Entrepreneurial Excellence Dream Team

Frank DeRaffele Jr., host of the Entrepreneurial Excellence radio show, has been a good friend of mine for years and his show is a great tool for entrepreneurs everywhere.  He recently brought on a “dream team” of CEOs, authors, coaches and consultants to join his show to help the small business entrepreneur, and I am privileged to have been asked to be a part of the team.

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I’ve spent the past 25 years of my life helping small-business entrepreneurs grow their businesses through the referral process, and I think Frank’s show and the dream team are incredible resources for the business owner.  I am honored to be on the team with Ken Blanchard, Michael E. Gerber, Larry Winget, Marci Shimoff and Jay Conrad Levinson.

The purpose of the Entrepreneurial Excellence show is to provide a free resource of information and education for the small-business entrepreneur who is always looking for ways to improve.  You can listen to the show live or listen to its archived episodes by visiting EERadioShow.com.

Let me know what you think of the show.  Frank is a regular reader of this column.

‘The Way Out’–How to Beat the Recession

I’ve always said that I “refuse to participate in a recession,” and I just co-authored a new e-book on business and success that helps people learn how to go about doing just that.  the-way-out-cover10.jpg

The book was co-authored with 11 of the world’s foremost authorities on business. It’s called The Way Out!–Your GPS “Guided Path to Success,” and it is a road map for how to steer clear of the recession and drive toward success and prosperity. It was published by iLearningGlobal with the goal of giving people everywhere turn-by-turn directions to help navigate away from challenges such as the current economic state, and toward the destination of their personal, professional and financial goals.

You can download the e-book for free by clicking on the picture of the book cover to the right. The reason we are distributing this book for free and prohibiting it from being sold is because it is our sincere effort to offer a real bailout and stimulus package to businesspeople and organizations worldwide so they can get out of debt, create security and, ultimately, prosper.

You can read my article, “Networking Mixers: Break the Ice, Build Your Contacts and Grow Your Business,” on page 49. The rest of the book is full of tremendous articles by other iLearningGlobal faculty members. A few examples are: “How to Get RED HOT in a Cool Market” by Terri Murphy, “How to Sell in a Tough Economy!” by Don Hutson, “Deciding to Decide: How to Thrive in Chaos” by Marsha Petrie Sue and “Freeway of Life” by Brian Tracy.

I’m proud to be a part of this project, and I strongly encourage you to read through the book and refuse to participate in a recession by putting the powerful tools it offers to use. By the way, if you’re not familiar with iLearningGlobal, it’s the world’s largest, highest-quality online library of professional and personal development content by the world’s top speakers, authors and thought leaders.  If you want to learn more about iLearningGlobal, please CLICK HERE.

When you download the free e-book, let me know what you think about it here on this blog.

Networking Downloadables

networkingnow_microbanner3.gifSome months back, I posted a blog entry telling people about a website I’m affiliated with called NetworkingNow.com.  In that blog post, I encouraged people to check out the site and try out the service for free for 30 days.  Quite a few people took me up on the free offer, and I got a lot of great feedback from people saying they planned to continue using NetworkingNow.com after the trial period.  Because of that, I have decided to extend the offer again.

NetworkingNow.com is a site where you can gain instant access to dynamic networking information via the web and learn the most successful strategies to build your business through networking.  The site offers dozens of downloadable PDF articles, MP3 audio files and digital books as part of its downloadable library.  It has also recently added video content.  Subscribers receive full access to the wealth of online and downloadable content, which is refreshed monthly.

So feel free to visit the site. And if you think you might be interested in joining the NetworkingNow.com community of networking expertise, try it out for free for 30 days.  To take advantage of this offer, go to NetworkingNow.com, click “subscribe now,” select the 30-day subscription, and enter: free30days in the coupon field.  Your first 30 days will be free, but if you want to continue after that you’ll be billed at the monthly subscription rate.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Did I Miss the Memo?

There seems to be a new trend in keeping appointments that I was completely unaware of until recently. You see, I’ve always operated under the assumption that when I set an appointment with someone for a meeting, a lunch or some kind of face-to-face engagement, it is presumed I’m going to be there unless I notify them otherwise.  However, it has recently come to my attention that I’m apparently no longer safe in assuming that this is the case.

Just last week, I received a frantic call from a man who had confirmed a lunch meeting with me a few weeks ago.  He called because he seemed uncertain if we were still on for lunch.  On a side note, I find it quite interesting that when he called, he was 90 minutes away from our meeting destination and our lunch meeting was supposed to start in 30 minutes!

