Friday, December 20, 2013

Obligatory Card

OK, I feel like the Grinch here, but I just have to say my piece! 

The other day I received an e-Christmas (holiday) greeting from a business colleague.  Well, let me rephrase that!

I received the missive from this person's administrative assistant on this person's behalf.

Now, I am no dummy.  I know that there are plenty of secretaries and administrative assistants that have signed their boss' name and addressed the company card and sent them out without the boss ever touching them, but at least they PRETENDED like the boss sent them.

Instead of feeling joyous I felt less than

Then I wondered if I was just jealous because I have give up sending out Christmas cards.  I don't have time to do it well.... or I don't make time to do it.  (I grew up in a household where my parents sent out over 700 cards every year with a personal message on each and every one. And my dad helped with that chore, too.)

So maybe I'm a dinosaur.  But please save yourself time.  Don't send me a holiday card unless you can personally enter into the transaction.

What do you think?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Networking Failure

OK, I must admit, I was a failure at networking the other night.

I was invited to a business friend's holiday open house.  I arrived late into the party, so that it was in full swing.  In fact, I could hardly get in!  The place was so crowded that it was difficult to move around.  I couldn't get to the coat closet, so there I was walking around with my stick-on name tag on my coat.  I tried to find my friend, just to deliver my greetings to no avail.

Everyone was into their own conversations and didn't exhibit open networking body language.  So here is what I bravely did -- I ate an appetizer and left.  Yep, that's right, I left, the networking guru gave up.

I've thought about it since then and here are some conclusions.

1.  Go to the party when it begins if you can.  (I had appointments, so I couldn't that evening.)

2.  I didn't have far to walk so I could have left my coat in the car even though it was cold.

3.  I would have emailed my friend the day of the party to let him know that I would be there but later and perhaps, just perhaps, he would have looked for me.

4.  Nothing else at this time, but I am sure tonight in the middle of the night I'll think of something.

What would you recommend?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Another Goodbye

The thing about relationships is that they are wonderful!

The thing about relationships is that at the same time they can be painful.

Today, Steve and I decided that our wonderful little brown, stripped, tabby cat, Maizy, was not living a good life.  So a little after five this evening we said a sad goodbye to her as Doc Martin helped to ease her from this life.  Our new puppy, Gable, has made it his job to torment her with his antics and last night she finally nailed him with a claw to his dew flap.  This frail little cat had a hold of that flap of skin pulling it away from his mouth.  I wanted to do a cheer leading jump in her triumph.  In the old days, the other four dogs that are no longer here either, knew who was the head of the household and it wasn't any of the four.  They would steer a wide path around her especially when she was sitting on the ottoman at the perfect height to slash with those ever sharp claws.

It has been sixteen fun years with her since she appeared at our window one summer evening as a very small kitten.  The best memory is of her running around with a lime green cast on one hind leg after being stepped on by one of the giant dogs. The vet had told us to keep her quiet, but he forgot to tell her.  She even fell into the water garden pond while jumping from rock to rock.  Evidently she was no worse for wear when the cast came of many weeks later.

I will miss Maizy, but know that in the past couple days her congestive heart failure was worsening.  I am sad.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Dumb-founded!

I had to walk away.  Otherwise I knew that I was going to say something unfortunate.

This woman came up to me and greeted me at an event I attended this week.  During the ensuing conversation I mentioned that one of the grads of my course had tried to connect with her and that evidently it didn't happen.

The reply was, "Oh no, first of all I am too busy and second, for me to mention her to my clients would not be right."  I was dumbfounded.  This person represents a non-profit agency that provides services and resources to a specific community segment.  I wonder how she finds her resources?  What closed-minded thinking. 

So as I mentioned above, I had to walk away before the words, "Ya', dumb shit," came out of my mouth.

Am I guess I am one to hold a grudge, because if this person ever wants help from me in the future, I am going to be way too busy to even answer the request.

What are your thoughts on this?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Is it Just Me?????

