The 10 Commandments of Networking from Jane Foster (My last installment in MBN Symposium Series)

This blog entry is part of my series called "The 2011 MBN Symposium". To read other posts in this topic and gain more valuable insight into the presenters at the 2011 Symposium, see the series here: Missoula Businesswomen's Symposium
I had no idea what I was in for when I found my seat in Jane Foster’s presentation at the MBN Symposium! Suddenly, there was chocolate flying everywhere and we were all laughing our heads off! It was truly a fun meeting and I was so happy about the topic discussed. Jane Foster of Stevensville’s Foster and Foster Financial describes the act of making a personal connection a “lost art”. In her presentation, she explained that we need one-on-one contact to develop business relationships to the fullest, and she imparted some tactics to succeed in this age of technology and depersonalization. Jane stresses the importance of following up, and even suggests a handwritten note or phone call. Refreshing, huh?

Most of all, I'd like to share her 10 Commandments of Networking, which I found to be particularly great advice. It reads like an action plan, and sometimes I think that’s just what we need, to be inspired to take action instead of just simmering on broad ideas. Don't you think? Here they are:

  1. Make a “Must Meet” list of people and find out where you can meet them. If you can find an organization to help you meet those goals, choose the one with the best bang for your buck.
  2. Once you choose the group or event to meet those people, bring your best smile, attitude, impression, business cards and a great handshake. -- In class, we did an exercise on the proper handshake, if you weren’t there for that, look for a handshake tutorial coming out soon on my blog!
  3. Gravitate to people you don’t know. Remember: Women move as a pack.
  4. Be early and have consistent attendance.  If you’ve paid to be a member of the organization, then make your dollars work harder by meeting more people! The only one who can make that choice is you.
  5. Remember personal space. (18 to 24 inches) -- We did another exercise here where we had to get right up in our neighbor’s faces!! Oh well, at least there was candy on our breaths!
  6. Know who you are and know who you are talking with, and act accordingly. Using the DISC method can help with this. If you are provided a nametag, always wear it!
  7. Listen, with your ears, you eyes, and your body!
  8. Ask thought provoking other-oriented, open-ended questions. They don’t care about what you know unless you show that you care about what they know! When you create value for others, you create value for yourself.
  9. Be present and engaged. Put all your little “tools” away- the smartphone, the laptop, put it away! On smart comment is more memorable than small talk!
  10. Be DISTINCTIVE! You want to be memorable, but in a good way! Make sure you have a way to help you remember the people you meet. Ask for everyone’s card, make notes on the back of them, do whatever you have to do.

An important topic from this meeting was “DISC method”  from the book, Breakthrough Networking: Building Relationships That Last (Third Edition) It divides us into 4 different networking types and is a powerful tool in understanding yourself and others to make networking work for you! I may discuss this further in another blog post, so if you’d like to hear more on that, just comment to let me know.

I've got to say, if you weren't at the MBN Symposium, you really missed out on this one! With all the candy and laughs, the endorphins ran high and made it a very memorable experience. You can learn more about Jane and her business here at Foster & Foster Financial Services. Jane is a member of the Stevensville Main Street Association, Bitterroot Valley Chamber of Commerce, IDEA Mt, and Missoula Businesswomen's Network, where she serves as Chair for the Women's Empowerment Group in the Bitterroot Valley.

Well, this is it! I have completed my series on the Missoula Businesswoman’s Network Symposium for 2011. I hope it was helpful for you, and I encourage my readers to review past installments in my MBN Symposium Series to make sure you didn’t miss anything!

This blog entry is part of my series called "The 2011 MBN Symposium". To read other posts in this topic and gain more valuable insight into the presenters at the 2011 Symposium, see the series here: Missoula Businesswomen's Symposium

Announcing my "I Love My Job" blog series!

I've been up to something! In a very sneaky fashion, right under your nose, I have sent secret interview invitations to local women whose work I admire. These ladies ROCK! I can not wait to share their experiences, challenges, and advice with you in the coming weeks. They come from all walks of life and have faced many unique challenges, but there is one thing they all have in common. Each one can say, "I Love My Job!"

The series so far:

April 4th: Elena Ulev
April 18th: Julie Burns
May 2th: Jackie Priess
June 16th: Jami Shipp

I know there is much to be learned from these interviews and I hope you'll stay tuned and savor each one with me. Do you know someone who would like to be interviewed on my blog? I am offering one month free of ad space on my blog to qualifying female business owners in Missoula, MT just for answering five questions. Email me at for more information!

Entrepreneurship- a Sign of Desperation?

Hi everyone! I just returned from a nice family reunion in Las Vegas. While I was over there, I was thinking a lot about local economies and their effect on Entrepreneurship. Yes, I know- I'm a bit of a dork. But I did whip up some observations I think are worthy of sharing, and I hope I can start some conversation on this topic!

In the most recent InBusiness Monthly, I read that a floundering economy has an inverse effect on small business formation. In other words, when times are good, we work at a set pay on a set schedule, we have a boss, and we humbly seek the occasional raise or bonus. The opposite is also true… when the going gets tough, we get our own businesses going! 

