Thursday, March 29, 2007

Listening, Truly Listening

Listening is all it takes.

If the rest of the world is just like me (and why wouldn't they be???) we'd all be able to help each other if we'd just slow down and listen to what people are saying. Referrals and networking opportunities would abound.

Today I had lunch with Lisa Litalien with Central Travel. She was getting me together with one of the other managers at Central Travel, Polly Caumartin. During lunch Lisa mentioned again, that she would like to have an introduction to Talent Track, a company located in Toledo. This is the second time I have heard her say this, but the first time I didn't write it down. (Bad girl!) This time I did. When I got home I emailed another one of our Certified Networker grads that happens to have a connection with that company. Since Lisa is also a CN grad, I felt very comfortable asking him to help her.

But the most important part of this story is that I had to listen, really hear what Lisa was wanting and then do something with that information.

Have you ever heard someone ask, but not really listened? Or are you a conscious listener all the time?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Focus for Fulfillment

Recently I spoke with a group from Lima, OH about how they could gain more referral business by narrowing their focus. I took them through a process that I developed about four years ago called the referral triangle. The triangle shape is positioned on the paper with the point at the bottom.

At the top is a request for do business with "anyone, everyone or someone." (that doesn't paint a picture for anyone trying to help!)

As the spaces get narrower each step down, the idea is to refine the request so at the end the last little pointed area is the request for a specific name.

One of the participants in the exercise, Sue, wanted to increase the referral business she receives from one specific doctor in the community. Guess what? Sitting right next to her today was the wife of that very doctor. While the wife said she didn't know how much she could help, at least there was a connection. Because the wife has an accounting business Sue had not thought of her as someone who had doctor connections.

It goes to show that the more specific you become with referral requests, the more likely it is to have a helpful offering.

What the most unusual connection you've made as a result of asking for a specific referral?

Monday, March 26, 2007

Breaking Rules

I'm going to several events in the coming weeks - networking events - and I'm not going alone.

Yep, I'm breaking a rule of thumb with networking. That is to go alone, because if we do go with someone, we tend to spend time with that person instead of meeting others.

And you know what? With one event, that's exactly what I'm going to do. I've asked Joy MacLeod, of Artistic Memorials, to go with me. I want to take the opportunity to get to know her better. We have busy lives, both personal and business. This just might be the oasis of quiet that can help us to build our relationship to a stronger level.

With the other event, an open house, -- I am taking my guest, Martha Blair, a business banker with Toledo Area Community Credit Union, because I think there will be people at the event that will be helpful to her. She and I are in a BNI chapter together, and I don't feel I've done a very good job of figuring out how to help her. Maybe this will be the start of me doing a better job.

What networking rules do you think you should break?

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Parking Lot Jumping Jacks

Okay, I promise. This will be the last post with Costa Rica as the central theme for awhile. I just have to slowly get it out of my system.

As I have mentioned before, it takes a couple days for us to get to our destination in CR. We spend a night in San Jose, the capital, before heading south to the Osa Penisula. San Jose could nicely be called a third world city. Diesel fumes and razor wire fencing abound. Traffic can be horrendous. There are parts that are lovely, but like any city, the way to the airport is not especially wonderful.

The first time we flew in nine years ago, I remember being alert to each and every sight and smell. I wondered if at any minute my life might end. I must admit that our taxi ride that first time, was probably the most dangerous taxi ride we've every had. So every cell was on alert!

I compared that to this year's taxi ride back the to airport the second morning. Traffic was again a mess because of a fatal accident on the main thoroughfare. Instead our driver took us on the back roads. Even still, I had grown numb to the sites of the inner city. I was probably still a little tired too. But with a jolt, I realized that once what had gotten my heart really racing was just another day. Whew! I don't want to be like that.

As I was mulling that concept over in my head, I thought about how so many times I attend the same networking events again and again. I become dulled to the excitement I might have felt the first time I attended. I probably become so zoned, that even the new people seem old. Gosh, how awful.

Maybe a few jumping jacks in the parking lot will add a lift to the energy I bring to an event. I'll let ya' know!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

I'm Back

Okay, it's been too long since I last posted. All I can say, is that the days were long and packed and the brain frazzled by the time I arrived back at my office. Most evenings (at 8:30 PM or so) I didn't even listen to messages. In fact most evenings I didn't even open the door to my office.

So here's the funny part. This lack of posting was out of character.

