Entrepreneur in Space

I had the pleasure of witnessing the unveiling of WhiteKnightTwo at the Mojave Spaceport in California this week (yes, I said “spaceport,” not airport). The WhiteKnightTwo is Virgin Galactic’s carrier aircraft, which will ferry SpaceShipTwo and thousands of private astronauts, science packages and payloads into suborbital space within the next few years. The rollout represents a major milestone in Virgin Galactic’s quest to launch the world’s first private space program for people, payloads and science.

Sir Richard Branson is the Founder of Virgin Galactic, and the WhiteKnightTwo was christened “Eve” in honor of his mother. I’ve had a couple of opportunities to meet Sir Richard, and I’ve been impressed with his natural charisma and people skills. I talked about my first meeting with him on Necker Island in my blog post, The Butterfly Effect of Networking.

As a result of spending a week on his island in the Caribbean, I was invited to attend the rollout of the new Mothership for Virgin Galactic. It was an amazing experience. The invitees were flown from LAX to the Mojave desert via a Virgin America charter, appropriately named, My Other Ride is a Spacesalg_richard_bransonhip. There, we were brought into a hanger operated by Burt Rutan, founder of Scaled Composites and designer of the WhiteKnightTwo.

Inside the hanger, Virgin Galactic CEO Will Whitehorn and other company representatives spoke about the progress of the program, with the Virgin Galactic logo on a white canvas in the background (seen in the photo on the right).

After the presentation, they did a 10 second-launch countdown and the canvas dropped to reveal the WhiteKnightTwo (shown in the photo below), which had been brought into position outside the hanger doors after everyone was seated. It was a dramatic and impressive thing to witness firsthand.

Later, Sir Richard and Rutan took questions from the audience. During this portion of the event they spoke about the fact that testing for the WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo will take roughly 18 months to three years. When that is complete, they hope to be ready to start conducting private, suborbital flights with paying passengers. Within the next 10 to 15 years, it is their vision to have more than a dozen spaceports conducting regular launches for suborbital flights for the public on a continuous basis (entrepreneurism in space!).

Later that night, I had an opportunity to attend a private party in Bel Air for people who attened the rollout and other guests. There, I had a chance to talk directly with Rutan. This was an amazing conversation, because he shared with me incredible plans for the future of space entrepreneurism.

He told me that he believes the cost for private space travel can be cut to a fraction of the current price tag once the program is fully in place. In addition, he said that eventually Virgin Galactic wants to have a space hotel, with spaceships shuttling guests from earth into outer space. I told him I thought that was a bold long-term vision. He looked me in the eyes and said, “That’s just our mid-term vision.” I was taken aback by that and asked what his long-term vision is for private space travel. He said: “private space trips from the earth to the moon and back.” Now that’s what I call vision!

SpaceShipOne now resides in the Smithsonian Institute’s Air and Space Museum. I believe it’s there for a good reason. Branson, Rutan, and the teams at Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites are making history by doing what very few countries in the world have ever done. They are putting together a program to send thousands of private citizens into space and return them safely. Frankly, I think they’re going to be successful and they are going to achieve it at a fraction of the cost it takes governments to send people into space.

Who knows, maybe the space hotel will happen in my lifetime. If so, I’m looking forward to the first business networking meetings at the Virgin Galactic Earth-Space Hotel. From there, the whole idea that “business is out of this world” takes on a whole new meaning.

What are your thoughts about entrepreneurism in space? Feel free to share them here.

Prepare to Network

I attended a networking event last week where it became immediately clear to me that a few of the networkers I interacted with were not at all prepared. It really bothered me because, to be blunt, if you haven’t done the simple, basic preparations to network properly then you’re not only wasting your time, you’re wasting the time of the other networkers you talk to.

Preparing to network is not difficult; you simply need to follow these basic networking commandments:

* Have the proper networking tools with you (name badge, business cards, contact info of your referral partners).
* Set a reachable goal for the number of people you’ll meet, and then get all their cards.
* Act like a host, not a guest.
* Listen and ask questions.
* Don’t try to close a deal.
* Give referrals whenever possible.
* Spend roughly 10 minutes or so with each person you meet.
* Exchange cards and write notes on the backs of cards you get so that you are sure to remember people clearly.
* Follow up!

