Tuesday, May 20, 2008

No Can Be Your Friend

The word "no" can be your friend! One of my favorite books on the subject of no is Go for No. It touches on points I've been teaching my students for years!

If you've trained with me, or if you've been to one of my marketing seminars, you've heard me say, "When someone tells you no, smile and ask for a referral to 3 or 4 more people that will tell you no, because you need 3 or 4 more people to tell you no before you get to a yes!"

This book takes you one step further. It tells you to go for no to get MORE yeses!!!! You see, too many people go for yeses. Once I get to their quota of yeses they stop. What Go for No teaches is not to stop until you get to your "no" quota, not your "yes" quota. This is great advice and something every salesperson should read! Pick up a copy from Amazon.com or see if your local book store can order one for you.

Image: biscuitsmlp

Want a little taste of what you'll learn, check out this video:

Monday, May 19, 2008

Your Sales Pipeline

Some call it a funnel and some call it a pipeline. Either way I'm talking about putting potential customers in one end with the hope they will come out the other side as a sale.

Selling is not a perfect business. There is emotion, fear, desire, and need involved. People buy for many different reasons. It would be nice if we could just walk up to a customer, show them our product and they write a check. Does it happen? Sure! Just not very often!

Instead of looking at sales as a one time thing, we need to look at selling as a process. Similar to how a farmer sows seeds into a field, you need to sow an interest in your products into your customers. Not every seed will sprout, just like some of your customers won't be interested in what you sell. That's why farmers sow so many seeds, they expect a percentage to fail.

Every time you show your products to a potential customer, they start to travel down your sales pipeline. Some slide right through and buy right away, some won't even consider going in the pipe and others meander down the pipe as they make their decision.

It often takes time for your customer to get to the end of your pipe. It could take days, it could take weeks. It doesn't matter! The point is to keep the pipeline full.

So how can you feed the people in your pipeline so they don't turn and walk out the way they came in? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Thank you cards. When someone shows interest in one of your products, but doesn't buy, send them a nice thank you card for considering what you're selling and let them know you will follow up at a later date, or offer a buying incentive. (so much off, free case, something like that)

2. If it's a trusted customer, offer to leave the product with them to test for a few days. This is called the "Puppy Dog Close". Once you get it in their hand and they get used to using it, they'll want to keep it.

3. Be sure to mention the product each time you see the customer. This is not being pushy. This simply gives them another opportunity to buy. Remember! We live in a busy world. We all need reminders from time-to-time.

Since I specialize in training sharpeners, while on the road, I take some time and ride with a few of my students when I can. Almost all the shear sales I see them make are not impulse buys, but the result of sowing interest in the shear over time.

How do you keep guiding customers into your pipeline? Well for starters, be sure your customers know you sell shears and/or other products. Then be sure you have some to show! You can't sell from an empty wagon and people like to touch and feel before they buy. Give them something to touch and feel!

One thing is certain, your customers will buy what you're selling from somebody. If you take the time to show them what you have, and remind them of it, they will eventually buy from you!

Image: saleslogistix.com/services/Pipeline - SalesLogistix is a consultancy focused on implementing the most complete and usable SFA / CRM systems. They provide advisory and services for any SFA system, implement / extend Salesforce.com, develop custom Salesforce applications, and sell add-on products for Salesforce.com users.

Friday, May 16, 2008

All the Work You Need?

It never ceases to amaze me how foolish people can be. I've been involved in a group in my home town called The Business Fellowship for some time now and we had a really great speaker scheduled for this last meeting, so I decided to invite a few friends; three in fact. One immediately said yes, one couldn't make it because he had to go out of town, but one responded to my e-mail with this reply:

"I'll pass. I already have more work than I can or want to do."

I spent the rest of my day shaking my head over that one! Now understand, this fellow is a contract employee in a very stable industry and really does have all the work he could want or need. But my question is, what is he doing to build his professional network in case he ever finds himself looking for another company to work with? Networking is not always about finding more work. There are many reasons to network. Let's look at some of the reasons Jeff Taylor talks about in his book, Monster Careers: Networking.

Networking Separates You from the Pack
If you had two applications in front of you and both were from people that are new to the work force, but equally qualified; which would you look at more closely? An applicant that is well networked (student counsel, volunteer, school newspaper, toastmasters) or one that isn't?

Networking Catches You When You Fall
If you are laid-off or your company goes under, wouldn't it be nice to have a solid group of contacts that can help you land that next job? If you're self-employed, this same group can lead you to your next client.

Networking Opens Up New Possibilities
Sometimes you'll run across clients you never thought to call on, or a career you never thought to pursue.

Networking Makes You More Valuable to Your Company
Power people network! How many potential colleagues could you meet while networking? Lots!

