Ivan Misner, Author at Dr. Ivan Misner®

NETWORKS AREN’T FLAT: The Seven Stages of Professional Relationships by Andy Lopata

Today’s guest blog is an extract from Andy Lopata’s book, “Connected Leadership”, about the seven stages of professional relationships.

When we picture a network it’s easy to visualize a flat entity, a single structure comprising all of the people we know. Much network theory focuses on the number of people in the average network, with classic studies such as Girard’s Law of 250(1) and the Dunbar Number(2) often quoted.

In my opinion, both of these studies are flawed. They are flawed in their interpretation: The Dunbar Number was never intended as an indication of the average network size. They are outdated: they were both developed in the last century, well before social media dominated our lives and networks. And flawed in the basic premise: Girard’s Law is based on the observation that the average number of guests at a wedding or funeral is 500. I went to a funeral recently that was described as ‘busy’ and I can promise you that nowhere near 500 people attended.

The way both studies have been used in network theory is the biggest flaw. We have been told that ‘the average network size is 250’ (based on Girard’s Law). Other objections aside, this oversimplifies the nature of a network.

Rather than being a flat structure or simple grouping of contacts, networks are more complicated organisms with people flowing in and out and between various levels. I tend to visualize a network as seven levels of a professional relationship with a group of expanding circles, much like the side section of half an onion.

The Seven Stages of Professional Relationships

Within that network, there are seven levels of a professional relationship:

  1. Recognize
  2. Know
  3. Like
  4. Trust
  5. Support
  6. Advocate
  7. Friend (moving into your personal network) 

 

Towards the center of the network are people you have a lot of time for and want to support. That feeling is likely to be reciprocal and you’d be available whenever the other party needs and, at stages six and seven, actively looking out for each other.

This is what we’d call your trusted network, people you are likely to see day in day out, week in and week out (although absence doesn’t necessarily exclude people from your trusted network).

As you move further out through the layers, the relationship becomes a little less trusted, not as deep. You might see each other less frequently, be less inclined to share openly with each other, or ask for help.

At the outer edges of your network are people who come in and out. If we meet at an event or dinner party I’ll be in your network for a few days. By that, I mean that if we bump into each other or I call you, you will remember me and know who I am. But that link is tenuous. After a few days or weeks, we will probably be strangers again.

Compare this to someone in the center of your network. You could probably go three years or more without speaking to each other but still, pick up where you left off as if no time had passed.

People on the outskirts of your network will come in and out. If you want to embed people in your network, your first challenge is to get beyond that outer circle and into their long-term memory.

 

Andy Lopata‘s book, “Connected Leadership” can be bought from amazon.com at a promotional price of $0.99 TODAY. As Ivan’s readership is global, this page lists the book on all of Amazon domains. 

Staying in Touch With Your Clients

Staying in Touch With Your Clients

Your business thrives by networking. Staying in touch is an important part of the networking process. Networking is much more than making contact with others and getting new business from them. The golden rule of networking is staying in touch with your clients. You strengthen your business relationships by fostering solid relationships with clients.

During “The Great Pause of 2020”, we started working from home. We created a plan to get through this situation with our businesses. Because we could not go to our usual places to network face-to-face with others, we took action and learned how to network online to stay in touch with people. Now, we need to plan on what we are going to do when society returns to the “new normal”. We need to get back in touch with those people that you have not seen or spoken with recently by focusing on strengthening these business relationships.

Here are six ways for staying in touch with your clients and strengthening your business relationships:

Spread out your phone calls.

Regular contact is important right now regardless of the type of relationship with your clients. Two short phone calls are more beneficial than one long call. Each phone call becomes an opportunity to strengthen the relationship and to enhance your credibility.

Schedule the phone calls predictably.

Stay in contact with your clients. Train them to expect to hear from you at certain times. If you usually contact certain customers during the first week of every quarter, they will come to expect it and will budget time for you.

One phone call leads to the next phone call.

Before concluding your telephone conversation, schedule the date of your next phone call. With this commitment, you are more likely to follow through. This practice establishes a chain of contacts, with each phone call leading to the next.

