The Benefits Of VoIP For SMEs

Voice over Internet Protocol has evolved dramatically as a technology in the last few years and as it becomes cheaper to install, more SMEs are implementing it in place of traditional systems.

License: Creative Commons image source
License: Creative Commons image source

Unlike traditional means VoIP is a far more flexible option with a huge array of features and massive flexibility. As a solution for communication issues it’s a fantastic alternative to the traditional and offers a number of benefits which we’re going to take a closer look at here.

Big Player

The thing about VoIP is that it allows small businesses on mediocre budgets to keep up with larger companies that can benefit from advanced communication tools, at a far lower cost. This is the beauty of VoIP. Unlike a few years ago,
when options  such as IVRs, call recording and audio conferencing were expensive and costly to implement, VoIP has changed this. This allows SMEs to work smarter and also give the impression they are larger businesses than they are.


The scalability of the service is also something of note and VoIP can be easily added, expanded and altered as and when required. You can simply add or change phone numbers and as they’re not tied to your local exchange you can have any number you want from anywhere in the world you want. This sort of scalability and the options that come with it are something that a lot of people really like and the reasons a lot of SMEs in a wide range of businesses love this service.

Not Office Limited

Thanks to the wonders of the smart phone VoIP is not just limited to the office and in fact is easily extendable to mobile phones thanks to 3G. In essence, this means that it’s easy to carry all your office contacts and information in your pocket and remain in contact when on the road or away from home. For businesses with home workers this is also of benefit as it means they can work from home and still seem to be in the office. The other big benefit is that there are no expensive calls, as there would be if you were using it on a mobile phone contract.

VoIP works well for the vast majority of SMEs and it’s understandable why this is the case. Here are a few little things advise you  to consider before implementing such a system.

  • Look at the requirements of your staff and see whether a service like this will benefit them and the way they work.
  • Cost is a big factor for moving to VoIP. The best way to determine whether or not you should is by chec
    king your mobile and communication costs. It’s often easily possible to save 50% on costs with a VoIP service when compared to traditional lines.
  • VoIP is simply a voice call over the Internet – it should be not more complex than that, so don’t feat change
  • Will your business begin to grow soon? If so VoIP could be a far better option than trying to expand traditional channels.
  • Ask questions – a telecommunications vendor should answer them for you.

VoIP is a fantastic addition to a range of businesses and you should consider it if you’re looking for a change to your phone system or communications in general.

About the Author: Cormac Reynolds has written about technology for a half decade and has covered a range of solutions. He is a lover of sports and travel.

The Importance Of A Business-To-Business Partnership

The marketplace is a wild place.  It’s no secret that the dog-eat-dog climate of working in a competitive industry with a determined company can be highly stressful and call for careful business planning and tactics.  This is because with such huge opportunities and outlets for growth many companies are struggling to stay ahead of the curve and be the best at turning a profit.  However, in such a financially and structurally diverse ‘jungle’ of a marketplace, sometimes it’s better to travel in a pack rather than be the lone wolf.

License: Creative Commons image source
License: Creative Commons image source

For years the business climate and ways of industry practice have been head to head.  The cut throat decision making and make or break efforts of a business plan that were once reserved for only the largest multi-national conglomerate corporations has now trickled down into ever a serious competition between small local businesses.  No matter what the industry, a company is best to wi
sely pick their friends and enemies.  This is why many companies must know the importance of have a proper and productive business-to-business partnership.

What Is A Business To Business Partnership?

A Business To Business Partnership, otherwise referred to as B2B relations, is when two businesses work together to benefit from each other’s services.  Often times one or possibly both of the businesses are client based.  This means that they provide a good or service to particular individuals.  A partnership allows for both companies to be more productive and profitable by gaining what the other has to offer.  This can span from deals on each other’s services to joint promotional offers or campaigns.

