Tag Archives: networking

How Can I Create A Value Proposition?

I am a sales & marketing executive knocking on doors (but getting nowhere). Are there any suggestions how a really professional value proposition is made?


The way to make a value proposition is to understand the customer’s needs, then show your solution to their problem. This means that you need to listen and then respond (i.e., interview THEM), not attempt to sell off-the-bat. Once you’ve established a rapport, and understand their problem, then you’re in a position to present something of value, that’s on-target and with a clear benefit to the customer

What Should Be On Our Business Cards?

We are in the process of re-branding our company, and I am looking for some guidance for what information should be included on the business card. We are a manufacturing company, and in deciding what information, other than standard protocol, to add to the card, such as UL logos, ISO certification, a descriptive qualifier, a minority certified company… it seems like it gets too busy. What are your thoughts?


Who will you be handing the cards to? You might find it handy to have different cards for different audiences.

Besides the basic contact information (including email & web), please make sure that your company’s name and your name can easily be read at arm’s length.

A business card is simply one piece of your marketing message. It’s not a flyer. When I hand someone a card, I want them to contact me to continue our conversation.

Pop! Stand Out In Any Crowd

Pop! Stand Out In Any CrowdIn her latest book, Sam Horn’s describes some great creative business marketing wordplay techniques for getting your product or service to be noticed and stand out from the crowd. Her book is focused on creating a less than 60 second “opening” that will start a dialogue with prospective customers.

“Pop” stands for purposeful, original, and pithy. The wordplay is based around filling out the following “W9 questionnaire”:

W1. What am I offering?

W2. What problem does my idea or offering solve?

W3. Why is it worth trying and buying?

W4. Who is my target audience?

W5. Who am I and what are my credentials?

W6. Who are my competitors and how am I different from them?

W7. What resistance or objections will people have to this?

W8. What is the purpose of my pitch?

W9. When, where, and how do I want people to take action?

The (core) words that you choose to answer these questions are used to help you create a message that is uniquely yours. She gives over twenty different techniques (including rearranging cliches, inventing new words, rhyming, etc.).



While last month’s read (“Networking Magic”) detailed how to approach networking, this month’s book by Peggy Klaus focuses on how to talk about you (and your business). I have followed her advice with great results (including increased confidence).

Bragging is different from boasting. Bragging is highlighting your business (in interesting ways) to build a relationship. Boasting is exaggerating your achievements to elevate your status.

Bragging’s goal is to get you noticed and to open the door for a professional relationship. Every time you talk to a stranger is an opportunity for you to build a connection.

Peggy has a great “Take 12” self-evaluation questionnaire (both in her book and her website). Answering the questions will give you great raw material to build your bragologue (a bragging dialogue).

  1. What would you and others say are five of your personality pluses?
  2. What are the ten most interesting things you have done or that have happened to you?
  3. What do you do for a living and how did you end up doing it?
  4. What do you like/love about your current job/career?
  5. How does your job/career use your skills and talents, and what projects are you working on right now that best showcase them?
  6. What career successes are you most proud of having accomplished (from current position and past jobs)?
  7. What new skills have you learned in the last year?
  8. What obstacles have you overcome to get where you are today, both professionally and personally, and what essential lessons have you learned from some of your mistakes?
  9. What training/education have you completed and what did you gain from those experiences?
  10. What professional organizations are you associated with and in what ways: member, board, treasurer, or the like?
  11. How do you spend your time outside of work, including hobbies, interests, sports, family, and volunteer activities?
  12. In what ways are you making a difference in people’s lives?

The book gives lots of “before” and “after” examples which can help you customize your raw material into an authentic (and interesting) brag.

She ends the book with “Twelve Tooting Tips For Bragging” that are gems:

  1. Be your best, authentic self.
  2. Think about to whom you are tooting.
  3. Say it with meaningful and entertaining stories.
  4. Keep it short and simple.
  5. Talk with me, not at me.
  6. Be able to back up what you say.
  7. Know when to toot.
  8. Turn small talk into big talk.
  9. Keep bragologues and brag bites current and fresh.
  10. Be ready at a moment’s notice.
  11. Have a sense of humor.
  12. Use it all: your eyes, ears, head, and heart.

Marketing 202: Networking Skills

(Prerequisite: Marketing 201: Networking Goals)

You now know your goal for attending an event. If you’re naturally outgoing, then you’re well on your way. But what if you’re shy? Nervous? Insecure? Not a “people-person”?

I never considered myself good at social events until I realized that socializing is a skill that can be authentically learned. You don’t have to fake a personality to succeed, and in fact the only way you can get good at socializing is to develop your strengths. There are some people who are naturally magnetic. If you don’t know your social strengths, ask your friends for their honest evaluation.

Here are some of my networking skill tips:

1. Count Quality, Not Quantity. Some people I know go to events to collect other people’s business cards. They judge their success by how thick their card stack is. How often have you had someone come up to you, hand you their card and say, “Use my services!”, then they repeat this with everyone they see? Rather than playing the “numbers game”, spend time getting to know people in-depth.

