Monday, January 31, 2011

Why I do What I do

Tom Fishburne, has hit the nail on the head again. His newest blog post is about company mission statements and it cracks me up. Tom bills himself as a marketoonist and his marketoons are great and yet they are even better because of his commentary.

In the Connext Nation, Referral Pursuit course, we help our students to get to the real why of what they do. Knowing that will help them each to have a REAL mission statement as opposed to one loaded with marshmallow fluff.

Read what Tom has to say about this whole mission statement thing here. The fourth paragraph of his post really rang true for me.

What about you?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

When Will They Learn?????

OK, I have to vent tonight.

Today I received a phone call from someone I have met briefly twice and each meeting was several years apart. The most recent time was in December when I spoke to a group and this person was in the audience.

You probably know where this is going. This person wanted to invite me to "an event."

When I asked what type of event it was, you guessed it, you smarty pants! It was a direct sales opportunity that he was sure I would be very interested in.

Now I don't know how he would think so, because both times we met the conversation stayed very much on him. He didn't ask me a lot of questions, so at this juncture, he certainly wouldn't have an idea of my wants or needs.

I don't like to malign direct sales companies, because there are some good ones out there, but I do want to pick a bone with the ones who suck people in and tell them that 1) they don't have to sell and 2) they just have to invite "friends" to partake of this wonderful opportunity. I also want to chew the same bone with companies that teach people to recruit using these relationship-less tactics.

There, I feel better.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Was it a Good Lunch?

Recently a friend of mine, Tim Saddoris, asked me about a certain networking venue, Connect4Lunch. He wanted to know what I thought of it.

I told that I could not give him an opinion because I had never taken advantage of them. He said he was going to try it out and get back to me.

Several other people that I know had attended these monthly lunches, where four people are organized to one table in advance. I think each of the four knows who the other three are. I think it is up to the participants to replaces themselves if they can not attend. A couple people who had attended had given a thumbs down review because of boorish, overbearing behavior of another table mate.

But--drum roll, please.

Tim reports great success. He says that he met three other interesting people and he has an appointment with one and is connecting one to another organization. He said, "Overall, it was worth the $10.

If you have attended a Connect4Lunch event in your area, what has been you experience?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

It's More Than Just an Alumni Association

Recently I was asked to speak to the Owens Community College Alumni Association board. They know they want to be more effective at connecting with alumni when they are at events. Many on the board had the same feeling all of us do when it comes to introducing yourself to strangers, but we worked through that and I gave them some steps to help them feel more comfortable.

I applaud this group, because think about your alumni association. When do they call you? Only when they want money? And how do you feel about that?

If, instead your alumni association acted as a resource hub for all the grads, they would have all kinds of people banging on their door WANTING to pay their dues. As I see it, as a member of an alumni association, you are just a few steps away from your best connection. But if you don't know that connection or don't know how to gain the connection it's unlikely that a link will happen.

Of course the members have to be open to helping each other.

Maybe this is happening out there already, but if so, I'm not aware of it. Well, it is probably happening indirectly though social networking, but not right at the association level.

So, if you have made great connections because of your alumni association please comment and let us know.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pass it On!

Word-of-mouth marketing is about getting others to talk about you, not you talking about yourself. When others deliver your message, it is much more powerful and not so boring!

A great example of word-of-mouth marketing going viral in just my little sphere is CardCam, an app that can be downloaded to smart phones. CardCam uses the camera function of the phone to snap a photo of a business card to then instantly put that information into Google contacts. Nice! Sometimes it can be a little quirky, but I'm sure the programmers are working on making it even better. There is a free app, but for most of us we'd need to purchase and download the $12 app.

OK, don't leave yet. You can go get it when you finish reading this.

I first heard about it only two weeks ago at my Thursday morning BNI meeting, when A.J. Motter, AFLAC, told me about it. I immediately downloaded it. I next heard about it one week and one day later when it was brought up at a BNI Director meeting. The meeting actually got derailed for just a minute or two while we talked about it. I have had various conversations about it with several people. At BNI this week, Tim Saddoris, Infostream Solutions, our chapter educational coordinator gave an overview of it in the short educational presentation. I guess that perhaps more than 100 people in my sphere have heard about this application since I first heard about it. And now even more will.

