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Niche Focus Pocus

I’ve been writing quite a bit about the highs, lows, and lessons learned in building my new online business division.  One of my very first challenges has been selecting my niche market focus.

Guess what I’ve realized?!  The same marketing principles in the face-to-face business world hold true in the online world!

niche networking photo for blog

I’ll explain…but first let me take you back a bit to the most unforgettable marketing lesson of my life.

A number of years ago, when I was an exec in the corporate world, I was responsible for product development and marketing women’s bras. (Yes, I know, a rather unusual industry).

Well, at that time I was a newbie marketer and I needed to find a way to get our products sold into department stores. (Remember those big buildings we drove to, where we tried stuff on, paid for it with cash or credit cards, and then took the stuff home?) There was intense competition to get bra buyers to buy new styles. They were trying to select out vs. add in – unless you gave them a darn good reason to buy.

So how to get our small brand bought and sold into a sea of bras?

Well at the time, sports bras were just starting to get talked about. And in the early 80’s, tennis was a very hot sport for women. This was the era of Billy Jean King, Chris Evert, and Evonne Goolagong.

Now, at that time, I didn’t play tennis or know much about it. But I knew sports bras were only going to get bigger and more important in the bra world.

And we didn’t have a unique product or brand direction in our entire line.

So I did a little research and found out that from a numbers standpoint, women tennis fans and players were a meaningful market- maybe not compared to the entire bra market, but appreciable nonetheless. More importantly, women who were into sports had a big need, and they were a very eager, enthusiastic market. Women tennis players were buying millions of dollars of tennis clothes and other accessories each year. Intuitively, I knew we were perfectly positioned to get noticed and capture our slice of the sport bra market – if we acted fast and smart. I knew we could carve out a healthy niche market.

Ultimately, we got Evonne Goolagang, winner of 14 Grand Slam tennis titles,  to be our spokesperson for The Tennis Bra. Our sales took off and we became known as a major player in the Sports Bra market.

Ok, that’s nice for the tangible product world. But what about the online marketing world? Is niche marketing as necessary?

Good question.

I’ll answer it in one word:


The online business world is filled with vast opportunity – almost endless in fact.

That’s the good news. The flip side of the coin is that it’s over-packed with products, services, and content.

In such a noisy world, the only way to gain traction is by FOCUSING.

You’ve got to focus on a niche, your slice of the market, to get noticed, attract an audience, and resonate with that audience if you want your business to succeed.

No Niche Focus? Your Biz Is Doomed

Many people believe that a niche is an industry or a demographic. Those factors contribute to a niche but my experience has shown that the more FOCUSED the niche, the more successful you can become.

Why? Because even a tiny niche is powerful IF the need and desire for products or services is high.

Some case studies:

My friend Marcia is in the business valuations arena  (she helps companies determine how much they are really worth if they want to be sold). Her clients are primarily attorneys who handle trust and estates matters. Her niche is NOT all lawyers – just trust and estates lawyers.

My colleague Kathleen has an embroidery business. She has an unbelievable niche that emanated out of her love of Cowboy and Rodeo related things. Her niche: women who love cowboy-related things: boots, hats, rodeos , etc. Her facebook page, Cowgirl Heart and Soul has over 15000 followers!

My friend Catherine has a love of luxury and travel so she’s turning her passion into a business and targeting the luxury traveler.

There Is No Niche Magic – Just Strategy

Whether or not to niche your business is not the question… The real question is How To Select The Right Niche?.

Well there are 3 things you must focus on when selecting your ideal niche:

1. You’ve got to find the niche interesting and appealing. If you don’t, you wont continue doing the work to cultivate and nurture this niche. David Geffen, music and entertainment mogul, was crazy about folk music back in the 70’s. Impassioned about this music niche, he helped folk megastars like Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, and The Eagles get their start in the LA club scene. The rest is history.

2. You’ve got to KNOW YOUR NICHE inside and out  – who they are, what makes them tick, what their problems are, what keeps them up at night, what they are hungry for, and how they purchase. That takes some research – but so does any business initiative if it’s to become successful. When your niche knows you understand their world and their issues and their buzz words, they immediately are drawn to you over others who are not as familiar with their world.

I didn’t know a thing about the public accounting profession when I started working with those clients. I learned quickly about their needs, their challenges, their busy season, their firm structures, and what kept them up at night (usually their clients). Then I was able to attract more clients in that arena because they knew I understood their business and challenges.

3. You’ve got to learn where your niche can be reached and communicate with them in their language, speaking directly to their needs and wants. Where are they congregating – online and in person. Where do they search, what articles do they read?

