Common bonds and business growth

common bondsI met a prospective new client last week and we found out we had a lot in common in our personal lives. That can make a deeper connection with a client, better than simply making a sales pitch. And, she hired me on the spot. That does not always happen.

Finding a niche market might for your business could incorporate discovering new business associates with common interests. As an entrepreneur, you should always think about any social occasion as a networking occasion. Without being “salesy” or pushy about it, you can talk about what your business does with people anywhere at any time. You might find new avenues to marketing your business.

Certainly, there are times when you walk in the door, present your information and the client will either hire you or not. But when making a deeper connection with the person, you feel more like friends and less like business associates.

According to some business coaches, you need to make the prospective client know and like you before they will hire you or buy your products. Finding common ground is a great way to persuade them that you are worth hiring.

Personally, I prefer to work with clients whom I like as people. It is only natural to feel that way. I’m an animal lover, other animal lovers make good clients for me because there is an understanding that goes beneath the surface of the business relationship.

Does that mean you should never work with individuals or companies that share nothing with you? Of course not, common ground just makes the relationship easier.

I have many clients whom I have never met. We communicate solely through email and I know nothing about their personal lives. I get along with them just fine, however we do not share a deep connection. If they found a better deal, they would probably drop me in a heartbeat. Not so for people with whom I have a more personal connection.

Get to know a little bit more about your prospective clients and you just might end up with more business.

Social media for business in 2014

what's new this year in social mediaOne of the biggest changes in the past year in social media has been advertising. Now there will be video ads on Facebook, ads and sponsored tweets on Twitter and sponsored posts on Instagram. Many apps, like ESPN, have added small banner ads across their pages.

People, especially the 18-35 demographic, are using their cell phones more and computers less. Ads are showing up everywhere in the mobile realm.

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram are leading the pack for social media right now. Of course, that can change almost overnight with social media. Because of the nature of the beast, things happen in an instant.

To keep your business on the cutting edge of the social media revolution, you need to be active. Whether or not you advertise on social media sites is up to you, but you should get involved in some way if you are going to keep up with your competitors.

What will happen in the coming months? No one really knows. Little apps or sites that no one uses now, might just be the biggest thing since Facebook. Social media users are fickle.

Check your Klout.com score. See how you stack up against your competition. Get analytics for your website and see if your clients are coming from social media sites and whether they are using computers or phones to reach you. Look at your website on a mobile phone and see if it looks the same as on your computer.

Let’s say goodbye to 2013 and welcome faster, more sleek apps, social media and mobile sites in the coming year.

Using social media for nonprofits

gif_Business047One of the best things about using social media is the cost. Many times the cost is low or non-existent. Non-profits, and really anyone with a limited budget, can take advantage of these sites and make the most of it.

About a week ago, I spoke to someone who runs a small non-profit organization. He told me that his organization does not ask for money at all. The entire financing is based on a one-time donation made in the 1960s! Every now and then a board member makes a donation. One died recently and left a few thousand to the organization. They do not solicit anyone for money because they don’t want to spend money on fundraising. YIKES! All of the money is tied up in stocks and mutual funds. They lost almost half of their principal during the stock market crash a couple years ago and have done nothing to build it back except invest in more stocks.

I know my eyes were bugging out of my head as the president of the organization told me about this. It was the first time I met him and I didn’t want to tell him that he was crazy – but is exactly what I was thinking!

I’ve worked for several non-profits and they all used social media, even though it was on a limited basis. It was years ago and not as commonly done as it is now. Just setting up a Facebook page or a blog that tells people to visit the website can help.

I set up a PayPal account for one non-profit and added theie “donate” button to the organization’s website. From that alone, we took in hundred of dollars a year in completely unsolicited donations. While that is not a lot of money, it cost absolutely nothing to set that in motion. And, we received much more when we actually asked for donations. There is nothing more beautiful to a non-profit than seeing a random email from PayPal that says, “You’ve got a donation!”

This might sound like common sense, but be polite. Always send a thank you note for every donation, no matter how small. Research shows that people are much more likely to donate again when they are thanked!

Another no-brainer… Always put your website, blog, Facebook and Twitter addresses in the signature of your emails. You never know when someone might click on one of them just out of curiosity. It could result in a donation. Anything you have printed like business cards, letterhead and any print advertising should also contain your web address and Facebook page.

Through use of newsletters, postcards, ezines, blogs, LinkedIn, Facebook pages, Twitter sites and other social networking sites, think of how many people your business or non-profit can reach! If you post on an ezine, Facebook or Twitter and ask people to forward, share or retweet – the number of people you reach is astounding.

You haven’t spent a penny on advertising. Maybe you are paying someone to send the original message, but that is nothing compared to what bulk mailings, yellow pages, radio, t.v. or magazine ads cost. If your Facebook post is forwarded, it is probably done by someone who knows and trusts your brand. When you advertise in the newspaper, you don’t know who is reading it, unless it is geared toward a certain market.

Give it a try. Set up the PayPal account and add the “donate” button to your non-profit web page. It will probably take a total of about 10 minutes to do that. You will see an amazing return on that investment.