More Strategies to Stay in Touch

 

Last week I shared four ideas for staying in touch with people. I discussed sorting through you list then using the system they use. I recommended using social media and old-fashioned stamp and envelope snail mail.

Here are 3 more strategies that will help you improve how you can stay in touch with others.  If you can’t do them all – do what works for you.

  1. Online chat/Skype or other instant message systems. I’m not a big fan but – it’s not about me, it’s about the other person.  What are they using?  I see many people using messaging systems online?  If you want to stay connected, connect where they are.
  2. Periodic phone calls. I know, crazy idea, actually talk to people.  Your smart phone has a green button – use it.  If appropriate, set up regular calls.  My wife and her sister have done that for many years.
  3. Face to face. Don’t be a “cave dweller.”  Nothing beats actually meeting someone face to face and having a conversation.  You have to eat breakfast and lunch every day, so why not do this a few times a week with a good referral partner? You can kill two birds with one stone by strategizing with your referral partner about how to help each other over a meal.

Benign neglect is a horrible thing when it comes to building social capital.  Start today to stay in touch. Pick a few of the techniques I listed above and “touch” someone.  Hey now, keep it appropriate.

Four Strategies to Stay in Touch

People often ask me, “how can I stay in touch with people or get back in touch with people that I haven’t seen or spoken with recently?”

Start by making a commitment to improving this area.  There’s a great Chinese proverb that I really like – “When’s the best time to plant an Oak tree?  The answer is – 20 years ago.  When’s the second best time – now!”

So, here are 4 strategies that will help you improve in this area.  If you can’t do them all – do what works for you.

  1. Sort through your list of people. You can’t stay in touch with everyone.  Who do you want to make sure to stay connected with and why?  It could be personal, it could be professional, but create a list that you want to focus on.
  2. Use the system they use! It doesn’t have to be Facebook or LinkedIn – use Pinterest or other programs, Snapchat, What’s App – whatever they use.   Each of my children uses  different systems.  If I want to connect with them – I need to go where they are.  For my oldest daughter, it’s texting or a phone call.  For my second daughter, it’s What’s App or texting.  For my son, it’s an online game called Steam.  I have some business associates who only reach out to me on Facebook or LinkedIn.  Others are strictly email or a phone call.  The key here – is to go where the people you want to talk to, hangout.
  3. Use social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ or Twitter to your advantage by sharing news and reading updates without having to reach out to people on an individual basis. Social media is fantastic. Instead of starting your next call with, “What’s new?” you can jump to, “You cut off your hair!” “You have a new job!”
  4. From time to time, use snail mail! Yes, OMG, send a handwritten letter or a card.  It’s so “old school” and it’s almost guaranteed that someone will read it.

Next week I will share more tips.

Culture Eats Strategy For Breakfast

VIDEO BLOG:

Culture is a blend of attitude, beliefs, mission, philosophy and momentum. As a result, culture helps to create and sustain a successful brand. The way people interact with one another and the overall growth of your company is affected by culture. What creates organizational culture? Culture is key in an organization for long-term success. It is the most important thing in an organization and it applies at all levels, from the top of the organization all the way down.  Rules, regulations, and operating standards are important, of course, because you have to have systems in place to guide activities. But culture is the factor that stands above all others.

The factors that go into building the organizational culture and will make your company successful are…

  1. TRADITIONS AND CORE VALUES
  2. VISION
  3. ENGAGEMENT

Please watch my video to learn more about these factors and share your comments below.

Lifelong Learning: Lessons in Leadership

 

As many of you know, I was given the fantastic opportunity to spend a few days with John Maxwell at his Leadership Conference in Orlando Florida last week. (You can read my initial reaction to winning the Leadership award here.)

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John shared a story that I thought was a great networking lesson, and it’s something I want to share with all of you.

He began his story when he was a very young pastor in the 1970s. He wanted to learn and grow in his field and he decided that he would try to interview ten of the most successful pastors from across the country. Being a thoughtful man, John realized that their time was valuable and he wanted to pay for it-but at the time, he only made $4,200 a year in salary.

John reached out to the ten pastors he wanted to seek advice from and offered them $100 each for less than an hour of their time to help mentor him in his journey. $100 each doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but multiplied by ten people that equaled almost one quarter of his annual income! But John felt that it was important to show them that he didn’t want something for nothing and would truly value their mentorship.

