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Archive for January 2011

Giver’s Gain

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“Giving is better than receiving because giving starts the receiving process.” ~~Jim Rohn

Now that you have begun assembling a winning team, it is time to start working together as a unit.  Have you ever seen the duplex with knee-high grass?  Both owners are waiting for the other guy to get out the lawn mower and nothing gets done.

Starting new relationships that are planned to be mutually beneficial are a lot like that.  Somebody has to make the first move.  The best way to get things rolling is by giving.  For example, give your strategic alliance partner an introduction to some of your customers.

I hope you understand why this is important and won’t skip that in case you don’t.  Word-of-mouth recommendations are built on mutual trust. Trust is earned and the surest way you can earn it is by giving.  Introduce your carpet cleaner to a customer that has a nasty old stain in their lobby.  In the early stages of your relationship you might take the carpet expert onsite to assess the issue before the introduction.  This is good for everyone.  You are learning his business capabilities and do not want to overpromise.  The important thing is to start giving.  It will become easier and you will get better over time.

That leads to the second consideration.  How?  The carpet cleaner and the stain is a simple example.  Start expanding what you see at every opportunity.  Begin to look at the world through the eyes of your strategic alliance partner.  Begin to look at the world through the eyes of your customer.  Ask questions.  How long have you used such-and-such service?  How has that worked out?  What do you like best?  What would you change if you could?

Once you have a solution and can introduce the perfect person for the job you gain currency from your customer and the strategic alliance partner.  Eventually, you will become the “go to” guy for all kinds of needs and can line them up or seek them out.

Be proactive and teach your fellow teammates to do the same.

I have two simple actions you can take this week that are easy and fun.

First, get a card file that will hold multiple copies of all their business cards.  Some people turn them into brochures or collateral.  That will be fine in the future.  For now, let’s just stay simple and flexible.  Get a card file and load ten cards for every resource partner you have.

Second, let your world know that you have these resources available.  Put together a short introductory note and begin sending that out to everyone you know.  Use a variety of media (letter, postcard, email, Facebook, etc.)  Here’s an example:

Dear ____________:

Referrals to competent, credible professionals outside my area of expertise are one of the services I provide to all my customers.

Attached is a list of areas in which I know very ethical and professional experts.  If you are looking for an outstanding individual in any of these areas, please let me know and it will be my pleasure to put you in touch with the people I know who provide these services.



It is important that you only list professions, not names and contacts.  You want your customer to go through you for the introductions.  This lets you qualify the situation more completely, emphasize your support role, and make your customer’s (and strategic alliance’s) success more likely.

It won’t be long before this simple exercise bears some fruit and this will engage the other members of your team more actively, as well.

© 2011 by Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.
All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.


Written by bniguy

January 30, 2011 at 2:04 am

Field Your Winning Team

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“Teamwork is so important that it is virtually impossible for you to reach the heights of your capabilities or make the money that you want without becoming very good at it.” ~~Brian Tracy

The first seven weeks of this process are foundational in nature and so far we have set goals, blocked time, and defined the perfect customer.  Once we know the customer it is easy to define the best strategic alliances to form and nourish.  These people work with our customers for different reasons.

Ultimately, beginning from this exercise and continuing throughout your career, you are building a winning team.  You may not be a sports fan but probably know a little about baseball.  Actually, any team sport or, as Brian Tracy notes in this week’s quote, almost any human endeavor of any consequence is enhanced with a quality team.  For illustration purposes I will choose baseball.  Feel free to select a more comfortable analogy of your own, however.

Baseball features “position players.” There are infielders, pitchers, outfielders, catchers, and so on.  Some are renowned for strength, some for speed, some for control, etc.  By and large they each need some measure of all aspects while their specialty—and their specific talent—emphasize certain attributes.

Your winning team will follow that same model.  In baseball these teams don the same uniforms and combine their efforts to score more runs than the other team.  In your team everyone on it works with the same customers with the ultimate goal of improving their customer’s lot in life.  The better we do that the more other customers they will bring to us.  The better we handle them the more customers we gain and the better the caliber of teammates.

Let’s consider four attributes that help sort out suitable players:

  1. They need to work with the same customer type as you do on a regular basis—yet be there for a different reason.  No competition among players on the same team.
  2. They need to know, like, and trust you well enough to introduce you to their best customers.
  3. They are influential enough that others will listen to what they say.
  4. They have firsthand (or secondhand) experience with your product or service.

