"I keep your 55 Great Icebreaker Questions in my Jeep and review
them before every event!"
Jim Higgins, ProForma Branding Excellence

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Confident Like A Fox(c): The 12 Commandments for Building & Maintaining Unshakeable Self Confidence

What is Self Confidence Anyway?



  1. Be generous: Take the focus off yourself, and think of ways for helping others without expecting anything in return.
  2. Be uncomfortable. Growth and stretching into new areas of success is sometimes very uncomfortable or takes being willing to do uncomfortable actions. It’s a necessary aspect of growth.
  3. Embrace failure. Be willing to fail or feel embarrassment if you make the effort and at first you don’t succeed.
  4. Be hungry. The more intense your desire and hunger for success and willingness to overcome doubt and insecurity, the more powerful will be your will to withstand anything to achieve unshakeable confidence.
  5. Have a big WHY, get in touch with your Purpose. When you have something bigger than you at stake, you will be willing to withstand anything, go through fire, deal with disappointment until you succeed. That knowledge you can withstand unimaginable difficulty gives you belief in yourself.
  6. Believe it, then you will see it.
  7. Work on keeping your confidence up daily. Small chunks of activity – everyday.
  8. Don’t take anything personally. It’s not about you.
  9. Stop worrying about what others think – of you or anyone else. What others think about you is none of your business.
  10. Give up playing the victim.
  11. Give up blaming others.
  12. Make your body an instrument of positive energy every day.

Why Old-School Performance Reviews Turn Talent Off : Reinvent Them & Retain Talent

Why Old-School Performance Reviews Turn Talent Off : Reinvent Them & Retain Talent


Kim, a supervisor-level CPA at a mid-sized firm made an SOS call to me recently. She left a message telling me she had just had a surprisingly disappointing semi-annual performance review and she didn’t know what to do.

Andrew, a senior executive at a Fortune 1000 corporation was bewildered after his last performance discussion with his boss. He didn’t know why his overall performance had been downgraded since his last performance evaluation a year ago. It caught him completely blindsided.

In both of these cases, the immediate reaction for these highly talented professionals, one in the public accounting arena, the other in corporate America, was to start looking for his/her next position in a new firm!.

That’s how easy it was to turn these talented professionals off to their company.

When I explored further with these two individuals to find out what had occurred during these performance discussions, I completely understood why they would each feel the need to look elsewhere for career opportunity. The performance evaluation forms and their processes were a hot mess.

As this article’s corresponding image expresses, these two professionals are not unusual in employees finding performance reviews mostly a big downer, and often unsettling and confusing.

Why is this so? Firms spend so much valuable time, money, and resources on developing performance criteria and competency measures.

What’s so different today about this whole feedback process that feels like the Berlin Wall is about to come crashing down?

First, we have a dearth of talent, so it’s a giant war out there for good talent. No one wants to lose a great potential employee or current one.

Second, younger employees’ mentality about feedback is way different than the more senior leaders in companies and firms.

Younger employees are used to immediate feedback, and thrive on it.

Finally, as a business advisor and coach to accounting, law, and executive professionals, I am stunned and disheartened by how little attention, training, and continuity in feedback delivery is exhibited by managers and reviewers.

It’s little wonder that employees find the whole darn experience a total turn off.

This is exactly why firms and companies should, yes, even must reinvent the entire process, and now.

Let’s look at what cutting edge corporations such as Accenture, Microsoft, The Gap, Google, Yahoo, and now Deloitte are doing. Essentially, they are either eliminating or entirely transforming the standard performance review system .

Accenture has done away with old-school evaluations because as CEO Pierre Nanterme said in an interview in The Week , “the outcome is not great.

And in the same article, a 2013 study was referenced, “reflecting that even employees motivated by a desire to learn on the job were often blindsided and despondent over “constructive criticism” they’d received”. (Source:

This is why the majority of annual or semi-annual reviews wind up as anxiety-producing  and annoying for both deliverer and recipient rather than a source of inspiration and SPECIFIC information for how the employee can advance and improve.

Yet, I would not endorse ditching performance reviews. Why?

1. Younger, and even more senior employees, thrive on being understood and valued. They crave recognition and feedback. It’s the kind of feedback and the way feedback is currently disseminated that is so destructive.

2. Professionals yearn and work best/achieve more when there is good structure and clarity in career advancement.

3. Almost everyone struggles with how to take in criticism and advice for improvement. The performance discussion, done right, can be a powerful tool in helping an employee go from ho-hum to dynamo, from grinder to great leadership.

The challenges and weaknesses of old-school reviews are pretty extensive:

  • They are too time-intensive in regard to both preparation and delivery
  • Too much time elapses between the behavior/performance and the feedback
  • There is a great deal of bias and not enough quality and specificity in the feedback process (The 360 degree feedback process generally hasn’t solved this)
  • Too often difficult or awkward conversations are avoided or delivered poorly.
  • There is a lack of specificity and case examples to help the employee clearly understand how the behavior was effective or ineffective
  • The feedback process is too complicated
  • There is a lack of specificity in planning for goal achievement improvement
  • Feedback is too infrequent/not documented so it’s coming from memory, and lessens the impact and value to the employee and ultimately the company or firm.
  • Feedback is usually delivered without real training in how to motivate staff members and simultaneously encourage needed performance repair
  • Feedback often comes as a shock or surprise for the employee.

So if the  old-school review system is broken and irrelevant for today’s world, what new feedback techniques and models should be developed to more deeply engage, motivate, and optimize talent?

The Road To Reinvention: It All Starts With Buy-In At The Top

The most important first step starts with the leadership of your company or firm.

Without the commitment and belief of the Managing Partner, CEO, President, or whomever is in the top leadership role, a reinvention can’t succeed. Once buy in is established at the top, it can be filtered and generated throughout the organization.

The second key ingredient is education. Feedback deliverers- mentors, managers, leaders – must learn  how to effectively communicate feedback. Just because someone is a manager or partner or VP doesn’t mean he or she has the kind of  communication skills needed to impart regular, motivating, yet honest feedback.

And if they can’t learn to say it right, they shouldn’t be in the feedback process.

Once buy-in in a firm is established, the key solutions to a transformed feedback model are centered in 3 main areas:

1. Speed & Simplicity– Quicker Creation/Delivery (Think feedback in smaller sound bites)

2. Continual Flow of Feedback (Greater frequency)

3. Specificity/Clarity (think: “here’s a specific example of how you….”)

If these 3 areas are transformed, employees will not ever need to be, nor should they be, blindsided or confused during a performance review meeting.