He went on to explain that only two people took him up on his request. He met with the two pastors, asked his questions, and received great information and took copious notes. Before he left each of them, he asked if they knew any of the eight remaining people on his list. He needed a referral!

Both of them new many of the remaining pastors, so John asked if they would be kind enough to call some of the other eight and make a personal introduction. Both men happily did so. After a short time, John was able to meet with all ten pastors because of the introductions that these two pastors made.

John obtained fantastic insights which enabled him to achieve many of his goals as a young man, and he did it through referral networking.

There were many lessons to be learned in this story, but here’s some of the ones that I got out of it:

  1. Don’t expect something for nothing. Asking for favors from people you don’t know, just doesn’t work well.
  2. Be prepared. Have well-thought out questions.
  3. Take notes and follow the advice.
  4. Most importantly, he asked these individuals if they felt this was worth their time. It was only after they said yes, that he asked for an introduction to the rest of the people on the list.

This last one is an important example of the referral process. He showed up prepared, stuck to the time he promised, did a good job and THEN asked for a laser specific referral if, and only if, they felt that the meeting was worth their time. John was successful because he knew how to be a professional, make a good impression, and then, and only then, ask for the referral.

Great story John.

 

A Humbled Man

I consider myself a pretty humble guy; but when you win an award, it makes you feel even more gracious and grateful for the opportunities you’ve been given in life.

Last night, I was honored to be awarded the John C. Maxwell Leadership Award. The award was given to me at the Maxwell gala, held at the end of a three day training conference, The Certified Live Event. As I reflect on the night over the next few days, I’ll be able to write a longer blog about my experience on Monday. But for now, let me say that if there’s one emotion I can immediately convey, it’s gratitude. I absolutely couldn’t have gotten where I am in life if it weren’t for others supporting, guiding and recognizing me. Being recognized as an influential leader is something I only achieved by following the lead of those who came before me, those who taught me and those who believed in me. For that, and so much more, I am truly grateful.

For me personally, the best part of the award is being able to donate the $10,000 prize money to the BNI Foundation. I have such passion, as does my wife Beth, for helping children and giving them as many opportunities to succeed as possible. This donation will make a lasting impact on children’s lives, which to me, is the greatest award imaginable.

Photo Credit: John C. Maxwell Team

Photo Credit: John C. Maxwell Team

Why Steve Farber Believes in Love (in Business)

The notion of love is too touchy-feely for many of us, especially when it comes to business.

But my friend and fellow Transformational Leadership Council Member, Steve Farber, doesn’t think so. Steve is one of the most renowned leadership speakers in the industry. When we were in Napa Valley together last week, he talked to me about making love a part of your every day mantra as a business owner.

“If the customer loves you, you can blow up their building and they’ll say ‘Eh–accidents happen,'” Steve said (OK, so that might be a bit extreme. But you get what he’s trying to say.)

Steve goes on to say that it’s more than just the forgiveness factor that makes it worth having a loving relationship with your customers.

“Love is what leads to customer loyalty,” he said. “it’s what leads to word-of-mouth and growing your organization.”

I think this advice is spot on. If your customer relationships are held in as high regard as the service you provide, you can only benefit. Customers want to love you-they want to trust and believe in you, which are foundational building blocks of love. Focus on building those blocks with the goal of creating loving, loyal customer relationships, and you’ll create a strong reputation that will hold up in the business community.

 

 

 

Decisions Aren’t Always Easy

I’ve been a member of the Transformational Leadership Council for the last 12 years.  It is a group of innovative and out-of-the-box leaders that meet twice a year from all around the world, and last week we met in Napa Valley, California.  I use this time to expand my mind, brainstorm new content for my blog and articles and most of, all learn from the incredible teachers around me.

One of the topics that really got my attention was the idea of “decision fatigue.”   

In decision making and social psychology, decision fatigue refers to the exhaustion that sets in when someone is presented with the need to make one decision after another, back to back, over and over again.  This can play out in several ways–for example, it can be as simple as going to a grocery store and being confronted with one bad choice for food after another. By the time you are checking out, your willpower becomes weak and you buy that candy on the way out of the check stand (that’s why they have it there!)

Photo courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 It can also be related to a very long day of making many decisions. If you’re making tough calls all day long, the quality of the decisions will drastically diminish by days end.  Or it might play out over a very long period of time (weeks, months, or years) where you are confronted with one challenging decision after another.  Over an extended period of time, you feel exhausted and drained from having to make so many decisions about so many different issues that it is easy to experience “burnout” as a result.

