Presentation | Networking | Training | Referral | Workshop | Speaker | Consulting


Home Training Courses & Presentations Dates & Fees What they say Who are we? Articles & Press Network & Referral Tools Contact
  Book/CD Home Study Course Open Courses Free e-course Free tips Read the blog !  
Presentation | Networking | Training | Referral | Workshop | Speaker | Consulting

Networking tools, referral tools, networking aids

There are many tools available to network more effectively and efficiently.

On this page you will find a list of tools which will help you or your organisation to get more visibility and be able to follow up on your contacts. You will also find some other tools and books about networking and referrals.

Click on the link of the tool you are interested in and you will get some more information about this tool, why it is important and which companies offer these tools.

Increase visibility

Follow up and building relationships indvidually

Follow up and building relationships as an organisation

Books

Business Cards

Website

Blog

Business networking Websites

V-Card

Business Card Readers

Plaxo

LinkedIn Toolbars

Xobni

Texter

Free and cheaper telephone calls

Autoresponders

Software for newsletters

Books

 

Business Cards

What? Business Cards are a handy, cheap and underestimated marketing tool.
Why?

1) Help other people to find you back by sharing your contact details (at the front).

2) Help other people to remember you by sharing something (at the back). On the business card of a team member of Networking Coach for example there are 30 words to get to know that team member better and also a reference to the free networking e-course people can find at this website.

More tips about business cards can be found in the network book "Let's Connect!": www.letsconnectbook.com.

Company Website Remarks
Vistaprint www.vistaprint.com

On this website you can upload your own business card designs and have them printed for a very low cost.

You can even get 250 free business cards! However don't use these free business cards as a professional business card because at the back it says "For free business cards, visit www.vistaprint.com". These free business cards can come in handy as personal business cards.

Another application of (the format of) business cards is to print tips on them. At Networking Coach we have for example cards with 10 tips to network more effectively, efficiently and with more fun.

 

Website

What? A website is at least your online business card and hopefully much more.
Why?

These days no organisation can really exist without a website. Even it is just one page that contains the contact details.

However, we advice to give some more information. The reason is that this helps people from your network refer people from your network to a place where they can find more information. This makes it easier for them to provide people who are interested in your organisation (like customers, suppliers, partners, employees, press and others) with more information about your organisation and let them have a first impression. You better make sure that it is a good one!

Company Website Remarks
Godaddy www.godaddy.com

Very cheap registration of domain names (inclusive e-mail addresses): from 6.85 US dollar per year!

In this price there is also a free webpage included. However we advice not to use this free webpage, because there is publicity on top of the page. Invest some extra euros or dollars in hosting (= a home for your website) without publicity.

Next to domain registration and hosting Godaddy offers many other products and services in the field of websites and online marketing.

 

Blog

What?

Blog is the abbreviation of weblog. Blogs started as diaries on the Internet which can be read by anyone. In fact a blog is a very simple website which is easy to set up and to use.

Nowadays there are many people who blog with professional content as well as more personal things. They share their ideas and opinions on a regular or irregular basis. Jan uses the blog "The Networking Coach's Opinion" (www.how-to-really-use-linkedin.com/blog/) to give networking tips, share his experiences regarding networking or referrals and to announce interesting news.

Why?

Especially if you don't have a website yet, it is worth the time and effort to start a blog. It is easy to set up and to start using.

An extra reason to start a blog (next to a normal website): a blog is appreciated more by search engines like Google than normal websites. The reason is that websites contain more marketing messages while blogs contain ideas, opinions and tips without commercial goals which is more interesting for other people.

If you are complete new to the world of blogs, you can take the tour of Blogger: www.blogger.com

After you have set up your blog and after every post on the blog, it is also important that your message is found by other people. You can use "Ping services" which do the work for you. These are a few of them:

Company Website Remarks
Wordpress www.wordpress.com

Free and easy to set up.

This is the website we use ourselves for Jan's blog: "The Networking Coach's Opinion": www.how-to-really-use-linkedin.com/blog/.

We used to have a (paying) account with Typepad, but after attending a conference where Armand Morin adviced to use WordPress we switched. And with success: the blog is ranked higher in the search engine rankings.

WordPress also offers software to host on your own server. However this is not necessary. Like us, you can use the website.

Blogger www.blogger.com

Free and easy to set up.

Probably the most used blog service worldwide. Owned by Google.

 

Business Networking Websites

What?

Networking via the Internet is hot. Moreover, it is a way to make contact with other professionals and maintain the relationships with them with many advantages.

Why?

Online business networks have many advantages. For starters: you are independent from time and space to make contact and build relationships.

Another benefit is that profiles on online business networks are appreciated a lot by search engines like Google. As a consequence they end up very high in the rankings of the search engines. If you want more visibility for yourself or for your organisation, making a profile on these websites is very interesting.

