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Pat Monacelli

Improve Your Networking Results with a Four-Point Plan

150 150 Pat Monacelli

by Christina R. Metcalf

If you joined the chamber to meet new people, grow your network, and get more customers, you’re on the right track. But do you have a plan to make the most of your time investment? If not, you need one.

There may be many reasons you’re interested in that networking event. First, ask yourself who it is you want to meet. Are you there for:

• People in your target market
• Vendors that provide services and items you need for business
• Partners or complementary service providers (partnering with the healthy juice bar when you’re a gym, can be mutually beneficial)
• Industry peers for a best practice exchange or referrals

Beth Bridges, the Networking Motivator acclaimed speaker and author of several books on networking, says “A smart networker never goes to a networking event ‘hoping’ to find a prospect. Instead, they will be ready to act on one of several very specific plans that they will have set in advance—or are ready to pivot to—if the event turns out to be something different than they anticipated.”

Here are two potential plans she suggests:

Networking Plan 1: Meet “The one.” If you know who is attending in advance, research and choose one or two people you must absolutely meet. When you walk in the door, tell the host “I am here to meet Pat Vang. Are they here yet?”

Networking Plan 2: Build social capital. Walk into the event with something to offer. An event invite (a private mastermind? an online speed networking event?), a line on a new business opening, or a great webinar (not necessarily yours!). Anything that gives value to other people so that you can build up your social capital with them for future use.

Which brings us to Beth’s third suggestion on how to make the most of your networking time. She advises:

Networking Plan 3: Get a referral or resource. If you don’t have a guest list for the event but know the audience type (i.e. CEOs, accountants, solopreneurs), hone in on a problem that type of person could solve for you with a referral or resource. When meeting someone, your intro remarks end with “I’m here to find someone who knows a good bookkeeper / copywriter / etc.”

But there might be something else you can take away from networking. How about a fourth plan of action?

There’s a group of people you might not be thinking about when it comes to networking. And yet, they may be able to shape your company culture and help you grow much faster than you would’ve expected.

The Fourth Person You’ll Want to Meet

Who are they?

Well, it’s different for everyone.

Networking Plan 4: Find a Solution. Think about the proverbial, “what keeps you up at night?” question. There’s a problem you’re likely struggling with. There’s also a professional, company, or industry out there that has solved your problem. Let’s look at an example from Henry Ford. He wanted to make cars more efficiently, so he instructed his employees to place the car parts in a line on the floor making them easy to access. While that reduced some of the time required, shaving a few hours off the original 12 it took to build a car, there were still hiccups. He thought there had to be a quicker way.

So, he studied flour mills, breweries, and meat packing plants (or maybe he went to a chamber networking mixer and talked to professionals from those industries; who’s to say?). By studying how they mechanized their systems, he used pieces/ideas from each and created the first moving assembly line for the mass production of an entire automobile. He reduced the time it took to manufacture from over 12 hours to one hour and 33 minutes!

With that change he could afford to produce cars for less, making them available to a greater number of people. This revolutionized not only his business but car production in general. All because he spent some time thinking about other businesses and their mechanization practices!

I recently talked to a rocket scientist (yes, really) who pulled methodologies from tech companies to learn quickly and fail often. He looked outside of his company to find a way to make his business goals attainable.

At your next networking event, know that there’s someone who has already solved the problem you’re facing. They may not be in the same business or industry but the lessons they learned are likely still applicable.

So, when you’re making a list of networking interests, think about the problems you face and strike up a conversation asking other attendees if they’ve faced the same. You may be pleasantly surprised by the insights and advice they can give you. Plus, that type of in-depth beginning conversation and sharing can lead to much deeper relationships down the line.

Four Things Your Business Should Continue to do Post-COVID

150 150 Pat Monacelli

by Christina Metcalf

At some point COVID will be relegated to the same level of concern the flu gets every year. It won’t shutter businesses, alter family celebrations, and be the fuel behind contentious court cases.

Someday.

Let’s pretend we’re there now.

There are certain conveniences (and necessities) that businesses adapted during COVID that customers have become accustomed to. So, if you’re making plans for a “return to normal” you may just want to reevaluate what that looks like based on your customers’ newly developed expectations.

Delivery and Curbside Pick-up
Whether you serve food or sell non-edible items, people have become accustomed to sitting in their cars (or at home) and receiving their goods. Customers love the convenience, the fact that they can come as they are and not worry about what they look like, and can run errands more efficiently.

Delivery and curbside pick-up also save money (even with delivery fees and tips) when it comes to ordering items like groceries because it cuts down on impulse buys. To ensure they spend more, you’ll want to use an ordering system (or person answering the phone, if you take orders that way), that makes suggestions that they may also enjoy. Don’t miss the opportunity for upsells.

