Thursday, September 30, 2010

10 Tips for Working a Room

Networking is an essential part of every Marketing Strategy. Learn how to do it well and make it a productive use of your time.

1. Plan ahead. Put not only the event on your calendar, but block off time the following day to follow up and connect with the people you met.

2. Prepare. Dress appropriately, wear your name tag (on the right side!), have your business cards ready, plan your introduction.

3. Brush up on your small talk. Know the main news topics and have a few anecdotes, interesting books or articles, something on your reading list in your head.

4. Put on your smile, practice a good handshake, and remember to be focused on one person at a time. People want to talk to people who are pleasant and have a welcoming attitude.

5. Position yourself. Notice the flow of traffic and position yourself in a place that allows you to see who is coming and going and to be seen by others. You are not having a romantic dinner, so do not allow yourself to disappear into the corners of the room.

6. Know your goal. It is never my goal to gather as many business cards as possible. Instead, I make a point of meeting 2-3 new people and having a meaningful conversation with them and then reconnecting with 2-3 people that I already know.

7. Be customer focused. Ask questions about them. Get a conversation going, not a one-way monologue. Try to identify their needs. Figure out how you can help them.

8. Don't monopolize their time. 10 minutes is plenty of time to have a discussion and move on politely.

9. Introduce people. Everyone is at a networking event for the same reason, so introducing people is another way of being helpful. Think of yourself as a host in this respect.

10. Follow up with your new contacts. Connect on social media, set up a lunch, follow through immediately on any promises that you made. Meeting someone new is the initial goal. It is the follow up that begins the process of building a meaningful relationship.

Anything you would add to this list?

Monday, September 20, 2010

The CPA's are tweeting!

The Financial Accounting Standards Board and the Government Accounting Standards Board are tweeting!  This is either a sign of the apocalypse or a sign that social media is here to stay so we should all get on board. 
There are many people, usually those who are closer to retiring than to their college graduation, who feel social media is a fad or a waste of time.  There is probably no group more conservative than a bunch of accountants and if they feel tweeting has value, the rest of the world needs to consider the idea as well!  The signs certainly indicate that it is not a fad.  It can be a waste of time if you don’t have a well defined plan or strategy. 
Social media should be used to gain name recognition and brand awareness.  It can also be a great way to increase interaction with existing customers as well as potential clients.  For those of you who have been avoiding social media, there are many great articles and webinars to guide you. 
Just Google Social Media and see what you get!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Thoughts on Management and Parenting

Last week marked the bittersweet event of dropping off my (Beth's) oldest child at college. While slightly sad that I am no longer essential, I am proud to see how confidently she is managing this transition. I have been preparing her for this independence for years, gradually giving her more and more responsibility in the home: allowing her to decorate her bedroom as she saw fit (within my parameters of course), requiring that she make her own breakfast and lunch, and making sure that she knew how to cook, clean, sew, shop, arrange appointments, be organized, and most importantly, make decisions. Now is the time to let her try out her skills on her own and accept the mistakes along with the victories. My thinking is that if she was struggling and needing me too much at this moment, then I haven't done my job well as a parent.

This is not very different than the role that a good manager plays in the business setting. A good manager sets the tone, the direction, and the expectations and then allows her employees to assume more and more responsibilities. The entire purpose of having employees is to multiply the amount that can be accomplished by one person alone. Employees need to be provided with clear job descriptions and good training, and then gradually a good manager has to back off and allow the employees to try things on their own, learning from their mistakes en route to the accomplishments. Delegation can be difficult. Accepting that an approach might be different from the way you would have done it but nonetheless effective can be difficult. Both extremes, micromanaging and no managing, lead to nonproductive employees. But an effective manager develops competent employees who see the vision and help to move the company forward. Are you doing your job well as a manager?