Does Networking Make You Feel D-I-R-T-Y?

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Granted, the title sounds a bit naughty, doesn’t it?  But it’s true!

The prestigious Harvard Business Review recently published an article that validates this is, in fact, true.

This particular article originated from a 2006 study in which the researchers demonstrated a direct connection between moral purity and physical purity.  It’s actually called The Macbeth Effect.

In the rather gory Shakespearean play, Macbeth . . .  Lady Macbeth literally has ‘blood on her hands’ and indulges in incessant hand-washing as a result.

Lady Macbeth’s famous line, “Out, out…spot”  wasn’t referring to the dog who wanted to go out to do his business.  It was actually the blood on her hands from the intrigues of the play that prompted that line.  But, I digress . . . 🙂

Why Business Networking Makes You Feel Dirty

Believing that moral lapses lead to physical feelings of being impure or ‘dirty’, these brave social scientists set out to test their hypothesis that when you engage in business networking — it evokes feelings of being non-authentic (ergo ‘dirty’) more often and more intensely than if you engage in social networking with your friends.

I won’t bore you with their marvelous methodology, but . . . they proved their hypothesis!

There IS a correlation between engaging in business networking that produces feelings of being ‘unclean’ that social networking doesn’t generate.  Which, is why we sometime hear someone say, “I need to take a shower after going to a networking event”.  In many ways, they’re not kidding!

Networking Isn’t The Problem, It’s Your Motivation For Doing It

The research study didn’t just reveal that many people feel, well . . . ‘dirty’ when they network for business, they revealed an important insight into why!

One of the groups examined in this study was lawyers.  (Please, no jokes).

The researchers looked at how senior partners vs. newer associates in a law firm felt after engaging in business networking.  They found senior partners felt LESS ‘dirty’ as a result of networking activity than the newer associates felt after doing the very same thing.

It’s About Value . . . Who’s Got It and Who Needs It

The conclusion of the study was that business networking is an activity that does not, by itself, make anyone feel dirty. But the degree of self-interest being exhibited by someone in a networking exchange was far more likely to determine if they felt dirty or not.

Think about it.  The partners were going into a networking exchange with (usually) more value than their junior associates.  In their case, value meant these partners were bringing substantial resources into a networking exchange — their extensive network of connections, access to resources of all kinds, etc. was much greater than what a junior legal associate might bring into a networking exchange.

Are You a ‘Giver’ or a ‘Taker’?

On the other hand, a newer associate has relatively less power to bring into a networking exchange and a lot of reason to seek to take something valuable out of it — can you help me find a good position, can you mentor me in the firm, can you tell me who are the players in town, etc. These newer legal associates bring more need than power into a networking exchange and, that generates feelings that make them feel ‘needy’ and that’s not a good feeling to have.  Neither is feeling dirty.  See the connection?

“Is This About Me or . . . About You?”

The study concluded that you’re LESS likely to feel dirty from business networking IF:

1) you believe you have valuable ‘resources’ — contacts, information, etc. — to offer, and

2) you seek to give value to others more than you seek to gain value for yourself

That makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?

untitledTake an extreme situation.  Let’s say you’re playing ‘Santa Claus’ for a kid’s holiday party.  Everybody’s going to love you.  So why would your role as the great benefactor (Santa) and the ‘resources’  you bring (presents) make you feel badly or, ‘dirty’ in any way?  Answer: it wouldn’t be possible!

Now take a different but equally ‘extreme’ situation.  You’ve lost your job.  You haven’t been able to find another.  You’re low on funds.  You’re feeling depressed, hungry and getting a little desperate, too.  You hear about a Community Christmas party sponsored by The Salvation Army.  There will be food and gifts for the homeless and unemployed.

You never saw yourself ever attending an event like this when you were working but, this year, things have changed.  Drastically.  You decide to attend.  Reluctantly.

So why are you attending?  Are you planning to give anything to anyone.  Nope.  Your motivation is to take value for yourself.

Nothing wrong with that.  Especially if you’re going through a difficult time in your life.  But that also changes your mental framework of the ‘exchange’ event from one where your motivation is to give . . . to one where your motivation is to take . . . value away from the exchange.

