Archive for September, 2010

10 Ways to Boost your Associations’ Membership

September 27, 2010

EFFORT + TIME + MONEY + ENERGY

Master networkers make great committee members – usually because they know lots of people. For this very reason you might be invited to form part of a committee for your peer group, association or institution. However, once you accept this invitation, you may f nd that membership is flagging, attendance is down and you have a tough job ahead of  you.

As networking becomes the norm for business generation today, rather than the exception, more and more networks are springin up. And as there are a finite number of people attending any of these events, sometimes attendance is low, membership wanes and membership renewals often drop off. We also know that it takes as much effort to arrange a function for 50 people as it does to arrange one for 250. So lets look at some practical, inexpensive ways of boosting membership and attendance to make the R.O.A. – (return on attendance) valuable, measurable and effective.

More members = more networking opportunities.

1. NAME TAGS.

Always, always, always provide nametags. Reports show that 80% of the population forget names within 30 seconds of hearing  them for the first time. To avoid this embarrassing situation, providing nametags with the names typed in approx. 32-point type will enhance networking opportunities.

2. COMMITTEE NAME TAGS.

Most committee members are volunteers, who give freely of their time. Providing a different nametag for committee members not only gives them recognition, but also makes it easy for first timers to know who to ask questions, find out information and seek guidance.

3. PROFESSIONAL EMCEES

A great emcee can make an event. Seeking out a professional from the ranks of your membership is an obvious solution. However, just because Jack Smith has been emceeing for 10 years, doesn’t mean he is good at the job. Seek out a professional, who is a good communicator, can keep to time, is not sexist and has a general interest in the growth of the network. Many professional emcees may consider a contra for their services with a view to building their profile within this network. 

4. PROMPTNESS.

It is important to reward the members and guests who arrived on time. Always start and f nish your meetings on time. Starting late to accommodate late-comers is only rewarding negative behaviour.

5. MEETERS AND GREETERS

Are members who position themselves close to the registration area. Their job is to “meet and greet” guests, first timers and regular members with a smile and a self-introduction. Most of the fear associated with attending networks for the first time is specifically related to the first 10 minutes from arrival. A meeter and greeter takes the pain out of this process and can introduce first timers and new members to others with common interests.

6. ASK ME

Encourage some of your committee members to wear an ‘ASK ME” badge or ribbon at meetings. This person will be acknowledged by the emcee and encouraged to mix and mingle throughout the event answering questions and providing information as needed.

7. LIST OF ATTENDEES.

Providing a list of attendees is a great way to facilitate networking during and post event. Including a person’s name, company name and position with or without an email address, enables contact to be made post event. It’s also a good idea to make a note on the list that confidentiality of this information is appreciated. As you meet people during the event, it helps if you highlight the person’s name, to enable you to follow up more efficiently.

8. BUSINESS CARDS ON CORK BOARD.

As an alternate to the attendee list, some networks provide a double sized corkboard filled with pin tacks. As people arrive at the venue, they put a business card in the lucky door prize and then pin a second business card on the corkboard, which is located in a central area. In this way, you are able to see exactly who is in the room and the meeters and greeters can connect you with whomever you want to meet.

9. MEMBERSHIP FORMS AT MEETINGS.

Most networks want members, yet less than 50% of networks actually have membership forms on display at meetings. Such a simple thing that is often forgotten. Some networks say, “go to our website, we accept memberships on line”. That’s fine, but why not have membership forms on hand to capture that potential member while they are hot!

10. TESTIMONIALS from happy members.

Often membership officers become a little tired of promoting memberships, even though it is their role. Why not invite one of your “advocates” to do the membership spot for you. By selecting enthusiastic, visible members, who attend regularly and asking them to say in 2-3 minutes what they have gained from membership is a far better advertisement for the group and again is an opportunity to give a member recognition.

Happy networking until next time.

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Help! Where will i find my next client?

September 27, 2010

this specific post has been written for Registered Exercise Professionals and Personal Trainers

And where can I go to meet lots of potential clients?

As a Registered Exercise Professional this question does not have a one size fits all answer. Because . . . . .. it depends:

  1. Which networks are your current clients and prospects attending?
  2. Which networks are your peers and competitors attending?
  3. What is the best time/day of the week for you to network?
  4. Why do you want to attend a networking event?
And if you are not sure of the answer to 1 and 2, go along and find out for yourself – or ask your clients where they go to network. Today a lot of networking is social e.g. golf, sailing, running, book clubs, special interest groups. A very busy Sydney based personal trainer generates more than 80% of his work from his local sailing club. While another high achiever generates her leads at the races. This is a fun way to combine your interests, your networking and business development. However, if you want a more business-like approach to networking, you may feel more comfortable attending a traditional business network.

The time of day best suited for your availability – may vary from a breakfast meeting (usually 7 a.m. for 7.30 a.m. start) to a business after hours (normally 6p.m.-8 p.m.) Instantly I can imagine many personal trainers dismissing business networks because that is “potential client time” for you. However, most of these networks are either fortnightly or monthly – and they are a great investment of your time. If you wanted to be really clever, you could invite a group of your clients to the event – and cross network them with each other as well as prospects for their business.

It’s important to find the network that suits YOU and also to be very clear on why you are attending in the first place.

Is it because:
a. Your competitors are there (a great reason for you to attend)?
b. You know that these networks attract the sorts of clients you are wanting to work with
c. Attending business networks will certainly make you stand out as being very professional and business focused

TRY BEFORE YOU BUY

My rule of thumb is – try before you buy. Attend a network as a non member, before you actually commit to becoming a member. Most good networks will allow you to attend at least once, before encouraging you to join. From experience, I normally attend a new network at least twice before I join. In that way, I can feel out of my comfort zone the first time when everything is new and then I know what to expect the second time – which is when I normally decide to join a network or not – and just attend future events as a non-member and play a slightly higher ticket price. If ever I feel pressured into joining a network, that is normally a sign that this network is NOT for me. No one likes to be sold to.

