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"The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible"

~ Anonymous

Tea Time with Liv


It seems there are many that are confused about networking. You here this term often but rarely is it practiced in many circles. Let's talk about it for a bit.

Networking is not joining groups and sites solely to advertise to a group of people then wait for the sales to come in. It is connecting and utilizing your resources to build and shape your business. This can be a simple exchange of leads and referrals as well as the exchange of information between each other.

To network you must interact beyond just giving out your information. Talk to others. Build trust and be visible. This is not the time to sell a product/service. This is the time to build connections. This is your time to stand out. You certainly cannot be memorable if you are quiet and behind the scenes.

You likely network now without realizing that is what you are doing. You probably network frequently in your personal life and don't even know it. How many times have you asked a family member if they know someone who can fix your car, get boxes so you can move, know a good restaurant to eat at? This is networking. If you can do it for your personal life, you can do it for your business.

Utilize what other WAHMs have available to you. Need professional business cards? Utilize fellow WAHM Kris with WAHM Promo by Designer Wrappers. Holding a party and need refreshments? Who do you know that sells food products? Need a cute and practical thank you gift? Use a fellow WAHM who hand pours candles such as LunaWolfs Mystical Essence.

When you network you are building connections that will generate opportunities to make money. You do this with the exchange of information. The best way is to connect with your fellow WAHMs since you are all WAHMs yourself. Find a message board related to networking such as http://livswahmblog.proboards.com/index.cgi and your target market. You can branch out but start where you know. Network in other areas of your niche. You don't want

Have a clear understanding of what you do (type of business), why you do it(what you like about your business), for whom you do it (company), and what makes what you do special and unique from what others are doing in the same field. To get referrals, you must first have a clear understanding of what you do that you can easily explain to others. If you don't understand why you do what you do, others will not either and they will not refer others to you.

Follow through in a timely manner on all referrals given to you. When people give you referrals, your actions are a reflection upon them. If you make them look bad by being an unreliable referral, you can bet you will not receive referrals from that person again no matter how many times you refer to them. Respect and honor that relationship and your referrals will continue to flow in. Don't burn bridges you are trying to build.

When you meet others to network with, get a name, company, website, email. Know who offers what products and service and keep a list. Keep a box of index cards and whenever possible a couple business cards for that person. You never know when someones product/service will come in handy. Use this list to refer others to a WAHM as well. Just because you can't sell it to a customer does not mean you can't refer them. This is part of the customer relationship you should be building with every customer you have. They have a need, you fulfill it even if that means you have no options within your own products. This alone can give your customer the relief they are not just a source of $$$ but you want to help them. This relationships makes a customer loyal and loyal customers are return customers.

Be polite when contacting referrals and you network with. Watch your language. The use of curse words is an instant turn off. Avoid big words. Avoid company jargon. You need to keep it simple, confident, short, sweet, and to the point. Let others talk and ask questions. If you talk about nothing but yourself, you come off self centered and not worthy of connecting with. First impressions are lasting impressions. Don't let others think low of you because of your choice of words and tone.

Networking is a skill you want to learn and master. It does not come overnight. Only repetition, watching, and learning will accomplish this. This is a skill that will last a lifetime and certainly beneficial in every way.

Olivia Vidal
© 2009

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NEW Message Board

I have opened a brand new message board - Liv's WAHM Blog Message Board. Come learn how to build your business and share your experiences. While other message boards for WAHMs are there to socialize and advertise, we are here to teach and network. While we have areas for you to socialize and interact with other WAHMs, our focus is coming together and learning what it takes to become a successful business. Find tips, articles, and support. If you are currently a work at home mother or looking to become a work at home mother, this is the place for you.

Come join us at http://livswahmblog.proboards.com/index.cgi

But it's just not working!

I posted a similar article in January 2008. I am revisiting that article with some added info and updates.

The most common thing I hear from WAHMs who can't seem to get their business off the ground is "but it's not working." I have to ask, why is it not working? What have you done? When you say you are working your business, what does that mean?

