Are The People in Your Life an Engine or an Anchor?

Over the years I’ve recognized that there are some people who are positive and supportive individuals that I really want to be around.  They areid-100109424 solutions focused relating to most problems and are almost always willing to talk through challenges with a positive end in mind.  These people are engines.  They help me be my best self and they motivate me to drive forward.

I’ve also noticed, as I’m sure you have, that there are some people who complain as though it were an Olympic event (for the record – it’s not!).  They tend to be negative, argumentative, and obsessed with problems.  I’ve learned not to spend much time with these people because they focus on all the things that are wrong relating to most challenges.   If all someone does is focus on problems – they become an expert on problems and not on the solutions.   These people are anchors, they hold me back and weigh me down.

id-100381604Who do you surround yourself with: engines or anchors? This is an important question for everyone.  It’s particularly important if you are trying to build a powerful personal network of people around you.  Is your network full of people who are engines helping you go to the next level in your life or your career?  Or, are they anchors weighing you down with the plethora of issues, problems, and complaints? Do they hold you back, or do they drive you forward?

The funny thing here is that no-one thinks they’re an anchor.  No one!  Of course they’ll tell you that they are an engine – they just do not like the direction you are going and that’s why they come across the way they do.  For the record – they’re an anchor – with a motor attached. My advice is to call for “all hands on deck,” cut loose the anchors in your life, partner up with your fellow engines and go full-speed ahead.

Using Your Passion to Sell Your Business

ID-100228591Are your referral partners excited about your business? Getting your referral partners excited about your business is one of the top ways to generate more referrals, and build your contact base more.

You’re probably sitting there thinking, “Oh, but nobody could be excited about my business. I do XYZ, and that’s boring.” Are you excited about what you do? Are you passionate about what you do?

Hopefully, the answer is yes – as a business owner, you should be excited and passionate about your business. That passionate you have for your business should show in how you describe it, and excite your referral partners. If you’re not excited about what you do, no one else will be either.

Think back to a time when you heard a motivational speaker, perhaps as a keynote at a convention or during a seminar. When you left the room that you heard the speaker in, was there an energetic buzz in the air? Were the other attendees excited about what they heard? Usually, the answer to that question is yes. But why?

Motivational speakers have an uncanny ability to share passion through their words, which increases their credibility and helps listeners remember their messages better. The very same end goals should be what you have in mind when educating potential referral partners about your business.

Increasing the excitement about your business can be easy. Take time to think about why you are excited about your business. What about what you do makes you look forward to waking up in the morning and going to work? Your personal challenge in networking is to have an extraordinary message that not only captures, but highlights, your passion and the essence of your business.

My challenge to you this week is to explain something about your business that excites you to a referral partner who may not have known about it before. See how they receive this information, or if they start to get excited, too.

Let me know in the comments below how that passion-fueled conversation goes!

Short Term Goals for Long Term Success

ID-100154878What is your goal for your business for the next year? How about for the next quarter? Next month?

A lot of business owners don’t have goals broken down like this, but why not? It’s difficult to reach a goal that doesn’t exist, and just saying that you want to grow your business isn’t specific enough to actually help you achieve results.

To really achieve the results you want, you need to set concrete goals, and you need to write them down.

Start far into the future. What age do you want to feel comfortable retiring? What amount in savings will make you comfortable retiring? Will you pass your business to one of your children, a trusted employee, or someone else? Map out your far out into the future goal.

Now that you know the far future you need to set yourself up to hit this goal. What milestones do you need to hit in 10, 5, or 2 years that will put you on the right path? What does your business look like at these intervals? How many employees will you have at the end of these times?

One year from today, where does your business need to be to hit your larger goals? What changes do you need to make to set yourself up for long term success? Do you need to hire more help now, or can it wait? What networking groups will you join in the next year? How are you spending your time?

At the end of the next financial quarter, what changes will you have made to start inching toward where you want to be? This is a great time to start looking at the numbers of your business, and diving into what changes you need to make over time to hit your overall goals.

In just the next month, what are your plans? It takes 21 days of doing something consistently to make it a habit, so what habits do you need to hit your goals? What can you implement in your life to start with that will help you reach your goals?

I know it may sound silly to break your goals down this much, but if you don’t know what you’re shooting for, you’ll never hit your target. Long term goals can seem too far away and too massive to be goals that you can actually work toward right now, so breaking them out into more manageable time frames can be more beneficial than you could image.

What is your long-term goal? How are you working toward it? Tell me in the comments below!

How Well Do You Know Your Business?

ID-10063353Established business owners often hit a point where they don’t think that they need to continue improving themselves or their businesses. Even if you have thus far been successful, it is important to continue identifying strengths and weaknesses. Businesses evolve, and the needs of an organization easily change over time.

