Making New Contacts: 1 contact or 250?

Yesterday I talked about the value of networking and how it can be so much more than just business, contacts, and referrals. Each day you are given the opportunity to meet and connect with new people. Last night as my friend and I walked into his surprise 50th birthday party I had a great feeling. How cool was it for him to stroll into what he thought was going to be a small gathering of people and to his surprise see 100 of his closest friends, clients, and family.  It was a great time full of laughs, food, and of course cake! Throughout the evening more people seemed to be stopping in. I knew a few of these people but many I did not. Everyone knew my friend, everyone knew, liked, and trusted him. Seeing all these people celebrating in my friend’s birthday reminded of the Law of 250.

What is the law of 250? The law of 250 has been talked about my many of the best marketers including Joe Girard. Girard is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the World’s Greatest Salesman. World’s Greatest Salesman, there has got to be something to be learned from him! Girard sold more cars than 95% of all the dealerships in North America. He did this not just for one year but for 10 plus years! How did Joe do it? Girard believed in the law of 250 and knew if he could get everybody he made contact with to refer him into their network of friends, family, and colleagues that he could multiply his marketing efforts by 250. Michael McLaughlin the coauthor of Guerrilla Marketing for Consultants, trusted advice on successful consulting from the authors of the bestselling Guerrilla Marketing series goes in more depth on the law of 250 in his Guerrilla Consulting blog.

Everyone one of us have close friends in our life. If it was your 50th birthday who would you invite to attend? Who would you want to celebrate with? These are the people who are in your network of 250. These are the people that know, like, and trust you. You have a choice with each new person you meet; you can count them as one or invest in the relationship and tap into 250.

Networking: New Clients, Prospects, Referrals, and Lifelong Friends

Friday night I spent some time at a good friend’s house. My friend is turning 50 today and I have been tasked with keeping him out of the house while his wife gets things ready for a small gathering of friends. Still not sure what I am going to do for three hours but I am confident we can figure out something!

This morning I was thinking about where this friendship started. We first met through a networking group called LeTip. Each week we saw each other for a few hours and then would go on to the rest of our day. Early on we chatted and he let me know someone he knew represented my company and if he decided to use my service he would use them. I mention this because I really had written this person off in regards to networking. I was still nice, talked to him, and looked for ways to refer him, but I had zero expectations of ever receiving referrals or business from him.

Networking for me is not about what I can get from someone, it is about what I can give. Each time you give someone a referral, help someone through a business challenge, or connect two contacts together without expecting anything in return you are giving. Ivan Misner the founder of BNI often talks about this with his givers gain philosophy. The theory here is if you are always looking for ways to support your network then in turn your network will support you with business, contacts, and referrals. Ivan also talks about this in his new book The 29% Solution, 52 Weekly Networking Success Strategies in week 5 and has a recent article about the book on his Networking Now blog on entrepreneur.com.

I really live this givers gain philosophy in all areas of my life. So many examples of wonderful things coming to me when I have least expected it. One of them is the lifelong friend who I have the pleasure in celebrating his life and birthday today.

Making Life SWEETER than you Ever Imagined

So did you meet someone new over the long weekend? Striking up a conversation with someone you have never met or reconnecting with someone you have met previously is pretty simple right? Now what? What do I do with this new contact or new person I connected with? Many times I have met a new person or made a new contact at a social event and felt pretty good about the connection. Many times I have thought to myself “wow, that person is really great and I would love to meet with that person again!” More often than I care to admit the relationship has ended just as fast as it has started.

It does not have to be that way! You can change this so easily! Simply call the person and let them know you enjoyed talking to them and would like to take them to lunch or coffee. You can also email new contacts or mail them a nice to meet you greeting card. Do which ever feels right but make sure you take some action to keep the relationship going! If you did not get the persons contact information it’s ok! Just call the host and let them know you really connected with someone at the party and would like to get their information. Remember you have NOTHING to lose by taking this action! NOTHING!!

Over the weekend I received a great QuoteAction that reminded me of this process and why I tend to shy away from this action. Here is the quote:

“I will guarantee you that the day you step outside your comfort zone by making success your goal is the day you discover that adversity, risk, and daring will make life sweeter then you ever imagined.”

-Mark Burnett, Founder of the Eco Challenge

Your action for today is to do something that is outside of your comfort zone.

So what do you think? Is it worth stepping out of your comfort zone to add a new relationship that might just propel your business or network to a new level?

