Plant with care

Plant with care, weed with purpose

Long ago I was advised I should be hanging on to those business cards … ‘you never know when it may come in useful.’

Trouble is, I’ve just taken a look at around 25yrs worth of hanging on to business cards and I’ve come to the conclusion that 60% of these need to go…

‘Have you reached-out?’ I hear you say.

‘Don’t wait for the business, drop them a line with an update … include them in your newsletter, stay in mind.’ Yes, yes and I hear you again… but no.

Hey, I’ve been there, done that and I’m not so sure today’s networker has intentions for the long-term. Taking the advice though, half of those I included in updates had moved on, or sadly died. Half again seem to be only ‘in it’ for the now, so no. I’ve new purpose.

These days there are a core bunch of connections with whom I have a natural affinity. I see most of them on a regular basis and I value their advice and support.

I’ve learned over the years to select your close connections and cultivate with care. I look past the commercial engagement and seek more intrinsic values. I’m happy now to be comfortable in my shoes, happy where I sit in this place. Is this so bad?

So selecting my mates, my business connections, those whom I am prepared to spend time with in getting to know and trust is important to me. These are the people I can count on ‘for the journey.’

‘So what happens when someone else reaches out to you, do you accept the invitation?’ I hear you ask.

Sure, we need to engage and be prepared to offer help when it’s required, I believe that’s part of human nature, although if in ‘follow-up’ (and we all follow-up, don’t we?) the communication is lost, then I’m a little more mercenary on with whom I gift my time these days.

For me, cultivating new connections in business is a little like gardening. I’m more prone to plant and care more selectively, I’ve also developed a passion for recovering the space taken up by anything/anyone simply coming along for the ride …

Innovation

In my business, I get plenty of questions. Mostly these focus on the difference. Innovation and how they can increase the level of business.

It’s something I ask myself on a daily basis. How about you?

If we’re not ‘on top of our game’ it’s very easy for business these days to find that they’ve become lost in the crowd. Even if we start out with all the right intentions, if we’re not aware of the needs of our audience, we soon find we’ve become one of a number of others producing the same service/product provision … and so guess what?

We need to focus on innovation. Diversity, innovation and timing are so important.

Sure, timing is something we can tune into, as learned business people it’s over time we come to understand the seasonal landscape and learn to pitch for the max reaction.

Now if we embrace diversity, if we consciously focus on that one special something that sets us apart from the rest … then put this into practice, this is where we become more successful.

Innovators themselves are on the lookout for innovation …

Be an innovator.

We’re tuned in, to listen out, so find your diversity and think ‘my innovation,’ be mindful and talk it up when that question inevitably comes …

‘What can you, do for me?

Lose the bad apple

The bad apple. When it comes to referral some of us are our own worst enemies, don’t you think?

I’m writing in business context here, my young friend Ben had told me about a referral that sounded promising. Naturally Ben was upbeat about the connection and as is good practice, he followed up right away.

It turns out, this referral wasn’t picking up the telephone, made excuses via email and over the course of a couple of days the opportunity petered-out.

Seen it before folks? Here was another example of fast-track to oblivion in terms of referral marketing. Who was going to refer such a person after speaking with Ben? It’s true, bad news does indeed travel fast via word of mouth.

I did my best to reassure Ben that not all of his networking efforts are deemed to go the same way although I could see he was disappointed.

Trust is so important, Ben knows this, he had already made some great contacts so he could move on.

It’s six months now since I began working with Ben and his family as they establish the ‘new generation’ and over that time we’ve managed to avoid the unreliable ‘apple,’ determined the USP, covered ‘The Plan’ and worked on our ‘top ten’ attributes developing the dependable referral network … how do they compare with your own?

Attitude Do you have one? Ensure that it’s the positive kind.

Enthusiasm. Just like attitude, it’s contagious and brings out the best during networking.

Good Listener. Be sincere, how do you know what others want unless you listen?

Sharing. Share the knowledge, the good news and more, develop the relationship.

Trustworthy. Build trust by trusting others, sit down and listen to those new contacts.

Showing Gratitude. If someone helps out – that’s a great reason to say ‘thank you.’

Enjoy Helping Others. Some don’t ask it, so make sure you do: “How can I help you?”

Work Their Network …be on hand to support your colleagues.

Recommend others. Then ask them to recommend you.

Follow Up On The Referral. Nothing poisons the relationship faster than not following up on your promises. (Just ask Ben.)