It’s a pretty simple formula. But most business people get lazy – or more commonly – fearful. They believe if they narrow their market they’ll reduce the business opportunity. Not! Your potential will only increase when you zero in on a target market plus it will make your marketing efforts SO much easier. You won’t have to be everywhere to get noticed – just where your ideal niche is.

I know – it is a bit counter-intuitive but the more focused your niche, the more you will get noticed and loved by your audience.

So start capturing your slice of success pie.

WAIT! Before you leave…  to help you “Know Your Niche”, I’ve got a special free gift for you

 A Super Simple Niche Selector Cheat Sheet!


Oh, and if you have a great niche story or a question, I would love for you to share in the comment box below!

The 3 Amazing Things That Finally Got Me & My Business Unstuck

The 3 Amazing Things That Finally Got Me & My Business Unstuck

There aren’t too many things that feel worse in career, business, or life than the feeling that you’re stuck. We hear about people feeling stuck quite a bit these days and there are a plethora of books and posts about the experience of feeling unable to move forward in life.

If you’ve ever felt stuck in your career or life, these feelings may sound very familiar:

Being stuck can make you feel empty, hopeless, wiped out, and downright pissed off. Being stuck can seem to you as though your life is meaningless while everyone around you has direction. You just don’t know which way to turn to fix things and move forward again. People around you try to advise you but everything they suggest feels off the mark.

Frankly, this is just what I have been going through for a long time now. Almost 5 years, to be exact.
And I’ve been keeping it a secret. Or trying to at least.

The irony of this is as an experienced coach and business advisor, I’m pretty good at helping other people get un-stuck on a regular basis.

So why couldn’t I do this for myself?

Good question.

So in order to answer this question, let me take you back to when it all started – this stuck-ness.

In 2010, I decided to move my coaching and training business, and my life, to California.

I had just ended a 5-year relationship, and I was soooo sick of winters back East. I am a summer girl and love being outdoors and being active. Tennis, and running, and hiking are things you can’t do year-round back East.  I would find myself waiting 6 months of the year for the weather to turn warmer. That’s an awful lot of waiting.

Moving to California was a no-brainer : great weather, lots of close family, I knew my way around having lived there before, and I had the networking skills and a roster of clients to work with virtually.

It all looked perfect.

Baxter the dog and I got on the plane and headed West.

I don’t remember being happier than during those first couple of months in California.
I was feeling successful, in the midst of a big extended family, opportunity was huge, and I was in endless sunshine and warmth.


Then, I went for my yearly mammogram at UCLA and I experienced my own personal earthquake.

For the next few weeks, doubt and terror filled me. But this wasn’t a typical breast cancer scare. If the diagnosis was positive, it would be my 4th bout of it.

Yup, #4.

The news was both good and bad.

The bad news was that it was a malignancy that required major surgery. The good news was that it was super-early and I wouldn’t need chemotherapy.
So, within 2 months of this move, I went through life-altering and body-altering surgery.

Being a very fast recoverer, I was very, very lucky.

But now let’s get back to the point of this post.

Back to being stuck.

You see, within 2 weeks of my surgery, I got right back in the saddle and went back to work with clients. I had the rent to pay, contracts to fulfill, and work that had to be done.

But somehow, I couldn’t get my mojo back.
Try as I might, I didn’t feel the same about my business.

Look at my backyard office and tell me I shouldn’t have been motivated.



I wanted to. And in truth, when I started working again there were some clients who did ignite a spark of enthusiasm again. (Thank you guys – you know who you are).

But mostly my business started contracting.
My eagerness to network and prospect and generate leads in the old ways just felt boring and inauthentic. It was much more difficult to cultivate my “tribe.”

So I started retreating.
A dear friend suggested I start tapping into my creative side to find myself again.
Being stuck and stressed to the max, I took her advice.
I started painting, distressing and refinishing furniture.

I did feel really good. But as for my business – STUCK!

I was in the most amazing paradox: Living in the most beautiful place with gorgeous inspiring views, but my life and my business were totally uninspiring.
I felt as though I was just doing the same thing over and over and not growing.

And here was the worst of it.

My confidence was in the toilet.

Over time, it got somewhat better. I wrote my book on networking, Network Like A Fox. I was happy to have a goal, complete the project, and enjoy the process. I had fun speaking all over the country on this topic and others.

Things started to get better. A little.

But the feeling of STUCK, not moving forward, being in a rut, pervaded.
And it was a very lonely feeling – being stuck and not having anyone to really brainstorm with. That was one of the worst feelings. I had always enjoyed being a solopreneur, but now I truly missed having a partner or colleagues to brainstorm with.

I asked for advice, coaching, input. I tried many things. I had a new idea every month to move my business forward.

But none took hold. None inspired me.

None held my attention long enough to develop any traction.

