When you want to head-butt your client….

This blog should maybe have been titled Confessions of a Dragon due to the bit of truth-telling I’m about to ‘fess up to. I’m not sure that this will get past editorial censorship. After all, it’s probably not a good thing to admit that you’ve wanted to leap across your desk and head-butt a client.

Yesterday, I could have been mistaken for a real-live dragon. A dragon with steam coming out of my ears, breathing fire, fang-snapping, snarling ….the whole bit.

But hey, I’m only human.

Except when I’m being a dragon.

And not the noble nerves of steel kind. More of the oh-boy-you’re-getting-on-my-last-nerve, cranky kind – being a real old dragon – the sort that school kids and parents run and hide from at Parent Teacher meetings.

Is the client in question still a client of Dragon Sisters after yesterday?

Let’s see, shall we …?

Here’s the back-story

This client, let’s call her Claire the Client, is one of our Smarketing clients. What she’s interested in is connecting with her target audience, converting them to serious business prospects, to sell them her product.

Claire’s progress has been great in nailing down her target market and connecting with them – mostly digitally and largely through Facebook. Her FB following has increased, her database and her subscriber list have grown enormously.

Fantastic!

Claire’s now ready to really move into converting. She knows there’s plenty of interest in her product. All she has to do is keep doing what she’s doing.

Why?

Because you never let up on keeping and growing connections; that’s your sales funnel, and she’s just started implementing her conversion strategy.

I spend a lot of time on Facebook. Checking up on client pages, especially when they’ve just started flying solo, i.e. been let loose on managing their own page. At Dragon Sisters we aren’t fond of managing FB pages, so most of the time we’re teaching folk how to implement Smarketing on that platform for themselves. And as I mentioned, Claire has been going great guns.

Until yesterday, when she shot herself in the foot.

BANG!

Social media suicide.

Claire should have been hopping around toeless, yelling her head off for a doctor.

Preferably a spin doctor.

Yet she wasn’t.

Because she was blissfully oblivious to the impact of the post she’d put up. A post which over 11,000 of her target market followers would see – and not be impressed with.

The first rule of social media marketing for business is you are your brand.

One of the things we stress about Smarketing is that social media success, in terms of branding for audience engagement, is that personalization is key.

Professional personalization

This means that carping is the equivalent to committing hara-kiri, not death by disembowelment, but rather, death by disengagement. The post Claire had put up was a personal rant which put a severe dent in her brand credibility.

Seeing this I wondered if Claire’s brain had been anaesthetised. The joke post I’ve seen on Facebook “that wasn’t me texting last night, it was the wine” sprang to mind.

How do you ask a client if they’ve been drinking on the job?

It was very tempting to ask Claire that question the minute I got hold of her. Since no sane or sober person spends months building a seriously engaged following, only to shoot it out of the sky just when it’s really beginning to fly.

I also couldn’t ask a client have you lost your mind? No matter how crazy they were making me!

The moral of the story is this: you can’t get cocky, careless, or complacent, no matter how great you think you’re doing.

That applies to me too. So, I didn’t leap across the desk and head-butt Claire.

Probably because you can’t do that on Skype.

Warm Wishes,

Yvonne

Yvonne Toering is a business development consultant who has worked with leading organisations and brands including Securicor Group, Vodafone Group, ASDA as well as most of the UK’s major high street retail chains including Marks and Spencer Plc, the National Health Service, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Mars UK, and the Grand Metropolitan Group, owners of Burger King, Smirnoff, Samuel Webster Brewers, Haagen Daas, Cinzano and other iconic brands.

Protecting Brand YOU this holiday season

Protecting Brand YOU needs to be at the forefront of your mind as the busiest social season of corporate and employer hospitality approaches.

When it comes to the corporate Christmas party as a guest, and as a host, there’s quite a bit to be considered, not least, what not to do at the festive function.

