Audit Your Activities — “Navigating the VCP Process(R) to Networking” Series

TR Garland (pictured with me in the photo below) is a friend of mine and co-author of one of my most recent #1 best-selling books called “Building The Ultimate Network.”  He’s also considered a top trainer for the Referral Institute. 

For some time now, we’ve both observed a need to drill down on one of the most important and foundational concepts to networking – The VCP Process®.  Five months ago, we started a much-anticipated 12-part monthly series of blog posts which addresses this and contains some very timely information for networkers across the globe.  Today, we’re proud to share with you Part 5 of the series.  Enjoy.

 

AUDIT YOUR ACTIVITIES
(Part 5 of 12 of the “Navigating The VCP Process® To Networking” Series)

In Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 , and Part 4 of this series, we introduced and re-introduced the concept and steps of The VCP Process® to Networking for our readers through brief anecdotes, relevant comparisons, and sometimes even humorous situations.

Today, we’d like to share with you one laser-focused Power Habit that you can use on a weekly basis to increase the number of referrals you receive. And, that Power Habit is based upon the following underlying Success PrincipleIt’s not always about the ACT of the ACTIVITIES that one should focus on. It’s the ANALYSIS of those ACTIVITIES that produces your greatest results.

A close friend of ours, Jim Cathcart (www.Cathcart.com), is listed in the professional Speaker Hall of Fame and is a very well-known author and speaker on the topic of Sales.  In fact, for 3 years in a row Jim has been selected as one of the Top 5 Speakers on Sales & Service.  So, I guess what we’re saying is that we believe “Jim knows his stuff!”  And in a recent conversation, he said: “Things that are measured tend to improve.”

It got us thinking that nothing could be truer, especially in the process of getting referrals.  Many networkers actually become Referral Institute clients because they want the trainers to hold them accountable for their weekly actions so that they get improved results.  We actually steer them towards an amazing online referral tracking tool called Relate2Profit (www.Relate2Profit.com) to help them hold themselves accountable.  But for today’s conversation, let’s take baby steps.  Let’s talk about something you can do with tools you already have at your disposal…a pen and your Daily Planner.

Our focus is measuring your weekly activities and how they relate to moving people in your network through The VCP Process® all the way from Visibility through Credibility to Profitability.

Here are the recommended steps:

  • First thing every Monday morning block off 5 minutes.
  • Write down the names of 5 people who you want passing you steady referrals.
  • Next, in your Daily Planner block off a 2 minute segment of time for each of the 5 days of the week.
  • Then, during each of those separate 2 minute segments choose 1 of the 5 people who you want passing you steady referrals.
  • Finally, TAKE ACTION by doing something to help YOU move that person (who YOU chose) through The VCP Process® to networking on your behalf.

For example, if you are only at Visibility with 1 of those 5 people, what can you do in those 2 minutes to help you move to Credibility with them?  Or, if you are only at Credibility with 1 of those 5 people, what can you do in those 2 minutes to help you move to Profitability with them?

At a loss for ideas on what you can do in 2 minutes to help compel someone to pass you referrals?  Here’s a brief list of activities that you might want to consider:

  • Search the web for an article relevant to their professional (or personal) goals and email it to them.
  • Go to their Facebook timeline or LinkedIn profile and comment on one of their recent posts to show that you care about what they care about.
  • Send them an email acknowledging that you’re aware of who an ideal client is for them…and let them know you’ll continue to be on the lookout.
  • Call them up and invite them to accompany you on a meeting you already have scheduled with a prospective client of yours.

As noted above, this is a recommended series of actions that we suggest you implement on a weekly basis.  If you do, the COMPOUND EFFECT of these weekly Power Habits will deliver you massive results in the medium and long term with your business relationships.

If this seems too simplistic to you right now, please take special note of the following.  In a recent survey over a 12 week period, when asked if they REGULARLY dedicated just 2 minutes for each of the 5 days of the week to perform ANY of the above recommended actions towards staying “top of mind” with prospective Referral Sources…less than 50% of the respondents reported that they did not.