Working from Home
Many businesses that initially allowed working from home are calling people back in at the time of this writing. But in a highly competitive employment market, where there are more openings than interested applicants, you may want to think twice about requiring full-time in-office only work.

There are many cost savings in allowing employees to work from home. You may even be able to downsize your office space. And there may still be those people who want in-person work arrangements but not everyone will.

Don’t feel like you must decide between home or office. The best answer for your business may be a hybrid result.

Online Options
If you weren’t selling online before you probably are now. But even service providers who may have found it difficult to sell online upped their video, podcast, and content marketing strategies for greater online success.

If you embraced more digital marketing activities, keep it up. If you still haven’t, it’s (past) time. People want to interact with you at their convenience—and sometimes that’s after you’ve gone home for the day. Keep your business open (to them) with more online channels.

Giving People Options
We’re still working through this business lesson, but one thing that keeps surfacing throughout COVID is the idea that opinions should be respected and options should be given. No one appreciates being given orders, whether they are for their own good or not. Innovative businesses need to find ways to connect with customers on their terms. This is not a mask or no mask/vaccine or no vaccine debate. Those are details. This is about larger employment or customer rights.

Arguments over freedoms versus safety have brought up a lot of interesting discussions. Businesses should expect that while the details may change, the larger question about decisions and rights will echo well into the future. College courses will someday be taught on the subject. Innovative business owners may want to consider how these types of conversations will shape their organizations in the future from who they hire to what they request of them, from who they target from a marketing perspective to how they reach them.

COVID changed what we valued and took for granted. It has also altered business in many ways. Some ways are obvious, while others will become conversations that will continue far into the future.

What will you continue when COVID is but a memory?

14 Ideas for Increasing Revenue Quickly

150 150 Pat Monacelli

By Christina Metcalf

The past eighteen months have certainly not been something they taught us in business school. It started with a global pandemic and mandatory lockdowns of non-essential businesses, then erupted in costs of goods and services skyrocketing, only to complete this craziness with an employee shortage, and rent and real estate costs going through the roof for most areas of the country.

Whew!

If you’re like most businesses, you’re probably looking for ways to increase your revenue. Here are some things you can do right now as well as a few other ideas you can start implementing for long-term increases.

14 Ways to Make More Money at Your Business

1. Raise your prices. Businesses of all types are being forced to do this because their costs are increasing. Most people, while they dislike it, realizing it’s necessary.
2. Train your employees on upsells. It’s easier to sell to someone who’s already buying than to create a convert of someone who knows little about you.
3. Keep track of what each customer buys. Use data on customer purchases to reach out to them with applicable discounts, sales, new products, or services they would probably like based on past purchases.
4. Add a service to your goods or goods to your services. If you sell furniture paint, offer a paint service. If you paint furniture, sell a line of paint for DIYers or those who can’t afford your service.
5. Host a class. If it’s specific and helpful enough you can charge for it.
6. Become an affiliate for another business. If there’s something you buy often or a business you refer people to, ask the business if they have an affiliate program.
7. Start a side hustle. There are a lot of things you can do to bring in additional revenue that have no start-up costs and can bring in more money. You can start a personal side hustle or try incorporating one into your existing business.
8. Consult or coach. Tell people how to do what you do and charge them for it.
9. Start a Kickstarter campaign. Okay, so this isn’t a solid stream of revenue, but it can help you create one by producing something you’ve always wanted to produce but haven’t had the time or capital to do it.
10. Start a membership program. Charge people for access to you or priority service from your business or any other type of membership.
11. Create a subscription or sample box. You can do this on your own or with other businesses in your area.
12. Host a camp or overnight. Depending on your business, you may be able to turn your business into a camp over holidays or the summer or even host a special overnight. Meet with an insurance professional to understand the liability involved. You can also offer classes to homeschool students. Remember camps don’t have to be for kids.
13. Create a challenge. You may be able to create a directed challenge and charge a fee for several weeks of training or services.
14. Sell more items online. Or start selling online if you haven’t already.

Most of these ideas can help you bring in money right away. Another way to do that—although it doesn’t increase your revenue per se—is to change your billing structure if you’re a service provider. You can collect more upfront and less upon the completion of services. Plus, now is the perfect time to roll out these ideas as people understand the struggles businesses have these days.

Attract Customers with Fall Business Themes

150 150 Pat Monacelli

 

by Christina R. Metcalf

Fall is a favorite among many people. The temps are enjoyable, weather is crisp and clear, and the smell of leaves can be intoxicating. That’s what makes this season such a hit with marketers. Here are a few fall themes you can incorporate into your business for more engagement with your target audience.

Fun Fall Marketing Themes

Use these themes to inspire your newsletter, blog posts, contests, social media posts, business interior, offerings, and more.

Pumpkin Everything
It seems like every year it starts earlier and earlier, but people really clamor over pumpkin. From coffee creamer to cake, people can’t get enough of this colorful gourd.

