A Royal Road to the Heart

A Royal Road to the Heart

“The royal road to a man’s heart is to talk to him about the thing he treasures most.”

Relationships are the backbone of everything we do, especially in business. Whether you intentionally network or avoid small talk like the plague, relationships are something you can’t afford to ignore. A Harvard University study showed that only 15% of the reason a person gets, keeps, or advances in a job is related to technical expertise, but a crushing 85% has to do with our interpersonal skills!

Networking is a Lifestyle

Here’s the good news: the best networking is what naturally occurs in authentic, real-life relationships. Networking isn’t just something you do at professional mixers or conventions, rather, connections that leverage results are the ones we build every day. Networking is not an event, it’s a lifestyle! However, daily networking means you may need to stretch yourself socially, which can be a challenge for Americans. The APA defines Social Phobia as an (irrational) fear of looking stupid, and social phobia is especially common in the United States. Social phobia can be healthy, acting as a “social glue” in relationships and protecting our reputation. But is there a down side? Does social phobia keep us from advancing? Maybe more than we think!

Conversations: The Critical Link to Success

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

Conversations are a critical link in the chain of relationships that lead to success, so if you want to grow professionally you need to get over your nerves and genuinely enjoy people. Sweaty palms? That’s ok! The best way to conquer fear is to go out and get busy! Here is a wonderful visual memory “stack” to move conversations forward and empower you for more proactive, inspiring conversations.

The Conversational Stack

Visual #1: A huge brass nameplate.
Introductions start with names, and people love talking about themselves! Use names early and often.

Visual #2: Atop the nameplate sits a large white house.
Ask where someone lives or where they grew up. When people talk about their hometown they loosen up and you find many common connections.

Visual #3: Inside the house is a family playing board games by the fire.
Ask about family and important relationships!

Visual #4: On the fireplace is a large work glove and a clock.
Work and daily tasks are a huge part of identity. Chat about work, school, or how they spend their TIME.

Visual #5: The work glove holds the tail of an airplane.
Many people adore traveling and talk for hours about their adventures.

Visual #6: The propeller of the airplane is a tennis racket.
Ask people about leisure, hobbies, and what brings them joy.

Visual #7: The airplane propeller is attached by a lightbulb.
People love to discuss books they’ve read or concepts of interest. People think cool thoughts; encourage them to SHARE!

Visual #8: On the lightbulb stands a Private First-Class soldier.
If you want to genuinely connect, never forget to ask about Problems, Frustrations, and Concerns.

Visual #9: The soldier holds a football goal post and a trophy.
If you want to inspire, be sure to ask about goals, dreams, and accomplishments. Affirm and encourage people too!

A Guaranteed Return on Investment

Why make conversation? Because success stems from relationships, and great conversations always bring a 100% return. So, go enjoy people, and stop in to see us soon. We look forward to more wonderful conversations with you this year!

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The Conduit Theory in Practice – Speaker Willie Brown

The Conduit Theory in Practice – Speaker Willie Brown

Willie Brown, the former speaker of the California Assembly, never intended to have a political career when he was born. Brown was raised in a backwater town named Mineola, Texas, in 1934, a time when Texas and the South were not particularly conducive to the career dreams of African Americans. To find a better path, his family packed Brown on a train from Texas all the way to California. There, with the help of a professor, Brown found his calling at a state University and earned a law degree from the prestigious U.C. Hastings. However, he was yet to prove his greatest accomplishment.

In 1964, after a second try, Brown gained a seat in the California Assembly. There, he learned simply being unique didn’t get him much. He had to learn how to be a useful broker. In that respect, Brown quietly learned from his legislative tutors like Jesse Unruh and Philip Burton how to become a pivot point, a conduit between the many who want something and those with power. Positioning through legislative committees, Brown went from being a name in the Assembly to eventually to becoming its Speaker, one of the top five positions in state government. Brown held that chair for fifteen years, only to then retire and become the mayor of San Francisco in his later years.

Becoming A Conduit Point

For a business, Willie Brown’s story is an illustrative one; you don’t have to be biggest, most powerful player on the market to become instrumental. Brown, as an African American politician in the 1960s, was clearly not in the position to leapfrog right away to leadership or the Governor’s office. However, he did find a position that everyone needed and had to go through to get something. By identifying how and becoming a conduit point, Brown secured his future, which is what successful businesses do in their market.

