5 B’s To Effective Networking

Gioco da Api-Bee Game-Jeu d'AbeillesAn invite arrives in your inbox describing a “big” after hours event at your local restaurant or country club. It states how they are expecting a record attendance. So you spend the $40 on the registration fee and arrive at the event with high hopes of landing your next big client. But soon you realize that networking is the last thing taking place. People are either spending their time with those they already know, buzzing around the buffet paying more attention to the food than the guests in attendance, or standing shyly in the corner hoping no one notices them. And those who do approach you are so focused on selling you on their company that you can’t get a word in edgewise.

Finally, feeling deflated as your time and money have been wasted, you give up and leave. The chance of finding a new client at this event seems to be as likely as finding a unicorn. Thankfully, the night ends.

Sound familiar? While this scenario is common, it doesn’t have to be like that for you. When you know how to work a room, you can network at any event and make meaningful connections with others that lead to more business. Here are the 5 Be’s to Effective Networking. Use these at your next networking event and you’ll be a master networker who closes business over and over again.

Be Willing – You must be willing to give in order to receive. Therefore, rather than focus on finding connection for yourself, make it a goal to find connections for the people you meet and your clients. For example, if you meet a financial planner and later you meet someone who says they are looking to be connected to financial planners, make it a point to introduce them to each other. This takes the pressure off you and makes you look like the hero to others. This approach also makes conversations go a lot more smoothly, ultimately prompting people to find out what you do.

Be Moving – Think of the networking space like a baseball diamond. When you arrive, the door acts as home plate. However, rather than make your way to first base, turn to the left and walk toward third. Why? Most people are right handed so they will have a tendency to enter the room and move to the right. If you follow them, you’ll be lost in the crowd. But if you go opposite, from third base, to second, to first, you’ll approach them in a casual way, which leads to more natural conversations. In the process, seek out wall huggers or spaces where there are less people so you can make some one-to-one introductions.

Be Approachable – Being approachable means that you are not sitting by yourself with a scowl, talking poorly about others or the event, eating and drinking to get your money’s worth, or hanging out with a friends or co-workers. Networking is about introducing yourself to people you don’t know. In a friendly manner, extend your hand like you are meeting your best friend. Relationships are built with a warm and approachable demeanor.

Be a Realistic in the Outcome – The goal of networking is to make connections, not to make a sale that evening. Therefore, go in with the realization that no one is going to come up to you and say, “Sign me up. Here is my credit card.” Rather than striving to land a deal, have a goal to land an opportunity to connect again. To make sure this occurs, ask everyone you meet lots of questions about what they do, what their business needs are, and any other questions to determine if it makes sense to follow up for a meeting.

Be Prepared – To make networking work, you need to be prepared. You have to look the part by dressing correctly. Know your calendar for available times and dates you could meet. Have business cards on hand and be prepared to set appointments and to make connections.

Lesson Here - By having the right mindset and going into a networking event with the right intent, your chances of meeting your next big client will greatly increase. In fact, you may even have someone come up to you and say, “Wow, you are an amazing connector. I am not sure what you do but I really need to get to know you.” This will be a clear sign that you have been practicing the 5 Be’s of Networking.

CPA’s are Sales Professionals…Too

Ron_KaleyAs a CPA, my goal is to serve more people and grow my business. Starting my own practice this year, I thought it would be a long road to reach my goals. But I’m here to tell you, my expectations have been blown out of the water!

I recently met Kristen Hartnagel and decided to partner with a coach from Southwestern Consulting. As of first quarter of 2014, I have already booked more business than I had forecasted for the entire first year being on my own.

My coach, Dave Josephson, collaborates with me on many things that impact my business. We’ve worked on creating sales processes customized for my practice, he’s helped with networking and follow up strategies and he shares insights & expertise on time management, effective verbiage to improve client engagement and techniques to keep a positive mindset, to name a few. Plus, the added accountability is critical.

We talk about upcoming meetings and anticipate possible outcomes and how to adjust to each. Just having a partner with whom to bounce things around is a major help. Dave reviewed my natural strengths and honed in where I needed help so that I could see success as soon as possible.