In running a global organization with an incredible amount of competing demands, this last consideration really rang true for me.  I often felt that the serious nature of the ongoing decisions that needed to be made, could create a massive amount of long-term stress for me. One way I combated this stress was to schedule dedicated “mental health days” to reset my mindset and get in a better place.  

I spoke about this several years ago in my blog here. 

Decision fatigue is a real condition.  What, if anything, do you do to combat this feeling in your life?

Balance Doesn’t Exist

Forget about balance. It’s an illusion.

Yes, you read correctly. Balance assumes that we spend equal amounts of time in each area of our life, which realistically, is impossible. I believe in harmony, in finding ways to creating synergy between the things you love to do and the things you’re paid to do (if you’re lucky, they’re one in the same!)

Try these seven simple techniques:

1. Wherever you are, be there!

2. Be creative about how you manage your time

3. Integrate various elements of your life

4. Practice letting go and holding on

5. Be intentional about who you let in your room

6. Create margins

7. Work in your flame, not in your wax

Watch the video below for a more detailed explanation.

 

Can Your Business Serve the Greater Good?

A friend of mine once said, “If we could get every single business person in the world, every single entrepreneur, to play their part, we could get on top of most of the worlds problems.”

That friend was Richard Branson, and I took his message to heart. It made me think about what I could do through BNI to make an impact on the globe and sent me on an introspective journey about being a business owner and the responsibility we had to serve not only our customers, but society as a whole.

What I came up with are four ways to help your business find direction and purpose in helping others, whether it be in your local area or in the global community.

Life Lessons – A 40-Year Plan

Almost forty years ago, I assembled a plan of where I wanted my career to be as I matured throughout my professional years. I know, I know–life never turns out the way you plan it. But try telling that to a 20-something who has overwhelming ambition to blaze his own trail.Ivan at CTS Circa 1982

Right after college, I sat down and wrote out my vision of where I hoped to be as my career progressed. Now, you’ll have to imagine a recent college grad, diploma in hand and ready to take on the world. As I tossed and turned at night, wondering as we all do at that age where my life might end up, I created a list of what I hoped might happen.

Here’s what I came up with:

20’s: The learning years-pay my dues. Be prepared to work crazy long hours and be a sponge for learning.

30’s: Establish myself in a career. Pick a professional lane and move forward.

40’s: The growth years- build my business. Create a reputation. Continue with life-long learning while accelerating the growth of my business.

50’s: Be at the top of my game professionally. Hope to have built a positive professional reputation and a successful business.

60’s (and beyond): Elder Statesman. Spend time working in my flame and providing strategic leadership in my business.

Well, here I am. Today is my 60th birthday and I’ve arrived at the later phase of my list–and I have to say, I’m very excited about it. This life has taken me places I never dreamed I would go; I’ve met people that would forever change it’s course, I’ve seen things that would alter my perspective in profound ways and learned to expect the unexpected. To this day, I’m still amazed how setting a vision helps create a reality.

Today, I look forward to the future.  Thank you to everyone who reads this blog.  I appreciate you very much.

The Entrepreneurial Spirit Within

What does it mean to have an entrepreneurial spirit, and how do you know if you have it?

For me, I knew (or at least in hindsight, I would come to know) that I was an entrepreneur at the age of 13. It wasn’t even a word that I knew or even understood at the time, but I had an instinct for business. There was something inside me that understood how to take a 5 cent piece of candy and turn a profit–that is, until I got caught selling candy at school.

An entrepreneur has a vision, sees an opportunity then has the commitment to follow through. Do you have what it takes?

https://youtu.be/EXAs8_jgKlE

Which Networking Style Are You?

This is the fifth and final video in the “Ivanism” Garage to Global series, hosted by Entrepreneur.com. In this series, I expand on common phrases I’ve used throughout my 31 years of referral-based networking.

When you’re at a networking event, do you eagerly bounce around the room, chatting with various people and passing out business cards? Do you tend to seek deep connections by only talking to a few people for longer periods? Everyone has their own way of making connections and networking, and it helps to understand just where you fall in the lineup.

Knowing your networking behavioral style will help you capitalize on your skills–and maybe even identify some flaws to improve upon. Take a look at the video below to find out YOUR style and maybe the next time you’re at an event, you’ll be able to better position yourself for greater success.

 

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