Charming Networkers

From your first conversation in the morning until your last conversation at night, you are networking. For networking to be worthwhile, you need to give as much as you take. Building networks is of great importance as it allows us to build relationships between like-minded people. In doing this, it is possible to form solid foundations of networks and contacts. This in turn can open doors to allow us to pick up the phone, send an email, offer information, and ask for help. Knowing whom to call can save time, money and effort. If you like or trust your contacts, it is possible to build strong relationships within your network, which become valuable social assets, that you can invest into benefit any future actions.

Networking is the art of building and sustaining mutual beneficial relationships. There is a worthwhile reason for all parties to participate. It happens at home, at work, in our community, with everyone. Networks can be formal or informal. Formal networks are usual set up with a specific goal in mind e.g. regular communications or meetings between people representing a particular service, organisation or issues. These networks are usually set up for people to work on something together e.g. evaluate community or consumer needs, evaluation of funding and for action groups to work on a particular issue. These networks could be for a short period of time or an ongoing basis. Informal networks can be natural friendships made from work or social circle etc they can also be deliberate connecting.

Many people have rolodex full of names. The question is, how many of them do you really want to help? Which of them would really help if you have called? If people don’t know much about you and what they can do for you and what you can do for them, your relationship is limited. Hence, keep your network information organised and up to date. Think realistally about the quality of your contacts and handle unhealthy relationships with utmost care.

Everyone can be useful in your life. Some are decision makers, and others influence them. What’s most important is that they share your values and their actions reflect the quality to your life. People grow and change throughout their life. It is worthwhile reviewing your networks periodically to see whether you have people in the right place for mutual success. We don’t live in a perfect world, so we can either spend time fighting our culture or accept reality and invest in best our best, on the outside as well as on the inside.

For maximum networking success, be aware of all three aspects of communication- your body language, your tone and your words. You should know how to make the best use of your business cards and get most from your contact cards in a way use technology to manage your connections. At the heart and soul of any networking interaction is a conversation, prepare for each conversation and meet person to person. It is always crucial to make a strong first impression and the stakes are higher at large events such as conferences and trade shows.

There is nothing that builds confidence more than knowing the best practices. Knowing best practices gives us peace of mind that we know how to conduct ourselves. These three points will help you connect better- Think before you dial, Prepare for events, meet more effectively. Always have your networking survival kit before you head to an event, conference or meeting e.g. name badges, company profile, product descriptions, work samples etc.

Few people follow up and even fewer know how to follow up, the difference between successful networking and unsuccessful networking is follow-up. Your goal should be to get your face in the place, whenever possible and express your thoughts. Keep your network strong and healthy. When you maintain your network, you will never have to start from scratch again. Be a lifelong learner and add networking to your portfolio talents.

It's not what you know but who you know that makes the difference!

Capitalizing- Power of the Customer

Technologies such as the Internet provide easy access to tremendous amounts of information, and people have been taking advantage of that to become smarter shoppers. They are using digital technologies to gather information, to find competing products, and to talk to other customers. Increasingly, they are using the Internet to avoid pushy marketers and to help them make their own purchasing decisions. The Internet is a great enabler of customer power. What many hoped would happen with the Internet is actually occurring, and it will change how you do business.

The proven sources of increased customer power are access to information, access to more alternatives, more simplified direct transactions, increasing communication between customers and increasing control over marketing contacts.

Another tricky area for marketers is the degree to which they should accept what customers tell them. Some customers will tell a company what they think it wants to hear, especially if it is rewarding them for being so open. Some will pay little attention to the truth of their answers, and others may deliberately lie- perhaps overstating a criticism to make sure it is not ignored. One outcome of taking everything the customer offers at face value is that supposedly “Customer led” brands begin to adopt similar values in an attempt to reflect the target market’s values and lifestyles.

Products and services as diverse as airline travel and food could feasibly share the attributes “empowering” and “approachable”. In the case of an airline research groups would have talked about the importance of being in control of their travel arrangements and how they expect a positive reaction from the carrier if arrangements need to be altered.

