4 Things You NEED to Make the Internet Work for Your Business

4 Things You NEED to Make the Internet Work for Your Business

Business success online today is all about connection and conversation, community and collaboration.

 

While traditional online marketing methods and social media complement each other, it is no longer good enough to be found on Google alone. You have to have a solid and positive presence on social media networks and ultimately where your targeted client spends their time online. Not only so you can take part, contribute and be an active participant in relevant dialogue to attract and engage with potential customers, but also so you can harness the power of the people and have others generate a buzz about your business on your behalf.

 

In order to get others speaking highly about your business you need to invest in the four following factors that will influence your online success.

 

Visibility

 

business visibility

 

Getting your business in front of as many targeted users as possible is paramount to success no matter the size, format or niche of your business.

 

Many business owners believe, or are mistakenly told, that by getting online and developing a website they will be inundated with phone calls, bookings and sales.

 

The truth of the matter is that’s not how it works. Your website will simply add to the hundreds of millions that are already there competing for the same traffic.

 

In the past a business owner had to attend networking events or seminars in order to raise their profile and get in front of targeted business partners. Now social media means that you can connect with like minded people online and if your profile is right then people will be attracted to you and connect with you.

 

Select a social media platform based on the business partner you want to attract.

 

  • 50 year old business owners might use LinkedIn
  • 17 your old males might prefer YouTube
  • Twenty something girls could be on Instagram.

 

Then select a group where your niche will like to spend their time, join, watch and learn how people are connecting but more importantly study how those who are getting the most interaction are engaging and use some of their strategies to help increase your visibility in the group.

 

Incidentally I plan to put more time into collaborating on LinkedIn the future so if you would like to stay connected then send me an invitation to connect here…

 

CREDIBILITY

 

We all want our message to be heard by as many people as possible. That right has to be earned through building credibility in your subject or niche.

 

Getting people to like you or follow shows that you have demonstrated a reason for them to connect with you. From that point on your focus should be on motivating them beyond the like to connecting with you, speaking with you, sharing conversations with you and with the people that follow them.

 

Credibility online is a two way street. It should be viewed in terms of conversation. The better the quality of the conversation you have, the more trusted, well liked and respected you will be and as a result the more people will introduce you and refer business to you; and the more business you will generate.

 

Make your conversations meaningful. Interact and converse, don’t just broadcast.

 

Credibility is not all about what you say. It is about how you listen to other people and the value of the responses and information that you share.

 

POSITIVITY

positivity helps business growth

When looking to build long term business relationships it is all about quality and not about quantity. Having ten thousand Facebook fans or followers is great as it means that you have great visibility but it is counterproductive when looking to build true and meaningful relationships.

 

One of the mistakes that I made when first starting on social media, Twitter in particular, was to follow too many people. This meant that it wasn’t a stream of valuable information presented to me by people I respected but more of a tidal wave of deafening noise. There was no value to be had because it was impossible to digest.

 

I therefore took the decision to cull the number of people who I followed down from 10,000 to around 150. Now, I actually enjoy spending time interacting and sharing on Twitter because it is relevant to me. You can follow me on Twitter here..

 

Interact and engage with people that have a high profile and large influence on their following. Be positive and add valuable input to their conversations and you will find that people stop and take note of who you are and interact with you.

 

Likewise you need to make sure that your brand is reflected in a positive manner online. Take the time to research what is being said about your reputation and if there are any negative sentiments make an effort to contact that person and set the record straight or help them overcome the problem they had with your brand or business.

 

For people who are looking for someone with your skills for the first time, being presented with negative information from other people is not a great way to start a relationship. Make sure that when people search for your online reputation, what people find is positive and a true reflection of you and your business.

 

PROFITABILITY

business-growth and profitability

  • How can someone in your network help someone else?
  • What do others need?
  • How can you help?

 

Profitability might mean what is in it for you but rather than going in with the “what’s in it for me?” attitude, think about how you can be a conduit for others?

 

Your relationships and the connections you have developed are one of the most valuable assets that you have and will ever have.

 

By introducing and interweaving your connections with others you are building a stronger web of connections that you can turn to when you need something like an introduction or referral.

 

Keeping everything you know and everyone you know locked away in the annals of your mind is not going to get you anywhere. Share what and who you know and build more and more connections. Those connections will manifest themselves into relationships and profit. People do business with people they know, like and trust.

 

Ultimately the success of your business will come down to how good you are at building relationships. The more value you can add to other people, the more relationships you will develop giving yourself the greater chance of closing more sales.

What strategies have worked to help grow you authority and business online? Share your thoughts below and then hit reply.

Why Doesn’t Your Firm Get More Client Referrals?

Why Doesn’t Your Firm Get More Client Referrals?

Why Doesn’t Your Firm Get More Client Referrals?

client referralsWould you prefer to build a business that no-one knows anything about, so that every new customer is hard won from cold calls? Or would you want a business that people know about, trust and happily approach to do business with?

It’s likely that every business that starts will always have an element of the hard won, cold called business. Like it or not, cold calling is still an effective way to build business. Cold calling needn’t necessarily even be picking up the phone and ringing prospects, it could be emailing, direct mailing, door to door knocking or any other way you can think of to put yourself in front of a potential client who has never heard of you before.

