April 24, 2011

Appreciation Marketing – Tapping Into Your Network Partners

Recently I needed a plumber, and I was amazed that I did not have a plumber in my network.  I have dozens of contacts of almost every type of profession, but I did not have a plumber.  So I called one of my network partners in hopes that she could give me a referral.

She gave me the name of someone with her strong recommendation, and I talked with his wife who was very professional and efficient.  We scheduled the appointment for a mutually appropriate time and date, and I waited for when my problem would be solved.

During the appointment, he fixed one problem without the need for extended work, and he installed a new faucet for me with care and speed.  In addition, he told me what he was doing and why.  In short, I received excellent service, gained information, and was not charged an excessive amount of money.

Before he left my house, I told him to use me as a reference and gave him permission to provide my name and contact information to anyone who wanted assurance of his work.  I told him that he did not have to contact me before sharing my contact information for the reference.

After the work was done, I sent a card to my network partner thanking her for the referral and telling her how pleased I was.  I told her that I would be glad to refer him to anyone else that needed his service.  I also sent a card to him thanking him for the service and telling him again how I would be glad to refer him to others.

A few days later, my new plumber called me to thank me for the card, stating that a customer had never sent him a card thanking him for his service.  He said that he was touched by my gesture, and wanted to tell me how much it meant to him.  I told him how much his call touched me also.

Appreciation Marketing means that we thank a person for their business, their gestures, their advice, or whatever they do that impacts our lives.  It doesn’t matter how great or how small, they have done something that made our day better.  Perhaps it was good service or a good product for a fair price, perhaps it was a gesture that wasn’t expected, and perhaps it was just a smile.

Your thank you gesture can be a card, a telephone call, or a polite thank you when you see them.  Nike’s slogan implores us to take action, “Just Do It”!!!  You never know whose day you can make better, or how their reaction may make yours better also.

So let’s all start doing the right thing.  Thank others for their service, products, and gestures.  Their response may also make your day better.  Make someone’s day better; just do the right thing.  Then share your comments here, or call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com.  We could start a whole new movement, or restart an old one.

April 17, 2011

Appreciation Marketing – Networking Newbies

Last week, I recommended Bob Burg’s book “Endless Referrals”.  Bob’s book details the networking process and explains how it can benefit everyone who follows those points.  He discusses how networking can work for everyone and informs us that we are networking whether we are in a large group or chatting with one other person.

But what if you are someone who is a networking newbie, someone who has never networked in your business life?  First, this book assists us in learning the “right” way to network.  Second, it teaches us some of the traits of “bad" networking, listing those people who we do not want to be.

Last week, I met a person who had never networked in her business career and was now trying to get the most from the experience.  Is this like learning to swim (just jump in, and flounder), is there a school one can attend, or is everyone else “born” with networking abilities?

There is no “school”, but there are numerous books on the subject, some good, and some just wrong.  Bob Burg’s “Endless Referrals” is one of the best.  In addition, we can talk to some people who seem to have the networking knack, those people who we see that seem to network seamlessly anywhere that they are.  We can network about networking.

Everyone has been at their first networking event once in their life, where they had no idea what they were doing.  No one was “born” with the ability to network correctly.  However, common sense gives us strong starting points from which we can succeed.  There are various ways to network depending on the type of event we are attending.

There is the “mingle” where everyone just mingles around, chatting with whomever we find ourselves in front of.  There is also the event where everyone introduces themselves to the room, giving everyone a short promotion on themselves and their business.  Then there are combinations of these variations.

When we see someone in either situation that is a newbie, we should introduce ourselves and then introduce them to someone else.  This will assist them in “getting their feet wet”, and it will indicate that we are people that they need to know better.  Look for the person “hanging out on the wall”, the person who may be hesitate about mixing into a group.

Appreciation Marketing means that we will help someone else to become the “expert” that we appear to be, someone who knows how to network.  Appreciation Marketing benefits them, but it also benefits us.  Just do the right thing, and karma will result in good things for all of us.  Someone probably did the same for us at least once.

Remember that people do business with people that they know, trust, and like.  These networking newbies might just be our next great customer.  Remember also that people refer others to people that they know, trust, and like.  Everyone has that 250 person sphere of influence to which we want access, and they want access to ours.

Leave me your comments about your experiences, either as a networking newbie, or as an experienced person who helps others.  Otherwise, call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com.  Maybe we can share examples that will make other people new to networking feel more comfortable.  Then we all prosper.