I use Linkedin to help me to help my networking contacts.

If someone asks to be introduced to another person and I don't know that new person, I immediately turn to Linkedin to see if there is some other friend in my network who may be connected and willing to help.

Here's where the frustration and challenge come about.

Even though I thought you were only supposed to link to people you know on Linkedin, that doesn't seem to be the norm.  Can you hear my teeth gnashing?

In the past couple weeks I have asked for this type of help about ten times.  Eight of the ten times, the people I asked replied with a comment like,  "I don't know that person."  or "I only know of that person."  I think you get the picture.

So my questions is...........

Why the heck do you link with people you don't know?????

Please help me to understand.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Dinosaur Ways

Whenever I give talks about networking, I usually get a question about social media, about whether in-person networking is a thing of the past.  I am the first to encourage the use of social media -- and my wonderful Board of Action is clanging me upside the head to use it more!

B.U.T.

In my opinion, it is an addition not a replacement.  Both go hand-in-hand!

Case in point.

Currently I am expanding my training business to Cleveland, an area that I'm not familiar with and one where I have only a few contacts.  Using my own training, I have asked my network here in Toledo if they would be willing to share their contacts for that area.  Everyone has been more than helpful.  I have talked with quite a few people via the phone and some I have scheduled actual in-person appointments with on days that I am spending in Cleveland.

While the phone conversations are a great start, sometimes they are a little stilted.  I never know if it is a good time to talk, even if I have scheduled the call as a phone appointment.  I can't see the body language and am not able to see if they are showing interest or just waiting for the call to be done.  This even happened with one of the few people that I already know there.

My feeling is that contacting someone via LinkedIn or Facebook, out of the blue, is more awkward than a phone call.

And I think I have figured it out!  

No matter whether it is the phone or less direct methods, the connection between each person in the conversation is tenuous at best.  On the relationship scale, it almost doesn't exist.  So the party being called is careful and even defensive.  In-person meetings can jump start the relationship process because of the ability to see the other person and how he is acting.Those silent signals help to broadcast whether this is a "good" conversation or one that needs to end now!

The point of this whole thought process is that while I will be using social media in the future, it probably will not be for connecting directly
with folks.  I will be making the 90 minute drive to Cleveland to meet people in person.  I know that I am probably a dinosaur, but I hope one that is not headed to extinction!

Do I need to think in a different way?  Convince me!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Oh Can-na-da!

OK,  well now I'm famous!  Or at least in my head I am!

Today I presented a short talk about blogging to the Canadian group called Leaders Without Borders.  The group regularly "meets" by teleconference for two hour blocks to hear industry leaders talk about a topic.  Today's topic was Networking.  I must admit that was laughing a little when Sylvia Martignani, a  project manager from the Ontario Federal Council emailed me her request..  The little voice inside my head was saying, "You better hope she doesn't find out that you're JUST a blogger and not really an expert!  So shush, don't tell her!


But all went well and I'm forever grateful to the participant Monica, who asked a couple questions at the end. 

BTW, I talked about how blogging can increase one's credibility with another person before you ever meet that person if they read your blog.  Networking and blogging certainly go hand in hand!

So what do you think you could blog about?


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Broken Intro


In BNI each week, one member gets to give a 8-10 minute presentation so the rest of the members get to know the featured member better.  It is one more brick in the strong BNI relationship wall.  In the past, it was the job of the Secretary/Treasurer to introduce this member before they began.  Nowadays many chapters allow the speaker to ask another member to make the intro. It is an honor to be asked. 

Many years ago (at least ten) I was at a BNI meeting when the presenting member asked someone from outside the chapter membership to give his intro.  Because of time efficiencies, the intro should normally only last about 1 minute at the most.  In this instance, it went on for at least five minutes, but it felt like an hour.  All of us were uncomfortable with this turn of events but at that point I would not have been able to say why.

Now I can!