This means that people have identified key Contact Sphere Professionals who should be passing them referrals.  BUT, they go weeks and weeks without performing small actions to compel these people to pass them referrals or even to stay top of mind!

Where would you fit into this survey?

In closing, we’d like to recommend you consider that the above Power Habit that can be performed is actually only 15 minutes of your work week.  If you work a standard 40 hour week, it’s less than 1% of your time investment for that week.  We believe that there should be no excuse for not dedicating 1% of your work week to “staying top of mind” with prospective Referral Sources.  Do you agree? 

We thank you for reading today’s post and extend an invitation to be on the lookout for next month’s contribution to this series – Part 6 called “The ABC’s of Business Networking”.

Expose Yourself!–“Navigating the VCP Process(R) to Networking” Series

TR Garland (pictured with me in the photo below) is a friend of mine and co-author of one of my most recent #1 best-selling books called “Building The Ultimate Network.”  He’s also considered a top trainer for the Referral Institute. 

For some time now, we’ve both observed a need to drill down on one of the most important and foundational concepts to networking – The VCP Process®.  Four months ago, we started a much-anticipated 12-part monthly series of blog posts which addresses this and contains some very timely information for networkers across the globe.  Today, we’re proud to share with you Part 4 of the series.  Enjoy.

EXPOSE YOURSELF!
(Part 4 of 12 of the “Navigating The VCP Process® To Networking” Series)

In Part 3 of this series, we encouraged Business Networkers to honor the chronological steps of the VCP Process®.  In other words, we pointed out that generating a steady stream of referrals takes an investment in time — as well as in the people in your own network.  Take action, we recommended, and become visible.  However, be cautious about “too much Visibility”.

Today, we’d like to revisit and expand upon the following concept that was introduced last month:  If you put yourself out in the marketplace as a person of value, others will want to connect with youYour role is to EXPOSE YOURSELF to your local business community in a valuable way so that people feel a personal connection with you and feel compelled to assist you.

Let’s dig deeper . . . If you’ve sought out Business Networking training and education in the past, you’ve most likely heard the following phrase: “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.  However, today, we ask the question: “WHAT…do they know you for?”

You see, we believe that there is a strategic way to go about gaining Visibility in your local community.  We believe that if you lead with positive intentions and follow up with valuable contributions, professionals will, in time, feel a personal connection with you and feel compelled to assist you (i.e. pass you qualified referrals and/or connect you with Referral Partners).  Attempting to expedite the VCP Process® is almost never a good decision.  And sometimes, it may even backfire.

You may have observed this type of behavior before where people shift into what’s considered to be ‘Visibility’-overload.  In other words, every chance they get they’re doing random “stuff” (yes, that’s the technical term) to be visible without having any sort of thought out strategy.  Do you know what a “Drive-By” is at a networking event?  It’s when someone’s strategy (of lack thereof) is to meet everyone at a mixer.  As such, they’re focused on passing out their business cards to anyone and everyone versus staying in a conversation for longer than 60 seconds.  Has this ever happened to you?  What was your perception of this person?

This and other “Random Acts of Networking” ultimately defeat the overall objective which is to build trust and credibility through cultivating relationships.  Our fear is that people might be placing a lot of time into gaining Visibility, but NOT being able to capitalize on it.  And, it is for this reason that we’d like to introduce the term HYPER-Visibility™.  It’s when people try to get everyone to know them, see them, and hear them through a variety of different means in an effort to expedite the VCP Process® to Networking.  Whereas, in actuality, it typically backfires and may even be detrimental to their reputation and perceived as overkill.

As alluded to before, try not to be plagued by HYPER-Visibility™ and ask the question:  “WHY…do people know you?”

Is it because you:

  • Have volunteered to setup and break down your visitors table at your weekly networking event?
  • Have recently been awarded the “Helping Hand Award” in your local community?
  • Have numerous satisfied clients/customers who say positive things about you?

