Hyperconnectivity and the Rise of Constant Partial Attentionstring(60) "Hyperconnectivity and the Rise of Constant Partial Attention"

Where is your cell phone right now? For many of you, you’re reading this blog post on it. For those who aren’t, it’s probably in arm’s reach.

We are always connected to our jobs, our families, our outside lives. All thanks to that little ringing device we carry in our pockets and bags. This state of hyperconnectivity leaves us often dividing our focus, and rarely are we 100 percent paying attention to any given thing.

Check out this week’s video blog by clicking on the graphic below, or clicking here, to hear what I have to say about this rising phenomenon.

Being a Value-Added Friendstring(26) "Being a Value-Added Friend"

ID-100209400Do the people you know consider their relationship with you to be valuable? Are you a “Value-Added Friend?” At first glance, it may seem like a way of allowing friends and connections to “use” you, but in reality it just helps solidify the likelihood of a long term relationship with that individual.

Powerful and successful business people want their networks to be strong, deep, and broad. You want your relationship to help strength, deepen, and expand the networks of others. So how do you do this? How do you become a Value-Added Friend?

Get to know the people who make up your referral team. You want to do more than scratch the surface – you want to really know these people, and you want them to feel like they know you as well. Be aware of how they react to you, and don’t ask them too personal or invasive questions. Understand their goals – learn how you can help them. Once you help someone achieve a goal, you become a Value-Added Friend.

So, how? How do we deepen relationships and become a Value-Added Friend?

  1. Build quality relationships. Relationships are a time commitment, but a worthwhile one. Go beyond the standard business interactions to truly deepen your relationships and get to know your marketing team. The stronger your friendship, the more you can expect from each other’s networking efforts.
  2. Do more than just show up. Seriously. You need to establish credibility and trust with the people at these events or meetings, so just showing up isn’t going to cut it. Refer to Number 1 above.
  3. Do not ask what they can do for you, but what you can do for them. This is perhaps the most powerful way to deepen and widening networks. Do not underestimate the power of helping other people.

 

So what are you doing to become a Value-Added Friend?

Short Term Goals for Long Term Successstring(38) "Short Term Goals for Long Term Success"

ID-100154878What is your goal for your business for the next year? How about for the next quarter? Next month?

A lot of business owners don’t have goals broken down like this, but why not? It’s difficult to reach a goal that doesn’t exist, and just saying that you want to grow your business isn’t specific enough to actually help you achieve results.

To really achieve the results you want, you need to set concrete goals, and you need to write them down.

Start far into the future. What age do you want to feel comfortable retiring? What amount in savings will make you comfortable retiring? Will you pass your business to one of your children, a trusted employee, or someone else? Map out your far out into the future goal.

Now that you know the far future you need to set yourself up to hit this goal. What milestones do you need to hit in 10, 5, or 2 years that will put you on the right path? What does your business look like at these intervals? How many employees will you have at the end of these times?

One year from today, where does your business need to be to hit your larger goals? What changes do you need to make to set yourself up for long term success? Do you need to hire more help now, or can it wait? What networking groups will you join in the next year? How are you spending your time?

At the end of the next financial quarter, what changes will you have made to start inching toward where you want to be? This is a great time to start looking at the numbers of your business, and diving into what changes you need to make over time to hit your overall goals.

In just the next month, what are your plans? It takes 21 days of doing something consistently to make it a habit, so what habits do you need to hit your goals? What can you implement in your life to start with that will help you reach your goals?

I know it may sound silly to break your goals down this much, but if you don’t know what you’re shooting for, you’ll never hit your target. Long term goals can seem too far away and too massive to be goals that you can actually work toward right now, so breaking them out into more manageable time frames can be more beneficial than you could image.

What is your long-term goal? How are you working toward it? Tell me in the comments below!

How Well Do You Know Your Business?string(35) "How Well Do You Know Your Business?"

ID-10063353Established business owners often hit a point where they don’t think that they need to continue improving themselves or their businesses. Even if you have thus far been successful, it is important to continue identifying strengths and weaknesses. Businesses evolve, and the needs of an organization easily change over time.

As your business evolves, you may need to take time to focus on the facts of your business. Even though it sounds silly (we all know what we do, right?), taking time to identify the basics can be helpful in the long run.

To start, reexamine who you are. Not you personally, but your business. Where does the business stand today? What are your motivations for keeping it going every day? These things can change over time, and are likely different than they were when you first started. Other questions you may want to ask yourself to get to the bottom of this:

  • Who are your customers? Your target markets?
  • What are your core competencies?
  • Who are your competitors, and how well are you competing?

