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By Jeff Bowman

In the past couple of years, I have touched on some of the strategic value of being an effective networker.

There are, however,  some  little tips that may assist you in separating yourself from the “guy I met hawking business cards” to “the that person I met who really seems keen on helping me grow my business”

Subtle differences in the way you approach people can make all the difference in the world when it comes to gaining a little face time. Simple things like not walking around with your hands in your pockets, it always reminds me of a Charlie Chaplin character. Carrying around a daytimer or business portfolio has always made me a little skeptical of a networker’s intentions, and I find myself avoiding the individual because somewhere deep in the back of my mind I imagine him immediately trying to sell me encyclopedias.  Hanging around the food area is usually a sign of someone who is unsure of how to approach others, so https://riccentre.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpthey wait until they come to them. If you really need a drink at the event, get it, consume it and move back into networking. A person who has to shift their drink to another hand to shake mine or grab a business card often leaves a moist impression.

What I like to see in a networker is energy! Not the kind of kinetic energy that has them bouncing around the room like a pinball, but a good strong enthusiastic smile, strong gait and a level of confidence when approaching and speaking to me. A smile is a prerequisite of attending networking events, and should be worn everywhere.

We’ve all met the shy introverted business owner who shows up because some business coach told them they need to network to grow their business. They often flounder until someone helps them out.  As an energetic networker, it is your responsibility to seek out those people and assist them, introduce them to others you know and bring them into a friendly conversation.

I still remember the first event I attended as a business owner 11 years ago.  Even though I am outgoing and love people, I was uncomfortable. Mike walked right over to me shook my hand, asked me who I was, what I did, and immediately said to me “What type of people are you hoping to meet” I could not have felt better walking out later that evening having met several people who I call friends today.

That leads me to the second key to effective networking.  The environment. Start out small if you are new to networking. Attend some small social functions with business friends.  Practice your approach in a non threatening friendly environment. You may fare much better in your efforts at approaching people in smaller settings. In my books, there are few social events or gatherings that are not opportunities to network. I learned early, that by speaking to people at events not specifically labeled networking, it was easier to talk about my business and ask about theirs.  There was no expectation from the other person that I had to be perfect, that I knew the rules of engagement or that it was anything other than friendly conversation. The larger events represent opportunities for selective networking.  You probably know more people, even casually who would be more than pleased to introduce you to contacts they know. The onus lies with you to ask them for the introduction.

Ensure that you understand the type of networking skill to utilize in different social environments.  Family events, you can be more relaxed and comfortable. More formal social events like wedding receptions, dinners, gala’s etc require strategic minimal introductions and business card handoffs with “I’ll follow up next week, thank you”. Chance meetings at sports events for instance may allow only a few minutes for a brief interaction, with follow up made the following week to explore possible connections. Dedicated networking events, breakfasts, speaker series offer the opportunity for professional networking on a large scale, with people who are there for the same purpose you are.  Make the most of them.

When you always have a business card with you, a smile on your face and a positive attitude towards helping others grow their business connections, you can handle any environment you find yourself in.

Reposted from The Marketing Pad

Jeff Bowman is a Sales and Marketing Specialist with The Marketing Pad Inc.. Follow Jeff’s blog at Blogpad or visit www.themarketingpad.com.


The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By Jeff Bowman

The sleepless nights, the aches and pains in your joints, chills, fatigue and the fever that accompanies the flu have beaten us all down at some time or other.  There is a virus floating around and if you aren’t careful and wash your hands, and avoid close contact with those around you who have it, you’re going to get it. The silver bullet in recent years seems to be the flu shot.  Get the shot avoid the flu.

Your business is also very susceptible to the flu, or Enterprise Influenza A.  It has been almost in a pandemic stage for a couple of years now.  Yes, most of us dismissed it as the common “CC Variant”, the Company Cold, and thought that it would simply run its course given a little time. Fact is, it may not have. Now you require a little shot in the arm to get things righted, make the business feel better so to speak. The wonder drug is “buttkus bootus”.  It is available with a prescription, but can be quite expensive since it isn’t covered by your typical business health plan.  I recommend that you get an over the counter self-administered version, a home remedy that was popularized in the 30’s, then the late 50’s and again in the 90’s.

The first thing you need to do is identify if your business truly has the flu, or is it lagging due to a cold or aging pains.  There are two main types of symptoms you need to recognize, the internal ones that you can feel, measure and that are a source of constant complaint, and the more visible signs that others can see such as the pallor of the business, fatigue etc.

