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Archive for April 2011

The Man in the Mirror

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“When you want to win a game, you have to teach. When you lose a game, you have to learn.” ~~ Tom Landry

We have been together for sixteen weeks and are on the cusp of making excellence a habit.  Most behaviorists consider seventeen weeks the yardstick for establishing a new habit.  I imagine there are some of the past sixteen week exercises that have provided paradigm shifts and excited you.  I am also sure that some of those same areas have not had any action applied.

This is human nature and stems from a few main reasons.  Generally, strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the very same coin.  The paradigm shifts were most significant to you because they are so far from what you already know and do.  That very distance makes taking action so challenging.  Set that against a backdrop of competing deadlines, uncertainty of where and how to start, and add fear of failure and success and it is no surprise that those actions we most want to take slip by.

My commitment to you is to lay out fifty two weekly strategies you can use.  They each build on the other.  Maybe not week-after-week since that only grows in one direction.  They are designed to grow you from the inside out and expand all areas.

This is a good moment in the process for self-reflection and assessment.  Sadly, some of the regular readers have already given up.  Others take the perspective of being entertained by the material—even as they want more.  Many are not adding any additional skills although they may apply some pieces here and there.

A few are keeping pace and are actively developing along.  I read your emails and applaud you for that.

For the vast majority there is a missing ingredient to introduce this week and I ask you to consider that, as well.

Employees have bosses.  They make sure otherwise unwilling people do what needs to be done.  Students have teachers.  Athletes have coaches.  Many of my readers are entrepreneurs and they only have themselves.  I am asking you to find a workout partner.

Ideally, you should communicate briefly with this person at the end of every day.  This is the most productive time.  It can be as little as a five-minute conversation.  Share your successes and listen to theirs.  Share your frustrations, challenges, concerns, dreams, etc.  Ideally this person should be someone you respect.  At the very least you should communicate with this person weekly covering the same topics.

Why accept mediocrity when excellence is an option?

If you belong to a formal networking group the foundation for this relationship already exists.  You may or may not be taking advantage of that aspect.  Here are some questions to ask to identify the accountability partner for you:

  1. Who do you respect as a business colleague?
  2. Who would be willing to push you and not be afraid to challenge you?
  3. Who would you not want to disappoint?
  4. Who is also interested in networking their business so that you can be accountability partners for one another?
  5. Who knows your tendency to procrastinate?
  6. Who can you rely on to follow-through on their commitment to you?
  7. Who has the time and willingness to help you?

Once you have identified someone here is a radical idea I am going to propose.  Stop reading this blog for the weeks going forward.  Find that partner and go back to the beginning.  Work together entry by entry.  If you catch up with me—great!  I’ll still be here.  If you are lagging behind—great!  Move at a pace that works for you both.  Use this blog as a guideline for success.  You will likely find that some areas you can both breeze through while others may take two, three, or four weeks.  I set the arbitrary pace of a weekly entry to keep you engaged.  Now it is up to you to put that in gear at a pace you will actually use.  I won’t mind if you start over.  Get the most from the material by establishing success habits and the surest way to do that is with an accountability partner.

© 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

April 24, 2011 at 2:07 am

Be the Change

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“Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.” ~~ William James

In networking there are three types of people.  Those who wait and watch for things to happen, those who make things happen, and those who wonder what happened.

A catalyst is someone who makes things happen.  This is the role you should aspire to in order to positively affect your network.

There are four main characteristics shared by catalytic people.  These are:

  • Initiative.  Catalytic people make things happen in all aspects of their lives.  They have a “Do it now” mentality.  When they see a need for something they apply action to that need.  My CPA’s marketing expert sees herself as a “step up to the plate kind of girl” and she certainly is.
  • Intention.  Catalytic people are goal oriented.  They do not simply rely on luck but create their own chances for success.  They understand the process of moving from point A to L and navigate those steps steadily and surely—not easily discouraged by the inevitable setbacks encountered.  They learn the goals of others and align with them whenever possible, knowing it is far easier to leverage gravity than struggle against it.
  • Confidence.  Catalytic people are confident in their abilities as both team players and leaders.  They have positive attitudes that are contagious and help bring out the best in others.
  • Motivation.  Catalytic people are both motivated and motivating.  These people excite, exhort, and exhilarate people to perform at their very best.  You will see them at the front of the pack—leading by example and urging others to follow.  You will see them in the middle of the pack—encouraging others to keep going and broaden the trail.  You will see them at the back of the pack—pushing others to keep moving forward.