Then, I started to learn how to dance. How I found dancing, or it found me, was an accident.

A friend dragged me to a local country music dance hall (I had always hated country music) but, go figure, I fell in love with country music and two-step dancing. line-dancing-with-tall-jeff-2
A bit later, I also found West Coast Swing, a really fun but challenging dance.

The challenge of learning to dance, feeling myself overcome the hurdle of going from novice to not-so-bad and having so much fun brought new energy to my life.

As I made new friends, and my confidence started to come back, I also worked on getting into shape. I got stronger and fitter than I had ever been. I was running 3 miles every other day, playing tennis, dancing 3-4 nights a week, eating really well and enjoying a wonderful social life.

Yet my business was still in neutral.

And then the first amazing thing happened.

I heard a podcast with Anthony Robbins about living on purpose.

Amazing Aha #1:
I had been unclear about my purpose. This explained why all of the attempts at new directions hadn’t panned out. They were unconnected to my larger purpose and mission.

I now knew my search for purpose had to precede whatever I decided to do next professionally. I knew that I had learned and cultivated lots skills and abilities I wanted to share with people. I knew I wanted to make a difference with others in a much bigger way than I had before.

So I went on a Purpose Quest.

I created a vision board.

I started meditating every day and focused on detecting my purpose.

I started watching for signs and signals about what to do next aligned with my purpose – whatever that was!

On a strange whim, I registered for an online course in building new business models.

The course was terrific but in the beginning I still felt kinda stuck.

Then as I interacted with the community and the leader of the course, it hit me.

Amazing Aha #2: I felt a strong yearning to build and inspire a community of my own, helping them succeed. How? Well, I’ll share that a little later so read on.

As I learned and participated in this course, I found my community of amazing supportive business people to brainstorm with. My direction formed, and my ideas started lining up.

In my focusing and visioning exercises, I created the intention of living a life where my work felt like play.

And that’s what it started to feel like. My brain was challenged, my creativity was challenged, my connection to others in my community expanded.

But here’s the thing: as excited as I was, I knew, without a doubt, that I was going to have to pull the curtain back and share my personal story.

I realized that in order for others to be attracted to my community, they needed to know why they should follow me.  I knew that people follow those whom they can relate to, those with whom they resonate, those whose stories impact them and inspire them.

That is how connection is generated – and sustained.

Amazing Aha #3 – I was now ready to tell my story – all of it and trust that the story would not diminish my image or value to the business community. I had to trust that telling my story, reveal the truth, would not only help others see their value and purpose, but build the powerful community I envisioned.

I now could truly believe that I was capable of creating this, where before it was only a nice wish.

Looking back, the best way I can describe being stuck is

“it’s hell in the hallway”

I now feel like I’m back in the light again – most of the time.
I do get moments of doubt. That’s when my community reminds me who I am – for the community I want to build.

What I’ve learned, so far, about being stuck, and what it takes to get unstuck is the following:

1. We are stuck for a reason, usually because we’re supposed to stretch into something new, way bigger, way more challenging.

2. You can’t rush getting unstuck. It’s a process and all you can do is the personal exploration work needed until you gain the new awareness and readiness to move forward.

3. Having community whether it’s a coach or a mastermind group or a business community or a spiritual community – is so essential to get the support and smarts of others to help you.

You know, when I was in the worst of my stuck-ness, I did know that I would eventually come out of it. I just hated having to be patient, I hated that I couldn’t just take an action and have things shift immediately.

Being stuck can happen to anyone -whether you’re brilliant or not-so, successful or struggling, hard-working or a slacker. Lots and lots of people go through a career or life quagmire.

In fact, Tim Butler, director of career development programs at Harvard Business School recently authored a best-selling book entitled, Getting Unstuck:How Dead Ends Become New Paths (check out the itunes podcast here).

Now, with that “stuck” residue starting to wash away, I understand how my dead end was essential for me to see the green arrow pointing me to new purpose, passion, and productivity.

Soon, in an upcoming post, I’ll be sharing all about the project that I’m working on now and ideally what’s in it for you too.

After all, without being of real value to you folks, I’m right back in that hellish hallway.

P.S. In the meantime, this a personal invitation to visit me (and “like”) me on my Facebook Business Fox Page where I’ll be posting some meaty videos on some of the new business strategies I’ll be revealing. And I’ll soon be doing some Facebook Live video streams – so I’ll be at your disposal to answer business questions about getting unstuck, confidence in business, and new business strategies and tools to help you and your business grow in big new ways.

Got Doubt?

   Allison is about to land the client of her dreams when the last question asked by the prospect brings up a huge wave of DOUBT. Doubt seeps into her answer, and she loses the job to another candidate.

