The More, the Merrier…Not!

May 22, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Posted in Networking | Leave a comment
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It seems that in the world of business networking, the more the merrier seems to be the mantra of the day.

Sure I get it but I don’t believe it. I know that the thinking is:

The more people at an event the more you are likely to meet someone that might be a good connection and vice versa.

But really, does that bear fruit? Think about it. Sure hanging out at a bar or restaurant drink in one hand, business cards in the other can make for a good time. And yes, you can certainly meet people. But unless there is substantive follow-up so that a relationship and trust can be built, nothing further will happen. And many people, even those that fancy themselves to be excellent networkers don’t really take the time to engage in the necessary follow-up and plant those relationship seeds that will, hopefully, bear some short or long-term, fruit.

But what about a smaller, more intimate networking gathering of 6,8 or even 10 people gathered for a meal, each given a few minutes to talk about their business, with ample time for questions and discussion.  All of a sudden the relationship building part of networking starts sooner, right there at the table, and hence the follow-up after the dinner can be much more substantive with a better shot at real networking ROI.

I think there’s a time and place for both types of networking but at this point in my networking, I’d much prefer smaller get-togethers to the ones that make you shout above the sounds of the crowd and the music that is often playing in the room.

What about you?

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How a Busy Sales Trainer Can Also Be a First-rate People Connector

January 18, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Posted in Networking | 2 Comments
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The other day I announced via social media that I had made a New Year’s commitment that called for me to make 10 (networking) introductions per day.

Yep, that’s right. 10.

I immediately received a barrage of emails from folks that were simply incredulous. “How in heaven’s name do you have the time to do that?”. “How in heaven’s name do you know that many people?” (Really, “heaven” was mentioned several times:) )

Simple I said and so in the hopes of shedding some light on my methodology (some might say madness) I decided to share my tips:

1.  I set a quantitative goal and like I said, my particular number is ten. But, that doesn’t have to be your goal, not at all. The important thing is to have a goal and to stick to it. No excuses, just do it. You know that you can. (Hint, like with all goals you should set one that is a wee bit of a stretch but can definitely be achieved if you work at it.)

2.  I’m incredibly proactive and by adopting that model, I am better able to make a higher volume of introductions.  I don’t wait for low hanging networking fruit (“Hey Adrian, do you know someone that can……”). Rather I look for connections that might have longer-term value and don’t necessarily equate to an immediate piece of business.

3.  I keep in mind that introductions to referral sources are as good as, and maybe even better than, introductions to a client. One good referral source can equate to many introductions which should (potentially) lead to business. A client is, well a client…a good thing for sure, but might not turn into many additional referrals over time. (We all know that some clients are truly raving fans and tell many others about our products/services. That’s terrific but there are just as many clients that are very closed-mouthed and don’t spread the word regardless of how pleased they are with our business.)

4.  I keep (mental) track of the folks to whom I make introductions. So, for instance, if you tell me that you network with and get lots of business from ____ firms, I do everything in my power to introduce you to as many ____ firms as I know.  So for example, if you’re on the receiving end of those introductions from me you should be thinking  like this:  Gee, since Adrian is introducing me to so many ____ firms, perhaps she’s like to know more of those types of companies too. Maybe I’ll introduce her to the ones that I know and that she doesn’t.   Makes sense doesn’t it?

5.  I try very hard to be creative when making introductions.  Let’s say that you know some of your contacts share a particular hobby. That might be enough to start to a terrific relationship that can potentially yield lots of business opportunities. How about introducing two of  your own business vendors to each other recognizing that since they are going after similar types of clients (i.e. owners of small business) and since they are not competitive they can probably help each other big-time.  How about 2 people that actually do the same thing but who specialize and work in different segments. They might be able to refer business to each other. You never know and if you don’t make introductions, the possibilities are crushed before they even start.

So there ya have it. Just a few ideas on how to be a more prolific networker.  Told you that it was simple.

The Rules in the Networking Playground

December 16, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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This is a post that I did some time ago but my recent, less than spectacular networking experiences, have indicated a definite need to post this again.

More than ever, networking has become an essential skill for every business person. Taking the time to meet others in your industry and discover ways to help them and how they can help you can be both rewarding and lucrative. Unfortunately, not everyone has learned how to network effectively, and yes, many out there are not playing well in the networking playground.

Could this be about you?  Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do you forget to keep someone who has given you a reference in the loop?
  2. Are you neglectful in saying thank you when someone gives you a reference?
  3. Are you slow to follow up on introductions?
  4. Are you reluctant to reciprocate and give leads because you’re waiting for your contacts to specifically ask?
  5. Do you have difficulty in sharing introductions?
  6. Do you respond to cyber introductions with a sales-oriented email that is “all about you” (complete with attachments)?

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, you need to polish your networking skills.