Joining a business to business partnership is a very beneficial thing, but also a meticulous process that shouldn’t be rushed into.  One of the best examples to give in regard
s to what a B2B relationship can be and how it can be organized is the use of many local cities like Austin, Texas, using voucher-based promotions from various companies.  For instance one of the more famous programs used by companies all over the world is Groupon.  They approach local or national businesses, both service and good based, to buy into their program.  The program allows clients and consumers to get a business’ service or good at a discounted percentage, thus driving more traffic to that business while simultaneously promoting Groupon.

However, that is not the only discounted voucher-based program here in town.  There are several different ones; Bellie, GoodyBag, Go Local.  All of these offer their own rates and charges for setting up a discount voucher deal.  This is where an individual business has to make sure the plan they choose benefits them most.  Questions like “Is it cost-efficient?” and &ldquo
;What’s the prospected turn around of this investment” come into play because no business can profit in a partnership where they give more than they receive.  Shopping around for the right B2B relationship is a major part of the decision, because in such a fast paced ‘shark tank’ of a businesses climate there is little room and time for a mistake of a partnership to form.

Contracting Business To Business Partnerships

We’ve all seen the in various scenarios the importance of having a paper trail.  Contractual agreements are great legal evidence of an agreement made and hold up strongly if legal action should be taken.  Having a proper contractual agreement between businesses in a B2B relationship is vital because it ensure that both companies will uphold their end of the agreement.  This way there will be no question as to the duration of the partnership, the cost of the agreement on each end, and even the quality of service or good being received.  Since both parties set out to benefit in a partnership it is in their best interest to uphold their end of the deal so that ethically, as well as legally, the other will do the same.

Taking legal action on a failed or insufficient partnership is always a scenario that is frowned upon.  With all the effort that goes into orchestrating and designing a business to business partnership it is a shame to see it go to waste of a company’s failure to provide or uphold.  However, these instances do happen and having a properly outlined and clearly stated contract signed and acknowledged by both parties is the easiest way to terminate or amend the situation without a long drawn out process that can jeopardize business.

Business to Business partnerships can be great and beneficial to a company at any level.  If the proper steps are taken to make sure the agreement will be in a positive and efficient nature then both parties could definitely see their investment turn positive.  With so many overlapping services and necessities that are provided amongst business competitors, B2B relations almost make sense when you’re looking to keep your company’s head above water. It is important to understand the weight of a contractual agreement should you enter one.

About the Author: Zach C. writes for Colley and Colley, LLP, a personal injury law firm in Austin, Texas.

Tips On Selecting Umbrella Companies – What You Need To Know

Umbrella companies act as an intermediary between your contractual business and your client. Your business does not need to be a limited company in order to reap the same benefits. While administrative and financial management may increase your costs significantly, these companies allow you to relax and outsource these tedious tasks. People are readily shifting towards the concept of self-employment by establishing their consultancy services and so, the ideology of umbrella companies is also on the rise.

License: Creative Commons image source
License: Creative Commons image source

Responsibilities of an Umbrella Company

An umbrella company is responsible for providing for your administrative and financial concerns. This includes managing your expense records, receiving payment from your client, deducting national insurance costs, and tax after taking due tax exemptions, and paying you a gross salary in exchange for a minor fee. It allows you to enjoy the perks of a self-employed business while also providing you with employment bene

Benefits of Contracting an Umbrella Company

The singularly most important benefit of getting an umbrella company is that it provides you with flexible free time. You can spend that with your friends and family which would otherwise have been spent managing your administrative concerns. This not only allows you to relax; it also accentuates the benefits of being self-employed.

Other benefits include your tax payments which are deducted and paid on your behalf after due adjustments are made, and giving free consultancy advice if you need any.

How to Choose the Best Umbrella Company?

There are numerous well established umbrella companies willing to provide services to you. However, it is important to note that all umbrella companies are essentially answerable to the Board of Inland Revenue. This means they cannot tweak around with your earning or tax payments. However, the only benefit any one company can provide over another is through the difference in their fee structures.

