Friday, December 31, 2010

Word-of-Mouth Easy Button

Recently I was read an article that posed the question, "I have a new website. How do I create "word-of-mouth" business?"

I had to smile because so many think that they can push the "easy" button to create this viral marketing method. Now, I am not taking anything away from the advertising and marketing pros who have all kinds of good methods to gain more visibility. Those techniques are important for all of us to know.

But word-of-mouth is what someone else does for you. For the most part you can't control it.

I do have some thoughts on how to get it started and keep it going.

1. First and foremost have something that is worth talking about. Whether it is your product/service or something you've done that garners attention. And be aware, negative news is much more enticing to pass on.

2. It's easier to ask others to pass on the word about you if you lead the way first. I have to laugh each time I get a request via Linkedin that asks me to provide a recommendation. It's one of those things that I'll get to later. BUT, if someone has voluntarily recommended me in the past, you can bet, that I'll hop to writing a testimonial to repay the favor. That old guilt thing is remarkable!

3. Become the center of the universe. Be the person who posts events, comments or other "stuff" about your friends and business acquaintances. My friend, David Trisel does this really, really well. If your site is the go to site for finding out all the information about people in your network, then guess what? You have established your presence in the word-of-mouth marketing arena, too.

So to answer the question above, "it's not about you, but about how you act in the whole networking genre."

What's your take on this?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Acquired Credibility

Yesterday I had a networking appointment with someone who had called me. In his phone conversation he said that "a banker had given him my name." He didn't name the banker and he also shared that he had started a new business after a long career in banking. The new focus happens to be a multi-level marketing company.

I agreed to meet with reservations. I really didn't want to be sold to for an hour, but I am not shy about stopping people from doing that, so I agreed.

You're expecting the worst, aren't you???

Well, I was too and we were both wrong.

As I walked in to the coffee shop, a unknown-to-me gentleman was talking with a very good friend of mine, Jason Madasz. It turns out that the two of them were acquainted and Jason gave the indication of "OKness."

In the end, this gentleman did not sell obnoxiously, but asked for help and advice on how to network appropriately. I explained how it was easier to have others introduce him to prospects because he received "acquired credibility." I call it the AC factor. In this instance, Jason's credibility with me, made me even more open to the new person. I knew Jason wouldn't risk his relationship with me by selling me up the river with an obnoxious person.

We all have the AC factor and it is a valuable tool to give or to use. Those new to sales just need to know about it!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bigger Than Life

This week, we talked about target market in class and how once you know who your target market is then you know who can refer you to your prospects.
Several people in the class had very similar target demographics, that being women in the 40 - 60 age bracket. I asked Certified Networker student, Stas' Krukowski, sales person for Yark Automotive, if women of that age purchase sports cars. He said, "No, Debby, you are different than most with your Mini, because most women want an SUV."

I informed Stas', that my Mini has the Jack Russell mentality. It thinks it is a SUV!

I guess you had to be there!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Cookie Monsters

Today I taught the fourth session of the Certified Networker class in Findlay, OH. We had just started the second half of the class when a bag of cookies was delivered to us from the local coffee shop, Coffee Amici. You can imagine the comments around the table. "Wow! Is she ever a smart marketer." I had to agree, that co-owner of the shop, Lynne Calvelage is a very creative marketer.

After class, I dropped over to the shop to thank Lynne for her very special gift.

This is what I found out.

While the cookies did come from the coffee shop, they were ordered anonymously by someone else. Lynne said that she couldn't tell who they were from, but that it was a good friend of mine.

While I'd like to be able to thank the person, I am OK with that person remaining nameless. What it does is to make me smile about several different people in my life and to think about how remarkable they are. Also, if you think about it, this person also made Lynne look good, by ordering the cookies from the shop. All the way around, it was a really, really thoughtful gift. It touched many many people in a very positive way.

When was the last time you were able to make such a splash with a gift?

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Waiting and Waiting and Waiting

Recently I was introduced to a new person at a networking event. To make it easier I will call this person Jon. I was interested in what Jon does, so I asked if he would like to meet for coffee so I could find out more. He agreed and the appointment was set.

