I’ll confess.  As much as I’ve heard of Meetup groups to widen your outreach, I never realized its potential to reach a like-minded audience.

If you’re new to Meetups, they’re a great way to build your expertise, test new brand personas and prospect for clients or potential partnerships. They can also help build a list and extend your influence circle – especially if you’re traveling and speaking out of town. Let’s face it, if you’re already in a new city, why not maximize your time there and promote your business?

If you’re thinking of having an event, one way to test the waters is by creating a Meetup.

As a new Meetup leader, you have a free trial for a month and can start a group on almost any topic you like. I didn’t know what to expect and was willing to give it a try.

Hint #1: To promote your event, give everything you think might work a try.

I was surprised that within three days, I had about 15 people interested in my group and made it a point to email each and every person. You can’t be too salesy, though.  Meetups are meant to start a conversation.

You can imagine my delight when a producer from a local news station in Boston inquired and asked if she could interview me and videotape the event. All from Meetup! I responded quickly, which is appreciated by the press.

Hint: #2. Be quick to respond to a reporter’s request.

I joke that you should be available 23/7, making sure to get an hour of sleep. That’s me. Keep your phone handy and turn up the volume. I always forget to switch from silent to my favorite ring tone.

Hint #3:  Create a media package that explains your event.

A media package means information. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it needs to tell a story quickly. We had written a pitch, designed an event flyer, had a photo ready in several sizes and a working registration page via Constant Contact.

Hint #4:  Whether your event is free or paid, as the organizer, you are the voice of the event.  Always be clear and congruent. A mixed message never sells or gets press.

Hint #5: Learn what works and use it. Meetups is a platform that works depending on how you want to use it. If it doesn’t work for an event, it can lead to other opportunities, if you allow it.  So, set a good intention. Good juju will follow.

Lastly, you can’t just depend on one tactic to promote an event.  It’s a combination of trial and error, as well as proven tactics that have worked in the past.

We called the Mayor’s office for the Kids Gratitude Workshop, posted flyers, send pitches to the press, posted on calendars, invited sponsors, used email marketing from strong supporters and asked for help on social media.

One thing that was different here. The event was designed to teach kids the Attitude of Gratitude and how it opens doors to possibilities you can’t even imagine.

You’ll find that when you believe in your mission and have passion, you’ll have success.

Redefine it on your terms. Not someone else’s.

Summer reading isn’t just for kids, though every parent and interested adult might ask their favorite little one(s), “what’s on your reading list this summer?”

So my question to you is the same.  “What’s on your reading list this summer?” Here are some recommendations from Richard Feloni and Shana Lebowitz with Business Insider, and members of the Young Entrepreneur Council – for the best business books to read this summer.

Top 23 Best Business Books to Read This Summer

I’d love to start a book club and read of copy of every business book listed here.  Granted, I’ve read a few already, but certainly not all 23! 10 top picks on their list include:

