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.

Just Be Nice–It Really Is That Easy

Earlier this month, I was holding a telebridge training seminar for writers and Renia Carsillo (pictured below), a Small Business Coach and Social Media Expert, was kind enough to share her policy about posting comments on social media pages with the participants on the call.

I was quite impressed with Renia’s simple-to-use, straightforward ideas and I think they could come in handy for many business owners around the world when it comes to ensuring you’re headed in a positive, productive direction in regard to promoting business through social media.

A big thank you to Renia for offering to let me share her ideas below with the BusinessNetworking.com blog readers–if you like what you see, you can get more of Renia’s great insight by visiting her blog, Renia Grows (http://reniacarsillo.net/).

Here is an excerpt from “Rules for Readers” by Renia Carsillo

Just be nice.  It really is that easy.

I see lots of bad behavior every day in social media.  So much that I sometimes think we’re starting to lose our filters.

In my pursuit to help entrepreneurs through social media, I have adapted these best practices for readers, employees, fans, friends, and anyone else interacting with us online.

Think it through before you post it.  Be mindful that what you publish will be public for a long time–protect your privacy and your reputation.

Identify yourself–if you can’t say it with your real name and company role, it shouldn’t be said and will not be posted.  Names are good, photos are even better.

Respect copyright, fair use, and financial disclosure laws.

Don’t site or reference your clients, partners, or suppliers without their approval.  When you do make a reference, link back to the source.

Respect our community and be kind.  Don’t use ethnic slurs, personal insults, obscenity, or engage in any conduct that would not be acceptable in the workplace.  You should also show proper consideration for others’ privacy and for topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory–such as politics and religion.

Don’t pick fights.  Be the first to correct your own mistakes.

Try to add value.  Provide worthwhile information and perspective.

Be the first to respond to your own mistakes.  If you make an error, be up front about your mistake and correct it quickly as this can help to restore trust.  If you choose to modify content that was previously posted, such as editing a comment, make it clear that you have done so.  Deleting a previously published comment without a disclaimer that you have done so is considered lying and no one likes people who lie.

It all really boils down to that old mantra our parents relayed to us when we were small, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything.  If that is too much to ask of you, just make sure that your comments are respectful, well thought out, and honest.

So what do you think of Renia’s policy on social media comments?  Share your thoughts in the comment section . . .

Recognizing ‘Innovativity’

This is the final guest blog in the three-part series featuring Frank DeRaffele’s article, “Creativity vs. ‘Innovativity.'” To read the beginning and the middle of the article, please CLICK HERE for Part 1 and CLICK HERE for Part 2.

“Creativity vs. ‘Innovativity'” by Frank J. DeRaffele Jr. ( . . . Continued)

Recognizing ‘Innovativity’

Innovation in our businesses is extremely important. New ideas help us to run our businesses more efficiently, market more effectively, sell with greater success, satisfy customers at higher levels and lead us to greater overall results–if we have a method to put them in place and the discipline to follow through with them.  Innovation gives us competitive advantage in many cases.  We just need to make sure we are not being deceived; we need to understand how to recognize the difference between Innovation and its evil twin, Creativity.

Quick steps to recognize  ‘Innovativity’ over Creativity in a great new idea:

1. Know what your current problem is and what you want as the end result in solving that problem.

2. Confirm that your new idea will help solve that problem DIRECTLY.  Don’t justify that it is a distant cause and effect relationship (e.g., “If I bring in a new target market they will buy more and I will increase my average dollar transaction.” — This simply justifies a non-direct creative idea).

3. It can be executed simply.  The best solutions usually are not complex.  Many times, the most complex problems have simple solutions.  As a Small Business Entrepreneur (SBE), it is rare that you have a complex problem.  It may be inconvenient, bad timing, a pain, or unexpected, but rarely so complex that it takes a complex solution.  Most very effective innovations are simple solutions.

My last words of advice on this topic: Don’t stop being creative!  Always be creative, just know how to use your creativity in the most effective and profitable manner.  Make your creativity spark your innovations so you may continue to build a very profitable and sustaining business.

This wraps up the final part of Frank’s article, “Creativity vs. ‘Innovativity'” and I hope you have all found it to be as enjoyable and beneficial as I found it to be.  Any comments you leave about the article, I’ll be sure to pass on to Frank so please don’t be shy–tell us what you think!

Creativity vs. ‘Innovativity’

My friend Frank DeRaffele Jr., whom is also one of the co-authors of my upcoming book Business Networking and Sex, shared with me a great article he recently wrote called “Creativity vs. ‘Innovativity'” and I’d like to share it with all of you who read this blog.

Frank makes some very interesting points about the importance of balancing creativity and innovation in regard to small business and I think small business owners and entrepreneurs everywhere will benefit from reading this article.  Since the article is quite lengthy, I’m going to divide it into a few different guest blogs so, if you like what you read in the remainder of this blog entry, be sure to stay tuned for the follow up guest blogs featuring Frank’s article.

“Creativity vs. ‘Innovativity'” by Frank J. DeRaffele Jr.

