Want more Time?

Who doesn’t want more time?

As a small business owner it is your most precious commodity, so it only makes sense to use it wisely.  Here is a simple, yet powerful, way to help you gain more time for your business and your family.  Best of all, you’ll be helping another business owner do the same!

Get More Time & Business Here

 

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Filed under BNI, Life Hacks, Marketing, PR, referrals

A Little Reminder for Me (and maybe You)

I wanted to take 1 minute, to share this article that I wrote for BlogBNI as a reminder to myself today–no matter how busy you are, you can almost always scrape up 1 minute to do one of these things. I’ll bet the ROI will be far more than you invested!

One Minute to Better Networking

 

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Hate Exercise? Me Too! How I Accidentally got into Exercise

I absolutely HATE to exercise. I find going to the gym to be generally torturous and can no sooner imagine partaking in an exercise class than trekking to the North Pole. (If you love these things, this article is not for you, quit reading now, really, it’s not going to speak to you at all!)

However, as I’ve gotten older (which is a huge goal, to get older instead of not) I’ve had to acknowledge that maybe a little extra work is needed to keep my weight at a steady number. But I HATE exercise, so there was a built-in problem in losing or even maintaining weight.

I finally resolved the issue by tapping into my personality type–I am Goal Driven! But I really like short, sweet goals that I can see easily–which is why I love polishing silver, instant pay-off! It seems to be critical to my success that I accomplish something every.single.time. I exercise. But anyone who has tried to lose weight or gain strength or reduce body fat can tell you that results simply won’t show up the same day. So what to do?

I accidentally stumbled on the solution a couple of years ago. I had a letter that needed to be mailed the same day, but the mail had already been picked up from our house. Normally I’d hope in the car to drive the mile and a half over to the Post Office to make the 5:30 pm mail, but that day I had a mad thought, “What if I walked over to the Post Office?”

Side note here: I live in a suburban area where everyone runs errands in their cars. If you live in a more dense urban area, you are not going to find this post very inspiring because this is actually how you live your life already. To the rest of us though, it is life-changing!

And so I did. That first time was a bit of an epic journey as I wasn’t regularly walking more than a mile at a time with my dog and I also accidentally took the long way there, so I probably had a three and a half mile round trip. But the important thing was that I got exercise AND I accomplished something right away (mailing my letter)!

Soon enough I found myself walking all over town to return library books, pick up prescriptions and go out to dinner–anything that had a achievable task (even something like picking up paint color samples) was fair game and I was putting on walking shoes and heading out the door.

By that summer I had declared that if I had any event downtown, no matter the weather, I had to walk. Not only was I getting much needed exercise, I was also significantly reducing my “run-around-town” mileage on my car. You’d be surprised how fast that added up into significant savings.

Of course there were a few challenges to overcome along the way. For example, the shoes you typically walk in are not usually business appropriate or even very cute, so I figured out how to carry a change of shoes in my bag. I eventually stumbled (I do love puns!) on the fact that Sketchers makes sandals that are very walkable and look fairly “summer casual” professional (you can see some here, I have the Rumblers) which was even better than carrying an extra pair of shoes. I also didn’t like showing up a sweaty mess at various business functions, so I allowed more time for a slightly slower walking pace and took deodorant and wipes to help me maintain that “I just stepped out of an air conditioned car” look.

Now this mindset is so entrenched in our brains, that we don’t even consider taking the car to go to a movie at the local theatre or, better yet, have a drink at our favorite watering hole (There is something extra special about having a glass of wine that you feel like you “earned” by walking a mile into town to drink), we just dress for the weather and head down the sidewalk.

The bigger win however, is that I’ve hit some long-term goals without even trying too hard. My weight is lower (as is my body fat), I have killer calfs and I can now easily walk 5 or more miles in a day, a feat that would have had me whining about my blisters a few short years ago.

So tell me, how do you get your Accidental Exercise?

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Filed under Life Hacks, Personal Stuff, Uncategorized

Painting a Better Picture of Networking

I live in a historic, well really just old, house. It was built in 1920 and challenges us weekly with quirky things that are the result of many different people living and working on this house over the years. This summer I decided that I wanted to paint the exterior of my abode, so I spent some time with my husband picking out colors and trying them on for size. We eventually landed on a combo that we thought served our Craftsman-style home well.

2015-10-25 18.36.47

Good prep work is required to make sure the paint, or a referral, will stick.

With the colors all picked out, I was ready to paint. Just hand me a brush!

But, like the networking lessons I have learned in BNI, I quickly realized that a little prep work would go a long way toward making my paint stick. Like prepping for painting, prepping a referral can make all the difference:

  1.  Tools: Now is the time, before you start any actual work, to assemble all the tools you may need to do the work, such as business cards or brochures.
  2. Clean: Do a little ‘rolodex” housekeeping and make sure you have the most accurate and up-to-date info on anyone you plan on referring.
  3. Fill: Make sure that any possible referral holes are filled by having a one-to-one meeting with your fellow BNI member before you refer them.
  4. Sand: Knock off any rough edges or sticky spots during the meeting. Ask them to educate you on how to best refer them. For example some businesses may have set rates that they want you to share, while others simply want a warm introduction.