2. Be More Interested In Them. People love talking about themselves. Ask people what they do. Why do they do this job? What’s in it for them? Where’s their passion for their job? I personally love hearing about people’s passion – whatever it is.

3. Avoid The Common Questions. “What do you do?” is the common first question people www. People need to get their elevator speech off their chest. Let them. Pay attention. Then ask a question that you ARE interested in. Why? How long? What did you do before?

4. Talk in Specifics. Don’t talk about the weather.

5. Reveal Something About Yourself. You build trust by sharing something about yourself.

6. Find Commonality. If nothing else, you’re both at the same event. Why? Anything you both witnessed?

7. Thank You. A single interaction doesn’t build relationship. Send a “nice meeting you” email. Even better, a hand-written note.

8. Reconnect. When you see someone you met before (even if you don’t remember their name), say, “Hi”. People like to be recognized.

9. Remember Why Are People At The Event. People go to networking events to network. That means that you can potentially go up to anyone at an event and say, “Hi”. Introduce yourself.

10. Look For Other People Not Talking To Anyone. Inserting yourself in someone else’s conversation can be awkward. People are often relieved to have someone talk to them.

11. It’s Networking, Not Dating. Don’t take it personally.

12. It’s Networking, Not Dating. Keep your goals professional. If you’re at an event to get a date, it’ll confuse the person you’re talking with. Are you interested in them or their business?

13. Dress Nicer Than You Normally Do. You’ll feel better about yourself. When you feel better, it’s easier to be friendly.

14. Play The Host. Even if it’s the first time at this sort of event, welcome people. Look them in the eye. Ask them how you can they help. Pass along some tip (the bathrooms are around the corner). Introduce people to each other.

15. Help The Host. Introduce yourself to the host. Tell them why you’re at the event, tell them that who you’d like to meet and why. By being open to introductions, you make the host’s job easier.

15. Pay Attention To Your Energy. You don’t have to be networking all the time. Allow yourself some quiet time. Look around the room. Grab something (small) to eat.

16. Be Careful About Alcohol. You only get one chance to make a first impression. Alcohol may cloud your professional judgment or cause your tongue to slip.

17. Make Eye Contact. Make sure to give the person you’re talking with your complete attention. Besides being polite, it’ll relax the both of you – since they know you’re “there”.

18. Smile. Happy looking people are more approachable.

19. Don’t Take It Personally. Social events can be stressful. Some events are better for you than others.

20. Practice. Think of networking like dating. When you first started dating, you might have been quite awkward. Instead of trying to make the event be a huge success for you, simply try to improve your technique.

The key thing is to be authentic. People can spot fakes easily. Find (or develop) some social skills and get really good at them. You might even find yourself looking forward to attending more networking events.

How do you keep track of your network? One free software solution is Highrise.

Networking Magic

Networking MagicWhen I started networking, I did it the way most people do: I showed up and hoped to meet people and convince them that they should use my services. It became quickly evident that this doesn’t work (at least not for me).

Networking Magic (by Rick Frishman and Jill Lublin) helped me reframe what networking is, and how to succeed at it. They define networking as the “building and maintaining of relationships”. Therefore to be good at networking, you need to generously give to receive. People who have benefited from your assistance are more likely to reciprocate when you www.

The book describes how to build your own network: both to get information from others as well as to sell your product or services. It describes how to ask for referrals, present yourself, and “work your network”. It’s based around the simple premise that the more you give the more you get (without expectation of getting).

When I now go to networking events and meet someone, I get to know them and find out what business problems they have. My primary goal is to help connect them with someone who might be a great resource for solving their problem. Ideally, the connection would be a person in the same room, so I can make a personal introduction. I’ll often take notes on the back of their business card (or use a spare one of mine if they don’t have a card handy) and follow up with them within a day (with names and contact information). Again, my sincere goal is to help them with their problem.

My secondary goal is to get people to think of me as someone who can help them (building trust). I’ll often follow up with people to ensure that a referral I provided was useful to both sides. If not, I’ll offer other resources. Trust is something that is earned over time. This sort of networking is a long-term process, unlike the vision I initially had of a short-term, “Hi, nice to meet you, here’s my card, want to buy from me?” sales speech.

I personally enjoy connecting people who need something with a person who can provide it (a business “matchmaker”). I love hearing a “thank you” for an introduction that did work.

Marketing 201: Networking Goals

(Prerequisite: Marketing 101)

Have you dreaded going to a business event? While at the event, found yourself wishing that the event would end soon so you could go home? Once at home, you then wished you were more outgoing and could connect with people at the events?

