Thursday, December 31, 2009

Charlotte the Champion

Yesterday, I brought a new vacuum cleaner at Sears. Now I tell ya', that is not exactly my idea of a day made in heaven. I don't like to clean anyway, so the appliance is not one I pine for. However, the old vacuum has made cleaning even worse than usual because it was getting rather old and inefficient. The wheels had fallen of the beater bar floor attachment, too.

Off I went to Sears. I have had good luck with Kenmore vacuum cleaners in the past and expected the same for this time around.

But this post is not about the vacuum cleaner.

No, it is about Charlotte, the sales clerk.

Charlotte made my day.

She greeted me with a handshake. And she introduced herself and asked my name before even asking about doing business. (Relationship development 101!)

I asked her a specific question -- to tell me the differences between the various models. She knew her facts and was able to deliver them to me simply. (I am a facts person. I don't want the details. I want just enough to make a fast decision as I don't like shopping.)

She asked if I needed filters or bags for the new cleaner and just because she asked I bought. Sears must love her.

When it came time to pay, my Sears credit card was inactive. As I mentioned, I don't like to shop! Within a few short minutes she had it reactivated. No muss, no fuss.

At the end of the transaction, she extended her hand again for a final handshake.

When in recent times have you been treated like that in a store? (Please tell me about your experience if you have.)

I have to hand it to both Sears and Charlotte. I guess that Sears has a pretty good training program and also that they were smart enough the hire Charlotte.

Thanks, Charlotte. You made shopping for and then buying a vacuum cleaner the highlight of my day.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Yay! Presents!

Presents! I received some really neat ones for Christmas. Three stand out.

1) I received a Keurig B60 pod coffee maker from my son, Andy and daughter in law, Debora. It is great. On the days I am writing at my home office, I can brew a quick pick me up and be back at my desk within a minute or so. There is no leftover coffee in the pot this way either. I know it's more expensive than just brewing a pot, but if I waste more than half of the pot, then it's not so expensive!

2) My hubby gave me a business card reader. Yes! While you know that I don't collect hands full of cards at networking events, I do ask for two or three of people that I want to get back to. Sometimes those do begin to pile up because I am out of my office so much. I am so excited about getting rid of those piles without having to do all the typing. My model is CardScan/personal. Love it.

3) From our other son, Greg and daughter-in-law, Lisa, hubby and I received an electronic picture frame. Now I know, those have been around for awhile, right? Greg, understanding the technological abilities of this household, uploaded several hundred photos of the family. And there is room for thousands more. We agreed that it would be fun to keep loading to see the years go by and everyone change.

So there you have it. A wonderful holiday for me. But what makes it really worthwhile is that each giver practiced the platinum rule, which is give unto others as they want to be given to. The kids and Steve listened to what I wanted, instead of giving me just any old gift.

What gift did you receive that you love?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Six Dollars = ?

Remember in grade school when you exchanged names at Christmas time to secretly give small gifts to that person. Well, Secret Santa is alive an well in Toledo, Ohio.

Jeff Pettit is the owner of Artistic Memorials, a firm that creates markers for grave sites and other public locations. Jeff is the first to admit that the economy is affecting his business. Recently Jeff and his wife attended a Dave Ramsey financial seminar and Jeff came away knowing that he wanted to give back in some way. He called me and asked if he could subsidize the December Certified Networker monthly lunch at six dollars per person. Now what nice surprise.

At the lunch Jeff explained his reason for making this offering. He hoped that each six dollar amount given might be a catalyst for that person to "Pay it Forward." And he hoped that the six dollar gift would multiply as it moved forward.

What would you do if you had received that unexpected six dollars to continue the gift giving?

Monday, December 21, 2009

It's as Easy as One, Two, Three

Here is my thought for the day on relationship development.

Typically, most experts divide the levels of relationship into three levels. Just like in the three bears -- Goldilocks had to get to the right porridge and the right-sized chair. We have to determine with each person we meet, to what level the relationship can travel.

In the last couple years, I've realized that three levels really doesn't tell the story.

The middle level is where we gain connectivity; some people call it the relationship level and others call it the credibility level.

Here's what I propose. We need to divide that level into three segments, too. So we'd have Level 1 Relationship, Level 2 Relationship and Level 3 Relationship. Each level has descriptors of that paricular Level, which make it different from the others.

