Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Right Way

Like me, I'm sure you all have so many requests from people you have never met to connect on Linkedin or Facebook or other social media sites.  I am a relic, so unless I already know the person I don't usually agree to the link.  Ever so often, a new person will actually be appropriate in the way the try to make the connection.  That happened last week.

Stacey Heckel is a sales rep for Paychex here in the Toledo area.  She actually took the time to customize her invitation to me instead of relying on the old, "Please join my professional network."  Because of her extra effort, I suggested that we meet for coffee.  Now having also worked in that industry in the past, I do know that this time of year most of the payroll sales reps are busier than the proverbial one-armed paperhanger.  But Stacey made the time the day before Christmas. One gold star.

Stacey didn't try to sell me on payroll.  She did ask if I had any employees and when I explained that I only had vendors, I was poised to the "Well we can do 1099s attack."  So right from the start she demonstrated that she understood the value of relationship development instead of pushing product.   Second gold star.

When she found out that I had also worked for Paychex ages ago, she asked for advice and actually listened to it.  I knew that because she then would ask more questions.  Gold star 3.

I began to tell Stacey about the networking opportunities that she didn't know about and filled her in on the details of some groups that she only knew a little about.  She took notes.  Gold star 4!

But Gold Star Five was when at the end of our conversation, Stacey turned it around and asked what she could do to help me.

I predict that Stacey will be successful in this position because in order to do so she needs to develop strong relationships with those who can refer and introduce her to business owners.  By training she is a social worker.  She likes to really help others and that training will pay off big time for her.

A  5-star meeting the day before Christmas.  Now that's what it's all about!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Is January a Throw-away Month?

So last week, I was trying to find some organization networking dates for 2013 for a couple reasons.  I post many dates in our Connext Nation newsletter AND I wanted to make my own networking plans for next year.  I want to reinforce that this was happening in the middle of December.

Boy did I hit a wall!

Evidently, it's just not done to publish the January dates until January or not at all.  Yesh!

One organization said, "Oh we don't do anything in January because people just aren't ready to get back to work."  Or maybe the organization doesn't want to get back to work??????

While this is very frustrating to me, I decided to just set my January goals in a different way.  I will have coffee and chats with two new people per week.  I've already accomplished setting those appointments through the middle of January.  And gosh, those people wanted to get back to work.

So, if you are the keeper of the website of a member networking organization, please, please, please schedule your next year's dates on the calendar no later than the end of November.  And that's my rule.

How are you working differently for the beginning of the year?

Friday, November 09, 2012

But What do I Have to Give?

Those new to using networking as a business tool are sometimes mystified about how to use this tool!

One day I met with a young woman, new to the area, and she was puzzled by how she could offer anything of value to people she met with.

I explained that as she met each new person, she added to her resource directory and that each new person gave her the opportunity to make a connection with that person and someone else in her growing network.

She literally sat back in her chair, thought for a second and said, "I just would never have ever thought of that!"

Networking can be the best way to become a valuable person to your friends, because you will bring added value to them.  And that's what networking is all about. 

What else would you have told this young person?

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Trade Show Blues

OK, so it was only 50 bucks for the booth.  And I only spent another 50 on stuff to have at the booth.

What really ticks me off, is the networkers who tromp on my territory. Yep, that's right, they steal from me.

These are the people who visit the trade show as attendees.  These are the people who use my booth space as their booth space
These are the people who come up to me when I am exhibiting my company and tell me about what they are selling.  

Now, I'm not against a good old-fashioned conversation with a little give and take about what each other does.  After all, I won't know if what I have to offer is anything they would want or need if we don't.  And of course, I am very open to helping others.

But I'm talking about those rude people who are bold enough to come right up to my booth and sell what they have to offer, never asking a question about what the heck I am doing there and then moving on.  They are takers all the way. 

I'm calling the sheriff the next time they try to steal my time!

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Know the Rules!

As we grow in our careers, many times we become known as experts in our field.  As a result we are asked to present at various meetings.  While we may be the expert in our work, sometimes we don't come across to our audience in that way.  Why?  For the very reason that we are not experts at presenting.

