Tip of the Month
Welcome to the Nutrition Entrepreneurs Tip of the Month
FNCE is an amazing time to network with like-minded professionals and brands. No doubt you worked that expo floor and networking sessions like a champ, talking up your value and trading business cards like currency. But now that you’re home, with a stack of cards on your desk and an inbox full of unread messages, it’s tempting to just send a generic thank-you note with everyone you met BCC’ed in the “to” line.
Don’t do it!
Even if you didn’t go to FNCE, there’s something to be said about the lost art of the thank-you note. I mean a true note – handwritten, on pretty stationary, with your signature at the bottom. Yes, email may be faster, but your temptation to be the first to write to prospective clients may be overshadowed by the ones who put in a bit more creativity and stand out.
A note or card sent in the mail can go a long way toward building relationships. This time of year it’s especially important to put that pen to task:
• Write thank-you notes to everyone you met with at FNCE, and who you’d like to collaborate with in the future. Or, if there was someone you wanted to meet with but couldn’t, send a quick note with your business card and offer to connect by phone in the near future.
• Get out your holiday card list. The holidays can be a slow business time, so use that time to nurture relationships. Send cards to everyone you worked with over the past year, or who you’d like to do business with in the coming year. I like to send thoughtful gifts to clients who provided me meaningful income. Gifts don’t have to be expensive, but creativity counts! Last year I gave out Virginia peanuts (since I’m based in Northern Virginia) with a note that said, “I’m nuts about working with you.”
• Note birthdays or life events, such as pregnancies, or just send simple “thinking of you” cards to those you know well and who might appreciate the sentiment.
• Reward referrals. If someone referred work to you, especially if it’s work that impacts your bottom line in a good way, it’s good form to send a comparably-valued thank-you gift. For example, if someone sent work your way that resulted in a paid blog post, you might want to send a note with a $25 Amazon gift card (“you’re ‘Am-A-zon’ for helping me get this gig!”); likewise, if someone helped you snag a year-long contract, you may want to send a nice bottle of champagne or something festive and celebratory.
Heck, even if you have terrible penmanship, it’s really all about the thoughtful gesture.
Elana Natker, MS, RD
NE DPG Chair-Elect
“Network is a noun, not a verb”
With the bustle of meetings, events and client commitments for the Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE), October is always a busy month. From attending meetings, to organizing booths and events and trying to fit in a session, FNCE is a whirlwind weekend of food, networking, and learning (but let’s be real, it’s mostly about the food). However, no matter how busy I am I always walk away with at least one new great connection. In fact, every year I’ve attended FNCE I have made an acquaintance that has turned into a great friend.
My approach may be different from most: instead of thinking of “network” as a verb, think of it as a noun. While taking action to meet new people by “networking” may help you collect more business cards, walking into an event with the goal of building your network will have a more profound outcome. And while making contacts is important, it’s what happens after the event that counts: nurturing your network.
So how do you nurture your network? Below are tips for keeping your connections strong:
- Follow up. Following up with contacts after an event is key, even if it’s a quick hello to say thanks for having a great conversation. A tailored email referring to your discussion is always a nice touch in our now social-dependent communication culture.
- Strengthen through social. Though some may hate to admit it, social media has made it easier to stay connected no matter your location. Follow, like and engage with your connections over social to continue developing your relationships from afar.
- Meeting of the minds: masterminds! Do you have a mastermind group? If not, you should create one! If you’ve connected with someone over a business topic or similar goals then consider making it formal and creating a regular mastermind meeting. Give advice, push one another and create a sounding board for your best (and worst) ideas.
Hopefully you are inspired to cultivate great connections and build your nutrition network!
Kristina Todini, RDN
NEDPG Director of Communications
When Less Is More
As entrepreneurs, the possibilities for ways to grow our business seem endless. At times, we can feel overwhelmed by the tantalizing array of offerings we can provide to our clients. Maybe the menu is so vast that we have trouble deciding, prioritizing, and organizing. This is where “less can be more.”
