Can you take your business relationships to the bank?

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 1,000 times, “All business is relationship business”. You know that, right? Think about it: if your relationships with your clients are tight enough you don’t have to worry about losing them as clients. And even if there was an outside chance that someone could come in and take that business, your client would let you know. That’s a surefire key to success.

Those relationships have to start somewhere. You often don’t build those sorts of bonds with people overnight. And if you do, I’m hiring!!! LOL.

Most relationships start with introductions from someone who knows both parties. Often times in business, those introductions happen because someone made an ASK or a specific request to meet someone.
If your ASK was made in front of the right person, they may make the introduction for you. The question is, are they compelled to do that? Have you “GIVEN” enough to receive?

Networking is all about give and take. And interestingly enough, those that give, often get to take. Consider yourself as having a bank account filled with credits and debits. As you add value to your network, you get credits. As you take from your network you get debits. Make sense? If not, it soon will.

This blog post is the first in a series on Relationship Capital and was inspired by Pat Williams aka @cletch recent comment on my post last week. Last week’s post was “The network and the individual”. One of my key points was that it is the individuals duty to ASK for what they seek. Pat suggested that we can’t just go around asking all the time…we have to give too. She is correct and that is the basis of Relationship Capital.

Stay tuned for more on this exciting concept.

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The network and the individual

Last week we looked at the individuals impact on the network. Let’s look at the inverse: how can one individual impact an entire network?

You’ve no doubt heard the saying “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link”. The only difference is that unlike the chain, a network is a living, breathing organism. This is based on the fact that a network is a collection of living, breathing organisms.

In order for networks to thrive, they have to be fed and fed often. Feeding a network is easy. You do so by giving to it. Giving comes in two very different methods:

1. The obvious one is by giving referrals. These referrals can be either helping people who are in the network or by referring people into the network. New people often lead to new opportunities and new opportunities often require new people.

2. The second one may seem counter-intuitive at first glance. Its you letting the network know what you need. Sure that sounds like “taking” but let’s look at what you’re really doing…GIVING the network the opportunity to help you.

Here’s the deal, real networking doesn’t begin until there’s an implied need shared. Sometimes you’re able to help. Sometimes you’re not. And sometimes its you that needs the help.

This is the circle of life of networking. Networks thrive on the actions of the individuals. And when the individuals take the right actions, we can all thrive too.

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The individual and the network

People have long realized the importance of relationships. In the old days we gathered together to hunt, protect our villages from outside threats and celebrate. Seems like the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Many sales pros consider the art of selling a “hunting” exercise. We are always on the hunt for new prospects to become clients, business partners, employees and even investors. The more we cast our net, the more likely we will be to catch what we seek.

Here’s the challenge: its a mighty big world and there are far too many prospects for us to track. Its this reason that has made networking and relationship marketing so prominent.

I attend a LOT of networking functions and do even more of it online. I continually see folks making the same mistakes over and over. Let me simplify networking to the core.

As an individual inside of a network we have two important jobs.

1. We need to know who we look to meet. Of equal importance is our ability to communicate those needs specifically, concisely and effectively (see this series on The ASK to learn more)

2. We need to know what value we have to offer the network. Value comes from our contacts, our knowledge and our time. Most importantly it comes from our willingness to share these attributes with others.

This post was inspired by my recent statement:

Individuals succeed based on the quality of their network. Networks succeed based on the quality of its individuals.

Stay tuned for part two of this entitled: the network and the individual.

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Conversation starters

Conversation starters

Do you have a hard time engaging others in conversation? If you do, it’s likely even more apparent now with Facebook and Twitter, right? HERE are a few of the BE attitudes from Charlie and my presentation that can help:

Be funny- The world loves a clown. If you hear a good joke, “borrow” it. Make humorous observations about everyday life. I heard this guy named Jerry something or other…turns out he made a mint doing that.

Be bold- Chris Matthews on Hardball doesn’t get the big bucks because he’s namby pamby…he dots you between the eyes with his opinions.

Be quotable- Can’t think of anything original? Use someone else’s quotes. We have a whole history full of them.

Be thought-provoking- Say something that gives folks pause and makes them go hmmm

Be helpful- Offer tips that will improve others experience.

Be interesting- Share relevant information that is topical to the day.

Be interested- Ask about them. “ME” is everyone’s favorite topic

Be yourself- This last one is THEE most important. No sense in trying to be someone else because you’ll “attract” the wrong type of people.

What thoughts would you add to this conversation?

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Find your flow

This video was inspired by one of the 4 episodes of Oprah that I have seen. She interviewed some stars of the hit movie “The Secret” and I made a point to watch. It was very interesting to see the reactions and the conversations.

We are all connected to something much greater than many of realize. As such, we have the ability to create or co-create the life we want. It’s a lot easier when we “Find our flow”.

As an added bonus, this video was filmed in our hotel room overlooking Niagra Falls. The view is spectacular. Pay attention to the fact about Niagra Falls.

Here is a link to the video: http://vimeo.com/4417639

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