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?
Take 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”.
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.
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.
You’re The HOST — it’s your party to share your value with with your guests.
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It centers around the value of building a network of ‘raving fans’ — people who know, like and trust you.
Doing that is not only easy, but motivational as well.
Your Network IS a ‘Money Tree’
If you’re a solo-practitioner, there’s a practical limitation on the number of business relationships you can cultivate. Despite what you might like to believe, it’s difficult to maintain a quality relationship with more than a few hundred individuals.
In fact, an English researcher named Robin Dunbar did research that revealed how most people can only maintain a viable relationship with around 150 people. Thus, the ‘Dunbar Number‘ of 150 people refers to the number of people you can maintain an active relationship with over time. And, by ‘active’ I mean they’ll respond to you when you call or contact them.
If you look at the average person’s network connections on Linkedin, they probably have a few million ‘close, personal connections’. The fact is . . . most of your online ‘connections’ don’t know you exist and couldn’t pick you out of a police line-up if they had to (and why would you be in a police line-up, anyway?).
I’m not putting down social network connections. But the reality is, absent a personal effort to cultivate an awareness of you and build a position for you / your brand, you’re not likely to generate new clients from social network connections. Doubt that? OK, in the last 12 months, how many new clients did you generate who only know you from Linkedin, Facebook, Google + or the like? See. I rest my case.
What’s a Better Approach? Cultivate Your Own Network!
Again, there are very good reasons to be active on social media — especially Linkedin. But generating new revenues from people whom you have not connected with in a meaningful and ongoing way . . . is not one of them.
What is better is to identify people who are likely to buy what you offer and/or likely to refer you to others who can? In a word, ‘Cultivation’.
Cultivation is a KEY Function for Growing Your Clientele
Cultivation is one of the six (6) key client-development functions you must engage in or you’ll be relegated to making cold calls for the rest of your career. These are:
Fueling . . . generating introductions to people who MAY be able to buy or refer you
Qualifying . . . learning if someone can buy and/or refer you to others who can
Cultivating . . . building top-of-mind awareness and preference for the brand called Y-O-U
Converting . . . helping someone make a decision to act on your recommendations
Servicing . . . keeping someone happy to work with and spend money with you
Managing . . . operating your practice in a way that consistently exceeds clients’ expectations
Once you’ve found someone who’s able to buy what you offer and/or refer you to other people who can, you’ll want to cultivate a relationship with them. This helps you build the ‘know, like and trust’ factor you need to be thought of first and favorably when (not if) a need arises for your problem-solving expertise, services and products.
To keep this function simple, all you want to do is keep-in-touch and top-of-mind with your qualified people. Reconnecting with them to remind them you exist . . . with relevance, respect and regularity . . . is all you need to do.
This calls for a very simple ‘plan’. For example, you can build a Cultivation Plan using any or all of the following means of keeping-in-touch and top-of-mind with your ‘qualified’ connections:
1. a newsletter
2. a personal, handwritten note of appreciation
3. a phone call to ‘touch base’
4. a ‘Thinking of You’ email with a link to an article of relevance to your contact
5. an invitation to reconnect over lunch or coffee with 2 other people-of-interest
6. an introduction to a person of interest or value
7. a referral to someone you know who might do business with your contact
8. an item-of-value that your contact would likely appreciate receiving
You don’t have to incorporate all these different activities. Nor do you need to do them each month. But you do need to choose some of them and use them consistently and conscientiously.
Why 240 People . . . Is Your Magic Number
Earlier, I said it’s not practical to attempt to cultivate more than 150 – 250 people on a regular basis. But if you do cultivate 240 people, you’ll see a lot of opportunities to generate clients, revenues and referrals. Here’s how . . .
Let’s say your Cultivation Plan requires you to call your people once a quarter. That means you’ll be calling, on average, 1/3 of all your contacts being cultivated, each month. (If you want to know why, call me — 860-798-6964).
If you’re cultivating 240 people, you’re re-calling 80 people a month. Unfortunately, between your schedule and theirs you aren’t going to reach 50% of them. No problem. They’ll remain in your cultivation system and you’ll continue to cultivate them as your plan suggests. Yes, you’ll call them again in another 90 days. So you’re down to 40 people.
Of the 40 people you do reach, expect that around 50% will thank you for calling but they’re not going to have a need you can address or know someone they can refer you to meet. It’s OK. They go back into the cultivation pool as well.
Now you’re down to roughly 20 people. A couple are likely to tell you, “Let’s stop”. They (or, you) will decide that they’ll never buy from or refer to you. It’s over. It’s OK. You’ll live. You remove them from your cultivation system and make room for new, more viable contacts to go into it. It all works out in the end.
Of the remaining people you do reach, you’ll either find a reason to meet or you’ll generate some referrals to people they know who fits the profile of the kind of person who can best understand, value, desire and afford your services. It’s all good.
Now remember, these are WARM calls . . . to people who know, like and trust you. Each one is growing steadily closer to the next time they need to buy what you do — lifetime value of a client, remember?
So how many discussions do you need to generate an open case? How many open cases can you turn into a decision meeting? How many decision meetings do you need to close a single sale? What’s your average sale look like?
