Be Personal in Networking But Don’t Take Things Personally

man and woman sitting in front of table with books and cup of coffee facing each other
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How much value do you add? That’s the key question I ask each day when I am out in the world of business. It may not be a perfect question, but the free market is open. People are free to make decisions on their own on what they value.

You are valuable when you can connect, articulate and deliver value to another person.

You can’t insist.

You can’t force people to do what you want.

You can’t whine and hope others will pacify you.

We have choices and we tend to choose in our self-interest.

The great thing is that every day your customers spend money and look for value.

That’s why in your networking, you have to keep tilting the odds in your favor by being helpful and clear in what you are offering. It’s about being personal but not taking responses personally if they don’t go your way.

Consider Mark Ford’s tips on networking:

Gain interest first, earn trust later.

Always be specific and sincere in your praise.

Don’t expect to receive an answer to every note you write.

Ask questions.

Be grateful for answers.

Suggest business only when your target person is ready.

Business is people. And the business of people relies on you being valuable out there and networking in a way that is consistent, clear and respectful.

Every day I am looking for those that would truly add value to my life. Hopefully, we connect in a way that makes life better because we met.

Don’t Miss on Seed-Planting

seed-planting increasing value for others

There’s nothing like the lucky break. When it comes, it’s so sweet. I play for the lucky break. In fact, I want a lot of them flowing into my business and life every day. I can’t control what will happen. But I can work my butt off and keep tilting the odds in my favor.

Every day, there’s this great opportunity to keep planting seeds that will turn into something later. It’s hard to do if you are used to immediate gratification, but it makes complete sense when you see that luck often works from the seeds you planted consistently weeks, months and years ago.

Take how you handle relationships. Simply noticing and helping people that are looking for answers goes a long way towards goodwill and building trust. You make friends, and they become aware of what you do and some may want to reciprocate. That can’t happen if you’re holed up somewhere and isolated from the flow of exchanging value.

Seed-planting is what sustains you over the many bumps, bruises and inconsistencies of life. The great thing is that you simply have to be mindful and willing. Here are some ideas to consider as you move about your day:

  • Say a kind word. Everyone’s in a battle. Encouragement can go a long way towards helping someone keep their head up.
  • Get in the trenches. If you see a problem you can solve, how about lending a hand? You can help solve the problems you see or share the answers and resources that will make a difference.
  • Make a connection. Be a hub of connecting people that can really help each other and benefit each other.
  • Send a gift. When someone has done you a kindness, acknowledge it with something you like or they will like. Send a note and tell them why you appreciate them.
  • Have the best ideas. Always be on the hunt for ideas that are working and can work for someone based on what they are pursuing.
  • Show graciousness. You can always be kind, even when someone else is not or is not deserving.

Seed-planting builds bridges and is long-term thinking. While you have to take care of your immediate demands, it’s so important to keep your eyes and heart alert for opportunities to be of service, value and increase to others. The great thing is that you can try it right now with a little initiative.

Relationships Are Everything

“I’m confident if I lost everything today and had to start over, I could do it just as well—or better—considering what I know now. I’ve learned that relationships are everything, and my relationships are better than 10 years ago, so it wouldn’t be a problem. When you’ve built relationships from being in service and adding value to others, there will always be opportunities and support available for you.” ~ Lewis Howes

That’s from someone that has lived a bit and knows how the world works in his recent interview on Early to Rise.

I like to ask myself regularly,

“Am I adding value?”

“Am I valuable to others?”

“Do I like the people I work with?”

It’s a barometer of whether I am on track living congruently, freely and with conviction.

Money happens to be a natural benefit when I am being valuable to others and increasing my own value.

And, I think if you are efficient, you tend to avoid working with people you don’t like. Too much cost and grief.

The holidays are upon us and as you get some down time, perhaps you can take an inventory of your relationships. Are they what you want them to be? Can you upgrade your relationships and add value to some solid, worthy and likable people?

When we are in the grind pushing hard, it’s often hard to reflect and see if we are truly doing what we want.