If you’re in an environment where year-round business socialising has been prevalent, you’ve probably seen (and heard of) countless social blunders and corporate clangers, and nowhere is this more prolific than at the work Christmas do.

It’s astonishing how Brand Buffoon comes to the fore, to boot the most carefully nurtured Brand Me image off its precarious pedestal.

In the interests of fairness, I’ll ‘fess up to having been less than whiter than seasonal snow-driven slush, (or was it lush?), just so this ramble doesn’t smack of the holier-than-thou.

Back in the day when I was a newly minted sales sprog, I attended my first company Christmas party, a lavish affair complete with all-night free bar (uh-oh!).

The lessons I learned from the experience are:

  • An all-night bar doesn’t make it compulsory to drink all night;
  • Never attempt (if you’re on your ‘nth’ bubbly beverage) to converse with anyone of authority, however jolly they seem on the Bolli – it’s a trap;
  • Do not approach the tilting dance floor – you could barely stay upright when it wasn’t moving;
  • It’s inelegant to crawl up the foyer staircase – take the elevator – the service elevator (by now you can easily pass for a bag of laundry);
  • Only a complete numpty books their top prospect appointment for the morning after.

Not the most auspicious way to launch a career and Brand Me!

It was so long ago that it pre-dates handheld mobile phones, let alone iPhones and social media (thank you God!); I can only show my face on LinkedIn now because my bosses from back then have since retired or died – or have pretended to in order to avoid me.

Had there been such things as blogs at the time, I may have been saved (from my idiotic self) by Dan Miles’ Blog The Ultimate Office Christmas Party Etiquette Guide, in which he lists his #1 tip as ‘Be on brand’. A piece of invaluable advice! It’s quite hilarious, if a bit naughty …

In a more managerial vein, there’s also this article on Managing Office Christmas Parties from the legal eagles Eversheds. After reading this last one, you could be forgiven for grinching out and doing without a Christmas do … if you don’t mind being Brand Grinch.

Yvonne

PS – this post was originally published on Simple Team Meeting

Yvonne Toering is a business development consultant who has worked with leading organisations and brands including Securicor Group, Vodafone Group, ASDA as well as most of the UK’s major high street retail chains including Marks and Spencer Plc, the National Health Service, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Mars UK, and the Grand Metropolitan Group, owners of Burger King, Smirnoff, Samuel Webster Brewers, Haagen Daas, Cinzano and other iconic brands.

ARE YOU TRULY CONNECTED?

Being connected is vital for your business success. Connections and networks are the life blood of business and community.

You don’t need to have a zillion friends on social media. It doesn’t involve lots of contacts on LinkedIn either.

It means having authentic connections.

To be authentic relationships need to be nurtured, yet so often they are neglected. Worst still ignored until someone finds themselves in a time of need.

So, how do we maintain connections?

Let me ask you this question….

Do you like to receive mail?

I’m talking about letters, postcards, invitations etc. Not the kind that brings bills and other boring stuff.

Real, good old fashioned snail mail.

The kind of stuff that comes addressed to you personally. Handwritten, rather than typed or printed.  Something to hold in your hand. To feel the texture of the paper between your fingers, and even, sometimes, to smell the paper.

I love proper mail! But these days, it’s all too rare. My post box hardly ever yields very much of interest – apart from boring bills and even most of those come electronically.

I vividly remember, as a child, staying with my Grandma in Green Hammerton and waiting to hear the thud of the mail landing on the mat. That was back in the days when the postman pushed it through the slot in the door. Letters would tumble onto the carpet, we’d rush into the hallway to eagerly see what had been delivered.

Similarly, at boarding school, I’d anxiously await the mail distribution. Grabbing my letters I’d dash off to read them in a private space – voraciously reading the news from dear friends and family so far away.

Those letters, complete with exotic stamps from a country far away, used to sustain me through the often lonely moments of boarding school life. The best stamps on my mail came from Kenya and Liberia. Stamps from Spain meant a letter from my best friend.

