Partnering With Your Competition

While counter-intuitive, partnering with your competition may be among the best ways to grow your business. By intelligently creating a partnership with someone who you would otherwise work against, you can combine your client bases and maximize on return on your investment. You never know what kind of positives can come from what may otherwise seem like a negative.

Click on the graphic below, or click here, to hear what I have to say.

Building Your Network Effectively–Where to Start . . .

If you’re having a hard time building your network because you’re concerned people can’t seem to understand or relate to your business, it’s helpful to remember that before you can begin to network effectively, you need to find a way to explain your business in a way that people will easily understand. 
We ALL need to heed this rule of thumb and be able to clearly and simply communicate what it is that we do by pinpointing key aspects of our business for our potential referral sources.

My advice to anyone confused about how to clearly explain what it is that they do is to ask yourself these questions and write down your answers:

  • Why are you in business (other than to make a living)?  Why do you do what you do?  How does your business serve others?
  • What do you sell?  Most important, what are the benefits—not the features—of your products or services?
  • Who are your customers?  What are your target markets?  Be specific.  Look at all segments of your business to determine the niche or niches you prefer to work with.
  • What are your core competencies, and what do you do best?
  • How well do you compete?  How do you stand out from your competition?

These questions will help you explain what your business is all about, and make you more effective at implementing a comprehensive referral system.  By communicating these aspects of your business to referral sources, they’re learning how they can refer you; and that’s what networking is all about.

“Never Apply for a Job Again: Break the Rules, Cut the Line, Beat the Rest”

Earlier this year, I was asked by Darrell Gurney (pictured below) to write the foreword for his new book, Never Apply for a Job Again: Break the Rules, Cut the Line, Beat the Rest, and I gladly agreed for two reasons.  First, Darrell walks the talk–he completely understands the importance of building genuine relationships in networking and he is the epitome of a master networker.  Second, I believe this book is an invaluable tool for people across the globe in forging new career paths, especially in our current economic climate where the competition for jobs can be a huge challenge for the majority of people.

Today is the official book launch for Never Apply for a Job Again, and I highly encourage you to visit the book’s website and watch the short videos on the site which explain what the book is about and how it can help people worldwide use networking to secure jobs without struggling through the conventional, highly competitive job application process.

In short, the book outlines the way for professionals, new graduates just starting out, returning military folks, and all others to approach an uncertain job market with certainty by knowing and being known by the people who have the power to launch careers.

 Darrell teaches how to:

  • Break outside of limiting “rules” by which you unconsciously live in relation to networking
  • Meet people, be memorable, stay top-of-mind, and maintain connections with influential door-openers
  • Employ ten, time-tested principles for launching an effective “stealth” career campaign
  • Have your fascinations and passions lead to research and relationships
  • Network like a pro, regardless of whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert
  • Conduct backdoor meetings to gain massive referrals
  • And more . . .

80% of all jobs are filled before they are ever advertised and this book is the solution to being left in the dark and not getting a chance at the unadvertised jobs.  To quote Darrell, “The most effective career-enhancement tool since humans arrived on the planet is the good opinion and favor of others.”

If you want to learn more about how to advance your career by leveraging the good favor of others whom you’ve built genuine relationships, visit the Never Apply for a Job Again website by clicking here.

What Is Your Company’s Competitive Position?

To find out how you stack up against your competition, take a little time to analyze your competitive status. This exercise will help you understand and emphasize your unique selling position.  How do you differ, and how can you position yourself for the best competitive advantage?

There’s no single formula for conducting a competitive analysis; it’s mostly just good business sense.  Try to stay aware of what your competition is doing and how your business stacks up against it.  For example:

  • Are your prices and costs competitive? — Do customers who compare costs come back to you?
  • Do you compete effectively in terms of product or service quality?
  • Are you seen as the vendor of choice? — Why do people seek you out?
  • Are you growing, losing ground or just holding onto your market share? — Are you waiting to see what will happen and hoping to react in time?

Staying competitive also implies being aware of trends and reacting to changes faster than your competitors. How will changes in technology and society affect the competition? Are your products or services more advanced than those of your competition? Do your competitors have the jump on you with online marketing/social media?

Understanding the driving forces in your industry — growth rates, shifts in buyer demographics, product and marketing innovations, the entry or exit of other competitors, changes in cost or efficiency and so forth — will make you a top competitor.

I highly encourage you to take some time this week to sit down and ask yourself the questions listed above. Once you’ve done this, come back and leave a comment explaining what you learned about your company’s competitive position.

Bob Burg’s 10 Networking Questions That Work Every Time

My good friend, networking expert Bob Burg, has 10 questions he personally uses when networking that he believes every networker should memorize.

Bob explains that these questions are not designed to be probing or sales-oriented in any way; they are all friendly, fun to answer, and will tell you something about the way the person answering them thinks.  You’ll never need or have the time to ask all 10 questions during any one conversation but, still, you should internalize them.  Know them well enough that you are able to ask the ones you deem appropriate for the particular conversation and time frame.

Here are the 10 questions:

1.  How did you get started in the (______) business?

2.  What do you enjoy most about your profession?

3.  What separates you and your company from the competition?

4.  What advice would you give someone just starting out in the (______) business?

5.  What one thing would you do with your business if you knew you could not fail?

6.  What significant changes have you seen take place in your profession through the years?

7.  What do you see as the coming trends in the (______) business?

8.  Describe the strangest or funniest incident you’ve experienced in your business?

9.  What ways have you found to be the most effective for promoting your business?

10.  What one sentence would you like people to use in describing the way you do business?

Like Bob says, you’re not going to get to ask more than a few of these questions during an initial conversation,  so don’t worry about sounding like you’re conducting an interrogation. These are feel-good questions people enjoy answering, and they are meant to establish an initial rapport.  So next time you’re at a networking event, try using a few of these questions and then come back and leave a comment about how using them worked out for you; I’m more than willing to bet you’ll be pleased with the results.

My Philosophy About Competition

My philosophy about competition is best summed up by Henry Ford, who once said, “The competitor to be feared is one who never bothers about you at all, but goes on making his own business better all the time.”

In my business organization, BNI, members or directors often express concern about other competitive networking groups that are forming and bad-mouthing our company or attacking our program in some way. I tell my team that if they feel like someone is biting at our backsides, it’s because we’re out in front. Success in business is about constantly improving your product or service and making it better all the time. The process is a journey, not a destination. However, if you are constantly working to improve the system, improve the product, improve the culture and improve the team, you will also improve your position in the marketplace.

Almost 10 years ago I had a particularly aggressive competitor publicly state that he was going to bury our organization. Since then we’ve grown by almost 400 percent. I haven’t heard about his company in years. I’m not sure whether it’s still in business. Ford got it right. Keep making your business better, and you’ll have no need to fear your competitors–your business will be the one competitors fear the most.

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