Why did the chain go that long?
How was it working out for you at the time?
I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS NEEDS TO BE SAID
Now think about this: What if you would have picked up the phone after receiving the first email? Even if it meant calling a couple of the people involved and having a 5 minute conversation with each of them.
That probably would have solved the problem, answered the question or moved the negotiation forward in a positive way.
Let’s keep this discussion short and get to the point…
PICK UP THE PHONE!
We’re so used to email, text, social media direct messages and other forms of written communication that somewhere real, live conversations are starting to get lost in the mix. Whether you’re shy, “too busy”, just enjoy writing or whatever other reason to avoid phone calls comes into your mind – one truth remains the same: A personal conversation will always get you quicker results than a typed message.
Most email chains (reply all or one-on-one) go on and on because of miscommunication and some form on confusion in the messages. You can’t hear tone of voice and you don’t get immediate feedback.
It’s not just picking up the phone without planning that will get you results; you need to have a plan so you can be sure you are…
MAKING EFFECTIVE, RESPECTFUL AND MEANINGFUL BUSINESS PHONE CALLS
When an email comes up that asks a question or brings up a subject that needs clarification get ready to grab the phone. Here’s how to have a great call:
- As soon at the other person picks up, tell them exactly why you’re calling (the email) and that a phone call will help clear things up faster.
- Respect your time and their time: Tell them you only have a few minutes.
- If there’s a problem or question that could lead to a problem: Ask them to FIRST clarify what they meant. Why did they send the email? What is the best solution they hope to get from the email and how can YOU help THEM get that answer or solution?
- Work with them, get on the same page.
- When you hang up: Clarify and share your action plan. “When we hang up I’m going to (___action towards a solution___) and report back to you by (__date/time___) with the answer/solution we agreed upon. Sound good?”
- Then go do it!
EVERYBODY WINS. FASTER.
Give this a shot today or tomorrow. Test it for yourself, watch the results you get and then decide if 5 or 10 minutes on the phone is better than hours or days of emailing back and forth without a solution.
Who can YOU call today instead of emailing?
Have you ever done that? Maybe you were asking for: a promotion, a contract closing, some help from a friend, a favor from a colleague or anything else. Then in between asking and getting an answer you start to wonder.
Of course, we’d all prefer the answer “YES!”. But often the fear of “No” gets in the way of asking the question in the first place.
NOTHING HAPPENS IF NOTHING HAPPENS
Think about something you want right now. I mean really want. Why don’t you have it yet? What’s keeping you from getting it? Chances are all that stands between you and what you want is…
But what should that question be?
How can you ask a better question?
SETTING EXPECTATIONS AND HAVING THE RIGHT ASK
The problem with many questions is that there’s no thought behind them. This greatly increases your chances of hearing “No”. You have to know why you’re really asking the question in the first place and think of a few things beforehand. When you know you’re asking better questions you’ll be more comfortable asking more questions. Here’s a few tips that might help you:
Don’t ask ambiguous questions. You need to set clear expectations, let them know exactly why you’re asking and be up front about what you want. If you’re asking a business colleague for an introduction to someone you see as a potential client, tell them exactly that – don’t say “I’d just like to talk about possible networking opportunities”.
Let them know what you’re NOT asking for. There are two kinds of ambiguous questions; intentional and unintentional. We just talked about the intentional one above. The unintentional ones leave something to the other person’s imagination. Using the same example, if you really are only asking for a networking connection – tell them what you’re not asking for by adding something like: “I’m looking for networking opportunities in this industry, just to put it out there I’m NOT going to try and sell them something…”
When possible, let them know what’s in it for them. When asking for something it’s easy to make the question one-sided. This prevents many questions from being asked; you think “I don’t want to put that person out…” Chances are there’s something in it for them too. If you’re asking for help with a project you’re working on, the person that helps you will probably gain some experience or make new connections as a result of helping you out. Mention that opportunity to them when you ask for help.
