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


Monday, November 28, 2016

Stop The Madness!

Many of us just love the holiday season – so many special events going on, so many memories from years past, so much good food and fun gifts!

The only problem is that all of these things are going on IN ADDITION 
to all the regular duties of your normal work weeks. And that can make it easy to get OVERWHELMED – which can lead to exhaustion, illness, costly mistakes or other business busters that leave you unable to carry on with your important business activities.

So here’s a word to the wise: When you start feeling overwhelmed, or too rushed, or desperate for a break – STOP.   

STOP THE HOLIDAY MADNESS!



  • Stop in your tracks, or as soon as you can.
  • Re-schedule! Go to your calendar, your scheduling book, and look for anything you can possibly re-schedule or cancel.
  • Plan! If you’re going to holiday parties to network, realize that you are “working” and you will be “on” during those events. So plan your networking times as work events.
  • Keep healthy! Keep your routines going, as much as possible. Eat well, exercise, and rest.
  • Don't do it! Decide what can wait until life slows down a bit.

It’s far better to move that important meeting to another day when you’re not so busy, when you can come in refreshed and make your best presentation.

A huge benefit of having our own businesses is that we CAN control our schedules, to a certain extent. We can choose to tackle our tasks without feeling frenzied or pressurized. We are our own boss. And we’re responsible to avoid getting overwhelmed. 

You’ll find yourself with a better attitude when you build in time between appointments for a quiet, healthy meal, or even a quick cup of tea or coffee and a few deep breaths, before you jump right into that next call.

Let’s keep control of our lives and schedules this holiday season! Let’s build in time for self-care during the hustle and bustle, and feel the peace and confidence that comes from being at our best for each event and appointment we choose to put on our schedules.

You AND your business will reap the rewards of this decision!


My best – Beth

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

HOLD STEADY - FOCUS

NOW SMILE..

Holiday Season is already here! You haven't even bought the turkey,  yet Thanksgiving items, Christmas trees, ribbons, and wrapping paper are filling the center aisles at our local stores.

Some business people are not big fans of this early parading of holiday products – and I wanted to chime in, early on, to make a suggestion for us all:

I recommend we use this seasonal landscape as an effective reminder to keep our Focus on our businesses. If we do, then we’ll be the ones smiling when the holidays are over!
 As a Gold Star Referral Club member, you’re working to build and manage your own successful business, and to help your peers grow and enjoy their own businesses by referring buyers or clients to them. 

For all of us, our businesses need to stay profitable these last two months of 2016. If you follow trends for small businesses during the holidays, you’ll see that often small businesses suffer during these times.

·         One reason is that the buying public, people who would normally be utilizing our services and products, begins directing their thoughts and dollars toward making the holidays dazzling and exciting for their friends and family.

o   They sometimes put off or cancel purchases or services that don’t directly relate to this annual extravaganza.

o   Sometimes their budgets get so stretched that even services and products they normally buy or ones that would relate to their holiday plans have to be crossed off the list. It just happens.

·         And business owners, too, can get sidetracked.

o   Bills still come due during this season, even though we’d like to focus more on the fun times. We can lose sight of the fact that business must keep rolling, every day, in order to bring in the money needed for regular expenses.

o   We can forget to refer a friend or acquaintance to that relevant Gold Star member because we get caught up with all the conversation about what we’re getting our grandchild for Christmas or Hanukkah.

o   As we enter the holiday hype, we might subconsciously “take a break” from the referral priorities we normally carry out. Perhaps, in our busyness, we just don’t take time to follow through even if it occurs to us that what our acquaintance needs could be supplied by that Gold Star member who sat next to us at the last meeting.


The Cost of Forgetting to Focus on Our Business – and on Referring to Others’ Businesses

In the hustle and bustle of planning gatherings, shopping for food and gifts and sending our cards, it’s easy to get distracted from the business of … our business. We can stray from the proven path of constant, intentional investing of our energy, time and money into building this important part of our financial security.  If this happens, lean and sad times can be ahead when the holidays are over and we look for that harvest from referrals ourselves, or watching other members face hard financial facts due to their lack of referrals from us.

KEEP THE FOCUS PEOPLE!

As busy business people, let’s be determined to keep that necessary Focus on our business, and on referring others to Gold Star members’ businesses this Holiday Season. Having that intentionality and purpose for our community means that we can produce sparks that will become blazing flames of success – and make us all smile in the New Year of 2017!


Best of Success, 
Beth