It is about relationships and the great thing is that you can choose who you want to exchange value with.

I want good, solid people in my life. It makes it fun and motivating to give my best and be my best. I hope you can do likewise.

Making Impactful Introductions

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There are certainly a great many messages that get ignored. We tune out what is irrelevant as a way to simply survive the noise and to focus on what is important.

However, one gesture that gets attention and is extremely high value is to make introductions that lead to deal making. Opportunities are hard to come by for many of your friends, clients and business relationships.

Those that are looking to grow their business or pay the bills are working hard to find meaningful opportunities. And as you are bumping around the universe, you have the change to bring immense value to others by thinking like a connector, someone who is able to bring together two parties that can greatly benefit from each other.

I like to keep my eyes and ears open to opportunities. I like putting the jigsaw puzzle of value together for people I like. It’s fun. Sometimes the people I put together get immense value and remember me. And that helps my own business goals.

Here’s how I like to introduce people that can do business together, being considerate of both people’s time and attention:

  1. Pinging. I like to stay in touch with people and see what they are up to. When I read something, I may share it with people that come top of mind. I let my contact list and my mind lead me to people to check in with. I send out a lot of pings with ideas to help.
  2. Listening. In all the interactions I have with people, I listen for what is happening and where the problems are. I was educated as an engineer. My mind is built to solve problems and what I hear all the time are problems after problems. Usually, the problems revolve around money, health and parenting.
  3. Connecting. I have a large network of people that I like to think about when I hear triggers around problems. I have to connect around the question, “Who can help?” People come to mind. I may search my old emails and my contacts. Then I think about how I can connect the two people.
  4. Ideas. I hate wasting time. I hate anyone wasting my time and I hate wasting other people’s time. I think my friends know this and pay attention when I do approach them. I like to think about goals and outcomes. When I think someone can help, I take the initiative and send an email connecting the two people and share specific ideas of how these two friends of mine can help each other and how they can benefit. It takes thought and effort.

I assume that if two people talk long enough that there are many areas where both can mutually benefit. However, we don’t always have the luxury to probe and find those areas of convergence.

I do the work of making an introduction that helps everyone win. And I try to be respectful and put myself in the shoes of others so I can evaluate, “If it were me, would I find this extremely valuable?” I make the connection. Then I get out of the way.

The process of making impactful introductions is creative work for me. I have to keep tuned in. I have to be learning. I get a lot out of being resourceful and efficient with connecting people around ideas and strategies they can both benefit from.

How do you like to make introductions? Can you think of anything that is of more value to your friends?

You Have Limited Options for Selling

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When we discuss sales strategies with clients, there’s commonly a misnomer about what options are available. We live in an attention-starved world full of information and glamorous messages that cloud our thinking.

The reality is that for B2B Professional Selling, especially of professional services, you don’t have that many options for selling consistently and growing your business.

Here are your options:

  1. Inbound Selling. You set up selling systems to get people to contact you.
  2. Outbound Selling. You reach out and engage people that can say, “Yes.”

The Challenges of Inbound Selling

If you are not famous, it is very hard to get attention. Yes, it’s easy for you to set up social media profiles and put video and written content out there. But it’s also that easy for everyone else as well. You are competing against the entire world.

There are millions of blogs, Youtube videos and posts on Facebook and Instagram. And your last post or Tweet is out there within various users’ streams for an extremely short while.

If you are going to make inbound selling work, you must be fully committed and not miss a day. You have to work extremely hard for a long time to dial in the messaging. You have to be interesting and build an audience that looks forward to seeing the next ideas, entertainment or story that you put out there. It’s a long game based on attention, consistency and quality.

The real questions to ask are:

  • Will you remain consistent for years?
  • Will you invest in resources to keep your branding out there.
  • Can you be interesting and stand out?

The Rigor of Outbound Selling

Getting people to call you is a continuous process. You need to be set up like a media company that puts your message out there for building a critical mass of attention.

