Talking About YOUstring(17) "Talking About YOU"

To achieve success in business networking, people need to know what you do and how good you are at doing it. In referral marketing groups, you have opportunities to educate your fellow members about your products and services, as well as the way you interact with potential and existing customers. This is very important to building trusted relationships with the people in your network and for building your credibility enough that they will refer others to you.

Even though most experts discuss networking as though it is easy to talk to strangers, I know that some people find it difficult to talk about themselves. Telling others how good of a businessperson you are just doesn’t come naturally to some of us. However, to get the results you want from your business networking efforts, you must get comfortable talking about YOU.

Getting Comfortable

I recently talked with Charlie Lawson, author of the books, “The Unnatural Networker” and “The Unnatural Promoter.” He says that many professionals are great at what they do. They provide amazing products and top-notch services to their satisfied and devoted clients. And yet, as a businessperson, they may feel uncomfortable with self-promotion and would rather completely avoid talking about themselves.

The best way to get comfortable is to have a group of people around you, people with whom you have good relationships, and who want to help you. When you have established deep, trusted relationships with the members of your networking group, and you’ve educated them about your business capabilities, they will begin talking about you with others. They will go out and promote you for you.

Third-Party Endorsement

The third-party endorsement has always been an effective way to promote yourself.
In my first major book, “The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret,” I discuss the fact that people are more likely to talk about you when they’re upset with you than when they are happy with your services. What you need to do is mobilize those people who are satisfied with your business, and train them to talk about you and how to talk about you effectively. That’s when you get those third-party testimonials that are so powerful.

Referral marketing works when you build strong relationships with your referral partners and are comfortable enough to talk about your business skills and strengths with them. When they are confident in your abilities, they will talk about YOU and refer other people – potential clients, to you.

This works both ways; you need to talk about and find referrals for your referral
partners, too. Remember, the Givers Gain® philosophy is based on the age-old adage of “what goes around comes around,” and giving is just as important as gaining.

I’d like to hear your experience with getting comfortable talking about yourself when networking and invite you to share in the comments.

Predictable Unpredictabilitystring(28) "Predictable Unpredictability"

Many things have changed over the past few years. We now live in a world of Predictable Unpredictability. Whether we like it or not, the future involves change. However, there is one thing that has remained unchanged for the past 30-40 years.
I talk about that, and more, in this video.

Better Together

Today, you need to constantly evaluate your business health within an ever-changing business environment. When you are part of a trusted network you develop a great advantage by building your business through referrals. While your competition relies only on increased advertising to generate growth, you have a powerful network to help you through the unpredictability of today’s world.
Your business network is your business advantage.

Today more than ever you need your network because your network can help you through the most difficult times. Referrals are the engine that drives any business and through consistent business networking, you can harness the power of referrals. Remember, we are all better together.

I invite you to share your thoughts about Predictable Unpredictability.

 

Competing in the New World of Workstring(34) "Competing in the New World of Work"

My friends, Kian Gohan and Keith Ferrazzi, have written a new book and they have given me permission to excerpt it here as a blog. I invite you to read this excerpt from their book, “Competing in the New World of Work: How Radical Adaptability Separates the Best from the Rest.”

Beyond large Fortune 1000 enterprises like Domino’s Pizza and NOV, consider how smaller organizations in different industries have also leveraged new technologies to evolve their businesses. Founded in 1985 by Dr. Ivan Misner, BNI is a business referral network for executives, entrepreneurs and small business owners. BNI has over 10,000 chapters and more than 280,000 members worldwide. Every week, BNI chapters meet over breakfast to conduct a standardized networking exercise focused on targeted referrals. Members stand up and have 30 seconds to introduce themselves and their work. After self-introductions, members stand up again and individually offer three specific referrals in their personal networks that might be potential client leads for other chapter members. 

These aren’t just casual referrals. BNI members develop deep social capital with each other, and believe that both parties benefit when they refer their personal social networks to other BNI members. They call this core value “Givers Gain.” And indeed, in 2020 BNI passed 11.5 million referrals to their members, generating over $16 billion worth of business for members. That’s more than twice the GDP of the country of Lichtenstein!

