Who’s Got Your Back?string(26) "Who’s Got Your Back?"

A couple of weeks ago, one of my employees attended the launch of my friend Keith Ferrazzi’s new book, Who’s Got Your Back, and she came into the office the next day raving about the presentation Keith had given. “You would have loved it,” she said. “He talked all about how success is created by developing relationships based on trust and how important accountability is to achieving goals–his stuff is right on point with everything you emphasize that effective networkers do.  Plus, the stories he told to illustrate his key points were really, really powerful!”whos-got-your-back.jpg

I’ve known Keith for quite a few years now, and I wasn’t at all surprised to hear that he gave a great presentation. After all, not only is he an extremely interesting guy, he’s the epitome of a master networker. He has one of the most diverse group of contacts of anyone I’ve ever known, and his first book, Never Eat Alone, is a bestseller. After I read Never Eat Alone, I found myself constantly referring to it in conversation and recommending it to people. Who’s Got Your Back is just as influential, and I have no doubt that it’s on its way to becoming Keith’s second bestseller.

No matter what it is you want to achieve, building relationships with the right people–people you trust who will hold you accountable so you can’t fail–is the strategy for success. With this new book, Keith offers the blueprint for accomplishing any goal.  It’s a must-read for anyone wondering how to develop meaningful relationships through their networking efforts.  If you aspire to achieve more in business and life, Who’s Got Your Back outlines some imperative strategies to get to where you want to be.

To learn more about Who’s Got Your Back, click here.

Also, Keith is currently traveling throughout the U.S. promoting the book. If you’re able to catch one of his presentations, I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed.  You can find out the exact cities and dates of his book tour by clicking here.     

Three Keys to Successfully Using Written Testimonialsstring(53) "Three Keys to Successfully Using Written Testimonials"

We know what a powerful tool testimonials can be when it comes to building credibility and generating new business (see last week’s blog on this topic), but it’s also very important to know how to successfully use testimonials and how to ask for them.

First off, there are three keys to successfully using written testimonials:

1) Ask for testimonials at every opportunity.

2) Guide the content of your testimonials.

3) Update your testimonials.

So at what point in the sales cycle should you ask clients (or other contacts) for testimonials? This is a tricky question, but in general, ask for no testimonial before its time–which may be before, at or after completion of a sale or project,depending on your client, your product or service and your own needs.

Let’s say that one month before finishing a project, you call your client to ask how things are going. The client tells you that she’s very happy with the results and that her life or business has changed for the better because of your product or service. At this point, your testimonial detector should be pinging loudly. It’s the right time to make your pitch: “That would be a great thing for other people to know about my company. Would you be willing to write me a testimonial on your company letterhead by the end of the week?”

If the answer is yes, the next step is to coach your client in writing a testimonial that fits your needs. Ask her to tell why she chose to work with you, how she benefited from your products or services, how you solved a problem for her and what other people should know about your business. What things are most people concerned about when using a business like yours? Ask her to address those issues. Don’t be afraid to offer suggestions; you’ll make it easier for her to write an appropriate testimonial, and the results will be more valuable to you.

Finally, review your testimonial file or binder at least every two to three years to identify testimonials that are no longer valid or credible. Specifically, you may want to discard or refile a testimonial that:

  •  Is from a company that’s no longer in business
  • Is/was written by someone who has left the company
  • Represents a product or service that you no longer offer
  • Has begun to turn yellow with age or
  • Needs to be updated with new statistics from the customer

One more thing: Remember the law of reciprocity? It works here, too. If you want to motivate someone to write you a testimonial, write one for him or her first.

Ask for Written Testimonialsstring(28) "Ask for Written Testimonials"

Last weekend, my wife Beth and I were on a weekend trip. We wanted to go out for a nice dinner but weren’t quite sure where to go since we weren’t all that familiar with the town we were in. As Beth perused a local magazine for restaurant reviews, I logged onto the internet to search for the top-rated restaurants in the area. We settled on a steakhouse that was a more than a little bit out of the way and not so easy to get to. Why? Because the restaurant had phenomenal reviews both online and in the local magazine. That was enough to convince us we should take our business there because we were likely have a great experience.

