Apr 192016

work aloneWhat does it feel  like to be alone when you’re a self employed person who works from home? Do you like it? I know there are phones, texting, email, skype and facetime but using them is not the same as being with someone. You can do your work at a coffee shop and have lots of people around you but that’s not it either. What I’m talking about is getting out, talking and being with another person. It’s about spending time with someone and communicating with him or her. What’s missing is the social interaction that comes from this meeting.

And what if you’re okay with being alone but like me you are “stuck” in your apartment or house (especially if you’re an extrovert)? I had a debilitating stroke in 2005 that has given me many physical disabilities all of which I accept. One of them means that I have a lot less energy than I did before.

What I miss however, is not being able to drive. To me it meant freedom, independence and spontaneity. Now I need to call a taxi to go somewhere or arrange with friends or family to drive me – plan my outings.

I’ve learned through this experience to savour every moment with others. I’ve also learned first hand how to live “in the moment”. I look forward to ALL of my time spent with colleagues, friends and family.

Going out with my brother to the grocery store has become an outing. Having lunch with a friend or meeting a colleague for coffee is a delight. Being at a networking event is heaven.

Recently six of us women solopreneurs who know each other well started a mentors’ circle which is kind of like a mastermind. We spend the first half hour of our meeting every month sharing our business challenges with each other. We aren’t looking for solutions … yet … we just need to vent – get things off our chests – with others who understand since we all have something in common.

Back to the focus of this article …. what have I learned that I’d like to share?

  • Plan to get out more often and live in the now when you do.
  • human connectionArrange to have coffee with someone you know. The anticipation of this event gives you as much pleasure as the get together itself. Dr. Jeremy Dean, psychologist who is the author of Psyblog suggests in this article that (link to article http://www.spring.org.uk/2013/07/10-easy-activities-science-has-proven-will-make-you-happier-today.php
    • “Research on the psychology of happiness shows that anticipation can be a powerful positive emotion. We enjoy looking forward to things much more than we enjoy looking back on them afterwards (Van Boven & Ashworth, 2007).

So, make a plan now and try to always have something to look forward to, however small.”

As a solopreneur you’ll be happier and a lot more productive when you do :-)

Do you have something you do to get human connection?


photo credit: Home alone via photopin (license)
Image courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 April 19, 2016  Posted by  Networking 2 Responses »
Nov 262015

conferenceYou’ve just spent a tidy sum on a conference registration fee. There’s also travel (if it’s out of town), parking or taxis, meals, snacks and of course time away from your business that you should also add. It’s a lot of money, isn’t it? You start to think that maybe you ought to find a way out.

Stop! Don’t go there. Think of this as an investment in your professional development. You’re a “lifelong learner”!

9 Things to do

The following is a checklist of 9 things you can do at a conference to make it a successful experience.

Mark Victor Hansen and Trudy Van Buskirk1. Take a notebook or tiny recorder. You’ll get so many ideas from the speakers and from the people you meet AND from yourself and you want to remember them. I’m still going back to ideas I had at the Mark Victor Hansen Marketing Conference in 2004 and using them today.

2. Take lots of pictures. Take a camera or your phone. In 2004 when I was at the MVH conference, cameras were larger. Now you can get a palm size one or use the one built in to your cellphone or tablet. Before you take pictures of you and someone else, ask their permission to publish it — it’s the polite thing to do.

3. Be curious and show it. Ask people about themselves and their business then listen. You never know if they’ll become a client or tell those they know about you and your service or product.

4. Have lunch with a different group each day. Have dinner with another group. Have breakfast or dinner with an individual you want to get to know better.

5. Take mini breaks. Go outside or to your hotel room for a short time. You’re getting bombarded with information. Just don’t miss a whole session. You never know when you’ll get an insight.

6. Don’t make deals. Brainstorm and come up with several scenarios but don’t talk money or anything legal. Arrange to talk again when you’re both back home.

7. This is an opportunity to network. Use “good networking” practices. Collect business cards and think of each card as representing a person who like you has wishes and goals – especially for this event.

8. Write a note on the back of each card so you remember the person. Put something about them, their business and most importantly what you promised them.

9. Followup with each person you met at the event and got a card from (that’s why you get them) within 3 weeks. Plan 1 or 2 days for this followup since it likely lead to conversations by phone.

Remember that marketing ISN’T just selling. Look at going to a conference as another opportunity to get known and to network.

