Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Building your Network by Design

Have you ever noticed that some people can walk into any room full of people and within the blink of an eye they are engaged in easy conversation with everyone they meet? It can almost feel like their own private event, or they are the special invited guest. At first glance, you think that it is because they are experts at socializing, but, it maybe just that they have likely pinpointed a few familiar faces in the room and gravitated like a magnet towards them. The reason they gravitate towards their familiar comfort zones is to avoid the awkwardness of speaking to someone they do not know (yet). If they act that way, they may have forgotten the reason they decided to attend the event in the first place. What is interesting about this behaviour is that most of us fall into this trap because, let's face it, none of us learned in school what has essentially become one of the most important life skills for building our business.

People who walk into a room and begin to quickly connect with people make it look natural and easy, but they might not be as brilliant as you think. When they tend to gravitate towards the people, they already know, then they are missing out on the possibility to build their business opportunities network. The good news is that if you are not comfortable in a networking situation you can learn. My goal with this article is to change your perspective so that you will never look at networking the same way again. Try thinking of it as a process of constant gardening, let me explain.

Building a Network is about the opportunity to increase your visibility and promote your business to a captive audience. It is a great way to meet your weekly business development objectives. Think of networking as socializing with your peers, because they are like-minded, and have the same business focus, and same goal - to get business.

Let’s look at the concept of constantly gardening for growth. First you must prepare the soil to create the right conditions for the growth to take place. I equate this to attending the right types of networking opportunities where at the event you can find enough of the right people who may have an interest in what your do and vice versa. Granted, you never know where your next sale or opportunity will come from, but remember, if you stay in the office do not get out to network you may not grow as fast. So, select your outings wisely. Then there is the seed and I call this planting the right ideas in the mind that will stimulate interest and curiosity in your product or service. Nicolas, a colleague of mine, once told me that we are all part of the idea delivery system and that the sharing of ideas is key to building interest in you and your business.

If the first rule in sales is that people buy products and services from people they like, trust, and respect then you will need to create the conditions for them to believe in you. One of the great things about networking is the opportunity to connect with up to 50 potential clients within a two-hour time frame, so this should give you enough time to practice the ideas in this article.

Next steps

You have prepared your soil, planted the seeds and now you need to follow-up, with some tender loving care. It is now time to do the follow ups needed to set up a meeting that will enable the relationship growth process. Note whenever developing a relationship always remember that it should be inter-dependant and by that, I mean you must look for ways to assist the other person as well. Keep in mind that they were also attending the same networking event for the same reason as you. Give them a chance to explain their business and maybe introduce them to other people.

As with any process some weeding will need to take place because some of the people you meet, will not be a good match for you and your business. While constant contact and follow-up is important I would encourage you to exercise good judgement. Remember as well if you are out of sight you are also out of mind. If you fail to nurture your network, it will dry-up quickly. Be mindful as well that some weeds will grow, and you will need to work to ensure you are developing the right mix of clients. The 80/20 rule applies in that 80% of your revenues could be generated by 20% of your clients whom you met through networking or through the contacts that you met networking. This 20% group people you met through networking could result in 80% of your reliable long-lasting business that you can count on.

Just like seeds that are planted too close to the surface they will not develop into a strong healthy plant if rushed into life. Relationships are similar in that because growth develops over a few months or even a few years, so learn to be patient, but very active.

In summary
One of the best ways to learn how to network is to get out there and do it. After all what is the worst that could happen? “Networking” is a word that has been known to send shivers down the spine of most people. If done with the same passion you have for your business, you might just find that it can be one of the easiest ways to connect with enough of the right people.

As you move forward consider asking yourself the following questions
1. What do you like about networking?