Assume responsibility for your phone calls.

Take the initiative and stay in touch with your customers. When clients do not feel cared for, they are more likely to leave. You are more likely to head off potential problems by staying in touch with them by picking up the telephone and calling them these days.

Invite them to your online networking events.

One way of making sure to stay in contact with your customers is to invite them to join you at your online networking events. This is a great way to introduce your customers to other people.

Stick to your plan for staying in touch with your clients

Occasionally your clients will telephone you. Do not let this interfere with your contact schedule. Do not count it as one of your prescheduled phone calls when they initiate the phone call.

People need their network, now more than ever. Maintain a powerful personal network by telephoning your clients and adopting these tips right now. You will have a stronger business tomorrow because of the actions you take today by staying in touch with your clients.

new normal

How to Network in the New Normal

With so many businesses and entrepreneurs quickly transitioning from face-to-face interactions to digital, networking has completely changed. Instead of meeting people at in-person events or venues, entrepreneurs are now needing to adapt to digital networking. You can continue to grow your social circle despite the current climate when you learn how to network in the new normal. You and your business can continue to network effectively in the new normal by adapting to digital networking

Please enjoy watching this pre-recorded video when I was taking on questions from the Entrepreneur.com audience to clear the air on a few important topics.

As businesses and entrepreneurs quickly transition from face-to-face interactions to digital, the way we network has completely changed. Instead of meeting people at in-person events or venues, entrepreneurs are now needing to adapt to digital networking.

Robert

How to Get Attention, Build Trust and Generate Better Customers, Simplified by Robert Skrob

I’ve asked Robert Skrob to write another guest blog for my site. Today, he is sharing the topic of Jim Collins’ Good to Great. “Good is the enemy of great” rallied players of the 2004 Tampa Bay Lightning toward this professional hockey franchise’s first Stanley Cup. They were repeating the mantra within the business book phenomenon of the last decade, Jim Collins’ Good to Great, published in 2001. Over 2 million copies of the book were sold, creating a huge consulting and publishing business.

 

But what made the book Good to Great so great? Jim Collins used engaging and memorable stories to illustrate his otherwise mundane points.

The actual lessons of the stories, “hire the right people,” “stick with what you are good at,” and “building momentum with a consistent effort toward one organizational goal” are well-known business concepts.  Yet, his book was propelled to the top (and his consulting firm with it) by the power of those stories he uses to illustrate those points.

 

Jim Collins’ international bestseller became famous because of its compelling stories rather than its revolutionary wisdom.

 

Learning Stories

Just like Collins’ “get the right people on the bus” and “fly wheel” stories, Learning Stories illustrate specific teaching lessons. Each story focuses on a problem and provides details on how the problem was solved with an explanation of why it worked. Your goal for Learning Stories is to get your audience to say, “Now I know how to avoid that mistake” and “That makes sense now that it has been explained to me.”

 

Within Learning Stories, it’s important to provide a detailed context. Your audience must be able to see themselves confronted with the problem of putting together the right team to understand that they must get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus. That’s why in Collins’ book, the author spends a lot of time talking about the problem team members and the frustrations the business faced before coming to this realization.

 

Spur Action Stories

These stories get someone to take action. A common example is the NutriSystem commercials that feature Dan Marino saying “I lost 22 pounds, and you can, too. Lose the weight; get back in the game.” This is a simple example because the target audience for this ad readily recognizes Dan Marino’s name, but this story has all of the basic elements of a Spur Action story.

 

Spur Action stories describe a successful action that took place in the past, state, or implies the impact of inaction and allow the audience to see themselves in that position. Your goal with these stories is to get the audience to say, “What if that were me?” and “It’s only going to get worse unless I do something about it.”

 

Mission Stories

A lot of marketers teach you to give a “reason why.” For example, if you are having a sale, you can’t tell your prospects that you are having a sale to generate new customers to upsell them into other products. Instead, it has to be because you over-purchased, it’s St. Patrick’s Day or you have a tax bill to pay. But whatever the “reason why,” it’s more than “sales are low and you need to generate some interest with lower prices.”