The best option is to go for an umbrella company with a fixed fee structure – so even if your earnings improve over time, you are not handing out more money in fees. On the other hand, some umbrella companies may demand for a certain percentage of your earnings. If your mathematics calculations provide you a better incentive in any of these plans as compared with other alternatives, there is no reason you should not capitalize on it.

Moreover, you should seek to find out about the terms and conditions of this contract. Are there any punitive charges if you decide to leave your umbrella company? Are there any hidden charges you will need to face each month? Can this contract impact you negatively in any way? Being forewarned will help you plan the future and cope up with all possible problems more effectively.

Lastly, and more importantly, you need to know how much time it will take for your earnings to get into your account. Some companies can transfer it into your account within two days of receiving it from your client – others may take longer. If time is sensitive, you would want to go for one which can provide you with your earnings as soon as possible.

About the Author: Mark is living at the beautiful island of Cyprus. His job is to help people who work abroad with the technique of umbrella companies. Check more information about is here

Sometimes You Gotta Make it Alone? The Benefits of Mentoring

It’s a thrill being an entrepreneur – it is a fantastic achievement to be striking out and working for yourself. You want to prove your strength and capability, but often this can mean taking on more than you are equipped to deal with. Maybe you might struggle having so much to do, get bogged down not knowing which ideas to choose, or you simply might not be able to focus on the most important things you need to grow your business.

Newsflash! You don’t have to go it alone – in fact it is better if you don’t!

Image by U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region

Help is at hand for small businesses in the form of Mentoring, and it can be HUGELY beneficial. Mentoring is a low cost, high quality solution – YOU are the most valuable asset to your business, so strategically enhancing your talents will translate into real results.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits:

  • A proven method to share ideas, try new skills and take risks
  • Transfer of knowledge and know-how
  • Learning from the experience and mistakes of experts
  • Coaching on achieving the objectives of your business, both short and long term.
  • Enhanced capacity to translate values and strategies into productive actions
  • Expanding your personal network to help open new doors for your business
  • Increased self-awareness, self-discipline and areas for improvement
  • Increased technical and professional expertise

Mentoring can take many forms. One on one is great for building a very in depth relationship with a mentor. Masterminds and group mentoring have the added benefits of not only making the most of the experience of your mentor, but also promoting diversity of thinking, practice and understanding by sharing ideas and expertise with your peers – the diversity of perspectives that emerges from group mentoring interaction is a powerful motivator!

So let someone else take some of the strain. Find a mentorship program or Mastermind that is right for you and take advantage of the wealth of knowledge and experience of a seasoned professional to achieve big results!

About James T Noble

James makes small businesses bigger. He’s worked with some of the world’s largest brands and companies to market their products and services online – including Disney, Microsoft, 20th Century Fox, Virgin, Coca Cola, MTV and many others. Find out more and read business growth tips at

Moving Your Small Business Forward: Exhibitions and Trade Fairs

If you own a small business and you think it’s time start boosting your sales as well as your profit margins, then look no further than business exhibitions. In today’s competitive market, it’s vital that you make the effort to get your brand name out there. This guide will tell you exactly how business exhibitions can transform your small business and its future, helping you move towards those profits and sales you always dreamed about.

Of course before you read on it’s important you know there are a few setbacks to exhibitions, all of which are expenses based.

Trade fair
Image by US Mission Canada / Flickr

The first of these is the cost of entering your stand into the exhibition, which is generally a fair amount (however it should come within your marketing budget). Secondly, you may be charged for overheads such as electricity, Internet and phone lines, as well as expenses like shipping products and display material to the convention centre. Don’t let these costs intimidate you though, exhibitions are great for small businesses, and here’s why:

Sample and promote a new product/service

If you’re entering a new product or service onto the market, sampling is of a high priority. Finding out what people think about it, what’s good? What’s bad? How can it be improved? Whilst you are asking people to sample your products, you are also marketing your product and your business which is why it is so important to make a good first impression.