  • Sprint by Jake Knapp, John Zeratsky and Braden Kowitz. What’s the process to launch amazing new product at Google? Take a deep dive at Google’s venture capital firm and see what their 5-day “sprint” method is all about.
  • Shoe Dog by Phil Night. When Phil Knight graduated college, he sold running shoes out of his parents’ garage. He also happens to be retiring as chairman of Nike this summer. Here’s his story from laces to going places.
  • Originals by Adam Grant. Grant is the highest rated professor at Wharton and the youngest to date, to reach full professor. In this book, he looks at daring thinkers over the last century and inside their minds. What makes them “original?”
  • O Great One! by David Novak and Christina Bourg. Novak is the retired chairman of Yum Brands and left the company with more than a pension; 41,000 restaurants across 125 countries. The #1 leadership lesson he teaches?  Show employees appreciation for great work.
  • How to Have a Good Day by Caroline Webb, CEO of Sevenshift. Webb shares practical best practices and tried and true career advice from her 16 years as a consultant – including how to deal with annoying coworkers (and so much more).
  • Grit by Angela Duckworth. Duckworth, a psychology professor at U Penn and winner of the McArthur Genius award, believes that true grit – a combination of passion and perseverance – will lead to success. She thinks in fact that it’s often more important that talent or intelligence.
  • An Everyone Culture by Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey. Two Harvard professors wrote this book citing that employees work two jobs; the one they signed up when they joined and one they battle in office politics. Select companies avoid this by creating Deliberately Developmental Organizations. Who are they? Read the case studies and find out.
  • Quench Your Own Thirst by Jim Koch.  The story of how a consultant, thought crazy, left his $250,000 a year job and started Koch’s Beer Company, competing with the likes of Budweiser and Heineken. You may know the brand, Sam Adams?
  • Deep Work by Cal Newport. Georgetown professor Cal Newport argues that some of the greatest output is the result of deep work. This book tells you how you can build deep sessions into your day to accomplish top quality work in a few hours or less. Sign me up.
  • Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday. Find out how acting on ego can prevent learning opportunities and similarly, how it can prevent successful people from adapting to change. Holiday uses lessons from history and philosophy to show how to master the ego. Read to see how this applies to New England Patriots Head Coach, Bill Belichick and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Hmmm.

Interested in other top business book touted by the Young Entrepreneur Council?  Check them out here.

And, what’s on Bill Gates’ reading list? See what he’s recommending for the Summer of ’16.

You got it, right here.

Live a lot. Learn a lot.

I’m a big believer in using events to grow your business. Events provide a forum for you to showcase your expertise, grow your database, make new contacts and attract new clients.  And, if you’re in the front of the room as the expert and love engaging with the audience, it’s also fun!

In this article  5 Ways to Grow Your Business with Events by Eventgenioso, you’ll find events other than tradeshows to increase your ROI. Some examples? Experiential events for brand activation or product launches which pique the media’s attention. Training or seminars with high profile speakers in your industry, that even the fussiest client can’t refuse. And, incentive travel for new prospects and to jazz up your sales team. Fuel prices are low, everyone loves to travel and you can mix and match programs to target your goals. Have the courage to make it a mystery trip? 

As an INBOUND Guest Blogger (blogging is a great way to get media mention BTW), Joel Comm talks about using live events to drive business. In his post Live Events: The Fastest Way to Grow Your Business, he discusses the importance of meeting new people and building rapport with your audience. First, there’s getting to the like, know and trust stage. Then comes the opportunity to do business. Yes, live events can be fun and should be – but don’t forget the value of finding out what’s new (and trending) from vendors and starting conversations with strangers, who may one day be your client! 

Lastly, Constant Contact’s UK blog lists 7 Events to Grow Your Business with content definitely worth mentioning. You may be thinking networking or throwing a party right off the bat, but what about an Open House? I’ve suggested this to hospitals to Meet the Doc. There are also events to Get a Taste of “your subject”, expert/customer panels where advice and testimonials can be shared openly (great PR) and of course, Breakfast n’ Learn, to start the day off right. Make your own waffles, anyone?

Events work to build business, expert status, reputation and credibility.

PASSION 

Passion ignites the fire of your brand. Without it, you’re just like everyone else. The press wants to highlight intriguing and passionate people, products and services that their readers will be interested in.

Ask yourself:

  • What’s your passion and why?
  • Do you include your passion in your “story” so others can get to know you, your products and services, and what you stand for?
  • Are you willing to be transparent and let the world know who you really are?

Remember: A passion for your work + life enhance your
brand and celebrate your uniqueness.

POSITIONING 

Positioning is a mindset for success. Combine it with a road map for where you want to go, be seen and heard. Determine where you want to go not just in your imagination, but on paper and as part of a PR/promotions plan.

Ask yourself:

  • What does your road map look like for media and audience attention?
  • Are you following the same highway as others in your industry, or are you willing to be bolder and combine traditional with non-traditional tactics?
  • Who will set the course for the journey, and who’ll read the map?

Remember: Welcome those who fortify, strengthen and evolve your positioning, and be willing to help others do the same.