There were really two issues.  Because the member asked someone (let's call her Connie) from outside the membership, he delivered a message that he didn't have a strong enough relationships with any members to perform this very important task.  Looking back now, I think I felt sort of kicked to the curb. The second issue was the the rules were broken.  BNI has a very structured format, (because it works!) and when Connie didn't bother to find out what those rules were (1 minute intro) she made all of us squirm a little. I think probably I was embarrassed for her and for our member.

What can we learn from this?  When asked to speak, find out who will be introducing you.  Try to spend a little time with that person to allow them to get to know you.  Additionally, ask what is expected for the intro or even take it a step farther and ask for a copy of one that has been successfully used in the past. The introduction can either be a springboard to a wonderful presentation or a ditch, that you spend way too much time trying to climb out of to get to a good starting point.  It's your choice!

Do you have any thoughts about this?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Camping Couples

This past weekend I camped with my two sons and their families at a very nice campground, Groveland Oaks Country Park, about two hours north of Toledo.  My 13 year old granddaughter, Kaitlyn, was happy because her boyfriend and his parents were also camping at the same place.  This is a first boyfriend for her and her parents are keeping close tabs.  With smart phones, my daughter-in-law, could find out where the two were at a certain time and then do a reconnaissance foray to make sure they were telling the truth.  On the third day she insisted that said boyfriend, join us for dinner.

Networking is not just for business, because it is all about developing relationships.  Kaitlyn was resistant to bringing the boy around, probably because we would ask him "awkward" questions!  (She's probably right!) But her mom explained to her, that until they get to know him they won't trust him.  Sound familiar?

I will say that the young man did finally come for dinner and joined our crazy family.  He is a little quiet and didn't make eye contact.  So I think that is something parents need to teach their children -- how to make conversation with adults and also to look people in the eye. 

Come to think of it, I guess we all need to practice that skill!

As a parent what awkward questions have you asked the new boyfriend or girlfriend or what ones were asked of you?

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Going for Broken

My son, Greg. The Reluctant Networker, shared a phone conversation he had with someone who has a similar business to his, but not exactly the same.  One of Greg's connections thought it would be good for the two to be introduced to see if there might be some synergy.  Now I have to tell you that I can take lessons from my son in being nice.  He truly tries to make everyone feel comfortable and wants to see how he can help.

Evidently the introduction was made via email and this new person, let's call him Adam, and Greg decided to have a virtual coffee date.  In oldster language, that means a phone chat.

Greg said this was the most difficult phone conversation he'd had in a long time.  He tried to find common ground and was deferred.  He shared a piece information that he knew to be true and was told it was incorrect.  When he asked the types of people this person was going after, so Greg might be able to send people Adam's way, Greg was told, that's not the way we do it anymore.  That way is "old school."  H-m-m-m-m!

I don't know about you, but I sure hope the people I am meeting with are of the old school variety.  Helping others to be successful is what it's all about as far as I'm concerned.  Greg said that he wouldn't be sending anyone to Adam based on this "interesting" conversation. I don't blame him.

What do you think was going through Adam's head?



Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Help My Calendar!

OK, so let's talk a little bit about networking etiquette!

First of all if you mistakenly miss an appointment, as soon as you realize your error, make contact with the person you were supposed to meet.  This happens to all of us from time to time, so it's all in how you handle it when it happens.

If you have scheduled an appointment, canceling within 24 hours or less means that you have left a hole in the other person's schedule.  Especially if they are busy, this can be frustrating and make them think twice about whether to reschedule with you.

When you schedule the appointment, include the other person's phone number (cell phone) in the appointment notes so you can easily make contact if you are going to be late.

There!  That will keep ya' on the straight and narrow for a couple days!

What networking etiquette do you think is misused the most?


Monday, April 29, 2013

I Can Read You Like a Book!

It seems like I've run into a bad patch as far as my choices for reading. I think I've taken three books back to the library without completely reading to the end...or not even close for that matter.  It rarely happens that I let a book get the best of me, but with all the books in the world why should I waste my time on ones I don't like?