The art of networking requires much more than eating a muffin at a Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting. You need to know how to effectively communicate with others, build strong relationships, and make the most out of online and in-person networking opportunities. No, it’s not easy, and it’s certainly time consuming, too. But, the benefits of successful networking can be instrumental in growing your business.

How do you transform yourself from a networking nightmare into a networking pro? Here are five straightforward ways to help you improve your networking image.

Be Appreciative

You won’t keep a contact for long if you’re not showing your appreciation for their efforts to help you. If someone has given you a lead or valuable information, say “thank you” in a big way. Write a hand-written note. Take them to lunch, or send a donation to the charity of their choice. An email “thank you” is weak and doesn’t really cut it when the person has gone out of their way to be helpful to you.

Be Proactive

Don’t wait for someone to ask you for a specific referral. Be proactive. Mention that you have an interesting person for them to meet. Communicate the synergies that can be shared. Introduce influencers to other influencers. No, they might not be the end person who uses the product or service, but they can introduce the person to possible end-users.

Be Efficient

With online networking sites and emails, it’s so much easier than it used to be to introduce others. Use technology to your advantage and encourage those around you to do the same.

Set Up Small Informal Networking Events

You don’t have to depend on large networking organizations to plan your events. Take the initiative and plan your own networking breakfast or lunch for your contacts. Put together a regular get-together with a group of like-minded people and start expanding the circle to increase the networking opportunities. (Contact me for more info about “Six in the City”.)

Follow Up and Follow Through

Establish a timeframe for which you follow up with new contacts and follow through with helping others. If possible, it should never take longer than 24 hours to get back in touch with someone. This is particularly true for email and phone introductions which can become lost in the shuffle very quickly.

Stay on the Grid

Networking is an ongoing process and unless you have the good fortune to be in the exact right place at the exact right time, you will need to demonstrate staying power with all of your valued networking contacts and referral sources.  That old cliche “out of sight, out of mind” is very true in the networking playground.

One last thought, networkers have good memories and bad reputations tend to be very sticky. Pay attention to your tactics and networking manners. It will serve you well.

How to Increase Your Networking Success Stories

November 10, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Posted in Networking | Leave a comment
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Networking works. Or should I say that networking CAN work. We all know that it’s time consuming, often expensive and occasionally, not at all productive.

Here are a few things that you should do in order to make your networking efforts more successful:

1)   Have a goal. How many times have you attended a networking event and wandered around the room only to engage in just a few conversations before heading out the door. Or attended an event only to wind up spending the entire time talking to people that you already knew and walking away with nary a new contact or connection.  How can you ensure that this doesn’t happen? Before going to any event or meeting, take the time to investigate the group and the (potential) attendees. Is this the right place for you to go?  Will it be worth your time?  How many people would you like to meet? Do you expect to meet potential clients or referral sources? The more time you take checking it out, the more beneficial your experience. And don’t forget, if it doesn’t seem like it is the right place for you to network, don’t go. There are many other places to network.

2)   You know this sorry story. You have scads of contacts, cards galore and all sorts of names in Outlook.  Now, what to with them? The truth is that if you don’t stay on the radar screen of your networking contacts you will soon become a case of “out of sight, out of mind”. Touch point management is the key to getting return on your networking time.  How to stay on the grid?  Why the 3 I’s of course! Value-added information and email (that means links to articles and web sites of interest), cyber-introductions to other people that your contact might find valuable, invitations to events and meetings, snail mail, newsletters and more.  The most important thing is to stay visible and relevant and that means being seen as a resource and not a stalker.

3)   Patience is a virtue. Isn’t that what our moms taught us and we learned in school. The fact is that in networking patience is the only card to play. Networking takes time. While doors can be opened at events and meetings, relationships must be built before business can be earned and relationship building takes time. Beware of the networker that wants to get your business before earning your respect and trust. Don’t get caught up in a matching contest. Sure, you might find yourself on the lead “giving” side more often than on the receiving end.  Give it time and you should see something coming back to you (Remember that old patience quote!) But don’t get me wrong. If after a reasonable amount of time there is nothing coming your way it is perfectly okay to reach out to your connections and in a more direct manner, ask for their help in making introductions for you. What goes around comes around. It just might take some time.

So there you have it. Three quick tips to make your networking time more productive.  Now go out there and open some doors.

Do You Believe in Magic (aka best practices on how to NOT win more new business)

October 31, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Posted in sales | Leave a comment
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Do you believe in magic?

These last few months of 2011 are extremely important not only to scoop up every last remaining piece of business but to also lay the groundwork for 2012.  There’s lots of work to be done, magic be damned. Elves and fairies have nothing to do with it…or do they? What are YOU doing to develop the kind of revenue stream that you want? (Wishing, waiting and hoping do not count as strategies.)

