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networking, sales

How to Conduct a Productive Meeting

Last week, we discussed the best practices when welcoming new clients. One of the points was to have an in-person meeting. This brings me to a very important question, do you know how to conduct a productive meeting?

Meeting Agenda

The first thing you should have for every meeting is an agenda. This should be created prior to your meeting and then shared with all parties. You should send the completed agenda 24 hours in advance so any changes can be made prior.

Make sure your agenda includes subcategories to assure all aspects of the topic are covered.

Example:

1. Social Media
          a. Upcoming content
          b. Next Month’s Event
2. Photography

When you sit down to create the agenda, you’re allowing yourself to think through what needs to be discussed. If you have an agenda made, you’ll stay on track and won’t get back to your office to realize you forgot something. This is a vital piece to having a productive meeting. Without it, you’ll end up chatting about the latest sporting event and weekend plans.

Deadlines

What do you really accomplish if you don’t include a deadline? You should have a deadline set for each item on an agenda after your meeting is complete. By doing this, everyone knows when their part needs to be complete. This keeps a project on track and keeps people honest. If the date is set, you can see where a project is lacking when the deadline comes due.

Questions

Write down any questions you have prior to the meeting. They may get answered throughout but if not, you will easily be able to cover anything missed. As previously mentioned, when you sit down to write your agenda you have the luxury of time to think things out. If you go in on the fly, you’re hoping to remember everything. You will accomplish so much if you take the time to prepare for your meeting.

Time

Always be respectful of time. This is such an important aspect of having a productive meeting. If you asked to have an hour meeting, you have only reserved one hour of that person’s time. Don’t go into expecting to run over because even though you might have the time, it doesn’t mean they will. Plus, if you’re prepared, you shouldn’t need more time than what you’ve allotted.

Follow-up

After the meeting, an agenda shows what you’ve accomplished, deadlines to keep you on track, and answered questions. With this, you are able to follow up on what is discussed and check in with updates. This keeps a business process running smoothly.

Remember, when you take time beforehand, you’re ensuring that everyone’s time is taken into consideration. Preparation is key when conducting a productive meeting.

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networking, sales
How to welcome new clients

I have recently been discussing networking your business to get referrals and new business. Once those turn into a business deal, do you know how to welcome new clients?


In-Person Meeting

Meeting in person still holds so much value in the business world. Many things can be confused over email and it doesn’t make for an easy business partnership if your client feels confused. Your first step should be to schedule a meeting with them to go over the basics and really explain how your process will work. This takes out any surprises because you’ll explain your business’s process and have the ability to answer their questions right then and there. You can have this meeting at your favorite local coffee shop, lunch spot or even at their office. Doesn’t matter as long as you meet in person. Don’t forget to discuss your overall goals. Let’s say you are assisting in one aspect of their business, it does not hurt to know what their big goals are. This will help keep your goals aligned with theirs.


Follow up with the Details

After your meeting, you should send a follow-up email. It should thank them for their time along with an overview of the items discussed and what the next step will be. This way they have something to reference as the process of your client relationship begins.


Be Ready and Willing to Answer Questions

Sure you had your initial meeting to answer their questions but that doesn’t mean more won’t come up along the way. You should always let them know you would be happy to answer any questions. This may seem silly but I don’t think you can ever express your willingness to answer questions enough. For example, if I send artwork to a client for approval, I almost always end with “please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions.” This seems a little more welcoming than just saying “here is the draft of your artwork.”


Handwritten Thank You’s

After your first project is complete, a handwritten thank you note is a nice touch. This is something that most people don’t expect but are pleasantly surprised when they received it. You could send an email saying thank you but it really doesn’t express your true appreciation like sitting down to handwrite a card.


The most important thing to remember is you can’t be too thorough. These may seem like simple, no-brainer points but people tend to overlook the basics. You want your new client to feel like they are aware of what is happening during every part of the process and if they are unsure, you’ll be there to help. This process leads to successful on-going business relationships.

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networking, social media
Networking for Your Business Online

You attend a networking event and utilize all the tips previously discussed but how should you be networking for your business online?

