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With a Little Help For Your Friends

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“Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” ~~Albert Einstein

I considered using the famous quote from The Three Musketeers by Dumas, specifically, “All for one and one for all” to open this week’s entry. It is also appropriate and reflects how a Master Networker, like you, is ready to back up your business partners when the opportunity presents itself. Trust me, they always do.
We talked about ten traits to develop in week seven. The bottom five include:
6: Commitment to networking 24/7. Master networkers are always tuned in…
7: Gratitude. The more you do this the more chances you will have…
8: Helpfulness. Master networkers actively seek out solutions…
9: Sincerity
10: Dedicated. The master networker is dedicated to working their network…
These five traits are wonderfully combined in this week’s strategy. The cornerstone is sincerity and integrity. If you do this just to gain a competitive edge, you will not have the success as it is designed. It is far better to wade in and help someone without keeping score. A friend of mine refers to this is NATO-Not Attached To Outcome. Golf certainly benefits from this attitude on some weekends.
In two weeks I will elaborate on reading the newspaper with the Giver’s Gain mindset. For now, consider many things that affect your business partners directly and have no apparent impact on you. These can include regulations, construction, events, etc. to simply name a few.
Let’s say that a local government initiative is underway to change how a strategic partner’s business is run. Imagine that the state board is holding a public hearing to discuss requiring that Realtors pay for property staging service. Right now, your Realtor friends may or may not use staging services, as needed. Some pay for this by building it into their fee. Others recommend the benefit and let the buyers negotiate directly with the stager. For others, staging is not likely to have significant impact on the transaction or not welcomed by the buyer.
If you see that the board will hold hearings about this you can mobilize your support by writing a letter to the editor of your local newspaper about this. You can also send that letter to trade journals that are Real Estate specific and send a copy to every Realtor and Mortgage Broker you know. You can do the same for other professionals that work closely with these experts—such as Closing Attorneys, Home Inspectors, and so on. Home Stagers, too.
Again, check your motivation against the list of five traits above. If you do not have a strong opinion about home staging, do not dive in. If you are only doing this to shine the spotlight on yourself, do not join the fray. If, however, you feel strongly that this would have an impact and feel your voice will add value then dedicate yourself to the cause.
When professionals see this some will call to thank you. This is a great time to deepen the relationship and influentially make referrals to other professionals that can enhance the Realtor’s own Power Team.
We will go a little deeper in this arena in two weeks and your action this week sets you up to gain more benefit now and then.
First, figure out what your partners are reading—their trade journals. That is an easy question to ask and also stay tuned in while in their offices, in their cars, meeting them outside, too. Certainly, align their interests with your own. If you don’t care, don’t bother. When you do care, however, the passion will motivate you and cement your relationship, as well.
Second, once you have some background and find an issue that matters to you, ask your strategic partners if and how it might affect them. The process alone is valuable. Once you uncover an issue that resonates take the third step and offer to write a letter on behalf of their industry. One for all and all for one.
© 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.
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Written by bniguy

November 5, 2017 at 9:47 am

Follow Your Dollars

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“If you go to work on your goals, your goals will go to work on you. If you go to work on your plan, your plan will go to work on you. Whatever good things we build end up building us.” ~~Jim Rohn

My parents used to joke when I was a kid that we built our dentist’s new office. Braces were expensive, after all. Seriously, though, I am sure you have some businesses you support on a regular basis—veterinarian, auto repair, eyeglasses, lawn care, and so forth. When was the last time they returned the favor and sent you any business?

This is actually easier than you might imagine but is not without some effort on your part.

The first thing to do is actually assess the scope of the opportunity available to you. Rather than trust to memory I highly recommend you get your checkbook(s) and credit card statements and start working through them. Take the last six months as a representative sampling. You can add older, bigger ticket items later.

For each vendor (especially the personal local ones although grocery stores and power companies are worth considering, as well) fill out the following details:

  1. Name (business/contact)
  2. Frequency (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc)
  3. Monthly amount
  4. Annual amount
  5. Five year amount

A monthly hair stylist at $40 per visit is $480 per year. How long have you been going? Five years? That is $2400.

You can see that this will add up quickly so do this for every business you work with. Armed with this you can move to the next step.

Many of these businesses would be willing to work with you; they just do not have a system or viable method. This is where you must be creative and find that solution for them.

Again, this is easier than it might appear. Look through your list and tackle those you do the most with and have the best rapport with.

Here are a few examples to get you started. Certainly, post any other ideas you have, too, to help others.

Let’s start with a Financial Planner that regularly uses the hairstylist (and looks successfully well-groomed as a result, by the way.) How can these two work together? As a customer, what does the Financial Planner do when in the chair? Read, watch TV, chat. Here is an opportunity—if you can see it. I recommend that the Planner meet with the Stylist away from the salon where they can talk. It might be good to actually buy them coffee (or lunch) and recap the relationship before pitching the idea. Here is a possible scenario.