Next, you must clearly communicate who you are to your network. This can be people you work with who pass referrals to you, this could be friends, family, and coworkers. Anyone who may pass a referral to you, or at the minimum connect you with someone who could help you grow your business.

Your newly developed understanding of your business can even come in handy when you are asked what you do by strangers – telling people your job title does nothing to strengthen a relationship.

To learn more about this topic and more, check out my book with Brennan Scanlon, The Networking Disconnect.

Name Tag

What’s in a Name (Tag)? A few tipsstring(40) "What’s in a Name (Tag)? A few tips"

ID-100397028All businesspeople know how vital a name tag can be for developing new contacts and presenting yourself professionally.

That said, there are a few cardinal elements of a name tag that can really make or break its effectiveness.

  • Name size. The whole point of a name tag is to allow people to see your name. Make sure your name is printed in a legible way – this includes making sure it is big enough for people to read!
  • Company name. You’ll want to include your company name, your position, or both, on your name tag so that new contacts can connect you and your business together easily in their minds.
  • We often recommend putting your name tag on your right-hand side, and high enough up to where it can be easily seen when someone is looking at your face, or chin. The lower you put your name tag on your shirt or jacket, the more awkward it will be when someone tries to strain to read it.
  • I’m not a huge fan of those sticky, cheap paper name tags. They have their uses, but I like to carry a plastic or laminated name tag with me at all times so I never have to use one of those stickers. They come off very easily, get wrinkled, and are overall unruly.

Equally important to the make-up of a name tag is when you wear it. I think many professionals tend to wear their name tag anytime it even seems mildly necessary, just to prevent uncomfortable situations arising when the name tag was needed but wasn’t being worn. Here are a couple times when you may want to leave your name tag in your briefcase:

  • During one-to-one settings. This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how often the name tag is put on for a group meeting, then is left on well after the meeting when the individual is meeting with someone one-to-one.
  • When on stage. First of all, your audience will be so far away from you that they likely won’t even be able to read your name tag – no matter how big your make your name. The name tag can also distract from you and what you are saying, and often when you are on a stage in front of a large group you are giving a presentation that requires the audience’s attention.
  • When on video. A primary reason for this is many cameras flip your image, so your name tag will be backwards, unreadable, and will very obviously be unnecessary to the individuals you’re speaking with.
  • When in an intimate group. The exception to this is of course if every other member of the group is wearing their name tag, because your lack of name tag will draw (negative) unnecessary attention to you. However, in general, when a group is intimate enough to where you can easily remember everyone’s name and profession, or where you already know all of the individuals in the group, your name tag is unnecessary.

What tips do you follow for your name tag? Let me know in the comments below!

Four Keys to Becoming a Networking Catalyststring(43) "Four Keys to Becoming a Networking Catalyst"

ID-100227642I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no mechanic. In fact, when I was a kid, my father (who could fix just about anything) took me out to the garage one day and said, “Son, you’d better go to college because you’re never going to make a living with your hands.” Well, that was great advice, Dad. And I think things have worked out pretty well for me as a result of your suggestion.

Despite my lack of skills as a mechanic, I can, however, tell you how a catalytic converter relates to networking and your business. By definition, a catalyst is an agent that initiates a reaction. In networking, a catalyst is someone who makes things happen. Without a catalyst, there is no spark, and not much gets done. So what does it take for you to become a catalyst for your business and your network? Four things: initiative, intention, confidence, and motivation.

  1. Initiative. Catalytic people don’t sit still—they make things happen in all aspects of their lives. As networkers, they stay alert for a problem that needs solving and then spring into action, calling on someone from their network to solve the problem. They operate with a “get it done now” mentality.
  2. Intention. Catalytic people operate with intent and are goal-driven. As networkers, catalytic people have both business and networking goals. They learn the goals of others so they can help people achieve them.
  3. Confidence. Catalytic people have confidence in themselves and in the players on their team. This helps ensure that the task at hand will be accomplished with stellar results.
  4. Motivation. Catalytic people are not only motivated themselves, but they also spur others on to perform at their highest potential. These people encourage others to contribute, sharing their energy and excitement through their words and actions. They are motivated by personal and professional rewards that they can’t wait to share with others, and they desperately want to help others succeed.