I was at a Chamber meeting last month when a couple rules were broken that took away from the speakers' credibility.
Rule #1, If you've forgotten your notes, don't announce it.  The audience doesn't know and if you are an expert, you should know what you're talking about anyway. So what if it's not exactly as you wanted it to be as long as you deliver the info.

Rule #2, This is one that drives me crazy.  DON'T LEAVE THE SPEAKER'S LECTERN EMPTY.  EVER!  Correct speaking etiquette calls for the emcee to introduce you, stay behind the lectern to welcome you to the stage.  Then at the end of your talk, please wait for that person to return to relieve you of your duties at the lectern.  Never, ever, should the audience be sitting there looking at space.  This rule is broken all the time.  You can watch for it now.

Are there any other miss-steps that you have seen speakers make?

Sunday, November 04, 2012


I just did a one!

What's a 1, you ask???

Well, I can't take credit for the term, but it means that I met with another person who monopolized the conversation for most of the time.  My friend, Sandy Pirwitz, who is a BNI Director, is the one who coined the phrase several years ago when caught in a similar situation.

But I think it's more embarrassing and frustrating for me because I'm known as the networking guru.  I should be able to manage better, right???


This person watned me to know how wonderfully intelligent he was and also that he is an authority about everything...including areas of referral networking.  Including.......(fill  in the blank).

I had asked to schedule the event because this person had expressed a complaint about a program I oversee.  I wanted to hear his concerns and then hopefully solve some of those issues.  That didn't happen because this person didn't want solutions.

What did I learn from this situation that will help YOU in the future?  I wish I could give some really good advice here, but the only thing I have to say is just don't schedule with the type of person a second time.  Once burnt is enough.

Maybe you have some advice for me?????

Friday, September 07, 2012

Be There, Be Square!

More times than not I like to be there when I introduce two people.  Why?  Lot's of reasons!

1.  I usually learn something new about both even if they have been my friends for a long time.

2.  I can help to control the conversation.  It's easier for me to finesse the chat toward the reason for the intro than it is for either of the two to steer it.

3.  If there is something that "goes wrong" during the conversation, I can be aware of it and either attempt to fix or at least share my observations.

4.  It's helpful to have a third pair of eyes watching for body language.

5.  I can ask a pointed question without seeming like I am selling.  I'm just an interested third party!

6.  I may see an alternative for either or both parties, that neither of them would think of alone.  Again, because I am a silent observer, it gives me time to think.

7.  As the "organizer" of the introduction, I can act as the host, getting the conversation started, eliminating that awkward time of who should talk first!

What other reasons can you think of for being at the introduction of two people?

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

MINI change?????

So most of you know that I drive a MINI and in fact, I'm now on my second one, having compiled 190,000 miles on my cute little yellow '03, I now have a new, Laguna Green '12.  I love my car because of the way it drives and also the playful attitude of the whole company.  It's the "we do things and think differently" from the rest of the world.

When I picked up my new baby in March, my sales person, Brad Paris, told me to get the first oil change at 9,000 miles.  The dealership is a little over two hours away so I have to plan for something like this.  The middle of the September I am going to be in that area because we are going to our granddaughter, Kaitlyn's, 13th birthday party on Sept 15th, a Saturday and luckily the dealership has service hours on Saturdays.  This past Saturday I called to schedule that maintenance and also requested that they look at my dash to get ALL the dash lights to light. (I'm just weird that way!)

Within seconds I felt like I was talking to a "regular" car dealership.  The service adviser told me that I didn't need an oil change till 15K or one year, whichever came first and that my car would let me know with a message on the dash when that was so.  When I questioned him about my advice from Brad, the sales person, the service adviser again said that it didn't need to be changed. 

End of conversation about that.  

OK, so I asked about scheduling time for them to look at the dash lighting problem.  I was advised that they did NOT do diagnostic work of Saturdays that I would have to schedule time during the week.  I told him him that that solution would not work for me.  He said, "Well, we can't do diagnostic work because we might not get done and then you would be stranded without a car."  I asked, "But doesn't MINI provide loaner cars?"  You guessed it, "only on weekdays."