Think of your network as a row of dominoes.  As a catalyst you will tip one over and get the others in gear.  Hopefully, this weekly blog is a catalyst for you.

Action steps this week are simply to identify the next domino.  Who is a value-added friend?  How can you work together to motivate your network?

© 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

April 17, 2011 at 2:24 am

Posted in business, HowTo, networking

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Deepen the roots

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“A line has to be drawn somewhere between what is essential and what is peripheral.” ~~ Sargent Shriver

By now we have set the stage for taking your networking skills to a new level.  Some of this work has been easy and some has not.  Some of this work has already yielded solid results.  This week I am asking you to consider making a significant difference in one single relationship.

Throughout the series we have touched on a few elements to help you identify your strategic relationships.  Specifically these were Field Your Winning Team, Who’s Who to You, and Revisit Your Contacts Low Hanging Fruit on the Family Tree is another although these people are less likely to be in the situation where you need to deepen the relationships.

The Bible tells the story of reaping and sowing and shares the efforts of an ambitious farmer with excellent seed.  The famer keeps on sowing the seed against the birds that take it, the thorns that choke it, and so on.  Some of the seed falls on ground where the soil is shallow.  The little seeds start to grow but on the first hot day the little plants wither and die.  These plants could have kept the farmer’s family fed all year but the elements were stronger than the plants.

All of our relationships exist in an environment that is partially of our making and partially not.  Market forces, health, genetics, circumstances, and more all have an impact on those relationships.  If we do not take the time and make the effort to nourish the roots and strengthen the bonds of those relationships they will inevitably succumb to the overwhelm of outside forces.

This week I would like you to consider one relationship you would like to both protect and expand.  How well do you know this person?  Not just on a business level but on a personal level.  Are there ways you could expand this relationship and make a difference in the larger scheme of things?

I don’t want to limit your thought but am doing a disservice if I don’t give you some ideas that will help.  Imagine your friend is a builder and also cares about the environment.  You may or may not know their spouse and children.  Imagine working together on a Habitat for Humanity project.  Imagine taking a beach weekend together—your family and theirs.  The possibilities are endless and can have a very profound effect on the relationship.

This week’s action is to identify one person you want to strengthen the bonds with.  Meet with them and take time to get to know them better.  Learn things like:

  • What would they like to accomplish in business this year?
  • What obstacles are in the way?
  • How can I help you achieve those goals?

Look at the same considerations for their personal lives.

The important thing is to have the conversation and truly listen.  This prepares you well for next week’s section, too.

© 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

April 10, 2011 at 2:10 am

Flock Together and Fly in Formation

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“Every person, all the events of your life are there because you have drawn them there. What you choose to do with them is up to you.” ~~Richard Bach

This week we consider that quality known as magnetism.  I won’t go into all the scientific details of electrons lining up and how the compass guides us along our journey although those concepts are important.

I will, however, underscore how important magnetism is the process of establishing the Visibility that is foundational in your networking success.  Like attracts like.  Busy people attract other busy people.  I imagine you can realize how challenging it is to get a bunch of busy people together at once.  I also imagine you can realize how valuable that shared time is.

The best way to attract the type of people you want to meet is by becoming one yourself.  Look back into week seven Take Inventory and consider those traits you most want to improve on.  A simple shortcut is to get around those people and benefit from modeling their behavior.

Scott Ginsberg is known as the Nametag Guy and he lists eight simple strategies you can use to start the ball rolling.  Think of these as ways to walk onto someone’s porch to chat or to invite them onto your porch.  You may or may not go in the house with them and it is all about breaking the ice and starting the process.