Savoring the Investment IN a Relationship

This morning I was up very early and decided I wanted a cup of coffee. My first thought was to take a quick shower, grab my laptop, and head over to my local Starbucks. As I was getting out of bed I realized I wanted something different… I really just wanted to enjoy a cup of coffee outside in the cool morning air. Some of you reading this may know I am a goal oriented, multi tasking, crazy scheduled, always going in multiple directions type of person so getting ready and starting my day running is pretty normal for me.

Something about this morning, at this moment was a bit different… I was looking for a different approach or a different experience this morning. It hit me… where is that French Press that I used to love making coffee with? As I entered my kitchen in search for my lost press I started to remember why I love it! Boiling the water, grinding the coffee, pouring the hot water over the coffee, letting it sit for a few minutes, finally pressing the plunger down to pour my perfect cup of coffee. Sitting outside I realized why I love this process so much.

So what the heck does this have to do with followup and why would I post my morning coffee experience here? Well as I was sipping my coffee listening to the morning sounds I realized how the process of my morning cup of coffee is very similar to the process of followup. It’s not always about the quick cup of coffee or the quick meeting of a new prospect. It’s about the process! When I take the time to really get to know a person, learning about them and their business, I get to enjoy the result.

Following up and building relationships is just like making the perfect cup of coffee. When we take the time and go through the entire process we can enjoy the result.

Tomorrow is the start to a brand new week. I might just start with another perfect cup of coffee.

“THE MEETING” What to say and is it worth it?

So you have set a meeting for an upcoming future date! Now what? I have these types of meetings almost every day. I have found the best agenda for this meeting is similar to an interview process. Here is my basic agenda for these meetings:

Review your notes on the new contact and their website before calling. When you call the contact remind them of the reason and goal for the meeting. Make sure you are really listening and take notes! If possible you want to engage the other person first by probing them about their business.

Start by asking them to talk a little about their business. (3 minutes)

When the contact has finished or the 3 minutes has passed ask the following question:

Can you give me an example of your ideal client or customer?

I find most small business owners or solopreneurs have a hard time answering this question. Sometimes you may have to help them out by sharing your ideal client. For example: My ideal client is a small business owner, solopreneur, or sales professional that wants to attract more clients and generate more referrals. They typically know the value of following up but often say they never get around to it, don’t have the time, or don’t have any kind of system to make it easy.

Explain to me your biggest challenge in your business.

This could present an opportunity for you to help with this challenge or possibly you have someone in your network that can help or shed a different light on this challenge.

Who is your best referral partners?

Possible referral partners for an Estate Planning Attorney could be a Financial Planner, Real Estate Agent, Lender, or CPA . Sometimes you may have referrals for a new contacts best referral partner before having a customer referral for them.

What makes you or your company different from your competitors?

Some companies will have a highly competitive edge in a marketplace and they know it. A lot of times an insurance agent knows they are the most cost effective for certain industries and if you know this information it makes it very easy to refer them.

Are you on facebook or Linkedin?

I will talk more about facebook and Linkedin in future posts. If you are not on facebook or Linkedin you can visit my profile to learn more.

Is there anything more you would like to tell me about you or your company that might help me give you referrals?

This is an ending question which will allow you to start your part of the meeting.

At this point you want to basically go over these same questions with your new contact so they learn more about you and how they might be able to help grow your business. This process can last 30 minutes to one hour depending on the answers. Make sure to find out at the start of the meeting how much time you have to insure you both get the most value. Speaking of value, do you see how this second meeting can be a huge part of your follow up? Let me know if you have a question to add or if this post was helpful by adding a comment!

Follow Up with a Greeting Card!

This should seem obvious but to be quite honest I am shocked at how few follow up greeting cards or hand written notes I receive. Many of our great leaders, top businesses owners, and world renowned sales trainers talk about the hand written note or greeting card. Keith Ferrazzi talks about the power of following up with a hand written note in his national bestselling book Never Eat Alone. Take a moment and think about the last 30 days… How many networking events have you attended? Is the number one, five, or possibly twenty? How many greeting cards, hand written notes, or even postcards have you received from these new contacts?

Think about this… Almost every day I am in a meeting, conference call, or just talking to another business owner and one of the following statements comes up. “Can you believe this economy? No one is buying anything!”, “My business is down, people are just not buying anymore”, “I don’t understand, my customers are not calling me.”