An extra advantage is that links to your website from your profile also helps your website to score better in the search engine rankings.

More information about online business networks can be found in the network book "Let's Connect!": www.letsconnectbook.com.

Company Website Remarks
LinkedIn www.linkedin.com

Free or paying membership.

The largest online business network worldwide.

Take a look at the profile of Jan at LinkedIn.

Ecademy www.ecademy.com

Free or paying membership.

A smaller number of users than LinkedIn, but a real community which breathes the networking attitude: people really help each other. The local "representatives" also organise events where members (and guests) can meet each other in order to go beyond the virtual contacts.

For a free membership, click on this link: http://www.ecademy.com/account.php?op=signup&xref=58355.

Take a look at the profile of Jan at Ecademy.

Xing www.xing.com

Free or paying membership.

A smaller user base than LinkedIn, but larger than Ecademy Een kleinere gemeenschap dan LinkedIn, maar groter dan Ecademy. The local "representatives" also organise events where members (and guests) can meet each other in order to go beyond the virtual contacts.

For 1 month "trial version" free Premium Membership, click this link (of copy/paste deze in een browser venster): http://www.xing.com/go/invite/369921.1cb7f5.

Take a look at the profile of Jan at Xing.

Netwerklounge www.netwerklounge.be

Free membership.

A small community in Flanders for the visitors of the Business Netwerk Café (www.businessnetwerkcafe.be) and other interested people. By the way: participating in the network activities of the Business Netwerk Café is free.

Take a look at the profile of Jan at Netwerklounge.

Facebook www.facebook.com

Free membership.

Started as a virutal community for students, but now more and more also for professionals. Very large user community worldwide.

Take a look at the profile of Jan at Facebook.

 

V-Card

What? A V-Card is an business card in electronic format. In other words: it is a contact card from your e-mail program with your own contact data.
Why?

Only few people use a Business Card Reader (see next tool), take the time to put in the paper business cards they received in their e-mail program or copy the contact details from the signature at the bottom of an e-mail in a contact card.

As a consequence they don't always find the people they need. Hence the danger is they forget about you or don't know how to get in touch with you.

To solve this problem you can send an e-mail with your V-Card in attachment after your first meeting. The recipient can then easily save this V-Card in his e-mail program. In this way you help them to easily get back in touch with you.

A word of caution: do this only once. Don't attach your V-Card to each e-mail you send. People go crazy when they get unnecessary attachments over and over again!

Company Website Remarks
The e-mail program you are already using.

 

Business Card Readers

What? Small hand scanners to scan business cards.
Why?

If you use a Business Card Reader, you don't have to manually put in the business cards you received.

After scanning the business cards, optical character recognition (OCR) is applied. The contact details from the business card are then uploaded to your e-mail program, database or spreadsheet.

Using a Business Card Reader can save lots of time. However be aware that this technology is not 100% accurate. You always have to check if the data is scanned properly and saved in the right fields.

We advice to invest in a Business Card Reader when you have to put in many business cards at certain moments like after a fair. Or you can also buy one Business Card Reader for a sales team and share it with all the sales reps.

Company Website Remarks
Iris www.amazon.com

Belgian company which is one of the world leaders in scanning and optical character recognition.

Buy this Iris Business Card Reader on Amazon: IRISCard Pro Business Card Scanner

CardScan www.amazon.com

Buy this CardScan Personal v8 Card Scanner on Amazon: CardScan Personal v8 Card Scanner

 

Plaxo

What? Plaxo is a free tool that helps you to always have the most recent contact details of the people from your network.
Why?

10% of the population yearly moves to another house or changes jobs. Often we are not aware that this happened and as a consequence it costs us lots of time to get back in touch with this person.

Even if we know that someone's contact details have changed, it often costs time and effort to update them ourselves.

Plaxo is for the moment the best known company that has an answer to this problem by offering a tool which enables anyone to keep their contact details up-to-date.

Company Website Remarks
Plaxo www.plaxo.com

You can download a free plug-in for your e-mail program. There is a manual which explains the features of Plaxo. Be aware though that this plugin is not compatible with all e-mail programs. At the moment it works witk Outlook, Outlook Express, Mac OS X and Mozilla Thunderbird. This can change every moment though. So make sure to visit the Plaxo website for the latest update.

How does it work?

Every time someone changes his contact details via the Plaxo plug-in then everybody in his address book who is also a Plaxo member gets a notification e-mail.
If you don't want to receive these notifications you can always uncheck this option.

Via Plaxo you can also send e-cards (free or for a fee).

Plaxo Pulse, the social network website of Plaxo, is still in beta phase for the moment, but it could become a serious new player on this market.

