Specialize and Refer – Grow Your Network

How do you grow your network? That’s easy: specialize and refer. We all live off of word of mouth, if it’s not your specialty, refer. Right?

I was thinking of writing about this and then saw Rebecca Gill’s tweet. So this post came alive.

Why Specialize?

“Do one thing and do it well.”
“If everyone is your client, no one is.”
“Do it right or don’t do it at all.”

These are the clichés that make up business advice we all know. Okay, the last one was from my mom.

But the point is you can’t do everything – and do it well. Which reminds me of the ‘good-fast-cheap triangle’ tweet my friend Rachelle Wise just sent last week.

Thinking we can do everything is not only delusional, but distracts us from the things that really make us money. We’re in business for a reason, right?

If you’re a roofer, be a roofer. Go horizontal if you want, and do HVAC, but don’t start installing windows.

If you build websites, build sites. Go horizontal and make apps, but don’t start making videos.

Do what you know. Do what you can do well, efficiently, and make a profit.

How do you refer?

Knowing that we should refer and knowing how to refer are two different things. If you refer the right way, you’re still providing a valuable service to the client. It’s not losing business, it’s about being that go-to person, the expert, and the well-connected person.

If someone asks me if I do Facebook Advertising, I say,

“Sorry, John, I don’t do Facebook Ads, but my friend Jason at Thought House does.”

You can either give your client their contact information or write an email to them both. “John meet Jason. Jason meet John. John wants Facebook ads, I told him, you’re the best.”

This way, you’re making an introduction, and keeping your brand top of mind to all parties involved.

How do referrals grow my network?

Referrals work on the human emotions of trust and reciprocity. Firstly, by referring, I am extending my brand to another. I am saying, I trust this person, you can, too. So be careful about referring to people you don’t trust.

Secondly, if you send enough business someone’s way, they will also begin to refer you. That’s reciprocity. Heck, if you are just a nice person, your network will send people your way. I cannot even tell you how many dozens of people have sent others my way in the last four months.

Sometimes, they come in the form of public tweets. I have amazing and generous friends.

Do you refer, Bridget?

I absolutely refer. Firstly, I don’t build websites, I refer people to agencies. And I’ve even agreed to a partnership with Roy Sivan of ARC(CTRL).

I also don’t do Pinterest. I refer them to my very good friend Carol Stephen of Your Social Media Works. I don’t blog. I mean, I can, but I’d be way too expensive. So I refer clients to my friend Jen Miller of Need Someone To Blog. She has a system. She’s efficient. Guess what? She doesn’t do social. She sends me leads.

Do you see how it works?

Be serious about your brand and your focus. Kill the things that consume too much time. Specialize and refer the rest. You’ll never regret it.


What the H is a Branding Person?

Recently, I sat down with a new client for a branding consult. She came to me because her business coach said she needed it. But she said, “What the hell is a branding person?” Good Question. Let’s break it down.

What is branding?

You’re now entering the subjective zone. You’ll find as many answers to this question as you find branding consultants.

Although the etymology of branding is varied, we can all imagine a rancher using a hot iron to brand his livestock. Each ranch had a distinct logo that made a permanent impression. Though originally intended to distinguish ownership, the logo reflected on the rancher, whether good or bad.

In many ways, branding is the connection of your sensual experiences to your company. People remember how they feel about you (affinity) and that is reflected back on the brand in the form of loyalty — and buying power.

Branding is the persona your business has consisting of logo, colors, and reputation which all affect and reflect consumer affinity and loyalty. Click To Tweet

My good friend Robert Nissenbaum says,

“Branding is the practice of creating the look and ‘feel’ of your brand. Brand marketing is the practice of establishing your image, voice, and persona which identifies and differentiates you from your competitors.”

What is a branding person?

A branding person can be anything from a graphic designer who creates a brand standards document that has your logo, color palette, fonts, and usage, to a person or company who protects your reputation online. And that can range from brandyourself.com to identity protection.

If you need a brand standards document, I recommend the following people, Jayman Pandya, Chris Ford, and Cheryl & Sherie LaPrade (who created mine).

While venting on Facebook about needing to work on my elevator pitch I got a few suggestions. One of them was from Chris Lema.

“Hi I’m Bridget Willard and I help companies with their online brand and reputation management by taking care of both social media monitoring and posting. I help your online brand by reinforcing your differentiated value on the social channels that are right for your business and your prospects.”

Sarah Pressler wrote: “Listen, I create magic. There’s no other way to put it.”

To me, a branding person is someone who understands the voice and tonality that you would like to project to the public. A branding person emulates that voice, replicates that voice, and protects it.

A branding person may even be a guide to your own self-awareness, helping you figure out what really is important to you and what values you’d like to elevate.

A branding person helps your business find its voice to harness your power, to elevate your brand. It's that simple. Click To Tweet

Why do you need a branding consultant?

A branding person is more like a counselor in my view. Their job is to help you dig out of your person the essence of your passion. You’re too close. You’ve talked to too many of your friends. You have lost objectivity. You may have lost focus.

