This is the second half of my interview by Ann Sloan for the National Networker on how to network effectively to grow your business.
What are some of the ways and places in which you promote your work?
“Wow! Shall I count the ways?
1. My e-zine
2. Magazine articles
3. Blog articles
5. Radio and television interviews
6. Magazine interviews
7. Public speaking
8. Taking classes ALL THE TIME.
11. Social Networking: Digg / Stumbleupon / Reditt / Twitter
12. Learning about SEO. Haven’t bought adwords yet.
13. Networking meetings ─ but not so much.
14. Free teleclasses.
16. Joint ventures.
17. I had a publicist for several years.
18. Charm and humor.
19. The best little business card in the world:
Red dress, red shoes, on my back with money and rose petals raining down on me. No photo-shop—that’s real cash, baby. Talk about a 'Money' shot!”
Wow ─ thanks for sharing these dynamite photos! Now I’d like to ask: Whom does your network currently include? What is the size of your outreach?
“My outreach? I can only guess. I used to have a national magazine column. I’ve done a few hundred radio interviews and been in over 100 magazines worldwide. In 2007 my Financial Alchemy book tour took me from Baja to Oslo, Norway, with Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, New York City, and Maryland in between. I also have over 5,500 people on my ezine list (not big, but loyal).
I have about 5,000 Facebook friends, and then those friends’ friends. (Social Networking is the BEST!) Also a few thousand folks on Twitter. Then there’s tens of thousands of other coaches on the Coaches Training Institute forum. I haven’t kept track of Plaxo or LinkedIn friends. I get hundreds of thousands of hits a month on my blog, http://www.abundanceandprosperity.com. It's ranked around #220,000 of the most trafficked websites in the world.
I’m also excited that my teleclasses always include people from the UK, Norway, Australia, and South Africa. It’s incredible. That recent interview of mine with UPI literally went around the planet.”
What has been the best about building a network: Positive experiences?
Benefits, expected and unexpected?
"Here’s the essence of it all: The real value of building a network is friendship.
Coaching can be lonely, so networking meetings and personal development classes get me out of my office, and I LOVE that. I see the same people over and over at different events, and it’s a joy to reconnect with them every time. I’ve developed some real friendships this way.
I joined a networking group in 2003 called Network for Empowering Women (N.E.W.) Entrepreneurs. (It disbanded a couple of years ago.) My first night there, it seemed like every woman was a coach. I made a decision that I probably wouldn’t get any clients there, but the women were so FABULOUS that I was going to join anyway. It was one of the best business decisions I made in my life ─ and I didn’t even know it at the time.”
See any down side to networking?
“Here’s where networking gets icky: when people want to meet for coffee to ‘find out more about what I do.’ (The implication being that they’ll tell me what they do and ask for referrals.) I don’t want to meet for coffee with a business agenda.
The same is true for online. I hate it when someone introduces themselves to sell me something. If we become good friends and you offer something I want, you better believe I’ll buy it from you.”
What challenges (if any) have you found in your networking experiences?
“It was really hard in the beginning, because I didn’t know how to articulate what I do (coaching) in a compelling way. Especially when I tried to sound ‘professional’, you could see the listener’s eyes glaze over. I was profoundly uninteresting. I got better when I started to bring in some magical, witchy elements: this resonated with more women than I expected. Of course this is L.A.”, she laughs.
Of course! I kind of miss that aspect of L.A.…
“The big shift in all this came from writing. When I wrote my article on ‘Creating a New Relationship with Money’, the response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic. I knew I was on to something. As I slowly got the courage to make that my focus (nobody likes to have a niche, and it’s only the starting point for what I do as a life and business coach), my business grew.”
What made the difference, you think?
“I found what the market wanted, and things started to take off.
I eventually hired an excellent publicist. It was a huge investment (more than my rent), but I can’t discount the payoff in terms of recognition and credibility. I think it’s an important step if you’re going to take your business seriously.”
Bottom line – What do you feel is really working well for you, your company?
“My newsletter and my blog. Build your list!!! Any time I want to make some money, I send out an email to my list. I offer an article (that I can then re-use in my blog or a book or allow other people to post all over the web and send traffic back to me) or a free teleclass, and I get an influx of business. I’m talking thousands and thousands of dollars of business. And I bribe, bribe, bribe people to join my list. You have to have a GREAT product (e-book, audio-class) that people WANT, and GIVE IT AWAY to snare subscribers.
This giving away a product will also relieve you of guilt for not giving your coaching service away for free.”
So coaching for free is not a good idea, you think?
“Never, never, never coach for free. This is the most challenging thing in the world, because you want to help everyone. (That’s why I offer so much free stuff—for many people, the free teleclass is all they need to get them started on the right path…)
Here’s why you should never coach for free: if you are a good enough coach, your client will get so much value from that one session that they won’t see the need to hire you. They’re satisfied. And that sucks. Give free consultations or strategy sessions, but don’t coach them. It’s a subtle but critical distinction.
Free coaching is deeply disrespectful of the value you worked so hard for, and invested so much money in training, to offer. Look at it this way: Car dealers don’t give cars away for free. You shouldn’t be giving away your high end product either.”
Besides networking, how else are you promoting your company? What do you view as the primary vehicle and what makes it more important than the others?
“I think I covered that. Dollar for dollar, and for time invested, virtual networking brings me the bulk of my business. When I look at the proportion of out of town, out of state, and overseas customers and clients, it’s HUGE. Also: Network on Facebook and Twitter! And of course, contribute to forums in your field. The payoff is amazing.”
What’s the achievement you’re most proud of at this time?
“Oh my god. I’m making a living doing what I love! How awesome is that? It took me ages, and a ton of tears, to figure out what worked for me. It was horrible. And now I find myself a leader in this industry. Amazing. A dream come true. This is why I mentor other coaches. I don’t want other people to hurt like I did.”
What are your plans and goals for the future; organizational, personal?
“I'm really excited about 2011. Huge things are already in the works. It's funny how you have a dream, an intuitive hit, and you put it away and forget about it, and then years later it shows up like the UPS guy, saying 'I have your order.' That's what's happening right now. I'm being guided in very intuitive, surprising directions. What I can share right now is that 2011 is going to be ALL about relationship. The highest quality of relationships. 2011 is going to be the year of authentic, generous relationship.”
Anything else you would like to add for our readers? Perhaps words of encouragement and / or inspiration?
“Here’s the heart of it all: Make friends, not customers. Be authentic! Don’t push your services. Focus on attracting. And Give yourself TIME to break through gravity and take off."
Thank you, Morgana, for this delightful time together! You’ve really inspired me ─ now I must dash off to envision and attract my own super-attractive Money Honey ASAP!
Ann Barczay , M.A. is an author, editor, and creative writing coach who describes herself as a Story Alchemist. She serves as Featured Columnist ("Especially for Women") for TheNationalNetworker.com , a weekly on-line publication, where this article was first published. Author of the forthcoming book, How to Use the Pieces of a for Rebirth, Ann may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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