Archive for November, 2011

Two Key People For Success

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

4559454-two-keys-on-a-ringOnly two types of people matter when it comes to connecting yourself or your business: 1) your ideal prospects and 2) your referring sources.

The trick that turns all business development into success is to know exactly whom you need to connect with in order to maximize your time and income.

1. Prospects

This includes anyone who has a need and a budget you can serve.  It sounds simple, but actually you may have more requirements than prospects do. We always think that we’re being judged when it comes to connecting and competing for business. In fact, you have a lot of thinking to do before you begin to develop business relationships, or re-start your business development campaign.

You might have several constraints that narrow down who would be your ideal prospect. For example, given your overhead and business expenses you may be able to work only with clients who have a budget of a certain size. Conversely some clients may be too large for you to successfully serve.  To manage large accounts, you might need administrative support you currently don’t have, or partners with whom you haven’t yet connected.

There might be geography involved as well. For example, you might not want to travel farther than a 50-mile radius from your location. While it’s fashionable to say no one needs to physically meet with anyone to do business with them: actually meeting may be a condition of your getting the first deal at least. For example, to provide a proposal  you might first need to walk a manufacturing floor, see the condition of a property or simply meet the staff you’d be evaluating or interfacing with. Sometimes, to really see if you’re with a real, trustworthy and motivated prospect, you simply need a face-to-face meeting before it makes sense to start a relationship.

So spend a lot of time developing the profiles of your ideal prospects. Exactly what are their needs, ranges of budget, demands on your time and attention, typical deadlines, types of deliverables and even their corporate cultures and communication styles? Decide what clients you serve best, and you can maximize your time and resources in business development. Of course, this works for job hunting and career changes as well.

2. Referring Sources

This includes anyone who knows anyone with a need and a budget you can serve. The surprising thing is most everyone you meet is a potential referring source. That’s because almost everyone knows someone who would be a perfect client for you, if you are able to articulate who is the perfect client for you. You only get referrals when you are able to crisply tell other people about the ideal clients you serve. Then add how you uniquely, competently and with great care serve these people and businesses.

The best suspects for giving you referrals are your current clients, your past clients or employers, and your own professional consultants including your accountant, bookkeeper, attorney, business coach and the like.

Overlook these people at your own peril

The most overlooked referral sources are the service people you patronize. For example, consider the person who cuts your hair. Almost everyone gets a haircut. It’s likely your ideal prospects are getting their haircuts from a professional hairstylist, including yours. Therefore, it’s likely your hairstylist has several ideal prospects for you. They are the people sitting in the same chair that you do, just getting their haircut at a different time or a different day.

Ask yourself: am I talking about the right thing to people who know me?

Here’s the other questions to ask yourself. Does everyone who know me, know exactly the type of client I serve well and that I want more of? Can my referring sources easily tell other people what I do and how I do it? Have I shared some simple to remember – and easy to repeat – success stories? Do I regularly speak in positive terms about my business and my business development goals? Would I be top of mind when my referring sources meet with people – or sit next to them at a holiday dinner?

Take advantage of holiday “down time”

Take one day at least to profile whom you want to do business with. Identify all the details about your ideal prospects. Use adjectives and descriptive phrases that make it easy for you and other people to recognize them. It’s kind of like creating the composite sketch that professional illustrators make for police when they are looking for a suspect and need help from the community to recognize and locate that person.

Once you know exactly what type of person or company you want to meet, make a list of everyone who can help you find these ideal prospects. Then, speak up! Use the gratitude attitude to make it not so “pitchy.”

Even when it’s not Thanksgiving, give thanks

Thank your referring sources, every time you bring up the topic of your business development goals. Here the trick: thank them for helping you – BEFORE they help you. That creates a need to in them to have earned your gratitude. And, what’s a better attitude than gratitude for all the new business you’ll be creating?

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Want More Business? Answer Your Phone.

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011
phone2-small_000To reach a department that is closed and doesn’t take voicemail, press 1.

To be re-routed to the wrong department, press 2.

For static over bad music while Google Voice screens your call and then drops it, just wait 10 seconds.

To get the message that you and your call don’t mean much, just leave a message at the beep.

Is that how it feels to do business with you? That’s hard work.

How hard? Like getting through the defensive line with its gargantuan force of weight crushing your attempt to move the ball forward. Like being the kicker who gets roughed up, after waiting through the time out and thinking about it.

Not into football? Okay, how about being deep underwater in scuba gear and having your air hose crimped. Like the way your shoulder feels when the butt of a rifle strikes it as the firearm discharges.

You get it. It is painful that people want to reach you to do business with you, and can’t do that easily.

Even vendors and sales representatives – who might have the one thing you can purchase to change the economics of your business for the better, deserve better.

Because my fields of expertise are communication and personal branding: I’m all about having people answer your phone. That’s right: people! A human voice. One that understands not only the language of your callers, but the culture as well. At least, the majority of them.

For right around the same price as two lattes a week, you could be in business. I mean, really in business. That means customers and prospects calling you on the phone, and your making money because they reached a person and not a machine. Could you go without lattes for a month, if that were the difference between getting clients or not?

When my reception staff can’t handle the calls coming into my office, we have an answering bureau that picks up the line – right here in Southern California. I’ve met most of the people at the bureau and they do their best, which is mostly to be human. They can text me, email me and even direct connect me (sometimes they do all three at my instruction).

Of course, because they are human, they are not perfect. But I bet on them because real people are a better bet than the losing game of voicemail. (BTW, it’s only when you really know me that you get my voicemail, but that’s a critical part of communications strategy for another day).

Personal brands, consider how far you are willing to go to have people remember you. When it really matters, get a vanity number – and one that is toll-free. Ask yourself: does it really matter that people remember me? Yes, it does.