So it is in business. Before people come to you for a particular product or service, they often want the comfort of knowing what others have said about you. Testimonials carry a level of credibility because they come from someone who has direct experience with your product or service. Consumers generally place more trust in a testimonial from another consumer than in a business’s own marketing message. They believe the average person is unbiased and has nothing to gain from providing a testimonial. Thie business stands to gain–or lose–everything, so its own words are seen as less trustworthy.

Have you ever asked a satisfied client for a written testimonial? I recommend making this standard practice for your business.

Written testimonials can be used in many ways to enhance your credibility and set you above your competition. Here are some key ways to use testimonials:

1. Place them on your business’s website. Some websites have them strategically sprinkled throughout so there’s at least one testimonial on each page. Others have a dedicated page where a browser can view several testimonials at once.

2. If your business attracts a lot of walk-in clients, it’s helpul to display your written testimonials, each encased in a plastic sheet protector, in a three-ring binder labled “What our customers say about us” or “Client Testimonials.” Keep this binder on a table in your reception area, where your customers can browse through it while waiting for services. It’s a good way to connect with your prospects and enhance your relationship with current clients.

3. Include testimonials with your business proposals. This works best if you have a wide variety to choose from; you can include a section of testimonials that are most relevant to a specific proposal.

If you make it standard practice to ask clients and contacts for testimonials, you’ll build your credibility and your business.

Be sure to check back next week ,when I’ll present the three keys to successfully using written testimonials and explain how to ask for testimonials.

Networking Lessons From Naturestring(30) "Networking Lessons From Nature"

Recently, when visiting our favorite Napa Valley winery, Chateau Montelena, my wife and I decided to take a tour of the agricultural side of the operation.  The vintner shared with us the technique the winery uses to ensure the quality of the juice from the grapes year after year after year regardless of the climate–a technique known as “dry farming.”

As he explained the benefits of dry farming, I began to see a business metaphor emerging for how referral marketing works for those businesses that understand doing business by referral.

When vineyards are dry farmed, they are not irrigated, dry season or rainy.  As a result, the roots of the vines must grow deep to get to the year-round underground supply of water, no matter the climate.  This reminds me of how we teach business owners to develop deep-water relationships between themselves so that they can support growth no matter the climate–the economic climate.

Doing business by referral truly is not about getting rich quick.  We want to be able to produce a bumper crop of referrals year after year after year regardless of the climate.

That is the gift of dry farming:  the stability of the juice’s quality.  Just like the dependability of Chateau Montelena’s wine, we feel that deep-water relationships ensure a dependability in our own business stability unavailable to the average business owner.

There is another metaphor from nature that helps to illustrate the strength of doing business by referral–that is the story of the giant redwood trees in Northern California.

The giant redwoods average a height of 85 meters or 250 feet!  You’d think that with such an amazing height they would also have a deep, deep root system.  But they don’t.  They actually have a fairly shallow root system, much like our California eucalyptus trees.  The California eucalyptus trees tend to blow over easily in heavy winds, but not the giant redwoods.

You see, the giant redwoods also use an amazing technique to remain upright when those around them fall.  They intertwine  their roots with the roots of their neighbor, thereby supporting one another when the winds come.  When one is under the direct pressure of the wind, the others help to hold it in place, not allowing it to succumb to the destructive forces of that wind.

Relationship marketing puts you in a similar position as those giant redwoods.  When you learn the intricacies of doing business by referral, you begin to metaphorically intertwine your roots with the roots of those with whom you are networking.  When the economy pressures one member, the others help hold him in place!

This is why networking and relationship marketing are so important–especially in a tough economy.

Ask Ivan Misnerstring(15) "Ask Ivan Misner"

I’ve spoken to tens of thousands of people and written many books and articles on networking, referral marketing, sales, business and success.

I’ve had many questions on these topics over the years and I have recently decided to compile the best questions and my answers to them as part of a project that I am doing with my good friend Alex Mandossian.

If you could ask me just one question about networking, referral marketing, business or success, what would your most important question be?

Post it here on this blog.  I’ll be answering your questions as part of my project with Alex as well as here on this blog site.

OK, what are you waiting for?  Post that question while it’s fresh in your mind.

Thanks!

