Cricket, Rugby & networking

I was enjoying a conversation with Sam. He’s excited by the prospects of winning new business through his new-discovered network.

 I want to be an achiever Charlie. If we’re achieving through sales then we’re contributing to the success of the business, right?

Admirable Sam, but to achieve, we first need to understand the process. 
A tenuous example may be the game of cricket, Sam.

No, that’s not for me, what’s that about Charlie?

OK, one team scores as many runs as they can with the bat, while the opposite team tries to stop them by hitting their stumps with the ball, catching them out, or at least restrict the run rate. At ‘half time’ they swap roles and go again. At the end of the allotted time frame, the team with the highest amount of runs goes on and wins the game. Simple, eh?

If I could be bothered to understand it Charlie … runs?

Exactly, O.K. Sam, Let’s try Rugby.

I know you appreciate a good game and so you understand that for each different opponent we have a plan.

The aim is to be victorious, get a result by following a game plan. The entire team understands that the result is important, BUT there needs to be a plan. In Rugby, if you keep the ball long enough through team skills, you infiltrate your opponent’s territory. Keeping possession of the ball and utilising skills that enable your team to move the ball beyond the final defender, you score points. If we repeat this more than the opposition, we win.

By thinking process, we win the game, we get the result.

I’ve got that Charlie … but what’s it got to do with networking? Or business?

Sam, if we understand the game and the process by which we can achieve a win, then we can make an impression.

Networking is much maligned at times. We see people come and go because they don’t spend time understanding the process. They’re after a quick fix.

As in any team environment, networking is about developing an understanding. People gravitate to those of a like mind, they connect, then the relationships begin to flourish as trust develops.

Good partnerships take time, results come when everyone in your network has an understanding of the process, just like Cricket, or Rugby …

It’s a start.

If I had one piece of advice to offer anyone starting out in business today, it would be to value the people in your network.

Network = your contacts. Grow the network, to encourage the opportunity.
If I lost all my money today and my assets were gone, if my customers walked away I know that I’d be OK. I’d survive, start again and flourish because I have good relationships with those who I know well, share similar interests, trust.

You see, it’s been my experience that people will get us to where we wish to be. If we only take the time to engage, converse and take part in the exchange of information.

We have today, after all, a huge choice of media options at our disposal. We’re able to like, comment, join or share … 

‘It’s a start Charlie.’  I hear what you say, sure, it’s a start.

But, how many starts have failed through the lack of following up? 

It’s my belief that if you wish to develop any meaningful business, there is only one avenue worth pursuing and that is to seek regular engagement.

So, on finding your potential business partner or customer, (even if it is via the like/share/comment, etc) why not show your intentions and ask for a meeting?
Even if that meeting is via the miracle of ZOOM.

Choose the opportunity that presented to you. Don’t wait, take the first step.

Nothing is more enabling, with the ability to deliver the results required than to be the one to instigate the meeting. To be in the company of someone who is in the market for your product or services and … who is interested in listening can be empowering … and isn’t that just one of the reasons we’re in business?

Seeking new markets, allies, and sales, there are occasions when we need to be the one taking the initiative.

It’s a simple fact that the potential new customer won’t know about you, learn of the opportunity from you, unless you ask for their time.

Social media is a great source of leads, but why stop there? Let’s show AND tell.

Turn the possible business into probable referral. Be bold enough and have the faith and confidence in your product or services to reach out for the conversation. 

The worst that could happen?  The prospect responds with “no, thank you.” 
“Although, I may know someone else who may be interested …”

Take the first step, join the conversation and develop the relationship, because people buy from people who they know, like and trust.

Rate your chances

I’m regularly asked why I continue to visit my network, meet with friends and their colleagues when I have stated on numerous occasions that I’m not looking to attract ‘just any, or all, kind of business.’

Not for me the ‘stacking them high to sell ’em cheap‘ kind of working.

The type of potential client I’m interested in meeting? 

He/she would aspire to offer the same profound benefit to their audience (their readers) as I aim to provide myself. 

You see, my work is to encourage the story from my customer, and of course, this takes time. Not everyone is ready to draw back the curtains, discuss life in detail and so work together with ANother to paint a picture, construct a story.

My type of customer is quite rare.

The person I’d like to meet would already understand that compiling an accurate depiction of their story takes, well, a good story starts with good relationships.  The exchange of information between both parties should be offered freely, the frequency of meetings should be regular.

On occasion, completing a story may take months, sometimes the book may take years to compile.  So why do I meet with my network on a regular basis?