 

When someone is considering working with you, they are asking themselves, “What’s in this for you?” If your stated motivation is nothing other than profit, you’ll be looked at with suspicion.

 

Walt Disney was a relentless promoter of his theme parks. However, his customers forgave him because of his stated mission, “To create a place for parents and children to spend pleasant times in one another’s company, a place for teachers and pupils to discover greater ways of understanding and education.” In Good to Great, Jim Collins includes a Mission Story about creating a more productive world with leaders that employ his philosophies.

 

Empathy Stories

When I first heard about story writing, I was totally intimidated. I told myself, “Oh great, now I have to learn something else. How in the world am I supposed to become a good storyteller?” While I always marveled at stories and enjoyed hearing them, I believed storytelling was out of reach for me. I’m an analytical person and just not creative enough to invent stories. When I forced myself to try to write stories, I figured out that it’s not about inventing stories. Creating stories is simply writing down what happened. And I realized I told stories all the time—to friends, to my wife, and to my kids. All I had to do was channel a skill I already had into stories with a purpose.

 

Empathy stories relate to what your readers are thinking or feeling about a situation, empathize with their belief, and then show why that belief is false. The quick story above addresses a concern you may have had learning to write stories yourself. In it, I reveal that I had misgivings about what I’m now teaching, acknowledge the reasons for my belief, and then show why that belief was false.

 

Origin Stories

Good to Great includes a detailed description of the research methodology used to determine what great companies do that others do not. Collins gives descriptions of several great companies as well as a set of other companies he uses as comparisons.

 

Origin Stories are the most important stories for you to use regularly. When your customers look at you today, they see a successful person, someone with a lot of knowledge and money. They perceive you are different from them.

 

Writing Your Own Stories

The great communicators all use stories to help their audiences understand their messages. As you watch television and listen to radio commentators, keep an ear out for the stories. While reading books, pay attention to the stories and start a little catalog of stories organized by the five types outlined here. Soon, crafting stories and communicating in stories will become as easy as getting the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus.

 

Online Networking Meetings

The Dos and Don’ts of Online Networking Meetings

The technology that exists today is great.  When I started BNI 35 years ago, we couldn’t do any of this.  We all had to quickly learn how to utilize the net as part of your networking strategy this year. Naturally, there’s a great deal of overlap between face-to-face and online networking. However, networking online works only when you are engaged during your online networking meetings to learn about each other.  Therefore, you need to practice active listening so that you leave your online networking meetings with more ideas on how to refer your networking partners. Now, more than ever, you need your network to work together and support each other by networking online.

Seven Tips for Your Online Networking Meetings

Watch this video to learn how you can make your online networking meetings more successful:

Learn how to utilize the net as part of your networking strategy.

It will still be a while until we can attend face-to-face networking events again. Therefore, we need to attend online networking meetings instead. Online networking meetings will never replace in-person networking, but they work well together. If you remember these tips during your next online networking meeting, you will maintain a powerful personal network that will be even stronger once we return to in-person networking again.

What tips do you have for attending your online networking meetings? I would love to read your suggestions. Please share them in the comments below.

waste of time

Is Your Networking a Waste of Time?

Do you suffer from “butterfly-itis” at the very mention of networking at business functions? If you answered yes, you are not alone. Many entrepreneurs get a bit uncomfortable when it comes right down to walking up to someone and starting a conversation. Many others are concerned about getting effective results from the time they spend networking. Leave out any of these strategies, and your networking is just a waste of time.

My Top Ten Networking Tips:

1. Have the tools to network with you at all times. These include an informative name badge, business cards, brochures about your business, and a pocket-sized business card file containing cards of other professionals to whom you can refer new business.

2. Set a goal for the number of people you’ll meet. Identify a reachable goal based on attendance and the type of group. If you feel inspired, set a goal to meet 15 to 20 people, and make sure you get all their cards. If you don’t feel so hot, shoot for less. In either case, don’t leave until you’ve met your goal.

3. Act like a host, not a guest. A host is expected to do things for others, while a guest sits back and relaxes. Volunteer to help greet people. If you see visitors sitting, introduce yourself, and ask if they would like to meet others. Act as a conduit.

4. Listen and ask questions. Remember that a good networker has two ears and one mouth and uses them proportionately. After you’ve learned what another person does, tell them what you do. Be specific but brief. Don’t assume they know your business.

5. Don’t try to close a deal. These events are not meant to be a vehicle to hit on businesspeople to buy your products or services. Networking is about developing relationships with other professionals. Meeting people at events should be the beginning of that process, not the end of it.

6. Give referrals whenever possible. The best networkers believe in the “givers gain” philosophy (what goes around comes around). If I help you, you’ll help me and we’ll both do better as a result of it. In other words, if you don’t genuinely attempt to help the people you meet, then you are not networking effectively. If you can’t give someone a bona fide referral, try to offer some information that might be of interest to them (such as details about an upcoming event).

7. Exchange business cards. Ask each person you meet for two cards-one to pass on to someone else and one to keep. This sets the stage for networking to happen.

8. Manage your time efficiently. Spend 10 minutes or less with each person you meet, and don’t linger with friends or associates. If your goal is to meet a given number of people, be careful not to spend too much time with any one person. When you meet someone interesting with whom you’d like to speak further, set up an appointment for a later date.

9. Write notes on the backs of business cards you collect. Record anything you think may be useful in remembering each person more clearly. This will come in handy when you follow up on each contact.

10. Follow up! You can obey the previous nine commandments religiously, but if you don’t follow up effectively, you will have wasted your time. Drop a note or give a call to each person you’ve met. Be sure to fulfill any promises you’ve made.

The process doesn’t have to be traumatic, scary, or a waste of time. When done properly, it can truly make a difference in the amount of business your company generates. With the right approach, you can use it to build a wealth of resources and contacts that will help make your business very successful.

net

Networking on the Net

Are you suffering from “networking withdrawal”, missing networking at business functions? If you answered yes, you are not alone. In only a few short weeks, an entire technology, vocabulary, culture, and virtual marketplace have been born. Cyber entrepreneurs, online customers, and a whole new net economy have evolved at a blinding speed.  It is no wonder so many business owners are at a loss about what to do and how to do it when it relates to the Internet and their business. The net is to the world what the printing press was hundreds of years ago. It is to the world what radio and television were only decades ago. The Internet has opened doors and opportunities these days in a way beyond anything that has preceded it.

The Internet is an excellent vehicle for networking via social media and “Zoom Room” communities. These communities allow people to connect online regularly, exchange information and ideas, and get to know one another a little better. Besides, staying in touch via the Internet is our only option these days of working from home during “The Great Pause”. I’ve found the net to be a very powerful mechanism for regularly connecting with people with whom I already have a casual relationship. That’s the key–that the Internet is a great tool for staying in touch with people you’ve already established a connection with. Granted, you may do some business with people that you’ve met on social media. However, for the most part, people do “repetitive” business with people they know and trust.

Learn how to utilize the net as part of your networking strategy.

  • Understand that your business fundamentals might need to quickly adapt to the “new normal”
  • Create a social media business plan for your online marketing
  • Develop your online networking skills
  • Update your company’s look and brand with a new website to reflect what is happening with your business during “The Great Pause”
  • Learn how to network on the internet and stay connected with platforms such as “Zoom”

Those businesses that neglect to consider these issues today will most surely be a casualty of this new technology tomorrow. But more importantly, those businesses that do consider these issues today will be the success stories of tomorrow. When done properly, networking on the net can truly make a difference in the amount of business your company generates. Not only now while we are all working from home, but when we return to our “new normal” at the office after “the Great Pause”. With the right approach, you can use it to build a wealth of resources and contacts that will help make your business very successful now and in the future.

