Friday, November 29, 2013

Networking Effectively Part 3: Making the Contact Concept Work for You

In Part 2 we learned about the Contact Concept. So how do you make it work for you?
  • Start to think actively about who you know that you can refer people to. And who could refer business to you.Set a specific goal for the process
  • Develop an awareness for opportunities to develop contacts.
  • Make a point of listening and asking the right questions.
  • Let people know the exact type of customer that you want. Learn to ask the questions that will tell you the exact type of customers others want.
  • Develop a 30 - 60 second commercial, telling people in a quick and clear way what you do and why you're the person they want to do business with.
  • Network on purpose, and with a purpose!

Defining your perfect customer/prospect
This may seem like an obvious thing to you, but it might not be to the people you deal with. You have to be specific when you let people know your ideal customer.

Examples are a better way to explain this:

* You sell insurance. Don't say "Everyone's a good prospect." Say something like : "I'm looking for middle income people who have recently bought homes or had children. The types of changes that make them start thinking about the future."

* You are an interior designer. Your ideal prospect might be : "Someone who has bought a home in the suburbs that is looking to add to their property values, or someone who was recently promoted to a position that requires more entertaining than they are used to."

* You sell cars. Specifically Mercedes Benz. Your ideal prospect might be "Someone who is moving up the ladder, has an eye for quality and is long term thinker."

Get the idea ? Sit down right now and come up with a short, clear description of the person who is most likely to want, use, and afford your product or service.

Define your ideal customer.

This is a valuable exercise not only for networking, but for your marketing efforts as a whole. You might find that it gives you a clearer focus on where and how you advertise, what you can do to be more efficient, and who you *don't* want as customers.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

What are you grateful for?

“The grateful mind is constantly fixed upon the best. Therefore it tends to become the best. It takes the form or character of the best, and will receive the best.” – Wallace D Wattles

We all have many things to be grateful for. Our families, our friends, our relationships… the fact that we are alive and have nothing but opportunity in front of us.

Gratitude keeps you focused on the good in life and that is critical in bringing more good into your life.

Don’t negate all the good in your life by focusing upon what you don’t have. That will only bring you more of what you don’t have and don’t want!!! It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and why you see some people who seem to always be spiraling downward.

Another concept to appreciate is that if we aren’t grateful for the good in our lives, and express this, then these good things will start to diminish. Be thankful for your loved ones and tell them so often. If you want more than being thankful for what you have will open the door to more and your ability to go the extra mile where you are… which will bring you to what you desire.

Make a list and add to it every day of the things that you should be grateful for. Read it every day.

Doing so will change how you think and therefore what you have and will receive. What you have is based on your ‘old’ thinking. What is coming to you is based on how you think from this moment forward.


Eric W. Leaman


Organization for Entrepreneurial Development

Unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit.

Change your mind ... and EVERYTHING changes

Monday, November 25, 2013

Networking Effectively Part 2: The Contact Concept

Simply put, this can be said as : "Connect, respect, refer." As you meet people, make a real connection with them. Ask them about themselves. Learn to really *listen*. Find out who their best prospect is and keep your eyes open. Show them respect, and refer them to people who can use their services.

How does this get you what you want ?
People will almost always return a favor. And they tend to assume that anyone who sees the quality of their work and their worth as a person will share the same values. They recommend people who are like themselves.

This will also help you develop a deserved reputation as a helper. That reputation is a major plus when dealing with networking. People like to be associated with those who are seen as being helpful.

Many people in business have a healthy respect for those who have "connections". They are seen as movers and shakers. This is an old and established view that holds up across the business scene no matter what part of the world or what culture you are looking at.

The most important thing in having connections is *being* a connection. There is also simply no better way to develop a relationship of trust than to make the first move. If they don't return the favor, you have lost nothing but a short amount of time. The returns from this type of "Putting the other guy first" thinking are tremendous. The downside is quite small. Try it. You'll be pleasantly surprised.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Networking Effectively Part 1

We're approaching the time of year that is riddled with holiday parties, year end events, and any number of chances to mix and mingle with contacts, current and new. So we're taking this time to kick off some tips for effective networking. We hope you learn and grow from them!

What are the advantages of networking ? What's in it for you ?

Networking has a lot of advantages over traditional advertising and marketing. These are the most important advantages:

More business: As you develop networking skills and contacts, you'll find that the amount of work you get from referrals accounts for the largest part of your new business. And the most profitable.  When properly handled, networks of contacts have a real tendency to grow. This will mean a constantly growing stream of new customers.