To set your network in motion toward helping your business, make it your goal to become a catalytic person. Think of your network as a row of standing dominoes. Each domino will remain standing until you act on the first domino. As a catalyst, you must tap the first domino to watch the chain reaction of tumbling dominoes. Your network is standing in place, waiting for you to set the pieces in motion.

But what if you’re looking at your rows of dominos and realize that there are serious gaps that will disrupt the chain reaction? Or maybe you don’t have nearly as many dominos as you thought. Even if you are a catalytic person, you first need to have a well-rounded and sufficiently populated network.

Conscious Menstring(13) "Conscious Men"

Good friends of mine, Dr. John Gray (the author of Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus) and Arjuna Ardagh, have recently released their newest novel, Conscious Men. This wonderful book highlights me, and the story of BNI, in numerous places throughout, and I’m honored to have been mentioned in their latest work. My “Village People story” and the “story of Bob” are both highlighted in this book.

To get a copy of the book, visit the promotional website here.

Check out this week’s video blog, featuring both John and Arjuna, by clicking on the graphic above, or clicking here.

Negotiating With Clients is in Your Best Intereststring(49) "Negotiating With Clients is in Your Best Interest"

ID-1009160How did you determine how to price your services? One reason you may be suffering with finding new clients could be due to how much you charge. If this is the case, more than likely you’ve heard this objection from current or potential clients before. While you may not want to consider negotiating, it really is in your best interest. Here’s why:

  • If you agree to at least negotiate on a price with a potential client, they may see you as empathetic and willing to work with them. Many people allow their emotions to help decide how they will spend their money, so developing a positive rapport may help you close with a client who otherwise was considering not spending money on your services.
  • Negotiating allows you to explain to your potential client why your fee is fair for the value of service they’d receive. If they can search the internet and find others in your industry who offer similar services for cheaper, this is especially important. You know you are worth the extra money; you just have to justify it to the client.
  • While negotiating, a potential client may mention a service that you don’t offer, but your competitor does. Hearing this kind of feedback can help you later when you’re looking to expand what you offer.

In the end, some people will be impossible to negotiate with. No matter how low you go, they will never buy your service. Don’t continue to lower your prices to try to get them to use you. Remember that your business first and foremost is a way for you to earn income. Never negotiate lower than you are willing to go.

What tips do you have for negotiating your price with potential clients? Share them with us in the comments below!

Three Essential Questions to Ask When Looking for Networking Eventsstring(67) "Three Essential Questions to Ask When Looking for Networking Events"

ID-100303851Attending enough and the right events for networking your business can be hard. How do you know which events will be a waste of your time, and which will benefit you in the long run?

Figuring out a plan to help you pick the right events is an important step to making sure you’re not wasting time. While you have to spend a few minutes up front, you’ll save hours in time that you won’t spend at events that won’t benefit you.

To develop this plan, you should ask yourself three questions:

  1. Who are my best prospects?
    Yes, you really do need to ask yourself this. Believe it or not, it is more common for people not to know. This is a prime reason why businesspeople waste their time attending every networking event under the sun – they just don’t know who they want to do business with. One you nail down your prospects and the types of people who tend to work well for you, you can move on to the next question.
  2. Where can I meet my best prospects – or people who will introduce me to my prospects?
    If your business is geared toward a specific type of person, some events will be more effective uses of your time than others. If your business is geared toward executives at large businesses, attending a Chamber mixer after-hours is a waste of time – these people probably won’t be there. Nail down where your ideal prospects go, and attend those types of meetings.
  3. Who, exactly, do I want to meet?
    You don’t know who other people know, and guessing would be a waste of your time. So, to best get in contact with the people you need, you need to know how to describe them. If you can tell your contacts what kind of consumer you’re looking for, in as much detail as possible, you’ll be able to get connected easier.

These three steps are detailed fully in “Avoiding the Networking Disconnect: The Three Rs to Reconnect,” my most-recent book with Brennan Scanlon.

Who are your best prospects? Where are you meeting them? Share your tips in the comments below!

The Downside of a Q&A Sessionstring(34) "The Downside of a Q&A Session"

ID-10041287One of the most awkward parts of giving a presentation or lecture is the question and answer session after the main presentation. Not only is it awkward, it isn’t always necessary when it comes to business presentations.

Of course, question and answer sessions may be beneficial when you are giving a “How to” presentation, and you want to ensure your audience fully understands the topic.