A close friend got chatting after a church service to someone she knew. She mentioned my monthly networking group which she has attended and suggested the woman she was talking with should come. She gave her my name and contact info. The woman called me and it turns out that we had met 15 years ago!! You never know …

What else have you done at a conference to get known? Share it with us. (I also stand up and ask a question in each session.)

photo credit: GDC 2011 Day 5 (3/4) via photopin (license)

 November 26, 2015  Posted by  Marketing Basics, Networking No Responses »
Jul 062015

networkingYou pick a networking event and go to it. The speaker is great and she gives you lots of ideas for things you can do right away. Then comes the time to network.

The usual question when you’re networking is “So …. what do you do?” The eyes of the person you’re talking with glaze over. It’s boring and you know it.

How do you get a conversation started that’s engaging AND leads to another conversation one-on-one over coffee or tea?

Try some of these questions and see which ones work for you. ( I assume that each person has a name tag with their name and that of their business.)

  1. Tell me about yourself. How did you get into this particular business?
  2. Who have you been influenced by in your business?
  3. What do you enjoy most about your business?
  4. What’s the most helpful advice you’ve ever received?
  5. What separates you and your company from the competition?
  6. What advice would you give someone just starting in the widget business?
  7. What one thing would you do with your business if you knew you could not fail?
  8. What significant changes have you seen take place in your profession through the years?
  9. What do you see as the coming trends in the “widget” business?
  10. Describe the strangest or funniest incident you’ve experienced in your business.
  11. What marketing activities have you tried? Which ones work best for you?
  12. What one sentence would you like people to use in describing the way you do business?
The one question that separates “pros” from “amateurs”. 

The following question is key in the process of getting the person you’re speaking with to feel as though he knows you, likes you, and trusts you.  Be sure you ask it sincerely, and only after some initial rapport has been established.

“How can I know if someone I’m talking to is a good prospect for you?”

Makes you think of other questions to ask, doesn’t it?

What questions do you use to engage the other person in a conversation?

Read the next post to get 12 more questions to use to start a conversation.

Mar 182015

networkingNetworking is a marketing activity you need to do and you need to do it regularly and frequently especially when you have a startup business. Should you expect to get leads from it right away? Yes and no.

Two stories. Deanne Kelleher of Kaos Group  has told about getting business from someone 8 years after she met them while networking. Instant gratification? Nope.

Laurie Bell of Moving Seniors With a Smile has talked about going to LOTS of networking events to talk about her business when it was new. Does she go to as many now? Nope – she doesn’t need to. Does she still go? Yes – to continue to be known.

What is your main reason for networking?

The first thing you need to do is think about your business and what you want to get out of attending the event. Decide whether

  • you want to meet new people
  • promote your new business
  • promote a particular product, service or workshop
  • get seen everywhere
  • check out the network to see if you can speak at it
  • hear a particular speaker
  • learn about a topic you’ve been studying
  • connect with others in the same situation as you
  • get a solution to a problem you have in business
  • or just get out of the house!

And in  order to do any of these (except the last one) you need to know your target market.

I’ve written two other posts you should read as well 11 Characteristics of a Network and How to Choose the Right Network for You. This one should be the first one you read before the others.

Let’s recap

  1. decide why you’re going
  2. review what characteristics are important to you in a network
  3. choose the right network for you

Does that help? Do you know where to go now? Another tip – go to more than one session of a group. You can’t judge after just one.


Feb 092015

networkNetworking. We all do it. It’s one of the best ways to get you and your business known.You can do it anywhere – at formal networks, conferences, workshops, or even in line at the bank or grocery store.

One of my clients was at a dental appointment. The receptionist made a comment about liking her purse and asked where she got it. She said it was something she sold and that she would get one for the receptionist. She hurried home (fortunately nearby) after her appointment and came back with one for the woman. What “profitable” networking!

All of the women I’ve interviewed for blog posts I’ve met networking. It really works.

But this post is about finding the right networking groups for you. In the previous one I described the 11 Characteristics of a network. Read that first. Then this is is the next step.

What should you know?

There are several questions to ask about a network to see if it’s one that you like, resonate with, and has your ideal client in it.

But before you begin this process you need to answer  “Who is my ideal client and target market?” and “What is the outcome that I want at this event? What do I want people to do as a result of meeting me?”

Now you’re ready to ask yourself these questions.

  • Who referred you to this network? Was it someone you know well and trust? Have they gone to it?What did they say about it?
  • Does this network demonstrate the values that you have?
  • What is the organizer like? We know that we attract people like ourselves. Be sure your values are similar to his or hers.
  • Has it come up often in conversation with other business owners as a network you should attend?
  • How many of the characteristics in my previous post meet your criteria? One? Two? Several?
  • What is the purpose that the owner has? Do they want to connect you with lots of others? Are they interested in helping you get to know people? Are they doing it for a substantial profit?

