Most entrepreneurs expect to find themselves at networking and industry events at least a few times per calendar year, if not per month. But far too many promising conversations turn into one-sided pitches punctuated with a business card.
Before you head out to your next event, why not practice a more thoughtful approach to conversation with a like-minded stranger? You might even end up with a new business partner, customer, investor, or friend. Here are 14 ideas to try:
1. Ask a thoughtful question.
Ask something that will get a unique conversation started. Instead of “What do you do?” ask, “What do you hope to take away from this event?” Or ask them what they think of a new idea you have. People remember having an interesting conversation.–Caitlin McCabe, Real Bullets Branding
Most people launch right into their pitch or chitchat. You’ll make a more positive, memorable impression if you allow the other person to speak first or if you pose an open question and then listen attentively to the answer. The more the other person talks, the better a conversation partner you’re perceived to be. My grandfather used to say there is a reason you have two ears and one mouth–use them accordingly.–Lindsey Pollak, Millennial Workplace Expert
3. Ask what you can do to help.
When meeting someone new, a great strategy is to quickly get a sense of what he or she does, and then immediately look for ways to help that person. Ask, “Can I make an introduction to so-and-so?” or “Would it be helpful if I connected you with X?” Far too many people look at networking as a way to get things. By approaching it as a way to give, you’ll forge great relationships with tons of amazing people while paying it forward.–Brittany Hodak, ZinePak
4. Give them a reason to remember you.
I find that one of the most important things you can do during the first five minutes of meeting someone is give them something to remember you by. At a business event, they may meet many individuals, but when you make a strong and memorable first impression, your new acquaintance will remember you the next time you reach out.–David Schwartz, EMMDeavor (DBA Qruber) & Wireless Watchdogs
5. Focus on quality, not quantity.
Show genuine interest in the conversation. Write the event name on their business card, then follow up within 24 hours. Go for quality of connections rather than the quantity of business cards you collect by the end of the night. Business cards aren’t going to get clients at the end of the day, but connections and strong relationships will.–Erik Severinghaus, Simple Relevance
6. Ask what makes them happy/excited/lose sleep.
… Anything but what they do. Networking events can end up like an elevator pitch on a time loop. Stop the cycle by asking about something unrelated and see where the conversation takes you. And listen!–Alexis Wolfer, The Beauty Bean
7. Remember their name and story.
Business events are an excellent way to grow your professional network by meeting in person with other professionals. You never know who you will meet and how you two may work together in the future. I have met some incredible people at events; folks who have been extremely instrumental in my success.–Lane Campbell, Syntress SCDT
8. Clearly define what you do best.
Have your elevator pitch ready to roll. Try to make it interesting and deliver it with passion. Be proud and excited about what you do and make the message clear and sticky.–Vinny Antonio, Victory Marketing Agency
9. Tell a story.
Be authentic and tell a story. Stories are the best way to create a metaphor and allow other people to understand the type of thinker that you are.–Ryan Shank, Mhelpdesk
10. Smile and make eye contact.
People make judgments within the first seven seconds or so of meeting you, and that’s statistically around the point at which they start tuning out if you don’t engage them. Smiling at them and making sincere eye contact shows them that you’re warm and interested in speaking with them. These tiny gestures will set the stage for you to engage in a meaningful conversation.–Darrah Brustein, Network Under 40/Finance Whiz Kids
11. Say their name.
Say their name. Everyone likes to hear the sound of their own name and it helps you form a connection. That, matched with solid eye contact and a firm handshake, creates a positive first impression.–Ashley Mady, Brandberry
12. Send an intro email on the spot.
It’s 2014! I don’t get the value of business cards anymore. Anytime I meet someone and they try to end the conversation with “Here’s my business card …” I stop them, pull out my phone and ask them to enter their email address. After that, I send them a quick intro email and boom! We’re connected. While it’s a little awkward in person, it has exponentially increased the amount of follow-ups I get after meeting them the first time.–Mike McGee, The Starter League
