November 26, 2017

Starting a Conversation with a Stranger

After a recent blog posting, I was asked to explain how to start a conversation with a stranger. For this purpose, a stranger would be anyone whom we meet in the course of our day’s activities but not in the arena of networking events. These strangers would not be anyone whom we meet at an event where this type of conversations would be expected.

If you don’t know where to go to meet people, where do you go each and every day? Do you go shopping, do you buy gas, do you go to the mechanic, and do you go to coffee shops? These are public places where people are. When asked why they rob banks, bank robbers say because that’s where the money is. Go where the people are.

These strangers would be those people whom we meet in coffee shops, on the sidewalk, at a grocery store, across the island at a gasoline station, in line at the office supply store, or anywhere else where we may not be looking for anyone with whom to chat. They are right in front of us, everyday and everywhere.

So how do you use Gratitude Marketing to start a conversation with these strangers, without being considered pushy or infringing upon their space or time? Look for the signs; look for something that you can compliment; look for the signs that the other person may welcome conversation. Also, look for the signs that they may not welcome interruption.

Are they speaking with someone else, perhaps on the phone (look for the Bluetooth headset on the person who is talking to themselves)? Are they listening to headphones or writing or working on their laptop? Is there something that you would like to ask them about: their laptop brand, their dog, their coat, their hat, whatever they might consider special?

I once had a 20 minute conversation on a sidewalk with a man walking 2 dogs. I have had 2 other conversations with him on subsequent occasions, and I know that his dogs like to be scratched on their heads and spoken to in soft terms. We never exchanged names, but this is great practice for other conversations. I have had many chats that are similar.

Do not look upon every stranger as a potential prospect or client. Just chat with people and get to know them. Try a smile and a simple hello. Ask about something that appears to interest them or something that they have. Maybe you have similar taste in clothes; maybe you own different laptops; maybe you both were stood up by an appointment in the same coffee shop. Instead of yelling at someone who bumps into your grocery cart, say hello and laugh about it.

You will often meet someone who doesn’t want to chat. That’s fine; perhaps apologize and move on with a smile. If you meet them again sometime, be pleasant and see what happens. Compliment them on something and see if they open up. Maybe they won’t now, but maybe they will at another time. Some people don’t warm up to strangers easily; do you?

You will receive the same treatment that you project. If you are warm, welcoming, and open to strangers’ conversations, you will receive the same treatment in return. This is karma; you get back what you project, good or bad. If you are not getting warm receptions to your overtures to converse, look at what you are projecting. You might not be practicing Gratitude Marketing.

Please leave your comments or your thoughts, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691. Let’s just have a conversation.

November 19, 2017

Using Gratitude Marketing, you can gain more referrals for your business, even making it based mostly on those referrals. You can stop cold calling people who do not know who you are or what you do or why they should speak with you. You can add clients from the referrals of your known clients, prospects, friends, and family. You can base your client search on the referrals of known and “happy” clients.

Based on what you know about yourself, you should ask the question: “Would you refer business to you?” First, let’s examine how you do business. Do you place the needs of the prospect before what you want to sell to them? Do you ask them about themselves and their business, and do you listen to what they say to you? Do you watch what they do and how they act towards others? Do you examine their habits and their actions?

Second, do you apply the same questions and examination to yourself and what you do? Have you listened to the greeting on your voicemail lately? Does it identify you, and your business, clearly and concisely? Is it even up to date? Does it sound positive and welcoming? Would you leave a message if you were greeted by it? Perhaps have someone listen who has never heard it and tell you how they react to it.

If you are busy with an appointment or meeting, let your voicemail answer callers. That is why it is there. Show your appointment that you value their time by turning off your cell phone and letting all your calls go to voicemail. Then after your meeting, return those calls promptly. One of the better tag lines that I have heard is: “I answer my phone or return all voice messages or emails as soon as possible.” This is simple and very powerful.