  1. Be Ready to Engage.  What a simple concept.  How interesting is it for you when someone asks, “How’s the weather?  Do you come here often?”  These are okay as openers (certainly better than silence) and yet the opportunity to take the conversation up a notch is very rewarding.  We need to walk the balance between being too personal and to impersonal.  If unsure of the receptiveness of the person you are meeting start with something in the environment and move closer.  For example, noting that, “This elevator is slow” is much safer than, “I like your earrings.”  The latter—if accepted—moves the relationship closer quicker although it is riskier.  The simple advice is to be in the moment and attentive to the other person.
  2. Focus on CPI.  Look for a “Common Point of Interest.”  This helps establish the bond quickly and firmly.
  3. Give Flavored Answers.  There are many interactions where a question is asked as a polite conversation starter and does not expect any thoughtful response.  “How are you today?” is a common example.  Most of us answer with the one word “Fine” and this is expected.  Try coming back with something more interesting.  I have a friend that never answers this question the same way and is quite capable of hundreds of different replies.  “Amazing.  If I was any better I’d have to be twins.”  “I don’t know yet.  Let me hum a few bars.”  I never know what to expect and since his business is all about helping companies craft creative solutions it engages a new person quickly and establishes his credibility in the arena at the same time.
  4. Body Language is Important.  It may be tempting to cross your arms, for example, if you are tired, cold, bored…but don’t.  That clearly sends the message to stay way.  If you are there to meet people then make an effort to be open.  Smile.  Extend your hand.  Join conversations in progress and leave the small group open to other people, rather than closing ranks.  If two people are face-to-face and eye-to-eye no one else can enter the conversation.  There are times when this is exactly what you want.  There are other times, though, when it is not.  Instead of being face-to-face open your shoulder lines so a third person can slip in.  If you are ever cornered and looking for an exit strategy this is a good method to know—although having a few exit lines is more proactive.
  5. Provide Different Options for Communications.  Some people prefer face-to-face encounters.  Some prefer telephone conversations or email interactions.  Include these on your business card, your website, and your signature lines.
  6. Always Have Business Cards.  If you carry a portfolio keep some extra cards in there.  As a backup have more in the glove box of your car.  As a backup to the backup keep more in your trunk.  You never know when the moment will arrive to share contact information and not everyone carries a PDA.  Business cards are all-purpose, all-weather snapshot reminders of who you are.  Keep them handy.
  7. Conquer Your Fear.  I know Mom told you not to talk to strangers and that is important advice for a trusting, defenseless child.  Leverage points one through four above and meet new people.  You may need to stretch your comfort zone a little.  Guess what?  That is where growth comes from.  Do it in a controlled environment such as a Business Networking event.  The other guy is there for the same reason and may be more (or less) comfortable than you.
  8. Wear Your Nametag.  This has become Scott Ginsberg’s claim to fame (or ticket to celebrity) and his points are all well taken.  If you are serious about your business embroider your company name on the clothes you wear.  If this is not appropriate then get a magnetic or pinned version to wear all the time.  You may think wearing those sticky nametags look silly but they do make it easier for others to talk to you.  I made a mistake once and put the nametag on upside down and it became a great way to open conversations.  The helpful people pointed it out.  The less helpful ignored it.  This can be a good sort, too, although it may be a little manipulative.  I have a nametag on a lanyard and wear it just about everywhere.

Assess your strengths against this list and get comfortable with the CPI concept.

Let’s also take a look outside the box, based on the CPI that you may not have considered.  So far we have considered friends and family as well as new acquaintances as strategic partners.  How about your competitors?  Don’t they share your same CPI?  Couldn’t they be the perfect strategic alliance for you?

How is that for out-of-the-box thinking?

Your action item this week is twofold.  Consider your top three competitors and imagine what it would be like if you could collaborate.  That may not be as far-fetched as you might imagine.  What are your unique selling propositions and how do they dovetail with the competitor.  Some CPAs do audits others do not.  Some general contractors do not want jobs smaller than five day projects while others do.  Some business professionals do not travel more than ten miles away while others do.

The second action item is to think of three magnetic people you know and go with them to a networking function.  You will learn a lot and deepen your relationship while expanding your skill base and network at the same time.

© 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

April 3, 2011 at 2:02 am