Many people think networking is just for entrepreneurs or salesmen, but the reality is everyone should be networking. Don't be like my friend who was so fast to say no. Consider all opportunities to meet people and build relationships. This group may not have been a good fit for him, but he'll never know. Here's hoping all that business never dries up! :)

Reference: Monster Careers: Networking, Chapter 1, Pages 5 - 6

Image: successfromthenest.com

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Brand Tags

Seth Godin mentioned Brand Tags in his blog yesterday. I thought it would fit nicely with what I wrote last week about Joe Dannelly's Two Columns branding exercise. Hop over to Seth's blog and read his post, then give Brand Tags a try.

To view what others say about the different brands, click the link on the top of the page that reads, see what other people have tagged it. This exercise will help you see how you, and others, view some of the most popular brands on the market; which will help you brand yourself better.

Image: mleak

Friday, May 9, 2008

Drop By Jim Sharp

Take a swing by Jim Sharp and check out the post I just wrote titled, I Can't. I wrote it for sharpeners, but you can take the words "I can't" and insert them in front of any objection and you'll get the point. Let me know what you think.

Image: tiff-a-ny

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Joe Dannelly and Brains on Fire®

Brains on Fire®

I attended the Upstate Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners meeting last night. Joe Dannelly was the speaker. Joe works with one of the most progressive Idenity and Branding Companies I know, Brains on Fire®. Hearing Joe speak was a real treat for me because while I'd love to be able to hire Brains on Fire® to help me brand Wolff, with a starting price of $85,000.00, they are a little out of reach for my budget! Just the same, even though Brains on Fire® caters to high ranking companies, both nationally and internationally, they showed concern for local small business as well when they agreed to speak to this group.


During Joe's presentation, he talked about the work Brains on Fire® did with Fiskars® Shears. They helped Fiskars® develop a Community Website for Scrapbookers called Fisk-A-Teers. It's a brilliant marriage between a hobby and a supplier that does two things as far as I see it:

1. It's an excellent way to promote the Fiskars® brand.
2. It provides a powerful medium for Scrapbookers to learn, swap ideas, show off their crafts and build friendships. These things lead to loyal customers!

Two Columns

One more thing I wanted to share with you from Joe's presentation was an exercise he had all of us perform. Each of us had to take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle of it. In the left hand column, we wrote down 3 or 4 of our favorite brands. In the right column, we wrote what we loved about those brands and what draws us to them. After a time of sharing, Joe told us to fold the paper in half and ask ourselves, "Does this list of things I love about these companies describe my company?" It was a great exercise!

I could go on and on about Joe and Brains on Fire®, but the best thing I can do is point you to their blog. It's an excellent source for anyone in business!

Image: cssa_ucsd

Friday, May 2, 2008

Speaker Etiquette

This is not an exhaustive list of subjects speakers should watch out for by any means. It's just a few things I've been thinking about lately after watching a speaker slip up at a recent event.

Remember Who's Running the Meeting

A good friend of mine was invited to speak to a group of local businessmen. Jeff, the leader of the group and also a friend of mine, asked if I'd like to come. I said sure. We met at the Golden Corral in Spartanburg.

When everyone got there, they went and got their food and sat down to eat. Part way into the meal (and just before the leader stood up) my friend blurts out, "So Jeff, how about we all introduce ourselves before I start my talk." You could see Jeff seethe for just a moment before he politely said, "We'll get to that in just a moment." This should be obvious, but when you are "invited" to speak, wait to be introduced before you take the floor.

Don't Pat Yourself on the Back Too Much

One of my main jobs is training sharpeners. I'm not the only person who does this in the states, but as you can imagine we are few and far between. I put together a show once for a large group of professional sharpeners in Richmond Virginia. One of my speakers, a very well known sharpener and excellent trainer, talked about all the sharpening awards he'd won in the past as he started his presentation. He even when so far as to say, "I may even be the most accredited sharpener in the world."

As soon as these words left his mouth one of the attendees grabbed me and pulled me out into the hall. He said, "Did you hear what he just said? He said he's the best sharpener in the world!" I said, "No he didn't," and then repeated what he said, but it was too late, he had already lost that sharpeners attention. How many more people did he loose in that audience with that one statement? Choose your words wisely.

Don't Be Stupid Like Me

Trust me, I'm no better! I had a similar foot in mouth incident to the one the sharpener in the last example had. I was asked to speak at a NASA Convention in Memphis. (The National Appliance Service Association, not the real NASA!) I had teamed up with another trainer friend of mine and we were each going to speak about our products for 30 minutes. Long story short, my friend lost track of time and spoke for fifty minutes. I was hot, but condensed my presentation into the five minutes we had let after I set up my equipment. Unfortunately, I was rather impressed with myself that I was able to pull the presentation off despite the lack of time. So when I finished speaking I foolishly said, "Give me a hand, I did a great job." As soon as I said that, I heard an older gentleman in the front row say, "Arrogant, " as he shook his head.

