Monday, December 31, 2007

Lighter, Smaller, Smarter

The other day I was killing some time waiting for an appointment to arrive. I decided to see what all those icons were on my Blackberry. I know, I know, why now, several years later? No answer for that!

What I did find was a folder I started long ago, probably at least 8 - 10 years after I read a book that challenged me to come up with new ideas.

There was one that made me laugh. Number six was biodegradable coffins. Have you read the paper recently or listen to the news? They are here! Of course they are more expensive than the regular kind, but my idea that was so outlandish then, is being embraced now.

Seth Godin talks about the weight of plastic drink bottles and how companies are beginning to make them lighter. Having just gone through Christmas with all its packaging, I think this is an idea long overdue. Also, I read recently that Sears (old stodgy Sears!) is reducing and phasing out products in "clam-shell" packaging. Seth says that fashion often follows function. So "green" is the new word being bandied by marketers, it's fashionable. But really for our world, it is functional, too, because less use of plastic saves the manufacturer money in packaging and shipping. That means less trash and hopefully lower cost to us.

Another idea on my list, one that I have talked about for years and years, is that we should have five hole golf courses. (Two threes, two fours and a five.) Now for the aficionadoes of gigantic rolling courses, I know that this is heresy. But I gave up golf about six years ago, because it was taking too long to play. I would get antsy, bored and generally fed up with how I wasn't having fun. So the clubs went to the basement, where they have not seen the light of day since.

Beyond time, think of the savings to our environment if we downsize courses. It would take less of everything to run and maintain the course. Water would be saved, less fertilizer would be dumped on the ground, only to run into our water system. It would take less time and fuel to mow. The courses could be designed so that each player could determine their starting hole. They could also decide to play and pay for only the holes they have time for. Now, I know this is a radical idea and probably not very sexy, but has its time come?

Do you have an idea that is overdue for being developed?

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Scanning Ahead

My friend, Deanna Tucci Schmitt and I did a podcast on (Episode 17) recently. It may be available to listen to, although I had difficulties at the end, pushing the "stop recording" button. Technology and I just don't get along! Anyway, that's NOT what this post is about.

It is about what we discussed. Our ditty was entitled Networking Goals. The way Deanna and I prepare for these podcasts is that we have a quick conversation as to who is going to lead (the darling) and who is going to learn (the doofus). On this one, I was happy to take on the darling mantle!

Below are some steps that we discussed that can help you to make your networking work for you in the year to come.

1. Create a spreadsheet-type calendar all on one piece of paper with the months across the top and the name of each organization or group you attend down the side. (Rebecca Booth, Marketing Goddess, has a great example of this at her website.) Each square will correspond to one month and one group. Within each box, draw hash marks for each time you will attend the group within that month. (For example, BNI members will have at least four hash marks per month. Some chambers only meet once per month, so that square would have one mark.) The reason for doing this is to create a visual map of all the organized networking you will do in the next twelve months. Because some groups do not meet during the summer, you might see blank spots in the calendar. Knowing about these ahead of time means that you can plan other networking or marketing avenues during those times. Planning is the word to remember.

2. Now take out your appointment book and mark all the meeting times as
appointments. As a new year begins, many times we forget to transfer the meeting times and dates to our new schedule. With electronic calendars, recurring appointments may have been set to end in December. Be sure to adjust those end dates so you don't miss any networking opportunities.

3. Accurately forecast your marketing budget. Yes, you know how much the dues cost for each organization, but what is the real expense. As a supportive member of each group you will be expected to participate in events that are spread out through the year. For example, if your professional association plans one large trade show per year and the cost of participating is $500 (plus the expenses associated with "stuff" you need for the booth) you'll need to add that $500 to the budgeted amount for that organization. Or if your group plans three events per year with a $50 ticket attached, you'll need to add $150 or $300 to the budgeted dues. The larger amount would be if you plan to take a guest with you to each event, which is probably expected.

4. Develop a written list of members you want to get to know better. After all, the reason for belonging is networking. This step will help you to know who to schedule appointments with, which will put those above marketing dollars to work. Networking is all about developing relationships and you can't do that by being just a face in the crowd. To make this even more efficient, insert the names of people on your list into each month. This will help you to have a plan for inviting.