April 10, 2011

Appreciation Marketing – Networking Relationships

One of the books recommended on this blog is “Endless Referrals” by Bob Burg.  In this book, Bob discusses the 250 person “sphere of influence” that everyone has.  Other authors such as Tom Hopkins also have discussed this same theory.

Everyone has a sphere of influence of approximately 250 people.  When we meet anyone, we have the opportunity to tap into this group of people, and they have the same opportunity to tap into our group.  All of these 250 people have another 250 person sphere of influence.  That is the power of networking.

Previously, we discussed that people do business with people that they know, trust, and like.  We must let people know that we exist, what we offer, and how to do business with us.  We cannot expect others to find us, and do business with us, if they never know that we exist.  This is the one of the objectives of marketing.

When we meet others in a networking environment, we make an impression on them.  This impression can be good or bad.  Our objective is a good first impression, allowing others to know us and discover how to contact us.  It is the follow up that we perform that allows them to know what we offer and allows them to trust and to like us.

When we continue to know anyone, we need to make sure that we, and they, can tap into these “spheres of influence” that are available.  How do we do this, and what can it mean for all of us?  That is the advantage of intelligent networking and the application of Appreciation Marketing to networking.

We must follow up with people that we meet to establish ourselves as someone who cares about others, someone who can be trusted, and someone who can be thought of in an appreciative manner.  We want our contacts to know what we do or offer, that they can trust us, and that we are someone who appreciates others.

People refer others to people that they know, trust, and like.  We want access to everyone’s 250 person sphere of influence, and we want to allow them to have access to ours.  Networking is a two way street, and so is referring others.  We want to know others that we can trust and like.  Then, and only then, can we offer them referrals.

How do we get to really know anyone, and how can we like and trust them enough to refer others to them?  We meet with them and learn about each other’s aims, dreams, and beliefs.  We learn about each other’s business, what type of clients we both have and want, and how we treat our clients, prospects, former clients, family, and friends.  We follow up in various ways.

All throughout this process we show how we treat others.  If they believe that we treat them well, and they treat us well, we will establish a networking relationship, a two way street of support.  This is where Appreciation Marketing enters the picture.

Your comments about how you relate to your networking partners are always welcome.  You can also call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com.  Let’s discuss our experiences; I look forward to hearing from you, and I appreciate your support.

April 3, 2011

Appreciation Marketing – How Does It Apply to Mistakes?

Mistakes, we all make them.  I know that there are some business people who do not believe that they have ever made a mistake.  There are also some of you who believe that we should never admit a mistake.

If you are an active business person, you try various ideas that define how you do business, ideas that will influence how your customers or prospects view you as a business and whether or not they want to be your associates.

We all try new ideas or plans.  Hopefully, we analyze every aspect of a new idea and try to plan out the details before we implement the action steps.  Sometimes these ideas work; sometimes they do not.  Plan, analyze, implement; still, these steps do not guarantee every step of a plan will work like we anticipate.

Mistakes will happen; do not let them destroy your momentum.  Keep trying new actions or projects.  If something doesn’t work like you thought it would, change your plan and either do it differently or do something else.  It is not that you made a mistake that counts; it is how you deal with the consequences.

First, take responsibility for your actions that led to the mistake that was made.  Do not blame the other person, no matter who it is.  The customer may be partly at fault, but if you take responsibility for the mistake, it will pay off in the end.  Never blame an employee to the customer; your employees work for you, and you are ultimately responsible.  The employee question should be settled behind closed doors.

Next, apologize to all concerned.  If it is not your fault, your apology is like credit in your bank that will pay you back later.  Your apology will win you friends and make you appear to be someone who is not petty but is professional.  It will pay dividends even with others who were not directly involved.

Third, fix the problem.  Do what you need to do to rectify the situation or undo what you did wrong.  If you cannot undo the mistake; do something to make it up to the wronged party.  If it means taking action that costs you more than you would normally spend, do so; you must rectify the situation and make the wronged party “well”.

Finally, make sure that all involved parties know that you have taken responsibility for the problem, know that you have apologized, know that you have taken steps to fix the problem, and know that you have instituted changes to prevent the situation from repeating itself.  Everyone must know that all these steps have been taken.

Remember, it is not that you made a mistake; it is how you recover from it and what you do to make the situation right for the other party.  We all will make mistakes if we attempt new ideas to improve our businesses.  You will become known as a responsible business person and appreciated for your corrective actions.  Just do the right thing.

How about leaving a comment about your past mistakes and how you recovered from them?  Maybe call me at 360-314-8691, or perhaps email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com and let’s discuss your experiences.  I always look forward to hearing from you, and I appreciate your support.