Category Archives: Building Relationships

How To Build Better Business Relationships: Make It Personal by Darrin Dahl

Whether you realize or not, relationships are the fuel that feeds the success of your business.

Here’s how to make ones that last.

Whether you recognize it or not, all successful small businesses–regardless of what they do or sell–have one thing in common: their owners know how to build and maintain relationships. The truth is that entrepreneurs too often get caught up in the details of the kinds of products or services they are selling to notice how critical it is to build relationships not just with your customers, but also with your vendors, employees and–gasp–even your competitors. “Without strong relationships, it is impossible to have success as a business owner,” says Michael Denisoff, who is the founder and CEO of Denisoff Consulting Group in Redondo Beach, California.

You need to have long-term customers and good vendor relationships that will carry you through challenging times or tight deadlines, as well as relationships with other business owners to share struggles, resources and best practices that can really give you an edge. The reality is that business relationships are just like any other relationship. They require some effort to maintain and they must be mutually beneficial. As in any relationship, you must be willing to give, share and support, not just take or receive.”

That’s a lesson Denisoff admits he had to relearn the hard way when, a while ago, he fell into the trap of neglecting some of his business relationships. But it wasn’t that he didn’t care about those relationships. It’s just that he got so busy that he didn’t realize how much time had gone by where he had not checked in with several of his contacts–an easy mistake for most small business owners who feel like every day is shorter than the last. What Denisoff found was that, in two cases in particular, his failure to put enough effort into nurturing his relationships caused them to wither away.

The first instance was when he called up a supplier to ask for a favor–not realizing how much time had gone by from the last time he had touched base. Denisoff says his supplier seemed distant and not very willing to help him out, which was surprising. After asking him if anything was wrong, Denisoff’s supplier answered that since Denisoff hadn’t been around in a while, he felt like he was being taken advantage of. In another instance, he called up a customer who he could tell was not pleased with him because, in truth, he only called her when she had a project ready to go. She felt like Denisoff did not truly value her and was using her only for her business. It’s like having a friend that only comes to see you when they want to borrow money or need help moving,” he says. “In time, you cut them off.”

The two eye-opening experiences caused Denisoff to take two major actions in response. First, he created a contact database where he not only stored information on his clients, but also with vendors and business peers. He now uses the database to document the details of the conversations–both personal and professional–that he has with each of his contacts. “This helps with continuity and helps me to remember key facts and information about each contact,” he says. “It felt mechanical at first but it proved to be an efficient method to ensure that no one fell through the cracks.” Secondly, Denisoff changed around his daily routine so that he now dedicates a portion of his day to doing nothing but reaching out and maintaining his professional and personal relationships. “Thankfully, I have strong long-term customers to keep the pipeline full and a good group of vendors and business peers dedicated to helping each other succeed,” he says.

The actions taken by Denisoff are great tips for any business owner to adopt as their own. Here are some additional tips from Denisoff and other business owners on how to build stronger business relationships that will last.

How to Build Better Business Relationships: Encourage Honest Feedback

An open, honest relationship demands clear communications of how each party is performing,” says Patrick Scullin of Ames Scullin O’Haire, an Atlanta-based marketing services company. “Encourage constructive criticism and be brave enough to suggest ways clients can help your firm perform better,” he says. “If you know where you stand, you can stand stronger.”

How to Build Better Business Relationships: Listen More Than You Talk

We all want to extol our strengths, our virtues in hopes of impressing others and, ultimately, getting more business,” says Alisa Cohn, an executive coach. “It’s counter-intuitive, but being a good listener highlights your virtues much better than being a big talker. I coach a financial planner and we did a little market research on what his clients value the most in him. Yes, they value his advice and his skills in handling the money, but a lot of financial planners have that. What sets him apart is that he takes the time to listen to them and really understand where his clients are coming from. They said most often that they value his role as a sounding board, and a few even called him better than a shrink! That’s the kind of behavior that leads to referrals and long-term business success.”

Dig Deeper: Listening With More Than Two Ears

How to Build Better Business Relationships: Make A Routine

Devise a system to ensure that not too much time passes before you connect with your contacts, such as the formal database Denisoff created. And with the proliferation of social media tools these days such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, it’s never been easier to keep in touch.  {SENDOUTCARDS.COM/LORYFABIAN has a system you can upload almost any database in, emails you birthday and anniversary reminders, and keep all of your notes on each customer in one place.}

How to Build Better Business Relationships: Be Honest

As a small business owner, it’s important that people see me as expert in my field,” says Amy Harcourt of Definitive Marketing. “But, when asked questions I don’t know how to answer, I always say so. I remember an initial meeting with what became one of my best clients. I was meeting with the executive team and was asked about my experience in their industry (of which I had none). I could have tried to spin my response to sound like I knew their industry. Instead, I told them that I had no experience and why that might work to their advantage. I was surprised to see stern, questioning faces turn to friendly nods and smiles. They really appreciated my honesty. And that laid the foundation for a great relationship.”

Dig Deeper: Can the Truth Set Your Profits Free?
How to Build Better Business Relationships: Take Notes

Keep detailed notes on everyone you meet, says Mike Scanlin, CEO of Born To Sell, a software company that makes investing tools. “When you get back to the office, enter those notes into your address book or contact system. Later, you will want to be able to enter keywords like ‘sailing’ or ‘wireless’ or ‘French’ and find all the people you know who match that keyword. Doing keyword mining on your own contacts will pay dividends for years.” Sendoutcards.com/loryfabian

How to Build Better Business Relationships: Give More than You Receive

Be sure to contact people when you are NOT in need of something. Take time to learn about their business since it’s as important to them as your business to you. “Take a minute to understand your client’s dreams and provide opportunities for them to fulfill this whenever possible,” says Rohan Hall of rSiteZ.com, a company which builds social networking sites. “Whenever I have a client on the phone I try to understand what they’re trying to achieve with their business. From time to time there will be an opportunity that I will actually refer them to someone that I think could help their business especially where I gain nothing from this. Clients really appreciate it when they realize that you’re looking out for them.”