5. One more list! This one is for people you'd like to invite as visitors to your groups. Again having the list will help you to plan ahead, making the calls to invite in advance. Those prospective visitors will have find time for these meetings on their busy calendars, too. Taking guests with you to meetings brings more value to the group and you are seen as a positive resource. Selfishly, it gives you the opportunity to build stronger relationships with your guests, too.

Using the five above steps is a way to organize and be ready to network with the best.

What steps would you add?

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Tracee, "Meet Dan"

People often ask me why I take my valuable time to personally introduce people. Friday I introduced my friend Tracee Swank, True Compass Coaching, to Dan Rogers, the CEO of The Cherry Street Mission. Dan and I had been introduced briefly when he attended a Certified Networker graduation. He was there to accept a check. One MVP from a Certified Networker class had named The Cherry Street Mission as their favorite charity. Instead of us giving a token to the student, we give a check to their favorite charity. You see how very slender the thread of connection was.

Tracee is getting her Masters Degree in religious studies at Winebrenner Theological Seminary, not to be a pastor, but to work with religious organizations to help them better achieve their work. She had told me that she wanted to meet Dan to find out about how he runs such a successful organization.

So it happened. Dan is a very generous man. He gave us 90 minutes of his time. I had to keep my mind galloping the whole time to keep up with Dan's thought process.

And I have been thinking ever since. Dan told us that all the time he gets asked the question, "Can we end homelessness?" He said that he usually answers no, because we are only attacking the problem "downstream" after it happens, not upstream where the root of the problem begins. He approaches everything in his work using his upstream/downstream module. (And I am simplifying the concept by a gazillion words!)

For example, when he visits other countries, and see projects that work really well, he keeps searching for the reason it is successful -- what happened upstream (previously) to the person who runs the program that helps to make this success?

I thought I was just introducing Tracee to Dan. Little did I know that I would find a little morsel to nibble on and to think about as I go into the new year.

Thanks, Dan. Personal introductions are part of my ongoing education process!

Do you make personal introductions? If so, why?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

New Sales Manager Tips #3

Okay, we're in the homestretch. The last three tips are listed below.

7. Spend time with individual sales people. When riding with sales people to appointments ask them to talk about their plan for the upcoming presentation. Immediately afterwards tell them what they did right. They will expect criticism. Ask if they would do anything differently. Listen to them, because you can not offer criticism until you have gained their trust. (There's that trust thing again.)

8. Talk with the previous sales manager. If possible! Find out what worked for him (or her) and what didn't. Steer clear of their perceptions of team members....your judgements may be entirely different.

9. Be energetic. Enthusiasm is infections! (Wow, if you're new and you're already down in the dumps, maybe you made a wrong career move!)

The above nine steps will help you to help your team recognize their highest potential because they want to, instead of being forced to do so.

Over the last three days I written nine tips for new sales managers taking over an existing sales team. These three posts are from an article, my first ever, that I had published in Selling Power Magazine.

What tips have I left out that you think are important?

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

New Sales Manager Tips #2

Yesterday's post gave the first three of nine tips for new sales managers taking over an existing sales team. Three more are listed today. Even though these were written over 13 years ago, they are still good advice.

4. Streamline written sales reports. If upper management or you aren't using the information, eliminate it. Do make sure sales people have what they need to help them plan for the future or review the past. (This was written in the days when most sales people wrote their reports in longhand. With the advent of computers, it is even more tempting to ask sales people for more and more information. That's not bad as long as it is used.)

5. See the goals...and the results. Install a white board to display individual and team successes. Establish small rewards to recognize higher levels of performance. This will also instill a competitive spirit within the team. (Good sales people like to see their name in lights!)

6. Small goals. Encourage team members to write weekly goals and copy to you, so that you may check back regularly to foster accountability on their part. (It also gives you reason to celebrate more often!)

Come on back tomorrow to read the final three.

And keep those sales manager stories coming in.

