Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Networking Drug

Somedays are great and then there are others.

This is the other.

Today I wanted to stay in bed. I wanted to pull the covers up to my nose and just forget that there was a world out there.

Networking makes it better.

I knew this already, but remembered it today. Interaction with people helps to put a smile where it isn't.

Networking. It's what the doctor ordered.

What's your prescription for getting out of a funk?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Mary Said, "Why Me?"

Do you ever just connect with someone? Last week I visited with Mary Whittman, owner of Lloyd Brothers Walker Company, a monument company in Toledo. I had met Mary not too long before at the morning WEN meeting. At those meetings, everyone in attendance gets a chance to give a 20 second introduction. As I listened to those intros, I would note the names of people who intrigued me for one reason or another. Mary made the list. At the end of the meeting with list in hand I made it my goal to schedule appointments with those people to find out more about them and their businesses.

Until the day I visited Mary at her store, I didn't know she was the owner. I thought she was an employee. But no, last year when it looked like the long time Toledo company was going to close, she offered to purchase. And the rest is history as she nears the one year mark.

As we sat chatting, we found that we had quite a bit in common -- our grown kids, especially. She mentioned in passing that she has her real estate license. I told her that Certified Networker offers continuing ed hours for REALTORS in Ohio. She mentioned having to have her daughter mind the store in July last year so she could attend the necessary courses to keep her license. Because I am involved with the ins and outs of CEUs, I knew that her birthday was probably in July, as REALTORS licenses expire according to birth date in Ohio. Also, many wait till the last minute to get the necessary credit hours.

Of course, I had to ask her birth date. Guess what. It is the same as mine, July 27th.

Early in our meeting, Mary had asked me, "What made you single me out?" I really couldn't put my finger on any one thing. But I think that it was just the universe putting two Leo's together!

When have you connected with someone and not known why you were drawn to them?

Monday, January 29, 2007

PowerPoint: Inept People Use It

Now, I have to admit that I really don't know enough about USING PowerPoint to make an unbiased post here. But I have been a captive of PowerPoint presentations that are just god-awful. When I bought my new computer several years ago, I would not allow the software for PowerPoint to be installed, even though "it came with the package." It was a one woman crusade against evil software!

Scott Ginsberg
says it all so well, "PowerPoint sucks!" Now Seth Godin rings in with a similar message. Gosh, I sure hope there is a ground swell here for the need of jail terms for those who present BORING PowerPoint presentations.

It is my personal opinion that people who use PowerPoint, do so to have a fence between them and the scary audience members. The lights have to be darkened and eyes are on the screen, instead of the person giving the talk.

Relationship building is almost nil with an audience being lulled to sleep with PP. Again, I think it is those who are fearful of their presenting skills, or fearful that someone in the audience will ask a question...or (you fill in the blanks.)

What's wrong with just talking, telling stories, connecting with people?

Whew! I feel better now.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


Seth Godin's post on Jan 27, is a story about Picasso and fakes. It made me think of Malcom Gladwell's book, Blink. The premise of the book is different from Seth's blog, but both discuss art and whether the piece is real or not.

How many times have you met someone and immediately had warning bells go off inside your head, because your brain is telling you that something doesn't add up. Some call it intuition. I think it is a combination of experience and aura.

Those who are not credible, those who just want to take anything they can get, display signals that our brain is registering sub-consciously, before we ever consciously see those signals. There are the obvious ones; covering of the mouth with the hand, not making eye contact and acting jittery are just a few. But I think there are other subtle signals. I know that something is happening (it can be positive, too) when the size of the pupil of the person's eye changes. Probably the conversation hit a sensitive note at that very moment.

In Blink, Gladwell reports on the Facial Action Coding System or FACS. While this book in my opinion, is a little scattered in subject, I loved this information. Two researchers catalogued a taxonomy of facial expressions, and found that the were 43 basic expressions. Combining the basics, over 10,000 expression were found, with 3,000 being identified as essential displays of human emotion. It's those expressions that help our brain to make nano-second decisions about others.