Last week we outlined restaurants as the perfect customer for our Merchant Services business.  Potential teammates for that market include CPAs, printers, uniform companies, commercial pest control, beverage and food wholesalers, etc.

Who would an Interior Designer align with?  Residential Realtors, Furniture Representatives, Painters, Flooring experts, and remodelers—just to name a few.

This week identify three Word-of-Mouth business partners for you.

© 2011 by Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.
All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.

Written by bniguy

January 23, 2011 at 2:12 am

Picture the Perfect Customer

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“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” ~~Albert Einstein

Networking involves mining relationships, sharing resources, and working together.  The more clearly you define your target the easier it is for the other person to know quickly if they can help or not.  Additionally, you can align everything you do to support that target market with your proficiency—becoming the subject matter expert for this specific group.

Defining your perfect customer clearly is one of the key elements of success.  This is entirely counter-intuitive, though, and most people miss the mark because of that.  For example, your product or service can often help a wide variety of people.  Let’s call this vast population “anybody.”  Therefore, we mistakenly think that it will be easier for our business partners to just bring us “anybody.”  There are two major problems with this.

The first is that we are often brought the wrong prospects.  Either they don’t qualify, are not the decision-maker, we don’t understand their needs well enough to align our benefits with their needs, etc.  When “anybody” shows up on our doorstep, it is no better than starting from scratch and that is frustrating for us, for our partner, and for the prospect.  Everyone has heightened expectations and the results are disappointing.

The second problem is that we are often brought no prospects when asking for “anybody.”  This happens for two primary reasons.  For those people motivated to bring us what we ask for (see the prior paragraph) they give up as we seem ungrateful or incompetent.  For those that are less motivated (trust me, this is a bigger population) our request is out-of-sight-and-out-of-mind.  If any opportunity ever luckily clicks we wind up back in the same briar patch of the previous paragraph.

There is also a hidden problem because when we find “anybody” in our own process, we are equipped with the knowledge to qualify them and build the relationship at the same time.  This fools us to believe that all our networking partners can and will do the same.

This area is one of the biggest causes of networking failure.  Mastery here will make a huge difference in your success.

It is far more effective to clearly define the target as precisely as possible.  Let me give an example that may illustrate this better.

Imagine you have a credit card processing company and your service handles many small-to-medium sized transactions quickly and accurately.  You offer and support loyalty memberships, can calculate discounts on-the-fly, and provide durable, reliable equipment.  Knowing this, you will likely find that restaurants are your favorite customers.

Define that market more completely. You are looking to meet more owners of non-chain restaurants with the average meal price under twelve dollars for lunch or breakfast.  These businesses have (or want) an active to-go trade and have more than twenty and less than fifty tables, located in Wake County.

It is relatively easy for your business partners to identify these businesses.  They may frequent them occasionally or may be very close friends with the owner.  You can strategize with each opportunity completely and you can become an expert in the food service industry.  Will you service dry cleaners and auto repair shops, as well?  Of course, but leverage your networking community by focusing their efforts on restaurant introductions.

You will find in time that these restaurant owners need more services than you can provide—such as staffing, furniture, uniforms, pest control, menu printing, signage, etc.  When you build strategic alliances with these companies the opportunities expand tremendously.

It all starts with this specific exercise.

Here are ten attributes for business-to-consumer and business-to-business markets.  Add more and fill in the elements as fully as possible.

For business-to-business consider things like Public or Private, Profit or Non-Profit, Industry, Specialty or Type of Business, Size (Revenue,) Size (Employees,) Location, Years in Business, Department, and Title.

For business-to-consumer consider Gender, Age, Marital status, Home Owner or Renter, Children/no children, Working or retired, Household income, Location, Education, and Family structure, among others.

Remember, this exercise is counter-intuitive and you will be tempted to skip or short change this.  Please resist that temptation and paint a vivid picture of your perfect customer.

© 2011 by Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.
All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.

Written by bniguy

January 16, 2011 at 2:07 am

Take Time, make time

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“Either you run the day or the day runs you.” ~~Jim Rohn

Brainstorming is always a valuable exercise in planning.  Go ahead and brainstorm different ways you can grow your business.  Challenge yourself to think of twenty different methods you could use in 2011. Don’t limit yourself to things you actually do…think out of that box a little.  Be creative.  It’s only brainstorming.

Stop reading until the list is complete and you have at least twenty ways listed.

Once you have a list, each entry usually falls into one of four different types.  Each has its place and they all have strengths and weaknesses.

