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7 Networking Tips for Shy People

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Ethan Robinson – Enjoy! 

networking 5

Photo credit: istock photo

Networking is a challenge for shy people. If only they possessed that self-confidence to impress a crowd or charm people at “hello.” Whether you call yourself “shy,” “introverted,” or merely “quiet,” it is still possible for you to master the art of networking. Networking is not based on being outgoing: it’s about building sincere relationships based on trust, sincerity, and generosity. If you’re struggling to meet new people, here’s a few things you could try to improve your network.

1. Don’t sweat the meet and greet

If there’s someone you want to meet for the first time, try to find a common connection and request an introduction. If you’re in a networking event, approach the host or an event organizer to help you with the introduction. Getting introduced will make it easier for you to make a new contact than having to approach someone from out of the blue. Can’t find anyone to introduce you? Take a few deep breaths and take a leap of faith.  It’s always better to try than miss that chance altogether.

2. Write down your questions

It’s a two-way street so you can’t let the other person carry the conversation for you. If you’re not confident about your spontaneity, then try writing down a few questions like:

“What does your typical day look like?”

“What got you into this career path?”

“What hobbies are you into?”

“What do you wish you had more time to do?”

Cliché, overused conversation starters may seem like a drag. But they can be a good way to start a conversation.

3. Your listening skills are your assets

Introverts are often empathic listeners. Being a better listener than most people may not make you stand out in the crowd. But it does leave strong, lasting impressions on people once you engage them in a conversation. Listening attentively and asking a few thoughtful questions can help fast-track your way into a meaningful relationship.

4. Throw in some compliments

From small compliments to sheer flattery, entrepreneurs are always keen to hear something good about themselves. Just be sure to be earnest about your compliments and not to dish out too many flatteries in a conversation. Think about it and if you don’t feel like saying it, don’t.

5. Don’t give unsolicited advice

You can talk about many things but avoid unsolicited advice as much as possible. Giving unsolicited advice like:

“You shouldn’t work too much”

“You should be on TV”

“If I were you, I would…”

This kind of advice is often easier said than done. You’re just starting a relationship, you don’t need to be on their board of directors just yet.

6. Tag a buddy along

A huge business networking event or even a small dinner can be less intimidating if you have a buddy. That way, you’ll have someone to sit with or introduce you to others. If you have to go alone, reach out and make at least one solid connection. It’s always much easier to have a partner than to be lost in a crowd of complete strangers.

7. Remember you’re not the only “shy” guy or girl in the conference

You are more than likely not the only introvert at your table. The guy next to you or the girl from across the table may just be as nervous. Instead of sitting around being scared to death, go ahead and start the conversation. You may be ignored or it may not end up as planned, but it might also lead to a great conversation you would otherwise miss if you remained silent.

If none of these tips has encouraged you to open up to other people, you might want to see a professional business coach or attend a marketing lecture. When you have someone to discuss and explain your specific business challenges, you will find them much easier to overcome with new solutions.

 

IMG_1311Ethan Robinson is an Australia-based digital marketer who splits his time between Sydney and New York. He currently leads the digital marketing team for NY-based The Small Business Expo, US’ largest business trade show.

Why Online Reviews Are Almost As Good As Actual Referrals

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Jason Keeler – Enjoy!

image 2 online business reviewsAs a business owner, there isn’t much better than a good referral. It shows that you’re doing something right, and that your customers think highly enough of you as a partner to tell other people in their circle about their great experience. Referral leads have a tremendously high closing percentage as well versus other cultivated leads. The implied trust factor allows you to skip a lot of the relationship building and get right down to business. Unfortunately, even your most vocal brand advocates will likely only influence a handful of prospective customers at most, and more than likely just one or two. But what if your happy customers were able to influence hundreds or even thousands of prospects?

The Power Of Faceless People

In the absence of a trusted business contact steering a prospect to your door, an online review can be almost as powerful. Never mind that there’s no connection between the reviewer and the prospect reading their review. According to Forrester data from a 2012 study, nearly one third of online consumers trust a stranger as opposed to a brand. That data speaks specifically to consumers buying an online product, but the sentiment holds true for prospects researching brick and mortar businesses on the web. A 20123 study by Bright Local showed that nearly 85% of customers read online reviews before trying a new restaurant, hiring a local contractor or making a major in-home purchase. The impact of positive reviews from total strangers is incredibly powerful, even if their testimonial fails to put a face with a name.

The Impact On Local Search

The value of search engine optimization to any specific business varies, but local SEO – impacting where your business falls in Google’s local search returns – can be a huge driver for both foot traffic and online visits. The online reviews of your business are a big driver for where (or if) your business appears in the pecking order. There are quite a few other factors as well, but total reviews, quality/length of reviews, having variety in the sites where you are reviewed and of course the sentiment of your reviews will play a big role in determining your place. Aside from helping you manipulate local search results, reviews on popular portals like Yelp! can be a source of referral traffic to your website as well.

Ask And You Shall Receive

As is often the case, some things can be acquired simply by asking. Ensuring that your company actively seeks both referrals and reviews will most certainly pay dividends. And for those who need more than a simple ask? There’s certainly nothing wrong with establishing a review reward similar to a referral bonus, as a consideration for their time. Smart companies may even tie it in to a discount on a future order, not only ensuring a good review but also improving the chance that there’s a repeat order from a current customer. Another unique way to improve your review rate is to use surveys. The bonus here is that you can also find out a few interesting things about your business – areas that you’re surprisingly weak or strong in – and either reward those responsible or start making improvements.

As previously noted, referrals are like gold…but good online reviews are at least like silver, or a high-grade copper. There’s real value there. Make sure you spend time focusing on reviews as well as referrals, and you’ll put more prospects in your funnel with relative ease.

Jason Keeler imageJason Keeler is the Director of Digital Marketing at EAG Advertising & Marketing, Kansas City’s small business ad agency. He’s an avid Royals fan and a lover of all things related to internet marketing.

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