Out of Line – Online!

I belong to several online networks. Recently, I got an email from one of the members whom I don’t know, have never talked to, and was never directly connected to in any way.

He sent out an email to many people in the online community about a new person who just joined. In it, he said: “Letting her join was the biggest mistake you will ever make. . . she is a disaster, is totally unreliable, is a total liar. You. . . have been. . . conned,” he concluded.

Wow, I was amazed that this “stranger” would send me this email. But the impersonal nature of online communications sometimes leads people to behave in ways they could never get away with in person! There are social mores that are easily bypassed when you are not looking someone in the eyes.

Whether you are dealing with face-to-face networking or online networking, the basics of etiquette and emotional intelligence should still apply. You have to be aware that when you are communicating on the internet you are still dealing with real people. Even though you may feel very powerful because you can say things and send it out to many people it doesn’t mean that you should or that it’s appropriate to do so!

The ignoramus who sent me this email would never have the stones to talk about this person “personally” to all the people (including strangers) that he emailed, but he could do it behind the relative safety of the internet. Unfortunately, this is one of the weaknesses of the powerful medium of the internet. If this individual behaved like this at an “in-person” meeting, he’d likely be thrown out! But online, he thinks he can get away with it. People like this become so disconnected with reality that they get this false sense of power (not to mention self-importance).

So, what do you say to someone who sends you such a totally inappropriate email? I told him that “I didn’t know the woman he was talking about but that his email told me a lot about him and that I did NOT want to get this type of slanderous communication again.” He surprised me with his response. He said that he didn’t know who I was and “he didn’t want to talk to nobodies” like me! At first I thought, “nobody, I don’t think I’m a nobody.” Then I thought, hmmm, maybe it’s a good thing to be a “nobody” to a nutcase!

Have you had experiences like this? If so, tell me about it. What did you say when you got an email like this? I want to hear your feedback.

Teach Your Employees To Network!

I’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately to promote my new book Masters of Sales (www.MastersBooks.Com), and on my way to a book tour date I sat next to a young man in an airport who struck up a conversation with me.  We got to talking about what each other did for a living and after explaining what I do, I found out that he worked for a small, family owned grocery business.  I commented that it was probably tough to be the “little guyâ€? in competition with the larger chain grocery stores and that his employer must be doing something right to still be in business. 

Being in the business of networking for over 20 years, it’s a no-brainer to me that my comments and inquiries about the young man’s employer were a prime opportunity for him to explain what made his company special and to possibly make a valuable networking connection that could bring in business and possibly mean a promotion for him.  But instead of taking advantage of the open door I was extending to him with my curiosity, he just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Yeah, we’ve had the same customers for years, so I guess we’re just lucky that they’re so loyal.â€?

That conversation reminded me how critically important it is to teach your employees to network!  Many business people simply don’t do this one simple thing which could dramatically boost their networking efforts.  It doesn’t matter how much you may know about networking, or how well you network to promote your business, you never know what you could be missing out on if your employees were trained to network for you.

The bottom line is that until you teach someone how to do something effectively, expecting them to do it well – or even at all – is unrealistic.

As you might imagine, it’s far better to engage your entire staff in your word-of-mouth marketing campaign-not only at startup, but also throughout the life of your business. When you show employees how to network efficiently, they are much more apt to make efforts to network; and you will have a greater chance of gaining more business.

Try holding focus groups where you role-play ways to ask for referrals from other customers, friends and family.  Bring in local networking experts for in-house trainings.  Better yet, send your staff to a networking class, like the one’s conducted by the Referral Institute.   If you belong to a weekly networking group, bring your staff to those meetings one at a time so each member can see firsthand what networking can produce.  This also helps your networking partners feel that they know your business better, since they’ve been able to meet the people in your company.  

Networking is a group activity; so, make sure to get your whole team on board with the process.  If you’ve done anything to get your employees involved in networking your business, I’d love to hear about it.

Wild Fire Fund

The wild fires ravaging Southern California bring back some horrific memories.  Just a few years ago, a 40 foot wall of flames came past my home near the foothills in Claremont (shown below).   In the photo, you can see me hosing my head down to douse the hot embers falling from the fire.  I was attempting to keep the wood beams in my backyard from catching fire as the flames swept through the open space behind my home.  More than two dozen homes burned down in my community.  Luckily, ours was not one of them.

