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The Fortune is in the Follow-Up

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“Action speaks louder than words but not nearly as often.” ~~ Mark Twain

We have all heard the title. How many have considered the impact and developed systems to assure compliance with this simple—yet key—concept?

If you recall Week Seven’s Take Inventory we found that the number one trait of successful networkers is to follow up. In some cases this alone separates you from the competition. Have you ever called trades people and never gotten return calls? When someone finally gets back to you they have a tremendous edge over the others. In fact, you would never willingly refer the others in order to protect your own credibility.

Some of your referral partners will test you in this area—and rightly so. Simply doing what you say you will carries tremendous benefit while failure to do the same carries an equal (or even heavier) damage-factor.

Regular follow-up after the initial event is also a differentiator. Everyone’s situation is unique (so tailor this to yours) but let’s consider a ninety-day follow-up plan over the first year of a relationship. If you work with someone this week—mid-May—then look for follow-up moments in early August, November, February, and May next year. If you consider this, the process is not difficult. All you need is a method you will actually use. Accordion files, hanging files, envelopes, electronic reminders…there are many ways to do this. The key, of course, is to actually pick one and follow it.

© 2019 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.
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Written by bniguy

May 19, 2019 at 8:19 am

Let us give thanks

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“Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.” ~~ Brian Tracy

Mother’s Day is today and an appropriate moment to consider the simple thank you card. In the fast-paced business world we inhabit, the handwritten thank you card is a dinosaur…and that is a fantastic opportunity for you to stand out from the crowd of emailers and Facebook-posters.

Let’s consider a few key points:

First, do you appreciate it when someone does a little something extra for you? Don’t you think you should thank them? Do you think that they would appreciate your note, too? I can’t imagine any answer but “yes” to these questions.

Second, how long do you think it would take to write, hand-address, hand-stamp, and drop off the note in the mail? Likely, it is far less than you think. A simple, three-sentence note may take two minutes to write, two minutes to address (if you need to look the address up online,) and two minutes to stamp and walk out to the mailbox. How the heck can you possibly find all that time?

Let’s start with the last step first. I imagine you receive your mail now and can probably post outgoing mail in the same trip. Therefore, if you mail everything once a day this is not an added step at all.

Addressing a card is pretty easy. Many business cards and websites include a mailing address. If not, the research using Google™ is not very complicated. Sometimes these options are not available or successful. In these cases making a simple phone call will solve it.

This brings us to the first part—actually writing the note itself. There are a few things to consider here.

First, who do you want to send a note to? You will probably find that there are more people you should send a note to than you do. If you take a moment and consider this I think you will agree.

Once you know who to thank (and by extension what to thank them for) then the actual words may be difficult to select. The easiest way to solve this is to go back to the moment and re-experience the feeling you had. “I was amazed. Your thoughtfulness made me feel very grateful. I was lost until you stepped in.” These words are easy and sincere.

Typically I buy 100 cards at a time and place a little “pull ticket” in when I am down to 25 to remind myself to replenish them. I used to just get them in twenty-packs at the office supply or department store. Now, I go online to thankyoucards.com and am able to create my own for a very reasonable price. Leave a little delivery time, though (that is why I start when I have twenty-five to go.)

Another good option is sendoutcards.com. I like this since it creates a “slicker” card and lets me replace my pathetic handwriting with something infinitely more legible. I created a personal font but it still looks like a ransom note so I prefer to use the “envelope” font (which is generic handwriting.)

I personally use Send Out Cards when sending a lot of the same type (often with different personal messages) to multiple people, like holidays or big events. I send out at the more unusual holidays, though, like St. Patrick’s Day, Groundhog’s Day, and so on. This represents about ten percent of my mailing effort.

The handwritten notes are for individual events. If you have some blank cards handy you will be surprised how often the time opens up. Bring them along to the next doctor’s waiting room. Have some ready while waiting to pick up the kids, the car from the repair shop, the ATM machine to open up, etc.

One last point. There is (almost) never a time to include your business card. If I promised someone my contact information I will handwrite it.

Your action item this week is to go buy some Thank You Cards and commit to send out three in the next week. Once you break the ice you will find this a valuable habit that moves your relationships forward, as well.

 

© 2019 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

May 12, 2019 at 7:12 am

Posted in communication, HowTo

Let us give thanks

leave a comment »

“Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.” ~~ Brian Tracy

Mother’s Day is today and an appropriate moment to consider the simple thank you card. In the fast-paced business world we inhabit, the handwritten thank you card is a dinosaur…and that is a fantastic opportunity for you to stand out from the crowd of emailers and Facebook-posters.