Not only will a reinvention of your performance review program newly inspire and motivate your employees, you will surely prevent seeing that revolving door swinging closed on some of your most treasured talent.

(For more detailed information on “SNAPFormance” performance review reinvention, contact Nancy Fox,

6 Brilliant Ways @Nina4Airbnb Didn’t Take No For An Answer- And Got Her Dream Job

6 Brilliant Ways @Nina4Airbnb Didn’t Take No For An Answer- And Got Her Dream Job

Back in April, a young transplant from the Middle East who had been living in San Francisco for a year had tried everything to get a job at her favorite company, Airbnb.

She had fallen in love with the company both as a visitor and as a host. She loved the concept of the company and it’s culture.

To land a job at the company, she had tried numerous standard search techniques including networking and submitting her resume through channels to various people within the company. She eventually did manage to meet with the company, but to no avail.

Family members tried to convince her that she should move on because she had tried everything.

But then she had a life-changing thought:

“I haven’t done everything I can.  I’ve done the same thing multiple times, but I haven’t tried new approaches.”


This “aha moment” led her to a breakthrough approach to capturing the attention and interest of the right people at Airbnb.

Her ground-breaking resume resulted in:

  • 455,000 hits to her website
  • Millions of impressions with $0 advertising
  • Featured interviews in Business Insider, Fortune Magazine, and invitations for speaking gigs.
  • Multiple company invitations to interview – at Airbnb and others.
  • The job offer of her dreams (but not at Airbnb).

Nina’s need and “big why” for getting the job at her dream company pushed her way, way past typical thinking and actions. It cancelled out all the negative voices around her.


Would you, could you, have created the brilliant innovative web site Nina did, one that mirrored Airbnb’s look and branding feel, and helped her make a compelling case for desirability as a major asset to the company?

(see her brilliant solution here: Nina4Airbnb)

Would you have done whatever it took to get the attention of the right people at Airbnb in order to generate breakthrough results?

For most people, the answer would have to be no – because they stop at the first, slightest hint of rejection, or worse, buy into the notion that if something is “hard” they should try something much easier and quicker.

That is the approach we most often teach (unknowingly) our staff, our colleagues, and what we most endorse in our day-in, day-out business dealings. I see this and hear this every single day in my conversations with clients and colleagues.

Determined, creative Nina, however, couldn’t and wouldn’t allow average thinking to prevent her from prevailing.

Necessity forced her to prevail.

And prevail she did.

While she didn’t get the job at Airbnb (her interviewer said her experience couldn’t be “contextualized” for their business !!!), she did get a job at a wonderful company, Upwork, formerly Odesk.

But more importantly, how she problem-solved, used unstoppable initiative, and overcame the negativity all around her, will serve her throughout her sure-to-be-successful career.

So what were the 6 brilliant ways she wouldn’t take no for an answer, and generated the breakthrough “resume” that earned her the ‘yes’ of her dreams?:

1. Realizing that she had been doing the same ineffective thing over and over to get a different result, and that an entirely unique approach was the solution.

2. In her first 2 succinct sentences at Nina4Airbnb she states what she wants and specifically what’s in it for Airbnb to read on. She states her personal value and brand – right off the bat.

3. She creates a look and feel that mirrors her ideal company’s on-line image, demonstrating she “gets” their brand.

4. She reflects the opportunity gap, and demonstrates she understands how to use data to make a strong case. 

5. She powerfully states why she’s the right candidate for the company over all the other people who equally want to work for the company. She goes way beyond the typical and gets very specific.

6. Finally, she clearly communicates her unique personal brand by focusing on a cross-cultural component, which has been a key theme guiding her career.

Nina’s determination and ingenuity earned massive attention across the web, and particularly from Airbnb and other wonderful companies.

And it taught her to never be satisfied by listening to nay-sayers.

The bigger question is:

What can you learn for yourself from Nina’s breakthroughs, and what will you do to generate new levels of determination, creativity, and opportunity within yourself, your team-mates, colleagues, and staff?

Business Lessons Learned By Being A Klutz

Business Lessons Learned By Being A Klutz

As we kick off 2015, I decided to share with you the most powerful life and business lessons I learned in 2014.

I must say these business lessons were learned in the most unexpected place and from the most surprising people.

Perhaps one (or more?) of these “aha’s” will resonate with you and help you make your 2015 more productive, prosperous, and gratifying.

It all started with a friend nagging me into going country line dancing for the first time. Although I love to dance, I never really cared much for country music. Plus, I snobbishly thought line dancing and two-stepping was a little on the crass side.

My first time out, I was like a fish out of water, looked like a total klutz. Yet, from that first song the band played (and what a band!) and watching all the line dancers and two-steppers, I was HOOKED!.


I couldn’t remember the line dance steps to save my life.

People would ask me to dance and when they realized I had two left feet when it came to the two-step, they not so politely ditched me!
Did I give up with my tail between my cowboy-booted legs? (It was tempting)


I really wanted to become good at this kind of dancing so much…

I just kept going.


Doing Whatever It Takes

Kind people taught me and tolerated my inexperience.

I watched YouTube and practiced the line dances at home.

I counted out the two-step every where I went — slow slow quick quick around the dining room table and in the street at the end of my jogs.

I took line dancing lessons and practiced 2-3 times a week.

I even drummed up the courage to go dancing alone when my friends wouldn’t go.

I kept going and learning even when I looked very very foolish.

Eventually, I got pretty good at line and two stepping.

Fast forward 3 months:

Now, I get asked to dance quite a bit.

I’ve lost 4 pounds just because I am working off a lot of calories.

And my happiness factor has multiplied at least 3-fold.
It’s hard to worry and complain when you’re having so much fun!

Taking a two step lesson at the renowned Cowboy Palace

So what did I really learn about business and life on the dance floor?

  • Never give up.
  • Be willing to look like a fool in order to learn a new skill. It’s so worth it. (I made so many new friends and even a fabulous new business prospect).
  • You learn a helluva lot about people on the dance floor.
  • Ask for help. Good people are all around you to help you improve.
  • Improving is the important thing -not being perfect.
  • Practice practice practice.
  • I’m always going to need to take lessons in order to maintain what I’ve learned and to go to the next level.
  • Everyone starts out a beginner. It’s OK not to know how to do something.

Aren’t all of these so true about business as well?

So, I ask you:

What have you been avoiding doing (even though you’d love to do it) because you’re uncomfortable with not knowing how to do it or fear about looking foolish?

I invite you to give that up.

Don’t let discomfort stop you any more.

 Victory is the reward received for being uncomfortable long enough to reach breakthrough.