Or, is it because you:

  • Are at every single networking event in your local community (i.e. you’re everywhere!)?
  • Are the person who adds people to your weekly newsletter without permission?
  • Are constantly conducting ‘off the wall’ introductions (called Sales Manager Minutes in BNI) in an effort to be remembered?

Please be cautious that sometimes if those (albeit memorable, but) ‘off the wall’ introductions have nothing to do with training your network, they may not serve you well.  Being over the top could actually push some people away who might otherwise be keen to learning more about you.  Please also be aware that sometimes when you’re in roles of increased Visibility, your actions are clearer and even amplified.  For example, if you volunteer to help support your local networking group – or even any association or charity – your visibility will be enhanced and you’re typically in the spotlight or under a microscope.  Be cognizant, be strategic, and be prepared.

Visibility is an intricate part to the VCP Process®.   When strategically planned out, this exposure could be your biggest ally.  When attained for no particular rhyme or reason, it could be your biggest enemy.  Hmmm . . . food for thought, isn’t it?

In closing, we’d like to recommend that you consider that there are actually two different interpretations to the title of this blog post “Expose Yourself!”  First, it can be interpreted as the means by which you strategically and professionally navigate the first step of the VCP Process®.  Or, it can be interpreted that sometimes when you are too visible or seeking visibility for the wrong reasons (or with the wrong approach) you actually “Expose Yourself!”  Moving forward, our recommendation is to conduct an inventory of what steps you’re taking on a weekly basis to become visible within your own local community.  Then, decipher if they are effective at doing the job of helping you move beyond Visibility to Credibility.  If not, then please consider revising or replacing

We thank you for reading today’s post and extend an invitation to be on the lookout for next month’s contribution to this series – Part 5 called “Audit Your Activities.”

Only Focusing on ONE Referral Source Equals Missed Opportunity!

In this video, Cheryl Hansen, a Trainer and Franchisee with the Referral Institute, explains that most people tend to focus only on existing clients as their main source for business referrals and they neglect the seven other referral sources which they could be developing simultaneously to generate unlimited opportunity for new referred business!

Cheryl highlights community service organizations and casual contacts as just a couple of commonly untapped referral sources and urges businesspeople to start developing all eight of the referral sources which are outlined in the book The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret and listed below . . . which of them are you going to make a commitment this week to start developing?  Leave a comment and let us know . . .

The Eight Referral Sources:

  1. People in Your Contact Sphere
  2. Satisfied Clients
  3. People Whose Business Benefits from Yours
  4. Others with Whom You Do Business
  5. Staff Members
  6. People to Whom You’ve Given Referrals
  7. Anyone Who Has Given You Referrals
  8. Other Members of Business Referral Groups

If you’d like a more specific description of any of the eight referral sources, simply leave a request in the comments section–I’m more than happy to write a blog with further details regarding any/all of the above sources.

Too Much Visibility?–“Navigating the VCP Process(R) to Networking” Series

TR Garland (pictured with me in the photo below) is a friend of mine and co-author of one of my most recent #1 best-selling books called “Building The Ultimate Network.”  He’s also considered a top trainer for the Referral Institute. 

For some time now, we’ve both observed a need to drill down on one of the most important and foundational concepts to networking – The VCP Process®.  Two months ago, we started a much-anticipated 12-part monthly series of blog posts which addresses this and contains some very timely information for networkers across the globe.  Today, we’re proud to share with you Part 3 of the series.  Enjoy.

WHEN IS TOO MUCH VISIBILITY, WELL, TOO MUCH ‘VISIBILITY’?
(Part 3 of 12 of the “Navigating The VCP Process® To Networking” Series)

In Part 1 of this series, we introduced you to the moniker – The Networking Nomad™.  In short, this moniker describes the type of networker who appears to be misinterpreting the very definition of Business Networking.  Click here to review that blog post.  In Part 2 of this series, we recommended you understand that ‘perception is reality’ when it comes to networking – and we encouraged you to be careful about whether or not your network perceives you as a PREDATOR or a PARTNER.  Click here to review that blog post.