Dawn: Thank you for joining me. I wanted us to get away from the salon to talk business. I have enjoyed being a client for the past five years and was very glad to refer some of my clients to you, too. I wanted to ask if you would be willing to help support my business, as well.

Carol: I very much appreciate your business and the referrals. What do you have in mind?

Dawn: As a client I receive your quarterly newsletter and see that you have local businesses advertising in there. Would you give me space for a year?

Carol: Gladly, Dawn. The annual rate is $500.

Dawn: Actually, Carol, I was hoping you would do that at no charge in return for the referrals and loyalty over the years.

Carol: I have never thought about that before, but it makes sense. I am glad to give you the space. Is there anything else you would like me to do?

Dawn: As a matter of fact there is. Could I leave one of my newsletters in your waiting area?

Carol: Please do.

Smart business people can appreciate that reciprocity works both ways. If your Stylist (in this example) is reluctant you might want to reconsider a different service provider.

What could a veterinarian do for a carpet cleaner? The carpet cleaner brings her pets to the vet and many of the vet’s other clients have animals that make a mess in their homes. The carpet cleaner could regularly clean the vet’s lobby. The veterinarian could include an occasional (or even regular) article on carpet care in his newsletter—written by the cleaner. The carpet cleaner could leave brochures and business cards in the lobby. The vet could sponsor a fundraiser or other event. They could share a business expo booth together. The possibilities are endless.

Your action step this week includes two components. First, do the analysis of where you are spending your money. This is great for budgeting, anyway. Then, brainstorm all the ways you can work with your biggest vendors and commit to approaching three over the next week. This is a strategy with a lot of upside potential.

© 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

October 29, 2017 at 2:47 pm

Elementary, my dear Watson

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“Every man at the bottom of his heart believes that he is a born detective.” ~~John Buchan

Continuing with the importance of communication think of yourself as a detective. Questions are your best resource. Listen much more than you talk. My friend, Marty Clarke, wrote an excellent book entitled Communication Landmines which goes into this in much more depth.

In this post I simply want to point out three main communications errors we all make and often experience. Master these and your networking skills will soar.

The first major problem is talking too much. We’ve all experienced this from the receiving end and felt trapped. Once you got locked in how much listening did you do after that? Most likely your attention was turned to finding an exit or trying to figure out how they are breathing or just focusing on the pattern their spittle makes. When the other person talks too much it is a horrible experience. That said, we are also guilty of the same mistake at least once in our life. As a detective turn your attention to assessing when the other person is starting to experience these symptoms. They start to avoid eye contact, begin stepping backwards, look over their (and your) shoulder, yawn, glance (or stare) at their watch. As soon as you see any of these reactions immediately turn the conversation to them and ask a question.

More importantly how do you avoid this landmine? Practice and preparation are the best tools you have. There are a few questions you often get at networking events and you should be prepared to answer them quickly and completely. When I am on the phone I count my words and always try to get to the point in 25 or less. Try that the next time you are in a conversation over the phone (tick your fingers up one-through-ten and then back down ten-through-one and finally once more one-through-five. Stop and consider, “What was the point of the last twenty-five words?” If you are just getting to it—accept the fact that you are taking the long way home. Find the shortcuts and tighten up your conversation.)

The second common communication error is reliance on jargon. We talked about that in more depth last week so I won’t elaborate. However, this week’s action steps meet each of these head on and we’ll examine it more in that section.

The third common communication error is vagueness. Many of these posts address that, as focus and clarity are keys to your success. When you ask a Realtor who they would like to meet and get the answer, “Anyone looking to buy or sell a home” who did you think of? Is that the result you want when someone asks you the same helpful type of question? If the Realtor is more specific we can be of more help. “I specialize in empty-nesters. This is a great time to move into a home more suited to their lifestyle without kids.” About twenty words and I imagine you actually thought of someone. If you are an engaged listener you may ask for more clarification of the term empty-nesters. “Their kids have moved out or are in college.” The more specific you are the wider the listener’s mind opens. In fact, if you know exactly who you want to meet this is an excellent shortcut, very appropriate for business-to-business clients or strategic alliances for any provider. A business banker may have a competitive rate to offer and knows of an automotive company looking to expand. She asks for Woody Toe, the owner of a local auto body shop noting that, “Our bank understands automotive equipment leasing and we work well with repair shops like Woody’s”

This week’s action involves meeting each area directly. First, develop a one-minute or less response to the following questions (from two weeks ago—repeated here.)

  • Who is your target market?
  • What sets you apart from your competition?
  • What is your most popular product (or service?)
  • What is new in your business?
  • Why did you choose to go into your profession?
  • What do you like best about what you do?
  • What is your biggest challenge?
  • What do you do?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Where are you located? Why there? If you could choose a perfect location, what would it be?
  • How do you generate most of your business?

