Category Archives: Business

The Power of Networking

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Some feel that networking is a waste of time….and really I have one comment for those people.  You are doing it wrong!

Networking is not a time to get free drinks and food.  Networking is not a time be the cool kid in school.  Networking is not just showing up.  Networking is not just joining a group.

The first step is to make the effort to go.  Don’t worry if you don’t know anyone.  You are networking to meet people!  Don’t give yourself 10 excuses as to why you shouldn’t go. It’s always easier to tell yourself why you shouldn’t go, but guess what the people that decided an extra hour after work was worth it just increased their network.  What did you do?

If you decide to go to a Networking event…..and you should decide to GO! Go prepared.  Take business cards.  Be ready to give that 30 second elevator speech on who you are and what you do.  Don’t be scared to meet new people…chances are the people you meet are going to be relieved to have someone to speak with.

Be open to talk to everyone!  Find out what others do in your industry and outside of your industry.  When you least expect it the person that you would have never imagined to have a need for your services turns out to be the greatest contact you made all year.  If people are at a networking event and they are treating it like a high school dance then chances are they probably won’t be someone that adds much value to your business.  The same is true for you.  Do not discount people or undervalue them as a contact.  Find out what they do and listen to how they do it.  Chances are you will learn something.

Networking is not a Frat Party.  Well that seems like a basic concept, and you would think most people get this.  Give yourself one too many drinks and then you might forget the purpose of networking.  If you know that two drinks is all it takes for you to start rambling chances are you should have one drink and then stick to water.  Yes, it’s an informal event and everyone is having fun….guess what it’s still better to have control.

Networking is not limited to after work events.  Network with social media.  Read blogs and comment on blogs.  Reach out to business and personal acquaintances for breakfast, lunch and coffee.  It’s great to have one on one conversations to see what your network is working on.  Help promote each other.  Join associations and get involved on committees.  Just joining and sitting in the background is a start but really get involved.  You will be surprised how much more it helps your business.

Practice networking.  The more you network the easier it becomes.  You feel less awkward walking up strangers and introducing yourself.  You realize you have nothing to lose.  Start going to events with people you know and have them introduce you to people and do the same for them.  Eventually you won’t mind going by yourself.

Networking is a great tool when used effectively! Good luck and go meet some new people!

 

 

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Goals vs Plans

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Do you set plans or goals?  Are plans the same as goals?  For me they are very different.  I set goals and make plans.  Plans help me reach my goals.  My goals are commitments that I will do everything in my control to achieve.  Plans are something I make along the way.  I am typically okay if I have to reroute my plans to achieve my goals but I am not happy if I have to sacrifice my goals for a plan.

Each week I set one or two goals that I plan to accomplish throughout the week.  I generally have a plan on how I am going to achieve the goals but most of the time I have to divert from the plan.  It’s important that even when things arise and I have to make a change I still work hard to achieve the goals.  If you have to say no to certain plans because you need to reach a goal you should not feel guilty.  Goals are things that are important to you.  They are the big picture.  So that doesn’t mean you set 20 goals for the week.  Find big picture goals to accomplish.  For example, I want to run a 1/2 marathon this year.  So that does not mean that I need to run 13.1 miles this week.  I do however need to pick a race, plan times when I can run, and make sure I have proper gear to reach my goal.  If I miss running a few times a week I still stay on target and reach my goal.

So are you setting goals or just plans?

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Question: What Sets You Apart?

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So I have been blogging for a month or so now, and I want to hear from others.  What sets you apart from people in your professional life?  Lots of people do the same careers and jobs and it’s interesting to see what makes someone better or worse in their job.

If you work for someone do you expect your employer to make you better or do you do things to help grow professionally?  If you are a business owner do you reach out your peers and try to learn from them?  Do you read books?   Do you answer your phone after 5pm?  Do you get frustrated if someone needs you to work after hours?

So I am asking, what sets you apart?

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TGIF….is your work week that bad????

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It’s interesting to see how some people approach their work days and announce it on Social Media.  I have a few people on a social media site where it’s like clockwork on Thursday they are announcing to the world that it’s almost the end of the week, on Friday they are ready to run out of their office, and on Monday they are so depressed because it’s back to the grind.  Have you ever thought that if you put it out into the universe how much you hate something that you will hate it more?  Work is work and for most people its unavoidable.  We have bills to pay and responsibilities that require money.  My question is why does work have to be so dreadful?  Do they beat you at this establishment?  Are you there against your will?  Are the people in your office that bad?  Yes, I agree some jobs can be very draining and hard and yes the weekend is more enjoyable but really is there something else going around you that’s positive and you could post that?  Please share the positive it will make you more positive and impact the people in your circle in a better way.