Mail connected me to those I valued, loved and cared about.

Responding to each letter, postcard or note was a delight.  Choosing the stationary for my replies. Walking to the post office always with a spring in my step. Licking the stamps (even if the glue did taste horrid!) that would carry my letter to a far flung corner of the globe. It was a ritual that kept me connected.

Fast forward many years………

Online communications

Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, blogs etc have replaced the personal relationships of letters, cards and even phone calls.

Today we tend to see and share more of what’s happening in our worlds – there’s also lots of over sharing!

The flip side of this coin is, although there is a lot of sharing going on how much do we actually take in? I mean do you pay the same attention flicking through the digital space as you would to a letter, or to a phone call?

Of course you don’t. There’s so much to look through and hey, yesterday’s posts are now outdated.

So are we really more connected?

Umm, I don’t think so. In fact, I’d say definitely not.

We are only connected in the sense that we are voyeurs. We’re looking in and observing.

Kind of like a Peeping Tom, except we’ve invited this voyeurism by allowing the connection request.

These are not real, authentic connections because there is no real response.

Most are too busy scrolling down the newsfeeds to give stuff more than a cursory glance.

5 reasons why responding in the digital space makes good sense

  1. It is only when you respond that you’re truly connected. By responding you are demonstrating that you’ve taken the time to read what has been written.
  2. A written word of response is far more valuable that just a LIKE. It’s showing the person on the other end, that you value them. That you have made the time to read what they have shared and to frame a response.
  3. It’s an effective and inexpensive way to nurture your connections. We always remember people who make time for us.
  4. For people who live in isolation and have very little real-time interaction, often for reasons beyond their control, a response can mean the world. It lifts their spirits and helps them feel connected.
  5. LIKES are easy.  It’s a simple matter of clicking a button. So even if you are time poor a quick like does not go astray – not as good as a comment, but better than just scrolling past.

connected-love-writing-letterOn a personal level, I also regularly use good old fashioned handwritten cards to personalise messages.

They’re becoming rarer these days, and (I never have to lick the stamp!), but I know all who received them truly  appreciate the time taken to scribbling the note. Same as I love to receive them too!

Do you still write handwritten notes? I’d love to know if you do.

Now, don’t get me wrong – there’s nothing wrong with digital communications and social media. I used it every day. It’s a vital part of my business.

Cheap and effective.  It’s also a wonderful way to keep in touch with friends and family far away.

The key is this – treat your connections with respect and courtesy – that means responding regularly and with authenticity.

Your business grows when you make genuine connections with your target market.

Michelle

P.S Want to be part of a private Facebook group that is supportive, motivational, aspirational, refreshing and talented ? Join us in The SMART Circle


Networking – the most powerful ingredient for success

Networking ¬ (noun)interact with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts.

You hear the word networking bandied about with great regularity.  Everyone always talks about the importance of building networks.

But what exactly does it mean?

Yes, yes. You and I both know it means making connections.

You meet people all the time. Attend formal networking functions.  Join groups. Connect on LinkedIn.

Speaking of LinkedIn, it’s important to make sure that your profile is setting you up as the prize.  It needs to showcase you in the best light and if you’re not sure that it is, grab my FREE guide here 

Connections not working?

You’ve exchanged business cards, and have lots of ”connections”, but still, something seems to be missing.

What is frequently overlooked is that networking is all about maintaining as well as making connections.

It is not enough to just use a speedy few moments to get out your elevator pitch.

To build an authentic network, you need to do more than just an exchange business cards.

Business cards are not the be-all and end-all.

What is important is knowing and remembering some key points about them and their business.

Things like  – what do you have in common? Do they have a problem you could help them with? Can you introduce them to someone who could be of value to them?

DO NOT just give them your card and hope they’ll get in touch. That is not networking – it’s more like a face to face letterbox drop.

You need to nurture your connections.

Offer support and help where you can, with no expectation of gain.

