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Five Networking Tips for Entrepreneurs

Networking is one of the lesser appreciated talents that the world’s most successful entrepreneurs have mastered. It is not an easy skill, either. Knowing how to network is a fine line between making friends and actively seeking out business partnerships. You cannot become best friends with everyone you meet, after all, but you do need to make a good enough connection to trade favors with each other. Reaching that stage can be incredibly difficult because if you aren’t careful people will only see your efforts as wanting of something. To properly master the art that is networking, try adopting these top five tips.

Skip the Sales Speech

If you go into any new relationship with a goal to sell products or gain a favor, you will most likely fail. Only a very few people have mastered their charm to the point where people will be willing to help out or buy something new from the get-go, especially if they weren’t expecting you. So, skip the sales speech and instead start a conversation. It is far easier to connect with someone in an organic conversation than it is if you give them an elevator pitch.

Help First, Ask Later

One of the easiest tips to follow and arguably one of the best is to find out what you can do for someone else. Be proactive about networking. This way will help you make connections, diversify your portfolio and skills, and of course give you an acquaintance you can later ask for help. You don’t need to be best friends with people, but you do need to foster mutually beneficial relationships.

Take Notes and Keep Track

Try as best you can to keep track of information about the person in question. Keeping notes in your contacts app can help you stay in touch and give the personal touch all at the same time. Try to keep track of both corporate information (their job position, who they work for, etc.) as well as personal information (if they have allergies, for example). People respond when they feel like you care.

Collaborate

Another way to network is to collaborate. This way you can put effort into fostering one relationship, and then meet others in that niche or industry in a far more organic way – being introduced. As a bonus, you will also be working in a new field or project on the side that can further your career and show your ambition.

Host Your Own Event

Finally, consider hosting your own event. If you are a consultant or own business, for example, you can organize an event, create a great atmosphere, offer free drinks served by professional bartenders from services such as eventbartenders.com, and get key people from your industry to attend. Then, as the host, you can get to know each and every one of them with a position of authority. They will be interested in knowing you because you took the initiative to create a great event everyone in your industry will be talking about. In turn, you can make new business relationships and connections.

Networking is a never-ending task, but it should never be seen as a chore. Instead, connect with people. Try to gain insight from them, help them, collaborate, and even host them. By doing this you not only network with people, but you set yourself up as a huge name in your industry.

How To Challenge Your Employees When You Are Away On Business

StrategyDriven Talent Management Article | Employee Management | How To Challenge Your Employees When You Are Away On Business Being a traveling business owner can have its difficulties sometimes. You may feel that your team just aren’t as productive as they might be when you’re not there to ensure that they are working hard, for example. If that is the case, what can you do?

Something you don’t want to do is to constantly have to check in on them. Not only does that make more work for you, particularly if you have important meetings and conferences to prepare for, but it also makes your employees feel uncomfortable; they will assume you don’t trust them to do their own jobs, and that might reduce productivity in itself. In the worst cases, your staff might even want to look elsewhere for work.

The best thing you can do is to ensure that your employees are engaged and challenged when you are not there. This will make them feel valued because you are trusting them to get more done, and it will give them plenty to occupy themselves with so that there will be nothing for you to worry about. Here are some of the ways they can be challenged when you are working away on business.

Ask For Feedback

Before you leave on your trip, make sure that you speak to your team, either as a group or individually, about what you want from them while you’re away. It’s essential that they know they can check in with you when they need to, even if you’re not in the office, and that you will check in with them too. Make sure they don’t feel pressured or uncomfortable about this – if you are checking in with everyone once a day, no one should feel that they are being singled out.

If possible, start these meetings with your staff before you go. You can arrange:

  • Weekly feedback sessions
  • One to one meetings
  • Weekly reviews

If you start off right at the beginning with this kind of culture of feedback and performance reviews, it won’t seem out of the ordinary if you continue to do it even when you’re working away from your usual location.

Ask your staff to prepare feedback for you so that you can understand what their frustrations are when you’re not there, and if you travel frequently, you can then ensure that the next time you go anywhere, it is better for everyone.

Give Them Harder Tasks

If your workers are doing the same things each and every day, they can easily become bored and frustrated. They might feel as though their job is going nowhere and that they should be looking to do something else with their lives. If you’re not there, that feeling can easily intensify, and you might find you have something of a rebellion to deal with once you get back.

In order to stop this from happening, add some harder tasks to the list of things that you would like to be done while you’re away. This will keep your employees interested and give them more of a challenge. They will feel as though you trust them to do something a little more difficult. Make it clear that you are there to help if they need assistance, otherwise, if the task is brand new and too challenging, you might still have problems. If you can’t be the one to offer assistance, delegate the task to someone else who will look after these issues ins your stead when you are traveling.

