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Archive for August 2017

What’s the Buzz?

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“The two words ‘information’ and ‘communication’ are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things. Information is giving out; communication is getting through.” ~~Sydney J. Harris

Last week we talked about becoming a subject matter expert and sharing your information—from an audience’s benefit perspective—in a real-time speaking environment. This week we expand more on the basic concept, especially in the introductory letter area.

Once you have developed a few solid topics and begun delivering that information, it is time to take it all up a notch and consider putting out a regular newsletter. Most of the people you think of as subject matter experts gained that reputation by delivering their knowledge and message through books, articles, and newsletters.

Before embarking on that task, though, consider what you want to accomplish by answering these questions:

  • What is the purpose of this newsletter?
  • Who is the target audience?
  • Why would that audience want to read it?
  • How will it benefit them?
  • How often will it go out?
  • How will it be distributed?
  • What features will it contain?
  • Who will write the content?
  • Who will design the layout?

A newsletter is a commitment of time and is an ambassador for you and your business. Typos, erratic delivery schedule, and disorganized presentation do not represent you well. Using a professional is almost always advisable.

That expert can make sure the right people get the right information at the right pace. Your readers should opt-in and find it very easy to opt-out, as well.

Your action this week is to consider a few newsletters you value and ask the authors a few key questions, such as the list above along with the time commitment, results derived, and so on.

© 2017 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

August 27, 2017 at 9:44 am

Posted in communication, HowTo

Speak Softly and Leave the Stick at Home

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“Before I speak, I have something important to say.” ~~Groucho Marx

Presenting your product or service to one person at a time is valuable and rewarding. Presenting the same information to a crowd is that much more significant. However, people don’t line up (generally) to hear your sales pitch. They are tuned to the “What’s in it for me?” frequency. Therefore, you should consider what you have to offer as a subject matter expert adding value to them.

Successful speakers talk more about Benefits than Features. There are many areas of interest in your profession if you look for them. A Realtor might talk about the current market conditions, what home improvements increase the value of a property, how to downsize effectively, and so on. A web developer might talk about being found on the Internet or using video on your website. There are as many valuable topics as features and you can craft each one from the benefits side of the equation.

Once you find a topic and develop an interesting presentation then you can seek out audiences. The topic itself helps identify these groups. You might consider employees, stay at home moms, independent insurance agents, baseball coaches, etc. Again, this is a wide-range of potential people. Many of these groups have regular get-togethers and are often looking for value-added speakers.

Once you find the target groups then you simply need an introduction. Here is where you can employ your network. I advise writing a short introductory letter and including some testimonials from others. One page is plenty.

Finally, look into your network of contacts and find out who can introduce you. Ask if they will deliver your introductory letter.

Once you secure an engagement, invite other decision-makers to attend and continue the cycle. Your profile will rise and your calendar will fill up.

Your action this week is to follow the recipe above. That is:

  • Define your topic(s) from a benefits perspective
  • Craft a short presentation on the topic. This should be custom-fit from fifteen minutes to one hour.
  • Determine your audience.
  • Craft an introductory letter.
  • Find contact points, people you know who can deliver your introduction effectively.
  • Rinse-lather-and repeat.

© 2017 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

August 20, 2017 at 5:37 am

Little Soldiers

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“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex…It takes a touch of genius—and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.” ~~Albert Einstein

Everything you do has an impact in the marketplace. Some consequences are significant while many are not. Some are planned, others are not. Finally, some are positive and, sadly, some are not.

Let’s consider one of the small things that can have a large influence. Pull out your business card right now and take a look at it. What is that you say? You don’t have one with you? Without a business card ready to go you need to quickly implement a less effective Plan B—such as scribbling information on a napkin. If your intention is to cement the message that you are always unprepared, this is a great way to do it.

A well designed business card is an integral part of your marketing plan and will often provide your best return dollar-for-dollar. That is partly because it accompanies your most priceless marketing tool—which is you.

Fortunately you are always prepared and have your business cards ready—a few in your pocket, some in your glove box, and more in your car trunk—so you will never run out. Let’s examine one of these little soldiers a little closer.

