Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Secret To Success

It's true, many people have claimed to know the secret of success. However, I am here to tell you they have it all wrong, wrong, wrong. As much as I love social media sites, it won't do you a damn bit of good until you get out there and press some flesh.

You see, people do business with others that they know, like and trust. How exactly are they supposed to get to know you through a social media site? Telling your story helps, especially if it's compelling. But not all of us are prolific writers or storytellers. Sure, you can pay someone to write your story - paint the picture... then what?

I happened to think I have a pretty good profile picture. What does it tell you about me? That I'm playful? That I like to wear animal print clothing? Does it tell you about my level of expertise in social media or how honest I am? That could be a picture of me 20 years ago! Until you meet me personally, you really don't know much about me, my level of professionalism or get to experience my sparkling personality.

That's why networking is a critical component of your marketing plan. It takes you far beyond write-ups and resumes. When you meet someone and you get to know them, you begin to determine whether you trust them enough to recommend them to the people in your circle of influence - thus beginning the word-of-mouth marketing process (my favorite). If you are a small business owner, you've got to get out there into the community and shake some hands.

I go to a meeting in Costa Mesa that has taken networking back to the basics of shaking hands, making friends and doing business with each other. No membership fees, no presentations - just getting to know one another personally and professionally. We ask each other questions, then provide testimonials for those we've had the pleasure of working with. These meetings build such great synergy, people always leave the meeting with potential business leads. These meetings have become so popular, as many as 40+ people have shown up some weeks. That's a lot of exposure, especially if you've established yourself well. I have done this by showing up to each meeting, delivering a memorable 30 second commercial, asking questions and sharing great testimonials of people I've personally worked with or received services from.

Don't be shy!! Get out there and try!! The more you network, the easier it gets. The more meetings you attend, the more relationships you develop. The more people get to know you, the more they begin introducing you to the people they know. It's a beautiful process, one that never ceases to amaze me. Connections made through networking can be magical and can make or break a fledgling business... and there it is: The Secret to Success!