Better business: The business you get from referrals will usually be from happy customers. This will mean that your best customers, those who pay on time and without headaches, will be the ones who send you the additional business. Or those business contacts who value their association with you and respect your integrity and quality of work. Either way, good quality referrals.

Cost savings: As you get more business through referrals, you'll find less and less need to advertise and market your business. This means less of the associated costs. And since you'll be getting better quality business, it means less bad debts.

Time savings: Less need for cold calling and selling of work. Most of the referrals you'll get are for people who are already prepared to pay for your service and simply want to find some one they can trust to do the job properly. You'll be able to spend your time working at paying projects, rather than chasing questionable prospects.

Picking up the pace: Business slow ? Just starting ? There is no better way to get things going faster than through a solid referral. Or better yet, through a network of them.

Broader range of opportunities: Networking gives you exposure to more people and, as you develop relationships with those people, often leads to early information on new business opportunities. It also opens the option of initiating new ideas where you introduce contacts to make for a whole new business.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Creating a Council of Advisors

"Experience is one thing you can't get for nothing." Oscar Wilde

Family-owned and other closely-held corporations often experience the need for independent, unbiased advice to guide the business through the ever changing business climate, as well as through personality and family differences that can harm and even destroy a business.

Traditionally, corporations have looked primarily to Boards of Directors to provide the expertise and counsel necessary to manage the business. Often Boards of private companies are supplemented with members who are neither shareholders nor officers of the corporation. However, in the context of family-owned and closely-held corporations, a Board of Directors has significant shortcomings even with the use of outside independent Directors. The stockholders may not feel comfortable granting legal management control of the business to an enlarged Board comprised in part of non-family members. Potential Directors are also reluctant to accept Board membership because of the potential liability to the shareholders, the corporation and third parties arising out of a Director's legal status as a fiduciary.

A developing alternative to the traditional board of directors is the use of a Council of Advisors which can provide an independent forum to address and discuss business policy and practices without many of the concerns attendant to the Board of Directors.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Cash Flow - The Business Lifeline

All business owners know what cash flow is-if not technically, then emotionally. Nevertheless, it's worthwhile to approach this subject from the very beginning because it is key to business success. Some business school professors have even begun to impart to their students the latest thinking about cash flow: "Cash flow is more important than your mother."
A useful way to think about cash flow is to view the business as a living organism. Cash is the nutrient that runs through its arteries and veins. The brain might be viewed as the product or service, the heart as the marketing, and the stomach as the finances, at which point it all begins to get a little messy. If you don't have enough cash flow, though, rest assured that the living organism turns into a skeleton.

The essential point about cash flow that is often overlooked is that it is different from profit and, for a growing business, much more important. It's possible to run out of cash and go broke even if you have a lot of purchase orders because you aren't being paid in a timely way.

This is a problem that has afflicted more than one Inc. 500 company. One such company that sold a big-ticket item (a computer software product for $50,000 and up) was caught in that bind as its sales climbed from $2 million to $5 million. The orders were there, but the cash came in as late as six months after a salesperson received a commitment to buy. That's because the corporate purchase orders might take another two or three months to be executed and the bills another one to three months to be paid after that. This company's executives had to skip a few paydays, negotiate with suppliers to keep essential products and services coming, and otherwise struggle to stay afloat until the cash came in. Things were so tight that the company's treasurer found himself monitoring cash flow on a daily basis.

Cash flow can also be used as a planning tool. By monitoring cash flow on a regular basis as cash comes in and goes out, you'll see a pattern that enables you to plan for the future.

This becomes very important, especially if you want to expand or go after new markets. You can quickly calculate the effect of such actions on cash flow and determine whether you'll need to seek a bank loan or other financing or whether you can support the new activity from internally generated funds.Calculating cash flow. Quite simply, cash flow is a record of cash available at different points in times. It's usually monitored on a monthly basis. A cash flow statement seems complicated at first glance, but it's really very simple, and it's extremely important as a planning tool.You begin with the cash on hand at the beginning of the month. Then you add the receipts during the month-from customers, royalties, commissions, interest, and so forth.From that, you subtract the actual disbursements-the cash going out each month in the form of fixed and variable expenses. Fixed expenses are such things as rent, debt, salaries-items you're committed to for the long term and can't easily change. Variable expenses include advertising, office supplies, promotion, consulting, and other such expenses that can be easily increased or decreased from month to month.

The result is the amount of cash available at the end of the month. The cash flow is the difference between what you started with and ended with.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Using a Business Consultant

How can a small business achieve big-business results without spending a fortune on expensive employees? In many cases, the answer is to engage the services of outside consultants. As a business owner, you don’t need full-time staff to cover every operation and function. But you do need to know how to tap into additional resources when necessary. That’s where consultants can be of assistance and value.