Think about it: what truly motivated you to start your own business? Were you fed up with your poorly qualified boss? Discouraged with the inherent difficulty of climbing the corporate ladder? Or maybe you're a natural born leader, a self-starter. For the average Missoulian, chances are it was simply the inability to secure a job that suited your skill set while still bringing in enough money to survive. And so, you went it alone.
So tell me, Missoula. Are we self-starters, or just desperate?

Not long ago, I read that a living wage in Missoula, Montana was around $11.24 an hour. That means in order to meet our basic needs (food, clothing, shelter) we need to have full time jobs that pay no less than $4 over minimum wage. Ironically- here in Missoula, finding employment that pays a living wage seems to be a pipe-dream.

I arrived in Missoula, Montana last Summer with my marketing background, strong resume, professional recommendations, and a penchant for networking. Reluctantly, I took my first job in town as a grocery store cashier, hoping for something more. I soon came to understand the gravity of the Missoula economic situation... I was working alongside several bright individuals who had earned Master’s degrees. How frightening it was to find that some must forego the career path they have spent years etching out, only to become a grocery store cashier. It savors of full resignation!

In conversation with a woman from Nevada, I learned that this isn’t just a localized problem. After 40 years of service in a government job, she’s in fear of losing it all in the face of extreme budget cuts at her place of work. I cannot imagine being let go and having to reinvent myself after four decades of service. But that’s her lot- and she’s already thinking about starting her own business. A family member may seek to expand his small NY business to a national level and she has the right experience and connections to help him with that growth.

Entrepreneurship, with its ultra-high stress and risk levels, is most people’s plan Z. So why are so many in Missoula self-employed? We’re all out of options! Perhaps Missoula's greatest source of pride is merely a symptom of its greatest shortcoming. What do you think?

Ready for St. Patrick's Day!

Admit it, everybody wants to be Irish on St. Patrick's Day! Today I'm proud to declare that I'm 1/8th a lucky lass, thanks to my Irish heritage through the Faulk line. There are signs of Leprechauns guarding popcorn gold at the end of a confetti rainbow at my kitchen table today.

I am reminded of my childhood, leaving "leprechaun" notes for my little siblings, they were just young enough to fall for my ruse, and I was just old enough to revel in their curiosity with endless enthusiasm and creativity. Using a thick washer tied to a long rope, I created "footprints" on the roof of the snow-covered gazebo beneath my little sister's window, and then tossed red glitter out onto it. She wondered in amazement that magical Leprechauns had come to visit her.

My little table setting celebrates that time and the Christian evangelist, St. Patrick, who used the shamrock as a way to teach the concept of the Trinity.

My floral arrangement includes white hydrangea and a funny puffy green plant called tricillium which I purchased from Habitat Florial Studio !

The "pot o' gold" was a great find from Missoula 3:16 Thrift Boutique

I made the "confetti rainbow" from a single strand of Kristina Marie's confetti garland. Check out her etsy shop for more fun colors!

The St. Patrick's Day parade is behind us but I'm sure we will all find our own ways to celebrate this special holiday. P.S. Don't forget to wear green!

Blogger is Getting a Makeover!

Hello on this sunny Missoula morning! It's a little colder than I would've liked, but you know what, you can't have it all. I'm just pleased to know my lilies are sprouting alongside my house! I saw them stretch up their first little green leaves through the soil just yesterday.

I recently got word that Blogger is going to undergo some major changes very soon. I know a lot of us use the blogger platform for our small businesses, so I thought this would be good to share! Heres a neat video:

Read more about the redesign at

Thank you, Mark of Keenpath Missoula, an inbound marketing company for passing on this valuable information to me and my readers! 

If you as well ever come accross information that might be of interest to Montana  businesswomen and small business owners please send it my way and I will be sure to highlight your contribution!

Thanks and keep learning, growing, and reaching!

7 Steps to Small Business Marketing Success with Varju Luceno- MBN Symposium Series

This blog entry is part of my series called "The 2011 MBN Symposium". To read other posts in this topic and gain more valuable insight into the presenters at the 2011 Symposium, see the series here: Missoula Businesswomen's Symposium

So far, I've shared my notes from two great presentations in the Missoula Business Networking Symposium series. Now, I have another for you- her name is Varju Luceno, and she taught some "simple, effective, and affordable marketing strategies" that I know we can all learn from! Among her strategies are sending old fashioned hand-written notes. I love that!

Varju is of course a Missoulian, although born and raised in Estonia she graduated from UM with her MBA and started her own business, Global Office Partners and practices here in Montana.

