All the Work You Need?

It never ceases to amaze me how foolish people can be. I’ve been involved in a group in my home town called The Business Fellowship for some time now and we had a really great speaker scheduled for this last meeting, so I decided to invite a few friends; three in fact. One immediately said yes, one couldn’t make it because he had to go out of town, but one responded to my e-mail with this reply:

“I’ll pass. I already have more work than I can or want to do.”

I spent the rest of my day shaking my head over that one! Now understand, this fellow is a contract employee in a very stable industry and really does have all the work he could want or need. But my question is, what is he doing to build his professional network in case he ever finds himself looking for another company to work with? Networking is not always about finding more work. There are many reasons to network. Let’s look at some of the reasons Jeff Taylor talks about in his book, Monster Careers: Networking.

Networking Separates You from the Pack
If you had two applications in front of you and both were from people that are new to the work force, but equally qualified; which would you look at more closely? An applicant that is well networked (student counsel, volunteer, school newspaper, toastmasters) or one that isn’t?

Networking Catches You When You Fall
If you are laid-off or your company goes under, wouldn’t it be nice to have a solid group of contacts that can help you land that next job? If you’re self-employed, this same group can lead you to your next client.

Networking Opens Up New Possibilities
Sometimes you’ll run across clients you never thought to call on, or a career you never thought to pursue.

Networking Makes You More Valuable to Your Company
Power people network! How many potential colleagues could you meet while networking? Lots!

Many people think networking is just for entrepreneurs or salesmen, but the reality is everyone should be networking. Don’t be like my friend who was so fast to say no. Consider all opportunities to meet people and build relationships. This group may not have been a good fit for him, but he’ll never know. Here’s hoping all that business never dries up! ­čÖé

Reference: Monster Careers: Networking, Chapter 1, Pages 5 – 6

Image: successfromthenest.com


Brand Tags

Seth Godin mentioned Brand Tags in his blog a while back. I thought it would fit nicely with what I wrote about Joe Dannelly’s Two Columns branding exercise. Hop over to Seth’s blog and read his post, then give Brand Tags a try.

To view what others say about the different brands, click the link on the top of the page that reads, see what other people have tagged it. This exercise will help you see how you, and others, view some of the most popular brands on the market; which will help you brand yourself better.

Image: mleak

I Can’t

I hear it a lot…

I can’t sell well, I’m not a natural born salesman.
I can’t break into a new territory, someone else has it all sewn up.
I can’t sell these new products, I don’t know anything about them.
I can’t make money in this business, their isn’t enough work out there…

Then I see a guy like this…

Seems to me that some people don’t know the meaning of the word can’t. Think of him the next time you think you can’t do something.

Brains on Fire®

I attended an Upstate Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners meeting a few months ago. Joe Dannelly was the speaker. Joe works with one of the most progressive Idenity and Branding Companies I know, Brains on Fire┬«. Hearing Joe speak was a real treat for me because while I’d love to be able to hire Brains on Fire┬« to help me brand Wolff, with a starting price of $85,000.00, they are a little out of reach for my budget! Just the same, even though Brains on Fire┬« caters to high ranking companies, both nationally and internationally, they showed concern for local small business as well when they agreed to speak to this group.


During Joe’s presentation, he talked about the work Brains on Fire┬« did with Fiskars┬« Shears. They helped Fiskars┬« develop a Community Website for Scrapbookers called Fisk-A-Teers. It’s a brilliant marriage between a hobby and a supplier that does two things as far as I see it:

1. It’s an excellent way to promote the Fiskars┬« brand.
2. It provides a powerful medium for Scrapbookers to learn, swap ideas, show off their crafts and build friendships. These things lead to loyal customers!

Two Columns

One more thing I wanted to share with you from Joe’s presentation was an exercise he had all of us perform. Each of us had to take a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle of it. In the left hand column, we wrote down 3 or 4 of our favorite brands. In the right column, we wrote what we loved about those brands and what draws us to them. After a time of sharing, Joe told us to fold the paper in half and ask ourselves, “Does this list of things I love about these companies describe my company?” It was a great exercise!

I could go on and on about Joe and Brains on Fire┬«, but the best thing I can do is point you to their blog. It’s an excellent source for anyone in business!

Image: cssa_ucsd

Speaker Etiquette

This is not an exhaustive list of subjects speakers should watch out for by any means. It’s just a few things I’ve been thinking about lately after watching a speaker slip up at a recent event.

Remember Who’s Running the Meeting

A good friend of mine was invited to speak to a group of local businessmen. Jeff, the leader of the group and also a friend of mine, asked if I’d like to come. I said sure. We met at the Golden Corral in Spartanburg.