Reaching for a consultant when problems arise has become a natural exercise for American business. When you're not feeling well, you call for the services of a doctor. If your car isn't running right, you take it to a mechanic. When businesses encounter a problem, whether in advertising, accounting, computer use, sales, or customer relations, wise business owners are seeking the advice of those with a background in the field. To be successful, a business must keep abreast of the ever-changing world in which it operates. The consultant helps businesses of all sizes make the transition between their present level of operation and the more successful level needed to maintain and grow their share of the market.

Using the right consultants can be a cost-effective way of addressing a wide-range of business issues and operating problems, or the means to elevate a business to the next level. But what should you look for when selecting a business consultant? Here are some suggestions:

1. Experience – Your consultant should be a seasoned business person, who has experienced the difficulties of running a business and can successfully find hidden opportunities.

2. Resources – Your consultant should have access to a wide range of resources and be able bring together the expertise needed to improve the business.

3. Ethics – Your consultant should adhere to a professional code of business practices.

4. Value – Your consultant must provide value, such that the business receives greater benefit than the cost of the services.

5. Real-world – Your consultant should help the business achieve its goals using practical and pragmatic methods.

6. Tailored – Your consultant should provide advice that is customized to the business’ unique issues, opportunities, and specific circumstances.

7. Long-term – Your consultant should be able to step away from the daily flurry of activity to think both strategically and tactically about the goals of the business.

8. Client-focus – Your consultant will provide useful assistance if he/she listens to and cares about the people running the business.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What Do Effective Leaders Have in Common?

"The best executive is one who has the sense to pick good people to do what they want done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” – Teddy Roosevelt – US President

What characteristics do all leaders possess? Here are four to consider:
1. Commitment to a vision
2. A means to communicate that vision
3. Ability to build trust among associates
4. A positive self-image--leaders believe in themselves.

In addition to these four traits, a good leader also possess two vital people skills: communicating with and motivating employees.

Communication. To be a leader, a manager can't believe he or she is on a pedestal. One company limited the dividing walls in its building so there is easy access to every employee with no knocking required. This company also holds formal meetings weekly for a group of managers who try to identify problems in each department.

A telecommunications company holds a meeting of the entire company every six months and once a year holds a series of roundtables. This company also conducts employee attitude surveys in which employees anonymously ask questions of upper-level management.

Motivation. Can a leader best provide a sense of direction for his or her company by quantifying goals? There is mixed opinion on this.

One theory is that goals need to be specific for each individual. Target bonuses are seen as helpful.

The opposing view considers the adverse consequences of not meeting goals--if employees fall short of the goals, it can act as negative reinforcement. People have built-in insecurities, so goals must convince employees that they are incredible.

Some systems make everybody a winner. A goal system at IBM was mentioned as one illustration of positive reinforcement. IBM emphasizes respect for the individual by tilting the review system to the affirmative--70% of employees make the goals.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Principles for Effective and Ethical Consulting

Take the time to really understand your client’s perspective on their issues, including what they have tried, what has worked, what has not worked and what they think should be done now. It is better to go slower with your client than faster without them.

• Come to every engagement with a basic implementation framework in mind. Early in an engagement, the major purpose of the framework can be as a common frame of reference when talking about the project goals, methods, evaluation and learning. Be willing to modify that framework as you and your client work together.

• Your value is in collaboration and communication. Your client will value you if both of you continue to work together in a process that is collaborative, well understood, communicated to all and focused on results.

• Success comes from who you are as much as (or more than) from your expertise. This is true, especially if your client perceives you to be authentic and respectful, and consulting with focus on results and learning. Similarly, one of the most powerful influences that can have with your clients is to model the behaviors that you want from them.

• Do what you say you are going to do. In every engagement you will help improvement almost immediately by remaining grounded and centered, clear and consistent. Your consistency builds trust and commitment with clients and their employees as well.

• Always explain the reasons for your recommendations and the benefits that will come to your client as a result.

• Clients often struggle with certain issues. They may not want to change and might resist your attempts to help them. In those instances, remember that those responses are their choices but your role as facilitator and mentor for them will help them move past their hesitancy. And remember… people learn only what they are ready to learn.

• Experienced consultants remember there are many perspectives on an issue in the organization. Those perspectives should be encouraged and explored because they often lead to more successful problem solving.

• You are an “instrument” of change with your client, so you should be willing to suspend your overall biases, assumptions and beliefs when working with people.

Prepared by the Organization for Entrepreneurial Developments Editorial Staff July, 2010
Copyright OED 2010