Dig Deeper: How to Incorporate Philanthropy Into Your Business

How to Build Better Business Relationships: Be Proactive

Using your journal and knowledge of your relationships, forward articles, links and other information that might be of interest to your contacts. “When I see interesting news stories I forward them to people who I think would find them relevant,” says Scanlin of Born to Sell. “I’ve had many recipients come up to me later and say things like, ‘I can’t believe you remembered that I wanted to go to Thailand.’ It takes less than 30 minutes each morning to send out a handful of these. Do it every day and the care and feeding of your network will be alive and well.”

How to Build Better Business Relationships: Be Real

“Do not be afraid to be vulnerable,” says Amy Ludwigson of Pure Citizen, an organic clothing retailer. “Let people see who you are. It builds trust and respect. Being too professional is a bore and well you are not going to enjoy yourself.”

Dig Deeper: When Do You Lie? Strategies For More Authentic, Respectful Communication

How to Build Better Business Relationships: Turn Blunders into Opportunities

Admitting mistakes and correcting missteps will take you far when it comes to building relationships, says William Gregory O, who is the co-founder of Lex Scripta, a law firm in Illinois. “Often times, people just want to know that you are sorry and that you have a plan for getting back on track,” he says. When one of our service providers made a mistake, which resulted in our service being delayed for a week, the service provider responded immediately with an apology and a proposal for fixing the problem. Instead of looking for another service provider, we decided to work with this provider because we know that the provider is honest and diligent. When a mistake is more than a minor setback, do something to make it right or otherwise provide value to the wronged party.”

How to Build Better Business Relationships: Make it Personal

Sometimes it is good to send an actual physical letter or card of appreciation as opposed to an e-mail. “Say ‘Thank you,” a lot,” says Amy Blum, owner and president of Eagle Marketing. “I send notes to new clients thanking them for their business. I send e-mails of appreciation often, for no reason at all. And, I send great toffee during the holidays. Never forget who got you where you are. And never, ever think you can say thank you enough to clients, customers, colleagues and even vendors too.”

*************PLEASE NOTE*******

GO TO: www.SENDOUTCARDS.COM/loryfabian and start sending CARDS today.  Need help?

You could send 5 or 500 cards in 5 minutes, in your own handwriting, and even upload a picture or logo into the card.  For about $5 per year per customer you can make your customers feel special and appreciated, and they will never forget you.   If you would like a free gift account to try our card system, please visit my website at http://www.sendoutcards.com/loryfabian.

How to Build Better Business Relationships: Meet Face-to-Face

Invite your contacts to an event (sporting, music, etc.) that you would both enjoy. You will naturally deepen the relationship and get to know each other better. You could also make plans to catch up at or join someone at a networking event. {Lory writes: “For me, BNI’S GIVER GAIN’S PHILOSOPHY IS A FAST & QUICK WAY TO JUMP START YOUR BUSINESS. BNI & SendOutCards.com are alliance partners.  They both build stronger relationships with members, customers, clients and friends.}

For some people, networking events are challenges and having at least one friendly face there can give them the confidence to network better. Plus, you will strengthen the relationship.

Hugs & Peace to Darrin Dahl! | http://www.inc.com/guides/201101/how-to-build-better-business-relationships.html

How to Grow a Smart SMB Team by Lisa Barone

Small business owners have a lot on their plates – it’s become cliché because it’s true! Between marketing, running, and growing their business, there are always more tasks than hours in the day. However, among the most important and difficult of tasks is trying to build your team. It can be hard to find people who you can trust to come in and help you get the job done. It’s even harder to find people who share your values and your commitment to your customers. But it’s doable. More than that, if you want to grow a successful business, it’s a must. You can’t work in and on your business at the same time.

Whether you’re in the process right now of trying to build your team or you simply aspire to one day being bigger than yourself, below are some tips to help you grow a smarter SMB team.

1. Assess Your Skills

Knowing the skills you’ll need to hire for means first understanding the skills that you (and possibly your existing team) already bring to the table. For example, maybe you’re great at customer service but you’re terrible at marketing. Or maybe you’re awesome at using social media tools to connect with people, but you can’t keep your books straight for the life of your business. Start creating lists of skills – skills you have, skills you can acquire, and skills you’d need to hire for. Once you know what skill sets you’re looking for, prioritize them to help you identify what is most important to your business.

2. Seek Out Referrals

Once you know what roles you’re looking to hire for, put it out to the universe. Talk to the people in your community and your local network about the types of people you’re looking for. Post the required skills on LinkedIn or Twitter and see if anyone in your network can help. Talk about in the online groups that you’re part of. I’m always surprised by how easy it is to find the perfect person as soon as you let people know you’re looking for them. The world is smaller than you think.

3. Go Online Talent Shopping

If your local referrer network wasn’t able to come up with a match, it’s time to go online talent shopping yourself. One of my favorite tools for this is LinkedIn’s Advanced Search.

With LinkedIn’s Advanced Search you can hunt for potential employees by experience, industry, salary, job title, current company, previous company, etc. Better yet, you can then narrow it down to employees living within 50 miles of your storefront, helping you focus on the people who could actually come and work for you. Once you have a list of people you’d like to get an introduction to, see who in your network is already connected to these people or what groups/ associations they’re a part of. This is a really great way to get your foot in the door with an applicant who could bring a lot of value to your business.

4. Find Shared Values

But finding a great new team member for your SMB isn’t just about the skills they may have on paper. It’s about finding someone who thinks like you do and who values the same things that you’re trying to instill in your business. Getting that “culture fit” right is invaluable in helping to avoid potential pitfalls later on. If a person doesn’t match what the rest of the company believes, then they’re not a good fit for your business. No matter how impressive their resume may be. Use your gut and look for people who show a history of action, being a team player, and who appears receptive to challenges.

5. Trust them

Once you find that person who compliments your team’s skill set, get out of their way and trust them. Sure, put procedures and policies in place to help make them accountable, but avoid your instinct to hover over them to make sure they’re doing things “your way”. Delegating does not mean hiring Mini-Yous. It means creating a more diverse team. Get comfortable with that.

Even the most-skilled CEOs will eventually need to invest in growing his or her team. You can’t do everything. By carefully and deliberately putting together a team of complimentary skill sets, you help set yourself (and your business) up for success.