By comparison a convenience food brand could reflect the empowerment lifestyle attribute by offering consumers good food without effort. Approachability could relate to care-lines giving consumers the option to call up with nutritional or recipe queries. The USP is therefore buried by the desire to appeal to the customer.

The fickleness or lack of dependability of today’s consumers may be partly because they are baffled by huge choice they have and find it difficult to keep up with the constant flow of new goods and services onto the market. The complexity of 21st century life makes it difficult, even inappropriate, to be consistent. The way people behave may not even be consistent with the values they espouse. For example, at demonstrations outside Nike Town outlets against the company’s use of under-age labour in its outsourced manufacturing plants, some of the protesters sported Nike training shoes.

More choice, more competition and more information give consumers more power. In the past decade, a post-modern consumer has emerged who is happy to play the game as long as it is on his or her terms. Companies need to recognise this in their marketing operations, which should always remain relevant to the lifestyle of those they are trying to reach- but they must remember that this does not necessarily involve reflecting it. Statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited about it. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business.

Customer is a knot into which relationships are tied

The higher level of customer expectations that exists today is one of the reasons behind the fashion for customer relationship management (CRM) programmes. Relationship marketing has caused a great deal of excitement within the marketing industry. The big idea is that companies put their customers at the heart of their marketing efforts, asking for and listening to their wants and needs.

Product-focused marketing, which often resulted in a company contacting individuals numerous times with unrelated messages about different products, is being replaced by customer centred systems aimed at what might be called “joined-up” communications with customers and potential customers.

The marketing model shifts from mass marketing to one-to-one marketing where the classic market segments become, theoretically, a one- person segment. The growth of the customer-centric business strategy has led to an increasing emphasis on finding the overall profitability by customer and calculating a customer lifetime value.

Huge investments are being made in customer databases that collate information on all purchasing behaviour. Thereby, the theory goes, relationships are created that emulate the bond that customers had with their local shopkeeper in days gone by. Companies are beginning to understand that retaining customers over the long term is key to profitability.

For relationship marketing to be successful, marketing and IT departments must work together to define the kinds of memories and the elements of trust that characterised the ideal bond between shopper and shopkeeper. This means that a CRM initiative must be sanctioned and supported by senior management and embraced at entry level and by every department, to ensure that different parts of the company do not operate in a territorial way that undermines the effectiveness of what each part is doing.

The main problem with the CRM concept is that although companies are keen to build these associations, customers themselves are less interested. Yes, people want to deal with brands they trust, but loyalty is probably less to do with any emotive attachment they feel than with inertia relating to effort involved in switching allegiances. This is not to say that companies that listen to customers’ views are not appreciated; it is more that this has become an expectation.

Suspicion is also aroused when customer information is used too effectively. Analogies to a big brother state are invited when companies analyze data and market to customers accordingly. It might be a fair assumption that 27-year-old Mr. Gupta, who opened a joint account with his wife one year back and has moved to a bungalow with a garden, is planning to start his family. But when the bank uses this information to market a loan for decorating the nursery, Mr. Gupta might be somewhat unnerved.

The challenge for marketers is to get the balance right being helpful and being intrusive!

Novel Economy Novel Consumer

Few businesses will have failed to notice that consumers are different these days. Patrons have become more knowledgeable, more demanding and less dependable. These changes are of great significance, but first it is helpful to look at the background from which they have sprung.

Advertising in its earliest form was promoted by the industrial revolution in the 18th century. As manufacturing hit its stride on both sides of the Atlantic and producers rolled off assembly lines, firms needed ways to stimulate demand for the goods they were making. Mass advertising started to appear in the 19th century and took off in the 20th century.

The consumer society that emerged was one where products and services were clearly branded and brands were designed to reflect appealing values in a bid to differentiate them in the mind of the average shopper. Emotive characteristics were attributed to goods. If I buy this car, I will be happy”. Marketers promoted a lifestyle that people were encouraged to aspire to. Advertising was in the business of selling dreams.

