Tuesday, August 26, 2014

10 Quick Networking No No's

Here are some quick networking NO NO'S to avoid when attending a business or chamber event. 

  1. Interrupting conversations in order to introduce yourself.
  2. Meeting people just to get their business card so you can spam them later.
  3. Talking fast and listening last.
  4. Name dropping to impress.
  5. Looking over someone's shoulder while they're speaking in order to target your next victim.
  6. Trying to sell your product or service on the spot.
  7. Bad-mouthing your competition.
  8. Giving unasked for business advice.
  9. Going after the food like you haven't eaten in days.
  10. Being fake, obnoxious or annoying.
Networking is a skill that any business person can learn. If done right, it can be fun and very profitable. If done wrong, it can be a miserable experience for everyone.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

The 1st Tool to Use When Connecting Others

I remember, years ago when I was a young buyer of Milliken's Department store in Traverse City, Michigan, a good friend of mine was looking for a small space for her new lingerie design business to start in. She needed space for her design table and a clothing rack and for her seamstress.

I found what I thought would be the perfect space for her. It was a small room, just big enough for two people to work in for only $150 a month.

I was confused when I told her about it and she said that it was too expensive. She then said, "If you have a lot of money, $150 is a little money. If you have a little money,  $150 is a lot of money.When you're broke, every penny counts."

Sometimes we can't help a person find a solution until we listen long enough to fully understand the problem. Listen first, then offer a solution.

In this case, her problem wasn't that she couldn't find a spot to lease, it was that her funds were low.

As business networkers, we love finding solutions for people. Sometimes it's like a puzzle and you're the puzzle master putting the right pieces together, making connections, and solving problems.

I've found that listening is the greatest and the first tool you should use for helping others. Listen first, ask questions and listen again. You'll give better referrals, make better connections and offer better solutions with better listening.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Mark Cuban's 12 Rules For Start-Ups

I received an email from the Small Business Expo this morning and the 12 Rules For Start-Ups by  Mark Cuban, billionaire, tech wiz, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and resident shark on ABC's hit show "Shark Tank". It caught my interest. He is one of the most sought-after entrepreneurs in the world. 

Many of the businesses in Gold Star Referral Clubs are start-ups. This is great advice.

Let's look at these basic start-up rules from the man himself, courtesy of Entrepreneur.com. Take a look! I have included my own side-notes...

Twelve Rules For Start-Ups
  •  Don't start a company unless it's an obsession, and something you love. (Because if you're not in love with it in the beginning, it will grow into the monster that rules your life.)
  •   If you have an exit strategy, it's not an obsession. (It's okay to plan an exit. It's just good business.)
  •  Hire people who you think will love working there. (And don't hire relatives, no matter how much they need the job.)
  •  Sales cure all. Know how your company will make money and how you will actually make sales. (Sales do cure all and start building a referral-based business the day you open the door.)
  •  Know your core competencies and focus on being great at them. (Then delegate the rest to competent people.)
  •  Don't lure employees with perks like espresso machines. The right employee should WANT to work their hardest for your company. (Offer value not gimmicks.)
  •  No offices. Communication is key. There is no privacy in a start-up. (Unless you're really loud on the phone and need sound-proofing. And by the way, the kitchen table may work just fine for awhile.)
  •  As far as technology, go with what you know. If you'll be more efficient on the slightly more expensive machine, go for it. (Don't use your new business as a license to spend money on new toys.)
  • Keep the organization flat. This is a small company. Managers should report to the head of the company, not other managers. (It's okay for the CEO to answer the phone. I do.)
  •  Never buy swag. People aren't going to walk around wearing your logo for you. (I agree. Most of the promotional stuff you buy is ego driven anyway. Don't fool yourself into thinking that they will keep it. Just check out the trash bin by the exit of the trade show.)
  •  Never hire a PR firm. Establish lines of communication with media partners yourself. (And branding experts are more expensive than attorneys.) 
  • Make the job fun for employees. Throw parties for them, and reward their hard work. (Always have fun. Life is an adventure. Love it and live it!)

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Who Killed Lincoln's Mother?

If you live in southern Indiana, you may know the answer to that question. 

Recently a friend of mine, Tony Cooke, who is a missionary and scholar, reminded me that Abraham Lincoln lived fourteen years in Indiana (1816-1830) and that his mother is buried in Lincoln State Park. 

He mentioned that Lincoln's mother died of milk sickness. 

In pioneer days, many people died of milk sickness, but back then, they didn't know what caused it. It was later determined that when cows ate a certain plant known as snakeroot that it did not, for the most part, hurt the cow, but the poison in the plant sickened and even killed humans. The fatality rate was so high that sometimes half the people in a frontier settlement might die of milk sickness. 

