Network for your pet business

A Note from Joshua Cary: Here is another solid article written by our friend, Laura Capra (of Keep Me Company Pet Sitting). It’s on the topic of networking, and it’s a continued conversation from our recent video training session with Derek Coburn.

Make sure to also watch that session on Youtube here.

With that, take some time to really understand and implement this new way of approaching your networking efforts. We look forward to keeping the dialogue going in the comments.


You know that psychology word game where a person says a particular word and you have to say whatever first comes to your mind after you hear it?  What word do you think of when you hear “networking”?

  • Fear
  • Intimidating
  • Pointless
  • Boring
  • Strangers
  • Group

That’s what a lot of people say.  Derek Coburn even wrote a book entitled “Networking Is Not Working” because in the old school sense, it’s not.

For most people it is a waste of time, it’s cold calling, you might as well put 50+ of your business cards in the trash because you are going to get the same amount of business if you were to pass 50 cards out at a networking event.

In Derek’s book (highly recommend, view on Amazon here), he talks about a new way to network.  One that isn’t scary or intimidating but empowering, productive, manageable – all things that will help you not only grow your business, but grow your value.

How can it be applied to pet sitters?  Like this:

STEP ONE:

A)     Identify your ideal client.  This could be a client that you already have or a client you are hoping to get.  The pie-in-the-sky, 10-out-of-10, cherry-on-top perfect client.  What does this client look like?  What sets them above your other clients?  I’m talking about your IDEAL client, NOT your ONLY client.  Do you like cats or dogs better?  How far do you want to drive?  Are you good with senior pets or do you like taking younger pups on a walk?  Do you like 1 visit a day?  2?  Do you like spending the night?  EXACTLY what does your ideal client look like?  Are they Monday-Friday or are they vacationers?

STEP TWO:

So you figured out who your ideal client is.  Now we need to talk about what they want/need. That’s easy, all clients want/need information.  Figuring out WHAT information they are looking for is the key.

I am going to use a specific example of finding what your ideal client is looking for:

IDEAL CLIENT #1:  Client travels once a month to visit grandchildren (maybe 5 days total each month) and has special needs kitties (they are diabetic) that need 2 visits a day.  These kitties live within a 10 minute drive of the pet sitters home, the owner would like a text each day with a picture and an update.  They found out about XYZ Pet Sitting Company via a Google search.  They adopted both cats at a shelter.  The owners are engaged with their pet sitter and form a relationship with them (not quite BFF’s, but let’s say holiday card level).

Information they are probably interested in, write a blog, produce a video on:

  • Living With A Cat With Diabetes, What Does It Mean?
  • 5 Signs Of Diagnosing Diabetes in Cats
  • What Do I Do If My Cat Has A Diabetic Crash
  • How Do I Give An Insulin Injection?  (video)
  • Who Are The Best Vets In (your target area) For A Cat With Diabetes?
  • Why You Should Choose XYZ Pet Sitting If You Have A Cat With Diabetes
  • How To Keep Your Cat Comfortable At Home While You Travel
  • 5 Things Cats Do When They Have Separation Anxiety And How To Help Them
  • Why Cats Should Not Have Every-Other-Day Visits When You Are Away
  • 3 Special Diet Options For Diabetic Cats
  • Cute Pictures Of Our Special Kitty Clients
  • Who Rescues Who – 5 Benefits Of Adopting From Your Local Shelter

Maybe after talking to this client, you come to find out that the grandchildren are coming to her house for a visit.  Another gold mine potential to be useful!

  • 5 Things To Do In (your target area) With Kids Under 10 (any age would work)
  • Restaurants In Town That Kids Like The Best – Chicken Finger Taste Test
  • Step By Step Guide On How To Introduce Children To Cats

You Now Have 15+ Topics!

So now we have 15 different topics that we can help that client with.

Do they already have that information?  Possibly.  But they don’t have it from YOU.  And if they found you by doing a Google search, and you come up as the author of 15 blog posts or video’s on diabetic cats – I don’t think that they will be calling anyone else.

So we have 2 things in our pocket:

1) What our ideal client looks like
2) What information would be useful to that client.

STEP 3:

Now it’s time to bring in “networking” to our picture.

You’ve done all of the ground work, you’ve laid the foundation, you’ve started writing blogs and posting videos to answer your ideal clients questions.

You are establishing yourself as an expert in the field of diabetic cats.

Don’t panic, don’t cringe….

There is no pounding the pavement in networking.  Have you been told that you need to visit all of the vet offices, groomers, trainers in town?  And you make it like a rotation.

Maybe you bake some cookies, you leave a plate of goodies and some business cards on the front desk, maybe they have a bulletin board and you push pin your card on it (old school pinning!), then you walk out and head to the next office and do the same thing over and over again.