A client decides he wants to upgrade his business and signs off on your agreement on Friday. On Monday morning, he backs out.

 He tells you he thought about it and “can’t afford it.”

He has what I call “buyer’s remorse.”

What really happened? He began to DOUBT. He isn’t really doubting your ability, but rather his own decision-making ability. Unfortunately, uncertainty about himself is what will prevent him from having the very results he says he wants to produce.

It is so easy to DOUBT – one’s choices, one’s knowledge, one’s worthiness, one’s persistence.

DOUBT destroys enthusiasm, creativity, innovation, joy.

DOUBT diminishes performance.

Ask any professional athlete and he or she will tell you that as soon as doubt creeps into the mind, the scoreboard swings in the direction of the opponent.

We stop ourselves from the very things we say we want by doubting our choices and our ability to do those things we truly yearn for in business and life.

Second-guessing ourselves and others is a national pastime that serves no one.

Have you ever noticed how your friends and family will so easily endorse your uncertainty, but not be quite so free to endorse your bigger dreams and desires?

I am not saying we should indiscriminately do everything we feel like doing. Yet there is a huge distinction between being thoughtful and DOUBTING oneself.

Now consider this: where would we be today if Bill Gates had let doubt trump his decision to drop out of Harvard, or if Steve Jobs had allowed doubt to stop his decision to leave Apple or if J.K. Rowling had doubted her passion for writing ?

Common wisdom says your first reaction is the right one. This is because you intuitively KNOW what is right for you. If you listen carefully to your inner wisdom, you will hear what it is that is right for you. It is when you refuse to listen to this inner voice that this lack of trust in yourself eclipses your confidence.

I say it’s time to dump DOUBT from our minds and prevent it from destroying the joy and passion for the things and experiences that make life rich, juicy, and joyous.

It’s time to transform your doubt into determination.


Where have you doubted a choice, doubted yourself, doubted others and robbed yourself of experiencing something you’ve really wanted? Were DOUBT right or wrong?


10-Min Way To Stay In Touch & Pump Up Sales

It’s that time of year when we naturally stay in touch – with family, friends, clients and colleagues. It feels so wonderful to be in connection with the people in our lives.

So, why don’t we do this year round in our business when it would maximize our results?

Case in point:

My client, Eric is an intellectual property attorney.

He was disturbed because his referrals seemed to be drying up.

I asked, “When was the last time you put a stay in touch campaign out there to your connections?”

He said, “I know, I know. You’re right. But I’m so busy.”

You know and I know:

Busy won’t grow new business for you.

(this is a good one to tweet- just click!)


Eric and I put a put together a simple but powerful STAY IN TOUCH CAMPAIGN. It was comprised of content and other high-value communications, some digital and some more personal, “dripped out” (consistently, regularly sent out at designated intervals) to key referral sources, colleagues, current clients and past clients over the next 6 months.

This sounds like it would take a huge amount of time, right? It is a campaign, after all.

Not so.

Each stay in touch effort took no more than 10 minutes! Less time than drinking a cup of coffee.

The results? Not surprisingly, Eric’s referrals started to flow again.

But so much more happened:

  • A past client engaged Eric for two new matters.
  • A connector friend of his invited Eric to speak at his national conference – an entire audience of targeted ideal prospective clients.
  • A referral source asked him to meet with his top two corporate clients – great new leads in his ideal target network.

However, one former client told him, “I wish you had contacted me a couple of weeks ago. I just hired another attorney.”

When Eric asked him why, he said:

“Because he reached out to me at the right time when I needed the advice.”

All of these results demonstrate how necessary it is to stay in touch with people in your professional life, and the high price when you don’t.

Did a smart stay-in-touch campaign take a little time and thought? Yes, of course.

But look at the payoff.

A consistent Stay In Touch program will:

  • Get you more business with current clients and reactivate previous customers and clients.
  • Help you land more leads with key prospects.
  • Entice new referrals and
  • Open doors to lots of unexpected opportunities in your current business and beyond.

I’d going to make it super easy for you to create your own Stay In Touch/Pump Up Your Leads & New Clients Campaign with a simple 5 steps/10 minutes roadmap.

Just click on the link and you can download your complimentary Roadmap. It’s a smart and easy way to ramp up and stay up in your business in 2014.


How To Become A Book Author & An Authority Fast

How To Become A Book Author & An Authority Fast

Many of you know that I published my book on networking this year, Network Like A Fox: A Targeted Approach To Building Successful Business Relationships In Person & Online .

Was it spectacular – setting a goal, working toward accomplishing that goal, seeing it come to fruition? You bet. But the fruits of these labors were so much bigger than these feelings.