What's your experience in making intuitive decisions about people?

Saturday, January 27, 2007

International Connections

This is an appropriate story to go along with the quickly approaching International Networking Week.

Last weekend Steve and I went out for dinner with Scott and Kathy Prephan. Scott is an unassuming, developer who is a known as a highly creditable business person in these parts. He is small of stature and has quite the boyish look, plus he looks like he is always about ready to pull the next prank (and probably is!)

Several years ago he met a Chinese man in Cleveland named Lee. Lee and Scott formed an international trade group as a result of that meeting. Ever since they met, Lee has been trying to get Scott to travel to China to see if Scott could help with the burgeoning development over there.

Finally during December Scott made the trip. Here's where the networking part comes in.

Lee's father is the former mayor of the city (I can't remember the name) they visited. This is a second tier city, the size of South Carolina. Yes, that is a city the size of one of our states. I think Scott said the population is 4.5 million. What Scott found out is that relationships and connections are EVERYTHING in China. The mayor is as important there as our president is here and nothing gets done without the mayor's nod. Because Scott was the guest of the former mayor (Lee is his son), Scott's importance was elevated way beyond his belief. He said that at one place he arrived, his name was on the marquee in lights.

There is so much more to this story, but what is important is that Scott had people asking him to partner with them at every stop. He left the country with the plan to help build a 40,000+ seat stadium. My immediate question to Scott was, "Do you know how to build a stadium?" Scott grinned at me and said, "No, not all of it, but I'm pulling a team together that can do it."

There are so many global opportunities, but without strong relationships both here and abroad, the prospects stay just that. It's the team effort that will make it all happen.

How have you reached across a border to make something happen?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I'm Proud

Yesterday, my friend, Lynda Goodremont was named Athena Woman of the Year, by the Toledo Chamber of Commerce. I had nominated this very deserving woman and had a ball doing it. When I nominate people for awards, I don't keep it a secret, after all, I look at the nomination process as a way to strengthen an already strong relationship.

I have known Lynda for about four or five years -- and when I write that it doesn't sound long, but I feel like I've known her all my life. She's just one of those people -- always giving of herself and making people in her midst feel very special.

When I began to answer the four "essay" questions, I realized that others could help me with the process. So really the nomination was a group effort that I just organized into a logical presentation. Thanks to Mary, Tina, Amanda, Lizzie, Merri, Starla, Marcia, Linda and probably a couple others that I am forgetting to name, we delivered a winning nomination that was a match for the appropriate winner of the Athena award this year.

As Lynda accepted her stunning award yesterday, she told the audience of 600, "It just seems too weird to be receiving notice for doing what I consider just ordinary, everyday things in life." All I can say in reply is that the ordinary things Lynda does for others, makes for smiles in our ordinary lives!

Would you keep a nomination a secret or be public about it?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Understanding the Segment

Yesterday I had a chance to meet with Cheryl Engfer, a DEO (Dedicated Equity Originator) for National City Bank. Of course I know about equity loans, but until I met Cheryl, I had never heard of a banker that focuses only on that segment of financial services. Basically, Cheryl helps people use the equity in their homes for purchases instead of using higher interest rate options.

What was really neat about the conversation was that Cheryl understands that she has a tool to help people, and knows that she needs to connect with businesses where people tend to borrow money for projects. It could be remodeling, cosmetic surgery, weddings or even real estate investments. She said, "I've only been doing this about two years and in fact I wish I'd known about it when my dad died and I needed to pay for his funeral expenses. I didn't know any better, than to put it on a credit card."

As a result of Cheryl's comment, I began to think of all the people I know in the death care industry.

After our coffee, we both attended the lunch time WEN meeting (the rollover 50/50 raffle is still rolling over and the pot is up to a little over $1100.) I was able to introduce Cheryl to Megan Coyle Stamos, a funeral pre-planner. I missed another pre-planner in attendance because that person left before I could make the intro. But just by listening for clues in the conversation, I was able to at least begin making those connections.

