Posts Tagged 'Relationships'

The Key to Great Conversations

Great conversations start when people have something in common. For my second video in this series I wanted to share with you a little secret I use to help ensure that I can find common ground quickly when I meet someone new.  Not only is it simple, but you’ll find it is fun to implement as well!

For those that subscribe to CofeBuz via email here is a link to the video: http://youtu.be/225wZaf8f2A

What TO DO when networking

A couple of weeks ago we took a look at what not to do when networking. I thought it only appropriate to follow-up this week with a couple of helpful hints about what to do when networking:

  1. Don’t stress out. Networking is just building relationships, and the easiest way to do that is to help others first.
  2. When you meet someone listen for their name and use it after 1 minute of conversation. It reinforces your interest in them as a person and your interest in your conversation.
  3. Come prepared with three stories (children, vacation, social, etc.); stories provide interest and usually lead to follow-up questions and discussion. Remember: a story paints a picture, and a picture is worth a thousand words (and a thousand points of connection).
  4. Stray away from “business” quickly in your conversations.
  5. Focus on helping the people that you meet, not helping yourself. Would the person you are speaking with benefit from you introducing them to someone else you know in the room? Do you have information that the person you are speaking with might benefit from?
  6. Follow-up. Can you offer to do something tomorrow, and can you remember to do it?

In all that you do, remember to be yourself. When you are yourself and just focus on developing great friendships awesome things happen.

Under-appreciated people, networking, and relationships

redwineIf you were to open my top left desk drawer you would find two things in it, a bottle of wine and a bottle of champagne. I don’t keep them in my drawer because they were left over from last years’ holiday party; they are there to thank others for their help making us successful.

Under-appreciated people
In the fast paced business environment prevalent today, I have found that people are generally under-appreciated. Think back over the past year about how many times you helped other people, perhaps it is a hundred or a thousand times? Now think about how many thank you notes you have received. I often ask this question when speaking on networking and have found that only about 5% of people in any given room have received a thank you note in the past three months!

Appreciation Benefits
Did you ever consider the benefits of taking the extra time to say thank you? Here are two benefits you may consider:

  1. Thanking people reinforces the behaviour you are thanking them for and increases the chances that that behaviour will be repeated in the future.
  2. Showing gratitude helps to build your relationship and differentiates you from the hundreds of other people that the other person works with.

Go buy some champagne
Consider taking a moment to ensure that others know that you are genuinely thankful for their efforts. The holiday season is a great time to start, but remember that it is something that benefits everyone regardless of the time of year.

What NOT to do when networking

I was at a networking function the other day and was reminded of the humorous and not-so-humorous things that people do when they are at networking events. Here is a quick list of things that you should avoid the next time you are out at a networking event:

  • Talking about the traffic or weather is ok, but it is a conversation killer if it goes on longer than 45 seconds.
  • If you are not a salesperson DO NOT SELL. Remember, networking is about building relationships.
  • Don’t be an excessive name dropper. Name dropping once or twice in a conversation can be beneficial as you work to identify mutual relationships, but be careful not to name drop in excess as others might find it annoying.
  • It is proper etiquette to wait until you understand what someone does for a living before you exchange business cards. It also keeps you from looking like you are more interested in collecting cards than building relationships.
  • Limit your drinking; a good rule of thumb is one drink per hour. This keeps you sharp and ready for the next conversation.
  • Don’t give someone that you just meet a brochure. It makes you look like a salesperson rather than a future friend. Brochures are for follow-up.
  • Finally, please don’t look for someone else to talk to while you are engaged in conversation. Believe it or not people can tell that you looking over their shoulders.

Remember that networking is about relationships, not events. Networking is not usually stressful if you are focusing on building relationships and having fun. If you are temped to “work the room” consider a new career in sales. If you want to build mutually beneficial relationships that will help your career and your company, just be yourself and look for ways to help everyone that you meet.  —  What would you add to the list?

 

Live One Life

At the turn of this year I wrote a little three word note that I thought was going to be a simple objective for the year: Live One Life. It was fairly straightforward when I wrote it down; I just want to be myself regardless of who I am with and what is going on around me.

The problem: Live One Life was a bit more complicated than I thought it would be. In order to live one life I needed to know who I am, what I stand for, and choose to be that person regardless of what others think or say.

Realistically, I don’t have all of those answers. I know what I stand for but I don’t understand how that always should coincide with my actions. Worse yet, I am a personal perfectionist. I know that mistakes are part of life; I just think that they shouldn’t be a part of my life.

Marley and Me

Several weeks into my newfound identity crisis we adopted a puppy named Marley. On a side note Marley was given a name and a subtitle (yes seriously) thanks to the book and movie Marley and Me. So if you ever meet her feel free to greet her as “Marley, the world’s best dog.”

