Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

June 2012

Recent Posts

Being a member of a networking group or having a presence on social media is only the first step to developing referral relationships that produce results.  To make the most of your networking investments, it’s important to devote some quality effort into deepening those important business associations.

Here are 4 actions guaranteed to strengthen your networking relationships:

1. Identify those with whom you share a target audience. Let’s face it, not all participants in a networking situation are created equal. Investing time, energy, and effort into those relationships less likely to generate referrals for your business are not the best investment. Consider those with whom you share a networking association. Who is most likely to serve the same client base as you AND refer potential clients to you? Even though you share a common target audience, it doesn’t mean the other person provides referral. The best connection is someone who is able to think outside themselves and their business to consider supporting the success of others – including their clients.

2. Do your homework. After you’ve identified your potential referral partners, research their companies. Check out their work. Understand who they are, what they provide, and whom they serve. Your research will reveal the best jumping off point for a productive referral relationship and demonstrate your interest in collaborating with them.

3. Schedule a get-to-know-you appointment. Be the first to reach out in a way that demonstrates your desire to go the extra mile. If meeting face-to-face, meet on their turf and pick up the tab. If meeting by phone, initiate the call.  As simple as it sounds, these all-important relationship developers are easily over-looked. During the meeting, demonstrate your desire to give – not just receive. Ask questions about who they are, whom they serve and how you can support them. Be curious about them and their business. Make your initial focus of the conversation on their business before turning the spotlight on yours.

4. Follow-up. A simple “thank you” note following your meeting goes a long way in demonstrating your professionalism. It also speaks volumes about what kind of treatment any referral they provide to you will receive.

The bottom line when it comes to networking? You need to be able to put something into a networking relationship before expecting to receive a return.

What is your best networking investment tip?

(If this tip help you become more intentional with your business growth, subscribe to the blog to make sure you don’t miss out on any bite-size chunks of wisdom.

As a busy entrepreneur, the time, money, and energy you put into your business is a precious investment.  As a result, it’s important that you get a payoff from your business commensurate with your investment.

As a strategic business coach, one area that I’ve noticed most entrepreneurs fail to strategically plan for is networking. Consequently, networking becomes a frustrating “should” in the business and fails to produce the desired results.

Whether your networking activities take you online or offline, it important – and possible – to get the results you’re after. Plus, if your business is in stage one of growth and development, networking is a vital lead generation tactic for your enterprise.

Before making any significant networking investment, here are four must-do steps to ensure a networking ROI:  

1. Determine your networking budget. There are hard and soft costs related to networking. Hard costs include the event registration or subscription fee. Your time makes up the soft costs.  (Most entrepreneurs fail to include soft costs in networking budgets.) What can you afford – financially and physically – to invest?

2. Establish your networking objectives.  What do you want to achieve with your networking investment? What does your investment need to produce? Do you want to generate leads? Build your brand? Increase your visibility? Having a clearly defined outcome makes your networking efforts purposeful.

3. Decide your networking timeline. Developing productive relationships, establishing trust, and building credibility among your peers takes time. You want to know, on the front end, how long you’ll need to commit to a networking activity or group to achieve your intended outcomes.

4. Develop your plan. Based on your investment and intended outcomes, what activities will help to achieve your objective? If your networking is offline, this includes the groups or organizations you may join and/or events you’ll attend. Networking online incorporates the tools or sites you plan to make use of, such as Linkedin, Focus, or the myriad of other online networking sites where your target audience hangs out.  It also includes how you will use these various tools.  (More of that to following in future blogs.)

Don’t let your online or offline networking become an unnecessary source of frustration and stress for you. You’ve got bigger, and better, uses for your energy.

Work/Life Balance. What is it? How do we, as entrepreneurs, attain it? Why does it seem to elude the smartest of entrepreneurs? And, is it work/life balance we’re after or the outcome of what we assume balance will provide that we desire? No matter what we’re truly after, what we know to be true is that a balanced life is a productive life.

Webster defines “balance” as a state of equilibrium in weight, force, etc. It is the dynamic tension between wanting and having—between getting and spending—that leaves one feeling satisfied, happy, peaceful, and tranquil.