A conduit point isn’t just limited to being between end retail customers and suppliers. Conduit businesses can easily do the same in the business-to-business market as well, often producing far greater revenues than they would on the retail side of things. However, positioning can be a challenge. One needs to see the entire market, not just a segment of it. Getting to the forest level instead of the weeds allows a business player to identify all the connection points and where being a conduit has the greatest potential for producing revenue. It also shows what is needed to be successful in that particular position. Sometimes some potential conduits are too challenging, and others may offer too little in reward for the effort. Picking the right market position takes some experience, which means a business needs to research well and study peers, suppliers, buyers, competitors, and middlemen. No one in a given market should be left out.

Willie Brown was an intensive study of his legislative peers, which is why he was able to position himself so well. He also took lessons from those more powerful than him rather than fighting them, using that knowledge to become one of the powerful ones himself. A growing business can learn a thing or two from his life example.

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The Return of the 90’s Sitcom

The Return of the 90’s Sitcom

For anyone who grew up watching the popular 90’s sitcoms, the past few years have been particularly exciting. It seems as though now is a popular time for studios and actors to bring back some of the shows in the form of spin-offs.

Take “Boy Meets World.” This popular show followed the young Cory Matthews from school through college and all the fun times and drama that came with friendships, school, and finding love. The show is now being revived into the form of “Girl Meets World,” which features Cory and his childhood sweetheart, Topanga, now raising their own family.

Similarly, the show “Full House” told the story of a single dad trying to raise his three daughters with the help of his best friend and brother-in-law. This show now follows the next generation with a spin-off that is being called, “Fuller House.”

These newer shows are providing many people with the chance to relive their childhoods and share their favorite characters with their own children. While you sit back to enjoy the latest episodes, however, you might find that they have a few things to teach us all about our latest marketing campaigns.

The Power of Relationships

The strength of both shows was in the powerful relationships that dominated the series. In “Boy Meets World,” the friendship of Cory and his friend, Shawn, as well as his relationship with his future wife, Topanga, was something that drew many people to the show. People were able to relate to the struggles of Cory as he worked to navigate these different relationships, and loved being able to see how everyone was there for him.

In “Full House,” the relationships between the three sisters and their friends and family were the driving part of the show. The girls had to learn how their own relationships were going to mature. The entire family had to be a major source of support for each other as they all struggled to find their way with the loss of the girls’ mother to a car accident before the show began. Single parents, families with multiple siblings, and extended families who all lived under the same roof could understand many of their relational experiences.

In marketing, relationships are also your driving source behind your success. You want to build relationships with everyone you meet and your customers need to know that you are there for them and can help them solve their problems.

You also want to build a strong network of relationships with other professionals. It can be a great, professional asset to have others in your industry with whom you can discuss ideas. Networks can provide you with the opportunities to build relationships with other people who can pass work along to you according to your strengths when the opportunity arises.

Finding Your Place

Both sitcoms largely revolved around the characters’ coming of age. They matured from young children into adults with their own paths. The shows followed them as they found their place and role among their social groups and wider society.

You will need to find your place within your own industry, as well. You need to accurately identify where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Learn how to market to your niche based upon those strengths, and demonstrate why you can solve the pain points of your customers.

Enjoying spin-offs of your favorite 90’s sitcoms can be a fun pastime, but it can also provide you with some valuable lessons about how to succeed in your own marketing endeavors. If you are interested in beginning a new marketing campaign, let us know. We would be happy to help you get started.

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How to Make Networking as Easy as Child’s Play

How to Make Networking as Easy as Child’s Play

Networking is an important aspect of the professional world on many levels. If you own a business, you network to find more clients, meet potential connections, and even find other companies you might collaborate with on a project one day. Those searching for a job have continuously heard how critical networking can be for finding the right fit.

Unfortunately, many of us find networking stressful. After all, it involves going up to people we’ve never met before, introducing ourselves, making small talk, and selling ourselves and our skills, all at the same time. While it may become more natural with practice, for most people it never becomes an easy process. Except, of course, for the under ten years old crowd.