Networks like Business Network International (BNI) encourage people to be invited by a member before attending. Originating in the States with founder Ivan Misner, BNI is a fast growing international business referral network group, who – normally meets for breakfast (although there are a smattering of lunch groups sprouting up Australia wide). The ethos is simple – Givers Gain! All members are encouraged to show up every week for their chapter meeting and bring one or more referrals for members of the group. The value of the referrals are then tracked and monitored. http://www.bni.com.au Plus there is only one person representing a profession e.g. one mortgage broker, one professional trainer etc.

Which networks are right for you will often depend on:

• Which networks do your current clients and prospects go to?

Chambers of Commerces are always filled with lots of prospects and you get to attend an event in the location where you want clients to be.
If you google Chamber of Commerces and preferred locations – you will find a stack of potential events. Work out your budget and book today!

We could fill pages listing the thousands of Australian associations, networks, chamber of commerces, business enterprise centres, special interest groups etc. Trust me there is no shortage of networking opportunities – if you can’t find any – ask your clients or associates for help. Remember if your competitors are attending something – maybe you should be there too.

Whichever networks you decide to attend – stick to the basics:
Be friendly, act like the host and not the guest
Ask questions and listen to the answers
And most of all – follow up without being pushy.

Happy Networking

Is it time for a networking audit?

September 27, 2010

Is your net working for you or is it time to review your network?

The busier we get the less time we seem to have to maintain our networks. As we dash from one meeting to another, one networking event to a family dinner, one rushed haircut to another children’s party – we sometimes feel that we are juggling way too many things. And if we think that, we are probably right!

It’s time for a networking audit! Somewhere in that busy diary, blackberry or schedule – we need to allocate at least 2 free hours for an appointment with ourselves. Done? Turn off the phone, the computer, close the door, block out any possible distractions – you are about to do a networking audit – without distraction.

A networking audit is a bit like looking at old photo albums – you have no clue who many of the people in the photographs are. Your networks are often filled with people who are no longer relevant in your life – you can’t remember who they are and vice versa.

Our currency today is information and out of date information or contacts are worthless and time wasters in our busy life. Master networkers are those who can access the most relevant and accurate information in the shortest time.

Here is a 5 step audit action plan that may assist you in this very important task:

  1. Identify your short and long term plans – how many widgets do you want to sell this month, first quarter, this year? How many widgets do I want to sell within 2 years? Whether you are selling hours of your time or specific products – an idea of how many and by when must be established. No plan usually means no results.
  2. List the names of people who are key players in your networks now. This may include spheres of influence, clients, lapsed clients, peers, competitors, friends, social connections, school friends. Most people have stacks more people in their networks, than they can physically manage – so consider creating a number 1 and number 2 list. This doesn’t mean that the number 2 lists are any less important to you -just not people you will necessarily contact in the next 6 months. Just that one thought can often take away a huge amount of pressure – and will assist to prioritize your networking time for the next quarter.
  3. Establish how many people you have in your databases – and how out of date this information may be. Email addresses are probably the item that people change the frequently these days – and complete postal addresses are usually missing from people’s contact details these days. You want your databases/contact lists to be as “clean” and current as possible. Look at your mobile phone directory, how clean is this list? Do you have a copy of these contacts saved to your phone as well as your computer? If not, why not?
  4. Make contact with your databases – It may be worth planning the exercise of emailing your database with a blind copy update message and see how many bounce backs you have. Although time consuming, auditing is a bit like gardening – , pruning your networks to a manageable (for you) size, pulling out the weeds – the contacts whose names you don’t even recognize plus reconnecting with those connections that may need a little care and attention – a little like watering a bed of flowers. You may have to plan a number of these 2 hour auditing sessions to really get your garden blooming – but the investment of time is worth it!
    Planning a hard copy mail out – for the next quarter is also a quick way of updating your list. Make sure you send something that follows the 90/10 rule – 90% of what you send is of value and interest to the receiver and only 10% is about you promoting you.
  5. Who would you like to include in your networks? Are there some peers, competitors, industry experts etc, whom you would like to add to your list? Can you make a list of these people? It’s surprising how quickly those people may pop up in your networks, once they are identified. Alternately, you may have people in your networks now who already know people on this list – remember the six degrees of separation is now only three!

Just like a maintaining a healthy garden, sometimes you have to throw things away. This doesn’t mean that you don’t value your old contacts, it just means sometimes that you have to put them in a different file or maybe a file labeled 12 months ahead – and if you have not contacted them within 12 months – chances are you won’t contact them in the next 12 months.

Before you know it, your two hour time slot has gone – it is your call whether you extend this one, while you are on a roll or plan another auditing session ASAP.

In this short time, you have established where you want to go – and with that focus you can create networks of people who can support you in your quest. Auditing doesn’t mean that you don’t care about your connections; it purely means for the next 6-12 months, you actually identify with whom you want to maintain connections. And then, it’s up to you to plan what those connections will look like – spending a day on the phone have “tele-coffees” (10 minute chats over coffee) is a great way of catching up without leaving your office. Maybe your attending a great networking event next month and reconnecting is as simple as forwarding/emailing the invitation with a note – hope to see you there.

Your time is your most valuable asset and your networking audit will help you spend your asset wisely.

Does Your Childhood Influence Your Creativity?