Monday, December 24, 2007

New Sales Manager Tips #1

As promised, I am going to share my first ever article published in Selling Power Magazine. (I think it was actually entitled Personal Selling Power Magazine in those days, around 1994.)

So here we go;

Being named sales manager to an existing sales team means that you must immediately be ready to lead in order to gain the trust and support of your team members. Listed below are nine concepts to accelerate that leadership process. (I listed three in this post today and will do the same tomorrow and the next.)

1. Know their names. Memorize the names of your team members in advance of your first day. Also learn names of all other staff members, because you will seem to fit in and consequently people will feel comfortable with you, which is the first step in gaining trust.

2. Have a flexible plan. Your team members will expect direction from you, even the experienced ones will appreciate knowing what your plans are.

3. Schedule regular sales meetings. Besides the usual information, allow time for recognition and education. "World's Records" permits each sales person to brag about a significant happening in his life, either business or personal. ("The baby slept through the night," or "I finally got the Smith account.") Also, have everyone tell what they learned in the past week. It allows each team member to help train because probably the others need to know that piece of information, too.

When you think about the above three tips, they are all about developing relationships quickly, so that the team members feel they can trust the new guy (or gal.)

Tune in for three more tips tomorrow.

Do you have any stories about sales managers you've had in your career?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Spick and Span

I am totally laughing at myself!

Here is why.

You see, we women who have husbands commiserate because when it is time to get ready for a party in the summer, the "normal" husband will mow the lawn and wash the car. I must admit that Steve is different; he does not wash the car.

So here it is a few days before my kids, grand kids and kids-in-law's parents and sister will come to celebrate. What did I do yesterday? I cleaned my office. And to make this perfectly clear, I CLEANED my office. I purged my book selves, dusted behind shelves and cabinets (yuck) and threw away a ton of stuff that I was saving for who knows what. The only task left to do, because I ran out of time, was to purge my files.

I did take a few trips down memory lane. One item gave me particular satisfaction. I found the first ever article that I submitted for publication and the letter from Selling Power Magazine letting me know that it had been accepted. Payment would be a bio at the end of the article. Funny thing, I had not even named my company, but with that deadline hanging over my head, I created Sales and More. It's still around, it just hasn't had attention for the last five years as I grew Certified Networker.

What was really interesting was that the article still has value today. It is advice to the sales manager who is taking over an existing sales team. I'll share it over the next couple days.

What have you done that has made you laugh over the last couple days?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Gifts That Can't be Bought

In my opinion, true networking is all about giving.

At our monthly Certified Networker lunch, the question of the month was, "What is the best gift you have even given?"

The answers were as varied as the people in attendance, but there was one common theme.

All presents involved the giver giving of themselves. For example:

Tracy Cox, Bottomline Bookkeeping - a long time ago she made a thousand dollar bill with her grandpa's picture on it. She gave it to him and of course he loved it.

Lisa Olvera, Corporate Intelligence Consultants - gave a 1956 cookbook to her daughter. This cookbook had also been used by Lisa's mother and grandmother.

Frank Smith, Re/Max Masters - surprised his mother when he and his two brothers all showed up at church at the same time.

Terry Williams, Action Mechanical - gave his partner Mike a present long ago when Terry called his dad and asked him to go to church with Mike.

Ellen Critchley, Critchley Creative - Made business cards for her dad because he gave (truly gave) golf lessons and she felt he needed cards to reflect this avocation.

Julie Kuney, Comfort Keepers - gave a wedding ring to her husband (today is #37).

Tracee Swank, True Compass Coaching- gave her dad a framed picture of them walking down the aisle at her wedding with the caption, "mission accomplish." He had been diagnosed with cancer and she had issued the challenge that she wanted him to walk her down the aisle.

Doug Clark, Fifth Third Bank - gave bone marrow to his brother.

These are just a few of the wonderful examples of how giving the members of our community are. I am very proud of them.

What gift have you given that stands out in your mind?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A Healing Book

I am sick. Darn it. I was supposed to go to Detroit to see my two granddaughters and bake cookies. But instead I am spending Saturday on the couch.

