Thursday, June 29, 2006

Budding Comic Artist

I just never know when I'm going to bump into something interesting to blog about.

Today was such a day.

I sit on the Advisory Board for Career Services at Davis College and we had a quarterly meeting this afternoon. Brian Houdashelt is also a member of the Board. Brian is a alumni of Davis, and he now works there, too. He is also a graduate of the Certified Networker (CN) training. Every month a newsletter is published for the 300 member CN community and a large part of the newsletter is the opportunity for CNers to tell the others in the community about something they've accomplished....something they are proud of.

Brian has been falling down on the job!

What I found out today is that Brian has started a new comic strip that he draws three times per week. It is called Victor. Check it out, the humor is right there. Victor thinks he is brilliant and his assistant proves him wrong quite often.

But my question to Brian is, "Why in the world haven't you told us about this accomplishment? It certainly is worth tooting your horn."

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Power Teams

This week my friend Dave Bodner and I were talking about Power Teams, those sub groups of people within a BNI chapter that meet more often because usually they have a similar target market. Power Teams are an advanced concept within the BNI world because to make them work well, each member has to know his or her narrow target market. Many people either don't get this concept or don't want to get this concept because it feels like they are giving up too much. They want to continue to sell to anyone in the world.

Dave's Power Team is new and they are figuring out how to make it all work. What we found out in the conversation was that the five individual members think they all have a similar target market, but really they don't. They have identified small to medium sized businesses with 25 - 50 employees in NW Ohio. I laughed to myself when Dave told me this, because that is a description of half the world. This group of five is committed to developing and making their team work. I don't doubt that it will happen. There may be some adjustments along the way, but with five individuals committed to helping each other gain more new business, something good will come of it.

If someone asked you what your target market is, what would you answer be?

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Creative networking

For those who are bringing a new product or idea to market, the length of time it takes to educate the market can be frustrating. Just ask Cindy Young, owner of Hourglass Home Impressions, a company that helps homeowners sell their homes more quickly by taking the owner's personality out of the home. This is called staging® by the International Association for Home Staging Professionals. This concept is readily accepted on both coasts, in fact it is a given that when you put you home on the market, you call your stager at the same time you ring up your Realtor®. That said, Cindy is in the midwest where the market tends to lag behind the trends. Also, the real estate market is glutted at the moment with many homes for sale and fewer buyers looking. Many homeowners can't see the value of paying a bit more to rearrange their homes. But that's where they are wrong.

Cindy is in the middle of trying to educate her market. People are not learning the lessons quickly enough for her. As a smart entrepreneur she asked for help from a few of her business friends. They suggested that she might link with a carpet cleaner who is called in to clean the spots out of the carpeting just before the sign goes out in front of the house. This person could recommend the use of Cindy's services, just as the carpet cleaner's services are being engaged. Cindy can return the favor when her business starts to take off and she is called in first. Additionally, one friend suggested asking to speak before home owner's association meetings. Staged homes get sold more quickly, and from the association member's point of view, it helps to keep the public perception of home values higher when there is NOT a glut of for sale signs sitting in front of houses.

Educating a market about a new idea is always a challenge. If you were Cindy's friend, what ways would you suggest (that wouldn't take a lot of cash) to move her business to the next level?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Angie in Alaska

As a great networker, Angie Weid, a professional organizer living in Temperance, Michigan wanted to give back to her community, and she doesn't ever think small. Habitat for Humanity is her favorite charity, and she certainly could have volunteered to work on a project near to her home. With the the business world becoming global, Angie decided that would be the way she would operate too. She volunteered for a week long Habitat Global Village project in Anchorage, Alaska. Angie had to pay her own expenses and also had a certain amount of money she needed to raise for a donation.

With lots of energy to spare, after one long, eight-hour construction day, Angie climbed to the top of Flattop Mountain in Anchorage. The picture was taken at 11:30 PM; yep, that's just before midnight. Never one to shirk a challenge, Angie shared that the work week and climbing the mountain were both two of the most strenuous activities she has ever undertaken. She is happy and proud to have done both.

What is the most difficult task or tasks you have undertaken of which you are totally proud?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Above and Beyond with Master Mind

Friday last week, was the normal monthly Master Mind meeting. Usually when I meet with this great group of women, I have a business challenge I want to discuss, but this time was different. You see, my cats had decided to use several upholstered chairs at my house for a litter box, and I was pretty distraught because the odor in the house, even though the chairs had been removed was pretty awful. I just needed to vent (in more ways than one!).

The night before I had spent time washing all the baseboards and up the walls with a bleach solution. I had also taken all the slip covers off the furniture and washed them, even if they had not been a target of the cats. The crew that came to clean and deodorize the chairs, told me that the odor attaches to dust particles and that is why it is so difficult to get rid of. MASTER MIND TO THE RESCUE.

One member, Merri Bame, reminded me that I had purchased an enzyme spray from another BNI member, to help with the stinky dog odor in our home. (It sure does seem to be a theme here.) Until she reminded me, I had totally forgotten about this stuff. Another member, Cathy Skiver, offered to lend me her room purifier unit. Wow! We had guests coming for the weekend on Saturday morning, so I spent Friday night spraying the enzyme stuff, and cleaning as much dust as I could. I borrowed the electronic air cleaner early Saturday morning. The house smells a lot better; I only catch a whiff of a bad odor ever so often. I'll just have to keep working on that dust thing!

What's the worst catastrophe you've had to deal with before guests have arrived at your house?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

It’s a small, small world!

One responsibility of being a member of the Board of Action for the Women’s Entrepreneurial Network, is to select one new member per month and just call them to welcome them to WEN. So many times when people join an organization, it seems as if the check just goes into a black hole. WEN actively tries to be the friendliest group in town. One way is the important welcome calls.

I just picked a name at random the other morning at the meeting. Lisa Goodell is with Midwest Mortgage. We chatted for quite awhile, and then as we were ending the conversation, I said that I didn’t think we had ever met, but that I would be looking for her at the next WEN lunch meeting. Lisa said, “Well, actually we have met before, but you probably don’t remember.” (She was right!) Three years ago we both attended a meeting of the Women’s Council of Realtors at the Toledo Zoo, and both of us volunteered to sell 50/50 raffle tickets that day. Lisa’s name has changed since then, so I guess that lets me off the hook, but she has a better memory than I do.

Do you have trouble remembering people you have met in the past? What do you do to help cement them into your memory?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I love spotlighting those who are conscious networkers, ones who are always thinking about who they can help. Constance Schultz is one to fit that description. Let me tell you about her.

Constance is an independent distributor for Reliv, a vitamin and supplement company. She is a member of the Madison Avenue chapter of BNI in Toledo, OH. She is also a recent graduate of the Certified Networker training program. At the graduation, she met the husband of one of the other grads. This man happens to be a sports medicine doctor at one of the local hospitals. So you’re probably thinking that she talked to him about her products for his patients. Wrong! Constance, instead, asked if he would be able to recycle knee braces that she no longer needed. He was delighted to receive such a windfall. But she even took it further.

A fellow BNI member, Joe Sparks, is a running coach, a very special running coach. He is certified in the POSE style of running. This method is used by many world class athletes; because it keeps them injury-free and also helps them to go faster with less effort. Joe has even invented a belt system that helps runners to learn this method easily and quickly. Constance told the doctor about Joe, and of course, the doctor is very interested in finding out more.

Did Constance sell any Reliv products that night? No, she did not. But she was adding more credits to her networking account. She provided help to the doctor in two very different ways. The payback may not happen tomorrow, but in the networking world, what goes around comes around.

Who would you like to spotlight as being a top level networker?