Thursday, May 28, 2009

Networking Don'ts

I’ve written a great deal about how to network effectively; I’ve also shared how you can make the most of your networking time when you do meet someone with whom you can share information and referrals in order to grow your business. Business development, as you know, is vital for entrepreneurs and sales professionals. Then I realized that there’s a lot of things that can go wrong while you’re out there networking and connecting with people. I’ve done all of these “don’ts” below and I thought I’d save you the time and trauma when you’re meeting with someone else for the first time to talk about your business.

Meeting at the wrong restaurant or meeting place. There are a lot of Paneras, Borders and sushi restaurants in the Triangle – make sure you’re meeting your person in the right one! I’ve sent folks over to the Borders on Six Forks/550 when I should have said “Borders Inside the Beltline.” It helps to be specific almost to the point where you think you’re insulting your networking colleague, but that’s OK! She’ll appreciate you saving her the driving time. Also mention when you set up the meeting whether you’ll be inside or outside. I can’t say it enough – be specific!
Don’t be late, especially if your person doesn’t know what you look like. No one wants to wonder around shouting “Nancy, Nancy – I have a meeting with Nancy!” in a public place. If you are late, please call. Before you leave the house, make sure you have the other person’s phone number.
No phone number. How can you make the call that you’re going to be late without a phone number? I’ve made this mistake quite a few times; you think you have the number in your cell phone or business card pack, but it’s not there! In order to plan my panic properly, I record my person’s number in my daytimer next to the time I’m meeting them. This tip has saved me so many times!
Not having your business cards or having dirty business cards. You wouldn’t go out in public with a tear in your pants or a big coffee stain on your shirt, would you? The same goes for having no business cards or having cards that look like your two-year-old got a hold of them. Plan your attack by having a fresh supply of clean cards ready to go the night before. Keep your stack in a box or holder that’s separated from the contents of your purse, so no crumbs can attach themselves to the sides of your cards. (Now if your cards are black you may see less of this issue.)
Talking all about yourself. Sure it’s fun to talk about yourself, but you want a conversation, not a monologue. Take turns telling the other person about your product/service and who your ideal clients or referral partners are. If you feel you’ve gone on too long, stop yourself and say, “Enough about me, tell me more about you.” Your new friend will certainly appreciate it!
No follow up. If someone has taken the time out of their busy schedule to meet with you, the least you can do is followup with them on Facebook or Tweet them a message. Better yet, send them an email with a few helpful links, information or contacts. You’re putting yourself in their minds as a thought-leader and you have just made yourself that much more valuable.

Effective networking takes some preparation so you come off looking like the professional you are. Be strong, be bold and try not to make these above mistakes (or at least limit yourself to 1 per week!).

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Stacey Cochran, CLAWS, my guest author

Stacey Cochran is my guest blogger this week. He's the author of CLAWS, his latest novel, as well as the Colorado Sequence. Stacey teaches writing at NCSU and is the organizer of ever-growing Write 2 Publish Meetup group, which promotes authors, publishing and writing in the Raleigh area. To find out more info about Stacey, please visit his website here.

How to Publish a Book Blog by Stacey Cochran

Sunday, May 17, 2009

How to Publish a Book: CLAWS Book Tour Day 3
Day 3 of my 45-day blog tour sees me visiting my good friend Alice Osborn's blog. At her place today, I discuss the background and motivation driving the writing of CLAWS. Yesterday, I was able to line up another interview. This one will be a Skype interview to air at For those who haven't tried Skype yet (yesterday I made my first Skype call), it's essentially a way to make phone calls using your computer. Basically, you just talk into the internal mike on your computer to the person on the other end and they speak back through your computer's speakers (note: this is the non-technical definition). It's really pretty neat. So what the gals at are doing is an audio-interview call-in show with authors who publish their books at Podiobooks.comIt's an inspiring programming model. 10:30 am est

Saturday, May 02, 2009

How the Recession Has Affected Me

They say it’s not as bad as the Great Depression, but this repression may mean that we’ve lost our jobs, we can’t afford our mortgages, or that we can’t afford that tune up for our car or that dry cleaning this week. I believe I started preparing for the downturn September 29th 2008 when the bailout plan was rejected, the Dow fell 777.68 points, and Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy. I knew then that I had to step up my game and become more aware.

Last year I had a well-paying freelancing gig, and well, that’s gone now due to decreased ad revenues. But thankfully, with my hustling and networking, I’m managing to have one new editing client a week without the steady freelancing income – yay! How did I do this, you may ask? I found a business coach who was offering a 100-day special for one dollar a day. He clarified my goals, made sure I had a business plan, and suggested that I re-set my fees to reflect my value. And, boy, did it work! I redesigned my brochures and social media strategy, and I started to keep track of referrals and I how many people I presented to each week. I’m gaining ground and my 90-day plan includes learning more about video and video editing so that I can help authors with their video needs (I’ve got a long way to go here, but stayed tuned!).

In other ways the recession has affected my volunteer focus. I’m not volunteering as much for Daniel’s school as I did last year because my volunteer commitments are now tied up with my networking, which helps my business. I’m now the organizer of North Raleigh Coffee and Contacts, a women’s referral and business networking group and I’m the Raleigh Regional Representative for the NC Writers’ Network, where I plan open mics and writers’ networking opportunities. I treat my time as my most precious commodity and I calendar block to make sure I’m not spinning my wheels not knowing what to start first.

As for individual cost-cutting, I no longer buy department store makeup, I’ve stopped buying books from Amazon (I go to Falls River Books, a used bookstore instead), and I do my own hair touchups and my mother-in-law Barbara cuts my hair and does my brow waxing. I reworked my cell phone plan and I now use my landline to save minutes on weekdays. I order my prescriptions online. I’ve also learned how to negotiate everything and ask for the special deal. Generally, I’m shy about asking for the better deal, but I know if I don’t ask, Hubby will make me feel very guilty! The gas crunch last year made me really think about my driving routes and if an errand is out of my way, I save it for the day when I’m passing by that location.

Another way of saving money is keeping to my grocery list and buying items that have a coupon and are on sale, which is not the easiest thing to do. I’m excited that the Falls River Town Center Farmer’s Market is almost open since this will be the place to buy fresh veggies and fruit, which my kids and Hubby love. We’re about two minutes from Falls River Town Center and I’ve patronized as many of the merchants there as possible so I can keep my dollars local.

This recession won’t last forever and I think that those of us who are mindful and who are acting lean will be the winners. We’ll be able to emerge from this downturn with strength and we many even be too busy with our businesses, which in my mind is a good problem to have.