Hugs and Peace to Lisa Barone @ Smallbiztrends.com

Learning to (almost) Like Criticism by Fellow Toastmaster, Brian Toma

Practically everybody will admit to being interested in improving themselves or their business or personal relationships. There are even some, like Toastmasters members, who have actually taken steps to do so. But unfortunately, many people miss out on valuable opportunities for improvement and growth because of their inability to take advice and criticism from others. Do you make use of suggestions offered by your peers? Do you seek out the advice and feedback of others to your advantage? It makes sense, but it’s not as easy as it sounds.

I am the owner of a small business. Several years ago the managers of my company met to formally establish non-financial, people-oriented goals. Examples of those goals included providing a safe work environment, offering adequate training and improving teamwork between departments. We then sent a description of the goals and a survey to all employees so they could rate our level of achievement of those goals. Employees could respond anonymously. This was to be done annually.

I almost didn’t make it past the first survey. Most employees responded, but not in that supportive, kind Toastmasters way. They just told me exactly how they felt by using the survey rating system and adding their own comments. Although I got what I asked for, I must admit I was very upset because the ratings were, in some cases, insultingly low and several comments were nasty, blaming me directly for certain problems.

It didn’t seem like the employees were trying to help me. Indeed it seemed they were trying to hurt me, because that’s how I felt. I experienced the defensive, prideful reaction many people feel when being criticized. Criticism is universally disliked. Franklin P. Jones, an author most known for humorous quotations, wrote “Honest criticism is hard to take, particularly from a relative, a friend, an acquaintance or a stranger.” It is just plain hard to take advice or criticism. Even positive, well-worded evaluations give at least a hint that we are inadequate in some way. Most of us know that we have faults or could improve, but we just don’t want to hear about it.

My immediate reaction to the survey results was defensive, but after time and thoughtful consideration I realized that there was a consensus in the results. That is, many employees expressed similar comments and ratings. I began to recognize the value of their perspectives. So, with pain and difficulty, I decided to “own” the problems and the criticisms. I sent a memo to all employees thanking them for their participation, summarizing the survey results and comments (without displaying any of the nasty ones) and showing my recognition that I, as president of the company, was a major part of the problem. Then we took action in response to the feedback and, over time, changes and improvements came about. The surveys continue today after five years and the company has greatly benefited.

“Sometimes there are difficulties in getting valuable comments from others.
But the biggest challenge is in making use of the feedback.”

I put in place a method for the company by which I could measure certain non-financial goals, identify problems and then make improvements accordingly. I also began to rely on a process for using advice and criticism to my advantage:
“Sometimes there are difficulties in getting valuable comments from others.
But the biggest challenge is in making use of the feedback.”

Recognize that you can get unique and valuable perspectives from others. Be aware of opportunities to get feedback.

Find people who are capable of providing you with perspectives of interest and value to you.

Request feedback in a way that will increase the chances that your evaluators will be open and honest. This can be a challenge. Most people understand human pride and many will simply be polite without offering any critical feedback. Sometimes anonymity is required. With anonymity, however, some insensitive people may criticize with absolutely no regard for your feelings: Be prepared for that, keeping in mind that some people are not well-trained in the manner of offering advice, but still may have some valuable ideas.

Read or listen to the feedback that is offered.

Experience your feelings. Expect the possibility of defensive reaction. You will know that you are having a prideful reaction if you find yourself judging your critics. It’s human nature. Go with it. But try to maintain control of your outward expressions for the sake of others.

Be gracious, regardless of your feelings. Thank the evaluators for their comments so that they feel welcome to offer you more open and honest feedback in the future.

Let time go by, allowing your negative feelings to diminish.

Honestly evaluate the feedback. This is the most difficult step. Your pride may block your ability to do this effectively, but try hard to find the value in the comments you received. If you just can’t find any value in the comments, then try to evaluate your feelings. If you feel at least a little bothered by the comment, then there is a good chance that your pride is obstructing your ability to make use of some valuable feedback. If you can follow this process by going to the next step instead of reacting with your feelings, then you may be able to benefit from the advice.

Seek consensus. If you identify similar comments from multiple critics then the signal is getting louder and the value of the feedback is increasing. But avoid the mistake of seeking consensus about your feelings, that is, seeking sympathy. You can make yourself feel better by doing that, but you will miss a growth opportunity.

Own it. Acknowledge it. Take responsibility. Take control. If you acknowledge the criticism as useful and valid, but then follow up with excuses and blaming, then you have not taken ownership, responsibility or control. Without ownership you won’t be ready for the next step.

Take action. Make directed improvements in accordance with the feedback that you have received. You may be forced to take small steps at first, but continue with them until they add up to greater advances.

Repeat the process.

I have used this process in an informal way in business . It can be used for continual evaluation, growth and improvement.

Much of a person’s life involves interactions and relationships with other people. Public speaking, for example, involves a relationship between a speaker and an audience.

To evaluate your own performance as part of a relationship, it makes sense to seek out the perspectives of others who are involved in or knowledgeable about the relationship. Sometimes there are difficulties in getting valuable comments from others, but the biggest challenge is in making use of the feedback.

To take advantage of critical feedback you must work past your discomfort and defensive feelings. Apply the “no pain, no gain” principle, and you’ll soon enjoy all the benefits of an improved life.

Love & Peace to Brian Thoma. Brian is CTM, CL, is president of His Toastmaster’s Voice 6280-38 in Moorestown, New
Jersey, and owner of Thoma, Inc., a company representing manufacturers of laboratory furniture and school casework.

Do you agree that business is still driven by people and relationships? by Lory Fabian

Little things make big things happen. ~John Wooden

Ed Wallace, author of Business Relationships That Last, shares ny passionate belief that creating business relationships that last is the secret to success.  Ed Wallace explains that even in the midst of technological advances, the one remarkable simple constant: business is still driven by people and relationships.

One story in Ed’s book, he writes about how the little extras can turn customers into friends.  He talks about mastering the art of taking so-called simple business from a merely transactional level to the level of high-value personal relationships, to creating a memorable experience between human beings.