2. What are the benefits of networking?
3. What are the tools you need to effectively network?

In the end just remember that every business and social event represents an opportunity to meet people, connect and expand your business reach. Perhaps you are one of those upcoming budding brilliant networkers, but if you’re not, take heart. You can learn! Good networkers are the ones most likely to get ahead within their company, industry and community. These are the people who get ahead, not because they are necessarily doing the best work but because they are builders and the most visible network constructors to success. Do you have the audacity to be the master of your destiny?

As always, we welcome your feedback and are just an email or bilingual phone call away.    

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Benefits of becoming a "More Powerful and Confident Speaker” in 2015

Whatever you do or wherever you go, at some point in your business life you will have an opportunity or more to speak in front of a group of people. When such occasions present themselves, you will have no choice but to step up and inevitably be in the spotlight. It can be the scariest event in the life of your business or your moment to shine.

I often find that people who are comfortable speaking in front of a group, are also comfortable with the process of selling. This is why I propose that you invest in developing your presentation skills in 2015. Imagine for a moment you are at an event and they announce that each person will have the opportunity to come forward to give an organized sixty second infomercial about their business. If you were to do a survey and evaluate your frame of mind and some of the others in the room, you would most likely learn that on a scale of one to ten that half the room would be in panic mode. Speaking in public is not something most people are comfortable doing so a significant spike in stress levels can be expected because the organizers have just set up a uncomfortable situation. When this happens it is your professional responsibility to maintain control of your frame of mind and attitude in order to project a consistent level of confidence. In doing so you are becoming the master of your own destiny.

A key mistake many people make in this situation, is “rambling on”. One thing that you can do to make your presentation more powerful and effective is to take pauses. It will help to emphasize and more importantly ensure that your message is clear and to the point.

I have often been told that it is not that I speak slowly rather that I speak clearly. I do pause as appropriate, and it helps to add value, curiosity and drama to the message. When speaking the most challenging things to do are often small things such as key pauses. With practice you can master using pauses in any circumstance and it will benefit your sales message.

Here are some ideas: (a) make a list of some of the best speakers / presenters that you know, and take note of their style; then (b) practice what you have observed and learned. Your level of confidence will soar!

One of the first things I learned, and personally adopted, was if you must give a speech, then practice what you will say out loud so you can hear your voice and how it will sound. The second is that if you need to read notes then jot them down in ”breath-size”; then break them up so that they can be read with purposeful pauses.

I have been interviewed by radio, television where I have spoken at events with calmness and clarity. You can master these skills through practice and some coaching. For most of us who love to talk, changing our habits and behaviors will require incredible self-discipline and self-confidence. Because to know one’s self means that you need to ask yourself some difficult questions and tolerate some discomfort and uncertainty. They say that the future belongs to story tellers because we think in pictures not in words. Nicolas Boothman, a friend and colleague says we are all part of the idea delivery system. Therefore, the more effective we are at communicating our thoughts and ideas, the more successful we become.

What is important is to develop the ability to share ideas by painting pictures in the minds of everyone you are speaking or interacting with in any given situation. Charlie, a friend of mine, approached me about one year ago; he was attending a competition in Florida to win twenty thousand dollars. We met and it was one of the most fun-filled couple of hours we shared. It never takes long to learn the basics, but then you need to practice, practice and practice! They say that the motive of all learning is repetition. Well then: repetition is practice! My friend took all the tips and advice that he had learned from our coaching session together, and executed his presentation with precision in 3.5 minutes. The outcome: the judges awarded him with the twenty thousand dollar cheque! Imagine if you could achieve a similar feat for your business; how would you feel?

Mark Twain said "The right word may be effective, but no word was ever as effective as a rightly timed pause."

Friend and colleague George Torack taught me that most people cannot tolerate the vacuum of silence. So when you are in a negotiation, a simple well placed pause can make a significant difference because the one who speaks less usually wins. The one who blinks tends to give away more information and even more concessions. Take this idea for a test drive and let me know the results.

Plato "Wise men talk because they have something to say;
fools,because they have to say something."