I bet if I reached out to the people that are so vocal about hating their job and said are you looking for a new job, they would come back and say no I’m just looking forward to the weekend.  So why don’t these people focus on something else to broadcast on their social media?  How about a productive and motivating quote?  Even if the blurb about hating Monday took them only a second it has now reach a couple hundred people that you really dislike your job which is probably a good portion of your life.  It’s a simple negative comment that really just helped you hate your work week and makes people think wow this person’s life sounds a bit dreadful.  Try spinning Monday thru Friday into something a little more desirable.

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Sometimes You Need to Increase Your Altitude

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I think I am a fairly decent runner.  I can run a 5k with little to no pain, and at this point in my running career I don’t ever worry about running a 5k.  Living in Florida, I definitely am not faced with much altitude and for the most part I run on flat roads.  When I go for a 3.5 mile run it’s a good cardio run but definitely nothing I feel overly challenged on.  So it’s interesting how much of a difference it can make when I decide to go for a hike that is half the distance of my normal run.  I have a harder time breathing my muscles are stretched differently and it takes me much longer.  Of course it’s different going uphill as opposed to running on flat services but I’m thinking to myself I am used to running twice this and in 30 degrees warmer temperature I should be able to do it.  It’s not the case at all though.  Even though you may be a strong runner your body is accustomed to certain conditions.

So this is a blog about business and sales what does my altitude running challenge have to do with business?  In business like running you become accustomed to certain styles and ways of doing things.  Even if you think you have mastered your skill and you have a working system be open to take a road that might be an uphill battle at first.  Maybe extending yourself will help you to learn something new or experience something that will enlighten you as a business person.  It’s good to hear how others achieve their goals and incorporate some of their methods into your business.  The business world is a busy place and it’s good to have systems and paths to follow but it’s also good to sometimes look outside of the way you do things and accept some challenges to help you develop even better methods.  At first you may be uncomfortable and feel unsuccessful but if you try you may also find you get different results that helped your business.

My 3.5 miles used to be my challenge but then it became much easier, and now that I have pushed myself to another challenge I found new muscles and I was able to get more out of my workout.  The same is in business I know I can do a certain amount of cold calls a day and get results but maybe tomorrow I can try a new way of marketing and see what kind of results I will get.

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Professionally Persistent

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In business development you will come across many prospects that are not in the market for your product or services at the time you introduce yourself to them.  What do you about these situations when a client is not ready to buy?  What if the prospects is doing business with a competitor?  How do you handle getting a no from a prospect?

I have always taken to the theory that when I get a “no” it really means “not right now”.  It’s important to be respectful of your prospect’s space.  If they are busy you want to acknowledge that their time is important and let them know enough about what you do and how it could be beneficial to them.  Even if they are not in the market there is a good chance they may be in the market one day and you want them to know who you are.  Customers that are loyal to other vendors are great and you shouldn’t consider that door to be closed.  These are the best clients because if and when you earn their business they will give you the same loyalty.

When you are calling on someone and they tell you right now is not a good time be up front with them and ask them “would it be okay if I keep in touch with you in the event something changes?”  If you ask this question in a non-threatening way you will be shocked by how receptive people are to this idea.

It’s important to stay in front of all opportunities.  That does not mean you call them on a daily basis but DO reach out to them on a regular basis.  If your company is rolling out a new service or product let them know.  Acknowledge prospects at networking events, send thank you cards if they made time to meet with you, make courtesy calls to see if they are still happy with services, and from time to time pop by their office.

If you can manage to find that happy balance of polite and persistent clients will enjoy talking to you and they will begin to build a trust.  They will see that you are committed to earning their business and that will also show them that you will value your business when the opportunity arises.  Consumers like to have choices it keeps business fair and honest.  So even when a prospect tells you they are not in the market to change sometimes things happen and choices are a relief.  Make sure your prospects know you are an option by being professionally persistent.

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Jack of All Trades Master of One

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So one the biggest questions when hiring a new sales person is do I hire someone with industry knowledge or do I hire someone that knows how to sell.  Well it really depends on the make up of your organization.  Ask yourself these questions, does my company have a strong sales management team?  Does my company have a strong technical staff that can support a strong sales person?  Is the sales person going to have other teammates to learn from?  Why am I hiring a salesperson?  Do you need a hunter or an account manager?

If you find a candidate with strong sales skills chances are they will be a driven person with a desire to learn as much as they can about your products and services to be successful.  Sales is a skill in its self and takes years to develop.  With the advancement in technology it could be said that more and more people lack people skills, and in sales you will almost always be required to effectively communicate.  A salesperson needs to have social skills that allows them to uncover needs and deliver necessary messages.  I would argue that it would be easier to teach a new hire about your industry as opposed to teach a new hire how to effectively prospect and sell.