Let’s say that you go to a meeting. How do you feel about it? Now is the time to trust your gut. No matter whether you’ve checked off all the boxes and decided it’s right for you, you don’t know until you’ve attended in person.

I hold one myself for women solopreneurs and I’m often asked by attendees which others I’d suggest. I always ask them the same question to start – “Who is your target market?”.

What networking groups do yo attend and why? Write your comment and let everyone know.

photo credit: The Natural Step Canada via photopin cc

 February 9, 2015  Posted by  Networking No Responses »
Jan 302015

networkingSometimes you leave halfway through a network because it wasn’t “good”. Sometimes it’s SO “good” that you’re the last to leave because you’re still chatting.

You need to know what “good” means for you before you go to any network event. How do you know? Here are 11 characteristics you should know about it.

Characteristics of groups where you can network

Target market Before you look at any group to network, know who your target market is. Are the people you’re looking for corporate HR, IT people, “mompreneurs”, small business owners or solopreneurs? Know this first.

Location. Where is it held? Is that too far for you get to? I live in downtown Toronto and don’t drive so a network in Barrie which is a town about 50 miles (85 km) north doesn’t work for me.

If it’s a conference in Los Angeles and you live in Boston, you would have to fly there. Can you afford the flight and hotel costs as well as the time away from your business. Would you get enough leads and build enough relationships to make it worth your while?

Time. Ahh time of day. I’m not a morning person (so being self employed suits me fine) and as soon as I see that it’s a breakfast meeting at 730 a.m. I look to see when else this group meets. Breakfast, lunch or early evening may make a difference to you — it does for me!

Size. Groups vary from 6 to 600. Do you thrive in a big group? Do you look for small intimate groups? Here’s where size does matter.

Cost. What does it cost per meeting and what do you get for it? The average is $25 but for a dinner meeting it could be up to $75 — but you do get dinner.

networkRoom Layout. It depends on the size of the group. The huge ones are standing only with a few chairs around the outside of the room; the medium to large have chairs in a traditional format in rows facing the speaker at the front; small ones could be held around tables or have the chairs set in a circle. Which one works best? It depends on you and what you’re comfortable in.

Do they do an “around the room”? You want maximum exposure for your “elevator pitch” so standing up and giving it to everyone in the room is better. It allows you to decide who you want to speak with and those who want to hear more about your business and perhaps use your services will come up to you.

Speaker. Most groups have a speaker. You may want to hear that person or the topic.

Membership. How many times can you attend before you have to join? Or do you even have to become a member?

network“Fixed or fluid”. These are often called leads groups. BNI and BCX have a fixed number at each chapter and people there have to be from different business types. For example if you’re a web designer and they already have one, you’re not invited. You also are required to give leads every meeting and you may not have used the lead’s services so don’t know much about them.

Type of group. Are they a networking group or an association? If you join an association it will be in your field so if you’re a startup you may want to learn from more experienced people.

Frequency of meetings. Groups usually get together once a month but leads groups meet twice a month. Do you have the time and money?


Look at each of these and get answers. Which characteristics are important to you? If you’re a startup you may want to attend every event you can until you find out what works best for you.

Remember that you need to attend each one several times to see if it’s what you want.

If you know other entrepreneurs you can ask them which groups they recommend. And you always have the internet where you can check the group!

I know of a lot of groups so ask me in the comments :-)

Meet me at my network in Toronto!

photo credit: Peter Bromberg via photopin cc
photo credit: Sebastiaan ter Burg via photopin cc
photo credit: Port of San Diego via photopin cc

 January 30, 2015  Posted by  Marketing Basics, Networking 2 Responses »
Sep 112014

Donna MesserDonna Messer died on her birthday in April 2015. She is sorely missed by all of us who knew her and the many more who were exposed to her.

This phone interview was one I did with her on July 2nd of 2014. I had a wonderful conversation and interview with Donna Messer of Connectus Canada. then. Neither Donna nor I could remember when and where we met but as she said our paths have crossed often at events over the last 20+ years. It was great to reconnect and get to talk even it was by phone. It was as if no time had passed! You’ve probably found the same thing with friends and colleagues – you just pick up where you left off.

Whenever you hear the word networking (at least here in the Toronto area) even now one thinks of Donna Messer. As the subject line of this post says, she was a networker extraordinaire. I feel fortunate to have known her for so long.

Networking and building relationships pays off!

Donna was an author, speaker, coach and mentor, and an inspiring and passionate motivator. She even made the time to volunteer with several groups. She would give the names of people she knew (which were many) to everyone she met (and she met a lot of people in her speaking on three continents). As you’ll hear in this recording she offered to help me with my new venture when I’m ready – a truly generous person.

