By Howard Feinstein, EWI Board Member
A weekly blog for EWI students and graduates, passing along news, events, articles of interest, and tips on growing your business. We are all on this journey together, and no one – certainly not yours truly – has all the answers. Accordingly, I hope you will periodically contribute your ideas and news to this forum, c/o firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday February 11th
For a couple of weeks we will be focusing on networking. This topic will be addressed in considerable detail in this spring’s Entrepreneurial Training For Success classes and EWI’s new Grow My Business program, but it is never too soon (or too late!) to emphasize some basic concepts.
When embarking on our entrepreneurial journeys, it is vital to keep in mind that, while much of our initial focus is on perfecting our product or service, what we are really selling is ourselves: that is, working to establish long-term relationships that will enable our ventures to flourish in the long run. You might develop the perfect product, but unless prospective customers find you professional and reliable, a winning connection will not be made. It is ultimately all about projecting a sense of credibility.
At the early stages, two critical opportunities to demonstrate your credibility are (a) your business card, and (b) your website.
-Trust me, you will be asked regularly for your business card. It is indispensable, and you can make a thousand for next-to-nothing. Your card not only provides your contact information, but shows the customer that you take yourself seriously as a businesswoman. Do not spend a lot of time attempting to design the ideal card; just be sure your e-mail address, phone numbers, and website are up-to-date. Treat it like the American Express Card: “Don’t leave home without it.”
– Your website is a more complex subject. We will be pointing you toward specific, low-cost resources. However, in a business market as upscale and competitive as the capital region, you do not want to be in the position of telling a customer that your site is “under construction” or “almost ready to launch.” A basic, user-friendly site, with contact information, product description, perhaps a couple of endorsements, and a simple bio demonstrating your credentials, is all you need to get rolling. Make sure it is designed so that you can easily update it with news and events. As with business cards, “simpler is better” — perfection is for the next world
Once you have these two basic tools working for you, you on your way to becoming a successful networker. Next week, we’ll discuss the four basic types of business networks, and how you can engage them effectively. It’s easier than you think.
-A recent book of interest:
— Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s wonderful autobiography, My Beloved World, is a true testament to the human spirit. One would be hard-pressed to find a more inspiring recent example of how focus and determination can triumph over family dysfunction, serious medical challenges, and prejudice. And, in the spirit of E.W.I., Justice Sotomayor emphasizes the importance of mutual support and community in realizing her goal.
To read more about Howie, click here.