It might be dancing, knitting, singing, public speaking, playing tennis, painting, or even networking.
Make 2015 your year for being very uncomfortable and ultimately your most rewarding year ever.

Have You Been Naughty Or Nice… To Your Vendors?

Have You Been Naughty Or Nice… To Your Vendors?


Robert sat in the reception area of his top prospective client, and took another look at his watch.

His prospect was 20 minutes late for their meeting.

They had set up the meeting to review the engagement letter Robert had submitted to him 3 weeks ago.

Mr. Prospect had been largely unavailable and had left 2 of Robert’s emails unanswered after their last meeting with Robert even though he had said he was ready to move forward and approve the engagement letter.

He told Robert he was “sorry” but he was so busy at this time of year. Robert felt “lucky” to get this face to face meeting with Mr. Prospect. But now, here he was, waiting and worrying that Mr. Prospect would rush him through their discussion once he finally got into the conversation.

Fast forward 18 months.

Mr. Prospect calls Robert. He has been released from his firm and is looking for a new position. Perhaps Robert can keep him in mind for any positions that may cross his path? After all, he is working with many of Mr. Prospect’s former competitors so he will probably be the first to hear of any openings and opportunities.

How eager do you think Robert will be to help Mr. Prospect in his new job search?

The word “vendor” may have 6 letters but it is often spoken like a four-letter word among professionals.

Most business owners and professionals think long and hard about how they treat their clients.


When was the last time you thought about how you  treat your vendors? 

Have you been naughty or nice to them this past year?

When I was in my corporate management role, I was admittedly thoughtless about my vendors and learned a painful but oh-so-valuable lesson.

My boss found out about my leaving vendors waiting for long periods of time, not returning their phone calls promptly, and leaving their quotes and proposals dangling.

Rightfully, she gave me a lesson I never forgot. You see, she made me feel how my vendors felt when I dissed them.

Now, that I’m a vendor to my clients I can tell you how wonderful it is when they honor and respect me, and conversely how unpleasant it is when they are thoughtless, unavailable, uncommunicative, deceitful, and downright rude. It isn’t personal, true, but unpleasant nonetheless.

Here are some top ways you can easily fall into the trap of under-valuing your vendors, and the cost to you and your practice or business:

1. You don’t return their phone calls.

2. You leave them waiting for appointments or cancel repeatedly.

3. You don’t give them valuable information that can help them provide the best service and pricing for you.

4. You aren’t straightforward with them. You leave them thinking you do want to do business with them when you really don’t.

5. You pit one vendor against another simply to reduce pricing. I’m not talking about  fair and square price negotiating. I mean you just kick the tires of one vendor to help you reduce the fees from another.

6. You ask for proposals you have little or no intention of reading thoroughly or considering.

7. You bring unexpected and unannounced attendees into meetings with them and thoughtlessly throw an entire new dynamic into the conversation.

8. You are not the real decision maker but lead them to believe you are.

If you (or any of your staff) have engaged in any, or perhaps several of these practices, consider this:

 How it would be for you (or them) to experience this kind of behavior?

 And the cost to you?

Well it may seem like no skin off your nose – now. After all, you really are busy, or distracted, or don’t  need them at the moment.

But vendors have a way of changing roles and positions, as professionals do these days.

Your vendor today could wind up being your prospective client tomorrow, or your new boss, or the owner of a company you really do need services from, or someone who can tell others about your bad behavior that could damage your business or your career.

People may not remember what you tell them but they will always remember how you made them feel.

– Maya Angelou

‘Tis the season to think about whether you’ve been naughty or nice.

You’ve got a terrific opportunity to make things right (or “righter”) with them in 2015.

It’s Not Just Food: Jon Favreau’s Movie “Chef” – An 8 Step Lesson In Social Media Success

To me, the best movies are ones that entertain as well as teach.

That’s how I felt about Jon Favreau’s new movie Chef.

Jon Favreau is a successful character actor and is probably most well-known as director of super hits Ironman 1 & 2, and Cowboys & Aliens.

Now, in his new movie Chef, he directs and stars as a down and out chef who is at a crossroads in his career. Frustration with his career causes him to lash out at a food critic, and thus begins this hilarious and heartwarming story (I suggest you don’t go see it hungry).

This is not a movie review

What I really wanted to tell you about is that this movie is also a brilliant crash course in what to do right (even if by accident) to get known, loved, and become a business winner through social media.

(Don’t worry, I won’t give away the ending).

The first lesson is:

1. Become buddy buddy with your kids who are 10 years old or younger. They get it.

In the movie, Carl Casper, (a.k.a Chef Carl Casper) hasn’t a clue about social media. In a fit of exasperation, he tells his 10-year-old son to “sign him up” on Twitter. His son makes up in social media savvy what he lacks in years.

2. Controversy sells. Clueless Carl is so ticked off by his bad restaurant review he sends off what he thinks is a private Twitter email to the food critic, “You wouldn’t know a good meal if it sat on your face.” Let the games begin……

3. Get someone with a mega-following to fight back with you. If you are in online repartee with a celeb or someone who has a mega-following (in this case the food critic had over 100K followers on Twitter), it rapidly generated over 1000 response tweets and retweets.

4. Be outrageous on camera and share it. There is an old advertising adage: “Any publicity, even bad publicity, is good for business.” Whether you agree or not, Jerry Springer and Dr. Phil have proven that people behaving badly ups the ratings. So it was in “Chef” when Carl goes ape on camera and it is shared across the web.

5. Tweet & post about topics people really hunger for. (Ugggh, excuse the pun) There are some topics people just love and are rabid about. Food is one of them – just look at how many successful cooking shows there are! So if you start posting about restaurants and foods, there’s a good chance people will pay attention. Plus hunger never goes out of style.

6. Pick a Twitter handle that has cache and intrigue. In the movie, Carl’s son tries to sign him up as @CarlCasper. Obviously that’s taken, but as fortune would have it @ChefCarlCasper is not. @ChefCarlCasper is so much more interesting, relevant, and you can’t get better alliteration for an extra dose of memorability.

I just checked – someone from Jon’s team registered @ChefCarlCasper – smart thinking.

7. Add Photos & Hashtags to build anticipation and a following. Carl’s boy Percy has all the angles covered when he starts taking photos and adds #locationhashtags to each stop of their culinary road trip. People at each stop are already fans.

8.Combine social media platforms that play off one another. Percy gets juiced when he sees Twitter pumping up their attention. He layers in Instagram, and then Facebook, and then starts piecing together 1-second videos on Vine for an irresistable “foodumentary.” The results are booming new business.

