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Your Prospects Buy From The Heart Not The Head

Your Prospects Buy From The Heart Not The Head

A question from one of my clients, a consultant, came in the other day asking me if I really believed it was worth the time networking online versus networking in person. After all, aren’t relationships really developed in person? Isn’t online a really impersonal, not-so-effective way to develop rapport and connection with people?

I was really glad he asked me that question because I could personally relate to the doubt and uncertainty about how much the online world can really offer true bonding in business relationships.

So let me tell you the story of me and Jayne.

A few years ago, I had a business friend and colleague, a lawyer in a major New York firm. Interestingly, he was really big into Twitter and had a huge following – mostly other lawyers.

Anyway, I noticed one of his followers commenting on his tweets. They were interesting and I started following her. She followed me back.

And then we struck up a Twitter-versation. Since Jayne was in Cleveland and I was in N.Y., we “brought the cloud down closer to the ground” when we  spoke on the phone.

At the time, I was co-hosting a monthly networking event for lawyers and accountants. I mentioned it to my new Twitter friend, never thinking she’d take me up on my invitation to attend.

At the next event, Jayne showed up as a surprise! It was fantastic – we just bonded even more and became great business friends. Take note –  Jayne had the initiative to get herself on an airplane to experience new relationships and opportunity!

Soon after Jayne went to another firm- now as a partner – and we maintained our connection and friendship.

When I moved to L.A., Jayne and I stayed in touch and our friendship grew.

Jayne became a leader in her new firm, launching the Women’s Initiative. She also had a very strong leadership role with the Cleveland YWCA which designed and led a Women’s Leadership Program.

She recommended me as a speaker at both the Cleveland Y and her firm.

It took time, but because Jayne and I followed one another on Twitter, I landed two amazing clients and have the most inspiring friend!

Jayne didn’t recommend me because I had the most advanced letters after my name or credentials. She recommended me because she felt a bond to my values and mission – and I to hers.

Relationships may begin virtually but they can and will turn very personal if you “bring the cloud to the ground.”

People buy from the heart, but they justify their choices from the head. (you can tweet that)

Why? Because despite how logical people think they are, they are driven to act via powerful emotional triggers.

Jeff Walker, online marketing master calls these mental triggers, noting they can become our biggest “weapons of mass influence”.

My friend Linda could sell sand in the desert. I was always amazed by how she did it.

She sold commodity-priced women’s underwear to retail buyers  – a very tough bunch.

But she bonded and became friendly with the buyers. She really liked them. She called them “her girls.” She invited them to stay at her house when they were in town for market buying weeks. She went to dinner and “girl events” with them. They liked her. She listened to them and learned all about their challenges and concerns.

They gave her lots and lots of orders even though her products were not any better or cheaper than the competition.

People buy from the heart,  justify from the head.

There are 3 things to remember about how people buy, whether you connect online or in person:

  1. People believe they are buying from logic, but they are justifying decisions from the deepest part of their hearts. (another way of saying this is they buy what and whom they WANT, not necessarily what they NEED).
  2. You have to earn their devotion before you will earn their dollars.
  3. When they like you they will cut through all kinds of red tape and remove obstacles FOR YOU, and make the path to doing business a breeze.

Mark Vincent Hansen, co-author of Chicken Soup For The Soul said it so clearly: “People don’t buy with their head but with their heart. The heart is closer to the wallet than the head”.

So how do you build really solid relationships online?

The exact same principles apply but you start a bit differently.

The beginning connection is the key – whether via email, or tweet, or video, or webinar, you need to:

  1. Give people the feeling that you have relevance to them.
  2. You need to give them a sense that you care about THEM and their interests and challenges in order to create an emotional trigger.
  3. You need to let them know you understand their needs, challenges, concerns – building that emotional bond.
  4. You need to be patient enough not to rush into pitching them – it destroys any emotional bond and trust you have built.
  5. You need to connect the dots – building the bridge from their desired goals  to solutions you have to helping them achieve these dreams and goals.

Linked In, webinars, podcasts, emails, blogs – they are all avenues to connect with great business people. But connecting with them online is only the first step.

You need to open their hearts before their minds will ever let them give your their credit card and business.

Do you have a story or a question about connecting and building relationships online?

I love hearing about your experiences and questions – and so does our business community.

Please share in the comment box below- I will respond to all questions.

Wait, before you go, I have a special business building gift, a free tool for you… Enjoy!

 A Super Simple Niche Selector Cheat Sheet!

CLICK HERE TO GET ACCESS>>

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.
welcome-to-california

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.

Ecstasy.

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.

015

 

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.

distressed-chinese-table
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.

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: http://theweek.com/articles/569060/why-corporate-america-ditching-annual-performance-reviews)

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, nancy@thebusinessfox.com).

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.”


ninaairbnbjpg

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.

So….

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!.

But…

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)

Not!

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.

But… 

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.

Yum.

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?

Wrong.

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)