PREPARATION 

Be prepared for success and consider yourself an expert, even if you don’t think you are. The road will come to meet you if you’re doing the work and course correction is part of the journey. You’ll find it easier to leverage publicity with every new press mention.

Ask yourself:

  • What is your competition advertising or promoting on and off line?
  • How is your competition utilizing PR in the media and in what formats? (e.g. feature stories, articles, interviews, quotes, podcasts, book jacket reviews, etc).
  • Who will support you to ensure success?

Remember: You can create a PR swipe file of what you like, resonate with,
and aspire to. Imagine yourself in the story, on TV, as a featured panelist. What makes you different? 

PERSONALITY 

Make yourself unique interesting to the press. Start with a BIO that’s full of personality and passion, and ensure that it tells your story in a way that holds the reader’s attention and makes a positive and memorable impression.

Ask yourself:

  • Do you have both a long and a short version of your BIO for different purposes? (e.g. media interviews, teleseminars, articles, email signatures, LinkedIn and Twitter profiles, etc.)
  • Are you reviewing your BIO 3 months to keep up with your professional growth?
  • Is your BIO transparent and human, yet highlights your credentials and expert status?

Remember: Include at least 5 things others don’t know about you. They can be accomplishments, hobbies or interests that others may find fascinating. 

PRESENTATION

A professional presentation, photos and website get you past the gatekeeper for a longer look. Ensure that all of your on line and off line branding, photos, collateral and correspondence have a professional look and feel, and that you represent yourself as an expert – with all the bells and whistles expected of someone of your caliber. Look like a million dollar brand.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you maintaining a congruent look and presentation design with your website, newsletters, blogs, Facebook and Twitter pages?
  • Are you investing in professional headshots and lifestyle photos that portray you and your brand in your best light?
  • Are your promotional materials well written in a style and tone suitable for your industry?

Remember: Presentation is equally important for in-person meetings and media interactions. You are your brand wherever you go so dress the part at events, interviews, conferences, speaking engagements – even community gatherings. Be stylish and honor your brand!

PITCHABILITY 

Pitching an idea to the media takes some practice and perfecting, but once you understand how each media works, and how to get pitch ideas, the easier it becomes. Start by reading a reporter’s writing for insight on “how to pitch” them.

Plus, check out their Twitter, Facebook and website pages for insights on their writing style and preferences. You can also use pitch query services like HARO to reach reporters looking for your expertise, and check editorial calendars of magazines in which you’d like to be featured.

Ask yourself:

  • What story can I tell that highlights a new way of doing something, a product that will make life easier, an opinion that’s contrary to popular thinking, or a tie in to a movie or celebrity event?
  • What are some major trends right now, and what are the best ways to tie your pitch to them?
  • What are some national events that can be localized?

Remember: Don’t pitch stories already covered.
You can also try turning your pitch into a “top 10 tips” list. 

Take these 6 P’s and apply them to your business today!

Today I’ll be speaking at Constant Contact about PR Power on a Budget. There should be about 100+ people in the room and I’m on first. All good with me.  I sent in my presentation last week, practiced and decided on an outfit, with a backup just in case.

Does What You Wear Make an Impression on Your Audience?

If you said no, I’ll beg to differ. If you said yes, you’re right! I always tell audiences, “you are your brand wherever you go” and it’s no different on stage. There could be a roomful of prospects that are interested in what you have to say and perhaps wonder what you could do for them. In my case, they want to see me at my best, and I want to give them my best. The total package. I’m also speaking about my passion, “How to Market Yourself” or a variation of the PR theme.  Clothes do count so wear them well and smile for the camera!