In 2018, Dr. Ivan Misner suggested to the company’s board of directors that he believed the future of face-to-face networking is online, and that unless BNI experimented and adopted new technologies like mixed reality, holographic presence, and video communication channels, BNI would be negatively disrupted in its next decade. He was prescient and foresaw the rise of remote work, even before the pandemic. By March 2020, all 10,000 BNI chapters had pivoted to online networking – a dramatic business shift for an organization with a 3-decade history dedicated to in-person business networking. Fast-forward to mid-2021, and BNI added 500 new chapters during the pandemic year, all of which have only ever met online! Thus confirming Dr. Misner’s belief that every organization needs to adopt new technologies, or be disrupted.

Reprinted by permission of Harvard Business Review Press. Excerpted from Competing in the New World of Work: How Radical Adaptability Separates the Best from the Rest by Keith Ferrazzi, Kian Gohar, and Noel Weyrich. Copyright 2022 Ferrazzi Greenlight Inc. All rights reserved.

You are welcome to leave a comment and share the blog with others.
The book, “Competing in the New World of Work,” is available is here.

You’re Going to Need a Bigger Boat

You’re Going to Need a Bigger Boatstring(36) "You’re Going to Need a Bigger Boat"

In the 1975 hit movie “Jaws”, Martin Brody, the Police Chief of a small summer resort town in the northeastern United States, utters one of the most quotable lines in film history when he gets his first up-close look at the Great White Shark.  As soon as he sees it, he slowly backs into the wheelhouse and says to Captain Quint, “You’re going to need a bigger boat.”

This is the prototypical ‘Brody Moment’: a shockingly unambiguous realization that the current resources are no longer a viable option to achieve the results you’re looking for. 

I hope to explain how my Brody Moment came about.  However, the most important thing is for you to think about “your” Brody Moment as you read about mine.  Understanding your Brody Moment can help you think about your motivations and move forward successfully with your entrepreneurial endeavors.

My Brody Moment came at the end of 1985 after I had opened 20 chapters of BNI® by accident – without a plan, without even trying. That’s when I realized that I had struck a chord in the business community.

The “Why” for BNI

I was a management consultant in Southern California and I needed referrals for my consulting practice. I needed referrals for my own business, and I hoped that I would be able to refer some of my friends. So, I put together a group where we could start passing business to each other.

I had previously gone to networks that were incredibly mercenary, everyone was trying to sell to me. I went to other groups that were totally social, with happy hour and hors d’oeuvres, but there was no business happening at those events.

I wanted something that had a focus on business without being mercenary and was relational but not transactional; something that wasn’t totally social because I wanted that relationship-building aspect that led to business. Therefore, I created a network that I hoped would satisfy those two considerations. 

I wanted to merge that focus on business with the relational aspect, and the glue that would hold it together is the principal core value of Givers Gain® – the idea that if I help you and you help me, we will all benefit by working together.

That one networking group led to another and another until there were twenty chapters within 12 months! That first year, I was method-acting my way through the process; I was figuring it out as I went. I was young – 28 years old when I started the company, and I really thought most businesses had this figured out. The thing is, nobody had it figured out because we don’t teach business networking in colleges and universities anywhere in the world. What I didn’t expect to find was that everyone has this challenge and that was my Brody Moment.

BNI was an example of necessity being the mother of invention and it helped a lot of businesses. At the end of 1985, I figured out that I “was going to need a bigger boat”. This way of business networking was going to be much larger than I anticipated, so I sat down and created my business plan to scale the company.

A BIG Goal

In June of 1986, I had a goal in mind. I went to the library to gather information on populations. (Remember, at that time there was no such thing as Google.)
After extensive research and many calculations, I felt that BNI could have 10,000 chapters someday.

Shortly after that, I told a friend that I thought there could be 10,000 groups someday. And he said, “10,000?” I replied, “Yeah, I think it’s possible.”
Then he asked me, “And how many groups do you have now?”
I answered, “30.”
He said, “And you think you could have 10,000?”
“Yes, I think it’s possible,” I replied.
To which he said, “It’s good to have goals, Ivan.”

