It’s on the nose!

I’ve had a great morning, just cleaned the wheely ‘garbo,’ the bin. Treated her to a …

disinfectant and hose, she’s a little on the nose.’

Working at home is like that, isn’t it? I mean, it’s the flexibility …. we get things done when we want, we schedule stuff in like a walk with the dog, a leisurely breakfast perhaps or a visit to the beach before the day even starts.

Routines are good although being accountable, working alone and the routine for self-preservation, planning to make a crust can take some doing. A little balance is needed so I tend to work well in advance and ensure my diary is up to date. How about you?

Mulling over forward plans the night before is good for me. I do have a tendency to revise my ‘stuff,’ including the plan for the following day and it’s just as I’m falling asleep, evening peace and clarity brings some surprisingly good results.

Holes in the net?

The regular meeting I was due to attend this morning had been planned months in advance. A dozen or more like-minded souls from the Weekly Business Network are looking to put down roots for new referral forum. It has shown great promise.

Today though I awoke early to find that a half of the regulars had other ‘things’ planned. One was a family welfare call (fair play) always family first! Another couldn’t face the walk(!) someone else had taken a last minute order she needed to fulfil while another suggested it was going to be impossible to stop the car between regular appointments.

Couldn’t stop the car? For our appointment?

So with a net that had so many holes it was a no-brainer that any messages I’d planned during introduction were going to be lost this time ’round, and so I made decided to contact our featured speaker, advising him of our postponement to his presentation, did the same with the caterer, the venue and followed-up with our intended guests …

It’s great to get up early’ I thought to myself.

Networking. The regular contact with like-minded business owners is a great way to show your colours, your intention … a great opportunity to enhance the reputation, don’t you think?

It’s our choice. We can come up smelling roses or if you’re not careful the scent may be a little more repugnant. Think wheely bin … you may need a spring clean.

Reputable, reliable, referable

Is he reliable Charlie? Ben asks.

Do you know him well enough to refer him??

Fair questions. I thought for a single moment and realised that this time, I just wasn’t sure of my answer…

All in business have had times of dilemma, finding the reliable trading partners, co-workers and suppliers are part of that conundrum. Yes, there is an abundance of reputable offerings … but are they reliable?

I consider myself lucky that I have made some fantastic, trusted long-time connections through networking. We seem to ‘sing from the same hymn sheet.’

Similar to what was being asked of me now, think yourself, what characteristics would a potential business partner or supplier need to possess? There’s a good chance you’ll come up with a list of attributes (nearly) similar to the following …

Is there evidence of:

Like-mindedness

Product knowledge

Empathy

Not forgetting, a reputable name?

Connections

Reliability

What makes them so referable, to you?

Personal recommendation. Reputations are built on them.

You may be given an introduction to a wholly reputable business, someone who fits the bill, an organisation that tick’s all the boxes, even drinks your brand of coffee, but if that connection is more a ‘maybe’ instead of a clear yes/no kind of outfit then chances are, you’re going to hesitate in referring them.

There are many reasons we buy into our professional network and each of us has our own prerequisite when choosing to work with someone.

Personally? It’s reliable. If we’re unable to count on our supporters to be with you when it matters, then they’re certainly not referable.

So in answer to Ben? Sit down, take a minute, share cake and get to know what works for you both.

Why pay me?

Hey, I can do better than that, why should I pay you?

‘Why should I pay you, when I know I could produce the same, just as well, if not even better than you?’”

Friends, do you ever have one of ‘those’ days where everyone seems to be the expert with an opinion?

The following excerpt came via a recent conversation with Tracey Bloxham, Tracey is a highly reputable photographer and a friend of our Friday forum.

I’d barely broken a sweat this Monday morning (what is it with Monday?) when this particular local wise-ass, know-it-all surfaced. He also happened to be a new client.

Let’s identify him as ‘the WAKA.’

I went ahead and offered ‘wise ass know it all’ use of my preferred tool of trade, the latest Nikon (very expensive) DSLR.

‘Please, take the camera, ideal for the interior portraits you called me in for. See if you think you can use this Mr WAKA.’

Nah, far too complicated, besides I’m supposed to be in the picture.”

‘Take the camera, let’s see your skills.’

No, don’t bother, photography is not my trade, besides that’s why I’m employing you.”

Correct.

You have asked me over to visit your home on a Saturday to take portraits of your family. You know I am qualified, I’ve had 20 years experience with plenty of recommendations.