September 21, 2010

‘Robyn is a creative person!’ I doubt that any of my school teachers ever wrote that on my report cards in primary or secondary school. I wasn’t good at Art, I was okay at Latin, French, English and Music, and I failed Science and History. Yet I think I’ve nurtured a creative spark for most of my life. I loved craft, and used to crochet and knit as a child. I actually have a theory, totally unproven, that sometimes when you have a learning disability, another part of the brain is strengthened by way of compensation, and you learn to think in different ways – ways that ultimately make you creative!

 ‘No way’, I can hear some of you saying. ‘There’s no chance that your theory will ever be proven correct.’ But let me tell you why I think I developed another part of my brain. To describe me as a sensitive teenager in a chronically dysfunctional family would pretty much sum it up. I needed glasses when I was nine years old, but I didn’t get them until I was nineteen. You see, the thought of looking unattractive in glasses was so great at the age of nine that, even though I had realised that I needed glasses, I chose not to tell my parents, so they had no idea. In class, I hid my disability by sitting very close to the front of the room at every opportunity, and when that was not possible, I memorised, memorised and memorised.

 I went to school from the late ‘50s through to 1968, when I left school at fifteen years of age. There seemed absolutely no point in doing the higher school certificate or even remotely contemplating going to university. If I couldn’t read the board for the fourth form exams, nothing was going to change for university. I recall my piano teacher asking me why I was squinting to read the sheet music, but I must have satisfied her with my response, because she never asked again. And so, I managed to sabotage my senior education.

 There was a funny side to all this though, which occurred whenever we had exams. I attended a Catholic school, and the Latin teacher would write up a slab of Latin on the blackboard (this was the mid-60s, long before whiteboards or PowerPoint arrived). I would squint to read the first line and off I would go. I had memorised the material we were taught, and could write lengthy passages of Latin verbatim. I’m sure that sometimes I wrote more than I needed to write, but I always got an A in Latin.

 Maybe needing glasses and choosing not to wear them is not a disability in the true sense, but I do believe I strongly developed different parts of my brain. These parts today enable me to brainstorm very quickly and confidently, to provide quick responses and solutions, to think on my feet, and to create new models and systems to empower others. I also have a great memory, not for names, but for faces and pieces of information, and I’m sure those early years of memorising helped here.

 PARENTS INFLUENCE

My father was an entrepreneur who left school at the age of thirteen (he was born in 1916, and in those days many students did not complete their education), went to war, and then built a carpentry business before establishing a toy manufacturing business in the early ‘50s. The Australian Koala Bear Manufacturing Company was one of the few Australian-owned companies manufacturing Australian souvenirs in Australia. As a child, I recall my father supplying kewpie dolls to the Royal Easter Show and toy koala bears to Taronga Park Zoo, and it was nothing for Dad to bring home eyes to cut (the toy koalas had glass eyes that had to be inserted in a specific way) or tickets to thread (each bear had a map of Australia swing tag threaded onto a rubber band and then placed around their neck). We never actually had a koala bear as a toy during our childhood years – Dad used to say he saw enough of them at work without seeing more of them at night.

 I worked for my father for 18 months from 1970 and then again in 1987 for two years. To say we clashed is an understatement. I think reality was, we were too alike – both strong-willed innovators. What I learned from working at the ‘factory’ was the ability to make something out of nothing – taking a piece of kangaroo skin and, through a process of cutting, sewing, machining, turning, filling and finishing, making a toy koala bear. Not something I necessarily need to know today, but once again, my brain was constantly learning different skills. I often saw my father take a phone call from someone wanting a six-feet high kangaroo, or a four-feet tall koala bear and then watched him create the desired product as a one-off.

 In addition to running the factory, my father was an SP bookmaker. Although this was an illegal activity in the ‘50s and ‘60s, there was no shortage of people wanting to place bets on the dogs, the trots and the gallops. In those days, there were no mobile phones of course – every home had just one phone, and on race days, ours ran hot. I think in hindsight, although I have absolutely no interest in gambling, that growing up in this environment taught me to be a risk-taker. And I firmly believe that taking risks is a critical part of true creativity.

FROM ORIGINAL THOUGHT TO END PRODUCT –  CREATING THE INFORMATION EMPIRE MODEL

 In 1992, I took a leap of faith and launched a speaking business. At the time, I was running a women’s network in Sydney, and had also worked in sales roles for a couple of unethical companies, struggling with their ‘promise good, deliver lousy’ attitude.

 I joined the National Speakers Association of Australia (NSAA), worked my way up the accreditation chain, received awards, and gradually built a reputation as a Global Networking Specialist. This involved lots of national and international travel, and so in 2002, I started to wonder what speakers did to generate income once the time came to retire. My way has always been to seek out whoever is doing what I want to do or learn, study with them if possible, and create my version of whatever it is that has sparked my interest. So, looking for different models within the speaking business, I spoke to lots of Australian speakers, seeking that elusive ‘passive streams of income’ model. At the time, I was considered to be somewhat ahead of the pack, as I had books, CDs and videos to sell on-line and ‘back of room’ (at conference and seminar venues following one’s presentation).

 At the time, I happened to be subscribing to a regular e-zine from Mark Victor Hansen, of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame. He was promoting a Mega Book Marketing University in California – a specific three-day event – and I happened to have those days free. I remember paying a fortune for my airline ticket, as I could only spare four days out of Australia at the time, but I knew intuitively that it was the right decision to go to this event. On the first night of this intensive three-day event, involving over 400 people, including just two Australians, Mark mentioned that there were 68 possible streams of income other than speaking. My ears pricked up, and I quickly made a note of that point. Wow, 68 streams of income – I wondered what they were. The next lady who spoke also mentioned those 68 streams of income, and how her company could make them available for what I worked out to be around A$100,000.

