4 Questions to Start the New Year off Rightstring(43) "4 Questions to Start the New Year off Right"

With 2014 having just kicked off, it’s a whole new year and a perfect time to re-examine why you’re doing what you’re doing. You may think you know why you’re in business, but perhaps it’s been years since you gave it serious thought.

 

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is my business mission? — Beyond simply making a living, what are my long-range professional goals? Do I wish to become the standard by which my competitors are judged? Is it my dream to help make the world a better place?
  • Where is my organization going? — Am I achieving my mission? Am I making plans to accomplish it? How can I change policies, procedures or personnel to improve my chances of achieving my mission?
  • What environment is my organization operating in? — What are the social, economic and technological trends that affect the way I do business and my progress toward my goals?
  • What are my core competencies? — What do I like to do? What is it that I do better than my competitors? Is my business mission compatible with my values and aptitudes?

I’ve seen too many business professionals and companies make the mistake of trying to be all things to all people. Starting out with the fundamentally sound goal of finding a niche that will make them successful, they go astray by changing direction every time a customer or associate suggests a new product or service. The mission gets lost in a frantic scramble for business before the original idea ever gets a chance to pay off.

So, even if you think you know your mission, it will serve you well to pause periodically, analyze your business and, if necessary, refocus on your mission and philosophy.

If you found the questions above helpful in identifying where you and your business currently stand and where you’d like to go within the next year, I’d love to hear what you discovered.  Please share your thoughts in the comment forum below. Thanks!

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How to Make the Most of Holiday Season Networking Opportunitiesstring(63) "How to Make the Most of Holiday Season Networking Opportunities"

With the holidays quickly approaching, I asked my friend and partner in the Referral Institute, Dawn Lyons, to share her thoughts on the unique networking opportunities which she feels go hand-in-hand with the coming of the holiday season.

From intimate family dinners, to office parties, to festive social gatherings, the holidays tend to bring people together more than any other time of year.  In this video, Dawn explains how to make the most of the networking opportunities which come along with people gathering together to celebrate during this time of year.

Watch the video now for great tips on how to maximize your networking effectiveness during the upcoming season by asking specific questions and finding powerful ways to give to others.

Do you have a particularly effective holiday networking tactic or strategy?  Do you often give a certain seasonal gift to your business associates that really goes over well, or a certain way of investing in and strengthening your relationship with friends and family members who you haven’t seen in a while?  If so, please share it in the comment forum below.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on this–thanks!

Education Plus Preparation Equals Optimum Resultsstring(49) "Education Plus Preparation Equals Optimum Results"

During a conversation some years ago with Leslie Fiorenzo, a colleague of mine in the networking organization I founded, she made an interesting point of comparison between appreciating opera and learning to use word-of-mouth marketing in your business.  She said, “The best way to experience opera is to see it on the stage, and the best way to use word of mouth is to put a referral marketing plan in place. The novice, in either case, may not know where to begin.”

 

We started talking about a system to generate business by referral and, just like opera, if you have little or no experience with referral marketing, it would be a mistake to jump into action without preparing yourself–preparation is key to success. Central to the referral-marketing process is getting people to send you referrals. To do so, they must know exactly what you do–what product or service you provide or make; how, and under what conditions, you provide it; how well you do it; and in what ways you are better at what you do than your competitors. You absolutely must communicate this information to your sources. And to communicate effectively, you must know the same things. Before business owners map out their referral marketing campaign, they must stop and get a clear picture of where their business currently stands.

Leslie commented that when people begin to learn and study opera, they begin with basic works by composers such as Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini before moving on to more complex works by composers such as Richard Wagner. In the same way, when marketing your business by word of mouth, there is a place to start before you meet with the people in your network. You begin by preparing answers to some basic questions about yourself and your business like:

1. Why are you in business?
2. What do you sell?
3. Who are your customers and
4. How well do you compete?

The ability to communicate this information to your sources and prospects will be invaluable as you begin to build your network and formulate your plan to gain more and more business the most effective way–through referrals.

Once you master some basic tools, you can move on to a deeper understanding of the process. For example, there are three laws of Notable Networking:

1. Have a positive and supportive attitude, and provide a positive and supportive environment for other business people.
2) Learn how to use networking tools efficiently, including business cards and an informative name badge, and have a business-card case to hold others’ cards.
3) Networking is an acquired skill that requires listening to CDs, reading books/articles, picking the brains of great networkers and practicing what you’ve learned.

One fantastic place to get information about all things related to networking is NetworkingNow.com.  I highly recommend that you become familiar with the basic tools of word-of-mouth marketing and begin to implement them in your business so that you can begin to watch it grow. Because, just like appreciating opera, if you don’t begin with the basics, you won’t experience the optimum result.

If there is an educational resource which you’ve found to be specifically valuable and effective in learning to network, I urge you to share it in the comment forum below so others might utilize it and benefit from it as well.  After you leave a comment, be sure to send a quick e-mail to larry@bni.com with the subject line “Blog Comment” so he can reply to you with a coupon code for a free six-month subscription to NetworkingNow.com.

 

Leverage Your Achievements to Heighten Your Successstring(51) "Leverage Your Achievements to Heighten Your Success"

Success may be a lasting accomplishment, but the thrill of success is transitory; much of the joy is the journey.  Once it’s over, we begin to wonder, “What’s next?”  This feeling of emptiness cues us to step up and get ready for the next level because success goes on as long as we keep building new steps.  We graduate from one level and, equipped with what we’ve learned, go on to new accomplishments in the next.  Each accomplishment becomes something we can stand on to reach higher.  We can leverage our success.