The light at the end of the tunnel is that I emailed Brad, the sales person, of my dismay.  To his credit, on a holiday weekend he immediately emailed me back asking me to call him on Tuesday while in my car, as he thinks he knows what the dash issue is and how to solve it.

What's this got to do with networking?  Well, networking is all about relationships and how they are maintained.  We usually think about this between two people, but it certainly can happen between a person and a company. 

Brad, the sales person, has at least made an attempt to keep my relationship intact with MINI. 

The service adviser?  I hope that he has come back from the holiday weekend with a refreshed attitude!

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Few Rambling Thoughts

OK, so I had coffee with Becky Robinson, owner of weaving influence, this morning.  We had met at the HEELS Boot camp at the beginning of the month when I heard her speak.  I was so impressed with her topic and her presentation style, that I just had to schedule time to get to know her better.  Like her curly red hair, Becky spirals energy and also asks great questions.

Becky is an expert in the social media setting, so I knew that I was in trouble since I hadn't blogged since the end of July.  Ya' know, life gets in the way!  I'm letting a few weeds get ahead of me tonight so that I can put a some words down for the masses to read!

What am I excited about???

Two things!

Our tenth anniversary event is coming up quickly and our 10/10 breakfast event is about 2/3rds of the way to a sell out.  My good friend, Scott Ginsberg, is going to be our keynote speaker.  Interesting fact that I found out this morning.  Becky went to the same college as Scott.  People can register at here.

Second thing!  I am charged up because Nick Nigro, our amazing trainer at Davis College, just started another Connext Nation class last week.  Davis is still the only college in the USA that offers a word-of-mouth marketing class to their students.  It is my hope that we can convince other colleges to do the same in the future, but in the meantime, take your hat off to Davis!

What chargin' your batteries at the moment?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Will Ya' Get a Business Card

OK, right up front here I am going to admit that I have broken some very important rules of networking in the past and will probably do so in the future.  Just last week, I forgot to take my phone in to a networking event and thus didn't have my calendar with me.  Notice, the word FORGOT.  I had brought a guest with me and we were busy talking.  At least that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.

So with that being said, I want to talk about a networker who made a conscious decision to not allow others to get back to her.  This person gave me her card and asked me to sign her up for our upcoming course preview.  I told her that I would be happy to do so and would send her the details via email if she would give me her card.  She did.  I didn't look at it.  Bad girl.  Both of us.

Later, I started to react to my promise with the aforementioned card.  All the information on the card front had been scratched out except for her name.  On the back she had written the URL of her multi-level marketing site, which I did visit in the hopes of getting a way to contact her.  It was just a general site with no apparent way to make that connection.

This person made a conscious decision to make it impossible for others to connect with her.  I have absolutely no reason why she would have done this, other than this might have been her subtle way of getting people to her website so they would purchase from her.


What do you think?

PS.  The card is now going in the trash so I won't have to obsess over it any more!

PPS.  I am not the only one she shared cards with as another networker made a comment to me about the same issue with this person.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Givng but not Getting

A couple months ago I received a call from someone I didn't know, but they used the name of someone I did.  This new person we'll call Herb, wanted to schedule an appointment with me.  I very carefully explained that I was not interested in what he was selling, but that I would be happy to meet to see if there might be a way I could help.

The day of the appointment he was very appropriate and likable.  I could think of several of my acquaintences that would be good connections  for him.  I have since taken my time to make those personal introductions happen, three different times.

Also, I happened to meet another new person, let's call her Sally, who would benefit from meeting Herb, so I asked Herb to come to a networking event where Sally was going to be.  Herb agreed.  At the last minute Herb bowed out.  "Something had come up."  Herb also asked me to save him a seat in a preview that we give of our course, which is basically two free hours of training. I'm sure you've guessed it, last minute, "Oh gosh darn, something has come up."

While I meet new people with no expectation, when I go the extra mile to help them, I expect that they will want to enter into the concept of giving back to others, too. 

Is this too much to ask?

Monday, March 05, 2012

Chairs and Networking

In our home I am the one who keeps the dining room chairs snug up to the table when they are not in use.