Among the internal symptoms are low employee morale, increase in sick days, outdated technology, lower productivity and a general malaise towards sales and customer relationships.

The outwardly visible signs include things like decreased market share, a deterioration of your marketing effort, an old outdated brand image, and a total disregard for emerging social media.

The bad news is that if left untreated, Enterprise Influenza A can be deadly.  Over a period of time the business will become more and more lethargic, clients and suppliers will not want to come near you in case you are contagious and just as the flu drains your energy, this will drain your company revenues and resources.

The good news is that this is 100% treatable.

  • Identify the symptoms and what you believe are the base cause.
  • Consult a few experts for their opinion
  • Focus your efforts on the cure, and change habits that you might have developed over the last couple of years.
  • Create a plan of action to re-invigorate the business
  • Continue with the treatment, take all the medication prescribed
  • Take the temperature of the business regularly to see what is working

The environment over the last few years has been very conducive to this particular business ailment.  You may not have seen the gradual decline in health, but now is the time to take the chicken soup to get you back on your feet.  Some of the measures you need to take will take strong will power and conviction, but keep in mind a qualified consultant can offer advice but in the end, it is you that has to take the action.

Reposted from The Marketing Pad

Jeff Bowman is a Sales and Marketing Specialist with The Marketing Pad Inc.. Follow Jeff’s blog at Blogpad or visit www.themarketingpad.com.


The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By Jeff Bowman

Promotion is the key to business success.  You can have the greatest product or service in the world, but if no one knows how or where to get it, or the advantages of owning one, the effort has been lost.

Being in marketing for more than 25 years, I have seen a ton of promotions, everything from the bizarre to the fascinating, not to mention some of the dumbest and mundane promotional activities as well. The black and white ads that I grew up with in the back of 15 cent comic books, have morphed into 3D, full colour animations so real you can reach into the picture. The availability of short live spots on local television stations in the 80s really brought horrendous ads to the forefront, especially for supermarkets and auto dealerships. They were low-budget and corny, but deemed to be cost-effective.  There are all types of promotional activities available from extremely high-priced advertisements with big name stars, to the simple public appearance with little fanfare.

Recently  I had the pleasure of seeing both ends of the spectrum, attending a CD launch event and watching the Super bowl ads, I mean watching the Superbowl. At a cost of over $3 million  for a 30 second spot, companies had the opportunity of reaching over 100,000,000 viewers across North America. That was just the cost of the placement.  Some companies spent obscene amounts of money to produce the ad itself. Money deemed well spent by the corporate sponsors. When you’ve got the cash, spare no expense!

What about those who don’t have the cash? Well, the internet and social media have made access to an audience far cheaper. I received a Facebook invite to a CD launch at a local restaurant, by a young musician who I have known for a long time. The invite cost nothing.  The venue was very nice, and had a crowd that covered almost every demographic. A small table was set aside for CD sales. The performance was very good and well appreciated by the audience. The cost for the exposure for a local singer/songwriter, was small, but was deemed money well spent. Today, like the expensive Super Bowl ads, you can see Karl’s clips on the web. Definitely not in the same sphere of viewership as the more expensive ads, but a start none the less.

Keep in mind the type of activities that are available to small business today when planning your marketing approach.  The key is to know your audience, where they get information, and how they prefer to communicate.  It doesn’t have to cost a lot, but if done right, will be deemed money well spent.

Reposted from The Marketing Pad

Jeff Bowman is a Sales and Marketing Specialist with The Marketing Pad Inc.. Follow Jeff’s blog at Blogpad or visit www.themarketingpad.com.


The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By Jeff Bowman

In the past several months, I have witnessed the polar extremes in attitudes of businesses towards employee training.

I met one organization that is about to launch a corporate-wide training program for all of its employees.  Yup, I said ALL. Every employee from the bottom up will take part in some form of training ranging from cross training for other positions, leadership development to coping with stress in the workplace.  The cost in terms of “spend” dollars is relatively high when you factor in lost time for training, lunches, rewards, not to mention trainers.

I have also encountered organizations who feel that training is unmeasurable in terms of results, costly and therefore unwarranted at this time of tight budgets. Why the two different attitudes?

I wrote a couple of articles a year or so ago about the greatest bosses you could work for and some of the worst bosses you could have.  You may have heard the adage that sports teams adopt the persona of their coach, so to in businesses. If the leadership believes in enhancing employee’s self worth, developing them for future corporate roles and increasing returns on their investment through increased productivity, decreased turnover and higher overall satisfaction at work, then they will make the investment.

