The opportunities to meet others are endless, starting with BNI, and on to chamber events, power lunches, coffee, seminars, before hours, after hours, during hours, open houses and ribbon cuttings. We all look for ways to connect with people, we look for ways to help others either through our business or by making introductions to others. Through all the networking we do, we need to remember the words of Dr. Ivan Misner, “It’s not net-sit or net-eat; it’s net-work.” Because its work, we should look first at our goals. It is important to have a goal of what you want to achieve. It could be about meeting potential clients, building alliances, or establishing credibility. Once you know your goal then you need to work on a plan on how you will achieve it and what your time commitment is to this goal. Without a plan we can easily find that networking quickly turns into not-working. Another characteristic of net-working is to know the costs associated with networking, the cost of membership, but also the cost of your time – time is a finite resource – you can’t get more, so how you invest it matters. And finally we need to treat networking with the same energy we put into the other work we do. Focusing on the person we are with, attention to the details, look for ways to add value, great communication, and follow up. Your challenge: whether here at BNI or another event, set your goals, have a plan, and stay focused when net-working.
This is perhaps the most powerful question we can ask in business, Lets take a look at why. Starting with the HOW, in the HOW can I help you? We are looking for specifics, details, instructions on what we can do to be of service, to assist someone in their cause. We want clarity on exactly how someone would like us to be of help to them, no guessing, no missing the mark – we want to know. Next comes CAN, in the How CAN I help you? We want to put ourselves in a position where we are able to extend ourselves, where we are in the position to lend a hand, we want to know the circumstances that are a natural for extending ourselves to others. I, In the How can I help you? This is about me, all about me, being in the right circumstance, in the right frame of mind, in a position of power that allows me to extend myself on your behalf and make a recommendation, provide some insight, make a connection. It’s about me taking action. HELP, in the how can I HELP you. We are looking for ways to lend a hand, we want to play a supporting role, to be truly helpful to you in moving your business forward. Offering help is about making it easier for someone else, providing assistance. And finally YOU, how can I help YOU? When we make this offer, when we ask this question, we are solely focused on the other person and what would benefit them. The focus on you is about giving without expectation of receiving, or as we often refer to it as givers gain. Your challenge: the next time you are working with a power partner, dancing with a fellow BNI member, or working with a client – ask the powerful question How can I help you? And then sit back and listen carefully to the answer.
Being consistent is critical to both short term and long term success. If you want on-going success than doing something once just doesn’t cut it.
- The word consistency means doing something the same thing time and time again.
- To create a predictable routine, that generates the same results.
- To do something in a systematic way on a regular basis.
- The absence of contradictions.
You don’t have to be at a business event to network. People are everywhere. You meet them at your kids sporting events, at church, at the gym, at the store, in line at the bank or the waiting at the deli. You never know who you might meet and where. When you get used to saying a friendly ‘hello’ you just don’t know where it might lead. People do business with people they like so being friendly and conversational can be the first step, especially when there are no expectations. Getting used to starting conversations with complete strangers as you wait inline or sit in the bleachers at a game opens you up to a realm of possibilities. As you chat them up you can often learn something about what is going on in their life, you might even be able to make a connection for them to a realtor, a plumber, or a local retailer. You will likely find that most people are more than happy to talk but are reluctant to be the one to break-the-ice and start the conversation. Take the initiative and you will find you make a lot more friends, connections, and possible leads for your business. When the conversation inevitably comes to explaining what you do, make sure you’re crystal clear and can tell a story. People like to hear stories, if they can be entertained or can relate to story they are more apt to make a connection with you. When two people are in close proximity, there is a natural desire to interact. At the same time people do not like to make the first move because they think the other person wants to be left in peace. As a conversation starter you’ll find that most people are happy to have someone to help pass the time of day. YOUR CHALLENGE: The next time you find yourself standing in line, say a friendly hello and ease into a conversation with someone around you.
Sometimes we forget that there are three people involved in every referral.
- First, there is the Referral Source, often a close friend or colleague, sometimes known as the trusted advisor, or maybe known as simply as the person who ‘has a guy’.
- Second, there is the person receiving a referral, the Referree, or maybe referred to as simply the ‘lucky one’.
- And last but not least there is the Referral, the person or business that is being referred based on a need or a perceived need by either the Referral Source or the Referral Target.
During difficult economic times service matters more than ever. Let me tell you why… When times are good, people make decisions quickly and sometimes don’t notice your efforts. In tighter times, people move more cautiously, and notice every extra effort that you make. When people buy during an economic downturn they are extremely conscious of the “hard earned” money they spend. Customers want more attention, appreciation and recognition for their purchases, not less. In tough times, people talk more with each other about saving money and getting good value. “Positive word of mouth” is a powerful force at any time. In difficult times, even more ears will be listening. Be sure the words spoken about your business are good ones. Giving great service in tough times makes good business sense. So how do you actually achieve it? Here are a few simple ideas you can use…
- Use quality service to differentiate your business from your competition. Make a real difference by providing personalized, responsive and “extra-mile service” that stands out in a unique way which customers will appreciate and remember.
- Learn to manage your customer’s expectations. You can’t always give customers everything their hearts desire. Sometimes you need to bring their expectations into line with what you know you can deliver. Another way to manage customers’ expectations is with the tactic called “Under Promise and Over Deliver”.
- Bounce back with effective service recovery. Sometimes things do go wrong. When it happens to your customers, do everything you can to make things right again, as soon as possible. Restoring customer goodwill is worth the price in future orders and new business.
- Appreciate your complaining customers. Customers with complaints can be your best allies in building and improving your business. They point out where your system is faulty, and where procedures are weak or problematic. The complainer gives you a chance to reply and set things right.
- Make time to stand on the other side of the desk or listen on the other end of the phone. Be a “mystery shopper” at your own place of business. Or be a customer for your competition. What you notice is what your customers experience every day!