As your business evolves, you may need to take time to focus on the facts of your business. Even though it sounds silly (we all know what we do, right?), taking time to identify the basics can be helpful in the long run.

To start, reexamine who you are. Not you personally, but your business. Where does the business stand today? What are your motivations for keeping it going every day? These things can change over time, and are likely different than they were when you first started. Other questions you may want to ask yourself to get to the bottom of this:

  • Who are your customers? Your target markets?
  • What are your core competencies?
  • Who are your competitors, and how well are you competing?

Next, you must clearly communicate who you are to your network. This can be people you work with who pass referrals to you, this could be friends, family, and coworkers. Anyone who may pass a referral to you, or at the minimum connect you with someone who could help you grow your business.

Your newly developed understanding of your business can even come in handy when you are asked what you do by strangers – telling people your job title does nothing to strengthen a relationship.

To learn more about this topic and more, check out my book with Brennan Scanlon, The Networking Disconnect.

Four Keys to Becoming a Networking Catalyst

ID-100227642I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no mechanic. In fact, when I was a kid, my father (who could fix just about anything) took me out to the garage one day and said, “Son, you’d better go to college because you’re never going to make a living with your hands.” Well, that was great advice, Dad. And I think things have worked out pretty well for me as a result of your suggestion.

Despite my lack of skills as a mechanic, I can, however, tell you how a catalytic converter relates to networking and your business. By definition, a catalyst is an agent that initiates a reaction. In networking, a catalyst is someone who makes things happen. Without a catalyst, there is no spark, and not much gets done. So what does it take for you to become a catalyst for your business and your network? Four things: initiative, intention, confidence, and motivation.

  1. Initiative. Catalytic people don’t sit still—they make things happen in all aspects of their lives. As networkers, they stay alert for a problem that needs solving and then spring into action, calling on someone from their network to solve the problem. They operate with a “get it done now” mentality.
  2. Intention. Catalytic people operate with intent and are goal-driven. As networkers, catalytic people have both business and networking goals. They learn the goals of others so they can help people achieve them.
  3. Confidence. Catalytic people have confidence in themselves and in the players on their team. This helps ensure that the task at hand will be accomplished with stellar results.
  4. Motivation. Catalytic people are not only motivated themselves, but they also spur others on to perform at their highest potential. These people encourage others to contribute, sharing their energy and excitement through their words and actions. They are motivated by personal and professional rewards that they can’t wait to share with others, and they desperately want to help others succeed.

To set your network in motion toward helping your business, make it your goal to become a catalytic person. Think of your network as a row of standing dominoes. Each domino will remain standing until you act on the first domino. As a catalyst, you must tap the first domino to watch the chain reaction of tumbling dominoes. Your network is standing in place, waiting for you to set the pieces in motion.

But what if you’re looking at your rows of dominos and realize that there are serious gaps that will disrupt the chain reaction? Or maybe you don’t have nearly as many dominos as you thought. Even if you are a catalytic person, you first need to have a well-rounded and sufficiently populated network.

Can You Quantify How You Strengthen Your Network?

connectionsHow are you tracking your business success? You’re probably not, which is fine, but can make it extremely difficult to not only expect, but quantify, growth and success. You’d be surprised the number of businesspeople I talk to from all industries who say they want to grow their business, but when I ask by how much, they simply stare at me. Even worse are the stares I get when I ask what they have actively done to grow your business.

You cannot expect change and growth without actively working to strength your network and business. It simply won’t happen.

Most people can name specific things they do to improve their skill at a hobby they are passionate about, but so rarely is that passion carried over into their own business. Below is a list of quantifiable things you can do to strength your network, improve relationships with referral partners, and ultimately help foster the growth of your business.

How many can you check off? Let me know in the comments!

  • Send a Thank You card – but make sure it is handwritten!
  • Call to check in
  • Arrange a 1-to-1
  • Offer a referral to someone without them having to ask for one
  • Include them in a regular newsletter for your company
  • Send an article of interest to your contact
  • Set up a group activity to bring together your networks
  • Attend a networking event (and bring someone with you!)
  • Display your partner’s brochure or flyer at your business

You should aim to do one to two of these things a week to consistently be developing your relationships with your network. And, of course, there are plenty of things you could do that aren’t on this list. What could you add?

Building Up Your Power Team

ID-100223937How do you increase the number of referrals your networking contacts are helping pass to you? One way, of course, is to educate your contacts on how to best get referrals for you. Another easy way to increase your number of referrals is to create relationships with people who, based on their professions, are most likely to pass quality referrals to you. These ideal referral partners are broken up into two groups: Contact Spheres and Power Teams.

