How can I help you?

As 2010 comes to a close I have been thinking about the lessons learned since I began Cofebuz almost 3 years ago. You, my friends here on Cofebuz and throughout the world in the Design and Construction Network, have been such a great part of my life.  It has been during this time that I have realized that true success comes from relationships and that helping others is the best way to build great relationships.

As I look towards 2011, I realize that my network of relationships is stronger today than it ever has been. It is my desire to use this network to bring people together.  I want to help others build relationships where they did not previously exist and to create friendships that stretch far beyond business into the parts of our lives that truly matter. So, how can I help you? What can we do together in 2011 that will really matter on January 1, 2012 and beyond? Please post a comment here, or send me a note directly to tim-at-cofebuz.com. It is your turn… how can I help you?

Building Relationships that Build Business

Relationships are the foundation of business. Whether it is relationships inside your company or outside of your company, relationships allow your business to either thrive or fail. Because of this, focusing on relationships is one of the most effective ways to improve your company and simultaneously build personal success.

Identify key relationships
Think about the relationships that you need in order to succeed. These relationships may include others in your company, your industry, or your circle of influence. Now take a moment to write down the top 10 people you need to succeed and rate the strength of those relationships. How you are doing? Are these relationships weak or are they strong? Most people will find a mixed bag: some relationships that are incredibly strong, and others at the breaking point. In order to succeed you need these relationships, so what can you do to ensure that these relationships are strong?

Do something about it
The best way to build a relationship is simply to help other people; not to return a favor, but simply because you want to build the relationship. Business relationships are often weakened by years of taking with very little giving in return. To strengthen a relationship all you need to do is help the other person without seeking personal gain. Some examples of this include: providing a contract lead to a client, turning your timesheets in on-time (for an overextended accountant), and providing timely information to others in the industry. The goal is to proactively work to make their life easier.

Why it Works
If someone helps you once you would appreciate it; if they helped you 10 times, you would develop a healthy desire to return the favor; if they helped you 30 times you would do every you could to help them in return. This is the foundation of a mutually beneficial relationship, a relationship where two people are consistently looking for ways to help one another.

Building a relationship that builds business starts when you selflessly help others.  Who on your list do you need to help today?

Return the Favor

Has someone ever helped you to the point that you sat at your desk and tried to think up ways to return the favor?

One such time happened for me in 2006 when a friend worked to get me on a team for a major project that resulted in an $800,000 contract from my company.  What took her 15 minutes (time spent selling someone else on using my firms services) would have cost me 40 hours of phone calls, multiple lunches, and numerous meetings, and even still I wouldn’t have been guaranteed a spot on the team.  Needless to say, I was not only thankful to my friend for her work, but I literally sat at my desk working up ways to return the favor.

 The key to this story wasn’t how she helped to get me on the team; it is how your actions can motivate other people to help you.  Those 15 minutes of work have resulted in dozens of referrals and project leads as I have worked to return the favor.  As my friend focused on helping me, she was developing a mutually beneficial relationship that resulted in me working hard to help her.

If you are looking to increase your effectiveness, start by helping other people in your network.  What can you do today that will leave someone else pondering what they can do to return the favor?

The Best Unknown Websites – PART 2

It was great to have several thousand people stop by the other week to check out the first part of this series, The Best Unknown Websites. As I noted in the previous post, it seems that every week I am telling someone else about one of my favorite little known websites, so this week I wanted to add to my list and share a few more of my favorites.

As a reminder, you are always welcome to sign-up to receive these weekly posts via e-mail using Google FeedBurner. I hope that you find a website that you will use for the next several years in this list: my favorite websites that not everyone knows about.

Part 2 has been combined with the original post The Best Unknown Websites:

http://www.cofebuz.com/2009/06/15/the-best-unknown-websites/

The Best Unknown Websites

It seems that every week I am telling someone else about one of my favorite little known websites, so this week I wanted to help make them well-known websites (ok, so one or two of these are fairly well known, but I always find someone that has never heard of them). I hope that you find a website that you will use for the next several years in this list: my favorite websites that not everyone knows about.

Google Alerts – Know immediately when someone writes something about you or your company online. A friend turned me onto Google Alerts when I started blogging several years ago. It is a very simple tool that e-mails you whenever a Googlebot finds something new written about you on the web.

Website Grader – Take the guesswork out of SEO (search engine optimization). Website Grader evaluates your website, gives you a grade compared to other websites, and then tells you how to improve your score. Of course it isn’t perfect, but it certainly provides a great big picture perspective for free in 60 seconds, and they don’t even try to sell you something.