While at the park the other day, two very young girls made eye contact and instantly became friends. Without so much as an introduction, they both stopped their respective games, took off toward the slide, and took turns racing each other around the playground. The mothers remarked how easy it is to find friends when you don’t even have to worry about making small talk. How do kids do it?

They’re confident.
Most little children don’t know too much about rejection just yet. When they approach a new potential friend, they don’t worry about being told ‘no.’ The child is having fun, they know they’re having fun, and they would enjoy it if the other child joined them. If the other child doesn’t want to, however, it really won’t affect the fun the first child is already having.

Business leaders need to adapt this attitude. Are you good at what you do? Do you have something important to bring to the business world? If so, be confident in those skills. Present them to new connections, and offer those folks the chance to work with you. But remember that a refusal is their loss, and don’t let it discourage you. Approach the next potential connection with the same enthusiasm.

They have something concrete in mind.
When children run up to another child on the playground, they don’t agree to play together and then idly stare at each other. Like the two little girls, they race off toward the slide or begin digging in the mud. When one child asks another to play, they already have some great activities to get started with.

When approaching another business professional, know some concrete ways you could help them directly. If you develop a software program, when the conversation turns toward business, discuss their current software situation as well as the needs of the company and how your product or expertise might be able to help.

They aren’t pushy.
Like adults, all kids have different personalities. Sometimes one child is shy or may not want to play with other kids on that particular day. If one child says they don’t want to play, that typically is the end of the discussion. The inquiring child will retreat or find someone else to play with.

Networking professionals must also find this balance. No one appreciates a connection who’s overly pushy, even after they’re told their products or services aren’t needed right now. Professionals also tend to dislike those who seem more interested in making sales instead of making more genuine connections. You should make sure to always handle rejection smoothly and, when at networking events, focus more on meeting people. The sale can always come later.

Networking is undoubtedly an art. It requires confidence, eloquence, and the ability to form connections with other professionals to grow businesses and help people find the perfect position for their talents. Imagining a networking event to be a playground for adults can help you overcome your fears and approach the others in attendance easier and with confidence.

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The Art of Networking

The Art of Networking

Networking is a critical part of growing any business. It’s through networking that people are able to make connections with potential customers and others in their field, which helps them grow their sphere of influence and get their name known. While many people understand the importance of networking, few people have the skills mastered that allow them to make full use of all its benefits. Here are some tips to allow even the greenest entrepreneur to master the art of networking.

Creating an Effective 30-Second Pitch
Once you’ve begun to develop your business, one of the most important marketing techniques you should master is the 30-second pitch. A 30-second pitch is a brief, easily understood summary of the business that you can give when you meet a new connection.

No one wants to listen to a long-winded explanation when they meet someone new. It will drive them away and make you seem less interested in forming connections and more interested in just selling. The pitch instead should be a brief introduction to what you do and intrigue the listener into learning more. Work on developing a pitch that’s informative, but also informal in tone and easy to work into a conversation.

Mastering the Business Card
Like the 30-second sales pitch, the business card should be something that helps to capture a person’s eye and tells them all they need to know about your business. Networking events typically involve exchanging countless business cards and speaking with numerous people. It can be difficult to keep track of everyone. Once the event is over, people will sit down and look at the business cards they collected. The ones they can connect with a face or that spark interest are the ones most likely to be remembered and entered into a contact list.

Make sure your contact information is easy to use and displayed prominently. The headline on the card should capture the essence of the business. Consider using a unique design that complements the card and represents you (or the person you’re creating cards for). The more ways the card can stand out from the crowd, without being too crowded or distracting, the better.

Widening the Circle of Potential Connections
Networking is not just about meeting potential clients. It’s also about meeting others within your own field. Others within the field can serve as advisers and mentors, helping new businesses to succeed. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. Developing a strong network within the field can lead to recommendations, partnerships on projects, and referrals from others whose strengths complement your own.

When working on creating this branch of the network, however, it’s also important to reciprocate. Few people will be interested in getting to know and work with a person who doesn’t seek to help others, too.

Forming Genuine Connections
The purpose of networking is not to offer a 30-second commercial that others will forget once it’s out of sight. Networking is about developing genuine relationships.

