.

I leave you with a blog entry from Mary Gardner. Mary Gardner is the President and Founder of Lifestyles Communications, Inc. based in Winter Park , FL. She is a consultant and coach to leaders, executives, sales professionals and entrepreneurs from all over the country. Here's her post....

Marketing The NEW Way!

News Flash! Things are NOT business as usual!

My friends who go to networking events are sharing with me that their networking groups are up by a ton! My friend Tim who started COFFEEVENT on, a networking group around Orlando told me that the numbers are up 55% since December. Wow! Way to go Tim! It’s a great service you’re providing.

People have obviously jumped in and are not taking the recession sitting down. They realize that their long time customers aren’t buying the volume that they were or have cut down entirely, and are now out looking for new customers. Many are adding new services or adding something new and unique to their offerings, and are putting in longer hours and offering better customer service than ever.

I read recently that if you want to be noticed, that your product or service really has to be something out of the ordinary, and do what others won’t. Businesses that are growing, are answering a need in the marketplace and not requiring their customers to buy in large quantities, and the old rules aren’t necessarily applying to today. Just take a trip to the mall and realize that so many businesses are going out of business so the ones that are surviving are doing something unique, new or different.

No one can afford to be the same as usual anymore.

Still, people are buying. If you take a trip out to Disney World or Universal, people are still partying and enjoying life. Perhaps many of the people pre-purchased these vacations like a lot of the experts said, or maybe they just needed a break from the constant stress that now surrounds each of us with the financial woes of our country.

Businesses are now spending more money on marketing and that’s where we are able to help. We’re now sending out mailings for numerous businesses and helping them be seen over all of the others.

Bartering is also a great new avenue that people are tapping into. Ask yourself, what services can you barter? This is the time to FIND something, because if things continue, it might come in handy to have something valuable to barter. Check out Craigs list to see the many people who are bartering services and products.

For those of you who are finding business in new and unique places.. way to go. Drop a note and let me know where you’re finding it and what you’re doing that’s new and unique.

Don’t take this recession sitting down. Don’t roll over and play dead! Get in the game, be seen and get excited. Our creativity can flow when we absolutely HAVE to come up with a new solution!

If you need a jump start on your creativity, a great book is Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. Or check on how to jump start your creativity!

Get those juices flowing…and who knows.. you might strike gold!

Mary Gardner, Winter Park

Monday, January 26, 2009

What Happens When you Take the 'Social' out of Social Networking?

What happens when the 'Social' gets left out of Social Networking?

Well, the answer is P.O.'d people. This I know from experience as both the receiver and being flamed when I did it myself without being aware. There is an etiquette that is expected in networking. Often, I have experienced this etiquette and respect at 'live' networking events. However, many I have found, are not carrying this to the on-line community.

When I first got the inspiration to work from home, start a business and change my life – I was excited! And rightly so, I might add. The courage to move out into the 'unknown' is immense. The amount of courage didn't matter though. I was going to make it – no matter what! So, I began placing my website link in forums, on social networking sites, and sending out all kinds of email broadcasts.

Guess what? I learned pretty quickly that this is not the way to go. I succeeded in getting myself 'out there', but not in the mindset I wanted. I was coming off as a spammer. I was extremely upset as I began to have people 'un-subscribe' to my hard work and as I read negative comments about my forum posts. I had to start over.

Then, I discovered Facebook.

For me, this was a way to keep in contact with my friends back home in Canada. When I discovered that I could build my on-line presence with it, I found my niche. I was ecstatic! Now I had a platform that could build the foundation for my upcoming business and help me stay in the loop. Further, as I learn new things, I now share them with others - which happens to be a personal passion of mine.

Then, the questions starting pouring in. How do I do this? How do I make friends? How do I create pages? The list seemed endless. However the biggest question is that of making friends – legitimate ones.

Here's my advice.

If I invited you to a cocktail party at my house and the only person you knew there was me, how would you introduce yourself to all the other guests? I would be busy being the host, so you would be on your own. You obviously wouldn't say, “my name is …. and my website will now be receiving my newsletter”. So, why in the name of Heaven would you do it on-line?!? A lot of the people you want to reach do not know you, so take the time to think about how you would approach them in person. Carry that on-line, and you will be much more successful. Find the people who share the same ideas and passions that you do. Talk to them, and be honest that you want to expand your circles with 'like-minded' people. There is a lot to be said for honesty and integrity.

Remember that Social Networking has the word “social' in it for a reason.

As for face-to-face's my advice on that:

Ditto to the above.

When you get it, and we become 'like-minded', let me know. Maybe we can have a cup of coffee. That coffee, by the way, is available in person, or while I am still in my PJ's on-line.