As Small Business Entrepreneurs (SBEs), one of our greatest strengths is our creativity.  Coming up with new ideas . . . ALL THE TIME.  However, one of our greatest weaknesses is our creativity.  Coming up with new ideas . . . ALL THE TIME.  For most of us, we have too many ideas, too often.  Oh, the paradox!  We tend to like the new idea, the new concept, the new Ah-ha!  The problem with this creativity and these great ideas is that we tend to be great out of the gate but lose power on the follow through.  I am not saying that we should not be creative.  I am not saying that creativity is a bad thing.  I AM saying that creativity can be a time stealer, distraction, justification, and crutch.

Ninja vs. Samurai

Most of us SBEs love the freedom that we have to come up with new ideas and then implement them as quickly or as slowly as we like.  We love the fact that if and when we get bored with this new idea or we feel it is not panning out as we hoped, we can just drop it and move on.  After all, we have no one to answer to.  “I can do what I want, when I want to, and no one can tell me otherwise” we think to ourselves.  This is true.  Very true.  In fact, TOO TRUE.  This freedom we have ends up becoming our Profitability Ninja.  This Ninja disguises himself as strength and confidence, happiness and joy.  Yet, behind his mask is the true assassin.  The Ninja who will kill our profits.  He begins to steal our profits and we don’t notice it.  We may not notice it for weeks, months, or years.  We mostly don’t notice it because either he is too close to us or we just refuse to see him.

This Ninja steals by keeping us focused on new projects that really haven’t been well thought out.  Investing time, energy, man hours, relationships, and money, with little to no return.  This is when the Dark Ninja turns into the Red Ninja.  We are metaphorically bleeding.  We are now going from profitability to loss (Black Ink to Red Ink).

So how do we save ourselves from this Ninja?  Enter the Samurai of Innovation . . .

Come back next week to read more of Frank’s article and learn about the “Samurai of Innovation.” In the meantime, if you have any comments to share about this first article installment, please feel free to share them here.

Do You Stand Out in a Crowd?

The following is a guest blog entry written by a friend and colleague of mine, Elaine Betts of Go Far Consulting.

I came across this piece by Elaine through the research I’ve been doing for my upcoming gender book and I wanted to share it with my blog readers because I think her insight into the topic of women in business is excellent and the tips, though written specifically for women in business, can be valuable to men as well.

If you are a woman in business and have advice for other women in business, if you would like to share a particular challenge to invite encouragement from others who may have valuable solutions, or if you would simply like to leave a comment, please drop us a note in the comment section.

“Do You Stand Out in a Crowd?” By Elaine Betts

Julie paused, stood outside the door, took a deep breath, straightened her jacket, and walked into the room where many of her co-workers were.  She looked around to see that, as usual, she was the only female present.  I wish I had a few allies, she thought to herself.

In situations like Julie’s, where the majority of a woman’s co-workers are male, some women tend to feel a certain vulnerability as the gender minority in their working environment.  When women constitute less than 25% of the total number of employees in a given industry, that industry is known as a ‘non traditional occupation’.  There can be many advantages as well as disadvantages for women working in non traditional occupations,  or in environments which, for some reason or another, have a gender imbalance.  However, the main factor in how a woman determines advantages from disadvantages in these situations is her individual outlook or perspective.

For example, sometimes it can seem intimidating or stressful to be the only female present.  On the other hand, the advantage for the woman in this situation is that she is easily remembered because she stands out from the crowd. This means that if one of her goals is to make a difference and bring about positive change, she already has an advantage because she is in a position to be noticed.  Women who confidently embrace the opportunity to stand out from the crowd often wear bright, bold colors and use the fact that people notice them to achieve great things.

Women in the world of business who take the attitude that being in the gender minority can be an advantage have definitely had a positive influence on not only the business world but the economy as well. According to the U.S. National Women’s Business Council, women-owned businesses are responsible for employing 16% of all U.S. jobs with an economic impact of $3 trillion annually.  How’s that for standing out in the crowd and making a difference?

If you are a woman in the working world, ask yourself if you are taking advantage of your opportunity to stand out from the crowd. If the answer is no, I encourage you to take a cue from the women in business who welcome the chance to confidently stand out and be noticed.  Following their lead can bring great rewards in both business and life.

Now, don’t get me wrong . . . I am not saying that being a woman in business is without its challenges. Speaking from my own experiences, as well as from my experience as a consultant to several women in business, I can tell you that women employed by larger business companies often feel encumbered by a seeming lack of opportunity and flexibility.  They can feel more pressure to perform and end up working much harder to prove themselves in their work environment.  However, this type of pressure has often served as the motivation for women to start their own business or make the change to a work environment where results and performance are highly valued and consistently rewarded by more opportunity.

Additional challenges for working women are evidenced by the fact that most of them have several roles to play. On top of the role a woman executes in her job, she often plays one or more roles such as romantic partner, mother, homemaker, student, caretaker, etc.  Each role has unique and very real demands and combining them all together can create significant stress.  This stress brings even more opportunities to stand out and make a difference though, as long as a woman makes a continuous effort to find ways to excel in all her roles.