The main differentiating points involve whether an activity is primarily active or passive and whether an investment is largely time or money.

We won’t examine each area deeply as they are disciplines principally beyond the scope of this blog.

At the far end of passive activity with money invested is advertising.  Many of the items on your list probably fall into this category with radio, television, Internet, billboards, signs, promotional items, etc.  Once the message is planned and content developed the lion’s share of involvement is based on budgetary considerations.

Another passive activity—this one with relatively lower dollar investment—is Public Relations.  Many businesses never even consider this or have dedicated resources to apply, yet publicity can be a valuable factor.  Social Media somewhat straddles the area between Advertising and Public Relations.  It is more active than either and relatively low-cost, as well.

In the high activity low cost arena is cold calling.  Some excel at this and some businesses thrive on this model.  Most people, however, do not like engaging in or being approached in this manner.

Another high activity low cost entry is networking.  That is actually the focus of my business, my marketing efforts, and this blog series.  One of the things I like best about networking is that it reduces (and may over time eliminate) the need for most of the other areas.  If you rely heaviest on networking, the other areas simply support the effort.  Once again, Social Media fits neatly with networking, as well.

One thing to consider, though, is that we are taking about net-work.  It does require effort and that takes time.  A frequently asked question is, “How much time should I apply to networking?”  Naturally that depends on your specific requirements.  Studies recommend seven to ten hours per week and my experience bears that out.

I have no doubt that you are already busy and cannot conceive of carving out a work day per week.  Think back to last week’s exercise and look at the areas you will increase ten-percent or so.  Setting the time aside makes this increase possible.  Block out your time on the calendar now.  If you attend regular networking events consider blocking some time just before or just after for one-to-one meetings.  Carve some time out two or three days earlier for invitations and introductions and one or two days after for follow-up.  Look ahead at local training events.  Find some that interest you and leverage them by inviting people you want to help or want to get to know better, as well.

In time, you will begin to do networking more naturally and more often.  Start by setting time aside, though, to develop the skills.  Furthermore, you will have a lot of fun (and better results) doing networking when you have a plan.

© 2011 by Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.
All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.

Written by bniguy

January 9, 2011 at 2:17 am

How to double your networking results in 2011

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“For every disciplined effort there is a multiple reward.” ~~Jim Rohn

Ask any financial planner about compound interest and they will share the concept that small improvements in multiple areas add up to big results. For example, a ten percent return per year will double the value in roughly six years. The same is very true of your networking efforts and the start of a New Year is an excellent time to lay out a successful plan.

Results follow activities and activities can be measured in both quantity and quality. True in all aspects of life, the same formula applies neatly to networking, as well. If you can improve six different areas by ten percent your results will improve by 195%, which is nearly double. If you can improve five areas by 15% or four areas by 20% you will also more than double the results.

Therefore, if you would like to achieve twice the success in 2011 from networking, take the activities you tracked in 2010 and increase all of them by a small amount.

If you did not track activities in 2010 then use this planning week to decide which activities are valuable to you and define a tracking method you can and will actually use.

I will give you some ideas—although this is not a comprehensive list.

Take networking events. You can evaluate them from both a quantity and quality standpoint. Under quantity, ask “How many did I attend in 2010?” If you attended 20 add another two for a 10% increase, three for 15%, etc.

To consider networking events from a quality perspective, consider how many potential business partners and prospects attend. If you are networking with the people that can be mutually beneficial, this is higher quality. Turn them into numbers to evaluate ten-percent, fifteen-percent improvements.

The same thought process can include Introductions made: quantity and quality; visitors invited: quantity and quality; one-to-one meetings: quantity and quality; referrals given: quantity and quality; referrals received: quantity and quality; and trainings completed: quantity and quality.

A key trait for successful networkers is follow-up. Quantity may relate to timeliness and frequency while completeness (how thoroughly did the follow-up take place at each event) could evaluate quality.

There is a long list of activities you can both control and quantify—although you only need to choose a few.  In order to improve be certain to capture a baseline, plan the increase, and track activities against that plan.

Taking this a step further you can see that they all work together. If you attend more networking events and they are of better quality and you make more introductions and follow-up more effectively the compound results will accrue—and that is exactly what you want.

One last tip: If you know how many referrals you want to receive each month a very simple shortcut is to commit to give that many or more. Higher quantity and higher quality will also impact those you receive.

Let this be the start of a very prosperous 2011.

© 2011 by Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.
All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.

Written by bniguy

January 2, 2011 at 2:12 am