There really isn’t a down side to asking questions because…
WHEN YOU ASK A QUESTION YOU MAKE A CONNECTION
The best thing about asking questions is: You connect with someone. You’re reaching out, letting that person know what’s going on with you and creating a real conversation. Even when the answer is “no” for that question the conversation can continue afterwards about other opportunities for both of you.
Which would you rather be thinking about tomorrow: The “Yes” or “No” that you heard (which means you have a final answer) OR wondering about “What if I would have asked…”? (Which means you’ll probably never get that answer, time moves on).
Oh, back to the start of this story: The answer to that question I emailed did turn out to be “No”. But the conversation continues…
What can YOU ask for today? Who can YOU reach out to?
I’ve been talking about this behind the scenes with people one-on-one for a while. Panels recently came up AGAIN during my discussion with professional keynote speaker Scott Stratten – founder of Un-Marketing. Here are a few key points from our rant… errr… conversation…
THE PROBLEM WITH PANELS
They look good on paper (“3 experts at one event!”) but are often executed poorly. A few of the problems? One common occurrence is that the moderator doesn’t have much experience leading panels. This can hinder productive and fun conversations. Sometimes the moderator has never spoken with the panelists before the event – how could he know what questions to ask which panelists?
Key point: “The panel should be better than the sum of its parts”.
If the panel discussion is an hour long and there are 4 panelists this does NOT mean that each panelist gets 15 minutes to talk. That’s called a 4-part-keynote-speech. This also means that every time the moderator asks a question each panelist does NOT have to give an answer. Scott said one of the best answers he gave at a panel discussion was “The other people have covered this perfectly; I have nothing to add.”
Personally I believe that the traditional format for panels (mentioned above) should be put to an end. But just venting about it doesn’t help you. There are ways to have multiple people on stage sharing ideas and having them moderated.
I prefer to call them discussions. A real exchange of ideas with the people talking first and foremost interested in imparting wisdom, advice and maybe a laugh or two with the audience.
How can this happen? I asked Scott…
WHAT’S THE RECIPE FOR A GREAT DISCUSSION (OTHERWISE KNOWN AS A PANEL)?
STEP 1: Get A GREAT Moderator. This means someone with experience leading discussions. This could be via moderating other panels, doing media interviews or running a lot of meetings.
STEP 2: Have The MODERATOR Pick The Panel. This allows for natural rapport during the discussion. The moderator will know (within reason) what to expect from each person including expertise, personality type and how to talk to them.
STEP 3: The Topic Of The Panel Is… The Topic Of The Panel. The content has to match the title and the topic. The moderator is responsible for keeping the panelists on topic (another reason to get a great moderator – you can rest easy and be confident in delivering the quality your audience deserves). If your topic is “Social Media In The Workplace” but the panelists continue to talk about marketing – that throws the audience off and can let them down.
Hopefully this has sparked a few ideas for you. With regards to meetings, events, conferences and trade shows we NEED to bring real discussions back into the mix. Audiences are craving something different; the 3 steps outlines above can help give you just that.
What will YOU do differently the next time you’re asked to plan, be on or moderate a panel?
It’s also great advice to brighten your day; think about the last time you helped someone. How did you feel afterwards? How did the rest of your day go?
For this to happen we need a temporary paradigm shift. When most people have conversations a large portion of those conversations are about… themselves. A great way to help someone else shine is to do something dramatically different: Ask them how they’re doing. Ask them what they’ve been up to. Ask them what fun projects or exciting endeavors they’re working on.
Once you learn about something they’re proud of – share it with other people. Help spread the word about your friend’s achievements.
You might be thinking “Sounds like a good idea… But where would I begin?”
Here’s a few opportunities for you…
ONE ON ONE
Pick up the phone (or open your email, whichever you prefer) and reach out to someone. Let them know you’re just checking in (maybe you haven’t talked for a while or maybe you just want to say hi). Per what we just said above, find out what they’re up to AND tell them you’d like to know if you can help them with anything they’re working on these days; maybe you can help them directly or maybe you can introduce them to someone who can help. This could help them solve a problem (which is always a good way to shine) and will at least leave them with a smile and a great view of you as a colleague or friend. Maybe they don’t need help and you can leave them with a “congratulations!” for something they did.
