We vs. Me

While it may not single-handedly solve all the economic problems facing the world today, a new model of community and networking may well be the key to pulling the global economy out of the effects of the long-term global recession.

Networking has always been a powerful strategy to get business by giving business and connecting with others. Community and networking will be a particularly potent formula for success and prosperity over the coming decades.

Michael R. Drew, publishing expert and friend of mine whom I’ve known for 13 years who has helped me achieve bestseller status five times over, has some interesting ideas about the importance of building relationships to succeed in business.

Michael and his coauthor, Roy H. Williams have a very interesting theory in their new book Pendulum [www.penduluminaction.com/bni]. After reading the book, it confirmed in my mind why business networking is positioned to grow massively over the next three decades.

As Michael and Roy explain, societal values follow a cyclical pattern that shifts every 40 years from a “Me” based society, which values feeling and looking good now, instant gratification and cares little for long-term consequences to a “We” based society, which values community and working together for the good of the whole. Roy and Michael have 3,000 years of data to back up this theory.

The rumblings of this transition from “Me” values to “We” values have been evident over the past decade. Once successful business models that embraced exceptionalism and fierce competition are failing and going the way of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. These cycles influence the effectiveness of networking, too. In a “We” cycle, the strength of an individual contributes to the strength of the whole. For example, when established professionals partner with newer, “junior” professionals, both of the partners and the consumers each benefit from the relationship—win, win, win. Knowledge and wisdom are shared, and then blended with new ideas and innovation. This increases the value the end user receives from the relationship.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, traditional marketing strategies focus on hype, promises of bigger, better and more and ‘guarantee’ dramatic results with minimum input. Consumers today are tired of these messages, and instead they are drawn to messages of authenticity, transparency and lasting relationships. They want to work with companies and people who deliver on their promises and actually care about those they are doing business with.

What does this mean for you as a member of a networking group? While business schools and economic experts will speculate and deliberate about the causes of the current economic downturn, knowing the current trend of society’s values can help you succeed by doing what you’re already doing–building relationships through networking. The philosophy of Givers Gain® matches the current values of a “We” cycle in society today.

Good networking groups are all about building relationships and working together as a community to help others reach their goals. What goes around comes around in a very real sense. Business networking is an ideal place to capture the power of this concept to help you reach your own goals by helping others reach their own.

Word-of-mouth will heft a heavier punch in the coming years as well. Your customers will listen more attentively to the recommendations of those they know, like and trust. In today’s global market, a word of recommendation can reach others across the globe. So can a heated complaint. Consumers want to see that you walk the walk more than they want to listen to you talk the talk.

Faceless corporations and big businesses are struggling. For many, they’ve lost the personal connection with their audience or customers. As an entrepreneur, there is no need for you to fall by the wayside with failing businesses. By working together in this “We” cycle, you can help build each other up through relationships and referrals, increasing the success and profitability of businesses in your community. These small actions will be far-reaching and may do more to turn this recession around than many other larger-scale efforts

By participating in networking and working to give back to business owners and community, you will be doing your part to create a stronger economy worldwide—and a stronger global economy makes a better world for everyone.

I’ve read Pendulum and I was so impressed with it that I wrote an endorsement for it. This book is a must-read for anyone in a networking organization. I feel so strongly about this that I’ve arranged with Michael for all readers of my blog to get a free copy of the book. [www.penduluminaction.com/bni] All Michael asks is that you cover shipping and handling costs (shipments outside the US are more).

Get your free copy of Michael and Roy’s book today. Read it. Then use the insights they share to keep building relationships in your market, because Givers Gain®—especially in the current “We” cycle. As you give to other businesses through networking, they will give back to you, too—and that is how we all can take part in pulling the economy out of a recession.

Double Dip Recession?

The third quarter survey of the BNI Business Index was not very promising for business around the world.  The survey included responses from over 1,200 business people representing every populated continent in the world.

The number of people who said that business was growing or growing substantially in the third quarter of 2011 dropped to 66.9% compared to 70.4% in the second quarter of 2011.  More notably, the number of people who said that business was declining or declining substantially almost doubled from 5.4% in the second quarter to 9.6% in the third quarter of 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
In addition, the number of people who said they would or possibly would be hiring in the next few months dropped from 53.9% in the second quarter to a low of 45.9% in the third quarter of 2011.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Almost 300 respondents left open ended comments on the survey.  There were at least three common themes throughout the open ended responses: problems related to government regulations, developing new services to offer, and increased networking efforts.

Government Regulation

Once again, government regulation came under fire in many of the open ended comments that business people shared in the survey.  There was a fair amount of frustration about “anti-business policies having a very negative effect” on the business environment.