Taking advantage of the enforced quiet time, I finished reading Three Cups of Tea, the story of Greg Mortenson building primary schools in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. Greg is a mountain climber turned humanitarian. He is the Director of the Central Asia Institute. The book is an amazing story of Mortenson's total dedication to making the world more peaceful by providing education to those who have nothing.

I was fascinated that the Pakistani tribal elders taught Greg the ways of the region saying, "Share one cup of tea, you are stranger, the second cup of tea you are friend and third cup of tea you are family." Greg, in the early days of trying to get schools built, was impatient and driving. He soon learned that he need to sit back and develop relationships!

The elders also shared with him that when he wanted to go to the next village to investigate the possibility of building a school, he needed an introduction to the village elders. And like many people working in foreign countries, he hired a "fixer," someone who could smooth the way for Greg, because they knew the lay of the land.

When we typically think of networking, we envision the Chamber event or meeting with those we know. Instead this book takes us to a very third world place to show that networking (and this word is not used in the book) and relationship-building is universal.

What book have you read that demonstrates relationship building?

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Networking Gone Wrong

Today I went to a networking lunch.

It was a demonstration of how it should NOT be.

We were called to our lunch tables at 11:45 AM. The president proceeded to talk for the next hour. The food sat on the buffet table the whole time, salad getting limp, entree getting dry.

Now if this had been an exciting or interesting program, it probably wouldn't have mattered.

But it was boring. One good point was that at least PowerPoint was not used!

I had brought a guest. I had paid for her lunch. She didn't even get to eat her lunch because she had to leave at about the time when we were finally released from torture (my opinion) to go through the buffet line.

I could tell you more, but is it any wonder that this group struggles to gain membership. The program was not about our audience members today, but all about self-congratulation for ALL (and I mean all) that was accomplished in the past twelve months.

What groups do you see doing things really well, and what have they done?

Monday, December 10, 2007

What Do I Get?

Sometimes it's hard to figure it all out.

Last week I met with a Realtor. We decided it was time we got to know one another since we kept running into each other at various events.

I asked her if she was a member of the Women's Council of Realtors and she said no, because she really didn't feel that it delivered what other types of networking do.

I had to agree with her, if she was planning on getting referrals.

But for her, The Women's Council of Realtors is a professional organization. Most of us really don't understand the value these groups bring to the table.

These are knowledge-based organizations. What that means is that when we attend the meetings of our own professional group, we'll gain information and education and rarely referrals.

This group also allows for affiliates (non Realtor members.) She will gain connections with those who can help her clients in the future, whether it is for a mortgage, decorating, an appraisal or landscaping. She had realized that these members were getting to meet her, but had not thought of how these connections could be valuable also to her.

Finally, I asked her how many times she sat at a closing table without another Realtor on the other side. She laughed and agreed that usually there was another Realtor. I asked if closing was easier when she knew the other Realtor. She agreed that was true.

While the jury may still be out on whether she joins The Toledo Chapter of Women Realtors, she now understands the three main values she receives from this type of membership.

What do you get from your professional memberships?

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Leadership Toledo, Part VI

Today was another fun-filled day with Leadership Toledo. Or actually it was a morning.

Our focus today was Government.

Hmmmm - Ya' gotta know that I again wasn't too excited about the topic going in.

But LT really has done their job in making all these days be educational and exciting.

So for the first hour this morning we all became part of a giant game. Divided into eight groups, our group goal was to play Governmentricks with the objective of getting as many points as possible.

This was set up like Trivial Pursuit, except that all eight groups played at the same time. For each color that we landed on there was a corresponding set of questions. Some of the categories were: financial, quality of life and general trivial questions. Then there were squares that each represented a governmental entity. When we reached a square, say Maumee, the question was about the city of Maumee government. If we got the question right, we got to put the piece of the puzzle in our game piece. I am so glad that Nick Malone was in our group as he was able to answer almost all the questions. I know I had the look of wonder on my face the whole time and was always saying to Nick, "How in the world did you know that?" I am embarrassed to say that I was only able to answer two of the questions during the whole game.