OK, so I know what you're thinking, what's this got to do with networking? Well I think we can all have a rough patch with meeting with people, too.  Maybe the last three you've met with have been absolutely obnoxious and you just want to throw in the networking towel.   Remember, just like books, there are millions to choose from.  Just move on to another selection!

What is the absolutely worst networking appointment you've ever had?  What about the best?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Who Do You Want?

It's remarkable what you get when you just ask for it.

Wednesday during our Connext Nation class, I asked each student to give us one person or type of person they would like to share a lunch chat with.  All seven students were able to articulate what they wanted.  As a result, one other student committed to talking with someone who might fit that profile. We are planning to have a reunion lunch a couple weeks after class ends and the invited guests will come to that meeting.  I was really proud of the students.  They all got it that in order to get help they have to both give help and also be able to define exactly what their needs are.

Would you have an answer to the question of ,"What person do you want to meet?"


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What Are Ya' Doin' Sitting' There?

I've been at a couple networking meetings within the past couple weeks, where when I arrived (and I typically arrive early) everyone was sitting down. Let me tell you how I felt when I walked in. My first inclination was to turn around and run!

You see, when people sit down at a networking event, it means I have to approach their back, peer around their shoulder, catch their attention and then introduce myself. There is risk because I can't see their face to determine whether they look like a friendly individual or an old grump. Just for your information, old grumps aren't fun!

If you want to meet people, present the side of you that people can talk to! It's as simple as that. Now I know that some networking events include a meal and that complicates the whole process. But here is my rule, don't sit down until the organIzer of the event says to.

Of course, if you only goal was to eat lunch, then go ahead and sit down. I promise I won't bother you!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Refreshingly Clear!

The other day thanks to an invitation from Cindy Hauff at H.O.T. Printing and Graphics, I spoke at the Ad Club of Toledo and I really had a lot of fun with that group.  Before the meeting started, I had the opportunity to chat with several members and guests.  One that stood out for me was Michael Sell of Outdoor Business Network.  He is the Director of Sales & Marketing for that company.  He told me that they help those companies that represent activities in the outdoor world such as gun companies or fishing equipment companies, etc to help them to reach their customers, especially through the electronic world of websites and social media.


I immediately had a good idea of what he did and also who his customer was and the conversation was no longer than two minutes.  I told Michael that I really was impressed.  He knows who his target market is and was able to articulate it.  Additionally, he knows where and how to market the company
.  He also knows the challenges that might be facing that market, especially with gun control issues. Knowing those issues can help Outdoor Business Network to make decisions that will keep them flexible in the future.  Bravo!  In fact you can't see me but I am giving them a standing ovation.

It was so refreshing because I can tell you that I talk to a lot of business people in the website/social media world who say that they can do anything for anyone.  As I'm sure Outdoor Business Network can provide services to anyone, BUT they know the power of focusing on one market.  Granted the outdoor world is a huge segment, but they have become known experts in that area and now are being called to provide websites for some big companies because they have built their reputation in the marketplace.

Having a clearly defined target market is the first step in figuring out a strategic approach to networking. It tells you who you have to network with!

What is your target market?  Please don't tell me small business people.  You're just foolin' yourself with that one.


Saturday, April 13, 2013

From First to Home Without Batting

I know that I am old school, but I don't link with anyone on Linkedin or Facebook unless I've actually met them previously.  If the objective of these platforms was to have as many people "connected" to me, I'm still not sure whether I would do it.

Here's why.

People are idiots.  Oh, OK, I'll be nice, people act idiotically.

This past week I linked with someone by mistake because his name is very close to another person I know.  So I accepted the invitation thinking it was my acquaintance. 

I guess the Linkedin police aren't going to get me, but they should go after the person I linked with.

You see, I received an email that said, 
"Thank you for linking with me now let me write four long paragraphs about what it is that I do and oh, by the way, perhaps we could work with each other sometime in the future."

Whoa baby!

I don't know this person, nor does he know me.  I might be the female version of the Boston Strangler.