Discover new leads

Business is all about communication, and communication can come through many different mediums. With exhibitions you have the opportunity to communicate with many new potential customers/clients, and creating these contacts for your company is vital. This is true especially when searching for new customers, as well as to aid growth and expansion. It is also important to replace those customers that over time have drifted away from your business, helping you to keep a strong customer base.

Chase after your new leads

It’s all well and good talking to people and taking business cards at these exhibitions, but what’s more important is the following up process. In this sense, exhibitions will provide you with an assist towards your main goal of making long-term contacts. With these new relations you can build further links “it’s not about what you know, it’s about who you know”. But you MUST follow up; don’t leave those business cards gathering dust. You need to know from these new leads which ones are likely to buy soon, and which ones may buy in the future. Qualify them, and follow up, tailoring your approach for each one accordingly.

Meet powerful people

Sometimes everyone needs a little dose of inspiration and incentive; try achieving this by talking to influential figures at exhibitions. This will help you to gain some perspective and insight towards your outlook – a few words of wisdom can go a long way. So push aside any feelings of nervousness, feel confident and put the success of your future first! Plus you never know when you might need some powerful contacts in your industry…

Receive media coverage

The media has become such a prolific part of today’s society that most media attention you can get is (normally) good marketing. With the current rise in just Social Media alone, you will find plenty of opportunities to receive media coverage for your small business at numerous commerce exhibitions. But remember, you need to contribute to this – use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and so on to publicise your presence at an exhibition. And have a press kit handy, in case you get a chance to speak to any journalists.

Practice makes perfect

As your company grows, you as a boss will need to do a fair bit of public speaking to important people such as investors or new clientele. Whilst you have the opportunity to do so, carry out some pitches at exhibitions to build your poise and self-belief in talking to powerful people. It’s a much smaller audience, but they’ve most likely come over to your stand because they’re interested in what you do, so it’s an excellent opportunity to practise. Another thing to remember is you may do some paid speaking in the near future, so get some free training in early whilst the chance is on the table!

About the Author: Astro Exhibitions are a firm of exhibition stand designers based just outside Manchester. They have built custom exhibition display stands for companies from all round the world for events across Europe.


Five Tips for Wining and Dining Business Executives

In the business world, it’s not uncommon to have to entertain potential and current customers. You may also find that you are given the task of entertaining out-of-town executives from sister businesses. If you are put in charge of the entertainment, you may feel the weight of the world come crashing down on your shoulders. Don’t let the task of wining and dining your customers become overwhelming, though. Here are five tips for entertaining your clients, customers, and fellow executives:

1. Do the Legwork

If you know that your boss is going to make you the go-to person when it comes to entertaining customers, take a week or two and do some legwork. Scout out a few local restaurants, get to know the staff and management, and build a relationship with the eatery. When you build a solid relationship with a local restaurant, you can expect to be treated like an old family friend every time you walk through the door. The way that you are treated will impress your client and make them feel welcome.

limousine, place de la Bastille (PARIS,FR75)

2. Book a Limo

You don’t have to book a limousine for the same client each time they come to town, but if you book a limo the first time they visit, you are sure to impress them. Book the limo for an evening when you will be entertaining the client, not just picking him or her up from the airport. For many clients, this may be their first limousine ride since the high school prom, and you are sure to start off on the right foot by hiring a car.

3. Explore Your Town

Part of the benefit of traveling out of town for business is the ability to explore new cities. When your client comes into town, give them time to get settled in, and then show them your city. Visit the sites and attractions that make your area famous, even if it’s just having the town’s best burger for lunch. If your client is a nature lover, head out to some local parks. If your client loves to shop, take them to the newest mall in town. Your goal should be for your client to feel like they know your city by the time they leave.

4. Attend an Event

If you have the budget to do it, take your client to a major event happening in your town or a neighboring one. Go to the baseball stadium for the day or to an evening concert. Find out what it is that your client enjoys doing in his or her free time, and try to come up with an activity that matches his or her interests.

