Thursday, June 15, 2017

Referral Seeds Guarantee a Harvest


Antonio Delacerda
When Antonio with A-Team Plumbing, joined Broken Arrow Gold Star Referral Club in 2014, he really didn't know what to expect. Maybe a few jobs here and there.

However, every time he stood up and gave his 60 Second Presentation, it was like planting a little referral seed in very rich soil.  He tried to never miss a meeting. 

Today, he can say that the full harvest is in. Three years of planting referral seeds as brought him so much business that he has to give some away to other plumbers. That is a true Go-Giver! 

Joe Stumph likes to use these Magic Words when planting a referral seed:
Magic Words
"Isn’t nice to know you now have a friend in the business who you can feel comfortable introducing your family, friends and neighbors to help them with what they want?"
Here are a few more ways to plant referral seeds in your business networking group:

  1. Let your referral friends know that you are always happy to take their call.
  2. Let your clients and business friends know that you enjoy working with referrals.
  3. Bill Cates, The Referral Coach says: Give them a couple of your business cards to carry. Tell them, "One is for you in case any questions come up. The other is for a friend who might want to learn more about how my work might benefit them."
  4. When meeting a client tell them who referred you and how thankful you are.
  5. Promptly send a thank you for referrals given.
When you consistently plant referral seeds, you are guaranteed a harvest of business. 


Thursday, June 1, 2017

I Have A Parole Officer

You probably know this -  life isn't fair.

Well, I got a traffic ticket for going through a yellow light... really! A yellow light. A possible $150 fine and 2 points.

When I saw the police car lights twirling behind me I'm thinking, "He must be after that blue car." Except the blue car kept going and it became obvious that it was ME he was pulling over.

OH MY GOSH! I haven't had a ticket in over thirty years. My tail light must be out.

Dead serious, like I robbed a bank serious, the officer comes to my window and asks for my license. He was a little scary. I asked permission to go into my purse to get my license and insurance.

"I'm sorry... but what did I do?"

"You went through the yellow light." He said.

I answered, "And.......?"

"Haven't you been watching the news? We're giving out citations for yellow lights. It's been all over the news."

A hot flush of anger hit me in seconds. I said, "Really? REALLY! You're giving me a ticket because I went through a yellow light? REALLY!" I was seething mad and it took a ton of will-power not to say anymore. AND I had a lot I wanted to say especially when he proceeded to lecture me.

Fifteen minutes later I was sitting with my husband Todd over lunch with a traffic ticket in my hands. I was so offended. Poor Todd, he patiently listened to my story over and over again until I wore myself out talking.

"NO, I'm not going to pay it. I'm fighting this bugger."

By early afternoon, I had called my attorney and emailed him a copy of the ticket.

Now, I'm telling you this story for a reason. Not just to sound off.

Like me, you may have found a time when you were offended or you were criticized or penalized for something you did or did not do.  It happens - in our personal lives and in business.

When it does, you have some choices to make. Do you confront the person? Do you argue your case? Do you tell them what-for? Do you silently seek revenge?

In my case, I went to court to fight the ticket. The officer's vehicle camera showed that the back end of my vehicle was barely in the intersection when the light turned red. His Sargent was in the car at the time and I understand that he ordered the officer to pull me over and give me a citation. Which meant that there were two, not just one, but two eye witnesses to overcome in court.

My choices were... continue to fight the traffic ticket and come back to court in about a month or agree to "no contest", pay the fine plus court costs and go to a six hour Defensive Driving Class in order to get the points on my record dropped. I decided on the later.

Here's the reason. This whole business was stealing my joy. Yes, I feel that I could have won the case. I even thought about calling the local news station and making a big deal out of the unfairness of it all. The anger about the whole ordeal was waking me up at night.

As I stood by the jury box waiting to step in front of the judge, I silently asked God to help me with the ridiculous anger. I reminded myself that life is too big to be little. And this was a little thing.

I said, "Beth, get over yourself. You're too blessed to let this steal your joy. Take the penalty and get on with what's wonderful in your life."

