January 31, 2015

List Building Strategies for Networking Associations

Networking groups usually get their work done by volunteer members, and those roles change frequently, so maintaining a consistent list building process is a challenge. Here are some simple recommendations to make sure you don't lose focus on this key membership building strategy. Growing your list means growing your membership.

Have a sign-up form on your group’s website or blog. This is a must!

Make list building a regular part of every meeting. Here are some ways to do that so members can easily take turns.
  • Use technology and do it ‘live’. Bring up the sign-up form on someone’s phone or tablet and pass it to visitors to enter their email address.
  • At a point in each meeting, direct visitors to pull out their phones and guide them to your website to sign themselves up.
  • Collect business cards and have one person enter the email addresses during or after the meeting.
Don’t forget to get new members to sign themselves up, or do it for them.

Read this blog post for some content ideas for your networking association's newsletter.

January 27, 2015

Are You Paying Attention?

“Where attention goes, energy flows.”
- James Redfield

I've been reminded of this quote lately because my attention has been wandering. That’s not to say energy isn't flowing – it’s just flowing off in several directions.

When we think about getting things done, crossing things off, and making progress, we're usually considering concrete things like action items or task lists. There’s another side though. Just by paying attention to something, we are creating inspiration, motivation, and keeping momentum.

Here’s the example that brought the quote to mind. For most of last year I was in the habit of checking my blog stats before logging off for the night. In the past 3 months, I’ve not been so regular. Recently I went 3 weeks without looking. And my pageviews have dropped.

I’m not trying to say that just by looking at my stats I was somehow magically drawing people to my blog – although that would be nice. But here’s what was happening...

First, I was paying attention to what people seemed to be interested in. That often prompted ideas for follow-up posts. This gave me inspiration, resulting in more articles my readers wanted to read.

Second, seeing that over a thousand people were reading my blog every week gave me motivation. It felt good to know people were interested. I wanted to keep them interested and coming back. Which drove me to be consistent.

Third, because I was so aware of my stats, I felt challenged to continue to improve on them. That gave me momentum.

As a bonus, I often hit that little tweet button on a post or two, encouraging more readership!

These small inputs made a real difference in results, clearly showing me the value of paying attention.

Originally published in the Work Better, Not Harder newsletter, January 27, 2015

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January 24, 2015

Newsletter Ideas for Business Networking Associations

Members of networking groups and their target market (potential members, subscribers) will have something in common, like an industry or sector, and will usually either work in it or serve it as a supplier. This means that anything pertaining to that common topic will be relevant. Relevant is good, but you will also want to be useful and interesting. Here are some content ideas for business networking groups – most are adaptable to other such organizations.

Content for your subscribers (target market):
  • industry specific or community news and upcoming events
  • informational articles, perhaps written by members, but not necessarily
  • useful online resources; book recommendations
Content pertaining to your association:
  • next meeting details and agenda
  • regular meeting schedule; future dates, locations
  • member spotlights and current news
  • past meeting recap
  • action items for members
  • upcoming special events by the association and by its members
  • membership call to action; benefits of membership; membership requirements; testimonials from current/past members
  • photos from past meetings and events
  • appeal to connect on social media accounts

January 20, 2015

What Colour is That?

I get into some interesting discussions with clients and friends about colours. The fact is that we can do a lot to make sure the colours in our branding are consistent wherever used online. And we can do the same for our print materials.

Consistency is the key because none of us see colours quite the same as anyone else.

First there's the way they appear to us because of the way our eyes work. "Colour (color) blindness (colour vision deficiency, or CVD) affects approximately 1 in 12 men (8%) and 1 in 200 women in the world." (source: colourblindawareness.org). About 4.5% of the population is affected by some form of colour blindness, most of them men. And it's not all black and white and grey - there are different types of colour blindness.

Then there's our perceptions about certain colours, and even shades of those colours. For example, baby pink and soft mauve aren't typically associated with business, unless you own a baby boutique. Red is associated with power, and green with nature. And have you ever had a discussion about whether something is taupe or grey? How about purple or burgundy or fuschia?

To confuse things even more when it comes to colours online, computer monitors and tablets all display colours differently. A friend once asked why I used pale pink as the background for a website - it was actually pale yellow. I know this because I calibrated my monitor. Regardless, of how exact I can be on my own screen, it's going to look different (and perhaps feel different) to everyone else. Look at your website on a different computer, or several different computers, and you'll see what I mean. (And did you know that some colours are different when saved as a .png versus a .jpg file?)

So what do you do? Be consistent. You might not have a lot of control about how other people see your branding colours, but you can make sure they look the same everywhere online.

photo by Incase / Flickr

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January 11, 2015

Design Colour Trends for Spring 2015

Often the colours of logos, websites, newsletters and other branded marketing materials follow the current fashion colour trends, like many other things.

Here are the Pantone Spring 2015 colours - I've added the HTML# for each:

"This season there is a move toward the cooler and softer side of the color spectrum. An eclectic, ethereal mix of understated brights, pale pastels and nature-like neutrals take center stage as designers draw from daydreams of simpler times."

My first project will use Strawberry Ice, Scuba Blue and Lucite Green on pale grey. Can't wait to start!

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January 6, 2015

13 Ways to be Productive when Your Internet is Down

It's been well over a week that I've been unable to do much online. For a small business owner, a forced vacation during the holiday season isn't such a bad thing. But there were some essential tasks that I needed to do before December 31st which caused a bit of panic. I also spent a lot of time on the phone with my internet provider and messing with cables. Not such a vacation after all.

Now, I’m itching to get the new year started. My work depends on me having internet access, but I discovered there are lots of things I can do to be productive working on my business even without the web. Here are some suggestions:
  1. Write articles for your blog or newsletter. Have them proofed and ready when needed.
  2. Prepare social media posts – text and graphics.
  3. Read a business book.
  4. Check your calendar and prepare for upcoming meetings and events.
  5. Print and review business reports.
  6. Planning – Use a paper or electronic template to prepare strategic plans, action lists, sales plans, project plans, marketing plans... you get the idea.
  7. Write FAQs, ebooks and other resources.
  8. Write cards – thank you, hello, congratulations – and send them by snail mail.
  9. Pick up the phone and make appointments for business meetings. Or (gasp) do some prospecting by phone. (This one is for The Phone Lady.)
  10. Print forms that you’ll need and can stock up on.
  11. Take a trip to the office supply store.
  12. Have an impromptu mastermind meeting with a colleague by phone.
  13. Yes, even write email. Create your messages in Word and save them till you’re online again, then copy and paste.

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