Networking

Effective Networking is an essential part of any business. Lead generation, relationship building, client retention… these are all critical aspects of business that can be enhanced through networking.

Networking Works!! If done well, it can be an incredibly powerful and economical arrow in your marketing quiver. If done poorly, it can amount to a painful experience of frighteningly unidentifiable food. So here are a few tips to make it more rewarding:

Know your event
Choose events where there will be people you can do business with (please note that this does not mean only those to whom you can sell.), or those who share an interest or passion you have. For effective networking, common interest is often the start of a great conversation.

Know your objectives
If you go with the goal of selling at the event, you may as well stay home. Networking is more often about relationship building. Approaching a networking event with the intent to “sell” to everyone you meet will turn people off. Remember, these events are about meeting new people. It may take several conversations before the subject of business even comes up.
Go with the goal of meeting 5 new people, and see where it goes…

Take business cards…
“Enough said?” Maybe not… This is a personal pet peeve … If you want to project a professional appearance, having business cards on hand is a MUST!!! If you want to be able to develop conversations with others who could potentially become leads, having business cards on hand is a MUST!!! There’s nothing worse than losing contact with a potential lead because they don’t know how to get in touch with you following an event. To network effectively, have business cards available, and give them out often and courteously.

Listen and ask questions
It’s like dating: no one is interested in those who only talk about themselves. Show interest in the people you meet and what is important to them. This is where attending events where you have a common interest is beneficial.

Give referrals whenever possible
A good networker receives by giving. This couples with ‘Listen and ask questions’ where you show interest in others before bringing attention to yourself. The law of reciprocity is at work here, and when people see you are willing to give, most will give back.

If you make a promise, keep it!
Think relationship. People are more likely to do business with those they know and trust than with someone who thrust a business card into their hands. If you commit to sending an email, send it… if you commit to making a phone call, make it… if you say you’ll do something, do it. You will show yourself to be someone they can trust.

Have Fun!!
While effective networking is work, it can also be a very enjoyable way to learn, to share and to profitably grow your business.

Effective networking isn’t about ‘making the sale’, it’s about getting out there and meeting people, learning about them, and making connections. So get out there and see what happens.

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Business Management, Financial, Goal Setting/Planning

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There are 5 broad activities that lead to a great life.  Dreaming big and dreaming clearly is inspiring and focusing.  It also informs the next step, which is goal setting.  Having goals is critical, as it provides you a destination that guides you in the next step, which is the creation of a plan.  The plan is the treasure map that leads you to your dream.  Developing 90 day plans that take you to your dream is the ideal time frame.  It is short enough to keep you focused and long enough to allow you to see the results of the plan.  If you have set your goals for the coming year, and you have completed your 90 day plan,  Congratulations!  Now there are 2 remaining pieces.

The first is to actually work your plan.  In other words:  Take Action! Your 90 day plan is not a goal sheet.  It is a gift you have given yourself.  Keep the plan on your desk.  Put time lines on the tasks.  Review the plan at least weekly to ensure you are on track.  It is only human to step back into our old habits and routines.  By engaging in weekly review, you are able to determine if this is happening.  Then… an accountability partner.  This could be a family member or friend that you communicate with every week, even if only for 10 minutes, to share whether you have done the things you have committed to for that week.  Knowing that this person will be asking you about your commitments will encourage you to take the actions you know are in your own best interest.

The last step is to evaluate the results.  As any military commander, sports coach or political strategist will tell you, the steps planned don’t always work as intended.  This is not a reason to avoid planning.  In fact, it heightens its importance.  If intelligently, strategically crafted plans don’t always work precisely as anticipated, how successful are random acts likely to be?  The step of evaluation, rather than lamenting or criticizing, allows you to make adjustments and refinements to your ongoing plans.  One of your objectives is to consistently avoid the pitfall of continuing actions that are not generating the results you seek.  By evaluating the results of your plans, you can engage in what the Japanese call Kaizen or constant and never-ending improvement.  So let’s review…

The 5 activities that lead to a great life are:

  1. Dream
  2. Set Goal(s)
  3. Create a Plan
  4. Take Action
  5. Evaluate the results regularly (adjust if necessary)

As we like to say at ActionCOACH… “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” So keep dreaming, keep taking actions planned to bring you to your dreams, and diligently analyze the results to keep you moving forward.

