Tag Archives: face-to-face networking

Business Is Slow

10 Things To Do When Business Is Slow

No matter what business you’re in, no matter how great your product, no matter who’s buying, every business goes through a lull or slow period during the year. Making strategic use of this time can help businesses lay a solid foundation for the months and years that follow.

If you’re in a specific industry, you know from past experience or outside influences when business is going to be slower than normal.

Here are 10 suggestions to mitigate losses when business is slow:

Conduct a business audit

When was the last time you took an in-depth look at your financials? Set up a better inventory process? Cleaned out your warehouse? Figured out your hourly rate? What’s your success rate on proposals? Are you making more money this year than last? Which clients are the most profitable? Do you even know how much money you need to make to break even?

Improve customer service

You already know that stellar customer service is the foundation of business success, and this is never truer than during periods of business downturn. When business is slow, you need to go above the call of duty to show your customers that they are important to you.

Educate employees

Look for educational and training opportunities for you and your employees. Whether it’s fine tuning current skills or learning a new service, it’s a great time to increase abilities.

Network

Instead of waiting for the work to come to you, put yourself out there and make it happen. Face-to-face networking is the single most effective thing you can do to promote your business. Check out your local chamber of commerce or meetup.com for meetings of industry groups you have experience working with.

Offer employees incentives

Offer contest to employees based on their sales and/or customer retention. Last month at Benjamin Franklin, The Punctual Plumber, we offered all our staff TVs if they reached our sales goal for the month. I am happy to report I picked up 12 TVs for our employees.  Remember to keep incentives realistic and obtainable. If you can’t afford to offer paid time off, televisions or tickets to the Cardinals, don’t do it.

Be bold

Find something completely out of the ordinary whether it’s a holiday, event or community organization with which to partner. Your efforts can be rewarded greatly. For example, November 18th is National Toilet Day, and one of our employees dressed up as Benjamin Franklin and delivered chocolate cupcakes with toilet toppers to all of the major media outlets in the area. It was fun, it broke the norm, and it got us noticed.

Desk drawer digging

You know all those business cards you’ve collected over the past year that are accumulated in your desk drawer? Pull out a few, and connect with those folks. Put them in a bowl, and pull out a winner; offer them a free or discounted service, free meal or just call to see how you can be of help to them.

Layered advertising

If you know the lull is coming, start preparing six months in advance. Increase visibility by working on your SEO, promotions, introduce a new special service only good during that time period or update your website.

Contests/Referral discounts for customers

Engage your current customers in your social media efforts by holding a contest. Offer a free service, cash or gift card to your favorite restaurant, etc., for participating. Make sure it’s creative, fun and easy for them. Additionally, a great way to say “thank you” to your customers is offering a referral discount. It can be as simple as $10 off their next service.

Maintain a positive attitude

Keeping a positive attitude is perhaps the hardest thing to do when times get slow. You are on edge with no income and bills are coming in. Yet, you cannot wallow in a defeatist attitude that will only slow you down.

During difficult times, keep in mind the title of the popular book by Robert Schuller, “Tough Times Don’t Last But Tough People Do.” Every misfortune carries the seeds of growth and betterment if you can keep perspective. To help keep a positive attitude, socialize with friends and engage in activities you enjoy on a regular basis. This will help lighten your outlook and come back to the office with a fresh perspective.

Raven Events, NetworkingPhoenix.com - AZ Business Magazine November/December 2011

Raven Events, NetworkingPhoenix.com Promote Face-to-Face Networking

Raven Events, NetworkingPhoenix.com Promote Business-to-Business Events, Face-to-Face Networking

Many business owners have embraced Facebook and Twitter as a way to build virtual relationships with their customers.

“As far as social media goes, I think it has allowed people to believe that they can (network) very easily, and that they can do it well,” says Raven Valdes, owner of Raven Events.

But are those businesses’ face-to-face networking skills up to par? Two networking powerhouses, Raven Events and NetworkingPhoenix.com, help make networking easy by providing a means to navigate and filter through the hundreds of available mixers, as well as providing their own business-to-business (B2B) networking events.

Gelie Akhenblit, founder of NetworkingPhoenix.com, says although the ease of online networking has made global communication possible, people are more interested in doing business with others in their community.

NetworkingPhoenix.com is an online resource for the Valley business networking community listing more than 500 events with more than 18,000 registered members.
“People ask me if I think my business will change once the economy recovers,” Akhenblit says. “Face-to-face networking will never go out of style. Networking will always be the No. 1 way to find jobs, clients and meet key people.”

These B2B networking mixers provide a platform where like-minded individuals can make their introductions in hopes to build long-lasting relationships, according to Valdes.

“To all of the exhibiting businesses at my networking events, I encourage them all the time to be proactive,” Valdes says. “There’s not problem with walking up to somebody, shaking their hands, telling them who you are, what you’re about, and why they need to know you.”

While talking business is important, Akhenblit emphasizes that gaining clients and referrals is made through building friendships, instead of treating networking events as sales opportunities, which she says is not true networking.

Valdes emphasizes the personal, human aspect of face-to-face, B2B mixers and networking events that emailing, Facebook and Twitter can’t provide.

“(B2B networking events) are beneficial because there’s still nothing more important than the handshake or looking to somebody’s eyes,” Valdes says. “You can’t really evolve that kind of confidence through any other way, without this face to face.”

Both NetworkingPhoenix.com and Raven Events, which has a mailing list of more than 35,000 people, have witnessed an increase in attendance for the three and nine years they have been in business, respectively. NetworkingPhoenix.com’s Signature Event, held four times a year, attracts more than 1,500 networkers. Raven Events, holds social and B2B events with attendance ranging from 400 to 1,500 people.

According to Akhenblit, B2B mixers also provide a way to save time scheduling many meetings a week, as well as getting valuable feedback about your business.

“Talking to people out and about is a great way to gather research,” Akhenblit says. “People are happy to share their opinions about our company, our products, their experiences, etc.”

Valdes adds that networking events are not only providing an outlet to build friendships, connections and possible business, but they are also supporting the local economy.

“Raven Events is not only bringing fun, effective events to people of the Valley, but it is also hiring entertainers,” Valdes says. “I hire photographers, DJs, bands and others in the industry — even comedians and magicians. I market and brand them throughout my process of the event, and the participating exhibitors within the event, too.”

For a calendar of upcoming face-to-face networking events and B2B mixers, visit RavenEvents.com or NetworkingPhoenix.com.

 

Arizona Business Magazine November/December 2011