The difference between the two is minor, yet impactful. Your Contact Sphere is all the possible professions you can team up with, while your Power Team is the group that you have actually teamed up with. Often times, these groups will be made up of professions that work together symbiotically, and are naturally inclined to refer business to one another. Think somewhat related, but non-competing, businesses.

To build your Power Team, you’ll want to take some time and map out your ideal Contact Sphere. What professions could you work well with, if only you knew someone who worked in that field?

Once you’ve built your Power Team, your work isn’t done. You must always be looking for ways to pass a referral to your Power Team. Over time, you’ll develop trust and your Power Team partners will pass significantly more referrals to you.

Additionally, one thing that I have seen work well for Power Teams is a weekly meeting, or at a minimum every other week. These meetings should be outside of your regular networking events, and should be smaller, more intimate gatherings with your Power Team. To keep your meetings running smoothly, have a chairperson to lead discussion. Each member of the Power Team should discuss their ideal referral, and perhaps dedicate some time to brainstorming places to find these referrals. As a group, you may also discuss potential other professions who would fit well in your Power Team.

Common mistakes I’ve seen with Power Teams include:

  • Confusing them for Contact Spheres. Contact Spheres are a broad list of professions that could work well with you, while your Power Team is only those that you are actively working with.
  • Not dedicating time to them. Just forming a Power Team will not build up referrals for you. Like with any other relationship, you need to build up trust, learn the wants and needs of the other members of the team, and establish best ways to help everyone in the group meet their business goals.
  • Not building the right team. If you have someone in your Power Team who isn’t passing referrals to you, whether that be because they are having your services done in house or any other reason, they shouldn’t be in your Power Team. While you may not be able to avoid having them in your networking group, you are able to partner with someone outside of your group. There is nothing wrong with having multiple networks.

Never Stop Educating Yourself

ID-10041080I’m a huge believer in the value of continued education. No one is ever at a point where they can stop educating themselves, and if you do stop, you’ll surely fall behind in your field.

We can’t always be enrolled in a higher education course, though, so what is the most logical way to continue educating yourself well into your professional life? While the best way to learn indefinitely depends on your lifestyle, your specific field, and your learning style, here are my three favorite ways to keep on top of new (and old!) developments in business.

Read articles and books. Thought leaders are always writing articles and books about their fields, sharing their perspectives on the ins and outs of their specialties. While these pieces will always have some degree of opinion in them, and you won’t always agree with everything you read, well written articles and books will get you thinking, get you interested, and leave you wanting to do your own follow up research.

Attend conferences. When you attend a conference and you listen to the keynote speaker, if those in charge of organizing the event did their job, the speaker not only taught you a little something, but got you fired up to go out and learn more. Not only is the keynote speaker a great source of continued education at conferences, smaller sessions and even other attendees can help get your gears turning, and teach you something you didn’t know before.

Practice practice practice. You probably haven’t reached the point where you can do anything perfectly every time, and even if you have, going without practice can cause you to lose your skill. How can you get better at something if you don’t do it? What’s more, talk to colleagues, people you respect in your field, or consult the internet for new techniques as you’re practicing. If you keep practicing something the wrong way, you’ll get really good at doing it wrong. If you practice something in new and different ways, you’ll be more likely to round out that skill level.

How do you continue your education? Let me know in the comments below!

Who Cares about Your Business?

Do you know who really cares about your business and wants to help you?  Realistically, there are only a few basic ways of motivating people to care about and help build your business.  Basically, it comes down to relationships and rewards.  

Photo courtesy of graur codrin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of graur codrin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Some folks, usually friends or family, will simply want to help because they like you and want you to do well.  These people will be motivated by the relationship itself.

But in most other cases, the long term motivation to build your business is not based primarily on whether or not the other person likes you.  Business partnerships, including referral relationships, almost always include some form of mutual reward; typically in the form of social or financial gain.  Both you and your networking partner have something to gain, and you are both eager to help each other achieve it.

Some people are motivated by the potential for business referrals you can send, while others are motivated by the prestige and opportunities created by having a relationship with you.  Regardless of the underlying motivation behind them, relationships can take time to prove profitable in a substantial way, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth cultivating.  Ultimately, strong relationships will steer back opportunities because of the nature of networking itself and of the endless variety of products and services to which it can lead.

I firmly believe that most relationships will probably prove rewarding in the long term, even in cases where you don’t receive referrals in return.  There are a few super successful people to whom we send referrals who’ve never reciprocated with a referral back.  We’re motivated to continue helping them in any way we can simply because they will work with people we refer to them.  That makes us look good, because it’s very difficult for the average person to start a working relationship with these very successful, very busy people.

