Professional Growth for the Entrepreneur: Achieving Business Success Through Effective Networking and Communication

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by Dr. Ronald G. Shapiro, PhD

As part of a series focusing on Rhode Island small businesses whose mission includes helping organizations, their owners and employees grow throughout 2016, we turn to Rich Austin. Rich is an expert networker and networking consultant, speaking coach, teacher and writer.

Rich earned his undergraduate degree in environmental biology at Johnston State College in Johnston, Vermont and spent much of his career in large business before opening his consulting practice. What led Rich to evolve from a career in environmental science and big business to a career in communications? Rich is a life-long stutterer. As a young by Dr. Ronald G. Shapiro, PhD adult he decided to address his stuttering by learning all he could about speech and participating in speech therapy. Rich evolved so that today he is known in Rhode Island for publishing a leading networking newsletter, organizing premier networking evenings, serving as a Master of Ceremonies at events, business writing and for teaching challenging populations. Rich evolved from being impaired by his stuttering to becoming empowered. As a professional speaker and communicator he decided to share what he learned, his experiences and successes with people who want to improve their business results by communicating more effectively.

One of the programs Rich offers is a three-part series: Build your Recognition, Education (educating your clients) and Persuasion (REP) to help his clients improve business results through more effective communication. Today, he is sharing the questions he asks his clients in the Recognition part of the program to help them turn networking contacts into customers. Rich encourages every business person to answer these questions and discuss the answers with trusted colleagues and friends. If they have difficulty answering the questions, or would like to have a professional speaking coach review their answers (or go to the next level with education and persuasion), he invites contacts at info@SpeakingOfSuccess.US.

Here are his questions:

1. What is the Return on Investment (ROI) for your networking time and expenses?
2. Do you “Network Smart?” Do people really understand what you do after you deliver your networking message? Rich for example, helped a local home based small business who specializes in healthier chemicals for use at home develop their tag line I can help you get out of toxic relationships!
3. Is your networking message conveying your most profitable offering? (Rich reminds us that 80% of our profits come about form 20% of what we do.)
4. What do you love to do? (Does this match up with the most profitable part of your business?)
5. What do you dislike doing? (Can you afford to discontinue it, or is it the most profitable part of your business?)
6. What do your clients say about you?
7. What makes you unique?
8. How do you know that you are great at what you do? Who told you? How do you tell this to your clients? (Rich, for example, encouraged a real estate agent to discuss her national industry wide award recognition.)

One of Rich’s favorite tips is to remind people to use pauses effectively when they speak. He says that if you have something really important to say that you want listeners to remember, pause for a few seconds before saying it.

If you want to meet networkers in a lively, fun, enjoyable setting and practice giving a one-minute networking presentation at a nominal cost, observed by Rich, check out the www. SpeakingOfSuccess.US website. If you notify Rich in advance, upon request, he will offer you a few suggestions to improve your chances of networking success (at no additional charge).

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Avatar About the Author: The Rhode Island Small Business Journal is a printed monthly magazine and an online resource for the aspiring and start-up entrepreneur and small business owner.

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