Category Archives: Networking

You had me at hello

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

Ever been in a position where someone is trying to persuade you, or sell you something and they can’t stop talking? They breeze right by the part where you said OK.

big earsIt happens a lot in sales where someone is working from prepared text (telemarketers) or pitches (door-to-door). They are so engrossed in getting their message out they are not watching or listening to your reaction.

I like to throw a spanner in the works, interrupt and ask them a question totally unrelated to what they are talking about. Most are flustered and can’t pick up their pitch.

Be comfortable with your pitch or elevator speech, whether you are selling something or responding to someone asking what you do at a networking event.

But most of all listen.

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Filed under Networking, Sales

Networking is about paying it forward

stephen2By Stephen Rhodes

Social Media guru Chris Brogan has a weekly magazine that dishes out great advice on a range of things. This week he talks about paying it forward, building networks that focus on cultivating relationships.

He says, “the word “cultivate” means to develop. That means that YOU have to work to make the relationship better. It doesn’t mean “meet people so you can ask them to help you do something.”

I have written before about the value of networks,  face to face interaction. There is no instant gratification here and those who glad-hand their way through a networking event and follow up with a hard sales push will lose more business than they will gain.

The first barrier to break down is trust. If you are doing most of the talking in a networking environment, the chance of building  any sort relationship is remote. Listen. Ask questions. Focus on who you are listening to and not  the next mark. Trust takes time to build but the wait is worth it.

Here are some tips from Brogan. And check out Owner Magazine.

Brogan's site OwnerBUILD A HELPFUL NETWORK

1.) Be open to connecting with anyone. You never know.
2.) When introducing others, ask first privately if you can make the introduction (lots of times, people introduce me to others that I can’t much help, for instance).
3.) Upon meeting someone new, think of ways you can help them. I promise this is MUCH more useful than thinking of ways they can help you.
4.) Set calendar reminders or ANY other method to keep in touch with people on a semi regular basis. Cold networks don’t help.
5.) Connect great people in your network together. It’s always greater than the sum of the separate parts.

You can subscribe to Owner Magazine here

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Filed under Communications, Networking

Business Advice for Party Goers

JBMG_5500aBy Jeff Bowman

T ‘is the season for the holiday office party! Yes, those parties that many employees look forward to attending, looking for opportunities to climb the org charts, charm their co-workers or simply enjoy the festivities and the holiday spirit. Then, there are those who dread the mere mention of an external social gathering with co-workers.  They fear the unwanted conversations about anything but work, the mingling with others they may dislike and the drinking and carousing that seem to be associated with these types of gatherings. 

There have been countless cases of those who sought to climb the ladder of success stumbling on the rungs and falling flat on their face at such parties. I have put together a few quick tips that will allow you to get the most out of your office party this year without having to worry about going back into the office on the next business day.

  1. Drink responsibly or not at all.  We have all seen those individuals who have a little too much of the spiked eggnog and say things or do things that they would never have normally without the liquid courage in them. And by all means if the party is in the office, unplug the photocopier!
  2. Proper attire – Most holiday party invitations will advise of the dress code, however if it simply says business attire or festive outfits, then dress respectably. Holiday colours are good, dressed down jeans, t-shirts etc are bad. Try to find that balance between festive and professional if you can.
  3. Drunk man on christmasTime is of the essence – Arrive in a timely manner.  It is just as noticeable by those you work with whether it is at a staff party or a regular office day, how punctual you are.  If the party is a “drop in” that isn’t an issue however if it is at a specified time, be there. If you are going to be a little late, advise the organizers beforehand so they are not left wondering if you will show up at all. I also make it a point never to be the last one to leave.
  4. Mix – Holiday parties are all about mixing and mingling, meet people you don’t know, go out of your way to speak to those you rarely get a chance to speak to a the office, be congenial and always polite. Avoid the regular office water cooler cliques. Try to avoid bringing the office to the party and separate those office/work issues with outside socialization. Use your finest networking skills.
  5. Frame of mind – Please keep in mind the party is for everyone. It is a sign of thanks for the great work you do during the year. Even if you don’t like these types of parties, try to have the best time you can, and don’t spoil it for others.  Your attitude will have a huge impact on the entire event. Recognize those who have put so much planning into the event on your behalf, and toast to their efforts.