When you take a person’s business card, make sure you also take the time to follow up with them later on. Send cards for holidays and anniversaries. Make it a point to check in and make occasional conversations about topics outside of work to get to know the actual person.

People are more likely to want to do business with those they feel a personal connection with. Taking the time to develop these personal relationships can help improve your reputation and ensure you’re viewed in a positive light by others in the business world.

Networking is an important part of developing a business. It’s how many entrepreneurs gain mentors, friends, and business leads. Effective networking requires the ability to properly advertise your business while still maintaining an open and friendly demeanor. Keeping the above tips in mind will get you started on the exciting path of building a wide and complete network.

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How Not to Feel Like a Fish Out of Water at Your Next Networking Event

How Not to Feel Like a Fish Out of Water at Your Next Networking Event

Networking events such as Business After Hours and organizations like BNI and Meetup.com provide great opportunities to meet and mingle with other, like-minded businesspeople outside their place of business in a more relaxed and non-threatening environment.

Unfortunately, some entrepreneurs do not get the most of this great opportunity because they feel awkward or simply don’t know what to say or do. Instead of getting excited to start building relationships, they end up heading for a quick exit, the buffet line, the bar, or the restroom. If this describes you, there is a better way.

To make this type of networking event feel comfortable and more enjoyable, you need to have a plan. When you’re prepared, you’ll feel more in control. Being in control can help relieve the anxiety of being in a new setting and situation.

Your plan should include making new friends, building relationships, giving before asking, and looking for opportunities to grow your business. It’s important to attend business networking events. They have a social aspect but are primarily created as places to develop mutually beneficial business relationships.

4 Simple but Powerful Questions to Ask of Every New Contact

  1. “What do you do?”
  2. “How long have you been doing that?”
  3. “What do you like best about what you do?”
  4. “How would I know if someone in my circle of contacts would be a good referral for you?”

The first three questions provide an opportunity for the other person to talk about themselves, which everyone likes doing. They also allow you to start building a bond and relationship by getting to know about the other person and their interests.

The last question is the key. It will make you stand out and also serve notice to the other person that you want to help them grow their business. (Remember: you give before you get.) At the same time, it plants a seed in their mind that this in turn is also what you are there to do.

You now have a simple but very effective network marketing plan.

At your next networking event, remember to ask these four simple questions. Doing so will give you the confidence to feel like you’re where you want to be and know exactly what you’re doing there.

It’s the difference between feeling like a fish out of water and being a fisherman at the best fishing hole in town.

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How To Make Yourself Memorable in 60 Seconds

How To Make Yourself Memorable in 60 Seconds

We’ve all been there…

You’re at a Chamber of Commerce networking meeting or a neighborhood party and meet a new person. Relatively quickly the conversation turns to what you do for a living. You respond, “I’m a (fill in your profession here).” Your new friend tries really hard to express interest and not have their eyes glaze over while discreetly scanning the room to see if they can find somebody more interesting to move on to.

Ouch!

How do you change from boring to being memorable?

Step One:

Your listener is expecting you to say that you do this or that. Instead, learn how to explain what you do wrapped in a story or an example. Think about how you solved a customer problem with a solution you provided. Make it short, concise, and easy to remember.

Your goal here is to quickly and clearly state a common problem (the antagonist) that your service or solution solves in the form of a story. Obviously, if you can weave in a little drama and excitement, your story will have more impact and become memorable.

You want your listener to imagine themselves being in the circumstance you describe. The next part should be about how you and your company (the hero) came to the rescue and wiped away the problem. You want your listener to be able to easily remember this story, so they can connect you with the story and tell anyone else they meet what solution you provide because they remember your story.

You could stop here and be head and shoulders above most of your competitors, but why stop when you can really amp this up?

Step Two:

Steve Jobs was known for his amazing presentation skills when Apple would unveil a new product. He learned how to demonstrate his new products in such a memorable way that throngs would come from far distances just to attend one of his presentations.

When Steve Jobs introduced the iPod, he didn’t present it with boring engineering data. Instead, he pulled an iPod out of his shirt pocket and showed the audience that the tiny device held a thousand songs.

Can you think of a prop or example that you could pull out of your pocket that would demonstrate what problem you can solve?