Let’s consider a few key points:

First, do you appreciate it when someone does a little something extra for you? Don’t you think you should thank them? Do you think that they would appreciate your note, too? I can’t imagine any answer but “yes” to these questions.

Second, how long do you think it would take to write, hand-address, hand-stamp, and drop off the note in the mail? Likely, it is far less than you think. A simple, three-sentence note may take two minutes to write, two minutes to address (if you need to look the address up online,) and two minutes to stamp and walk out to the mailbox. How the heck can you possibly find all that time?

Let’s start with the last step first. I imagine you receive your mail now and can probably post outgoing mail in the same trip. Therefore, if you mail everything once a day this is not an added step at all.

Addressing a card is pretty easy. Many business cards and websites include a mailing address. If not, the research using Google™ is not very complicated. Sometimes these options are not available or successful. In these cases making a simple phone call will solve it.

This brings us to the first part—actually writing the note itself. There are a few things to consider here.

First, who do you want to send a note to? You will probably find that there are more people you should send a note to than you do. If you take a moment and consider this I think you will agree.

Once you know who to thank (and by extension what to thank them for) then the actual words may be difficult to select. The easiest way to solve this is to go back to the moment and re-experience the feeling you had. “I was amazed. Your thoughtfulness made me feel very grateful. I was lost until you stepped in.” These words are easy and sincere.

Typically I buy 100 cards at a time and place a little “pull ticket” in when I am down to 25 to remind myself to replenish them. I used to just get them in twenty-packs at the office supply or department store. Now, I go online to thankyoucards.com and am able to create my own for a very reasonable price. Leave a little delivery time, though (that is why I start when I have twenty-five to go.)

Another good option is sendoutcards.com. I like this since it creates a “slicker” card and lets me replace my pathetic handwriting with something infinitely more legible. I created a personal font but it still looks like a ransom note so I prefer to use the “envelope” font (which is generic handwriting.)

I personally use Send Out Cards when sending a lot of the same type (often with different personal messages) to multiple people, like holidays or big events. I send out at the more unusual holidays, though, like St. Patrick’s Day, Groundhog’s Day, and so on. This represents about ten percent of my mailing effort.

The handwritten notes are for individual events. If you have some blank cards handy you will be surprised how often the time opens up. Bring them along to the next doctor’s waiting room. Have some ready while waiting to pick up the kids, the car from the repair shop, the ATM machine to open up, etc.

One last point. There is (almost) never a time to include your business card. If I promised someone my contact information I will handwrite it.

Your action item this week is to go buy some Thank You Cards and commit to send out three in the next week. Once you break the ice you will find this a valuable habit that moves your relationships forward, as well.

 

© 2019 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

May 12, 2019 at 6:40 am

Posted in communication, HowTo

Make a Difference While Making a Difference

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“Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.” ~~Napoleon Bonaparte

Do you remember the VCP model? Visibility is the first component to networking success and gaining visibility is the theme of this week’s post.

One way to increase visibility in a non-sales way is to volunteer. Find a cause that resonates with you. The key is to get involved. That is, be prepared to apply some of your limited time helping the organization motivate its members and meet its mission.

People do business with those they know, like, and trust. Volunteering is a way to expand on that. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. This week’s exercise—once begun—goes a long way towards demonstrating that.

Here is a five-step action plan:

  1. Consider what matters to you. Answer these questions:
    • What do you enjoy doing for yourself in your spare time?
    • What hobbies do you enjoy?
    • What sports do you know well enough to teach?
    • What brings you joy, satisfaction, and a sense of accomplishment?
    • What social, political, or health issue are you passionate about due to personal experience for you, your family, or friends?
  2. Find three organizations that address these areas and interest you. Choose the one that most appeals to you and research that group online.
  3. Once you find a crowd that aligns with your personal goals visit them in person.
  4. If that visit was unsatisfying, return to step 2 (maybe step 1) and find another candidate. If it was satisfying then consider if you want to commit your time and effort.
  5. If so, identify three members in the group to interview and assure you of the decision. I recommend three different tenures:
    • Brand new: When you join you can get involved together
    • Seasoned: Two or three years vested
    • Mature: Someone with five or more years

This process will, hopefully, be followed up by your involvement and leadership. The world can always use another pair of helping hands.

© 2019 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

May 5, 2019 at 9:25 am

Posted in HowTo, networking, volunteer

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 us are entrepreneurs and only have ourselves. 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 successful habits and the surest way to do that is with an accountability partner.

© 2019 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 28, 2019 at 6:03 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?

 

© 2019 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 21, 2019 at 5:49 am

Posted in HowTo

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 farmer 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.

 

© 2019 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 14, 2019 at 8:13 am