Would It Have Worked In Real Life?

None of these lessons is social media rocket science. What is important to realize is that “Chef” put all the ingredients for how to go viral on social media together in one cinematic bowl, stirred rigorously and with great humor, gave us a top rate recipe for social media success.

Take a few bites and see what works for you.


Why They Won’t Open Your E-Newsletter (And Why They’re Right)

How many newsletters do you get a day?

5, 10, more?

How many of them do you open and read?

If you’re like most business people, you are opening only 5-10% of the electronic newsletters you receive, if that. The rest wind up in the cyber dumpster.

You or your firm have probably sent email newsletters too.

Think of it: all those costly hours you’ve spent thinking about, writing, formatting, proof-reading, tweaking, subject-line designing,

and emailing your words of wisdom to your list – all for naught.

Or are they?

Clearly the opinion of e-newsletters continues to worsen. People laugh about how many unsubscribes and “deletes” they issue every day.

But the truth is that we all want to find engaging ways of staying top of mind and being of greater value to our colleagues, clients, preferred communities.

And email newsletters are still far and away one of the lowest cost marketing tools for gaining visibility and credibility with your market.

If only your people would open them.

Why have e-newsletters become the bane of our digital existence? Why do people refuse to open them?

The most common responses I received when I did a survey on this topic were:

  • I never signed up for the newsletter (Note: they often have but forgot they did so)
  • I get way too many of them
  • I know they’re just marketing me for something
  • I just don’t have the time

If they really needed and wanted what you were offering, they’d open it

It’s true that in today’s time-taxed, information-overloaded world, people are overwhelmed with content.  But they’re finding plenty of time to write all  those comments on blogs and articles on Linked In, Facebook, etc. aren’t they?

Reading between the lines of those responses, it may be an inconvenient or unpleasant truth but if they’re not opening,

they’re just not that into you or what you’re writing about.

That’s right, I said it.

If they were really intrigued or attracted to what  you were saying, they’d open the darn email – no matter how many they get.

What makes them intrigued (enough to open)?

This is the very question you’ve got to answer if you want them to click open.

And it’s best to start with first things first: What do they really want to hear about? What is worth their time, attention, and a click?

Case in point:

I have a client who serves two similar but different markets.

In the past, he wrote one newsletter to appeal to both markets. After all, they’re similar, right?


His abysmal open rate was due to the fact that his two sets of readers were intrigued by completely aspects of the same issue.

Thus, the subject lines and articles had to be different. The mistake was trying to cover two arenas with one newsletter.

The subject line is everything

In my view, the most important element about your newsletter is your subject line.

If it’s not compelling, it won’t get opened. If it’s not opened, the rest is meaningless.

The solution is to see that your subject lines are: (incorporate one or more of these):

  • Short (6 words or under so that the entire message you want them to see is visible without opening).                                                                                                                                       TIP:I have had exceptional results with provocative one word subject lines.   *See below
  • Provocative/Intriguing/Bold – if you’re fearful of doing this you risk not getting opened
  • Incorporating celebrity or famous names when possible
  • including the recipient’s first name in the subject

And for higher open rates, here are the DON”T’s:

  • Use  the word “newsletter” or other publication word in the subject line (professional service firms often make this error)
  • Sell in the subject line
  • Be boring
  • Include more than one article in each newsletter – it confuses people
  • Ever send to people who haven’t subscribed

Value Is In The Eye Of  The Reader

You may think your topic is the most relevant in the world. Doesn’t everyone want to know about the new tax laws, or pension benefits, or branding ideas?

Think from the perspective of your reader – unless you want to be a contribution to their trash bin.

Can you find some way of providing value to them even if it’s not your direct area of expertise?

My friend Harvey is in the insurance business. We all know most people are not waiting with baited breath for a newsletter article on insurance.

But Harry understands people and his market. He doesn’t talk about insurance. He’s interested in music and sings in a barbershop quartet,

so he sends updates and photos to his community about his music experiences and travels from the road.

His peeps love getting Harry’s emails because they’re interesting and fun.

The Net Net About Getting Your Newsletter Opened:

  • Don’t over-send (no matter what those internet gurus tell you); every 2 weeks to a month is a good guideline depending on your market
  • Write about what they want and need to hear about (Think from their perspective)
  • Keep it short
  • Keep it focused
  • Spend as much time or more getting the subject line right as you do on the article

*Quiz: What was the one-word subject line that resulted in my highest open rate?









Can You Really Motivate Young Professionals To Become Rainmakers?

Alex, a director in a rapidly growing regional accounting firm was in the Managing Partner’s office.  He had been participating in a 6 month business development/rainmaking coaching and training program with disappointing results.

The Managing Partner decided to find out what the problem was.

MP: Is the problem the coach? Is the problem the cost? Is the problem time?

Alex: No, No, Yes.

MP:  Alex, you’re talented and technically-skilled. The only thing missing in your toolkit preventing you from making partner is being able to bring in business. Do you want to be a worker bee or do you want to be a partner?

Alex: I want to be a Partner.

While Alex couldn’t figure out why he hadn’t made any ground, his coach knew exactly why.

Alex, had lots of reasons for being too busy to attend networking events, talking to new people, building relationships with potential clients.

At the end of the day, Alex liked the idea of being partner, but just wasn’t motivated to be uncomfortable, to make the time, to do what it takes to reach this higher level.

In contrast, meet Mark Jain, CPA at Ernst & Young who made partner at a Big 4 firm in less than 11 years.

“Ever since I was staff  I had aspirations to be a partner. It’s a truly amazing feeling.” *

Jain credited his quick rise to a number of factors, including technical competency, consistent coaching and guidance from senior leaders, and the willingness to stretch his comfort zone, to do what it takes to build a business.

Partners and Managing Partners in accounting firms across the country are often scratching their heads over this question:

Can we really motivate our young professionals to do what it takes to become rainmakers?

I was curious too, so I posed this question in several accounting Linked In groups:

Why do you think young accounting professionals aren’t interested in becoming rainmakers?

What should accounting firms do to build a motivating biz dev culture for them?

To a great degree, the answers from the younger professionals centered around the fact that they are motivated but the firms aren’t providing comprehensive consistent training and development in these soft skills. They claim Partners say they want them to bring in business yet measure them only on their billable hours.

Perhaps. But as more mature firm leaders get ready to retire, the pressure is on to either buy rainmaking talent or develop it from within.

The real issue is that today, building a book of business is a very different experience than when veteran rainmakers began, or even those producers who began just a decade ago.

