Why Every Small Business Owner Needs To Attend Local Networking Events

August 23, 2019 / Roberta Hill  / 

Joan is a virtual assistant who was trying to get her first few clients. She’d heard that networking events were a great way to boost her business growth, but she didn’t know if they could be helpful to her. So, she asked Elsie, her business coach about networking events and Elsie shared the major benefits of attending live networking events.

Meet Potential Clients

Elsie explained that local networking events are a wonderful place to meet new clients. “You never know who you might meet. When I attended a local networking event several years ago, a seasoned local business entrepreneur, whom I trusted, introduced me to a startup company that was looking for in-house leadership coaching. That introduction led to a five-figure contract.”

Not only can you meet potential clients, but you’re also at a wonderful place where others can refer you. A small business owner, at an event, may not need your content marketing services, but she may know someone else who does and can put you in contact with each other.

Stay on Top of Industry Trends

No matter what your industry, your business is constantly expanding and changing. Trying to identify all of the new trends happening by yourself can be a bit overwhelming. But by being around others in business, you’ll be exposed to new trends without even realizing it.

Understanding trends can be very valuable for your business. For example, you might learn about a new web design trend that affects how you offer branding packages to your clients.

Connect with Influencers

Influencers aren’t necessarily potential clients. But they’re typically enthusiastic cheerleaders who can get the word out about you and your brand. They’re always on the lookout for new products and trends they can share with their circles, which makes them ideal to chat up at events.

Of course, influencers don’t want you to engage with them in the hopes that they’ll promote you. Instead, you’ll need to focus on developing an authentic relationship with influencers based around a common interest or passion.

Learn New Things

There’s a saying that goes (citation unknown), “If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.”

What this means is simply that you should put yourself in situations where you can learn. If you’re already an advanced entrepreneur then hanging out with new entrepreneurs might be fun, but you’re not likely to learn very much. In fact, you may find yourself doing a good bit of teaching.

You don’t have to look for networking events that billionaire CEOs attend, but you do want to make sure there’s a good mix of experience levels at each event. This allows you to learn and absorb new things from entrepreneurs who are further along on their journey than you.

Develop Your Message

Another perk of attending local networking events is that you will frequently have to introduce yourself. You’ll typically tell other attendees who you are, what you do, and who your target demographic is.

When you must repeat who you are and what you do week after week, you get good at pitching yourself. You’ll become more comfortable sharing your message and communicating what makes your brand stand out from others.

Try to vary your “elevator pitch” to sound more authentic. When you say what you do, it should invite further questions.

Become the Expert

Elsie also explained to Joan that attending local events affects how others view you. “For example,” She explained, “I went to a mastermind every week for several months. After a while, I noticed I was the go-to person for tech problems or questions. This allowed me to find more consulting clients.”

You develop a reputation when you attend events regularly, and people start to associate what you do with your name so when they think “social media marketing” or “sassy web design”, they think of you. This naturally leads to more referrals which leads to more paying work for you.

Find a Joint Collaboration Partner

Not only are potential clients and influencers waiting for you at local networking events, so are potential collaborators. These are people who might choose to partner with you on a project.

Elsie partnered with a writer she’d met at a networking event. Together, they published several helpful books on various technology platforms that businesses use. The books were popular (and profitable) for both women.

Discover Local Contractors

If your goal is to one day outsource part (or even your entire) business, then local networking events can be a great way to meet others. You never know who you might discover—your future virtual assistant, that web designer you’ll hire, or the coach who will help push you to the next level.

But what if you already have an amazing team built around you and you’re not looking for someone new? Local networking events can still be a wonderful way to meet entrepreneurs who give you insights into how your team can work more efficiently.

Increased Motivation

Elsie also mentioned how much she enjoyed the atmosphere of many local networking events. “It’s energizing to meet others who are just as passionate and committed as you are to building an amazing business,” she explained to Joan.

Sometimes, being an entrepreneur is difficult and you lose your mojo but connecting with entrepreneurs who are excited about their businesses can remind you of why you started yours.

Even more importantly, Elsie commended that she had made some valuable long term friendships

Solve Problems

When you’ve been staring at the same problem for too long, it’s easy to miss the obvious solution that’s right in front of you. But going to local networking events can give you a fresh perspective and you might connect with someone who knows how to solve your problem or helps you look at it differently.

That’s what happened to Elsie at an event last March. She’d been searching for a way to create more content for social media pages. A content marketer at an event suggested she repurposed some of her evergreen blog posts and use snippets from them to quickly schedule more social media content.

Give Back

Keep in mind that local networking events aren’t just a place to get—they’re also opportunities to give back to other entrepreneurs. You may meet a potential client with whom you end up doing thousands of dollars in business. But you may also just meet someone who needs a quick word of encouragement or a simple suggestion and they’ll be on their way.

When it comes to networking events, it’s smart to walk in with a giving mindset. You’ll attract positive people and other givers to you. Plus, you’ll feel good and enjoy yourself more when you show up this way.

If you’re worried you don’t have anything valuable to contribute, shut that thought down. Even if you’re a brand new solopreneur, you can still listen to others and encourage them to pursue their passion. You bring value just by showing up!