Here are four reasons why a Q&A is not always your best bet:

  1. You never know what kinds of questions the audience may spring on you. You could be the most educated person in the world on insulating a home, but there is always that person who will ask a question phrased in such a way to where you don’t know how to answer them, and your credibility with the group is destroyed.
  2. Questions people ask during a Q&A portion may be better answered during a one-to-one. One of the best ways to build relationships with a contact is by spending some solo time with them, talking about what you both do and getting to know each other a bit.
  3. Q&As can be time drains. Sometimes people do ask valuable questions during a Q&A, but many times the process of getting people to ask questions, and having some questions asked just be duplicates of each other, can really kill an event agenda.
  4. Your Q&A is not an open forum. Sometimes, audiences will use a Q&A time to air grievances, complain, express difficulties, etc., but this is definitely not the time that you would want to address issues like these.

When you conclude a presentation, you should encourage your audience to speak to you after with any questions or one-to-one requests. This will give you an opportunity to hear questions, and address them individually, while developing relationships with potential contacts.

Why We Need to Stop Reinventing the Wheelstring(41) "Why We Need to Stop Reinventing the Wheel"

ID-10026461As business people and networkers, and even in our personal lives, we are often trying to make things harder than they need to be. There is an abundance of techniques, for sales, communicating, and general business practices, that are tried and true, so much so that they seem too simple to truly be effective. We re-evaluate them, we “improve” upon them, and we overcomplicate them. Possibly worse, we sometimes just scrap the old way and try to start over from scratch.

Often, we think we are smarter than those who came before us. Our egos prevent us from listening to those who have more history. The danger here with reinventing the wheel is that it puts us in danger of history repeating itself.

Here are three common warning signs that you may be falling into the danger zone of repeating work, and what to do about them.

  • Instead of solving a problem, you come up with new features to cover it up. First and foremost, this is poor customer service to add features to try to distract from a known issue with a good or service. Instead of wasting your time coming up with new features on an old issue, spend time diving into the old issue and make minor changes on existing features to elevate the whole product.
  • When something with history doesn’t work perfectly, you think it might be easier to start over. Without a doubt, there was a reason things got to where they are. Instead of erasing all of the work of those before you, do a little research. Take time to talk with your predecessors and learn what the motivation behind choices were. Chances are you will discover the core problem, and be able to instead make moves to target that issue, instead of starting over.
  • The wheel you’re looking at reinventing is a common wheel that many business people are faced with. Is your wheel unique to you, or is it something that many in your profession are faced with? If the latter, it is highly possible that there are many people also working to reinvent that wheel right now. Perhaps it is a standard business practice in your field that simply doesn’t work. Instead of putting forth resources (including time and money) to tackle it on your own, see if there is a group in your field working on this issue. If you are working to forge new paths at the same time others are trying to do the same thing, you’re all wasting resources and could likely work more effectively as a team.

Have you ever tried to reinvent the wheel? What happened?

Five Tips for Traveling Abroad on Businessstring(42) "Five Tips for Traveling Abroad on Business"

My lovely wife Beth and I immersing ourselves in the local culture while visiting Vietnam last summer.

I’m extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel extensively for both business and pleasure. Over the years, I’ve accumulated numerous tips to help aid overseas business travel.

What many businesspeople fail to realize about business work abroad is that is comes with a unique set of challenges. While business travel in your home country requires a certain level of planning and organization, international travel is a whole other ballpark.

No matter where you are going for business, your itinerary is your best friend. This is even more the case in a foreign country. You will undoubtedly want to spend some time visiting landmarks and taking in the culture of the area. By planning your trip in advance and scheduling in time to complete all of the work you need to do, you can fit in time to relax, see the sights, and enjoy yourself.

What kinds of customs do people in other cultures have that you could easily offend? For example, in many cultures, Japanese and Indian included, it is customary to spend a lot of time reading someone’s business card when they hand it to you – just taking it and slipping it in your pocket immediately is inappropriate.

In the same vein, be very conscious of your body language. Things that you do all the time may have completely different connotations in other cultures. Even handshakes might mean something different in other cultures, as for some it is customary to bow instead.

Learn a few key phrases in the native language of the country if you aren’t already fluent, as well. Business associates will appreciate any honest attempt you make at communicating with them in their native language.

While a little more obvious, check into your paperwork a few months in advance to when you leave. Some countries won’t accept your passport if it is nearing expiration, for example. Do you need a visa for your trip? These are things that you won’t want to leave to the last minute, as they will surely provide unneeded (or wanted) stress.

What are your top tips for traveling abroad for business? Let me know in the comments below!

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