That made a big impression on me! I've strived to walk that fine line between confidence and arrogance ever since. Hopefully I've avoided stepping over that line more times than not.

You Only Get One Chance to Make a Good First Impression

Don't make the leader mad! Don't put yourself on a pedestal and make your audience feel "beneath" you, and certainly don't do like I did! You only have one chance to make a good first impression. Once you lose your audience it's over. Remember, it's not about you, it's about them.

Image: rightantler

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Close a Sale Like a Kid

My youngest son Aidan (5) has been on an Indiana Jones kick as of late. In fact, it's pretty much all he talks about. He's seen one of the movies (under heavy supervision by mom and dad), he plays the Lego online Indiana Jones game and he's even put together his own version of an Indiana Jones Outfit.

His latest acquisition is a little Lego Indiana Jones figure. Charles, my oldest son Ian's (10) friend, let him "borrow" it. Aidan was elated! But it wasn't long before the time to return the figure started to draw near, so Aidan started coming up with a plan to talk Charles into letting him keep the figure longer.

He started reasoning with his brother that Charles had plenty of these figures and should let Aidan "take care" of this one a little longer. Ian wouldn't bite.

Aidan then moved on to his sister Mia (7). He figured she might be able to work her feminine wiles on Charles and get her to convince him to let Aidan keep Indy. Mia was repulsed!

Well the day to return Indy finally came. Aidan realized he wouldn't be able to elicit any help from him siblings, so he hitched up his britches, walked up to Charles and asked a simple question, "Charles, may I keep Indiana Jones a little longer?" Do you know what Charles said? "Sure Aidan, you can keep him a while longer." I'm willing to bet Aidan will ask for another extension and that eventually, Lego Indy will be a permanent part of the O'Donnell household. We shall see.

So what is the point of all of this? Aidan asked. It would have been easier for him to just assume Charles would say no, return Indy to him and go home, but he asked. Did you know more sales are lost because salespeople don't ask for the sale than any other reason? When you have an opportunity to sell something to one of your customers, don't just hand it to them and hope they will buy. Ask for the sale! The worst they can do is say no. What do you do when they say no? Well that's a topic for another post.

Lego Indy Image: gazraa

Monday, March 31, 2008

Lessons All Around

These past few weeks, when I've had the time, I've been refreshing myself on presenting; one of my favorite subjects. A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post titled, It's Not About the Slides. It focused mainly on what not to do when presenting; particularly when it comes to presenting with Power Point. Today I came across a great YouTube video of Garr Reynolds teaching a presentation class at Google on Six Pixels of Separation. It's long (just over an hour), but it is packed with great information.

One of my favorite points Garr made was if we open our eyes, we'll see great examples of slides (or marketing, or color schemes and so on) all around us. Look at bill board ads, magazine ads, signs in shops and restaurants. The examples are many! When you see good examples of advertising, take a moment and make note of it. Write it down or take a picture if you have a camera on your cell phone, then build a file. These examples will prove invaluable when you design that next ad or presentation.

When you get a chance, take some time and watch Garr's presentation. He goes over many of the points in his book, Presentation Zen. Just remember, it's long!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Fighting the Urgent

Urgencies have forced me into a series of systematic neglect over the past few days. One of those things I've had to neglect is my Blogs. Sorry for the lack of posts. The smoke should clear by tomorrow.

In the mean time, check out this post over at Seth Godin's Blog. Maybe you'll do a better job handling urgencies than I have lately.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Tough Times Ahead?

Please go take a look at the latest post on Jim Sharp. It has a link to an excellent article by Jeff Cornwall about preparing for an economic down turn if you own a small business.

Friday, March 14, 2008

It's Not About the Slides!

A presentation is a sale. Whether you're selling a product, a service or an idea it's all the same; it's a sale. What we need to understand is people don't buy what you're selling, they buy you. That's why you need to make sure you design your slides around your presentation, instead of your presentation around your slides. The slides are not there to be your notes, or worse; your cue cards. They are there to complement what you're saying. Put too much focus on the slides and you'll wreck your presentation.

This came up with a friend of mine. He was interviewing for a new job and had to put together a power point presentation to show his stuff. The head hunter that got him the interview reviewed his slides and said they needed more color. My friend called me in a panic and asked if I could come by and help him dress them up. I said sure, but can I ask a question? Why do they need more color? My friend said that the head hunter just said they did. I asked if they fit the presentation? My friend said yes. So I told him I'd be glad to come and help him with his color scheme, but the company isn't going to hire his slides, they're going to hire him.