Although we are experts in our field and have great knowledge, often one or two impactful statements can resonate more than lengthy explanations or messages. Saying less conveys confidence, power, and clarity. Succinct statements allow the listener to focus on the quality of the statement. The message may not reach thousands of people but hopefully will reach potential clients. Less is more is not necessarily about building a robust business community; it’s about nurturing an engaged one.
When we focus on doing less and doing it well instead of doing more and assuming it’s better, we’re more organized, deliberate, and present.
We’ve been conditioned to measure success by what we got done. If we didn’t check enough things off our to-do lists, we feel like we didn’t accomplish enough and therefore, we didn’t succeed. Instead of measuring ourselves by what we got done, we should measure our success by how we make people feel. Connecting well with a client is what our profession is about. When they respect and trust us, they will return.
In business, having free space can feel uncomfortable. We may feel compelled to fill the void of an empty office with impressive things or fill our calendar with appointments and commitments to avoid the discomfort. Instead, fill free time and space with things that really matter to you. Carefully choose things that represent you and your profession well. Fill your open calendar spots with self-reflection about your business, its vision and goals. As Terry Guillemets said: “Clutter smothers; simplicity breathes.”
Maria McConville, MS,RDN,CPT
NE DPG Secretary
I remember when Pinterest was first developed; it was invite only and many people didn’t think it would last long. There were concerns about ownership of pictures and copyright. While there are still some of those concerns Pinterest is here to stay. Now there are even blogs dedicated to Pinterest fails! Google Pinterest fails for some good laughs.
For a long time, I used Pinterest to keep track of recipes that I wanted to try but didn’t think of using it beyond personal use. One of my favorite boards was ‘too hot outside” which had recipes dedicated to the slow cooker for hot summer days when I didn’t want to warm up the house.
Now as a RD in private practice I have found an even better way to use Pinterest! Pinterest has a lot of potential to really help streamline menu planning and recipe ideas. Here are a few ideas on how you can start using Pinterest in your practice.
1. Start Pinning Now: I started pinning long before I even became an RD which was extremely helpful for when I did start using it professionally. When I started to use it in my practice I didn’t have to start from scratch with boards and pins because I already had quite a few pins that I could use for clients.
2. Themed Boards: Build boards around common themes that you use with your clients. For example, if quick breakfast ideas are often something you recommend have a board with pins dedicated just for breakfast. This will make the experience a lot easier for both you and the client (plus save you lots of time) because now you have specific ideas to give without building them an entire week’s worth of breakfasts.
3. Personalize the Experience: To help give the clients a more VIP experience you can build them a private Pinterest board with pins that were picked out especially for them. Grab pins from your general boards or even some new ones. Having their own private Pinterest board helps to personalize the experience and makes the recipe suggestions unique to them.
Amanda Sauceda, MS, RDN, CLT
Famous billionaire US investor Warren Buffett once said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.”
It’s easy for us as professionals and entrepreneurs to take on any project, assignment or opportunity that comes our way, because it could be THE thing that makes us insta-successful, catapults our career or gets us closer to our goal. We often find ourselves overcommitted and overwhelmed, so why not just say ‘no’?
Ask yourself these three questions before committing to the next opportunity that arises:
1. Does this request align with my brand?
Often times we feel we’ll miss out on an opportunity to grow or develop a relationship if we turn down a request, even if it’s something we’re not passionate about or doesn't align with our core values. If saying ‘yes’ to a project or request doesn't mesh with your brand, it may be worth reconsidering.
2. What will I need to give up?
If by saying ‘yes’, will you need to sacrifice your time, energy, resources or beliefs? Chances are you’re already giving up a few of the aforementioned already, but if taking on extra responsibility causes you to reach an unhealthy work-life balance, it’s probably not worth the added stress.
3. How will this affect my ROI?
We as dietitians tend to be people pleasers and perfectionists, sometimes lending our services because it’s the ‘nice’ thing to do even though our time is worth more than what’s being offered. Before saying ‘yes’, consider how the request will affect your bottom line and don’t be afraid to shell out a counter offer or suggest a compromise.
By saying ‘no’ to certain opportunities, we become more available for the right ones when they come along. How do you flex your ‘no’ muscle?
Erin Hendrickson, RDN NE PR and Marketing Coordinator