What is a Lifestyle Business?

LBSSummit_IvanMisner_FBWhat defines happiness and success? Everyone has a different answer, but I can tell you one thing that most would agree on: money does not solely define success and certainly cannot buy happiness.

I recently had the opportunity to speak at the LifeStyle Business Summit, hosted by Michelle Villalobos. In telling her own story, Michelle said she was climbing the ladder like we all do, but when she examined her life, she in fact wasn’t happy–and so she left to find her own path to fulfillment. She started her own business, making upwards of $300,000 a year–which society tells us should make a us happy–but that as time went on, she had actually become what she disliked most in people and became the boss she herself had always feared. She never gave herself any breaks or time off, and sacrificed her own happiness and health for a corporate lifestyle.

Two years went by and then Michelle realized she had to make a change in order to find true happiness. She wanted to run a business that revolved around her life and contributed something positive to the world–and she did, by changing her perspective, her business model and her definition of success. Michelle calls her new business model a “lifestyle business,” a term which I found fascinating as it resonated with some many of the concepts I talk and write a.

In a lifestyle business model, you have to determine which things are satisfiers and which are dissatisfiers. Keep in mind that while money can be a quick satisfier, it often doesn’t lead to long-term happiness. Long-term satisfiers can be things like opportunity, recognition and working in your flame (finding you passion.) I’m a real believer in following your passion and finding things that are new and innovative within that passion to keep the flame burning. Dissatisfiers include things like working in your wax (not doing what makes you happy), climbing the ladder and yes–even money.

A great example of this theory is a school teacher. A man or woman doesn’t become a teacher to make money, but to make a significant change in the world around them. I’ve known Wall Street executives who made millions, but admitted that their life was hollow.

I strongly encourage you to join me at the virtual Lifestyle Business Summit on August 11. Register here to not only hear me, but several other top business and lifestyle experts talk about finding what truly makes you happy in your professional life.

 

 

 

How Public Speaking Can Help Your Grow Your Business

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Image by Sira Anamwong of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Public speaking can be a huge snag for so many business owners. Even experienced and successful business owners often freeze up in front of crowds. While public speaking may not seem incredibly important when it comes to growing your business, you may be surprised how it plays into your networking efforts.

There are numerous ways to help reduce your stress when it comes to public speaking, and likely help with your business growth.

  1. Always be prepared. The best way to make yourself nervous is to try to get in front of a crowd and wing it. Take notes on what you plan to say, and have them handy. Walk the fine line between prepared and over prepared, though. Sometimes too much preparation can stress you out even more.
  2. Be specific. Don’t try to teach people everything about your business in one pitch. Focus on just one or two parts of your business each time you speak on it. By being specific, you can dive into something that you know well and feel at ease just out of familiarity with your content.
  3. Use visual aids. They help more than you think. PowerPoint slides can help keep you on track, and handouts can help you make sure that your audience can take home important pieces of information.
  4. Remember that you are the expert. Nobody else knows your business as well as you do. Don’t let your audience rattle you with questions. They simply want to learn about what you do, so help them do so.
  5. Be creative. If talking to a large group makes you uncomfortable, try starting with a Q&A and working from there. There is no right or wrong way to present to an audience, so do what works best for you and for your business.

What are your tips and tricks for public speaking? Let me know in the comments below!

Name Tag

What’s in a Name (Tag)? A few tips

ID-100397028All businesspeople know how vital a name tag can be for developing new contacts and presenting yourself professionally.

That said, there are a few cardinal elements of a name tag that can really make or break its effectiveness.

  • Name size. The whole point of a name tag is to allow people to see your name. Make sure your name is printed in a legible way – this includes making sure it is big enough for people to read!
  • Company name. You’ll want to include your company name, your position, or both, on your name tag so that new contacts can connect you and your business together easily in their minds.
  • We often recommend putting your name tag on your right-hand side, and high enough up to where it can be easily seen when someone is looking at your face, or chin. The lower you put your name tag on your shirt or jacket, the more awkward it will be when someone tries to strain to read it.
  • I’m not a huge fan of those sticky, cheap paper name tags. They have their uses, but I like to carry a plastic or laminated name tag with me at all times so I never have to use one of those stickers. They come off very easily, get wrinkled, and are overall unruly.