This game was a wonderful way to get us all involved. What I got from it is that there is a lot I don't know and also that there is a lot to know!

Once we totaled our game points our next speaker Mike Beasley, Lucas County Administrator, gave us a challenge. We were to decide whether we want legislation to legalize gambling and in what form. Once our group decided what we stood for, we had to convince other groups to our side to get a majority of the points. The winners combined the points of three groups to get their majority and agreed they wanted riverboat gambling and would split the proceeds to the three government entities represented in their coalition. One of the left out groups said, "Wait a minute, Maumee is on the river, how can you leave us out?"

Mike laughed and said, "That is a prime example of what happens when legislation is being brokered."

I'm still not much more knowledgeable about government than I was this morning. But I do have a sense of the complexity and that perhaps this complexity could be our downfall. Simplifying government is easy to say, but it probably is an even more complex task!

Oh yeah, later on I found out that there is a difference between economic development and community development, but that's for another day.

What would you change about our government - federal, state or local?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Yeah, My Bucket is Half Full

People make it all worthwhile.

Today I met with a young business person who is in the process of starting a BNI chapter. He wants to do it right. The BNI director who is helping him suggested he meet with me. By the time we were done, he had all kinds of thoughts about the types of people he could attract to his group so he gets his chapter off the ground as quickly as possible. I loved his energy.

I have a new trainer for CN in Cincy. Gregg has enthusiasm, energy and great ideas. He gets things done. I am enjoying the extra umph he gives me. He's three hours away, but as the butterfly flaps its wings and the air is disturbed around the world, so does Gregg make his positive vibes come my way.

Another Certified Networker friend, Janice, from Florida called asking for some advice. We talked for quite awhile. It felt good that someone else valued the information that I could provide...and she gave me a couple good ideas, too.

Tonight, Sandy Pirwitz, Sandy's Stuff and I delivered a check to one of the charities, Aurora Gonzales Community Center, from our Masters of Sales event. It was dark at 5:30 PM and we had to meet in a not a very nice part of town. But inside at the board meeting, when we gave them the $700 check they had tears in their eyes. It made it all worthwhile.

I am lucky to have so many great people in my life.

What makes you smile like I am tonight?

Monday, December 03, 2007

I Win No Matter What!

Tonight I'm working on a first draft of a nomination for the Toledo YWCA Milestones award, which is an annual tribute to extraordinary women in our community.

I am nominating my friend Kim Welter, who is the Executive Director of EqualityToledo, the organization that works for equality for all Ohioans regardless of their marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.

Kim is passionate about what she does and is getting better at it every day! This former school teacher is learning how to advocate politically and to create coalitions that will support equality for everyone.

What I love about this process is that I get to know more about what Kim does because I have to have a very clear understanding in order to write a winning nomination. Additionally, when I write a nomination, I ask for permission to talk with others who know and work with my nominee. Already, tonight I have talked with one person who sang Kim's praises. Reverend Connie Bonner, Clinical Pastoral Education Supervisor at St Vincents Mercy Medical Center said, "This is really great, you get to meet so many people doing this." And she is right. I feel lucky to have this opportunity.

Who would you nominate for an award and why?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

3M Sticks it to Me


Today I had reserved time to decorate the house for the holidays. Because Steve won't let me hammer nails into the woodwork, I used those little white or clear plastic hooks that 3M manufacturers. Each year I buy the replacement sticky part -- the two-sided tape attachment that sticks one side to the plastic hook and the other to the wall or woodwork.

So today I had to run uptown to get some of the replacements. I went to four stores, Rite-Aid, Big Lots, K-Mart and Lowes and the situation was the same at each store. There are no replacement sticky parts available. I finally gave in a bought the supply of tape AND hooks that I don't need. Since at all stores, these were offered for sale from a special "Command 3M Display," I have to assume that 3M has decided not to offer replacements. Or the four stores have decided to only offer the combinations of hooks and tape because they will make more money.

Either way, I am mad for two reasons. I had to buy something I don't need to get a part that I do need. That will only add to our mounting garbage situation. It also means I have to shell out more money than I need to.

Does anyone have a comment on this stupid marketing offering?