Enough said.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Huh? What'd You Say?

How do you start a conversation?  I just never know!

Last night I went to a political reception.

Not my usually cup of tea, but I went to support a friend.

So I was just standing there waiting for hubby to meander back so we could leave.

I had talked with quite a few people already, but was just standing there when a gentleman came up and introduced himself.

Because of my hearing loss, it is difficult for me to hear people in that hard-surface type of setting.

I had to ask him to repeat his name.  I explained my hearing issue.  That launched us into a conversation about hearing aids.  I was wearing mine, he was not wearing his.

But we had a nice chat and he even gave me a good stock tip.  Well, actually he gave it to my husband thinking I wouldn't be interested.  But I got to ask enough about it to satisfy my curiosity.

So who would think that a conversation could go from name to hearing aids to stock tips in just a couple minutes.

That's what I love about networking.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

So what do you want?????

Today in class we talked about asking for help and yesterday at the monthly Connext Nation lunch in Findlay we also visited that subject.  So I guess that is the theme of the week!

At lunch, CN grad, David Trisel, lead the exercise, asking each one of us to write down 5 or 6 items that we needed help with.  He said it could be business or personal.  We then partnered and the goal was to help our partner with at least one of those requests.

I was lucky.  Jamie Wilkinson-Franks asked me for dinner menu ideas.  Now I have to tell you that I am not Susie homemaker, but I do have a couple really easy and yummy dinners in my repertoire.  The one I shared with her is steamed Talipia over matchstick vegetables.  The most time spent in the prep is cutting the redskin potatoes into matchsticks!  She did buy the Talapia last night and will try the recipe within the next couple days.  I feel like a hero!

I asked her to comment on a post in the blog and she has done that already for me.

The lesson learned by both of us is to ask for specifically what you want and probably somebody can help you!

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Not Exactly What I Want

OK, I'm frustrated.  I asked a member of the staff of a networking group, to look at a short list of members to see which ones listed he would be willing to personally introduce to me.

The return email identified two people to whom he was willing to send an email about me.

While I am grateful for any help I can get, that type is barely on the helping scale.

We all know what is going to happen with those emails.  I will be copied.  Then when I try to reach out to suggest an appointment to connect over coffee, they will defer.  Usually their schedule is "too busy right now."

I don't blame them.  I'm sure that they've experienced throw-up appointments from others in the past.  They think I will do the same.  We all know that I won't, but they don't know that!

FRUSTRATING!

There I feel better...just a little.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

How to Measure

At one of my speaking engagements in the last couple weeks, one person asked how you measure networking relationships.  Wow!  Such a short question that requires a complex answer.  For the sake of quick read I will give the Reader's Digest version.

Usually we inherently know the strength or level of relationships without thinking too much about it. 

Our best friends are at the highest level

and then

acquaintances are down a couple notches. 

Of course those new people that we've just met are at the very elementary level.

Keeping these above examples in mind when going about business networking is helpful.

Those who you known for awhile and who you know you can trust, are like best friends.  You can count on them to be helpful and do what they say they are going to do!


Others you've met just a couple times, are similar to acquaintances.  We need to get to know each of them better so we know whether they are best friend material.

And finally, that person you just met at the networking event, they have a ways to go to begin moving up the relationship ladder.

That is a simple answer.  So now each person you know can be "rated" and then once that is done, you can decide what to do to increase the level of the relationship.

Not rocket science, but helpful.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

My Old Friends at Home


Susan Edinger, asked a great question about networking that I'm sure many people have wondered about. She explained, "It seems that people in the job search are reluctant to let their network know they are actively in the search."  She goes on to add, "I'm wondering if the issue is the fear of rejection."

For approximately 5 or 6 years, I spoke monthly to a group of people being helped by Right Management to find their next job.  My talk was to help those clients think about the contacts they already had that they could use to help them gain the next opportunity.  What was really interesting to me was almost each one had never left his or her office to network and had left previous connections lie fallow.

