Guest Author - Jason Hodge
There are always great reasons to take classes, but did you know that it could be one of the best business building exercises you can do? Here's how.
I recently attended a culinary class where the teaching chef was going over knifing techniques, knife history, brands and resources. It was a lot of fun, I learned other approaches and best of all were the organic business building activities I was able to take advantage of. The instructor was a longtime chef who'd been around the world doing her thing; from the Americas to Asia, the Caribbean to South Africa, this chef definitely paid her dues and learned a lot of the 'don'ts'. Not only was it very informative, but there were a few more things I got from the experience that you too can get when you attend your next class.
I was able to expand my network.
One can never have too many connections in their chosen profession. Consider this... when you deal with another chef there are mutual benefits to establishing a relationship. If you look at all of the ways you can add the most and best value to them and bring that to the table you can pretty much guarantee yourself a long lasting professional friendship with them that will exponentially build your business. Here are a few ideas you can use for a successful venture:
Interview them for your business blog
Create an event that includes them
Let them know what you do and how you'd like to explore some joint projects with them
Any one of these scenarios can create an open door. Now here's how it naturally pays off. You're going to let your network know about it, and so are they. They will let their network know about their role in the event and you both end up with new and trusted warm markets.
I was able to put my finger on the pulse of potential future clients
By being a part of the in-class conversation I got a real time checklist of what folks are most interested in. This is one of the best ways to get your market research done without having to break the bank on a paid study. If you can isolate your clients' needs and meet their objectives, you increase their desire and justification for hiring and keeping your services. Here's a great technique to incorporate at times:
If you see that when q&a time comes around and everyone's standing around not wanting to be the first to ask that ice breaker question, get the ball rolling and ask the first question. I like to go with 'how to/how do' questions and then sit back and take mental notes. They take the fear out of the ones who don't want to seem uninformed and it validates the questioning process for the rest. If it gets slow and I feel that there are more questions to be asked or clarity is needed on a point I ask that question and again sit back. If you do this enough, you'll find you know exactly where your prospects are in their thinking and be able to develop your presentations to your market place.
I was able to see what worked and what didn't
There is much that can be said about learning from others' successes and failures. It is an incredible time, money and energy saver. When you take in a class or series you can look at all of the things the coordinators/instructors can only view in their hindsight. A lot of planning and energy went into getting the class to you, but they only know what worked after it's over and the effort's been expended. You, on the other hand, can see what's working and what you'd rather leave out without having to spend the monies necessary to get it to your public. It's your real life test kitchen, so don't discount its potential.
All in all, there are a lot of things you can get from taking in a class... or two... or more. Three of which are:
Getting your logistics together before you spend a dime
Learning your market's wants, likes and needs
Building your professional network exponentially, FOR FREE!
So do yourself and your business a favor by taking in some classes to build your business.
As always, it's been my pleasure sharing these business building tips with you. Until next time...