Tag Archives: business success

Are You Connected The Right Way?

How well your business is networked or connected can mean the difference between success and even greater … profitability.  A major element in this formula involves your company’s word-of-mouth status.  We all know, or assume correctly, that word-of-mouth is the most effective and least costly method of marketing your business and yourself.  What we tend to forget, though, is that word-of-mouth can also work against us as easily as it can work for the benefit of a business.

When we write about networking, there are many effective techniques that can be used to grow your business.  One of the most prolific authors on the subject is Ivan Misner, Ph.D., the founder of BNI (Business Network International), and his most influential book on networking – in my opinion – is Networking Like A Pro – Turning Contacts Into Connections, co-written with David Alexander and Brian Hilliard.

What this blog is about, though, is how to know which connections you want to make and bring into your business network.  Word-of-mouth is difficult to use for marketing unless people get to know you, your company, and your products and/or services.  Once they know more about you and determine they can trust you and what you offer, your chances for successful word-of-mouth networking are vastly increased.

It starts with self-evaluation.  Who are you?  What is your company or business all about? Why are you in business?  Who do you want to be in business with?  Do they want to, or should they, be in business with you?  Are they going to be good connections for you, or are you more a better connection for them?  Do you share or compete for customers?  Do you understand what each of you is selling and how you can best cooperate?

Armed with answers to these questions, you are better prepared to consider and determine which businesses and/or individual business or non-business individuals you want to be connected with to grow your business.  You must consider the value, or potential value, each connection has for your business to succeed.  Let’s look at some examples.

A chiropractor has a natural connection with a massage therapist.  The chiropractor’s work is easier if the client has seen a massage therapist before the adjustment, and the therapist has an easier time if the client has already been adjusted.  The connection appears obvious, and the success of the relationship depends on how comfortable the two  parties involved are with referring clients to each other.  The twist in the relationship comes from the person in the middle, the client.  If the client already has a chiropractor, the message therapist finds it hard to refer them to their connection.  Their continued success relies on being able to market their services in conjunction with each other while still being able to accept and work with clients referred to them from other massage therapists or chiropractors.

Real estate agents and mortgage brokers/bankers are another logical pair for being connected in business.  The strength of their relationship determines how well each does and how long they work together.  When you think about being connected in the real estate profession, you must also consider the other natural alliances.  A title company, remodeling service, landscaper, plumber, electrician, appraisal service, and other business entities with a stake in the success of a real estate transaction are all potential members of a coalition to benefit the consumer.  The challenge is to find the services who can refer work to you comfortably, and to be able to reciprocate on a frequent enough basis to make the relationship profitable in both directions.

The key to the success of your business networking is to have a clear understanding of which companies, and which individuals, you want to and must be connected with to grow your business.  You could be the world’s foremost brain surgeon, but unless you have physicians referring patients to you, you will be out on the street asking everyone you meet whether or not they need brain surgery … and being connected with a mechanic or a restaurant owner will probably have little impact on your bottom line.

How many sales “professionals” do you know who, when asked, will tell you they have a huge network of more than 500 connections?  When you probe a little deeper, you learn they have a customer base of 10 clients and the other 490+ are friends, family members, and casual acquaintances from hanging out in restaurants.  That’s “thinking” you are connected when you’re really a far cry from having the network you desire.

Take the time to think through how well you’re connected and which connections you lack that you would like to add to your business network.  Your professional business and/or marketing consultant can help you see the trees in the forest.

5 Signs of Business Passion

One of the first elements I consider when meeting with a prospective new client is whether they have passion for their project or business venture.  Without it, the process of creating successful business and market strategies becomes an uphill struggle that often winds up in the ditch, especially with existing companies.

Think of it this way:  If your car is stuck on a hill in a foot of snow and you have to get over that hill, passion and determination must be necessary to get the job done.  If you give up and tell yourself it’s futile and not worth the effort, your car (and you) will stay stuck in the snow or slide off into the ditch and stay there for days.  You will be frustrated, stranded, and discouraged because you never got to your destination.

You would be amazed at how many entrepreneurs wind up that way.  They have a great idea but get stuck and lack the determination and the passion to go any further, to get beyond that hurdle and achieve potential success.

The driver with passion takes the time to think through the solution to the dilemma, then acts with determination.  The snow is removed from under the tires and the car may be backed up a little, but eventually a slow, steady climb gets the vehicle over the hill – maybe with a little help – and then it’s on to the next challenge.

Are you passionate about your business?

Here are symptoms that will identify the level of your passion:

  1. You don’t consider that you have to go to “work” every day because you enjoy it;
  2. You enjoy solving your customer’s problems and helping them in the process;
  3. You value your employees because they seem to share your passion;
  4. Your employees enjoy coming to work and take good care of your customers; and
  5. You spend less time working in your business and more on how to make it better.

One of the five C’s of credit that banks consider in loaning money to business owners is Character.  The major element of that character they evaluate is passion.  The bank, or any investor, wants to know how passionate you are about the business, your customers, and the products and/or services you offer.

We recently counselled a client who was passionate about opening a franchise restaurant as a family-owned business.  The passion was dampened when the franchise allowed another franchisee to open within the territory being considered.  We opted for an independent yet similar business and the family-owned aspects of creating their own concept drove the owner’s passion to new heights.  And the banker was impressed with that determination to succeed.

Keep in mind that passion is important in business, but should also be instrumental in everything else we do in life.