Obviously it felt awkward to now try to awaken those relationships.

So a commercial break here!  A word to the wise.  Continue to stay connected with old friends and acquaintances.  When you need help, you probably will have already provided that very same help for them previously.  Then it's not so awkward to ask for help now.  End of break!

A real conundrum.  But not so much.  In my opinion most people like to help.  If you let people know of your situation, that you are in the job market, they will probably help if they can.  And they won't begrudge you. Take an old colleague to lunch or to coffee if that's what you can afford.  Make sure you pay.  Listen and take notes.

Repeat!

Before long, these lunches will begin to pay off in new connections that might help.  You just never know.



Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Elusive Question

Amanda Thompson, owner of the amazing Riverbend Team Solutions, asked a question about networking that probably everyone wants to ask but is afraid to!

Drum roll here.....

When is the appropriate time to ask for the sale?

So again I take the easy road of, "It depends!"

When I think of traditional networking - that of developing relationships to know how to help each other - probably the sale, as most of us think of it, won't even come into play. But taking a closer look, there is always a sale implied at some point during any appointment.  

The end result of an appointment could be:

1.  Should we meet again?
2.  Will you give me the name of that person?
3.  Can we make a plan so I can introduce you to the person we talked about?
4.  Would you like to attend that event with me?
5......

As you can read above, all the questions need an answer.  Indirectly you are selling to the person in front of you on some idea talked about during the meeting.   Getting agreement is realizing the sale!

However, if in a networking meeting, all of a sudden one of you switches gears and  begins selling your product or service, ("That's nice that you are going on vacation, now how about buying our landscaping services.") it feels a little icky.  I know, I know, it sounds weird, like it could never happen that way.  Well, it should never sound like that, but unfortunately is does.

So Amanda, to answer your question, you are always closing  The challenge is just picking the appropriate close as it is the most important step to take!

What the weirdest closing situations you've found yourself in? 

     

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Put Me Out of My Misery

Karla Lewis is a good friend and even better referral partner.  She has become certified as a sales coach with Southwest Consulting, which excites me because I don't do and don't want to do traditional sales training.  Now I can send those requests to her.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I asked on Facebook for challenges that others face when networking.  Karla sent a comment that I'm sure we all are bothered by more than we want.  She asked, "What can I do about a person that I meet in a networking situation that talks the whole time?" 

We've all been there and probably have spent time  trying to figure out if that person can breathe through their ears, because they just don't seen to take a break. 

There are two main situations when this happens:

1)  You are at a networking event and this person comes up to you and launches their monologue.  Since you weren't expecting this salvo, you probably aren't prepared to defend yourself.  The best way to extricate yourself is to say something like, "Oh, excuse me, I have been taking all your time and I know that you want to meet a few more folks."  Now extend your hand to shake theirs (a signal that the conversation is done) and say, "Before we part, may I have your business card?"  When they give it to you say thanks and then move on.  It sounds kind of abrupt, but with this type of behavior, you can't be subtle.  Oh yeah, put a BIG x on that card, to let you know to never ever connect with that person again!

2)  You are having coffee with a new networking contact and he or she has asked for the meeting.  It is twenty minutes in and you are hating the fact that you agreed to this because this boring person is talking and talking and talking.  A couple times you had to stifle a yawn.  This is a tough situation.  Quickly decide whether you want to keep this person in your network.  If yes, you might interrupt and steer the conversation with some well-placed questions.  That way you will have control of what gets said.  If not, just interrupt and let the person know that you only have just a couple minutes to get to your next appointment and that you're sorry but you're going to have to cut this short.

I do want you to think about the person.  Are they new to networking and are they so nervous that they have diarrhea of the mouth.  Can you share how difficult it was for you as a new networker to learn to listen when all you wanted to do was talk? (you can lie a little here!)  Compassion goes a long way in the networking world.

OK, now it's your turn, what ideas do you have?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What Do You Mean..Goals?

