Tag Archives: Contacts

Ladies, Ask for What you Want

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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.

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.

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.

What were they thinking – 4 Biz Card Don’ts

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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.

Are you Networking or……..

are you working your Network.  I asked this question of several of the students in our Referral Dynamics Class last week and I later asked the same question of several BNI members.  In every case they said that they spent a great deal of time working their networks.  They attended the regular meeting, connecting with their fellow members, and they indeed did work their network.

Unfortunately that is not the network I was speaking of.  That is one of the places that you go to network, I was speaking to “Your” Network.  Those people whom you have in your database, those people who have met when you have been out networking.  How much time do you put into working your network, calling them up to reconnect, sending articles to them, meeting them for coffee, inviting them to events, or publishing them in your newsletter.  Do you track your activities and whom you are spending your time on?

The Referral Institute has a very handy tool called the “Networking Scorecard”.  This tool allows you to track the activities that you are spending on your network.  Creating a proactive process for nurturing your network, so when you have a need there is no problem picking up the phone and calling someone in your network and asking for help.  After all, you have spent quality time working your network.  Sometimes it is more important that you spend time developing what you have then adding more to the mix.  Once you have developed your network, then you can spend time adding more to the mix.

Contacts, Referral Sources, and Referral Partners

What is the difference between a contact, a referral source, and a referral partner?  Do you know?  What is not knowing costing you?

There is a clear distinction between the three and most of the people out there networking today are working with contacts and referral sources, few have referral partners.  What would you business look like today if you had 5 people completely trained to send you level 14 referrals and up? It is possible.

Dan, Craig, Lloyd, and Aaron started out as contacts in each others database, then they became referral sources and happily began working with one each other.  Craig decided to take it up a notch, he convinced each of the others to attended a Referral Institute Program where they were trained to be referral partners for each other.  What is the big difference, referral partners are trained to generate pro-active referrals for their partners.  The Referral Institute, taught them to be partners and took them up a level.  Today, they work for each other in a pro-active manner!

Who are Your Best Clients

Spending time to identify similarities in your clients will make a major impact on your business.  For instance, if you discover that many of your current clients are low income producing, yet use much of your time and energy you will be able to shift your energy to attracting a different kind of client.

When I owned an insurance agency, I had one client that produced about 30% of my income.  As I began to track how much time I was using to keep this client happy, I realized that I did not really like this client, they were difficult, demanding and taxing. They used more that 80% of my time just to keep them happy. At the same time the rest of my clients were getting less than 15% of my time, they were responsible for 70% of my income, and they regularly sent me referrals.  While the big client, sent me nothing but headaches.  As I shifted my focus, spent more time with the clients I liked working with, and developed better relationships with them, I began to make more money and enjoy my business again.  When my difficult client left for a lower bid, I did not feel the pain.

What I learned from this experience is not everybody is or should be my target market.
I understood the best target market for me were more clients like the ones I had.  Businesses in the blue collar industries, like tool and die shops, and manufacturing companies who themselves had a niche market in the auto industry.  When I understood that, I was able to build relationships with other people who wanted to do business with that target market.

Who are your clients?
Where are you spending your time?
Who are the clients that take little of your time but bring you consistent income?
How much income is each of your clients responsible for?  (track the money)
Are you being referred to the clients you want or are you getting anybody?

The more time you spend identifying your target market, the more successful you will be at training referral partners to find those target market clients for you.