Here are the seven steps she shared with us:

  1. Strategy before tactics: Varju said this great quote "Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." This means have an plan! Write down (in detail) who your ideal customer is. Go and listen to what their needs are, what's being offered them, and how it's being offered. Then decide how to reach them. 
  2. Fill your marketing hourglass: On average, it takes seven "touches" before a customer will really choose you to provide a service. They need to see, hear from you, read about you, etc. 7 times before you can make that sale! So make sure you are the one that is in control of your online identity, and try to use new technologies to make those 7 "touches" yourself. When she mentioned this I was so astounded. It's true, business is moving faster than ever. So it's important to move with it, and let it work for you instead of against you!
  3. Publish educational content: Another thing Varju said that I am in full agreement with: we really need to find our professional voices and promote ideas, not ourselves! If we can create content that builds trust, and offer free "try before you buy" starter offerings, individuals will feel more comfortable and may even become that holy grail of a customer- the "brand evangelist". This is just as the name suggests, a past customer who is so good at convincing others to try out your product or service, they are practically a salesperson for you.
  4. Create a total web presence: Make short youtube videos (this helps with your SEO too!), get involved with social media like Facebook and Twitter, start a blog, etc. Claim your online real estate, because if you don't, someone else will. It is possible view and MANAGE the feedback we receive online. This is called "reputation management" and it's extremely important. Publishing fresh content is also important to maintaining a web presence.
  5. Use a lead generation trio: You must get the lead to know-like-and trust you before you can sell them anything! How will you accomplish this? Your web presence should be working for you, not against you.
  6. Make a selling system too: This is where the "try before you buy" offering would be helpful. Can you publish a pdf or offer anything for free to your customers? Do so and then follow up to see how they liked it and if they're interested in purchasing the paid version. There may be another selling system that works for you, so get creative!
  7. Live by the calendar: It is so important to be organized. With a calendar, you can anticipate your fluctuations in sales, upcoming holidays, and other things that can become central to your marketing strategy.
Those are some great tips and I've employed a few of them already in my business, thanks to Varju's presentation. Something else she said I want to share:
Emphasize how you are different. (Differentiate and Dominate) 
Consider these areas that you may be able to draw from:
  • Your unique product/service and process
  • Your unique experience and team
  • Your unique guarantee
  • You unique packaging/delivery
  • Your unique SOLUTION to a problem
As you can tell, Varju Luceno's presentation gave me plenty to think about and even suggested some things to put into action right away! You can read more about Varju at her website Global Office Partners and even follow her on twitter at @varjuluceno . 

She recently tweeted an extremely helpful link about the new Facebook page format. Did you know facebook FMBL (that is used to create unique landing pages and links on a business Facebook page) went out of date as of March 10th? That's right, there is a new and better way to personalize the Facebook user experience and this article tells us all about it:

Varju also suggested this great book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR . 
You can actually get it for only 10 bucks on right now if you take the link. Don't stop learning about how to use the free technologies out there that can help us make more sales! 

I am so thankful to have met Varju and heard all this great information. There is so much more I'd like to share with you from my notes, but for now you will just have to keep on wishing you were there! I am continuing my series on the MBN symposium until I've given you all I can about these inspiring women and their presentations. If you're hungry for more, check out some of my past entries from my MBN series!

Coming up soon: Interviews with a few amazing Missoula artists from! These successful ladies will share their great business ideas, tips and tricks that will be vital help for any of us who are just starting out on Etsy, the old veterans, and those who need a little inspiration boost to get back in the game. 

Thanks for reading! Never stop growing, learning, and reaching!

This blog entry is part of my series called "The 2011 MBN Symposium". To read other posts in this topic and gain more valuable insight into the presenters at the 2011 Symposium, see the series here: Missoula Businesswomen's Symposium

Surfing the Net? Here are 3 ways to keep from "wiping out"!

When it comes to the internet, I must admit I'm a heavy user. For me, having an intention for my time online before sitting down to my laptop is the key to remaining productive. It also helps to know great sites so you don't have to go sifting through tons of web-garbage to find a little meaty, useful, memorable content.

I want to share with you some of my favorite local sites that I come to again and again to get the latest on online marketing and entrepreneurship.

  1. Keenpath, a Montana inbound marketing company posts juicy original content to their blog all the time. I'm giving you their Facebook because that's the way I like to surf them- I like to see what's new crop up among all the boring status updates my friends leave. You could also just go to their inbound marketing company website to see the content all at once. 
  2.  Montana Inbusiness Monthly- some people pay for this subscription or turn their quarter through the little sidewalk dispensers. I for one enjoy free things at least 60% more, so I check out their website to see all the great articles and find out who's new in town. This can be great for gaining new leads. New businesses need help and a little push can go a long way! The last issue had Alpenglow Apparel (a screen-printing company I co-own) so it became an instant keepsake... that one I bought. :)
  3. Have you ever checked out the Missoula Businesswoman's Network? Now THERE's something I don't want you to miss. Joining is $45.00 (1 year) and you have instant access to a network of amazing businesswomen. And who doesn't like learning from a real live human being? 

I will undoubtedly be adding to this list as I realize how many great ones I've left out! If you know any sites that are useful to you and are Montana-based, please comment below and I'll add them in!

Content by Laura Gabriele