In a business environment where a lot of sales professionals and businesses are struggling (real or imagined) why are some having record sales? If two remodeling builders are in the same major city like New York, Los Angeles, or Dallas why is one having explosive growth while the other is closing down? Could it be the growing business is really lucky and the other is not? Could one have a stronger pool of customers or possibly amazing sales people?

Or maybe it is just a slight edge and a different mindset? Maybe they do something just a little different.. Maybe the business with explosive growth are just following up! Imagine where you or your business would be today if you consistently followed up using a simple greeting card or note…

Why follow up with an email first?

The question you should ask is WHY NOT? Sending an email is by far the easiest, fastest, and most cost effective first follow up step you can do. Emailing your new contact within 24 hours makes you stand out from anyone else they may have met at the event. The email also shows you are committed to exploring the business relationship further. You want the email ready in advance to insure it’s sent right away. I would suggest having multiple versions ready to go depending on the types of networking you are doing. You might have one for a Chamber of Commerce Mixer, another for various seminars you may attend, and possibly a version for professionals who visit your weekly networking group such as BNI or LeTip.

The following is a few elements you may want to include in your email:

-Mention the event name in the subject, “Great Meeting You at the San Diego North Chamber of Commerce Mixer”.

-Talk about the event and how great it was meeting them in your opening line, “I really enjoyed meeting you this morning at 5 Minute Networking!

-Mention your desire to learn more about the person and their company. Your goal is to meet with the person to explore how you might help each other. Let them know you will be calling them to setup a meeting shortly.

-In closing ask them to connect with you on LinkedIn or Facebook. I personally welcome new invites as this expands my networking and referral potential.

Remember your email signature! Scott Hanselman has a great post talking about email signature etiquette in his blog. I appreciate a signature that includes the name, phone number, website, and picture. Including your picture is a valuable step in the relationship building process.

7 Steps to Follow Up Success

I do more networking than the average business or professional. I typically attend three or more different networking events every week. I meet all types of business professionals, owners, and sales people. And guess what makes me stand out from all the other people networking… I follow up with every single person. Here is my follow up process:

1) When you get back to your office, or within 24 hours send an email to each person you met. Keep it simple and not a sales pitch.

2) Mail each person a “nice to meet you” greeting card within 24 hours.

3) Within one week call each new contact to set up a meeting to learn more about their business and how you might help each other.

(The meeting can be in person or on the phone. The idea is for each of you to learn more about each other. 15 to 30 minutes for each person to talk is more than enough time.  Make sure to add this contact into your social media platforms you use like LinkedIn or Facebook )

4) On the second week, contact the person again with a call and email if you have still not connected.

5) Mail a thank you card after the meeting within 24 hours.

6) I make it a point, after meeting with a new contact, to give them a referral within 30 days. Ideally this happens but not always.

7) Make contact again 30 days after your meeting. Remember you are building a relationship with this person that can last for years.

The key is to have a set follow up system in place for each networking event prepared in advance. In the near future I will be discussing these steps in more detail. Keep in mind whether you attend one networking event a day, or one every two months, follow these simple steps and your networking results will improve dramatically. A great place to learn more about all of the different types of networking is the National Networker blog. You will find a never ending amount of resources and information.

Follow Up Success?

I have been thinking about this first entry everyday for the last two weeks. I have written it perfectly at least five times yet not one of them seemed quite right. I have felt that this was the one entry to set the entire tone for Follow Up Success. So this morning as I was anguishing over what I was going to open this blog with I had the opportunity to talk to my friend Angie Swartz who has a great new blog called Six Figure Moms Club. Angie challenged me to really look at the why behind this blog. It reminded me of why I am so passionate about business and where that passion all started.

At the young age of 10 I had my first success in business through a great program called Town. Town was a hands-on type learning experience with all the kids in our school grade. We created businesses, figured out how to make them profitable, and at the end enjoyed a great shopping spree with our earnings. This one experience has had the largest impact on my sales and business career. I have literally thought about Town at some point in every position I have held, every company I have started, and every success I have had.

I have chosen this platform and subject because as business owners and sales professionals great follow up is a huge part of our success. My goal for Follow Up Success is to have it become the source for new and fresh ideas. If you have a great follow strategy let me know so we can discuss it. If you enjoy one of the topics or have experience with one of the ideas make a comment so we can all benefit! I am looking forward to sharing the many ideas to come!