Equally important to the make-up of a name tag is when you wear it. I think many professionals tend to wear their name tag anytime it even seems mildly necessary, just to prevent uncomfortable situations arising when the name tag was needed but wasn’t being worn. Here are a couple times when you may want to leave your name tag in your briefcase:

  • During one-to-one settings. This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how often the name tag is put on for a group meeting, then is left on well after the meeting when the individual is meeting with someone one-to-one.
  • When on stage. First of all, your audience will be so far away from you that they likely won’t even be able to read your name tag – no matter how big your make your name. The name tag can also distract from you and what you are saying, and often when you are on a stage in front of a large group you are giving a presentation that requires the audience’s attention.
  • When on video. A primary reason for this is many cameras flip your image, so your name tag will be backwards, unreadable, and will very obviously be unnecessary to the individuals you’re speaking with.
  • When in an intimate group. The exception to this is of course if every other member of the group is wearing their name tag, because your lack of name tag will draw (negative) unnecessary attention to you. However, in general, when a group is intimate enough to where you can easily remember everyone’s name and profession, or where you already know all of the individuals in the group, your name tag is unnecessary.

What tips do you follow for your name tag? Let me know in the comments below!

The Downside of a Q&A Session

ID-10041287One of the most awkward parts of giving a presentation or lecture is the question and answer session after the main presentation. Not only is it awkward, it isn’t always necessary when it comes to business presentations.

Of course, question and answer sessions may be beneficial when you are giving a “How to” presentation, and you want to ensure your audience fully understands the topic.

Here are four reasons why a Q&A is not always your best bet:

  1. You never know what kinds of questions the audience may spring on you. You could be the most educated person in the world on insulating a home, but there is always that person who will ask a question phrased in such a way to where you don’t know how to answer them, and your credibility with the group is destroyed.
  2. Questions people ask during a Q&A portion may be better answered during a one-to-one. One of the best ways to build relationships with a contact is by spending some solo time with them, talking about what you both do and getting to know each other a bit.
  3. Q&As can be time drains. Sometimes people do ask valuable questions during a Q&A, but many times the process of getting people to ask questions, and having some questions asked just be duplicates of each other, can really kill an event agenda.
  4. Your Q&A is not an open forum. Sometimes, audiences will use a Q&A time to air grievances, complain, express difficulties, etc., but this is definitely not the time that you would want to address issues like these.

When you conclude a presentation, you should encourage your audience to speak to you after with any questions or one-to-one requests. This will give you an opportunity to hear questions, and address them individually, while developing relationships with potential contacts.

Stranger Danger? Not in Networking!

Why do people hate networking events? There are a few common reasons, but one that I have heard time and time again is an anxiety about introducing yourself to new contacts. I’m sure you’re familiar with the feeling of nerves as you meet new people and try to strike up a conversation. There are a few small things I think you should include in your introduction with new people that could help take the edge off.

  • ID-100356039Don’t forget your name and your business! Because, yes, believe it or not this happens. I was at a networking event a few years ago, and someone came up to me. We spoke for a few minutes about their business and their experience using referral networking before they had to excuse themselves. It was then that I realized that I had never gotten their name, despite the fact that they knew mine. If your goal is to introduce yourself to a new contact and leave a lasting impression, definitely make sure you give your name.
  • Find common ground. Finding something about your new contact that you can relate to is among the best ways to quickly develop the start of a relationship. This also will alleviate the pressure of your conversation with someone new, as it’ll spark topics you both can relate to and talk about.
  • Be memorable. If you can stand out from the crowd and make yourself unforgettable (in a positive way!), you’re more likely to really develop relationships. This is most effective when done when you are one-on-one with someone, and not in a group. Be sure to read the person, and use a quirk about yourself, your business, etc., that can resonate with the specific person. This one requires a bit of social intelligence, but when done right is highly effective.
  • Ask questions about the other person. People love to talk about themselves and their business. Everyone has an easy time talking about things they know well, and what do people know better than themselves? Not only will this allow the other person to take the lead on the conversation in a positive way, it helps you learn about the other person. The caveat here is to make sure you are asking genuine questions. Asking nonsense questions just to keep asking questions is transparent, and will negatively impact how you are perceived.

How do you handle meeting someone new at networking events? Let me know in the comments below!