First, determine your motivation(s) for going to the event:

  1. To be “seen”
  2. To meet new people
  3. To get information from others
  4. To share ideas with others
  5. To get known
  6. To sell others your product / services

Different goals require different approaches:

  1. To be “seen” – This is the easiest goal to achieve. Basically walk around, smile at people, and talk to people that you know or who approach you first. You’re passively attending the event.
  2. To meet new people – Here’s a secret: everyone who goes to networking events wants people to talk to them. Go up to people who are by themselves. Ask them about their business and non-business interests. Share something of interest about yourself. You’re trying to find people who you “connect” with. Smile. When you’ve met someone of interest, get their contact information and follow up.
  3. To get information from others – Think of the event as a big informational interview. Introduce yourself to the host, and tell them that you’re looking to talk to people who might have answers to your questions. The host’s introduction will smooth the opening, and the “experts” will be flattered to be sought out. Make sure to thank the experts after the event with an email or (even better) a hand-written note.
  4. To share ideas with others – This is basically the other side of the previous goal. When you first arrive, introduce yourself to the host. Tell them of your expertise and give them permission to introduce others to you. You’ll be helping the host provide a useful service (other than simply greeting) and also establish yourself.
  5. To get known – There’s an advertising axiom that says you need to see the same ad 7+ times before it’s in your consciousness. It’s also true at business events. While you only have one chance to make a first impression, consistent following-up with people will result in being recognized. To get known, you need to repeatedly show up to events. You don’t have to talk to the same people each time (simply being “seen” is often enough), but do make it a point to remember something about your last conversation with them. People like to be remembered. Follow up with people you’ve met (for the first time) with an email or note.
  6. To sell others your product / services – Many people go to events to find a new customer. Think back to all the events you’ve gone to. How many times have you talked with someone and thought “I need to buy that NOW”? Instead of hard-selling yourself, tell stories about people who’ve used your products or services. Highlight the benefits. Tell how you solve their problem. Offer to send them marketing materials. You might introduce yourself to the host, and ask them for an introduction to someone who might benefit from your product / service. A “warm” introduction is much better than a “cold” one.

Next month, I’ll share some networking tips. Until then, I’d suggest reviewing one of my previous articles for tips for talking about your product or services (“So, What Do You Do For a Living?“).

The Luck Factor: Changing Your Luck, Changing Your Life

The Luck FactorI recently read “The Luck Factor” (Dr. Richard Wiseman), a scientific study of luck. After three years of study, Dr. Wiseman determined that “Luck is something that can be learned”. His research boiled down to four principles:

  • Principle One: Maximize Chance OpportunitiesIn business, do you spend more time trying to sell your product than paying attention? Increase the number of people you interact with (not just the obvious business networking groups). Increase your relaxation. Listen more. Pay attention to what people are saying and doing.
  • Principle Two: Listening to Lucky HunchesIf you know what the return on investment (ROI) is, the decision-making is easy (“black and white”). Unfortunately, many business decisions have incomplete information (“gray”). To be lucky in business, increase your “centered-ness” to build (and trust) your intuition.
  • Principle Three: Expect Good FortuneWe create our own realities. If your expectation is an increase of sales, you’ll be less affected by problems and focus on things that can produce good fortune. Others will sense your focus on the positive, and will react accordingly.
  • Principle Four: Turn Bad Luck to GoodBig business opportunities come from fixing what’s broken or missing, not from improving the status quo a little bit. When something breaks, remember it could always be worse, and find the gift in the problem. Then fix it.

It’s all about changing our (business) attitude. Focus on the positive. Smile. Be thankful. Help others. Trust. Breathe deeply.

Top 10 Ways To Get Noticed

Here are my rules for businesses to get noticed by (potential) clients.

Do something…

1. … altruistic – People care if you’re trying to help people.

2. … politically incorrect – Challenge the prevailing wisdom.

3. … current – Tie your message to something in the news.

4. … clearly useful – Save a life. Save money. Save time.

5. … personal – Don’t stand on a pedestal. Share your fears and joys.

6. … funny – A humorous story gets passed around often.

7. … transparent – Avoid the “it’s too good to be true”. In your offers share what’s in it for you.

8. … outrageous – Take an idea to an extreme (“Pogo stick Olympic games”)

9. … measurable – Let others be the judge of your work (“Consumer Reports Magazine”).

10 … simple – Use few words. State the essence.

No More Cold Calling

No More Cold CallingI recently read a book that made me rethink how I market myself to others and wanted to share it with you: “No More Cold Calling” by Joanne Black. The essence of the book is that the odds of selling something to people you don’t know (“cold leads”) (either by email, phone, ads, or US Mail) is extremely small and therefore expensive. Ms. Black recommends spending time working on your referral networks.

Identify your ideal customer. Ask people you know if they can give you a referral to one or two people that meets your ideal. You don’t just want the names of the people – you want them to contact your referral and have them tell about you themselves. If you’re thinking, “This seems like I’m asking a favor for my business” – you’re right. It’s a favor you’re asking because people really want to help and be helped. Another approach is to join one of a number of referral-based organizations.

By spending time pro-actively building your referral network it’ll result in a higher “close rate” and better clients as well. You can still do your “cold lead” development to keep your branding going, but referrals, she claims, is where it’s at.

Here’s who I’m looking for: a business owner who is ready to change their day-to-day business practice to leap in front of their competition.

Who are you looking for?