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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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Entrepreneurship

Is being your own boss all it’s cracked up to be?


being your own boss

Through my own experiences and working with many other entrepreneurs over the years, I’ve concluded that being your own boss
can be all it’s cracked up to be depending on motives and expectations. I love being my own boss but I’ve had to endure more proverbial donkey kicks to the groin than I would like to admit. Is it worth it? Read on to find out…

Entrepreneurial Motives

First off, you really have to evaluate your reasons for starting a business. If you do it for the right reasons, you will embrace the struggle with dignity and have the courage to persevere through difficult times. Do it for the wrong reasons and you will likely end up another sad statistic.

For me, I just needed to escape cubicle life in the big corporations at all costs. Although I made a very good living working for a national media conglomerate in Columbus, Ohio it wasn’t enough.

Every morning before work I reluctantly dragged myself out of bed filled with dread for the upcoming day. I would ask myself questions like how many idiotic meetings will I have to attend today? How many times will I have to clap for things that don’t justify applause in said meetings? How long will it be until I can sneak out on a “sales call” and go home for a much needed nap? Obviously, I was not cut out for corporate life.

Reasons why you should be your own boss

• Demand for your product or services –  If people are willing to pay you for what you do, that’s the first start to any successful business.

• Self Determination Whether you succeed or fail, it will be mostly, if not completely your fault. If you’re willing to carry around that type of responsibility, it can be very satisfying when things go well.

• Building a company from the ground up – Imagine what it’s like to be Jeff Bezos of Amazon. He went from working out of his garage in 1995 to running the second most valuable company in the world 23 years later! What aspiring entrepreneur doesn’t dream of building such a company?

• Flexibility – Being your own boss affords you the luxury of being able to work when and where you choose. I’m okay with working as many hours as it takes to succeed but I can’t do 9 to 5. Never could, never will. Nights and weekends are actually my favorite times to work, mostly because there are less distractions. In fact, I’m writing this sentence at 10:42 on a Sunday night. That’s the way I like it.

• Pursuing your Passion This is what it’s all about, right? If you start a business that’s driven by a passion, you are more likely to succeed. Running a business takes stamina and nothing energizes you like passion.

 

What should you expect from being your own boss?

• Making money takes time – From my experience, it takes a LOT of time to make any decent money. There have been many times I didn’t take a paycheck so I could pay my employees and/or bills. I’m not exactly Steve Jobs though, so maybe I’m just an underachiever. Maybe not. According to a recent Fundera study, 86.3% of small business owners make less than 100k. What’s more, 30% take no salary at all! Could you strike it rich with one big idea, hard work and a lucky break or two? You sure can, but the odds are not good.

• Be ready to put in a lot of hours – Being the boss means it’s all on you. If something needs to get done and there’s nobody else to do it, you’re on the clock. During the first five years I was in business, I literally worked quite a few 24 hour days to meet deadlines. Occasionally I got to go on vacation but you know what else went on vacation with me? Work.

• Running a business is hard – It requires high tolerance for risk, stress and pressure. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics about 50% of businesses don’t survive past their fifth year. That’s pretty scary stuff! To see the reasons why businesses fail on full display, make time to watch “The Profit” on CNBC. The great thing about that show is you get to see the reasons for failure and how to fix them.

• You think you’re in control, but you’re not – Are you really your own boss when you run a business? I can hire and fire employees, create my own schedule and make executive decisions. Sounds like a boss to me, but not so fast! What if my employees quit and my clients kick me to the curb? There won’t be much left to be the boss of if that happens. So yes, I am the boss, but I better make sure the decisions I make are in the best interest of my business, my employees and my customers or I will be the boss of nothing. 

Conclusion

So, is being your own boss all it’s cracked up to be? It’s more difficult than I can clearly articulate but I can’t imagine anything else at this point. I embrace the challenges and the sleepless nights that come with the job. I’m truly grateful for everything I’ve learned along the way and feel better prepared to succeed in the future.

Being your own boss isn’t for everybody but if you do it for the right reasons and set your expectations appropriately, it can be a deeply fulfilling pursuit.

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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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