Ed writes that too many of us lose sight of the fact that we are dealing and selling to real people.  A real person is on the other end of a call or an email.  We may miss an opportunity to enrich business endeavors and life with the growth and learning that comes from true interaction with others. I totally agree, do you?

Ed Wallace’s The Principle of Worthy Intent is the inherent promise you make to keep the other person’s best interests at the core of your business relationship.  At BNI, we call Ed’s principle, a Giver’s Gain philosophy.

Ed Wallace’s Relational Capital which he defines as “the distinctive value created by people in a business relationship” or simply put “the little extras.”  Keeping the client’s best interest as your focus is the gold rule for client-facing professionals. This realization stood the test of time as Ed advanced through his career from inside sales rep to an executive and now a business owner.  The little extras transform transactional activities into the relational attributes. 

I highly recommend reading Ed Wallace’s book, Business Relationships That Last to help understand  the most undervalued, least understood, most ignored, yet most important asset in your company.

If you do, however, recognize the value of Relational Capital, think about signing up for a proven low cost system that will help you start building personal relationships immediately with your customers. SendOutCards.com is an online marketing tool that will give you an added edge above your competition.

SendOutCards.com/loryfabian has both IPHONE and ANDOID apps available  that allow you to send a note of thanks before you leave the parking lot of one appointment to head out to your next meeting.

Imagine sending out a “Nice to Meet You” card before leaving a trade show and include a photo of yourself?  Do you think the person you send a personalized note to will take your call?  I do.

Check out my website at www.SendOutCards.com/biz/128092 and start building your own Relational Capitol today.

Peace and Hugs to Ed Wallace

The Magic of Christmas! Why Not? Why Not You and Your Family be The Shining Light this Year? by Lory Fabian

Don’t wait for others…Someone needs to be first…why don’t you be the first in your family to Shine the Light??  Our Country sorely needs you.

December is always an interesting month to me. Do you love December and the blessings that come with it as much as I do? I love to go back in time and remember the warm and fuzzy memories of growing up in December.  I recall the entire month of December was always and continues to be my favorite month. People are nicer, happier and typically friendlier than usual in December. People give more and help more.

Even today, hearing certain songs often times trigger wonderful memories; the smell of certain foods cooking take me right back to that exact place in time that I loved to be with my Mother baking Christmas cookies.  I remember the laughter, closeness & security I felt during our family gatherings during November and December every year.

December, for some reason, gives some of us permission to express our love & gratitude that doesn’t necessary feel quite right or comfortable for some of us any other time of the year. A lot of us get sentimental; we feel more of a sense of compassion during the months of November and December; something that we don’t normally feel. More volunteers show up this time of year helping churches & agencies that desperately need it. Friends, family & neighbors show more friendliness & compassion during the holidays. I call it the Magic of Christmas.

Do you still get a warm & fuzzy feeling recalling your favorite memories of past Christmases? Does a particular party or family get-to-gether come to mind? Remember how much fun it was to bake, shop, and find the perfect gift?

December, for some, can sadly bring out the complete opposite of feelings. Many of us totally dread the next several weeks. We wonder why so many people walk around like Zombies because they over commit themselves, why people go into debt buying gifts they can’t afford, & why too many of us over indulge in eating and drinking. We just don’t get it or understand it.

Each and every one of us tends to see life from our own perspective, our own life experiences. We are almost robotic at times. We live unconsciously, being too busy trying to stuff too much life in a short amount of time.

Do you ever wonder why we continue to do the same ‘routine,’ ‘re-create the same traditions?’ when in fact, a lot of us are “going through the motions, but really not truly feeling the Joy?” Stop it!  Stop it now. Only you can fix it.

Do you know anyone that tries every year to re-create their favorite past times with their kids because of their own fond memories. But for one reason or another, their children don’t necessary like or enjoy the same traditions? We now have more blended families ever than before.

Why not start your own new family tradition today? I would love to see more families together trying to be the Shining Light in our world. Families working together will shine together and bring light to the dark cracks and crevices in our society. There are a lot of lonely people haven’t seen happiness or light for years. Get your mind off of yourself and on to others! Ask how you can Serve? Those words will almost guarantee that your troubles will melt away.

If you want to be a Shining Light this year, be One of the First Families to start the new year with Giving instead of Receiving, Be A Family that gives Hope to people who have no Hope? Send at least one card a day for the next 30 days. Check out my website at www.sendoutcards.com/loryfabian and have each of your family members chose a person to send a card to today. Talk about the selected Persons your family chose at dinner time. Who are they? What did they do? How did that person make a difference in your life? Was it a teacher? A Police Officer? A friend? A former co-worker? What did that person do and why did that person mean so much to your family member? Go around the table and suggest ideas on what to say in the Gratitude card.

There isn’t a person on this planet that doesn’t need to feel love and appreciated or who wants to know that somebody cares.

Act on your Promptings today and send a card of Love and Gratitude. What will surprise you the most is the Magic comes back to you.

Merry Christmas!    Happy Hanukah!     Have a Safe and Healthy 2013!

Written by Lory Fabian @ LoryFabianMarketing

“Evolve NOW or DISOLVE.” Usher

 

Ways to Stand Out with your Contacts by Kim Althage

Generally speaking, most people tend to talk more than they listen and they like to talk about themselves. If you’re listening and then you ask good follow-up questions based on the information you just heard, you are already more likely to stand out in the other person’s mind.

 

Focused Attention is important, as well as asking the “right” questions. Focusing on them, as opposed to yourself or your awesome product (as most salespeople do) makes you memorable in the most positive way. Again, GIVING IS IMPORTANT, for by providing valuable information they might not have had before is the biggest factor when creating a solid business contact.

 

In other words, if you leave a networking event with a clear plan of how you can help others and you did not discuss your products or services…you have done well!

 

But there is another important element that can separate you from all others…THE LOST ART OF FOLLOWING UP.  Most people drop the ball here, but this is the most crucial step. How you respond sets the tone for who you are and how others remember you. Send each person an individual message, be it a phone call, email or note card.

 

Best methods for following up:

 

  • Handwritten  Notes – Ideal and certainly states your  desire to invest the time in fostering a relationship.  Should always be your first choice for  your highest priority contacts.  Utilize email and phone as viable secondary options.

