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Coaching Your Networking Strategy: What is the Best Choice for your Time and Success

Friday, 22nd February 2013
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Photo: JetMedia on sxc.hu

One of the best ways to grow your business is by networking.  The reason being, you can leverage your connections and be able to more easily reach your target market faster and with more credibility.  But how do you know which areas are the best places to network and how to best use your limited time and money?

The first step in determining the best places to network is by determining who your ideal client is.  When you have your niche boiled down, the second thing to do is to boil down where those type of people most hang out.

One of my client’s niches was stay-at-home-moms.  After we made an in-depth study of her business and where she wanted it to go, it became very clear that the best place for her to hang out was not her local BNI group, but McDonalds, specifically at the playground. She was able to sign up a lot of people every time she went to McDonalds and talked to the mothers and naturally introduced her product, which solved the problems of those type of moms.

3 Peck
Photo: Heberger Site on Flickr

After you figure out where your potential clients hang out and have a regular practice of hanging out there too, the next category to look at in your networking is your associations.  I recommend that people fit in a group that is in their industry.  It is important to stay on top of the industry trends, to know what others are doing in the industry, and to have colleagues who are friends that you can turn to when you have too much work, or you have a work related questions.  So cultivating one group that is in your industry is a good idea.

Next comes the dicey area of workshops and seminars.  You can usually benefit from going to them, but if you go too much, you will be spending too much time on learning, traveling, and the expense of the seminar, and not enough on growing your business. Too many business owners get caught in the “one more seminar” addiction.  Before attending more seminars, here are some good questions to ask yourself:

*Can I afford it?

*Can I afford the time off and the time away from work?

*How much of what they are going to be teaching do I already know sufficiently?

*How many things did I apply from the last seminar?  Am I still planning to review those notes?

It is important to be extremely selective concerning  seminars.  They cost a lot of time, money and energy, and more often than not it is better to stay home.  But some of these seminars are absolutely business changing, if the reason you are going is to create more strategic partners and the seminars are where they hang out.  If that is your intention and you know that you are going to forge relationships, then it is worth the  sacrifices.

Networking can be a huge way to grow your business, and it also can be a huge time sucker.  It is critical when you make your networking plans that you lay them out in a format that will not only work for you, but is a strategic choice to get you where you want to be.

 

Business Success for the Introvert, #26

Thursday, 14th February 2013

Let’s face it, the business world was created for the extrovert—be bold, ask for what you want, step it up and go for it, are often the messages we hear. So what if your natural inclination is to hold back a little? Maybe you’re more on the quiet side, well, at least until you get comfortable? Does that mean business is not for you?

No. It certainly doesn’t mean that. But it does mean that to be successful you might play at business in a little different way. Different is good, especially when you are honoring your true nature.

Really, taking in the environment and understanding it before you take action, is a really effective strategy plan on how to approach new situations.

Naturally there is good with both the introvert and the extrovert way of approaching business. An extrovert that is wise does take some time and observes to get the lay of the land then moves forward. An introvert would benefit a lot from learning how to speak up and ask for what they want and to get recognition.

The most important thing to do before you adapt some of the characteristics from the other camp, is to become extremely familiar with what makes you tick and what the signs are when you are getting out of power, so that when you do extend yourself, you will know when you are pulling yourself off balance and you know just how to push it. For example, an introvert going into a meeting and introducing themself to someone may be a stretch. If you do this and you experience a slight twisting of the stomach, heart pounding, and a flutter of the nervous system, you know you are stepping up and doing great. But if, on the other hand, just thinking about talking to someone makes you throw up and become light headed, you might want to start with smaller baby steps.

Introverts can do very well in business, and they don’t have to push it so far that it throws them off balance. It is matter of utilizing the skills that you do have and to leverage them to your advantage.

Until next time on your biz on your own terms!

The Tricky Art of Finding the Right Business Model for Effective Leadership

Thursday, 14th February 2013

Photo: Shazz Mack on Flickr

One of the biggest problems in building your business comes with deciding which business model to incorporate. Choosing the right business model to grow your business to the next stage is tricky and can be challenging if you don’t look at the right questions to answer.

Some of the more obvious questions to ask yourself when pondering which business model you want to incorporate are:

  • Where do you want to go with your business?
  • How do you want the business to look?
  • What results do you want your business efforts to achieve?
  • What’s the fastest way to utilize the resources that you already have?

