Networking is an important part of any business. Some people think that this is just a suit and tie tactic for big business, but it can take you places you never knew in your small business. Opportunity awaits around every conversation.
When I first started my birth business I went out to network with everyone. I knew knowing other people in my community would give me more opportunities. I started with the typical ones they tell you to in all those birth trainings, but then I went outside the box and started to get creative. You never know where you might find that one person that is going to change your business forever. You never know when you might talk to someone who get you another client. This is something I still do today and you would be surprised at the connections I have made in the most unlikely places.
Here are 5 Professional Connections you can make right now to help you get more clients:
1. Other Birth Professionals
Connecting with other birth professionals may seem counter intuitive, because they are the competition right? Yes and No. They may be competing with you for business, but 1) There is enough business to go around for everyone, 2) Not every client is a perfect fit for every birth worker, and 3) They may offer a completely service than they do.
Other birth professionals understand what you do and many of them offer complementary services to yours.
Think about who your ideal client may want services from along with yours. This can include doula, naturopathic doctor, chiropractor, massage therapist, yoga instructor, birth photographer, midwife, childbirth educator, herbalist, or any other birth professional you can think of.
Referrals work both ways. Think about it in terms of what can I do for you and not always what can you do for me. Refer people and they will be more likely to refer clients back to you in the future. Ask them for their business cards or information on their business so you can give it to your clients.
2. Local Business Whom Your Ideal Client Use
Local businesses are where your ideal client is already at. They may have nothing to do with your business or your industry but they likely also serve your target market. Seek to offer value to their customers in trade for collaboration. Ask if you can leave some coupons for your services at their place of business. Think coffee shop, laundry mat, grocery store.
This is a great place to build strategic relationships. For example, if you are a doula think about stores that sell baby goods such as Babies R Us. You might offer to teach some workshop their relating to newborn care or breastfeeding. Don’t try to sell them anything or get them to promote your services. Just seek to provide value.
3. Local Go-To’s
There are always going to be those in the community who others seek advice. This can be the local community or the industry community. There might be a popular natural parenting blogger or the owner of a local birth page you should look into connecting with. Some of the more popular businesses are used to other people trying to use their platform to get attention so be respectful and tactful when and how you approach them. Is there a podcast you can get a guest interview on? Is there a local event you can get a spotlight at?
Use this as a mentorship opportunity for yourself as well. Use these connections that you make in order to learn more about what your ideal clients really want. Always be trying to add value to the community and not just seek promotion.
4. Local Events
Look for local events that cater to your ideal client. Look into who is hosting these events and make a connection with them. If it is an event you are interested in see if you can help. If it is a local professional who offers the same services as you be careful. You don’t want to try to take business away from them.
Even if you are not a part of the event you can still get on the ground floor if those hosting these events know who you are and trust you. You never know how many people they may send your way.
5. Medical Professionals
This is the one they always tell you to go check out in those training workshops. It can be a good resource if you find the right people. Not all medical professionals will want to build a relationship with you. They may have different beliefs about the type of professional you are. Unfortunately, some medical professionals have a negative view on alternative birth professionals who are not in the medical field.
OBs, Midwives, Nurse Practitioners, and other birth related medical professionals are only able to spend a limited amount of time with their patients. You may be able to help bridge that gap with the right professional and offer training, education, or support to their patients to help their birth experience.
Share resources about the benefits you offer with a medical provider that has similar views on birth, whom you admire, and whom you are interested in building a relationship with. This can not only turn into a great place for referrals, but may also create awareness for your services that others may not even know existed.
Step out of your comfort zone and go seek some connections this week. You never know what opportunities it may bring your way. All it takes is one phone call, one email, or one face-to-face to begin a relationship that can change everything.
I listened to a great productivity talk by Scott Hanselman the other day. While this speaker is more on the tech end of his profession the ideas that he talks about cross over the barrier to the birth industry. Here is an overview of the ideas he had and how they relate to those in the birth field. This includes those just starting out and those who have already been working in the birth field. Here are a few tips to get you on the way to a more productive space.
Start Now and Go All the Way
According to a survey from AtTask, employees only spend 45% of their time doing primary job tasks. Wow! That means less than half of your day is spent doing unproductive things. Some of the things that take up this time include checking emails, interruptions, talking with other employees, sitting in meetings, and tending to personal tasks. Who really wants to run their birth business this way?
Less can be More
Many of those who have a birth business are not working for someone else. This makes it even more important to not fall into bad habits like staying up late to “catch up.” It can be hard to set aside time to work when you are not heading into the office from 9-5.