The BIG Takeaways!

Networking is a Contact Sport
If you want to network effectively, you have to go and show up.  Networking is, by definition, a ‘contact’ sport. Like the lottery commercials say, “You can’t win if you don’t play”.

Framework Matters
If you don’t view networking in a positive light, you’ll find all kinds of reasons not to do it.  And, if you don’t do it (or, rarely), you won’t develop this important business building skill.

Attitude Matters
An attitude that empowers you to network with others comes when you see yourself as:

1)  bringing great value to others in every exchange you have with people, and

2)  seeking to give your value to others more than you seek gain for yourself

BNI’s Ivan Meisner had it right long ago – “Givers Gain”.  Now you know why!

Life is a Party . . . And You’re The Host
My mother was very successful in real estate.  Her career spanned 42 years.  She threw a lot of parties over the years.  Invariably, she would greet a guest when they arrived and say, “I’m so glad you’re here.  Come with me . . . I have someone I want you to meet”.  Mom was connector.  She was always adding value to other people in her own inimitable way.

One day I asked her the secret for her success.  She said, “Billy, life is a party.  You’re the host.  You’re responsible for making everyone feel good for attending your party.  Do that and you’ll be successful.”  And that’s why I use the phrase, “I want to be a party to your party”.  Life’s good.  Networking makes it even better.  Seeking to serve others ultimately serves you, too.

POINT:
You’re The HOST — it’s your party to share your value with with your guests.

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Making Your Messages Effective

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In marketing, messages are important. The best ones are also designed to prompt your reader or listener to take some kind of action.

There’s a formula for doing this that is easily remembered because of a famous Opera: AIDA.
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Here’s how that works to help you create a meaningful and moving message:

A . . . ATTENTION. The first element of an effective marketing message. You need to ‘hook’ your reader’s attention or they won’t spend the time needed to get the rest of your message. An intriguing headline is usually the best way to do this.

I . . . INTEREST. The second element of a good message. This means appealing to the interests of your intended reader or listener – not about you, your product or service. That’s boorish. It’s also not interesting or helpful.

D . . . DESIRE. The third element. Effective marketing messages don’t just inform; they must also prompt people to take some action. How? Pain or Gain. These are basic human motivators.  PAIN . . . suggests a reason to act to avoid or stop Pain. GAIN . . . suggests a reason to act to maintain or enjoy something you want and value. Focus on either one and your message will be ‘motivational’.

A . . . ACTION. The last (but not least) element. OK, you’ve hooked someone’s attention, captured their interest, and stimulated their desire to do something.  Now what? Simple. Invite them to do something. In marketing, it’s called an ‘offer’ or ‘call-to-action’.  Make it a good one . . . and easy to take . . . and a qualified prospect for your business will take you upon on it more often than not.

KEY POINT:
Effective marketing messages are formulaic. AIDA is one such formula.  Once you know the ‘formula’, you can replicate it. And repeated use of a winning formula will help you go to the bank a little more often and . . . with a lot more money.

P. S.
If your marketing messages aren’t as effective as you’d like, CALL ME.  Let’s discuss what changes will make them more productive — 860-798-6964

Do You Know Your ABC’s?

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A common business challenge is generating a respectable ROI for the time, money and energy you invest in building your relationships with prospects, clients and centers-of-influence for your business or practice. Invest ‘too much’ with the ‘wrong’ people and your ROI will suffer.

A simple way to do avoid that is to practice the ABC’s of relationship marketing.

The Basic Idea . . . Unlike what President Washington said, all people are NOT created equal — for purposes of marketing your services.

A . . . these are people who have demonstrated their ability and willingness to either:

  1. 1) buy what you offer, and/or
  2. 2) refer people to you (or, vice versa). Preferably, BOTH

You want to maintain a relationship with these individuals and be their preferred provider whenever they (or, people they know) develop a need that you and your problem-solving expertise, product or service can address.  They are your ‘gold’!

B . . . these are people you feel could become an ‘A’ but, it just hasn’t happened. Not YET.