5. Arrange a Day Out

Get creative and arrange a day out for your client. Book your client several treatments at a ritzy spa, buy them a day pass to the local amusement park, or arrange for a surfing lesson. By arranging an entire day out for your client, you will be getting them out of their hotel room; something they are sure to appreciate.

If you are put in charge of entertaining clients, try to think outside of the box. Anyone can take a business executive out to dinner, but few people will spend the time to get to know him and his interests. Remember that entertaining your client in a way that suits their personality can be the difference in keeping that client or have them running to your competition.

Joe Jackson lives in Los Angeles and blogs about business matters, including how to entertain business executives. If you are looking for a way to impress your business guests, think about hiring a limousine for them at

The Value of Your Response on Social Media to Upset Customers

In this article, you’ll learn…

  • From my recent experiences as a customer who complained over social media
  • 5 tips on how to respond to angry customers who have lashed out at you over social media

One of the best ways to learn about social media marketing and the impact it can have for your customers is to use social media as the customer of some other business. You can learn a lot of valuable lessons on how to treat your customers, particularly angry customers, if you are first one yourself. Pay attention to how you are responded to and how that made you feel. Are you more or less likely to do business with the company based on how they responded to you through social media? I have personally had 2 instances in the last couple of weeks in which businesses earned my respect because of how they responded to my displeasure with their business.

Experience #1: I was instructed by my wife, on the morning of the last day of school, to go to McDonald’s and get a gift card for one of my kids teachers as an appreciation gift. This teacher loves McDonald’s. The morning was packed with things to be done and there really was no time to spare. I pull up to the drive up and ask for a gift card. Sadly, they tell me they are out. Okay, fair enough. I travel to the next closest McDonald’s and pull up there. I ask for a gift card and was told that they are out of gift cards. “Really”, I thought to myself? This is a monster chain restaurant. Can they all really be out of gift cards? I tweeted at them expressing my displeasure and end the tweet with the hash tag of #fail. Shortly after, I receive a tweet from someone on the McDonald’s Twitter customer service team. Did you know they have a whole team, website, etc. dedicated to providing customer service via Twitter? I didn’t either. We exchanged several tweets back and forth, which ended with a direct message asking if she could send me some gift cards directly. I was very impressed with how this was handled. They were very professional in their approach and very accommodating. Respect earned.

Experience #2: My wife called me to tell me that the local water park was closing down for the day because they were not making money. She had been there with my kids for the last 2 hours and they were now being kicked out so that they could close. It was a colder day, sure, but that is not why they closed. If the park had been packed they would have stayed open. They tried to claim on their Facebook page that they had closed for the “health and safety of their customers”. I took issue and commented on the post. Needless to say, I stirred a pot with others who “like” them on Facebook. Some supporting me, some saying that I should have my head examined for taking my kids to a water park on such a cold day. In some cases, it got personal. However, The local water park maintained a professional approach in their responses to my “calling them out”. They left my posts up on their Facebook page. They replied several times and was part of the conversation. I noticed that they did delete one post that was particularly personal against me. While I did not agree with their business decision to close the park that day, I gained some additional respect for them based on the fact that they did not shy away from the conversation and kept things respectful when I am sure it was not comfortable for them.

Business owners and marketing professionals everywhere need to learn the lessons of social media customer service. Here are some tips on how to respond and how not to respond to angry customers on social media.

  1. Pay attention! Someone needs to be monitoring the company’s social media accounts and what people are saying.
  2. Do not delete the post of an angry customer. This will only anger them more and send them on a longer rant, and potentially to other places to leave negative reviews.
  3. Address the post in “public”. Let others see your responsiveness and your professional customer service. This will shed good light on your customer service.
  4. If you need to go behind closed doors after first responding publicly, that is fine. In many cases you will want to do this to make sure you do not get a rash of fake complaints trying to get free stuff.
  5. Do not become personal, stay professional. Even if you do not gain them back as a customer, they will respect the fact that you stayed above board on the situation and they are less likely to talk negatively about you.

