Monday, June 24, 2019

Make Yourself Unique

So many business people, and not just new ones, try to sell a bunch of stuff to the whole world.  Instead, if they would establish a niche product or service and a finely-tuned target market, they will usually be more successful.

Recently I met a woman, Michelle Sheldon, at the Sustainability Brands Conference in Detroit.  Michelle owns a promotional products company, Eco Promotional Products.  What makes her different from all the other companies is that she offers eco-friendly products instead of the usual throwaway stuff.  This made me stop at her booth and chat a bit, instead of just passing by.

Fast forward a couple weeks and I was in Cleveland for the day meeting with other business owners.  One, Erica Larson, owner of Pixel Power, wants to focus more on ecologically sound companies and organizations to help with website development.  In our conversation, the Sustainability Conference was talked about.  I then told Erica about Michelle and Erica's reply was, "Oh my gosh, I can tell you that what she is offering is hard to find."

As a result, I have connected both women.  One from Illinois and one from Cleveland, OH.  And I live in Toledo. 

Now if Michelle had just had the display of all the usual products, I wouldn't even have stopped to investigate that day.  Having that niche makes her memorable and her message is so powerful that it easily travels across state lines!

Can you say the same about your message and offering?

Sunday, January 06, 2019

Learning from the Best

I realized the other day that I have had a lot of coaches in my life.  Specifically, the day I was thinking about this, I thought about the people who have helped me with my clothing style.  Many years ago I hired Ruth Milliron, the co-author of All Together You:  Learn the Secrets of Looking and Feeling Terrific.  I had a closet full of workweek clothes but nothing to wear to the Rotary event with my hubby.  That was the best money I ever spent.  Within about 2 hours, she had me lined up with at least five different outfits, from very formal to dressy casual.  Best of all, she helped me to see my style.  Don't ask me to give it a name, but I understand it.

What seems like thousands of years ago, when I was living in Detroit, a chance presentation at some networking event that I attended, gave me a little nugget about how elastic belts (that are a little out of fashion now!) help to define the waist.  Since I am more or less built like a telephone phone, that was great advice.

Recently, at another networking event, Stacy O'Brien, Premier Designs Jewelry, offered a free closet consultation to two people.  You can bet that I got to her quickly. Right away she understood that I needed assistance in my casual, weekend clothing.  I guess sweats and a t-shirt don't constitute a style!  Again within 90 minutes she had paired so many things in my closet that I would never had thought of putting together.  She had me takes pictures so I could have my "cheat sheet" for later.

But this is not just about clothing.  You see, I never went to college, but I have never stopped learning.  Sometimes a coach (or mentor) didn't even know he or she had that title.  They just appeared and gave me what I needed at that time.  Sometimes it has been a formal arrangement, where I paid money for their services.  It doesn't matter which it was, because I value coaching,  Without it I wouldn't be the person I am today nor would my business have succeeded!

Who have you had in your life that has made a difference in your success and do you think of that person as your coach?

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Peachy Networking

I took some time off on this past Monday morning to can peaches.  I had been busy all weekend with out-of-town guests and also a company picnic at our house.  Hence having to take some time "off" yesterday.  They are now done and I can get back to the office!

As I was going through the canning steps, I thought about how it was so like networking!  It seemed like it took a lot of time to gather all the appropriate tools and then to get the the syrup made, the peaches peeled and ready to go into the jars.  The last steps of jarring them and then placing them into the steaming water bath took the least time.  And of course eating them next winter will be the payoff for this effort.

When I think about strategic networking, as opposed general, free-form networking, (for me that means meeting with someone with an idea in mind of what I would like to accomplish) it is so very similar to processing peaches!  It takes a lot of time to develop all the resources needed to have a high level referral partner.  I have to make attempts to meet with new folks to winnow down the large group to a smaller few that can be groomed further.  Beyond that I have to determine ways that might be possible to work together.  All this needs to be done and also have time and money spent on that process.  Then and only then can I reap the benefits of having someone call me to say, "Hey, I have a referral for you."  Just like savoring peaches mid-winter AND just as satisfying!

Monday, July 23, 2018

What Would You Ask?

Not to long ago I sat with a women, we'll call her Susan, at a breakfast and when she found out what I did (helping people to get more referrals) she shared that even though she's been in her business for many years, she hasn't had much luck in getting referrals.  Susan said, "I ask my clients if they can refer when we're done with the project, but then I move on and they forget that I ever asked.  So nothing ever comes of it."  She asked if I had some input.

Susan's prospects happen to be CEO's of fairly large companies.  I asked her what else those CEO's buy or what other types of resources they link to.  Susan paused, fork in mid air and after several long seconds said, "I don't know."  So I of course asked her how she thought she could find out.  Again a long pause.  Again a repeat of the "I don't know" answer.  I then posed another question, "What about asking your CEO clients who they buy from?"  She turned and looked at me with that, "duh" look on her face that we've all had at some point when the obvious finally strikes.

As the referral/networking guru, I can explain this concept further and will in a future post.  This post however is about the act of asking someone else for help.  Sometimes just a word or short phrase that someone else provides makes all the
difference in the world.  

My phrase that changed my life didn't happen as a result of a direct question from me, but input that gradually happened over many months.  I worked with a gentleman named John Steele back in the early '80s.  John took me under his wing even  though he wasn't paid to do so.  At one point John said to me, "Debby, you're good, you're damn good."  Those six words changed my life.  They allowed me to believe in myself.  My career success accelerated from the moment forward.  John was smart enough to anticipate my question before I even had to ask it.  But if I had asked, it would have been, "What will make me feel successful?"

