Thursday, March 25, 2010

Linked In?

Here are my few rules for Linked In:
1. I have to have met you in person. I have to know you are real and that you aren't an avatar representation of someone else (or some corporation).

2. I have to be willing to help you. It would be nice if you were willing to help me too. I like to use Linked In to see how I can help people. If I don't feel comfortable helping you (with information, support, tips, leads, or referrals), then we probably won't have a useful linked-in relationship.

3. I have to have visibility with you. Do I know your first name, your last name, your business name, and your profession? Do you know my profession and business name? Until we have a visibility relationship, in real life, we don't have much of a connection online either. I don't make connections - real or virtual - if there's nothing behind the connection.

4. Do you have 10 connections? I don't ask to be Linked-In to someone that has less that 10 connections. For whatever reason they don't want to use Linked-In, they don't understand the value, they don't want to use online networking, they don't have the time, they don't like to ask people that they know in real life to be connected - - for whatever reason they have less than 10 connections - - we probably wouldn't be able to help each other through Linked-In anyways.

5. Making the first move. If someone asks to Link to me and they follow guidelines 1, 2, and 3 - - then I'll more than likely link to them. (I only use rule 4 when I'm interested in making the first move - usually because we met somewhere in person and I'm interested in getting linked.)

6. Members Together: If we are a member of an organization or hobby group that has a good chance of us meeting in person as some point in the future - I might link to you so we can get to know each other better in advance of a real life meeting. It is unlikely that I would refer anyone to you or ask you for help until we meet in person. That's just the way I am.

7. I don't use connections as a scorecard to measure my life worth. As I tell all of my clients - I'd rather have 10 strong relationships with people I trusted, than 100 weak relationships with people I didn't know.

How do you decide who to link to on Linked-In? Do you accept all invitations? Do you connect with people you don't know, haven't met, don't trust, don't want to help, or have nothing in common?

My company - the Referral Institute of Ithaca - helps business owners work less, play more, and make more by helping them create referrals for life. Linking to hundreds of strangers and reading their updates - well that doesn't sound like working less - so I'll probably skip that activity. For other activities and solutions about working less, making more, and creating Referrals for Life - - check out one of my upcoming Referral Success 101 classes.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

My Recipe for Success

Tuesday afternoon I attended my first ICON meeting. ICON (derived from 'Independent Consultant Network') is a business networking group that meets once a month to support independent consultants by providing a forum where they can meet and learn from each other. The president of ICON is Bob Steinkamp, the owner/manager of Finger Lakes Media Strategies. Bob and I first met at the veterans Watchfire in September 2007 (at Myer's Point in Lansing) when we were introduced by a mutual friend.

This month's ICON meeting had the theme of "The First Annual ICON Build A Successful Consultancy Cook-Off!".

Here's my recipe (following the ingredients Bob recommended):

1 spicy marketing idea that anyone can use to promote their business:
Develop a stronger referral relationship with your referral partners by promoting them. Here are the steps:
-Introduce a member of your network to a person or acquaintance of yours; describe your network member’s background and business and how well she performs.
-Let the other person know that if he or she ever needs the kind of products or services offered by your network member, he or she should not hesitate to call him.
-Promote your network member as often as possible, whether or not he is present – for example, by nominating him for an award or using him as an example in presentations and introductions.

2 freshly-ground ounces of time-management tips:
My favorite time-management tip is to network in the right place. Identify your target market – and network where they play. Even better – identify the professions of your referral partners – and network with them (they’ll be a gateway to a lot of the right clients for you).

3 dollops of lightly sugared (nutrasweet is o.k.) motivational; or inspirational quotes you like:
“If you are coasting, it means you are going downhill.” C.P. Fulford, Jr.
“A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success.” William Saroyan
“Only those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly.” Robert Kennedy

4 sliced and diced business resource suggestions such as books or websites that you like:
and 5 business cards to pass out to people you meet (add as many of these as you want as garnish!)

I liked the group. I think having a place where independent consultants can see other consultants and exchange what works, what they like to do, and what kind of help they are looking for is valuable for anyone who has to wear many hats in their business. It is a chance to get out of the home office and come out of the metaphorical cave.

The next ICON Monthly Meeting:
April 13th, 2010 at 4:00 p.m.
Free and Open to the Public

Audrey Edelman RealtyUSA
2333 N. Triphammer Road
Ithaca, New York

Contact Bob Steinkamp for more information:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

5 Reasons for 5 Minutes

I recently spent five minutes on the phone with a new referred client. What do you say to your newly referred prospects? It is not only the first impression, it also might be the only five minutes you have together. Do you have 5 reasons (or topics) to make sure you cover in that 5 minute phone call?

Here are five reasons to spend five minutes on the phone with me:

1. The Referral Institute is a consulting company - we consult with business owners to develop the right referral marketing plan for their business - finding the right partners and training them the right ways to generate referrals.

2. We help you connect with the people you already know - business owners know a lot of people from a lot of different places in their lives - some of these people can be great referral partners for your business. We help you identify which people are the best sources for your business.

3. We provide you with simple steps to take - It is simple, it just isn't easy. If it was easy, everyone would do it and everyone would have more business than they could handle. The steps I guide you along are easy and are possible to do to find success in word of mouth marketing.

4. We allow you to take control - it is your referral marketing plan, your relationships, your time, your financial gain. You can take control of how your referrals are coming to your business.

5. We work to effectively make a plan to help the right people and help you create Referrals for Life. Referrals are about relationships and relationships are about people. When you help someone grow their business - and you provide easy ways for them to help you - they will help you grow your business.

If the client on my phone is referable then I might invite them to check out my Referral Success 101 class. If only one of the traits is missing from the list - we might be able to figure out how to improve that in the next five minutes of the call - probably by me referring them to another business professional. If they aren't referable - and they are unwilling to change or develop their referable traits - then I might recommend a marketing, advertising, or direct mail consultant to help them get their message out - as long as they are looking to grow their business.

I challenge all entrepreneurial sales people to be able to get their phone pitch down to five minutes. This is your message to someone who has been referred into your business. You'll be able to save time - both yours and your potential clients.

It can also act as a great information piece for your referral partners!