Business is personal. It’s only by spending time together we have the opportunity to really understand each other …

Alternatively, I could trawl social media channels and ‘hoist a flag’ declaring something like … ‘cheap stories told here(!?),’ I’m sure that, eventually I’d be messaged by those attracted to my lure … but … chances are, I’d never get to put the kettle on, share a cup or shake the hand & break the ice in time-honoured fashion? 

Why do I reach out to my network? Because people buy from people.

People, not devices

Like me, I thought some of you might find the following tale of interest. It came from a friend of mine, Mike Salter:

The story went like this …

I spent an hour in the bank with my elderly dad, as he had to transfer some money. I couldn’t resist myself and asked …

”Dad, why don’t we activate your internet banking?’

”Why would I do that?” He asked… ‘

Well, then you wont have to spend an hour here for things like transfer. You can even do your shopping online. Everything will be so easy!’

I was excited about initiating him into the world of Net banking.

He asked ”If I do that, I wont have to step out of the house?

”Yes, yes”! I said. I told him how even grocery can be delivered at door now and how Amazon delivers everything!

His answer left me tongue-tied.

He said ”Since I entered this bank today, I have met four of my friends, I have chatted a while with the staff who know me very well by now. You know I am alone … this is the company that I need. I like to get ready and come to the bank. I have enough time, it is the personal touch that I crave.

Two years back I got sick. The store owner from whom I buy fruits, came to see me and sat by my bedside and cried. When your Mom fell down a few days back while on her morning walk, our local grocer saw her and immediately got his car to rush her home as he knows where I live.

Would I have that ‘human’ touch if everything became online? Why would I want everything delivered to me, forcing me to interact with just my computer?

I like to know the person that I’m dealing with and not only the ‘seller’. It creates bonds of relationships. Does Amazon deliver all this as well? Technology is useful, but it isn’t life..

Spend time with people .. Not with devices.”

~

Thank you, Mike. Please let dad know that we’re not quite ready to resume in-person networking just yet, although we’re still engaging the person, making the connections that matter, regularly via ZOOM.

~

If you’d like to join the business conversation, you can do so by going to Eventbrite for further details: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/northumberland-weeklybiz-tickets-165537028709

Comes a time …

A question during conversation …
Know anyone Charlie?

I offered Jenny the details of a local business funding program she was looking for. Why not contact them Jenny, this could help you, a grant that offers 20% of the investment planned. 

I’m not sure Charlie, I mean, I’ve enough business ticking over just now … 

But ‘just now’ is not enough, right? 

Correct.  Trouble is, I’m frightened that by investing in more staff and services means that I’m going to expand my market. 

So, is that so bad Jenny? 

That’s the trouble, Charlie. I’m not entirely sure that expansion, growth, is something I’m ready for. 

I’d known Jenny for a little while. During the past twelve months, she’d seen a strong surge in demand in her craft and tutelage, all driven by the current tendency for home working.

Jenny’s concern was that the supplementary services she had planned might be premature. Especially now, given the likelihood that ‘normal’ business practice, being back at the office, may resume sometime soon.

Jenny, you are the business. It’s a big step considering expansion, although if you want my advice? 

Go on, Charlie, what’s your plan? 

Think about why you started in the first place. Where do you see your current situation in your original plans?  You’ve found that life presents you now with an opportunity to take the next step in the process.

So, my advice? Find out what your customers want and give it to them. Repay their existing faith in you, and show them your intention of offering more. Trust your choices and your ability to fulfill your own and your client’s ambition.

Jenny then took some time to consider my view. She consulted and listened to her customers, seeing whether they would support her plans. She also talked to both her employees, who were more than excited by the news. Positive news all-round.

New sales? Seeking is the driver of new business. It’s through conversation, communication, by reaching out, that we’re putting more lines in the water.

At the same time:
“More business is lost through indecision than is lost through making the wrong decision.”

Keep seeking

The above photograph is one of Captain James Cook’s monument.


It stands in memory of a man who, along with many others travelling with him, circled the globe pushing boundaries.

Even with the modern tools of today, sailing the world once is no mean feat. But casting off three times, in the 18th century!?

Why?

Because seeking is a driver …

Cook was looking for what was new. What he discovered was already there. He and his crew came across wondrous new lands, rich cultures that had existed for hundreds, if not thousands of years.

Yet the way us, as species and individuals look at boundaries … both inward and external, means we’re driven by the need to push further and explore.

This is no difference in the realm of our faith. What we believe often leaves us with more questions than answers. This is what pushes us forwards to explore further. The validation of what we seek.