Make A Challenge List

In order to challenge your employees in a fun way, you can create a challenge list. This is a list of tasks that can be done at any time and in any order, and that are there to be picked up on once all the other work is done. If someone is particularly looking for an additional challenge, they can go to this list and choose something from it. The list can include anything from researching medical marijuana companies for your business to invest in, to looking up new ways of carrying out old jobs using innovative technology, to making a budget for the next advertising campaign.

The list should be available for all employees to take tasks from and to add tasks to as they think of them. Your job is to periodically check through the list and approve or remove the tasks that are there. The tasks should all be related to the company; there is no point in having anything on the list that isn’t going to benefit the business in the short or long term.

A list like this ensures there are always new challenges to look into, and could almost be seen as a reward for completing the usual tasks in a timely manner. If there is a slow week, or a gap between one project starting and another ending, this will also fill in the time and your employees won’t have a chance to become frustrated, bored, or discontented.

Train Them

No matter how much your employees already know, additional training will always be useful for them, and for you. Keeping your employees fully trained up will clearly benefit your business, but it will also show your team that you are looking out for them, and that you want the best for them. They will be able to do their current jobs more efficiently and with greater confidence, and they will also learn new skills that will benefit everyone within the business.

By offering training when you are away on business, you can provide a change of scenery to your employees, and guarantee that they will have learned something new by the time you return.

Make Your Goals Clear

Your employees may see you heading off for yet another meeting or conference in yet another town or city, or perhaps even a different country, and wonder what you are doing, and what benefit it really all is. Keep your employees engaged and focused by keeping them abreast of all the changes and updates within the company in a timely fashion. When you are going away, explain why – keep them involved. By making your ultimate goals for the business clear, and showing them how their own job can be a part of the end result, your employees will see the challenge ahead of them, and want to do their best with regards to meeting it.

Modifying Marketing in a Transforming World

StrategyDriven Sales and Marketing Article | Marketing | Modifying Marketing in a Transforming WorldIn the last 15 years we have seen the world change to become heavily reliant on digital means of communication and change. This has reshaped all aspects of life for every business. In general, it has made conducting business easier, cheaper and more efficient. It looks as if this is going to push even further as new AI (artifical intelligence) technologies are becoming more and more prominent in the market.

Google itself is already jumping on this market in the property sector, investing in a company called Proportunity, which uses it’s AI to help first time buyers purchase a house and only benefits if the customer does. It could also know enough about you that when you find an estate agent online automatically filters the properties on its list to fit the preferences of the user. It could also help automate the emergency procedure for incidents that arise ‘out of hours’. In this context, and many others, the technology will be able to take a lot of strain off individuals that spend time on non-essential tasks and will enable them to instead spend time on the essential tasks for growing the business.

When it comes to marketing the digital revolution has made large changes to the knowledge and decision-making abilities of customers. Now it only takes a single Google search for a potential customer to find out everything they need to know about you, your business, your products, reviews and much more. While this can be a scary idea for businesses, if your business is genuine and you tread the line correctly, the benefits of such a system far outweigh the possible negative effects.

When looking at modifying your traditional marketing methods (media buying, flyering, radio advertisement etc.) be sure to understand your target audience and the mediums by which they are most influence. For example, if you are selling retirement homes, you may want to not waste your time on Snapchat!

Social Media – A great place for referrals and being tagged in relevant conversations. If you are a trades company, your customers won’t be looking for you to share hard hitting stories, edgy memes or your political opinion on a business account. They do want to find somewhere where they can contact the business, see that it is ‘ticking over’ and that there is a person/personality behind it. Don’t worry about ‘trending’, use this advice article to make sure you are in the conversation.

Blogging / Thought leadership – A wonderful way for smaller businesses to show their expertise through providing insightful research and opinions on the biggest industry issues. For example, an independent London estate agent has become a ‘go to’ for UK journalists when looking for information on the luxury property market thanks to the specific and specialised content they upload to their blog.

Events Attendance – In support of those who believe that no matter how digital the world becomes there is so much power in face to face business, marketing CEO Arjun Arora, provides a great quote for the power of personal interaction. “Attending conferences is an important part of any marketing strategy. Attending dinners and events in different cities provide an opportunity to meet with clients or partners and get to know them better. No matter how effective your advertising and email marketing are, or how skilled you are on the phones, an in-person meeting is always more memorable.”

SEO – Simply put – this is ‘how Google finds you, then displays you to searchers’. It is complicated, time consuming and needs a better knowledge of the digital world than most people have, but it is near essential for B2C businesses. If you want to know more about it read this from the industry leaders.