I have felt this for a long time, but it wasn't until just recently that I began to articulate it.

What do you think about this?

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hair Color

A couple weeks ago, I attended a Youth Leadership Toledo lunch. At the lunch the young gentleman that I sat next to, Alberto Serrano, a sophomore at Maumee, Ohio high school, made my day when he exclaimed about my hair. Now I have to tell you that I never want to be ordinary with my hair and it has been wilder in the past. Right now it still gets comments like Alberto's but for me its tame.

Alberto has beautiful, dark, shiny black hair. He told me that he wants to dye his bangs red but that he was discouraged from doing so, because it just wouldn't be right. This didn't come from his mom, by the way.

Alberto sent me a thank you note for coming to the lunch with the students and in the note he said that my image had given him the feeling that he should express himself sometime in the future, too. Maybe now is not the right time, but soon.

When I was in high school, boys were starting to imitate the Beatles' hairstyles. One coach refused to allow students with long hair (and if you look back those styles were mild) to try out for his team. I guess those were the times.

I hope that Alberto gets to color his hair soon. After all, what is important here. Hair or a well-adjusted, community-minded young man.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Is it a Fit?

Recently two of my friends have shared experiences with me about being strong-armed by referral sources. In both instances my friends didn't feel good about the situation.

I asked a few questions in each of the above situations.

In both, my two friends didn't have knowledge of the target market of the said partners. Now, I tell ya' that's a killer right there. How in the world can anyone help another if the person wanting help (in the form of new business) doesn't know and can't articulate what prospects they want?


Secondly, in each situation, my friends were feeling pressured to be in the partnership. This is where I tell everyone to take a step back. If you are having gut level feelings like this, it is probably because your gut is trying to tell you something.

I think a very good phrase to use in this instance is, "You know I'd rather preserve our friendship than jump into something that just doesn't seem right for both of us."

Referral partnerships should feel natural. If it doesn't at the beginning, just like in a marriage, it probably won't get better later.

What is your experience in working with referral partners?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Blah, blah, blah, me, me, me

Yesterday afternoon a guy called me. I am loosely acquainted with him. But that's it, l-o-o-s-e-l-y!

He called because he wanted me to connect him with one of my friends who is a fairly important person in the BNI network. This gentleman who called me is not a member of BNI and the reason he wanted the connection was that he wanted to gain an opportunity to sell a product at an upcoming BNI conference. I shared with him that BNI does business with its members in all aspects. Therefore it would be fruitless for me to connect him with this person.

He went on to say, "Well you know, I've been a member of BNI in the past and I wouldn't have a problem joining again. I was also (at the same time) a member of (competing group to BNI) but neither of them have worked very well for me." Duh! I wonder why! I wonder where his loyalties lie? Probably not far outside his skin.

The whole, late, Friday afternoon conversation was about him, his product, his lack of success with networking groups, his referral requests that were not honored, etc. It just doesn't work for him. Never in the conversation did he talk about what he could give. I felt like I needed to wash my hands when I finally clicked the off button on the phone.

The frustrating part for me is that if people could just get the concept of giving without expectation, especially in the referral world, that wonderful things will come back. I truly do believe that the universe pays back, not necessarily in a direct way.

Anyway, thanks for letting me get that off my chest. I think it is especially impactful in this week before the American Thanksgiving. Maybe this week, we can all give a referral or help to someone who is not expecting it.

What do ya' think?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Adversity = Product

My friend Christine Kummerer lost her job due to the economic slowdown in NW Ohio. A graphic artist, she decided to take a deep breath and start her own company, Kreations by Christine. She also participated in some of the job clubs, not convinced that business ownership was for her. Lucky for the club members, Christine is creative, or Kreative as her business card implies!

She has developed resume business cards taking the now old idea of the
"brochure" business card and instead, turning it into a mini resume. I think this is just such a usable idea for the job seeker who may be attending many networking events. Whipping out the letter-sized resume always seemed so awkward and especially for the person receiving it. What it the heck do you do with that big pile of paper, when you want to keep your hands free to shake hands and write notes? With the resume business card, it gives enough information that it can create interest.

Job seekers everywhere can connect with Christine at to order this ingenious marketing product. What do you this of this idea?