More and more, I am experiencing scenarios very similar to this, and the emerging trend I’m beginning to see is that if you schedule an appointment and don’t hear from the other party again before the scheduled date, this means that the appointment has been magically and mysteriously canceled by the appointment fairies.

I’m not alone in this either . . . my wife, Beth, had the same experience last week with a group of ladies she was planning a brunch for.  “When I didn’t hear from you over the weekend, I presumed it was off,” she was told by one of the five ladies who didn’t show up.

When did this start happening?  Did I miss the memo?  Maybe it’s tied to the “reminder call” system that most of my doctors are using now.  The front desk now has the task of calling clients a day or two before their appointment to remind them that the doctor is expecting them at such and such a time. (Beth told me that spas and beauty salons are now doing this same thing, but I can’t really vouch for that since my personal experience in that area amounts to none.)  If doctors didn’t have the front desk call me to remind me of my appointment and I went ahead and presumed my appointment was canceled as a result, I wonder if they would waive the no-show fee when I didn’t show up?  Hmmm . . . I doubt it.

So—I am hereby stating for the record—if you set an appointment with me, it’s firm unless you hear otherwise.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a new trend coming on when it comes to appointment protocol . . . can someone please send a memo? (I must have missed the last one.)

Face-to-Face Vs. Online Networking

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Photo courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

While I was in Stockholm giving a presentation on networking recently, a European newspaper reporter with a major publication arranged to do an interview with me. Upon arrival, he really started putting me on the spot about online networking, telling me it is replacing the face-to-face process. He was almost militant in expressing his point of
view and was essentially telling me that traditional networking is going the way of the buggy whip.
 Honestly, I was surprised and a little annoyed at first that this reporter was being so confrontational about networking and I finally asked him:

“Why are you here to do this interview?”

He seemed confused and asked, “What do you mean?”

I said, “I mean, why did you drive all the way out here to this big stadium to meet with me in person just to do this interview? We could have easily done it by phone.”

He looked at me and said, “Interviews are better face-to-face.”

“Exactly! I rest my case,” I replied. “Networking is much the same . . . it beats communicating online, or over the phone, because nothing can ever fully replace an in-person conversation.”

The reporter relented. “Yeah, I get it,” he said, “that makes sense. Some things are much better in person. It’s true.”

Some things are just better in person. Networking is one of them. This doesn’t mean that online networking isn’t valuable–far from it. Online networking is a powerful tool in our arsenal of networking strategies. However, it shouldn’t be the only tool we use because sometimes it’s simply not the best one. For me, the bottom line regarding face-to-face networking vs. online networking is that I don’t think it should be an “either-or” scenario; I think it should be a “both-and” scenario if you want to build a strong personal network.

Until the time comes when we can have a face-to-face meeting with a holographic image like the Jedi Knights of Star Wars, it’s probably still a good idea to network in person whenever possible. 250px-obi-wan_headshot.jpg

By the way, when the world advances to a point where we can do the “Star Wars Networking” thing, I have dibs on being Obi-Wan Kenobi. Come on, it only makes sense.  You have to admit you see the resemblance, right?  I mean, if you slap a dashing smile on his face, we’re practically brothers!  OK, OK . . . maybe I went too far with the “dashing smile” bit, but just remember that I called dibs first. 🙂

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How to Really Use LinkedIn

My friend Jan Vermeiren has a new book out called How to Really Use LinkedIn and, put simply, it’s a must-read for anybody who wants to grow a business through networking. Even if you’re already a member of a referral or network organization, Jan offers powerfully advanced strategies on how LinkedIn can help you get even more out of your membership.

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The fact is, it’s vital in any economic situation–especially a bad one–to have a network to fall back on or build upon. New opportunities are now open to all of us, thanks to the internet, and LinkedIn is one of the most valuable websites to provide networking on a professional level. More than 34 million people now have a profile on LinkedIn, and the question most people ask is: “How can I benefit from this website without spending too much?”

How to Really Use LinkedIn shows you how to use LinkedIn by giving you a short, step-by-step plan to get immediate results. It also offers advanced strategies for finding new customers, a new job, employees, suppliers, experts and people who can help you get your job done faster. Jan also gives answers to the 24 most frequently asked questions and an overview of 22 little-known LinkedIn features that can make or break your networking activity on LinkedIn.

CLICK HERE for more details about the book, free webinars, and more.

Six Degrees of Separation: Why You Can’t Always Trust Conventional Wisdom

It’s fascinating how information can get distorted in the minds of the public and turn into urban myths.  Just think about Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny (Kris Kringle–I know you’ve written me to let me know you are real but . . . work with me here).

A classic example of the process that breeds urban myths is the idea that everyone on earth is separated by just six degrees of separation from everyone else.  It’s a popular piece of “conventional wisdom” and was the basis for a film starring Will Smith and Donald Sutherland.

