Health and government officials are working together to maintain the safety, security, and health of the American people. Small businesses are encouraged to do their part to keep their employees, customers, and themselves healthy.
Coronavirus relief options
SBA offers several different relief options to help businesses, nonprofits, and faith-based organizations recover from the impacts of COVID-19. You can view all options or skip to a specific program below.
SBA is currently offering the following funding options:
From accepting your office holiday party invitation to making the most of your connections, the holidays offer amazing opportunities for professional networking.
It’s the holiday season, which should mean lots of fun, joy, laughter, and office holiday parties right around the corner. Yet, a survey by human resources software provider TriNet found that a large majority of employees would happily trade their employer’s holiday party for other perks, like cash bonuses or extra personal time off. If you fall into this category, you might consider taking a different perspective and utilizing holiday gatherings as a way to network with co-workers, especially those you don’t know all that well. Plus, if you play your cards right, holiday parties could help advance your career. To get you into the spirit, here are some networking tips to make the most out of your office holiday party.
Accept the invitation
You’ve probably heard about the power of saying yes. In this situation, it rings true. When you get invited to a holiday gathering, whether it’s a department happy hour, the company holiday party, or even dinner at your spouse’s boss’s place, just go for it.
Your brain might immediately think about all of the reasons why you don’t want to do it, but stop and think about the good possibilities. The best way to find new connections — and strengthen your current ones — is to get out and spend time with them in an informal setting. Saying yes is just the first step.
Be prepared with a game plan
Once you let it sink in that your company holiday party could be a great way to network and advance your career, give some thought as to your plan of action.
Will you take a date?
Who will you attempt to speak to?
How many business cards will you take?
How will you take notes discretely if you desire to do so?
Don’t fret — all of these questions are addressed in the following tips.
When doing B2B marketing, many business owners and sales reps tend to fall back on the same old approaches. They focus on the same places and methods for doing networking and finding new prospective clients. These include: trade shows, industry associations, and formal networking events. All of these conventional networking methods make some sense. After all, sometimes there’s no substitute for having a presence on the floor at your industry’s biggest annual convention, or pressing the flesh in person at a local business networking function. But if you want to boost your B2B marketing results, you need to be creative about where you do your networking.
Unconventional B2B Networking Spots
Here are a few unexpected and unconventional places where you should try to do some B2B networking to find your next new prospective client:
Sometimes you can find new clients by volunteering at a nonprofit – not because you’re there to sell or to find new clients, but because you’re doing something that you care about, and you often will meet new people who are open to making new connections. This is a big reason why many business people love to serve on nonprofit boards – but even if you don’t have the time or bandwidth to be a board member, you can often do great networking just by being a volunteer and being an active member of a local nonprofit group. Working hard on a good cause is a great way to meet like-minded people – and many of these other professionals will potentially be open to talking with you about your business. Doing good deeds in your community can also lead to good leads for your company!
If you are really serious about pushing your business forward and developing new ideas that help deliver a better service to customers, then joining a network group where you meet like-minded people is absolutely essential. Of course, you can now do this online with social media platforms such as LinkedIn but there really is no substitute for face-to-face meetings and the chance to build long lasting friendships and associations.
Check out our 10 Benefits of Joining a Networking Group:
Business development: The big reason for joining a networking group is to develop your business and find new ways of connecting. It is invaluable for finding out what is happening within your industry and providing new ideas for the future expansion of your core business.
Peer interaction: It can sometimes seem a lonely business running a company and mixing with others who are on the same wavelength offers much needed support and encouragement. You’ll always be able to find someone who has gone through the same thing as you and who will be able to offer a fresh viewpoint and some excellent advice.
Business advice: Most networking groups usually consist of a mix of new and experienced entrepreneurs which means you get access to a whole range of advice. You will be able to pick the best advice for your business and have more chance of success both now and in the future.
Collaborative working: Networking is all about building valuable relationships and you may well find yourself working with a number of businesses you come across in a group. That doesn’t just mean providing your service to them but also developing new and interesting ways of doing business that could involve new products and the sharing of services
I found this wonderful article on the blog innovators.org.
We all know the value of business-to-business networking groups; they present opportunities to expand your knowledge, learn from the success and failures of others, foster strong relationships, and share your own business experiences.
We have identified three types of people who work together to make networking groups a success:
1. The Connection Maker
This person is the ultimate “people person.” The Connection Maker is often the member of your group who both knows and has a good relationship with just about everyone. They have a way of bringing people together and putting them at ease.