Public accounting has become so competitive that up and coming professionals need a variety of soft skills as well as technical skills to build a book of business:

  • a personal brand,
  • a niche specialty,
  • a great elevator speech/value proposition, and
  • strong communications and networking skills (online and face to face) to stand out from the crowd.

After working with hundreds of accountants and other service professionals I see these 3  ingredients as essential for raising a motivated and successful crop of new rainmakers in firms:

1. Deep support from Managing Partners and leader Partners for a rainmaking/marketing culture – including training and development in soft skills – as well as walking the talk themselves.

2. Long range commitment to the development of these skills. Firm leaders often have unrealistic expectations, wanting up and coming professionals to take a few months of training and begin to deliver new business.  It takes a couple of years to build up a high-caliber network and the practical skills to be a full-fledged rainmaker. People get better and better with practice.

3. Recruit motivated professionals right from the outset. This is the one area almost completely ignored by accounting and other professional service firms. Firms recruit accounting and law grads primarily for technical potential and talent. They rarely consider people and communications skills or their orientation and interest in the sales process.

Managing Partners and firm leaders need to set examples, cultures, and initiatives to attract, motivate, mentor, and thoroughly educate accounting talent in entirely new “soft skill” ways.

In the post-recession economy, firms must motivate or fall  behind more progressive firms.

Have you or your firm tried innovative ways of motivating your younger professionals?

We’d love to hear your success stories or struggles.

*(How To Speed The Path To Partner – Journal Of Accountancy)


How To Turn Boring Small Talk Into Big Results

Few would argue that networking is an essential practice for business success.

Why, then, are so many people turned off by the process?

I’ve interviewed hundreds of professionals, business people, and executives about this very issue.

Can you guess what the top 3 networking turnoffs were?

The top 3 turnoffs were:

  •  Starting up a conversation with strangers – super uncomfortable
  • Breaking into a group of people already in conversation – even more uncomfortable 

And the biggest one of all:

  • Soul-sucking small talk.

I can certainly relate to all of these. I’ve been there too.

But here’s why small talk can actually be a big opportunity for you as you network:

Small talk can actually accelerate the

Know-Like-Trust factor.

How is that? You see, the problem with small talk is not that it’s inane. It’s that we make it boring and inauthentic.

Small talk is really designed to be a “safe” way to give strangers and new connections the feeling that you’re interested in them, their business, who they are, and in building a new relationship with them.

Small talk can include, but is not limited to:

  • Talking about sports
  • Talking about business news
  • Talking about mutual hobbies and interests
  • Talking about common ground: where you grew up, where you went to school/college, who you know in common
  • Yes, the weather as well

And when small talk is falling flat, you’ll know – just check out your colleague’s body language and facial expressions!

But small talk can then graduate to a deeper level when you ask exploring “icebreaker questions” about books read, events attended, and learning about the thoughts and business or career viewpoints of your new colleague.

Think of it this way:

Small talk can be a very graceful way to open bigger doors to the relationship.

How can you begin to make smarter small talk – and stop being an inauthentic bore?

Fundamentally, its critical to avoid resisting the process. You see, what you resist will persist. If you keep seeing networking and small talk as uncomfortable or drudgery, you will prevent or delay the enormous results that networking can produce.

So here are my 5 tried & true, sure-fire ways of transforming inauthentic, boring small talk into authentic business results:

1. Ask great open-ended questions (see my 55 Icebreaker Questions ™ if you haven’t already checked them out and downloaded them).

2. Smile during small talk – such a small action that goes a very long way to building rapport and extending the comfort level between new connections.

3. Apply a small amount of small talk, a big amount of active listening

4. Be prepared – check out the backgrounds and profiles of new networking colleagues before the event. What charities do these folks support, what associations do they belong to, what schools did they attend? Develop and practice a smattering of conversation starters in topics of interest to your new contacts.

5. Be authentically interested. Small talk isn’t inauthentic, people are. If you’re not really interested in people, you won’t be able to hide it.


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 David Geffen’s Hobby Changed His Circle Of Influence & The World

How David Geffen’s Hobby Changed His Circle Of Influence & The World

I recently watched the American Masters special on David Geffen. Of course, I had heard of David Geffen, knew he was some kind of music mogul,  and that there is a hospital with his name on it here in Los Angeles. What I didn’t realize was that DG turned his hobby into a life of influence and impact.

You see, David just loved rock and roll music.

As a young green-around-the-gills kid from Brooklyn trying to make it in the entertainment business, he pretty much failed.

But the 60’s was a time of remarkable innovation, experimentation, and creativity in the music world. Without the talent to produce good music himself, David scouted out and attached himself to every powerhouse talent in the LA music scene at that time – Jackson Brown, The Eagles, Crosby, Stills, & Nash, Guns & Roses, Neil Young, and dozens of others.

What began as his passion and music hobby turned into a career dedicated to promoting great musical talent. Ultimately, Geffen blended this passion with his limitless drive and intuition for what the public wanted musically.

That’s how David converted a hobby into a gargantuan career, and generated immense influence, wealth, and power. Because of his wealth and influence with people, some say  he even impacted the outcome of the 2008 presidential election.

What intrigued me about his story is what also fascinated me in a number of other stories and examples I’ve run across lately – some about famous people, some everyday folks like you and me: the “hobbies” they are passionate about, the impact it has made on their careers, their connections, and often the world.

Here are just a few examples:

1. Bob Gruen – loved both photography and music; he ultimately became the iconic photographer of musicians in the 60’s & 70’s,  including John Lennon

2. Keith Ferrazzi – best selling author & world renowned speaker has two hobbies he leverages for building powerful circles of influence: running and hosting elegant dinner parties.

3. Peter, a financial advisor friend of mine loves fine art and parlays this hobby as the focal point for attracting high-level attendees to his business networking events.

4. Nirmala’s love of developing exotic flavors and spices went from hobby to main vocation;  she used her love of flavors to curry favor (excuse the pun) with top food editors.

5. Heath, another wealth advisor colleague, loves fine wine and hosts “Wine Wednesdays” where top drawer professionals meet, network and taste wonderful wines.

6. I have hosted “yoga nights” for colleagues and clients; we all take a yoga class together and then reward ourselves with a healthy but delicious dinner.

7. Walter built his entire  property & casualty insurance practice through his love of golf. He continually hosts construction industry colleagues (his niche market) on the golf course. He rarely goes to networking events because he creates his own in the clubhouse bar after an 18-hole day.

You have limited amounts of time for your personal hobbies. What you choose matters. Choosing hobbies that you not only love but also up your influence with your ideal circle of influence is just smart and fun business.

