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Your small business email newsletter sucks – but that’s not why I don’t want to subscribe to it!

I love to attend networking events. I love to get to know new people, find out about businesses I didn’t know existed, and reconnect with people I haven’t seen for a while. The bigger the event, the better for me.

But there is one thing I absolutely HATE about networking events! It’s when I give someone my business card, and without even looking at it, they put it in their pocket, and keep talking. I believe, like many Asian cultures, that if I give you my business card, I’d like you to look at it, see if there’s anything you see that’s interesting to you, remark on it if you find something interesting, and then place it in your pocket.

small group of business cards Your small business email newsletter sucks   but thats not why I dont want to subscribe to it!

Doing that would be bad enough, but that ISN’T what I hate the most about networking events. What I hate is after the event, many small business owners  sign me up for their email marketing list, just because they now have my email address.

Just because you have my email address does NOT mean I want to be on your email marketing list!

If your email newsletter didn’t suck because it’s full of “specials” and “coupons” but no real information, it probably wouldn’t be so bad that you signed me up without my permission. Then again, if your newsletter didn’t suck, you would know better than to just sign me up for your email marketing list. You’d probably also know that signing me up to your small business email newsletter without my permission means you’re in violation of CAN-SPAM. This means each separate email in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is subject to penalties of up to $16,000.

Let’s do the math: If you signed all 63 people you met for your email newsletter and they all reported you as a spammer, you’d risk a fine of just $1,008,000, just to make sure we all got your email newsletter. Do you really think after 1 meeting ANYONE will buy anything from you as a result of your email newsletter?

HINT: ABSOLUTELY NOT!

Here’s a better way to make your small business networking more effective. It has NOTHING to do with making your email newsletter suck less. I’ll write that soon.

More effective small business networking

Don’t try to meet 63 people at the networking event. You can’t possibly remember all 63 people anyway. Instead, research the event ahead of time to identify the 10 people who are attending that you REALLY want to meet, and learn a few things about them before you get to the event. See who you know that will be attending the event that knows the people you want to meet. Find those people at the event, spend some time reconnecting with them, then ask for an introduction to 1 of the 10 people you want to meet because of something you learned by researching about them before you arrived.

Give each of those 10 people your full attention. If you are fortunate enough to get an introduction to one of the people you want to meet, give that person your full attention. Ask questions about what you researched, focusing on things you have in common unrelated to business. Learn all you can about them. Most people will return the favor and ask some questions about your interests. Avoid talking about business if at all possible, or stay away from anything in depth about your business. After 10 or so minutes, gently ask for their business card and let them know you’d like to follow up tomorrow for a 30 minute coffee meeting, your treat where you can learn more about their business, and state you know they have other people they need to meet at this event. If they ask, offer your card in return. Then thank them for their time, and either walk away (if there is someone right there that wants to talk to them, or other people in the group), or introduce them to someone you know who also has things in common.

After you walk away, write down a few things you learned on the back of their business card, or in a pocket notebook you brought along.

Repeat until you’re out of people to connect with, or the networking event ends.

Personally email each person you met at the networking – Follow up is where most networkers (myself sometimes included) fall down. Make time that night or the very next day and send a personal two paragraph e-mail to each person you connected with. Paragraph 1 should include something you enjoyed about the other person. Paragraph 2 should be asking them for that coffee date, and offer 2 mornings and 2 afternoons that work for you in the next 2 weeks. Make sure to include your email signature in case a curious person wants to learn a little more about you.

Attend the coffee meeting with a notebook and pen and some questions about their business – Show up early to make sure you get a spot both of you can sit at, and be prepared to ask some good questions about their business and their role in it, some things you CAN’T find out on their website. Ask if you may take notes (it makes some people nervous, that’s why you ask first) and write down key points. This is NOT meant to be a grilling session, so if you bring out your order pad, you are going to scare this person away. Find out what their biggest goal is for this year and think about how you might be able to help them achieve it. Pleasure is WAY more fun than pain if you ask me.