Fire

I can relate to the feelings that many residents near these fires are experiencing.  To help the victims of the current fires in Southern California, the BNI-Misner Foundation is creating a fund to support the Red Cross efforts with helping victims of the fire.   The BNI-Misner Foundation is doing a matching fund of up to $10,000.  If you would like to join BNI in contributing to the survivors of this tragedy, please go to this URL where you can make a credit card contribution to BNI’s matching Wild Fire Fund:   

  1. Go to http://www.calfund.org/8/giving_bnimisner.php
  2. Click on the link to “make a secure contribution now” towards the bottom.
  3. Fill out the required information, and follow the prompts.

Or, checks can be sent to the BNI-Misner Charitable Foundation at 545 College Commerce Way, Upland, CA 91786.  Make sure to state that the contribution is for the matching “Wild Fire Fund”.

New Orleans – After Katrina

I spent the last few days in New Orleans for a BNI event hosting the 210 winners (and guests) of the 2007 USA Member Extravaganza for the organization.

There are two things I want to share about my visit to the area.  The first, is my impression of the business people.  It’s great to see business “start” to come back in the city.  One of the things that struck me was how so many businesses THANKED us for visiting the city and helping in some small way to bring back the economy.  It was truly dramatic.  Every time my wife and I purchased something, the stores went out of their way to thank us for our business.  When we told them were with a group of 210 people, they were extremely thankful.  It felt great to help the city and I invite you to visit New Orleans.  They definitely need more business and they appreciate it more than any group of people I’ve seen in recent years.

The second thing I want to share relates to the many stories I heard about courage and giving.  Prior to the event I mentioned above, I had an opportunity to speak to about 150 BNI and Jefferson Chamber of Commerce members in the greater New Orleans area .  I heard many stories about the hurricane and its aftermath.  One that really jumped out at me was a BNI member by the name of Dr. Morris Panter.

Dr. Panter (seen here with me at the event) told me that immediately after the hurricane, he had no practice!  His office was damaged with holes in the roof but it was still partly usable.  So, he spray painted a plywood board that said “Relief Workers Adjusted for Free.”  He told me that over the next several months he adjusted 900 relief workers helping to clean up from the disaster!

I think Dr. Panter’s story is another one of the many examples of courage and giving that we have seen come out of this horrific event.  In the face of the temporary loss of all his business, he took the time to “give” to the people helping his city.

It was an honor to speak to people throughout the greater New Orleans area and I wish them continued success in building the city’s economy back up.

How to Make the Butterfly Effect of Networking Work

I was thinking about the blog I wrote last month about the Butterfly Effect of Networking? and it occurred to me that an important part of the reason I was able to make such effective and rewarding networking connections was the way that I thought about, and therefore went about networking. Here’s what I mean by that . . .

While it’s important to know the right things to do while networking, it’s equally important to start thinking the right way to make your networking efforts as successful and dynamic as they can be. This involves altering your mind-set. Here is an up-close look at some elements you’ll want to include in your mind-set to ensure networking success:

 1. The law of reciprocity or givers gain? approach.

Don’t approach networking thinking I did this for you, now what are you going to do for me? Instead, remember the old adage Give and you shall receive? The law of reciprocity takes the focus off of what you stand to gain from the networking relationship, and in doing so, creates bonds based on trust and friendship. Put it to the test. You’ll be amazed by the outcome.

 2. Diversity in networking.

Look for groups that don’t target people just like you. In this way, you’ll broaden the net you seek to cast for referrals.

 3. Farming mentality.

It’s a long, drawn-out process to go from seeding a field to harvesting the crops and there’s no quick return. But, when you spend time and take care in building relationships, your networking will yield extraordinary results.

Approaching networking with a mentality that focuses on the process of cultivating referrals will create the results you desire. Make an effort to spend more time strengthening your friendships with those whom you wish to have as part of your networking circle and you will certainly make more and better connections.

Teaching My Daughter About Business Cards

One of my daughters recently invested in her first set of business cards and as I was coaching her on the key points of efficient business card use, I was thinking about all of the people that carry around business cards on a daily basis who simply do not realize what an absolutely crucial and valuable tool this one little card is!

Your business card is one of the most important networking tools you have in your quest for increased referrals.  Can you envision a reality where 20—30 people in your word-of-mouth marketing circle carry your cards and have them ready to hand to prospects they’re actually qualifying for you?  That’s what can happen if you use your business card efficiently!

In order to make the most of your business card:

* Make Your Cards Accessible in Every Situation

In short, don’t leave home without them! Keep a small box of your cards in your glove box, put cards in your pocket, your briefcase, wallet and computer bag.

* Seek Situations to Exchange Business Cards

One-on-one meetings, mixers and social events, conventions and trade shows, visits to non-competing businesses, and international meetings and events all present excellent opportunities to exchange your card.