Isn't that what networking is all about?

What verbal clues have you heard that the other person hasn't realized they were giving you?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Takers vs Givers

There are people out there who really annoy me. They are the ones who milk the system for all its worth. They are the TAKERS.

A TAKER may be a member of a group, but rarely attends meetings or only attends when they have something to gain.

A TAKER takes advantage of all the benefits of an organization without giving anything in return.

A TAKER'S conversation is centered on them -- me, me, me.

A TAKER bends the rules and then justifies why s/he had to do it that way.

A TAKER could care less about anyone else.

GIVERS do the opposite.


What's your take on TAKERS?

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Pittsburgh Comes to Toledo

Thursday night my friend, Michelle Donovan, drove over from Pittsburgh to give a training session the next day for the Certified Networker trainer team in the morning and then an open session in the afternoon. Riding along with Michelle were Emil Heintzinger and Ed Lackman, new members of her training team. Both training sessions were great. I think I finally am beginning to understand the difference between the Adult Learning Model and the Experiential Learning Cycle. I'm one of those people who get caught in the reflect and observe part of the ALM. I'm the one who misses the next few minutes of what a presenter is saying because I'm sitting back there reflecting on what I just heard.

The training was great, and even better was the opportunity to get to know Emil and Ed. I had met Emil before at a BNI conference. With all three staying at my house for the three days, we had a chance to get to know each other better. The bonds forged will help all of us in the future. We'll all share ideas that work and ones that aren't so successful. The big challenge for all of us is getting people to register into the CN training. I know that with this link with Pittsburgh we'll all be able to help each other do better at that part of our job.

What 'across the border' connections have helped you in your career?

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

50 Hints for Networking

Before the holidays, I wrote a list of helpful hints for networking. Technical difficulties kept me from adding this e-book to the blog. But my knight in shining armor (my son, Greg) rescued me by doing the behind the scenes work to create the link. All mothers should be as lucky as I to have such a helpful son.

I'm sure there are fifty additional hints for networking and I'm relying on you to add them in the comments at the bottom of this post. In the meantime have fun with this list.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Ultimate in Networking

I mentioned my daughter-in-law, Lisa in a post recently. I am the luckiest mom in the whole world because I have two really, really great daughters-in-law.

Lisa came into our family because of a networking event. You see my son, Greg, had told me that he was ready to begin dating after having been divorced for a couple years. I don't think was around then. Lisa was a member of my Toastmasters club. She was pretty, smart and single. I decided that she might make a good date for Greg. I also decided to have a dinner party for ten, with only eight of the guests knowing the real reason for the event, which was to get Lisa and Greg together. It was kind of challenging finding a time that ten people had available, but I persevered!

What can I say, the rest is history. The two in the "dark", saw the light and began dating soon after, although for the longest time, Lisa was determined that they were going on outings, not dates. She has been the light of Greg's life and everyone else in our family, too.

I guess you could call this the ultimate connection. And I'm darn proud of it.

Can you top this?????

Monday, January 15, 2007

Drawing the Picture

Today I met with a member of a BNI chapter that needs to invite visitors. DJ Deiter is the president of this group. He is a financial planner, but for the category he represents in the chapter is a recruiter -- a recruiter of financial planners.

He wanted to have some new ideas of the types of people he personally could invite.

I first asked him to give me a description of the type of financial planner he is trying to recruit. It was pretty funny that when we completed the exercise, I looked up at him and said, "Gosh, DJ, from your profile, I think you're recruiting yourself!" The next step in this exercise was very easy. I asked DJ, "What are the kinds of people a financial planner connects with when he or she is looking to make a move?"

At first he gave me the pat answers, the estate attorney, the banker, etc. Since people just like DJ are his target I kept asking, "what do you buy?" I kept pushing him to think. At one point he said, "Debby, I'm just boring. I don't buy anything out of the ordinary." My reply was that people who sell ordinary stuff need to have a way to market it.

To make a long story, short, before long we had a list of 10 - 12 different types of businesses and business people that he could begin inviting to his chapter....including the attorney and the banker.