No matter how long you’ve been networking, it’s always good to remind yourself to consistently follow these steps. If you do, you’re sure to get the best possible results from your networking efforts. And other networkers, like myself, will thank you for making good use of their time.

Get Your Networking Program Off the Ground

It’s often been said that “starting is the hardest part” of a project. Well, building your business through networking and word-of-mouth marketing for your business is no exception.

Here are four things you can do to get your program off to a strong start:

1. Don’t be a cave dweller: Get out and meet people!
2. Know how to ask for the referral. Learn and develop specific techniques that will help you hone your ability to ask for the referrals you want.
3. Consciously select at least three business or networking groups to join in the next three months (chambers of commerce, community service groups, trade associations, strong contact networks such as BNI, etc.).
4. Develop a creative incentive to encourage people to send referrals your way (If you’re a music store owner, for example, you might send music tickets to people who refer business to you).

The bottom line is: Get out there and make diverse contacts, be specific in your approach, and help others in creative and enthusiastic ways–so they’ll want to refer you business!

The Hard Path is Easier

I am writing to you today from beautiful Vail, Colorado, while attending a meeting of the Transformational Leadership Council. TLC is a group made up of trainers and “thought leaders” helping to transform people’s lives in various ways.

During the five days of seminars and meetings, I had an opportunity to sit in on a presentation by Steve D’Annunzio that I felt compelled to write about. Steve spoke of many things, but one point that really resonated with me was his discussion of taking the easy path or the hard path in the decisions that we make throughout life.

He said, “taking the hard path often makes life easier and taking the easy path often makes life harder!”

I thought about how that applies to what I teach people in business. I’ve used a phrase for years: “It’s not net-sit or net-eat, it’s net-work! If you want to be successful in your networking efforts, you have to work the process consistently and regularly. I see people nod their heads in agreement and then go out and continue to go through the motions of networking and relationship building, refusing to do the hard work necessary to create a powerful network.

The real irony of this is that those are the same people who later say this “networking” thing doesn’t work for them, and they continue to struggle in business. They take the easy path, and business continues to be hard. On the other hand, I see many people who truly work hard at building relationships and going deep in their networking efforts. These are the people who consistently see great results over time. What seems like hard work at first leads to things being easier for them later.

He asked, “Are you practicing hard/easy or are you practicing easy/hard in your life?

A powerful question with significant meaning. So, I’d love to hear from you. What have you done in your life that seemed hard but made life easier or, what have you done that seemed easy but made life harder?

The Power of Authoring

Building credibility and recognition are two important pieces of the networking process that definitely help grow your network and your business. Becoming an author is a technique that has worked well to develop personal and professional credibility for many people I know. Authoring is an extremely powerful advertising and branding tool, because with each article and/or book you write, you are building brand recognition for you and your business.

As an example of how powerful it is to be labeled an author, just look at the way the media reacts to it. Let’s say you approach the media and ask them to interview you about your business. Nine times out of 10, they’ll tell you to take out an ad; but, over and over again, I’ve seen them interview anyone with a book!

 

If you’ve written articles or a book or you have something in the works and you don’t know how to get it in the public eye, I highly recommend a website called PromoteABook.com to help you with this process. There is some great content there for authors and budding authors.

‘Million Dollar Challenge’ for Entrepreneurs

If you have a great business or a great idea that you want to take to the next level, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to apply for yourBusinessChannel’s Million Dollar Challenge contest. The contest is the result of yourBusinessChannel’s upcoming, online TV series “The Million Dollar Team,” which features entrepreneurial advice and instruction from a team of business experts–which would cost more than a million dollars if they were hired in the real world.

Ahead of the show’s launch, its producers are calling for businesses to fill 25 “hot seats” to get direct input into their businesses from the Million Dollar Team.

I’ve been asked to sit on the team of experts alongside experienced and talented businesspeople such as Kevin Roberts (global CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi), Penny Power (Founder of Ecademy.com), Tom Smith (acclaimed social media expert from Universal McCann), David Meerman Scott (viral marketing guru whose online campaigns have sold more than $1 billion in products and services worldwide) and many others. These people are world-class experts in their field and, between all of us, we have helped thousands of businesses to prosper.

The Million Dollar Challenge is open to businesses of any size and stage, anywhere in the world. The key requirement is that they be businesses with real substance or promise that need an injection of leading-edge advice to grow to the next level, fast. I think this is a chance-of-a-lifetime opportunity. If you have a business with real potential, applying to receive free, extra-close attention from a “million dollar” team of world-class experts is a no-brainer.