* Contacts at a Distance

Whenever you communicate with someone in writing, send a card if it’s appropriate for the occasion.  Also, after any telephone call in which business was discussed, follow up with a letter outlining the main points of your discussion and include one or more of your cards.


* Special Tricks of the Trade

When giving out your card, hand-write something on one copy, such as your cell-phone number, a secondary e-mail address, etc.  This will give that particular card a greater chance of being held onto. Be sure you give a couple of “cleanâ€? cards to that person as well.   The main thing when handing out your card is to keep in mind what an effective tool it can be.  Take maximum advantage of its full potential. And never, ever, be caught without it.

What To Say When You Don’t Remember Them?

I got a great question today from a chef that I thought I would share with you:

I was in a store last week when a person shouted out, “Hi Chef” I faced the person and drew a complete blank.  Not only did I not know this person’s name, I didn’t recognize them at all.  So I smiled and said “Hi I’m fine” and kept on going. 

I was disappointed with my reaction.  Other choices were to stop and engage a conversation and fake it, hoping to pick up a clue to help me remember.  Or to come right out and say, “I’m sorry I can’t remember your name” or say, “I know you but I don’t remember from where.”

What do I do in a situation like this???

 

A good response in a situation like this is to say something like, “Hi, good to see you.”  Then, start a simple conversation.  For example, if they are in a grocery store, (since this was a chef) ask them what they were planning for their big meal or whatever works in that situation.  The key here is to say “good to see you.”  Clearly, they know you, so you don’t want to say “nice to meet you” because they most likely have met you and will feel put off that you didn’t remember them.  This allows you to start a dialog without being obvious that you don’t remember them. 

 

OK, I’ll admit it. . . I’ve learned this the hard way – from experience! 


What do you think about this approach or, what have you done in this situation?

 

"Act as if. . ." Party

I’m spending a couple days at Jack Canfield’s home in Southern California participating in a strategic planning session for an organization I belong to called the Transformational Leadership Council (an organization he founded about 4 years ago for trainers and thought leaders).

Kathryn Lodal, one of my Executive Directors for BNI requested that I ask Jack a great question that I thought would make a good topic to discuss in my blog today. In Jack’s latest book, “Success Principle’s,” one of the things he recommends that people do is to create an event where they “act as if” they were the person they aspired to be 5 years from now! Kathryn wanted to know how to best do that. So, I asked Jack for some suggestions and I loved his response.

Jack suggests that people put on an “Act as if” event where everyone comes dressed as the person they want to be five years from now. He said the key to making this work is using props and video recording the event. Make sure that you create a vision for where you would like to be and to record that vision so that you can more effectively attract that in to your life. Dress like the person you want to be, talk like the person you want to be, create a story around the person that you want to be, and make sure to record that vision during the event.

I’d love to hear from anyone that has done this and how the event worked out. I know that Kathryn and her BNI members in San Diego will be doing it a few months from now and and I can’t wait to see the video!

Brand "You" by Writing

I just found out this week that my most recent book, Masters of Sales, hit the New York Times Bestsellers list.  Of course I am ecstatic about this, but it also got me thinking about what an amazingly powerful advertising and branding tool it is to be a an author.  With each article and each book that I write, I am building brand recognition for me and for my business.  This is a technique that has worked well for many people I know.   For years I’ve recommended that people write as a way of developing personal and professional credibility in their business.  I’m always amazed at how many people say it’s a great idea but then don’t actually do anything about it.

Recently, I’ve formed a small mentoring program for people within my business to brainstorm and talk about writing and how to get published.  Since then, many of these people have published dozens and dozens of articles.  As a result, I thought I would share some of my thoughts on how “you” might like to begin this process.

Let’s be real here—most business people certainly do not have time to sit down and write an entire book, but writing articles are something that most people could find time to do at least once a month.  Writing articles consistently and for an extended period of time is a plausible, virtually costless way to brand yourself and your business by increasing visibility and enhancing credibility in the community—it’s just an idea that most people are simply too lazy to implement.

But for those who are willing to step up to the task, here is my best advice:

• Think about the things you know and understand best, pick out the elements of that knowledge that might be of interest to the general public, and then review the types of media outlets that write for that audience.

• Either by phone or letter, tell an editor why readers will be interested in the feature idea you have or why it’s newsworthy (or better yet, use your network to connect with the editor).

• Stick with it and remain consistent in submitting articles and before you know it, you will be well on your way to branding yourself as a local expert through being a recognized, published author.

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