So You Want to Network Up?

Earlier this week, I appeared on Copy Chief with Kevin Rogers as a special guest to talk all about referral marketing. If you missed it, you can check out the whole podcast here, but today I would like to specifically elaborate on one segment from the podcast.

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Around the 20-minute mark, I tell a story about a man named Mark who invested a lot of time and energy to develop our relationship. By the time he turned around and asked me for a favor, a least a year after we had met and begun our relationship, I was so appreciative of everything he had done for me that I was willing to do whatever favor he asked for.

You need to be interested, not interesting. People don’t want you to sell to them, they want you to be interested in investing in them. If you’re networking up, or trying to network with someone very successful, you need to find a way to stand out. You need to make that powerful person want to help you, by expecting nothing in return.

So how do you do that? It isn’t one of those things that you can just do overnight, or wake up one day and decide you’re going to develop a relationship with someone.

First and foremost, you have to have an idea. A great idea. An idea that you can implement and it will positively impact the person you hope to build a relationship with. Something helpful, something that that person cannot do themselves. This idea should set you apart, and should be unique to both you, and to your future contact.

Once you have developed your idea – and I mean fully developed; you can’t go to someone with a half-baked plan in your head – you need to reach out to the person that your idea benefits. Handwritten notes can make you stand apart. Emails and social media messages can work, but often will not help you stand apart, and depending on the person they may not be managing their own accounts. A well thought out handwritten note may be your best bet.

From there, your strategy relies strongly on your idea and the person you are working to help. To hear me discuss some other related topics, check out the podcast with Kevin Rogers on Copy Chief here.

5 Ways Your Network Can Promote You

I’m currently in Asia doing a number of speaking engagements and yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking at the BNI Japan National Conference.  Today, I’d like to share with you an excerpt from the speech I gave where I explain the following five ways in which your network can promote you:

  1. Display your literature and products
  2. Make announcements for you about your business
  3. Endorse your products and services
  4. Provide you with referrals
  5. Introduce you to people / arrange meetings on your behalf

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This is content straight from my book Business by Referral and if you’d like to learn about the additional ten ways your network can promote you (which I share in the book but not in this video), click here for an article I wrote specifically on this topic. 

If you have any favorite tactics which you’ve personally found to be highly effective when it comes to putting your networking circle to work for you, please share them in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

James Barber–“The Networking Guru”

Just last week at the BNI® U.S. National Conference in Savannah, Georgia, I had the opportunity to have a brief chat with James Barber, author of The Networking Guru.  In this video, I ask James to offer a suggestion or two on how networkers can stand out during weekly presentations in their networking group in order to increase their effectiveness at consistently obtaining referrals from their networking partners.

James reveals his top tip for helping your fellow networkers (i.e., your sales team) to focus and really narrow in on how they can refer you, and he tells a powerful story about a North Carolina business woman who used his top tactic and was so successful that he still finds it amazing when he thinks about the results she got.

Watch the video now to learn how you can stand out and be remembered in order to make it easier for those with whom you network to refer you.  I guarantee that if you incorporate James’ advice into your networking presentations and interactions, you will start to see a significant improvment in your referral marketing results and a noticeable increase in the amount of referrals you’re able to generate.

After watching the video, please share your thoughts.  And, if you’ve had previous experience using the tactic we discuss for generating more referrals, I’d love to hear how it worked out for you–please share your story in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

 

It’s Not What You Say . . . It’s How You Say It

The business I’m in involves a lot of coaching and guiding of franchisees to teach them how to coach and guide entrepreneurs, salespeople, and professionals to generate referrals for themselves and others.  Sometimes this feels a little like ‘herding cats’; entrepreneurs hate being told what to do and it takes a real skill set to move them in a direction that involves a lot of hard work but will help them achieve the results they want.

Photo courtesy of stockimages at freedigitalphotos.net

Photo courtesy of stockimages at freedigitalphotos.net

One of the biggest challenges I have in this process is not with the actual entrepreneur or salesperson but with the individual I’m coaching to be able to guide the entrepreneur or salesperson. These people have gone through many hours of training, tend to have a fair amount of field experience, and have support manuals that exceed a thousand pages of documentation to assist in the process.   They are true expertsI’ve discovered, however, that sometimes expertise can actually be a problem. Just because your expertise may arm you with the knowledge to recognize the solution to a problem or challenge, it doesn’t mean other people are going to automatically ‘believe’ you know the solution and/or want you to actually tell them the solution.  I know that sounds counter intuitive; however, if you’ve ever raised a child, you know that this is often times absolutely true!