One respondent said that his business was “down 80%” because of government “bungled schemes.”  Another response said, “Today’s business has been hurt from the government’s restrictions on business in this country.”

This kind of frustration was echoed by many respondents throughout the survey.

New Services

On a positive note, people who seemed to be doing better often discussed new services or target markets that they were developing.  One respondent stated, “We re-evaluated our strengths, costs, and profit.  We realigned our costs and added new services to our offering.”

Another person said they were “offering new service features and distinctly communicating our target market to our referral partners.  We’ve had to adjust to the market.  It’s not ‘business as usual’ anymore.”

One respondent stated, “I’ve had to change my business strategies due to the economy.  I have added more services at more price options that will appeal to a broader scope of people.”

Another person summed up this theme well by saying, “We have grown because we are embracing change.”

Networking

Networking and referral marketing strategies again came up as positive ways to deal with the economy.  One person stated, “Business is picking up due to my learning more and more about developing word of mouth and other referrals.”

One respondent combined the “new services” and “networking” themes by saying that he was doing well due to “a combination of new innovations on my products and increasing my networking relationships.”  He expressed that these things “contributed greatly to this year’s business.”

Other people made statements such as:

  • “Networking and sponsorship of corporate events is the key to growth at the moment.”
  • “My referral base is responsible for the growth of my business during the economic downturn.”
  • “We are working hard at building a strong network of positive people.”

Summary

One respondent in particular summed up the general consensus of many of the respondents very well when she said, “There is less confidence in the marketplace now than there was during this same time last year.”

Another survey respondent made what could be considered a somewhat prophetic statement—“The financial industry is out of control.  The protesters have the right idea!”

Hmmm . . . Wasn’t it Thomas Jefferson who once said, “Every generation needs a new revolution”?  It might be time for businesses to pull out some poster boards and markers.

To take the next BNI Business Index survey, click here.  I’d love to have your thoughts about how business is doing.

Business is Looking Up for 2011

My company has recently created a “business index” to gauge the economic state of business based on global survey results of retailers, service companies, and manufacturing companies all around the world.

The statistics gathered from the survey results are intended to keep small business owners, entrepreneurs, and companies, as well as the general public, educated and informed as to the changing state of the global business economy and the current business trends that become apparent over time.

The January, 2011 BNI Business Index Report (based on the 4th Quarter of 2010) represents the first report published by BNIBusinessIndex.com.

Over 5,000 businesses from every populated continent in the world participated in this survey. According to our findings for the 4th Quarter of 2010, 67.8% of all businesses surveyed stated that business was growing or growing substantially compared to the same time the previous year.  Only 7.9% stated that business was declining or declining substantially.  Just over 24% of the respondents felt that business was flat during the last quarter of 2010 compared to the same time period one year earlier.

This appears to be very good news for the recession weary business community.  For more details on these and other findings, go to www.BNIBusinessIndex.com.

Take a moment to share with me how business is doing for you.  Do these findings track with your experience?  Let me know here.

Successful Businesses Need an Edge

It’s no secret that the economy goes through cycles. Each time it takes a downturn, unfortunately, salespeople, business owners and professional service providers feel the fallout.

Data released by various sources, including the SBA and American Entrepreneurs Association, reveal that more than 50 percent of all businesses close their doors within their first seven years. During a recession, the rate of business failure rises more dramatically. Not included in the statistic cited above are the departments, plants or whole divisions closed by large corporations when times are tough. In today’s ever-changing business environment, if you want to be successful, you need to have an edge over your competition.

Most businesses rely on advertising in one or more ways to try to get an edge. However, if you offer the same products or services through the same means to the same targets as your competitors, it’s difficult to achieve an edge. This means you need to be very creative in order to be competitive in today’s marketplace. Creativity in marketing your business has become a basic tenet for today’s successful company or professional practice. Here’s a great story of how one business exemplified creativity at its finest in order to gain an edge:

Three store owners shared adjacent storefronts in the same building.  Times were tough. In hopes of picking up sales, the store owner at one end of the building put a sign over his front entrance that said, “YEAR-END CLEARANCE!!!”  At the other end of the building, a second owner responded with his own sign: “ANNUAL CLOSE-OUT.”

The store owner in the middle knew that he had to act fast or he’d lose a lot of business. After careful consideration, he hung a larger sign over his front door that read, “MAIN ENTRANCE.”

The moral of this story: You can’t control the economy. You can’t control your competition. But you can control your response to the economy. And you can control your response to your competition.

If you have a great example of how you’ve used creativity to get an edge over your competition, I invite you to share it in the comment section. Your story could be just the encouragement other business owners need to get their imaginations in gear!


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