13. Talk about your passions.
Tell them about your passions and ask them about theirs. This can be as simple as saying “So what is it you’re passionate about?” after the typical “here’s what I do” back and forth. This tends to catch people off guard in a good way, and allows them to either wax poetic about the aspect of the work they love, or something outside their work to which you may have a connection. Either way, it helps build the relationship.–Colin Wright, Asymmetrical Press
14. Compliment them.
Make sure that your appearance and demeanor radiate health and energy. Be genuinely interested in the people you meet; ask them questions about themselves and try to find something on which to compliment them.–Vladimir Gendelman, Company Folders Inc
If there’s one thing that we progressives believe in more than anything else, it’s the power of people. That’s why at the core of us there’s so much passion and determination to unlock people’s potential, potential that’s wasted by the right’s politics of “you’re on your own”. And it’s potential that’s wasted by social security that fails to empower disabled people and their carers and, instead, traps them in poverty. That’s not something we’re prepared to stand and watch. That’s something we want to change.
In Australia, someone is registered as disabled every half an hour. In Britain, it’s every three minutes. In both Australia and Britain, one in five adults has a disability of some kind. That means that unless we give all disabled adults the chance to contribute, we’re only drawing on 80% of our power. We’re only firing on four out of five cylinders. That simply can’t be right.
It’s not right morally and it’s not good economically. The result is bad for the country – and it’s bad for disabled people. We believe in something simple: because disability can affect anyone, it affects everyone. That is why social security has got to change so that we make the right to live as full citizens in a free society a reality for disabled people.
In Australia, the Labor government laid the foundations for a revolution in services for thousands of disabled people, their families and carers.DisabilityCare Australia will mean that Australians with significant and permanent disabilities will have more power to choose their support and more control over how that support is provided. The programme, gradually being rolled out across the country, is creating personal plans that put the goals and aspirations of individuals at the centre of the support they will receive.
The scheme will also give Australians peace of mind that their child or loved one will get the care and support they need in the event that they have a significant and permanent disability.
We think that Britain has a lot to learn from Australian Labor, so we’ll work together to study how the ground-breaking ideas pioneered by Labor can help make a difference in Britain.
Currently, in Britain, we support disabled people by putting them in the middle of a labyrinth and telling them to find their way out. There are assessments for social care. There are assessments for personal independence payment. There are assessments such as the work capability assessment.
Of course we need assessments – but at the moment, hundreds of thousands of the assessments are wrong. Years are wasted in court, where eventually 40% of appeals around employment and support assessments are won.
It is a monumental waste of money – £74m, according to evidence provided to the public accounts committee by Disability Rights UK. We spend £900m on Atos. We’re about to spend £540m on Atos and Capita.
It’s time to end the labyrinth. We’ll be looking at how we take the radical ideas of “whole person care”, developed by Andy Burnham, to bring services and benefits together to support disabled people in a new way. And we’re delighted that in Britain, Sir Bert Massie, a great pioneer of disability rights, will be working alongside us to make sure ideas are co produced with disabled people every step of the way.
Labour will be publishing a green paper on the idea next summer. It’ll be far stronger for the advice from down under.
What if you could choose body parts like you choose a pair of shoes? And what if these prosthetics could help you do new things and express new parts of yourself? Aimee Mullins shares what she calls the poetry of prosthetics.
When you’re looking after someone else it can be easy to forget about looking after yourself. But keeping your physical health in check is a really important part of being able to care for someone else. Similarly, if your emotional health is not supported, it can be really difficult to get through the day. There are a number of services available which can help you get the right balance of physical and emotional wellbeing.
This might help if…
- you are a young carer
- you know a young carer
- you want to know about maintaining physical and emotional health as a carer
Caring for someone can be emotionally and physically exhausting, particularly if they’re someone you deeply love. There are many times when it can be easy to forget about your own needs and focus entirely on the needs of the person you’re caring for.
Looking after your physical health can be particularly difficult when you’re caring for another person. But if your physical health is not maintained, it can be difficult to feel on top of everything else. Some things you can do to stay physically healthy include:
Get moving - Try to get out and about every now and again, not only to get fresh air but also get your body moving.