 I knew I had the answer – I just didn’t know what it was YET! So I returned to Australia, and went to the NSAA national conference. I was so excited to be able to tell my speaker mates that there were 68 streams of income other than speaking, and of course somebody asked the obvious question: ‘What are they, Robyn?’ I told him that I didn’t know, but as soon as I did, I would let him know. And so that became my task for the next 90 days. Every time I read a newspaper, magazine, trade journal or book, watched a television show or surfed the Internet, I looked for things that could possibly be included in the information empire.

 My research was based on the principle that people pay to hear from Information Experts, not speakers! Further, any topic you were passionate about could have an information empire built around it. My A4 page of scribbled notes turned into an A3 page, and then into two A3 pages, until finally I felt that I had covered all the possible streams of income in an information empire model. Guess what? I had found close to 200 streams of income – over 130 more streams than I had been told was possible. And yet, had I never been told that there were 68 possible streams of income, I would never have started looking for those 68, let alone the 200 that I eventually found.

 When I launched my Information Empire Model at the NSAA Spring Skills workshop in September 2002, I was so nervous. I knew in my heart that this model was the future of the speaking industry, but it was so revolutionary. What if I was laughed off the stage? I had shared the model with a few enthusiastic mates prior to the session, so I knew that if everyone else left, at least there would still be three people in the room. As it turned out, I would be lying if I said that all fifty people in the room were convinced, but a large majority were, and so I knew that my model was, and continues to be, a ground breaking tool within the speaking profession.

 Since that workshop back in 2002, a number of people who were in the audience that day have adapted their speaking business to include multiple streams of income, as laid out in the Information Empire Model.

 Would like to share the key 13 catergories of what was included in the Information Empire Model:

Writing/Publishing

Template Creation

Creating Derivative Products

Fee for Service

Media Work

Distribution

Website Resource Centre

Research

Speaking

Co-Branding

 Under these 13 catergories in the pack – I list the 200 plus possibilities for creating streams of income. If  you’re interested in purchasing the original wall poster and the three-CD pack, please visit www.networkingtowin.com.au and check out the Information Empire Model.  

WHAT I KNOW FOR SURE ABOUT CREATIVE THINKING

 I know that we need stimulation to get the ideas flowing – this may come from something as simple as a walk on the beach, reading a magazine, visiting an art gallery, or having a stimulating conversation with friends or strangers – anything can do it for you.

 When I knew it was time to start my writing for this book, I visited Bunnings, the major hardware retailer. ‘Why Bunnings?’ I hear you ask? Well, I find Bunnings, or any other large hardware stores for that matter, filled with innovation and creativity, whether it’s the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) section, where they offer all sorts of classes and interesting materials to work with, or the gardening section, where there seems to be an endless supply of creative inventions. Yesterday, I saw a vertical wheelbarrow made of heavy plastic, similar to a wheelie bin (without the lid) but circular, with a sloping edge and a handle to push or pull the barrow along. The key feature however was that the barrow was vertical, and easier to manoeuvre than the traditional horizontal design. What a smart idea – and it was retailing for less than $40. Then I saw a square bucket – not revolutionary, but not traditional either, and obviously designed by someone with a need for something other than a round bucket.

  I believe that some of the best creative thoughts and inventions are driven by necessity – here is a problem; how can we solve it. What materials are available for us to use? Do other people have this problem? What will someone pay for this item?

 Travelling can also stimulate creativity – and it doesn’t have to be international travel. Even visiting an unfamiliar suburb thirty minutes from where you live can do it. I have found that anywhere that takes me out of my familiar territory for an extended length of time can really ignite those creative sparks.

 Food is another creativity trigger – try a new restaurant, a new cuisine, a new recipe, visit Chinatown or Little Italy (if these are not local areas for you) or the farmers’ market, anywhere where the food is different and you don’t have the safety net of a shopping list with your staple ingredients.

 I know that when I’m stressed, I’m rarely creative – because I am not breathing as deeply as possible, and I am totally focussed in my head rather than in my heart. I am not present, because I am worrying about something that has happened or something that might happen. Both are a waste of energy, but at the time, my stressed state cannot differentiate.

 Mastermind groups are a great way of stimulating creative thinking – see The Power of Mastermind Groups for information on how to establish a mastermind group. Make sure you take an open mind to the group. I know that some of the most ‘out there’ ideas are sometimes just too outrageous, but once it’s been stretched to outrageous, your mind can then come back a little to fit your circumstances, but they need not bounce all the way back to mainstream thinking. The more you are prepared to shift out of your comfort zone, the more creative you will become.

 Finally, you must be prepared to make mistakes – and realise that it’s okay to make mistakes. Without mistakes, you’ll never create anything. How can you – you’re not trying anything different.

SAYING NO WITHOUT FEELING GUILTY!

September 13, 2010

In our quest to do more, have more, please more people, juggle lots of balls and keep everything running smoothly and everyone happy – sometimes we forget a very important  two letter word – NO!Recently I was talking to a group of small business owners about their business growth, the amount of time they spent networking and the juggling act many of them were trying to do. Most were wondering why they were not achieving as much as they expected and were surprised when i said –

 YOU KNOW, IT’S OKAY TO SAY NO!

 There was an avalanche of “BUT”S”

 a – but if I don’t go I might miss out on meeting more prospects

b- but if I don’t show up at their dinner party, they will be offended 

c- but if I don’t get the report in by Friday, they will think. .. . .  and so it goes. On further questioning in the case of “a” – they still had not followed up from the last two networking events they had attended. Far better to follow-up  with the last lot of prospects, who are expecting to hear from you, rather than find more to disappoint.