Yes, it was a big goal. And every year, near the end of December, I took time to reflect. I had read the E-Myth by Michael E. Gerber early on and used that as a baseline strategy. I looked at what was working well, and what didn’t work at all.
Each year, I adjusted my plan and revisited the small goals that were all striving toward that one big goal of scaling my company into a global enterprise.

In December 2020, we reached it – BNI had grown to more than 10,000 chapters! And we continue to grow, helping BNI members around the world do business through referral marketing.

As a leader, you’ve probably experienced a few Brody Moments over the course of your career, and you’ve probably got a few more coming. What you do as a result, and how fast you do it, can turn a Brody Moment into a defining moment.

Be Passionate, Not Pushy

Be Passionate, Not Pushystring(24) "Be Passionate, Not Pushy"

Passion and enthusiasm are key components for success in business, as well as for success in business networking. However, passionate people sometimes come across as being pushy, often because they truly believe that what they are offering to someone is really going to be beneficial for them. Their excitement to share the opportunity can be overwhelming, causing others to feel pressured. When people feel pushed or pressured, they are unable to fully hear the message.  

Our Intention

Our intention plays a huge part in how we speak and interact with others. If we don’t believe in the value of what we are offering, or we come from a place of desperation, our words will sound forced or salesy. When we come from a space of love – looking to impact lives, and service – adding value to others, there is more opportunity for the other person to understand our pure intention.

When I started BNI® in 1985, I opened 20 chapters in one year. I did it without any collateral marketing materials and without today’s technology. I did it with ONE sheet of paper and that was the one-page meeting agenda that I personally typed up.

I had one other extremely important thing. In addition to the one sheet of paper, I had passion. I was passionate about spreading the word of referral marketing and passionate about my intention to help more and more people succeed in their business. I was the poster child for “ignorance on fire is better than knowledge on ice!”

Inviting People to Your Networking Meeting

I have seen what happens when someone invites a guest to visit their BNI or other business networking meeting. People are so passionate, that sometimes others may feel it’s pushy, when in fact, the members are genuinely excited about inviting someone to meet their group.

When we are so enthusiastic that we say, “Hey, you have to come to this chapter, you have to come and meet this particular member!” we may go a bit overboard. When we say, “Hey, I would like to introduce you to a person that I think will be a good connection for your business,” the focus is on them. By clearly sharing our intention to connect them to a particular person that is going to benefit their business, our authentic desire to help is more clearly understood.

Speaking Their Language

It is important to meet people where they are. This is especially true when you are marketing or talking with potential customers and clients. They may not be emotionally, mentally, or even financially ready right now for your products or services. However, you can plant a seed for future harvest. This is in line with the philosophy of Givers Gain® – even if the person is not ready now, we leave them in a better place than before we met them. It can be with the benefit of knowledge we shared, or an offer to make a helpful introduction for them.

We can also connect with people on a deeper level when we understand and respect their motivation and their behavioral style. We must first understand our own style, then learn how to identify behavioral styles in others, and most importantly, adapt our approach to those different styles. This allows us to communicate more effectively because we are speaking their language.

Remember, how you communicate is important. When we talk about our business with enthusiasm and energy, backed by our intention to help others, our passion shines through.

We Can All Count on Changestring(26) "We Can All Count on Change"

Life and business are always changing. In fact, the one thing that we can all count on is change. Sometimes businesspeople are frustrated and angry with changes in their industry, or even in their community. Professionals who are part of a larger organization or company may be upset or confused by changes that are a natural part of the business cycle.

I would like to share some thoughts about this with you.

First, we usually don’t see behind the scenes. There is always another side to the story, and there are typically more facts and information than we are aware of that went into the decisions which resulted in the changes.

Some people say that they liked things the way they were. They say it before they have fully explored or tried the changes, often forgetting that “the way things were” was once something new, something that was also a change at one time.

Belief

Second, we must have belief. We have to believe in what we can do to help more people – more people in our local communities, and more people that we are connected to through our company or organization. 

John C. Maxwell says that leaders always put other people first. When we focus on our mission and our goal to help others with our products and services, we become successful leaders.