The idea actually stems from some experiments done in the late ’60s by social psychologist Stanley Milgram, who asked participants in Nebraska to send a parcel across the United States to a stranger in Boston via people they knew.  Milgram found that there tended to be about six degrees of separation between the senders in Nebraska and the recipient in Boston.

So, why is “six degrees” an urban myth?  Well, the fact that has been omitted time and again is that only 29 percent of the parcels ever got to the intended recipient in Boston.  This means that only 29 percent of the participants were truly connected by six degrees, and the other 71 percent of participants were not.

What does this teach us about business networking?  The answer is this: To become a successful networker, it’s critical to be a part of the minority of people who truly are well-connected.  There are a few key behaviors that will get you there, and I give a few essential tips on joining the connected 29 percent in my new show on yourBusinessChannel.  Watch the show now by clicking here.

Talk About Benefits, Not Features

 

Sales training often teaches that customers make buying decisions based on 1) their emotions and 2) the value the product or service brings to them. Customers choose a product or service based on its benefits, not its features. The features are simply the bare-bones facts–the elements or significant parts–of the product or service. The benefits are its value to the customer–how it will solve their problems, eliminate their pain and make life better.

Unfortunately, most businesspeople tend to talk in terms of features instead of benefits.  As professional experts and salespeople, that’s what they’re most familiar with.  They’re not accustomed to looking at their products or services from a customer’s perspective.

When you formulate the message you want your networking partners to convey about your business, put yourself in the customer’s place.  What are the benefits of your product or service?  Remember to simplify your message and make it specific–how will your product or service make the customer’s life or business easier, more comfortable, more satisfying or more profitable?

When you shorten and simplify your message so that you, and others in your network, can communicate the benefits of your business more clearly, customers won’t have to think very hard to understand why they should buy your product or service.  So try this out and see what kind of results you get . . . then come back and leave a comment to share the outcome with the rest of us.

I’ll Have an ‘Entrepreneur on Ice,’ Please

dsc04691.JPGI just spent time in Kiruna, Sweden–home of the legendary ICEHOTEL and Ice Bar.  It was an amazing experience that I recommend to everyone. A large portion of the hotel facility is completely made of ice. Although there are normal hotel rooms at this location for the faint of heart, the truly brave live big and stay in the amazing “ice accommodations.” This portion of the hotel is a completely different set of buildings and has about 90 rooms along with a truly unique Ice Bar (seen here to the right). The ICEHOTEL and Ice Bar are both completely made of ice (including the tables, chairs and,  yes, even the drinking glasses).

The beds at the ICEHOTEL are made of ice with a small foam mattress and reindeer hides covering them (see below).  They are actually fairly comfortable and, with the high-quality sleeping bags, the room is fairly warm despite the fact that it is minus 5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit) inside the hotel and 22 Celsius (minus 8 degrees Fahrenheit) outside.

dsc04678.JPGI had the opportunity to meet one of the co-founders of the Hotel and Bar, Kerstin Nilsson. Kerstin and husband Yngve Bergvist started the hotel in 1990 when they did a small exhibition of art in a custom-made igloo on the frozen Torne River, which is adjacent to the hotel.  It turns out that one night a group of foreign guests, equipped with reindeer hides and sleeping bags, thought it would be a good idea to use the cylindrical-shaped igloo as accommodations.  The next morning the group raved about the unique experience of sleeping in an igloo, and the ICEHOTEL was born.

The hotel and bar have since become famous for their unique concept and famous works of ice art.  Even the chandeliers are made of ice, as seen in the last photo below.  The entire hotel, bar and art all melt away each spring and are re-created with a new design each November.

The conversation I had with Kerstin was interesting. They have partnered with Absolut Vodka and have now franchised the idea of the Ice Bar with locations in Stockholm, London, Tokyo and Copenhagen, in addition to the original. They are planning on many more locations but have not released them as of yet. I told her that if they open one in Los Angeles, I am soooo there!dsc04700.JPG

The ICEHOTEL and Ice Bar are a classic case of how creative entrepreneurship works.  A small hotel in a VERY far-away portion of a country comes up with a little idea (an exhibition hall made of ice) to help build its business. This idea (with a lot of hard work) turns into a hotel and bar. The bar spins off into a worldwide franchise co-developed by a major Vodka company–and a small business becomes an international one. I love the creativity of entrepreneurship.

You can see more photos of my visit to the ICEHOTEL and Ice Bar by going to my FaceBook page.  You can also see more about the hotel and bar by going directly to the website at ICEHOTEL.com.

 

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