Blog Content Ideas: Networking & Elicitation

Staring at the Blank Canvas. What to Write.

Many small business owners struggle to come up with ideas for content marketing. It’s perfectly understandable. Aside from HR tasks, payroll, bookkeeping, and, well, the actual business of selling their product or service, there is barely time to brainstorm blog ideas. There are a number of different ways to come up with post ideas from our everyday lives. One great content source: the business networking and professional meetings we all attend.

 

marketing networking small businesses puget sound

 

The value of taking part in local business networking events and professional meetings for digital marketing.

Taking part in local business networking events and professional meetings or seminars has multiple levels of intrinsic value (even for introverts).

  • First, building a relationship with other professionals leads to client-creating connections;
  • Second, these events are great providers of continuing education for professionals, allowing them to see what potential clients need them to know or instructing them on practical skills (in the case of professional seminars); and,
  • Third, alert professionals at events are gaining valuable information regarding topics that they need to cover on their digital marketing platforms.

The first two benefits seem obvious: making personal connections and developing our skills are the primary reasons most attend business events (at the very least, they are there to get continuing professional education credit). The third benefit may be less obvious. When one attends a business event and listens to others talk about their challenges, opportunities, and successes, valuable insight is gained on what matters to prospective clients.

 

blogging content marketing content creation

 

Eliciting information about what other professionals consider important should guide our content marketing

When I worked in the intelligence and national security field, we talked about the skill of gleaning important information without directly asking someone “what’s important to you?” For other professions, elicitation may not be something formally studied or discussed, even though it has a universal value.

During networking meetings and professional seminars, professionals should be eliciting the following information from prospective clients:

  • what are their current challenges?
  • where are they experiencing opportunities?
  • what personal experiences or life changes are they going through that relate to the professional’s business?
  • what motivates them?

When prospective clients discuss their current challenges, pay attention.  Those challenges provide content ideas – blog posts offering ways to help solve those problems for those prospective clients and countless others. Even when they say that they cannot identify problems, that is, in essence, identifying the problem of not knowing how to assess a business’ strengths and weaknesses.

When someone at a networking event talks about how they are landing new opportunities with a certain type of client or doing certain types of work (such as when a real estate agent talks about having a string of luck selling homes in a particular town), this is a lead to content creation related to that business’ niche. Using the given example, this could mean posts for services geared to new residents in that community, or for services for overly busy real estate agents, or something equally related to the change in that market.

Similarly, businesses should be gearing their marketing posts to personal and professional changes in the lives of those with whom they do business. The business environment, like any ecosystem, relies on the symbiosis between enterprises. A remodeling company can talk about things which can be done to improve homes for the growing senior population. An attorney can write about how businesses can improve collections when the market is weak.

Create Value

In short, attending networking events provides insight into the needs, wants, successes, and failures experienced by peers. Writing posts geared to those themes will create value for your audience.

 

Todd Brogowski, Todd's Written Word

Todd is a combat veteran and digital marketing consultant who focuses on providing small to mid-sized businesses with the connections they need to increase their revenue in an increasingly crowded market. A former member of the Special Operations community and the Intelligence and National Security Command, Todd has a bachelor’s degree from Boston College, a doctorate from Georgetown University, and a post-graduate certificate from Cornell University.

Todd Brogowski, Writer – Todd’s Written Word

Simplicity and Perceived Value

Rhonda Negard

Rhonda has more than 20 years of experience in graphic design and marketing. She has substantial experience in the association, financial services, insurance, healthcare and construction industries. She hold a Master’s degree in Communications from the University of the Incarnate Word and a Bachelor’s degree from Sam Houston State University.

Rhonda NegardGraphic Designer, Consultant, Speaker – Fat Dog Creatives

Recap of CAT Event “Transitions: Ideas to Reality”

Transitions: Ideas to Reality Recap

It was an inspiring, tasty and toe tapping night filled with wonderful entertainment and insights from very talented creatives and business owners from our local community.

