Meeting with other professionals is just the beginning of the relationship. Knowing what steps to follow after your appointment can help speed the rate at which your business relationship grows, and therefore the faster you will see benefit.
Connect on social media
If you enjoyed the connection offline, why not take it online. Take the time to friend, follow, or connect through sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn so that you can stay in touch between in person meetings.
Set a commitment for the next meeting
There is no better time than right after your meeting to set a commitment of when to meet in person again, than while your meeting is fresh on each parties mind. Follow-up meetings are a great way to reconnect and discuss the expectations you set in your first meeting.
Follow-up on your introductions
Given someone a name to call on and permission to “use my name” is not a good referral. Nor is giving a referral and considering the matter closed. Good referrals are ones where the giver is willing to follow-up with both sides of the introduction and ensure that they have connected. This is also a good time to make sure that the introduction was handled professionally.
Members have been using our site for over a year now to connect and build relationships with other professionals. The members that get the best results from their meetings have some common “best practices”.
1. Be professional
This includes being on time to your appointment (in fact I’d arrive a few minutes early), dressing professionally, and being actively engaged with your appointment partner. Keep small talk to just enough to break the ice (you are here for business, not to discuss the weather) and leave distractions like phones in the car.
2. Research the other party
We recommend that you us a variety of resources to learn a little about (not stalk) your appointment partner prior to your scheduled meeting. Social media is a great way to learn about their interests and influence. It is also a great way to see a picture ahead of time so you can be on the lookout for them when you arrive.
You should also take a look at their company’s website to better understand them, and browse other sites to learn about trends in their given industry.
3. Have introductions ready
If you have done your research then you should have an idea of what contacts you have that the other person could benefit from. Already knowing the names of some people you are willing to connect them with shows your willingness and ability to be a great business partner.
4. Be specific
Similar to #3, know what connections the other party may have that you would be interested in making. Being specific about the people and industries where you would like to meet other professionals makes you more referable.
5. Recap and set expectations
A great way to end your meeting is to recap the things of importance that you have discussed and set expectations. If you have offered to make some introductions for the other professional, set a firm timeline for how and when you will accomplish that.
“Friendshake” is an application designed to help you discover friends, and friends of your friends, that are nearby. Social discovery, as these type features are called, is not new to the startup world. Social discovery startups took the world by storm at the most recent SxSW convention a few months ago.
What’s most intriguing is going to be how this new feature affects social discovery companies like Highlight and Glancee that got the lion’s share of the attention at SxSW. Slightly less intriguing to me personally, is that one of my own startups has been active in social discovery for almost two years now. So, this is nothing new.
It is however problematic. As a startup you have only three possible scenarios when it comes to competing against larger companies that have deeper pockets.
Option 1 – You have to grow fast enough that is more attractive for the larger company to buy you out, instead of just spending cash to build their own model of what you do.
Option 2 – the larger company buys a similar company in your space.
Option 3 – out execute everyone and become the top company.
As you can see there is only one favorable outcome. In the case of Highlight, Facebook chose door number two and purchased Glancee.
The message is clear. Go big or go home.
I was first introduced to John through a recruiter in my area. It seems John was looking to connect with other entrepreneurs and our mutual contact thought I was a great place to start. Apparently, I know a few people. After a few back and forth emails, we decided to connect in person.
John’s background is impressive. He holds an MBA from Harvard and has worked with numerous startups in a variety of C level positions. The most recent company is Perfect Serve, where John was instrumental in helping the company raise capital and achieving a high level of success. A great person to get to know in the professional arena. I only hoped he would feel the same way.
Shortly after greeting one another at our appointed time, John gave me one of my favorite compliments. “You’ve made a business out of networking”, he said. You bet I have.
After learning more about each other’s background (both of us are finance professionals, and are involved in the startup scene) I asked how I could help. It seems that John is now looking for a new venture to get involved with, and in his words “after years of being a back office guy I knew I needed to get out in front of people”. I was happy to oblige and suggested about five individuals I would be happy to connect him to.
What did I ask for in return? Nothing. I didn’t have to. John, in turn, is going to introduce me to some of his fellow Harvard MBA grads. I’d say it was a good meeting to take wouldn’t you?
That’s how networking works.
Julia has a talent for putting things in words that few people I have met have.
I am privileged to work with Julia in partnership through another venture. Recently, our team of professionals was doing some game planning and we were discussing prospecting scripts. Having been involved with our company the longest, I of course had some suggestions for the newer people. Julia happens to be one of those “new people”. But her ability to effectively phrase things to prospects is world class.
Because of that I asked Julia to share some of her tips on Marketing (she owns and operates a marketing consulting firm).
5 Simple Things to be Remembered with your Marketing – by Julia Taylor of Exclaim Promotions
Have you ever heard a catchy jingle or remembered a slogan but couldn’t remember where you saw it or what brand it was associated with? If you aren’t conscious of the way you are crafting your marketing messages, you may very well join the ranks of some well known brands who have committed this marketing faux pas.
So how do you craft the perfect message that won’t get lost in the crowd? If you keep these 5 simple rules in mind, you’ll be well on your way to developing messages that will live on in the minds of your customers long after the first impression.