Here are 10 tips to help women maintain stand-out success in every role:

    • Know your priorities, who and what comes first in your life.
    • Remain focused on what you want to achieve.
    • In each role you play, focus on being present solely in that role while you are executing it.
    • Plan the week ahead by scheduling car pools, kids’ after-school activities, day care, babysitter, etc. in advance.
    • If your job requires continuing education (always a good idea), see if you can get education classes in an audio version or via a podcast–something that can be downloaded and played in the car or on an iPod to and from work.  If this isn’t an option, allocate regular time frames (perhaps 30 minutes, 3 times a week) and plan to learn when you are able to achieve your most focused frame of mind.
    • Invest time in personal development and know who you are.
    • Know your trade and keep up with industry standards.
    • Plan time for yourself, even if it’s just 10-15 minutes for a walk or to sit in a quiet spot reading a book while you drink your morning coffee. This is very important because if you do not take care of yourself, you will not be in good shape to help others effectively in your various roles.
    • When it becomes difficult to know what to do next, enlist a mentor, coach, or colleague.  These people can  hold you accountable, cheer you on, and give you the kind of  ‘tough love’ that will keep you on track.  In short, they can be life savers.

The common thread among women in business who stand out from the crowd is that they are confident about themselves and courageous about what they do, regardless of their environment or its gender ratio. Successful business women stand out from their sea of colleagues by facing challenges head on.

These days we live in a big melting pot where, over the years, transport and the internet have made the world a much smaller place.  As such, the dynamics of how we do business are ever-changing and allow for much greater ease of communication than we’ve ever had before.  This is a perfect time for business women and female entrepreneurs to utilize the advantages available to them in order to stand out,  be heard, and make great things happen.

So what are you waiting for?  Now is the time to become the  stand-out business woman you can most definitely be.


"New Year’s Resolutions and Networking"

A friend of mine, TR Garland (pictured with me in the photo at right), just wrote a great blog entry which contains some very timely information for many people across the globe and I’d like to take the opportunity to share it with you today as a guest blog.  Enjoy . . .

“New Year’s Resolutions and Networking” by TR Garland

In about 30 days, the majority of people around the world are going to be faced with the same thing we’re all faced with once at a certain point every single year.

No, I’m not talking about keeping a smile on your face while spending the holidays with your in-laws (wink-wink).  I’m talking about setting New Year’s Resolutions.

Every year, one of the top resolutions is to “get in shape.”  The truth of the matter is that most of us already know how to get in shape:

1.  Design a nutritional plan and stick to it

2.  Design a workout schedule and stick to it

3.  Track your actions and results daily and recalibrate if needed

The problem is, a large percentage of people don’t reach their goals because:

1.  They don’t write out a formal nutrition plan or workout schedule

2.  They don’t hold themselves accountable

In other words, life gets in their way.

So what can be done about this?  Well, there’s something about human psychology that pushes us to not let someone else down. Because of this, people who invest in a personal trainer to help keep them accountable tend to achieve desired results much more consistently than they ever would by attempting to get in shape on their own.

It’s important to note that this same concept holds true for business networking and referral marketing.

Many people are spending a lot of time networking by just chatting away with others and maybe grabbing others’ business cards.  By doing this, they then expect results; they expect that the people whom they’ve met and exchanged business cards with will eventually pass a referral to them.  This mindset is called being reactive ( . . . and hoping for the best!).  Being reactive is an employee  mindset or mentality that, in my opinion, gets placed into the same category as punch cards, guaranteed smoke breaks, assembly lines, benefits entitlement, and cubicles.  In other words, this mindset is something that isn’t really that viable anymore in today’s economic environment.

If you don’t believe me, look around and note which businesses are thriving and hiring.  I’m confident you’ll discover that the businesses which are doing well are those that do not have a reactive mindset and, instead, maintain an entrepreneurial mindset.

An entrepreneurial mindset is one that takes ownership and focuses on being proactive versus reactive.  Just like the “getting in shape” example above, being proactive and accountable in your business networking and referral marketing efforts is a sure-fire way to get results–plain and simple.

So, especially if you’ll be out attending holiday parties in the coming 30 days with your spouse, significant other, family, or friends, remember to be proactive with your networking efforts.  Go to each event with a purpose (in addition to your goal of having fun).  Don’t simply gather business cards, that’s not what I’m talking about.  Instead, set relevant and realistic networking goals and ask the person you went with to hold you accountable to your goals.

And, of course, there’s a time and a place for everything.  You need to respect the event you’re attending and if the environment doesn’t warrant you achieving certain networking goals . . . grab a celebratory beverage and some festive treats and remember, there’s always next year!

* TR Garland is a Referral Marketing Strategist for the Referral Institute® in Orange County, California where he is a consultant to top performers and entrepreneurs on maximizing their ROI/ROT from business contacts and networking.  Starting in 2011, you can follow TR for his tips, tactics, and techniques on effective networking at his newly launched blog located at www.BeABetterNetworker.com.

 

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