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All giving, no getting. Are you getting frustrated with giving but never getting referrals?

Have you ever noticed that there are people in many of the networking groups that are very good about asking for referrals, but never give any out.  I'm pretty sure they're not even aware that they don't give referrals a lot of the time.  This is actually the norm.  Most people learn to ask, but not to give.  I think it starts in childhood. 

So what's a networker to do?   Give referrals and never get any in return?  I know sometimes it really feels like that,  doesn't it.

Here is how I deal with it:

1.  I give with the thought of helping someone else out, not getting in return.  For example, I just gave a referral this morning to someone looking for an accountant up in the thumb.  I happen to know a good CPA who maintains an office in Saginaw.  This is a natural fit.  I don't know if it will work out, and most likely, I will never find out.   For these kinds of referrals, I'll give the contact and just let it go. 

2.  I believe that the more you give, the more you get, but not from the same place - it will show up somewhere else entirely.  So giving out referrals is never a bad thing if you are comfortable that the person you're referring can do the job.

3.  Remember that your reputation rides on every referral you give.  Don't give a bad referral.  If you don't know the person you're referring, make that abundantly clear.  Also check in if you know both parties and see how it went.

4.  Certain groups don't pass referrals well.  If the reason you're going to the group is to get referrals or business, don't go.  Find another group that fits better.  I find this in a lot of the free networking groups where most of the members are small or at-home businesses.  A  lot of these people never learned how to refer or how to do business.  The higher-end groups that cost more generally don't have that problem, but they also have to be in a position to refer you.  Give it a couple of times and see how it goes.  Don't spend a lot of time with groups of people who will never buy from or refer you if you're there to do business. 

5.  Find a group of people that will be in a position to refer you.  For example, I'm a difficult person to refer if you are not in a position of trust with the business owner.  My best referral sources are the same as my best sources of clients - accountants and attorneys.

In my opinion, networking groups are also an overrated way to get business for many industries.  But that's a topic for another day.

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!!

What are you grateful for?

Can I Accept Myself and Still Lose Weight?

I believe that in order to lose weight easily and permanently, and not be completely neurotic like Monica on Friends, you need to love and accept yourself as you are now.  That includes your fat and everything else you may not like about yourself.  

That's a really hard thing for most people to do.  We have this belief that we have to be perfect or at least perfectly thin in order to like ourselves.  We will only be able to like ourselves when we are finally thin and then everything will be wonderful.

I think the reality is the exact opposite.  We have to like and accept ourselves just as we are now IN ORDER TO BE THIN.  The more we beat ourselves up, the harder it is to lose weight. 

Try liking yourself and forgiving yourself when you screw up - notice how much better you feel and how much less you need food to make you feel better.

When you truly like and accept yourself, it's a lot easier to find things that are better than food.

5 Strageties for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

The holidays are coming up and most people typically gain weight over the holidays.  You can avoid this weight gain (and maybe even continue losing) with a few simple strategies to avoid temptation and lower your stress, not to mention really enjoying yourself!

 

1.  Plan ahead:   Just even thinking through your schedule and anticipating where you might run into trouble can help you avoid it.  For example, if you know you're going to a party right after work, pack some healthy snacks to eat at work before you leave for the party so you're not starving when you get there.

2.  Eat Very Slowly - and really taste and enjoy what you're eating.   Take the things you really like, but take half of what you ordinarily would and just eat it very slowly and really taste what you're eating.  Pay really close attention to your food, especially if it's something  you really like.  It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register that your stomach is full, so if you eat slowly, you give your brain a chance to catch up with your stomach.  Plus, you will actually enjoy your food more.

3.  Exercise More - Adding a little exercise here and there (perhaps a 5 or 10 minute walk around the house, office or outside if the weather is good) can really help lower your stress level and help keep you happier and less likely to overeat in the first place.

4.  Don't Overbook Yourself or have unrealistic expectations.  Pick and choose a few parties and events that you and/or your family would like to attend rather than trying or feeling obliged to go to everything.  You and your family come first.  It's okay to say "no."  Really!