Entrepreneurial Excellence Dream Teamstring(37) "Entrepreneurial Excellence Dream Team"

Frank DeRaffele Jr., host of the Entrepreneurial Excellence radio show, has been a good friend of mine for years and his show is a great tool for entrepreneurs everywhere.  He recently brought on a “dream team” of CEOs, authors, coaches and consultants to join his show to help the small business entrepreneur, and I am privileged to have been asked to be a part of the team.

frankderaffelelogo.gif

I’ve spent the past 25 years of my life helping small-business entrepreneurs grow their businesses through the referral process, and I think Frank’s show and the dream team are incredible resources for the business owner.  I am honored to be on the team with Ken Blanchard, Michael E. Gerber, Larry Winget, Marci Shimoff and Jay Conrad Levinson.

The purpose of the Entrepreneurial Excellence show is to provide a free resource of information and education for the small-business entrepreneur who is always looking for ways to improve.  You can listen to the show live or listen to its archived episodes by visiting EERadioShow.com.

Let me know what you think of the show.  Frank is a regular reader of this column.

‘The Way Out’–How to Beat the Recessionstring(57) "‘The Way Out’–How to Beat the Recession"

I’ve always said that I “refuse to participate in a recession,” and I just co-authored a new e-book on business and success that helps people learn how to go about doing just that.  the-way-out-cover10.jpg

The book was co-authored with 11 of the world’s foremost authorities on business. It’s called The Way Out!–Your GPS “Guided Path to Success,” and it is a road map for how to steer clear of the recession and drive toward success and prosperity. It was published by iLearningGlobal with the goal of giving people everywhere turn-by-turn directions to help navigate away from challenges such as the current economic state, and toward the destination of their personal, professional and financial goals.

You can download the e-book for free by clicking on the picture of the book cover to the right. The reason we are distributing this book for free and prohibiting it from being sold is because it is our sincere effort to offer a real bailout and stimulus package to businesspeople and organizations worldwide so they can get out of debt, create security and, ultimately, prosper.

You can read my article, “Networking Mixers: Break the Ice, Build Your Contacts and Grow Your Business,” on page 49. The rest of the book is full of tremendous articles by other iLearningGlobal faculty members. A few examples are: “How to Get RED HOT in a Cool Market” by Terri Murphy, “How to Sell in a Tough Economy!” by Don Hutson, “Deciding to Decide: How to Thrive in Chaos” by Marsha Petrie Sue and “Freeway of Life” by Brian Tracy.

I’m proud to be a part of this project, and I strongly encourage you to read through the book and refuse to participate in a recession by putting the powerful tools it offers to use. By the way, if you’re not familiar with iLearningGlobal, it’s the world’s largest, highest-quality online library of professional and personal development content by the world’s top speakers, authors and thought leaders.  If you want to learn more about iLearningGlobal, please CLICK HERE.

When you download the free e-book, let me know what you think about it here on this blog.

Did I Miss the Memo?string(20) "Did I Miss the Memo?"

There seems to be a new trend in keeping appointments that I was completely unaware of until recently. You see, I’ve always operated under the assumption that when I set an appointment with someone for a meeting, a lunch or some kind of face-to-face engagement, it is presumed I’m going to be there unless I notify them otherwise.  However, it has recently come to my attention that I’m apparently no longer safe in assuming that this is the case.

Just last week, I received a frantic call from a man who had confirmed a lunch meeting with me a few weeks ago.  He called because he seemed uncertain if we were still on for lunch.  On a side note, I find it quite interesting that when he called, he was 90 minutes away from our meeting destination and our lunch meeting was supposed to start in 30 minutes!

More and more, I am experiencing scenarios very similar to this, and the emerging trend I’m beginning to see is that if you schedule an appointment and don’t hear from the other party again before the scheduled date, this means that the appointment has been magically and mysteriously canceled by the appointment fairies.

I’m not alone in this either . . . my wife, Beth, had the same experience last week with a group of ladies she was planning a brunch for.  “When I didn’t hear from you over the weekend, I presumed it was off,” she was told by one of the five ladies who didn’t show up.