AT NETWORKING EVENTS
When you’re talking in a group at networking events bring up another person’s (who’s there with you in the group) recent success at work. Share how and why they did it and let them take it from there. If you aren’t sure of their most recent success – ask them in front of other people. When you start the conversation they’re not bragging about themselves; they’re just answering your question. Trust me, they’ll be glad you asked.
- Write a Facebook post about someone you admire that is making things happen – this could mean big business ventures or volunteering for a local nonprofit; congratulate them and tag them in your post.
- On Twitter you can do the same thing and then include their handle in your tweet.
- If you have a blog you have a great opportunity to create content: Interview someone about their recent success – and ask them how they did it. Have them offer advice so other people can create success also. Then put that blog link out onto your other social media channels.
All of this probably sounds simple – and it is. But think about it: When is the last time you took any of the actions above? We all get busy and a little reminder can go a long way; just like a quick conversation can change someone’s day.
Who can you reach out to today?
Who can you help shine – which will leave you with a smile when you do?
When you’re on a phone call how often are you also on your computer – working on something completely unrelated to the phone call?
When you’re on a phone call how often do you notice the OTHER person working on something else?
How is that working out for your productivity for those phone calls?
Getting Work Done And Purple Monkeys
This phenomenon of “multi-tasking” has come up a LOT recently with my business calls (on both sides of the fence). I’ve started to notice the other person zoning out or focusing on something else too often and we both lose time.
So much so that (and this is only with friends or people I have enough rapport with to pull this off) when I notice someone just saying “Uh-huh” “Yeah, that sounds good” and not paying attention I would add a purple monkey to the middle of an intelligent sentence, it goes something like this:
(I say this): “So, I’ve been working on the project we’ve been talking about, and after talking to John about the marketing strategy a purple monkey attacked my cat this morning with a stuffed animal and then we decided to go with the first project instead. Does that sound good?”
(Often the other person says this): “Yeah, that sounds good…”
It’s funny in the moment but at the same time notsomuch…
Bring Respect Back To Your Phone Calls
To clarify here: I’m talking about business calls. You know, the ones you set up or that just happen because you both have something to talk about and results that need to happen after the conversation. Because a conversation is a two way street I started with myself. When I’m on a business call I turn my cell phone upside down and close my laptop. An amazing thing happens: The calls are more productive and often shorter since I don’t have to repeat things or ask for a third time what the other person said.
Have any of these ever happened to you?
- You’re on a call AND answering email at the same time. An upsetting email comes in and, after you read it, the news ruins your mood and concentration for your call.
- Your client is working on their computer while you’re talking. Because of this they miss an important point that you make about working with them and it creates a problem in the future.
- Someone gives you bad news on the phone or presents you with a problem they’re having and because you’re focused on something else you respond inappropriately with something like “That sounds good…”
The good news is all of those can be avoided, just…
Try It For A Day
For one day, just one day, give this a shot: Close your computer or turn on a screen saver when you’re on business calls. Focus on the other person and TELL THEM that you’ve stepped away from your computer because you want to be sure to give them all of your attention. Let them know you respect their valuable time.
Hopefully they will do the same. You can also ask them to do the same so you can both spend your time more productively.
Take notes on how this changes your day. Then decide if you want to try it again the next day and bring respect and responsibility back to your conversations…
I had the pleasure of speaking with Richard Saul Wurman (Founder of the TED Conferences and most recently The WWW Conference) again today. I’m embarking on a journey to demystify mentoring – and I knew Richard would be an amazing person to call and ask for help kicking off that journey.
Richard, of course, immediately shifted the paradigm of what most people think mentoring is. His explanation opens new doors and requires an open mind and some guts to make things happen. Here are a few things we talked about.
MENTORING ISN’T WHAT MOST PEOPLE THINK IT IS
Most people think of mentoring as something that happens when a younger person seeks out an older person to learn from their lifetime and wealth of knowledge. That definitely can be the way it happens. Sometimes.