7 Cool Ways To Break The Ice And Warm Up Profitable New Business Relationships

7 Cool Ways To Break The Ice And Warm Up Profitable New Business Relationships

Edward walked into the networking event filled with new faces. People were clustered in small groups of 2 or 3 or 4, chatting, laughing, exchanging business cards.

He’d been in this situation hundreds of times before. So why, after all these times, was he still nervous when entering a room full of strangers, uncomfortable with going over to people and starting a conversation?

Raneeda felt the butterflies fluttering around her stomach as she heard the ringing on the other end of the line. She had finally worked up the nerve to call the CFO of a mid-sized company right in the sweet spot of her business, a man whom she had met at a networking event a week ago. As she heard the phone ring once, twice, those butterflies were getting more and more persistent as she tried to figure out what to say to coolly break the ice with Mr. CFO when he answered the phone.

Why is icebreaking such a sore point for people? What are the best ways for melting all that ice?

We are all in the same boat on a sea of self-consciousness.

No one likes facing the possibility of rejection, or looking foolish or saying the wrong thing to strangers.You may be happy to learn a little known fact I discovered doing research for my book, Network Like A Fox : even top CEO’s are nervous when entering a room full of strangers, and concerned about how to break the ice with new people!

I don’t know about you, but that made me feel much better. I don’t feel so alone with my butterflies.

Nevertheless, hugging the walls at networking events will not win you new contacts, or clients.

So how do you break the ice with flair and confidence, warm up those promising new connections, and turn them into hot opportunities?

The most important thing to remember about breaking the ice is that people will be thrilled and grateful to you for being the proactive one, the first to break the ice. So here are 7 ways for becoming a rockstar icebreaker – whether at a networking event, fundraiser, new group, or even over the phone:

1. Make the first move. By being the proactive one and walking over to (or phoning) new people, introducing yourself, and initiating the conversation, you take the pressure off of others. This will give you greater power, confidence and ease your own nerves.

2. Come prepared with insightful icebreaker questions.  Be the person who takes the time to research who will be attending the event and have a handle on who will likely be in the room. Come armed with some great icebreaker questions that are relevant to attendees. Ask them insightful, open-ended icebreaker questions and wow them with some understanding about their world. You are certain to be a standout to your new colleagues.

3. Make eye contact. Eye contact breaks down barriers. In our culture  we value eye contact because it lets people know we are interested in them and paying attention to them. Avoid letting your eyes wander around the room. Be present with the one you’re with and warm up that new connection.

4. Break the ice selectively. Groups of 3, 4 or more are fine to approach; avoid approaching duos – they may be in a private conversation.

5. Listen. The better a listener you are, the more you will crack the ice and warm up the relationship. People want to be heard.Through your focus and listening, you let people know you’ve been hearing what they say. This will go a very long way to deepening the rapport between you and is especially important when breaking the ice over the phone.

6. Smile. You have no idea how good people feel when you are smiling at them. Smiling is the best antidote for all those nervous butterflies -yours and theirs. And people can experience your smile in your voice too, so don’t forego this excellent tip when phone icebreaking.

7. Say something positive. Everyone likes to have others compliment or say something favorable about them. Make a point of finding something nice to say about your new colleague – about his or her business, what he or she has shared, their business card, their website. Find something nice to say to someone about them and watch that ice melt in a flash.

What’s Your Icebreaker Winner?

My free tip booklet, 55 Great Icebreaker Questions To Break The Ice, Build Conversations, and Become An Irresistible People Magnet At Networking Events is downloaded hundreds of times every month. Here’s your chance to show me up:

Got a fantastic icebreaker question?

If it’s not already in my tip sheet, and I think it adds something new to the list, and you’re one of the first 5 people to send me a winner icebreaker question I’ll not only add it to my list, I’ll give you credit in the tip sheet and a free e-copy of my book, Network Like A Fox.

Go here to now and submit your icebreaker question on our Facebook “Show Up The Networking Coach Contest” page:

Prefer to listen to this post ?

Audio Podcast




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.















The Art (And Advantages) Of The Ting

The Art (And Advantages) Of The Ting

Happy New Year.

I love New Years. It’s the season of the blank canvas.

Have you received lots of emails about resolutions and goals? Yes, it is pretty common.

But what’s really thrilling to me about the New Year is the feeling of that fresh start, that clean palette on which to paint new results for our practices, businesses, lives.

This is the season of possibility.

Nothing is more powerful than the possibility of the connections and relationships we can be cultivating.

The master, my “guru” so to speak, of business relationships, is Keith Ferrazzi.

Keith, in his 2005 book on networking, Never Eat Alone (I treasure my copy signed by Keith when I met him at a Learning Annex appearance in NYC) devoted an entire chapter to the art of “pinging,” the process of reaching out to people in short, quick bursts of reconnection.

He saw 4 big benefits we could achieve by breaking through the “white noise” of information-overload we live in:

1. Create “substantive recognition” – staying top of mind with people

2. Nurture developing relationships

3. Transform contacts into real connections and friends

4. Favorably distinguish ourselves from other contacts 

The ping is usually done via several different communication media: email, phone, text.

Yet, despite these promising benefits, professionals and business owners often resist pinging because by it’s very nature, pinging means reaching out to people you probably haven’t contacted with in some time. This can feel uncomfortable, awkward.

Also, people grapple with how to ping, i.e. reconnect with grace and without seeming like they’re pitching for business.

So let me make a key distinction here:

A ping is not a pitch.

It’s not a transactional tactic to “get business.” It’s an “I’ve been thinking about you” intention turned into an action, without expectation or guile. The beauty of this activity, however, is that favorable results can, and often do, occur.

Why? Because as Woody Allen said, “80% of success is just showing up.” Showing up puts you in front of people, and being in front of people, the right people, often creates success.

That being said, statistically speaking, “pinging” 10 people in your contact base could very likely result in 2 new leads. Not bad for just a few minutes of outreach.

This got me to thinking:

What would happen if we put a little “smarts” behind the “ping” and made it a “ting” – a targeted ping? 

In my upcoming book (coming out later this spring), Network Like A Fox ™ I will be discussing the 4 Archetypes of Ideal Connections: 


  • Ideal Prospects – your ideal sweet spot potential client- ideally suited to work with you and you them.
  • Ideal Introducers/Connectors – colleagues who have premium networks and who actively enjoy introducing their people to other good people.
  • Ideal Referral Sources – people who really understand your business and send people your way with actual business.
  • Ideal Clients – Your clients who spread the word about you voluntarily and actively.