If you can't easily give a description of your prospect or best client, then do the work to figure it out. After that you'll know who to network with and develop a relationship. Those are the people who can refer business to you in the future.

What's been your experience when you profiled your best prospect?

Sunday, January 14, 2007


Because of a conversation yesterday, I knew what I would blog about and then I read Seth Godin's blog from Friday about the Glass House in Denver. While this post is not about permission marketing, it does talk about exclusivity. My daughter-in-law, Lisa, has just become the member of a non-profit board, her first. She is also a scientist (more about her in another future post) and is very data driven. She immediately began to do research on what types of fund-raising seems to work best. This is what she told me she gleaned from her couple hours of research.

When an exclusive group of people are targeted for a fund-raising project, and these people know that they are the invited few AND when the invited few know that they will receive a limited edition token as a result of participating in the project, these events seem to be more successful than the run-of-the-mill, come one, come all event. Now, being the scientist, my daughter-in-law would probably caution that this is purely subjective reasoning on her part. But that's what the picture seemed to be.


I am currently working on two community projects. One is of the exclusive variety and one is the broad appeal variety. Guess what? The exclusive one is successful and the other one is challenging my patience. Hmmm!

What does this have to do with networking?

So many people believe that more is better -- that the more people they know, the better the chance to receive referral business. These people spend a lot of time meeting new people.

Smart networkers have found that meeting the right people, those who call on similar prospects, are relationships that need to be cultured over time. In order for these relationships to work, they have two descriptors: Long-term and mutually beneficial. Those can only happen if the relationship becomes exclusive.

And really it is all about permission marketing. If the referral partner introduces you to a client of his, then he has received permission to do so before you ever become involved.


Any non-profits stories that either support or refute the above premise?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

One to One, Part II

What should happen in a one to one meeting?

That's a very good question. In my recently post about my meeting with my friend, Dave Achen, I shared that our conversation was casual and diverse. It was luxury.

That's not the type of one to one meeting I'm talking about here.

BNI has recently revised the Membership Success Program training they provide to all new members for free (and seasoned members can go back through it as many times as they want.) The new training helps to answer what should be talked about in the meetings members have with each other. There are four forms that each member can fill out and then trade with the member they are meeting.

1. Member BIO - a mini compilation of personal, business and miscellaneous information. (I also use this format for my written introductions for my speaking engagements. This is where my friend, Dave, found out that I was a grandmother.)

2. GAINS Profile - an acronym to use when meeting with people. It can also be called the blueprint of the meeting. (It provides structure for the conversation.)

3. Contact Sphere - the categories of professions that can refer business to you. (To do this worksheet it helps you to determine specifically who your target prospect is.)

4. Last ten clients worksheet - Listing clients help people to understand the types of clients you work with currently and probably will help them to send similar clients to you in the future.

What would happen if we all put at least a little effort into organizing our one to one meetings? How much more productive would the effort be?

Do you use a system with each appointment, so you can continue to systematically gather information about each person?

One to One, Part I

The Certified Networker community in NW Ohio is having a networking contest during International Networking Week. The contest is not limited to those people in this area, but the winner will receive an article written about them in the local newspaper, the Toledo Free Press. People can register to participate on Feb 5, 6 and 7. The contest will measure the number of one to one meetings that people have during that three day period.

That said, the question that arose recently was, "Are we going to allow staff member to staff member or family to family one to one conversations to count?" Of course was are! As long as these meet the criteria (see the rules at the website) why wouldn't we want to encourage continued development of relationships?

In fact, a prime example of this just happened yesterday. In a previous post I talked about asking my friend, Dave Achen, to introduce me when I speak at his Chamber lunch on Feb 6. He asked me to send the introduction now so he could review it . My introduction includes the fact that I have five grandchildren. Now Dave and I have known each other for several years, but his email back to me said, "I didn't know you had five grandchildren."

My point is that one to ones help you to get to know new people, but even better, they help you to get to know your friends and family even more.

