Posts Tagged ‘network’

Five (5) ways to increase your business network

May 31, 2011

I network pretty extensively. I think it is more important than ever to do so during the down economy. When the economy improves and we get busier with work, the amount of time available to devote to networking may diminish. Nevertheless, I am a firm believer in daily marketing and networking.

I am not connected to tens of thousands of people. But, I like to think that the folks I am connected to are real people. When you pay for followers or connect with just anyone, they will likely be fake people or market researchers. I have a small but influential network. I am often asked how I consistently make new connections.

The answer is that I put time into it. It is really that simple. Here are three things I do routinely to increase my business network:

1. Meetings – I invite business people that I meet and dialogue with to join my Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin networks. I send the invitations out as soon as possible. I usually try to get to it within a week of meeting each person. I may meet these connections at trade organization luncheons, trade conferences, training programs, or meetings I coordinated to pitch a service offering.
2. Trade Articles – I let article writers know when I enjoyed an article they wrote. I then invited them to join my Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin networks. I subscribe to Black Enterprise, the Atlanta Tribune, Home Business and Entrepreneurs magazines. I also subscribe to several free electronic news services for business articles. I am particularly interested in business strategy and government contracting. When these news emails arrive, I put them in a folder called Read Me Later. When I have down time, I go through the lists of articles and pdf the ones that I want to read. I then read through them once a week. If I enjoy an article, I immediately go online and post a comment; and I also search for the author on Facebook and try to connect with them.
3. Winners’ Circles – I like to connect with small business owners that win awards and contracts. I learn a great deal from the winners. They obviously have a winning strategy. I find them on Facebook and I congratulate them. I then introduce myself and tell them about my company and that I teach government contracting for the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center. I connect with a lot of great minority owned and women owned small business leaders with this strategy.
4. Alum – I also connect with folks I went to elementary school, high school, college, and graduate school with. I use my old year books. I also peek at each of their online connections to see if there is anyone I remember. You never know where a referral will come from. I think my relationship with school chums is that we will always have that shared experience – i.e. the old neighborhoods, the campuses, and the faculty. These folks are a true extension of my family.
5. Past Colleagues – I worked primarily as a government civil servant for more than 25 years at the federal, state and local government levels. Over the years, I have come to know quite a few really cool folks and have stayed in touch with them. I seek pass co-workers out online and send them invitations to connect.

What about the competition? I have also been asked why I allow competitors into my network. I learn from some competitors and I hope they learn from the information I share online. I realize that some competitors will try to get at your customers via Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter. So, to be honest with you, I am not connected to my core customers online to prevent that from happening. I stay in touch with my core customers with email, direct mail, and visits.

Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with 25 years of government work experience and serves as a procurement counselor in the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC). Lemongrass Consulting provides strategic planning solutions including government contracting strategic marketing plans. Visit us at: http://www.lemongrassplanning.com – Follow Clovia on Twitter @lemongrassplans and LIKE Lemongrass on Facebook at http://tinyurl.com/6cuu28o

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7 Limitless Ways to Plan for Peak Performance

March 21, 2011

I watched Director Neil Burger’s movie Limitless this weekend. I really enjoyed it!

Actor Bradley Cooper plays the writer named Ed Morra who begins to take a top secret drug NZT that gives him super human, top performance abilities.

Here are seven (7) ways you can plan to operate your small business at peak performance without the drug NZT:

1. Overcome your fear

Much has been written about entrepreneurs’ fear of sales and fear of success. The first step to overcoming these fears is to not be in denial. Assuming there are fears, the next step is to get help. There are self help books on the market and a few counseling sessions with a business coach or therapist may prove helpful. Regardless of what course of action is taken, it is important to get past fear because fear can paralyze an entrepreneur’s ability to execute their plans.

2. Overcome your shyness

Ed Morra stated that NZT helped him overcome his shyness. I once dated a guy who used cocaine to overcome his shyness. We can all relate to folks that drink alcohol to become more social and less shy. Well, shyness can be overcome without drugs. Again, the first step is to not be in denial. You have to have some out of body experiences. In the movie Limitless, there were several photo shoots which depicted the un-drugged version of Ed looking at the drugged up Ed.