Suppose you took on “tinging” in the New Year with 3 people in each of the 4 archetype categories?

Instead of just leaving these bursts of reconnection to chance and whim, you put a little strategy behind it. Odds are you could probably double your lead opportunities because you are touching people with the greatest influence, potential, and orientation to you and your services. (reminder: a ping is not a pitch; neither is a ting)

Case in point: When I conducted this exercise at a recent professionals workshop I was leading, an M&A professional “tinged” a favorite former client, whom he hadn’t spoken to in 4 years(!) and generated a lead for a $30K deal.

That came from a 5 minute phone call.

Obviously all “tings” won’t lead to 5 figure deals. But the art of the ting could be a wonderful first few strokes of paint on your fresh palette for 2013.

Take my “Ting Like A Fox” Challenge: 

1. Make a list of 3 of your contacts (whom you haven’t spoken to in 6 months or more) in each of the 4 archetype categories listed above. 

2.Ting by phone, email, or even text. Find out what’s new with your colleagues, what they are working on, what’s going on in their business or life. 

3. Back up the ting with breakfasts, lunches, coffee dates, or even skype meetings. 

4. Ask how you can help them be successful in 2013. 

5. Observe what new opportunities show up. 

I’d love to hear your “tinging” surprises and stories.

And don’t be surprised if you get a “ting” from me. Or maybe I’ll be fortunate and you’ll “ting” me:)

****Don’t forget to share your comments below.


If you liked this article I’d be so pleased if you forwarded to colleagues, clients, and friends whom you think could benefit from this information —- thanks!


Your Business Card Is Bad…But Here Are 5 Ways To Make It Great

Your Business Card Is Bad…But Here Are 5 Ways To Make It Great

So you handed out a dozen business cards at that networking event last night……

…..and so did 50 other professionals and business owners – including 4 others who do precisely what you do in your business or practice.

I know– you hope that those nice people you had conversations with will remember you if a possible referral opportunity arises,

or that they will want to invite you to a follow up meeting,

or that they will remember where to find your card among that mess of cards on their desk or in their top drawer.

Now, as one of these nice new contacts is shoving a bunch of business cards in his top drawer he does notice one of the cards, takes a second look, and dashes off an email to the owner.

Was that card your card??

I Did A Business Card Experiment…. (tweet this)

Recently, I pulled a random stack of business cards from my business card file. I have mine organized by event and group so I pulled a few from each group, shuffled them, then fanned them out. I picked 5 that caught my eye from the corners that were visible.

Then I reviewed them to see if I could answer these questions:

I would refer this person if…….

I would call this person if…….

I would meet this person because……

In 4 out of the 5 cases, I couldn’t answer these questions from what I saw on their business card.

I can honestly say that in 3 out of the 5 cases I wouldn’t consider contacting the person because of how silly or busy or confusing or vague their business card was.

A great business card is a must if you want to optimize your business. (tweet this)

When I started my business over a decade ago, I resisted investing in a really good branding/logo professional. Big mistake – I wish I had done this sooner. Here is what a good branding person created for me. The top image is the front, the bottom image is the back. (I’ve had Fortune 500 CEO’s comment on how much they liked this card- and they’ve seen a few business cards 🙂


fox coaching business card

At the time, live networking, this business card, and speaking engagements were the 3 main ways I built a thriving multi-six-figure business. I’ve since changed my business name and focus but I still use many of the same elements in my current business card based on the success of that one. (I’ll show it to you in a minute).

I realize that if you are an employee in a company or a firm, you may be locked into the design and format your organization company dictates. But, you may have the liberty of adding some text to further denote special areas of expertise or distinction. Why not ask?

If you are a business owner or a service professional, it is essential that you have a business card that appeals to the right people and demonstrates the right message and image.


Today, most business cards are bad – and are not helping you get the business you deserve.


The 5 Ways To Turn A Bad Business Card Into A Great One (tweet this)

So what are the key elements of a good business card, one that works for you not against you?

I’ll boil it down to these 5 critical factors:

1. Attention Getting – The first thing you want to do is capture someone’s attention. So the visuals of the card should be distinctive, appealing, memorable and tell the reader that who you are is right for them on an image/branding basis. If there is something at the perimeter of the card that can be memorable, so much the better because it will stand out in a stack (mine was that deep blue triangle at the top left corner).

Now you can be the best lawyer in the world but if your card looks cheesy or mundane or unprofessional, you will either be overlooked or dismissed. And why wouldn’t you at least have your area of specialization on the card? I looked at 10 lawyers’ business cards. Only 1 in 10 said what kind of law they practiced! Six months from now, when I need a lawyer, I’ll have no idea if I should call you or not.

2. Clear Brand and Image Positioning – Your positioning should include distinctive and branding visuals (logos, colors, fonts, and arrangement of info) that express the right image to appeal to your selected target market.

3.Your positioning should include some brief language to identify what makes you distinctive. This could be a tag line or even a brief one line elevator speech. I highly prefer tag line that is short, powerful, clear.

4. Solutions. Your business card should express a “what’s in it for me” element so people understand the solutions you provide, not just what you do.

5.Readable Finally, and I know this should go without saying, your contact info should be legible and complete.

After doing my business card audit, here are my

Top 10 Biggest Business Card Botches

1. Boring or bad visuals– ex. the card looks like thousands of others and gets lost among the many. At the other end of the spectrum, the information is on a dark background so it’s hard to read or scan information in.

2. Too much information jammed into too small a space – you are trying to get every last piece of information about you, your business, every market you serve, every service you provide. This becomes overwhelming and a turnoff.

3. Cheap paper – cheap paper or home-made cards look like it and diminishes you and your business or practice. Good paper can make even the simplest of graphics look appealing. You get what you pay for.

4. No WIIFM– Not enough clarity or information about purpose or solutions provided. (No WIIFM). Share one powerful line about the benefits you provide but make sure this is clear to readers. Cutesy is confusing, not compelling.

One business card I read says the person’s name and the tag line: “The CEO’s best friend.” This is a perfect example of someone trying to be cute and clever and giving the reader absolutely no idea of what he does or why this is so helpful to CEO’s.

5. Illegible Font– Just because you get all the contact info on the card doesn’t mean people can read it – either the type is too light or not large enough. Show the proof to a few people to make sure people can easily read your pertinent information.

6. Poor Verbage – too cutesy or unclear. I’ve already said what I need to say on this. Work with a good branding person on this if marketing messaging is not your thing. It’s well worth it.