Elance – Outsource websites, logos, marketing, programming, etc.. to others in the US, India, China, Pakistan, etc.. without worrying about getting what you paid for. Special thanks to Mark Buckshon for telling me about this great website where designers from round the world compete for your business. I have personally seen incredible websites designed in other countries by English writing consultants for less than $200.

LogMeIn – Forget expensive hosting software, server, and VPN to access your work computer at home or your home computer at work. LogMeIn is free software that gives you easy access to your computer when you are away. Better yet, after you login your computer will look and act as if you were sitting at the other computer!

Yudu – Read and publish online for free. Many of you are members of the Design and Construction Network and have seen the incredible Design and Construction Report. Yudu is the online reading software that was used to publish the report. Don’t worry, your publication doesn’t have to be as intensive as the report; if you just want an amazing brochure or newsletter check out Yudu.

Eventbrite – Eventbrite is one of my favorite websites on this list (and yes, I regularly use every website on this list). Eventbrite is a website for event management and promotion similar to evite.com, only for professional events. I am always skeptical when a website makes a statement about selling out events, but I have seen several events managed by Eventbrite do just that!

Dropbox
– Dropbox solves the problem of keeping track of your files on multiple computers once and for all by enabling selected folders to sync online and across multiple computers for free (up to 2gb). It is great for files that you want to use both at home and in the office, or for sharing files with other people. One extra amazing feature of Dropbox is that you can un-delete files and retrieve older versions of a file.

CCB Buzz – Everything else you wish you knew about the web. John Sedivy and Amy Stevens Adams have revamped CCB Buzz and continue to be a great resource on a variety of topics. That said, some of my favorite posts can be found in there archives from around January 2009 when they were peeling back the tools of viral SEO.

iStockPhoto – Never worry about photo copyright again. We use iStockPhoto for almost all of our graphics at work because it is inexpensive (almost every image is available in low resolution for $1) and gives professional and amateur photographers around the world the opportunity to make money from of their photos.

Google Local – Help customers find you on Google for free. Here is one website that you need to take action on immediately. Google Local manages data about your company for Google search, Google Maps, etc… If you want to be easy to find take 10 minutes to update your company profile using the link above.

Pandora – Free customizable radio stations from a company whose single mission is to “play only music you will love.”

Why Help Other People

holdingbulbsmallI believe that the best way to succeed in life, and business, is to help other people.  A life built around helping others will yield not just the joys of relationships, but also the sweet success of achieving your own goals.  Here are just four of the reasons I choose to live my life by focusing on helping other people:

  1. The Principle of Give and Take – The best way to motivate someone to help you has always been to help them first. Help someone 20 times and they will have a healthy desire to return the favor. This basic principal allows us to understand the power of living a life centered on helping others.
  2. The Power of Friendship and a Strong Network – Most people recognize that it is people (both personal and professional) that lead to the greatest successes in life. Helping others builds a foundation for new relationships and opens the door of communication that can lead to mutually beneficial relationships.
  3. A Historic Perspective – Without question an individual that has left one of the greatest impacts on the world was a carpenter’s son from 2000+ years ago who lived his life to help other people. While many people differ on who Jesus was, everyone agrees that his life has had unprecedented impact. He spoke about this philosophy by stating that you should “love your neighbor as yourself.”
  4. A Life Worth Living – Finally, even if I am wrong I note that I will have lived a life worth living, with a legacy that I will be proud of. We will all know when I turn 80 how successful this approach is, but till then I figure I am living a life that has purpose, meaning, and one that my three children will be proud of when I am gone.

As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments.  Please feel free to send me an e-mail or to contact me though the ‘About the Author’ Tab.

Tim Klabunde

Be selfless

elephantsBack in my college days I was living in a small town south of Rochester, NY. Winters in New York have a way of rapidly rusting mufflers, so I found myself dragging a muffler into a repair shop (literally) in the middle of January to get a quote for a new muffler. When the owner learned that I couldn’t truly afford to get the muffler fixed he did the unthinkable: he took out some sheet metal and welded my old muffler back together to get me through the semester. Why? He understood the power of being selfless.

The power in helping

There is an innate power in helping other people just because you want to and not because you want something. John F. Kennedy’s speech that included the words “ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country” was so powerful because it represented the idea that collectively and individually we are better when our focus is outward rather than inward. 

So What?

We agree, it sounds great, but what do you get out of being selfless? Nothing and Everything. The moment you are selfless you receive nothing but a feeling that makes you remember what it is like to be appreciated (Perhaps that is more than nothing). However, in business when you are regularly selfless you also get everything: a network of clients, friends, and relationships that want to help you and want you to succeed.

Your turn

If you are under the weight of achieving your own success, perhaps it is time that you consider that the easiest way to achieve that success is to be selfless.

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