Write down what you have done. List everything including who you have told. You will end up seeing you aren't doing as much as you thought. It could be poor ad writing. You ad should be exciting, informative, leaves them wanting more. Should have a call to action - Hurry! Limited time! 1 day left! Don't miss out! Your ad should not be over written with big words or too long. Your reader will become bored. Have someone read your ad and give you their thoughts. Look for those who will be unbiased rather than friends who will compliment and support you not matter what. Sadly friends praise you when they should be telling you what is wrong. Then again they may not even know.

List your goals. Start with short term goals. Be realistic. You don't want to be able to buy a brand new house in 1 month but maybe you would like to pay for the light bill. Maybe your goal is to make senior consultant. What will it take to get there? Once you know the direction you are heading, follow it. If you wander aimlessly you will get nowhere. Have a direction.

Advertising in the wrong areas (ex. advertising beef jerky on a jean site) is a big one. You can't very well sell a product if you aren't selling it to people who need it. Know your market. You can't effectively sell without knowing who you are selling to. Know this before you set out on a marketing campaign.

Nobody knows about your business. You sent out an email to everyone you know about your business but did anyone read it? Follow up. Hold a contest. Invite guests to an open house where you have the chance to talk to your customers one on one. Offer a scavenger hunt where completed hunts earn a special discount or a raffle at the end to win product. Get those customers reading your ads and visiting your site.

Your are not showing how excited you are. Have you ever come across a cashier or waitress that was less than pleasant? Did that make you want to return or did you complain about how rude or cold they were? How about a home party where the consultant was dull and not very exciting. Did you buy anything? If you aren't excited, you can't expect your customer to be excited. Even on your worst days, smile. If you smile it will carry through into how you talk about your product and your business. Excitement creates more excitement in others. Excited people buy. Get them excited.

Maybe people are turned off when they ask for one thing and you don't give it to them. Nothing is worse than a consultant or representative who is not willing to work with you but expects you to buy from them. If you can't give what they ask, offer options. Just because you don't have exactly what they want doesn't mean they don't want to buy. Maybe you have an option they never thought about before. Introduce them to it.

Someone asks for a brochure, are you handing them one? Or are you pushing them off for a week because you are out? Are you sending them to a website instead because "you don't have catalogs?" Being out of catalogs or brochures are fine but make sure if you send them to a website, you are not brushing them off. Let them know you gave your last one away and you have more coming. In the meantime you have a website they can look over until the catalog or brochure arrives. Get an address or something and get them a brochure or catalog. Do not leave this customer hanging. Always follow through. Never tell them you don't have any and they have to look at a website. They don't have to look at anything and usually won't when you tell them to.

They are looking for a new company and ask for a sample. Are you willing to give them one? If not, why? Invest in samples if your company offers them. Maybe you can find a better way to spend $25 but that $25 investment today can turn into $100 in orders later. Never leave a customer empty handed no matter the reason for no samples. Give them something even if just a piece of paper with your info and make sure you get theirs. Follow up with any customer who you give samples to. Be ready and willing to answer questions. Make them remember it was you who gave them samples. Never ever tell them you will only give them samples if they are truly serious because samples are expensive. Talk about a turn off. You just implied you care more about the cost of a sample then their business. You just made them feel of no value to you. That is not the impression you want to leave a customer with.

You have told everyone about your business and are sure they know it's you with the new candles. Now telling everyone about your business is the first step but it's far from the final step. People know about it but now they need a reason to buy. Have you given them one? Just telling someone about your business doesn't make them buy. In the same turn today may be a "no" but tomorrow may be a "yes". Everything takes work. There is no such thing as a WAHM business where you can pay the bills without getting out there and working. Building locally is easier than building online but you have to work your business. It can happen but YOU need to make it happen.

Close the deal. When a customer asks about a product, LISTEN to them. Know what they are wanting and needing. Show them options then ask them help them place an order. You can end off with something like "I can help you order that now. How many would you like?" or "we have blue and pink, which color would you like me to order for you?". Don't send them to your site and wait for them to order. Follow through and close the sale. Many times this alone is why it is "not working". You left the customer to fend for themselves and they went elsewhere.