If you find a candidate with industry knowledgable and no experience in sales you are taking a gamble.  You need to make sure your company can support the efforts to give this employee attention.  That does not mean that you shouldn’t hire someone that has never sold.  It just means that you need to make sure the candidate is willing to learn that skill and that your company is in a position to invest in their learning efforts.  Is selling an art or a science?  I believe it’s both and that will take time to learn and develop.

A GREAT sales person can be a jack of all trades but should strive to be the master of one….Selling!

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Authentic vs Synthetic

Authentic vs Synthetic

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Both in personal life and and business I choose to surround myself with authentic versus synthetic people.  So what does that mean?  Authentic people do not hide their agendas.  They put themselves in your life or business for a reason and the reasons are clear.  Synthetic people surface only when they want something or need something.  Their objectives are never clear and usually the outcome leaves you questioning that interaction.  This does not mean that an authentic person needs to check up on you daily.  Many of the authentic people I surround myself with in personal life and business life I don’t see on a regular basis or talk to that often, but I do know that I when conduct business with them I am going to get answers and I always know where I stand.

Sales and new business should never depend on dropping off donuts to an office or buying things for a client.  Those are always nice perks but give your client good service and value.  Thank yous are appreciated and well received, but make your services and products meet expectations with or without perks.  Pick up the phone when your business associates call or if you miss the call, call them back.  People like gifts and lunches but really they want a good solid business relationship that will be good for their business.  Make your relationship something of value beyond something that anyone can do for them.  It’s kind of like getting flowers from your spouse after a fight.  You would much rather get flowers because they just wanted to tell you they care not because they did something wrong or they want something.

Authentic people have clear intentions and no hidden agendas.  Synthetic people are afraid to ask for what they want.   Authentic business people are less likely to be fearful of asking for an order in business because they have nothing to hide.

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How Do Sales Add Up?

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Sales is basic math.  Some people think it’s about having a charming personality or being in the right place at the right time, or being pushy but it’s none of those things.  From time to time a mediocre or bad sales person will get lucky because of those traits but really being charming, pushy, or having good timing don’t make you a successful person in sales.

So what is the key to being a successful salesperson?  It’s simple math!

High Activity + Positive Attitude = High Results

Give yourself activity goals to reach daily.  If your boss says you need to make 50 phone calls today make 70, and do it with a smile.  People are more willing to engage with someone that is in a good positive mood than a person that is just going through the motions.  Once you hit your goals you will see that you have created opportunities for proposals, and proposals turn into wins.  Don’t ever count on that one call or that one opportunity….always be filling your basket with more goals and opportunities.

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Women in Business….are we judged more than Men?

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This weekend I took the time to watch a documentary called Miss Representation.  I found the film to be very enlightening and it gave me a different perspective than I expected.    I do not believe to be a feminist and I have had great opportunities being a woman, so I wasn’t sure what this movie would offer me.  As a strong business woman that works hard to carry a professional image I actually found the movie leaving me to ask myself the question, why do I judge other professional women?  I honestly didn’t even know I was doing it until the movie put it out there in front of me.  I was holding women in business to a different standard to men in business.

Women are constantly on stage whether they are in sales, on TV, or amongst friends, and society has strongly influenced the way we judge women.  We judge the way they look, speak, dress, and act.  It’s not just men that judge and it’s not even men that are the harshest critics.   We find ourselves talking about women’s appearances and personal lives in a professional arena, but do we do that to men?  Do you ever hear people talking about what men were wearing or doing in a professional social setting?  If you do the guy must have been over the top, but with women it could be a low cut top, too high of heels, short skirt, being too gregarious etc.  The worst part is the rumor and talk follows that woman around like a nasty disease.

In sales it can be very hard to be a woman no matter what you are selling or who you are selling to.  I have spent most of my sales career selling in the construction industry so of course it’s easy to assume that I must have to deal with the pressures of men, but really it is men and women.   I have worked really hard to create an image of professionalism.  So the movie made me think about when I first started in sales.  What women did I turn to as a role model?  Did I embrace other women and help them to find success?  Did I judge their outfits and the way they presented themselves?  Did I judge them differently than the men?

Well fortunately for me I was blessed with an awesome mother who was classy and professional.  My mom was a career woman and I watched her carry her professionalism at work and home. So when I started my career, did I judge other woman in professional positions???  I secretly did and I do.  I expected and expect woman to be as classy as my mom, but here’s the thing as a woman I need to stop judging.  I need to take that energy used to judge other woman and instead embrace them for who they are and help them to find success.  Let go of any stereotypes and be the influence that my mom was to me.   Perhaps these women that I am judging think that they must act, dress, or look a certain way, but in actuality women will be successful because they are smart, classy, and nonjudgmental.  So after this movie I will not only continue to carry myself professionally but now I will work harder not to worry about what other women seem like and to take the time to help them overcome judgements.

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