Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Nice to Meet You -- Now, Buy From Me

The referral based marketing course I teach, divides relationships into three categories. It doesn’t matter what names are given to them, let’s just say level 1, 2 or 3. Level 1 (visibility) is when you have just met someone, level 2 (credibility) is when you’ve begun to get to know them better and actually like them. Level 3 (profitability) is when magic happens. That’s where you trust each other so much that you refer business back and forth. In class we talk about how people rush the relationship model, by jumping from 1 to 3, having just met. We’ve all experienced this phenomenon and the uncomfortable feelings associated with being on the wrong end of this rush. I don’t know about you, but when someone tries to do that to me, I want to run and hide at best, or be rude at my worst.

Doug Clark, a mortgage lender with Fifth Third Bank, told a story at our most recent Certified Networker graduation that demonstrated the above scenario. As MC of our event he began the evening by asking a young guest in the front row to pretend that he wasn’t married (with apologies to wife Marcia!) and that they were going out for a coffee date. Doug continued, “Now at the end of the hour or so, things have gone well and I look at you and say, ‘Let’s get married.’” The look on the young women’s face was priceless as you can imagine. Doug ended by giving the point of the story, which was that relationships take time to develop and for most it doesn’t happen over night.

Interestingly, this type of getting to know you/do business with you now happened to me via email the very same week. A banker (not Doug!) from the institution where my husband and I have banked forever sent a message to me. I have never heard his name before, nor has this person made any attempt to meet me in person. The message was, “I help your husband with his banking. It would be a good idea if I got to know you, too. In that view we are having an investment seminar at the bank this week and I would like you to come as my guest.” Needless to say, I did not attend the event, nor has this person done anything to make me wish to get to know him. My feeling is that he just wanted to fill his quota of people at the seminar. He was asking me to marry him without even the benefit of the coffee date.

Does this type of marketing drive you crazy or is it just me?

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Orange Shirt Welcome

Last week I was in Phoenix for a The BNI National Conference and some additional training. Several people were there from the Toledo area. On Sunday, the day we arrived, when we headed out from the hotel to find some lunch, a blast of hot air hit us as we passed through the doors. I had left 55 degree, cold, rainy weather that morning to having to deal with 105 degree temperatures just four hour later.

As we approached the first corner there was a gentleman in khaki shorts and orange golf shirt standing there. We stopped to chat and got to know Mickey McGuire. He is a member of a corps of volunteer ambassadors who help visitors find where they want to go. Not only will they give directions, but they will actually walk with those tourists who are directionally challenged. Mickey visited Phoenix in the ‘70s to run a marathon, having traveled from Maine. He said, “It was January and back home it was minus 10 degrees, here it was 70. I did the math. I’ve been here ever since.”

I thought about how immediately welcome Mickey made us feel and I wondered how well we all do not just for visitors to our city, but visitors to our groups.

How do you walk the extra mile (in 105 degree heat) to make your visitors feel welcomed?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Networking for Fun

Today I have a speaking engagement for the annual Lial Ladies Luncheon. Lial is a private, Catholic, Kindergarten-8 school in Whitehouse, Ohio. Lisa Wilkie, Director of Developoment, who asked me to speak, related that they really want this to be fun for the women as opposed to a direct fund raising message. I have crafted my presentation to reflect this focus and a more personal approach to networking as opposed to business. I will be telling stories of actual networking anecdotes, and what the networking lesson is from each.

Additionally, Lisa shared that each of the women attending have been asked to give a word that describes Lial School for them. When I received the list of the words, I thought of how Scott Ginsberg owns the word approachability. I plan to ask some of the women to tell why they've chosen their word -- what the circumstances were for them. It should be a fun presentation.

If you were to use a word to describe your elementary or even high school experience, what would it be and why?

Friday, May 05, 2006

Customer Service

I always learn so much from my students. Recently, as I was reading a written homework assignment, I received a piece of customer feedback. You see at the end of our Certified Networker class we have a graduation celebration. It certainly is a time to honor the newest members of our growing community. Seasoned grads take on many of the responsibilities of the event, including the registration table. It is an event where we also welcome visitors.

So here's where the important feedback comes in. The assignment was for the student to attend any networking event and then write about their experience. The student reported on our graduation held several months ago. She came by herself and it was a challenge for her to walk in. But she did. What happened, according to her perception, was that she was welcomed, and instructed how to sign in, but then the two people at the registration table resumed their personal conversation, ignoring her plight in doing so. Ouch!

Our usual way of doing things, is for a roaming grad to take visitors under their wing, move them to the name tag area, and introduce them to others. Maybe all that happened, but from the visitor's point of view it didn't. Even so, she registered in this most recent class. She now feels much more comfortable attending networking events because of some techniques she has learned.

We have a graduation coming up on the 23rd of this month. We have three classes of students to be honored. We will have many guests. It will be a challenge to be sure that all guests feel included and welcome. But you can bet that I will ask the seasoned Certified Networkers how they think they can make it happen.

When did you get unexpected feedback about your customer service? Were you up to snuff or was it a wake-up call?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Surprise From the Back of the Room

Wow! Today I was blown away. I was helping a group in Napoleon, Northwest Networkers, to gain a better ROI by being very clear about the types of people and businesses they want for referrals. For many this is a strange and somewhat threatening concept. But that's a whole 'nuther story.

One young guy, Gary, said that he wanted to connect with developers of more expensive homes, but he didn't know how to do that. Gary is a craftsman who creates wonderful cabinetry. Little did I know that in the back of the room I had an ally. Joel Miller, the Executive Director of the Napoleon/Henry County Chamber of Commerce is also a member of this group. To Gary he said, "I know some of those very developers in the Chamber. I am willing to call them and ask them to come in for a group meeting with you. That's my job."

That was the WOW! Joel is the first Chamber exec I have met who seems to really understand that his job is more than finding businesses to sponsor the next chamber event. Now I know that I am generalizing here, and probably getting myself into some hot water, but I am only reporting my personal experience. Hats off to Joel for really getting involved with his members, meeting with them to find out what they need, determining who they want to do work for, and figuring out how he can help them to connect with others to be more successful.

I have never given out an award, but today I am announcing the 1st Connector Award to be given to Joel Miller.

What would you name your award and to whom would you give the first one to?

What Does My Face Say?

It happened again this week. I was meeting with a member of my new BNI chapter, Partners For Success. The member shared that she had been really apprehensive about our one on one appointment. This is so frustrating to me because I am NOT a scary person at all. But I hear that same comment over and over again. Even in my early personal life an old boyfriend (very long aog!) told me that he didn't ask me out for months because of the image I transmitted.

Malcom Gladwell, in his book, Blink, tells of Paul Ekman and Wallace Friesen, who created a, "taxonomy of facial expressions" by studying the movements of the muscle actions of the face. These two researchers catalogued how those muscle actions are perceived.
I think I look friendly, and I try to smile alot. I wonder what muscle in my face is doing its stretching exercises when it would be better for me if it would just lie quietly. And my other question is, how do we attach definitions to these muscle workings? What makes us use the word fun or serious?

What do people say to you about their first impression of you? Do you like it?