Why did this message get passed on so easily?

1. Easy concise message (new app)
2. Easy to understand (takes picture of business cards and then enters them in your data base)
3. Useful
4. Twist on the old (business card scanner)
5. Inexpensive in relation to the value returned

So here's the question. What is it about you or your product/service that is so "talkable" that without you doing anything others will pass the message on for you?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Bump in the Middle of the NIght

Several months ago our city closed some streets that intersected railroad tracks. The reasoning was that the train would not have to blow its whistle at the former intersections. I can imagine that was a relief to those people living near the "tracks."

Of course, a couple nights later, a young man tried to drive over the tracks and got stuck. Luckily the car was removed before a train came through. There are huge concrete barriers that the driver of the car had to circumvent in order to make his attempt. I'm sure you get the picture.

Which brings me to networking.

Have you ever watched someone at a networking event trying to just bully ahead - not having regard for guidelines and maybe even body language. It is an exercise in watching an accident about to happen. These people just don't seem to see the barriers that have been set in place. They just figure that they are invincible. Or maybe they don't even think. And if you happen to be the unlucky target you get stuck in networking h__l.

If you run into one of the obnoxious networkers, the only way to protect yourself is to turn these people in the other direction. You won't want to introduce them to your best friend, but you could send them to the food table!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Oh Those Fun Goals

I've had several conversation with friends regarding goals in the last couple week. Hm-m-m, you'd think it was January or something!

In a couple of those chats we realized that the goals they had set were too global. Now don't get me wrong, I am one to shoot for the moon and would be even happier to get to another solar system. But in order to launch the rocket, all the little tasks that make up the larger targets, need to be identified and noted.

My friend, Linda Everhardt Kardux, VP of Business Navigators, would tell me that I can only address two or three tasks per day. She's probably right, but I always think I can do more. I like to have the thrill of checking items off! So that means I'm a huge advocate of smaller tasks, because of my need for instant gratification.

After talking with my two friends, they realized that they were already frustrated with their goals because they weren't making progress -- or it least it seemed to them that they weren't. But actually, they were, but they just didn't notice the slow movement forward.

One goal I have for this year is to learn how to do webinars -- good, interesting webinars. Personally I'm not sure that is possible, but I'm up for the attempt. My first step is completed. I called my friend Tami Norris to tell her that I want to hire her to help me learn this new technique.


Sunday, January 09, 2011

Secrets of Success

Many times I use the BNI member bio question of "The secret to your success is...?" as part of my introduction when I am about to give a talk ou t there in the real world. I have several answers to that question, but the one I use most often is 3-fold. It is:
  1. Do the next thing
  2. Make time for others
  3. Fake it till I make it!
#2 is the one I want to focus on for this post.

Making time for others means that I don't get something else done. Having learned in my Bridges Out of Poverty (a whole 'nuther topic for another day) seminar that because I am part of the middle class, I am an achievement machine. That's how I measure my success personally. So that being said, I am at loggerheads with myself when I make time for others, because I don't get something else done. (I know, I know, meeting with someone can be getting something done.)

Getting something done for me is being able to check the "next thing" off my to-do list.

But here's what I have found out. (I'm a slow learner!) Many times, meeting with someone will either automatically get something else done or help me to get do it in the future. Let me give you a couple examples.
I met with old friend Mary Ann Mills. She and I know each other through Women's Council of Realtors of which I am an affiliate member. In the past year because of schedule conflicts I have not been very well connected with the group. Just a short meeting with Mary Ann helped me to understand that I can do some things that will help with this connection.

I met with Tina Roth, a BNI member who asked for my help in getting her ten minute presentation prepared. I teach this training for BNI but it's not on the schedule to be offered again very soon. That old voice inside my head was telling me all the stuff I should be doing to help put people into my upcoming courses, instead of meeting with Tina. But because of #2, I did. And at that meeting, Tina gave me her registration form to be in my course.

