The Dow fell more than 500 points today. Bad news was exuding from every media outlet. I had an opportunity to get some perspective on it in my weekly networking group meeting from members who are highly sophisticated financial experts.
Then I came home, shared some conversation with my neighbor on her garden swing, pulled a bunch of weeds that have been bothering me while thinkingabout what my blog topic would be for today. Relaxing and getting still allowed me to realize what was concerning me – and probably you, too.
When markets go crazy and economies are shaky and there’s less business to go around, we can’t help but think about how we’ll compete for what business there is. This has been on my mind for some time and brought to the forefront by today’s events.
Bottom line, I’ve decided not to worry about who else is competing for a piece of the online/inbound marketing pie. Instead, I’m working on my own story. Thinking harder about what I bring to the table that will have value for my clients and that I can speak powerfully about to prospects. I’m thinking about my strengths – what I really do better than anyone I’ve encountered.
Then I’m evaluating my lighter abilities — what I fully understand but need partners to execute well.
And I’m working on my messaging so that I can communicate clearly and effectively. That includes listening and testing… talking to as many people as I can find who are willing to offer feedback as I hone my messages.
I’m asking myself:
- Are my offerings aligned with the needs of my client/prospect?
- Is my language completely understandable, or too jargon-y?
- Am I creating enough curiosity that people will be willing to stick around and learn more?
- Am I explaining my services so that the benefits and value come through loud and clear?
- Am I being human enough to connect and credible enough to build trust?
I believe that refocusing my energies on being as meaningful as possible to my market is my competitive edge.
How are you dealing with the competitive and business realities of the current economic environment?
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I’ve been thinking about the learning and teaching cycle.
When I first started this blog, I was an inbound marketing neophyte, just starting to transition my communications practice from traditional PR to an array of online services. At the time I was acutely aware of being a student and sought teachers and mentors.
Ironically, I was moving from a place where I was highly competent and knowledgeable and where I was teacher and mentor to interns who sought me out and went on to make it in the business. Stepping into their shoes turned out to be an exciting and energizing experience.
Today, I’m still a student because there’s always something new to learn. And I love being engaged in learning. It’s stimulating. But almost three years into this transition, with a body of good work to point to in my new service areas, I’ve begun to feel credible as a teacher again – even moreso with my new knowledge and skills integrated into my earlier experience.
It’s a good thing, too, because businesses still need a great deal of education in order to begin taking advantage of the powerful marketing tools available to them. Teaching is so gratifying because it reveals to us just how much we’ve learned and can apply to helping our clients. It also clearly points the direction to our next student stint.
The cycle of knowing and needing to learn keeps us moving productively into the future. What are you learning and teaching?Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
Today was a marathon networking day with both online and offline communities that are important to me – and to my business.
Early this morning I read blogs I subscribe to including Chris Brogan, Seth Godin, my ethnomusicologist Sociosound and my rock ‘n roll management guru Peter Cook who posted a brilliant satire on blues lyrics that started my day with a smile.
Then I went to my Twitter profile to connect with some new folks who followed me yesterday and made initial contact. Next, I sent a few invitations to people I want to connect with on LinkedIn – and accepted some invitations that came in overnite. And I received notices that people who I put into Google+ Circles yesterday on my first interaction with that new social network had put me into circles of theirs.
At noon, I arrived at the Riverside Yacht Club inGreenwich,Connfor the summer luncheon of Thursday III, a professional group of senior PR executives and consultants. The group is fascinating and stimulating. The members are authors and PR icons who guided communications for Fortune 100 companies, major agencies and presidential administrations. I fall only marginally into any of those categories and am honored to sit at lunch with these brilliant and creative people every other month. The stories and the knowledge sharing that happens in that group is the stuff that NY Times bestselling books are made of.
A delightful aspect of the luncheon was that I sat between Ed Bloch who was a PR executive for Perkin Elmer and Ian Kerr who led important PR agencies in Fairfield County and represented luxury global brands including Jaguar and Rolls Royce. Both Ed and Ian are beloved figures in the local and broader PR community. Both have wry senses of humor that make them really enjoyable lunch partners.
Ed Bloch subscribes to this blog and noticed my increased frequency of posting. He good-naturedly teased me that my posts were piling up but that he intended to read them. I gave him some suggestions of how he could work them into his day – including bathroom reading, I’m afraid to admit. I’m including him in this post partly so that I can tempt him to read what I said about him when I post it.
After a bit of catch-up in my office, I met with Connecticut Networking Group www.ctconnected.org. This is a spectacular high-level group of mostly young and accomplished business people – entrepreneurs in fact and at heart. We’re more an advisory board to one another’s businesses than a so-called leads group. Again I’m something of an outlier as I’m a bit senior to most of the members. We get to know one another so that we can refer each other with confidence. We share a consultative and relationship-building approach to business development.
Going from my seasoned PR colleagues to my young, energetic and exceptional networking group was a particularly rich experience; so much valuable input across generations.
After the CNG meeting, I went to a meet-up event on a big paddle wheeler on the Norwalk CT harbor – across from my house. This was a big open group where there were a few people from my established network and many whom I didn’t know. Unfortunately this event was not well organized – in particular, no name tags that would have facilitated and focused networking. I jumped ship right before the group took off for an unannounced harbor cruise – in favor of coming back to the office and posting to my blog and attending to other to-do’s.
All in all, this was a very positive day of connection. We never know what may come of a day like this. But who cares. It re-charges the engines to engage with our communities, reconnects us with people who add to our lives and gives us the opportunity to widen out our circles. Time well spent in my book.
Please share your on- and offline networking experiences.
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I belong to a networking group that I experience as exceptional. We’re all in service businesses. Some of us are business owners. Some of us work for companies. But we’re all entrepreneurial at heart.
We’re all competent at our businesses. We share high ethical standards and values. We found each other in the wider world through introductions, networking events introductions from other trusted connections. We identified each other as people that we want to ‘follow’ – to borrow the online concept.
Our group is not about trading leads. It’s a longer term play. It’s about getting to know one another. It’s about building confidence and trust. It’s about learning enough about each other that we can recognize good opportunities for other group members when confronted with them.
We span demographics of age and gender. We maintain decorum but are comfortable enough with one another that we can let down our guard and be human. We exist to help one another, understanding that the sharing will help our individual businesses.
When I build online communities for myself and for my clients, I think about the principles behind my offline network and try to approach online community building with the same sense of shared interest and generosity.
You can learn more about our group model at www.ctconnected.org. Feel free to borrow. It works.
Do you have an offline networking group? Tell us about it and how it helps you to build your business.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
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