So, let’s say you’re an expert.  You know you’re an expert.  You know that you can help someone else.  You also know that this “someone else” is a grownup who runs their own business or is an independent sales rep who chose their particular career for good reason . . . they like the freedom of being independent.  How do you move these people in the right direction?

I had a person who worked for my company who once went into one of my locations and was appalled by how badly things were being run by the members of the group.  She let them know in no uncertain terms what they were doing wrong and how they needed to turn it around. Her assessment of the situation and the solutions she proposed were spot on but her presentation of them was all wrong. She was so blunt with the group’s members that she received a very negative reaction from them and ended up leaving the place an even bigger mess than it was when she first walked in.  When I met with her to talk about how she might have done things differently, she grew furious with me for not supporting her since she was right and the members of the group were wrong.  I wasn’t arguing that she was right–she was.  The problem I had was how she handled the situation–in that area, she was completely wrong. I tried to explain this to her by sharing one of my favorite sayings relating to the dilemma:  “Don’t burn down the barn to roast the pig.” In other words, don’t make things worse than you found them when you were trying to fix them in the first place.

She could never really wrap her head around the concept that people may not welcome her advice with enthusiasm and agree with her stance on an issue when she was clearly right.  She didn’t work for me for much longer (make of that what you will) and, eventually, we got an expert to work with that group who ‘listened’ to their issues,  Built relationships with the group members, and then coached them into achieving the greatness they had within them.  It’s important to note that this process took time and patience.

There are two things I try to teach people in this situation.

First, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” If you want people to listen to you when you are coaching them or re-directing them, they have to know that you care about them and want them to succeed.  If they don’t know this down to their core – they will not listen to your advice.  Ever.

Second, is a saying given to me by mother on a paper weight when I was about 16 years old and I was running an uphill battle for a student council race.  My mother gave me this paper weight (which is still on my desk in my home to this date).  The paper weight says: Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way.” When she gave me that, she explained that I had to learn how to work “with” people – not “through” people.  She said that even if I did know the answer to a problem – it did no good if no one else believed me.  That advice helped me win the election and it has helped me many times throughout my life.  I have to admit that I don’t always use it as well as I can – however, when I do use it, things almost always go more smoothly.

The bottom line is this: being right doesn’t help much if no one is willing to follow you.

What are your thoughts on this issue?  Maybe you can share a story . . . but, remember to keep it positive.  Let’s focus on positive outcomes more than just horror stories.

Introducing Yourself at Networking Events–Top Tips for Overcoming Anxiety

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If the thought of giving a brief introduction of yourself and your business at networking meetings makes your palms sweat, read on . . .

When participating, even as a guest, in various networking meetings or functions, the fact is that you will be required to introduce yourself sooner or later.  Preparing a script for introducing yourself will improve your results.  One of your scripts should be an overview of what you do.  Other presentations can address various aspects of your product or service.  Here’s the script sequence I recommend:

  • Your name
  • Your business or profession
  • Brief description of your business or profession
  • Benefit statement of one of your products or services
  • Your name again

Your name and your business profession are easy enough.  A brief description and a benefit statement can be separate items,  but more often they are intertwined in your message.  It’s fairly easy to combine your business with the benefits of your product or service.  I suggest telling people what you do, as well as what you are:

“I’m a financial planner and I help people plan for their future” or “I’m an advertising and marketing consultant; I help companies get the most out of their advertising dollar.”  These explanations are more effective than saying, “I do financial planning,” or “I plan advertising campaigns.”

In many situations, you’ll be introducing yourself to only one or two people at a time.  Some networking organizations have all the members stand at each meeting, and in round-robin fashion, give a one-minute overview to the entire group.  If you’re a member of a group like this, it is vitally important to vary your presentations.

Many people who are in networking groups that meet every week have a tendency to say the same old thing, time after time.  From what I’ve seen, many weekly presentations are done weakly.  If you don’t vary your presentations, many people will tune you out when you speak because they’ve already heard your message several times.  Your best bet is to give a brief overview, then concentrate on just one element of your business for the rest of your presentation.