But that doesn’t have to be the only way and that shouldn’t be the only way…
MENTORING IS NOT ABOUT GREY HAIR AND ANCIENT WISDOM
Richard went on to say mentoring is about learning from someone smarter than you. He told me the story of how he purchased a book on his Amazon Kindle this week about “Information Architecture” (a term he coined and a methodology he invented). After paging through the book overnight he was beyond impressed with the author. Richard said “The guy explained some parts of Information Architecture better than I have…” So he reached out to the author to set up a conversation with the hopes of being mentored by the author.
The author is (probably) in his thirties.
That exemplifies and shatters the paradigm that a mentor has to be older than you. They just have to be more knowledgeable than you in some area; and you have to know what you’re looking for.
Since it’s not about age – that means…
MENTORING IS ABOUT CONFIDENCE AND COURAGE
A lot of people put mentors on a pedestal or somehow view themselves as “lower” than the mentor; especially if that person has what you deem to be a high social status. Being around someone like that can build your self-confidence. Have you ever had someone say something like this to you? “Hey, guess what – I talked to (insert a fancy title, celebrity name or something like that here) today!” It can become about bragging rights. But it shouldn’t be.
I love the phrase “It’s not who you know – it’s who knows YOU.” This applies perfectly to mentoring. Just because you get a “photo opp” with someone doesn’t mean you know them. You met them once, took a picture and maybe posted that picture all over social media. But you can’t call them the next day.
If you want to find mentors you need to move beyond “photo opps”. If you want to build mentoring relationships you need to know…
CONFIDENCE: TO PUT YOURSELF IN THEIR PRESENCE
Recently a friend mentioned the phenomenon of the “10,000 lb phone”. She referred to it as that moment in sales or any other area of your life when you’d rather do anything than make “that call”. This relates to mentoring…
First you have to have the self-confidence (even if this means building yourself up enough to pick up the “10,000 lb phone” and make the call) to approach your potential mentor in the first place. Regardless of who they are, just think about: Their genius and why you’re calling them in the first place. You’re calling for help – and chances are excellent that at some point in their life THEY made that same call. And someone helped THEM.
Mentors want to give back. Help them give back by having…
COURAGE: TO ASK
Once you make the call or walk in the door you have to have courage to ask for help. Many people are afraid to look vulnerable. We’re taught to “fake it ‘till we make it” and “always put on a happy face”. If you never talk about your challenges – how can anyone ever help you with those challenges? If your life is presented as perfect then I have nothing to help you with.
Tell them WHY you’re calling. Then (this is important) tell them specifically why you called them. Let them know you did your homework and show them some immediate respect. You’ll be amazed at how this will change your conversation.
With a little practice you’ll be amazed at how those conversations will change your life.
Who can YOU build up the confidence to call and then have the courage to ask to help you – TODAY?
“I would gladly let someone smarter than me upstage me.”
–Richard Saul Wurman
That was one of international bestselling author Jim Collins’ closing statements during his amazing speech at the World Business Forum this week in New York. Being curious, I had to know more – so I found him off stage and asked him two questions. In a matter of six or seven minutes (I’m guessing on that time frame) he imparted advice that could take years for most of us to learn through simple trial and error.
I hope you find this as helpful and enlightening as I did…
Jim pointed out that mentors have obligations too. If they’re going to take on a mentee, they need to help get results within their (the mentor’s) available time so it’s fair to everyone.
What can people that want to be mentors do? Where can you start?
- Find 2 weaknesses within the person you’re mentoring or going to mentor. This gives you focus. Don’t get into every area of their professional lives. As a mentor you’ll need to ask the right questions to uncover these weaknesses. Then, once you find them…
- Focus on those 2 weaknesses.
- Keep them focused on improving and overcoming those 2 weaknesses. Answer their questions, provide them with resources and introduce them to connections to help them overcome those weaknesses. Set up some kind of accountability system (even if it’s as simple as “When I call you next month I’ll expect you to tell me 3 ways you’ve been working on what we talked about…”)
Some people might think that being a mentee is about getting advice and shortening your learning curve. It is. And moreso than with mentoring it’s a huge responsibility wrapped in amazing opportunity. Jim gave a simple starting point (that takes some guts to follow through on).
