Tips For Small Business Owners

Recently, writer Julia Rogers for AOL Small Business, asked me for my advice.

AOL Small Business is a source for news, advice, success stories, video and tools for entrepreneurs.  Julia was so impressed with our interview she asked me to  provide more tips for the AOL’s web site.

Here’s what I gave her:

  • Call People Names!
    All introductions should start with the name of the other person. This is easy to do in a letter or online: Dear Ariana or Hi Daniela. In person, it’s tempting to start with your own name, but if you know the name of the other person, use his name first. In a professional setting, it’s important to say your name twice. It’s also a good habit to slow down and say your name clearly.
  • Make Networking Part of Your DNA
    Networking isn’t about attending events or about fake small talk. Networking is an on-going process that starts with an initial contact which leads to a connection, which can then lead to a relationship. You never know which contact will turn into a relationship. So get out there, strike up a friendly conversation with that person standing next to you in the grocery check-out line. Remember to be yourself, show a genuine interest in others, and listen. And once you have made a new contact, remember to keep in touch.
  • Practice Pitching
    There’s a lot of information to squeeze into an elevator pitch (name, expertise, how you help, what you do, why you’re they best), so it’s important to practice. You’ll want to practice with your friends or colleagues to ensure your pitch gets your most important points across. You might even consider sending practice videos using Viddler or Oovoo or going to networking events just to practice and see how people react.
  • Chat Online
    Starting conversations online is gaining mainstream status. When starting a conversation online, always remember that conversations have two sides . Social media conversations are interactions between people; it’s not about collecting friends. A great way to become more interactive is to post videos and occasionally share something that is personal. This will humanize you and give a face to your brand.
  • Like, Um, Brush Up Your Language, Right?
    Even if you are the most talented entrepreneur in the universe, if you sound like a valley girl, you will not be taken seriously. “Like”, “right” and “um” communicate doubt, especially at the end of a phrase. If you have these verbal habits, the first step towards more fluent speaking is to become aware of your distracting speech habits. Once you’ve identified your habit, all you need to do is to keep quiet. At first you’ll have awkward pauses in your speech, but that’s better, than speech peppered with “likes” and “ums.” Eventually the pauses get shorter and you’ll have fewer “ums” and “ahs.”

Add your tips to the comments below!!