Second, eliminate jargon. Create two columns and list every term you use (trust me; your company literature is rife with it.) Look for terms like full-service, turnkey, small business, and so on. Develop layperson language and simplify it so a twelve year old could understand it.

Third, write out a complete referral request identifying the person you want to meet—listing their company, department, title, and industry. I recommend doing as many of these as you have target markets. Once written, then practicing asking from the specific to the general, just as the banker example above.

© 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

July 30, 2017 at 5:37 am

Breaking (and Making) Bread Together

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“Everything should be as simple as it is, but not simpler.” ~~Albert Einstein

One of the most valuable times in every networker’s week is meal time. This is a wonderful part of every day when we can relax with someone over food and really get deeper into a relationship or strategy. If you stop and think about how many meals we enjoy every year, the opportunity to maximize this is incredible.

Let’s look at the numbers.

We eat three meals a day every day for 365 days each year. That is more than 1,000. Let’s back that down to weekdays only (5 days per week and go with 50 weeks for simplicity’s sake) leaving 750. I recommend cutting that into thirds where one third is for your family, one third for yourself and non-business friends, and one-third for purposeful food encounters. Let’s simplify the math once more and convert 250 to 20 per month. That is basically one meal per working day. These can be breakfast, lunch, or dinner. I personally prefer one dinner per week and four breakfasts and lunches. That is, four dinners and sixteen others mixed. Some months it is twelve breakfasts and four lunches. Some months it is the reverse.

What is a purposeful food encounter? It is a planned event with just a few select people. They typically include 2-4 people and fall into one of these patterns: one-to-one, one-to-two, or two-to-two.

One-to-one sessions are level one gatherings with one other person to set strategy and further existing relationships. I find it most powerful to select a single target market or single aspect of your business offer and focus on just that. Talk about the problems your target prospects experience, what phrases or comments would indicate their experience with these issues, what solutions you can provide, what common objections they might have, and how to move the introduction along. You should also discuss strategic alliances, good and bad referrals, and the typical cycle you encounter in this arena. In the beginning of the process, this may be the only type of session you do and twenty or even forty of these purposeful meetings carry strong results. As well as setting the stage for the next level up.

Level two meetings are when the actual introductions are done. These are usually three or four people together and put either the strategic alliance partners together or the problem holders and problem solvers. This is to establish a new relationship by bridging the gap between these two parties using an existing relationship to introduce a new one.

Think of this as a triangle. Let’s set the stage. We have Matt Plastic who represents a credit card company that works very well with the restaurant industry. As you may recall we considered that in Week Three Find the Perfect Customer. Matt has a very good friend named Mary Shields, who is a Commercial Insurance Agent. Mary’s friend, Wolf Davis, runs a restaurant and is a client. Matt and Mary got together in an earlier meal meeting and Matt talked about how he helped restaurant owners. Mary looked through her client list and arranged a meeting with Wolf.

As you can see, this can become a very productive meal meeting. The parties that already know each other (Matt-Mary and Mary-Wolf) strengthen their relationships regardless of whether or not Matt-Wolf clicks or not.

Your action item this week is to start having these powerful meal sessions.

  • Look over your schedule and carve out twenty slots
  • Create a short list of potential partners
  • Rank by most valuable
  • Start inviting, start meeting

 

© 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

June 4, 2017 at 4:57 am

Make it so

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“The civil rights movement would experience many important victories, but Rosa Parks will always be remembered as its catalyst.” ~~Jim Costa

You have probably heard the expression about swimming out to your ship rather than simply waiting for it to arrive. This action-taking is catalytic.

How do you apply this concept in business? You can use catalyst events to foster introductions and establish relationships. These are especially useful for the more difficult introductions.

We have a National Hockey League team in town and they play more than three dozen home games. There are two Real Estate professionals that are fans and hold a few season tickets. They don’t sit together but are in the same general section. If one has a guest the other should meet they simply arrange to buy beer from the same kiosk at the end of the first period. What could be simpler?

You can do this with any activity you enjoy from golf to opera. I have a friend who teaches poker to small groups and this is a great way for the Mortgage Broker to meet more Realtors. It is also a good way for Realtors to meet more builders or for builders to meet more investors.

Bring people to something they would like to do and put them together with others they would like to meet. This is not a selling event or a training event or anything other than a social event. However, in this setting relationships have the opportunity to be established. That may or may not happen. If it doesn’t at least you enjoyed a good time and were able to thank someone important to you.

I have a Realtor friend that invites people over for frittatas every Easter Sunday. Over the past twenty-three years these have become signature events and many people look forward to this every spring.

This week’s action is to start the process in your life. Think of an event you enjoy, invite a few others, and start adding this to your occasional activities.

 

© 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

May 28, 2017 at 5:14 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?

 

© 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

April 16, 2017 at 5:23 am

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.

© 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

April 9, 2017 at 3:51 pm