What can the mentee do to find a mentor? Where should you start?
- Ask (GOOD, or I should say GREAT) Questions. This will help you to…
- RESPECT your mentor’s time, advice and expertise which leads us to…
- When you get answers: Step up and take action.
- When you take action – take notice of your results (good, bad or otherwise). Bring these results back to your mentor with more (great) questions about your next steps.
HOW YOU CAN FIND MENTORS
From that short conversation and many of my own experiences I’d like to share with you a starting point. Something you can put into motion today.
Start with your own weaknesses. Pick two that you know (or think you know) you have. This will tell you WHY you need a mentor. Look for mentors with experience and expertise in those arenas. A name, celebrity status or a high level title aren’t the sole deciding points.
Once you know WHY you need a mentor then you know WHERE to start looking (online and offline). Where are your potential mentors active online? Their own blog? Facebook fan pages? LinkedIn groups? Twitter? (I’m intentionally working with social media platforms where you don’t need permission to interact with them, such as getting approved as a friend on Facebook or connection on LinkedIn). What events are they speaking at (or what organizations are they active in and attend the events of)?
Then you get to HOW. Jim shared that process with us: Start by asking great questions. First ask yourself great questions then ask your mentors great questions.
Who can you reach out to TODAY? What will you ask them when you meet them?
It’s All About Setting Expectations
As a business owner or an executive in charge of a marketing department: Would you hire a young professional and expect them to immediately be up to speed, know everything about your company’s mission, take complete control and be ready to go as soon as they start? Would you put them in charge of any department and let them roam free without guidance?
What Companies Do Wrong When Hiring Millennials
Yet that’s essentially what many “seasoned business people” expect of millenials and social media. Because they (millenials) grew up with social media they should know how to apply it to business marketing, right? Specifically to your business marketing plan, right? Wrong.
Companies often fail when hiring millennials because they set the wrong expectations out of the gate. The company essentially tells the their new hire: “Here’s our company information. Go “do” social media for us…” They forget that marketing with social media, like any business function, takes training. There’s a learning curve.
Someone in the company needs to…gasp…spend time teaching (dare I say mentoring) the people they hire – especially millenials. They’re learning about the business world (just like you did when you first got out of school Mr. CEO or Ms. Business Owner. Remember that?) Don’t blame it on the person you hire. Don’t put them “in charge” on day one. Give them the opportunity to learn, grow and eventually lead.
Take a step back and realize you have an amazing opportunity in front of you…
The Opportunity to Mentor and Develop Tomorrow’s Leaders
Just to put it out there: If you want someone to hit the ground running without much training then yes, you need to hire someone with a few years of experience in your specific field.
If you’re hiring an intern or a recent grad to run your social media:
- Provide leadership. The fact that millenials understand the inner workings of social media is a great start. Combine their knowledge of social media with your expertise in marketing to create success. Roll up your sleeves and lead.
- Provide time. Realize and create reasonable expectations with time. Yes, you’ll need to invest in your new hire. The key word is invest. If you don’t have time to train then don’t hire someone that needs training. If you can make the time – you can enjoy the ROI.
- Provide guidance. As with any employee or contractor – set up a system for feedback. If something goes wrong, let them know what went wrong then teach them how to correct the problem.
- Millennials don’t have to “un-learn” outdated marketing strategies. Social media is still a new(er) medium and only a part of your company’s marketing strategy. A millennial won’t say “But that’s they way I’ve done it for the last 15 years; why should I change now?”
- Millennials can grow with your company. Your social media strategies are going to change. A lot. That recent grad is used to the fast paced world of social media and, with your help, will change and grow with you as your company’s marketing needs shift at a faster pace.
- Millennials can teach YOU. Yes, you read that right. Ray Kroc said “As long as you’re green, you’re growing. As soon as you’re ripe, you start to rot.” The most seasoned business person should still be learning. Millennials provide fresh insights, new ideas and opportunities you might not have thought about.
At the end of the day, the question to ask yourself is: Are you ready, willing and able to be a teacher and mentor?
