This Blog Has Moved http://www.HazelMWalker.com

My Blog has move!  After a year of playing at it, I have decided to take my blogging serious and actually have my own Blog set up.  I hope that all of you will come over to the new blog, leave me a comment and watch the site as it evolves!

HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!       http://www.hazelmwalker.com

Linkedin – A Great Tool When Used Right

linkedinOne of the most popular business tools in the Web 2.0 world is Linkedin. If you are not on Linkedin yet, I would highly encourage you to get there, set up a profile and start connecting with your network. More and more business networking and connecting are happening using Linkedin, it is a tool that makes it easier to connect your network. Here are several ways that you can effectively use Linkedin to help you save time, support your network, pass referrals, and set yourself apart as an expert.

1. Set up your profile – Make it complete, many people go to profiles to learn more about you and your business, what your experience is, as well as where you went to school, and who you know.

2. Put a professional photo on your profileLinkedin is not a “social” site, it is geared more for business and business people. Make sure that you are putting your best smile forward. If you do not have a professional photo get one!

3. Ask for recommendations – If you have done work for one of your clients or network members ask them if they would consider writing a recommendation for you. Last week I spoke at the BNI National Conference, several people asked me later what they could do for me. I asked each of them, if they had been in my presentation would they please go to my Linkedin Profile and write a recommendation. I asked them to list 2-3 things that they learned and why they would recommend me to others. In the Referrals for Life Program we teach our students how to write good testimonials for one another, a recommendation on Linkedin simply makes that testimonial public.

4. Invite your Network to Link - how many people do you have in your database? How many of them are already on Linkedin? Start connecting to them and invite the ones who are not on the site to join you. When you have your network on the site and you are linked to them it will make it so much easier to pass referrals and make connections between each other. You can make connections for one another on Linkedin. No more going through your CRM finding the information on a contact then emailing it. You can simply make connections on the Linkedin site.

5. Answer Questions – find questions that you can answer that will help you be seen as an expert. Because of a question that I answered on Linkedin, I was ask to speak on a conference call to a group of Female CEO’s. Find the questions on topics that you are expert in and answer them well. You can also use these same questions in your blog and newsletters.

Last week, one person in my network, connected me to someone in his network who had ask him if he would make the connection. After some conversation he ask me if I would consider speaking at the regional conference for his organization. I then connected him to someone that he saw in my network whom he thought would be good for a future speaking engagement.

Of all the sites that I am on, Linkedin is the one that makes it easy to connect my networks and help them to connect to one another, it is a perfect tool when you are in the Referrals for Life Program. Remember Linkedin is a tool that enhances, not replace your face to face networking.

Whale Hunting, Land Big Sales and Transform Your Company

whalehunteringbookOften when I am networking I hear small business owners say things like “I really want to have Eli Lilly, AT&T or GE as one of my clients.” Whenever I hear this I cringe, because I know that it is not enough to want one of these giant companies as a client, you have to have a plan. Not just a plan to land the deal, but a plan to find it and then how are you going to maintain that client.

In her book, Whale Hunting, Barbara Weaver Smith and Tom Searcy, uses the analogy of how the Inuit of Alaska hunted Whales to feed their villages to how small companies can land the Whale of their own. This is an easy analogy follow and carries with it a powerful story of perseverance, commitment, strategy and success.

Barbara and Tom layout the strategy for researching which whale you want to hunt, how to research your whale, capturing your whale, and celebrating your whale. This is a book that you must read if you are really interested in landing your own whale.

Networking is great, but you cannot ask for a referral to a whale if you do not have a plan for landing and managing that whale.  There have been several occasions when I knew I could get a person in the door of their whale but I also knew once caught they would not be able to keep the whale.

I cannot recommend this book enough, it is an easy read, and not only will you learn how to land your own whale there is a lot of very interesting history in this book that holds your attention as you read in amazement what the Alaskan Inuit could dowhale-hunting with a row boat and harpoon. The planning, the implementing and the celebration are inspiring.

As a bonus, Barbara will be doing a whale hunting women workshop here in Indianapolis. It is a program that you want to take advantage of, not only for the educational aspect but for the ability to network with other women whale hunters. See you there!

Develop Your Networking Relationships

two-people1Business people spend a lot of time networking, some times it is important to slow down and develop relationships with the people that you have added to your network.  In the book “The 29% Solution” by Dr. Ivan R Misner and Michelle Donovan, they discuss tactics for building better relationships with your network members.  The more we get to know our network members the more credibility we build with them.

Here are 5 questions to ask your network member that will allow you to develop a deeper relationship.

1.  What would yo like to accomplish with your business this year?

2.  What are your challenges this year?

3.  What is standing in the way of your meeting yur goals?

4.  How can I help you?

5.  What do you need to help you be successful?

Pay attention to what you hear, make notes and set out to help your network member.  It is important to spend time working on your network instead of doing more networking.  The deeper you develop your network the more valuable it becomes.

Ladies, Ask for What you Want

4-people-talking1

Over the years I have developed a pretty deep network and one of the things that I spend a lot of time doing is up dating my database.  In the process of doing that this week I noticed that my strongest referral relationships are with guys.  So I began to think about that, why are there more males in my strong contact network instead of women and here are some of the things that I came up with.

When I sit down with a guy to build a referral relationship the conversation tends to be straight forward.  When I ask the question, “What can I do to help you grow your business?”  They almost always have a response.   They let me know exactly what it is I can do; “You can help me get more speaking engagements” or “If you do a newsletter it would be great if you would let me put an article in it.”

On the other hand if when I sit down with a female referral source and ask the same question I am often given this response; “I can’t think of anything but if I do I will let you know.”