Shannon Benge, co-owner of Beyond Business, asked me to write about two networking topics, one being the whole concept of setting goals for networking events.  (The other is about the fear of rejection when networking and I will address that in a separate post.)

So you're about to step into the venue where the chamber after hours event is being held.  What can you think about that will help to give you a good ROI on your time and money spent?

Shannon, who is a marketing consultant, would tell you that any marketing activity has to start with the objective in mind.  Networking is a marketing effort, so having an idea of what you want to gain is important!

Some questions you might ask yourself are:

1.  Who do I want to meet?
2.  What types of people do I want to meet?
3.  As a result of meeting those people what do I want?  (an appointment?)
4.  What is the amount of time I will dedicate to this event?
5.  Who else might I take with me to the event to help?
6.  What message will I use when people ask about what I do?
7.  Is there a leadership role I can play to help my visibility?
8.  If my goal is to schedule appointments, how many?

What I have found is that in most instances, if I don't have a plan of action for each event, I tend to be lazy and just socialize.  Knowing what I need to achieve to meet my own accountability, springs me into action.

Greg Peters, The Reluctant Networker, has an article about this very subject in his networking tips from last week.  If you'd like to read or listen to it go to this link. You can also subscribe to his weekly tips.

What other goals have you set for yourself at networking events?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

What Do They Want, Too?

My friend, Cheri Holdridge is the pastor of The Village church.  She asked a great networking question about how those in the non-profit world can network with people in the for profit, business world, figuring out how each can help the other.  I loved that last past of her question because it says to me that she not just a taker!

When I asked Cheri for further clarification, she mentioned that the non-profits in the world need money from the for profit businesses to continue to do "good" in the world. Cheri says, "The BIG but is that we in the  non-profit world have to figure out what the motivational hook is that will help gain the funds from businesses." 

And this is where networking helps because I look at networking as a way to gather information that will prove helpful or useful in the future.  The easiest way to find out what the hot buttons are that make companies open their pocketbooks, is to ask.

It might sound something like this:

"Tell me how you currently link into community causes."

"What has been a successful about this for you and what about it makes it so?"

"If you could change anything about the way you give time and money to causes, what would you do?"

The most difficult part of this exercise is to keep quiet and listen.  After all, your goal is to eventually get money from the person sitting across the table from you, but until you know all the answers, you won't even know if they would consider your cause.  Getting answers to the above three questions will at least give you a starting point.

  • If you sense that they are NOT interested, move on! 
  • If you sense that they might be interested, then you can begin taking about your cause and how it might help what they are trying to achieve as a business.

There is a superb article in the book, Masters of Networking entitled, Charity Networking with a Princess.   It is on page 69 of the book. It tells how several for-profit and not-for-profit organizations linked together to raise money as a group.  Because of the power of the group, they raised more money than if they had tried to do the same thing separately.  It was an exercise in finding out what each organization had to give (surplus) and what each also needed (demand).  Using this technique, might mean better collaboration of both profit and non-profit worlds.

Any other thoughts out there?

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Please Help Me!

Jennifer Blakeman asked a great question the other day. She wanted to know how much you should share of yourself during a one-to-one meeting.  Should you actually share that your business is barely hanging on and that you need referrals, or should you just keep a stiff upper lip?

Great question!

And the answer is one that everyone is going to hate!  IT DEPENDS!

  • If this is someone new that you've just met, that level of confidence is probably going to scare that person away 
  •  If this is someone that you've known for a long time and with whom you have shared other worries, if would probably be OK.  I would phrase it carefully, though, asking for advice or ways that they think you can jump start your business.  
It's really all about the level of relationship and the length of time you have known the person sitting across from you.  No one wants to sit through a pity party, so look at this as an opportunity to open your brain to new ideas on how to promote your business.  

Also think about the people you are choosing to meet with.  Are they referral partner material, meaning, do they want to help and have the same target market?  If not, while it is not a waste of time to meet, the time spent could be better used if  you were more strategic in selecting people to meet.

Did I miss anything?