If you’re struggling to start networking strategically, look for the Connection Maker. They will open doors and help you access your peers’ innovative practices, experience, and knowledge.
The Connection Maker is all about making introductions, opening doors, and growing the network.
The economy is booming. Stock prices are up. Unemployment is at its lowest level in years. And, if you think that sounds like an ideal environment for new start-ups and entrepreneurship trends, you’re not alone.
New entrepreneurs are taking advantage of the situation in record numbers. Recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows the number of self-employed people in the US grew to roughly 8,751,000 between 2014 and 2018. So, what can all these new business people look forward to? We’ve come up with a few factors in finance, technology, and logistics that we feel will most directly influence fresh start-ups going into 2019.
Diversity Will Continue to Challenge Preconceptions of Entrepreneurship
Current entrepreneurship trends show an increasing amount of diversity in the areas of gender, age, education, and ethnicity. Women, for example, now start about 40% of all new businesses, and that rate continues to rise. In 2016, roughly 40% of new entrepreneurs identified as African American, Latino, Asian, or other non-white. Around 30% of new entrepreneurs are first-generation immigrants, and we expect those numbers to grow.
The age range of entrepreneurs is widening as well. Millennials have overtaken baby boomers as the largest generation, and members of Generation Z are bringing fresh ideas to the marketplace with a spirit that is equal parts optimism and pragmatism. Their influence is bound to alter the face of entrepreneurship.
A special thanks to Lisa Andria for providing our PRO Weekly Learning Moment.
Have you struggled with trying to find new leads and clients in your business?
Perhaps you’ve heard that social media can be effective, specifically LinkedIn, yet wonder why it’s not working for you.
You are not alone. This is a problem faced by many businesses. This problem can be further compounded by the amount of time that you have to spend qualifying leads. This is valuable time that you’re not spending on revenue generating activities.
If you are a business-to-business (B2B) business owner, entrepreneur, professional service provider or sales person, LinkedIn can help you overcome these challenges.
With over 375 million global members LinkedIn is a social media platform that allows users to build a powerful professional network. Similar to a business-networking event, it allows its users to connect and build relationships in a professional setting. But unlike an in person event, users have access to a much larger pool of prospective clients and strategic alliances. In fact, LinkedIn helps you to:
Have un-gated access to the decision makers at even the highest levels in a business or organization.
Distribute your content to a wider audience.
Drive more traffic to your blog and website than other social media platforms.
Generate more leads – it’s 277% more effective for lead generation than Facebook or Twitter.
Manage your interactions – it has a built in CRM (customer relationship management system) to help you stay organized and on top of your relationships with your connections.
While this sounds impressive, you may still be wondering just why and how LinkedIn is so effective for generating leads, clients and sales in a B2B environment.
It’s simple – LinkedIn is the ultimate relationship-building platform. With such a large number of professionals and executives using the platform, LinkedIn gives you un-gated access to your target market. It also provides you with the tools to find, connect and then build a relationship with them. This dramatically increases the effectiveness of your sales efforts and shortens the length of your sales cycle.
With a complete, professional looking profile and a daily LinkedIn lead generation plan in hand; in as little as 15 minutes a day (depending on your industry and goals), you could begin to fill your sales funnel with your ideal clients.
Here are eight steps to help you start attracting more clients on LinkedIn today.
Step 1: Professional Profile
Before you begin any activities that will put you in front of key decision makers, you must ensure that you have a profile that is professional, search-optimized and most important of all, is client-focused.
I cannot stress the importance of this enough. Just as you would not meet these key decision makers in sloppy or unprofessional attire, so must you ensure that you do nothing to get on their radar until your profile represents you in a way that will help and not hinder your efforts.
Step 2: Identify Prospects
Lead generation on LinkedIn requires you to have a clear grasp of your target market, so begin by thinking of common titles your market would use to describe themselves. This will be a crucial part of finding prospects to connect with online.
These titles relate to their vocation. For example: CEO, Accountant, VP Sales, HR Specialist, etc.
Once you have a few titles that you want to specifically target for new prospects, you can easily find them using two separate methods:
LinkedIn Advanced Search
Step 3: Send a Connection Request
Make first contact when you find a potential prospect by sending a connection request. Start by clicking on their name to go straight to their profile page. If you hit the “Connect” button via LinkedIn search, it will not give you the option to personalize your message.