Your other option is outbound selling. You reach out to people who may not be aware you exist.

In outbound selling, you have the option of two approaches:

  1. Mass contact
  2. Networking one-to-one

If you approach people with numbers and communications blasts, you risk being labeled as spam. Approaches like cold-calling, email blasts or any other form of spamming will only get you ignored. We are used to blocking out unwanted or non-personalized messages.

Look at what you do with your junk mail, advertising and caller id blocking. The numbers for conversion are extremely poor.

For professional B2B selling, deals happen based on trust. If you work backwards for how deals are made, you can see a pattern:

  1. A signed deal happened, but before that
  2. A negotiation occurred, but before that
  3. A conversation happened, but before that
  4. An appointment was scheduled, but before that
  5. You got a referral or attention in a personal way, but before that
  6. You reached out to someone via networking

The outbound selling approach works because you are human and interacting in a personal way. However, it is a lot of work that also requires being organized, efficient and consistent. It’s building relationships, remaining professional and increasing trust.

Ironically, we pay attention to someone addressing us personally. It breaks through the enormous amount of noise.

The question then becomes whether you will do the outbound selling or partner with someone that will execute day in and day out.

We all need to sell and keep a pipeline of opportunities and deals flowing.

Can you think of another selling strategy or option? What makes sense for your B2B business?

Strategic with Your Down Time

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The business cycle with holidays, end of year and bookkeeping is an opportunity for you if you can relax and take advantage of the natural down time. Trying to force fit activities that are likely a better fit in the up times will only lead to frustration, and perhaps disfavor, with clients. Why not be more strategic about the business cycle?

The down time is extremely valuable to your business if you use the time well.

But the first thing you have to do is let go of expectations. Let go of trying to force conversations, deals, projects or opportunities that are not on people’s minds or attention.

There will be a better time when everyone is chomping at the bit to make things happen. Ride the down time with better strategic activities for yourself:

  • Express gratitude. As we get into a reflective time, give thanks to the people that have made a difference. Be specific and share why you appreciate them as a person and their business. It’s a great time to be reflective and build stronger ties. Many times, people are merely wanting to know they made an impact. When you express this, it closes the loop in their minds and helps them see the work of their hands.
  • Celebrate. Just write on a pad for 30 minutes everything that has happened the last several months. Think about where you were and where you are today. Write as much as you can. Then look at what you jotted down. We are often working so hard we don’t tie our results back to the effort. It’s good to appreciate progress.
  • Relationships. Clean up your address book. Group your Contacts and work through removing duplicates and making it a ready tool you can access. In the process, you will see many names along the way that you might simply ping to see how they are doing. Then identify 5-10 new relationships you want to develop and build in the coming months. Be intentional and find ways to get into conversations, offer value and meet up.
  • Review Systems. Look at your various tools and systems and see what is not relevant any longer. Get rid of subscriptions that you don’t need. Consolidate and take a look at your workflows. See where you can improve and minimize where you store data, how you access it and where you can improve on getting things done.

Much of this down time work is housekeeping. It’s a luxury you don’t necessarily get to work through when you are in the grind. But this part of the business cycle can be enjoyable and make your up times much more fruitful.

Sometimes, we are so busy we can’t see the opportunities whether it’s how we work or connecting with the people that matter.

Enjoy the down time.

Growth Hacking with Extreme Networking

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It is expensive and difficult to market your business with advertising and low conversion strategies.

If you believe that business is ultimately people, then consider growing your business by paying attention to the connections you make. One growth hacking habit that can pay extreme dividends over time is to focus on the personal connections you do make and work hard at being a person of extreme value. It’s today’s networking and it requires you to pay attention and care.

Consider this growth hacking habit when you meet people:

  1. Get the person’s email and mobile number. Immediately send a text thanking them for something you liked about them.
  2. Enter their contact information into your address book.
  3. Research the person on Google and find out a few things.
  4. Send a powerful packed email with ideas and ways to help them from someone you may know in your network or strategies that they have not considered.
  5. Stay in touch.