While this is a tried and tested method of business building it’s also exhausting, time consuming and inefficient. At times it can also be demoralising if you encounter multiple “no” or “I’m not interested” or “please don’t call again!”

What’s the alternative?

In an ideal world you would have customers coming to you. Not just once in a blue moon referrals, or one off incoming calls, but customer after customer approaching you to work with them.

The benefit of having a business that clients know of and want to work with are plenty and obvious. It enables you to spend less time on drumming up sales, more time on closing business and serving customers – increasing your bottom line.

If this is the ideal situation for your firm then why aren’t you doing everything you can to ensure that this happens? Or if you think you are already doing everything you can to generate more referrals why isn’t that your business isn’t growing? A steady stream of customers who are enough to pay the bills isn’t enough, what you want is as much as you can handle, or more!

For a business to successfully grow by referrals you need to have an excellent reputation, an easy to find, informative website, great customer service and possibly some kind of client referral or incentive scheme.

If you feel you’re already doing all of this and the referrals aren’t coming in thick and fast then the number one reason is probably down to you.

Referrals usually come from a few main sources. These are:

  • Current Clients
  • Former Clients
  • Non competing firms in your industry
  • Companies not in your industry but in a similar field.

In order to maximise the number of referrals you win, you should think about how you can best target these individual groups.

Email Marketing and Newsletters are great for getting back in touch with former clients, in fact they are one of the most effective forms of marketing when they are followed up consistently. One of the great advantages of email marketing over direct mail is it is a much lower cost, another is that the email can sit in someone’s inbox quite unobtrusively, whereas unwanted direct mail usually goes straight in the bin.

With existing clients you can publicise a referral scheme to them while you are dealing with their case. If you have done a good job for someone, the best time to ask them for a referral is straight away when they are happiest with your service. Some businesses have really great referral or loyalty schemes set up for their clients, and while it’s not appropriate for every business you could offer a prize for every fifth referral you get from someone, or enter a monthly prize draw and everyone who has referred a friend gets a ticket.

Consider setting up a joint venture with a like minded business. If you are a conveyancing lawyer, you could build relationships with local estate agents or removal firms – these businesses aren’t competing for the same business as you but they will certainly be interested in some of the same clients.

client referrals

Look for opportunities to get involved in industry events where you can be seen as an expert speaker, or a moderator on a panel. Not all networking events are going to be right for you, you shouldn’t turn up to something just because it’s local or because you know a lot of people who are going already. Instead, target specific industry groups or target small client only seminars.

Finally, think about ways you can get referrals from within your own industry. If your firm specialises in certain areas of the Law for example, can you get referrals from another firm who offer their services in different legal fields, or maybe a firm from another town?

Some of you may have noticed that all of these things I have just mentioned are still you selling your business. Yes, they are. But the idea is that you aren’t touting directly for sales, you are targeting specific groups who are most likely to be in a position to help you. It will take time to build a good referral business, but by putting your efforts into getting groups of referrals rather than individual sales you are giving your business a better chance to be seen by as many people as possible.

Social Media Influence the Hunt is On!

Social Media Influence the Hunt is On!

Social Media Influence the Hunt is On!

social media influenceBlasting out update after update on social media isn’t likely to do you or your business any favours in the long run. What you need is cleverly worded updates to catch peoples’ eye and be forwarded around by influential people. Easier said than done!

Any old retweet won’t necessarily add any value to what you’re already doing – I’m sure you’ve all had the odd tweet picked up by an automated account just because it contains a certain key word.

What you really need is to build Influential people into your network who help you by commenting and forwarding your message around their friends, family and network proving that your brand is one to be trusted and respected.

Influential People aren’t necessarily the ones with the most followers, and in order to prove that you are an honest and trustworthy brand you can’t just ask influential strangers to endorse you, the best endorsements are always unprompted.

So how do encourage Influential endorsements?

Be pro-active about building your network.

Again, I don’t mean follow everyone you come across. Instead, research who the top influencers are in your niche or local area and get in touch with them. Think outside the box as well, and maybe look at who the key influencers are in complementary businesses to yours. The benefit being, that if someone isn’t in direct competition to you then they may be more likely to recommend you.

Look after your existing customers and contacts

If someone is thinking about buying from you, they’re likely to be more influenced by someone who has already had that experience from you, rather than an “outsider”. So if you have happy customers retweeting your messages then their friends and family are the people they’re most likely to influence, another reason to avoid those automated accounts as they don’t have friends or family!

Make people feel special!

For everyone who spreads good news about you on social media, make sure you publicly thank them, or send them a message of some kind. If someone has made a real difference then perhaps think about sending a gift of some sort? You could also create some kind of reward program for top influencers, invite them to an opening night, or give them a discount against future purchases.