When did this start happening?  Did I miss the memo?  Maybe it’s tied to the “reminder call” system that most of my doctors are using now.  The front desk now has the task of calling clients a day or two before their appointment to remind them that the doctor is expecting them at such and such a time. (Beth told me that spas and beauty salons are now doing this same thing, but I can’t really vouch for that since my personal experience in that area amounts to none.)  If doctors didn’t have the front desk call me to remind me of my appointment and I went ahead and presumed my appointment was canceled as a result, I wonder if they would waive the no-show fee when I didn’t show up?  Hmmm . . . I doubt it.

So—I am hereby stating for the record—if you set an appointment with me, it’s firm unless you hear otherwise.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a new trend coming on when it comes to appointment protocol . . . can someone please send a memo? (I must have missed the last one.)

Face-to-Face Vs. Online Networkingstring(34) "Face-to-Face Vs. Online Networking"

AnnoyedBusinessMan

Photo courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

While I was in Stockholm giving a presentation on networking recently, a European newspaper reporter with a major publication arranged to do an interview with me. Upon arrival, he really started putting me on the spot about online networking, telling me it is replacing the face-to-face process. He was almost militant in expressing his point of
view and was essentially telling me that traditional networking is going the way of the buggy whip.
 Honestly, I was surprised and a little annoyed at first that this reporter was being so confrontational about networking and I finally asked him:

“Why are you here to do this interview?”

He seemed confused and asked, “What do you mean?”

I said, “I mean, why did you drive all the way out here to this big stadium to meet with me in person just to do this interview? We could have easily done it by phone.”

He looked at me and said, “Interviews are better face-to-face.”

“Exactly! I rest my case,” I replied. “Networking is much the same . . . it beats communicating online, or over the phone, because nothing can ever fully replace an in-person conversation.”

The reporter relented. “Yeah, I get it,” he said, “that makes sense. Some things are much better in person. It’s true.”

Some things are just better in person. Networking is one of them. This doesn’t mean that online networking isn’t valuable–far from it. Online networking is a powerful tool in our arsenal of networking strategies. However, it shouldn’t be the only tool we use because sometimes it’s simply not the best one. For me, the bottom line regarding face-to-face networking vs. online networking is that I don’t think it should be an “either-or” scenario; I think it should be a “both-and” scenario if you want to build a strong personal network.

Until the time comes when we can have a face-to-face meeting with a holographic image like the Jedi Knights of Star Wars, it’s probably still a good idea to network in person whenever possible. 250px-obi-wan_headshot.jpg

By the way, when the world advances to a point where we can do the “Star Wars Networking” thing, I have dibs on being Obi-Wan Kenobi. Come on, it only makes sense.  You have to admit you see the resemblance, right?  I mean, if you slap a dashing smile on his face, we’re practically brothers!  OK, OK . . . maybe I went too far with the “dashing smile” bit, but just remember that I called dibs first. 🙂

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Talk About Benefits, Not Featuresstring(33) "Talk About Benefits, Not Features"

 

Sales training often teaches that customers make buying decisions based on 1) their emotions and 2) the value the product or service brings to them. Customers choose a product or service based on its benefits, not its features. The features are simply the bare-bones facts–the elements or significant parts–of the product or service. The benefits are its value to the customer–how it will solve their problems, eliminate their pain and make life better.

Unfortunately, most businesspeople tend to talk in terms of features instead of benefits.  As professional experts and salespeople, that’s what they’re most familiar with.  They’re not accustomed to looking at their products or services from a customer’s perspective.

When you formulate the message you want your networking partners to convey about your business, put yourself in the customer’s place.  What are the benefits of your product or service?  Remember to simplify your message and make it specific–how will your product or service make the customer’s life or business easier, more comfortable, more satisfying or more profitable?

When you shorten and simplify your message so that you, and others in your network, can communicate the benefits of your business more clearly, customers won’t have to think very hard to understand why they should buy your product or service.  So try this out and see what kind of results you get . . . then come back and leave a comment to share the outcome with the rest of us.

I’ll Have an ‘Entrepreneur on Ice,’ Pleasestring(60) "I’ll Have an ‘Entrepreneur on Ice,’ Please"

dsc04691.JPGI just spent time in Kiruna, Sweden–home of the legendary ICEHOTEL and Ice Bar.  It was an amazing experience that I recommend to everyone. A large portion of the hotel facility is completely made of ice. Although there are normal hotel rooms at this location for the faint of heart, the truly brave live big and stay in the amazing “ice accommodations.” This portion of the hotel is a completely different set of buildings and has about 90 rooms along with a truly unique Ice Bar (seen here to the right). The ICEHOTEL and Ice Bar are both completely made of ice (including the tables, chairs and,  yes, even the drinking glasses).