Okay, now that we know that wishing on a star doesn’t mean a thing, let’s take a close look at the actions that can make a difference:

Action 1:  Go through your database with a fine toothcomb and pay critical attention to dormant accounts and proposals that were never won. Can companies in these two categories be resurrected? And what about your existing accounts? Are you getting ALL of their business or are you leaving some of their business on the table? If you are then consider yourself open and vulnerable to the competition because you can be sure they will try to come in and snatch up your share of the work as well.

Action 2:  Are you engaging in “strategic” networking or are you simply attending as many events as you can. This quantity vs. quality approach will ultimately cost you valuable time and henceforth money and can you really afford to waste either?  (I thought not.) Develop a strategic networking plan paying careful attention to the events and groups that you visit and join. Remember that “6 degrees of separation” is an important networking mantra. One or two good “people connectors” can be vastly important in your business development efforts since they can “lead” you to an infinite number of contacts and connections that may ultimately turn into business.

Action 3:  Now that you’re re-engaging with select prospects and clients in your database and are networking with care, you MUST develop an effective “touch point management” system. Business development is like a garden. You plant seeds but then you must nurture them in order to have anything grow. It’s the same with business development. Unless you are engaged in a highly transactional business, generating clients takes time.  And you MUST stay on the radar screen of everyone that you deem “worthy” whether they are a potential client or even an influential referral source. (Utilize the three I’s for the best results!)

Action 4:  Throw pennies into a fountain. Okay, not really but if you are not doing all of the above, you just might believe in magic and you never know, maybe those pennies might be just the ticket to sales success.

Big Girls Don’t Cry

September 6, 2011 at 7:27 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Big girls don’t cry over:

• Prospects that ultimately say “no”
• Clients that decide to reduce their retainer
• Vendors that raise their fees
• Networking intros that “go south”

Nope. Big girls don’t do that.

Here’s what they do:

• They go out and assertively find more prospects using some of those time-proven techniques like phone and mail integrated with social media, PR and more

• They continually work with clients providing extra value and benefits and become a true business resource (and not a vendor)

• They ask for introductions and referrals to sources that provide the best work for the best price and insist on getting competitive bids when prices seem to be out of whack

• They understand that not all networking connections will be valuable and are prepared to not get discouraged and just move on

Are you a big girl (or boy?) Do you let any of these situations get you down, throw you off your game and ultimately put you and your business in a vulnerable position?

Remind yourself that you can move forward even when adversity hits you. Be resourceful and stay true to your goals. And, no crying (or at least not for long.)

What to Do If and When Your Networking Contacts Don’t Reciprocate

August 23, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Networking | 1 Comment
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Here’s the situation.

You’re a diligent and thoughtful networker, trying at all times to help your networking contacts with introductions and contacts. When you can do so, you make direct introductions to potential clients; at other times, you help people get connected to other influential connectors and referral sources.

You’re fairly diligent about it, and not a week goes by without some sort of introductions being made.

And…you don’t EXPECT anything in return. Well, not really.

So, does this describe you?

Okay, if so, then you know that at some point you might want/need to be so forthright as to ask some of your networking contacts for specific introductions for yourself, maybe not to a specific company but perhaps to a suitable category of business.

Okay then. You make your request in person or perhaps through email or the phone. And nothing happens. The request is either totally ignored or the person says that they’ll “get back to you with some names and introductions”.

And again, nothing happens. What’s a networker to do?

I get asked this question quite often and this same situation has even happened to me causing me to ponder…well…next steps.

Here they are:

1. Make certain that you have made your initial request loud, clear and unambiguous. This is not the time to be coy; make sure that your request for contacts leaves nothing to the imagination.
2. Be sure that you haven’t asked for introductions or connections to folks with whom your networking contact has absolutely no involvement. Be confident that the person that you are asking does, in fact, have the desired relationships.
3. Give the person a wee bit of time. While we live in an era of “Internet time” not everyone moves at the speed of light and your request might languish for a few days or weeks until such time as it rises to the top of the ” to do” list.
4. If you have done the above and are still not receiving the introductions that you feel “should” be coming your way, you can do the following:

A. Make your request again and ask the contact for the reason/s that the intros are not forthcoming. Do this gently as it might be uncomfortable and even if you believe this person has not risen to the networking “occasion” they are still in your networking circle of contacts and you want to maintain a positive relationship.

B. Move on and forget about it, realizing that not everyone is as receptive to the idea of making introductions for others.

C. Think about if there are any unspoken or underlying reasons why the introductions are not being made. Does this person have a better relationship with someone else that does exactly what you do? Have they ever been “burned” by an introduction and therefore are very loathe to feel that vulnerable again? Do they not respect the quality of your work? Be honest with yourself!