When you next turn up to a networking function be sure that you’re ready to create and maximise all opportunities. You never know who you will meet!

Do not consider what they can do for you – it’s about what YOU can do for them. And I don’t mean it’s about what you can sell them. That’s just icky, and pushy!

From personal experience, I can honestly say, that some of my very best opportunities have come from the least expected places.

Networking & Referrals

As you build the relationship, you gain trust.

When trust exists connections start to open up, referrals happen and business starts to flow your way.

I love referring people to others in my network.

But…… I’ll only do it when I know the person I am referring to is trustworthy.

By that I mean, I know they’ll be upfront about what they can deliver. They’ll be professional.

This will, in turn, build further trust in me.

Why? Because I have referred the right person for the task at hand. It’s good for my own networking.

Can you see how this works?

Referrals are a privilege awarded when you are an authentic networker.

With a strong and authentic network, you have a powerful tool. These are people you can turn to in your times of need. But, not until you’ve built a solid foundation of trust.

Networking is something that is ongoing. It needs to be valued and nurtured.

To your success!

Michelle

Michelle Hanton is a multi-award winning bespoke business strategist, working internationally as a consultant, coach, speaker and writer. She has a keen interest in the not-for-profit sector and is the former CEO of Lifeline Top End, and founder of Dragons Abreast Australia, a national charity dedicated to the promotion of breast cancer awareness.

 

LinkedIn Networking – The Missing Link

Love it or not, LinkedIn has been a standard bolt-on tool to business networking for long enough that it’s now an expectation.

Maybe, like me, you buckled under the expectation of peers, colleagues or clients, and ended up on LinkedIn because it just said too much about you not to be.

Like, ‘Really, you’re not on LinkedIn?!’ accompanied by the sort of facial expression reserved for inspecting fossils and other oddities from antiquity.

I’m enough of a dinosaur to remember the advent of cellular phones.

That was back when the first mobile phone (the ‘transportable’) weighed a ton, cost the earth, and was commonly known as ‘’the brick” for its unlovely looks and hefty weight. I expect you can still find one in a museum somewhere.

As a fledgling Vodafone sales rep it was my job to convince the reticent that they could not do without one. Never mind that lugging one of those things around gave you arms the length of an orangutan’s.

A day now without our mobile feels like a limb is missing and we can barely function.

Can we function without LinkedIn?

Sure. And quite happily.

The last thing a busy person wants is one more digital platform to keep pace with. Who really wants an already bulging to bursting in box pinging with new notifications that someone has checked out our LinkedIn profile, changed their profile pic or has worked at ABC Inc. for exactly 12 months today (should I send flowers, a cake)? Not me!

Yet I’m on LinkedIn. I may have landed on there simply to shut up my eye-rolling business associates and to disprove the theory that I’m a relic from the Land that Time Forgot, but given enough time, even a curmudgeonly crustacean like me, has to ‘fess up and say that it hasn’t been all bad.

OK, so it’s been more than worthwhile, once I’d sussed out the Missing LinkedIn Link. Because once you get a handle on LI it does open doors. No apologies for the pun.

What’s the Missing Link in LinkedIn?

To be fair it’s not missing. But it’s easy to miss amongst all the self-promotional fluff and flannel on there.

To get the most out of LinkedIn, you just have to use it, using good old fashioned networking skills. That’s the missing link to LinkedIn networking and opportunity creation (and not just for yourself).

These networking skills are a lot different to just mouse clicking like and periodically updating your profile brag sheet. Not that you shouldn’t have a great brag sheet. You should!

And you should be supporting your network with likes and comments and contributing with shares and posts of your own. But that’s just maintenance of presence stuff. And if that’s all you want LinkedIn for that’s fine. At least folk can find you if they want to.

I’m a salesperson so I expect a better ROI on my time and I want to be a bit more proactive than simply waiting for someone to fall over me.