 

  • Voicemail  – When you need to communicate your energy and attitude. Smile and be in a good mood, as your voice will  reflect your state of mind.

 

  • Email  – Good for a quick note or when time is of the essence. Craft a clear and attention getting subject line to get thru the clutter. Email works well  in conjunction with a voicemail or handwritten note to let someone know you will contact them.

What success stories can you attribute to your ability to follow up with contacts or clients?

Hugs and Peace to Kim Althage, St. Louis Professional Network Team

 

Need a system to stay in contact with your contacts and customers?  Go to www.sendoutcards.com/loryfabian.  You can create one card as a campaign and re-use THE SAME CARD over and over again for every new person you meet, to thank a customer or to show appreciation.  Each card can be personalized or used as a standard company correspondence response card.  Questions? Email me at loryfabian@sbcglobal.net

7 Deadly Mistakes to Avoid by Todd Pillars

This is an updated post from 2009 which started me on a path of discovery that took my business from a 1-trick pony to the national stage in 2 short years!

Funny how it’s STILL all about relationships – and it ALWAYS will be.

Read on…

Today’s business is all about relationships. Social Media is here to stay; you have to be seen on Facebook, you must tweet and retweet on Twitter, your LinkedIn profile has to be top-notch, and now we have Google+, however the more we connect in the virtual world to more we have to tend our roots on Terra Firma. Routinely overlooked, the original social networking – face-to-face, is a crucial high-touch strategy to build critical local business relationships that are crucial to your success.

In my observations coaching business owners, entrepreneurs, and sales professionals, and attending numerous networking events over the years, I have recognized consistent networking mistakes that can kill anyone’s chances of developing any new business contacts. Avoid these seven deadly mistakes and you should quickly build your referral business in any economic conditions.

Mistake #1 – No plan, no goals… no results

Without a networking plan, you waste valuable resources; time, energy and money. You should know, before you enter an event, what you want to accomplish. Practice Bob Burg’s 10 Feel-Good Questions and The One “Key” Question That Will Set You Apart From Everyone Else so you are prepared to chose three or four to engage others that you meet at the event. These questions will show your new contact that you truly care about them. Do set time limits on what you discuss – don’t go through all 10 – or you may appear nosy. Just as you would role-play and practice these questions, picture positive results in your mind even as you enter the room.

The BIGGEST edit: Mistake #2 – Bad (or worse, no) elevator pitch

The first seven words that you speak when meeting a potential client, a.k.a. a prospect, may be the only chance you have with that person. An elevator pitch or 30-second commercial is meant to cause the prospect to say “tell me more”. Many networking novices try to cram as much company information as possible into their pitch. Keep it simple and you’ll strike more interest.

Mistake #2 – Ditch the (elevator) pitch

This is more of do than a don’t but it’s vitally important that you leave the commercial in the car. You see, elevator pitches gained popularity during the Internet Boom of the late 90′s – early 2000′s as a way to “pitch”, or spark the interest of, venture capital investors in the time it took for them to ride up on an elevator to the gilded top floor office. (Makes for a compelling visual reason to do it, doesn’t it?) Well, if the first seven words that you speak when meeting a potential client, a.k.a. a prospect, are only about what you want you’ll probably get the door slammed in your face during what may be the only chance you have with that person. There is a time and place for a 30-second commercial – and it’s not during a networking event.

Try something like the anti-mercial; You know how (whatever pain your prospects may have)? Well, what I do is (how you solve that challenge for your clients). Simple, concise, and easy on the ears. The goal here is get your new contact to say “How do you do that?”. If they do the door is now open for a deeper conversation about your solution, preferably at a later time. Don’t be afraid to set an appointment then and there.

Mistake #3 – TMI or Too busy telling

As an old mentor said “If you’re too busy telling, you ain’t selling.” The primary goal of the networking event is to make a connection – start a conversation – not to make a sale. Ask questions (see #1 above) and don’t “throw up” all over the place, regardless of how wonderful your product or service is. If it really is that good it will keep until you can sit down one-to-one. If you make a friend you can present your solution later, however, if you get the deer in the headlight look then you’ve lost the chance.

Mistake #4 – Talking to “Knowns”

Probably the most common mistake. Networking events present an opportunity to meet new people in a relatively receptive environment. Generally new sales people and business owners are challenged by meeting new people, they tend to end up talking to “known” friends instead of seeking “unknowns”. Make it a point to limit polite conversation with current referral partners to less than a minute. Better yet, adopt this new do; become an unofficial greeter. Scan the room for the people that look lost and ask them if you can help them find someone and see what happens.

Mistake #5 – Poor etiquette

Understanding how or when to join a group of individuals talking with each other is very important. Probably the biggest networking faux pas is barging in on a conversation. An introduction from a well respected business person is always the surest way. Sans that, look for groups of three or more that are standing in semi-circle – never a closed circle – and approach them in an up-beat manner and making eye contact. Always shake hands firmly, speak confidently when you introduce yourself, and practice your table manners when seated for lunch or dinner. If you are polite, respectful, and ask engaging questions – and then intently listening to the answers – you’ll be one of the most remembered people from the event.

Mistake #6 – Not being present

Be interested instead of trying to be interesting. I’ve been guilty of this more than once myself. Most times networking attendees believe the goal, at best, is to get your message into the ears of as many people as possible. At worst, to hand out as many business cards as possible. In their haste to meet that next prospect, they are not present with their current contact. Instead of thinking of what witty or sage thing you’re going to say next, listen for the subtle meanings in the answers to question you just asked. The timing of your next question will always come from listening to the full answer and being engaged and you will look like a pro.

Mistake #7 – Lack of (correct) follow-up

Attending networking event after event without correctly following up with your new contacts is literally worthless. And follow up, just like networking, is not a one-time event. The point of following up is to stand out in the prospect’s memory forever. Again, it’s not a moment of selling but of reminding them that you’re interested in them and care about their success. If you want to stand head and shoulders above your competition don’t resort to the ubiquitous email. Cement your place in your new found business contact by sending them a sincere handwritten “Nice to meet you” or “Thank you” greeting card telling them how much you appreciate them for taking the time to talk about their business. Then keep in regular personal touch with them by sending them cards on a consistent basis. Turn the most missed opportunity in networking into a way to differentiate you from your competition.