After making the referral (or painting), it simply makes sense to go back and check your work. Were there any areas missed? Does something need to be gone over again? Making sure to check in with both parties is a sure-fire way to make your referral stick.

 

 

 

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Filed under BNI, Marketing, PR, referrals, Uncategorized

The Art of an Excellent Testimonial

We all love receiving a testimonial about ourselves or our companies, but have you ever thought about what goes into making a truly excellent and useful testimonial?

  1. Speak from a position of knowledge; you need to have used the goods or services before you can give a testimonial about that person or company.
  2. Be Specific.  People want know how and why you used the product and how it performed.  Be sure to include some basic details about your age and demographics. i.e. Forty-six year old, mother of two girls.
  3. Honesty is the best policy. If there were glitches in performance but you were overall satisfied, include that information so that others can make an informed decision.  Be sure to acknowledge your own role in any shortcomings.
  4. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. At least in public.  If you truly had a poor experience, take it directly to the company and let them know that you would like to offer them the chance to correct the situation.  Don’t use a testimonial opportunity to lash out at someone else; it will only make you look bad.
  5. Short is sweet. You can give a great testimonial without giving two paragraphs of back story about why you decided to use the service. While people like to know a little bit about you, the point of the testimonial is to tell them about an excellent company or person.Harry
  6. Put it in writing.  The very best gift you can give a company or person is your testimonial in writing.  Whether you write an online review on LinkedIn or speak up in a BNI or Chamber meeting, putting it on paper gives them something tangible that they can use to market themselves even better.

Bonus Tip: One of the best ways to receive excellent testimonials is to give excellent testimonials.  Use these guidelines the next time you want to give a testimonial and see if the good karma you generate pays off.

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Use “Actions that Achieve” to Get the Most Out of Your Visitors

Most BNI members understand that visitors are important to their chapter for a number of reasons—generating more referrals, providing access to new people and, most importantly, becoming new BNI members.  But even though visitors are extremely important to the health of a chapter, many of us fail to take them seriously.

Visitors at a BNI meeting can bring valuable new connections to your chapter and your business.

Visitors at a BNI meeting can bring valuable new connections to your chapter and your business.

What do I mean?  Here’s an example:

If I had a customer meeting that was 100 miles away from my home at 7 am tomorrow morning, do you think I would call to confirm that appointment today?  You bet I would! 

I wouldn’t want to risk driving all that way before the sun was even up to find out that my customer needed to reschedule because of a work emergency.  Yet, many of us fail to confirm attendance with our invited visitors the day before our weekly BNI meeting.

Suppose, to take it a step further, I confirmed ahead of time, but when I showed up at that early meeting, my customer wasn’t there.  What would you do? 

Of course, you would probably wait for the customer a few extra minutes and then you would call them to make sure everything was alright.  Do you do that when a visitor doesn’t show up for a meeting?  Or do you just think, “Well, it probably wasn’t a good fit for him anyway”?

Lastly, after that meeting with an important customer, do you follow-up with a thank you email or note?  How about someone who has taken the time and effort to visit your chapter?

When we invite visitors to our BNI chapter, we owe them the exact same courtesy as we would give any other business appointment and that means employing the Actions that Achieve:

  • Call the day before to confirm the appointment.
  • If someone doesn’t show up, call immediately to see if they are alright and find out why they didn’t come. Reschedule with them.
  • Send a Thank You note or email.

Get serious about your visitors and the business they represent, apply Actions that Achieve and increase your visibility, credibility and profitability in your chapter and business.

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Your Best PR is Your People

My husband came home from a bike ride the another night with another story about someone who had nearly run him off the road and come perilously close to having caused a crash with two other cars.  This, unfortunately, if not such an unusual occurrence.  What made it stand out in his mind was this–there was a company name on the car.

While he wasn’t very familiar with the local construction company named, he certainly has a negative image of them now.  And here’s the thing, it has NOTHING to do with how well they construct buildings and everything to with his experience (unwitting or not) with one person.

A safer place to ride your bike--the High Trestle Trail in Iowa.

A safer place to ride your bike–the High Trestle Trail in Iowa.

Do you think he’ll have good things to say about that company when their name comes up in conversation?  While my husband is a nice guy, he’ll uncountably recount his ONE experience with ONE person from that company.  Sadly, that company may never know the harm that one employee did to their reputation.

I think we can all agree we may behave a little better under the watchful eyes of the boss. So how do you make sure that your employees are representing your company in an outstanding manner no matter where they are?  A lot of it comes down to corporate culture and probably has as much to do with how the boss behaves and treats the staff as anything else.  Show me a boss who cares for and supports their employees and I’ll show you employees who go out into the world and show that same care and concern to others.

You really can’t BUY the positive Public Relations (PR) that comes when one of your employees stops the company car at the side of the road to help someone change a tire. It may not seem like a big deal, but those hundreds of cars flying past are filled with people who will notice and file that positive impression away for future reference.

While it’s not the standard business school method for creating a PR plan, having a positive company environment and happy employees will go a long way towards creating the very best environment for a PR plan to flourish. So the next time you are thinking of investing in PR, start with your company culture and make sure that your people are delivering the company impression that you really want.

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Filed under Entrepreneur, Marketing, PR