 

LinkedIn Toolbars

What? LinkedIn offers two free toolbars to make the bridge between Outlook or a webbrowser on the one hand and LinkedIn on the other hand.
Why?

If you use LinkedIn on a regular basis to find someone or if you want to work more efficiently with your contacts in Outlook then LinkedIn offers support.

Company Website Remarks
LinkedIn www.linkedin.com

LinkedIn offers two toolbars:

  • For Outlook
  • For webbrowsers
  • The LinkedIn toolbar for Outlook offers a couple of tools which can help you to deal more efficiently with your network. For example the "Grab" function enables you to transform the contact details from an e-mail signature to a contact card in only two actions: first select the text of the signature and then click the "Grab" icon. A new contact card is automatically made.

    The LinkedIn toolbar for webbrowsers allows you to search for contacts in LinkedIn from a search box in your webbrowser. In other words: you don't have to go the LinkedIn website. This toolbar is similar to the Google or Yahoo toolbar.

    PS: you find these tools at the bottom of each page in LinkedIn.

     

    Xobni

    What? The free tool Xobni offers another view on the data of MS Outlook. Instead of using e-mails as the basis, a person is the basic unit. This means that there is a link from every e-mail to an extra toolbar which contains data about this person, the e-mails and files you have shared with them and who are the contacts you have in common.
    Why?

    Sometimes it cost a lot of time and effort to find the contact details of a person. Sometimes the e-mails you have exchanged with a person are in several folders and are they hard to find back. Xobni brings these data together in a concise format.

    Company Website Remarks
    Xobni www.xobni.com

    Xobni shows the following data in a concise overview in Outlook:

    • Contact details: name, telephone number, email address, ... are retrieved from the signature of an e-mail. There is even a link with LinkedIn to retriev the picture of this person.
    • Statistics of when you have sent e-mails to this person and when you have received e-mails from this person. This is ideal to see when it is the best time to contact someone.
    • Overview of all exchanged emails with this person.
    • Overview of all exchanged files with this person.
    • Overview of the common network. This is a list of all people who were in cc in one of the e-mails. Most of the times they will know each other, except when you send emails to groups of people who have the same profile or interest, but don't know each other.

    Xobni is a very useful and free tool that can save you a lot of time.

    One warning: some people have more than one email address. These are never shown in one overview. So you can still miss emails from someone if you don't take this into account.

     

    Texter

    What? Texter is a free program which allows to paste predefined text in an email, Word or Excel document, web form or any other place using "hotstrings" (letter combinations).
    Why?

    If you have to type the same text on a regular basis this tool can save you lots of time.

    Company Website Remarks
    Lifehacker www.lifehacker.com

    Texter allows you to store text you need to write over and over again (like standard replies, route description, salutations or signatures in an email, standard invitations,...) and reuse it using a combination of characters you have chosen yourself.

    This is an amazing time saver if you need to write the same sentences over and over again.

    The amount of text can be a sentence, but also a paragraph, even with pictures included.

    On the Lifehacker website you will find more examples and applications and also a video about how to use it.

     

    Autoresponders

    What?

    An autoresponder is software which allows to automate a part of the communication and follow up.

    The best known application of an autoresponder is the "Out-of-offce" message.

    Other applications are subscriptions to and distribtion of newsletters or setting up an e-course. The technology behind the free networking e-course we offer is an autoresponder.

    Why?

    Sharing tips and other valuable information helps building and maintaining relationships.

    However many people and companies don't do this because they fear the administrative side. And they are right. If there was no autoresponder software we won't be able to offer a free networking e-course. Manual registration of who subscribes and who needs to get which part is impossible when a few thousand people subscribe.

    The advantage of autoresponders is that you write the information you want to share once and then set up in the autoresponder software which part of the information you want to send at which moment (= which interval). From the moment you have set this up, it runs on auto-pilot.

    Using autoresponder technology allows us to share part of our knowledge (for free) and at the same time focus on our core activities: training courses and presentations.

    Company Website Remarks
    AutoResponsePlus3 (ARP3) www.autoresponseplus.com

    This is the autoresponder software we use ourselves. Not only to send the e-course, but also for our tips and updates of courses.

    The main advantage of ARP3 is that you only have to pay one time a rather small fee and then you can use it without limitations. There is no monthly fee or extra costs when you have a larger database.

    The only disadvantage is that you have to install the software on a server. This means extra work: renting a server (but this can be done rather cheaply via GoDaddy, but pay attention: not every hosting plan of Godaddy is suited for this) and installing the software.

    Howevern, nowadays ARP3 offers to this installation for you (We recommend strongly to do this, it will save you lots of time!) and they also give suggestions which hosting companies to use when you want to use ARP3. Conclusion: despite the extra effort, it is not too much extra trouble and much cheaper in the long run.