5.  Most Importantly - Concentrate on Other Things Besides Food or alchoholic drinks that you enjoy this season.  Spending time with friends and family that you don't see daily; decorating the house; outdoor activities and anything else that you really enjoy about the holidays.  Sit down this week and make a list of everything you like about the holidays that doesn't include food or drinks and really focus on those - see if you can add a few more things to the list this year.

Looking for Clients in All the Wrong Places

Who doesn't need more clients?   Isn't it great when you've good a full practice and can't take on any more clients?     But then, you get too busy to market, finish up with a few clients and all of a sudden you don't have enough clients.  What do you do then?  First off, don't ever STOP marketing & business development, but that's a topic for another day.   Most of the people I meet with start networking a whole lot and drive themselves crazy.  They are trying to find clients from people they don't know and groups they've never been involved with.  This is good if you aren't a member of any groups and don't know a lot of people - but if you've been in business for more than a few years that isn't going to be the case.  It also really takes time to build quality relationships and become known and respected in an organization - more time than you probably have if you really need clients.  It's a very good long-term strategy and can sometimes pay off in the short-term, but it won't reliably get you clients NOW.

So where is the best place to start if you have been in business more than a few years?  Your desk!  That's right, the file of your existing clients, friends and contacts that's on your computer or your rolodex.   This sadly neglected area is where most businesses fall flat.  They don't do a good job of staying in touch and following up.

Following up with people is how you maintain and grow relationships.  It's also the best way of getting clients quickly.  Start having conversations with people who you know and who already know (and hopefully like) you.    Catch up with them and find out what's going on in their lives.   Rekindle and strengthen that relationship.  See if there's something that  you can help them with (not making a sale).  Who do you know that can help them?

You're a lot more likely to get business from someone who already knows and likes you than from a complete stranger.   If you haven't talked with them in a while, there's a good chance they really need some reminding of what you do and what  you're working on right now.  Once you remind them, it's also a good chance that they know someone who needs something similar, or perhaps they could use some services from you themselves (especially past clients and people who have referred you before).

Make it a point to talk to good clients (past or present) and referral partners at least quarterly on the phone or in person.  Send out newsletters.   Send personal cards for major occasions.   Keep in touch.   It's fairly easy to do once you get in the habit of it, and it pays huge dividends.

Endless Referrals, by Bob Burg, is an excellent resource if you want more information on how to follow up.

The best place to find new business quickly is people you already know.

 

A Good Example of BAD Customer Relations

Facebook has been all over the web this week with their unexpected and sweeping changes to the user interface.  Oddly enough, there doesn't seem to be any rationale for the change.  And talk about really poor client communication - no one knew until they looked and their feed had been changed to stories that facebook chose based on something other than the user's desires.  I don't know about you, but I had to go in and make some changes to get back what I wanted to see.  Even worse, on the iPhone where I check facebook most often,  they changed the feed today and I have no way of changing it back. 

I saw a lot of people moving to Google+ this week.  This is not a good way to grow your business, especially for a company very dependent on ad revenue - where the more users you have, the more money you make. 

It was a great move for Google+, that's for sure.

Lesson:  talk to your customer base and find out what things they would like, or ask them what  you think they might enjoy before you change their services.  Test it out first with a smaller group of volunteers to make sure the customer experience will be a good one. 

COMMUNICATE!

 

Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber Community Leadership Luncheon Was Inspiring

I was very moved by Molly MacDonald's story (Every time I talk to her,  I am reminded of how amazing a person she is.) and her commitment to helping other women through the situation she faced when fighting breast cancer.   I am also very impressed by Huntington Bank's commitment to Michigan.  I was aware of the 2 Billion commitment to small business lending through my relationship as a coach to GLEQ, but that's quite a bit different than listening to Mike Fezzey, the regional president of Huntingdon Bank, talk about his passion for helping the community.    Check out the story in today's Birmingham Patch.

Book Review: Tribes by Seth Godin

One thing you can always say about Seth Godin's books:  They're always very readable.  Tribes is no exception.  It was an enjoyable read, but disappointing.  The book did have some good points, but I think it focused too much on saying you can be and you need to be a leader.   People that take initiative don't need convincing to do so.  For those that do need convincing, this book won't do it.  Godin's treatment of how to handle the fear of risk (or losing your job) is simplistic at best.  What he describes as "factories" still drive most of the jobs, even though many of them are smaller companies.  The idea that you are guaranteed a better job if you take risks is unrealistic in this day and age.  

