I Don’t Have Free TIME to DO Free Things.

TIMEI am sure I am not alone.  I am positive that every entrepreneur, especially small business owners, can relate to this.  In the 5+ years I have been in business I have been asked to “trade” services or to do an event for free to “get your name out there.”  Have you been asked those questions? If so and you did this, did you get business from doing something free?  Did your business grow? Did you get more business from it?  If the person(s) who you have given the “free” services to does not refer your business to their peers or hire you when they need your services again, then you do not or will not benefit.

It’s always a story behind the question on why you should do something or provide a product or service for free.  Of course I have done it in the past, but as time goes on and your business and brand grows, there is no room or time to do this anymore…STOP lowering your standards.

I have promoted events, businesses and industry professionals who have asked me to do so for them for free and never asked for a dime because I thought in the long run I would benefit from it.  However, in some cases, I did it because we traded services or product but in most cases I did not benefit from it because they never referred business to me or hired me for future business.  Sometimes the irony of all this would be me seeing them (via social media) refer business to others, promote other businesses or hire someone else to do business for them.

Of course throughout this journey of being an entrepreneur a lesson has been learned and that is the reality of this game is to keep things business, not personal  because when you make it personal, it’s almost expected to offer free business.  You will never go into any store and get a product free and if the item is free, it’s usually buy one, get one free.  Believe you me, you will not see this in any luxury/high end store so if you market yourself as luxury, top notch, the best or high end, STOP giving away your talent and know your value.

Bottom line is this:  if you are going to offer free services, make sure you are going to get something out of it.  Even if it’s just referral of business.  That is so important.  Until next time…

Salud!

Social in the City – Recap of This Week’s Events

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NRA Show 2014 Chicago

CHICAGO.  This past week has been filled with the some amazing events.  My week started off with attending the NRA Show where every year, over the course of four days, more than 1,800 suppliers and tens of thousands of buyers come together to make lasting connections that drive business profitability and shape the future of the restaurant, food service and hospitality industry at McCormick Place in Chicago.  I also had the opportunity to listen to this year’s keynote speaker NBA legend, entrepreneur and philanthropist EarvinMagic” Johnson.

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Magic Johnson addressing the NRA Show attendees

Attendees, myself included, left empowered and inspired as Earvin “Magic” Johnson presented his keynote address to over 2,000 attendees in the Grand Ballroom at NRA Show 2014.  Who best to get “branding” tips from than the man himself who has become the most powerful African-American businessman in America.

Of course after hearing Magic Johnson speak, I indulged in many samples of food, desserts and beverages from the various vendors from around the world.

On Monday, I had the privilege of attending a cocktail reception and sit down dinner party at Gene & Georgetti’s hosted by the National Candy Association’s Young Professionals Network.

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Legendary football player Joe Montana mingling with guests at Nike store’s Chicago Magnificent Mile location.

After the amazing dinner at Chicago’s “old school” restaurant Gene & Georgetti’s, I attended the 19th Annual Network at Nike hosted by The Food Group. It was a great evening filled with amazing food, cocktails, networking and merriment!  Legendary quarterback Joe Montana was also on-site meeting and greeting guests and of course taking photos.

10382754_10152388703257332_6042433643721374859_nThe Food Group gave attendees a $100 Nike gift card which of course I used right away to purchase some Nike gym shoes.

On Wednesday, the Compete PRO Team from Millward Brown Digital hosted a Chicago Social Media Networking and Cocktail Hour at Blackbird Restaurant located in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood.

seasons52In wrapping this busy week up, I attended Ifbyphone’s fine wine” happy hour for digital marketers and analysts at Season’s 52.

Whoa, I am not slowing down anytime soon.  I am all about Networking to Success. Have a GREAT holiday weekend. Until next time…

Salud!

The Power of Referrals

referrals1Who doesn’t? The key to get business (or more business) is through referrals. Many entrepreneurs that I speak to have shared with me that the majority of their business comes from referrals. These same individuals advertise in popular magazines but because advertising is so competitive in a sense (and expensive, it is hard to get business from it.

How is it competitive you ask? Well, simple. Say you have 10 wedding planners advertising in the same magazine or 20 wedding planners advertising on the same online magazine…realistically how will the consumer choose which wedding planner is best for their wedding? What ends up happening is that the individual getting married ends up calling or emailing every wedding planner in the magazine or online publication, set up appointments, see who has the best “deal,” ends up wasting your time, then chooses someone else. It’s not a win/win situation.

Here are four reasons why referrals are important for your business:

  1. Referrals increase your sales revenue.  “According to world-renowned sales trainer, Tom Hopkins, in “Sales Prospecting for Dummies”; your closing ratio for non-qualified leads is 10 percent versus a 60 percent close ratio with referred leads.” {Source: 7 Sure-Fire Ways to Build Your Referral Business, by Darrell Zahorsky, About.com}.  The bottom line is the end result will be a larger sale because the prospect trusts the individual who referred you.
  2. Referrals bring you more referrals. If you have a satisfied client, more and likely that client will refer you to others. Also, encourage your client to post on their social media pages how satisfied they were with your services. If your client has tens of thousands of followers on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, their followers will immediately start following you, communicating with you, asking questions and emailing you for business.
  3. It’s FREE. As I stated above, you will receive more business through referrals than expensive advertising. This is why networking is important. When you are at industry events, introduce yourself, mingle, talk about what you do because the very person you are talking to may not necessarily need your services, but may know someone who does.
  4. You’ll increase your closing ratio.The closing ratio of a cold call is typically under 1 percent. The closing ratio of an inbound lead usually ranges between 15 percent and 30 percent. In sharp comparison, the closing ratio of a strong referral can be as high as 80 percent.” {Source: Why Every Business Needs a Referral System by Mark Wayshak, Huffingtonpost.com}

referraltechniquesReferrals are a great way to generate (more) business. It doesn’t cost you anything but the important things to remember are to always present yourself professionally, do not be afraid to ask for a referral from your client (without sounding desperate and forceful) and do a good job. Until next time

Salud!