The day arrived and I had scheduled an appointment before and one afterJon. I'm sure you know where I'm going with this -- he stood me up. And of course, I had not yet had time to enter the information from his card into my system, so there I was with no way to call him. I just had to cool my heels.

A couple days later - 4 to be exact - as I was reviewing my week, I realized that I had not heard from Jon. Now, I was worried that I was the one who made the mistake and had kept Jon waiting for me someplace else or some day else. Falling on my sword, I emailed an apology to Jon.

What came back was a little puzzling. No, it was not my fault. His schedule had gotten changed and he was not able to keep the appointment.

And he waited almost a week to tell me that?????

I'm sure he is a very nice person, but Jon has dug a very deep hole for himself. His credibility with me is zero -- and that is being nice.

What's your thought on this. Am I being too harsh?

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Referral Rates

As members of referral sharing groups, we all want to have the thrill of passing referrals each time the group meets. What is challenging is to figure out how to develop those very referrals.

Here are five ideas that might contribute to the solution of this problem:

1. Take notes of the referral requests each week. My brain is a sieve, so I would not remember what everyone wanted without my written notes. Also, what is really important to observe is that those members who are specific in their requests make it easier for you to help them.

2. Set an appointment with yourself outside of the meeting time each week to review and to react to the requests. It is my experience that I can develop two or three qualified referrals by doing this. Just think if everyone did it!

3. While you may not know the person your member wants to connect with, someone in your network might. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Reassure this person that if they lend a hand that your member will make them look good.

4. Use social media to develop referrals. Tim Saddoris, owner of Info Stream Solutions, gives this suggestion. If you don't know the name of the owner of a company, you can find out. Open the Google browser. Type in "(business name)" owner. For example it would look like this; "ABC Auto Parts" owner. If this person is mentioned in websites, blogs or periodicals, the name will show up. This is especially helpful when your member makes a more general request.

5. Sometimes websites will list the names of all the staff of an organization. If you don't know the top person, scan through to find out who you do know. Make a connection with this person and ask if they would be willing to help. Going in the side or back door might be the only way to gain the referral.

The above five steps are guaranteed to turn you into a hero in your referral group. And then you can encourage each member to employ the same five steps so that they can help you more easily.

Any other suggestions?

Friday, August 27, 2010

The End of a Run

Our wonderful yellow Lab, Gable, died yesterday around 4 PM. I am very sad. He was truly my most very favorite of our six dogs that we've had. He always had quiet dignity (unless he was chasing down something that didn't belong in our yard!)

The other three dogs that lived with him over the years knew that they could run out or swim out after the Frisbee but they absolutely could NOT touch it. That was Gable's job and no dog should ever think otherwise.

Gable was named after Dan Gable, an Olympic wrestler, because of his tendency to trip other dogs by reaching around in front of their leg and tripping them as a wrestler would. In this photo from awhile ago, he is "smiling." Something he did when we would say, "Gable, are you a bad dog?" He loved veggies. The only food he didn't eat recently was an offered basil leave which he spit out. Carrots and green beans were his favorites and I had to fence both of those crops to keep him out.

I miss him, but know that he was just barely holding on. His weight while once a proud 95 muscular pounds had plummeted to 61. He was skeletal. I asked doc Martin how old a 16 year old dog was in people years and he said that it was off the chart so that we could be proud of how well we had taken care of him for him to last that long. That and probably very good genes.

There is a big hole in my heart. On the relationship scale he was at the very top.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Hidden Rules of the Game

The other day my husband mentioned that a new person had attended their "in the garage," (read, man cave) ever-so-often, poker game. He said that he doubted this new person would ever be invited back. I couldn't imagine why that would be so. After all, there is plenty of belching and f__ting going on during the play. Oh no, it was not rude behavior. No, the rule broken, was that this newbie won. Yep, you got it, he took their money.

I guess there is an unspoken rule that you don't do that when you are new. I don't know what you do when you're having a winning streak, but I guess you're just supposed to play badly. But no one clued this person in to the secret.

Which takes me to my favorite topic - networking! Think of the organizations you belong to. What do they do to help your visitors know the secrets of the meeting? What riddles do your guests need to solve in order to be part of the "in" group? Do you banish these visitors when they don't follow code or do you help them?

In my world, the definition of networking is helping others to feel comfortable. What's yours in relation to the above story?