I can’t say enough about her but you’ll hear a lot more detail about her and her experiences and beliefs in our interview recording so listen to it.

Click below to hear our interview. If you want to save a version to listen to at a later time, click where you see “Download MP3“.

MP3 File

Donna’s team can be reached via phone at (905) 337-9578 here in the Toronto area or by email at donna@connectuscanada.com

Her website is connectuscanada.com . You may ask any questions about the services still offered and you may even use them. Her team is very accessible and will call or email back. She knew EVERYTHING about networking and passed that knowledge on to her team. It will change your life and boost your confidence :-)
I interview these women business owners to demonstrate to you that YOU CAN DO ANYTHING!
Oct 042012

networking groupAgain and again we’re told that in-person networking events are not just where you pass out your cards. You should “give before you get”. Get known by going often to the same group. Look people in the eyes and REALLY listen to them. Be memorable. Build relationships. Meet one on one for coffee.

I use the analogy of dating. You wouldn’t ask someone to marry you at your first meeting, would you? You’d meet for coffee or tea, then perhaps a movie or dinner several times.

I was reminded of how long it can take for someone to become a client at my own networking event. In my introduction of our speaker Manuela Gobbato I said that we had met at the Canadian Association of Women Entrepreneurs and Executives (CAWEE) and she jumped in and said we’d met at a networking meeting of Women in a Home Office years ago when she was just starting her business and she’d remembered me ever since.

Arlette Garcia who was also there used to work at a design company and now has her own business. She and Manuela looked at each other and wondered where they’d met. After a bit of conversation they both remembered the other and plan to meet and perhaps do business.

Like the title says, it takes a long time sometimes and you shouldn’t expect business right away from networking. Be patient. Wait but find a way to keep in touch.

What have you used as a way to stay in touch with those you met at networking event?
photo credit: Peter Bromberg via photopin cc

Sep 032012

memorableFriends and business associates remember me – for a long time. I received an email from a man I had done business with in 1985. He had “googled” my name, found my website and emailed me. (isn’t technology wonderful?) (Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net )

What makes me so memorable? I thought about this and came up with several reasons for why I’m “memorable” and how you can be too. Here’s how:

1. Speak with confidence.  

2. Become an expert in your field.

3. Ask others about themselves. Don’t use the same questions such as “what do you do”. Ask an “open ended” question that gets them talking about themselves such as “what brought you to this kind of business – what did you do before?”

4. Attend the same networking events regularly. When people see you frequently they’re more likely to remember you.

5. When you’re at a networking event  stand up and and have an attitude of assurance.

6. Wear something memorable like a hat. (I was at a seminar last week where the speaker made hats. He said a hat can be worn by a woman anytime. The hat draws attention to your face so people “see” and remember you.)

7.When you follow up with an email, put where and when you met the person in the subject line. That way they’ll go back to that place in their mind and are more likely to remember you.

8. Speak at conferences. You won’t know everybody there but they’ll get to know and you’ll be remembered.

9. Give training seminars. You’ll get to know the participants especially if it’s a series of seminars.

10. In social media comment on people’s posts.

11. In blogs become a guest blogger AND even if you aren’t a guest blogger make thoughtful comments on people’s posts.


In everything you do, you want to be remembered by your target market. Who’s yours?

Remember know who you are and be proud of it. Stand tall and with confidence and you’ll be memorable.

Do you have any other examples of what you do that really make people think of you? Share them with all of us.

Aug 202012

meet over coffee or teaWe know that networking is one of the ways to build relationships and thus our business. We also know that networking is more effective when it’s done face to face. As baby boomers we aren’t as comfortable or knowledgeable with social media as those who grew up with it. (Image courtesy of  FreeDigitalPhotos.net )

Recently I heard how one of my business friends Diane Young of Circle of One is using linkedin to find people to get together with. I haven’t heard or seen this anywhere yet.

How do you do it?

1. Go to those in your contact list in linkedin and groups you’ve joined.

2. Choose local people who are in a similar business to yours that you’d like to know better.

3. Call them by phone (I know it’s an “old” method but much friendlier than email.) and invite them to get together over tea or coffee. Give them times you’re available and ask for theirs.

4. make a date to get together.

It’s as easy as that.

When you get together you’ll learn more about them and they about you. Get to know them. You’ll have a business acquaintance for life!

You can also find many things in your conversation to blog about (if you have one). Be sure you blog about the meeting itself. Be sure and link to the other person’s website when you refer to them. Remember that a blog is a marketing tool and every encounter could become a post.


Do you have any innovative ways that you use Linkedin? Tell us about them in your comment.