It may be just a matter of time (too little) or opportunity (not enough) to demonstrate their ability to buy and/or refer.  Regardless, you feel it’s likely to happen and you’re committed to cultivating the relationship until it does.  You definitely want to build your relationship with these individuals!  They are ‘near gold’.

C . . . You don’t know if they have the potential to become ‘A’s for your business.

Why?  You probably haven’t had an opportunity to determine their potential ability and willingness to either buy from you and/or refer others to you. You’ll want to assess these people as soon as possible and then ‘invest’ your resources accordingly. They may be ‘gold’ waiting to happen or ‘sludge’ you’ll want to clean out ASAP!

KEY POINT:
You have limited time, money, and energy to invest in building relationships that will help you build your business or practice.  It’s important to ‘invest wisely’ (and, appropriately!) in your business relationships.  Knowing who is ‘most’ deserving of your limited resources, based on their potential to buy and refer — will help you make the best ROI for the marketing resources you’ve got and get you what you ultimately want — profitable growth!

Why is ‘New’ and ‘Improved’ So Important?

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You’ve probably heard of Groupon, right?  It’s the ‘daily-coupon-in-your-email-so-you-can-save-money’ service that just turned down a $6 Billion (yeah, with a ‘B’) offer from Google to buy them out.  The 28 year old CEO of Groupon must have been either a) drinking or b) smoking something to turn down that offer.

Groupon’s CEO forgot two key concepts in marketing . . . “NEW” and “IMPROVED“.

Google quickly responded by deciding that, since Groupon’s concept is so good, Google will create their own version of it . . . and they already have $6 Billion dollars to do it!
What’s really sad is not that Groupon said, “No, thanks” to Google.  It’s that Groupon forgot the basis of true market differentiation.  You have to be BOTH 1) unique and 2) beneficial.  Groupon was both.  Now, thanks to Google, it may be only one.  And now, Groupon can take it’s place in the middle of the ‘pack’ . . . it was and could have been the market ‘leader’ but it forgot about what ‘standing out’ requires.

KEY POINT:
You must be both UNIQUE and BENEFICIAL to differentiate your business.  Assuming you’re beneficial, you have a limited window-of-opportunity in which you’ll also be unique.  Sooner or later, if you’re really beneficial . . . your competitors will be on to you and that, my friend, is why ‘New and Improved’ gets such traction in marketing!

The ‘Dark’ Side of Facebook?

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facebook –– is a social (media) phenomenon.  2010 advertising revenues topped 1.86 Billion! While it may have taken its sweet time figuring out how to monetize itself, it’s finally done so with a vengence.  And that should continue in 2011.

Soon, you’ll be seeing a new kind of advertising on facebook –– the Sponsored Ad’:

This is a development you’ll want to be aware of; perhaps ‘BEWARE’ of it is more accurate!

How It Works: whenever you ‘like’ or ‘check-in’ with a business that is using this sponsored ad model, not only will your action be posted to your news feed but, at the same time, it will be used as a ‘paid advertisement’ by the advertiser — in this example, Starbucks.

Here’s The Problem: You can’t ‘opt-out’ of having your behavior (and, photo!) used as a commercial ‘word-of-mouth’ promotion and implied endorsement for a facebook advertiser!

The fact is that facebook intends to use your image and endorsement without your permission and without compensation.  Personally, that doesn’t feel right.  I’d like to give my permission to use my behavior and photograph in a commercial message disguised as a ‘word-of-mouth’ endorsement.  But wait . . . I’m not paying facebook a penny to use it, am I?  Well, there you go.

In business, you get what you pay for.  And if you don’t pay for something directly, you will pay for it in other ways.

KEY POINT:
Advertising revenue is a significant and powerful driver for facebook.  Just make sure you know if, how and when you’re helping to create that revenue!

“Got MOTS?”

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Like the famous Got MILK? commercials, I wonder if you ‘Got MOTS’ . . . Moments Of Truth.

Of course you do.  Why?  Because every contact with a client is a ‘Moment of Truth’.