The point? It's not about the slides, it's about the presenter. Do a great job presenting and you won't even need the slides. Add a poorly designed power point presentation to that same presentation and it could flop. Let me give you an example. We've all heard of JFK's famous inaugural address in 1961. Here's an example of a bad power point presentation to go along with it:

If you really want to have some fun, watch this comedian pick bad power point apart:

If you want an example of how to use power point well, click here.

Remember, design a good presentation first; add slides later!

Thanks to Garr Reynolds for two of these links that led to the inspiration for this post. Garr wrote the book on presentations, Presentation Zen.

PS - My friend got the job by the way, and without adding color. :)

If you liked this post, be sure to visit my other blog: Jim Sharp

Thursday, March 13, 2008

LinkedIn or Facebook?

I'm a big believer in networking! Without a doubt, networking has lead to more opportunities for me to grow and move ahead in my business than any other single activity I do on a daily basis. But one area of networking still eludes me and that is Online Social Networking.

If you you asked me which online forum has the best potential, I would say LinkedIn, but it seems that Facebook is pretty powerful for business too. At least according to this article I found today.

I want all of you to click on the blue letters above and follow the link to the article. The writer came up with six business scenarios you might use either Facebook or LinkedIn for. The article was a big help to me in understanding how to use both sites, and what they're best for. Let me know what you think!

If you liked this post, be sure to visit my other blog: Jim Sharp

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Great Service is Still Out There!

Yesterday I shared a post Mike Dandridge wrote about customer service and an article Jeffrey Gitomer wrote about the same. Mike wrote about first impressions and Jeffrey wrote about how good service is hard to find. Well I'm happy to say I had the opposite experience today.

I had a morning meeting in Greenville, SC today. We met at a hip little Coffee Shop called Coffee Underground. When I stepped up to order I didn't know what I wanted. The young lady behind the counter made some excellent suggestions, so I told her to go for it. I asked her to include what my friend was having on my bill. She looked up, called him out by name (he frequents the place) and asked if he'd have his usual. Less than a minute later we had our order and this time I was called by name. Cool!

After my meeting I went to see my website provider. I had some questions, and since I was in the area I figured I'd just drop in and see if they could help. My contact dropped what he was doing and walked me into the conference room. When I told him what I needed, he said he could show me some stuff right then, but it would be better if we set up an online training date so he could have a team put together to help me. He also said that they would record the training, burn it to a CD and send it to me so I could reference it in the future. Wow! I told him I'd call him later to set up the appointment and moved on.

My next stop was my customs broker. My brother-in-law lives in China and he's starting an export business. He was looking for some contact info. She got me what I needed and had me in and out in ten minutes. Fast and friendly!

My final stop was the bank. I used to hate going to this bank because the teller was detached and I always felt like I was an interruption instead of a customer. I guess they fired the old teller because there's a new fellow working the drive-through and he's dynamite. I actually look forward to going to the bank now and all he does is smile, calls me by name and says thank you. Real hard huh!?

As you can see, none of these things took a lot of time, but all of them made an impression. I know this is an overused cliche, but it really is the little things that mean a lot. What little things are you and your company doing to make a good impression on your customers?

Image: CustomersRock

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

How is Your Service?

Mike Dandridge quoted a customer in a post on the New School Selling Blog. This is what his customer said about a funny sign that joked about customer service...

"Did you ever notice, the places that have those signs that joke about the service, are the same places where the service is a joke?"

Mike took the sign down. He then goes on in the post to write about first impressions.

The most important thing we can do as business people is make good first impressions, and the best way to do that is dedicate ourselves to outstanding customer service. Unfortunately, according to Jeffrey Gitomer's latest article in Sales Caffeine, customer service is not very good and getting worse. So we have an opportunity! It's never been easier to stand out, all we have to do is treat people well and we'll be ahead of the pack. It's kind of a shame isn't it. Shouldn't we be treating our customers well anyway?

Image: successfromthenest.com

If you liked this post, be sure to visit my other blog: Jim Sharp

A Point About Free

Seth Godin made a good point about free in his blog today. This is a topic I'm going to be writing about in the near future. Go take a look. It will be a good spring board to get you ready for some future posts.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Flipping the Funnel

Recently on Jim Sharp, I wrote an article on filling your Sales Pipeline. In the book I'm reading right now, Meatball Sundae, Seth Godin wrote a short section that fits well with this theme. (Click here to go to my Squidoo Len and see the book) This is what he wrote:

"Every business has its 1 percent. Every business has a group of customers so motivated, so satisfied, and so connected that they want to tell the rest of the world about you and what you do.

Your challenge is to give these people a megaphone. To switch your view of the market from a vertical funnel (attention at the top, sales out at the bottom) to a horizontal one, in which ideas spread from one prospect to another." *

He makes a great point. We all have customer advocates, and those advocates can be a sounding board that can make your business or your sales boom. Word-of-mouth and word-of-mouse are two powerful tools. Work to over deliver and excel in what you do, and these advocates will propel you to the top!