Don’t make that mistake.
You MUST ensure that you send a personalized connection request message that explains how you know them or why they would want to connect with you. If you fail to do this, they may click the “I Don’t Know” or “Report Spam” option and if you receive five of these, you will be required to enter an email address for every new person you wish to connect with.
Remember that you only have 300 characters, so your reason must be concise and convincing.
Step 4: Send a Thank You Message
When you see someone has accepted your connection request on LinkedIn, reach out with a personalized “thank you” message. Don’t pitch your services or self-promote in any way other than adding the URL to your website in your signature.
If possible, find some commonality in their profile that can be used to engage in a conversation. Just like a cocktail party, the only thing you should be concerned about is getting to know that person and leaving a positive impression on them.
Step 5: Send Relationship Building Messages
Set a reminder to reach out to your new connection in a week with what I like to call a “Relationship Building” message. The sole purpose of this message is to provide something of value to that person with no ulterior motive. Giving without the expectation of receiving is a critical part of building authentic relationships with people.
I like to reach out with something relevant to their business goals. When done right, it shows that you understand their struggles and start to position yourself as an authority on that topic.
Here are a few examples of content you can share:
Be sure to use LinkedIn’s Relationship Tab to keep your prospects organized when sending your relationship building messages.
Step 6: Engage With Them on Shared LinkedIn Groups
Review the groups your prospects are connected in. If you aren’t already a member of groups that your prospects are part of, start joining the most relevant ones that your prospects belong to. You can join up to 50 groups.
Not everyone is active in LinkedIn Groups but when you find a prospect that is, it provides an excellent opportunity to get on their radar in a way that’s demonstrating your expertise and credibility.
Step 7: Connect & Engage On Other Social Media Platforms
It can get a bit awkward to constantly private message someone on LinkedIn if you haven’t yet made enough progress to move the relationship offline. Twitter is my first choice because of the relaxed engagement style. You won’t seem like a creepy stalker if you are interacting with and sharing their interesting posts on Twitter.
If you do find someone on Twitter that you are connected with on LinkedIn, be sure to add him or her to a special Twitter list so you can easily keep track of him or her later on.
Step 8: Move Relationships Offline
This is the most critical step where most people fall short. Without this final step, there’s a whole lot of social without any selling. Once you’ve built enough rapport, you have to make the transition to an offline conversation before anything can happen.
I get 70% of my business from LinkedIn but that doesn’t mean I’m getting a credit card number via a private message – I’m moving that relationship offline before a transaction ever takes place.
If you’ve followed steps 1-7 properly, your prospect should be open to the idea of speaking offline since you’ve demonstrated:
Your ability to provide value
Consistency Is The Key
Ultimately your success on LinkedIn will depend on your dedication each day to following the process laid out here. With the consistent addition of targeted connections to your network and building your reputation as an expert in your industry, you will begin attracting a steady stream of your ideal clients.
Do you use LinkedIn to generate new leads and clients? What strategies do you use for attracting clients? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.
Taken from TOP DOG Social Media – CEO Melonie Dodaro
Heading out to a networking event this week? This month? At some point in the distant future? Are you looking to brush up on your talking-to-strangers skill fast? If the answer is yes, we’ve got great news for you. The infographic below breaks down a ton of great advice into one bite-sized chart.
While we recommend taking some time to dip into our other networking articles (like this one and this one), we know you’re busy. So all we’re suggesting today is that you check out the tips below. And if any of them work for you, let us know on—where else—Twitter.
We’ve all heard the advice that networking is important for our careers. And regardless of your profession, your industry or demographic, the message is loud and clear. If you want to be successful, you need to spend time networking. It’s great advice. But the critical missing piece to this advice is exactly how to network.
There’s an old adage that if you throw spaghetti against the wall and it sticks, the pasta is done. Over the years, this phrase has evolved to mean that when you throw enough activity or ideas at a situation or problem, eventually something will stick; eventually you will find the answer. So when we’re told we need to network to help us be successful, those of us who are ambitious, tackle the problem with this approach. We throw a lot of activity at the issue and hope for the best. We go to lots of networking events and conferences, collect and hand out hundreds of business cards. We establish an online presence and build a large group of followers. Unfortunately, this doesn’t result in the type of network that supports our career advancement. It has no purpose or intention.