First, and most importantly, I’ve gotten wonderful comments from the readers who have been helped and encouraged by the information I shared in the book. That’s incredibly rewarding. But then there are the pragmatic business reasons:

Why Become A Book Author

Now that I’m the author of a “real book” vs. just an e-book or a booklet, my positioning as an authority on my topic has accelerated more powerfully and faster than I ever thought possible.

I’ve exponentially multiplied my speaking engagements to bigger and better audiences.

I’ve attracted bigger and better clients.

I’ve leveraged the book into courses and other business opportunities.

Here are 5 savvy reasons it’s worth the time, effort, and money (yes, it does take an investment to become an author in today’s marketplace) to write your book:

1. You are given expert/authority status almost immediately.

2. You gain much greater visibility in your niche or field.

3. You attract new and unexpected business or career opportunities, and can make real money from the sale of the books – even if you never become a best-seller on Amazon.

4. You reach many more people more quickly.

5. You distinguish yourself from all the other competitors in your field.

How To Become A Book Author Fast

Writing a book – if it’s a how-to book – doesn’t have to take a massive amount of time unless your topic requires a lot of research.

Before you embark on this process here are 5 tips to making this project come to fruition faster and more easily:

1. Be clear about your end purpose – speaking assignments, public relations visibility, making money from the sale of books, new clients, job offers. Your end purpose will help you focus on how you write, execute, and market the book. This will also help you determine if you should self-publish or seek a book agent.

2. Make sure your topic is in demand – check out Amazon and other book selling sites to see how many books are already published on your topic.

3. Do a Google search for the topic and see how many other searches have been conducted for the topic.

4. Cover your topic from a unique, maybe even “disruptive” angle. Today, disruptive sells.

5. Repurpose content you’ve already produced on your topic. Review your current body of content -blog posts, tip sheets, videos, articles, white papers. Strategize about how to incorporate this content into your book. This can greatly speed up your process.

The 3 Smartest Things I Did To Get My Book Produced On Time

My deadline for finishing the writing of my book was December 31, 2012. I finished the first draft a few days ahead of schedule. How?

1. I had a system for writing and developing content and worked it religiously. I was committed and determined to fulfill on my objective – on time. Oh, yes – I also told people I’d be done by Dec. 31. Nothing makes you take action more than announcing your goal publicly to others.

2. I hired a project manager for the editing and the book cover creation.

3. I had a clear marketing strategy for how I wanted to leverage the book for business opportunities. Mine was to market the book into companies, firms, and organizations, having them buy the book in bulk, and not deal with any returns.

Since the publishing of my book in May I have already recouped my initial investment, am now speaking and leading workshops all over the country on a topic I am passionate about, and have upgraded my status as an authority and my client attraction.

To paraphrase Nike, stop dreaming and “Just Write It.”

If you’d like to find out how The Business Fox can help you turn your know-how into a real book, write me at with I Want To Become A Book Author in the subject line.

Your ideas matter: PUT YOUR COMMENTS BELOW NOW – tell us why YOU would love to write a book.


How To Make Your Body Language Say The Right Things In Business

How To Make Your Body Language Say The Right Things In Business

I  have always been fascinated by the topic of body language, the messages our bodies transmit in non-verbal ways.

Years ago, I had the opportunity to interview one of the top CEO’s of a major publishing company.

We had a great conversation: he was smart, warm, charming, and…..nervous.

How did I know this?

He couldn’t make eye contact with me.

I found that fascinating… a major CEO was struggling with confidence.

Recently, I watched Amy Cuddy’s popular TED Talk: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are . What I loved about social scientist Cuddy’s talk was the focus she placed not on how we could read others’ body signals, but how we could generate our own physical positions to influence and shape what we wanted others to get about us. Now that’s powerful!

In this talk, Amy confirms what I am always telling my clients: “They may not remember what you tell them; they will ALWAYS remember how you made them feel”. Your stance, your confidence, your presence often trumps your information, credentials, data.

Given two people with similar credentials, smarts, degrees, the one who gets attention and results will be the one with greater confidence and presence.

You can have the best diploma but what they really are buying is you.

So it makes sense that you should and could gain mastery over your body language, right?

Imagine….oozing non-verbal cool confidence and power when

  • you are being interviewed for a job
  • you are selling an idea in a meeting in your organization
  • you are networking with sweet spot prospects and decision makers
  • you are pitching potential clients
  • you are making a public presentation
  • you want an job candidate to say yes to your offer

Nice image, eh?

Change your body, change your mindset.

Tony Robbins has been teaching this for years: Shift your body energy, elevate your power and confidence.

According to Cuddy, when we “small up” our body stance, our testosterone levels lower (resulting in a loss of power and confident emotional level) and our cortisol hormone increases (elevating our stress level). The reverse is true when we adopt power stances- we actually control these hormone levels in our body and thus shift our emotional states!