This may not be practical or applicable in your situation, but if you can think of an example like the one below, you can really hammer home your message.

A psychologist raised a glass of water and asked, “How heavy is this glass of water?”

After a few guesses, she replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

She continued, “The stresses and worries of life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while, and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer, and they begin to hurt. Think about them all day long, and you’ll feel paralyzed by them, incapable of doing anything.

“I’m a psychologist that helps you put down that ‘glass of water’ before you go to bed at night.”

Who can forget a story like that?

Your way of demonstrating the problem you solve doesn’t have to be elaborate. It doesn’t even have to involve a prop. It just needs to be memorable. The key is to be able to quickly use the story and demonstration to connect it with your solution.

Step Three:

The final step is crucial to make this work.

You must practice your story to the point where you not only remember it but where it sounds natural and not scripted. There’s a fine line between the two, and your success will hinge on practicing this continually until it becomes second nature.

Your task now is to create your memorable story, come up with a way to demonstrate your solution, and practice it until you can deliver it in 60 seconds or less.

Those 60 seconds will be the difference between being unforgettable and being forgotten in the next 60 seconds.

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Effective Lead Generation From Your Local Business Chamber

Effective Lead Generation From Your Local Business Chamber

Your local business leads group and Chamber of Commerce can be great sources of leads for you and your company. Why can and not are? Because many business owners join and expect the leads to just fall in their laps without much effort on their part. Then they quit and decide that this type of lead generation simply doesn’t work for them. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Paying the monetary dues is only the first step in joining a chamber or business group. Showing up to the events regularly and showing your face is the next basic step. Being friendly and helpful is another basic prerequisite for success. But none of these are guarantees for bringing you prospects and customers. They are the entry ticket. Sadly, many stop with these steps and drop out before giving it a real chance.

What does work?

Consistency — The long-time members and those you would love to have as clients will quietly decide for themselves through your actions whether you’re someone they can trust. Caring enough to show up and be active will go a long way in building that trust. If you can’t commit to doing these basic steps, save your money and don’t join. If your sole purpose for joining is to find leads and someone to sell to, you’ve missed the main point of joining this type of organization. Sure, those are important reasons and by-products of joining, but they cannot be the sole or even the primary reasons.

Attitude — Go in with a truly helpful and positive attitude if you want to succeed. Proactively seek out opportunities to help other members in every way you can, through referring and introducing them to other members, even if those actions don’t directly benefit you. Do this, and you’ll be on the right track.

Active participation — One of the secrets to being successful with your membership is to join committees. Every group will have sub-committees for various needs and functions of the chamber. These may include groups like education committees or new member committees. Not only will you get to interact with other dedicated members in a smaller setting when you join these committees, but you’ll also get recognition and notoriety for your efforts, which will lead to more chances to get to know other members better. This takes time and is a sacrifice, but it’s extremely important to do.

To have real success from your membership, remember that you must give before you get. The more effort you can put in, the more success you can expect. It’s a long-term strategy that has a proven track record for those who can practice one of life’s golden rules.

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Become More Approachable

Become More Approachable

Many people think that simply attending social or networking events is enough to get their name out there. However, being approachable and remembered are far more important than simply showing up. Here a suggestion on how to become more approachable:

  • Always wear a nametag at company events. Seeing your name will make people feel more comfortable (especially if they’ve forgotten it), and your company name can easily be a conversation starter.
  • Extend a friendly handshake, and introduce yourself to someone new.
  • Walk slower, smile, and look around. Make eye contact with people. This makes it easier for people to get your attention. If you are hanging out in one area, put your cell phone, computer, and other distractions away, so you don’t appear too busy to visit with others.
  • Bring business cards with you everywhere. Don’t avoid people if you don’t have time to talk very long — simply say you’re sorry to be rushed. Then give the person you’re talking to your business card, and ask them to contact you to continue your conversation another time.
  • Prepare a brief, creative answer for the question, “What do you do?” An intriguing response can easily fuel a conversation.
  • Be friendly to everyone, regardless of their job status or title.
  • Avoid crossing your arms. You will appear distant and unapproachable otherwise.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. This shows you are listening.
  • Share experiences, whether successes or failures. People remember stories they can relate to more than hard facts.
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