Share something relevant about your business – if the other person is interested – Gauge the other person’s interest and if they are interested in your business, share some about it. Do NOT vomit everything you know about the business. Instead, focus on what you do that fits into their biggest goal. Ask if there are any questions – and SHUT UP.

Respect the other person’s time – At the 25 minute mark (set your phone to vibrate), let the other person know you respect their time and that you’re nearing the 30 minute mark. Ask if there is any way you can help them right now, and stand up. If the conversation went well and you can help them with their biggest problem, ask for another time to meet, in their business if possible. Make this appointment for 90 minutes in 14 days or less. I find that 14 days is just enough time to not be annoying but still enough to stay relevant in their mind.

Follow-up with a handwritten thank you note – and attend the next appointment ready to pay MORE attention and offer what you have if it fits.

So you didn’t add another subscriber to your small business email newsletter. At best, you gained a qualified lead or referral source. At worst, you gained a new friend.

Happy Birthday Meet-Meme

Meet-Meme, my favorite social media trading cards are turning 1 this month. Well, 1 year old is how old their retail website is. They’re actually almost 2 years old. Happy birthday!!

If you’re not familiar, below are my cards (front and back). After the pictures, I’ll explain why I love them so much.

phil atari meetmeme front 214x300 Happy Birthday Meet Meme                                phil atari meetmem back 214x300 Happy Birthday Meet Meme

Click on them to see them in full size.

I love these cards for MANY reasons, but here are a few that stand out.

Why I Love Meet-Meme Social Media Trading Cards

1) Size matters – I love the fact they are oversized and are as big as a baseball card (hence the term social media trading cards. Nobody has this size business card, except other Meet-Meme folks. Sure, it’s not perfect in the pocket, but it’s not typical. I’m not either icon smile Happy Birthday Meet Meme

2) They’re a conversation piece – With that huge of a picture of me, folks notice it. And talk about it. And share it. And talk about it some more. People remember my Meet-Meme cards, even if they forget me or my name.

3) They’re always changing designs – They have a TON of different colors, and often they create special themes that you can unlock (like the retro video games one my current cards are) that are available for a limited time only.

4) I can change the information inexpensively - With orders as few as 20 cards, I can order a few cards with a bunch of information on them, then if I don’t like them or they don’t get any results, I can order more with different information (or a different design).

5) I get a landing page and a neat QR code with links to other properties –  If you look closely on the back, you’ll see a QR code. That’s the graphic you may not know what it is. You can make your own (for free) if you want. It’s cool though. What is extraordinary is I get a free landing page to list my other web properties. Visit http://mtme.me/d97c37 to see mine. Pretty cool on the desktop huh? And what’s even MORE extraordinary is if you scan in the QR code on your mobile app. Check out what shows up now.

phil meetmeme mobile 200x300 Happy Birthday Meet Meme

And each tab is clickable. Pretty cool huh?

6) I can design them myself – This is probably the biggest reason I love Meet-Meme. I am not a designer so the fact I can design my own cards makes me VERY happy. Just a few clicks, and I get cool cards. With my photo on them. Awesome sauce!

So to celebrate the fact they just turned 1, if you order you can get your cards shipped anywhere in the US and Canada for just 1 penny. That’s right, 1 penny for shipping! Now through the end of January. Woot!

Happy birthday Meet-Meme!

If you’re a small business owner who is even a little active on social media, pick up pack or 2 of Meet-Meme cards and give them away when you’re networking. See what people say. I’ll bet you get remembered WAY more than with your usual business cards, which will lead to more business, or at least more awareness of who you are and what you do.

And here’s the press release on what they are doing to celebrate, in case you want more information or need more convincing before you buy your own cards.

CONTACT:

Anna Tiry

414-297-9950

anna@meet-meme.com

http://www.meet-meme.com

Meet-Meme Offers 1 Shipping on Social Trading Cards to Celebrate 1-Year Anniversary.