What do you think of when you hear the term “leadership”?
Often “Leadership” invokes images of a CEO, a serial entrepreneur, an extremely successful business person, a winning coach, amazing public speaker or someone at the pinnacle of their career. Those images you’re thinking of are the end result of a lot of learning, taking risks with trial and error milestones. What can you do to develop your leadership skills today so that you can enjoy those rewards in the future?
Leadership is a process of taking action and “doing” – not just understanding (by listening or reading books). To get started today here is a 3 step process that anyone, at any level of professional success can implement. The good news is: Starting out by just asking for help is the cornerstone of this process; you don’t have to know everything or pretend to know everything. You just have to…
Ask about what you don’t know yet…
What do you want to get better at in your career? From sales to marketing to managing a team – what would you love to be great at? Now ask yourself: What don’t you know about that area of business? That’s an important question with an even more important answer: You need to know what areas you’re lacking in if you want to grow.
Now ask: Who embodies those things you want to learn? This might be someone you know, someone you’ve heard of or a public figure you admire. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel; someone out there can help shorten your learning curve when it comes to leadership. When you find that person the it’s time to…
Learn new strategies and specific actions you can take…
Yes, we all learn from mistakes and they can be great teachers. You can also learn from other people’s mistakes (as well as their successes). This is where networking comes in. If you’re a member of a professional organization you’re already ahead of the curve – you have a built in network of people to turn to.
You can turn to them for advice or ask them to introduce you to someone that can – this could be over a cup of coffee or on a 20 minute phone call if they don’t live nearby. The important thing: Ask them for specific things you can start using – today – then take action on their advice. What did they do to get where they are? What would they have done differently? Create your own experiences and learn how to be a leader in your industry by doing.
“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”
-John F. Kennedy
Now it’s time for you to…
Teach others what you’ve learned…
Think about taking tests in school (high school, college, graduate school or continuing education). Just memorizing answers and acing a test doesn’t qualify someone to teach the class. If you want to really learn – teach other people.
You can teach your coworkers or your employees. You can create internships and teach college students about your industry. You can speak at professional events. There are a lot of outlets to teach other people – and that’s what leadership is all about: Helping other people become leaders. Helping others helps you become a better leader.
Starting with “asking” comes full circle now – chances are great that someone else is asking the same questions that started you on your journey. Now you have the opportunity to answer those questions for other people.
“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.”
-Harvey S. Firestone
Recently I had the great pleasure of interviewing Richard Saul Wurman; Founder of the TED Conferences and creator of the WWW Conference. As one of the most innovative people in the meetings industry he’s changed the face of the conference world during the last two and a half decades. He had some great advice to share about REAL innovation (and what isn’t innovation). Below is the first video interview (of 4) and some tips for you about creating the 4 kinds of innovation according to Wurman.
When someone does something nice for you, solves your problem, makes an introduction or otherwise helps you out how do you feel?
More importantly: How do you respond?
I’m going to guess your response is something like this: “Thank you! How can I help you?”
Unfortunately many of us wait until someone helps us to reach out to help them; we stay stuck in a reactionary position.
We all have things we have to get done, checklists that need to be crossed off and goals that need to be achieved. We’re all facing some kind of problem or challenge no matter how small or how big. We all need help from time to time. If that’s true: Why wait to help other people? The best way to get help is to give help first. Think about it…
Today I spoke with Jonny Imerman (founder of Imerman Angels) to prepare for an upcoming event that we’re speaking at together at in Chicago (“Social Media For Social Good”). And a really interesting point came up: How many cause marketing campaigns focus FIRST on the benefit to the for-profit company with the non-profit (the cause) coming second or third? How can you avoid the campaigns that will hurt your cause and focus on the ones that will help your cause?
Have you ever played the role of “Monday Morning Quarterback” as an event planner or organizer? You take part in an event and after the event is over you have great ideas about how it could have been better. Great ideas that come after an event won’t change the past. And if attendees, sponsors and exhibitors had a bad experience they probably won’t be coming to your next event. What if you could have those great ideas about building a better event BEFORE your event takes place?