 With “b”, I checked if they were good friends or merely acquaintances. They assured me they were really good friends and that’s why they didn’t want to let them down. So I suggested some options – one would be phoning them long before the day of the dinner party – and just explaining that you are in overload, and would they mind terribly if you didn’t attend this time. Alternately, could you just come for dessert at a pre-arranged time. Another option, was it possible to reschedule? Honesty is always the best policy – lies have a way of coming back to bite you. And your host would be even more offended if you showed up in an overloaded state and fell asleep at the table. And if they were acquaintances – phoning to say – I have overcommitted myself and won’t be able to attend the dinner party – could I take a rain check? The more notice you give the host, the less inconvenience it will be for them.

 With “c”, I suggested that they make contact with the person expecting the report and ask them when the report was actually going to be read and by whom? Did they have a few days up their sleeve or was Friday the absolute deadline. Often project managers have rubbery deadlines to accommodate the people who are not as professional as this person was. 

 Clear communication is the solution to many problems in today’s fast paced world. You might even consider putting a little notice on your phone or work station –

 SAY NO NICELY

Remind yourself what your priority is this week, this month or this year. If you are not putting yourself first, there will be no time left for anyone else.

 However, if you are not strong enough at times to say no outright, you may like to  use one of the following:

 * No, I am not available, but thanks for thinking of me.

 * No, I have other commitments at that time.

 *No, that time is not available.  As you become clearer on putting YOU as your number one priority, you will find that NO becomes a complete sentence for you also, and you stop thinking that you have to give a reason every time you say NO. Often we want to make the other person feel better about our rejection.

  Frequently making them feel better, makes us feel worse. Often we will say …

 “I’ll try if I can”

 “I might be able to …..”

 “I’ll see if I can”  Forget it, you don’t want to do it.  

 

Just say NO! 

  NO is a sentence. It does not need extra words or reasons attached.

Recently I had and opportunity to take my own advice. I had booked to attend an evening event that was an hour drive from my home office. The day was not going to plan, a client had brought forward a presentation date, which required lots of  preparation with handouts and content, I was very close to deadline on a writing project and I had prepaid to attend this event and knew the policy on late cancellations – no refund.  By lunchtime, I was really feeling pressure as I gobbled down my sandwich trying to work out how late I could actually leave my departure in time to get to the evening event. 

And then I just stopped – and asked myself, Robyn who really cares if you show up or not? Be honest with yourself girl, absolutely no one. The ticket was $60 – okay what would it be worth to you to not have to leave at 5pm to get to that event, battle traffic, search for parking etc. . . .. Would it be worth $60 NOT to go? Yes was the obvious answer. 

Okay, so now you have made a decision NOT to go to this networking event, is there anyone you can offer the pre-paid ticket to? Certainly – at least 5 people straight off the top of my head. Next step, phone them and see who is available at late notice to use your ticket. Give them the ticket as a gift – they are doing you a favour using the ticket – be honest, you have overcommitted yourself – and they stand to gain from your overcommitment. 

Great, you have confirmed a replacement for your place at the event. Now, call the organiser and advise that you are unable to attend the event tonight and you have arranged a replacement, who will be using your ticket, wishing them a great event! 

Back at your desk, you are calm, relaxed, pressure is off – all you had to do was say NO! I am not going to attend this event. 

You’ll never guess what happened, the person who took my place at the event, sat at a table with someone who needed a networking speaker for their convention. My friend was able to explain that they were using my ticket at the event and they could connect me with the prospect the next day. They had a great time, met lots of interesting people and now has experienced another network that they might not have attended if they were not given a free ticket. 

Always remember, it’s okay to say no – without feeling guilty. 

 

 

 

HOW TO GET A LIFE – using a powerful 6 step goal setting plan

September 13, 2010

 IS THIS ALL THERE IS? I WAS EXPECTING SOMETHING DIFFERENT .

Many people today are wondering if their life is as good as it will ever get? And if it is now, is their life in fact good enough for the rest of their life? Yet, they can’t identify what is not quite right, what is in fact the missing piece/s. What would make them more fulfilled, more satisfied and less like a juggler, trying to keep all the balls in the air?

The answer is in fact, not just one thing, but a series or combination of small things that together make a huge difference in our lives. To maximise these potential results, it’s worth making an appointment with yourself right now – you might call it a ME DAY – a time when you will give yourself at least half a day to plan the rest of your life, or at least the next 5 years. Consider it a wellness day off, rather than a sickie. A day to plan the small changes you need to introduce into your life to truly achieve your true potential. As they say, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. All you will need for your ME DAY is a notebook, pen, your diary, this article to keep youon track and of course an open mind.

 Step one: YOUR ROAD MAP Start by answering some revealing questions. Are you happy most of the time? Do you know where you are going this year? Where do you want to be two , five or ten years from now? If you knew you could not fail, what would you really like to be doing career-wise? Setting goals enables us to really create a future diary for our lives. Reports show that only 5% of the population set goals and only 3% actually write the goals down. Some people avoid writing goals down because they feel it is a major commitment. Let’s think of it as a major commitment for your life, no one else’s.

Let’s start with short term goals – things you would like to happen within the next six to twelve months. These goals may be written under the headings:

 Career            Personal Relationships                      Financial Security

 Property         Health & Fitness                                 Spirituality                             Creativity

 Personal Development                    Travel                       Life Balance        

 Social Responsibility (giving back to the community)

 These twelve categories will form the basis of your road map – what you would like your life to look like if you knew you could not fail.

You may like to write your goals down using the present tense, a specific time frame and positive language. e.g. On or before December 1, 2012 I own my own home located at Manly. On or before January 1, 2012, I am running a successful small business with a turnover of $X. The more specific you are the easier for your subconscious to picture this reality. The perfect setting for writing my goals down is outside surrounded by nature. However, that might not suit you or if that is not possible, maybe some relaxing music, aromatherapy oils, mobile phone diverted – this is ME TIME do not disturb. Be assured the world won’t end if you are not around for a half day, trust me.