I’m also an authentic person and I don’t want to engage anyone, however strong the connection, in any way that’s not authentic. I want to enjoy my connections.

Otherwise, it’s just too boring. LI doesn’t need to be a deep and meaningful experience for me. But it does need to be meaningful to be worthwhile – and that’s where the true value lies within LI.

Never lose an opportunity

Over the years, LI has proved to be a source of some choice opportunities that would not have come my way, had I not had a presence on that platform.

The alternative – not being on LI – would have simply meant that I’d have been unaware and unavailable to those opportunities and introductions. And that’s a key point – I’d have been ignorant of what I’d missed out on.

Ignorance may be bliss, except when it’s costing you an opportunity. A state which results in looking on (green-eyed) at your peers and competitors and thinking “she has all the luck” or “how does he get all the breaks” or “I can’t believe that dufus got that job/contract/client ….”

Are You Missing a Link?

If you’re already on LinkedIn and thinking “Huh, it’s been as much use as a chocolate teapot” in terms of opening doors for you, it’s possibly because you’re not actively using the medium to its full potential.

Maybe you haven’t found the Missing Link to making it work for you.

It’s kind of like having a membership to a club and never using it or turning up to any functions and then deciding it’s useless because you haven’t met anyone.

When Michelle and I started out with Dragon Sisters, we used to run networking workshops.

It was never a surprise to us that successful, competent business people, were just as cowed by the prospect of walking into a room full of strangers, as the less experienced workshop participants.

It just didn’t come naturally to go in cold and to engage, interact meaningfully and to come away with a value-adding experience from in-person networking events or functions which presented networking opportunities (in our book anywhere anytime is an opportunity to connect and network).

On line and offline the same networking principles apply, and that includes using the LI opportunity effectively. Putting in the missing link in how you use LI means you never lose an opportunity. But to do that you need to make sure you have a profile that makes you shine!

The Bigger Picture

Don’t be vain about who you invite to, or accept at, your LinkedIn table. Remember that helping out youngsters and start-ups can be rewarding in many ways.

Focussing only on a certain level of professional connection out of a sense of self-promotional reflective kudos can be counterproductive, as can the obsession with the number of connections you have.

Michelle and I have always believed in paying forward. We were lucky that seasoned professionals helped us when we were green, young and didn’t know what we didn’t know.

My LinkedIn connections include bright young things who have worked for me. Anytime I can give them a leg up I will.

Funnily enough, I sometimes get offers from companies reference checking my past employees and even the odd synergistic new connection from those managers and directors.

One day these bright young things will be directors, CEOs, entrepreneurs, and thought leaders themselves. That’s the bigger picture. Exciting, isn’t it?

Have fun networking!

Yvonne Yvonne Toering is a business development consultant who has worked with leading organisations and brands including Securicor Group, Vodafone Group, ASDA as well as most of the UK’s major high street retail chains including Marks and Spencer Plc, the National Health Service, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Mars UK, and the Grand Metropolitan Group, owners of Burger King, Smirnoff, Samuel Webster Brewers, Haagen Daas, Cinzano and other iconic brands.

Thank You …

Thank you. Two little words.

Two very powerful words.

When you contract a service, it’s usually in exchange for a fee. This kind of makes a thank you unnecessary and it is not usually expected. Of course, it is good manners to say a verbal thank you and that’s pretty standard.

But some take it a step further. They make it more personal.

They send a card, (or sometimes a gift). It’s always a double delight and a surprise to receive personal thank you notes.

Think about this…..it’s a rarity these days to receive snail or hand delivered mail. Even on our birthdays we tend to get good wishes via Facebook – not that I’m knocking it. It’s nice to be remembered by friends far and wide, but it’s just not the same as receiving a card in the mail.

I recently received two beautiful notes. Both very different to each other, but each precious and special.

There’s a lovely little frisson of anticipation in slitting open the envelope. Bubbles of anticipation are floating to the surface as the card/note slides out,  rounded off with a little heart skip and a smile while reading the notes.