It didn’t take long for me to realize that Marley already knew exactly who she was. It didn’t matter what type of day anyone else was having she just loved to be herself: she always greets me at the door, she is always a friend, and it is obvious that she genuinely loves just being herself.

Live One Life

Then it hit me: Living One Life isn’t as complicated as I thought; in fact it is so simple that even Marley can do it. I just needed to be ME. Living One Life means giving yourself the freedom to be imperfect and the opportunity to do what you can to make the world a better place.  It is a life focus on doing what I can do rather than focusing on what I can’t do.

The Relationship Development Process

Success in business starts with successful relationships. Because of this, the relationship development process is often the guide that is used to govern the marketing and business development roles in companies. As you look at these stages of the relationship development process note that marketing plays the pivotal role of effectively laying the foundation for relationships, while business development facilitates the initiation of those relationships.

The Relationship Development Process

Name Recognition – During the name recognition phase of the relationship development process a company or an individual goes from being an unknown, to being known. This foundation sets the groundwork for a relationship as others are at least aware that you or your company exists. Name recognition is one of the primary objectives of a strong marketing department and it often takes the form of advertising, promotions, mailers, and press. It is also handled in business development and sales when a new relationship starts. A common introduction when you meet someone new for the first time often builds name recognition: for example: “I’m John Adams with ABC company.” Note: I have found that if your company is an unknown, prior to initiating a new relationship, your chances of turning the relationship into a sale are reduced significantly.

Develop Understanding – During this part of the relationship development process, a company or individual goes from just being a name, to being recognized for how they fit into the world. This stage establishes a thorough understanding of your company, the services you provide, and how others see you in the industry. Most importantly, it is during this stage that others will learn how your company can be of benefit to another individual or company. This stage should be handled by marketing at the company level and business development at the relationship level. In marketing, this often takes the form of websites, brochures, newsletters, and articles. In business development, it often happens during conversation and should include how the individual fits into the corporate structure.

Interactive Communication – During this part of the relationship development process you must begin to engage at the human level. This is no longer about facts or information, it is about building a personal relationship. Because of this, business development should take the lead at this stage with minimal marketing support.

Solidify Relationship – Relationships are solidified when you engage in mutually beneficial action. When you call someone that you have solidified a relationship with, communication is easy and most of the time you will be able to quickly find direct and indirect topics of conversation. This stage should be headed by your business development staff in conjunction with your project management staff. Often, this is the point at which new work or projects are begun with your new client.

How are you doing?

Looking at this process, you can see the importance of both business development and marketing in the sales process. Take a moment to identify the areas that you need to strengthen in order to improve the effectiveness of your sales process. Is your marketing department truly laying a foundation with name recognition and developing understanding, or are they just producing glossy brochures? Is your business development staff regularly initiating interactive communication with important potential relationships, or have you yet to identify who is responsible for business development at your company? As you think about these questions, I hope you can see the steps you need to make to improve your sales process.

My First Triathlon

I knew very little about triathlons this past November when I added the words “complete a triathlon” to my list of goals for the 2010. I knew that triathlons are considered an “individual” sport and that they push your personal limits as you compete in three sports back to back. What I didn’t know was that to reach my goal of completing a tri I would need a great group of friends.

I never have enjoyed running since a knee injury in junior high, so the idea of training for the run portion of the tri seemed next to impossible. It had been over a decade since I had even run a mile when this past December when I received a call from someone I barely knew inviting me to join him and another friend running on Tuesday and Friday mornings. (My loving wife tipped him off that I needed to get running in order to reach my goal) The next day I ran a painful 2.6 miles. Since that day in December we have been running together twice a week and surprisingly, while it has been hard, I have enjoyed it more than I ever thought possible.

A triathlon will always teach you something

I have been told by many triathletes that a Triathlon will always teach you something. It taught me about the unique paradox of life: that in order to succeed as an individual you must first succeed as a friend. In life you need true friends, the type that will call and give you a hard time if you didn’t run just because it was raining and cold.

Business is no different, if you are simply inward focused you may do fine for awhile. You might even make it for a couple of years as you push (or pull) yourself up with your own strength, but eventually you will burn out and find a loneliness where relationships should have been all along, helping you along the path of life.

If I am convinced of anything it is this: that we were designed for relationships. It is not simply a want, it is a need. How are you doing, are you focused on helping others succeed and in doing so allowing them to help you as well, or are you taking on life all by yourself?

To those that dragged me along

I simply can’t say thanks enough to my running friends Matthew Hatley and Jason Vandorsten, to my biking friends Ron Klabunde, Ken White, Brian James, and Marty Smith, and to my loving wife Mary who encouraged me every step of the way. It is because of all of you that I was able to reach my goal for the year. Thank you all, it is truly great to have you as friends.