Conspicuously absent is the iconic Business Card. My opinion is that the only reason to have your Business Card is to have something to exchange for their Business Card. If your main purpose is to attend Networking Events with the intention of passing out cards and saying “Call me and I’ll give you a great deal” then you need more of an intervention than this blog post can provide.

Put others interests first, practice appreciation, and avoid these seven deadly business networking mistakes like the plague.

Peace and Love to Todd |Excellent Advice!

I recommend trying www.sendoutcards.com/loryfabian and start today cementing your business relationships today!

 

50 Ways to Show Gratitude for the People in Your Life / by Lori Deschene

 

 

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” –William Arthur Ward

 

The holiday season generally brings us closer to people. Sometimes that closeness reminds us how much we love each other. Sometimes it reminds us that we drive each other crazy, as family often does.

 

At the heart of it, Thanksgiving in particular calls us to see people with the deepest appreciation for the gifts they’ve given us. Some gifts are more immediately obvious than others—the type that come with praise, affection, and genuine esteem.

 

Others push us, stretch us, test us, and make us wonder if there’s anything to be grateful for at all.

 

There’s no denying certain relationships are more challenging than others, but through each we have an opportunity to grow and help others do the same. Every relationship teaches us something about loving, trusting, forgiving, setting boundaries, taking care of ourselves, and taking care of each other.

 

From the people who love you, to the people who challenge you, to the people who support you at work, here’s how to show your gratitude:

 

Show Gratitude to People Who Love You

 

1. Share a specific example of something they did for you and how it made a difference in your life.

 

2. Do something little but thoughtful for them—like clean up after Thanksgiving dinner!

 

3. Give a long, intimate hug; or if you know they don’t like hugs, stick out your hand for a handshake to cater to their preferences and make them smile.

 

4. Tell them you’re there if they have anything they want to talk about—and let them know they have your full attention.

 

5. Give them something of yours that you think they would enjoy, and let them know specifically why you want them to have it.

 

6. Invite them to do something you know they’ve always wanted to do.

 

7. Encourage them to try something you know they want to try, but haven’t yet because they’re scared.

 

8. Offer to do something you know they don’t enjoy doing, like organizing their closet or mowing their lawn.

 

9. Compliment them on a talent, skill, or strength that you admire.

 

10. Look them straight in the eyes and say, “You make the world a better place.”

 

Show Gratitude to People Who Challenge You

 

11. Fully listen to what they have to say, instead of forming your rebuttal in your head and waiting to speak.

 

12. Thank them for introducing you to a new way to look at things, even if you still don’t agree.

 

13. Pinpoint something you admire about their commitment to their beliefs—even if you don’t hold them, as well.

 

14. Resist the urge to tell them they’re wrong.

 

15. Challenge them right back to be the best they can be, with love and positive intentions.

 

16. If they inspired you to push outside your comfort zone, thank them for inspiring you to take a risk, and let them know how it paid off.

 

17. Write a blog post about how they helped you see things differently and dedicate it to them.

 

18. Use the lesson this person teaches you through your interactions, whether it’s patience, compassion, or courage.

 

19. Introduce them to someone who may challenge them and help them grow, as they’ve done for you.

 

20. Let them know how you appreciate when they challenge you in a loving, non-confrontational way—and if they don’t do that, be calm and kind when you ask them to do that going forward.

 

Show Gratitude to People Who Serve You

 

21. Give a larger tip than usual.

 

22. If they have a tip jar, include a thoughtful note of appreciation along with your coins or bills.

 

23. Smile when you order or enlist their assistance. Smiles are contagious, so give one away!

 

24. If they serve you regularly, acknowledge something they always do well—like work efficiently or stay calm under pressure.

 

25. Exhibit patience, even if you’re in a hurry.

 

26. Let their superior know they do an outstanding job.

 

27. Keep their workplace clean—for example, at a coffee shop, clean up after yourself at the sugar stand.

 

28. Offer to get a coffee for them, if it’s someone working in or outside your home.

 

29. If you have their contact information, send an email of appreciation—and let them know you just wanted to express your gratitude, so they don’t need to write back.

 

30. Praise them in a review on Yelp and/or recommend them to people you know.

 

Show Gratitude to People Who Work with You

 

31. Write a hand-written thank you note, acknowledging things you value about them and their work.

 

32. Offer to lighten their workload in some way if you are able.

 

33. Bring back lunch for them if you know they’re working hard and likely haven’t had a chance to grab something.

 

34. If you’re running a meeting, keep it short to show them you appreciate and respect their time.

 

35. Ask them about their lives instead of always being all business. This doesn’t mean you need to pry into personal matters; it just means showing an interest in who they are as people.

 

36. Be the calm, light voice in a stressful situation.

 

37. Give them flowers to brighten their desk.

 

38. Let their boss know how they’re doing a great job and contributing to the company.

 

39. Listen fully if they’re having a difficult day, and recognize if they need space to figure things out on their own, not advice or help.

 

40. Remember the little things can make a big difference!

 

Show Gratitude for Yourself

 

41. Make a list of ways you’ve impressed yourself lately.

 

42. Treat yourself to something you enjoy, like a pedicure or a massage.

 

43. If someone compliments you, thank them and let them know you’re proud of that skill, talent, or accomplishment.

 

44. Compliment yourself—say it while looking in the mirror, write it in a journal, or jot it on a sticky note and put it on your refrigerator.

 

45. Give yourself time to enjoy a passion you’re sometimes too busy to fit in.

 

46. Take an inventory of all the good things you’ve done for other people and the world.

 

47. Write yourself a love letter. Seriously, start with “Dear Lori” (but insert your own name) and describe all the things you admire about yourself.

 

48. Let go of any conditions you have for being kind to yourself—meaning you appreciate even if you didn’t accomplish or do anything specific.

 

49. Schedule a date with yourself—an afternoon or evening that’s all about you.

 

50. Share the beauty that is you with the people around you, knowing they’re fortunate to have you in their lives.

 

I am fortunate to have you in mine. You make the world a better place!