I pleaded no contest. I have to report to my parole officer when I've completed my defensive driving class. I will pay a fine, some court costs and fifty dollars for the driving class.

But I'm good now. In fact, I think it's kind of funny. As soon as I "gave it up", my joy came back.

We have choices to make every day. Some days are worse than others. However in the end, we can choose to fight for joy by not fighting. Save your energy for the big battles. Don't let little things steal your joy. It's not worth it.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Pushing Past Fear Into Business Networking Success


Are you a business owner who just naturally loves to network with others? Is it easy and fun for you to speak in public, meet new people, and enjoy new experiences? If that describes you, then that innate strength has helped you more than you might realize. Because it’s not that easy for everyone!

In fact, Jerry Seinfeld did a comedy skit about the fear of public speaking where he noted that it’s the #1 fear for Americans – with fear of DEATH coming in second!

So let me confirm – yes, it’s a real thing, that fear of networking! If you’re someone who finds it very hard to have networking conversations and you shrink away from making your 10-minute presentation, you will need to stretch out of your comfort zone bigtime in order to become great at networking for business success.  The great thing to know is that you can learn and grow your skills in this area. While you may have to push yourself a lot at first, you can learn to love meeting people and speaking in public!

I’m a person who loves talking in any group, and I sail along easily in business networking. When I started Gold Star Referral Clubs, an early club meeting experience helped me understand that not everyone felt this way. 

In 2007, we had a real estate inspection company join our local group; their representative was Erynne. She came to the meetings and never said a word, shyly sitting apart from others. When it was her turn to introduce herself and talk about her business, she stood up and apologized for her fear – and then spoke about 15 seconds! When she sat down, her eyes were teary and she had to take huge breaths to calm herself. I saw that Erynne would have some work ahead of her to get comfortable sharing about her business.

Realizing how paralyzing business networking could be for Erynne and others like her, I put some thought into creating a few simple tips to help those a bit introverted among us battle their fears, push through their anxiety, and grow their skills to promote their businesses until it comes naturally to them.

Beth’s Basic Tips to Grow Your Conversational and Presenting Skills

1)  Start with arriving early and greeting others as they come in.

a.  Look for a smiling, kind face and walk up to that person with your hand out to shake theirs. Introduce yourself with something like, “Hi, I’m John Wilson, with Wilson Plumbing. What’s your name?”

b.  Nod when they say their name, and mention you’re glad to be at the meeting. If the other person responds to that, or begins a conversation, just follow their lead. See where it goes!

c.   If they don’t get a conversation going (maybe this is hard for them, too!) you can use a conversation-starter question to head off that awkward moment. Something like: 
 “So – what got you into the _____ business?”
 “What kinds of trends are you seeing in your industry?” 
 “Besides business networking, what kind of marketing is working for you   right now? Got any great tips?” 
AND my two favorite conversation-starter questions:
“What kind of person or business is a great referral for you right now?
"And if I know someone like that or meet them, what are the most important things I should point out about you and your product or service?”

d.   Whenever the conversation feels done, just say something like, “Well, I’m sure glad to meet you – I'll connect with you again soon so we can talk more.” – and move on to the next friendly-looking person. Try not to sit down until you have to.

e.   All of these pre-meeting connections help to calm your anxieties and they form the foundation of a growing comfort level with talking to others and promoting your business through public speaking.

2)   Set a goal of making just one good connection at each meeting/event. If you can have any sort of meaningful conversation with one person, whether in the early, pre-meeting time, during or after the meeting, that’s you growing your skills! Now you have a name, a face, a little info about their business, and you’ve got a start on making a new friend – and potential business referral source, too.  And you can work to send referrals to them!

a.   Follow up with a little note (an email or a handwritten card sent snail mail, using the address on their business card) when you get back to your office – that helps them remember you! Set up a time to meet again over a quick cup of coffee.

3)  Next time, look for that familiar face and then you’ll have that connection to help you get through the pre-meeting moments, as well as repeating the process to meet another new person.  Once you’re good at this, set your goal higher.  Your confidence level will grow!