 LONG TERM GOALS Are goals specifically targeting a 2, 5 or 10 year period. It may be helpful to estimate your age 10 years from now and then work backwards. What would you like to be doing in 2020 2015 etc. . .if you knew you could not fail – this is the key – let’s start thinking abundantly – where we expect miracles to happen every day, and there are plenty of opportunities for everyone – rather than scarcity, when you have tunnel vision and feel overwhelmed with your lot in life.

Once you have written the goals, you then need to read the goals twice a day and add to your goals list as your confidence builds. This becomes part of your 10 minute a day healthy habit.

 Step Two: POSITIVE SELF TALK Reports vary on whether we speak 50,000 or 80,000 words every day but all reports agree that the bulk of our self talk is negative. Women are great at beating themselves up when things don’t quite go to plan. As superwomen our expectation is that we will get through our to-do-list totally, clean the house, cook a three course meal and write a report – all before 8 pm. When we don’t achieve this superwoman status that’s often when the negative self talk starts, ‘I’m not good enough, I’ll never keep my job, lose that weight, get ahead, and so it goes. . .’” The next time you catch yourself putting yourself down, or worse still agreeing with someone who is putting you down, STOP. Correct your language, ‘Yes that was a stupid thing to do, however, I am not stupid, what I did was silly.’ The more you catch yourself doing this, the less you will do it.

Often in sales or business development roles, we take rejection personally. Instead of saying to ourselves, ‘They are rejecting my product or service, they are not rejecting me. I don’t need to take this rejection personally.’ Working on our self talk is a full time role, however, the results can be astounding.

Step Three: BECOME FINANCIALLY SAVVY Until we get on top of our finances and budgeting, we will never have mastery of our lives. Becoming financially savvy is very empowering and within the reach of every woman. There are many books and courses available on the subject. One in particular, ‘Women’s business women’s wealth’ by Amanda Ellis will give you very practical insights into creating your own financial freedom. No matter where you are starting from, no matter how low your nest egg, get started today – this is non-negotiable in your path to success and happiness.

 Imagine you are with a financial advisor, and you have been asked to list all of your assets and an approx. dollar value. Next list all of your commitments, monies owed, credit card debt, absolutely everything. Next list all the money you expect to receive in the next 12 months. This is a start in giving you a snapshot of exactly where you stand financially, if you don’t already know or have buried your head in the sand previously.

If the picture looks pretty grim, don’t despair. Diarise to make an appointment with your financial provider to discuss your situation and work out a budget to work towards for the next 12 months. Realise also that many of the ‘things’ we buy, are short term fixes to make us feel good temporarily. Once the afterglow of the shopping spree dissolves, we are back to feeling lousy and we have increased our debt level.

I heard a definition of the four steps to happiness recently from Jack Canfield: 1. Stuff 2. More Stuff 3. Different Stuff 4. Giving back to the community

Step Four: DEVELOP A POSITIVE SUPPORT NETWORK Make a list of the most positive people in your life, those people who really support you and energise you when you speak to them or see them face to face. Plan how you can create opportunities to see more of those people or have more contact even by email, their positive spirit will shine through. Make contact with two or three of these people and ask for help in becoming more positive. Believe it or not, they will give you heaps of suggestions and encouragement and that’s exactly what you need. Who knows they might be in need of a positive charge as well – so you will be helping each other.

 If you hang out with predominantly negative people and actually don’t know many positive people, consider taking up a course, new hobby or sport the more active the better. Volunteering is a great way to meet interesting people as well as giving back to the community. It’s very hard to stay negative when you are active. You rarely see a negative sportsperson, unless they are injured. Joining a gym or walking group can also be an opportunity to mix with new positive people. Which leads us in to:

 Step Five: REGULAR EXERCISE When we feel sluggish, tired, rundown and overall pretty flat, it is often because we are not exercising regularly. ‘I’m too tired to go to the gym, or go for a walk’ is often the catchcry after a long working day. However, once you make the effort you feel fantastic and your body really responds to regular exercise. If necessary find an exercise buddy, who will keep you honest in your commitment to exercise 3-4 times per week. Alternately find an exercise that doesn’t seem like exercise e.g. dancing, yoga, sailing, Zumba, tennis, 10 pin bowling or tai chi.

Open your diary and make a series of exercise appointments for the next month. If you need to postpone an exercise appointment, you must reschedule it straight away ideally within the same week. If your budget is stretched, what about walking – whether its with a walking buddy or by yourself – walking is a great way to re-energise and get fit.

And if you are not fit – YET – try walking to the corner and back. Next time, walk a little further than the corner even if you start with 10-15 minutes per day. Eventually you will find that you can cover more territory in the same amount of time – the fitter you get the the further you will walk and the longer you will be able to walk for.

Keep picturing what you want your life to look like twelve months from now. If possible, create a collage of images depicting what that life will look like for you. Magazines comein handy here for photos and headlines highlighting the NEW YOU – that diamond within that may have been covered up with stuff, challenges, trying to please others, living beyond your means, trying unsuccessfully to please everyone except yourself.

Step Six: REVIEW YOUR ME DAY Wow, where has your ME DAY gone – already the half day is gone and you haven’t even got to having regular fun, socialising, meditation, decision making, nutrition, outsourcing, finding a mentor, etc. etc. but you have made a start.

To follow on from your ME DAY, the most empowering thing you can do on a daily basis is to give yourself ME TIME, even if it’s only 15 minutes. Time to review your day, record your wins, what went well, what you learned from any mistakes you made – a reality check. Are you on track? If not, you are probably not putting ME first in your life?

