Thursday, May 29, 2008
I spent most of my life talking about how "hard" things were. And they were hard! I was a single mother at 22, survived a near fatal auto accident that left me with a handicap at 23, not to mention the other life stuff that goes on every day when you are working hard to make a living and raise a family.
An amazing thing happened when I redefined the word hard. It's curious...when I asked myself if my life was truly hard I had to admit, others had it much rougher than I did. What I discovered in truth is that I had some "challenges". There were some activities that were "difficult" for me. I did have to exert a littte more effort to get things done...but I could do them.
In that discovery I had an "Aha" moment...I could work with challenges and difficulty but hard things were just plain hard...and my speaking it made things even harder. So, I changed my vocabulary. When I would have habitually described a situation as "hard", I began replacing the word with a true statement. My attitude changed and, I swear, life got easier.
When it comes to doing business, I believe defining terms has been instrumental in building a profitable growing consulting practice, serving my clients, and creating business development curriculums.
For example, early on in my career I redefined selling.
Old definition: Selling is convincing someone to buy something they didn't need.
New definition: Selling is serving customers by discovering and matching a true need with a valuable solution.
When I quit trying to "sell" my customers and instead focused on serving, exchanging valuable information and connecting them to resources my sales increased immediately. Of course, I had to complete the sales process by creating an opportunity to purchase but that wasn't the end game...just part of serving.
Same thing with networking.
Old , old definition: Networking is schmoozing and positioning.
Old, new definition: Networking is relationship building, connecting people to people, and perfect elevator pitches.
New definition: Networking is a strategic marketing activity intended to increase exposure, build credibility, and create opportunities in addition to generating leads.
What I began to view my networking in light of the bigger picture, my sales increased exponentially. As a matter of fact I doubled my sales in one year using this new definition. Achieving this led me to clearly see and define another type of valuable networking activity; networking to build professional relationships or strategic partnerships.
Check this for yourself. How do you define these terms? Is it working for you?
Watch for an upcoming post on our definition of packaging, pricing, and target marketing.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Here is our take on networking along with framework to focus your activities and get better results. Let us know what you think! We'd love to hear from you.
Networking takes time. Time is money. Those using networking to build new business can't afford to misuse time. It costs in dollars and lost opportunities when done haphazardly. Hence, I promote planning.
Your networking is truly part of your marketing mix. With that in mind, network strategically to gain exposure, build your credibility, and do your own market research in addition to lead generation.
Great networking conversations are built around discovery. Not selling! If you get around alot the conversations do become second nature. If you don't, it pays to plan.
After doing your homework (know who you are, what you do, how you can serve others) you can show up, ask good questions, and learn far more about another person in a very natural conversation than you would by talking about yourself.
Here are a couple of things I teach and practice to increase my payoff and leverage time when networking.
I choose events by the following criteria:
- Target market rich (potential business development)
- Target strategic partner rich (potential opportunties, cross marketing, and resources)
- Fun (we are whole people, not just our work)
- Contribution (attending events to give back to the community, people group, or individuals makes me feel good)
- Professional Development (I always want to be increasing my knowlege base)
Here is another quick list. Develop key questions to discern the following:
- Is this a prospect? (not so I can sell them on the spot but I can know how best to follow up)
- Is this a potential partner? (I am always looking for people who do exceptional work)
- Is this a connection to opportunity, resources, or information? (We can learn alot from from other people's experiences)
- Is this a great person to know. (Sometimes the person you are speaking with is just "cool". I like to know cool people.)
I have to tell you, when I hear the phrase "elevator speech" I cringe. I think it is overated in most business networking environments. You can have a killer elevator speech and bomb on the follow up conversation. Good questions overcome many a botched opening introduction. I know. It still happens to me.
Do you have a networking philosophy? If so, please share!