Recently someone who was providing services in our home, would leave for the day with the chairs slightly away from the table and also each angled a little toward the other. At first this bothered me and I would put them all straight! Then one evening I really looked at the situation. The way they had been left actually made me want to go sit there. It had hints of a previous conversation, too. Actually it invited me to come be part of the scene.

I got to thinking about this. I preach approachability in the networking world having borrowed that term from Scott Ginsberg. I asked myself, "Am I uptight or am I approachable?" What little adjustments can I make to allow people to feel comfortable entering my space?

I don't know the answers yet, but I'll be thinking about this question all week.

What would you do?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Skuttle Butt

My friend, Scott McBride, Ray of Life Healing Center, attended a seminar that I co-presented with my friend, Jenn Wenzke, on Wednesday evening this past week. Of the 30 attendees, Scott was the only guy and he knew this going in. I call that brave!

But here's the reason why he wanted to attend. Many people who he respected had told him that he needed to meet Jenn. And while he could have asked for an introduction, what better way is there to get to get to know someone than to hear and watch them present?

After the presentation Scott was able to talk with Jenn and compare the areas that their careers might cross.

We can all take a lesson from Scott.

Who do you want to meet?
Are they presenting anytime soon?
Can you attend the event?

Obviously, if the answer if "no" you'll have to move to plan B, but if, "yes" then get your butt in the seat!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Do You Want Me To Tell You How Wonderful I Am?

Today I read something that made me cringe. From another consultant's column was the suggestion to wake up every morning asking, "Who am I going to be introduce myself to today."

Why the yucky feeling?

While I'm sure his advice didn't mean this, I sort of got the picture of a networker going out and handing out his cards willy-nilly to make sure he was introduced to newbies. The old deal the deck routine.

Instead, I'd like the advice to be, "Who are you going to introduce to someone today?"

I'm sure you get the slight difference. Helping others first is the hallmark of a great my opinion, of course!

What's your take?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Winter Wander Land!

Finally, we got some snow and it is a Saturday! Yay!

I know many of you probably want to strangle me for this glee, but I spent my growing up years playing outside all day, all year long in Western NY. That meant playing in the snow drifts and having a ball. So there!

Anyway, I strapped on the cross-country skis this AM for the little tour of the back ten! It was pretty quiet out there and I didn't see any animals, but I did see lots of tracks. It was fun trying to create a story for each set or marks.

"Oh dear, did all the mess of tracks mean that there are a fight for ones life? Don't know."

"Oh dear, did the two sets of tracks represent a rabbit with a coyote in pursuit? Don't know."

"Oh dear, where the two sets of rabbit track went separate ways, mean they were playing tag? Don't know."

Then I got to thinking. What if all these tracks represented networkers? Was the muddle of tracks a picture of one networker over powering another with their sales pitch? Or was the larger set of tracks following the smaller representing, someone stalking another business person. And did the third set represent networkers having a lot of fun, but not really being strategic about their time spent.

You can see why my friends think I should not be let out alone very often!

That said, what would your networking tracks look like?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

This past week I met with a new networking friend. She happens to represent a direct sales company and I'm always a little hesitant when meeting with folks who are independent representatives of such businesses. I don't know whether they are badly trained by the companies or just don't know better in the way they act sometimes.

I can say with great approval, that the coffee meeting went very well. We were both relaxed and just took the time to get to know each other. We found out that neither of us are the sorority type and that we just like the easy ordinary way of life. I want to get together with this person in the future and am already thinking about how I might help her.

Conversely, recently I met someone who represents the very same company and the meeting was entirely different. This person had dollar signs in her eyes and commission breath. I mean, she just couldn't stop talking about (or actually selling) her product. You can guess that I really don't want to meet this person again any time soon.

What can we learn from this? Relationship-building, which is the hallmark of great networkers, takes time. It typically takes a few meetings before each participant feels comfortable with the other. Those who try to "rush" the relationship, never get to the second or third meeting that will help to develop helpful friends, because they have scared those very people away with their overbearing sales job.

What is your experience with this?