Eat well – Don’t sacrifice your physical health by not eating wholesome food. Try to make sure you’re eating enough fruit and vegies to make your body function well.
Sleep well - Sleeping is such an important part of your physical health but can be easy to overlook. Make sure you’re getting at least 8 hours, even if you need to take naps during the day.
Maintaining your emotional health can be just as important as looking after your physical health. Some of the things you can do to keep your emotional health in check include…
Stay balanced – make sure you’re not doing too much of one thing. Try to find a hobby or something to do that gives you pleasure.
Ask for help – Don’t feel you have to do everything on your own. Take some of the pressure off by asking someone you know to help out.
Have a break – Make sure you’re taking time out and giving yourself time to catch up. This will help ease the stress and exhaustion that many carers can experience.
Other things you can do
Learn more about the illness/disability of the person you’re caring for
Knowing about the illness/disability may be helpful in understanding the behaviour or moods of the person you’re caring for. It’s also a great idea if you are giving medication, as you’ll be better able to understand possible side effects.
Try to share the care
Caring for someone can be exhausting. It may be helpful to share the responsibility of care with someone else, so that you don’t get too worn out. This may be a sister, brother, aunt, uncle or grandparent. Another suggestion is to talk to someone at the Young Carers Respite and Information Services who can be contacted on 1800 242 636.
When you are caring for someone you may sometimes feel you are doing it all alone. Talking to people who are in a similar situation could be helpful. You might like to do this by taking part in activities specifically organised for young carers.
Talking to someone about how you’re feeling and what you’re going through can be a great way of looking after your health. Just seeking support and knowing there’s someone out there who will listen can be a great relief.
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, heard, or even touched, they must be felt with the heart.”
Your logo is a visual representation of everything your company stands for. Think of McDonald’s golden arches or the Nike swoosh-these two impressive logos embody these companies well. But many companies still skimp on developing this key identity piece.
Ideally, your company logo enhances potential customers and partners’ crucial first impression of your business. A good logo can build loyalty between your business and your customers, establish a brand identity, and provide the professional look of an established enterprise.
Consider Allstate’s “good hands” logo. It immediately generates a warm feeling for the company, symbolizing care and trust. With a little thought and creativity, your logo can quickly and graphically express many positive attributes of your business, too.
There are basically three kinds of logos. Font-based logos consist primarily of a type treatment. The logos of IBM, Microsoft and Sony, for instance, use type treatments with a twist that makes them distinctive. Then there are logos that literally illustrate what a company does, such as when a house-painting company uses an illustration of a brush in its logo. And finally, there are abstract graphic symbols-such as Nike’s swoosh-that become linked to a company’s brand.
“Such a symbol is meaningless until your company can communicate to consumers what its underlying associations are,” says Americus Reed II, a marketing professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, who’s conducted research on the triggers that lead consumers to identify with and become loyal to a brand. But building that mental bridge takes time and money. The Nike swoosh has no inherent meaning outside of what’s been created over the years through savvy marketing efforts that have transformed the logo into an “identity cue” for an athletic lifestyle.
Growing businesses can rarely afford the millions of dollars and years of effort required to create these associations, so a logo that clearly illustrates what your company stands for or does may be a better choice. Even a type treatment of your company’s name may be too generic, says Placitas, New Mexico, logo designer Gary Priester, principal of gwpriester.com, the Web arm of design firm The Black Point Group. Priester believes customers should be able to tell what you do just by looking at your logo.
Before you begin sketching, first articulate the message you want your logo to convey. Try writing a one-sentence image and mission statement to help focus your efforts. Stay true to this statement while creating your logo.
But that may not be enough to get you started. Here are some additional tactics and considerations that will help you create an appropriate company logo:
- Look at the logos of other businesses in your industry. Do your competitors use solid, conservative images, or flashy graphics and type? Think about how you want to differentiate your logo from those of your competition.