Grow Your Confidence

The more networking events you attend, the more confident you’ll become. You’ll find more confidence when you’re delivering your message and when you’re talking with others about what you can do for their business. This confidence will help you shine and give you the courage to take smart risks in your business.

Like Joan, you might think local networking events sound a little scary. But they don’t have to be. If you attend a few regularly, you’ll find they can be a fun and exciting way to connect with other entrepreneurs just like yourself.

7 Ways You Can Make Sure Your Website Isn’t Falling Behind the Times

August 5, 2019 / Roberta Hill  / 
Web Design Blueprint

Is your website hip and modern – or is it out-of-date and sad? If it’s been a while since you updated your site, there’s at least a chance that it’s a dud. That doesn’t mean it’s poorly designed, but it does mean that it’s your job to give it an honest evaluation and update it if it’s not good enough.

Fortunately, an update doesn’t mean a full redesign. Here are 7 simple things you can do to make sure your website is offering the user experience and value your customers deserve.

#1: Optimize for Voice Search

One of the biggest problems I see with websites is that many are using keywords that haven’t been updated in years. The days of short, generalized keywords are long past. Instead, focus on voice search, which is already important and on the rise.

As of 2020, 50% of all searches will be voice-based. With virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Cortana more popular than ever, it’s safe to assume that a hefty percentage of the people who land on your site will get there via voice search.

#2: Add Structured Landing Pages

Structured landing pages have content that’s easy for Google to interpret. They provide context for your content and identify how it relates to your metadata.

The best-known tool for structuring your content is Schema markup. Schema provides a vocabulary that web developers can use to structure data around people, places and things on the web.

When you add Schema markup to your site, it delivers rich snippets and rich cards as part of your search result on Google — making it easy for users to choose your site over the others that are available.

#3: Update Your SEO

Optimizing your website takes times, which is why a lot of companies do it only when they notice a big drop in their traffic. If it’s been a while since you updated your SEO, then it’s time to take another look. Why? Because Google updates its algorithm constantly.

The most important update in the past few years has to do with relevance. Google Rank Brain, which is now part of Google’s search algorithm, prioritizes sites based on their overall relevance to the term being searched. It measures bounce rates and the amount of time visitors spend on your site. The longer you can get them to stay – something that’ll happen if you provide tons of relevant content – the better off you’ll be.

#4: Be Ready for Mobile

There’s really no reason for any website not to be mobile optimized at this point. Google rolled out its Mobilegeddon update back in 2015. That’s when they started to penalize sites that weren’t mobile optimized.

It’s not enough to have a mobile site now. You need a site that’s perfectly optimized for mobile users. That means that mobile visitors can get the same content and functionality as a visitor using a desktop computer regardless of which device they’re using.

Some things that are particularly important are having buttons that are right-sized for mobile users, content that’s easy to read with no teeny fonts or horizontal scrolling, and access to ALL the relevant content on your site – not just a few things.

#5: Gather Some Social Proof

Social proof can take many forms. Some of the most common kinds of social proof are:

  • Customer reviews
  • Customer testimonials
  • Consumer ratings
  • “Best Of” awards
  • Industry awards
  • Industry certifications

There’s plenty of research that shows that people give just as much importance to third-party reviews online as they would to a recommendation from a trusted friend. If you’re not including some type of social proof on your website, then you’re missing out on an opportunity to show casual visitors to your site that they can trust you.

#6: Improve Your Page Loading Time

How quickly does your website load? If the answer is more than four seconds, then it’s a virtual certainty that you’re losing visitors as a result. After just three seconds, approximately 53% of mobile users will navigate away from a site and try another one. The numbers are just as bad for desktop users.

The problem with not updating your website often is that technology keeps moving. You can use a free online site loading speed testing tool such as Pingdom to see how fast your site loads. If it’s not making the grade, you’ll need to upgrade it to ensure that you’re not losing customers faster than you can attract them.

#7: Update Your Call to Action

Calls to action are everywhere – in every marketing email you send and on every landing page you create. However, not all CTAs are created equal. And if your calls to action are outdated and tired, then you might be losing subscribers and leads as a result.

Think about the opt-in form for your mailing list. What’s the call to action? Does it just say SUBSCRIBE or SUBMIT? If it does, then it’s time to rethink it and give it some spice.

I’m a big fan of calls to action that emphasize something positive about subscribing to your list. Here are a few examples:

  • Yes! Send me special offers each week!
  • Download our “10 pounds in 10 Days” Workout for FREE!
  • I’m ready to save 20% on my car insurance!

I also like the idea of using humorous opt-outs because I think they nudge people in the direction of subscribing. Here are some opt-outs that could pair with the calls to action above:

  • No, saving money is not for me
  • I don’t need any weight loss help – my abs are perfect.
  • No thanks, I’d rather pay more somewhere else.

Those are goofy, but I’ve seen a lot of opt-in forms with similar wording – and for good reason. They’re effective. Let’s face it, it feels a little silly to click a button to say you don’t like money.

Your website might be out of date, but it doesn’t need to stay that way. The 7 quick fixes here will help you give your Google rank a boost and ensure that you’re not missing out on leads and subscribers because your website’s more vintage than modern.