My son, Greg, who keeps me blogging even when I get into trouble, and my wonderful daughter-in-law, Lisa, were worried about me. They even tried to call me Thursday evening, when I was out at a Certified Networker graduation. What I didn't know and they didn't either, was that my land line phone was out of order, or actually, the whole Embarq phone system was out of order in this area so my phone wouldn't take a message. They tried to call my cell, but of course I wasn't answering as I was at the graduation. I didn't get the voice mail till Friday morning (Grrr to Verizon voice mail) as I was driving to Findlay to start a new Certified Networker class. I had to leave a message for them, but they soon called back and shared their worries. It does feel good to have someone worry about me and I must say that I felt a little guilty not having connected with them during the week.

This really has nothing to do with networking. It does have to do with people caring about each other. And that has everything to do with networking done right.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Nomination Series #2

So many people think that a nomination should be a big secret, that if and when the nominee wins, if should be a big surprise. Sort of like a surprise birthday party.

They couldn't be more wrong!

You see this is all about relationship development. The win is the icing on the cake. The nomination process is the cake.

Having the nominee aware and part of the writing of the application will help you to know that person that much better. Each time I have nominated someone, I find out all kinds of good stuff that I didn't know before about this person. You also get to tell your friend why you have selected them for nomination.

Think about it. How many chances do we have to tell our friend how much we admire them?

Who would you like to nominate for an award so that you can tell them how much they mean to you?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Weighing Your Tools

This picture cracks me up.

It may need a little explaining.

This is the airport at Palmar Sur, Costa Rica. I think you can see that it is a rather small facility. This sign painted on the wall encourages you to go to the world wide web to book airline reservations for Sansa Airlines. Beneath that is a scale. Yep, that's the rudimentary way they weigh luggage.

Weight and the Web!

What a juxtaposition. But you know, it works. When we first started going to Costa Rica nine years ago, computers were not in evidence, but that is just the opposite now. Conversely, the scale has not changed. It worked well then and continues to deliver the information they need. (Mainly that they need to charge me extra for my overweight luggage.)

What's this all to do with networking?

Have you upgraded your contact management system? If so, do all the bells and whistles work for you? If not, do you need to go back to the old way?

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Pencil You In

Whew! It sure is hard gettin' back into the writing mode again, since my vacation layoff! Of course, as with any first couple days after being away, there were a million (or was it two mil?) details to attend to.

Anyway, I had to share a trick that I learned awhile back and am still using.

When I'm at the WEN meeting, each member or guest gets an opportunity to stand to introduce themselves and give a short explanation of the type of help they might be looking for.

In the past I wouldmake a note of some of these requests and later I'd be able to react to a few. Now I am still writing names, but with a slight change in focus. As someone talks and I decide that I'd be interested in talking more with them, I write their name on my yellow legal pad. Just doing this has probably increased my scheduling of appointments from the WEN networking meetings by at least 500%. Before, when the meeting would end, I would be so overwhelmed with whom to meet, that I didn't meet anyone. Now I have a roadmap. Just because I take that one little, tiny extra step.

It's so simple. Why did it take me so long to figure it out?????

What are some other tricks that you know about that I need to know????

Monday, March 12, 2007

Passion for Pedro

My beach dog!

He is still there at the wonderfully isolated San Josecito Beach.

In fact he looked so good that I almost thought he was a new younger dog.

I've named him Pedro, which gains a lot a of laughter back at the lodge, because the manger's name is Pedro. I don't think Costa Ricans give their animals human names.

I must admit that I'm totally smitten over Pedro. I think he's waited for me for six years now -- or at least that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

One year I didn't think he'd be there when we came back, because he had obviously been in a terrible fight and the whole side of his temple was a huge, swollen, open wound.

Each year I take dog treats for sure, and some years I must admit that I've taken both flea and mange treatment! Pedro has the softest mouth of any dog I've ever been around. If offered a treat or food from the picnic lunch, he takes it very gently from my fingers. (Our dogs that get fed everyday, grab treats like there's no tomorrow.)

Pedro has earned my trust. On the relationship scale, I would rate it at the highest level, profitability! The love goes back and forth equally.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Mangrove Meditation

As I mentioned in my last post before taking off for vacation, it takes two days of travel to arrive at our destination. Part of that trip is through a mangrove swamp where it sort of reminded me of an an illustrationTim Burton would have used in the dark Nightmare Before Christmas. The many tree roots are high above water level and all interwoven. They also seem to reach down forever. I was sitting there in the boat, still having my business mind in gear (which soon evaporated!) I looked up at the one main trunk and realized how it signified one person and the support each of us receives from the network foundation so very similar to those roots. Those trunks thrive because the above and below water roots feed them all their needs.