***************

Guess what happened with Erynne? Within a month, she was doing a full presentation with smiles – and eventually she became the group's Official Greeter!

I promise you – it will get easier! And as it does, it will become fun and you’ll get to know many new colleagues. You’ll get better and better at giving them good referrals and they’ll pass referrals to you, too. I’ve watched many business owners grow their conversational and speaking skills, and when they do, Success Follows!

My best,
Beth



Monday, May 1, 2017

Little Things That Affect Your Business in a BIG Way!

The “Little Things” Matter


For most of us, the “little things” in life make a big difference, both in our personal lives and in our business life. 

Today, I’d like to talk about the little things we do that affect our businesses in a bigger way than we may even realize. I’m talking about the basic courtesies in life that can smooth our way to help a colleague, friend or client choose to “let us in”. 

Some of these things can influence someone to want to do business with us or refer to us. Small courtesies help us avoid waving any red flags that could make others not interested in getting to “know, like and trust” us. Let me give an example.
How do you feel when someone is often late to meetings or for an appointment?
   Recently, when I was visiting a local business networking meeting, about 20 minutes into the meeting, while the group was just finishing up their 60-second presentations, a member walked in late. As he walked over to sign in and put on his name tag, I looked around the room. Two other members’ eyes locked with each other; one raised her eyebrow, the other rolled her eyes.

 That made me think this might be a regular occurrence. And that made me wonder if this one action, if it’s a habitual thing, could affect how many referrals this late-arriving member gets from his group? Does it reflect the value he places on keeping his word, his commitments? Would networking club members be quick to refer people to him? Is this “red flag” costing the member some business?

I believe the ripples from this one action were effecting his business in a BIG way and could cause others to hold back on trusting that club member. That’s because an important thing about “little things” is how they are tied into our character, reflect on our integrity, and get to the point about whether others feel like they can “know, like and trust” us. Here are some other “little things” to think about when considering your interaction with your Referral Group or Gold Star Referral Club.

·    A business is only as good as its word. If you make a commitment to a client or a colleague, keep it. You’re developing a relationship and reputation of being trustworthy. If you agreed to become a member of Gold Star or another networking group, you committed to attending meetings and being on time.

·    People notice how you treat them – and they respond accordingly. Everyone is valuable; each person is worthy of respect and consideration. When we feel valued, we’re much more open to listening to what you say and considering what you have to offer – and it makes us want to help you.

·    Scheduling and actually completing one-to-ones demonstrates your commitment to your networking club; it’s what you agreed to do in your induction. Following through and actually taking time for those meetings matters to other members – they’re watching, checking out your integrity. Do you do what you say you’re going to do – or do you just never make room for these meetings in your week?

·    Paying attention to what other members are looking for in a good referral that week is a great way to show respect to them. Taking a few moments to think through how you can refer to others shows that you value them and will complete follow-through on their behalf.

·    Using “social courtesies” always conveys value on the receiver. Say, “Please” and “Thank you” often to other members as well as to clients. Notice when others give you referrals or are working on them for you – “use your words” either in person or in a thank-you note to make sure they know you appreciate their help. Then work to reciprocate!

·    Give full attention to each person who speaks in your networking meetings – sending text messages during this time or talking to the person next to you sends a clear message that you are not willing to give your colleagues your time or attention. How would you feel if they did that to you when it’s your turn to speak?

I hope that’s a little food for thought – we can always choose to do the “little things” to INTENTIONALLY honor others as part of a smart, solid business strategy. Let’s continue growing in our willingness to be known, to be likable, and to be trustworthy!

My best,

Beth 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Visitors Add a Little Silver to the Gold

New Gold Star Club in Jenks, OK
Inviting Visitors –

Let’s Add A Little Silver to the Gold

Do you remember that little song that we used to sing in rounds, “Make new friends – and keep the old, One is silver and the other Gold”?  I heard it on the radio the other day, and it started me thinking.

Your Gold Star Referral Club or other networking group already has a roster of the “old friends” – people you know and regularly refer to. But what about adding in some NEW members – getting a touch of some Silver in the mix?