Incorporate pumpkin flavoring, host a pumpkin design contest, or even make fun of the fact that you’re offering a pumpkin option (like pumpkin rinse for clogged pipes, if you’re a plumber).

Hate pumpkin? That’s okay too. Share that with your audience and invite them to ring in. You may be surprised on the level of engagement you receive.

Back to School
There’s more to back-to-school then just the first day. As students get settled in at all levels, it’s a good way to connect with students or their adult guardians.

Play up why your business is a favorite among students or their parents. Host a back-to-school bash, sale, or image contest or join in during homecoming festivities.

Harvest Time and Gratefulness
Whether you’re celebrating good harvests of local food, the hard work of the agriculture industry, or how important it is to feel grateful, there are many ways to use this theme to get your audience’s attention.

Share what you are grateful for. Ask questions about favorite foods. Tell the story of where your food comes from (if that’s what you sell). Highlight the farm-to-table story.

Football
From tailgating to homecoming, there are many ways to celebrate this sport and the excitement that goes along with it.

Spotlight local players, ask people who they think will win, rename some of your offerings (temporarily) based on team names, be a sponsor of a local team. Run specials and discounts based on game points or wins. Give your audience something (else) to cheer about.

The Colors
Fall colors are amazing. There are vacationers who plan trips around those magnificent oranges, reds, and yellows. Plus, there’s the inviting glow of the hearth. Fall makes for great decoration ideas for your business as it’s a very cozy time. Fall is an invitation to come in and you can use the same in your marketing.

Share recipes, favorite scents, favorite books, and color updates of the leaves in your area (if applicable).

Fall is a beloved season, and you can use it to get closer with people in your ideal market. There are many options under each of these themes. Brainstorm some creative uses and you’ll make a big impression on your customers and future customers.

 

13 Important Things You Need To Hear As A Business Owner

150 150 Pat Monacelli

by Christina R. Metcalf

Our metal has certainly been tested this year. Many are fatigued and stressed juggling responsibilities, worries, and fear like they were part of the job description.

But this is not sustainable.

You may feel crushed by the weight of the world right now. Maybe your friends and family don’t quite understand what you’re going through because they aren’t a business owner. Perhaps you’ve created the perfect life on social media, and no one knows the struggles that make up your day and eat away at your confidence and security.

But your chamber of commerce does. They’ve been there. They are business owners/business professionals, and they know what you’re going through. Most people think about the business resources and networking they provide but forget that they are always looking out for businesses and the struggles of businesspeople. Being the voice of business also means understanding the internal hardships of business owners. The chamber’s vast business experience may help you feel more part of a tribe.

The chamber is also here to remind you that as a business owner, your skills, drive, and knowledge are critical to your business but so is your health and wellness.

13 Things Every Business Owner Needs to Hear

All business owners need to hear these things, especially now:

1. It is okay to put yourself in time out. Use this time to recharge or think about the direction of your business. You can’t do either of these things under pressure. You are not a diamond. Schedule time away, off the grid, even if only for an hour. Focus on one area that’s not working and how you might improve things. Then create an action plan and schedule your tactics that will get you to your goal. Or better yet, take that time and decompress by doing absolutely nothing.

2. Trust your intuition but weigh all sides. Discuss it with people who have experience in the area or the things you are considering. That generally means not your spouse, nor your friends.

3. Take the calculated risks. No risk, no growth.

4. You can make a living doing anything if you take the right approach and the timing is right. Choose what you love, and you will have a more fulfilling career. Never choose safety as a career path because sometimes the safe path isn’t safe. And if that’s the only reason you chose it, you’re left with nothing.

5. If you need help, ask. But you’ll be more successful if you ask the people who are able to help.

6. “No” is an acceptable answer. No excuse (or reason) required.

7. Timing is important but persistence usually pays off. Hang in there.

8. You set your priorities. If you feel out of control, and someone else dictates everything for you, you have given them that power (that includes your kids and pets).

9. Schedule time for “oxygen” moments that provide the breath that fuels the fire in your soul. Recharge with the care that you give your cell phone.

10. Everyone is on their own path. If you don’t declare them as a dependent on your taxes or you can’t be held accountable for their actions in a court of law, respect their process and respect yours also.

11. You can’t make everyone happy, but you can exhaust yourself trying. Pick what you’re good at, who it serves well, and do that. Don’t be a salad at McDonalds.

12. You are always in control of how you respond to a situation even if you can’t control anything else.

13. If it’s important to you, find a way. If it’s not, be honest about that with others and with yourself. Admit that it’s not on your life’s “strategic plan” and move on.

Remember, mental health and wellness are not luxuries. You deserve them. Just as you take care of the tools you need to conduct business, you need to take care of yourself.

Keep this list and refer to it. There’s nothing on here that isn’t common sense but sometimes you just need to hear it from someone else.