I don't know about you… but I am addicted to connections. I came home yesterday from my 2nd networking group of the day (connections #1), only to find our cable was out (connections #2a), rendering our house in panic with no tv, phone lines or internet! So I jump on my cell phone to look for eMails and text messages (connections #2b), and return messages, while we wait for Comcast to bring us back to life.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I am a people person and a total geek. I have a passion for golf, music and pro football and I intertwine all of that into a complete and balanced lifestyle that helps me promote my work. My business is totally dependent on two kinds of connections… 1) People & 2) Technology. This post is about maximizing both of those!
This one may be obvious… how can you run a business without people? But it's more about connections. In the last week alone I had three – out of the blue – emails from people recommending me to a potential client for work. I thrive on referrals… both giving them and getting them.
I belong to at least 12 networking groups that I attend monthly. Some I host and others I attend twice a month. People often comment… “You are everywhere”, “When do you actually work?”, “Do you sleep?”. Each time I show up I am saying… “I mean business”. I try to be a resource, and offer tips and support. I also do my best to find connections for people in the meetings… help introduce people to potential power partners or possible clients. IF I can't do it in person I make sure to make a note and send an eMail when I get back to the office.
It's all about impressions… that you are accessible, a resource, and have a willingness to pay it forward more often than selling what you do!
I was at out annual Hacker's Open last weekend at the Grand Geneva in Wisconsin. When we got to our houses after the first round… the first thing I did was look for an internet connection. I was concerned when I connected to the ethernet coming out of the wall and nothing happened. I searched the house looking for a modem and finally discovered that there was wireless available so I connected up and started checking eMails.
There was a client in a panic because they had a flyer coming out on Saturday in five newspapers announcing their new Facebook landing pages that I had just finished and there was an issue. One of the graphics was showing up wrong. It was a simple Facebook issue that I solved and sent them a calming reply that everything is OK. I did let them know earlier that I was heading out on vacation. I know that they really appreciated that I was answering eMails at midnight, on a Friday, on vacation.
I often hear people say “I don't get those IPhones, and IPads”, “I don't answer the phone or eMail after business hours”, or “I text my kids but I can't imagine using that for business”. Technology can be overwhelming for some… add in Facebook, Linked-In, Twitter, Foursquare, Hoot Suite, Bit.ly, Tungle, Digg, Technorati, and the hundreds of other new sites and tools and you can easily become overwhelmed.
But here's my point… It's not about me… It's about them. If people are trying to reach out to you and you are not connected, then you are missing opportunities! I have some clients who prefer texting, or will only do phone calls, but the majority use multiple methods including Facebook messages, Skype, eMail, and more. I'm sure you love working with technology companies that won't talk to you without filling out a support ticket? The more difficult you make it, the bigger wedge you drive between you and potential or future work. If a potential client wanted me to respond to smoke signals I would try to find a way to accommodate them.
I had one day where 3 potential clients all had IPads. I also met with two new potential clients (one I drove to Vernon Hills to meet, and the other contacted me via Facebook to find a time he could call me while on the road), who expressed interest in me helping them because their current provider was becoming more distant and inaccessible.
My Iphone has apps for all of these. My Laptop has most of the technology of my desktop computer. It's all about connecting with clients or potential clients in the way that they are most comfortable. The easier I make it and the more accessible I am , the better chance I have to make connections work for me… and it just might work for you also!
Bonus Video of the Week…
Here's a comedic view by John Caparulo's on customer service. Enjoy…