For true work/life balance, consider these steps:

  1. Define “balance” for yourself. Dee Hock, Visa International, said, “We tend to fall in love with the things we think are true.” Do you define balance based on what is true for your life or do you strive for balance as defined by society? If you’re using society’s meaning of balance to guide your life, you’ll find it difficult to accomplish. Business Coaching Tip: Discover what definition of balance works for your life based on your values.
  2. Identify the imbalances in your life. The components of a balanced life are many. These include your business, recreation, community, family, health, physical activity, and spiritual growth. As you think of each area that is important in your definition of balance, what percentage of time do you currently spend in each one of those areas? What percentage would you like it to be? What would you need to change in order to make that happen? Business Coaching Tip: Once you determine what components and percentages fit your characterization of balance, distinguish the areas that throw your life out of balance and eliminate them.
  3. Establish strong boundaries. Boundaries are imaginary lines we establish around ourselves to protect our souls, hearts, and minds from the unhealthy or damaging behavior of others. Business Coaching Tip: Decide for yourself what others can and cannot do around you that impact your ability to maintain balance. Educate others on how to respect your new boundaries.
  4. Underpromise. Overpromising creates a great deal of stress. In fact, most people make promises too quickly, then become ensnared by the effort that it takes to keep their word. Business Coaching Tip: Promise half of what you think you can accomplish. You will experience much less pressure to perform, plus the extra time and space that you will have created will allow you to be more resourceful.
  5. Reduce your roles by 50%. Have you thought about the many roles you play? You may be an employee, employer, spouse, parent, caretaker, volunteer, shopper, organizer, bookkeeper—the list goes on and on. Each requires time and effort. Which roles did you select and agree to? Which ones have unknowingly crept into your life? Business Coaching Tip: Determine which roles are essential to your values and goals and do away with the rest.
  6. Unhook yourself from the promises of others. Has anyone ever made a promise to someone else that quickly involved you? Did they check with you first or was it something that was assumed by them—and you—that you would automatically agree to? Did it cause you to have more things “to do” as a result of their commitment? Business Coaching Tip: Be aware of who’s commitment is who’s. Allowing others to take responsibility for their commitments helps them grow and assists you in creating balance in your life.
  7. Establish realistic expectations. High achievers are a unique group of people that expect more of themselves than anyone else would or could. They wear a shiny “S” on their chest (designated for “superperson”) and continue to set expectations far beyond what can realistically be accomplished within the allotted time. The space that exists between the level of expectation and what is possible is a source of continual imbalance and stress. There are no opportunities to celebrate as they continue to raise the bar with higher expectations.Business Coaching Tip: Create reasonable expectations for yourself daily. Your balance will grow in direct proportion to the expectations that you achieve.

Balance: the even tension that holds your life in harmonious proportions of equilibrium. How do you achieve balance in your life?

There’s a cost each entrepreneur pays for doing business in today’s marketplace. There is an emotional, physical, financial, and spiritually price paid for the success you achieve. To maximize the return on your valuable resource investment of time, money, and energy, shift from building to growing your business with these ten strategies.

 1.      Clear your calendar of all projects or commitments that pull you off track.
We live and work in an information-rich environment. In fact, did you know the equivalent amount of information housed by the Library of Congress is duplicated every 15 minutes? This hyper -informational environment causes loss of focus, especially in the absence of a plan.

2.      Eliminate all sources of delay.
We work in an ‘instant society’. Clients want what they want when they want it. Plus, if you’re not out ahead of the crowd, you can soon be trampled by the competition. Any sources of delay – including your suppliers – are necessary to get rid of.

 3.      Stop doing what’s not working.
You’ve heard the definition of insanity, right? It’s doing the same thing and expecting different results. Although we’ve familiar with this well-known saying, it doesn’t seem to stop entrepreneurs from continuing to execute on strategies that STILL aren’t working.

 4.      Put yourself and your needs first.
The airlines have the right idea when they request you put on your oxygen mask first. As entrepreneurs, you’re no different. Although you may think you’re doing the right thing by putting your client needs before your own, ultimately the client deliverables suffer.

5.      Find the exact type of work and market that makes you feel good emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. The most exciting aspect of today’s business environment is the ability to customize your business to fit your talents, values and strengths. Your performance spikes when you’re doing work you love.

6.      Be specific about what you want to accomplish.
“Make more money” or “grow my business” are both nice goals to have although both are too general. You never really know when you’ve achieved goals that lack precision.

7.      Create a concise plan for achieving your goals.
Without a crisp, clear map to direct your efforts, you’ll be like a cork on water floating where the wind takes you instead of where you want to go.

8.      Create a network of 1000 people who respect what you do.
Your business can’t grow in a vacuum. The more people know about you and respect your work, the easier it is to create the critical mass needed to fast forward your business growth.

9.      Serve your customers in new and innovative ways.
You need to be daring and be different in order to stand out in the world of business today. It’s work the perceived risk and your customers will ‘thank you’ for it.

10.    Hire a business coach.
Although this sounds a little self-serving, even a good business coach has a good business coach. Business is too complex today to grow it alone.

Related Blog Posts:

Say “Heck Yeah” to Growing Your Business

Getting Past Your Fears and Growing a Successful Business

How to Overcome Overwhelm to Grow Your Business

4 Strategies to Fast Forward Your Business Growth

30 Ways for Entrepreneurs to Grow Their Business

Do you really want to accelerate business growth?  Be sure to subscribe to our blog in the upper right hand corner of this page!

Core Business Assessment


Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

Search The Blog