From Dreams to Reality- But in the industrial age has given way to information age and today consumers are increasingly aware of the wiles and ways of clever marketers and slick advertisers. Mass production is no longer the dominant feature of the economy. The proliferation of the internet has made cultural and geographical barriers seem significant. Globalisation has meant that brands such as Coca-Cola and Kodak, McDonalds and Microsoft, Nike and Sony are known throughout the world.

As Naomi Klein points out in her book No Logo (published in 2000), many companies have been focusing more on creating a strong brand than the product itself. There is no longer better example shared the same desire- to establish their name as a trusted entity in the minds of potential consumers. With many of them, the service offering have turned out to be secondary to the image and perceived standing in the marketplace. was one of the first high profile dotcom causalities, despite a highly regarded advertising campaign and enviable brand recognition for such a young company. But it built the brand without making sure it could deliver what it promised, let alone make money and not run out of cash. So like many dotcoms that believed that if they created a strong brand everything else would follow, it failed.

The hard business facts are that consumers are becoming more intelligent in their reading of marketing messages and more discerning in their purchasing. The internet has made it much easier to compare products and prices, and, in general, those products and services benefit from more distribution channels and more easily accessible information.

Consumers are also becoming more intolerant of standards they find unacceptable. For example, age old practices whereby cheques paid in take several working days to clear while a debit card, telephone or Internet transaction with a bank takes almost instantaneously.

A customer is the most important visitor on our premises; he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to do so-
Mahatma Gandhi.

If you make the customer a promise... make sure you deliver it.

Advertising is Not Always a Glamorous Profession

Have you ever watched a commercial and said: "I can do better than that!" Then you may be considering a career in advertising. But how do you know if this career is right for you? See if these elements line up with your personality and career goals.

If you are creative and like to write or design, you've already added advertising to your top five list of career opportunities. Working in a major ad agency's creative department is a dream job for most but you may find you would rather work in a small ad agency, in-house agency or even on your own as a freelancer.

You'll be working as a team and your creative personality will not only be valued, it will be relied upon every day. Even if your copy comes back with red marks all over it, you're the one the
Creative Director is counting on to write that copy. If your design is marked up, you're still the one that needs to make the changes to get the ad completed on time.

Advertising jobs aren't just for creative guys. When you think of advertising, you may automatically imagine a room full of creative people hammering out ideas into one solid ad campaign. Copywriters, graphic designers, creative directors, art directors and other creative people do work together in these types of settings.

However, there are plenty of other type of people involved in a successful ad campaign that don't actually create the ads.
Account Executives, Traffic Managers, Media Coordinators, Media Directors, Researchers and other non-creative’s work in the advertising industry.

These people are just as crucial to a client's successful ad campaign as the creative’s who develop the campaign's concept. Many of the non-creative positions in advertising also work directly with the client. For example, an account executive is a liaison between the client and the creative department. He must work closely with both to make sure the client's needs are being met in every step of the ad campaign.

In this high pressure environment, folks have lost their jobs over a failed ad campaign. When a client pulls his money because he wasn't happy with the results, the proverbial heads do roll.

You're partially responsible for an ad campaign's success or failure. This is great when the campaign is a huge hit. You share in the glory. When the campaign is a flop, you also share in the bad times with your colleagues.

This high pressure environment isn't for everyone. Short deadlines, last minute changes and sitting in the boss office when it's time to take the heat for an unsuccessful ad campaign, have caused many ad professionals to change careers.

Working in advertising is rewarding and challenging. But for many people just starting out, the challenge seems to be getting that first big break into the industry. There are many ways you can overcome that barrier and land a job at an advertising company. Intern, Take entry level position, Freelance, Create ads and Contact the publishers.

Working in advertising is, in fact, a much respected profession. Unfortunately, there are those that think because you are trying to sell something through advertising that you're trying to trick or deceive the public.

There are plenty of opportunities for those who want to get started in this field. This doesn't mean you're going to get that corner office with a view, the prestigious income and creative control of advertising campaigns with your first job.

There's a lot of legwork you're going to have to do. But if you're serious about your career in the industry, you can break in.

Welcome to the world of advertising!