So how can you leverage this information in situations when you want to exude magnetic power and influence, generate people liking you, listening to you and your ideas?

2 Minute Power Pose

You may remember the movie scene with Diane Keaton in the movie, Baby Boom. Diane plays a former hot-shot executive-turned-single mom. She develops a runaway success business that her former company wants to buy. The offer is so big it makes Diane’s character quake in her high heels. She excuses herself, scoots into the ladies, looks at herself in the mirror, adopts a power pose, cries, “Yes, I’m back!” and heads back into the boardroom totally pumped up. Then she leads the rest of the meeting, standing in that same head of the table “power pose.”

So, before your next networking event, prospect meeting, interview, speech, pitch, take 2 to Power-Pose it up:

Power Pose 1 : The Victory V

big v for vicotry





Power Pose 2. The Superman or Superwoman Stance

   superman power stance




Power Pose 3. Table Lean

lean on table stance




Power Pose 4: Arms Folded Behind Head/Smile

smiling arms folded back





Power Pose 5: Fist Pump

fist pump woman





Just looking at these photos makes you feel strong, powerful, enthusiastic, doesn’t it?

Make your body shape your mind and then the minds of all around you.

Do a little private power posing before key events and moments, watch your power and influence rise along with your results.

If you’d like to see Amy Cuddy’s 21 minute TED Talk go here:  Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

I’d love to hear your stories of bad and good body language!

Comment below.

Why Depending On Getting Referrals Is Wrong For Your Business

Why Depending On Getting Referrals Is Wrong For Your Business

Who doesn’t love getting referrals?

There aren’t too many things that feel better than  when someone refers business to you and you land a juicy new client without doing anything more than lifting the phone receiver. (Well, giving referrals feels pretty awesome too!)

Many professionals depend almost 100% on getting referrals as their business development strategy.

This strategy is great – when it’s working.

But what happens if or when your usual referral sources dry up? What happens if, as is often the case, people recommend you but these referrals don’t call you?

Why Depending on Referrals Is Dangerous

Barry is a partner in a mid-sized accounting firm. For years, 85% of the business he and his partners received was through referrals. Business was good, the coffers were flush.

Then, the market changed. The competition got fiercer, other firms were out their networking, marketing, and using social media to bump up their visibility, keep their services fresh and foremost in potential clients’ eyes.

Barry and his firm started to see their referrals slow, then trickle, then almost stop.

They were stymied about what to do. There was only one partner who was a real rainmaker and he was busy working on his own practice; he didn’t have time to service his clients as well as feed his other partners.

Unfortunately, Barry’s situation is not an uncommon one among service professionals and business owners.

Obviously, I am not saying that seeking referrals is a bad business development strategy; I am saying that being dependent on referrals may very well be costing you and your business.

If Not Dependent On Referrals, Then What?

The smartest thing for building your business is a business development program built on a healthy mix of  action steps and  approaches, both proactive and more passive.

Proactive strategies include:

  • Targeted, relevant networking – connecting with ideal prospective clients, connectors, and introducers, as well as ideal referral sources.
  • Marketing – including blogging, newsletters, article writing, video, social networking and social media actions, pay per click advertising, and possibly a PR program – if your budget allows (*note: most PR efforts cannot guarantee a return on investment because so much is dependent on what the press considers hot and relevant to their audience).
  • Speaking engagements – getting in front of you ideal niche market, being seen as an expert in your field and then following up with attendees.

Passive strategies include:

  • SEO -Using your web content to pull potential clients to your site and ideally to contact you.
  • Referrals – Doing a great job for your current clients and contacts should prompt them to recommend you and your services  to people in their network. Obtaining referrals can also be proactive if you consciously ask your current clients if they would recommend you to people in their network.

Looking at the options available to you, can you see how important it is to have a mix of proactive and passive strategies if you want a healthy pipeline of business flowing in on a regular basis?

Where is your business development strategy weakest? Proactive? Passive? Both?

Are you missing a strategy entirely?

Being dependent on the memory and proactivity of others sending you easy referrals is both lazy and dangerous.

Yes, I said it.

Receiving referrals is great; being dependent on referrals is simply being lazy.

I would assert that Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Steve Jobs did not build their businesses by sitting around, looking at the phone and waiting for it to ring.

The Perfect Linked In Profile: 7 Ways To Make It Pay Off For Your Business

jeff weinerWhen was the last time you took a good look at your Linked In profile?

A little background to this question.

I love Linked In.

But it wasn’t always that way.

In 2006, I received a Linked In invitation to connect – from a client of mine, a high level executive at a major corporation. I admit I was stunned. She was the very last person I would have expected to have jumped on to the social networking bandwagon. Intrigued, I accepted. That allowed me to see all 300 of her connections. And when I saw who was in her “online Rolodex” my jaw dropped open.