    Aweber www.aweber.com

    Easy and fast set up.

    The software runs on the servers of Aweber, so no installation is needed. Aweber's system is interesting for autoresponders as well as for newsletters.

    Costs: monthly fee depending on the amount of people in the database.

    Offers a free 30 day trial period.

    KickstartCart www.KickStartCart.com

    In fact this is more a shopping cart solution (for selling products and services online), but it also comes with autoresponder and newsletter functionality.

    If you sell products or services on the Internet, KickStartCart offers an integrated solution. If you don't sell anything directly on the Internet, our advice is to choose another autoresponder software.

    Costs: monthly fee depending in the needed functionality.

    Offers a free 30 day trial period.

     

    Software for newsletters

    What?

    A newsletter is information that gives the reader tips and ideas.

    Making and distributin a newsletter via e-mail is nowadays very easy thanks to technology (a paper newsletter has still more impact though).

    Often there is confusion about newsletters and publicity. It is important to separate discounts and special offers from tips and ideas. Why? The danger is that newsletters will be perceived as publicity or even SPAM and are not read anymore.

    Why?

    Sharing tips and other valuable information helps building and maintaining relationships.

    However many people and companies don't do this because they fear the administrative side. And they are right.

    If there was no software for making and distributing newsletters we wouldn't be able to offer free tips. Manual registration of who subscribes and who occassionaly unsubscribes is impossible when a few thousand people subscribe.

    Company Website Remarks
    AutoResponsePlus3 (ARP3) www.autoresponseplus.com

    This is the software we use ourselves. Not only to send the tips and manage subscriptions, but also for our e-course and updates of courses.

    The main advantage of ARP3 is that you only have to pay one time a rather small fee and then you can use it without limitations. There is no monthly fee or extra costs when you have a larger database.

    The only disadvantage is that you have to install the software on a server. This means extra work: renting a server (but this can be done rather cheaply via GoDaddy, but pay attention: not every hosting plan of Godaddy is suited for this) and installing the software.

    Howevern, nowadays ARP3 offers to this installation for you (We recommend strongly to do this, it will save you lots of time!) and they also give suggestions which hosting companies to use when you want to use ARP3. Conclusion: despite the extra effort, it is not too much extra trouble and much cheaper in the long run.

    Aweber www.aweber.com

    Easy and fast set up.

    The software runs on the servers of Aweber, so no installation is needed. Aweber's system is interesting for autoresponders as well as for newsletters.

    Costs: monthly fee depending on the amount of people in the database.

    Offers a free 30 day trial period.

    KickstartCart www.KickStartCart.com

    In fact this is more a shopping cart solution (for selling products and services online), but it also comes with autoresponder and newsletter functionality.

    If you sell products or services on the Internet, KickStartCart offers an integrated solution. If you don't sell anything directly on the Internet, our advice is to choose another newsletter software.

    Costs: monthly fee depending in the needed functionality.

    Offers a free 30 day trial period.

    Emailgarage www.emailgarage.com

    Belgian company that specializes in e-marketing and newsletters.

    The reporting functionality that is standard is very powerful. And also very user friendly.

    Costs: depending on the number of e-mails: price per e-mail or monthly fee combined with a very low cost per e-mail.

    Offers a "trial version" with 1000 free e-mails.

     

    Free and cheaper telephone calls

    What?

    One of the best ways to build and maintain relationships is making telephone calls.

    However this can be very expensive, especially with international calls.

    Why?

    Contact via telephone is personal, but you don't have to travel. So it is a good ratio time investment/relationship investment.

    Company Website Remarks
    Skype www.skype.com

    Skype is the most widely used tool to make telephone calls for free via the Internet. This requires that both parties are behind their computer or have a wireless telephone or headset connected to the computer.

    Extra benefits/functionalities:

    • Lower costss to call a landline or mobile phone anywhere in the world.
    • Free messenging functionality (live chat like Microsoft Messenger or Yahoo Messenger) with several people in one chat.
    • Free video conferencing functionality that can be used by many people at the same time.

     

    Books about networking and referrals

    What?

    Of course there are many more good books about networking than "Let's Connect!" (www.letsconnectbook.com).

    Why?

    Reading more than one book about networking or referrals offers more than one point of view. Sometimes a specific insight that is described differently by a specific author is suddenly understood while the words of an other author didn't resonate.

    Company Website Remarks
    Amazon List with top 20 networking and referral books www.amazon.com

    If you click on the link, you will be directed to Jan's Amazon Listmania list with the top 20 networking and referral books.

    Chauvinistic as we are, Let's Connect is number 1 :-)


    Copyright 2004-2014 Networking Coach | Network tools | Referral tools | Networking aids