Thursday, November 05, 2009


Was at a morning networking meeting this week where Dionne Neubauer, the COO of the chamber delivered a talk about all the opportunities that the chamber provides to its members.

Also, my networking tip at this event was for people to write two things of interest about themselves on one business card and then to be willing to share one point of interest with someone they chat with after the meeting and also to find out about this person's interest.

So after the meeting I was at the back of the room chatting with my friend Lynne Calvelage. She is co-owner of my favorite coffee shop in Findlay, Coffee Amici. She commented, "I get it, there is lots of stuff for us as business people to do, but we have to take advantage of it. It doesn't just happen." Within seconds Jody Walters, sales person for the FindlayNOW magazine joined us. She said, "Guess what one of my interests is!" Lynne and I were amazed that she enters sweepstakes on a regular basis AND she wins."

The three of us looked at each other and said, "If you don't play, you don't get a chance to win!"

I guess you had to be there, but it really rung true at that moment.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Wish List

Would you like an easy way to help a five-star organization?

Becky Knapp, is the Job Placement Coordinator for The Autism Model School. This charter school is one of only two who received highest marks from the State of Ohio for the level of education they are providing the students. As with many institutions, The Model School got hit with funding cuts from the state. What this means to Becky is that she has NO BUDGET for projects that she organizes within the school walls. These projects help the students to learn skills that make them more employable outside the school walls.

I encouraged Becky to create a wish list of items that we could donate that would help to fund the micro-enterprise projects. By the way the school is a 501(c) 3 organization.

Here's the list:

Mosaic Tile Setting Grid (perhaps you were once into mosaics, but have moved on????)
Glass Mosaic Cutters (same as above!)
Tile Scorer/Nipper
Mosaic Mirror
Book "Making Mosaics-Designs & Techniques"
Book: "The Encyclopedia of Mosaic Techniques"
Book "The Mosaic Idea Book"
Clay Pots
Joint Compound
Wooden Plaques/signs/letters/numbers
Nails & Hammers
Wood Stain
Paint & Related Supplies
Beads and beaded jewelry supplies
Glass Tiles

Yeah, yeah, I know. Just another charitable ask, right? Well, let me give you some figures and also put a face to the figures.

Mary Walters is the founder of the school and she continues to lead it. Education was not her career focus. Then she had THREE autistic children. When her daughter Maria, now 18 years old, was diagnosed, the chances of having an autistic child were one in 10,000. Recently statistics were released by The Center for Disease Control and Prevention that the statistics have now changed. Now for every 100 children born, one will have autism spectral disorder. Yes, that is right, one in one hundred.

So look around. Do you have something to spare? If so, you will have a hand in helping the students to become contributing members of our society.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Back at Ya'

A few weeks ago I presented a training for my friend Deanna Tucci Schmitt, Executive Director of BNI of Western PA. My trainings are always a conversation - interactive with the group. I answered one question that was asked of me by saying, "What did that person say when you asked them about it?"

They laughed out loud and said, "Did Deanna teach you that?" And guess what? As a matter of fact she did. Whenever I complain about something that someone has done, she always turns it back to me. She makes me responsible for correcting the situation or at least addressing with the offender.

Now sometimes I just want to vent, as we all do. I want someone to be there so I can talk out loud to hear myself. Deanna is equally willing to listen and not give me her trademark phrase. She is a good friend. She is willing to be both a mentor and a listener. I guess if I think about it, a mentor is a good listener.

Anyway, networking is all about personal interaction. Keep it flowing!

Friday, October 23, 2009

From Pumkins to Manuals

A favorite article of mine is called, Charity Networking with a Princess. It is on page 69 of the book, Masters of Networking. To sum it up in a few words, it describes how several groups, individuals and organizations linked together to raise more money and more visibility for each of the entities involved than one group member could have done for themselves alone. Each of the members has both a need and also excess of something.

Buy or borrow the book to read it. Then you'll know what I mean.

So we come to pumpkins.

My friend, Patrick Abec, owner of Abec's Small Business Review, lives out in the country and for the fun of it grew a field full of pumpkins. He had an event earlier this month where his business clients were invited to an afternoon in the country which included the children all having the opportunity to get a FREE pumpkin. Even after this day, Patrick still had quite a few of the orange orbs left. He offered them to folks. I took him up on his offer because my family gets together for an annual pumpkin carving event. It's this weekend and I have nine nice pumpkins that will get funny or scary faces. Patrick wouldn't take any money for the pumpkins.