The path to my success is truly not very straight, but if I follow the three tenets that I use for my speech introductions, success meanders my way.

What's your key to success?

Saturday, January 08, 2011

How to Be Boring in the New Year!

I met with someone recently who shall remain nameless, but we'll call her Alice just to make this post easier to understand.

One of Alice's resolutions for the new year is to visit a certain number of current clients per month. I asked her, "What will you do when you visit them?"

"Well," she said, "I'm going to tell them everything new about us and some of the old stuff too, because client's forget."

O-0-0- Baby!

I'm sure glad I'm not her client!

While it is important to keep clients up to date about your "stuff" it is even more important to find out about their "stuff."

So, for those of you who need to catch up with your clients, view them as resource for other clients in your network. Find out what each client has to offer so that when one of your clients need that product or service, you know where to send them.

I know, I know. When you do get to talk about you?

When they ask about you is the best time. They will really listen then. But if they don't, ask for their advice. Say, "We have a new offering and I'd like to hear your feedback on how you think I should market it in the best way."

In this way, they are engaged and thinking instead of wondering when and how they can get you to stop talking!

What's your advice on this issue?

Friday, January 07, 2011

"You Won't Believe......."


No one is very comfortable with it.

But I think we need to keep in mind that without change our world probably would not exist today. The dinosaurs might have taken over the world and eaten until there was no food and then died. Pretty awesome thought.

So in the past couple days several people I've chatted with have had the gloom and doom mantra.

Now, I would not ever be called Pollyanna, but I do like to look on the bright side of things. My son, Greg Peters, has worked very hard to get me to that place. I just like to look forward. If there is a hitch in the git along, then my forward motion helps me to figure out another way to approach.

So for those who want to bring me down. Forget it. Call me the ostrich with my head in the sand, but so be it. But my theory is that you can either be a whiner or be a doer.

Which one are you?

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Friends Make My World Go 'round

I have been making a concentrated effort to meet with clients in the past couple months to connect with them and to find out what's going on with them. I also want share the great news about the launch of Connext Nation.

It has been a wonderful time.

My clients have exciting things happening for them. They are starting new businesses, leading seminars, changing their focus, meeting new people and generally evolving, just as I am.

I left one of those meeting yesterday with my friend, Lisa Bachmayer, saying to myself, "Why don't I make time to do this more often?" It is a great lesson for me. Lisa gave me some great advice on a business etiquette issue that I had been deliberating over. And once she gave me the advice, the answer seemed just so logical.

Sometimes (or maybe it is all the time) I get tunnel vision trying to meet with prospects to fill my classes. So this year I want to make sure I do make time to keep my wonderful friends in my life. It will make my life richer in so many ways.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Boring WOM

I have a Google alert set for "Word-of-Mouth" to make sure I am reading as much as I can about what others are saying about word-of-mouth marketing. (Nothing like word-of-mouth about word-of-mouth!)

Recently the president of the board a health insurance company in Pennsylvania used a comment from Andy Sernovitz, author of "The Word of Mouth Marketing Guy," to justify his braggadocio article about how wonderful he and his company are.

As I read through the lengthy article, I kept thinking, "this guy doesn't get it. This is not W-O-M, but just out and out PR on his own part."

Now that W-O-M has hit the mainstream, it is being so misunderstood. I guess there are some out there that think the term means for them to talk more about themselves.

So here's the deal folks. In my humble opinion, if you're talking about yourself it's not W-O-M and what it could be is BORING!

W-O-M is spreading the word about others and this is where Andy 'Sernovitz' quote comes to light.

"The one truth about word of mouth is that the truth always rises to the surface. The truth about your company, products, services and people is all that matters now."

So you out there, if you're talking about yourself, please make it true, interesting and short. And then turn back to me. Cause that's what it's all about!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Cuppa' Joe Became More

In December I provided training for BNI members in the Findlay, OH area. It's always a marathon for me as I do both the 3 hour Membership Success Program and an Advanced training segment that is 90 minutes in length in the same day. Between the two I have a 15 minute break.