I had prepared myself to anticipate this journey taking me several years before seeing this kind of success. I’m serving larger clients meaning larger deals than I thought possible at this stage. With the help of Southwestern Consulting’s 157+ years of experience and Dave’s coaching, I am taking my business to levels beyond what I thought possible. The team of professionals on the backend too, who are there to cheer me on, along with the additional resources Southwestern Consulting provides, keeps me motivated and inspired!

If you are at the point in your business where you know you have untapped potential, then I highly recommend Southwestern Consulting and David Josephson to anyone who is looking to do more with their business.

Ronald J Kaley, LLC

Grand Rapids,  MI


The Name Game – What’s in a Name?


Personal branding starts with your name. No, not your company name—YOUR name. After all, your clients will first fall in love with you and then with your company. Often, business and sales professionals decide to use their formal name, especially when it comes to insurance, financial, and banking services. In the process, they inadvertently kill-off their personality, as they believe they need to sound more important. And the worst part is that they don’t even like the formal version of their name. Some even admit that the only time they heard their formal name as a child was when they were in trouble. Does it make sense to start a relationship with a client by being called a name that makes you cringe? Is it any wonder why so many professionals hate being in sales?

To make sure your name truly reflects your personal brand, here are a few rules to follow.

Avoid Sounding Like a Kid   If your name is Thomas and you prefer Tom, then simply go by Tom. However, avoid going overboard by referring to yourself as Tommy. When it comes to men’s names, there is something to be said about getting carried away. Women can get by with this as it can add sparkle to their name, such as a Chris being called Chrissy. Just be aware that you need to still sound credible.

Choose Appropriate Nicknames   Nicknames can be fun and even useful if you have a common name such as Dave, Mike, or Bill. However, the nickname needs to have a fine balance of professionalism. As a guy, you should avoid nicknames such as T-Bone, Turk, Clutch, or Diesle. They may have been cool when you were a running back in high school football, but in business it may make you appear as though you have not been able to grow up. Also avoid using nicknames such as Goober or other disparaging descriptors. You want your nickname to portray a positive image of yourself.

Use Initials   If you have a complicated first or last name that is difficult to pronounce, initials can be useful. Just make sure your initials do not accidentally refer to something that is not positive. In the past, I have referred to myself as DJ, as there are many Daves and Davids (and Josephson, for some reason, makes people tongue-tied).

Be Consistent   When updating your name, make sure that you are consistent. Only refer to yourself by the name you land on. Otherwise, you will never fully make the switch and inconsistency can translate into not being consistent with your work. Change your name on all your online social media profiles, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Plus. Update any bio or profile, website, and email signature line. If you have several hundred business cards with your formal name, there’s no need to ditch them as you can update your name on your next order.

The Lesson Here No matter what your profession, use a version of your name that you like, even if you are in a formal position. Anytime you are able to interject your personalilty in a formal role, you will naturally be more approachable and you will be able to create a relationship faster with your prospects. Remember, all sales begin with a relationship. The faster you can forge the relationship, then the faster you will be at converting prospects into clients.

Relate More, Sell More

What is the difference between having a conversation with a friend and a sales meeting? Oddly enough there is very little difference; however, when we sell it can feel very pushy and one-sided.

Sales is really nothing more then a conversation that solves a problem 

Why is it that when we are “selling” the conversation turns into a canned presentation rather than one that it genuine. Answer because as sales people we have been taught wrong. In fact, bad selling practices has become an epidemic.

Relate What a Concept  After coaching, Susan says how well she relates with corporate business men who have been in business for only the last 3 years. Susan then discovers that some of her best customers are men who are new business owners who recently retired from the corporate world and now are reinventing themselves because they can yet retire for one reason or another. After further discussion Susan shares that her brother and her husband were both in similar situations. She is able to relate and share her personal story which made her sales increase.

Know Your Market.  Mark had a very bad habit of making the presentation all about him. In fact, when I first met him, the first question he asked me was how much I made and how he was able to help me with my financial planning. Mark did not even ask if I was married or if I had any kids. Plus, starting out our meeting with a tablet asking such a personal question made me shut down and made him look desperate.

Mark was shown how to sell by a top sales professional out of New York City. Mark on the other hand market is in Jacksonville Beach Florida. What works for one may not work because where they are located. So I began asking Mark a very simple statement: “Tell me about yourself…”  Mark began to smile because he realized that we were having a simple conversation so his sales stress went away

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