Today, we’d like you to give some serious thought to the very first letter in the VCP Process® to Networking.  In short, your goal should be to first enter Visibility with people, then perform activities that will help you build trust and Credibility with them, and finally through time and the strengthening of that relationship, they will most likely pass you consistent referrals in the Profitability stage.  After all, “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.

Years ago, only the elite networkers were privy to this powerful concept.  These days, chances are this valuable information has trickled down to the average networker.  This is both a good thing – and a bad thing.  From our perspective, the good thing is that the average networker is now aware of this concept.  The bad thing is that the average networker typically misinterprets and mismanages the implementation of this concept.  Don’t agree?  Please hear us out . . .

Remember the movie “A Few Good Men” with Jack Nicholson where he forcefully delivers the famous line “You want the truth?  You can’t handle the truth!”?  Well, the facts are clear and the truth in business networking is that the average networker’s strategy doesn’t focus on successfully navigating through the VCP Process® and doesn’t focus on finding Referral Partners whom they cultivate long term, mutually beneficial relationships with to provide them consistent referrals.  Or worse yet, the average networker has no strategy at all.

The goal of networking is to build the ultimate network of professionals who, when asked:

  • Can and will support you
  • Can provide you with information to make you more valuable
  • Can vouch for you
  • Can lend you their credibility when introducing you to people in their networks
  • Can refer to you on a consistent basis

If you put yourself out in the marketplace as a person of value, others will want to connect with you.  Your role is to expose yourself to your local business community in a valuable way so that people feel a personal connection with you and feel compelled to assist you.  Most people have no concept of this strategy.  That’s what makes it so potent.  And then the dilemma is that a large percentage of those exposed to this strategy will never do the hard work that it takes for success to become a reality.  But, as noted above, the average networker typically misinterprets this concept.

Here’s an example:

Ivan met a woman years ago who told him she was the consummate networker – 100’s of contacts and a wide-ranging network of people from all walks of life.  Then one day in a conversation with him, she dropped a bombshell and said her networking efforts weren’t paying off.  She went on at some length about all the groups she went to, people she met, and how she made all these contacts but wasn’t getting any business.  The truth is that she was so busy running around and making appearances that she wasn’t learning how to actually ‘work’ these networks and build deep relationships.

A music teacher once told his students: “Lousy practice makes a lousy musician.”  The same holds true for networking; lousy networking makes a lousy networker!  This is why “practice doesn’t make perfect – perfect practice makes perfect.”

In closing, we’d like to recommend that you consider reflecting back upon your own networking journey and ask yourself:  “Have you exhausted all opportunities in your local community to attend Business Networking and/or Referral Marketing Training workshops?  Have you sought out an expert or someone that has proven results from their networking efforts that you can ask to be your accountability partner?  And…if you have attended workshops in the past, what are the results you’re getting today?  If you’re not getting the number of referrals you expect, maybe it’s time to revisit those workshops?”

We thank you for reading today’s post and extend an invitation to be on the lookout for next month’s contribution to this series – Part 4 called “Expose Yourself!”

Perception Is Reality! — “Navigating the VCP Process(R) to Networking” Series

TR Garland (pictured with me in the photo below) is a friend of mine and co-author of one of my most recent #1 best-selling books called “Building The Ultimate Network.”  He’s also considered a top trainer for the Referral Institute. 

For some time now, we’ve both observed a need to drill down on one of the most important and foundational concepts to networking – The VCP Process®.  Last month, we started a much-anticipated 12-part monthly series of blog posts which addresses this and contains some very timely information for networkers across the globe.  Today, we’re proud to share with you Part 2 of the series.  Enjoy.

 

PERCEPTION IS REALITY!

