Our last WINC meeting on Tuesday March 24th was both fun and educational! We began the night by listening to a panel of WINC members discuss their best business networking tactics, sharing their secrets and tips. We then transitioned into a presentation by Brittany Stager of GroupTalk where she showed us how to get our LinkedIn profiles to “All-Star” status, and explained the importance of using LinkedIn to stay top-of-mind with your connections.

You can see a recap of the night below:

WINC Member Panel: The Importance and Impact Networking Has on Your Business

Networking should be a part of any successful business strategy. Whether it be networking online, or networking within a group, getting out there in front of your potential customers and clients is important.

In our WINC Member Panel Session, WINC members Marny Williams-Balodis, The Hummingbird Centre for Hope, Dawne Taylor-Gilders of snapd KW Newspaper, and Lynette Tilt of Stella & Dot & Tilt Built Pastures shared how they have found success from networking.

1. What type(s) of networking have you found to be most successful when growing your business?

Marny: To date, the best thing I have done is become a part of a community hub for non-profits. Social media also play a role in our success. It allows us to reach those we might not normally direct relationships with. We receive calls from Toronto all the time thanks to our social presence. WINC has also been helpful; connecting with small business owners and entrepreneurs who want to help us (via product, donations, fundraising, etc) is great.
Dawne: I find the most success through word of mouth and interacting with people at the events we attend/cover.
Lynette: My business is all about the personal connection. People need to see the product in person. I also make a conscience effort to follow-up with anyone I meet while at events or parties.

2. What do you wish you could do more of?

Marny: I wish I could get out there more. I am the face of my charity, and in person contact is very important to me and our supporters.
Dawne: I wish I could better educate potential partners on what our service is, and what it isn’t. I also wish I could put an end to repetitive tasks.
Lynette: I wish I could host more in-person tours and workshops at the farm. I love providing farming information and getting kids involved in the farming process.

3. What are some of your tips and tricks to get the most of networking?

Marny: My best tips are: learn from the experience of others and don’t forget to share your own; be confident.
Dawne: My best tips are: don’t forget your business cards; don’t do an “elevator pitch;” listen to the story your new connection is telling you and try to use that as a jumping off point for business.
Lynette: My best tips are: always have some type of collateral on you; be prepared anywhere and anytime (like at the grocery store); be enthusiastic.

LinkedIn Strategies to Grow Your Business

Let’s face it, there are literally hundreds of social networking sites you could dedicate your time to these days. And I get it. Between keeping up with Facebook, trying not to feel overwhelmed by Twitter, and creeping the competition on Instagram you’re being told to add yet another social network to your repertoire. Except this one is different. As an entrepreneur this social network can make all the difference in the world… of course I am talking about LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is one of the most powerful business networking sites, and you absolutely should be using it daily! We can’t be everywhere, so for those times when someone is in need of a marketing specialist, a hair stylist, or even an engineer – your LinkedIn profile is there to tell them “I’m your gal/guy!”

LinkedIn should be an important part of your online networking strategy as it’s the ultimate platform for meeting key decision makers who need you and your services. Here are three ways you can use LinkedIn to stay top-of-mind with your connections, and further connect with important decision makers.

1. UPDATE YOUR PROFILE

Headline: This is the first thing a visitor will see when they land on your profile, make sure your job title tells them exactly what you do.
Profile Picture: Get a professional headshot. You are 11 times more likely to have your profiled viewed if you have a photo.
Cover Photo: The header image is a great way to illustrate and extend your personal branding. Make it eye-catching, and again, high quality.
Summary: The most overlooked section on your entire profile! If the viewer has made it to this section you need to entice them to not only stay a little longer to read what you are all about, but to contact you. Write it as though you are speaking to them.
Experience: Your current work experience should be upfront and center. Make sure the description is filled out in its entirety, and you use industry terminology to describe your position and services. Past experience is also important as it will make your profile look full and complete. Make sure your past positions include a thorough description and keywords.
Rich Media: Adding rich media content such as SlideShare presentations, videos, and infographics to your profile is a fantastic way to showcase visual assets to profile visitors.

2. BUILD YOUR CONNECTIONS

Only after your profile is fully up to date should you start building your connections. A great place to start is within your own company. After that you can start connecting with industry peers, clients, vendors, partners, etc. Another important thing to remember about LinkedIn (or any social network for that matter) is it’s not just a rolodex, it’s about building relationships. The key is not just the connection, it’s the relationship. What builds relationships? Conversation. As a best practice try sending a personal message with your connection request, or send a follow up message after the connection is made. This is the easiest thing to do, yet it’s the most overlooked! Sending a little personalized message starts the conversation and keeps you top of mind with your new contact.

3. LEAD WITH VALUE

LinkedIn, unlike Facebook and Twitter, is all about business. The mindset here is naturally more receptive to solving business problems than the kind of socializing and sharing that happens elsewhere. That said, you still have to lead with value to generate qualified leads which will ultimately grow your business. Share your own personal insights, experience, and perspectives that provide value to your connections. How do you know what’s valuable? Just ask yourself, will this post help someone today? If the answer is yes, it will be regarded as valuable.

Speaker: Brittany Stager, Social Media Specialist, GroupTalk
Brittany StagerFor the first 6 years of her 10 year marketing career, Brittany Stager worked as the Marketing Manager for Mushrooms Canada, a role which grew her talents in social media and communications. Brittany’s impact within the agricultural industry has not gone unnoticed, in the Fall of 2011 she was recognized for her marketing efforts, receiving the ”Fresh Award” from the Ontario Produce Marketing Association. In 2012 Brittany started GroupTalk, a social & marketing communications company. GroupTalk specializes in creating effective social media strategies for those in the food industry and beyond.