About the Author: Rick Hardman is an SEO manager at who loves to use social media personally as well as professionally.

Tips for Choosing the Right Trade Show Signage

Getting your booth noticed at a trade show can be a difficult task. You can only grab the attention of potential clients for a few brief seconds, but those seconds are paramount in selling your products and services. The best way to ensure sales is to set your booth apart with eye-catching signage that is both relevant and communicative. Custom signage is the best way to attract new customers and secure profits for your business.

Your Message Must Speak to Your Ideal Customer

The first thing to keep in mind when planning your display is the audience that you are attempting to reach. Your display should communicate the message and mission of your company in a clear, concise and appealing manner. Considering basic demographics such as age and gender of potential clientele will go a long way toward achieving a successful trade show for your business. Your message must grab the interest of your prospect quickly and effectively in order to draw him or her toward your booth.

Use Professionally-Designed Banner Stands and Pop-up Displays

Once your audience has been determined, it is time to begin considering the physical aesthetic of your booth. Custom built banner stands are an effective way to attract passersby. Although custom banner stands may seem expensive, they make all the difference in attracting new customers.

A common sight at trade shows are businesses that have obviously cut corners in constructing their displays. If your display appears shabby or cheap, the chances of you attracting new clients or maintaining a good relationship with those you have previously established. Implementing professionally constructed banner stands and pop-up displays in your booth will help you achieve success at your trade show event.

Make Your Signage Visually Appealing

When designing your trade show signage, be sure to choose images that are large, clear, and bright. Potential clients aren’t going to squint to see your banner stands when your neighbors have large, beautifully-constructed images on display.

Besides the graphical elements of the signage, it is also important to be selective in the type of banner stands and pop-up displays that you choose to represent your business. One model that is becoming increasingly popular is the green banner stand. This approach is obviously most successful at trade shows that promote an eco-friendly lifestyle and culture. If your company prides itself on its environmentalism, you should make sure that the displays you choose are environmentally friendly in order to stay in line with your company’s ideals.

Retractable Banner Stands Make Takedown Easier

You might want to consider retractable banner stands. These stands can be erected and taken down in a matter of seconds and they sacrifice none of the aesthetic appeal of your booth. Used together with pop-up displays, they create an appealing display that can be easily moved from one show to another and re-used throughout the year.

When choosing an event to attend, communicate with colleagues in the field who have had successful trade show experiences. They will have excellent advice about the best events for your company and will be able to provide additional tips to help you have a successful trade show experience.

Why Businesses Should Use LinkedIn

Business owners may feel that LinkedIn is just another task that needs to be dealt with in an already busy day. However, there are some compelling reasons why businesses should use LinkedIn for attracting potential employees, brand building and networking.

Setting up groups

Businesses who are seeking applicants interested in their industry can set up a group on LinkedIn. Setting up a group is simple; groups can be created so that anyone can join or restricted to invitation or acceptance only. Simply select the level of control that your company is comfortable with.

Attracting talent and clients

While some businesses may use LinkedIn only for talent purposes, there are other effective uses. LinkedIn allows users to set up options for developing contacts, seeking new contracts and allowing interaction. This makes LinkedIn an ideal platform for searching for potential clients.

linkedin tips

Testimonials do matter

LinkedIn allows businesses to request testimonials or references from current clients, employees and previous clients. This can be very helpful, especially for a business that is just getting started. Testimonials help a business develop a strong online reputation. Additionally, these testimonials are readily available to share with others whether they have a LinkedIn account or not.

Brand building

One of the best things about using LinkedIn is that you help build your brand. Because LinkedIn allows a business to set up individual profiles for the management team as well as a business page, building a business brand is easier than on other social networking sites. In addition, a presence on LinkedIn is often seen as more professional than having accounts on Twitter or Facebook.

Networking opportunities

Some businesses may see LinkedIn as simply another networking site or social media site that must be managed. With time at a premium, many do not feel that there is a great deal of value in any social media site. Businesses who feel that they must decide between sites should select LinkedIn because it is often seen as more valuable for business networking purposes.