(Part 2 of 12 of the “Navigating The VCP Process® To Networking” Series)

Last month, in Part 1 of this series, we introduced you to the moniker – The Networking Nomad™.  Click here to review that blog post.

In short, we described the type of networker who appears to be misinterpreting the very definition of Business Networking.  In fact, The Networking Nomad™ is actually treating networking as if it were a direct sales competition and an exercise in prospecting for new clients.  As a result of this type of behavior, they never stay in a networking group long enough to cultivate long-term referral relationships.

The reason why we’re refreshing your memory is because we don’t want you to forget that ‘perception is reality’ when it comes to networking.  And if you’re simply perceived as someone who focuses on his/her network buying your products or services, then any amount of time you invest in that particular network might not deliver you the Return on Investment (ROI) you expect.

You’ve heard us mention before that the VCP Process® to Networking (Visibility leads to Credibility which in turn leads to Profitability) describes the process of creation, growth, and strengthening of business relationships.  It’s useful for assessing the status of a relationship and where it fits in the process of getting referrals.

The Networking Nomad™ noted above is actually investing most, if not all, of his/her time in something we call pre-Visibility.  They’re not effective at getting consistent referrals because they’ve fallen into a trap. From time to time they run into a prospect they’ve met before, but aren’t really doing much else to deepen that relationship or work towards finding consistent Referral Sources.

Think about it.  Isn’t it better to have 6 referrals from one person in your network over the next 6-12-18 months rather than to have them become a client today?

There are major differences in the Sales Mindset versus the Networking (or more specifically Referral Marketing) Mindset.  For example, in Sales YOU are the center of the process:

  • YOU have to identify new prospects.
  • YOU have to go out there and meet the new prospects.
  • YOU need to build trust, credibility, and rapport with them.
  • YOU need to inch closer to the sale by conducting the needs analysis.
  • YOU need to respond to Requests for Proposal (RFP’s).
  • YOU need to send and reply to prospect emails.
  • YOU need to do everything you can to get that sale.
  • YOU get the picture?  😉

With the correct Networking Mindset, the process works WITHOUT YOU. Your well-trained Referral Sources and Referral Partners are spreading YOUR message within THEIR network – while you’re spending your time more effectively.

A successful networker has taken the time to seek and forge strong relationships with Contact Sphere Professionals who aim to serve the same or similar client target market.  Therefore, each new client of theirs can be a new client of yours.

And, that same successful networker is saving valuable time by having their network refer them into the sales process steps ahead of what they could’ve accomplish on their own.

Now that’s what we call leveraging another’s efforts.

But…you cannot accomplish this if your network perceives you as a PREDATOR versus a PARTNER.  Therein lays the difference between approaching Business Networking with a Sales Mindset versus a Networking Mindset.

At the end of the day, we understand and respect the fact that it’s your choice on which mindset you approach your networking efforts with.  However, understand that we believe your network will perceive you and deliver you the results that reflect your approach.

In closing, we’d like to recommend that you consider reflecting back upon your own networking journey and ask yourself:  “Have you ever perceived someone as exhibiting behaviors of a Predator or a Partner when networking?  If so, what did you observe and what insights did you learn from this observation?” Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below and remember, at the end of the day, we’re only human and it’s important to learn from our own as well as other people’s successes and/or mistakes.

We thank you for reading today’s post and extend an invitation to be on the lookout for next month’s contribution to this series – Part 3 called “When Is Too Much Visibility, Well, Too Much ‘Visibility’?”

It’s All About Your Mindset–“Navigating the VCP Process(R) to Networking” Series

TR Garland (pictured with me in the photo below) is a friend of mine and co-author of one of my most recent #1 best-selling books called “Building The Ultimate Network.”  He’s also considered a top trainer for the Referral Institute. 

For some time now, we’ve both observed a need to drill down on one of the most important and foundational concepts to networking – The VCP Process®.  Today begins the much-anticipated 12-part monthly series of blog posts which address this and contain some very timely information for networkers across the globe.  TR and I hope you’ll enjoy the series as much as we enjoyed putting it together.