What should you do next?

The day following an event, I take all the business cards I received and add them on LinkedIn. While doing this, I review the small notes I left on the cards as a reminder of who I met. This also allows me to follow-up where necessary. For example, someone may have asked for more information regarding a topic you discussed. It is extremely important to show people you are a person of your word. This is true in all aspects of life but especially when it comes to doing business. This is an industry that experiences a lot of false promises. Don’t be that person.

Why are connections important?

It is easy to think you are just hitting the connect button on LinkedIn and nothing more but this is the next step to having a relationship with a potential client. Plus, this will help you know more familiar faces during the next event you attend. Soon you will have a network once you walk into a room. From there, it is the dominion effect. Those people can introduce you to their acquaintances. Those people then become connections and your network grows.  


Are you ready?

Sure, you feel better about attending an event with new tips and getting the experience under your belt. The question is are you ready to connect online? Is your profile ready for visitors? You meet someone at a business networking event and go to their LinkedIn profile to find a duck-lip selfie as their profile picture. Not a great follow up. Here are a few tips to have a professionally polished profile:


Tip #1

An updated professional headshot is best for a business profile. If you aren’t able to have a professional one, you should still be in business attire in front of a plain background. Your car is not a suitable background. I would like to emphasize the word updated. We all have a photo of ourselves from years ago that we thought we looked our best. However, your picture should be up to date to show a true representation of yourself. For more insight on professional headshots, check out this post.

Tip #2

Make sure your professional experience is updated. If you met someone and told them all about your current job but your profile doesn’t reflect that information, they may second guess your credibility. If you are going to have a profile, it should be current. This is the best representation of you online and the company you work for. You want potential clients or employers to find relative information about you.

Tip #3

Watch the content you post. Most people don’t seem to update their profile with their own posts. If you aren’t, you are missing out. This is a great platform for sharing business-related content including company news, professional awards, news in your industry, etc. When sharing content, keep your audience in mind. It’s like what I previously discussed, not all content should be on all platforms. Save your personal life updates, lunch selfies and controversial personal opinions for other platforms. Remember, this is a representation of you in a professional setting and a representation for the company you work for.     

Overall, before you attend your next event, go back through your professional profiles and make sure the information is current. This will help you as you continue to grow the new connections you are making while networking in person. In person or online networking go hand-in-hand to assist in the growth of your business.

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networking

Networking for your Business
A great way to get new business is referrals. To get referrals, you need to have a network of people that know who you are and what you do. Here are a few things I have found to help when networking for your business.

Perception is everything.

If you are going to an event, you have to think about how your actions are being perceived. Show up late and people may make assumptions about your punctuality when it comes to doing business with you. It is appropriate to match your clothes to an event and most of the time, business casual is the safest option. If someone can’t tell if you are running an errand or going to a networking event, you may not be taken as seriously. If you sit on your phone through the event, you are basically saying you’re too important for what is going on.

Have business cards and use them.

Don’t be afraid to hand out your business cards to make sure people will have a way to follow up with you. Something I have always found helpful is writing a few words on someone’s card after we’re done talking. You can meet a lot of people during one event and it’s hard to remember them all. If you write a few words down from the conversation you had, there is a better chance you’ll remember what they do and most importantly, their name.

Know your product/service.

There is nothing worse than someone asking you questions about your product or service and you answer “I don’t know”. Networking is a way to share about who you are and what you do. You want to make sure you have those details covered so you are prepared to have productive conversations. These are conversations that will hopefully lead to doing business with someone.

Review your promotions, products, and sales materials before attending an event. It never hurts to be too prepared.

Be confident.

Is walking into a room full of strangers scary? Absolutely. That is why confidence is key. You are the expert of your product or service. You know how you can help people best. Remind yourself of these things before going in. It may sound silly but you will be much better at holding a good conversation with someone if you feel like the expert. It is more uncomfortable to stumble through a conversation when you keep contradicting yourself because of nerves.

When networking for your business, keep these tips in mind to help you get the most out of your experience. It’s not as scary if you do it right!

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