* Meatball Sundae, Seth Godin, Page 84

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Public Speaking Pointers

This is exciting! I get to combine three if my favorite things in one post. They are:

1. Public Speaking
2. Sir Ken Robinson
3. The book: Presentation Zen

I am one of those weird people that actually likes to speak publicly. I've spent a lot of time studying public speaking and one of my favorite speakers is Sir Ken Robinson. His ideas on education and creativity fall right in line with mine and he is just fun to listen to.

The Presentation Zen Blog is one of the blogs I follow, and the other day Garr Reynolds wrote a post about Sir Ken Robinson. It was based on a podcast he had heard, during which, Mr. Robinson talked about public speaking. Garr included a link to the podcast in his post, but the audio quality is quite poor. What Garr took the time to do though was write a summery of what Mr. Robinson said. I want you to go take a look. They are important points anyone interested in public speaking should read and consider.

PS - Garr Reynolds' book is the best I've found on the proper use of power point and building presentations! Be sure to take some time and watch the video of Sir Ken Robinson speaking at TED in Garr's post. You'll see why I love his speaking style!

If you liked this post, be sure to visit my other blog: Jim Sharp

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

During an Interview

I had a friend of mine ask if she could interview me for a class project she was working on. They needed to assess a small business that uses 3 computers or less and they would come back with some recommendations for software that may be helpful to the business. She thought that On The Edge, a newsletter I publish, would be a good fit.

The interview went well. She and a young man from her class sat and talked with me for about an hour. It was helpful and I think once they go back to their class and make their report, they'll come back with some good suggestions that may save me some time and money.

What I found interesting though, was the young man she brought along. My friend is retired and is going back to school just for the fun of learning. She's not sure where it will lead, but she enjoys the challenge and her classes. But this young man is 26 years old and wanted to get into Computer Networking and IT. So I started quizzing him on what he is doing now that will help him get a job in the future. I kept getting blank stares. Here are some of the things I was asking him:

1. What organizations have you joined that are helping you get in front of potential employers?
2. Do you have a LinkedIn profile?
3. What books are you reading, apart from your class text book, that will help you excel in your chosen field?
4. Do you understand where I'm going with this?

Unfortunately he didn't. So I told him about GSATC and about their Tech after 5 networking meetings. I explained LinkedIn to him and suggested he sign up and build a profile. Since I don't know much about Computer Networking and IT, I couldn't suggest a good book on that subject. But I do know a good bit about Career Networking and I suggested he read Monsters Career - Networking. It is one of the best Career Networking books I've ever seen and every college student should read it. I also gave him the name of an IT Recruiter I know through some of the Tech after5 meeting I've been to.

It seems to me that our colleges need to do a better job of preparing their students for the future. While they're doing a fine job on the technical side of education, they should also be teaching the personal side of building relationships in your chosen field. Maybe this fellow will listen, maybe he won't. I have a feeling that the latter will prove true. In this new economy, we need to be interwoven into a community that can help propel us in our careers. Especially in a career like IT, it can change on a dime and you never know when you'll be hunting that next job.

So my big question of the day is, what are you doing to propel your career?

Image: pmi.org

If you liked this post, be sure to visit my other blog: Jim Sharp

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Learning Social Online Networking

I've been networking for a long time. I have a lot of "Old School" habits that I'm trying to break and one of them is avoiding Online Social Networking.

While I use the internet to add value to my networking through blogs like this, I still don't fully understand how to maximize the benefits of Online Social Networking. Since one of my goals is to make Learning 2 Network a powerful resource for business networking education, I have a responsibility to read up on this new networking medium and pass that info on to you. As I continue to educate myself, I will be sharing what I find. With that in mind, I'd like to start with this article. It's a simple explanation of how you can use LinkedIn (the social networking site I've been focusing my attention on) effectively. As I find other helpful sites and articles, I'll pass them on.

PS - Take a second to click on the LinkedIn Button in the sidebar to see my LinkedIn Profile. If you're a member of LinkedIn, send me an invitation.

One Way to Get Known

One of the best ways to get known is to get published. Jeffrey Gitomer touches on this point often. His column, Sales Moves, is published in a number of Trade Journals around the country. He also writes an E-zine called Sales Caffeine that is distributed electronically to well over 100,000 subscribers weekly. He practices what he preaches!

Another way to get published is blogging. That's what I do. But how can someone just starting out drive some hits to a blog like mine, or to a page to sign up for an E-zine like Jeffrey's? One way is submitting articles to Article Submission Sites. These sites are places you can go to submit free reprint articles to promote yourself by sharing what you know about what you specialize in. Sites like these are an outlet for companies that write E-zines or blogs. Many of them are on the prowl for good content they can use as a filler. This makes producing their publication easier for them, because they don't have to come up with all the content. And it's a great opportunity for you, because if a company includes your article in their publication they're required to include your byline, which can lead people to your site.

