I am consistently asked how I “get” new clients. For example, how have I had the opportunity to speak at local chambers of commerce events? How do I get new resume clients? And, how do I find businesses that need marketing, public relations, and writing assistance? The answer is simple: networking.
First, starting a writing and speaking business can be an interesting endeavor. How do you get your name out there? How do you let people know that you are available for marketing and writing opportunities? And, probably most interesting of all, how do potential clients know that you are actually a good writer/marketer/public relations person?
I started my business my writing articles and other small marketing pieces for local non-profit organizations. Obviously, these were volunteer assignments and I did not get paid. What did I get? I was able to secure numerous individuals that understood my diligent work ethic, timeliness when completing job assignments, and writing skills. These people were worth more to me than the monetary value I would have received if these jobs were paid. However, this networking started my business and continues it today.
My business is a member of two local chambers of commerce. Most networking events through these organizations are free or only cost a minimal fee. If your business is a member of these organizations, take advantage of the opportunities they offer. Attend luncheons, networking events, and business expos. Don’t be afraid to invite other chamber of commerce members to lunch or to your business. Reaching out to these individuals starts to build your “web” of business contacts. Once you meet enough people, your “web” starts to expand itself.
Feather Communications will start its fifth year of business on January 1, 2012. While I have only advertised in a few publications, most of my business has developed from networking. In fact, this upcoming week includes meetings with three potential new clients that I have met through networking, meetings, and organizations.
The best tip I can offer for networking is this: do it. You can’t talk about it, read about it, and expect it to happen. You have to actually go to the meeting, attend the after-hours event, and start meeting people. But, once you start to network with business professionals, you will be amazed by the results. Trust me – it has built my business for the past four years and I know it will continue to do so well into the future.
At a lunch-and-learn event this spring, I was asked to present several marketing tips in just a few minutes. I thought I would share these with you, as they have proven very effective for me and have helped me to grow Feather Communications.
Join a local Chamber of Commerce. Figure out which local chamber offers you the most benefit for the investment. Research current members and attend several events as a guest to determine if you want to join this particular group of people.
Become a member of a networking group. Whether it is BNI or another local referral organization, these are great opportunities to market your business and meet new people.
Give back to the community. Not only are you volunteering for a worthwhile cause, your business name will be associated with the organization and you will meet other like-minded business people.
Attend conferences and trade shows. Seek the conferences and trade shows that offer both networking capabilities and educational opportunities.
Remember that these marketing opportunities only work if you use them. If you want people to know about your business, you have to tell them. That may mean stepping outside of your comfort zone and purposely putting yourself in situations where you meet people. Take a chance and increase your marketing exposure.
We all know that networking is an important activity to grow our businesses and expand our own horizons. One of the ways I have found my best networking contacts is through giving back to organizations.
Example: I am an active member of the Professional Division of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA). I purposefully chose this organization because I was very involved in FBLA during high school and followed that with involvement in Phi Beta Lambda (PBL) during my college years (PBL is the college-equivalent of FBLA).
Through the Professional Division of this organization, I have been able to judge local and state competitions, write in national publications, and present seminars at local, state, and national levels. As the owner of Feather Communications, during November 2011, I will be presenting two seminars at the National Fall Leadership Conference in Milwaukee. Not only will I be able to provide information to high school students, but I will be able to meet many other business leaders from the Midwest.
I challenge you to discover how you can give back to your profession, community, or favorite organization. Find something that you’re passionate about, become involved, and watch the networking opportunities flow to you.
On Tuesday, April 12, the Eau Claire Chamber of Commerce will host a half-day conference on marketing-related topics. The conference, to be held at The Florian Gardens, will feature speakers that cover advertising, public relations, social media, and much more.
As part of the conference, I am really looking forward to providing a seminar on the topic of “Writing Effective Press Releases.” My seminar will cover when to write a press release, the format of a standard press release, and how to get noticed by an editor or media contact. The session is aimed toward beginners; it will be geared for those who own small businesses and have had little to no experience writing press releases. Attendees will be provided with handouts which will be completed during the seminar. The handouts will function as worksheets to help attendees generate ideas for their own businesses.
I chose to present this particular topic because through my business, Feather Communications, I assist others with writing press releases. I am always amazed at how many businesses have never taken the opportunity to use this marketing venue. A press release is free, gains a great deal of exposure, and provides additional opportunities for the business.
Along with my presentation, there will be plenty of other wonderful opportunities for learning about marketing and its effects on your business. I encourage you to take a half-day from your work schedule and join us at the conference – it will be a worthwhile event.
On Tuesday, March 15, Feather Communications will present a seminar at the Western Dairyland Business Center in downtown Eau Claire. This presentation will cover LinkedIn and the vital importance it can have for your business and personal connections.
The title of the seminar, “Networking Successfully with LinkedIn,” tells the story of the presentation. In order to network successfully with LinkedIn, you have to use it. Simply being on the site is not enough. The session will cover why LinkedIn is important and the vitality that networking brings to your life. Attendees will see an example profile and learn how to build their own profile. Topics covered will include updating your status, joining groups, and connecting with people. Those who attend this presentation will also receive a handout they will complete during class; the handout will assist attendees with planning their LinkedIn profile.
Much of my business has come via social networking sites, including LinkedIn. This seminar is perfect for those individuals who do not have a LinkedIn profile or maybe have one and have not used it to its full extent. Join us for this worthwhile event and learn how to harness the power of social networking through LinkedIn. I hope to see you there!