Take a look here to find out more about the contest and to apply.

I have found yourBusinessChannel to be a tremendous resource for entrepreneurs and businesspeople everywhere. You can keep your eye out for more of the site’s great shows by clicking here.

Get Published Without the Hassle

I’ve always said that writing books and articles is a great way to help establish visibility and credibility in your networking efforts. Fortunately, it’s just gotten easier to “distribute” what you’ve written.

I recently had an opportunity to spend the day “telling stories” with an old friend, Mark Victor Hansen (co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series). It had been a long time since we had spoken, and we did a little reminiscing about our past experiences.

We also talked about our recent projects. Mark spoke about his goal to help people share their books and articles with the world. As a result of that effort, he helped create YouPublish.com, a website that enables anyone to publish his or her books or articles online. (Mark’s wearing a YouPublish.com hat in the photo, in case you wondered why he’s pointing to his head.) The great thing about the site is that you can produce and release new works quickly, distribute your library of unpublished works, expand your readership base and get introduced to international markets.

The website allows you either to distribute your material for free or to charge for the content if you wish. It’s up to you. YouPublish handles all the administration, which makes for a user-friendly and hassle-free site. I’m really impressed with YouPublish, and I think it provides a much-needed, extremely useful service. Since talking to Mark about the site, I’ve personally uploaded a number of my books and articles for distribution via this digital format at YouPublish.com/Networking.

Take a look. There’s no upfront cost, and the site offers a great service. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Afraid of Public Speaking?

Public speaking is one of the best ways to build your network by making yourself visible to large groups of people. Unfortunately, to some degree, many people are afraid of public speaking. I’ve stood in front of groups of people and given speeches and presentations all over the world, and I’ll be the first to admit that standing in front of an audience and talking while all eyes are on you can sometimes be intimidating. That’s no reason to miss out on the amazing opportunity to grow your network through public speaking.

Here are five suggestions for people who are nervous doing presentations at their networking groups or otherwise:

1. Prepare an outline of what you want to say and practice it.

2. Be specific and only talk about the things you know best.

3. Use handouts, visuals or PowerPoint slides to help carry you through the talk.

4. You’re the expert–think of ways to show it that aren’t threatening to you.

5. Be creative and think of ways you’re comfortable with to communicate your information.

The Word of Mouth Manual

I just ran across a good e-book on word of mouth that I definitely think is worth a read. The book is called the Word of Mouth Manual by Dave Balter and is available free as a downloadable here. You can also buy a hardcopy version of the book from Amazon.

The process of word-of-mouth marketing and networking are, in many ways, inextricably tied. I teach people how to network to build visibility and credibility in order to generate referrals (word of mouth). Although this book doesn’t really talk about networking, it thoroughly covers the process of word of mouth, primarily from an advertising and marketing perspective. However, it offers several valuable insights for both networking and word of mouth.

Here are a few key points from the book:

  • There is a growing emergence of the “shared collective experience.” People love to share their experiences–good, bad, and otherwise.

  • What is a word-of-mouth conversation actually worth monetarily? One study says it’s “worth 1,000 times more than a standard ad impression” (arguably a high estimate). Dave offers a formula on page 33 that is worth consideration.

  • “From the outside, word of mouth seems like an awfully easy channel to tap into . . . But the reality is that the power of the medium is affected by the most subtle of social norms. It’s about how we talk to each other and what makes us willing to share our opinions, which makes it a more flexible and fluid medium than any other.”

I don’t completely agree with the comments about word of mouth and cultural differences. Often people point to the fact that every culture is different and, therefore, there are concerns about “word of mouth” transcending cultural differences.

In my opinion, what is generally overlooked is that word of mouth in different countries doesn’t happen outside the cultural context; it happens inside the cultural context. Cultural differences become an issue when Americans are trying to work with Brits, Brits are trying to work with Scandinavians, Scandinavians with Malaysians or Malaysians with Australians, etc. But word of mouth tends to work well when it happens primarily within a specific cultural context (There’s a whole blog I can do on this subject!).

Suffice it to say that I’m not in complete agreement with Balter on this issue, but I completely recommend the book as a valuable read to anyone who wants to build his or her business through word of mouth.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
   Follow Me

Get every new post delivered to your inbox