IT’S ALL ABOUT YOUR MINDSET
(Part 1 of 12 of the “Navigating the VCP Process® to Networking” Series)

Leverage.

Let’s restate that word again out loud because it is the essence of why leading sales professionals and small business owners invest their valuable time in Business Networking activities.

Leverage.

We think that probably the best representation of ‘leverage’ as it relates to the topic at hand is J. Paul Getty’s famous quote, “I’d rather have one percent of the efforts of 100 people than 100 percent of my own efforts.”

You see, the difference between the success or failure of someone who is networking as a way of generating revenue is most likely what their perspective of ‘networking’ is.

Story after story is reported to us about people who believe that if they cease going to networking meetings and mixers every single week that their revenue will STOP.  Their perspective is that if they do not maintain a high activity of mixing and mingling with new people that they aren’t ‘networking.’  The truth is that their personal definition of Business Networking appears to be skewed.

Their own description of activities that THEY are performing sounds a lot like selling, doesn’t it?

At its core, Business Networking is “selling through your network, NOT to your network.”  Applying the foundational basics includes building relationships first, amassing trust and credibility in time, and then asking for referrals.  Don’t expect your network to buy from you.  If they do, that’s a bonus – but don’t plan on it or even try to encourage it.  It might actually backfire.

We see it all the time.  People are attracted to the size of the event (i.e., your city or county’s biggest mixer) or the size of the weekly group such as a local BNI Chapter.  These individuals are most likely sales people looking for a Buyer’s Club to help them achieve their quota – nothing more.  Once they pitch their network and a small percentage of people buy from them, they consider that group or network tapped out.  In this instance, you’ll hear these individuals murmuring, “Oh, that networking group isn’t a good one.  I tried it out for 3-4 months, but they don’t pass any referrals.”  They then move on to another networking group and repeat the same self-centered activities (i.e., the rinse and repeat).

Once another 3-4 months rolls by again and they tap out that small percentage of kind souls that purchase from them, it’s back on the meandering trail to wander around and find that next networking group…and the next…and the next.  This is why we’d like to introduce the moniker The Networking Nomad™ — as it fits this type of person and their behavior.

Remember, Business Networking is more about ‘farming’ than it is about ‘hunting.’  It takes time to cultivate relationships.  But once you dedicate the effort, we believe these relationships ultimately allow you to ‘harvest’ referrals for a lifetime.

In closing, we’d like to recommend that you consider reflecting back upon your own networking journey and ask yourself:  “Has my definition of Business Networking evolved through the years?  If so, what events or insights from others influenced this evolution?”

We thank you for reading today’s post and extend an invitation to be on the lookout for next month’s contribution to this series – Part 2 called “Perception IS Reality!”

Also, we highly encourage you to leave your feedback in the comments section below . . .

New Blog Series with Top Referral Marketing Trainer TR Garland!

In this video, TR Garland and I announce the launch of our new, 12-month, BusinessNetworking.com blog series  “Navigating the VCP Process® to Networking,”

TR is not only my good friend, he is one of the top referral marketing trainers in the world and he and I co-authored the #1 Amazon Best-seller Building the Ultimate Network together.  I am really excited to be doing this new blog series with TR because he is in the top 1% across the globe in regard to understanding how to implement referral marketing effectively and this series is going to be a huge resource for people in learning how to understand and  implement the VCP (Visibility, Credibility, Profitability) Process® effectively to produce real, business-boosting results from networking efforts.

Whether you’re a businessperson, an entrepreneur, a novice or seasoned networker, or simply someone who wants to learn, be sure to come back to this site on Monday (2/20/12) which is when we will be posting the first blog in the series! 

So what do you think?  Are you as excited about this new series as TR and I are?  Leave us a comment and let us know your thoughts . . .

The Profit Puzzle of Business

I recently had several business associates ask me about finding a good model for a business plan that they can use for their franchise.