Hey Charlie, that guy doesn’t bother me. He’s his own worst enemy and as far as I’m concerned, I cannot afford to be associated with him.”

That’s understood Ben just like your colleagues in your referral network.

Less trauma, less stress

Most in business understand that reaching out to new customers is key to growing the business and certainly contributes to our own personal development.

Some though, find that engagement through networking can be stressful, traumatic and in some cases, less than profitable.

So we shall keep it simple. Let’s take the stress out of PTSD.

There are just the three essential ingredients in becoming successful when networking:

Preparation.

Know what it is you want, know your audience, understand what makes you different and be prepared to ask for referrals. Work on the USP before you start your network journey.

Timing.

Once you’ve prepared, be there. All the preparation comes to nothing if you are not prepared to step out and engage your potential next best customer. Be Miss (or Mr) Consistent. Sure ‘being there’ creates its own opportunity through luck … although remember, the practice is called netWORKing …

Delivery.

When the time comes to introduce yourself, do so with confidence in your abilities, boldly outline what it is you are looking for, people will love you for it, show sincerity, don’t forget to smile … and be willing to ask for the help you need.

That’s it, work on the fundamentals as you invest your time in people and others will start to invest their own time in you.

The outstanding multitude of magic ingredients? These become more obvious over time.

follow up … follow up … follow up …

 

‘How is business, Ben?’

Great Charlie, had a couple of enquiries last week which sounds just about right for business.

Fantastic – take a donut! What kind of work was that?

Well, nothing has happened just yet, I need to follow up.

Now I know many of you reading this would have been in this situation, and I don’t wish to sound churlish … but please follow up …

I shall when I get the chance Charlie, I’m rather busy just now …

Ben, put yourself in your referrers shoes, look at it this way … if the roles were reversed … say you asked someone to provide services or quote for provision. Would you take kindly waiting days for a response? How do you think this impacts the opinion other prospects may have of you?

Perhaps they’re thinking – or worse, talking: maybe Ben is too busy for more business? Perhaps he can’t handle our kind of enquiry … or worse – our business may not be suitable …

‘Maybe Ben is too busy for more business? Perhaps he can’t handle our kind of enquiry … or worse – our business may not be suitable …’

Ben, do it.

Think about it, you are working for referrals, on the lookout for leads that just may turn into business, it takes time. Then – as if by miracle, you are lucky enough to be handed an introduction to what sounds like ideal business, what is the first thing you do?

Follow up.

Ben, put the donut down and do it now … follow up the enquiry before the opportunity is lost, otherwise, all the time, energy and groundwork you have spent promoting your personal service have gone to waste.

Nothing undermines the relationship, the potency of a network forum more quickly than neglect.

Networking works, it’s simple, we pitch our interests, we develop the understanding, the relationships which lead to partnerships and trust and when the time is right we earn the opportunity for more business.

Follow up the business Ben, do it quickly and show your potential new client how you intend to fulfil their faith in you, how you intend to carry on.

It’s the reputation we are building Ben …

Now, I understand

I know what he’s thinking, I understand now.

How often have you thought to yourself … I know, just by looking into their eyes, what he or she is thinking, by simply observing body language.

Have you ever said to yourself:

 ‘I wish I had the words?’

Only to find out that none were required, a simple action was enough. Whether that’s a nod or a shake of the head, we understand on an intimate level at times where words are simply not required.

This moment of telepathy usually occurs with those you know particularly well. It may be a partner, child or even a pet and more often than not this moment of instantaneous understanding between humans is overlooked as simply ‘co-incidence.’

Wouldn’t it be fabulous if world leaders could communicate, engage and mutually understand through telepathy? If people had the time and ability to express how they truly felt if the population could send messages straight to the top without the diatribe and red tape that confines the clarity of sanity…

Fleeting moments of profound communication are wonderful for the soul and are just as essential for the business to understand don’t you think?

So, Ben had been having troubles with his presentations. Or he thought he was having trouble … he felt the message just wasn’t coming out of his mouth.

‘So much to say and unable to say it.’

Take your time to deliver Ben, be specific when offering the message, presentation jitters come to all of us at some point and although we have not yet mastered the telepathic message as some have with text or email, once people understand that you are comfortable and wholly committed to your cause, your message will soon become clear.

It is then we find that people do business with who they understand, those they know, like and trust … almost telepathically.