Category Archives: Uncategorized

This Blog Has Moved

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!



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!

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”.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself About Social Networking

Social NetworkingLinkedin, Twitter, FastPitch, BizNik,  Ecademy, Plaxo, HiveLive, Facebook, MySpace, and any of the 500 different sites online are all available to you if you choose to network online. However, how many and which ones should you belong to?

I am often asked  if I am able to track back any income from the social networking sites that I am on.  I am certain that I have indeed generated exposure and branding and I have been able to generate referrals for others in my network because of my membership.  I can track income because I have booked 2 speaking engagements via the sites.  and a couple of new coaching clients.  That being said, does the income match the time spent.

I do know that I easily spend at least ten minutes per day six days per week on the site for a total of one hour weekly.  At my current billing rate that is $125 per week multiplied by 52 weeks for a total of $6500. On average most people belong to 5 social networking sites, doing the same math above for all 5 sites I would spend a total of $32,500 per year on my social networking site.

Therefore, the question is how much is too much.  It really depends on what results you are trying to achieve in your activities.  I recently had a man who paints homes ask me if he should be on all of these sites promoting his business. If he were going to join one or two sites, which ones should he choose?   Here are the five tips that I gave to him.

1.  Find a local networking site, for instance, I am on Smaller Indiana. This would allow him to promote his business to people who might be willing to hire him.  Smaller Indiana is predominately people in Indiana who are in a variety of businesses.  Not for Profits, Professional Services, Business Owners, and Employees of companies are all members of this site.  The key is, they are local, so I can sit down and have a cup of coffee with anyone of them at any time and build a stronger relationship.

2.  Find an online networking group that has people with common interest.  Ning has a variety of these kinds of networks.   On Linkedin I belong to a Group that is made up of other BNI Directors.  We are able to share information, help one another and arrange to meet with each other at conferences.  I may or may not generate new business from this site, but I am able to build stronger relationships with those who are members because we have a common interest.

3.  Know why you want to join the group. Is it for information, connections, to sell your product or services, to develop your expertise or just to socialize?   I am a member of Ecademy.  This is the only group where I actually spend money to be a member.  Ecademy has a very international flavor and I want to make connections with people who can help me land more speaking engagements in the UK.  Last year when I spoke in Bristol, England, I had the opportunity to meet several of the people I had been networking with online.

4.  How much time do you want to spend online?  Online networking takes time just like face to face networking.  If your intention is to be known as an expert, you will have to spend time online blogging, spend time in discussions and commenting on other blogs.  Do the math, even if you are not paying to be on the site, you are paying in valuable time.

5. Free or Fee?  Most sites like Linkedin have a Free and a Premium membership. With the exception of Ecademy I am on the free memberships for all other sites.  Try the 30-day free trial that most sites offer, if you like it and want to get more involved, then you can purchase up.  Ecademy has two different levels that you can purchase; power networker and black star each are vastly different both in price and in access to the network.  I recommend the lowest priced level to start and once you know for sure that you are going to be consistent and use the site, then consider moving up.  Otherwise, it is like joining a gym; you make the payments every month and never go.

Just like face-to-face networking, you can waste a lot of valuable time and money if you do not have a plan and a system to utilize your network.  For me this is Visibility Networking, and some Credibility Networking.  I have been able to connect others in very powerful ways and that goes a long way to building trust with those I have made connections for.

If you are going to jump into this arena, you must have realistic expectations.

Dating and Business Networking

Dating and business networking are in essence the same activity, they are both based on relationships that take time to create.  Both require that you take time to nurture and build the relationships to the mutual benefit of both parties.

I had a date with a guy that I had met briefly at a casual fund raising event.  He followed up and ask me out on a date.  I agreed and met him for a drink and a lite meal, all very casual, just as I would the first time that I set down with a fellow network member.   After about 2 hours of very casual conversation about our families, professions and hobbies  and a couple glasses of wine, he leans over and makes the following statement….”How about you and I go out to the car and make out like teenagers.”  When I said no, he called it a night, and has not contacted me again nor I him.   Wow, he completely destroyed his credibility with me.

Unfortunately,   I see this very same thing happen in business networking all the time.  One of the biggest mistakes that net-workers make is trying to rush the relationships.  Much like my date did.

Every relationship goes through a process, in the world of networking it is called the Referral Institute calls it The VCP Process  Here are each of the steps;

Visibility – this is the point in the relationship when you first meet.  You might have a conversation, trade contact information and move on.  This might happen several times.  The key to this level of relationship is that you remember the person.  That’s all, you just have to remember each other in order to have visibility.  There is just some basic knowledge of one another.  This is the phase that my date and I were in, just starting to gain knowledge about one another.