Do you return voicemails promptly and intelligently; do you listen to voicemails before you return the call? There are people who never return calls, even when you have been referred to them and you leave a voicemail message letting them know why you are calling. These are not people that refer to others since I do not believe that they value referrals. Don’t hide behind your voicemail; use it to answer your calls when you are busy with others and then return those calls, armed with the information from the message that was left.

We all need to look at ourselves and examine what we find in ourselves. We need to “see” how we appear to others. If they have the wrong impression of us, maybe that is our fault; maybe it is how we “show” ourselves to others. We just need to examine ourselves, and how we live our business and personal lives, and see how we appear to others. Think outside the box in which you live and work. Maybe you will like what you see; maybe you won’t.

If you don’t believe that you can be objective about your life, how you live it, and how you do business, perhaps you should regularly ask your networking partners for their thoughts. None of us is perfect, and all of us have something that should improve. Our partners have a vested interest in helping us be to better; they should be willing to be honest with us and help us improve. The first step is to ask for their help.

So what do you think about this? Do you believe that your business actions are perfect and can’t be improved? Have you taken a good look at yourself and how you treat the others in your life? Please let me have your comments, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or call me at 360-314-8691 so we can share with others. Karma should rule our lives, and we should strive to be professional, passionate, and personal in our dealings with others.

November 12, 2017

Starting a Conversation at a Networking Event

Bob Burg’s book, “Endless Referrals” outlines the basics of networking. I consider this to be a great book for anybody who wants to increase their sphere of clients, prospects, friends, and relationships. From start to finish he covers all manner of networking. Building relationships is the route to success, and Bob Burg details how to do it.

You should attend networking events, whether they are meetings specifically for networking or are general meetings for business people to attend (luncheons, seminars, whatever). Every business meeting is a networking opportunity, and all attendees should understand that these are opportunities for networking and building relationships.

At a meeting specifically promoted as a networking meeting, starting conversations should be easy. After all, everyone should expect that networking is one of the reasons that they are there. Starting a conversation with people at different type of meetings might be more difficult, but you can do so at all meetings if you approach them in a non-threatening manner. It is just that simple.

If you see friends at a meeting, say hello to them and ask how they are. However, you are there to network with people that you do not know, strangers who are not already your networking partners. You may be targeting someone who is in attendance, but the main objectives of your efforts should not be people that you already know. Get out of your comfort zone, and look for people who are new to you.

Some of these people may not be veterans of networking as you are and might be nervous. Greet and comfort them; make them feel welcome. Ask their name and what they do. Exchange business cards and comment on something after looking at their card. Maybe they don’t know anyone else; after you get acquainted, you can introduce them to someone that you know.

If you learn that they are interested in meeting specific people, you might be able to introduce them to those attendees, or you might be able to refer them to some partners of yours later. If you cannot refer them to specific people, perhaps you know someone who might be able to help them meet the people for whom they are searching.

Just be yourself, do not try to sell; just establish a beginning to a relationship. You may be able to start the conversation from their name tag, or they may do so from yours. Ask them where they are located, or their accent may lead to a discussion. Maybe you know someone in a similar industry or in another group that they may mention.

No matter what you do, do not start selling your product or company, or even yourself. Ask them if they would like to get together and get better acquainted at another time, promising to contact them later. If they offer to set a meeting right away, do so, but don’t push for one; that is what follow up is for. If you suggest a future meeting, your call will not be a cold call, but a genuine follow up call.

Gratitude Marketing techniques are very applicable in this start to relationships. Cultivate relationships first, and your will cultivate business partners, clients, and referrals for more prospects. Meet others, cultivate relationships, always be grateful for others, and you will prosper, both in business and personally.

Please leave me your comments and ideas, or call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com. Share some of your experiences with me; we all learn from each other.

November 5, 2017

Tapping Into Your Network Partners

Once 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 the plumber’s wife on the phone 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.

Gratitude 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, or 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. You never know who might need some Gratitude Marketing.

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 else’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.