Effective Vs. Efficient
Sort Your Incoming Information
Incoming information needs to be sorted. This includes e-mails, invoices, newsletters, bills, phone calls, blogs, instant messenger, phone alerts, ect. We sometimes find ourselves so wrapped up in details that are not important. It is like we are trying to put a band aid on a hemorrhaging mom while in the other room there is a mom that needs help deciding what evidence based practices she wants to include in her birth plan. We need to focus on the things that are within are ability and are important to us. The hemorrhaging mother may be something we want to help with but unless we are a midwife we are not trained or capable of helping. While the above example is a bit extreme it gets the point across. If we are too busy trying to answer questions on the homebirth Facebook group that we missed an message from a women wanting to know if today is a good day to come for an interview, then we are focusing on the wrong details.
It is Okay to Drop the Ball
There are three different kinds of work; work that has been scheduled, work that just appeared, and defining work (where you sit down and think about what you are going to work on). We should be spending more time on the last type and plan what our work time will look like.
Hansleman mentions David Allen’s practice of using the “Four D’s”:
Example # 2 You get a pop of survey to find out what kind of personality you have. It will take more than a few minutes to complete. In order to be productive you need to pick an option. Will you drop it and not come back to it because it is not important? Will you delegate it for one of your partners? Will you save the link and do it later because it is something that truly will help you understand yourself and how you run your business?
According to Hanselman, we should be “dropping as many good things as you can.” Dropping the ball is sometimes the right answer. Many of us, including myself, fall into the overachiever section. This makes saying “No” incredibly difficult. You must remember that the guilt of saying “Yes” is often more difficult than if you just say no in the beginning. If something is important enough it will come back.
Get that Weight Off Your Back
Another big productivity downer is what is known as psychic weight. This is the intangible feeling of weight from our list of to-dos in our life. Get as many of these to-do’s off your list if they are not important to your goals. Those 15 hours of back seasons of Lost or Breaking Bad will still be there when you have time to get to them. They should not be scratching at the back of your mind as you are trying to work.
This is when you will reflect on the things you were able to accomplish and if there were things that you were not able to accomplish than you should think of ways to better set yourself up for next week. It should not be a day to beat yourself up for not meeting your goals. Set yourself up for success. Don’t set up “guilt systems.” Guilt systems are that huge list of things you want to get done or read for the week that is really not feasible.
Schedule Your Pomdoro
Identify your incoming data streams: Twitter, Facebook, Google, E-mail, direct mail, texts, Skype, comments, contact forms, Instagram, live video streams, DVR, live TV shows, voicemail, ect. Sort through these data streams and choose which ones need to be turned off in order to be productive.
While in your Pomodoro be aware of your internal interruptions. This is all the times you hear your Facebook messenger go off and you pop over to see who it was or you just pop over to check on your e-mail. The first objective is to be aware of the number and type of internal interruptions you have. Observe them, accept them, and schedule them or delete them. Just being aware of these interruptions will help you participate in them less frequently. You may have a note on your internal interruptions that looks like, “I had 10 internal interruptions during my two Pomodoro session on Monday,” and then “I had 3 internal interruptions during my two Pomodoro session on Friday.”
Establish E-Mail Habits
Do not check your email in the morning. If you respond, they will respond back. Tending to e-mails first thing in the day can promptly take over your work time. Your behaviors teach other people how to treat you. If you want to spend your mornings responding back and forth to messages than go ahead but if your do not want that to happen don’t do it. Don’t put energy into things you don’t want more of. Schedule a time to check email. Put it on your calendar. Then be done with it. When responding to e-mails try to match them to the length of the sender. If they wrote a few lines, then respond in a few lines. If they wrote a few paragraphs consider making it a longer e-mail.
You could also go with the five sentences approach. This is when you make it your personal policy to only write five sentences as a response to an email regardless of recipient or subject. If you are using email as a chat you are using email wrong. Unless you are doing an e-mail campaign. E-mail is not where business happens. Meetings is where business happens. Email is where you start to establish plans and then you build upon them in meetings.
Don’t Multitask Unless you are Doubling-up
Get Tools to Help
Get some tools to help you get on track. We live in time where there is an app for everything. Get some. Evernote is a great app to take notes and make lists that is available in the cloud so you can access it where ever you go. OneNote is also a great app to organize notes, to-dos, and other things you need to keep organized. Instapaper is a program that takes all the things you want to save and read for later into your own personal digital newspaper to read when you have time. Bookmark things. Don’t keep 20 tabs of things you are going to come back to later. You won’t and it is distracting.