Imagine if you did this with 5 people a day. As you are meeting people, you are looking for convergence points. And you are seeking to become a person of value. This distinguishes you from the many people out there that are only seeking to get something rather than be relevant and valuable.

Consider Wallace D. Wattles words of wisdom:

“And, in so far as your business consists in dealing with other people…the key thought of all your efforts must be to convey to their minds the impression of increase…convey the impression of advancement with everything you do, so that all people shall receive the impression that you are an advancing man and that you advance all who deal with you…You can convey this impression by holding the unshakable faith that you are in the way of increase and by letting this faith inspire, fill, and permeate every action. Do everything that you do in the firm conviction that you are an advancing personality, and that you are giving advancement to everybody…feel that you are conferring benefits on all.”

If you are habitual and regular, then you can become this person of increase by reputation and deed. Your gestures, connections and ideas will have context and impact. And that’s a growth hacking strategy that pays off as you get entree into new deals.

What do you think you can do to adopt this approach?

Growth Hacking With Your Learning

Two hands in steam

As you are growing your business, ultimately it comes down to how much value you gain and add to other people. The more value you add by being valuable, the more your business grows.

Unfortunately, most people are just looking for the money without realizing it is a correlation to how much value they can add. It’s why business is so awesome. You win by figuring out how to add the most value to a customer in comparison to the next person. It’s a game of adding value.

And every day, if you are in the game, you are continually learning new information and gathering new ideas. Your inbox is filled with content. Your social media feeds are full of content, happenings and what’s new.

One growth hacking approach to becoming more valuable and driving more business is by using a strategy of repurposing. As you are ingesting immense amount of information you can drive these 2 strategies into your workflow:

  1. Immediately share your content by email or by social media with people you are thinking it connects with.
  2. Tell them how the content matters to what they are pursuing.

The first step may be a bit easier. The hard part is actually thinking about other people rather than yourself.

The second part is harder. You have to really care about what other people are pursuing and think relevantly about how the information you are sharing is not just added work. It has to have meaningful context. You can answer questions such as:

  • How does this content drive your bottom line?
  • What ideas from this content should your recipient care about and why?
  • What are some steps they can take to make it actionable now?

Many times people simply share content leaving the interpretation up to others. But if you can take that extra step, then you can create a growth hacking strategy that is continuous and creates opportunities as your ideas make an impact for your recipients. You become more valuable and invited into deals that might otherwise be dormant and without form.

How can you take something you read today and share it in a way with a bit more thoughtfulness for a person to win?

Meet New People Every Day

It is intriguing when you meet a new person, hear their backstory and discover how they contribute. At the end of the day, business is people. Life is people.

We can get so wrapped up in our work and routines that we limit ourselves by not experiencing what is new. Your next opportunities, enjoyments and horizons can be greatly expanded if you incorporate intentionality and process for yourself. Here are a few tips as you think about your own routines:

  • Put yourself out there first. Let the world know what you are about and what you are going after. Put that message out on your blog, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Invite engagement.
  • Approach people based on interest. Our families, hobbies and pursuits align us instantly with something in common. Start a conversation by social media, email or in-person. Find what is similar. Great game to play and discover. You will have something for every person you meet. With some people it is evident. With others, you may have to dig.
  • Play. I like to play tennis, hike, run, snowboard and play basketball. I have done this with new friends and met new people along the way. So many new worlds have opened up because I invite people to play or hang out. If all you do is work, you miss out on the fun where people are enjoying life.
  • Find a way to help. People are not static. Their lives have some kind of next need or next step. Usually it involves their money, their kids or their health. If you pay attention, you can introduce them to someone you know that can help or share some information. Or you can simply be with them emotionally through struggle. You have to choose to get involved. It’s wonderful if you can take time and be human by caring enough.

We are around people all the time. But we can miss opportunities to make something happen. It’s people that make things happen. And it is part of our work if we want to grow personally and in our businesses.

Have you met someone by simply being intentional?