Here are 5 Tips on Styling for the Stage or Giving a Presentation and Elevate Your Brand:

  1. Always dress a few steps above your audience. You are the expert and should dress like one. If you’re speaking from stage and are any good, the audience wants to aspire to be like you. Confident and successful. And if you’re selling, it’s even more important. Play the part with your dress, attitude and aura. You’re probably not selling a $49 service.
  2. Many years ago, I made the huge mistake of wearing a red jacket with a leopard collar to a blue chip law firm for a Ryder Cup Event meeting.  I thought I looked jazzy, but the client apparently didn’t think so.  I should have worn a more stylized ‘dress code’ selection, but I didn’t even think about it.  If you’re going to give a presentation to a conservative client or firm, don’t wear the leopard collar. Find something appropriate and accessorize gently. Learn from my 5 figure mistake.
  3. If the audience can smell your cologne, perfume or moth balls from the stage, that’s bad. I’ve been in elevators where I’ve held my breath and the ride to the 30th floor almost did me in. Everything you do has to be brand on, and that includes how you smell.  It seems foolish to even have to mention, but I’ve been at 2 events lately where it mattered.  I suppose I didn’t have to sit in the first row.
  4. Shoes count, especially with women. Women check out other women’s shoes. In fact, women check out everything.  And ask questions like, who cuts your hair and other sometimes personal questions you might think off limits.  My advice, answer at your own risk, or not. You were brought up to answer questions, but you don’t always have to.
  5. Tight dresses and short skirts. Men check out how tight dresses are and how short skirts are, but women take it all in too. Needless to say, refrain from daisy duke dresses and ladies, wear Spanx. Also walk in from the side of a room if you have the chance.  I talk about it in my upcoming book, why. Hmmm.

A few other suggestions.  Men, be sure that your pants are zipped because there’s nothing more horrifying than to have your fly open on stage.  No joke, not that I look, but I saved two speakers from a very embarrassing moment and let’s just say they were grateful.  And ladies, make sure that you have extra pantyhose, because runs really do look bad on stage. And the pink polish to stop the run, is so yesterday.

Wake up extra early too and get to your location well ahead of time. Have 3 copies of your presentation in different places or devices. As another piece of advice, just keep the most recent version. I once delivered a presentation to 300 people and it was a near final draft with notes I made to myself.  When I realized it on stage, I covered my mouth in horror then laughed. It was the most authentic presentation I ever gave and one of the most successful.

Go figure.

Style up your brand. Speak to build an audience. And have fun.

Life is short and you can’t be working all the time.

PS – Remember I gave 2 talks to University Students in Puerto Rico? The University of Puerto Rico had a television crew before my event and did a news segment on me, in Spanish and English.  I never expected it, but it was fun.  You can snag publicity while you’re on vacation! I’ll post the interview on Twitter. Follow me @RobinSamora.

  1. Do you know your audience? It’s important to know who you’re pitching and what they want. Don’t sell ice to an Eskimo living in Hawaii unless they own an ice making business! What’s your big vision and does it fit with who’s buying?  Think it through on paper and make sure it works!
  2. Are you passionate about your idea? Passion makes a big difference in presenting a concept and often, enthusiasm is lost if there’s a publicist or hired gun doing the talking. If you’re the presenter, make sure you have positive energy and communicate with a high vibration. It shows not only in the voice, but also in the body. Twinkling eyes are a bonus!
  3. How professional are you? Professionalism is critical not just in writing, but in delivering. For Good Morning America, Tory needs to know without a doubt that the company presenting is totally operational and can deliver great customer service – even if the company is tiny! Talk the talk and believe it yourself!
  4. Are you prepared? Many entrepreneurs want ‘it’ to happen, but aren’t ready and launch discussions prematurely. If you’re overly excited and not ready with all the facts and figures, there’s a chance you may lose an opportunity and be passed over by someone who’s got their ducks in a row. When you speak up – be ready!
  5. Will you leave a positive or negative impression? Often negative impressions are longer lasting than positive ones. Make it a point to practice your pitch not only in front of a mirror, but test it with people who’ll give you honest feedback. If the feedback is similar from all parties – it doesn’t mean you’re bad, it just means that you need to tweak your pitch!
  6. Are you crystal clear? When it’s your moment to shine, be crystal clear about who you are and what you’re offering. A confused mind never buys and certainly won’t put you on Good Morning America. Again, clarity comes from practice.  At our last SBANE meeting (Smaller Business Association of New England), we talked about this article from Forbes on public speaking lessons from the world’s greatest Ted Talks. It’s worth reading.
  7. How about your confidence? Competence and confidence go hand in hand. Sometimes, we get nervous when there’s a big opportunity and ask for what we want. Frankly, it’s silly because we KNOW OUR STUFF. You might get lucky and who you pitch may be gentle and work it out of you, but that’s not always the case. Go for it. Be confident or you may lose the opportunity if you’re weak in your presentation.
  8. Are you concise and to the point? Tory told the audience she has three minutes on-air to sell five products. So, a thirty minute lunch for her with a prospective entrepreneur is out of the question. She suggests networking and practicing your elevator pitch for brevity – so others can repeat it in a sentence.