I have another friend, Becky Knapp. She is the job placement coordinator for the Autism Model School. Her job is to help their high school students find employment or internships. One job I have always hated is getting all the materials ready for my classes. This is the type of job her students excel at. So this morning I am picking up 17 manuals that are all ready for class. The best part is that they will probably be perfectly done and I didn't have to touch them. When Becky and I talked about a payment arrangement, I expressed that I didn't want to pay them as actual employees, but as a vendor. She didn't think they were set up to accept those types of payments, so instead, I will make a donation to the school. This is where the pumpkins come in. I will increase the amount of the donation to include what I normally would have paid to buy the pumpkins, probably around $25. While that increase doesn't sound like a lot, this charter school lost $50,000 in funding from the state, so any extra is welcomed.

How does Patrick win. Well, as Becky is out talking with various employers, she will be able to refer folks to Patrick to be included as a spotlight article in his monthly business paper.

This is a very small example of how this could all work. Read the article and then tell me who else you think could profit and also give something as part of this circle.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Aly Sterling is a friend of mine. We serve on the Leadership Toledo Board together. She owns Architectural Philanthropy, a company that helps non-profits to have sustainable fund-raising. She's doing some great things in the community.

Several days ago I received Aly's newsletter, but didn't have time to read it till last night.

Wow! What a message. Read it below.

I have to tell you about something that happened last Friday.

At just around 6:00pm, following the tail-end of a whirlwind week, my home phone rang. My caller ID said, "AAA Northwest Ohio". I hesitated, but then thought this one was OK to answer (yes, I too screen calls, especially on Fridays).

The woman on the other end asked who she was speaking to and then proceeded ... yes, hold on to your seat ... to ... THANK ME FOR BEING A MEMBER.

That's it. She just wanted to let me know how much they appreciated my loyalty, and that if we're receiving their monthly magazine (think newsletter!) there's an entire page of benefits listed that I should be sure to read (think outcomes! stories of impact! testimonies!).

She thanked me again and told me to have a great weekend, and then she hung up. Again, that's it! Eureka! What if every non-profit took five (5) key donors a week and made a call like this?

I know I'll be renewing next time ...

Have a great weekend,


Even though this message is directed specifically to the non-profit world, certainly we who are trying to make a profit can take this message and use it to our advantage. Think about it.

What would your company look like if you called five clients ever Friday at 4 PM just to thank them for being a customer?

Thursday, October 15, 2009


My friend David Trisel, owner of Graf-x-cape and Grab Bag Marketer, led a networking exercise at the GreaterFindlayInc. morning meeting last week that was ingenious.

With a very creatively developed worksheet, he asked each of us to quickly list five skills that we possess. We then had to trade our worksheet with someone else at our table. That person had to write suggestions of how we could reach out into the community to share out skills.

I quickly wrote five skills: Listening, Making Eggplant Parmesan, Gardening, Assembling Teams and Reading.

My partner was our featured speaker for the day, Hiroaki Kawamura, Ph.D. the chair of the Department of Language and Culture at the University of Findlay. The voices inside my head were nay-saying the value of this exercise. "How in the work would my skills equate to anything in Dr. Kawamura's world."

The voices have been silenced.

When I got my paper back, his suggestions were:

1) Organize a cooking group for internationals (especially housewives.)

2) Organize a conversation table for international wives.

3) (This one made me laugh!) Please feed me with your delicious eggplant parmesan!

I am interested in talking with Dr Kawamura, to discuss further the idea of a conversation table. I can tell you that I would NEVER have thought of it myself.

I suggest you try this at your next event where you want people to get to know each other better. It will also begin to weave those skills into the community fabric.

If you try it, come back to this post and tell your experience in a comment. Also, if you want a copy of David's worksheet, I can introduce you to David.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

That's Not Possible

I have some really neat people in my current Certified Networker class that I am teaching in Findlay, Ohio. One such person is Ernie Lewis. He owns E.A. Lewis Consulting and is really really good at helping companies to do better. But that's not why I'm writing.

Here's the deal.

Ernie ran 100 miles all in one fell swoop last weekend.