Add a Personal Touch

Building quality relationships takes time and you can’t expect to go from nothing, to the point where you can approach trusted contacts and ask them to promote something on your behalf. To get to that point though, one of the simplest ways to build trust and show friendship is to be a bit more personal. Start simply: Mention people by name in a post to attract their attention. Get to know a little about them as a person outside of their business, and offer a little information about yourself in return. Be careful what you post publicly, as no-one wants to put themselves at risk online, but by showing a little of your personality and humanising your brand you might be surprised at the difference it makes in other peoples’ perceptions of you.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Adjust your tactics depending on the platform and the person you want to attract or impress. What works well on Twitter in 140 characters may seem a little brief for your blog. Find a voice that works well for you while at the same time gives an honest reflection of your brand. Customers will soon see through any false attitudes, and likewise will turn away from you if you’ve not got the right balance. For example, don’t bombard people with Tweet after Tweet, and if you’re on Facebook but only update it once a month then don’t expect people to automatically jump on every word you say.

Join The Conversation.

Social Media is all about conversation and relationships. If you send out a lot of updates but never respond to any messages, or never get involved in other peoples’ conversations either then you will find it very difficult to become a recognised influencer on Social Media. By staying aware of current trends, commenting on other peoples’ statuses and retweeting updates from people who you follow you will probably encourage more people to get involved with your own work.

Becoming a person of influence is a status that many people strive for their entire careers, so don’t be frustrated if you don’t seem to be making the giant waves that want after only a short time. If your message is good and you mix in the right circles then people will start to notice you. What they notice you for is up to you!

Are You Getting the Most out of Business Networking?

Are You Getting the Most out of Business Networking?

Are You Getting the Most out of Business Networking?

business networkingAs the old saying goes, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know! Business networking has never been more important, whether it’s keeping in touch with old colleagues on linked in or finding new clients via Twitter or a good old fashioned networking event.

Just like a website with no backlinks will get no traffic, turning up at a networking event or following important people on social media will pull you no favours unless you know how to interact, or Network, to get results.

Here are my top ten tips for business networking in the virtual world as opposed to the real world

Top 10 Tips for Business Networking in the Virtual World

Introduce yourself properly.

When you meet someone in person, you’d introduce yourself with your full name. If you’re approaching someone via email, be sure to have your email signature completed to include any links back to your website, Twitter or Facebook page so that your new contact can check out who you are and what you do. Explain why you’re getting in touch, where you came across them and why you want to work with them. It can sometimes be harder to make a first impression in text than in person, so make sure the overall tone of your words are friendly and leave no room for misinterpretation.

Make sure your “About me” is complete

The “about me” page of a blog or website, or the short bio you can fill in on Twitter or Facebook have become like the “Elevator pitch” for the digital world. You only get a very small space to make your first impression so make sure it counts! If someone checks your profile and the bio is incomplete or not clear, it may be the difference between them replying to you and becoming a valuable contact, or blocking you as spam.

Be a good Listener

Some of the best networkers are also the best listeners. They have heard what everyone has to say, taken it all on board and used the information to give better advice, be more interesting and in the process show themselves to be selfless. Listening online is more about reading whar others are saying, so read a lot of blogs, industry press and comments, then comment back, share what you’ve learned and acknowledge other people’s work and opinions. Remember, networking is two ways, and by listening to other people you’re proving that it’s not “all about me”!

Be aware of your Image

Online it can sometimes be hard to identify who the real person is behind the screen. The best way to build trust in others is simply to be genuine, honest and above all, be yourself. Let people see what you look like by adding a photo to your profile, and try and keep the same or similar style across all of your online sites. Develop a style that reflects both you and your business image, and shows you as professional, trustworthy and approachable. It helps to show your followers that they are in fact dealing with the same person and that you are a real person!

Follow up

An initial email, wall post or Tweet from someone is a great start, but that’s not a relationship. Follow up any contact you have, whether it’s replying to Tweets, answering questions, or commenting on blog posts.

Be Helpful

It’s impossible to have eyes and ears everywhere, so if you can offer help to someone you meet online, then help them! We’ve had tips from people about how to fix the layout on our blog, something we weren’t aware of as it looked fine in our browser. Likewise, if you know someone who can help someone else out, why not put them in touch?

Know when to move on

There’s no point flogging a dead Horse, and if you are not getting anything from a relationship it is time to move on. Likewise, if you think you’ve got a relationship going and then realise it is totally one sided, maybe it’s time to question whether you’re getting as much out of it as the other person.

Don’t Oversell

Networking isn’t sales; it’s about building profitable relationships. You’ll find that if you use your social media profiles purely for sending out sales information and offers that you’ll struggle to build up any engagement at all.

Be Positive

Save any personal issues or complaints for your friends and family. To get the most out of networking you need to focus on what you’re there for, and that is to make beneficial business contacts.

Be Open Minded.

Even if you work in a small local business, don’t shut yourself off from the world. Through our online business, we’ve been introduced to countless other people all over the world who we wouldn’t have had the privilege of working with had we just concentrated on our area. These relationships may not be profitable in a financial sense, but even so can be invaluable for business, providing helpful, non competitive advice from the other side of the world whilst proving that your work is credible enough to be acknowledged and admired by strangers – and who doesn’t need that once in a while!

What are you best business networking tips for the virtual world?