Credibility – this is the second phase of the relationship.  You have met each other several time, you have created trust with one another.  The longer that you know each other, work with each other, support each other the higher the credibility, the deeper the trust.   At this phase of the relationship you and your networking buddy begin help each other.  The relationship continues to grow.   There is trust in the relationships.  This would be the romance phase of the relationship when dating. Hanging out, doing things together and building the relationship that would lead to the next phase of the relationship. Possibly even, “Making out like teenagers.”

Profitability – this is the third phase of the relationship, complete trust in one another, you open your  network and customer database to each other and begin to take a proactive approach to helping each other.  You have a deeper understanding of each others businesses, and know how to develop referrals, connections and open doors for each other.   In the dating world, this could be engagement, moving in with each other, or possible marriage.

Like my date who wanted to go from “Visibility” straight to “High Level Credibility” many net-workers try to do the same thing.  After one or two casual conversation they are asking for referrals and connections before it is appropriate to do so. Or, they meet you and immediately go into a sales pitch, selling to you before they have even had the opportunity to create any kind of a relationship.  Instantly, they destroy their own credibility and lose the opportunity to create what might have been a successful relationship.  All because the rushed the process.

So, in dating and networking, SLOW DOWN, do not try to skip over phases of the relationship building process, take time to create a solid relationship, and don’t ask for something you have not taken the time to earn.

What were they thinking – 4 Biz Card Don’ts

business cards

business cards

I went to a networking event last week, and it was really a very good event, lots of vendors, lots of people in attendance and a great deal of networking going on.  But the one thing that I found very interesting was the very large table going down the center of one of the rooms.  On this table were hundreds of stacks of business cards and people were going around the table picking cards up from each of the stacks.  As I watched this go on, I had to ask myself; “What are they going to do with all of those cards that they are gathering?”

We become annoyed when people cold call us, we gripe, we complain and we sneer at the people calling us, but we put our cards out there for the taking.  Doesn’t laying your cards out on a table just cry out to others that you are open to be solicited? I know, I know, you thought that by having your business cards out there they were going to sell something for you,  not to you, right?

The next most common complaint that I hear from people everyday is the amount of Spam Email that they get.  Don’t you think that when you are laying your business cards out on a table for people to just pick up randomly you are asking to be put on a mailing list.

Here are 4 things that I do not recommend that you do with your business cards

1.  Don’t lay them out on a table so that others can just randomly pick them up.  There is no value in having a lot of people who have never met you, had a conversation with you or shaken your hand taking a bunch of your cards.

2.  Don’t put your cards on a bulletin board in the grocery store.  Let me ask you a question, have you ever made an appointment with a financial planner who’s card you pulled off of a bulletin board?  If you are the Financial Planner is this the level of clientele that you are really looking for?

3.  Don’t give your card to people who have not asked for it.  I go to networking event on occasion and I am amazed at how many people give me their business cards without ever having a conversation or little conversation with me.  Make sure that people ask for the card before you start handing them out.

4.  Don’t go around the room and lay one of your business cards all the way around the table.  I often see people lay their cards stuck in an ink pen with their logo around the tables of a networking event.  They want to make sure that everyone has their card.

Your business card is an extension of you and your business, it is the one thing that you leave behind that allows me to follow  up with you.  But, it does not sell anything and it does not create a relationship with me, that requires that you and I get face to face.

If you want to just randomly hand your cards out at least you should get something for it, so you can drop them into fish bowls and win free meals, free gym memberships, makeovers or a free financial reviews.  Just don’t be aggravated when you get cold called or spammed.

Take Responsibility

Do you take responsibility for yourself and for your actions?  Even if you screw up by mistake, do you take responsibility for it?  Or do you cry to everyone, get others involved in your drama, make excuses, blame others, hideout, and avoid?

Amazingly more people behave as described above than those who take full, 100% responsibility.  This is not the kind of behavior that makes for a good referral partner.  It is important that we each take 100% Responsibility for what we do, both personally and professionally.

Integrity and ethics are built upon our taking responsibility for ourselves and our actions consistently, it requires that we speak up and say what is right, and when we are wrong.  Integrity and ethics are important to the referral relationship.  If your referral partners cannot trust 100% that you will act with integrity, ethics and responsibility they are not going to refer you business.

Ask yourself, do you take 100% responsibility or do you make excuses.  Do you speak up for what is right, or do you hope others will?  Do you divide or do you unite others?