Small successes can add up to major leverage.  Each experience, each skill learned or honed, each new technology adopted multiplies the results of our efforts.  The achievements leveraged can be our own, or those of other contributors in a team effort.  Those who work alone against tall odds to accomplish what others might consider mundane achievements often end up amassing powerful capabilities.  However they are combined, the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts if used to full effect.

The resources we find most useful as levers depend on both our immediate and our long-term goals.  Many are specialized, closely identified with a particular field or profession or industry.  Trial lawyers, politicians, and motivational speakers cultivate forensic skills, the ability to sway audiences.  This is a vital resource that can be transferred from one project to another, even in different fields.  The same goes for marketing skills, management expertise, and most leadership skills.  The more success we have achieved, the more easily we can apply these resources toward achieving new ends.

As a lever, success is also portable to others.  We can use it not only to help ourselves reach our own goals but to also help our associates, friends, colleagues, family members, even worthy strangers reach their goals.  Success contains many valuable and transferable components: experience, skills, wisdom, insight, confidence, enthusiasm, energy, money, reputation, sometimes just the outsize influence of fame.  These assets can be mobilized in pursuit of different ends, including the needs of others.  All that is necessary is to choose a worthy goal and turn the momentum of success in a new direction.

Networking is a structured system for leveraging success and thereby sharing its benefits.  Helping others achieve their goals not only leverages a person’s success for the benefit of others, but also brings the leverage full circle: what goes around comes around.  Although it springs from an initial good given without expectation of recompense, an altruistic act for a network contact accrues social capital.  The benefits provided eventually come back to the giver.

The ultimate leveraging of success is the philanthropy of those whose accomplishments have made them rich and who look for ways to give back to individuals who have helped them and to the community that nurtured their success.  Their rewards come not in the form of superfluous money or fame but in the prosperity of those they help and in the goodwill and approval of the community.  This is success of a whole new order–social immortality.

No matter where you are in your success journey, it’s important to remember that the joy really is in the journey There will be plenty of times when we not only don’t immediately achieve the success we’re aiming for, we actually end up completely failing at what we were trying to do; and that’s when it’s crucial to keep in mind what Henry Ford once said–“Failure is the opportunity to begin again intelligently.”  In other words, the experience we get in our journey to success is truly invaluable and that experience is what will end up fueling our greatest successes.

Success is a topic that has so many different aspects and perspectives to it and I’d really, really like to hear the thoughts you have as a result of reading this blog post.  Whether you have a story about your journey to success, what success means to you, the experience you’ve gotten/success you ultimately achieved from a past “failure,” or how you’ve leveraged your success to help others, I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comment forum below.  Thanks in advance for your input and I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

Selling Goals vs. Life Goals (Pssst…They’re Related!)string(65) "Selling Goals vs. Life Goals (Pssst…They’re Related!)"

I can almost hear the groans now . . . “Another discussion about goal setting?–How boring!”  Well, boredom comes from repetition, and without repetition, masterful achievement is not possible.  Reading more, practicing more, and understanding more about goals bring this part of selling into a normal daily routine where it motivates and guides those who are masters in the field of sales.

Our lives are directed and pulled by conscious and subconscious desires, which when aggregated become our future vision.  This vision (whether to lose 25 pounds and be athletic or to consistently earn $10,000 commissions and be wealthy) is directed by our destination goals, but the more finite process goals help us get there.  Treat each daily detail as an important process goal to achieve, and indeed these small ones will accumulate so that ultimately our larger vision becomes our reality.  It is easy to derail our dreams by self doubt, other people, and external events, so the only way to keep the vision alive is to transform it into tangible, goal-directed behavior.

Most goal-implementation plans require getting other people enrolled in our personal program.  This is where person-to-person selling comes into the picture.  In this instance, selling means convincing other people to give us something they have in return for something we possess.  In a traditional view of selling, the buyer exchanges her money for our product.  But in the real world, every person sells continually–whether ourselves on a first date, our beliefs, or our knowledge.  If we sell successfully, we might achieve a goal of having an enjoyable evening date, public  recognition, or personal satisfaction as a return from our effort.

Setting the right environment to complete a sales transaction might include bringing flowers on the first date or artfully crafting a storefront window to allow those walking by a glimpse of the buying opportunities to be found inside the shop.  The sales trainer might say, “Your goal is to create an environment (a stage) that causes your customer to feel like a VIP taking delivery on his Rolls Royce.”  The sales process is a very social activity, one that creatively mixes the buyer’s goal of owning a solution with the seller’s complex goal of meeting company targets, earning an income, and personally helping the customer.  Learning this craft of goal satisfaction is never ending and forever challenges the master seller.

While I was working on the book Masters of Sales, a woman named Joan Fletcher wrote me and told me a noteworthy story about a very successful young salesman.  In spite of his sales awards, his corner office, and charismatic charm, he still felt he was just scraping the surface of success . . .

Even though dutifully creating written goals, his level of self satisfaction was low; until he realized that the big picture was not just about how much money he earned, or the big house, or the number of sales he hoped to close.  The big picture was his vision about what he truly wanted to achieve in all combined areas of his life.  Once he discovered this realization, his renewed selling accomplishments became directly tied to setting aside money for his daughter’s education fund, to have time to help coach his son’s soccer league, and to work in his yard.  Even with more personal goals than before, his sales results climbed higher.

The thing to always remember is this: Work goals, selling goals, and life goals are all intertwined and each one will always influence the others.  Now the question becomes: what do YOU truly want to achieve in all combined areas of your life and what are some ways you might make a conscious effort to streamline your work, selling, and life goals in order more effectively work toward your future vision?  I’d love to hear your thoughts so please share any/all feedback you may have in the comment forum below. Thanks!

 

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