As leaders, it is imperative that we believe in the processes that we work within. We have to believe in what we do so that others can see and feel that belief… so they can be inspired by it. Inspired people motivate themselves and they also encourage others to perform at their highest potential, sharing their excitement and energy in their contributions to their work and throughout their lives.

Status Quo will Go

I understand that people like the contentment and the comfort that they feel with a successful status quo. However, a successful status quo is the present, which is built upon a strong past. A comfortable present right now does not mean that the present we experience next week or next year will be exactly the same. The changes that today brings can contribute to our future success.

We all know this at some level, and if we think about it, our daily lives are full of yesteryears’ changes that we now embrace. The telegram, telephone, pager, and the 2-pound mobile phone all were the status quo of their day, and now the majority of us rely on our smart phone, which itself was a major change and disruption to the industry.

Whether we like it or not, the future involves change. Today’s status quo will go, and the change will happen. We can choose to resist it or to embrace it. 

We can all count on change in our lives.
Consider this: Is complaining about a change that is already in place going to help your customers and clients? Is it going to help you achieve greater success? My advice is focus on your own company, your team, your department, your own actions. You’ll do well if you do that.

Subscription Revenue for Your Business

Subscription Revenue for Your Businessstring(38) "Subscription Revenue for Your Business"

I have known Robert Skrob for several years; he is one of my co-authors of the book, The Connector Effect: The Proven Way to Grow Your Business Right Now.

Robert is the #1 authority in subscription revenue growth, and I talked with him about how small businesses can expand their revenue exponentially through subscriptions. He shared information from his recent book, The 9 Proven Models for Exponential Subscription Growth.

Today’s customers are increasingly looking for subscription offers and are more amenable to buying a subscription to a restaurant, to a professional service, or other companies that they use and frequent.

Robert says that this can be a lucrative opportunity for small businesses. Rather than getting a customer one time with a single transaction, they can get a customer that purchases a preapproved series of transactions.

Many businesses don’t think of themselves as having the opportunity to do a subscription model. However, most businesses DO have that ability. Yes, there are a lot of large companies offering subscriptions – think of Costco and Netflix. If we look a little closer, we find that small businesses everywhere also offer them.

Examples of Successful Subscriptions

Many businesses use a VIP model. A restaurant can offer a benefit for VIP members or subscribers to go to the restaurant during certain hours available only to them or to have exclusive VIP access to certain tables while other customers have to wait in line.

A pre-approved supplier business that provides goods or services can invite clients to have a subscription. You may have heard of Dollar Shave Club; they were able to completely disrupt the razor business by providing razors for significantly less cost to consumers. This worked without a distribution system as they were going direct to their customer. Additionally, because they used a subscription model where their customer had pre-approved several orders and thus had a higher lifetime value, Dollar Shave Club was able to disrupt an entire industry.

I realize that there are some businesses that might say, “Well, I don’t see how I could have a subscription.” I asked Robert about the types of businesses that could have the opportunity to do a subscription model.

He said that quite a few businesses already do – from landscaping to pest control, they are already a regular service that people subscribe to. There are some Certified Public Accountants (CPA) that have an audit defense subscription. The client pays an annual fee and if they are ever audited, the CPA firm will come to their defense.

A home roofing company can have an annual gutter cleaning service, sold together with a new roof purchase, or as a stand-alone item. Heating/air conditioning businesses and plumbing businesses offer a type of subscription program. When they go to a home and give an estimate, they say, “It’s this price to do the repair. Or if you would like to become one of our members? You can enjoy the member discount on this repair, and it also entitles you to these additional benefits.”

I personally enjoy membership for this type of service. I have a subscription with an AC and plumbing company that comes to my home every three months and checks my air conditioning units and my plumbing to make sure everything is working well. I appreciate that the company automatically schedules the appointments, and I don’t have to keep track of when it next needs to be done. It also builds customer loyalty. I am not going to call anyone else if something happens between the quarterly visits.

Going Beyond Products and Services

In many businesses, the customer is buying services, or they are buying an item. Whereas with membership, clients are buying a type of promise that they’re going to be connected. For many companies, subscriptions add another revenue stream that doesn’t cost them money to fulfill. It can be a very high margin revenue stream with a large impact on customer value.