Monday, August 23, 2010

'Toonly Different

I read a great post from Tom Fishburne this morning. You can read the whole article here, but basically Tom wrote about how some cartoonists draw for just a narrow audience, giving an example of one who draws cartoons that would only make sense to people who are Unix programmers. Now I gotta' tell you, the only reason I even know the word Unix is because I have a son in that world of funny computer words. (He is also a blogger in the networking world and I guess that could make him unique in that he is a computer guy and can form and maintain relationships, too!)

Tom went on to tell that he in fact saw a Unix flavored cartoon when someone stood up at one of his presentations and had the 'toon printed on his t-shirt.

Of course my thoughts took a jump at that point. A foundation of the course I teach is helping my students to figure out what is unique about them; what sets them aside from the rest of the pack. Recently several of my students were asked what cereal box or magazine cover they might appear on and WHY. But even better, I think, would be, "What about you or what you do would be worthy of a t-shirt?"

Any answers? Remember it's got to be different.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sharing You!

In the past several months I have created a tool that networkers can use to objectively measure the relationships they enjoy with others. It has been an eye-opener for me!

The middle section is all about personal details that I would know about the other person and conversely, they would know about me. What I have found out is that I don't share personal details! I am now trying to get better that that because I know those details add to the depth of the relationship, but this is not easy for me.

Yesterday, I attended a networking lunch (The WEN lunch meeting at LaScola) with my 10 year old granddaughter, Kaitlyn, who is staying with me for the week. Those who were introduced to her asked what we were doing this week and we were able to share that we'd been able to sink the kayak, played lots of card games and we were going to the fabric store after the meeting so I could help K learn to sew.

Some comments were: "Oh, I didn't know you had a pond." "Oh, I don't even know how to play Backgammon." "Really, Debby, you know how to sew???"

It occur ed to me that Kaitlyn was not only my front porch (Power of Approachability by Scott Ginsberg) but she was also the bridge for getting information about myself to others. While I am usually VERY uncomfortable talking about myself, it was easy to talk about our fun experiences.

In thinking about this, it goes back to why horntooting is so important. When you are willing to share something important about yourself with your networking pals, they then have the opportunity to use that info when they are introducing you to another person. They are the bridge for your details and you don't have to talk about yourself.

Who is your bridge?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Couldn't Have Said it Better

Yeah, it takes another blogger's post to sometimes waken the sleeping Debby!

Tom Fishburne is a favorite of mine. He says and draws so succinctly what others can't even begin to explain. In today's post, Tom talks about brand archtypes, but really he's talking about how big companies use a process to determine who they are going to sell to.

Since we help our students in the Certified Networker course to do the same thing (sometimes kicking and screaming!) these couple sentences in Tom's post resonated with me.

"Without narrowing, a brand is trying to be all things to all people. It ends up standing for nothing. When brands stand for nothing, the only way it can compete is on price. " (I have bolded and enlarged the last sentence.)

We help our students to network less, by being clear about who they are selling to. When they know that, then they know where to network.

Any comments????

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Handy Networking Tool

During our course, Certified Networker, we encourage our students to have their networking tools with them at all times. Contained on that list is a supply of business cards, your calendar, a pen for notes and of course a name tag.

In my last post I talked about how one to one meetings are a mainstay of the BNI conference and that most attendees know NOT to interrupt two people who are sitting and chatting. At this conference I did experience several interruptions. Don't know why, but they did happen.

I got to thinking that maybe one more networking tool is needed. Perhaps each person needs some sort of a portable sign, like a table tent, that announces, "One to one in progress, please do not interrupt." Sort of like the "Baby on Board" signs!

Just a thought......

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Getting to Know You

I am back from the BNI 25th Annual National Conference. What a wonderful 4 days of information and relationship continuation.

BNI fosters relationship development at their conferences by building time for one-to-one meetings right into the schedule. Instead of the word "break" (there are just a few of those) the unstructured time line of the conference program lists blanks for writing in the appointments we have with other conference attendees. It's a reminder to fill our book! Many people start these one-to-one meetings at 6 AM in order to get to all the people they want to meet.

