When you and your business are clearly defined, you are creating a clear focus for your business. Clients, colleagues and new encounters will immediately be able to understand the focus of your business, thereby enhancing your visibility and expertise and what makes you different. This will, in turn, boost your revenues and increase your compensation as clients and future prospects will immediately understand what you do and want to hire you immediately. In addition, when others understand what you do and how you do it, they will refer you more, causing more referral opportunities. Not too shabby, huh?
There are five essential tools to Defining and Conquering your business: Imagine, Plan, Target, Focus, and Lead with the Silver Rule.
Essential Tool #1: Imagine
The most important person that needs to understand who you are and what you do needs to be you. If you do not imagine your personal and professional goals with confidence, how can you expect anyone else to? Be sure to know what the future will look like. Leverage your past successes and most importantly, adopt your fear as opportunities. A good friend once told me that uncertainty leads to opportunity, and she was completely right. Uncertainty is not the rule for failure; yes, it's the unknown, but that is not bad. I urge you to adopt and embrace your fears as true opportunities. Once you can imagine what you want and where you want to go, it will help others understand and follow your lead.
Essential Tool #2: Plan
As with anything I can think of, you need to plan and know the costs associated with your actions. You must plan and visualize for success and with any successful endeavor you need to know what your ROI (Return on Investment) is. ROI can be defined in time or money, but if you don't take a moment to determine what the costs are for you and your business, you will always be playing catch up. Know what your key drivers are for yourself and your business. Do you feel balanced in life (don't worry: few people do) and if not, what can you do about it? If you feel overwhelmed with the amount of time you are out of the office, planning on attending another 4 networking events is not going to help you.
Objectively look at your business and life, and what you need to do to move your personal and professional goals forward. Recognize all resources. It's important to understand that even if you are a solo practioner, you are not alone. You have a team of friends, family and colleagues that you can call upon for counsel, information and, dare I say, help. Know your resources and what their experiences are. It's a wonderful thing to find out that a member of your family has experience or ties to a market you are looking to learn more about.
Essential Tool 3: Target
It's great to target the world, but I urge you to create targets worth reaching. Remember that ROI I mentioned in Tool 2: Plan. If you arbitrarily choose a target and don't know the return on your investment or how much you need to invest in it, you will be vulnerable. Be specific, optimistic, positive, realistic, and, of course, think in both the short and long term. A short-term goal for determining a target can be meeting one person who understands that target for information gathering. A longer-term goal can be scheduling to go to an event where this target meets. When targeting and creating goals, please create successes for yourself not failures. Create goals you can reach, not that you are dreading to meet.
Essential Tool 4: Focus
Once your target is defined, you must focus on it. Be a Target Advocate. One of our strengths at Doubet Consulting is our ability to be a Target Advocate. A Target Advocate is someone who sees a business from the perspective of his or her target customer. See your business as a stranger would. See the steps necessary to get to a desired point and look for the gaps where a prospect or client may fall. It's important to see how you and your firm's actions are felt by others.
Essential Tool 5: Lead with the Silver Rule
Now that you have Imagined, Planned, Targeted and Focused, it's time to Lead. After you know where to find the right listeners, you need to be prepared. I can not tell you how many people with great intentions define themselves and them ignore the other person. Stop and listen. It is vital that you understand and learn what the other person does and know their services and targets. This person can be a future resource for you or your clients or can lead to synergistic opportunities in the future. Remember, uncertainty leads to opportunities, not nowhere.
When it's your turn to introduce yourself, I suggest you lead with The Silver Rule.
The Silver Rule is: Who you are + What your firm does + What your firm's strengths are + How you solve your client's problems + Action (if applicable)
What's Next? Conquer!
Now that you have the steps to start Defining and Conquering your networking opportunities, I want everyone to be confident, practice and have fun. I would also love to hear some of your own Silver Rules. So, please email me back your Silver Rule.
Have fun and happy networking!
Beth Silver has been providing marketing and business strategies (http://www.doubetllc.com/services) to entrepreneurs and small business owner for over 10 years. For more great tips and to sign up for Doubet's free monthly newsletter, The Target Advocate (http://www.doubetllc.com/newsroom), please visit http://www.doubetllc.com