Tell everyone about your business. They don't know if you don't tell. Put your business link into your email signature. Make sure when you add your link, add http:// before your website. Example http://www.yourwebsite.com This makes your link live and clickable. If it's clickable, people are more likely to click on it and see what you offer. If you need to add html to make a link live use this code:

Next, find others who need what you offer. Find message boards related to your market. If your market is woman, find message boards related to mothers, WAHM, SAHM, career moms, women, etc. You can even join message boards of interest to you. Like scrapbooks? Join a scrapbook community. If you are interested, you will socialize and get to know others. Message boards are great because you get to know your market. DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT just join message boards to advertise. If this is all you do, you just won a ticket to ignore land.

Next look for groups dedicated to to your market. Yahoo! and MSN are filled with these groups.
Join Profile sites such as Cafemom.com Facebook. While MySpace is great for friends and such, it's lousy for making money so avoid the profile that are nothing but a full page ad. They will be useless and people will avoid it because they will think you are nothing but a spam bot. Does that mean don't advertise there? Absolutely not just be realistic about your expectations and careful how you advertise. Social networks are an untapped venue because they are used incorrectly to advertise. These are social networks so socialize. Toss in the occasional ad and utilize the blog function.

Buy ad space. Look for websites that are related to what you offer. Ad space can be as little as $1 per month to $25 per month. Join banner exchanges. Get your business banner in rotation. If you don't have banners to promote your business, make one or have one made for you. These are relatively inexpensive. Free always sounds better but you can't do free forever. Buy prime advertising on high PageRank sites. You can check a sites page rank at http://www.prchecker.info/check_page_rank.php. 1 is the lowest with 10 being the highest. The higher the PageRank the higher the ad fees. Also keep in mind PageRank does not update all the time. Just because a site shows a low PageRank does not mean they are worthless. Use PageRank as a guide not a rule.

Join traffic exchanges. Get your name out there. Know the traffic exchange you join as some are filled with nothing more than get rich schemes. Join 1 or 2 relate to your target market.

Write blogs about your products/service, how to use them, tips and tricks, about business, etc. Show you are knowledgeable about your product and field of choice. People buy from professionals who are successful and knowledgeable. Why? Because they know you will be around.

When talking about your business, talk success. Do not talk about low sales. Do not talk about not being able to pay the bills. Here is why; if you do not seem successful, you will probably be out of business in a short amount of time. Why buy from you if they aren't sure you will be around when they need you again? If you come off successful you appear reliable. This isn't lying. This is showing your success. Maybe this months success was 1 $5 sale. A sale is a sale. Maybe you didn't get a sale but you handed out 100 fliers. That is successful. So next time asks you "how are you" or "how are things going" you respond "Great! I made a sale yesterday" or "I passed out (such and such amount of) business cards and I am so excited".

Hold an online party. These are very simple and a great way to get your name out there. You will commonly find vendor parties held with several at once and you reserve 30 minute time slots to present your product/service. These run anywhere from $1- $5 and upwards for special dates such as Christmas. You can also reserve rooms for longer periods to present during an exclusive party. Exclusive rentals range from $5- $25 for any where from 2 hours to all day. This is a better option as you are not rushed and you can spend time with your customers. Both get your name out there.

Have you submitted your website to search engines? While that thought sounds expensive, you can submit your site for free! It just takes a little searching.
Here are ones I use regularly:

Network your heart out. Everybody knows someone who knows someone who can get you what you need. That is called networking. Use those people around you to get your name out. Keep an ear open. Someone may know someone who needs exactly what you have to offer. Are you in the PTA, in the auxiliary of a woman's club, a soccer mom, etc? You can network. Contact your local Small Business Administration. Ask about business expos. Contact your Chamber of Commerce. Offer opportunity brochures for new residents needing to find work. Maybe you sell Tupperware. Offer welcome baskets through the Chamber of Commerce for new residents of the city. Get involved with charities. Not only are you doing something good to help others, you are getting your name out there. Offer a part of your sales or commissions to charity. Join the board of the local charity. This is also another great way to network.

These are only a few ways to get off and running. Just remember you need to get out there and network and show people they need you. If one thing doesn't work, try something else until it does. Don't just try something once though. Try it several times and give it a real shot. Your business will only build and thrive based on your hard work and is nobody's responsibility but your own. Do your research, seek out new and creative ways to get your name and business out there. Don't hide. The more you hide, the less you are seen. Make yourself known. Nothing is easy but it does get easier. There is no such thing as quick and fast sales without hard work. if that is the line you are sold, it probably isn't true.

