Thursday, November 30, 2006

Follow up Comment

In a recent post Seth Godin wrote about following up with people. One comment I'd like to make is about those who send pre-printed notes to follow up or thank me for doing something. I'm sorry, but it just doesn't cut it with me. I know there is a whole industry out there that print those cute little note cards, but PLEASE, at least add a personal message if you are sending that type of mail to me. It you can't take the time to pen a few lines, then probably I don't really want to do business with you or introduce you to my best client.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Why Don't I Just Ask?

I am on the committee to help with an event next week. Some responsibility was to ask for silent auction items. I put off asking this one person because:

  • I would forget;
  • would not have the phone number with me;
  • would think about it while talking with someone else;
  • would.....
  • You get the idea. I was procrastinating.


Finally at the last hour, I called yesterday and the person on the other end of the line, Laine Gabalac, answered yes so enthusiastically, that I felt like I had done her the biggest favor. Laine is the manager of Let's Dish, a dinner prep business, where busy people, who still want to cook, but really don't have the time, can assemble entrees that are absolutely delicious. I just want to say, "Thanks, Laine. You made my day." I sure am hoping that the bidding goes really high on this item, but then again, I sure would like to get the winning bid.

When has someone made you feel like your request to them was the best thing you had ever done for him/her?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Avalanche Control and Networking

Over the holiday weekend I decided to take a walk in one of the Toledo Metro Parks, lovely Sidecut Park along the Maumee River. I love walking there especially in the morning, but unfortunately, I had gotten a late start and it was more like 11 AM. It was incredible to me that while I was enjoying just being outside, I wasn't hearing or seeing many birds or animals.

Near the end of my walk, I was practicing something I had just read. In a book about avalanche control, author Jill Fredston talks about how when she is searching for someone (usually a dead body) she looks not for the body, but what is out of place. I was in an area where normally I would see deer during an early morning walk. Soon, I saw a rounded shape that just was too "rounded" to be a tree trunk. Sure enough, it was a reclining deer, camoflauged perfectly by the standing tan colored grasses. But I have to tell you that my brain was working overtime to convince me that it was one of the many downed tree trunks scattered in the area.

This started me thinking about figuring out who to network with at events. I wonder if I could use the same technique? Do I zoom past people because I am not noticing what is slightly hidden or different? Could I pay more attention to those who are not bold and assertive? Is the very person I need to meet hidden by a crowd of others?

I will be doing some research on this. I'll let you know what I find out about my networking eye.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Reaching Into the Community

Toledo Area Community Credit Union is a friend! Pat DeCesare, the Business Development Manager, offered their big community meeting room to Certified Networker for our Previews that we have about six times per year. There is a real savings in $$$, but also the setting is much nicer than the hotel we originally had used. Also, TACCU allows us to bring in our own cookies and drinks, rather than paying an astronomical amount for just one cookie!

Recently this credit union opened a new branch in Perrysburg, a suburb of Toledo, Ohio. Again showing how they want to serve their community they connected with the Perrysburg High School Band at their grand opening. The credit union did the normal act of having the band play, but then they got creative. They rented sumo wrestler suits, and recruited the band leader to don one of the suits. Then for a nominal fee, the students could get the chance to see it they could knock the director off his feet. Pat said parents were paying much more than the requested fee, because the money was going right back as a donation to the band. What a great entrance! What a great way to get the community's attention. The same of amount of money could have been spent on ads, or other traditional marketing. And certainly some was, but TACCU showed how they are unique. They stand out from the crowd.

What unique marketing have you seen from others in your business community?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Pop, Hop, Never Stop

The title of this post is my attempt at using Sam Horn's rhyming technique to develop better and more creative ways to market your business. Her book, POP, How to Stand Out in a Crowd, does just that. My friend, Scott Ginsberg, The Name Tag Guy, recommended the book when he was in Toledo for the Women's Entrepreneurial Network conference.

Now, I gotta tell you, I am not the most creative cracker in the box. If I were to describe myself along those lines, I guess I called myself a saltine. Square and maybe a little salty. But following Sam's instructions and methods, I think I could actually come up with some good stuff about my business. My new business card and tag line developed by Terry Maxx, Maxx Grafx, says, "Evolving a community of profitable referral partners." So I've been playing with the word evolve to see all the words that could rhyme with it.

Let me give you a word of warning. You do need to follow Sam's instructions to do the exercises in Chapter 2 before continuing to read the book. Otherwise you will find yourself very frustrated at about 2/3's of the way through because you are unable to really do the exercises. Ask me how I know!