Linked In Profile Power

That’s the day I was bitten by the social networking bug. I saw the power not only of how many contacts could be generated, but the caliber of the contacts.

I started crafting and completing my Linked In profile, connecting with ideal professionals, and learning all the Linked In possibilities for business success available – still at the free level.

Soon, my Linked In results started to kick in. Over the next couple of years, here are just a few of the tangible results that stemmed from my Linked In profile and social networking actions:

  • hundreds of new subscribers to my newsletter
  • attendees at my live events
  • 4ooo members in a women’s professional group I launched.
  • Exponential new visibility and credibility with my ideal niche market
  • Actual new private clients and registrants in my online programs

Linked In Profiles Have Come A Long Way Baby

In the beginning Linked In was simply a huge professional resume bank, with limited features and a very clunky search function.

But then Linked In started to grow up.

It added content options – articles, blog post feeds, Powerpoint Slide Share to feature your content, automatic linking with Twitter (unfortunately now defunct ) travel posts so you could meet up with new contacts when you were in the same city (very cool feature). Then the search function improved, particularly with the advanced search feature.

The biggest advancement: Google started to favor and highly rank Linked In profiles..

Your Linked In Profile Is Like Having Another Personal Website Promoted By Google’s Search Engine – for FREE

This means you can no longer afford not to have a powerful Linked In profile working for you and your business.

With all of the new features now available on Linked In, it can be pretty confusing to figure out how to write the perfect Linked In profile for your business or career.

I want to make it very simple for you and give you a few essentials and priorities to writing your ideal Linked In profile – ones that will attract Google’s influential eyeballs and your ideal connections.

1. Your Linked In Profile Requires A Professional Photo (This is not optional for optimal results)

Yesterday, I was invited to connect with someone on Linked In. The photo was of her and a man behind her.  I have no idea who this man was – her husband, her biz partner???  I’ve seen others post family photos on their Linked In profile. What’s up with that? Linked In is not Facebook.

Do not post a photo that is not well lit and professional in appearance. You don’t have to be movie star good-looking to make a great impression with your photo. People want to get a sense of your personal brand through your photo.

2. Your Linked In Profile Should Feature The Right Keyword Rich Tag Line

Focus on creating a tag line that will be ideally searchable by Google. So if you are a lawyer, make sure you use the kind of law in you tag line as Google keywords are searched.  This means a bit of Google adword keyword research (Google Adword Keyword Tool found here).

ex. Use “food franchise business owner”  or “fast food franchise business owner” vs. “franchise business owner”.

3. Linked In Profile Summary

Talk less about how many years you’ve been doing what you’re doing and more about what you’ve accomplished, how you’ve helped your clients with specific case examples and denote special skills and talents you have. That’s what people want to know: what can you do for me, my business, or my company?

Mix up the formatting to include text and bulleted sections for easier readability.

4. Linked In Profile Career History – Close The Gaps

Today, it’s not uncommon to have career gaps if you’ve been between positions or business ventures.

Do what you can to fill the date gaps in with projects you’ve worked on, committees you’ve served, association activities, pro bono work.

Don’t avoid the gaps – be smart about how you fill them.

5. Recommendations & Endorsements on Your Linked In Profile

Linked In has made it very easy and acceptable to request and provide Recommendations. That’s why it makes so much sense to connect with as many respected professionals, colleagues and clients as possible. It’s great to display your recommendations and it’s a great feeling for your contact to receive one. It’s the perfect relationship builder.

Endorsements are a relatively new feature on Linked In. You can add your ideal skills and expertise through the edit button on your profile.

With one click many people can endorse you for just the right skills. Endorsements are quick but therefore don’t hold as much stock as recommendations.

6. Groups & Associations Reflected On Your Linked In Profile

When you join the ideal groups attracting your ideal niche clients, it’s a wonderful opportunity for you to get known, visible, and attract new contacts in your sweet spot market. No brainer.

People also feel more comfortable connecting with people through the common bond of mutual groups and associations.

Starting a group tailored for the needs of your ideal niche market is also a super smart way to build your top network.

7. Your Linked In Profile: Numbers of Contacts

For me, it’s much more about who you are connecting with than it is how many connections you have.

That being said, what’s the real down side to connecting with people? Are you afraid they’ll see who your clients are?

Are you afraid they’ll ask you to introduce you to someone?

These are very rare situations. And you can set your privacy features to closed connections (although that sort of defeats the purpose of connecting too)

For the most part, unless people are obviously prospecting through Linked In with abandon, I like adding high-quality connections.