So my question to you is, "What question have you asked that when answered gave you clarity on exactly what you needed to do next?"

Sunday, March 11, 2018

What a Difference a Day Makes!

Normally, when we think of networking we think of a business setting.  But really networking is all about developing that oh so important relationship -- in all areas.

This past week I had the experience of having the best and the worst in the medical world  -- and it was all about relationships.

Wednesday, I had my final follow-up appointment  in regard to my cataract surgeries.  I expected a 2 minute appointment with a doctor that I didn't even know, basically to get my eyes measured for a new eyeglass prescription.  When the doc asked how I was doing, I answered, "The cataracts are great, but my dry eyes are horrendous."  I expected him to defer, because of course I was not his patient in regard to that condition.  He surprised the heck out of me by sitting down and spending about 45 minutes (or so it seemed) with me, facing me, making eye contact and giving me information and resources that I had not been given by any other doctor.  He also gave me his card that included his personal cell phone number that he pointed out and said, "Please text me if you have any questions or want me to prescribe the drug that I gave you a sample of."  For those of you in the Toledo area, this gentleman's name is Dr David Bejot.  I would recommend him highly.

Thursday was another story.  I had an appointment with the dry eye specialist at the Kellogg Center at the University of Michigan.  In November I met with this doctor.  He prescribed a treatment where my tear ducts were permanently closed.  I told him that I was willing to do this, but that it was not going to solve the problem, because I had had Puntal Plugs (which do the same thing until they fall out) for years and it helps, but doesn't solve the underlying problem.  He told me to be positive.  Well to make a long story short,  as I had thought, it didn't work.  The reason for my second appointment was to determine what advanced treatments I could get.  I also took my daughter-in-law along and my hubby.  During the appointment, the doctor agreed that more serious treatment was necessary and he suggested the PROSE lens.  Hubby asked, "Will she wear those for the rest of her life?" and the docs said, "Yes, until she can't." 

Well, of course I wanted to know exactly what that meant.  He gave me a another non-answer and
then turned his back to me to work on his computer.  When I asked again to understand what he meant, he lashed out (still with his back to me) and said that he felt like a two year old with my questions.  At that point my daughter-in-law spoke up and said, Dr. ______, "I think you need to adjust the way you are speaking to my m-i-l, because no one speaks to her like that."  I then asked what the first step in the process was.  Again no answer.  Still his back to me.  At this, he stood and said, "Follow me."  What he was doing was taking me to a scheduling desk to make an appointment to see the doctor who actually fits the lens.  BEFORE ALL MY QUESTIONS WERE ADDRESSED.  I would NEVER recommend this man even if he were the last doctor on this earth.

The medical community is pushed to rush patients through appointments by insurance and big medical companies that want more patients per hour.  I totally understand that.  BUT, I challenge each of them to actually see the patient as a person, a real live person. Even if it is only for two minutes. It's all about the relationship, or in Thursday's case -- not!  And for those of you wondering.  At the scheduling desk, the helpful lady said that Dr. _______ had noted that I was to come back in 4 weeks to see him for a follow-up.  My d-i-l stood up for me and said, "No, we would like to choose a different doctor." 

I became aware of a couple helpful tips during my medical journey last week. 

1.  Don't assume that a doctor can't or won't help!
2.  If I am being bullied, I can leave the appointment immediately.
3.  I will always take someone with me to these types of appointments in the future.
4.  I can change doctors just because I want to!
5.  I have a right to be treated with respect my anyone, including those in the medical  community.

After all, if my relationship with the doctor has not garnered a bit of relationship and credibility, then, I won't be assured that this person can help me.

What has been your experience in regard to medical communication?

Saturday, February 03, 2018

Don't Let it Get in Your Way

I had the pleasure this week of celebrating Nation Hijab Day at a panel discussion put on by Women of Toledo.

One panelist, Zobaida Falah, founder of Cure, was asked if she has experienced  discrimination in the business world because of her head covering.  She said that she has, but that instead of being a victim she uses that to motivate her to analyze her presentation or meeting to determine what she could have done better to get a better result.

I thought how that advice can certainly lend itself to the craft of networking.  Sometimes I reach out and are pushed back.  Either people are disinterested or downright rude.  But instead of getting all hot and bothered, I could just move on and ask myself, "Who else would be better for me to connect with?"

Perhaps it is not the people but the process I am using when networking. Am I too forward or not enough?  Am I not reading little signals that tell the world so much and do I need to get better at that?

How can you use Zobaida advice to your advantage?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

It's Just Policy!

One of the best parts of meeting new people is that they always seem to have something to share that is valuable to me.  It is sometimes a name of someone, an event that I might like to go to or even a recipe!  But recently I got a phrase!

I met with Andrea Henning, an attorney here in the Toledo, OH area.  I was chatting about my frustration of people registering for my classes and then bowing out at the last minute.  (I'm sure that never happens to any of you!)  I shared that because of this issue, that I was going to again begin charging people when they sign up (we have a monthly payment plan) so that there is ownership and commitment on their part.  I hate to do it, but I have to!

Andi gave me a phrase that she uses when she lets a prospect know of her up front retainer, She says, "It's not me, it's the policy!" (Andi is a sole practitioner!)  I love it.  She laughs and says, "You'd be surprised of all the policies that I can come up with."

Thanks, Andi.  You helped me so much!

What policies have you invited that I might borrow?