A few small tips that will allow everyone to enjoy your holiday office gathering.  My grandmother used to say “Don’t say or do anything that you wouldn’t do in front of me!”

Have a safe and happy holiday.

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Filed under Jeff Bowman, Networking, Uncategorized

Panning for Gold in Your Database

JBMG_5500aBy Jeff Bowman

A common question that we ask business owners and those in the not for profit world is “how do you utilize your database?” The answers range from “we use it for our newsletters and contacts regularly” to “database?”

The collection of customer information has become a hot topic with new privacy laws and spam legislation. Many customers have no reservations about providing an e-mail address for instance, while others would sooner poke themselves with sharp sticks than give that information.  And I can’t blame them, I attended a “trade show” a month ago, and I am still getting calls about winning all sorts of prizes and unsolicited e-mail galore! It is critical for any organization to maintain current contact information for primary and secondary contacts as well as warm and hot leads, however the real concern is how do you use the information.

E-newsletters sent to clients utilizing 3rd party organizations are good for relating industry or market news, advising about sales or new products and to share quality information. The fact is that maybe 25% of those you send it to will ever open it.  You may have between 5% to 10% bounce backs and others who will outright ask you to remove them from your list. Sending newsletters to prospects is a little like panning for gold. You are hoping that you may find one shining prospect in the slurry of potentials. There is potentially gold in your client and prospect contacts, but you need to be diligent to find it.Slurry

Here are some tips to assist you in separating the pyrite from the gold.

  1. Review e-bulletin results each time you send one.  Advise those who asked to be removed that regretfully you have done so, and perhaps in the future there may be a new opportunity to connect.
  2. Call the bounced back addresses to see if the e-mail address has changed, if that person is gone and if so who might be a new contact for you to meet. (be sure to remove the address from your list)
  3. Review and keep track of who reads the item.  Regular viewers will have good feedback on why they continue to read.  Don’t be shy about calling those who do not open the e-mail to ask them for feedback on why they don’t.  You may find it has somehow been re-directed to Junk mail or blocked.
  4. Use news, polls and articles to link readers back to your website or social media pages.
  5. Find out if more than one person in an organization should be on your list.
  6. Utilize your contacts to ask for referrals at every opportunity.
  7. Be brief and informative.  Today we get hundreds of e-mails daily, and time is always of the essence, it is a case of “grab my attention or lose me”

Your database is very important, and should be well maintained at all times. With the price of gold today, even gold dust is valuable!

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Filed under Communications, Customer Service, Jeff Bowman, Marketing, not-for-profit, Privacy

A big group hug for BBOT networking groups

By Stephen Rhodes

Think of all the people you know. They are your neighbors, business associates, service club comrades, church community, close friends, casual acquaintances, schoolmates, family friends, relatives ….I bet its a long list.

This is your life network. The relationship you have with most of these people is likely one of friendship, trust and respect.

Good business networks are much the same. They rely on trust and respect and occasionally friendships.

Over the years I have belonged to a number of networking groups, and virtually had success with each one. My personal business network grew and over time I moved on but I visited one of those groups a few months ago and was taken aback by the quality of the experience. TradeTalkers, one of The Brampton Board of Trade’s Brampton Business Networking groups (BBN), had evolved significantly from the forced referral approach in its infancy 10 years ago when I belonged. You know, the groups where you are forced to bring a referral every week or risk excommunication.

Building trust and respect in the group is important before members feel confident in referring your services to their friends and business associates. Once that happens, anything goes and it was refreshing to see people talk so openly about their business, warts and all, and equally fascinating was the group dynamic to coach and mentor, question and debate, and  recommend solutions…complete with  referrals. There was a sense of caring, but also ownership or the problems.

Oh, and by the way, the group has won the Gold award for Business Associations, in the Brampton Business Times Top Performers competition.

Big group hug for the networkers in TradeTalkers. Contact the Board of Trade if you are interested in joining one of these networking organizations. Phone: (905)451-1122.

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