There is also an understanding that if you see two people sitting and chatting, that you are NOT to interrupt them. This works really well because it means that these important conversations are not interrupted and the time spent is well-spent. We also ask each other when the appointments are scheduled what the topic of conversation is going to be. This is not to say that personal information is ignored entirely, but that the meetings are focused.

I have been to other types of conferences in the past, but I have never been involved with another group that fosters the building of relationships as well as BNI does.

What is your experience at your conferences?

Monday, June 07, 2010

Social Media Provides Connections

New BNI member, Tim Saddoris, Infostream Solutions, shared how we might produce even more referrals using Linkedin. He explained that if our members make a specific request for a company, that we can research the company using a Linkedin feature. Those employees of the company listed with Linkedin will appear along with their title AND the people you have in common with them. Wow!

I can tell you that with one attempt, I was able to make a connection for a referral request that had been asked for several times in the past, but I never knew that I had that connection that I could ask for help.

Social Media is more than just a listing!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Learning Experience

OK, I'm about ready to head out to the National BNI Conference in Pittsburgh this week. BNI really encourages the participants of the conference to have one-to-one meetings with each other to share knowledge and ideas. Some people are very effieicent with getting these appointment set up in advance. Hmmmm, I'm guess I'm not one of them.

I do have one solid appointment and two maybees. But I am just going to approach this differently this time. I am going to schedule with those who I know nothing about and see what I can learn from them, instead of having a preconceived notion of who I should meet with.

It's a little scary doing it this way, but I'll let you know how it turns out.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Goals; Part II

A little over a week ago, I was honored to speak for the vendors of the Tuscarawas County Chamber of Commerce Business Expo.

Jill McCartney
, President/CEO of the chamber, asked me to help the vendors be more successful with the ideas I presented in my talk.

Of course, this may have been a little late, since I was presenting at their vendor lunch just before the doors opened. But better late than never.

One thought I gave them was to establish goals for what they wanted to achieve for the show. (Does this sound like a broken record?) As all 50 or so exhibitors listened, I knew this idea was a new concept for most. To help get the idea into action, I asked for a few volunteers who would be willing to share their newly formulated goals with the rest of the group.

Guess what?

Two out of the three who volunteered had other vendors stand up and extend their business cards, because they already could be of help in reaching the goals.

So vendors, set and share your goals. I think you'll be surprised at how helpful everyone can be.

And then share you story with us in the comments.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Ya' Just Never Know

Those in my network joke about how "Debby tends to suck them in to projects." I smile because I learned this from the best, Lori Cannon, longtime friend and excellent Edward Jones representative.

Anyway, recently, I asked three friends if they would donate about 1 1/2 hours of their time on a Sunday morning at the end of the Girl Scout Camp CEO weekend. What these three friends had to do was to act as the investor panel, determining which of the four "fictitious" businesses they would chose to invest in.The girls really benefit from this because the panel members gave the girls feedback on their project ideas and plans and also their presentation skills.

Yesterday, I saw one of the three, Beth Sigg. I had just spoken for the Women's Council of Realtors of which Beth is the president. Beth owns both Northwest Real Estates Services, Inc and Northwest Appraisal Company. After I completed my talk, Beth joked with the crowd about getting "sucked in by Debby." But she also added, "Debby doesn't even know this, but as a result of the short volunteer effort at Camp CEO, I got a call from one of the other panel members who wanted to list a commercial building with me and also got a call from one of the other people in attendance who wants to list her house."

Beth said, "So getting recruited by Debby was certainly profitable!" That made me smile!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Look Out, Here We Come!

Back in the winter I met Anne Fleming, owner of at a conference. She and I just kind of connected. I like that she is willing to be unique and like even more that she is providing a wonderful platform for women drivers.

In the big girl world where we either have to or want to purchase our own vehicles, many of us find the dealership floor not very friendly.

For me that is not the case now that I have met Stas' Krukowski at the Yark Dealership in Toledo, Ohio. He is great!

So you can go to Anne's site to rate your experience at a dealership (good or bad), find out about various cars (Anne does a her and his review that is really interesting) and she just provides a platform for women (and men) to navigate the world of buying vehicles. You can also see Anne's favorite books (The title, "Peace, Love and Lemonade," makes me want to put it on my reserve list at the library right away!)