I haven’t yet mentioned that training will make them far more competitive in local and global marketplaces. Those that hold the belief that training is simply an added cost that reduces profitability, provides employees with paid time off and that the corporate succession strategy will take care of itself will invest little if anything in training that isn’t mandated for safety or regulatory reasons.

I have to admit that training for the sake of training is worse than no training at all. Nothing turns a good employee off faster than training that is not applicable to their daily activities and will never be used, or demeaning “parent-child” type lectures about how to do their jobs better, sometimes by people who have never done their job!

The choice is clear to employees looking to grow with an organization.  The choice was also very clear to the company that is instituting a corporate wide training agenda.  Through studies they found that 50% of their workforce will be retiring within 5-10 years.  There was no succession plan in place for managerial development, and skill sets had not kept pace with technology.  It was decided, and rightly so, that an investment was fully warranted for the development of a corporate culture which included systematic training, employee feedback and personalized skills upgrading programs for everyone. The cost of the training in “spend” can be fully measured now, the results over the next 5 years of implementation will be accrued through retention, process management, higher skills and dedication to a corporate culture that believes in the strength of its human and intellectual capital.

Reposted from The Marketing Pad

Jeff Bowman is a Sales and Marketing Specialist with The Marketing Pad Inc.. Follow Jeff’s blog at Blogpad or visit www.themarketingpad.com.


The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By Jeff Bowman

I’m back at the blogging desk. I took a break over Christmas to reflect on my previous year’s sum of mind dump in the blogosphere and to try to figure out if I had any impact at all on anyone who may have read one of my musings on business.

It’s not that I think my posts lacked in detail and significant information, just that the responses were limited and the number of people signing onto the blog was less than astronomical. Most importantly, I didn’t get ranked by eCairn in the top 150 Most Influential Bloggers. Geez.

Many of us are destined to spend our lives in the ‘houseleagues” of whatever it is we choose to do. Still, many of us may be in the top of our class locally – big fish, small pond. We dream of the big leagues, the equivalent to being at the top of our game, the best in our professional field, The NHLs, the NBAs, heck even the CFLs of the blogging and business world would be a dream come true.

But alas, as I look over the list of the most influential bloggers of 2010, The A Players, the cream of the information world, I realize that I am not likely to reach the summit. Those with the platinum keyboard, whose blogs are anticipated daily by throngs of information craving souls much like myself, have ruled the roost for a lifetime, which in the blogosphere is really only a couple of years.

So, I wonder what will it take to knock a Kingpin off their throne, or in my case to be ranked in the top million blogs?

I confirmed that the blog pioneers are still very much current and more popular than ever.

In the eCairn list of Most Influential Bloggers of 2008, it is no surprise to find Chris Brogan, Seth Godin, Steve Rubal, Jeremiah Owyang and Brian Solis well placed in the top 8. Fast Forward to Sept 29th, 2010 and the top 5 in order, are (can you guess?) Chris Brogan, Jeremiah Owyang, Brian Solis, Social Media Explorer and Seth Godin. Listen, they deserve to be there every year, they are fantastic and prolific bloggers. They have reputations that they have been building for years.

So, I’m dreaming of the big show, working up through the minor leagues and hoping to have an impact, no matter how minute, on someone’s small business.

I will continue to swing away, and offer comments and advice on the marketing, sales and business of today. I can always hope there is a scout in the stands. Hey, Ted Williams got discovered on YouTube! Well, not that Ted Williams.

Reposted from The Marketing Pad

Jeff Bowman is a Sales and Marketing Specialist with The Marketing Pad Inc.. Follow Jeff’s blog at Blogpad or visit www.themarketingpad.com.


The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By Jeff Bowman

It happens every so often, that something strikes me as a little odd. Okay, it happens a lot.

The other night, I awoke to nature’s beckoning.  I stumbled to the bathroom and answered the call. It took a minute or two, but as my eyes became accustomed to the surroundings, it struck me that everywhere I looked, there were lights. The GFI switch in the bathroom has an LED, as I walked to the hall I could see the lights in the kitchen to the left of me and lights coming from the bedroom to my right.

It occurred to me then, that we have become accustomed to the many light emitting appliances, switches and electrical devices that permeate our every night life. I thought to myself that when I was a child, I grew quite accustomed to counting the steps to the bedroom door, and down the hall to the bathroom.  I had to, it was always pitch black.  I had no night lights, lighted switches, radio or cable box LED lights to guide my passage.