Here is a list of Article Submission Sites. Some are active, and others are dead. There are many more, but this is a good start. Part of networking is getting known. This is just another way for you to get the word out about yourself.

Image: IncreaseYourRanking.com

Hand Written Notes

While out perusing the web, I ran across this great post on Some Assembly Required. It served as a reminder to me that I need to start writing more hand written thank you notes. I do it from time-to-time, but often neglect it. Each time I've taken the time to do this though, I've received an overwhelming response!

Hand written notes really do work. Don't let the excuses Thom mentions keep you from utilizing this powerful tool. If you're trying to build a relationship, a personal touch goes a long way!

Image: charmaineyoest.com

Don't Give Online Networking Site More Credit than They Deserve

It is tempting to avoid face-to-face meetings for some, but they are still the best way to build relationships. While you've heard me say that it's important to learn how to network online, especially for Owls, you can't just fill out the information in LinkedIn and expect people to flock to you with their friendship and referrals. There is more to it than that.

Ivan Misner makes some good points about this in one of his latest posts on his blog, Networking Now. Click here to learn a little more about this subject.

If you liked this post, be sure to visit my other blog: Jim Sharp

If you'd like to be updated when I add a post, e-mail me at Jim@wolffind.com

6 Degrees of Separation

You may have heard about the 6 Degrees of Separation, but if you haven't, it's pretty simple. All it means is that...

if a person is one step away from each person he or she knows and two steps away from each person who is known by one of the people he or she knows, then everyone is an average of six "steps" away from each person on Earth. Several studies, such as Milgram's small world experiment, have been conducted to empirically measure this connectedness. While the exact number of links between people differs depending on the population measured, it is generally found to be relatively small. (Reference)

I started thinking about this wondering if it is really true. So I came up with a scenario, I was wondering how I might get an audience with our sitting President. Who do I know that might be able to make that happen? As it turned out, I didn't have to look very far to make a connection. In fact, I only had to look as far as my father.

My dad and I work together. We are both in sales and he specializes in servicing the sharpening and cutting needs of different industries. One of those industries is the poultry industry.

Over the years, we've both built relationships with many of the higher-ups at the different poultry plants. One of my dad's best business friends is a fellow that worked right up along side one of the CEO's of one of the major poultry processors in Texas. Because this CEO is a Responsible American Businessman, he is involved in the political arena in his state. That means he knows George W. Bush. BINGO! A connection! And only 3 Degrees of Separation.

Now does that mean this ladder of contacts will get my an audience with President Bush? Maybe! It can't hurt to ask! But to be honest with all of you, while I think it would be fun to get to meet with the President, I'd rather meet the CEO. It's just a business thing and that drops the degrees to 2!

So what's the point? This shows me that there is at least some truth to the 6 Degrees of Separation. It also shows that your network has incredible potential! How are you treating that web of potential? How much value do you offer it? Who do you know you can refer to others?

If you liked this post, be sure to visit my other blog: Jim Sharp

This Stinks!!!

You know how things work sometimes! Here you are pounding out all kinds of valuable information for your contact list. You send them referrals. You help them when they ask. And what does it seem like you get for all your hard work? NOTHING! And you start thinking, "THIS STINKS!"

It's my job to tell you not to give up! When I married my wife, I was told that marriage is a give and take. But I think it's more like a give, give, give and take! Networking relationships are like this too.

As networkers, it's not about "what can you do for me?" It's about "what can I do for you!" We shouldn't be keeping score!

Instead of waiting to see what your network might do for you this week, why not set a goal to do something for each of them? Don't wait to be repaid. If you keep giving, any help you need from your network will come!

If you liked this post, be sure to visit my other blog: Jim Sharp

How's Your Follow Up?

I met a nice young fellow the other day at a networking event. He had all the right qualities... friendly, helpful and very knowledgeable in his field (web design). I gave him my card and asked him to e-mail me the next day. We had talked and I told him I was interested in looking at some of this work and hinted at maybe even hiring him to tutor me in writing some code I've been struggling with. He took my card and said he'd drop me an e-mail, guess what; haven't heard from him. I met him three days ago.

Now before you say, "Give him a little more time!" Understand, I e-mailed him Wednesday morning to remind him to e-mail me, and again Thursday morning with a link I told him I'd send him. The sad part is I had already started networking for him on Wednesday. I told one of my IT guys about him and a good friend that services copy machines. I told them that if I liked his work, I'd introduce him to them. This fellow was trying to find design work and these two would have been great contacts. Both of them contacted me today for other things and asked in passing, "Has he had e-mailed you yet?" I had to say no. I could almost hear their heads shaking over the phone. BANG! Loss of credibility! Just like that!