While I am by no means an expert, I have been through the ups and downs of building a home business and continue to build even now. It never ends no matter what steps you have taken. You need to give your business time every day even if only 30 minutes. You only get what you give. If you only have 10 minutes a week, what return do you expect to get back?
There is no excuse in success but failure is full of them. The only things holding you back are what you are not willing to do for your business. Don't give up after the first no. The 11th try may be your yes.

Now get out there and work!

Olivia Vidal
© 2009

Just had to share!

Maple Treats. I found this company last year and been purchasing for awhile. I love these! I especially love the moose heads from Maple Treats.

Click on the banner and take a look at Maple Treats. They have several treats even real maple syrup. This is no imitation. For years that is what I battled. Not with this company. This has the real maple flavor I was seeking. That is because they are made with real maple syrup. Maple Treats is based in Michigan and these treats are made in Michigan. Not a desert town in the southern US.

I highly and personally recommend the maple moose heads, maple taffy, and maple pops. These are my all time favorites.

Want to try a few? I recommend the moose-tery sampler.
You get:

1 - Bag Moose Droppings
1 - Bag of 32 Maple toffee, Maple Pops or Hard Candy
1 - Moose Head Maple Sugar

for only $11.48+ shipping. This is the best way to get a little taste of everything and you save about $5. You can find these in the gift bag section.

They also have a maple tastee set that includes:

1 bottle of Syrup
8 Maple Pops
12 Maple Flavored Toffees

for only $10

I am a true fan of Maple Treats and will stay a customer as long as they are around.

FREE Advertising

Some say there is no such thing but there is. You can advertise your business and sales for free on several areas of the Internet.

Some examples of free advertising are message boards, top 100 lists, traffic exchanges, link exchanges, blogs, plug boards, social networks, and even your email.

Message Boards:
Message boards are great because not only do you post ads but you also get to know your target market. Building relationships is essential in online marketing. Because you are at somewhat of a disadvantage of not being able to show product up front, you need to find creative ways to work around this.

Here are a couple message boards to get you started:

Top 100 Lists:
Top 100 are great for page rank and getting web crawlers all over your site. The more your link is out there, the better. Many of those submitting to these lists also click on your site. These generate traffic that can result in sales or even team members. While many feel they are a waste of time, take advantage. These can be your best friend. The more people see your site, the more likely they are to remember it when it comes to shopping.

Here are a couple top 100 lists to get you started to get you started:

Traffic Exchanges:
I know some are not a fan of these and while they can be work to keep up with, these can be very rewarding. This is especially true when first starting out. The main thing is to get your name out there. These do just that. You may reach an audience you had no access to previously. I do recommend not signing up for several. Find a few that are recommended to you, have a professional appearance, and are targeting your needed audience. Example is if you are selling diapers, you do not want to get on an exchange that is geared towards techs or men. Periodically change your sites in these, stop and start your site in rotation (meaning only apply a certain amount of rotation credits and stop when these run out for a short time). While you want to get your name out there you do not want over kill. You can have the best site there is but if that is the only thing you see all day, every day, your audience is bored. Think about this when you are watching a show and the same commercial is played over and over again. Another great way to use a traffic exchange is they almost all have a chat or shout out box. Each day you log in to surf, post a quick blurb with your link or any specials you have going. You can also do this in the surf and chat sections.

Here are a couple traffic exchanges to get you started to get you started:

Link Exchange:
This can be the tricky one but can work very well. This is where you and another person place each other's link on your website. This is why this one can be tricky. If you do not have a website this is not able to be done. You can however setup a free website using hosts such as webs.com. While I don't recommend these for everyday business these are great for helping each other out and using these. Just make sure you site is not like everyone else, you are not filled with nothing but banners, and you offer some great information. Just links and banners will not work and most people will not click on them because of it. Use this valuable space properly. If you are selling an item, have a picture, and a pay button. Do not have your products set to take you off on another site. It defeats the purpose. If you do not wish to sell product, offer helpful tips, recipes, even a blog.