I haven’t the time to do the job myself, besides …’ began our friendly WAKA.

‘Yes, I know, you’re supposed to be in the photo …ok, so you book me here (I continued) to spend 4 hours of my time with the skills I’ve honed and developed over years in my professional industry, skills and time that you simply do not have …

I know I do ‘rant’ at times although our WAKA needed to know this so I went on…

You see, when we engage or pay for professional services, we’re not simply buying the product. We buy the person who is celebrated for what they do. We buy solutions. Someone with the skills and craftsmanship that we don’t necessarily have or which we are unable to use efficiently ourselves.

Beware the WAKA folks, they could cost you your sanity at the very least …

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 …

the memory hook

Whether you realise it or not, you already know a lot about memory hooks. You’ve been using them consciously or unconsciously since you were small…

images

For instance:

When you were in primary school, what was your best friends nickname?

Where were you when “Thriller” was being played?

Who you think of whenever you hear someone say ‘Ehhh, what’s up Doc?’

Or ‘Wassup’ or ‘Didn’t he do well?’ or even ‘Beans meanz Heinz,’ or maybe … ‘people buy from people’ etc., etc.

Mere fragments of phrases, jokes, songs and rhymes remind us of people, places and events we’ve seen or experienced and of course these stay with us for years.

 

What makes A Good Memory Hook?

The key word in ‘Memory Hook’ is ‘Memory.’

If it’s going to work the way you want it to, therefore for it to pop into your prospects mind whenever the need for your product or services arises, it has to be easy to remember. The best way to make it memorable is to make it vivid – and short!

Short is not hard to work out why, one snappy phrase or short sentence is all you need.

Anything more is only wasted, it can also get in the way – we need to have our audience readily able to repeat this back at call …

 

For example, which of the following is easier to remember?

“The items available for purchase during the ‘special sale’ are the ones that are on display beneath this sign.”

Or …………

“What you see is what you get.”

 

A good memory hook – See it, hear it, feel it … remember it!

Lead, or referral?

We’ve been there before haven’t we? You know, those situations when you say to yourself …

“I should really do that now – otherwise I’ll never get it done…”

My dear ‘other half ‘ reminisces daily … what Sue had forgotten today Sue was adding it to the mental list for tomorrow. I invariably chuckle at dear wife’s expense until recalling a story from a while ago …

Belonging to an active business community is a great resource. Especially so for the SME or self employed and for so many reasons. The instilled importance of supporting your like-minded colleagues takes a little while to sink-in for some although when it does, the ‘passion’ never leaves you.

Anyway, I too reminisce, I’d got to know Michael well through business and he was looking for a connection to ‘a local serviced office,’ it was a specific request for referral.

‘I know such a place that might be good for you Michael, here’s the address …it might be worth checking it out.’ I’d suggested.

My short journey from office to our network Forum was a weekly event, the same one I’d undertaken on numerous occasions. Same route, past the local recreation space, down the parade of traders, through the estate of industry, the local offices. I even had the same breakfast radio program playing on most occasions as I thought about breakfast itself. Absorbed.

It was the same journey for networking each week. The same deal, attend the meeting, meet up with the community, hear the requests and the pitch for business, engagement over a quick coffee and back to the car and back to the routine. Take some calls, windows up, radio on and route 1 to the office.

Then one morning – Michaels’ particular morning in fact, things were different.

Michael had requested a specific need.

My response … ‘here’s the address, check it out’ isn’t really what referrals are about. Is it?

Sure I had passed Michael a hint at business (lead) but to really help a friend out, I needed to go one step further and I now decided to do it. Not later, now. I’d take action today. So I found myself taking a minor diversion ‘en route to the routine’ and parked the car right outside that new office build I had mentioned to Michael.

I approached the reception. Asked for the proprietor and after introductions I passed him Michael’s card with brief details and suggested that Michael would be happy to help with any ambitions for growth some time whenever suits. Would he be happy to take a call from Michael?

On leaving our prospect I called Michael to confirm my action, suggesting ‘that it would be good to give our friend a call, as he was expecting to hear from him.’

Next week I’d heard Michael had indeed met up with the prospect and that business was soon to be happening. Here was a happy colleague, someone I’d consolidated as a referral partner, a guy who was working with me for the future.

I was happy also, I’d broken the routine and instigated change to make something happen.

“Working on the leads and turning them into referral is what so often transforms an ‘average’ networking experience into a mutually rewarding one.”

I’d gone that extra mile, how about you?