Sure, I’ve seen some business relationships begin, develop, and prosper via the net. However, I have found that most repetitive referral relationships start through personal contact and are maintained via Internet communication. We live in the Internet age, where change seems to take place at light speed. Now, more than ever, you need your network. Work together with them by networking online. If you’re in business today, you need to be on the net.

Handshakes

Handshakes in a Post COVID World

In the business world, handshakes are the staple of networking in many cultures. However, during these days of Covid-19, we are keeping a physical distance from each other and have avoided handshaking, It is hard to shake someone’s hand when you are networking online.

So after we are let out of the “Great Pause”, what will happen to our old friend, the handshake? I offer a few options in this video including what I suggest for the post COVID world.

Alternative options to consider instead of handshakes:

  • Asian Bow
  • Bump toes
  • Elbow bump
  • European Air Kiss
  • Fist bump
  • Hugs
  • And…

Learn what I recommend in this short, fun little video.

 

 

Solutions Focused

Look For Solutions Focused People When You Are Networking

There are some people who are positive and supportive individuals. Over the years, I’ve recognized that these are the people that I really want to be around. They are solutions focused when it comes to solving problems. Plus, they are almost always willing to talk through challenges with a positive end in mind. These solutions focused people are enginesThey help us be our best selves, and they motivate us to drive forward in a positive way. The quality of your personal and professional network is highly dependent on the people in your network.

We often consider people’s aptitude when we bring them into our personal network, but we often forget to consider their attitude. Based on a survey I conducted of over 3,400 people around the world, one of the top characteristics of a great networker is, in fact, their attitude. Focus on networking with solutions focused people who are engines, not anchors.

Solutions Focused People

I have noticed, as I’m sure you have, that there are some people who complain as though it were an Olympic event. And for the record, I’ve checked, and it’s not. Furthermore, they tend to be negative, argumentative, and obsessed with problems without any real focus on solutions. 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 the problems and not on the solutions. These people are anchors. They hold us back and weigh us down.

Who do you surround yourself with, engines or anchors?

This is an important question for everyone. Therefore, It is 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 complaints?

Do they hold you back, or do they drive you forward?  Sometimes when we first meet someone, we can’t tell if they are an engine or an anchor. It may take a little time to observe the way they do business and how they interact with others. However, it is critical that we take notice as soon as possible.

If you want to build a powerful personal network, look for engines — those solutions focused people who help you in your business and in your life. Forbid entrance to the anchors who may be trying to get into your personal network. Generally, they don’t really care about you but mostly care about what you can do for them instead.

The funny thing here is that no one thinks they’re an anchor — no one. They’ll tell you that they are an engine and that they just don’t like the direction you are going and that’s why they come across the way they do. For the record, this attitude means they are an anchor with a motor attached who is trying to take you down faster.

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. Create the life and the network that you want. Only other solutions focused people can help you do that.

Givers

Separating the Givers From the Takers

The philosophy of Givers Gain® is about giving to other people first. Within this context, the giver cannot and should not expect an immediate return on their investment based on another’s gain. What they should focus on is that given enough effort and time, their generosity will be returned by and through their network of contacts, friends, and colleagues — many times over and in many different ways.

I incorporated the philosophy of Givers Gain into BNI almost 35 years ago, because I saw that many networking groups were far too mercenary in their approach. They used networking as a face-to-face cold-calling opportunity. I believed then, and I know now, that networking is all about relationship-building, and that one of the best ways to build a relationship is to help others first.  Through giving, you can gain in so many ways. I also recognize that there are takers in the world. There are people who either don’t understand the power of Givers Gain or who don’t really care or believe in the concept. I call these two categories of people “can’t do’s” and “won’t do’s.

The “Can’t do’s” and “Won’t do’s.

The can’t do’s do not know how to do something or do not understand why it’s important to do something. For these people, I’ve learned that with the right coaching, they may become willing to make that transition.

Then there are the people who are “won’t do’s.” They just want what serves them best and have no true intention of giving. It’s important to recognize them as soon as possible because they will abuse the relationship, not nurture it.