Those questions are good starting points. There are other questions that aren’t often looked at, questions centered around how the model you pick affects you personally. Questions like:

  • What do you want to spend most of your time doing?
  • What is the most important part to you of your business, in your opinion? e.g. The growth? The lifestyle? The work?
  • What is the most fulfilling part of running your business, and what would it look like if you did more of that?
  • How much do you want to work?
  • How much money do you want to make, versus how much time off do you want?

These personal questions aren’t always easy to answer truthfully, but they’re probably more important than the strategic questions.

For example, one of my clients was really struggling with working in general. After a closer look, she determined it was the marketing she was resisting. The more we snooped around, it became very clear that she thought she should become a renowned guru. She felt a lot of outside and inside pressure to do so. Clearly she had the skills, talent, and her company was positioned in a place where she could really take off, but she didn’t. She kept stopping herself.

Photo: Photographyxgrl on Flickr

Once we took a closer look, it became apparent that to become famous did not meet the needs of her top values. In fact it didn’t even come close. When we explored further, her need to have more white space—time that wasn’t scheduled, was more important. Time for her to do her art meant a lot to her, and the idea of getting consumed by her business halted her efforts to build the business.

After she determined that what she wanted was a handful of clients and some group meetings that she could facilitate, it was a snap to come up with a different business model that required much less time building the business. This realization got her the results that she wanted with a smaller amount of effort plus created a lot of time for her to do other things that brought her happiness.

When you ask yourself personal questions before growing your business to the next level, you will have more of the information that you need to pick the business model that works better for you and your lifestyle.

The Hero’s Journey of Overcoming Business

Friday, 8th February 2013

The Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell

The minute the modern day business owner begins a business, he/she enters on a valiant quest that is called the “hero’s journey”. The American scholar, Joseph Campbell, identified this journey while studying many different cultures throughout the world. Joseph was able to see that the same pattern occurred over and over again in myths, religion, and in storytelling. This pattern can also be extended to business.

If you learn what the steps are in the process of the quest as a business owner, you will have a better idea of where you are going in your journey and business and will be able to utilize the opportunities that are presented to you in the most effective way.

The first step of the journey that a newbie business owner takes is deciding to leave the ordinary world. The ordinary world is the way things are before the business owner sets out on the quest to change things. In this first stage, the soon-to-be owner is not happy with the way things are.

After the business hero travels through this world long enough, something happens that invites him/her to come on the adventure of business. The hero normally, at this point, looks at business building as hard, too many unknowns, and requiring super human strength. Typically the business hero doesn’t want to pursue the business that is calling him/her.

The business hero continues on with living, not really listening to the idea of building a business. But then he/she comes across a person, or class, or some other thing that helps teach what a person needs to know if they are going to start a business. Sometimes it comes in the form of a person who listens to the hero’s dreams and believes it possible for the owner to create.

Photo: Fortune Live Media on Flickr

Eventually the business hero can take the way the normal everyday world is and he/she makes a step into the unknown of the business world. The call to make a change or to see what can be created just becomes too much, and our business hero needs to see what can be done.

Once the business has begun, that is when things become extra exciting. This is the time for the business hero to prove what he/she is made of. The hero will start encountering all sorts of opposition in the forms of: tests, enemies, and will also start making allies that are critical to form to have a chance of succeeding. The longer the business hero is in business, the better he/she becomes. The hero is now prepared for the future.

There comes a time in every business owner’s journey where the owner will need to go through the “ordeal”. In the hero’s journey pattern, the owner confronts his/her greatest fear in the journey, whether it will be success, or the death of the way he/she has run the business, or birthing new life into the business. At some point the business hero must face the challenge.

If the business hero makes it through all the challenges and tasks, then comes the reward of a successful business. At this point, there’s still the risk of being in danger, but there is also the satisfaction of huge accomplishment.

Photo: AdaFruit on Flickr

Oftentimes the hero business person has to go through more obstacles and tests, until finally at the end, it is time for the business owner to return to where he/she started from, but this time with all the skills and knowledge needed in order to permanently transform the world. When the business hero reaches this part of the journey, there is much he or she can do to give back.

When the business owner knows what point of the hero’s journey he or she are at, it is much easier to get through that stage with the wisdom of having the broader picture of what is happening and what to expect.