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Self Management

How we spend our time in business is a critical success factor. Review the Time Target. Understanding which quadrants we are spending our time in is vital to understanding our relationship with time. Below is an explanation of some of the things that occur in each of the quadrants. What do you think would be an ‘Urgent’ and ‘Important’ task that would go in that quadrant?

What is your Urgency Index?

To ensure your ongoing success, make a commitment to:

  1. Examine how you spend your time – Time Study attached
  2. Identify at least 2-3 time wasters and quantify them
  3. Eliminate them and put the gained time to good use
  4. Review your Time usage quarterly and find another 2-3 time wasters
  5. Review – Colour Clustering for focus on default diary

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Sales

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One of the more difficult aspects of sales is letting go of our natural need for approval and asking the tough questions that lead prospects to make a decision. The conflict between our “need to be liked” and our “need to get the sale” is often at the core of our resistance to asking the tough questions. You can’t always have both, and that’s why it’s hard. But letting your need to be liked get in the way of productive sales conversations will cost you time and money.

How can you overcome this natural conflict?

First, separate your role as a sales person from your identity as a person. Don’t take the resistance you encounter or the discomfort generated by asking tough questions personally.

Second, understand that asking tough questions – questions that challenge your prospect to look at something they do not want to consider, questions that move them out of their comfort zone, questions that force them to look at their business and their current situation from a new vantage point – will create urgency and compel them to make a decision.

Third, remember that a “fast no” is better than a “long maybe.” We work so hard to get an appointment and earn the opportunity to make our pitch. It’s natural to want to keep the conversation going, even if we’re getting strung along with a long maybe (“…this looks interesting, let me think about it.”). You’ll save yourself and your prospective client a lot of time by asking a few pointed questions that compel them to make a decision – even if that decision is a NO for now.

How much more productive will your sales process be if you ask questions that create “decision urgency” and enable you to focus your valuable time on prospects where you quickly discover a compelling reason to move forward? What are the tough questions you can ask for your solution and what do you need to do to ask them earlier in the conversation? Do your questions hit the key business issues that business owners worry about (increasing revenue, decreasing costs, improving efficiency, etc.)? Can you personalize these questions with a simple follow up such as “What is it costing your company to NOT address this issue? What does this mean to you personally?”

Develop your arsenal of questions and use them. You will be a more effective sales person, and you will see your sales cycle shorten because you will be helping those prospects who just can’t say “No,” to make that decision quicker. This, in turn, will allow you to spend time with prospective clients who are truly interested in what you have to offer.

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Personal Development, Self Management

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There is a truism that states your income can only grow to the extent you do.  Therefore, personal development is critical to personal financial growth and the growth of your business.

I want to introduce you a concept I call The Battling Tigers.  Within each of us, a fight is raging.  It is one that occurs within everyone; however, no one talks about it, leaving us all believing we are the only ones that experience it.  There are two tigers fighting over your life.   One wants you to advance, one wants to pull you back.  One fights from fear, the other from passion.  One is defensive, blaming of others, protective of where it is; the other is generous, courageous enough to move beyond its territory.  I can tell you which one will win.  Do you want to know?… The one you feed!

Do you spend time “justifying” the decisions you make; do you blame others; are you too afraid to ask for the sale, to learn the skills that you know are lacking, to ask for help when it’s needed.  Or do you examine your decisions; do you always look for the lessons from each experience; do you take chances; do you support yourself with your thoughts and beliefs?

You have one controllable variable and that is you.  Are you working on yourself daily?  You have created a 90 day plan?  Are you following it?  Are you exploring how you can make those plans real?  Here are some tips to help:

1)      In the morning, ask yourself, “What can I do today to move closer to my clearly defined goals?”  Note that the question has within it an assumption that you have clearly defined goals.

2)      At night, ask yourself, “Did I do everything I could today to move closer to my clearly defined goals?”

3)      Make note of the successes you have every day.

4)      Celebrate your successes; even verge on bragging about them – especially when you have tried something new.  It doesn’t even matter if the new thing worked.  Congratulate yourself on having tried.

5)      Share these with someone else who will congratulate you and celebrate with you.

6)      Focus on the “must haves” not the “nice to haves”

Which tiger will you choose to feed?

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