Life requires discernment. Sometimes, that is about evaluating the people in your network and whether they are willing to contribute to your relationship. Givers Gain does not mean you should be a “taker’s victim.” The world is full of givers and takers. Apply contextual insight and use appropriate judgment to give freely to the people who value the giving approach in life. Use discernment for the ones who do not.

Givers Gain®

I know a man who gave a half a dozen referrals to someone in his networking group over 18 months, but the individual never reciprocated. The man came to me seeking advice. I coached him to do the following…

Invite the person out for a one-to-one meeting, and come prepared to the meeting with as much detail as possible about the six referrals you gave. Start with the oldest and ask the following questions: How did it work out? Did it turn into business profit? If so, was it as much as you had hoped? Did the relationship work out well? Use open-ended questions to determine how well that referral worked out for the individual. After a few minutes, do the same for the next one, and then the next one, and so on, until you discuss all of the referrals you’ve given that individual.

What is a good referral?

Here is where your discernment needs to be fine-tuned. What if all those referrals you gave the individual did not work out as you thought? Then you need to ask the person how you could give better referrals in the future. However, if any of those referrals turned out to be good and possibly resulted in business, take a different tack. Tell the person that you are really glad the referrals you gave worked out well. Then pause a moment and say, “Since some of them worked out for you, I’d really appreciate it if you could do something similar for me. Maybe we could talk a little bit about how I can help you do that.”

From there, talk to the person about what a good referral is for you, how they can refer people to you, and even dive deeper into specific clients they may have that may be a good referral for you.

After the person I coached had his meeting, he came back to me and said he was so glad he followed my advice, rather than just end the relationship. He told me the individual “apologized profusely and then acknowledged this needed to be a two-way relationship. We spoke at length about how he could reciprocate, and he has already done so. The referral he just gave me turned into a big client!”

Reciprocal Relationships

Sometimes people are so busy in life they are just not thinking about the importance of having a reciprocal relationship. Sometimes they don’t know how, and sometimes they don’t care.  All three require discernment, and that discernment requires a different response strategy. Your giving energy should be focused on people who are aligned with the need for reciprocity. They may or may not be able to give back to you directly, but observe their behavior before you continue to blindly evolve into a giving victim.

The more energy you have for giving, the more you are able to give. Giving more where you have strong relationships makes you able to practice this philosophy in a healthy way. Givers Gain® is about taking off your bib and putting on an apron. It’s about building a relationship by helping others first.

swirl

Become Productive by Getting Out of the Swirl

I’ve asked Robert Skrob to write another guest blog for my site.  Robert is also the author of “Retention Point, which I highly recommend.  He previously shared the topics of “The New Customers Experience”, “Creating a Vibrant Community Around Your Company”, “Creating Case Studies” and  “A Networking Secret” on my blog.   Today, he is sharing about “The Swirl”. Read closely – Robert is truly an expert about getting out of the swirl.

“The swirl” is one of the things we talk about with Harley-Davidson dealers when we are coaching them to improve the profitability of their dealerships. At any given time in a dealership, there are customers considering buying motorcycles, trying on clothes or waiting for their motorcycles to be serviced; service techs working on motorcycles; parts orders arriving via UPS; and a parade of salespeople walking through the showroom. There are a hundred things the dealer would like to pay attention to, and at the end of the day, he’s exhausted. He works hard every day, but he can’t find time for the things that are most important because he is too busy.

That’s the swirl. Perhaps you have it in your own business. So many different urgencies crop up that you aren’t able to work on what’s most important. It’s like one of those shooting galleries at the fair. Targets pop up and you have to shoot them quickly before they disappear again. At the carnival, you’ve got to concentrate on the gallery to score maximum points and get the biggest prize. It feels great when you hit all the targets, both at the carnival and in your business.

When I get into the swirl in my own business, it actually feels good. It’s like I’m the head of an army that’s under attack. I’ve got projects and problems coming at me from all sides, and I’ve got to keep them all under control. While being in the swirl can feel invigorating, staying in the swirl is the wrong approach for a business owner. With Harley-Davidson dealers, we taught them to create trackable goals for each department.