I decided to go to the kitchen, where of course, the microwave lights and the stove lights provided a dim hue. The smoke detector was glowing faintly in the hall. Despite it being very late at night, there was a border of light framing the front window blind from outside. I walked over and opened the blind and looked down the street. Aside from the street lights, the lawns and houses were lit up like, well, Christmas trees.

It reminded me of Clark Griswold in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  There were lights as far as I could see. Not just lights, thousands of lights, inflatable snowmen, reindeer and Santas, a globe with blowing snow and a penguin inside. The lights and the fans and the mechanical lazy susans, which drive the movements spinning the wheels on the hydro meters.

In my day, downtown Flowertown was nicely decorated with sparse strings of lights over storefronts with tinsel and decorative balls adorning doors, as were the majority of homes. A nighttime drive on Christmas Eve to see the lights in other parts of the town was a tradition. 8 or 9 strings of lights together was a real show, and if they blinked, well that was something.

Fast forward to today, holiday decorations are a booming industry. The bigger the better and you have to have more lights than your neighbors! I thought that we were all supposed to conserve electricity? The old 7 watt screw in bulbs have all but been replaced by LEDs, and because they are energy efficient we can use hundreds of them to create light displays that can be seen in space.

I love Christmas, the lights are spectacular, the decorations are amazing, and I guess maybe I’m a little jealous of what we have today compared to when I was younger.

As I walked back to my bedroom, I noticed the clock on the radio flashing brightly at me. I had been up almost 20 minutes staring into the lighted neighborhood.  It was a beautiful sight to behold. I climbed back into bed and drew the blankets up around me. I closed my eyes and realized that darkness is hard to come by these days. I guess that illumination is progress!

Did Edison ever imagine this?

Reposted from The Marketing Pad

Jeff Bowman is a Sales and Marketing Specialist with The Marketing Pad Inc.. Follow Jeff’s blog at Blogpad or visit www.themarketingpad.com.


The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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By Jeff Bowman

2011 will bring many of the same challenges that we experienced in 2010, so we need to highlight our areas of success and plan around them moving forward as a sales organization.

It is important to stress that business should not operate in Silos, with marketing having their planning meetings, finance theirs and so on.  A sound strategic sales plan is fully interdependent on the actions of every other employee in the company.  If operations decide to change shipping procedures for example it may impact sales, finance clamping down on days outstanding will result in a more difficult selling experience and then we may have new product introductions or changes in marketing budgets that directly affect sales. An overarching plan must be in place that incorporates the individual ideas, plans and actions from every department.

Here are the top 5 areas to consider for your sales department heading into 2011.

5.         The salesforce should meet to debrief about their experience during 2010. Special attention should be paid to what was done right, what made the sales process easier,  what made clients more acceptable to their calls.  It is those things that can be built on for the coming year.  There will always be problem areas for sales in any organization,   however focusing on the accomplishments creates a more driven and motivated sales representative. Who enjoys sitting in a meeting being reminded of negative sales trends,  reduction of sales efforts, cut backs in marketing.  These are your frontline people, keep them interested!

4.         Review your past and current customer base to determine if it grew, where did any  increase or decrease come from, and discuss any trends that might have contributed to the growth and/or areas for future growth.

3.         Rationalize the activities of the salesforce, including any customer service effort, calls made by upper management with the reps, influence from the marketing tools that were made available, time available for face to face as opposed to face to screen, and  the record keeping activities required by management.

2.         Train your number one source of revenue generation, the salesforce.  It doesn’t end with the salespeople as most companies think.  Every person who has any potential opportunity to interact with a client is a sales vehicle. It doesn’t take much to train everyone in your organization some basic sales skills. Weight the cost of a lost sale (against the cost of a sales training workshop)

1.         Analyze the sales potential that exists in every territory or region that you sell into. This is not an exercise for the faint of heart, or even for the experienced salesperson.  The potential is made up of many variables including the competitive environment, trends, population growth, demographics and is closely affixed to marketing activities. I have  been working with businesses for 20 years in looking at “real” versus “imagined”   potential, and I can tell you a good understanding results in increased recognition of untapped potential.

Sales planning for the New Year is critical for growth and recognition of opportunities.  The process needs to be underway now, not in the first quarter.

Have you started planning yet?

Reposted from The Marketing Pad

Jeff Bowman is a Sales and Marketing Specialist with The Marketing Pad Inc.. Follow Jeff’s blog at Blogpad or visit www.themarketingpad.com.


The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.

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