Local business consultant, Carl Swanback wrote an article for the NGCOA (National Golf Course Owners Association) in which he makes an important point:
The EXPERIENCE a client has with your business . . . can make you or break you.

Your real challenge is managing . . . to create an attractive client experience consistently. Just remember that client BEHAVIOR follows their EXPERIENCE — good or bad — with you.

In this model I use in my consulting, you can see that the ultimate metric of your business’ success — REVENUE — reflects the degree to which you create experiences, consistently, that are emotionally pleasing to the people you wish to attract and keep as your clients.

KEY POINTS:

  1. The EXPERIENCE you offer your client is the ultimate DRIVER of your success
  2. Effective management . . .  is the KEY to an attractive experience for your client
  3. A client’s experience (and, brand preference!) is . . . 100% under YOUR control
  4. Make sure the experience you GIVE . . . is the experience  your client WANTS

Are You Following-Up?

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Lately, a number of business owners are telling me that their biggest challenge in ‘marketing’ is just . . . ‘Following Up’ with people after they initially make some kind of contact.

This goes beyond prospects, of course. I’m including clients and centers-0f-influence, too.

When I ask, “Why . . . is this an issue?” the most common answers are:

  1. “I have no PLAN to do it”
  2. “I have no CONTENT to send out”
  3. “I have no TIME to put it all together”
  4. “I have no STAFF to delegate this to”

Obstacles? Yes. Insurmountable? No. When you think about what you are losing out on if you don’t do ‘Follow Up’, you may decide these obstacles are worthy of your time and attention in this key area of your marketing.

KEY POINT:

If you don’t follow-up with prospects, clients and COI’s you’re committed to ‘hunting’ for a current transaction rather than ‘farming’ for a relationship that offers you many transactions over time. Just remember . . . while hunters enjoy a ‘thrill of the kill’, farmers . . . eat more regularly and better over time. Think about that and you’ll commit to ‘follow-up’ every time!

BONUS: Download a Special Report on “How To Stay-In-Touch to Stay-In-Mind”

30 Seconds to $30K — Guaranteed!

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If you’re reading this, “Thank You”.  You’re helping me make a point about marketing communications — RELEVANCE is key.

Whether you wanted a way to make $30K or you just wanted to prove what ‘BS’ this must be . . . it worked!

In marketing communications, there are four points to consider and use if you want response-able communications:

  1. Focus on your READER’s interests, not you, your product or service (at least initially!)
  2. Focus on his or her PROBLEMS . . . the ‘Pains’, not you, your product or service (at least initially!)
  3. Suggest remedial SOLUTIONS and STRATEGIES . . . to help your reader get what she wants
  4. Invite ACTION . . . not necessarily a ‘purchase’, but an appropriate ‘Next Step’ they can take with you — e.g. ‘Download a complimentary Special Report . . . “

KEY POINT:
Marketing communications that are most effective are:

  1. tailored to address the interests of a specific market — a ‘target’ market of yours
  2. designed with a specific person clearly in mind (not quite the same as #1 above)
  3. delivered at ‘just the right time‘ (When’s that?  You don’t know?  So communicate CONSISTENTLY!)
  4. ending with a clear ‘Call To Action’ — that is a progressive step toward your ultimate objective — a valuable relationship

Email — Don’t Miss The Opportunity!

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According to MarketingSherpa, a recognized resource in the field of online marketing, just released a study of what value marketers expect email to play in generating business in 2011:























KEY POINT:
The ‘Top 3’ uses of email for marketing in 2011 are projected to be:
  1. improving traffic . . . to your website
  2. improving transactions . . . from your website
  3. improving client retention

These are important objectives and email, used properly and effectively, is a key means to making them a reality for your business.

Relevance!

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Have you ever received a promotional marketing letter that was perfect in every way except one . . . it didn’t appeal to you?

Even if a message is well-crafted and coupled with a strong offer but it has no relevance or interest to you . . .  it can do nothing of value for the marketer who sends it to you.

KEY POINT:
Understanding WHO you’re seeking to appeal to gives you the clarity and insight you need to craft a compelling message and a response-able offer, as well.