Think about what you can downsize and what interruptions you can throw out.
If it is not helping me to make money, if it’s not improving my life in some way, it’s mental clutter and it’s out.” _Christopher Hawkins
Let someone else be your expert. We live in a very DYI culture. You do not need to be an expert on everything. Let other people be an expert for you. Know what you need to know and let other people know things for you.
It is no secret that you need to be on the internet to be a successful small business. Facebook is the largest social network available with millions of users logging in everyday. This is where you want to be. Here are 9 reasons you need to have a FB business page.
1. Increase Awareness
If you are in business just to make money, unfortunately that will only take you so far. People want to know the why behind your business. Most birth workers are truly aimed at helping women through the birthing process whether that means getting business or not. We would rather you have the information you need rather than withholding information just to get money. Much about the natural birth world is that women are unaware that a problem even exists. This means a lot of what birth workers do is educate. Having a business page on FB allows you to create awareness of the maternity crisis here in the U.S. and a allows you a platform to not only educate the masses but give them a place to receive solutions to their problem (Your Services) once they are aware that they may need some help.
2. Drive Traffic
A FB business page is a great way to drive traffic to your business. Women tend to share stories, products, and services they like with each other and on other groups. This makes it more likely that their friends and other potential clients you may not have access to will get to check out your FB page and even your website. FB also has great features like a Check in button that allows people to say that they were at your business. This allows other people to know that you are a trusted place and will continue to drive traffic to your business.
3. Do Research
We all need to do research on our potential clients, our marketing efforts, and what is trending. A FB business page allows you to gather insights on these things. FB insights allows you to gather loads of information on your fan base such as their age, location, and interests. It lets you know how many people saw and liked a post. This allows you to track which of your posts are more popular and what kind of posts drive more traffic. You can also track how many likes you get and engagement of the page.
4. Get to More of Your Potential Customers
This plays on driving more traffic. By having a FB business page you are getting in front of more of your potential customers. You are able to be found by potential clients who are looking for you rather than those who you are just trying to find. People need to be able to easily find you. With millions of users checking their feed an average of 11 times a day you have the opportunity to get in front of a lot of eyes.
5. Build Relationships
The birth business is a bit different than other small businesses. Most businesses count on repeat business but other than subsequent children a birth worker is unlikely to receive repeat business any more than a few year apart. Women need to build a relationship with someone they may let into their birth space or help plan their birth. Women who are thinking about hiring someone or are learning about natural birth need to have a way to build a trusted relationship with you. A FB business page gives you a platform to do this. It also allows you a space to build relationships with others who may in turn refer their friends and family to a business they have been following that provides continuous quality content to them.
Your network is a huge part of your business. The more people you are able to network with and build professional relationship the better you will do. Knowing the right people will give you opportunities you never knew you had. Like other birth professionals pages and they will like yours so you have a space to share content and work with one another to provide women with great information.
7. It's Free
Who doesn't like FREE stuff? Creating a FB business page costs you nothing. Using free marketing where you can will save you money. FB is not only a free tool but it is an effective free tool.
8. Boost SEO
SEO stands for search engine optimization. This boils down to how easy it is for people to find your website when they are searching keywords. Google ranks your website. If people are able to find your FB business page by searching for keywords in Google that is a big win for your business.
9. You need to be mobile
We have turned into a mobile society. Everyone is on their mobile devices and you need to be able to get in front of them. One great thing about FB is that is converts your page for both desktop and mobile devices. People are able to check out your FB business page and locate your hours of operation, address, reviews, services, and call you directly from your FB page.
Hopefully these tips have helped you decided to create a FB business page for your birth worker business. If you are looking for more information on business tips for your birth worker business check out our Business Skills for Birth Workers E-course.
Since its inception over a year ago Nova Enterprises has been an organization solely dedicated to getting a birth center up and running in the southern suburbs of Chicago. After a year in the works we have now expanded our services to continue to raise money for the center. We now offer a variety of different birth worker related trainings and workshops. We continue to face challenges put forth by the medical organizations who refuse to allow licensing of professional midwives in the state. With the limited number of certified nurse midwives and even fewer midwives able to obtain agreements to work out of hospital our options for staffing the center are difficult. We hope that are continued efforts towards license of midwives and building a network of amazing people from this birth community will help us on our journey to provide the southern suburbs with a new free standing birth center.
MAKE YOUR OWN SUCCESS
Today is your day. You are the only thing standing in your way.