Robert says the biggest difference between successful subscription businesses and unsuccessful ones is that their 4 Subscription Growth Drivers work together and are appropriate for their specific subscription model. Each of the nine models is unique and has its own way of attracting subscribers by demonstrating value. Subsequently, the 4 growth drivers, which include pricing and retention, are customized for each model, as he clearly explains in his book, which I recommend.

Many businesses don’t think of themselves as having the opportunity to do a subscription model. However, most businesses DO have that ability. Yes, there are a lot of large companies offering subscriptions – think of Costco and Netflix. If we look a little closer, we find that small businesses everywhere also offer them.

Consider your business – is there a way to reward your most reliable clients with an opportunity to upgrade to VIP status, or to invite your customers to pre-order and receive a regular delivery of pre-approved goods? There is ample consumer convenience in a subscription model and if you are the company that makes people’s lives easier, you can increase their loyalty and longevity.

Don’t Keep Score

Don’t Keep Scorestring(18) "Don’t Keep Score"

When it comes to business networking and passing along referrals, it’s not about who’s giving what to whom. There is no rule that says, “For every referral you give, you can expect one in return.” Similarly, when you hand out more referrals, it does not mean that other business professionals will automatically do the same. It just doesn’t work that way in referral marketing.

If you hear of a business opportunity that would be well suited for a referral partner – not a competitor – think of it as “excess business.” When you pass this kind of excess business to others in the form of a referral, you’ll wind up attracting more prospects who want to work with you.

There are plenty of fish in the water. Most fishermen don’t see themselves in competition with the other person whose fishing boat is a hundred yards away. They know there is a plentitude of fish, enough for everyone. In fact, if they pass each other on the way back to the shore, they’ll probably wave to each other and ask if they did well and how many fish they caught.

Do Good Things for Others

The principle of “sowing and reaping” states that when you do good things for other people, those good things have a way of coming back to you – often from a different person or group of people. Even if it seems that you’re not directly benefiting from the referrals you are giving to others, take note of all the other business that “just happens” to come your way:

  •         The person who checks out your website because a friend shared your blog post on social media and gives you a call.
  •         The old prospect you haven’t heard from in months who suddenly wants to get together for lunch.
  •         The inactive client who contacts you to say they want to renew their contract with you.

Even though it seems like happenstance, some or all of that is likely to be new business you attracted by giving away other business, in the form of referrals, to people you know. You can attract new business through the relationship-building process you commit to and can strive to become a networking catalyst to ensure that these things happen on a regular basis.

I recommend that you don’t keep score. Instead, think of giving referrals in the context of the “abundance mind-set,” which is the awareness that there’s more than enough business to go around.

What is your experience with receiving more after giving more?

The-Willing-Conversation

The Willing Conversationstring(24) "The Willing Conversation"

Do you recall playing with magnets as a child? Depending on which way you turned the magnets, they were either attracted to or repelled by one another. As an adult, we may find ourselves feeling six years old again when we make a phone call to a referral who turns out to not be a referral at all. Similar to a magnet turned the wrong direction, you are not being embraced. Rather, you are being resisted. The referral you were given that should have been a “warm introduction” quickly turns into a cold call.

We all want good referrals – people who want to talk to us. We want to give and receive referrals that are willing conversations about the products and services we offer. To receive more effective referrals from the members of our business networking group, we must help them understand our business and our target market enough to identify a good referral for us.

Here are four tips to follow that can lead to more willing conversations.

  1. The Needs Assessment

It is our responsibility to be very clear and specific with our referral partners about what constitutes a good referral. This is a combination of an ideal prospect profile and the problems that we can solve for them.

This is an example of a clearly defined target market is for a corporate coach:
A small to medium-sized company with fewer than one hundred employees. They are closely held, often family-owned, and regional with locations in three or fewer states. They pride themselves on higher-than-average retention of their employees due to a reputation of treating them like family. They are in a competitive industry and are committed to gaining an advantage.

  1. Your Unique Selling Proposition

Do you have dozens or hundreds of competitors in your marketplace? You probably do. That means your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is very important because it allows you to stand out among your competition.