Once you have stated your position - stop talking and listen. Remember that every effective public presentation should not be about making noise rather about your selection of carefully articulated words and pauses which are positioned between each thoughtful word.

So ignore the voices of self-doubt and any feeling of nervousness. Focus your energy into acting at ease. Smile, maintain posture and convey confidence. Shoulders back, head up, and make eye contact. Through experience and practice you can master your fears and become a picture of self confidence. Practice makes perfect, do you have the audacity and willingness to become the master of your destiny? I trust that you do.

Friday, April 18, 2014

What results do you want and by when

Let's forget the bla- bla-bla

Professional business coaching is still widely misunderstood. I can appreciate that because I had the same apprehensions as well when I decided to get in the game after a 22 year career of putting the most advance Aircraft ever built in the sky. What a coach is not or should be is someone that will give you all the answers because that is the equivalent of giving you a fish and feeding you for a day. This is what many consultants do. A great coach will teach you how to find the answers, how to structure your ideas and how to implement what you have discussed and learned in confidence. A great coach will teach you how to fish on your terms and in doing so you will enable you to feed self  for life. This is what my clients are looking for and the reason they decide to work with me. We have successfully grown from a local business to an international business. From Canada to Mexico we work to grow your business intelligently. It cost nothing to meet with me so you have nothing to lose. I am as generous with my time as with my ideas. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Your 360 Degree Road To Success

Dear readers, I have been quite busy over the past year but the good news is that I am back. I hope you enjoy reading some of the ideas we have regarding the development of a 360 degree road to success. As always we welcome your feedback and comments.

Leading by Example or Walking the Talk are key ingredients needed to build a strong, trusting relationships within any organization. Just like the roads and buildings you create as part of a unique infrastructure to support and sustain life, relationships are a key ingredient in the foundation of a successful business..
We all want to be good leaders, and it not is not always obvious how to make the changes needed to strengthen the road you are on. What got you to where your business is today might not transport you to where you want the business to go in the future. Sometimes the very behavior that needs to change is what resulted in your decision to place people into the role they have today or even resulted in the reason you are in the role you have as a business owner. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Maybe taking a 360 degree look all around you might give you some ideas on what to do to become someone to follow. Once you decide to take that step and are really willing to change then the question to ask yourself is 'What do I need to change and how do I go about really walking the talk?'

Step One: Feedback
Getting honest, open feedback, from people around you can be acquired in several ways. One of the ways is an anonymous assessments that is designed to give you feedback from four important perspectives:
  • How you see yourself
  • How the person to whom you report to see's you
  • How your peers and your direct reports or even clients perceive you
  • Each group responds anonymous through a web based assessment tool that is  easy to administer.

Alternatively you can ask for verbal feedback from the same group if you feel you have developed a strong relationship. One note of caution about this method: unless you have a really good working relationship with people, and until you have demonstrated your willingness to accept this kind of feedback in a positive light, you may find people are hesitant or even dishonest. Only honest answers are going to help you become aware of how well you walk the talk.
Whichever method you use to build your awareness, always be open-minded and truly willing to listen. Accept the feedback at face value. Remember, it  is their perception and for good or for bad perception determines reality in their eyes. You may not see the same thing from your perspective but thank everyone for providing you with feedback because it takes courage for them as well as you to be open about this type of process.

Step Two: Set a Goal
Once you are aware, and you decide to do something about it, this step will enable you to clarify in your own mind what you intend to do about the situation. Ensure that the goal you set is measurable, and has a clear, expected results. The goals you set should clearly define in terms of what behavior will be different. How you and others observe this change creates the measurable aspect of the goal. You may become aware of the need to have better relationships with some of your coworkers, so in this case the goal you create might look something like this:
My goal is to improve my relationship with people I work with by the end of the second quarter of 2013.

Next define in a list  the expected results that you would like to achieve this is step three.

