Apr 20, 2021

Business Networking in the Time of COVID

 Many are finding that the normal in-person networking events, even if permitted, are risky for themselves or their customers. In the service business, there are two “types” of business networking that are critical to business survival, despite the current pandemic:

      •       Networking to find new customers
  • o   Networking to remind friendly contacts and customers that you are still ready to service them.

If you’re looking for new customers, it’s a great time to sharpen your social media skills and open yourself up to new possibilities. Consider a tool like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which gives great access to lead lists that fit the profile of customers you are already serving . You can also use blogs and social media content (combined with options like Facebook’s Boost  to help get fresh eyes on your business content and ideas. Both of these can provide great intros to new contacts. Further, careful audience selection will allow you to titrate your ad investment to the preferred customer location and profile.

“With all the new electronic (touchless) lead generation, I remind people not to forget the older techniques. Postcards to a tested list, and joint venture outreach with trusted professionals serving the same market can be highly successful,” says Service for Profit’s Tom Pencek.

But what about reaching out to friendly contacts? Well, it turns out that it’s easier than ever to do that while staying home – especially if you have the contact info of the people you’re trying to reach. In this case, it is all about choosing a method of contact that is most convenient for your audience.

I’m a big believer in periodic emails that are tailored for your target audience. I recommend MailChimp for this, as it is free for smaller lists (<2000 names). Podcasting is becoming more accepted as an outreach method for some customers as well. Walking with earphones and listening to recorded content seems to be common these days in Silicon Valley. Google has stepped up to create an educational series on Podcasting, and provides new podcasters training on how to get into this outreach method .

Bottom line, some contacts prefer a light touch. It’s a good idea to make an initial contact and ask permission before routinely sending them an ongoing series of emails or other content. Once that’s done, you can use anything in your newly expanded toolkit to effectively market your services and connect with customers.

Apr 8, 2021

Making a Daily Plan – Is It Worth It?

It’s easy to get distracted when working from home. Aside from calendared meetings that are difficult to change, requests from housemates, doorbells that demand answering, and the endless emails and texts that arrive all clamor for your attention, time, and a fraction of your working day. So how do you stay on course? Consider a daily work plan.

Many years ago, I had occasion to see a video by productivity legend Steven Covey.  In it he demonstrated conclusively why only by planning your work can you ensure that the most important or complex tasks and deliverables are completed on time.

I’ve always advised people to create their daily plan the day before, usually before shutting down for the day. Adding breaks, and plenty of time for what Covey calls, “the big rocks” (your top priorities for the day) helps to clear the decks and avoid missed deadlines. Alternatively, some people like to set aside 10 minutes first thing in the morning to plan – if they can ignore the phone long enough to get it done.

When planning, even when forced to work away from the office, it’s important to use a modality that is comfortable and consistent with your preferred working style. For example, some of us like to use traditional paper planners (like Franklin Planner) or simple lists, while others prefer electronic tools. It’s possible to use Outlook as a planning tool with readily available software overlays, or you could choose to use a more comprehensive planning tool that encompasses not only work activities, but the activities of daily life .

Whichever solution works best for you, be sure to be on the lookout for those “time wasters” that can wreck any plan. I have found the “start time delay” to be the biggest problem for me personally. There is always something to deal with before starting the workday, and frequently it leads to another task that just “must” get cleared. Excessive travel between appointments can also run out the clock, although with the growth of Zoom and Skype meetings, this time waster is less common.  

Finally, don’t overschedule. Allow for downtime during the day, a reasonable gap between meetings, and a heavy “think” session. Increase the number of scheduled tasks and meetings to your daily plan only after you’ve had success with a less aggressive schedule.

By following these simple steps, you will get increasingly adept at meeting daily objectives and higher lever goals.