How’s that working for you?  I’d bet not so good.

Using the same example as above, how about:

A)     Call your vet, or a vet in town that you want to get to know.  Say something like: “I am a pet sitter in town and I have some clients with cats that have diabetes and/or they are worried about their cats getting diabetes.  I would like to put together a small educational evening for them to learn about diabetes in cats.  Would you be interested in leading the talk/discussion?  I would welcome you to invite any of your clients that may be interested as well.  I can put the word out to my community of pet lovers which will include a social media campaign where I will mention you and your clinic; I can even bring by a flyer for you to post in your clinic.  I visualize you speaking for no more than 45 minutes or so about diabetes in cats with maybe a short question & answer session after.  How to notice the signs, preemptive care, quality of life after diagnosis, whatever you feel people need to be aware of when it comes to the condition.  I can provide light refreshments.  Would we be able to hold it in your lobby or do you have a room in your clinic that you think would work?”

BAM.  That’s a productive, informative, useful evening of networking.  That’s what a networking event should look like.

Who does this benefit?

  • Your client.  They are getting information they need about diabetes in cats
  • The vet.  They are bringing pet owners into their clinic.
  • YOU. Is it directly related to pet sitting?  No.  But is it directly related to VALUE?  Y.E.S.

Who is the client going to be talking about when it comes to pet care?  YOU.  Who is the vet going to be talking about when they get asked who the best pet sitter in town is?  YOU!  You just brought the vet new clients!  You made him money!

Depending on what your ideal client looks like, you can set up talks with local groomers, trainers; whomever will be in the best interest of your ideal client.

But, wait, what if you are not comfortable calling a local vet?  What is your option?  How do you network?

Even if you are a little nervous about setting up the educational event, write the 15 blogs with your ideal client as your target audience.  That’s a good place to start.

Or, you can try out Networking Option #2!  You have a network at your fingertips.  Any guesses as to who that is?  I’ll give you a hint: you see their pets every day.

It’s time to start thinking of your CLIENTS as a network.

STEP ONE:

A)     Make a list of your current clients in order of how much you bill them.  Hard numbers.  Who, financially speaking is your best client?

B)      Make a list of your current clients in order of how much you like working with them and their pets.  Is the list the same?  Maybe, maybe not.  Your best client financially is not necessarily your ideal client.  That’s the ultimate goal, to have these lists match up.

The goal is to have those 2 lists match.

STEP TWO:

Using the results from Step One, do a little groundwork.  What do those clients do for a living?  What does their family life look like?  Are they single?  Kids?  Where do they work?  What are their hobbies?

How is this going to help?  I’ll give you a specific example:

The client in the #1 spot on my financial list loves to go to local restaurants.  They typically go out on the town every weekend and they call us to make a dinner visit for their 3 dogs, 2 cats and 2 horses – they’ve got a lot of animals!  They are on my favorite client list, but maybe at #6 or #7.

HOWEVER, my #1 favorite client owns a restaurant in town.

I am going to make the introduction between these two clients.  I am going to call the family with all of the animals (or email, whatever you are comfortable with) and say “Hi!  I know that you like to try new places to eat and I have a perfect spot for you.  You should try out Modena Wine Café, I know the owner and will let them know you are coming.  Just let me know when you want to try them out!”

*Disclaimer – make sure that the restaurant is not only good, but will be a good fit with the clients you are sending to eat there.  If you know they are allergic to sushi, and it’s a raw oyster bar that you want to recommend, you need to think of a different angle!*

Who does this benefit?

  • Your best financial client.  You are providing a value by recommending something that they enjoy.
  • Your favorite client.  You just gave them a new customer!  And if they enjoy themselves, they are going to tell their friends about the restaurant and bring them MORE customers!
  • YOU.  Is it directly related to pet sitting?  No.  But is it directly related to VALUE?  Y.E.S.

Who are the clients going to be talking about when it comes to pet care?  YOU!  Why?  Because you gave each of them something of value, including MONEY!

Another example:

I had a client once call me and she said “I am looking for a housecleaner and I know that you are well connected in the community, do you have someone to recommend?”

I did know a house cleaner that would be a good fit with that client and so I passed on the name and contact information.  THEN, I called the house cleaner.  “Hi, It’s Laura, with XYZ Pet Sitting, I just gave your name out to Shirley Temple.  She has 2 cats but the pet hair isn’t out of control and I hope that you can help her out with her needs”.

Who do you think that house cleaner recommends to all of her clients that have pets?

When/if she gets a pet, who do you think she is going to call for pet sitting?  Think that it can be productive to network with people without pets?  You bet it is!

Let’s try the game I mentioned at the beginning again, I’m going to say the word “networking”

What comes to mind now?


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