Your USP is a brief description of the purpose of your business, stated in the most concise and compelling way possible, in order to help others understand the unique value of what you do. Your USP tells people the type of client you work with and the benefits you provide to them.

What are you saying that makes you stand out? What do you do that your competition cannot touch? At the very least, figure out what you do better than your rivals and go beyond simply saying “good customer service”.

  1. Why Are You in Business?

What is your passion? Why do you go to work? Unfortunately, one of the most popular answers to this question is “To make money.” That’s the worst answer a business professional can ever give.

Why are you in your profession? How do you change lives? That’s what the referral partners in your business networking group need to know. Remember, passion is referable. You need to go deep and identify your “why” if you want to truly connect with people on a personal level.  

  1. What is Your Emotionally Charged Connection?

Your Emotionally Charged Connection (ECC) is a phrase, leading to a story, that your referral partners can recite when referring to you.

We all have an ECC. It was something that happened to you, often during childhood, that lays the groundwork for who you are as a person. It can be positive or it can be negative. Many people are not consciously aware of their Emotionally Charged Connection, yet it is the reason we get up in the morning and do the things we do every day.  It’s driven by the heart, not the checkbook or the head–there’s a big difference.
You can read about my ECC here.

The better you become at sharing the information in these tips with your business networking group, the more likely you are to feel like the magnet that attracts instead of the magnet that repels. Your referral partners will be able to give you good referrals that lead to the willing conversation.

What have you shared with your network that has helped you gain willing conversations with prospective customers?

Storytelling In Businessstring(24) "Storytelling In Business"

I am a big believer in storytelling in business and using stories to make a point. If you’ve seen one of my presentations or trainings, you’ve seen me tell a story – you’ve experienced a story with me. Storytelling is about tapping into a passion about some topic. It is about taking the listener to a place that is visceral, visual, concrete, emotional and possibly unexpected.

For many years, I have used the formula for a good story that I learned from Robert Dickman, author of The Elements of Persuasion.

  1. A story is a fact
  2. Wrapped in emotion
  3. That compels us to take action
  4. That transforms us in some way

The key to this formula is that a good story compels people to take action, and that action transforms or helps them in some way. I always try to re-live a story, not just re-tell a story. An important aspect of storytelling is to make it sound fresh and alive. Re-living the story gives you that same excitement as when you first experienced it or heard it. It is the kind of passion that you need to apply to your business.

The Power of Storytelling While Networking

The power of storytelling in a networking situation is that it captures people’s attention and provides a way to connect with them on a more personal level.

A trait that great networkers develop is to have a story that is theirs and that is personal, coming from positive or negative background – it doesn’t matter. An effective story creates a link from your experience to what you’re doing in your business now. This helps people understand the connection between where you come from, to what you do, and why you do it.

Successful networkers also have a specific ask. When the business relationship has been established and you are at the point where you can ask for a referral, or they ask how they can help you, be prepared. Have clarity about exactly what you want and know how to concisely share your goal or idea with your networking partners.

Storytelling Can Be Inspiring

Dr. Mark Goulston has said that “a story is a portable storage unit for one’s dreams, fears, hopes, humor and sorrows that people visit–or visits people–from time to time for them to stay in contact with their humanity.”

When you include stories while training your teams or employees, you may find increased engagement and attentiveness. Storytelling can help them embrace the new ideas you are sharing or better retain the information you’re giving. The story you tell may inspire someone to set a bigger goal or move beyond their comfort zone to achieve more in their professional life. Sharing a story, a personal part of yourself, can make a deeper and more personal connection to those you work with, including your customers and clients. Effective storytelling is an important part of one’s emotional intelligence.

Some years ago, I was at a storytelling event hosted by the Academy Award-winning movie producer, Peter Guber, who said that “what if” is more powerful than “how to” in a story. Very true, indeed. Getting people to think of the possible rather than simply look at the present can truly help make a great story. And a great story can make a great impact in business.

Have you experienced a great story in your work or professional life?
Do you use storytelling in your business?
I would love for you to share in the comment section below.