One step at a time, one day at a time and on the really tough days – one hour at a time – that is how you create your life of choice. A friend gave me a wonderful quote – ‘THIS TOO WILL PASS’ – whether it is good or bad situations – in time they pass. And I will leave you with an anonymous quote – that allows you to dream beyond your wildest dreams – TO THOSE WHO BELIEVE, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

How much time do master networkers spend on networking every day?

September 6, 2010

I wrote my first book, Networking for $uccess, in 1992 and advocated spending 1 hour per day on networking. Audiences and clients groaned that they had no time to network – so under pressure i reduced this to 30 minutes per day as the optimum for maintaining and growing networks. Though I must add that I spend anything from 60-90 minutes per day completing what I refer to ask networking tasks – follow ups, keep in touch, reconnecting, sending thank yous etc.

However – in this fast paced environment where we are constantly responding to emails, tweets and phone calls – which is a form of networking – you might be able to get away with 15 minutes per day – if you have systems in place to maximise your minutes.

FIFTEEN MINUTES PER DAY spent on networking/business building is a valuable investment of time. Can’t spare 15 minutes per day?

ASK YOURSELF….

* What am I doing that doesn’t really have to be done? Procrastination is alive and well – particularly when we have a few tough items on our to do list.

* What am I doing that could be done by someone else? I pride myself on outsourcing. What things can i outsource to an expert (e.g. virtual assistant, graphic designer, printer, web master, cleaner, gardener, bookkeeping etc.). Consider what your hourly rate is and how long it takes you to do a specific task. If outsourcing this task is within your budget – chances are that the time you save outsourcing will enable you to have more time to build your business or career.

* What am I doing that could be done more efficiently? With some tasks, the more you do it, the better you get e.g. using Linkedin and social media. However, why not boost your skill by taking a short course, completing a webinar on a specific topic, engaging an expert to work one on one with you to show you “how”, participating in e-learning, downloading a “how to” from youtube – spending time now to improve your skills and ultimately save more time in the long run.

* What am I doing that wastes the time of others? I rarely take personal calls (people ringing for a “chat” that might take more than 30 minutes from past experience) during business hours. My friends understand the reasons for that and those that don’t – well I suggest i will call them back after 5pm. Why do I do that? As a home based business owner, I have found it is very easy to “waste” the day if you want to. You can spend the entire day having “chats”, cups of coffee, tidying your desk and basically being distracted. However, at the end of the day – you have not generated $1 in income – and you wonder where your day went and why your income is not growing. In a communal office, when one person is having a bad day, it is very easy for that dark mood to infiltrate  the whole office and very little work ends up being completed.

I would really be showing my age talking about time and motion studies. But these were studies completed from memory in the 1970’s – where every task that you did, every hour of the working day, was tracked – so you were very conscious of every moment’s accountability. Lawyers and accounts still track their units of time working on specific client’s matters and their billing system is linked to that tracking.

The most valuable time management tool I use is a TO DO list – I spend 10 minutes at the end of every day, making a list of what i need to do the next day. There is sometimes a second list if i have a lot of running around to do with mini-chores – but my to-do list is a must to enable me to be productive. And as i work through the list, i highlight the items i have completed.  Whatever tasks are leftover, transfers to the next day.

Two final points – at the start of the day I ask myself:

WHAT IS THE MOST EFFICIENT USE OF MY TIME AT THIS MOMENT?

If i am interstate for a speaking engagement – the most efficient use of my time may be reading the local paper, going for a walk and talking to some locals about what is affecting the community this month. I would class this as vital research for my presentation.

If i am researching an article i am intending to write, it might be digging out some reference material that i had buried in my office or laptop, it might be Googling the subject and seeing what has already been written and how my thoughts might differ from what has already been written.

It might be working out a revised budget to allow for new products that may be coming on line.

Every day the answer to the most efficient use of my time at this moment changes – and that is why flexibility is critical with time management. Stolen minutes to complete networking tasks is one of the keys to becoming a great networker. I am a film buff and love to watch movies – drama, thrillers, comedy, documentaries – with a strong leaning to Australian films. Since i joined LinkedIn one of the multi-tasking things i do, when the movie does not require a huge amount of concentration, is to spend time scanning connections of my connections while I am watching movies.  I did this recently while i was watching a television show on a Sunday night and sent out more than 20 LinkedIn invitations – what surprised me was that more than 75% of the invitees responded immediately. So multi tasking is alive and well on Sunday nights!

My final question for you is – WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST TIME WASTER? Once you identify that, can i suggest that for one week, you track how much time you spend doing that one time wasting task. At the end of the week go through the exercise of multiplying that length of time x 52 weeks and realise what a HUGE time waster this habit is. Then if you really want to get a reality check – multiply that second amount  – total time wasting in a year x your hourly charge out rate. Prepare for a shock! Your time wasting habit is costing you how much each year?

So that is where all your time is going, I see, well now your next task might be – to write on your next day’s To Do List – plan how to reduce my time wasting activity for the week. And once you do that – spending 15 minutes on networking activity will be a walk in the park! Remember only you can reduce your time waster!

Good luck and happy networking until next time!

Self Esteem Tips For Unemployed People Who Want To Work

September 6, 2010

In many regional areas, unemployment is at an all time low. And while some employment figures are positive – being employed and getting a regular amount of hours is a challenge  for  many school leavers through to baby boomers. I recently addressed a group of people in this situation – and titled my presentation:

BELIEVE IN YOUR DREAMS –  

Self esteem and confidence building for unemployed people who want to work

Here is a summary of my key points:

 • Commit to a daily 5 minute healthy habit to boost self esteem and confidence – 5 minutes to review the highs and lows of the day .

 • Create a personal success log – record your daily wins. What did you do well? Don’t worry how small this win was – it was a win. Keep track of the good things that happen in your day.

* What was your Oops – what mistake did you make? and what did you learn from that mistake? Hopefully if we learn the lesson, we don’t make the same mistake next time.

* Who did I empower? Sometimes all you have to do to empower someone is call them by name, give them a positive compliment or catch them doing something right. If you put your mind to it, there are multiple opportunities to empower people every day.

* Who did i allow to disempower me? Was it the employer who didn’t ring back yesterday to tell me if my job application was accepted – even when they said they would call? Was it the way someone spoke to me when i phoned about the job? Was it me putting myself down, telling myself not to bother to apply for the job as i would have no hope of getting it (even though i know i have 80% of the criteria) 

 • Complete a personal skills analysis – list 100 things you are good at – add to this list constantly •

*  Create a gratitude attitude  – what am I grateful for? Sometimes it’s just being grateful to get an interview and continue to improve my interview skills – even if i don’t get the job. HOw do I know the selected person won’t be suitable and i will be the next on the list.

• Understand the power of affirmations  – I am focussing on finding the ideal job for me. The clearer i am on what I want, the more opportunities will open for me.

* Decide at this point in time, I will  accept a job, rather than hang out for a career move? Reports show once you are in the employment loop – it is much easier to find another job, than going from unemployed to employed. 

* Look for opportunities to volunteer one or two days per week for something that you are passionate about. It might be an environment, special interest or even a school reading group where you can volunteer your wisdom and expertise. And if there is absolutely nothing in your region, look out for a convalescent home or even a hospital – they are filled with lots of people who rarely receive visitors and will be delighted to chat to you. Not only will this brighten their day – no doubt brighten your spirits as well.

• Identify the significance of slight languages changes for maximum results – remove- but, I have to,

• Choose to move from the wish list to the master plan

“TO THOSE WHO BELIEVE – ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE”

Good luck with the job search.

Networking – the innovative way

September 6, 2010

September is Small Business Month and what better time to start thinking innovatively and aim to reconnect and rebuild some of your old connections. Whenever i try something different, i always ask myself the question – what if this doesn’t work, what will happen and can I cope with that? If the answer is yes – i really have nothing to lose. If the answer is no, I can’t cope with that – then maybe i need to rethink the risk involved.

For the coming month – let’s consider thinking out of the square:

 1. Can you fill a need that a current or past client may have, even if you have never offered that service before? Who knows you might develop a whole new niche of clients?

2. Is there someone within your network, whom you can help with information , connections or potential work? If you really put your mind to it – there is probably an endless list of people you can help, let’s start with helping 3 people this week – and see just how easy it can be. What if we aimed to help 3 people every week for the month? Even if we ramp up the number or ramp it down, we will still be doing more than we are doing now.

3. How can you enhance your clien’ts revenue by generating income and regular referrals for them? Hold on, aren’t you trying to build your own business, why waste time helping another? Well the main reason is – the law of reciprocity – what you give out comes back ten fold – when you help other people grow their business – guess what – they help you grow yours.

4. Do you need a mentor or coach to take you to the next level of your career or business? Or do you know what needs to be done – and just need to make time to do it. A coach won’t do the work for you – though they will remind you what needs doing now. Why not allocate a ME Day – a day without appointments, emails and phone calls – where you just work on your business – not in your business.

5.  Are you prepared to be a mentor to another person in your industry? This can often result in great networking opportunities for you – plus a very satisfying experience. I am often asked to be a mentor to someone wanting to write a book, or become a professional speaker. My response for the last few years is – can you write down 300 words on what your expectations of a mentor’s role is and what you would expect me to do and the time frame involved? To date this has knocked out 90% of the requests – people often want the work done for them – and confuse mentoring with outsourcing. This 300 words usually clarifies the request for them and me as well.

6. Are there untapped networks you need to connect with? The answer definitely has to be YES. Too often we become stale in our networking because we have targetted a couple of networks and regularly attend them – and as we often receive referrals, we stay in our comfort zone. What if our aim was to attend at least one non traditional networking event every month? Yes it would be a shift out of our comfort zone – but who knows what opportunities might open up. Don’t let your comfort zone become a cage!

7. Would you consider starting a mastermind group this year? A confidential group of 3-4 people who meet fortnightly for a set time, to offer ideas and suggestions on career or business development in a safe environment. I treat my mastermind groups as projects and bring together small clusters of people for 3-6 months – In this way, if there is a clash of personalities there is a start and finish date – rather than a group that goes on for months and months and can become stale. Project by project these mastermind groups can remain fresh and innovative.

8. How long since you used the words – WHAT IF? What if we changed the way we contact clients? What if we threw out the products that were outdated and not as useful as they used to be? What might be replace them with? What if we listened more to our clients and their requests – rather than saying – no we don’t do that? What if – we asked all the staff for suggestions and rewarded the best suggestion/idea every week? What if, we were open to change more often?

9. Let’s aim to be open to synchronistic meetings and opportunities as well. Sometimes when flights are late, traffic builds up, we miss out on sitting with our friends at a networking event, or we are stuck in a queue with a stranger, whom we start a conversation with – amazing connections are made. What i know for sure is rather than stress about delays, if i trust that they are happening for a reason – somehow i always seem to make a great connection, or meet a really interesting person, or learn a really useful piece of information – all because i didn’t waste energy on stressing about something that was out of my control. As the yoga teacher says – just breathe. . . .

10.  One size does not always fit everyone!! So be prepared to set aside at least one hour a week for innovative thinking – whether you sit in the sunshine with a note book – or take a walk around the park – open your mind to possibilities – and ask the question – if i was starting my business from scratch today, knowing what i know now, what would it look like?

Until next time – have fun networking