Here is what we coached them to do:

Set your goals by first determining the total amount of money you want to make at the end of the year. Then assign a net profit contribution from each department. Based on that expectation, set goals for each month and what must be done within each department to achieve those goals. For instance, for motorcycle sales to generate the desired amount of profit, determine how many motorcycles the sales department needs to sell as a department. This will allow you to estimate the number of motorcycles each salesperson must sell each week to meet your goal.

Managing this way is like having a pause button for the swirl. You see that it exists, but it’s happening to everyone else, not you. That’s because your attention isn’t focused inside the swirl; instead, you can see all the way through it, straight to your goal. You are able to keep your attention on what’s really important, driving your business toward your real business goals.

Most business owners find themselves caught in the swirl. Within the swirl, we jump from one project to the next. Our goal is to keep everything running so we can quickly move on to the next big idea. We lose sight of where we are really trying to go. And it’s easy to find ourselves working and working and never seeming to make any progress.

It’s important to create a careful plan for the business you want to create. Outline the types of programs you want to offer, and create a timeline for when you’ll implement those programs. What will each of those programs contribute to your company’s profit? Who is responsible for getting them implemented? And for each person with responsibilities, what’s his or her schedule for getting the work done? These basic goal-setting and project management plans can mean the difference between getting caught in the swirl and reaching your business goals.

At the beginning of this year, you probably made some resolutions. You may have set some goals for yourself to achieve. How much progress have you made? If you’ve made progress, it’s probably because you set out monthly, weekly and daily goals in addition to just making a resolution.

If you haven’t made progress, make an appointment with yourself—an appointment you refuse to break. Outline what you need to accomplish each month to make your goals a reality. Consider what has to be done each week. And then put each week’s goals into your calendar so you’ll take a break from the swirl to get the important projects done. In the same way, you’d step away from your business to go to a doctor’s appointment, step away to improve the health of your business by focusing your attention on your most important goals.

While the swirl feels good at the moment, working on your goals gives you a great feeling that lasts. It’s actually a feeling of superiority. You can hold yourself above other business owners when you see them battling within the swirl.

Roof Technique

The Cat’s on the Roof Technique

I was talking to someone recently that had to announce something new to his team that he felt would be “perceived” as bad.  However, he also felt confident that it would lead to some great things afterward.  He was concerned about the initial perception and anticipated pushback.  He believed that this would keep the team from moving forward to implement the changes.  I listened to his ideas and I agreed. There would be pushback AND it was the smart move.  So, I told him to use the Cat’s on the Roof technique.  He asked me what that was, so I shared this story with him:

The Cat’s on the Roof Technique

There were two brothers and one was going to take a vacation.  So, the brother says to the other brother “can you look after my cat while I’m on vacation?” And the other brother says, “sure no problem.” A week later the brother comes back from vacation and says “how’s the cat?” And the other brother says “oh, sorry man, the cat’s dead.” The brother says “what?!” The other brother says, “yeah sorry, the cat died.”  Then the brother says, “are you kidding me, man, you don’t just spring that on somebody!” The other brother says “how should I have done it?”  The brother said, “I don’t know, prepare me a little, tell me ‘the cat was on the roof, and you walked out and saw it, it started sliding, you ran over to get it but you didn’t make it in time.  You then took the cat to the vet to try to save it and then after that – you can say “I’m really sorry but your cat passed away.  That’s the way you prepare somebody.” The other brother says, “got it, I understand now.”

Then the first brother changes the subject and asks, “How’s mom?” The other brother says “well, mom was on the roof.”

Change for innovation

People hate surprises they perceive to be negative.  Change has elements of surprise to it.  Even when people say they want to change they often don’t react well.  When the change happens, they will often say something like, “yea I wanted to change but I didn’t think it would look like that!”   Change scares people, even when it’s change that can lead to something better.

I have found the “Cat’s on the Roof Technique” is an excellent method you can use to transition people over time to something new.  Don’t just spring change on people if you can avoid it.  Do it with a lot of communication, gradually, over time.

 

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