Thank you notes

Both these clients (who remain unnamed for the sake of confidentiality) are winners, but have been struggling with their businesses recently.

It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with them.  Working in business for yourself can be lonely. It can become quite overwhelming trying to gain crystal clear clarity on how and where your business needs to be adjusted for success. Providing support, teaching the skills needed and then seeing things start to turn around is something that both Yvonne and I love doing.

We’re paid, and we’re also getting a thank you card – how fabulous is that?

It makes the world of difference. It inspires us to take things a step further and always strive to be improving our services; this includes the bonuses and adding to our Resources4Results so we can share more to pay it forward which is my Dragon Discipline #5.

SO here’s my hot tip – saying thank you, either with a personal note or in some other unique way helps your business to stand out from the crowd. Try it.

Michelle

PS Love you to share how you choose to say thank you, feel free to post a comment below. Always great to share ideas.

 




4 Reasons Why You Should Always RSVP – apart from being good manners!

Don’t you just love the feeling of slicing open an envelope and carefully sliding out a personalised invitation with your name on it? Even better if it’s vellum, gilt-edged or embossed with a crest!20160225_141748-1

Even after all these years, and countless invitations, I still love that moment as the sharp opener slices clean the envelope to reveal its contents.

Those little moments of using my letter opener are becoming rarer and rarer.

Have you noticed an increased propensity for invitations to arrive by email?

Even wedding invitations turn up via email!

You can call me old-fashioned. I know electronic is better for the planet and more cost-efficient, but in my book, you can’t beat paper.

The days of snail mail envelopes are almost gone. Perhaps, in the not too distant future, they will be entirely obsolete.

Anyway, I digress.

No matter how an invitation arrives, it nearly always has RSVP on it (répondez s’il vous plait) and date to reply by. Of course, electronic invitations can get trapped in your spam filter or the junk mailbox, so you’re often none the wiser till it’s too late!

Responding is just plain good manners.

Yep! I can remember my grandmother always used to insist on Basildon Bond stationery to write RSVP’s and thank you notes. But, aside from not wanting to appear rude, there are other less obvious reasons why you should always RSVP.

#1 – Someone has thought enough about you to place you on their guest list. They want you at their event.

Give them the courtesy of knowing you appreciate being thought of. That’s the RSVP.

#2 – When we look at the business scenario – invitations are a way of saying “Hey, we value you. We’d like your company”. You’re being invited, you’ll be giving or gaining something from your presence at the event. Hopefully, you’ll do both!

Your RSVP, whether you’re accepting or declining, means you respect the business relationship.

#3 – If you repeatedly fail to respond, you could well find yourself scrubbed off the database permanently. When that happens, if you’re in business, it means the networking opportunities become more limited.

#4 – When you RSVP promptly (by the due date at the latest), you’re showing that you respect deadlines and value the organisers time.

Your appropriately timed RSVP is affirming that you’re a responsible and reliable person to deal with.

When sending an RSVP, if you need to decline, there is no need to go into any detail about why you are declining. A simple ‘regretfully unable to attend’ is usually sufficient.

If you are in the public eye or a position of seniority, you may well find yourself flooded with invitations.

Just because you’re invited does not mean you have to accept. It’s perfectly okay to decide what you will and won’t attend. Just make sure you RSVP to every single invitation that arrives with RSVP on it!

The easiest way not to forget is to do it immediately, or at the very least make a diary date and flag so you don’t miss it. It’s all too easy to forget when you get busy with the hustle and bustle of everyday living.

Michelle

P.S. Emily Post has this to say on RSVP’s

Michelle Hanton is a multi-award winning bespoke business strategist, working internationally as a consultant, coach, speaker and writer. She has a keen interest in the not-for-profit sector and is the former CEO of Lifeline Top End, and founder of Dragons Abreast Australia, a national charity dedicated to the promotion of breast cancer awareness.