Thursday, October 25, 2007

low-cost marketing techniques - networking

This post is part of a series, based on a talk I gave on the subject of inexpensive marketing techniques to the Toronto Chapter of Professional Organizers in Canada.

How do I market myself as a professional organizer? How do I market my professional organizing business?

Networking

I once had a blind date with a guy who sold financial products for a leading insurance company. During the course of our conversation he mentioned that one of his friends cynically believed that every social interaction - even with friends during leisure time - was simply another opportunity to network. At the time I found this attitude abhorrent, but since becoming an entrepreneur, I've come to realize the truth in this viewpoint.

Maybe it comes down to the observation that there are good ways and bad ways to network. Bad ways would include endless self-promotion and a "take, take, take" mentality; good ways would include nurturing others, and taking the time to listen and help others achieve their own goals.

There are a lot of networking resources out there. One of my favorites is Keith Ferrazzi, "super-connector" and author of Never Eat Alone. His website can be found here. Ferrazzi has a weekly e-newsletter and blog that present valuable networking tips to businesspeople from all walks of life. I like the sense of generosity and warmth that he brings to the topic of networking, which lifts it above the usual stereotype of banal schmoozing.

The opportunities for networking are truly limitless. Each person you meet - each encounter you have - is a chance for you to spread the good news about who you are and what you do. But more importantly, each moment offers the possibility of demonstrating to others how you can uniquely fulfill their genuine needs.

And those needs may not be for your products or services! They may be for something entirely unrelated to your business. But if you can provide the connections and resources that help others achieve their dreams, you will be remembered... and sometime further down the road, you will be rewarded.

Volunteer opportunities are great ways to connect with colleagues, referring professionals or potential clients. Get involved with your professional organization(s); share you skills with others who have need of them. I have been blessed to find work with colleagues that I've met through my board work with the Toronto chapter of Professional Organizers in Canada. Once people get to know you, they'll be more likely to refer your services.

There are, of course, formal networking groups which connect professionals from a variety of different businesses for the purpose of generating leads and referrals (as well as offering fellowship and support). A quick online search will likely find a number of them in your community. Most charge some kind of fee, or require that you bring a certain number of legitimate client leads to each meeting. If you've had success with networking groups, share you stories in the comments section, below.

ACTION ITEM: Today, resolve to treat every single encounter you have as an opportunity to network. Listen deeply to the people you meet, and try in some small way to help them with their needs or goals.

Suggested online search: "networking" "networking groups in [your area]"

1 comment:

Carolyn Caldwell said...

Thanks for posting this Michelle. It's a great resource for us.