- Focus on your message. Decide what you want to communicate about your company. Does it have a distinct personality-serious or lighthearted? What makes it unique in relation to your competition? What’s the nature of your current target audience? These elements should play an important role in the overall design or redesign.
- Make it clean and functional. Your logo should work as well on a business card as on the side of a truck. A good logo should be scalable, easy to reproduce, memorable and distinctive. Icons are better than photographs, which may be indecipherable if enlarged or reduced significantly. And be sure to create a logo that can be reproduced in black and white so that it can be faxed, photocopied or used in a black-and-white ad as effectively as in color.
- Your business name will affect your logo design. If your business name is “D.C. Jewelers,” you may wish to use a classy, serif font to accent the letters (especially if your name features initials). For a company called “Lightning Bolt Printing,” the logo might feature some creative implementation of-you guessed it-a lightning bolt.
- Use your logo to illustrate your business’s key benefit. The best logos make an immediate statement with a picture or illustration, not words. The “Lightning Bolt Printing” logo, for example, may need to convey the business benefit of “ultra-fast, guaranteed printing services.” The lightning bolt image could be manipulated to suggest speed and assurance.
- Don’t use clip art. However tempting it may be, clip art can be copied too easily. Not only will original art make a more impressive statement about your company, but it’ll set your business apart from others.
- Avoid trendy looks. If you’re redesigning your old logo, you run the risk of confusing customers-or worse, alienating them. One option is to make gradual logo changes. According to Priester, Quaker Oats modified the Quaker man on its package over a 10-year period to avoid undermining customer confidence. But don’t plan to make multiple logo changes. Instead, choose a logo that will stay current for 10 to 20 years, perhaps longer. That’s the mark of a good design. In fact, when Priester designs a logo, he expects never to see that client again.
Watch Your Colors
One thing you need to be careful of as you explore color options is cost. Your five-color logo may be gorgeous, but once it comes time to produce it on stationery, the price won’t be so attractive. Nor will it work in mediums that only allow one or two colors. Try not to exceed three colors unless you decide it’s absolutely necessary.
Your logo can appear on a variety of media: signage, advertising, stationery, delivery vehicles and packaging, to name just a few. Remember that some of those applications have production limitations. Make sure you do a color study. Look at your logo in one-, two- and three-color versions.
Hire a Designer
While brainstorming logo ideas by yourself is a crucial step in creating your business image, trying to create a logo completely on your own is a mistake. It may seem like the best way to avoid the high costs of going to a professional design firm, which will charge anywhere from $4,000 to $15,000 for a logo design. Be aware, however, that there are thousands of independent designers around who charge much less. According to Stan Evenson, founder of Evenson Design Group, entrepreneurs on a tight budget should shop around for a designer. “There are a lot of [freelance] designers who charge rates ranging from $15 to $150 per hour, based on their experience,” he says.
But don’t hire someone just because of their bargain price. Find a designer who’s familiar with your field . . . and with your competition. If the cost still seems exorbitant, Evenson says, “remember that a good logo should last at least 10 years. If you look at the amortization of that cost over a 10-year period, it doesn’t seem so bad.”
Even if you have a good eye for color and a sense of what you want your logo to look like, you should still consult a professional designer. Why? They know whether or not a logo design will transfer easily into print or onto a sign, while you might come up with a beautiful design that can’t be transferred or would cost too much money to be printed. Your logo is the foundation of all your promotional materials, so this is one area where spending a little more now can really pay off later.
Using and Protecting Your Logo
Once you’ve produced a logo that embodies your company’s mission at a glance, make sure you trademark it to protect it from use by other companies. You can apply for a trademark at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Web site.
Then, once it’s protected, use it everywhere you can-on business cards, stationery, letterhead, brochures, ads, your Web site and any other place where you mention your company name. This will help build your image, raise your company’s visibility and, ideally, lead to more business.
Creating a logo sounds easy, doesn’t it? It can be. Just remember to keep your customers and the nature of your business in mind when you put it all together. In time, you’ll have succeeded in building equity in your trademark, and it will become a positive and recognizable symbol of your product or service.