Step Three: Defining the Benefits for You
It is essential to identify the benefits of achieving the goal because each of us do things for a reason and if the benefit is not present or strong enough the likely hood of you completing the process may not happen. Make a list of the key benefits for you.  

Step Four: The Action Plan
Goals have enormous value and are the antecedents to getting results. Goals fire up the engine but without developing and working on action steps, the engine remains at idle. The action steps put the engine into gear so that you can move forward and get results. Goals clarify what you want to achieve, and an action plan tells you, step by step, how you are going to achieve it. Let's use the goal we came up with in Step Two to see what this could look like:

Goal Intent: To improve my relationship with people I work with by the end of the second quarter of 2013.
Possible actions steps;
  • Check my work load before agreeing to a deadline.
  • Schedule time in my week to manage the projects we have committed to complete.
  • Always check what commitments I have for the week, and in particular a few days in advance, and let people know if I will have problems meeting deadlines.
  • Learn to say no if other time commitments don't allow my involvement
  • When things don't go as planned, stop before reacting. Spend time thinking through what needs to be done to correct the situation.
  • Ask people for a one-on–one meeting to privately address issues.

In summary leading by example seems so simple, and yet it is something many leaders struggle with constantly. The most important thing to remember is that unless we ask others to tell us how we are doing, our perception and their reality may be two entirely different things. The lack of awareness and the unwillingness to change is what holds people back. As leaders on the road to success each of us has a responsibility to help the people we work with to grow and develop. This requires a level of honesty and openness in our relationships. If we are not giving and willing to receive constructive feedback and constantly work to better ourselves, we are working against the success of the business. As the old adage says: 'If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. So take a leap of faith and have the courage to grow and develop yourself by taking the first step. Ask for feedback and then plan to do something about the perceptions people have about you. Do you have the audacity to be the master of your 360 degree road to success? We look forward to your feedback and welcome your questions.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Are you ready to begin with the end in mind?

I meet so many business owners who want to make a change in their business but do not know where to start. So I say maybe you need to stop thinking about what you want now and start thinking about what you want five years in the future and work back.

We all get bogged down in the day-to-day constraints and as a result do the same thing over and over. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Imagine you were five years in the future – you have gone through some tough times and now all that hard work has paid off.

• What does your business look like? Take the time to describe your ideal business.
• If you were to sell or transfer your business what would it be worth?
• Why would anyone be interested in taking the business over?
• What do you need to get the business ready for sale?

Studies show that 7 out of 10 business owners do not have a plan for the future.
Here is my challenge to you. Think of your own list of questions and then work backwards in time. The process might just help you to move forward.

Expect the best.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Are you ready to take our Want to, Need to and Can do Quiz?

* Want to do - Every leader has aspirations for their organization. So what is it you want?
* Need to do – Since we are not able to do all that we want to do, you need to look for ways to resolve the conflicts between the want and can.
* And let’s face it, in this crazy world where we work and play, what we can do is a factor.

Can we find a way to harness our wants, needs and abilities to leverage results? More and more, organizations are discovering that they need to proactively move to the future, because the environment is changing more rapidly and leaders need more time to react. Proactive leaders estimate how their environment will change in the future and consequently change the direction of their organization. Basically you start acting and behaving like a designer.

Therefore, now is the time to understand what you want to do, what you need to do and what the organization can do.

What a great way to drive your success towards the future.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

KFC Challenge

Are you ready to take our KFC challenge?

* Know what you want.
* Find out what you are getting.
* Change what you do until you get what you want.

Would it surprise you to learn that most business owners have never taken the time to consider what KFC means to them? As a result many of them are not getting the things they want personally or professionally.

These three questions can be applied to any problem that you are looking to address. For example: Many companies want loyal and productive employees. But what they are actually getting is a mixture of results and inconsistencies.

So what would you need to change in order to get what you want? Maybe it is your leadership style? Studies have shown that Leadership has a direct impact on the success of a business.

So go out and get what you want! Take the KFC challenge.