As business networkers and people who influence others, we spend a lot of time building valuable relationships. However, sometimes a relationship can be damaged by what seems like a mysterious reason ... much like the invisible snakeroot.

You are left wondering "What happened?"

Here are some "not-so-obvious" things that can negatively impact a business relationship. 

  • gossip
  • feeling under-valued
  • lack of attention
  • being left out of a conversation or invitation
  • teasing
  • poor communication
  • inconsistency
  • lack of trust
  • clashing belief systems or traditions
  • an air of superiority 
My friend, Tony, who has traveled all over the world training leaders and pastors, pointed out that people come from different backgrounds, different perspectives and different levels of maturity.  We need to be aware of invisible toxins that may impact, damage or even destroy relationships. 

By it's very nature, an invisible toxin is difficult to spot. However, by being aware of some of the not-so-obvious things that can damage a valuable relationship, you can be better prepared as a caring professional business person.

6 Different Types of Business Networking

Six different types of business networking that may work for you:

1. Service Organizations
2. Open Business Networking
3. Exclusive Business Networking
4. Online Networking
5. COI Networking
6. Shot-gunning

Service Organizations: This type of networking is when you join an organization that has a mission of service. Business networking is a by-product.  The primary focus may be educational or to raise funds for worthy causes.  Examples would include: Rotary, Optimists Club, National Association of Woman’s Business Owners, Kiwanis and the Chamber of Commerce (However Chambers do have open and closed business networking events also.)

Open Business Networking: This type of networking is when business people get together to meet each other in order to be visible, connect and form relationships. Leads or referrals can be given and received.  Several attendees may be in the same profession. There is no exclusivity. They may not meet on a regular basis. Usually membership is not required and there are no attendance rules. Examples would include: Chamber networking events, Young Professional groups, Better Business Bureau networking events and local networking groups open to all businesses.

Exclusive Business Networking: This type of networking is when business people meet on a regular basis in order to form reciprocal business relationships and to develop referral alliances.  A person will usually have to join after a few visits.  There are usually attendance rules. There is exclusivity which means that there is only one person representing each business category.  The meetings usually have a purposeful agenda that is geared toward giving and receiving referrals. Examples would include: Gold Star Referral Clubs, BNI, and LeTips.

Online Networking: Online networking is a growing industry. Some of the sites used to connect businesses are Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Plus. These sites are dedicated to connecting people. Online networking can be successful if manage well, but overwhelming if not. It is recommended that you limit yourself to doing a few groups very well. Don't mistake a connection for a relationship.

COI Networking:  That is when you develop a plan to network with your personal Circle Of Influence. This works best when you have a well-thought out plan to continually make yourself visible to past clients and the people you know. Some ways to develop these relationships include: breakfast or lunch meetings, email campaigns, sending cards, promotional gift giving, attending events together and office visits.

Shot-gunning: Shot-gunning is when you do a little bit of everything, without a plan. Although connections and sales can be made, it is difficult to form lasting relationships without consistency.

There are many ways to business network. I suggest that you form a plan using two or three methods that work for you. Remember your purpose for business networking, which is to form long-lasting reciprocal relationships that increase your business.

Use a Simple "who is" Phrase to add value

How do you introduce someone at a networking event in such a way as to add instant value and credibility?
Inroducing someone

I use what I call, "who is" phrases. For example, last month, while I was at a local chamber business luncheon, I saw both a photographer and a web designer, that I knew very well, milling around the room looking a little lost. I realized that they might benefit from meeting each other.

When I introduced them, instead of just saying, "Doug, I'd like you to meet my friend Mary. I said, Mary, I would like to introduce you to Doug, who is a genius with a camera and my photographer for all my website photos. Doug, this is Mary, who is currently working on my new website and doing a marvelous job."

See how easy and natural that is to do? You can instantly add third-party credibility and value to the mix when using a "who is" phrase right after you say their name. And, like so many times when we give to others in a positive way, this type of introduction reflects back on you in a positive way. I have found that when I start to connect people to each other, they in return, like to introduce me to their friends also. It's a domino effect.

 So, think about how you can add value to the relationships in your life by adding simple "who is" phrases. Just start your sentence and as soon as you say their name, add a "who is" statement.

Here are some examples: 
  • Brent, who is the best insurance agent I've ever met, will be on the call also.
  • My office manager, who is a genius with numbers, will be able to get that to you faster than I can.
  • My colleagues, who are hilariously fun to be with, would like to meet you.
  • I found that Corey, who is a talented key note speaker, likes to use Facebook on a daily basis.
  • I would like to welcome Mary, who is an outstanding leader in our California organization, to the call.
With a little practice, you can absolutely become a "who is" master and you can easily add value to your relationships with a few simple words. Try it!