You might not know it, but you pitch on a daily basis. Keep it simple. Practice passionately. And, deliver from your heart.

Twinkling is a bonus, especially this time of year.

I’ve come to realize that people are afraid to be themselves for fear of rejection, ridicule, shame, loss, and not being liked. I’ve been there, done that as a teenager and as a young adult. I’m sure that if you looked back at your own life, you may have had the same fears.

Fast forward to now.

The reason I love helping entrepreneurs, experts and professionals be true to themselves in marketing and PR — to gain more visibility and business — is because taking the time to listen to who you are is quite beautiful, and in fact, sexy.

  1. You are the real deal, the big kahuna.  Those that should be attracted to you (in business and in life) will be, for the right reason. Clients, prospects, partners and friends. They’ll like you, love you and sometimes leave you. Hint: it’s always about them, not you.
  2. It’s exhausting to be someone you’re not and try to remember who you’re supposed to be. If you’re an actor, you’ll find this easy to do. If you’ve chosen other work as an entrepreneur, business owner, expert or professional, it may be more difficult. You don’t have to read a script to know who you are.
  3. You’re living life according to your true core values. You are who you are and without a manufactured ‘front’ you’re quite appealing aka sexy. If you know anything about energy, there’s a sparkle to those that are true to themselves.  Some call it certainty, knowingness or being grounded. Certainty is confidence in my book, and that’s sexy. Passion is a plus!
  4. We’re taught to be perfect in everything we do, and in doing so, we often pretend.  When we truly relax in our head and bodies, our fight or flight responses shut down. When we’re able to stop pretending, and just be, it’s very inviting and welcoming. Yes, it’s being vulnerable, but that’s sexy too.
  5. Learn the art of not caring what others think. It takes some practice, but it’s actually quite invigorating and often a huge burden off your shoulders. Do the best you can, and call it a day. We’re humans. We make mistakes, say stupid things and do brilliant work, not all at the same time. There’s a certain charisma when you’re comfortable with yourself. Almost automatically, confidence and charisma knock at the door.

Being sexy is a mindset. Authenticity is a choice. Blend both together and you’ve got some big time attraction going on.

 

As you may know, Brand Ambassadors are coveted and rare professionals who effectively communicate the essence of their company’s unique story, and personify its core values in what they do, what they say, how they act, and even how they think.

What’s more, Brand Ambassadors are extremely valuable “assets” who measurably increase the bottom line, and deliver an ROI that often out-performs advertising, sponsorships and other initiatives. Plus, they help their company retain its top performers, and attract new talent.

Ultimately, Brand Ambassadors are an invaluable part of any company success story, because they’re the “real deal” who get up close and personal with vendors, partners, customers, colleagues – heck, even strangers sitting next to them on a flight or seated next to them at a conference.

However, what you may not know is how to transform yourself into an ELITE Brand Ambassador, which is when you achieve all of the above and, at the same time, boost your income and status big-time, and inspire others to achieve new levels of excellence. Fortunately, the path and process is easier than you imagine when you keep these 3 keys in mind:

1. Be on a “Mission” at All Times

It all starts with knowing how to weave your company’s mission into your communication with a wide variety of audiences, including vendors, partners, customers, colleagues — heck, even strangers sitting next to you on a flight or seated next to you at a conference. Though you may not have noticed before, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the huge number of “touchpoint” opportunities that are available to you every day.