The sad part of it is that there's really good concepts in Tribes that get buried by his focus on leading.   I really appreciated his definition of a tribe as anything 1) possessing a shared interest and 2) a way to communication.  The next point is that the internet allows people to create and join tribes in an amazing way - there are no limits on what tribes can be and how big or small they are.  

The idea of being able to join or create a tribe around something that you are passionate about and get involved and active is the gem of this book.  Small numbers of people can have an amazing impact, where 20 years ago, it might have taken a huge organization to make a difference because of the logistics involved.  Modern technology (i.e. the internet) has eliminated many of the barriers to communication and resources.  

I enjoyed the examples Seth Godin gives, but I have a better one from just this week - my husband created a group to support a little girl with a terminal disease who was being harassed by a neighbor.   Within a day of creating the page, it had over a thousand members and growing.   If you look around, you could probably find hundreds of examples of that.

It's now much easier to find groups around your passions, no matter how unusual, and become active.  GET INVOLVED with your passions.   It doesn't have to be in a big way or really risky.

So what did you think of Tribes?

NAWBO 2011 Satellite Chapter Award Winner

I was awarded the 2011 Satellite Chapter Award by the Greater Detroit Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) at the NAWBO Annual Meeting on June 9, 2011.  It was a great honor.  It is also a pleasure to be recognized for all the work I do in organizing and planning the NAWBO Central Satellite.  The NAWBO Central Satellite is currently on hiatus for the summer, but will start again in October.  The Central Satellite meets the 2nd Wednesday of the month at 8:30 am at Zuma Coffee House in downtown Birmingham.  If you would like to be on the mailing list for the NAWBO Central Satellite, please email me at egarbeil@efg-consulting.net.

2011 Satellite Chapter Award - NAWBO Annual Meeting

 

Book Review: What Clients Love by Harry Beckwith

I found this book a little difficult to get through, as it's kind of all over the place, but it's really well worth it.   Harry's style in this book is similar to an experienced salesman mentoring someone new - he is imparting advice and concepts that made him and could make you successful in selling services as he thinks of things and not necessarily  in a particular order.

There's lots in What Clients Love, from what to call yourself, how clients perceive you and what they really buy when purchasing a service to how important the relationship is to selling a service (everything).  He also talks about what goes into building a relationship and how to maintain it.   He addresses issues like how to deal with mistakes and how to listen.

I'd recommend reading this book, and then going back and focusing on a section here and there slowly until you really absorb his points.   Mr. Beckwith isn't correct on everything - His predictions on the Internet were certainly off and you can tell that his target audience is white middle aged men, or white male wannabe's - a normal bias for most traditional salesman.  And yet there are pearls of wisdom, even in that. 

So many things struck me in this book, it's hard to list them all so I'm not going to even try.  Here's just a few highlights.

  1. From page 129 - "Prospects choose service providers who share their tastes."  Remember the advice - "dress like your clients, just a little bit better."  It's excellent advice, but not if you pretend to something that you aren't, such as dressing like a farmer if you aren't one.  That ends up offending worse than the silk suit.  Mr. Beckwith addresses this very nicely with a clear story and better advice "Dress honestly and a little up."
  2. From page 182 - Imagineering's Six Commandments.  These are great reminders of what's important when designing a space, a sales presentation, or anything affecting your image or marketing.  My favorite commandments are "Avoid overload" and "Tell one story at a time."
  3. From page 237 - The Ten Rules of Business Manners.  These alone will make a big difference in growing your business and developing relationships.  If you do nothing else from this book but practice these, you will have made a huge impact on  your business.  My favorites are #1 - Wait until the other person has finished talking before you speak. and #9 - Be kind.   These all seem to be so obvious, yet very few people really practice these behaviors.
  4. I'm a coach and trainer, so I really like great questions.  The questions in the appendix starting on 260 are wonderful.  If you answer them yearly, you will really have a great guide to growing yourself and your business.

In short, buy the book, read it and re-read it.  Then start practicing bit by bit.  You'll really notice a difference in your business and your clients.

I'd love to hear what you get out of What Clients Love by Harry Beckwith.  Leave a comment here.

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