It has been more than six months since I promised Lara and Diana at Kind Over Matter that I would write twelve posts. Initially I mapped out what the entire year’s worth of posts would be. But over the last few months I have noticed a shift in both the real and the social media worlds and my original map no longer fits. It’s time to start all over again.
And that is exactly what so many people seem to be doing these days – getting divorced. Moving, coping with some life change, being widowed. Life is messy at the best of times. When you are self-employed and thrown a major curve ball (whatever that means, it all can be frightening, even to the strongest of us.
Three years ago, it certainly was for me. I had a major health scare (more on that later). Inside of a year, I moved from a town of a million people where I had lived for more than 30 years to a town of slightly more than one hundred thousand people. I knew exactly one person in the new town. Although I am the Queen of Plans, I had NO PLAN for building back my business. Yet today I have a business climbing to even higher levels of success!
I often get asked how to start over again. Here are some things to consider:
- Leave your attitudes and biases in your kitchen. You are in a new town and a new situation. Most of the people in this new place have been here all their lives and don’t need to hear about what you used to do, how you did it or even worse, what is wrong with what they are doing now. When you leave your home, plaster a smile on your face and teach yourself to actively listen – for an entire year. Your only focus should be to learn about your new town, understand how it works, gather as much intel as you can on the competition and understand how business is conducted. It’s called learning the ropes.
- Throw your doors open and invite your neighbor in. Start a neighborhood tradition of getting together monthly or every other month. They are all lovely people and want to get to know you, too.
- Attend every networking group in town. Most of them will not necessarily suit your purposes because they will be just plain boring. But you will meet a lot of people and they will get to know you. (THAT is the point.) And you will invariably find one that suits you. (Expect to gain some weight! It seems to be a natural by-product of intense networking.)
- Figure out where your customers go. Then go there. Introduce yourself. Let them know that this is your home now. This may take up a lot of your time, but it’s a very essential step in the process so don’t underestimate its value.
- Start your own networking group. Put a notice on your local MeetUp or Eventbrite board. Find some inexpensive space (typically community centers, libraries, etc.) and invite the kinds of folks you want to associate with. The better groups do not limit themselves to one representative per industry. Having your own networking group allows you the opportunity to invite and sell your group as opposed to just yourself. Canvasing for guest speakers takes the pressure off selling your services and adds interest and appeal to your group.
- Give stuff away for free. Always have 3 solid tips you give away for free at the drop of a hat. The information we sell can easily be found on the internet and the products we sell are sold by at least ten other competitors. What distinguishes us is our personality, the trust we build, the time we save our clients, the money we save them and the peace of mind we give them. So, give away 3 good juicy tidbits freely. 95% won’t do anything with it but they will be appreciative of the gesture and remember you for it. From your end, three freebies is more than enough for you to size up the potential to determine if you think a relationship with them is worth developing.
- Solve their problems first. Worry about making the sale later. Expect that your first year, maybe even longer, in the new city will be without any revenue. If you do it properly, you are laying in or cementing a solid base of rock hard relationship building.
- Advertise. This is the time to hold your nose, spend the money, go old school and advertise. People have no idea who you are, what you can do for them AND will not go out of their way to find you. So, your best bet is to advertise – print media mostly and maybe a bit of social media.
- Every single day, tell three people what you do or who you help. Do not sit in front of your computer all day long. Go for a coffee, go to the local print shop, walk your dog, go for a bike ride. Just go. Speak to three strangers. Engage in conversation. But remember – if you don’t approach a stranger with a smile, the opportunity is forever lost.
- Volunteer. Find a local charity or non-profit group, attend a meeting and volunteer your time. Every city, every town needs support and help. An extra pair of hands is always welcome. These groups tend to be populated by the people who care most about the community, on every level. These are the people you want to get to know – to find the movers and shakers within the community
Most importantly, every single time that FEAR thing rears its head, laugh out loud – because you’ve got this!