2. Go Ahead and Brag!

As noted above, grasping the essence of your company’s mission and making it a part of your messaging is one piece of the puzzle. Another key piece is articulating how your company is moving towards that mission. What exciting projects, plans, developments and changes are in the works, or are on the horizon? By conveying these “good news stories”, you’ll add depth to your brand and give it some invaluable substance, as you highlight not just WHERE your company is going, but how you and your talented colleagues are going to get there.

3. Look Within

No, this isn’t about the spiritual side of being a Brand Ambassador. Rather, it’s about how you can use your Brand Ambassador knowledge and talents to motivate your colleagues – especially if, like most corporate work environments, things can get a bit hectic and stressful at times. You can be the refreshing and, in some cases, vital spark that uplifts, energizes and inspires individuals and teams to new heights.

The Bottom Line

As an ELITE Brand Ambassador, you aren’t your company’s “mouthpiece” – i.e. someone who robotically recites a slogan or reads a script. On the contrary, you’re the heart and soul of your company! So ensure that you really feel the authenticity, energy and passion of what you’re saying or writing. You’ll be amazed by how quickly you increase company revenues and profits, while you boost your income, status and professional satisfaction – and inspire others to follow your lead.

Thanks largely to technology, in today’s marketplace it’s easier than ever for entrepreneurs, experts and authors to launch a business and profit from their passion. That’s the good news. The not-so-good news is that competition is flat-out ferocious, which means that marketing is essential. Without marketing, it’s simply too easy for a business to get lost in the crowd and fail to achieve its potential — or even survive.

However, just because marketing is essential, it doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are 8 ways to achieve your marketing goals on a shoestring budget:

1.    Share your knowledge.

Offer an initial consultation where you provide some meaningful value, and explain what you do, who you do it for, and most importantly, how you help your clients solve problems and achieve goals. Your time investment can be as little as 15 minutes, and it can be done over the phone, via Skype (web cam), or in person if it’s practical to do so.

2.    Stay in touch with your clients and prospects — and often.

While this may strike you as one for the “hey, I knew that already!” file, I’m amazed at how often smart and successful people neglect to stay in touch with their clients and prospects on a regular basis. And really, “staying in touch” doesn’t mean a 2-hour lunch, a 4-hour round of golf, or anything else that may otherwise qualify as relationship-building. Simply sending out a quick email, mailing a hand-written birthday card, or even passing along a thoughtful gift are all excellent – and virtually cost-free – ways to stay on the radar screen.

3.    Create a targeted message in all of your communication.

A confused mind never buys. That’s why it’s important to target your message distribution and branding to customers and prospects via email, blogs, video, invoices, brochures, newsletters, premiums, signage — even your voice mail or call waiting message. Post on social media as frequently as possible and share information. Don’t self-promote more than 20% of the time; it’s not just boring, but it sends people in the other direction.

4.    Build a referral base.

While many successful people rely on referrals and “word of mouth” advertising, I’m continuously struck by how few of them actively build a strong referral base. There’s really nothing to it and, honestly, a little goes a long way. All it takes is a small thank you gesture (gift certificates work great) to those who have helped build your business. Also, don’t shy away from asking for referrals. Just be polite, clear and willing to return the gesture. If a client has enjoyed your product or service, they’re usually happy to recommend you.

5.    Send out a personal “State of the Union” address.

Twice a year, write a personalized letter to your clients and tell them what you’re doing with your work, what charities you may be involved with, and how you’re helping both your professional community, and personal community. Describe how you’ve supported important social events and everyday events — even if it’s for a brief time. Don’t boast about any of your efforts. Instead, thank everyone who has helped make your achievements possible, and single out some of your role models who have served as an inspiration (whether you personally know them or not).