Women seem to be challenged at knowing what they need and asking others to help them.  We feel that we cannot ask others to do things for us.  After all, have been raised to believe that it is our responsibility to take care of others, we do things for our spouses, our children, our family members even our co-workers.

One of the tough things for women to do it is ASK for what they want, clearly, succintly without guilt.  It is something that we really must learn if we are ever going to be good at leveraging our networks.  Keep in mind, we are not going to ask anyone for anything that we wouldd not do in return for them if they would ask.

Take a moment and ask yourself the following questions:

1.  What 2-3 things could I ask others to do to help me?  If you know in advance what kinds of things your networking members can do for you it will be easier for you to ask them when you are sharing a cup of coffee.

2.  List 3-4 people you would like to meet or be connected to.  Your network members are happy to connect you if you ask for someone specifically instead of “Anyone who needs my services.”  These might be professionals you want to add to your network, possible referral sources or potential clients.

3.  Make a list of the 4-5 people who might be willing to help you.  Most likely these are people in your network whom you have a relationship with.  They are people whom you are also willing to help if they ask you to.

It is important that you ask for what you want, there are members of your network who are more than happy to help you but they will not figure it out for you or take the initiative.  Our beliefe that “If they like me or if I do a good job for them, they will help me, refer me or connect me” hurts us.  We get what we ask for, if we wait for people to help us it may never happen.

Not for Profits Need to Network Too

Business Networking & Fundraising

Business Networking & Fundraising

All things being equal people want to do business with people they know, like and trust.  That includes Not For Profit Organizations.

I am speaking a the AFP or Association of Fundraising Professionals on Friday.  I am the opening act in a line up of highly professional speakers on the topic of Social Networking, or Web 2.0.

I will be speaking about how Online Networking enhances your Face to Face networking and builds stronger networking relationships.   But, I am a little perplexed, I am not sure that many Fundraising or Not for Profits really do face to face networking.  I have met very few of them at a BNI meeting or at a Rainmakers meeting.  Thinking of the chamber events I go to, I meet few if any of them there.  So, I ask myself why don’t I ever meet them?  Where are they networking?  Do they network? Are they meeting the Small Business Owers, or are they just looking for the big guys?

Gleaners Food Bank is an example of a Not for Profit that networks face to face and does it well.  They are active in BNI and have even taken leadership positions in their chapter and in the region.  Because of their participation, many BNI members have taken tours, BNI Indiana does an annual fundraiser for them.  We learned that Gleaners does not just feed the hungry,  they help pantries around the state feed the hungry.  Not just the hungry but children who get backpacks of food and senior citizens who get food delivered to them.

They have gotten volunteers, like Stacie Shipley with JNS Electric who delivers senior boxes for them every week.  They have create positive word of mouth when the had Aaron Prickle of Lushin Associates take a tour so he could understand what they really do, and he now clears up a lot of misconceptions that he and many of his associates were once under.  Victoria has educated a lot of BNI members about the organization all because she believes in face to face networking.  Unfortunately they have embraced less of the Social Networking.

The Indianapolis Human Society has done a good job with social networking, I see them on Smaller Indiana and on Twitter, but I have never met anyone from the humane society at networking meeting.

If you are a NFP or a Fundraising Professional it is important to understand that people want to volunteer and donate to people they KNOW, LIKE and TRUST.  Getting out to business networking events are important activities, it allows people to get to know you and your mission, to build a relationship, to volunteer, to spread word of mouth and to be advocates.

Using Social Media to amplify those relationships is the icing on the cake.  It is a new economy and everyone is holding on to their dollars, it is time for Fundraisers to come out of the offices and board rooms and meet the small business people in the community.  After all small business owners want to help, they are the fastest growing sector of the economy, but they also want to know who they are helping and why.  They want to meet you face to face.

Customer Service that Create Evangelist – Red Robin

Red Robin

A few post back I wrote about “Thank You Notes” from Retail establishments and how that made such a big difference to the customers.  It was commented that the culture of the organization started at the top and worked its way down.

How TRUE a statement that is:  I received this letter from a friend and colleague yesterday and I can only believe that this organization“Red Robin” has a great culture from the TOP Down!  Here is staff going above and beyond:

Dear Family and Friends-

On March 24, 2008 my youngest(and tallest) brother, Kirby, had an arthroscopic heart procedure to repair a very large hole.

Somehow, Red Robinkirby-and-red Gourmet Burgers found out about Kirby and our family and 3 staff members(1 as Red Robin himself, and 2 managers) came to the hospital after Kirby’s successful surgery with a huge gift basket, a pillow and pillow case signed by all the staff at their Red Robin, and a ton of food(exactly what Kirby was looking for after going so long without food for the surgery).

To celebrate the 1 year anniversary of that successful surgery, we went to Red Robin on March 26, 2009 to be with our “Red Robin family” who demonstrated so much love to us a year earlier.

We arrived to find a table set for us, a special welcome sign(made by the general manager & his wife), huge smiles, welcoming arms, and warm hearts. We visited with them, giving them updates on Kirby and the family, and soon enjoyed an INCREDIBLE meal. To explain an INCREDIBLE meal: 5 huge burgers, onion rings, bottomless fries and colas.

The staff even sang Kirby a Birthday song since his birthday was about a month previous. Near the end of our meal, the waitress delivered our “bill”. The “bill” indicated a balance of $0- a full, huge meal at no cost! How incredible!

THESE PEOPLE ARE AMAZING AND HAVE BLESSED MY FAMILY! Please, PLEASE visit/support Red Robin, especially the one in Noblesville, IN, mention Kirby, and express the huge amount of gratitude the Cotterman family has for our “Red Robin family”.