Questions are tools. They offer clarity.

My experience tells me, just as I reach what I think I’ve have been looking for, a new horizon opens up. Choices materialise, possibilities then become many.

Whether in the business of discovery like Cook or reaching out to new friends, life is a journey of faith we are all embarked upon. By using the tool of conversation, seeking dialogue, we’re seeing past barriers, where there are no boundaries.

There’s no turning back when our faith tells us there are always open doors. Keep the faith, keep seeking.

Shrink your circle …

the point is …

When you learn to network, you not only improve your career you also improve your personal life.

The best network marketers don’t just have amazing businesses and careers. They have incredible friendships and are always at the forefront of the line for new opportunities.

Networking is not about collecting cards and sending fancy emails anymore; there is more value in friends who share your interests than in bosses who do not have time to listen to your ideas.

For this reason, the key to successful networking is to achieve these points:

  • Figure out WHO matters most. Your employed programmer FRIEND may know who runs the business if you want a job.
  • Find easy ways to ENGAGE with people. For instance, you can share more ideas on Twitter than in an email.
  • Help yourself by helping others. People notice when you are doing good.
  • THINK PEOPLE, not position. True networking occurs when there’s an understanding between a group of people.
  • Support big sharks so good they can’t ignore you. When you are incredibly helpful to someone, they will be happy to help you back.
  • PEOPLE BUY FROM PEOPLE, because business is personal.

Here’s the link to the full message from Desiree Peralta

Creating memories

Or, the importance of great relations …

It seems like a lifetime ago … I and several friends were spending together at a little-known festival in Spain. We were there for several days of detachment, endless sunshine, and a little mischief amongst great company.

So it was with some delight I collected the call from Paul, one of those old-time friends. We spent the better part of the next hour reminiscing. We ‘chewed the cud’ and you know, the memories came alive. 

The catalyst? Common experiences and the desire to reach out. So by way of conversation, the good times were vivid once more.

Most of you following my story understand why I spend a generous amount of my time engaging close contacts. By ‘being there,’ living in the moment we all learn more, together we exchange views and begin to understand.

It’s through familiarity we develop trust, and when we do that, dialogue is so much more rewarding.

In Paul’s case, he called me to discuss a book he was writing, a memoir. He was collecting foundations for different stories, each was a chapter of his life. Each one brought together over the decades. It was to be a great story. After all, he had a least one chapter now (surely) locked down after connecting via a simple telephone call.

A best-seller for sure!

So, what if you have no intentions of writing down your story, (even though IMHO you should.) Why do we reach out?  

Networking is misunderstood by many. Certainly, those looking for instant gratification to their needs and wants often go away bewildered.

Each of us has a different view and so a different story.

The simple fact is, networking is about creating visuals, memories, developing stories over time, years, even decades.

Take time to engage in conversation, in dialogue and the benefits will soon be obvious. Your story means something, to someone.

People buy from people.

Helping out.

It’s right, don’t you think?  We shouldn’t have a reason to want to help anyone.
After all, by offering help to those who need it we’re somehow empowered … and I don’t mean empowered by indebtedness …

I don’t get that … “if you help me, I’ll help you” stuff. 

By empowerment, I’m meaning clarity. During these uncertain times, it’s easy to lose focus. I know many who have been so busy … staying busy, it’s come at a cost …

One eye on the timesheet, the other on the next ‘win,’ it’s easy to lose sight of that most important issue. Happiness.

For me, by spending time away from my own needs to offer support to someone else, I’m creating my own ‘space.’ I find clarity when problem-solving with friends.

Concentrating on solutions for others has a way of bringing about fresh thinking. It can even be cathartic. For some people though, it can be difficult.

Chris was a fine example. Among other things, he supplies cut, dried & bagged firewood, delivered to the door. Like many of us during social distancing right now he’s finding it difficult to make ends meet. The situation recently had become debilitating and he couldn’t see the way forward. Chris had become enveloped in the business.

It was ‘by the school gate’ that Jane told his story. It turns out, Chris wouldn’t accept his best friend Jane’s help. He didn’t want to appear to be ‘reliant on his partner.’

Keyword above?

Partner.

Chris and Jane did eventually prioritise and discuss the way forward – together. They sat down and spent time planning, they helped each other out. Chris talked, Jane listened, they both agreed on a solution and now they’re moving forward.

Helping others by having a conversation? 
That’s my kind of therapy. People buy from people.

Collaborative conversation

%d bloggers like this: