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Who do you spend time with?

September is back to school season and as we prepare for the fall, it is a good time to reflect on what do we need to re-learn ourselves.  One of the things that I have found over the years is that we become like the people that we hang out with.  If we want to be happy, then we should hang out with happy people. In fact, if we find out that we are not happy, then perhaps we are hanging out with the wrong people. So who do you spend time with?

I was at a forming “Mastermind” group in Cranberry Township on Tuesday with other business owners when one of the potential members quoted Jim Rohn “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”  None of the potential members of the group was looking for referrals or networking, they were only looking for support – but what if you can get both in one place and what about your five top referral marketing partners – are the adding to your energy or detracting from it?

Finding support is often a difficult problem for small business owners.  I joined BNI as a strong contract referral network to help me grow my business by being in front of people that would likely be able to send me business as I would be able to send them business. I had no idea that what I bought into was a system designed to make me a better business owner.

What I found over the three years that I have been in a BNI chapter is that I have been exposed to a group of people that has the ability to give me ideas on how I can be better at my business because they are mostly people like me who are small business owners themselves.  And because BNI, like other category exclusive groups, prevents my competition from being in the room we can be more forthcoming about how we do business with one another.

The time we spend with one another is significant – because we meet outside of our ninety minute sales meeting each week to jointly plan how we can find business for one another.  If I am truthful with myself, I have to admit that if I was not doing that with other professionals, I would not do it myself.

When meeting with other people that are your virtual sales force there are a lot of things that you can ask of one another like:

  • How clear am I about what the benefit of working with me are?
  • What are people asking you about my services when you suggest that I might be able to help them with their business?
  • Who else should I be talking to about what I offer?
  • How understandable are my weekly sales presentations?

In our regular interactions we can also brainstorm common business problems like:

  • How do you handle customer complaints?
  • Where have you found sources of policies and procedures to use for your employee manuals?
  • What are you doing about 401k plans?
  • Who handles your social media?

By having one or two of these meetings each week we are able to be much better business owners. We get exposed to ideas that we never would have considered ourselves and our referral partners might have skills that we do not have ourselves.  In fact I find that it is useful for me to review my partners accomplishments, skills and outside interests when meet with them.  Once good thing to ask one another when you met, and it works at casual networking events is “what is the biggest challenge you are having with your business right now?”

If you are going to spend time with people like this on a regular basis then you better make sure that the people are positive and supportive.  When joining a strong contact group, make sure that the people in the room work with you to increase the energy that you have to perform well in your business not detract from it?

What about you? Who do you spend time with? Are they building you up – or are they tearing you down? If you are interested in visiting our BNI chapter and finding people that will build you up, please visit our Facebook page.

 

Coaching Works

As a member of the Pittsburgh Coaches Association, I will be joining a demonstration of coaching techniques at PNC Park on Wednesday November 14th at 4PM as part of the second annual “Coaching Works” presentation.  There will be many coaches present demonstrating different coaching techniques.  Why should you care?

According to the International Coaching Federation, coaching as an institution is expanding, and breakthroughs are becoming stronger and faster.

People feel more accountable to their coaches than to others because clear goals are set. This accountability leads to the goals being obtained. When clients make a commitment to their coaches, and to themselves, they feel more responsible for making something happen. They do not want to disappoint their coach whom they understand to hold their best interest in their intentions and mindset.  Additionally, just the prospect of having to “own up” to someone you respect about not achieving your goal due to inaction or complacency is enough to get the gears going. The ethics of the ICF prohibit the coach from having any agenda other than the client’s own best interests, even to the point of requiring disclosure of any incentive that the coach has in recommending any other service. This means you know the coaches “agenda” at all times.

Studies conducted by the ICF have shown that social pain is the equivalent of physical pain in its impact on us. Think about that when you consider staying in a job that causes you social pain every day, or in your current relationship that might be holding you back. Does that mean that when you hire a coach you are guaranteed to change your job or your partner?  Probably not. What will change is how you show up in your relationship or at your job, which changes how others interact with you.

Skeptical? Great! We encourage intelligent, critical, observation and making decisions for oneself! Come to Coaching Works and see just how easy it can be for change to occur.  There will be three, 10 minute, laser coaching demonstrations during the event, interspersed networking time with coaches and others. Come on out and enjoy some great food and beverages while visiting eleven coaching specialists in one-on-one sessions.

When you visit, please pay particular attention to the laser coaching demonstrations. Coaching does not have to be a long, laborious process.  It is not therapy. It does not seek to understand the past, but to understand how the past is preventing you in the moment from moving toward the future that you choose for your life.

For more information and to register visit the PCA website.

Getting Well

What does getting well have to do with launching an on core venture?  Everything.

In the second half of life, the behavior patterns we established in the first half start shouting at us. This takes form in issues such as Diabetes, Cancer, Heart Disease, Obesity, Depression, Boredom, Fatigue, and so on.

We believe that the first step in defining your second half of life vision involves getting into the best physical and mental shape possible.  This allows for the energy and clear focus needed in order to determine how you can – as they say in the Army- be all you can be, or as we say – become oncore. If you are beginning to suffer from the effects of the above list, you must learn to get well, not just rely on dealing with it through coping patterns, but get truly well.

Our approach to helping clients figure out what they need to do begins with an assessment tool. This tool allows us to point out examples of what one of our clients calls “Stinkin’ Thinkin’.”  From there, we use a combination of techniques that allow you to come up with your own path to wellness.  We also have a partner network of people we trust that can help you in areas where you might be stuck.

Coaching is not therapy. We do not care where you got your Stinkin’ Thinkin’ patterns. We care about getting you past it so that success becomes attainable. As I listened yesterday to young parents at the children’s museum in Pittsburgh, their advice to their kids to be careful and not to wander away or talk to strangers is not designed to make them afraid of networking in twenty years, or even to go to parties.  It is designed to stop their children from getting hit by a car or keep them away from shady looking characters that might be out to hurt them. This is common sense 101, yet many people have twisted the well intentioned lessons of childhood into the limiting barriers of adulthood So, if you are still blaming Mommy for your thinking patterns, please see a therapist. If however, you are ready to move past your limiting patterns and beliefs; then coaching holds up a mirror to help you understand these thought patterns, teaches you how to improve them and raise your energy levels.

What is important now is what you do with the thought processes that no longer serve who you are today or who you wish to become. Stop stuffing food or alcohol into your body, stop leaching energy into other various control dramas, all because you feel badly from fear and other energy drains.

There are many ways to get well.  Eat real food – not stuff in boxes and cans, exercise appropriately, meditate, practice yoga, get a physical from your doctor, use well sourced nutritional supplements to help alleviate diet deficiencies,  get your spine into proper alignment with chiropractic care, have massages to release toxins from your muscles, drink adequate amounts of water, get enough sleep and create work life balance. The list goes on and can sometimes be daunting; remember that we are here to help you navigate a true path to wellness.

For the next few weeks, we will feature a practitioner in each of these areas as an example of where to go to get information on any of these specific components of getting well.  And if you suddenly realize looking at the list that you have no idea of how to do any of those things, please reach out to us for a free session to get started.

Referral Marketing

When I first started networking for my new business I was clueless. Needless to say, this grated on my nerves as it clashes with my mask of being an expert. So, I set out to rectify the situation in short order.  I started talking to experts about establishing networks which would help promote my business. One said that I needed to have a variety of gimmicks to push my offering.  He suggested that I go to many different BNI chapters as a guest and recruit them into a mastermind group.  Anyone in or associated with BNI, the world’s largest referral marketing organization,  would cringe at this type of suggestion.  Others talked about going to meet-up groups and chamber meetings and collecting business cards as I practiced my elevator pitch about coaching to each of them.

These ideas and several others that I won’t waste space on here are utterly worthless in my mind.  I ended up hiring a coach who is expert in building referral marketing networks.  I did this because I wanted time compression and I trusted her approach.  Interestingly enough, she was speaking at a PCA (Pittsburgh Coaches Association) lunch meeting on networking. This, in effect, means she was doing exactly what my first example suggested in terms of allowing someone to kick the tires through my mastermind group. At least however she was not subverting the BNI meeting process to get clients.

Building a referral marketing network takes time and I believe it should be integrated into your social media and Internet marketing campaigns and work collaboratively with your overall strategy.  In my last two blog entries, I have talked about how those two activities can work.  They work really well with building a referral network.

In his book about building referral networks, Ivan Misner the founder of BNI, describes a copy written process for building a referral network.  As a member and leader in my BNI chapter, I encourage you to read the book and follow his advice. The key thing to consider is getting your core referral network to understand what your new business is all about. You must be able to describe it to others and to get those folks to “sell” you to others simply because they know, like and trust you.

I am sure that you, like me, have hundreds of people you are connected with on Facebook, Linked in, and other social media networks. Plus you have the ability to build pages to your company on Linked in and on Facebook, as I have done.  But the point here is twofold; these connections can be a good picture of your different type of networks (i.e. your information network, support network and referral network).  Knowing which of your hundreds of partners fit into your key stakeholder groups in each type of network is key.

For example, you can use Linked in to put together mailing lists of your different types of partners.  So, if you have twenty to thirty key referral partners and perhaps five or so core network partners who you work closely with (because their clients are also your target market), you can easily keep them informed of your new offerings, enabling them to better “sell you” to those clients.

Why would they help you by doing this? Very simply, because it gives them an excuse to talk more with their clients. This is an opportunity to discuss what is going on in that client’s life, what their concerns or frustrations are, and what they’ve been up to lately. This conversation oftentimes turns into a new business opportunity for your referral partners making it a win-win situation they will be happy to repeat.

The best referral relationships are the partners that are needed all of the time by your clients.  For example, I help people create new business ventures.  They all need to build referral networks, they all need Internet marketing, and they can benefit from social media, printing services, direct mail, and accounting or banking services. So, my referral network includes offerings that all of my clients will need as they grow their business.  And each of them provide something that either I can’t or don’t wish to provide myself. As such, they become natural extensions to my offering.

Some referral partners can be very aligned with what we do.  For example, let’s say that a potential client of mine is operating a business that she wants to get back onCORE to what she envisioned when starting the company.  We look at her financials over the last three years and build a model of where her business is going.  We look at seven key numbers for how her business is functioning and determine that she needs more leads coming into to remain viable.  As she works on strategies to improve her business, she will most likely benefit from the expertise of a marketing company. I work as her coach and advisor, but the marketing firm can help increase her leads. Taking this example one step further, I have several referral partners within my network that provide marketing services. My client has the option to choose one of those services that I can recommend or do the research on her own to make the most informed decision that is best for her business.

In another example, the same client might be working first with the marketing company who does not have the toolkit to do what I can do with her financials and her desire to get back onCORE with her beliefs. They are stuck in the sales process and not sure where to go next. The marketing company, as a referral partner of mine, might suggest that the client work with me to figure out how to pay for and track programs such as what they are offering to her business?

Business gets done by referral more often than not. If you are new to creating a business yourself and new to marketing it through referral networking, Dr. Misner’s 2012 book The worlds best known marketing secret (co-authored with Mike Macedonio, Julien Sharp and Jeff Morris) is a good first resource, particularly the section on building your referral network. If you’re ready to take the next step and need more information, contact us to learn more about how you can start building your social-business-referral network. If you are interested in an awesome coach who can help you build your referral network let me know and I will introduce you to her.