What have you learned about a good friend recently, that surprised you?

Thursday, January 11, 2007

One to One Flavorings

One to one appointments can have so many nuances.

I thought about that today after I met with my friend, Dave Achen. He happens to be a grad of the Certified Networker program and is also a member of the CN Board of Action. He been a financial planner for many years.

Our conversation today, was one to help us catch up with each other. The exchange was casual not directed. I heard about his holiday trip to College Park, TX and we talked about CN community activities. I asked him to introduce me at a presentation I will be making in February to the Sylvania Chamber of Commerce. He told me that 2006 was his best year ever and that '07 is starting out to be even better. Nice. A luxury.

That is one way to conduct a one to one appointment. I need those ever so often.

There are more focused ways to meet with people. I do many more of those meetings. I want to know how I can help the person sitting across the table from me and if that person asks, I'm ready to give her a suggestion of how she can help me. While those meetings are rewarding, they take more energy. I am working! Don't get me wrong I enjoy them very much, just in a different way.

The one important point is that in both types of meetings no overt selling is conducted. It's about the relationship and how it can be improved.

What business luxury do you occasionally allow yourself?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Paper Cutter of Networking

Tonight, just a few minutes ago, I printed some marketing postcards that I will use tomorrow as the visual for my referral request at BNI. What is really neat is that I immediately cut them to the right size. Until recently, I always had to go someplace to cut my stuff. Davis College, where we teach the Certified Networker, has a great paper cutter, but it was not always convenient being 30 minutes away from my office. I don't know what took me so long, but I finally bought one. It is absolutely wonderful and makes my life so much easier.

Tonight I asked for help from a friend, Phil Rudolph, Jr who is in charge a business development for Rudolph Libbe, a very large construction company in this area. Phil is a master of connecting. I needed some help for a sponsorship committee I am heading that is not doing as well as it should. With a ten minute phone call, Phil gave me the names and phones numbers of people to call, the words to use with them and to tell them that he said to donate. He also said that he would follow up. Additionally, he said that the person at his company in charge of giving sponsorships is expecting my call tomorrow. Just like the paper cutter.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Tomorrow is the early morning WEN networking meeting. People start gathering at about 7:30 AM. This meeting is about 30 minutes from my house. For many years this meeting time had the most attendence, but in the last several years it has had about 25 - 30 people connecting.

Tomorrow there will be more!

Why? The "rollover, 50/50 raffle is up to $900. Yep, somebody will win the opportunity to pull the queen of diamonds out of the remaining 15 cards in the deck. But just as likely, they could pull one of the 13 black cards left.

Why am I 100% likely to be at that meeting tomorrow and only maybe 75% likely to attend the other morning meetings of the year? When you think about it, every networking participant could take $900 of value away from the event. I guess cash is more immediate.

Monday, January 08, 2007

A Lesson From the Flu

Yuk! Over the weekend I had the old-fashioned flu. Lying in bed all day sure does throw a wrench in the works. But even so, I did have time to think. Late Saturday PM when I still didn't want to take any pain reliever for fear that it would not stay on my stomach, Steve finally convinced me to try it. I could feel my body tensing, just worrying about whether I was going to throw-up. (I would never make a good bulimic!) Finally it occurred to me that if there was some real quiet, soft, elevator music in the background, that I might be able to relax and feel better. Guess what? It worked! (Now, I know that for some, that type of music would be hateful, so choose your tune.)

What's that got to do with networking?

At first glance, nothing. But think about the situations where you feel uncomfortable. The physical sensation that goes along with it is being tense -- your muscles are tight. Wouldn't it be great if we could all identify a mantra of sorts, that will help to modify our feelings. It might be taking five or six long breaths in and out before entering the event, or it might be acting as the host, so you think about others, rather than your own discomfort. Gosh, it might even be listening to elevator music on the car radio on the way to the event.

What would relax you and make you feel comfortable at networking events?

Friday, January 05, 2007

New Phrase Learned

I just never know what I'm going to learn.