The December session started at 3 PM, so by the time I was ready to begin Advanced Training it was 6:15. Now, just so you know, I had put a full day in already, leaving my house at shortly after 7 AM to get to my first appointment.

But I sailed through that last training. Let me tell you why!

One chapter member was registered for both sessions. Between the two, he drove to a nearby McDonald's restaurant and got enough coffee "to go" for everyone who was registered to attend and for me, too! Did the caffeine really help me? Maybe. But what I think really helped was the feeling that I got from someone being thoughtful. He explained that it was just good marketing as far as he was concerned!

I have kept this act of kindness in mind ever since that night and want to become as thoughtful as he was. Sometimes I get tunnel vision -- getting the job at hand done. Well, maybe more accurately I should say, all the time I get tunnel vision! One goal for this year is to widen that tunnel to allow me to think "outside the thoughtful box!"

Any advice?

Monday, January 03, 2011

Stick Your Hands Up and Give Me Everything You've Got

Weird phone call.

It was the last day of the year and to be real honest, I was in Big Lots trying to find a cheap glass cake cover. So there you have it!

My cell phone rang and I answered thinking it might be a friend. Instead it was a gentleman who had read my ad in the local business paper.

Here's what he said, "(No introduction) Hi, I saw your ad in the paper and wanted to buy you coffee so I can connect into your network." Now this is one reason that I don't do a lot of advertising. My course is difficult to explain in one little block of advertising real estate.

So I answered this man by asking him if he was intersted in a course about networking. "No, I just want to connect with people in your network."

Oh, so I was getting it. I thought he thought I was connected to BNI, as I am. "No, I'm a home re-modeler and I want to connect to your network. I have been a trusted re-modeler to the rich and famous and now the business isn't so good and I want to connect with your network."

Now, remember, I don't even know this guy's name yet.

So being the nice person I am, I offered to accept his offer of coffee and that I would be happy to see if there would be ways that I might help him.

He deferred.

He said that he'd think about it and call me back.

I'm thinking he wanted me to give him some name right over the cell phone. Ha!

Before I hung up, I said, "So that I will recognize you if you call back, could you give me your name?"

Talk about rushing the relationship!

That one took the cake on the last day of the year!

And no, I didn't find the cake cover.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Something interesting has happened.

Those of you who read this blog might remember that our beloved yellow Lab, Gable, died this year. Now we are left with just one dog, Owen, a liver and white, Springer Spaniel.

At one time Owen was a member of a four dog pack, and was definitely #4 in the pecking order. He was an obnoxious little pest, always wanting MORE attention. In Gable's last years, Owen tried to take over as top dog, barking and growling at Gable. Even in his weakest moments, Gable just brushed aside all this nonsense.

Well, guess what. Now that Owen is top dog and is an only dog, he is quite fun. I actually am beginning to like him. He still needs more than enough attention, but I guess he's making up for lost time. Now that I get to focus on him, he is a better dog.

Or is it more about my attitude?

It sort of parallels a business friend relationship that evolved over the last year. I had always kept this person at arm's length, but because of a couple situations, I spent more individual time with this person. And you guessed it, I now want to spend more time with this person.

A good lesson for me. Taking the relationship deeper in both instances meant that I gained more in the end.

Tell me about a situation where this happened for you.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Networking Conumdrum

This week I met with Julie Bankert, who established a bookkeeping business in 2010. Julie has lots of talent and experience, but what she has found challenging was having to get out and sell herself.

Isn't that a universal problem that many business owners face in the early days (and for some, every day) of our businesses?

Julie has pushed herself in the nine months she's been offering her services. Now, she asked me a very insightful question. She expressed, "I don't know how to focus all this networking and don't know what networking I should be doing." Additionally, she smiled her sparkly blue eyes and said, "I can't figure out how to get all my work done, too!"

I was impressed that Julie was asking these questions because sometimes people don't take a step back and become more organized with their networking. They just go and go and go.

In our conversation I explained to Julie that it's all about establishing a clearly defined target market, because once she knows who her best prospects are, then she can hang out and network where they network. Easy.

What would your advice be to Julie?