By no means should you completely stop the strategy you have been using previously if it has provided you with success up to now. Instead use these areas to enhance your strategy and produce a more rounded and targeted approach.

How to Keep Control Over Your Cloud Data

StrategyDriven Risk Management Articles | Cloud Security | How to Keep Control Over Your Cloud DataMore people than ever are using cloud platforms for both business and personal use, and the numbers are set to continue growing. Consider how recently it used to be that photos and documents had to be emailed or sent over via a USB flash drive. Nowadays, large volumes of data can be shared quickly and easily, making cloud platforms one of the most essential priorities for businesses and individuals. Now that so many people use cloud technology, the onus has shifted to more security awareness. All online processes are vulnerable to risk, and cloud technologies seem especially vulnerable. If you’re concerned about your levels of security when using cloud platforms, here’s what you need to know.

Access Issues: Your Priority

One of the biggest benefits of the cloud is that you can access your data from any device and from anywhere in the world. While this is very convenient, it also means that hackers have similar access options. It’s vital to remember that although you own the data that you upload to the cloud, you do not own the security infrastructure. Being more responsible for your data is the key to better online security, and if you’re using a cloud platform then you should consider the following strategies to boost your own security:

  • Know what they do: If you haven’t read your user agreement then how do you know how those platforms are planning to protect you? It may take some time, but reading the user agreement will help you to understand how cloud platforms work and how they plan your security. McAfee has some in-depth assessment guides, so if you’re asking ‘what is cloud security’ then this could help you understand just how in-depth the security measures that they use can be.
  • Password Protection: Everyone knows that they need stronger password management. No matter how many times you read and ignore this piece of advice, it remains as true as ever. Never use the same password on multiple platforms, and consider making use of a password management system to give your online security a serious boost.
  • Essential Encryption: This is by far the most effective way of protecting yourself and your data. You can encrypt your cloud data by using software that necessitates an additional password before full access is granted. That way, even if hackers do get into your system, they cannot gain access to the encrypted data. This is essential for more sensitive information. Some cloud providers offer encrypted services as part of their package, and this could be the key trend to watch in the future.

Whatever you use the cloud for, be it personal photos or business documents, keeping your data safe should be a high priority. Understand what cloud providers are doing to protect you, and improve your own personal online security. Don’t assume that hackers only target large corporations. Both small businesses and private individuals are common targets, and you will be able to relax more knowing that your cloud security is fully optimized and as strong as it can possibly be.

Time to Expand? How to Get it Right

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article | Expand Your Business | Time to Expand? How to Get it RightIf the time has come for your business to expand and take things to the next level, you need to tread carefully. Of course, growth and expansion are vital parts of running a successful company but expansions should always be undertaken with great care and consideration. Get things wrong and your business could be left in a worse position than it started in and that’s not what you want. Here’s how to go about it the right way.

Plan to Mitigate the Challenges That Come with Growth

Expansion is all well and good, but you must also remember that growing businesses bring their own challenges that shouldn’t be ignored. If you’re going to succeed with your business, you should do what you can to mitigate the challenges that come with growth. That means ensuring you have processes in place to deal with more customers and things of that nature. Even in something positive, challenges and problems can emerge if you’re not careful.

Scale Up the Workforce

You must also scale up the workforce if you’re serious about expanding. There’s no sense in asking your small team to deal with an expanded business and a raft of new clients and customers. That will only place pressure on them that they might not be able to deal with, and that’ll backfire badly in the end. So hire more people and bolster your business’s workforce.

Take Over Another Business

Mergers and takeovers give you the chance to make your business bigger and expand its scope at the same time. Many big businesses have grown by swallowing up others and growing along the way. This applies to just about any business too. Whether you want to view dental practice listings to buy up other local practices or take over retail operations, it’s worth exploring and considering going forward.

Introduce New Products or Services

As part of the expansion of your business, you should also aim to introduce new products and services to your business. People will be more interested in your business and what it’s offering if they can see a clear improvement and more options. If they already know what you’re offering and there’s nothing new, there’ll be no incentive for those customers to take a second look.

Look to New Territories

Expanding into new territories is definitely a good idea if you have the resources available to you to make that happen. It’s a natural and productive way of expanding your offer because you’ll be giving potentially millions of new customers a chance to engage with your business that wasn’t there before. Be sure to carry out market research and see if this is something you feel your business could benefit from.

Expanding a business is always a big challenge and there are plenty of things that can go wrong along the way for you. But expansion is key if you want your business to have a sustainable long-term future. There’s only so long you can keep your business at the same level before feeling the need to expand it.