How can you prevent the “woulda-coulda-shoulda” trap of conferences, trade shows and other events?
In part II of my interview with NY Times Bestselling author Carol Roth (the full blog post is below the video interview); she shares some great insights about building an event the RIGHT way and getting your community involved before any marketing starts (follow Carol on Twitter here).
Do you ever get tired or over-saturated with email newsletters – even the ones you actually want to read (and especially those email newsletters that you DIDN’T sign up for)?
Me too… SO:
Recently I decided to clear my primary email addresses of any and ALL newsletters, marketing updates, etc. Those inboxes are now only for personal correspondence from real people. BUT I still want to get helpful information and updates so I discovered a simple way to do just that. Hopefully this will help you too…
Do you ever use social media to market your networking events, conferences or tradeshows?
Have you ever had the experience of someone marketing their event to YOU – the wrong way with social media?
Some great points about this came up during a recent conversation with Carol Roth (see the video interview below); who has great insights from both helping spread the word about events and from the other side of the table as a NY Times Bestselling Author & speaker (follow Carol on Twitter here). Social media can be a great tool; but when it comes to marketing you don’t want to just dive in and and start tweeting, messaging, posting on Facebook or LinkedIn without a method to your madness.
Have you have encountered “That Guy” at a networking event or networking meeting?
You know the one…
“That Guy” was one of my first tough networking lessons in Chicago. There’s a financial firm downtown that teaches its sales reps EVERYONE is a potential client – whether they know it or not. Get a meeting, push the product then push some more. Unfortunately I didn’t know this when accepting invitations to networking lunches with people from this firm.
My first encounter went something like this: The rep invited me to meet for coffee to look into networking “synergies”. During the first 5 minutes of sitting down the sales pitch started. I told him politely I’m not in the market for his products but I’d love to look into other referral opportunities and ways to help each other out. He must not have heard me. After another 30 minutes of the product pitch the meeting was (thankfully) over.
Recently I spoke with Brian Palmer, President of National Speakers’ Bureau about a critical part of success (or failure) at events: Choosing the right speaker for YOUR event. He shared some do’s, don’ts and important strategies we can all use.
Whether you’re responsible for a $15,000+ speaker budget or finding a speaker to volunteer; the end result is the same for a meeting planner, organization, corporation or sponsor: the speaker can make or break your event.
Here are the two most common pitfalls when choosing a speaker: Many people pick a speaker primarily 1) based on their resume or job title: “A nice resume with a list of accomplishments or a great title must mean he’ll be a hit at my event…” or 2) a referral from a friend: “If Joe says this speaker is great, she must be…”
There are a few steps that need to be considered BEFORE picking a speaker, before asking a friend and before writing the marketing copy for your event.
What makes the successful ones successful? What makes the failures flop?
The simple answer: Successful events change lives. Failed events were created without a clear, value driven purpose.
WHICH EVENT WILL YOU GO TO?
There’s money in events, we all know that. Unfortunately, money is the driving force behind many events. Other unique marketing messages and value propositions for events often aren’t the focus point. Let’s get into the meat of this – which event would YOU want to go to? Which event would YOU support?
- “Hello (your name), I’m holding an event to make money. Will you be there? Will you tell your friends?”
- “Hello (your name), I’m holding an event to (help entrepreneurs grow their businesses and meet other entrepreneurs / help nonprofits connect with passionate volunteers / help college students find mentors / help local professionals make meaningful connections to grow their businesses and have fun) you get the idea…
Which is more appealing?
While I recognized a person or two there were a few people I didn’t know – some lived in Chicago (where I live), some worked in similar industries, others I didn’t recognize at all.
NONE of them included a personal message or introduction.
Sending a friend request on LinkedIn or Facebook WITHOUT a personal introduction is like walking into a networking event, passing your business card out to every person in the room and hoping they call you back (without giving them a reason to). Would you do that?
Here’s how you can help THEM connect with YOU…
Do you ever wonder how those events happen – what’s involved with creating something that’s not just “another event” but an experience?
