connected

When we starting something new, specially our own business, we take the time to prepare ourselves by learning the skills of that specific area, industry or career. We get ready and get to a point where we feel ready to offer others what we got, our awesome product or service… and then what?

Did you know that most small businesses are able to successfully develop a product or service only to fail at finding prospects? I personally think that we resist the idea of feeling like a “sales person” for something we built following our passion.

It doesn’t have to be like that, you don’t need to become a sales person or feel like you’re wearing the title on your back. I have a better term and a better technique: Social Networking. I’m not talking about social media. I’m talking about networking in real life, offline. If you think this is a heavenly skill only some extroverts are born with, you’re wrong. All you need is clarity and the guts to talk to everyone about who you are and what your passion is in the simplest possible way. Now, if you’re not clear about your passion or how to turn it into your business, you need to stop right there and go back to step one (Read my post about “Getting Naked” in this blog).

I have a few tips on how to get going and I have a couple of books to recommend:

•    Reset your mind. Erase that old idea about the sales person everybody runs away from, as long as you’re speaking from your heart, there is no direct selling here. It will come to you.
•    Make a list of the people you already know, your current network.
•    Break that list into categories. Family, friends, colleagues, people that provide a service to you, church members, whatever you want.
•    Leave some people out, usually the negative ones. You don’t need to be dealing with that kind of vibe and get stuck when you’re starting.
•    Connect. Pick a category and write an email or make a phone call requesting an informal meeting, lunch or even a quick coffee with these people. No need to be specific or complicated, don’t even call it a meeting.
•    Don’t discriminate, even if you don’t think that person is a good prospect, you don’t know if he/she can introduce you to somebody else that has great potential.
•    Be yourself during your meeting and talk to them about what your doing in an informal way. Forget your elevator pitch, I can guarantee you it will happen in an organic way if that person can see your passion and how serious about it you are.
•    After the meeting, send that person a thank you note (email) for taking the time. Always be yourself, say something like “it was good reconnecting with you” and make it obvious to keep the relationship open so you can keep coming back from time to time.
•    It’s very well known in business that it is easier to keep your existing clients than to get new prospects. Keep those relationships alive. What’s the point of making the effort if you’re not going to talk to them again?
•    Ask for introductions (notice how I didn’t call it “referrals”), those people in your network have their own networks too. If you’re able to get them excited about what you do, they’ll be happy to introduce you. Don’t do it on the first meeting.

The use of online Social Networks

Social Networking websites such as Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter are great tools to maintain those relationships alive. I’m adding a couple of points on basic practices to get started:

•    After meeting a person, I always send out an invitation through any of these networks. They just met you so they know exactly who you are and will gladly accept your invite (don’t wait a week to do this…).
•    Now that you are connected, engage. A simple comment on their status will do. Don’t over do it, or in other words, don’t stalk people.
•    You can even send that thank you note over one of these websites. By doing this you are already exposing yourself to their network.
•    One last point, as Seth Godin says in his recently published book “Tribes”, if these relationships are not real, having a thousand friends on Facebooks will do absolutely nothing. You need to take those relationships offline.

Do this basic steps and I can guarantee, you will not only expand your network, you will also get a great chance to polish your communication skills. If you keep talking to people, you will build momentum and confidence. If you want your business to flourish TODAY, you must spend enough quality time in this topic or you’re running the chance of your seed never sprouting.

Sales? Get it out of your head. Sales are going to come to your door.

Books

Here are 2 awesome books that will inspire you and provide you with insights and techniques. Forget about those depressing sales or marketing books…

Never Eat Alone – Keith Ferrazzi

Tribes – Seth Godin (Everybody should read this).

Reach out if you get stuck!

Photo Credit: Erica Marshall