Now, do you see why you want to cultivate qualified people? It reinforces your relationship with key people for your practice, it makes your life easier, your revenues greater and, best of all, more predictable, too.
Cultivating Key Relationships . . . helps generate revenues easily, predictably and significantly
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Apple Computers and I Have a Relationship
I’m a big fan(atic) of Apple computers. I bought my first Mac — a little 128K model while working on a project as a consultant at LIMRA — in 1984. I finished the project so far ahead of schedule that I got a ‘bonus’ check. That check paid for my new ‘personal’ computer. I was hooked on Apple. Our ‘relationship’ has stood the test of some 30 years. Apple computers and I are a ‘thing’.
Recently, Apple rolled out it’s latest operating system version called ‘Yosemite’. It reflected a number of changes from prior O/S offerings. Some were very substantial. Many were, as expected, pretty cool.
One of the applications that comes with an Apple iOS is called, ‘Keynote’. This is Apple’s answer to PowerPoint. And, while both are good. I prefer to use Keynote. It’s elegance (and, my skill at using it) makes it my presentation software of choice.
Keynote . . . is a ‘Consequential Damage’ of Yosemite
Unfortunately, the new Keynote / Yosemite pairing has resulted in a major problem. For me.
Keynote’s got a bug that Apple created with the launch of its Yosemite operating system. Even worse, Apple seems unable and/or insouciant to address this problem.
I used to create Keynote ‘slideshows’, added audio (voice narration) and mixed both into an MP4 (movie) file I could upload, distribute, etc. NO MORE! Now, audio / voice-over recordings are mysteriously ‘dropped’ from an MP4 after about 45 seconds. WTH?
“Apple . . . We Have a Problem”
I called Apple’s tech people. They’re pretty top-notch in my experience. Unfortunately, I was told by the tech person I spoke with that the “dropped audio in Keynote” is a problem that Apple knew would happen, knows is happening and . . . is (currently) doing nothing to correct it. Seriously?
This is a big issue as it means a lot of time and effort will be required to produce a similar result — using non-Apple software I might add! This cuts into my profit-ability and adds a ‘hassle’ factor that’s growing by the moment.
I don’t know which is worse. Apple’s knowingly making changes that compromise what loyal fans have come to count on from their relationship with Apple, or . . . Apple’s apparent dismissal of client concerns once they’re voiced. Either way, it’s not going to build trust between Apple and it’s community of fans. Quite the opposite.
Without the ability to do what has been done for many years, life is changing. And, not for the better. Thank you, Apple, Inc. I wonder what Steve Jobs would have to say about this egregious insult to the long-standing expectations of loyal fans . . . like me?
What’s Important to Learn From All This
Any relationship of value . . . and I believe a ‘client’ relationship qualifies for this . . . must be regarded as a fiduciary relationship. If you’re holding yourself out as a ‘trusted’ advisor, it means you’re worthy of your client’s trust, right?
The problem is, ‘trust’ is a fragile thing. It’s a challenge to establish it with a new relationship. It’s also a challenge to maintain it once you have it with an existing relationship. Trust . . . is the ‘glue’ that binds a client to you and you to a client. But like any bond, it can be broken. To the detriment of all parties involved.
Trust . . . is hard to earn, and so easy to lose. Work hard to get it. Even harder to keep it!
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In fact, all that media coverage has not been lost on the good people at Goodyear Tire. Yes, the people with the blimp.
Lindsay — You’ve Got Mail!
It seems that, following the recent episode in a NYC parking garage where Ms. Lohan allegedly hit a pedestrian while attempting to park her Porsche — and the media that went nuts like a bunch of sharks in a feeding frenzy, good old Goodyear has taken it upon itself to help save the world (or, at least make it better) by offering driving lessons to Lindsay and Amanda Byrnes.
OK, That’s Funny. But Goodyear is Totally Serious!
How serious? Serious enough to send her publicist an actual letter in which they offer Lindsay FREE DRIVING LESSONS with a professional driver at the Goodyear headquarters. And, oh yes, they guarantee there will be “no paparazzi allowed”. You can read the actual letter by clicking here
Naturally, the letter does a nice job of promoting Goodyear’s local dealers and tire products. (Why not, it’s THEIR letter, right?).
Listening for the BUZZ . . . Attracts the GREEN!
Goodyear’s PR people were smart to jump on this ‘current event’ (Linday’s notorious driving reputation) to raise Goodyear’s AWARENESS to a nice level using the very same media who were covering Linday’s latest lifescapades in the first place!
What’s Good for Goodyear Is Good for You, Too!
If you’re lucky enough to have an in-your-face media fiasco like Linday produces predictably and periodically, you have a readily available source of inspiration for a ‘newsy’ angle on which you can build a story for your brand, company, product or service.
When you do that, you are also likely to gain the attention of the media and all the good things — increased brand awareness and probably increased website traffic (to name just two things of many!) that go with that.
PR is a great way to raise the public’s awareness of your business and brand. The secret to PR that doesn’t end up lining birdcages in Baltimore is to piggy-back off of some highly touted and visible event that everyone seems to know about and leverage that media coverage into a highly visible PR opportunity for you.