This is why many business coaches suggest meeting with a branding person. A brand is a persona — an organic, living thing. It needs life. A branding person gives your persona life. And life needs to be protected.

A branding person helps you find yourself in the brand. It's very similar to a counselor. Click To Tweet

Can’t you just wing it?

You can. But you’ll fail and in a hard way.

People who wing it, without boundaries, are likely to fall prey to trending hashtags. They are easily distracted by the lure of humor. Not to mention starting endless projects that are so scattered that the company lacks focus — inwardly and outwardly.

Let's chat!

I'd love to present a solution for your business.

Please fill out this form with as much detail as you can and I'll email you an estimate from FreshBooks.

I have time to work on your business. Do you?

Thank you!

Denise Johnson

Learning Twitter: Lesson 10 Using Hootsuite with Lists

Learning Twitter can be overwhelming. But, as with any task, breaking it down into smaller parts helps considerably. This is the final lesson of my ten-part series.

In less than five minutes, I show you how to use Hootsuite with your lists. (I use Hootsuite Pro and this is my affiliate link.)

What you need:

  • Twitter Lists
  • Twitter Client

About Twitter Lists

You create and edit lists on Twitter. Think of parallel industries, keywords, geolocation, and/or categories and topics.

Lists can be public or private. The names of your public list are visible and users can subscribe to your public lists.  When you list someone, they are notified of the list you added them to. Be careful how you name them. I recommend using keyword-type names. I don’t use private lists. I have more detail on the how and why of lists in this blog post.

More: Twitter Help Center:  Using Twitter Lists

About Twitter Clients

A Twitter client allows you to do more with Twitter. You can use any kind of Twitter Client like TweetDeck, but I prefer HootsuitePro because the columns you setup are the same on desktop or mobile. Once your lists are created, you can import the feed in a column, to make it easier.

For In-Depth Tutorials See:

Don’t forget to have fun!

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Twitter Lessons: Lesson 9 Twitter Chats

Learning Twitter can be overwhelming. But, as with any task, breaking it down into smaller parts helps considerably. This is lesson nine in a ten-part series.

In less than five minutes, I show you how join a Twitter chat.

Why join a Twitter chat?

Many people start their Twitter accounts and build a small community, interacting as time allows, and that’s great. I’m a huge advocate for Twitter as you can tell by the quantity of posts I’ve written. Your Twitter use can exist without a chat, but the chat is more rewarding.

Small bursts of conversation on Twitter is fun but unfocused. If your time is limited and you want to make a big impact during one hour a week, joining a Twitter chat is the way to go.

Each chat revolves around a topic which makes the interaction both focused and engaging — allowing you to shine as a thought leader. If joining a Twitter chat is Twitter 301, hosting one is Twitter 401. It’s definitely advanced and a bit more complicated. Though, for me, it reminds me of AOL chat rooms in the 90’s.

Twitter chats are exciting because they are live, sometimes the answers are even controversial.

Even better, you discover people who are engaged and active on Twitter. Meeting people is never a bad thing.

How do you find a chat?

You can go to Twubs  to search for hashtags. TweetChat is my favorite chat client.

The easiest way to find a chat, I’ve found, is through one of your trusted followers. Twitter chats are full of friendly and welcoming people.

Buffer has great advice about chats, too. So check that out if you want more depth.

Don’t forget to have fun!

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Learning Twitter: Lesson 8 Composing Content

Learning Twitter can be overwhelming. But, as with any task, breaking it down into smaller parts helps considerably. This is lesson eight in a ten-part series.

In less than five minutes, I show you how to compose content in your tweet. How to tweet is easier said than done you think. Perhaps it’s because you haven’t thought about the things you will write.

What if I have nothing to say?

You may think  you have nothing to say. But I’ll challenge you and say that you absolutely have things to say. This is why you have customers. You started a business because you had skills and a passion. You worked hard to build it up. All of that matters. Your education matters. Your expertise matters.

Tweet out what you're passionate about. Why did you start this business? Let us all know. Click To Tweet

Composing original content and sharing that on Twitter shows off your expertise. Being a thought leader isn’t always about giving a TED Talk; it’s about influencing people around you. Mainly — your customers.

What if I have nothing to tweet?

You have a voice. You have something to say.

Believe me have ideas. You have your own style. You can add value to the world. Are you worried you’ll just state the obvious? Maybe the obvious isn’t that obvious.

“Everybody’s ideas seem obvious to them. Maybe what’s obvious to me is amazing to someone else.” Derek Sivers 

Start an Idea File

Open up a text file, notes on your phone, or a Google Doc the next time you’re on a sales or customer service call.

  • What are some of the phrases you repeat?
  • What are some of the common questions from customers?
  • Are there words that clients don’t understand? Define them in a tweet.

Jot down your notes and put them into 180-260 words. Now, you have a library of tweets.

Send out one a day. And you’re publishing!

Yes, it’s that easy.

I have more tips in my post on content here.

Don’t forget to have fun!

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