Meet-Meme’s original Social Trading Cards have been enhancing networking experiences for over a year.

MILWAUKEE, January 12, 2011 – Meet-Meme.com announces today 1₵ shipping for the rest of January in celebration of their launch to the public one year ago. Although the company has been providing social networking trading cards since the summer of 2010, the retail site was launched in early January, 2011.

Anyone with a presence on any social network site can take advantage of the social trading cards. Simply visit Meet-Meme.com and if you are one of the 800 million Facebook users, you can easily log in using Facebook or create an account with just your name, an email and password.

“Our growing community of Meet-Meme card holders understands that leading with your personal brand is good for business. When we meet people offline, it’s important to continue the relationship online, and then back offline again. Connecting people you meet to your personal digital dashboard allows your new contacts to connect with you where you are online,” said Jonathan Brewer, Co-Founder of Meet-Meme.com.

Meet-Meme allows you to break the ice with a unique conversation starter – your very own trading card. Afterwards, the person you’ve met has access to your personal digital dashboard which houses links to all of your social networks and personal links. The dashboard was built first for the mobile experience, and then expanded to the desktop experience. This valuable feature is included free with all card orders.

ABOUT MEET-MEME

Meet-Meme social trading cards bridge a user’s online and offline relationships. Each trading card tells a story about the individual and their evolving social media profile: stats, bio, networks, contact info, hobbies or even a favorite quote. In addition, a personalized URL and QR Code are used to link others to the cardholder’s entire digital footprint (social profiles, blogs, websites). It’s simple: meet, scan and connect. View more at: http://meet-meme.com.

Disclaimer: I do get a few pennies if you order cards from Meet Meme. I use and love these cards, and would even if I didn’t get a few pennies for your purchase. 

How to Make Friends with a Higher-Up

Note from Phil: What follows is a guest post by Alexandra Levit, Author of Blind Spots: The 10 Business Myths You Can’t Afford to Believe on Your New Path to Success. This is a fantastic book if you’re looking to move up in corporate America or in life. The myths debunked are ones you’ve likely heard for much of your career. This article is one of the best ways you can improve your career, by making friends with a higher-up.

Anyone who has been in the business world a while knows that your success absolutely depends on who you know, and who’s in your corner.

In addition to cultivating a strong relationship with your manager, it’s also a good move to form solid friendships with other executives. Alerting senior people to your stellar work and results is one way to foster these relationships.

You should also attend company-sponsored events, sign up for volunteer or extra-curricular activities, and organization-wide initiatives that will provide access to people you might not have the opportunity to interact with otherwise.

When meeting an executive, maintain a clean and professional appearance, shake hands firmly, and offer him your business card. Even if you’re nervous, watch that you don’t talk his ear off. Instead, mention one or two points that show that you’ve been keeping up with company developments and/or her career. Learn what he’s working on and brainstorm ways you can contribute. Follow up on all in person meetings with an e-mail the next day so that he remembers you.

Of course, executive blogs and social media sites like Facebook.com, LinkedIn.com, and Twitter.com are goldmines when it comes to establishing high level connections inside and outside your organization. Follow the executives you want to get to know better closely online, provide them with useful links and industry updates, and comment on their posts.

If you learn that an executive is attending or speaking at a third party event, let her know that you’ll see her there. I’ll offer the usual caveat here, however – if you’re going to use social media as a forum for engaging executives, make sure that everything on your profiles speaks to your image as a driven and engaged professional who’s going places.

Want more secrets for getting ahead in a difficult job market and stressful workplace? Check out Blind Spots: The 10 Business Myths You Can’t Afford to Believe on Your New Path to Success.

About the author: Alexandra Levit is a nationally recognized author, speaker, and consultant on workplace trends affecting modern employees. Recently named Money Magazine’s Online Career Expert of the Year, Alexandra has published six books and worked with clients around the globe from Microsoft to the Obama administration. www.alexandralevit.com.