Another aspect of Anne's site is spotlighted articles about the business world. I am honored to be one of those chosen to be published on her site.

Check out this site to see the value Anne Fleming is adding to the mix!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Goal Update

At the recent Annual Women's Entrepreneurial Network (WEN) Trade Show, my goals were to schedule 3 paid and 6 gratis speaking engagements. Did I achieve my goal?

No, I didn't.

But let me tell you what has happened since then.

One gratis engagement was scheduled just before the trade show, because I had talked about my goals in advance. Thank you, Jason Conklin!

One person has asked me about a possible speaking engagement since the event as a result of seeing my goals displayed at my booth. Thank you, Amy Cameron!

Then yesterday, I met with Kim Cira. who I had reconnected with at the show, had read this blog in preparation for our meeting. My goals were written about in one recent post. As a result she came to the meeting with three speaking engagement ideas that she wanted to run by me to see if I wanted those types. With my nod, she is going forward to see how she can get me hooked up.

So I don't know if you're counting, but I am and that leads me to five possible speaking engagements so far.

Wonder what the number would be if I hadn't first set the goal and then published and announced those goals to the world?

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Pieces of Naught

While visiting my friend, Deanna Tucci Schmitt, last week in Pittsburgh, we got up very early on Thursday morning to go to a BNI Visitor Day. This was for a chapter that Deanna is the executive director for.

Several hours later, I received a "spam" email from one of the guests who attended that morning. It was obvious that this person didn't listen during the presentation. At one point everyone in attendance is asked to stand and exchange business cards with other guests for just one minute. In my opinion the only reason that exercise is included is to get people active after they have been sitting and listening for awhile. But what do I know!

Later the person leading the session asks, "What do you think these cards represent?"

The correct answer is "just pieces of paper" because there is no relationship attached to them. BNI is about developing relationships so that members feel comfortable referring their best clients to each other. They would not refer a best client to someone they just met.

So the person who sent me the "buy from me" spam missed the whole concept. Also, since I live four hours away from Pittsburgh, it wouldn't be likely for me to do business with him.

And I'm sure that he felt satisfied that day when he had finished entering the names and addresses from ALL those cards into his system so he could send the email out.

Wonder if he got anyone else to bite?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Awkward Moment

Some thoughts from recent networking events.

This is the time of year for BNI's Visitor Extravaganzas. Ever the efficient organization, BNI has a structured approach to helping chapters to gain more members during this time. The members of each chapter focus on inviting a lot of qualified member prospects for one focused day.

I have attended a couple of these within the last couple weeks. Both were very successful. The members should pat themselves on their backs.

Here's something I observed.

It was obvious to me that one visitor was there to sell his stuff. He had even set up a small display to demonstrate. When I chatted with him, he "threw up" all over me about what his new-fangled stuff could do. Additionally, during the sit-down part of the meeting when a formal presentation was being delivered, right in the middle of it, he packed up his stuff and left. My first knee jerk reaction was to judge him. "Stupid networker." But then with a little more thought I realized that perhaps the person who invited him had not told him how the meeting would proceed. Perhaps this gentleman had another appointment. Who knows? What I do know that a room full of people experienced him being rather "out-of-step" with the behavior that was expected from guests. What was their knee-jerk reaction?

This is a good lesson for me. I probably have not been as thoughtful as needed when inviting guests to any networking meeting. From now on I will at least give a brief summary of what will happen so my guest can make a great impression.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ya' Get What Ya' Say

This week I attended two energetic BNI visitor days. I was proud of both chapters for all the work they put into the event to create the forum for success. What really surprised me was a comment that I received at the end of one of the events.

I complimented a member about how well they had done. The comment back to me was that, "Yeah, maybe we'll get a couple new members from this. We have a real comfortable group already."

Now mind you, the membership committee already had 7 applications in hand just several minutes after the event ended and several more were being completed.

If I read between the lines, I suspect that the member's comment was a nice way of saying, "I really don't want any new members, because that would put me out of my cozy little cocoon."

What it also says to me is that this person is probably a little lazy. This person doesn't want to have to extend the effort to develop new relationships. This person, probably is a marginal member too, giving just enough to stay beneath the radar.

And that is purely supposition.

But that's my take and I'm stickin' to it.