Referral and networking clubs are designed to always have old and new members, constantly mixing and meeting, to carry on the exciting, vibrant life of the clubs. That’s why members can bring visitors, and why most clubs or groups have regular “Visitor” Days, where members invite business owners they think might really enjoy being part of their group.

Gold Star members many times will give a special “Free Meal” ticket to their guests.

They greet the visitor when they come in, then take them around and introduce them to other Club members during that pre-meeting “chit-chat” time, telling everyone what business they’re with and how they know the visitor. The visitor then gets a free meal, and gets to witness an actual meeting, note the Agenda, observe how it all works, give a quick presentation of their own business, and even possibly get some referrals that day. 

 … So What’s the Importance of Inviting a Visitor?

1)      Fresh Inspiration
a.   The atmosphere in any room changes when someone new enters – the “family dynamic” gets shifted and shaken up.

b.  Everyone feels refreshed and re-inspired to once more see Gold Star or their networking group through new eyes.

c.   We can all get comfortable with each other, laid-back with easy camaraderie. But when someone new walks in, everyone’s antenna goes up – because you automatically start seeing the room through the visitor’s eyes. It sheds new light on the Gold and on the Silver!

2)      New Opportunity for Referrals
a.   Every visitor who sits through your club’s meeting is a new person that each member now gets to present with their business product or service – one more possible addition to your “marketing team.”

3)       Potential New Member (added value for each club)
a.  53% of visitors will join a networking club soon after they visit. About half of those that don't join right away come back later to visit again and many times join then. New members help your club in many ways; each one brings a new energy, a new presence to the group. They always liven things up!

b.  Every new member has hundreds of contacts in their lives, if not thousands. They become potent potential referral sources for all of a club’s current members. New opportunities for business can emerge from any one of those connections.

c.   A 10% attrition rate is the industry standard for networking groups – as you know, any number of things can happen in a business owner’s life that could cause them to drop out during the year. They might move, change jobs, sell their business, or get promoted. With this natural loss of members to any business networking group, it’s clear that in order to grow or even maintain size, a group will only stay healthy when it constantly attracts, welcomes and embraces new members.  And new members usually start as … Visitors!

So, go invite someone! Let’s all work to make each Visitor’s Day a full house! And remember, you don’t have to wait for a scheduled Visitor’s Day – Visitors are ALWAYS welcome!

My best,
Beth 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Is Your Schedule Running YOU?



Get a grip on that schedule!

Being in business, especially sales, can be an exciting adventure! Every day, we hold our future in our own hands – we get to choose which direction we’ll go, where to invest our time, what products we’ll sell, which services we will offer to the world. We can plan our days, and schedule our life as we feel best.

But – have you ever found yourself feeling like something is just not working for you with how you are spending your time?

·         Does it feel like your schedule is running YOU?  Or do you run your schedule?

·         Does your calendar fill up with too many appointments, and no time to plan ahead, no time to review your current status, or make decisions to change things up?

·        Are you just keeping up with an endless list of tasks, and you’re no longer sure how they’re related to your business success? It’s so easy to get caught in responding to the Urgent, and not paying attention to the Important parts of our business life.

·        Do you find yourself frazzled, with “all work and no play” on your schedule, and no time to rest and refresh?

Good news for you:  It’s still only January! You’re just starting this year of 2017. You can block out some time to take charge of your schedule – for the whole year ahead. By planning out your calendar for the year, you get a chance to make sure there’s room in your life for the “big rocks” of your Priorities. What’s most important to you? Save time for it right now. Plan it right into your day’s calendar, on a one-time or a regular, consistent basis. Here’s how:

1)      Get a 2017 calendar with separate pages for each month (free printable calendar sheets available here). Or use an online system that works for you.