If we refer someone, it opens a door that might never have otherwise opened.  The new person that we are referring to our very busy friends or associates is the one who now goes out of his way to reciprocate.  That’s our motivation; helping our networking partners achieve their goals.  And, of course, in one form or another, it winds up coming back in some way.

What are some experiences you’ve had in which you’ve benefitted in some way or another as a result of truly caring about others’ businesses and helping them to grow and achieve their goals?  I’d love to hear your story/stories so please share your experiences in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

Adversity and Risk Taking

One law of human nature is to want more–more horsepower, more serenity, more intimacy, more money, more power, more life.  But getting more is often an uncomfortable business.  To reach the juiciest apples, we have to climb high, reach out, and risk falling off the ladder.  Such risk taking tends to be uncomfortable–physically, financially, socially, especially emotionally.  We spend a lot of time feeling awkward, inept, out of our element.  Terror and exhilaration dance a reckless tango on our nerves.

Reaching for more takes learning, and learning makes us feel like children again, with all the excitement, wonder, and fear that spiced our earliest years.  And it’s not what we’re learning, it’s where we’re starting from and how far we’re trying to reach that make the difference.  Learning is relative.  The experience of a paraplegic rediscovering the complexities of walking is as intense as that of a teenager learning to drive, a downhill skier learning to snowboard the half-pipe, a manicurist learning to run their own shop.  What is routine for one is unimaginable success for another.

In learning, we all start from adversity.  We don’t make enough money, can’t stand our job, don’t know enough, can’t climb the mountain.  Adversity may creep into our awareness as dissatisfaction, a natural manifestation of personal growth, or it may be forced on us by accident or catastrophic illness.  Whatever the case, we desire intensely to move from adversity to triumph.  And in moving, we encounter new ideas, learn new skills, acquire new beliefs, adopt new attitudes.  We face down adversity and stretch ourselves toward success.  We improve.

To improve, we must weigh the desired end against the pain of getting there.  No risk, no gain.  If we opt for comfort and ease, we forgo the rewards of accomplishment.  But if we take to heart what professional athletes are taught and “do something every day that scares you a little,” we stretch our boundaries and move into new territory.  We gain in self-confidence, which makes it easier to push back the limits and tackle bigger challenges.  We convert nervous energy–the jitters–into kinetic energy.  We become unstoppable.

Do you have a story about how you took a risk or faced adversity in order to grow?  If so, I’d love for you to share it in the comment forum below.  You never know who you’ll inspire . . .

 

 

 

 

Enhancing Your Reputation through Referral Marketing

For those of you who think the referral process is the safest form of doing business, here’s some information that may surprise you . . . the referral process is, in reality, the least safe form of doing business yet it is well worth the risk if you do it right and it can significantly enhance your reputation and contribute to the growth of your business.

In this brief video, I talk about how referral marketing can not only enhance your reputation but can also result in a “win-win-win” situation for you, the person who refers people to you, and for the client who was referred to you and ends up using your products and services.

If you have a story or an example of how referral marketing helped you enhance your reputation, I’d love to hear it so please leave your thoughts in the comment forum below. Thanks!

The New India

I’ve been in India for the past several days conducting seminars on business networking and, I have to say, I’ve been very impressed by the business community here. The businesspeople I’ve met are passionate about learning and they are hungry for information and knowledge.  I have found the audiences here to be extraordinarily respectful and almost sponge-like in their interest in absorbing new ideas.

Although it is still a developing nation, it is obvious that the infrastructure of India is growing quickly.  There are construction projects going on virtually everywhere and the development of transportation systems seems to be a high priority.

India has quite an interesting blend of history, tradition, and modern society, along with a serious quest for improving people’s lives.  I don’t think the West fully recognizes the transformation that is taking place here.  Although the middle or entrepreneurial class in India is only about 20% of the population, this percentage represents over 200 million people!

The fact is, education is crucial to achieving growth and success; India’s business community truly understands this and it is inspiring to see how they wholeheartedly embrace a culture of learning.  With their interest in education and training, and their focus on creating infrastructure, I believe that India is likely to be the financial powerhouse of Asia within the next decade.

Businesspeople around the world would benefit tremendously by following India’s example in regard to the value the people of this country place on education.  It has been an amazing opportunity to be able to experience the culture of India and the graciousness and generosity of the people here.  I am deeply grateful to all those I have met during this trip and judging from the way these people embrace knowledge and exude the Givers Gain® philosophy, I have full confidence that India will soon achieve tremendous growth and worldwide recognition.

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