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Are you entwined?

Would you agree with me if I said that the success of your business is dependent on the success of other companies you have relationships with?

My wife and I own a vertical gardening system where we are growing cucumbers, tomatoes, and lettuce off our back patio. The other day while picking some of the cucumbers I noticed that the vine had begun digging into our home’s siding. Another vine had wrapped itself around the power cord to the pump that supplies regular watering.

These vines were seeking support and willingly entwining themselves with whatever resources they could find.

It should be no different in business. Your business relationships should be so strong and interlocking that the success of your companies move in kind. Your vines should be able to support one another.

Many entrepreneurs go into business for themselves. What they don’t realize is that, while working for themselves, they are not in business by themselves.

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Three ways to get the most benefit post appointment

Meeting with other professionals is just the beginning of the relationship.  Knowing what steps to follow after your appointment can help speed the rate at which your business relationship grows, and therefore the faster you will see benefit.

Connect on social media

If you enjoyed the connection offline, why not take it online.  Take the time to friend, follow, or connect through sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn so that you can stay in touch between in person meetings.

Set a commitment for the next meeting

There is no better time than right after your meeting to set a commitment of when to meet in person again, than while your meeting is fresh on each parties mind.  Follow-up meetings are a great way to reconnect and discuss the expectations you set in your first meeting.

Follow-up on your introductions

Given someone a name to call on and permission to “use my name” is not a good referral.  Nor is giving a referral and considering the matter closed.  Good referrals are ones where the giver is willing to follow-up with both sides of the introduction and ensure that they have connected.  This is also a good time to make sure that the introduction was handled professionally.

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Do you hear the footsteps?

Earlier this week I saw an interview of Carson Daly (host of The Voice) on the Piers Morgan late night show. I must admit, that in the past, my opinion of Carson was not very high and I still think of him as a cheesy MTV DJ. No longer.

What I enjoyed most about the interview was to learn how grounded Carson is. When asked by Piers what Carson sees as the next step in his career he had no answer. According to Carson he doesn’t think that far ahead. Partially because he is enjoying the success of The Voice, and partially because he feels God will put him where he needs to be.

My favorite part of the interview was a story Carson told about his step-father. Apparently his mother remarried and the gentleman was/is a successful entrepreneur. Carson told about how he would hear his step-father’s footsteps walking down their hallway at five o’clock in the morning to go to work. It seems that work ethic made a huge impression on Carson, and he utilizes a rise early approach to this day.

What footsteps did you hear this morning? Your own rising early to get after it or your competition’s?

Developing relationships, connecting resources, growing businesses

“Social networking isn’t a waste”…do you agree?

I recently received an email from a business associate that started out like this…

“Just another validation that Social Networking isn’t a waste”. This associate claims to regular use LinkedIn to invite other professionals to meeting she plans on attending. To her, this has “keep me on the radar”.

One such professional that she has connected with in the past was using LinkedIn messaging to ask for an introduction to a company. My associate commented that “Although she was seeking business, since we were willing to give her a chance it looks like she’s willing to do the same”. By being the first one willing to help another professional she was now receiving benefits from that activity. Call it karma, or call it a good networking strategy.

In networking there are takers and givers. Takers are the people that want referrals from you before they are willing to reciprocate. Often times they just take and you never hear from them again. Givers understand that if they are able to refer someone business, good things will happen. As a giver, you should understand and embrace this idea.

So tell me, is social networking a waste of time?

Develop your network, increase your business, do it at lunch!

To sell…you have to know

In a recent client meeting the topic of sales was being discussed. In the past few months this client has been evaluating sell-through ratios for one of their products that has been lagging. Industry standard is around 40% and this client has at best seen 20%.

After many previous meetings the client has found what they consider to be a breakthrough. By analyzing individual salesperson results with the product, and asking detailed questions from the more successful ones in the group, the client uncovered a common thread.

The most successful salesmen were those that knew their product’s features and benefits the best. Or put another way, to sell they had to know.

Business networking is no different. In order to identify and then connect with other professionals it is important to understand who they are looking to connect with in the first place. Know what it is they want, and then sell them on why you fit that description.

In order to have a high degree of success in developing reciprocal, mutually profitable referral relationships you have to know and understand the other professional. Understand their expectations for your relationship, what each of you brings to the table, and what types of prospects they are looking.

Build your network, increase your business, do it over lunch!