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Three Business Tools Help Entrepreneurs Market Inexpensively
by Marlene Chism

If you are a new business owner, or an entrepreneur, marketing your business can drain your budget. If you are between jobs, you feel drained of time and money. However there are three tools that when used correctly can give you just the boost you need for a very minimal investment of time and money: Your handshake, your business card and your introduction.

Your handshake is one of your business tools when networking. A few weeks ago I met an interesting businesswoman who was new in town. When she shook my hand, it felt like she was competing for the strong man award. Her grip was so tight I winced. I’ve always hated a half-committed handshake but this was going a bit too far. When you greet someone, look him or her in the eye and grasp their hand firmly web to web, then give a shake or two then disconnect. Don’t place your other hand on top, or put your free hand on their shoulder unless you are already close acquaintances. Drop the philosophy that says if you want more power make sure you twist your hand to where your counterpart’s hand is facing the floor and yours is on top. Handshaking is not a platform to showcase your strength or play psychological games as to who is more worthy. You are there to build relationships, get acquainted and treat the other person as your equal.

Business Card Many mistakes are made with business cards. The first rule is HAVE ONE. Excuses range from “I’m just out of college” to “I just changed positions” to “I’m unemployed” to “I’ve just started my business so I haven’t had time.”

At the least, you can get a nice card stock card with you name, and phone number on it. Business card blunders include

· Having flimsy cards that feel cheap,
· Homemade cards on a personal computer where the ink leaks (invest the fifty bucks to have real ones made) and
· Using a Glamour Shot instead of a business picture.

Of course, the worst mistake is leaving the card at home. Keep some handy in your glove compartment for those times when you forget to restock your wallet or purse. Make sure your information is current and leave off your e-mail if you don’t regularly check it. If you are just starting out, in job transition, you can get creative and place one of your favorite quotes on the back or front of your card to be used as a conversation starter. For example, I was working with a young man who wanted to be an actor. I suggested he get a business card with his contact information and then have a quote that says, “Not really….just acting!” People will see the quote and inquire as to what it means. Then he can tell them that he is an actor working in Little Theatre, planning to go to Hollywood in a year. It is a good way for people to look for the connections. Perhaps he will meet someone who knows a producer or has connections in Hollywood. If you are just out of college or in job transition, having a simple business card makes you look professional and prepared.

Introduction Your introduction is perhaps the best tool you have besides your business card. It is the way you publicize yourself, attract new opportunities, and inform people about your business. I have witnessed many mistakes at business round table events.

Introduction Errors

· Taking too long to introduce yourself therefore boring your audience
· Starting out by apologizing “I’m not very good at speaking in public.”
· Giving an advertisement and giving announcements
· Showing a lack of confidence
· Speaking too softly or too fast
· Having no organization

Your introduction at a business-to-business round table is essentially your way to describe yourself and your services in a short succinct way that is memorable. For example, mine is “My name is Marlene Chism, president of I Presentations. I work with companies that want to build strong business relationships and with people who want to be better communicators.” You can tweak your introduction for different audiences, for example, “I work with women who want to advance in their careers, and with people who want to learn how network strategically.” If you are unemployed then use the introduction as a way to gain employment leads. Instead of saying “I’m unemployed,” say instead, “I’m looking at several options right now and am extremely interested in…” then name your interest.

Marlene Chism is a professional speaker and author of the e-book Secrets of Strategic Networking: Market Yourself at Chambers, Associations and Clubs. To see more go to


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