Last week I attended Book Breakthrough in New York; an event designed by Janet Goldstein and Elizabeth Marshall. It’s a conference for authors and soon-to-be authors to help them find their focus, find their mission and get their books published.
I expected great content and to learn a few things and meet a few good people – and was pleasantly surprised…
The content was amazing – Janet & Elizabeth provided the audience with everything you need to navigate the publishing world; from how to get focused if you’re just starting to write a book to choosing the right kind of publishing model (self-publish or go with a traditional publisher or something in between?) to “been-there-done-that” advice from phenomenal authors sharing their experiences including Carol Roth, Todd Kashdan and Les McKeown. (Click here for a full list of presenters)
On my last day in New York last week I was walking around Central Park enjoying the views. After a while of aimless wandering I realized I had to get back to my hotel (in Mid-Town) to pick up my bags and catch my flight back to Chicago. So I did some guess-work with landmarks and tried to find the right way out of Central Park to be closer to my destination.
30 minutes later I was neck deep in guess-work and no closer to a way back.
(But I did find a minute to enjoy the views and take the picture I used in this blog post…)
So I asked (a New Yorker) where the nearest exit was – knowing that if I had a street crossing to work with I would know where to go (even if I was starting waaaaaay off-track). Turns out I WAS off course; but at least I knew what I was doing wrong and then pointed myself in the right direction (from the upper east side).
How often do you do just that in business? Get lost and just keep guessing? How does that work out for you?
Getting “lost” can be fun if you’ve got time on your hands and you’re just enjoying the views. When you need to get somewhere (get results): Notsomuch.
The people who changed your life the most probably didn’t do so as the result of a dollars and cents equation or a professional calculation; they (probably) simply inspired you.
Or, better yet, POWERFULLY inspired you. Inspired you to take action. Inspired you do chase a dream. Inspired you to do something, even the smallest thing, because you loved doing it.
Think about one of these people in your life right now (or that you might have lost touch with) and turn the tables.
Inspire THEM. Thank THEM for what they did for you. Inspire THEM to keep doing that magical thing for other people.
Make a phone call. Send an email. Write a letter. You get the idea…
After writing about when people need to STOP networking some people asked: What if I need to build my business network and get more referrals – i.e. I still need to meet more people?
People run out to all kinds of networking events, collect a lot of cards and meet some great people along the way – if you want to build your business and get results you’ll need to get more focused than that.
A lot of people spend a lot of time networking in the wrong places. WHERE do you network? More importantly: HOW do you choose those networking events or organizations? You need to know who you want to meet before you pick where you go to network.
This means you need to start the networking process BEFORE you walk out the door to an event.
A couple weeks ago I attended an outstanding social media conference – SOBCon (“SOB” stands for “Successful Online Business”) and met some amazing people. Not only did we connect at the conference but there are a LOT of people to follow up with after the conference to continue the conversations about business opportunities.
So I stopped networking.
That’s right – I needed to create real connections and opportunities so I stopped networking for a couple weeks. Here’s why:
How often do you go to a networking event, meet people and collect business cards – then go to another networking event, meet people and collect business cards – and so on?
How often do you follow up with those people? How often do they follow up with you?
Guessing your answer is “Not that often…”
You probably don’t hear that too often (if you hear it at all) during your daily conversations.
Put slightly differently: I want to learn more about business and I want to learn from people who’ve “been there & done that”. I want to learn from their accomplishments and their mistakes. But that would mean coming out and admitting I don’t know something…
Not knowing can be a good reminder to get back to basics; if you can overcome a common obstacle…
Too often people associate not knowing something or asking for help with “looking bad” or feeling stupid. It happens all the time during those conversations when people nod along hoping that nobody asks them to explain what’s being talked about. Those conversations are amazing opportunities to learn – and if you want to learn you have to admit that you don’t know something.
What does this mean for you? How can you put yourself into situations to grow, to learn and become better at what you do without looking bad?
I’ve been wondering about this for a while; so I asked a mentor of mine (Tom Tuohy, Founder of Dreams For Kids) for some advice. Here’s a few things I learned from the conversation:
FORGET ABOUT ME. LET’S TALK ABOUT YOU.