Category Archives: networking

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.

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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”.

Make it easy for your referral sources

If you want to get more referrals from people in your network, you have to be able to make it easy for them to find and give those referrals to you.   They want to help you, but most will not step out of their comfort zone to make it happen,

Here are 5 things to help you start the process of making it easy;

1. What should I listen for? I am with people all of the time, and many of them are complaining about something, or sharing great news, or contemplating a decision. Each of these conversations present opportunities to develop referrals for you.

2. What visual clue might I see that would lead me to recommend or refer you? Are there things that are common to signals that a person might need you? Such as someone who’s car has a dent in it and you are an auto body shop owner.

3. Are there things that I might see that would help me recognize someone as your target market? Like a motor cycle or boat in a drive way for the insurance agent.

4. What kind of things might be happening that would lead me to believe that someone is in the market for your services? A child being born, and child going to college, or a new business that just opened?

5. Is there an activity that you clients often engage in? Such as running in mini-marathons, jogging, bike riding, working out, skiing, or any number of activities that would help me identify our clients?

The more you can paint a picture for your network members the easier it is going to be for them to help you. Unfortunately, this means that you have to give some thought to what and who you are looking for as clients. Anybody or everybody will not be as effective. Profile you clients and teach your network members how to spot the clues.

Twitter and My Network

twitterI am not a Techie but I do love technology and more than that, I love to network.  When I can combine the two together I am really happy.  Twitter has allowed me to do that!  One of the keys to nurturing your network is to stay in communication.  Communication also allows you to develop relationships that you can add to your network.  Twitter allows me to  maintain visibility and create credibility with my network.  Recently it has allowed me to create some profitability.

Here are some tips for those of you who want to use Twitter in your networking strategy.  These are a few things that you should know, beyond that have fun.

Important Things to Remember When Using Twitter

  • Be Authentic- Be you
  • Read Others Profiles and Tweets
  • Find Local People to Follow – Use Search for your town or city
  • Follow those who follow you – after you read their profile
  • Send a Personal Direct Message (DM)  to those who follow you
  • Do more than post your Blog or your website to the tweet stream
  • Retweet Others- Retweeting is key, when you read a good tweet, RT
  • Try to keep your follow/followers about even
  • Read and Comment on others Tweets/Blogs
  • Recommend others to follow
  • Keep it positive
  • Engage and again be Authentic
  • Go to some Local Tweetups & meet the people you have been tweeting with.
  • Follow your Network Members, you are able to communicate more frequently with them.
  • Lean more by following links that your followers will often provide.

Most of all, have fun, don’t become addicted, but be consistent in your tweets. You will find that you are starting to build relationships with some of the people you do not know and enriching those that you do.

Women are Natural Networkers

I have spent years networking with both men and women.  In that time I have noticed a lot of difference between how the two sexes network.  I have come to realize that Women  are really very natural networkers.

Building a strong network requires that you nurture the relationships that you have developed.  Women are very good at nurturing, they stop to do those little things that make others feel special.  They remember birthdays, they send cards, the give referrals and connections to others, and they volunteer to help whenever possible.

Women tend to be good listeners,  one of the most important traits of good networkers.  So they often hear the needs of others and seek to connect them to people who can fill those needs.  Acting as a matchmaker between the two.

Women understand and operate under the philosophy of givers gain naturally. They understand the old adage that it is better to give than to receive.  They are quick to give to others, they are quick to help, they are more than willing to introduce two people and help them to connect.

If you want to have a strong referral source in your network, ask a woman, she’s a natural.