Tag Archives: BNI

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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Filed under BNI, Entrepreneur, Marketing, PR, referrals

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.

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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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Filed under BNI, Entrepreneur, Marketing

Ripen Your Referrals Before Serving Them Up

The other day I bought an avocado at the store.  I carefully selected one that looked fairly ripe as I was planning to eat it soon.  A few days later I cut that avocado open for dinner confident that it would be perfect with our Mexican dinner.

Alas, it was still hard inside, even though from the outside it looked fully ripe.  I went ahead and served half of it with our meal, but it was very unsatisfying and didn’t have the creamy taste or texture that we love.

Even if they look ripe on the outside, sometimes they aren't.

Even if they look ripe on the outside, sometimes they aren’t.

As I thought about it, I realized it was a lot like making a good referral.  We oh so carefully select the exact right person to refer.  Then, when the time is ripe, we pass along the name, the phone number and some info about the situation to our referral partner.   Because we have taken a little extra time and attention, we assume that the referral is perfect.

But sometimes, like my avocado, looks are deceiving and more time is required to fully ripen the referral. What can we do to help serve up ripe referrals every time?

  1. Make sure you understand the specific needs of the referee. Use basic interview skills to solicit their exact needs.  What? Where? and Why? questions are your best friends.
  2. Know the scope of your referral partner’s services or products.  One-to-ones and GAINS profiles can make all the difference here.
  3. Perform the referral introduction in person if at all possible.  Not only does that allow you to add credibility to your referral, it also gives you a chance to start the new referral relationship off on the right foot.  If you can’t do it in person, then perform introductions over the phone then send an email to both parties with contact info included.
  4. Lastly, follow-up with both parties within a week of giving the referral. This is your chance to ensure that your referral is ripe and tasty for everyone involved.

Follow these four simple tips for the ripest referrals possible and start serving up results!

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How Referral Relationships Created A Carnival

A couple of months ago my husband was asked to serve on a carnival committee to help raise funds for a local school.  Although he participates in a variety of community activities through my work-related affiliations, he has rarely had time to be “hands-on” with events and has gone out of his way to avoid committee work because it is “inefficient.”

After spending several months in a local leadership program, he felt like he had the skills and insight to be able to make meaningful contributions to the carnival project, so when he was asked, he said yes.  He didn’t really have any more time than before, so he decided to be efficient with the time he did have and use referrals to shorten the timeline. Here’s how he did it.

  • Hear a Great Idea? Refer that person to the right people. My husband actually ended up on the committee as the result of a referral.  He was asked to share any ideas he might have to improve the carnival.  He suggested a “signature” food like tamales and the next thing he knew, he was asked to join the committee.
  • Who do you know who..? He knew he had to deliver on the tamales idea, so he contacted a couple of friends who were Hispanic and they, in turn, referred him to cooks, supply vendors and provided some ideas for creating large quantities of this savory delight.
  • Use your own network. The committee decided to move the carnival from the previous location on the school grounds to the local county 4-H Fairgrounds. After more than a month of not having phone calls or emails returned, the committee became concerned that they would not be able to get a contract signed in time. My husband used his personal connections with an auxiliary member of the fair board and asked him to refer the committee to the correct people.  The referral source took it a step farther and helped them secure the contract in under a week.
  • Know your network. One of the 4-H Fair Board’s major concerns about hosting the carnival was that the organization would have alcohol and gambling on site.  Having anticipated that concern, my husband made contact with a former employer who is the current president of the Shrine Club—conveniently located right outside the Fairgrounds—and struck a profit-sharing deal with the organization.  The Shrine is able to raise funds for the Shriners’s Hospital and still help the school.
  • Turn to your closest contacts. The new location offers a huge amount a space that can be utilized to help raise additional funds for the school. My husband started by asking me if I had any ideas.  It so happens that I know a local Hot Air Balloon pilot who told me that he had a tethered hot air balloon program that would allow non-profits to raise funds. I made an email introduction and they struck a deal.
  • Treat unsolicited referrals with respect. One of the 4-H Fair Board members was so impressed by the committee’s ideas that he referred them to a company that does zip line rides and would share the profits with the school.
  • Ask for help. But there was still a great deal of space that could still be utilized, so my husband solicited more ideas and a car show was suggested. Now, this committee is very small and anyone who has ever hosted or attended a car show knows that it takes lots of volunteers. So my husband began tapping into his network of friends with classic cars.  Within days he had the names and phone numbers of several top car club presidents and several offers of help.
  • Utilize OPN (Other People’s Networks). Marketing the carnival was a top priority, so the committee, which by now had started to catch on to the idea of using referrals to lighten their load, called a variety of other local groups and asked for their help in getting the word out.

Carnival Referral Prizes:

  • Build your network before you need it.
  • Pay attention to your friends’ and co-worker’s many activities and organizations.
  • When people give you a referral, act on it quickly and be sure to let the referrers know the outcome.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask everyone/anyone you know for help.
  • Listen to other people’s requests for help and be prepared to refer them to folks who can help. One of the best ways to get good referrals is to give them.

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The World’s Easiest Marketing Tactic-Part II

Six Simple Steps to Writing Perfect Thank You Notes

Like many things in life, we’ve become adept at creating excuses for not doing things.  With Thank You notes, it’s been elevated to an art form. Even though they are a proven marketing tool, I have heard everything from, “I don’t know what to write” to “I don’t have time.” Blame it on our Mothers for forcing us to write painful notes to relatives or on our proclivity to text instead of talk, whatever the case, there is no denying the effectiveness of a great Thank You note.

Here are Six Simple Steps to writing the perfect Thank You note every time:

Just do it! Writing thank you notes can take minutes but be worth thousands of dollars in marketing good will.

  1. Start with the correct spelling of a person’s first name.  Sounds simple, but no matter how good your message is, after a misspelled name it won’t be heard.
  2. State the occasion for which you are writing the note—“It was a pleasure meeting you at the Chamber mixer.” Or “I was in your store last week shopping for a gift.”
  3. Then state the reason for which you are writing the note—“I appreciated the information you shared with me.” Or perhaps “I was pleased to hear your feedback on my ideas.”
  4. Actually say “Thank you”, “I can’t thank you enough.” Or maybe “Thank you so much.”
  5. End with an appropriate closing. I prefer “Sincerely” but “Best regards” and “Respectfully yours” are also pleasant ways to end a note. I can’t think of a business situation where the closing “Love” is appropriate, save that for your family.
  6. If you are a close or long-time business associate of your thankee, sign just your first name and do not enclose a business card (but do make sure your full name is on the return address section of the envelope). If you are sending a note to a new acquaintance or contact, sign your full name and include a business card to help jog their memory.

Following these simple steps will help you quickly craft the perfect Thank You note every time and take some of the stress out of coming up with the right thing to say. Notes don’t have to be long, just three sentences can do the trick, but they do need to be heartfelt and sincere.  If you need extra motivation to begin writing Thank You notes, read last week’s Reasons to Write and get started today, your results will be worth it!


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