If you want to be a good networker, you have to dedicate yourself to a good follow up program. Set aside time every morning or evening, pull out your notes and do what you say you will do. Do I do this perfectly? Come on! Not even close! But I'm constantly working to improve! Are you?

Cartoon from: Success from the Nest

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Are You an Owl?

Hey you! Hoo? You! Hoo? YOU! Me? YES YOU! Are you an Owl?

When I think of Owls, I think of intelligence. I also think of seclusion. Owls aren't the most social creatures, are they? They keep to themselves, hunt mostly at night and blend in to their surroundings. Some networkers are like this!

Owl networks have a hard time. They're not comfortable in large groups, and they hate being the center of attention. Too many Owls try to change who they are by forcing themselves to socialize more. This isn't bad! Building up resistance to fears and learning to overcome anxieties is a good thing. But there are strengths to the Owl too!

Networkers, that are Owls, need to remember that just because they prefer to be "by themselves", that doesn't mean they need to be "by themselves" alone. Online Social Networking Sites are revolutionizing how people connect! Because most people don't have a clue about how to take advantage of "Online Social Networking", Owls should make it a goal to master this form of communication.

That doesn't mean Owls shouldn't go to social gatherings. It just means they should go to them with a Rabbit or a Seal and let one of them introduce them to a few of their friends. Once the ice is broken (and the Owl has some contact information), he can then help these new friends either build their networks online, or teach them how to use the internet more effectively. All from the comfort of home!

There are many ways to network, and this short series has just touched on a few. Many of us are a combination of these animals and reflect each to a greater or lesser degree in different situations. Learning 2 Network is dedicated to help people learn how to improve their networking skills regardless of personality types and comfort zones. Stay tuned for more help! Thanks for reading!!

Part 1: What Kind of networker are You?
Part 2: Are You a Tiger?
Part 3: Are You a Seal?
Part 4: Are You a Rabbit?

If you liked this post, be sure to visit my other blog: Jim Sharp

Are You a Rabbit?

One word that just goes with Rabbit is HOP! They hop here, they hop there, they hop everywhere!!

Some Networks are like this. The Rabbit Networker never stays in one place for very long. They want to meet everyone at the party, they are great a small talk and they make friends fast.

The problem that many Rabbits face though, is they sometimes have trouble building STRONG relationships. Most have met the Rabbits in the group, but few really KNOW them. Another challenge is paying attention! Just like a real Rabbit, they tend to look all over the place (which when you're talking to someone is rude). Focus is a problem for them.

Rabbits are great friends to have, because they can introduce you to pretty much anyone in a group. They just need to learn to slow down a little and remember that it's not alway quantity that that counts, they also need to shoot for quality too!!

Part 1: What Kind of Networker are You?
Part 2: Are You a Tiger?
Part 3: Are You a Seal?
Part 5: Are You an Owl?

If you liked this post, be sure to visit my other blog: Jim Sharp

Are You a Seal?

Seals were one of my favorites animals when I was a kid! I loved watching them swim like a bullet through the water and then leap effortlessly onto one of the rocks in their pool. When I think of the Seals I watched as a kid, I think of grace. But when you see them on a nature show, they are so much more!

One thing I've always noticed about Seals is they work well in groups. They herd fish together and help protect each other. They're very social, know how relax together and know how to have fun! We can learn a lot from Seals.

Networker's that are Seals are social creatures. They like being around people and they work well with others. They enjoy helping their contacts herd fish (get business, AKA "referrals"), and protect their contacts by encouraging them and feeding them positive information that helps build their business. They're also great at maintaining multiple relationships and building new ones!

One thing a Seal has to learn to resist is the tendency to become consumed by their network. At some point they need to remember to work too!

Seal's make powerful networkers! A Seal has many of the good qualities of both the Tiger and the Rabbit. They fit in well in most any group, they're relaxed around others and they provide extraordinary value!

Part 1: What Kind of Networker are You?
Part 2: Are you a Tiger?
Part 4: Are You a Rabbit?
Part 5: Are You an Owl?

If you liked this post, be sure to visit my other blog: Jim Sharp

Are You a Tiger?

Tigers are hunters! They focus in on their prey and go after them!

Networker's that are Tigers have STRONG personalities. This works both for and against them. They know who they want to meet, and they're not afraid to pursue them. Shy is not a word that describes a Tiger!

While focus is good, it can also be a turn off! Some Tigers are so focused on making the contact that they'll do anything to achieve their goal. There is a fine line between pestering and persistence! I've watched many a Tiger scare their target off because they've come on too strong.

Remember! Networking is about relationships, not kills (sales). If you're at a networking event to make sales you're not networking, you're selling! Work on building relationships first!!

There is nothing wrong with being a Tiger. In fact, they make excellent networkers if they learn how to overcome that KILL instinct! If you're a Tiger, remember to slow down a little and build trust first.