Today I met with Patti Radakovitch of SHARK Consulting Group. She is a business consultant that uses an engineering type analysis to help her clients to be more successful in their business. She is about to begin her PhD studies at Wayne State University in Detroit. I asked her if she already knew what her thesis project would be about. Of course she does! And this is where I learned the new phrase, intrinsic motivation. From the way Patti described it, it is basically the inner drive that some people have to do what is needed. Some people don't have that drive. They don't do their jobs very well. Business managers will sometime try to bandaid the problem with additional training and then wonder why the training doesn't work. Patti's future research should prove interesting.

Speaking of motivation---

Students in the Certified Networker class are asked to think about sales in an entirely different way than probably they have ever thought before. Changing old belief systems is not a comfortable thing to do, but the students really embrace the concepts.

What do you think is your inner drive? What vision do you have that pushes you forward? What makes you do the hard stuff when others just take the easy way out?

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Today, I was introduced to the BNI Silver Dollar chapter as their new AD (Assistant Director) by the previous AD, Jim. He needs to be relieved of this responsibility because his area is developing more to the south. This will be a first for me even though I sat through director training several years ago. Usually my function is to be the trainer for this area.

I am excited about the prospect of helping this chapter achieve more success. They have a good team in place and my feeling is that they can make a difference. I met with Rich Jones, VP of Membership, right after the meeting and he has a vision of what he'd like for the chapter. During our meeting we shared ideas of how to get the rest of the members excited, too. He said that he hoped he would be able to share the ideas in a way that the members would listen.

It's interesting how life just keeps weaving itself together. You see, last week I was interviewing people to get quotes about my friend, Lynda Goodremont, because I was nominating her for the Athena Award. Mary Arquette, VP for Advancement at Lourdes College said this about Lynda. "There is a saying from St Francis of Assisi that reminds me of Lynda. It is, 'Preach often; if necessary use words.'" I had never heard that quote, but I love it. And guess what, I figured if I shared it with Rich, his members might listen.

In what ways have others in your life shown leadership?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Pets and People

Did you know that PetSmart is going to be opening 160 pet hotels across the nation this year? This morning I met with one of my Master Mind friends and we talked about how the pet industry is growing by leaps and bounds. My friend, Lori, is an Edward Jones representative.
There are a few other financial planners in the community that are her competition! But I have yet to hear one say that they are focusing on the pet market. Could be a fun target market for her to get to know better. People are are a lot more likely to talk about their pets than they are about their finances. I think she's on to something.

What do you do to make yourself unique from the crowd? How do you stand out?

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Chin

Seth Godin has a pretty hilarious post on January 1, about people who stick their chin out when using the computer. These are defensive users, ones who are expecting the worst to happen. You have to read it to laugh along with me. It made me think about what traits people might exhibit when they are networking that demonstrate that they are being defensive rather than proactive. I really had to think about it. Does handing your business card out to every person that you come in contact with show that you are defending yourself? Or have you just gotten bad advice?

Breaking eye contact too quickly or establishing no eye contact at all -- is that another defensive signal? I'm going to have to think a bit about all this.

Maybe you can help with some thoughts?

Monday, January 01, 2007

Yea for Tomorrow!

I have to tell you that I am ready to have the work week begin tomorrow, even though it will already be Tuesday. I did work three days last week, but it seems like forever since I've really had my business as usual brain in gear.

Tomorrow it is back to meeting with people -- trying to meet my ten appointments a week goal. Looking at my calendar, I have only three scheduled appointments set for this week. Yikes, I guess I will have to get busy making some calls tomorrow!

On a really exciting note, my friend Michelle Donovan is coming to Toledo from Pittsburgh to deliver a half day session called Armed, Safe and Engaging for Subject Matter Experts. We already have about 23 people signed up for this January 19 session. Michelle is an expert in teaching and presenting methods for adults. So even though we don't start any Certified Networker classes series in January, this will ramp us up for the three class series starting in February.

What are you doing in January to help you be more successful this year?