7. Missing Website Information – If you don’t have a website, in today’s marketplace, this stands out like a sore thumb. Just have at least one professionally designed landing page online so you can send people there, and as a back up make sure you have a well-crafted Linked In profile.

8. Generic Email Address (not at a business address). When people see a business email address that is,, or this screams lack of professionalism. People immediately form an impression that this is not a substantial business. Register a professional url so that you can have an email address on your business card that points to your business online.

9. Non-Standard Size or Weird Shape of Card. – While I recommend you to have a card that is memorable and distinctive, card shape or size that is too big, small, or complicated, like a folded one, causes more problems than benefits. This is because you want people to be able to easily store your card in a card folder and more importantly you want people to be able to scan your information into their contact management system easily. Non-standard card shapes are problematic in both respects. Be creative in other ways like logo, font, or tag lines.

10. Poor organization of information on the card. When you put information on your business card in hard- to read ways, you make people tune out. Clean, easy-to-read organization is best. By the way, this leads to the question about using front and back of the business card. What I like about this method is you can put your branding and image front and forward. But if you use this approach, I recommend using all contact info on one side only. This way you still make it easy to scan contact information into a contact management system.

Final Tips

1. Get a good branding/logo professional to help you develop a smart logo and look for your branding. This is money well spent.

2. Get a great tag line – short, memorable, clearly explaining your product or service.

3. Use fine paper. Good paper can make even ordinary graphics extraordinary.

4. Color can make or break the look of your card. Do a little reading on the psychology of color when choosing your branding colors. Then when you use them on your card make sure they don’t distract from readability.

5. Less is more.

So here’s my business card today: (Unfortunately, you can’t see the depth of color in this image)

business fox business card

I still like the former one better, but I borrowed some of the best elements from the original. Today, I also have social media logos to let people how they can find me on social media.

Remember, the networking event is over, but your business card and your business identity, or lack of it, lives on.

Want your business card reviewed?

I’ll review the first 10 people who send me their card. Just scan and forward with an email to me,, and Business Card Review in the subject line!

Networking Gone Bad: How Paula Broadwell & Jill Kelley Were Connection Abusers & 5 Good Ways To Connect

Networking Gone Bad: How Paula Broadwell & Jill Kelley Were Connection Abusers & 5 Good Ways To Connect

Paula Broadwell and Jill Kelley, the two women who networked (I use that term lightly) with two of the most respected military leaders of our time, former General David Patreus and General John Allen, took “networking up” – making high level connections – to repugnant lengths.

Paula Broadwell & Jill Kelley: The “Bad” Connectors

Paula Broadwell used her charisma – looks, brains, physical fitness- to wangle the plum assignment of writing General Patreus’s biography, despite her lack of experience in authorship. There’s no point in commenting on the affair that ensued. The media is filled with enough on that topic.

Broadwell used her connection to cultivate a personal and professional relationship with a high level, highly visible leader to build her own career, prominence and gain access to  information and other top level people. (I’m sure she also cared for Patreus, but having a hot-shot who was hot for her only heightened the attraction).

But what’s wrong with that, you say? Isn’t that what networking is all about?

Not when you thoughtlessly destroy a lot of people’s lives in the process.

And then there’s Jill Kelley, the Tampa socialite who blew the whistle on Paula because Paula had been sending her jealous, threatening, not to mention careless, emails. But Jill had a big case of celebrity-connecting herself.  She ingratiated herself with military brass such as Gen. John Allen, as well as Gen. Patreus,  bandying these big names around as often as possible as she wheeled and deal and tried to use these connections to parlay a grand image and grander opportunities.

These women abused the trust their connections put in them.

Now, Gen. Patreus certainly isn’t blameless. He knows his part and has been willing to take the hits.

But these women abused the value of honorable connecting, and have given networking a very bad connotation.

Not All Networking Is Sleazy: 5 Good Ways To Connect – With Honor

There is nothing more wonderful than connecting with great people and making great things happen together. Tweet this!

That’s the beauty and honor of networking and connecting at it’s best.

People ask me all the time how to improve their connections with higher level people. Here are my 5 ways to “good” connect – successfully connect with high-level people honorably:

I will always endorse the approach of networking up vs. networking down. You will learn more by hanging around and engaging with smart, successful people; you will be exposed to better opportunities around more successful people; you will grow and improve more around smarter, accomplished people. Here’s how to do it right:

1. Connect With The Mindset of Integrity. Paula Broadwell knew very well that her association with Gen. Patreus wasn’t ethical. When you connect with the right people mindful of doing the right things for the right reasons, those connections flourish, as do the results.

2. Connect With The Mindset of Generosity. Think of how you can be of value and assistance to the other person before you focus on gaining value for yourself.

3. Connect With The Mindset of Possibility. Hanging around people who are open to new ideas vs. closed-mindedness will bring so much more vitality and opportunity into your life and everyone around you.

4. Connect With Thoughtfulness. We are so busy trying to check things off of our to do list that we can easily forget the impact our words and actions can have on others. Think before you speak. Think before you act. Think before you hit the send button. Think carefully about how your actions, words, or even thoughts may impact your connections and the others around them.

5. Connect With Patience. Yes, I love to make things happen fast as much as anyone. It does take time to really get to know someone. Taking a little time to build that rapport and really get to know someone actually can foster a closer, stronger bond and allows you to learn more fully about your connection’s values and whether he or she walks his talk.

My parting words on this topic:

Network Up.

Network With Integrity.

They aren’t mutually exclusive.

What do you think about how Paula Broadwell and Jill Kelley (and Gen. Patreus and Gen. Allen for that matter) handled these connections?

I hope you keep it clean, folks 🙂

And if you have enjoyed this post, I’d really appreciate you sharing it with your colleagues and connections.



Why Networking Doesn’t Work, But Niche-Networking Brings Home The Bacon

Why Networking Doesn’t Work, But Niche-Networking Brings Home The Bacon

Alice got the job of her dreams as business development director in a new up and coming business valuations firm.

She was raring to go.

And go she did – to every networking event recommended to her.

She went to 4-5 events a week and set up breakfasts, lunches, and after hours drinks 5 days a week.

After 6 months she had met hundreds of business people, collected stacks of business cards – and gained 11 pounds.

But she had not gained any new business.

Alice was getting nervous, and so was  her managing partner.

That’s when she reached out to me and asked for my help. Alice knew I had built a targeted, thriving network and that I teach service professional and entrepreneur clients this technique to grow their businesses.

Ya Gotta Have A “Niche-Networking” Strategy

Exhausted, frustrated, and without any closed business to show for it, Alice’s ears perked up when she heard about my strategic niche-networking plan for her. [Read more…]