These scenes reminded me of when I first began to market my firm Lemongrass Consulting back in 2005. I went to trade meetings and would talk to the person sitting to the right of me and to the left of me. I would then leave. If I stayed, I was usually a wall flower. I did not realize I was behaving this way until I participated in a mentor protégé program. My mentor began to go to trade meetings with me. She was the out of body person observing me – so to speak. She observed how I would dart into a rest room and would not work the room. I was in denial. I did not realize how incredibly shy I was. The way I got past it was to mimic my mentor’s behavior and read self help books.

3. Have unprecedented motivation

On NZT, the writer Ed Morra had unprecedented motivation. He was so motivated that he put aside his writing and figured out ways to make money quick on the stock market.

For many entrepreneurs, motivation is tough to maintain. In business, you face ups and downs. You have to learn how to deal with rejection. Rejection and periods of slow sales can crush your spirit and can be quite depressing if you do not get a handle on it. The depression can lead to paralysis when it comes to executing your plans.

I stay motivated by putting in place vision boards, games, and rewards for winning. I have a vision board that I look at every day. It is right near my bed and contains thumb tacked cut outs of magazine clippings of where I want to be in terms of business development, career advancement, wealth, and my lifestyle. I have a separate task board with Q cards that list each task that will get me closer to achieving my goals. As I complete the task, I remove it from the board. When I achieve a goal, I reward myself with a spa day and shopping. It helps to have some system in place to stay focused and motivated.

4. Have clarity

On NZT, Ed Morra had unprecedented clarity. My vision board helps me to stay focused and clear about why I exist, my purpose in life, and what I want to accomplish. I have used vision boards for years. Before starting my business, my vision board was simply to achieve a six figure salary, get a SUV, and buy a nice home. I went from making 40,000 a year in 1997 to making 90,000 a year in 2000. I went from a beige Mazda Protégé to a red Mazda Tribute. I went from being riddled with law school loans and debt to buying a nice home. I looked at my vision board containing magazine clippings of what I wanted each day. It was always exciting to see how, perhaps subliminally, the images became my reality over a very short period of time.

5. Be jacked in, booted up, and full of focused energy

Ed Morra said that the NZT drug helped him be jacked in and booted up. Well, I find that I am most booted up and jacked in after I exercise. When I eat poorly and do not exercise, I feel sluggish. In fact, in the movie Limitless, they show Ed Morra exercising in a gym and swimming.

6. Find a bridge

Robert Dinero plays a merger and acquisition tycoon Carl Von Noon. Carl Von Noon is a bridge to Ed Morra. Carl hires Ed to help with a large, proposed merger and acquisition. Ed was well connected and one of his connections in stock trades introduced Ed to Carl.

My take away here is that it is extremely important to have a strong network and mentors. Your mentors are your bridges. Bridges connect you from where you exist to where you want to go. When I counsel small businesses I advise them to begin very early on to develop a Contacts Relationship Management (CRM) tool. It is important to work your list of connections, stay in touch with folks, and share information. Nearly every business adviser I have had has taught me this.

7. Feel invisible

If you are successful with Items 1-6, you will feel better. When you achieve successes, you will develop confidence and that confidence will make you feel better. But, to feel invisible may not be such as wise thing. Humility goes a long way in business development.

Ann Hutchinson wrote “But now having seen him which is invisible I fear not what man can do unto me.” For me, having a relationship with a higher spirit God is a way to see that which is invisible and to not fear what can possibly do to you. Many entrepreneurs have experienced competitors that will block our sales efforts; prospects that are difficult to reel in; peers that are not very helpful; and customers that are not ideal. Nevertheless, having a real relationship with a higher spirit can help you feel protected above all of that so that you can press on.

Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with 25 years of government work experience and serves as a procurement counselor in the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC). Lemongrass Consulting provides strategic planning solutions including government contracting strategic marketing plans. http://www.lemongrassplanning.com – Follow Clovia on Twitter @lemongrassplans and LIKE Lemongrass on Facebook at http://tinyurl.com/6cuu28o