Peace and Love to TinyBuddha.com

Turn Failure into Success: 10 Ways

The first step to becoming more successful is changing the way you think about failure.

Failure is painful, right?

Not for successful people. The most successful people in every field don’t consider failure to be a particularly painful experience–because they think about it differently.

Successful people transcend failure because their self-esteem, rather than depending on whether they win or lose, is based upon their own sense of value.

Rather than taking failure seriously, they develop beliefs that allow them to capitalize upon negative feedback and turn it to their advantage.

Rules to Live By

Therefore, if you’re really committed to being successful, you’ll mothball that “failure=pain” nonsense. Instead, instead adopt some (or all) of the following beliefs:

1. Failure renews my humility, sharpens my objectivity, and makes me more resilient.

2. I take the challenge seriously, but I do not take myself too seriously.

3. If the more I fail, the more I succeed, then failure is a part of the process of achieving my objectives.

4. Failure is temporary when I use it as an opportunity to try new ideas.

5. I learn more from failure than success.

6. Negative feedback is information that helps me correct my course so that I stay on target.

7. I am paid for the number of times I fail.

8. My self-esteem is not based on the reactions of others, but by my own sense of virtue.

9. The unkindness of others reminds me that I need to be kind to myself.

10. It takes courage to fail–because nobody ever got ahead without taking risks.

The above is adapted from a conversation with Art Mortell, a wonderful motivational and keynote speaker and the author of the excellent book The Courage to Fail.

Love and Peace to Art Mortell.

13 Ways to Create a Cringeworthy Social Media Presence by Corey Eridon

In May 2012, a new free social media tool called Klouchebag hit the web. If you haven’t played around with it already, it’s a tool that tells you how … uh … annoying you are on Twitter. Yeah, we’ll just go with “annoying” for the sake of this blog post. But it got me thinking: social media can be chock full of valuable content, but it’s often buried among the mundane and useless social media updates, or hidden behind poorly constructed social media profiles. And this makes a marketer’s job mighty hard.

So this post is going to outline all of the worst offenders we’ve seen in social media. If none of these apply to you, congratulations! Use these as entertainment over your lunch break. Otherwise, consider these cautionary tales to help protect your own social media strategy.

13 Ways to Make People Hate Your Social Media Presence

  • Launching a Private Social Media Account

Social media is about talking with and meeting new people. It’s right there in the name — social media. So why on earth would you set up a social media account and then set it to, gulp, private? That’s exactly what CVS did when they launched its CVS_Cares Twitter account. If you had tried to follow them around launch time, this is what you would have seen:

Seriously? Well, luckily they learned their lesson and now have a fantastic, active, public account! Remember, the benefits of using social media for your business are virtually wiped out when your social media accounts aren’t public — it prevents you from growing your reach, getting visibility for the content you publish, and growing referral traffic and leads back to your website.

  • 2) Having a Disproportionate Follower:Following Ratio

Have you ever seen an interesting tweet or gotten an alert that someone new is following you on Twitter, open up their profile to learn more about them and see if they’re someone you’re interested in following, and see one of the following screens?

Let’s break down each scenario, starting with that first set of data. This particular tweeter is following 825 people, but only 21 people have decided to follow him/her back. Why might that be? Well, the account only has 8 tweets. That’s not enough content to convince people you’re a worthy account to follow. Instead of maniacally following hundreds of people with the hope that one follows you back, spend time writing interesting tweets, linking to great content that you and others have created, and retweeting others’ tweets to build relationships and earn your followers.

Now let’s take a look at the second set of data. 4,044 people are following this person, and he/she has only returned the favor for 5 people. What gives? We just got done talking about how social media is a social platform … and that doesn’t sound like a two-way conversation to me. In this particular scenario, there are enough tweets to back up the large followership, but a lack of reciprocation such as this can rub many people the wrong way and prevent you from growing your social media reach at the highest rate possible.

  • 3) Writing Updates That Are Too Long

Did you know that Facebook lets you post an update that is 63,206 characters long? Nokia did. In fact, when Facebook expanded the character limit this past February, they took it as an opportunity to test the limits with this expansive status update on their Facebook page. If you’re counting, I cut it off a little less than halfway through.

Obviously, this was a joke (and a great marketing move!) by Nokia, but it certainly proves a point. Is anyone going to read so much text? If your updates are even approaching the length of the update in the screenshot above, get yourself an editor stat. In fact, data from Buddy Media shows that the ideal length for a Facebook update is less than 4 or 5 lines — posts under 80 characters receive 27% more engagement.

  • 4) The Airing of Grievances

You know what no one cares about? This.

Late last year, a Boloco employee tweeted about disliking her job at Boloco. Bad move, but pretty common. What ensued was a dramatic Twitter firestorm from the Boloco CEO, a truncated version of which is pictured above. It all started when he took to firing the employee over Twitter, and then tweets shot back and forth about the situation, attracting horrified onlookers.

The lesson? Keep your personal business to yourself and off of social media — whether you’re an employee, or an employer. If your brand, or employees representing your brand, go on a rant like this, you look petty, unprofessional, and offer nothing of value to your audience. There’s not much else to say on this one except if you’re thinking about using your social media presence as a soapbox to rant and rave, step away from the keyboard and walk away. Your PR team will thank you for it!

  • 5) Talking Smack About Competitors

It’s not just public rants that make you look petty. Attacking your competitors on social media makes you look just as unprofessional, and gives your more sensitive customers another place to send their business. Does anyone remember the Whole Foods case from the early to mid 2000s? For 7 years, Whole Foods CEO assumed an online identity completely unaffiliated with Whole Foods, visited forums and blogs, and posted complimentary comments about Whole Foods while smack talking a smaller direct competitor — who they then ventured to purchase. Aside from an SEC investigation when this was all uncovered, this type of behavior makes your organization look extremely unprofessional. Even if you’re tempted to draft a snarky Facebook update or pointed tweet, hold your tongue and rise above!

  • 6) Making Off-Color Comments

Finally, the last in the series of reputation management disasters. You’d think it would go without saying that joking about or commenting and capitalizing on sensitive news is the wrong way to go about newsjacking. You’d think. But for some reason, every few months we hear about some brand or spokesperson making off-color comments to propel their Twitter following or make a few extra bucks. Remember this tweet from Kenneth Cole?