LinkedIn provides an ideal platform for networking, with like-minded business owners. Online meet-ups are also possible if you set up and use a closed group appropriately. Sharing your business expertise allows you the opportunity to establish credibility as well, which is helpful in attracting better talent and additional customers.

About the services

Businesses should take the time to familiarize themselves with the platform that LinkedIn offers. In addition to networking, brand building and building credibility, there are numerous opportunities for advertising. Whether you elect to promote your business using many of the free opportunities or use the paid opportunities, LinkedIn provides the tools that most business owners need.

LinkedIn can be used as a contact management system, a screening system for new employees and a recruiting method for small and large business owners. Take the time to explore the features of LinkedIn and decide which package works best to meet your needs. There are countless ways to gain exposure for your business whether you are a Fortune-500 company or you are just getting started. LinkedIn is simple to use, is very flexible and offers a number of benefits for businesses. Consider adding LinkedIn to your companies marketing and hiring strategy; the benefits will far outweigh the time that you spend getting your account set up.

About the Author: Tim works with for his “real” job.  In the mean time he works on his own thing.  Once this is closer to becoming a reality he will definitely be using the benefits of LinkedIn for networking and business development.

Image: nan palmero / Flickr

Have You Been Networking Face to Face Lately?

If the answer is no, it’s time to put on your best suit and attitude, and venture out to make some friends. You may be connecting with people through email or over phone, but it’s never the same thing as saying a ‘Hi’ with a great smile in person. Even today, in this time of digitally connected and savvy people, business owners are more comfortable engaging with their contacts in person than online. If you have been postponing offline networking for some time now, it’s time to get out and say a ‘Hello’! And the good news is, there are quite a few ways to do it…

face to face networking
Face to face networking in trade shows

What offline networking options do you have?

1. Let’s start with the traditional and ever-popular industry trade shows. They last a number of days, don’t cost much to participate in, and are filled with potential clients and business partners. However, in today’s times, when we are all short of time and want to make the most of it, here’s an important tip – attend only those trade show sessions that provide real value information and spend rest of the time networking with people from your industry.

2. Next, how about meeting up with local professionals from your industry over lunch or coffee? You don’t have to try too hard – you can visit sites like to connect with businesses, investors and business owners with common interests. You may just hit upon your next big business move or marketing plan over insightful conversations! And of course, as a bonus, you will be giving your business the visibility it so deserves.

3. You can even set the stage for networking right at your home. Chat up relatives and friends who can open up different opportunities. Once you have zeroed in on a few target contacts, ask your family/friend to introduce you to them and put in a good word for you.

4. Why limit networking to only business hours? Be social and nice all the time. Try talking to people waiting in line with you at the grocery checkout or bank – you may find a great friend or if you are lucky, even an important business contact. Start off with small talk first instead of swooping right into business chatter.

Note to self: Be pleasant company. You can make a first good impression on potential customers at a party, conference, meeting and indeed your local supermarket. Read on to find out how….

Dos and don’ts of offline networking

All of us, at one time or another, have met a rather annoying guest at a party who just wouldn’t stop talking about only his/her interests. Obviously, these are not the shoes you want to be in when you are trying to strike a good chord. Golden rule: don’t be a brand, be a person. There is no doubting the importance of brand recognition, but it’s not all what networking is about. It is more about connecting on a personal level and gradually building trust. When you strike a chord with people, they will definitely seek information about your business. So, remember to:

  • Talk about common interests
  • Share news of interest with the person
  • Be cheerful and straightforward

Besides one-on-one conversations, there are several other ways to be visible without trying too hard. For instance, you can make a point at a meeting or ask a question at a conference. Whatever you do and however you connect with people, always remember to recognize the other person and yes, have a little fun!

About the Author: Penny is a senior ebook writer and resume writer with content writing service firm Godot Media. She has interests ranging from social media, copywriting to following web technologies and trends.