Part 1: What Kind of Networker are You?
Part 3: Are You a Seal?
Part 4: Are You a Rabbit?
Part 5: Are You an Owl?

If you liked this post, be sure to visit my other blog: Jim Sharp

What Kind of Networker are You?

People come in all shapes and sizes. They also come with different personalities too. Whether you're somewhat shy and reserved, or whether you're an outgoing people-person, there's a networking style for you!

During this series, we'll look at four different types of people and talk about some of their strengths and weaknesses in regard to networking. Here's how I break them down:

Tigers are go getters! They love the hunt and they know how to connect.

Seals work well in groups! They love strengthening existing relationships and building new ones.

Rabbits hop all over the place! They're great at meeting lots of people.

Owls are loners! They're not big on crowds and don't like to draw attention to themselves.

So what kind of person are you? Over the next few days, we'll look at each one and what makes them great; and not-so-great.

Part 2: Are You a Tiger?
Part 3: Are You a Seal?
Part 4: Are You a Rabbit?
Part 5: Are You an Owl?

If you like this post, be sure to check out my other blog: Jim Sharp

Looking for a Good Place to Meet Up?

Then try MeetUp.com! This is a great site for anyone looking to make contacts in their local area!

MeetUp.com is designed to help people:
  • Find others in their area who share their interests
  • Learn, teach, and share things
  • Make friends and have fun
  • Rise up, stand up, unite, and make a difference
  • Be a part of something bigger—both locally and globally
It is a great way to find networking events in your area that you can plug into!! Go to their site and check them out! Just enter an interest in the search box, enter your country and zip code, hit go and find a group near you!!

Looking for a Good Place to Meet Up?

Then try MeetUp.com! This is a great site for anyone looking to make contacts in their local area!

MeetUp.com is designed to help people:
  • Find others in their area who share their interests
  • Learn, teach, and share things
  • Make friends and have fun
  • Rise up, stand up, unite, and make a difference
  • Be a part of something bigger—both locally and globally
It is a great way to find networking events in your area that you can plug into!! Go to their site and check them out! Just enter an interest in the search box, enter your country and zip code, hit go and find a group near you!!

Networking Ain't Just for Business Events

Too many people take a party approach to networking! They think they need to go to the local Chamber of Commerce event or join the Rotary Club (not that these are bad things to do), it's just that there are all kinds of opportunities to network if you're always looking.

For instance, last week I went to a friends house for a small Christmas Party. While there, I found out one of my newer friends was looking for a chess clock for his grandson. He wanted to buy him one for Christmas, but he could find a local store that carried them. I had no idea where to get one, but I told him I'd do a search online. I took his business card and enjoyed the rest of the party.

The next day, I carved a few minutes out of my day to slap some words into Google. I found lots of places for him to buy one online, but none locally. But what I did find out was that the President of the US Chess Federation lived about an hour away from me. I figured that if anyone would know where to get a chess clock in the area it would be him, so I gave him a call! He didn't know, but we still had a nice conversation and we parted ways wishing each other a happy holiday season.

I don't give up easy, so I took one more shot at it and tried a search for retail board game shops. I didn't find anything in the area, but I did find a link to a store called Game Daze in Arizona, so again I called. I asked if there were any Game Daze stores in South Carolina and he said no, but there was a store called Boardwalk and Park Place over here on the east coast! I thanked him and jumped back on Google. Sure enough, there was a Boardwalk and Park Place in the next town down from ours! I called my friend and he was ecstatic!!!

Now this sure is a long post, but let's look at what happened! First, my friend owns a large restoration and cleaning business that has clients all over the county. He's becoming a great friend and a good contact! He now knows I follow through when I say I'll do something! The President of the US Chess Federation is now a new contact. The time wasn't right to ask him what he did for a living, but I sent him a nice note thanking him for his help and kindness and a sample of one of my products my company sells. My other contact was the Game Daze store manager. He's on the other side of the country, but he got a thank you note too. You never know who will turn out to be a great contact!

What I want you to realize is networking is a lifestyle! Over time, I hope Learning 2 Network will help convince you of that!!

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Two Things That Make a Good Networker!

The first thing is trust!! Trust is a fragile thing, and once it's lost it's hard (if not impossible) to get back! So how do you create this trust? You have to be sincere and reliable!! When you're talking to someone, LOOK AT THEM! If you say you will do something, DO IT! What did your mom tell you when you were growing up? "You only have one chance to make a good first impression!" Mom was right!!

The second thing is commitment!! Building a strong network of really great contacts is hard work! It takes time! It takes LOTS of time! But if you stick to it and you don't quit, over time you'll meet and get to know hundreds of people that can and will help you in your career! You should look at networking like maintaining your health; like we do either perfectly! Networking works best if you do a little bit each day!