Monday, January 30, 2012

Networking, Expectations, Goofus and Gallant

Recently a chamber member brought a concern to my attention.

This person is what I would refer to as a "Great Networker." They noted that there are people out there that think just because you've been introduced and exchanged business cards that you're now obligated to purchase their services or send a referral. The member with Great Expectations may (or more likely may not) have done the same as they're expecting, but the expectation is there.

Now stop and think about this for a minute. Is everyone you meet a prospective customer or client? Is it possible to give business to everyone you meet for the first time WHEN you meet them for the first time? (We have nearly 600 members in our Chamber alone--and many of our members belong to multiple networking groups.)

Yes, networking can pay off with valuable referrals--but there's a difference between being a Great Networker and getting those referrals and being a "Great Expectations" kind of networker. Which one are you?

Great Networker
People do business with people they know.
Great Expectations
I gave you my business card--so now we know each other--give me business.

Great Networker
People do business with people they like and trust.
Great Expectations
I'll like you better when you give me business.

Great Networker
Relationships are about the lifetime value of a connection--not a flash in the pan.
Great Expectations
If you're not giving me business--there's no lifetime value.

Great Networker

It's not just the person I'm meeting and getting to know--it's about all of their connections too. Maybe you aren't a good prospect for my goods or services--but I'll bet you know someone who is. I treat our relationship with respect and care--it's an example of how I treat customers and clients. So even if you don't use my services or products--you know I have high integrity and value. Hopefully that makes it easy for you to think of me when a referral opportunity crops up.

Great Expectations
I'll give you some more business cards you can give your friends.

Great Networker
I ask questions about your business, learning more about you, your goals, how things are going.
Great Expectations
Why are you asking me all of these questions about my business? If you're not a potential customer or client, stop wasting my time.

Great Networker
After learning about your business, I often am asked similar questions about my own business.
Great Expecations
Well I told you all about my business--time to move on.

Rereading this before posting, I am reminded of the old Highlights Magazine cartoon strip "Goofus and Gallant." Yes, I'm a baby boomer--this was long before the days of Dilbert or Calvin & Hobbs.

Basically these are classic themes about having good manners. I strongly urge you to NOT be a Goofus.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Women in Business series 2012 begins today!

Women in Business series 2012 begins today!
One of the things that gets us through the winter months is the 4 part Women in Business series.  Once a month, January through April, Clarkston Area Chamber hosts a WiB (Women in Business) event.
These events are designed for women business leaders, but are open to everyone--you don't have to be a business leader, chamber member, or female to attend these events.

What exactly do we mean by "Designed for Women Business leaders?"

Our topics and speakers are motivational, inspirational--presenting 45 minute keynote addresses of high quality information and energy. 

WiB events include extra time for networking and relationship building.  I've observed over the years that when you put Clarkston's women business leaders together at a networking event, they prefer time to build friendships and advisory partners that lead to strategic referral partnerships.  They don't like to be rushed.

They DO like for events to start on time and end on time.  They enjoy surprises and are game to participate in activities.  

All that in mind--I know that today's event with Terry Bean and his presentation 6 Degrees of Connectedness will be rewarding, enriching--and fun!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Get Connected and Stay Connected

This month, the Chamber will host a member orientation on Wednesday January 25, 2012  9-10 a.m. at the Chamber office.

We've been holding these events every other month for almost three years.  They've been targeted for our newest members to help them jump start their participation in the Chamber value offerings.

We cover the basics:
Where do you go for information and updates?
How can you promote your business within the Chamber network?
What are the best fit for marketing opportunities within the Chamber?
What kind of savings and discounts are available for Chamber members?

We also bring in a member from the Ambassadors and the Board of Directors to share their experiences on what's worked for them, what tips they suggest for getting the most out of your membership and more.

Beginning in 2012, we are now publicizing these orientation dates and opening them up to all Chamber members.  We only ask that you RSVP so we are sure to have enough materials printed and on hand for the meeting.

If you're not sure what's new, what's the best fit, or how to ramp up the value you're getting from your Chamber membership, then plan to attend an orientation.  

WEDS January 25, 2012  9-10 a.m. at the Chamber

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

In a short while, the Chamber Ambassadors will descend upon the Chamber office.  There will be laughter and loud voices--but more than that, there will be a wave of positive energy and excitement. It's like a high tide of opportunity and "can-do!" that fills the office.

Our Ambassadors serve as volunteers.  They do what they do, because they LOVE it!  Each year, it's hard to believe, but the pool of Ambassadors gets better and better and better.

While an Ambassadors act as hosts as events, greet new members and facilitate networking--what they really do (and do so very well) is set the "temperature."

Are you comfortable?
Do you feel welcomed?

Thank the Ambassadors.

Are you able to talk, as well as listen while you network? Do you find that Chamber members you meet touch base, talk with you, send referrals in an ongoing fashion?

Thank the Ambassadors.

Do you laugh, have fun and look forward to Chamber events?

Thank the Ambassadors!

Our Chamber Networking Brand is well known, positive and copied by many surrounding groups.  It's that good, because our Ambassadors are that good!

Thank you Ambassadors!  You totally Rock!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What do you resolve to do?

Happy New Year!

Yes, I am one of those people who enjoy looking at January 1 as a lightswitch opportunity. I'm full of hope, anticipation and ambition as I approach the fresh new calendar pages.

This is an opportunity to assess, align and repurpose yourself to be the best you can be.

This year, you will have the opportunity to take advantage of some of the great talent in our area. The Chamber is deploying our secret weapon--YOU!

Sharpen the Saw
Stephen Covey talks about Shapening the Saw (you'll cut down trees faster if you take time to sharpen your saw)--and we're going to help you. Throughout the year you'll find Business Bootcamps scheduled--beginning with January 11, 2012 with the Microsoft Office 365 Cloud bootcamp.

Bootcamps will be held at different times of the day, different days of the week and offer different themes, topics, presenters and price points. While we don't expect members to attend every bootcamp, we do encourage you to attend as many as you can.

The skills, tips and connections you'll make at these events will be well worth the investment of your time and dollars.

Get connected and stay connected with your Chamber peers.
The best investment to grow your business is finding and aligning with strategic referral partners.

Measure your success
Start thinking now about how you'll track and measure your success. How many referrals do you get from other Chamber members? What dollar amount does that bring in for you?

And for my part . . . I'm renewing my commitment to keep this blog updated. It's easy to fall back and let time zip by as you race from deadline to deadline. It's IMPORTANT to follow through on what you start.

This WILL be a prosperous New Year!