The benefits far outweigh the negatives.

I’ll be touching on this more in a future post.

Get Started Upgrading Your Linked In Profile: Just Do It!

Maybe you’re not a comfortable writer.

Maybe you’re time crunched.

These are easily addressed so don’t let these obstacles stop you from having a top notch effective Linked In profile:

Here are 3 Easy Actionable Tips:

1. Devote only 15-20 minutes a day to upgrading and fully fleshing out your Linked In Profile (small chunks = no overwhelm)

2. Engage a professional Linked In profile writer to help you optimize your profile – this is a stress buster and well worth it because of the time saved, end results produced.

3. Ask 3-5 of your clients and colleagues to give you the good and bad of what they see on your Linked In profile. We’ve all got blind spots.

If you’ve found this post helpful, I would appreciate your passing it on to your colleagues and clients.


I’ll give you my pass/fail review of your Linked In profile AND WHY.


And please do send me an invitation to connect with me on Linked In if we aren’t already bonded.















3 Insanely Simple Secrets To A Tip Sheet That Builds Your List By 100’s Each Month

3 Insanely Simple Secrets To A Tip Sheet That Builds Your List By 100’s Each Month

Everyone knows that money is in the list – the email list, that is. It’s true – have a great list, your odds of building a bigger and better business go way up.

There are dozens of complex strategies for list building.

I’m going to share a ridiculously simple strategy that brings in hundreds of people to my email community every month.

But first a quick background story…. [Read more…]

Paycheck or Entrepreneurship: What’s Right For You?

In my profession, I speak to so many people who are grappling with the loss of jobs or the fear of not holding on to the one they have. Others are feeling disheartened because they have a boss who often doesn’t appreciate them or worse, badgers them out of his or her own fear.

I know how much many of these folks secretly dream of never having to report to a boss (other than themselves) again. I hear them speculate and yearn to build something for themselves and their family. But it is so hard to take that leap when you don’t have a 401K (even the measly ones left after the economic debacle we experienced in recent years) underneath you, and health benefits, and all the other little perks and safety nets a J.O.B provides for you.

Some have had no choice. The much-feared pink slip finally arrived and their full time job is now finding a job. The strategy is how to build the right resume instead of building the right product or service model. The tactical plan is getting out there on interviews and prepping properly to sell oneself powerfully vs. selling and marketing an innovative program or product.

But the JOB pathway is fraught with dangers and pitfalls too. What if the company that finally hires you goes under, leaving you homeless again? What if you spend 3 months interviewing for the job of your dreams only to find they decided to shelve the position hire for another 6 months?

There is no question the career landscape has changed forever.

At the risk of being subjective, I think that the entrepreneurial pathway is often safer and saner than the much-desired regular paycheck.

Why do I say this? Well, for those of you between the ages of 20-35, if you launch your own business, and if you fail (let’s say the odds are 50/50) you still have 3 decades to recoup your losses in a job or company career. If you succeed, you will certainly build an income well in excess of the 2-3 percent (if you’re lucky) a company will give you.

For those over 45, the job hunt takes significantly longer than it did several years ago. Therefore, you may spend a year or more in your professional prime at no pay hoping for your next solid home. But more importantly, it is more and more challenging to be hired at or higher than the salary you received at your last position. So you might need find yourself a bit underemployed to receive the safety of a paycheck.

Certainly, a paycheck isn’t a bad thing. We have kids to support, braces to fund, college tuition to pay for. We’ve got to be realistic and do the prudent thing. Don’t we?

I am just suggesting that what was once the prudent thing is not necessarily so safe anymore. And furthermore, what about all of the gifts and dreams you have of doing something worthwhile, meaningful AND earn a substantial livelihood? What are we showing our children if we just go to work to get a paycheck and don’t encourage them to do what they love AND make a living at this?

I was born a corporate soldier. I loved climbing the ladder and being promoted, playing the game. Then, things changed. I knew that this game was getting smaller and smaller and my choices were fewer. Not being a natural entrepreneur, I didn’t feel it would be possible to succeed in my own business.

What I learned is that where there is a will there is a way. When I began almost 13 years ago, the amount of information was so much more limited. Today, we have the internet and social media to help us build and promote our businesses. I learned that when I must generate results I do what is necessary. When I had a job, as dedicated as I was, I didn’t take producing results quite as personally as I do in my own business.

I want to support any and all of you out there who question or doubt your ability to make it as an entrepreneur. You not only can do it, you deserve to bring your brilliance to the world and make a difference with people. And you deserve to have the freedom to earn as much as you can through what lights you up.

If a paycheck is the right path for you, I honor that choice too and wish you much success. But, if you are secretly wishing to be your own boss but don’t think you have what it takes, think again. If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right!