Yep, you got it, 100 miles. And it was not just your usual road race. No sire-e-e. It was at Titusville, PA in Oil Creek State Park. It was on rain-soaked trails. It took him 30 hours and he climbed 17,000 feet during the run, but he did it! Ernie was back home Sunday resting his sore feet.

I have not talked with Ernie, yet, (hopefully tomorrow that will happen), but his friend Rod Cundiff, sent an email out to everyone letting us know that Ernie had completed the race. We were all worried because the website that was supposed to track his progress stopped tracking about ten hours in. We didn't know whether he had been pulled out due to hypothermia (a fear of his) or just technology not working. Luckily it was the latter.

What's really neat about this was that Ernie carried 104 names of people who have been affected by cancer and also he raised over $5600 to donate to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He had told us in class that the people on the list helped him to keep going when he wanted to quit.

Thank you, Ernie for pushing yourself beyond reason. Thank you for giving.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


The other day at our BNI meeting, a guest was asked to introduce himself toward the end of the meeting. His explanation was, "You guys, already know what (mumble, mumble) is and I've visited one other time, so you all remember me."


I guess it might have been a day that I had a substitute attend in my place, as I don't remember this young man.

Additionally, because he was unclear with his introduction, I still don't know who he is or what his company name is.

At the end of the meeting I got caught in a conversation before I made my way across the room to meet him, but he was gone already.

Lesson learned here?

Don't ever assume.

That young business person wasted a prime opportunity to have the focus of 35 or so people on him.

It's cliche to say this, but it is like paying for a Super Bowl ad and having nothing in the spot. Well, I guess it didn't cost him 1.5 mil, but you just never know.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Taking Responsibility

Many times I hear from acquaintances that something is not working for them. Typically it might be membership in an organization or even a referral relationship with another person.

What I always find interesting is when I ask, "So tell me what you've done to make it work."

More times than not, the person complaining, has focused on the negative and has not moved away from that point of view. That colors everything about the situation.

For example, getting referrals is so wonderful. Giving referrals and not ever getting any in return is not so wonderful. Instead of focusing on who's not giving, change the viewpoint to why you're not getting what you want.

Usually what I find when I ask is:

The person who wants referrals has not explained exactly what they need, instead just saying, "Send me anything."

The person who wants referrals mistakenly assumes that since they've given a referral to someone that the person will automatically know to send a referral back.

Changing these two situations will probably mean that something different will happen. And what is for sure is the negativism is gone.

What have you done to change a bothersome situation?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I Love Melons!

Well, what can I say other than I've spent more time outside this summer than sitting in front of my computer.

I was out in the garden yesterday looking AGAIN at my cantaloupes, hoping that they will get ripe soon. It just seems that I can't hurry them along.

I laughed when I thought about how it is the same with relationships. Hoping and wishing for a fruitful return won't do the trick. Just as the melons need more sunlight and water, I need to pay attention to my friends and acquaintances if I want them to even think about remembering me.

Not a big aha, but just thought you might like the analogy.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cutting Membership

Someone mentioned to me today that they had cut back on some of the groups they belong to because of cost savings and in fact, the groups they left weren't fruitful for them. They asked me what I thought.

I didn't have a good answer right there. Of course not. I never do!

But later I realized why they need to continue those memberships.

Here's the deal.

Yes, you can participant with some groups as a guest paying an extra fee. However, I think having a membership pushes more involvement. the conversation in your head might sound like this, "You know, I better go to this event so I can get my money's worth from it."

But here's more of the deal. And I've written about this before. If you're not out there playing and meeting people, you won't be able to help your networking contacts. And if you stop helping them, probably they are going to limit their help to you.

So my new answer is, "Hell, yes, you need to be a member. It will get you out there instead of you allowing yourself to sit in your office cave."

So there!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Lost Name Tags

Yesterday I was at a networking event when one of the other participants made the comment that everyone always knows my name because I wear a name tag all the time. This person didn't happen to have a name tag on. Nor did most of the people around the table.

I asked why they didn't wear name tags.

One person explained that she is always loses her name tag.

Curiously, I asked how that happens. She said that she takes her name tag off before she goes into grocery stores or places like the post office and then it drops out of her car or her pocket.

Even more curious, I asked, "Why in the world do you take your name tag off when you go into a store?"

Can you give me an answer of why someone (in sales) would do this?