When considering popular topics in the news to discuss in your social media updates, remember that everyone has a different sensitivity level. Sure, pushing the boundaries is alright, but defer to your common sense; if you’re on the fence about whether you should post something, you probably shouldn’t.

  • 7) Publicly Solving Customer Service Issues

Whether you like it or not, people will take to social media for customer support. Which is why more and more brands are being proactive by maintaining a social media presence (some have set up accounts dedicated solely to customer service, in fact) so they can handle questions and complaints expeditiously. Where some brands fall short, however, is failing to direct customers to an offline or private channel to actually solve their problems. Take a look at how KLM handles a customer service issue correctly on its Facebook page.

See how they sent Ali a private message to handle the details? That’s the right method — nobody wants to see how Ali is going to get a replacement card through a series of back-and-forth comments. The value is in seeing that KLM can handle all manner of customer service issues on its Facebook page, not how they solve them. Don’t clog up your fans’ and followers’ feeds with customer support, and show them that you’ll handle their problems quickly and professionally over email, the phone, direct message, Facebook message, etc.

  • 8) Hijacking Hashtags

What’s hashtag hijacking, you ask? Here’s an example from HabitatUK, courtesy of Social Media Today.

Notice all those hashtags called out in red? At the time, they were very popular hashtags (some still are) that indicate lots of people on Twitter are talking about that particular subject. So if your tweet includes the hashtag, it will appear in that popular conversation. Great! More visibility for your content, right? Well, yes, but it’s not good visibility, because those hashtags have absolutely nothing to do with what

HabitatUK does — sell home furnishings. When you hashtag hijack, you’re putting irrelevant content out to the masses and frankly, spamming. That’s not the reputation you want to have in the social sphere.

  • 9) Piling Your Tweets With Too Many Hashtags

Speaking of hashtags … Twitter has forced a certain kind of social media shorthand on us all. People r used 2 writing n reading updates in a dif way to fit everything into 140 characters. We’ve also all gotten used to reading through tweets interrupted by a hashtag — an annoyance, yes, but one that lets us piggyback on trending topics and find content related to our field more easily. But there’s such a thing as hashtag overload, as evidenced in this tweet:

I’m thrilled that this user shared my content! But including four hashtags — pretty generic ones, at that — make this tweet hard to read, give it a spammy feel, and doesn’t really contribute to the conversation around the subjects of social media, marketing, Google+, or Pinterest. Instead, choose one or two hashtags to include in your tweets that will really contribute to the conversation happening around those topics.

  • 10) Insulting Your Customer Base

Seems obvious, right? It wasn’t to online pawn show Pawngo. After the 2012 Super Bowl, Pawngo dumped a huge pile of Butterfinger candy bars in the middle of Boston’s Copley Square a day after New England’s heartbreaking loss. The reference was to New England Patriot’s receiver Wes Welker dropping the catch that sealed the team’s Super Bowl loss. Take a look at one of the tweets Pawngo sent out leading up to the PR stunt:

Pawngo ✔@Pawngo We’re giving Boston a late morning snack to get over Sunday’s loss #butterfingers

7 Feb 12 ReplyRetweetFavorite

Seem like a low blow? Customers certainly took it that way — and they took to social media to let them know. Quite a different hashtag than the one above, eh?

PROPER @plymptonproper 8 Feb 12 @Pawngo You’re venture capital group shouldn’t be impressed by PR stunt. Good business is a game of addition, not subtraction. #Customerlost

Pawngo ✔@Pawngo @plymptonproper Sorry we lost you as a customer. If you live chat w/one of our reps on the site, u might realize that we’re not that bad :-/

8 Feb 12 ReplyRetweetFavorite

Thing is, Pawngo really meant it to make Boston fans feel better; but it didn’t feel that way to Boston residents. Make sure you know your customers well enough to joke around with them before getting so familiar like Pawngo did.

  • 11) “Targeting” Poorly With Automation

Otherwise known as spamming people. That’s what happened to AT&T back in March when they were trying to capitalize on the March Madness hoopla for which they had set up a promotion. The goal was to get the word out about their contest to those who would be interested, but what actually happened was poor targeting. Take former HubSpot employee Brian Whalley, for example, who was the recipient of one of AT&T’s tweet. Brian doesn’t follow AT&T, he has never been their customer, he doesn’t tweet about basketball, and there is no indication he is even a sports fan, according to his biIn fact, the only thing Brian had in his profile to indicate he might be interested in the March Madness promotion was the fact that he lives in one of the many cities in which the promotion was happening. And it wasn’t just Brian Whalley who noticed this problem, either. Thousands of spammy tweets had gone out to unsuspecting tweeters that had little or no interest in such a promotion. Which brings us to our next cringeworthy social media activity …

  • 12) Posting WAY Too Frequently

Another result of AT&T’s social media automation snafu was a barrage of tweets that clogged up people’s news feeds. Take a look at this posting frequency:

That’s multiple tweets a minute. And nobody has that much remarkable, relevant content to share. Every social media network has a different optimal posting frequency. In fact, Twitter lets brands get away with the highest frequency of all the social networks because content is buried so quickly. But tweeting more than once an hour has shown to decrease the click-through rate of your links by over 200%, according to HubSpot’s Dan Zarrella. And if you’re using Facebook or Google+ for your brand’s social media presence, shoot for 3-5 updates per day.

  • 13) Retweeting Instead of Generating Original Content

Okay, so I did a little photo editing of my own Twitter account to prove a point for this one, but it did come from a particularly RT-heavy week for me. See those green arrows in the top right corner of every tweet? Those indicate the tweet was written by another user, and retweeted by me to my followers.

Retweeting is a way to share someone else’s content — a good thing! But doing it to this extent is going too far. That’s because people have followed you to hear what you have to say. That means they want to hear your original ideas, see links to your content, and get access to the content others have published that you find valuable. If your balance tips too heavy on that last part, back off the RT button and start creating more of your own content that you can publish to your fans and followers.

Shout out to Corey Eridon @ HubSpot