Social Networks:
Social networks are sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Cafemom, Tagged, and so forth. These can often be over used but the potential to use and how they are used are dramatically under used. These pages are there to be social not just one big advertisement. Gain friends and get to know them. Post the occasional ad but keep these fun. This is why many go wrong on these pages. They use them as ads and people get tired of them. Facebook allows you to create a page just for your business. In this case make it about your business. Many social networks allow creation of groups. Create groups. These can be groups for fans of your product, team members, or groups just to network with others in your niche. DO NOT directly sell products on these sites. Many times these are in direct violation. These are not for you to sell such as a shopping website. If you are caught or reported your page will be deleted and you may be banned. Nobody wants to do business with someone who cannot follow the rules.

Everyone has a blog these days. They go from personal to informational to advertisements. If you have a business, you need a blog. Post sales, teach people about your product, address a need and why your product satisfies this. Don't stop there. Post your tips as a mom balancing work and home. Post your own recipe that you have created and been serving to your family. Have a holiday coming up? Share why this holiday is special not just a holiday sale. Blogs are online journals. Use them as such.

Plug Boards:
These are a bit old school but still widely popular. Use them. These are more exposure for those not only visiting the plug boards but also visiting the site these are placed on. I personally recommend plug boards for 125x125 banners or 468x60 banners. These are more visible and more easily found. The smaller 88x31 will get your link out there but can often become lost in a sea of mini banners.

The last place your link should always be is your email signature. Many times people are clicking on these to see what you offer. This is traffic and traffic can equal sales and recruits. Your signature should always be attached to all outgoing emails no matter new or replies.

While these paid ads can be expensive, some papers offer free ad space when they need fillers. College papers are a great example of this. This may take some leg work but find all the papers available in your area including free papers and see who offers this.

City websites:
How many cities these days do not have a website. Many are offering free classifieds on their site. This is very useful. Not only are you getting the attention of locals but also those interested in visiting or relocating. This is a great place to post recruiting ads. Contact your local chamber of commerce to inquire about all websites available for your city. You will be surprised as there may be a few brand new sites who are needing exposure. This is when you can also give back. Get your ad space then pass out the new site.

This list is not all inclusive. These are just a jumping off point to show you free ads are possible. You have to look for the right spot. Just placing your website and ad anywhere will not cut it. Be selective and where your target audience will be exposed to what you have to offer.

FREE Handbag Caddy

Hurry on over to So Chic Bag Boutique and join in on March Madness. Specials are popping up all over the place.

This week receive a FREE Heart Handbag Caddy in gold or silver with your purchase of $30* or more. ($8 value)

Keep your handbag safe from thieves, germs, and save space. Easily folds and stores in your handbag pockets. Works almost anywhere.

These won't last forever so get yours now. Giveaway ends Sunday March 15 or while supplies last.

Get yours today! Only at So Chic Bag Boutique


Do you recycle?

There is an ever increasing number of families recycling for a better environment. This is spilling over to companies. Many large companies already practice this even if you are not aware of it. Small businesses are the least noticed in this growing practice for a better world.

What does your company do to help join the the in the preservation of our environment?

LunaWolfs Mystical Essence has announced a recycling program on their website:

ANNOUNCING the LWME Recycle Program!

LunaWolf's Mystical Essence now offers a recycling program, which is our way of given back a bit to the earth.

We accept used candle jars, containers that can be used for candles.
The jars can be from our company or from any other you wish to send in.

For every box received, you will receive a gift voucher for a purchase at LunaWolf's. The vouchers will be determined based on the quality of the jars/containers as well as the quantity, and will range from $2 - $10.

No limit on the amount of vouchers you can receive.

Please email: sales@lunawolfsmysticalessence.com for shipping address.

Each voucher is good for 1 year from date of box received.

We'll even do the cleaning, no need to clean them out before sending.

I will be featuring WAHM companies on St. Patrick's Day who practice healthy recycling habits and are environmentally friendly.

If you would like your company featured, please send the following information to disneyandmickeyfan@yahoo.com with subject line "WAHM Recycle":

Company name:
Website URL:
Company description:
How does your company recycle or become more environmentally friendly:

I will accept submissions until 3/13/2009. The listing will be made available on St. Patrick's Day.

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