6.    Invite your clients and prospects to hear you speak at an industry event.

Speaking at an industry event qualifies you as an expert. By inviting your clients, you’re letting them know you’re up to something big, and worthy of their business. If the RSVP’s come in as a ‘can’t make it’, send a video, press link or a follow-up article that summarizes your presentation. If you’ve written a book, send a signed copy. This kind of communication and connection strengthens the bond with the people in your network, which in turn strengthens your marketing efforts.

7.    Get your name out there.

If you don’t have a media department behind you, consider hiring a PR, social media assistant or office admin to respond to online media requests such as HARO (“Help a Reporter Out”) or Profnet. Responses to the media should be respectful, polite and on target. Want to know what’s being said about you? Set up a Google Alert. Trust me, you’ll grow to love watching your digital press clippings!

8.    Write an article or publish an infographic that will cite you as an expert.

Promote articles that you have written and post links on your website and social media. Include hard copies in your press kit (and a digital version) in your on line media room. Expand your reach and include articles in letters to clients, and be bold by paper-clipping them and your business card in places that might seem out of the ordinary (i.e. in the cover of airline magazines, in books or magazines that your target audience might buy, in newspapers in high traffic locations — even in waiting rooms or hotel lobbies). Think like your target market. Where would they go, and what would they read?

Don’t Forget to Get Out There

Implementing any, or, preferably, all of the above strategies are excellent ways to boost your marketing power — while spending much less than you imagine. However, no matter how you move forward, there’s one thing to always remember: you’re the spokesperson for your brand.

And that means your #1 marketing job is to get “out there.” Whether that means you support an important cause, make a keynote speech, or are quoted on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, you want to make an impression every chance you get. You never know what relationship will blossom and turn into your next – and possibly greatest – business success story.

As an entrepreneur, expert, author or other business professional, you have a great “story to tell.” That is, you offer something special – whether it’s advice, a service, a product or perhaps all of these – that helps people solve a problem and achieve a goal.

However, unless you can stand out and get noticed for all of the right reasons, you’ll wind up being “the best kept secret in your marketplace.” And even worse, that’s a designation with a short shelf life, since it’s only a matter of time before it’s replaced by an even more dreaded label: “out of business.”

Fortunately, standing out in your marketplace is not costly or confusing — provided that your efforts align with these 7 key principles:

1.    Be True to Yourself  

Clients and prospects recognize when someone is putting on an act – it makes them feel uncomfortable and uneasy. Ultimately, that undermines likeability and trust, and it’s an axiom of any business relationship that people only buy from those that they like and trust. By staying true to yourself, you attract the right people – and avoid the wrong ones.

2.    Stop the Negative Thinking. 

Forget multitasking: It’s impossible to do two things at once, much less do them well.  And that means you can’t focus on doing what you do well, if you’re constantly being “cut off at the knees” by obsessive, repetitive negative thinking. Choose to focus on the positive and make optimism a habit.

3.    Be Your Brand…ALWAYS! 

Every step you take in public is another chance to market yourself and your company.  “Invest in your dress” so you are always ready to initiate conversations that might lead to new business.

4.    Bring Joy Into the Room.

Your attention and positive attitude will make people feel good – and, in turn, they’ll associate that good feeling with you. And while that will lead to more business from better clients, there’s an even greater achievement in store: you’ll bring joy into every room you enter.

5.    Project the Right Image. 

Use a professional photo across all of your marketing materials and in all of your social media profiles. This inspires a personal connection and trustworthiness – even before you meet and talk.

6.    Be Your Own Best Advocate. 

Know what you do inside and out, especially as it relates to adding value to people’s lives and helping them achieve a goal. Remember: people don’t buy advice, products or services. They buy solutions to their problems. Be aware of what problem(s) you solve, and then promote this in the context of helping people.

7.    Be the Center of Influence.

Obtain and keep the coveted “Center of Influence” status by staying up-to-date on industry trends, and surround yourself with people you admire, who are experts in their fields, and who know other people of equal caliber.

It’s All About Love

Ultimately, the thread that connects all of these strategies is one thing: passion. Love for what you do – and delegate the rest. When you do this, your creative force will empower you to work wonders, and you’ll take your career to a whole new level…and your bank account will soon follow.