Being able to market your business is, to a large extent, based on understanding your business.  Understanding your business begins by creating a plan.  One of the best models I’ve seen is one that I have used and recommended for years.  It’s called the “Profit Puzzle.”  It was developed by a good friend of mine – Don Osborne.

Below are the key categories (or puzzle pieces) that Don uses in his system.  If you need, or want, to produce a business plan for your business.  I recommend you check out www.ProfitPuzzle.com.  Just remember – once you have a structure for your plan – it requires that you commit a fair amount of time and effort to actually complete the plan (the plan doesn’t complete itself!).  You have to do the hard work to think about what goes into each part of the puzzle.

Check out Don’s  categories below.  They are very thorough.

Systems and Referral Marketing

It’s International Networking Week and one of the many ways I’m celebrating is by posting this video blog on how to network better and smarter with systems.  In this short video , I talk to my good friend Bertrand McHenry, a Referral Institute Trainer and Franchisee, about how people who develop a system for referral marketing generate substantially more business through referrals.

Watch this video to find out how creating a system for referrals can help you predict the income you will receive from referrals up to 12 months in advance and be sure to check out the International Networking Week video–make 2012 the year you commit to developing a networking strategy and achieving real business growth through a structured referral marketing system!

When Does Going Faster, Make Things Slower?

I start this blog with a riddle: When does going faster, make things slower?  Well the answer is: when you are rushing a relationship.

A few years ago a close friend of mine, Dr. Emory Cowan, contributed an article for my book Masters of Networking.  I’m sharing his contribution in my blog today because I think it is a great concept to think about as we start the new year.

Building a word-of-mouth marketing plan requires developing a trusted network of partners — which means cultivating relationships. But relationships require time, energy, persistence, and, most of all, patience.

I believe that patience gives us the most difficulty. We live in a quick-fix, immediate-gratification society where patience is neither valued nor encouraged. We want our sales now, our business fully grown now, our satisfaction in wealth now. But when I grow impatient with the tedious process of developing relationships, one of life’s many humbling lessons comes back to remind and instruct me: Drink no wine before its time.

Many years ago, I bought some peaches at the farmers’ market in Atlanta. They were the famous Georgia peaches, grown in orchards in the Fort Valley region and renowned for their sweet, juicy taste and wonderful aroma. I took them home, visions of peach pies and cobblers dancing in my head. We ate some right away; most sat out on the kitchen counter.

One morning I was awakened by the aroma of peaches filling the house. I knew that something would have to be done with them soon or they would spoil. Wine, I thought. Why not make some peach wine? I knew my parents, who lived fifteen miles away, had an old ceramic crock and an old family recipe for fermenting wine from fruit. I found the crock, cleaned it, and, on the way home, bought cheesecloth for the top, along with yeast and sugar for the ingredients.

By the time I got home, my excitement over this project was so great that I could almost taste new wine as I cut up the peaches, added the sugar and yeast, and closed the top with the cheesecloth. But the process of making wine is slow, and I was impatient. With the crock safely stashed in the cool basement, I drove home from work each day with growing excitement. I would go immediately to the crock and smell the brew. As the days went by I became more intent on having the wine ready for consumption. But it was not happening fast enough for me.

So, one afternoon, frustrated that it was taking so long, I carried the crock to the kitchen, determined to speed up the process of fermentation. I removed the contents, used a blender to further emulsify the peaches, and added more sugar and yeast. Smug and satisfied, I returned the crock to the basement, and three days later I had — vinegar!

My vinegar-making triumph has become a life-shaping parable for me. When I am tempted to rush the process of forming relationships, whether in business, in a networking group, or in my personal life, I am reminded that some things just take time to happen. I am aware that letting my impatience force the process can turn the potential of new wine into vinegar.

Patience in developing relationships is a virtue. It leads to solid networked contacts who can help you with your business, your interests, and your life.

This is a powerful lesson for us all to consider for life and for networking.  Good wine and great relationships both take time.