International Networking Day

I spent last week at the International BNI Director's Conference in Long Beach, California. One aspect that I love about these conferences is the willingness of all directors to share their ideas with one another.

Early Friday morning at about 6 AM I had a "one to one" (BNI's vernacular for a meeting between two people) with Geoff Kirkwood while we walked along the beach. Heck, I was still on EST and Geoff couldn't decide what time zone his body was in either, since he'd flown in from Australia on Sunday. Geoff is the national director for BNI/Austalia and is also a very creative person. (He's also a major flirt!) I feel very lucky to have met him at last year's conference. He is the spark behind a new BNI initiative -- International Networking Week/Day. This first ever celebration is scheduled to happen the first full week of February from this point forward. This year (2007) it will be Feb 5 - 9, with the 6th being the official networking day.

Can you imagine what could happen if groups all around the world concentrated their relationship building on that one day? Gosh, maybe leaders would actually talk with each other instead of just posturing.

If you could plan an event for this day, how would you celebrate?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Madness Curve

Yesterday, I walked into a meeting a little late, having been delayed at the previous meeting. Within about 30 seconds I wanted to turn around and leave the meeting. The president was trying to deliver a message. She was interrrupted.

One member, who tends to be a trouble-maker, decided that she had the floor. There was lots of "you said this; someone said that; I didn't get treated right; my problems are bigger than yours; etc."

It is a good thing that I was not the person leading the meeting because I would have told that person to shut-up or leave. Not too politically correct.

It all made me mad....mad that women do that snippy thing. Men don't do it. Yeesh!

Talk about going backwards on the relationship module. There was not a speck of relationship building happening.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Funny Things That Can Happen

Yesterday, I was in Akron presenting to the Great Lakes Region Chapter 34, of the Association of YMCA Professionals. My good friend, Jody Alexander, Executive Director of the Fort Meigs Center for Health Promotions, YMCA in Perrysburg, Ohio,
was the person who arranged this speaking engagement for me. (And by the way, she won an award at this event for "Budget Management.")

The funniest thing happened that in all my years of presenting this takes the cake!

I had just begun the first session -- the one most presenters fear -- the first one after lunch. I knew that I had to be upbeat, and have a quick rhythm to keep the participants awake in the hot room. About ten minutes in, I realized that many were laughing and smiling and I congratulated myself that I was getting them engaged.

Well-ll-ll, not quite! We were in this beautiful room with windows looking out over a breath-taking, cascading river. IT WAS WINDOW WASHING TIME! Yep, you got it, the whole nine yards of the dangling ropes and the horizontal, ladder-type apparatus descending outside those very windows. Then the crew started squeegeeing the windows. Talk about distraction. But I have to give a hand to the "Y" professionals. They exhibited their professionalism. One participant got up from her seat and pulled the drapes closed as far as they would go, and the others just came back to the topic at hand. We barely missed a beat. And I don't think they fell asleep either.

Okay, presenters, can you top that? What's the funniest distraction you've ever had when you've been presenting?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

This is Deep

I have a question of the day.

Why do only a handful of people volunteer and follow through on helping with projects?

Today I am helping with an event. Of the total membership, five of us are working on this project. We have asked other members to help with specific requests ("Would you be willing to distribute invitations within your office?") and have in most instances run into a brick wall. We did not create the idea for the event but were asked by the leadership to create this event. I know the event will be successful, but it could have been an "out of this world" success if a few others would have added the little bit of extra effort we requested.

I have to admit that there are several people within the membership of this organization who have lost credibility points with me. I cannot rely on them to help in the future. This affects how I think about them outside of this event, too. Of course, coming from the opposing point of view, the five on the committee were great.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Person to Person

I make personal least most of the time.

Why do I use my time this way?

When I'm part of the process, I get benefits, too!

Scheduling time for three busy people to get together can be a challenge, but I feel the reward of the respect I get from the other two in the equation. Additionally, when I'm in the meeting, at first I do the talking to introduce (and describe why I thought the two should meet), but then they take over. It is always amazing how much more I learn about these two people, both of whom I think I know pretty well. It usually turns out, that there is a whole side of them that I don't know.

Just yesterday, I introduced my friend Sara North to Andrew Sprenger, a personal trainer. She asked great questions of Andrew that I had never thought to ask him before, including if he is insured. What I learned will help me to better refer him in the future.

Networking is all about connecting. While the typical Business After Hours scenario comes to mind when I hear the N word, it is not always that way. After all, it is about two people developing a relationship or taking a current one to a higher level. No matter what the scene, I want to be part of the introduction for a selfish reason -- it's helps to take my relationship with both people to a much higher level. Shush, don't tell anyone.