Paul Gerard on Creating the World Around You

The evening started with Paul Gerard on the guitar and vocals. One song stood out from the rest for the creative crowd. Walk About told the story of creation according to the Aboriginal people. Paul informed us songwriters would sing or speak the world around them into existence. If they didn’t speak about it, the destination they hoped for wouldn’t show up. For those who followed the songs, they served as ‘maps’.

For creatives, if you’re unable to put form to your ideas, you cannot manifest them.

Innovative and Inspiring Photography

Tyler Miller of Tyler Miller Photography displayed her unique digital art that blends patriotism, mystery, and the female soldier.

 

Lazzat Olarti of Lazzat Photography displayed her talent for unique composition, humor, and sophistication in her photography.

 

Brüks Bars on Sticking to Your Values

“Meticulous Quality over Easy Quantity”

Brooke Muldoon and her husband Sean create healthy snack bars that taste like food you want to eat. Their labor of love is known as Brüks Bars. They are gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free and vegan, made from whole ingredients.  Brooke inspired us, sharing their journey with all the twists and turns of a company built through painstaking work and care.

Early on they talked with a commercial bakery which would allow them to ramp up production AND take it out of their own kitchen. The couple had made every bar in their own home. They were looking forward to increasing production while shifting their attention to more business-building activities.

The facility made gluten products in a mixer a few feet away and they were ensured it would not be a problem. During a tour, Brooke noticed the potential for contamination after a worker poured a mix for another product. Even though money and time had been invested, Brooke and Sean chose to continue using their own kitchen. One of their core values is remaining gluten-free. They knew they needed to maintain control to deliver what they promised. Although it was a tough decision, they’re glad they stuck to it. The decision proved to them it’s better to grow a business based on their values versus taking the easy route.

In Brooke’s words, “We chose meticulous quality over easy quantity.”

Ferguson Architecture on Bigger Vision

Ben Ferguson of Ferguson Architecture has been an architect for many years, recently venturing out on his own. He took this bold step with faith in his vision. That vision was collaborating with clients to make breathtaking structures that tell a story and reflect character. To make it happen, Ben took some very practical steps, starting with a detailed business plan which was numbers-driven. These plans assured him he’d be financially stable to start his own firm.

Ben had previously spent a healthy amount of time cultivating relationships. The time he invested as an employee ensured he’d have no problem staying busy. “From Day 1 I was swamped with business from other clients and relationships.”

Soon after, it was time to get the band back together. Ben went back to his former coworkers and asked them to trust in his vision and take the leap with him. He convinced one to come on board, and then a second. Currently, the company employs 11 workers, all committed and adding to the vision.

“I’ve always wanted to thrive in life. My definition of thriving is working with talented individuals, working on amazing projects, and enjoying a good quality of life.” By creating new and exciting projects and loving what he does, Ben is doing that today.

Wane + Flitch on Creating a Unique Experience

Jeff Wolf and his team at Wane + Flitch (W+F) are providing Do-It-Yourselfers and high-end customers alike, an experience unique to the Puget Sound. At W+F, they repurpose trees previously cut down turning them into 3-inch slabs. By selecting trees and strategically cutting them, W+F truly delivers a different slab every time.

W+F continues to add value to the process by displaying slabs for people to browse, ask questions about, and choose for their own tables. Choose to have the team create the table for you and the customer experience continues well beyond what one would expect. The company uses an app, creating a portal allowing customers to see every step of the process. There is no waiting and wondering. W+F keeps their customers involved at every step.

We’re very thankful to our four presenters and the wealth of information and inspiration they provided. They clearly explained to us parts of their creative process and everyone walked away with something of value.

Special Thanks

We’d also like to send special thank you to the folks at The Union Club. This historical location in downtown Tacoma provided a unique backdrop and view of the Port of Tacoma for the event. The building itself dates back to 1888 and has many stories to tell! If you haven’t stopped by or are looking for a co-working space, give them a call and arrange a tour. (See this video for a snippet of the history: Union Club–A Co-Working and Event Space.)