A few weeks ago we talked about the importance of First Impressions. What impression does your business card convey? How is the quality? How is the condition? How memorable is it? Failures in these areas often lead to the business card storage facility where it is destined to be added to a bulging box of forgotten cards. This is an opportunity lost.

Realize, too, that a business card, while important, is limited in what it can accomplish. It is not a brochure, catalog, or website. Here are some considerations for your business card.

Style. Consider a style appropriate to you and your business. Cartoons may be very appropriate in some settings although probably not for a funeral director. Formal cards are usually less valuable for day-to-day services like auto repair. Find the balance for your business and support it in every element you present.

Pictures. Including a picture (or caricature) is a good way to reinforce the personal introduction. Hire a professional photographer—assuming you are a professional in your business. Choose pictures wisely and keep them current—replacing a picture after losing (or gaining) a lot of weight, for instance. Having a picture that reflects you from ten years ago hurts your image more than it helps. In some professions every competitor has a picture. In other cases no one does. Use this in considering whether to include one or not.

Tactile cards. These include die-cutting, special materials, unusual shapes, etc. and are almost always more costly as well as more memorable. As you imagine, these emphasize how creative you are.

Multi-purpose cards. Some cards include a call to action such as coupons or appointment reminders. Maps can enhance direction finding. Menu ideas, recipes, usage tips, and so on can also add value. The emerging technology of QR codes can open a larger world of dynamic information, as well.

Outside-the-box. Talk to your promotional items specialist for a number of clever ideas. Your card can be made of chocolate, include flashlights and other useful gadgets. There is a wide variety of other ideas that can make your card memorable and likely to be kept.

Dr. Ivan Misner wrote an excellent book about the subject, called Its in the Cards with more than 200 full color examples.

Once you have the card you want consider how to deliver it. If you attend many networking events, you are bound to meet the card shill. These people are intent on insuring that every person in the room has their business card and strafe through the crowd with only that intention. The best way to deliver your card is when someone asks for it. Commit yourself to that concept and you will find a better return on those cards that go out. Naturally, the simple shortcut is to ask for theirs first. As we discovered a few weeks ago human beings regularly exhibit reciprocity and they will likely ask for yours, in return. This is a good way to start developing your skills. In time, though, you want to progress to adding value in your conversation so that they will ask for your card first…often wanting more than one so they can make sure a friend or strategic alliance has it, as well.

Your action steps this week include the following:

A: Proofread your card. Look at each element carefully and closely. If it adds value—keep it. If not, consider replacing or removing it. Examine it for readability and typos.

B: Network with the intention of having other people request your card. Practice the skill of adding value to the people you meet.

© 2017 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

August 13, 2017 at 6:10 am

Posted in HowTo

One in a Million

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“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” ~~Oprah Winfrey

Throughout the series we have focused on understanding the technical aspects of your business—the market, the alliances, and the message. Think of this as the foundation and strength in this area is important. You can build any worthy structure above that.

Let’s now consider the above ground portion. What you say and how you say it combine to trigger your success.

Consider some of the great speakers in history as well as some of the most powerful you have experienced. What did Martin Luther King, Jr bring to the Lincoln Memorial in his “I Have a Dream” speech? Have you ever listened to a motivational speaker such as Zig Ziglar or Brian Tracy? They bring talent. They bring information. More importantly, though, they bring passion.

That is the message this week. Find your passion and share it with those around you like one candle lighting another. Passion engages. Passion motivates. Passion survives the moment. It is the difference between delivering a message from your head and from your heart.

Be willing to shed the “tin man” exterior and show your heart.

Why did you get into this business? What sets you apart from your competitors? Uncover what makes you unique—technicians refer to a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)—and uncover the passion that resides there.

Your action this week is to tap into the well of passion that lives within you and craft the language that exposes and highlights it. Here are three questions to get you started.

  • What can you say about yourself and your business that your competition cannot say?
  • How does your work fulfill you?
  • What element of your work do you most enjoy and why?

Don’t stop there, though. Dig deeper and you will connect with your world in profound and lasting ways.

© 2017 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

August 6, 2017 at 3:56 pm

Posted in communication, HowTo