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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

How To Network In A Bowl, by Maria Marsala

Summary: Sponsoring a contest is a powerful, inexpensive way to promote your business and build relationships, too!

Buddy networking is when you find a complimentary business to market with, and the process ends up being mutually beneficial. Sponsoring a contest giving away a gift certificate to another business that attracts your ideal client is a great way to buddy network. Not only do you get some free publicity, you also get the contact information for several of you ideal clients.

If you speak or teach classes, you can use the bowl concept to run contests there, too. Chamber member? Run a contest there. You don't have to give away "big" prizes - cups, quote in a frame, and other appropriate items are sure to make your students heart smile!

1. Identify 3 businesses
Where does your ideal client shop? What restaurants do they visit? Create a list and then prioritize. If you travel for your business, or do business with brick and mortar companies that also have an Internet presence, feel free to identify these businesses, too.
2. Contact the owner
Ask for an in-person (preferred) or telephone meeting (ok if you are doing business virtually or from another city). Make an appointment to meet with them, and bring credible information about your business to the meeting like newspaper articles, brochures, etc. Remember to market with integrity! Let the business owner know up front what you plan to send to the contest entrants when you contact them.
3. Swap literature
Ask the business owner for additional literature about their business. Ask if there is any way that you can assist them, etc.
4. What's in it for them?
The business owner can reap promotional benefits. Contest information can be added to their newspaper ads, web sites, flyers, posters, menus, press releases, etc. Announcing the winner offers a second chance for promotion. Let's not forget that the winner will be spending "whatever prize you paid for" at their establishment, too.
5. Purchase a bowl
Help a local charity by purchasing a jar, bowl, dish, or fish bowl with a large enough opening for business cards. Some places to check out are Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Discovery Centers. Make a sign for the front of the bowl.
6. Don't limit yourself
Not everyone has a business card. Design your own entry form. Sam's Club has boxes of blank business cards that are ideal to use. Or cut some index cards. The form should include a line requesting the entrant's name, address, phone number and e-mail address.
7. Cost to you?
For the price of a gift certificate to their establishment, you'll receive a bowl full of business/personal cards from people you've established are your ideal clients.
8. What's in it for you?
Benefits may include the opportunity to:
* build a relationship with a business owner who attracts your ideal clients.
* tell your ideal clients about your services.
* advertise your business by sponsoring the contest.
* advertise the same contest in your store for added benefits!
* the list goes on!!!
9. Write to the contestants.
Send a letter of introduction to each person and do some permission marketing. Things you might mention in your correspondence are:
* the name of the winner, and city they reside in
* a short description of your service and how it can benefit them.
* as much of your contact information as possible - phone number, address, email, web site
* any free services you offer
* ask them to subscribe to your newsletter on or off line
* include a consolation prize like a pen with your name on it or discount certificate to your services on a postcard.

©2006 A former Wall Street trader, Maria Marsala helps women in financial services fields; small businesses owners, independent agents, and branch mangers, to boost profits, productivity and have more playtime by providing no BS, practical, results-based strategy sessions and seminars. Subscribe to Powerful Business Strategies Ezine to receive your free one-page business and marketing plan audio in your Welcome Note
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The Emergence of the Relationship Economy features TNNWC Founder, Adam J. Kovitz as a contributing author and contains some of his early work on The Laws of Relationship Capital. The book is available in hardcopy and e-book formats. With a forward written by Doc Searls (of Cluetrain Manifesto fame), it is considered a "must read" for anyone responsible for the strategic direction of their business. If you would like to purchase your own copy, please click the image above.


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