What are your thoughts about this story?  Have there ever been times where you tried to rush a relationship and had a bad result?  Share your story here with us here.

 

Do Your One-to-One Networking Meetings Seem Like a Waste of Time?

Have you ever heard someone in your network say, “If you don’t do one to ones effectively, you might as well talk to yourself”?  Well, it really is true–if your one-to-one meetings seem more like a waste of time than productive, relationship-building, referral generating sessions that equal time well spent, I highly recommend you watch this fantastic video.

In this short video, Lawrence Conyers of UK based Anson Corporate Media, who is not only an experienced networker but also a gifted and creative photographer, videographer, and artist, demonstrates the actions, behaviors, and strategies that make the difference between one to ones that will take you and your business to new heights of success and one to ones that will take you . . . well . . . nowhere.

Take a few minutes to watch this video (Not only will you learn from it, I’m willing to bet you’ll get a good laugh as well!) and let me know what you think of  it–I think the “Cup of Tea” acrostic is pretty clever and I also realize that now I’ll have to add “great actor” to Lawrence’s list of creative talents! 😉  Also, I’d love to hear about your experiences with one to ones–what tactics have you employed that got great results and what tactics do you think make for a complete waste of time?

To learn more about Lawrence Conyers and Anson Corporate Media, please visit: www.AnsonCorporateMedia.co.uk

Tom Connellan: Improving Your Personal & Professional Life Is a Piece of Cake!

(Dr. Thomas K. Connellan, New York Times Bestselling Author)

I’ve been recommending a book by Tom Connellan, Inside the Magic Kingdom, for years and I have great respect and admiration for Tom’s wisdom and his work–today, I’d like to share with you a guest blog written by Tom.

 

The Next Big Thing Is Small, Completely under Your Control

Something You Can Do Right Now Which Produces Massive Results in 71 Days

Could you improve some aspect of your personal or professional life by 1% by this time tomorrow?  Of course you could!

At the close of my keynotes over the past 48 months, I’ve asked thousands of people that question.  In all that time, no one has ever said, “Nah, I can’t make a 1% improvement–not in a day, anyway.”  The response has been just the opposite: “Only 1%?” . . . “That’s doable.” . . . “Piece of cake.” . . .”Anyone can improve something by 1% in a day–probably more.”  These responses are exactly right–it IS a piece of cake.

Let’s take an example of something a lot of people want to improve: their listening skills.  You could be 1% better at listening to other members of your networking group at your next meeting.  You could be 1% better at listening to your clients, colleagues, and the people who work for you.  You could be 1% better at listening to your kids, your spouse . . . you get the idea.

The best part?  If you improve by just 1% every day, in 71 days you will be twice as good.  If you think you can’t last 71 days, then in just 42 days, you will be one and a half times as good.  (And once you see the difference it makes in your life, I bet you will keep going.)

Just as compounding interest grows your bank balance even if you add only small deposits, making daily bite-sized chunks of improvement brings an outsized boost to your skill level.  Imagine the edge you would have over your competitors if you were twice as good at listening to your clients’ needs and your colleagues’ ideas.  Think of how much better your relationships would be if you were deeply listening and communicating with the people you love.

It’s true.  The next big thing is 1% and making a 1& improvement is easy. 

So, why isn’t everybody doing it already?  Because not making a 1% improvement is even easier.  Inertia holds us in place.  As Newton said, a body at rest stays at rest.  We make up all sorts of excuses for not starting now, or tomorrow, or the day after that.

The only way to get past inertia is to put yourself in motion.  Go ahead and make that first 1% improvement.  The game will begin to change.  You will overcome inertia and start gathering momentum, because a body in motion stays in motion.

All you have to do is start.  Now.  Pick something that matters to you.  Choose to be 1% better.  It probably won’t even take a day–more like a minute.

So just start!

What do you think of this guest blog by Tom?  Please leave your feedback in the comments section. 

To find out more about Tom Connellan, please visit: www.tomconnellan.com.

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