Buy a phone number that makes a statement about your personal brand. It’s one of those branding touch points that’s also really inexpensive, but makes the statement that you are serious about being personal brand.

Go ahead and try it.

If you want to hear a sample of the sound of real voices – and maybe you want to discuss coaching – either becoming a coach or getting coached on personal branding: I’m happy to chat with you. A human being will take your message if you don’t reach me directly. Urgent? Let them know, they’ll get to me pronto.

As I say to my clients, the media and my audiences: just call 1-888-GO-NANCE.

What will you say about reaching you?

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The 9 Attitudes of Leadership

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

120px-9_tagOne of lingering fallacies about business is believing that Jim Collins is right. As the bestselling researcher-author of Good to Great and now, Great by Choice, Collins is pretty good at retrospectively interpreting what worked in the past for some businesses. But he’s not great at forecasting how they’ll do when the research project is complete and the book is published.

Turns out, if you follow the companies Collins called winners, they are now: not so much. Turns out Collins is a lot like the uncle you’ll soon sit next to at a holiday dinner. The one who tells you how great General Motors was before its CEO Robert McNamara started the Vietnam war.

Okay, that’s harsh. But, it’s the truth. Actually, that’s a good measure when judging whether something important is true. The truth probably hurts, or at least causes you to wince. If someone tells you the so-called truth, and your cheeks are blushing with how wonderful you are? It’s not the truth and it’s not going to help you succeed in this chaotic environment.

What does work in helping you predict the future, and more importantly deliver the greatest odds of succeeding in the nearly incomprehensible rush of problems and opportunities you face?

Your attitude is what really matters.

Not your skill set. Not your network. Not the number of business books you suck back and arm yourself with – or at least buy to fill up your Kindle or iPad.

I had a look back at a course from Dr. Moshe Rubinstein, the father of problem-solving, productivity and leveraging the creative forces that is your brain. Without trying to express how profoundly grateful I am to have found a moving box that included some of my coursework from the then UCLA Graduate School of Management (now Anderson), I will share what Rubinstein knew a long time ago.

The 9 attitudes that solve any business problem

  1. View a problem as a challenge, an opportunity for new experiences to expand your problem-solving repertoire.
  2. Focus on the present and future obstacles, and deal with those you can do something about. When obstacles appear to be insurmountable: question the goal, and if necessary, modify it.
  3. Pay attention to the distinction among facts, opinions and judgments. First get the facts, then interpret them. Don’t judge the facts before you do that analysis.
  4. Listen to experts, authorities and others you trust as if you will be required to take an exam on what they are saying. Don’t refute or judge what they say when they say it. Ask questions if you don’t understand, but don’t argue.
  5. Use reason not pride.  You will be tempted to distort the facts if you have to manage your ego rather than manage the problem-solving process.
  6. Don’t solve the problem too soon. Take every minute you can to gather and process information from sources. Don’t take more time than you can afford, but do not begin your evaluation and selection of a solution prematurely.
  7. Focus your attention on surmountable obstacles that block the way to a solution, any solution. Identify what can’t be overcome, and if a path still exists around those, then pick off the ones that remain.
  8. Expect that implementation of the solution will be harder than coming to it. You’ll undoubtedly need other people to implement. Educate them about the benefits of a solution, before you tell them what they will need to do.
  9. Believe you have control, because then you will. Even if you are wrong in fact, the perception that you have control will promote your ability to perform. Ask yourself if you have a choice, and if you answer honestly, you almost always realize that you do. Choice is control.

So no hedgehogs or foxes needed now or in the future, sorry Jim.

What Dr. Rubinstein documented about the power of communication? It is the greatest formula anyone ever devised about how you can get exactly what you want and more: from yourself and others.

Change your attitude; change your life.

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Did You Trick Anyone?

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

225px-Jack-o'-Lantern_2003-10-31As if you ordinarily invite us to see the real you, Halloween gave you the proper opportunity to pretend. That is pretend to try and fool us with your mask or costume.

At work I saw witches who believe they were wearing clothes becoming someone with a worse attitude. Ghosts who believe we don’t know they regularly hide from hard work. And, some French style maids who appeared in slightly more scanty clothes, basically wearing the same underwear that artificially pushes them in, up and out on the average Monday.

In other words, you’re not really fooling us the rest of the year. It’s just that Halloween gives you a little more permission to reveal yourself by pretending you are someone or something else.

The same is true on social media. You try to fool us, but we eventually know what’s really going on in your life.

On Facebook, I’ve begun a experiment that is pretty telling. Outside of my true friends, colleagues and former students, I am staying “friends” with people I really don’t know. I have about 500 stranger-friends, kind of like sister-wives.

As a trained sociologist now in business, I don’t have a better opportunity to watch a worldwide panorama of personal thoughts, societal mores and of course, what people photograph before they eat.

I don’t know if you’ve seen the same thing, but fundamentally I “see” people doing these things of social media:

  1. Love
  2. Hate
  3. Amuse themselves

The current social media formats allow such a simple typology, because there’s so little subtly in any post, or more properly put: so few characters allowed.

Look at your Facebook. You see mostly short bursts of:

  1. Love: Anything quoting Mother Teresa
  2. Hate: Anything quoting Herman Cain or Ron Paul about immigrants, the unemployed or poor people
  3. Amusing: snide truisms like “the grass is greener where you water it.”

No matter what anyone of us tries to be, social media will eventually reveal us for whom we really are. The same is true for any other communication over time.

A very close friend who’s a psychiatric nurse had a date with someone who looked like a legitimate prospect for the dreaded/longed for long-term relationship. When he didn’t call her again, she moaned, “How could he not like me? I was much better than I really am!”

The spooky thing is, we will eventually see you for who you are. Consider being you earlier and more often.

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