If you prepare your brief introduction using these techniques, you will begin to get much more confident at introducing yourself and, what’s better, you’ll begin to get better networking results.  If you try introducing yourself in this way at your next networking meeting or function,

I’d love to hear how it turns out for you–please come back and share your experience in the comment forum below.  Or, if you’ve already done some things to help you with this issue – please share your tactics with us.  Thanks!

Don’t Make a Mess of Your Message — “Navigating the VCP Process® 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

TR-and-Ivan-Blue-Backgrou
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®.  A while ago, we started a much-anticipated 12-part 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 11 of the series. Enjoy.

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DON’T MAKE A MESS OF YOUR MESSAGE
(Part 11 of 12 of the “Navigating The VCP Process® To Networking” Series)

In Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 , Part 4, and Part 5 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. For Parts 6 and 7 we even shared with you video trainings from the both of us.

In Part 8, we suggested some behaviors that you can use on a weekly basis to increase the number of referrals you receive. And, as a result, we got a couple phone calls complimenting us about how that particular blog post clearly outlined what type of behaviors a successful networker should be practicing on a weekly and monthly basis – and we were asked to provide more. We fulfilled that request in Part 9.

And, in Part 10, we addressed that ‘Mindset’ has as much to do with your success in networking as ‘Skillset’.

Today, we’re going to build upon all of the varying topics and techniques we’ve used to help you understand how best to Navigate The VCP Process® To Networking.

Let’s begin by asking you a very important question–What is the MOST famous speech in the history of the United States?  (Yes…we understand that many of our readers are internationally-based. We appreciate that very much. With that said, please bear with us and you too will be pleasantly surprised by the end of this post at what you’re about to learn.)

Okay. Now back to the question. What’s the MOST famous speech in the history of the United States?  Anyone? . . . Anyone?  Was it President John F. Kennedy (i.e., JFK) in which he said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”?  Was it Dr. Martin Luther King (i.e. MLK) in which he said, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up, live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’.”?  Or, was it Abraham Lincoln (i.e. Abe) in the Gettysburg Address in which he said, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”?  Have your voting ballots been placed? Are you ready for the answer?

Well, it was the Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln. Yep, the Gettysburg Address.The SECOND most famous speech was Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” and the THIRD most famous speech was John F. Kennedy’s “Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You”.

Now, here are another 3 questions for you:  How long was MLK’s speech?  It was 1,651 words.  How long was JFK’s Inaugural Address on January 20th, 1961?  Well, it was 1,366 words.  How long was the Gettysburg Address? . . . Anyone?  It was only 272 words. It was only 2 minutes long. It was only 10 sentences.  Therefore, one could interpret that it was CLEAR, CONCISE, and COMPELLING. And, by being all three of these, the audience who was listening “got it” the first time Abraham Lincoln delivered his speech.  Did you know that there was actually a Featured Speaker that same day that spoke for over 2 hours? We didn’t. And, most people don’t know that either. His name was Edward Everett and this proves our point today.

So, our recommendation to each and every one of you reading this today is to tell this story to your BNI Chapters, Chambers of Commerce, and other Networking Groups you’re involved in.

We understand that many of you are from a variety of different countries. Yet, this doesn’t matter. It doesn’t dilute the important point that’s been made. After you tell your BNI Chapters, Chamber Members, and others whom you network with this story, let them know that you are going to work with everybody to make sure that their “messaging” is CLEAR, CONCISE, and COMPELLING.  Because, if it’s not…it simply won’t be as effective in today’s networking environments.

When people are concerned (i.e. fuss and complain) about what to do when the time allotted for their introductions (in BNI they’re called Sales Manager Minutes) gets cut down to 45 or 30 seconds due to a growing group or Chapter….reference this story.  When people are concerned (i.e. fuss and complain) about their Keynote Presentations getting cut down from 12 and 10 minutes to 8 and 6 minutes….reference this story.

In closing, let’s take a very valuable lesson from the History Books. If Abraham Lincoln could make such a difference and be remembered decades & decades later after delivering only 10 sentences, what are YOUR 10 SENTENCES that will make a massive impact on your network?
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 12 called “Using Social Media To Navigate The V-C-P Process®.”

 

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