When everyone got there, they went and got their food and sat down to eat. Part way into the meal (and just before the leader stood up) my friend blurts out, “So Jeff, how about we all introduce ourselves before I start my talk.” You could see Jeff seethe for just a moment before he politely said, “We’ll get to that in just a moment.” This should be obvious, but when you are “invited” to speak, wait to be introduced before you take the floor.

Don’t Pat Yourself on the Back Too Much

One of my main jobs is training sharpeners. I’m not the only person who does this in the states, but as you can imagine we are few and far between. I put together a show once for a large group of professional sharpeners in Richmond Virginia. One of my speakers, a very well known sharpener and excellent trainer, talked about all the sharpening awards he’d won in the past as he started his presentation. He even when so far as to say, “I may even be the most accredited sharpener in the world.”

As soon as these words left his mouth one of the attendees grabbed me and pulled me out into the hall. He said, “Did you hear what he just said? He said he’s the best sharpener in the world!” I said, “No he didn’t,” and then repeated what he said, but it was too late, he had already lost that sharpeners attention. How many more people did he loose in that audience with that one statement? Choose your words wisely.

Don’t Be Stupid Like Me

Trust me, I’m no better! I had a similar foot in mouth incident to the one the sharpener in the last example had. I was asked to speak at a NASA Convention in Memphis. (The National Appliance Service Association, not the real NASA!) I had teamed up with another trainer friend of mine and we were each going to speak about our products for 30 minutes. Long story short, my friend lost track of time and spoke for fifty minutes. I was hot, but condensed my presentation into the five minutes we had let after I set up my equipment. Unfortunately, I was rather impressed with myself that I was able to pull the presentation off despite the lack of time. So when I finished speaking I foolishly said, “Give me a hand, I did a great job.” As soon as I said that, I heard an older gentleman in the front row say, “Arrogant, ” as he shook his head.

That made a big impression on me! I’ve strived to walk that fine line between confidence and arrogance ever since. Hopefully I’ve avoided stepping over that line more times than not.

You Only Get One Chance to Make a Good First Impression

Don’t make the leader mad! Don’t put yourself on a pedestal and make your audience feel “beneath” you, and certainly don’t do like I did! You only have one chance to make a good first impression. Once you lose your audience it’s over. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about them.

Image: rightantler

Close a Sale Like a Kid

My youngest son Aidan (5) has been on an Indiana Jones kick as of late. In fact, it’s pretty much all he talks about. He’s seen one of the movies (under heavy supervision by mom and dad), he plays the Lego online Indiana Jones game and he’s even put together his own version of an Indiana Jones Outfit.

His latest acquisition is a little Lego Indiana Jones figure. Charles, my oldest son Ian’s (11) friend, let him “borrow” it. Aidan was elated! But it wasn’t long before the time to return the figure started to draw near, so Aidan started coming up with a plan to talk Charles into letting him keep the figure longer.

He started reasoning with his brother that Charles had plenty of these figures and should let Aidan “take care” of this one a little longer. Ian wouldn’t bite.

Aidan then moved on to his sister Mia (8). He figured she might be able to work her feminine wiles on Charles and get her to convince him to let Aidan keep Indy. Mia was repulsed!

Well the day to return Indy finally came. Aidan realized he wouldn’t be able to elicit any help from him siblings, so he hitched up his britches, walked up to Charles and asked a simple question, “Charles, may I keep Indiana Jones a little longer?” Do you know what Charles said? “Sure Aidan, you can keep him a while longer.” I’m willing to bet Aidan will ask for another extension and that eventually, Lego Indy will be a permanent part of the O’Donnell household. We shall see.

So what is the point of all of this? Aidan asked. It would have been easier for him to just assume Charles would say no, return Indy to him and go home, but he asked. Did you know more sales are lost because salespeople don’t ask for the sale than any other reason? When you have an opportunity to sell something to one of your customers, don’t just hand it to them and hope they will buy. Ask for the sale! The worst they can do is say no. What do you do when they say no? Well that’s a topic for another post.

Lego Indy Image: gazraa

Lessons All Around

These past few weeks, when I’ve had the time, I’ve been refreshing myself on presenting; one of my favorite subjects. A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post titled, It’s Not About the Slides. It focused mainly on what not to do when presenting; particularly when it comes to presenting with Power Point. Today I came across a great YouTube video of Garr Reynolds teaching a presentation class at Google on Six Pixels of Separation. It’s long (just over an hour), but it is packed with great information.

One of my favorite points Garr made was if we open our eyes, we’ll see great examples of slides (or marketing, or color schemes and so on) all around us. Look at bill board ads, magazine ads, signs in shops and restaurants. The examples are many! When you see good examples of advertising, take a moment and make note of it. Write it down or take a picture if you have a camera on your cell phone, then build a file. These examples will prove invaluable when you design that next ad or presentation.

When you get a chance, take some time and watch Garr’s presentation. He goes over many of the points in his book, Presentation Zen. Just remember, it’s long!