1) Keep it short and sweet.
In today’s fast paced lifestyle, we have relatively little patience for the hundreds of marketing messages that we are inevitably bombarded with on a daily basis. It is acceptable to put a little mystery into your messages and keep your audience guessing, but keep them guessing too long and they’ll simply lose interest.
You may think that a long list of impressive features on why your product is better than the next guy’s will “wow” your customers, but in reality they probably only read the first 3-4 and will only remember one or two. Pick a few of your best selling features and get to the point – your audience will thank you for it and remember you for much longer than your competitors.
2) Appeal to two or more senses with your messages.
Go back to grade school and remember your lessons on the five senses – taste, touch, sight, smell, and sound. Commit them to memory and begin thinking of new and creative ways to incorporate at least two of these senses into each of your marketing messages. Surprisingly, this isn’t as easy as it appears on first glance.
You might sample a new product on your next grocery store run, but chances are you won’t be compelled to buy it, even if you enjoy the taste. Why? Because they’ve only engaged one of your five senses, which isn’t a big motivator.
However, let’s run that scenario one more time and pretend that the product you were sampling was Coca-Cola. You walked up to the stand and you hear the familiar pop and fizz as the demonstrator snaps open a fresh can right in front of you. You smell the fresh cola as she pours it in a glass and the first few carbonation bubbles begin to escape. She hands you the freshly poured soda, but then also hands you the remainder of the ice-cold familiar red and white can. You begin to salivate before the first few drops ever hit your tongue and as you take the first few sips, you can’t remember the last time you had a cola that tasted this good.
How do you feel now? Feel like buying a whole case? That’s because with just a few subtle steps, an effective marketer can engage all five of your senses, which is a MUCH bigger motivator for buying behavior.
3) Be positive and light-hearted.
Studies performed on various social media platforms have proven that the two most commonly “shared” types of content are positive thoughts and humor. Although your particular marketing messages might not be intended for a social media platform, this data is still extremely relevant because it exhibits natural human tendencies. We enjoy, remember, and share things that are positive and humorous and tend to shy away from things that are negative.
If you are advertising a security system, don’t try and scare your customers about what they’ll do in the event of a break-in. Instead, remind them of how good they can feel about protecting their families and the security that comes with owning your system.
If the nature of your product or service makes this difficult to accomplish, put on your creativity cap and put a light-hearted or humorous spin on things. AllState did a wonderful job with their creation of the character “mayhem” and light-heartedly reminding their customers of all the reasons why an AllState insurance policy would come in handy.
4) Follow the rule of 3-5-7.
Taglines are a great way to summarize your marketing message in just a few words (see rule #1), and the best part is they can evolve with your brand over time. When deciding on an appropriate tagline for your business, try to keep it to 3, 5, or 7 words. Why this number?
Our brains are wired to like things in nice even numbers – 2, 4, 6. We think that’s normal, it’s what we expect. When things aren’t what we expect, we sit up and take notice. Subconsciously, our brains are waiting for the next word to complete our “even” puzzle. Take a look at these famous taglines that follow the rule of 3-5-7:
“I’m lovin’ it.” (McDonald’s)
“Don’t leave home without it.” (American Express)
“Just Do It.” (Nike)
“It keeps going, and going, and going….” (Energizer Batteries)
“Betcha can’t eat just one.” (Lays Potato Chips)
5) Get inside your audience’s head.
The last rule is really the fundamental principle of marketing. Marketing is really more about psychology than creativity or design. Of course those things are important, but they’re also subjective. You may think that bright orange packaging really accentuates your product and makes it stand out from your competitors. While this may be true, it may have the opposite effect you intended if 90% of your target audience hates the color orange.
If you really want your business to be successful, you have to be willing to put aside some of your own desires, thoughts, and artistic predispositions, especially if you are not your target customer. So often I see my clients making marketing decisions based on what they think “looks good” rather than what will psychologically appeal to their potential customers. More often than not, they get a less-than-desirable response from it and don’t understand why.
Word choice, lighting, colors, shapes, and textures all have subtle psychological messages that can either attract or deter potential customers. The key is to coordinate as many of these as possible and send a unified message to your audience.
What’s the easiest way to do this? Think like a customer. If you were buying a phone, what features would you want? What materials would you want? What color choices would appeal to you? If you get inside your audience’s head, you’ll probably realize that not too many people will buy a hot pink phone with silver rhinestones on it, no matter how much you like hot pink. If you still struggle with this aspect of your message, find a few trusted friends that fit the profile of one of your customers and get their opinions. You don’t have to take their word as gold, but it should certainly sound off some warning bells if five of your friends turn their noses up at something that you thought was a sure-fire winner.
Have more marketing questions? Would you like some more free advice for marketing your small business? Check out the Exclaim Promotions Facebook page for the best articles, tips, and advice for small business and startup marketing. Julia Taylor is the owner and chief marketing specialist at Exclaim Promotions. She has worked with a variety of retail and online businesses across the country in developing both online and offline marketing strategies and campaigns.