2)      Determine your list of priorities, both one-time events and regular events and the amount of time you will commit to them. Then decide when you’ll do these events, and block them out on your calendar page for that (or every) month.

a.       Personal and Family Commitments: Block out time for a family vacation, planned get-aways and holiday weekends, birthdays and other special events you know will occur. You’re choosing to make time for the important connections in your life. Does this include “turning off” your business mind at 5 or 6 each evening?

b.      Your known Business Commitments: Now schedule in that 3-day Business retreat that you’ve always wanted to do quarterly to review progress and make new plans; mark out time for that conference you want to attend; add in the Gold Star Referral Club meetings you attend weekly to help build your business with Referrals. Save time for cross-clubbing on whatever basis works for you. Decide when you’ll have Staff Meetings – and make sure it’s on that schedule. Plan it all in – write it on your calendar.

c.       Strategic Planning Commitments: Here’s where you work through your business plan for the year. What will be your business’ theme for each month? What will you build your 60-second Gold Star presentations around for each week? What would a good referral look like for you in July, given your climate, the holiday celebrations, etc.? Writing this out ahead of time means you won’t be making a split-second decision – you’ll have time to think it through and do it well.

What’s your company’s action focus in February – do you have a campaign you want to run that centers on heart designs, or on Presidents’ Day verbiage and images? And will you make March your Employee Appreciation month, scheduling in a special lunch and preparing greeting cards for each one? Should April be the month you review all your Marketing materials – checking out your website design, updating your flyers, refocusing your business cards? Etc., etc.

Once you make your strategic business decisions, mark them out in BOLD on your calendar for that month. Keep yourself accountable – “plan your work and then work your plan”.

d)  Follow this up with blocking out time for daily/weekly “housekeeping” functions that help your business run: Perhaps you need an hour a day to “Review Email” and respond. Maybe you must order raw materials on a regular basis. You might stay current with your Social Media program at 3 pm every day. Perhaps you post your blog every Monday at 9 or you contact your virtual assistant at noon on Tuesdays. Whatever these necessary time investments are, plan them in your calendar.

I promise that if you take time out to follow this foundational time strategy, you’re going to feel much more in charge of your own business, your own destiny. You’ll know you are running the show! And you will reap the rewards of this orderly process in renewed business success.

My best,
Beth





Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Follow the Leader

Be the Leader They Follow
 

This wonderful New Year, 2017, full of promise and opportunity, is here! Todd and I trust that you and yours had a good holiday, full of fun and good memories.

For me, a great leader energizes and inspires me... and yes, as Jack Nicholson said in the movie, As Good As it Gets"You make me want to be a better man." (or person) Good leaders make us want to be better.

Remember playing “Follow the Leader” in elementary school? I always loved that game, and – Surprise! – I always wanted to be the leader! I think there’s a principle there, one that matters in life. People DO follow leaders. And we can all choose to BE the leader they follow – we can lead people towards a better life when they choose us to provide excellent products or services they can trust.

All Gold Star Referral Clubs change leaders twice every year, on February 1 and on August 1. We instituted this policy as part of a strategy for personal and business development for all our members. That’s because we believe in the importance of each business owner growing in leadership skills – and what better way to help each one along the way than by giving each member the opportunity to step into or continue growing in a leadership role in their Gold Star Referral Club?

Choosing to lead can be a decision that makes a difference for you from today on. You will learn so much! You can work in collaboration with other leaders, carry out your specific leadership role, and begin to grow your leadership skills, conducting yourself with confidence, pride, and even innovation. Pretty soon, you’ll look around and notice that others begin to “follow your lead.” And your growing leadership skills will start showing up everywhere – not just in your Gold Star community, but also in your local community.

When you choose to be a leader, your contribution to the groups you’re a part of increases – and benefits you as well as others. Over the years, I’ve noticed that when good leaders take the reins in any group/community, these things happen:

  The community is relieved and even inspired as a whole by a good leader.

·         That leadership reproduces in the group; more good leaders start to come out of the woodwork, inspired by the leader’s good example.

·         Rank-and-file members enjoy following a good leader – so they increase their participation.

·         The whole group benefits, and a new level of collaboration and success become possible.

Let me challenge you this year: Consider Choosing to Become a leader!

Become that leader that others want to follow and learn from. You can make a bigger difference in your own life, in your Gold Star ReferralClub’s life, and in your community when you choose to step up, move forward, and LEAD.



My best,

Beth