 

View the photos from the event. (Thank you, Kim Thornton, for sharing your photos.)

 

Join the discussions: Head over to our Facebook page, facebook.com/groups/creativeallianceoftacoma, to stay up-to-date with events, networking opportunities, and chances to grow your business!

 

Gatlin Johnson

Gatlin Johnson encourages others to share their stories, products, and services to the world through the written word. Gatlin’s down-to-earth approach produces content that is easily relatable and understood.

Learn more about Gatlin Johnson at Gatlin Johnson Copywriting.

Gatlin Johnson; Copywriter, Speaker, Business Development

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How To Create Your Momentum Mindset

The Momentum Mindset

Momentum. You want it. I want it. Your favorite team wants it. It’s easier to win when you’re winning. It’s easier to grow your business when it’s growing.  Success inspires success. From the outside, it looks easy, but developing momentum requires preparation, persistence and a momentum mindset.

How do you develop a momentum mindset?

Focus

Momentum requires staying focused on your outcome. The more activities you direct toward your goal, the more likely it is you’ll get there. The fewer detours you take, the more quickly you’ll arrive. Nevertheless, the destination isn’t always clear, and the next step isn’t always obvious. We live in a busy world where it’s easy to get sidetracked and become distracted.

The Clear Vision

The first step to a momentum mindset is a clear vision, which can be rather elusive, since it can shift as you move toward it. How clear is your 2017 vision? As you move forward, is it becoming clearer? Are you beginning to experience parts of your vision? Are your steps forward creating more certainty? It is a dynamic process that often includes detours.

The Northwest offers many hiking trails which gain altitude. They act as a powerful metaphor for the twists and turns that arise as we move toward our vision. Imagine your 2017 vision as a hike to the top of a steep trail with a beautiful panoramic view. You would love the picture of that view hanging on your wall. You imagine what it would be like to stand on top with the wind in your hair taking your own photograph of that view. The only problem is you’ve never been on the trail. In fact, you’re rather new to hiking. Until you’re on the trail and feel the stability of your boots beneath your feet, the response of your muscles, the depth of your breath and use your navigational skills, it only lives in your imagination. Once you’re on the trail, you learn things about hiking and about yourself you simply could not know from looking at the picture.

Preparation

The second step to prepare. You buy the gear and build your endurance. The desire to stand on the summit draws you, and the day comes when you load your gear in the car and drive to the trailhead. You set out with gusto, only to realize that much of your trip involves leaning into the hill and taking the next step up. Your primary view is your boots, dirt, trees and a few features on either side of the trail. Your experience is nothing like the photo from the summit that hangs on your wall. You dig deep for the type of discipline required to take another step when you’re tired and all you see is dirt.

Discipline

Discipline is the third step to your momentum mindset. You take the next step and the next. As you come around a bend, you’re greeted with an opening in the trees and a vista that takes your breath away. As you savor the moment, you realize, “Though you’re not standing on top, this is what it looks like on the way.” The tiredness in your body vaporizes as does the memory of all of those steps looking at your boots and the dirt. You smile, delighted with where you are in the moment, and you get a second wind – both physically and mentally. Only a couple hundred yards back, you wondered if it was really worth it. Now you’re eager to press forward.

Your momentum mindset just kicked in.

Take these steps to build your momentum mindset and soon you will be reaching your goals and vision in both your personal and professional life.


This article was first published in Gig Harbor Living Local. 


Deborah Olive

As a transformational expert and speaker, Deborah works with entrepreneurs, business owners and professionals seeking excellence and balance in their personal and professional lives. Learn more about Deborah Olive at Deborah Olive Coaching.

Deborah OliveFounder, Professional Speaker and CoachOlive Global SOULutions, LLC

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