Telling Your Company’s Storystring(30) "Telling Your Company’s Story"

If you want to get referrals from your networking efforts, people must know about your business. There are two kinds of audiences that need to know your company’s story. One is the people you interact with directly while networking. These could be people you meet and exchange pleasantries with at a chamber of commerce event, or people in a dedicated referral networking group such as BNI®. These are the people you want to build relationships with so that they may become reliable sources of referrals for you.

The other audience is people you don’t meet, at least not right away, but who are told about you by your networking partner or referral source. They are your prospective clients or customers that your networking partners are connected to.

Your Unique Selling Proposition

Many businesspeople think that word-of-mouth marketing is about telling everyone they meet everything they do, and that getting more referrals is simply a matter of talking to more people. Quite the opposite. In fact, it is often boring to people and overwhelming with much more information than they can remember.
In getting your message across, less is more.

You want to come up with a succinct, memorable unique selling proposition (USP) that you can use at all your business networking events.

Your USP is a brief description of the purpose of your business, stated in the most concise and compelling way possible, in order to help others understand the unique value of what you do.

A good USP simply tells people what you do in a manner that gets them to ask how you do it. Think of it as your answer to the inevitable question about work: “What do you do?” 

THREE STEPS TO CREATE YOUR UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION

  1. Focus on two or three target markets for your business – groups of people for whom your product or services are best suited. 
  2. Identify some challenges facing your target market that you and your business can help solve. 
  3. Create a one- or two-sentence USP using this formula: “I help ____ [target market] ____ [solve this problem].”

USP Examples

Your unique selling proposition tells people the type of client you work with and the benefits you provide to them.

“I work with bright, successful, family-oriented business owners who are so busy on the immediate that they lose sight of the fundamentals that can affect their family’s financial well-being.”
– a financial advisor

“I help nonprofit organizations connect with their community through the game of golf.”
– a golf fundraising specialist

“I work with municipalities on capital improvement projects in the areas of water, wastewater, and drainage.”
– a project engineer

An effective USP is short and straight to the point. When you share it with someone who fits your target market, or who knows someone in your target market, it should elicit the question, “How do you do that?”, which leads to further conversation about your business.

This is a great way of telling your company’s story while highlighting how you can help others. It is important to have a good USP because it describes your business in terms of the needs it can fill and allows people to decide whether they want to learn more.

What is YOUR one-or-two sentence unique selling proposition? I invite you to share it in the comments.

Referrals Work Both Ways

Referrals Work Both Waysstring(24) "Referrals Work Both Ways"

When you receive a referral from your networking group, it directly benefits your business. When you give a referral to someone in your group, it strengthens your network while benefiting your referral partner.

If you have a growing customer base, you’re going to be generating a lot more business for your referral partners. To strengthen your referral network and keep your business growing, you need to make sure your networking partners can handle all the referrals you will be providing.

Because referrals work both ways, it is important to build trust and develop deep relationships with your fellow networking members. You want to have One-to-One meetings with them; get to know them and their business well enough to understand the scope of their services and products. You can ask them detailed questions about their company to find out who their ideal customers are and how they are able to best serve them. This will help you identify possible referrals for them. You may want to ask about their plans for business growth to determine if they can accommodate the potential increase in clients from future referrals.

When you offer your referral partner a business opportunity they can’t handle, several things can happen. They may try to provide the product or service but do a poor job, upsetting the customer – your friend or colleague – which can damage your reputation.

They may pass the referral along to another businessperson that you don’t know, taking control of your referral relationship away from you and putting your reputation at risk. Or they may decline the referral, forcing you to spend additional time finding another person to give the referral to. You may have to go outside your network to put the prospect in touch with someone who can get the job done, which defeats the purpose of your referral network. You may even have to admit to your contact that you cannot help them after all.

Your ability to handle referrals from your network is equally important to your network’s ability to handle referrals from you. If your business grows big and strong but your referral network doesn’t, you will eventually become a network of one.

To keep this from happening, recruit new people and new professions to extend your network for the benefit of all members and take every opportunity to enhance your networking partners’ businesses. A true master networker works on building not just their own business, but the businesses of their fellow networkers, too.

1 2 3 4 37