Most of all, don’t let the non-responsive folks “get you down” and cause you to lose your enthusiasm and interest in helping others with introductions and referrals. While it might not always come back to you (even when you ask!), it’s still the right thing to do.

How to Make the Sale After Your Fling With Social Media

June 23, 2011 at 7:29 am | Posted in Adrian Miller Sales Training, Marketing, New York Sales Trainer, sales, Sales Training, social media | 1 Comment
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We are all aware that social media plays a huge role in our current sales and marketing landscape. Creating visibility, softening the market, starting and/or maintaining a dialogue with customers and prospects alike, well, I think we can all agree that’s it’s a pretty terrific tool.

But…and this is a VERY big but, if you have anything other than an internet based business you had better become reacquainted with the importance of old-fashioned sales skills, the kind that existed well before Mark Zuckerberg made his mark or Linkedin became the darling of business prospectors.

Yes for most businesses it is people that woo, wow and win clients and if you forget that fact and get lost in the land of facebook, linkedin and twitter, you might find yourself with less business that you might have had if only you had deployed sales best practices.

–Make sure that you know the value and improvements that your business provides to customers so that you can present these benefits concisely and coherently when engaged in your business prospecting efforts.  To that end, embrace your points of differentiation but be sure that what makes you different is truly what your prospects “want” and need.

–Understand the critical importance of effective probing and seek to uncover everything that you possibly can about your prospects and clients. Asking questions helps to gain rapport and is always more insightful than simply checking their status update.

–Be prepared for pushback and hesitancies. This is always true but especially so during our current economic situation. People are nervous and conservative and it takes extra sales ability to help them to pull the trigger and say “yes”.

–While ABC (always be closing) is a cliché, it is certainly important to be proactive when leading your prospect to a “next step” for that is what closing is, simply a next steps scenario of which both you and your prospects are aware

–Don’t lean on technology instead of the “personal” touch.  Make it a point to reach out and call your prospects and customers on a regular basis. Too overwhelmed and busy to make the calls? Break them up into very small allotments. You CAN make 1-3 calls per day, can’t you?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to underestimate the power of social media. As the owner of a small business, I thrill at the fact that, to a certain extent, it has leveled the marketing playing field. But people do business with people and when companies forget that fact, all the social media in the world won’t save the day.

Shameless Blatant Promotion of Adrian’s Network

March 23, 2009 at 6:06 pm | Posted in entrepreneurship, Networking, sales, small business | Leave a comment
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img_8524 Visit http://www.adriansnetwork.com.  Why?

Cost-effective, time-efficient business networking without any BS. Make contacts and connections that lead to business opportunities. Enjoy communicating with fellow members through an active list serv, promote your services on Self-promotion Wednesdays and receive cyber-handshakes through the community facilitator—me!  Nothing to lose, everything to gain…check it out now.

Quantity vs. Quality

March 20, 2009 at 7:07 am | Posted in entrepreneurship, Marketing, Networking, sales, Sales & Technology, Sales Training, small business | Leave a comment
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The age-old debate of quantity versus quality – Is one truly more important than the other? For sales professionals, the answer is unequivocally NO! Quantity AND quality are both important if you want to succeed.

We’ve all heard the “experts” drone on and on about the importance of “quality” when it comes to leads. Isn’t the concept of developing quality obvious enough? Of course, we’d all love to have only those leads in our funnel that turn into valuable customers. However this isn’t always the reality.

What is frequently neglected or downplayed is the necessity for quantity. Like it or not, sales is inherently a numbers game. If you currently have three “quality” prospects, but you need ten new customers this month, you’re not going to be successful. To reach your goal, a significant amount of time must simply be spent on gathering new leads.

To balance the demands of acquiring both quantity and quality in your sales funnel requires constant multitasking. Let one ball drop and your sales funnel will deplete. What do you need to do to maintain the balance necessary to keep the sales flowing? Here are a few helpful tips:

Regular Prospecting

Make it an absolute must to reach out to a set amount of new prospects each and every day. Let’s face it – The more calls you make, the more opportunities you will discover. It’s not rocket science!

Aggressively Network

As part of your regular routine to make contact with new prospects, networking must be a priority. You’ll need to do more than just attend the quarterly get-together for your friends in the industry. Seek out online and in-person opportunities with enthusiasm. Help others by generously providing referrals and introductions and take advantage of any that you receive, too!

Don’t Make Assumptions

Sometimes the best customers come from the most unlikely of places. Don’t dismiss leads or introductions because you think they have little potential for you. Value every opportunity and find out as much as you can before you drop contact with anyone.

Keep Organized

Leads are valuable, so keep track of them efficiently. Develop your own contact management system and stay on top of where each lead is within your sales funnel. Don’t let even one slip through the cracks because of an inability to manage the sales process.

 

 

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