The beds at the ICEHOTEL are made of ice with a small foam mattress and reindeer hides covering them (see below).  They are actually fairly comfortable and, with the high-quality sleeping bags, the room is fairly warm despite the fact that it is minus 5 degrees Celsius (23 degrees Fahrenheit) inside the hotel and 22 Celsius (minus 8 degrees Fahrenheit) outside.

dsc04678.JPGI had the opportunity to meet one of the co-founders of the Hotel and Bar, Kerstin Nilsson. Kerstin and husband Yngve Bergvist started the hotel in 1990 when they did a small exhibition of art in a custom-made igloo on the frozen Torne River, which is adjacent to the hotel.  It turns out that one night a group of foreign guests, equipped with reindeer hides and sleeping bags, thought it would be a good idea to use the cylindrical-shaped igloo as accommodations.  The next morning the group raved about the unique experience of sleeping in an igloo, and the ICEHOTEL was born.

The hotel and bar have since become famous for their unique concept and famous works of ice art.  Even the chandeliers are made of ice, as seen in the last photo below.  The entire hotel, bar and art all melt away each spring and are re-created with a new design each November.

The conversation I had with Kerstin was interesting. They have partnered with Absolut Vodka and have now franchised the idea of the Ice Bar with locations in Stockholm, London, Tokyo and Copenhagen, in addition to the original. They are planning on many more locations but have not released them as of yet. I told her that if they open one in Los Angeles, I am soooo there!dsc04700.JPG

The ICEHOTEL and Ice Bar are a classic case of how creative entrepreneurship works.  A small hotel in a VERY far-away portion of a country comes up with a little idea (an exhibition hall made of ice) to help build its business. This idea (with a lot of hard work) turns into a hotel and bar. The bar spins off into a worldwide franchise co-developed by a major Vodka company–and a small business becomes an international one. I love the creativity of entrepreneurship.

You can see more photos of my visit to the ICEHOTEL and Ice Bar by going to my FaceBook page.  You can also see more about the hotel and bar by going directly to the website at ICEHOTEL.com.

 

Use This Networking Trick to Increase Businessstring(46) "Use This Networking Trick to Increase Business"

One of the most common networking questions I get asked is, “How do I generate referrals for other people?”  Well, this same question is exactly what I was asking myself in the early ’80s when I was just starting my consulting business. I came up with a technique that had a huge impact on my ability to provide quality referrals to others–which, of course, led to me getting referrals.

I realized that I needed to be the person whom people came to if they needed a referral for anything–the “gatekeeper” of referrals . . .  the “go-to guy.”  So I composed a letter that I sent out to my client list several times a year.  Today you could send out a quick e-mail to your database, but you should send it at least once a year as hard copy just to stand out from everybody else who’s e-mailing your clients.  Here’s a sample letter:

Dear________:

I really believe in the process of referrals, so part of the service I provide is to be sure to refer my clients and associates to other qualified businesspeople in the community.

Attached is a list of areas in which I know very credible, ethical and outstanding professionals.  If you’re looking for a professional in a specific area I’ve listed, please feel free to contact me.  I will be glad to put you in touch with the people I know who provide these services.

Sincerely,

Dr. Ivan Misner

Notice when you read this letter that I just listed professions; I didn’t list names and phone numbers.  I wanted my clients to contact me so I could put the referral and the contact together–so I could build business relationships through being the go-to guy.  What began to happen was that others would ask someone on my client list, “Whom do you know who does XYZ?”  If they didn’t know anyone, then they would send that person to me.

The importance of becoming a gatekeeper is huge for anyone seeking to grow a business with word-of-mouth marketing.  It’s a strategy that gets people not only to contact you for a referral, but also to open up a dialogue with people about what your business is all about and how you can help them.  This, in turn, leads to more business with existing clients and new business with prospects.

Allow this to open the door for reciprocal sharing and giving.  You’ll be amazed at how much more business you’ll find you’re able to do as a result.

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