Eventually You Have to Ask for the Order

By Jeff Beals

Sounds of chatter, laughter and clinking dishes filled the room at the well-attended networking event inside the hotel conference center.

Like the other professionals in attendance, I tried my best to move about the room somewhat gracefully, meeting people and engaging in discussion – mostly small talk.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jon and couldn’t help chuckling a bit to myself as he approached.

Jon’s a great guy, someone I have enjoyed getting to know. But I always shake my head when I think about him, because Jon is the poster-boy for inefficient and ultimately non-effective networking.

You see, Jon is a marketing executive for a large consulting firm. His job is to schmooze, to go out into the world, build relationships and ultimately sign up clients for his firm’s services. Jon works hard at the “relationship” part of his job but doesn’t appear to be terribly effective at the “signing-up-clients” part.

Jon is seemingly everywhere. He’s a voracious networker. He’s diligent, because you can’t go to a networking event without seeing him. He is intelligent and talented. He is engaging. Heck, he’s even a good-looking. He knows how to play the corporate game and comes across as smooth and nimble as he plays it.

Despite all his attributes, Jon has one glaring deficiency. In the 10 years I have known him, he has never once asked for my business.

It’s not just me. I was talking to a friend, and somehow Jon’s name came up in discussion. I mentioned that I’ve always been amazed at how much attention I receive from Jon without ever being asked for my business. My friend had noticed the same thing.

Jon is a guy who networks for the sake of networking. He knows it’s the right thing to do, but he doesn’t finish the job, call the question, ask for the order.

Remember that your ultimate goal in networking is to establish rapport, learn information and ultimately use it to accomplish your business goals. Sure, most of your time is engaged in chit-chat and pleasantries, but at some point it’s time to cash in.

Jon’s affliction is actually a common one.

I work in commercial real estate. My colleagues and I have always been amused by some of the business development people from architecture, engineering, construction and finance firms who lavish us with attention, give us gifts and take us out for free lunches without asking for the business.

It’s easy to do the relationship-building part, but it’s hard for many people to follow through with the asking part. I’m guilty of this myself sometimes. Asking is inherently difficult, because it’s not fun to be turned down. It’s human nature to avoid rejection. Because of that, many people put themselves out there, build relationships and simply hope and pray that the clients will come to them.

That’s too passive. Waiting for people to volunteer to be your clients might work occasionally, but it won’t generate enough business to sustain you.

It’s true that successful people must network, but networking is simply a means to an end. Your success as a networker is ultimately judged when your prospect signs their name on the dotted line.

Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. As a professional speaker, he delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide.  To discuss booking  a presentation, go to JeffBeals.com or call (402) 637-9300.

You are welcome to forward this article (with author citation) to anyone who might benefit from it.

Conquer the 10 Worst Time Wasters

By Jeff Beals

The great management theorist Peter Drucker once said, “Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.”

In order to achieve your goals, you must develop superior time management skills. Time is the world’s most precious resource.

If you need more investment capital, you can find it.  If you need more talented people to work for you, you can find them.  Unfortunately, you can never find more time.  It is finite.  It is fleeting in nature.  Once it is gone, it can never be recovered.  Time is also a great equalizer – rich or poor, stupid or brilliant, everyone has the same number of hours in the day.  

Nobody actually perfects the art of time management.  With dedication and practice, however, you can come close.  The problem is that most people find time management to be quite difficult.  There are so many tempting time wasters in our lives.  What’s more, it’s a heck of a lot more fun to sit around with friends, go out to dinner and watch television than it is to work efficiently.

Entire books have been written and semester-long courses have been taught about the intricacies of time management.  In this short article, let’s focus on “time wasters,” those things that stand in the way of good time management.

Perhaps the most insidious time waster is television.  According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than four hours of television each day (or 28 hours per week, or two months of nonstop television-watching per year). Let’s say the average lifespan is 80 years.  That means a typical person would spend 13.3 YEARS of his or her life watching television. 

While we’re throwing around television statistics, consider this:  American youths spend far more time each year in front of their televisions than they do in their classrooms.

But it’s not just television that devours our time.  Video games, Internet surfing, hobbies and overly active social calendars can all be problems.

Now, none of this is to imply that you must extinguish all fun from your life in order to be successful.  That would be a mistake, for fun-haters don’t live as long and don’t lead as meaningful of lives.  We just need to schedule our enjoyable activities carefully.  We need recreation in life, but recreation becomes rather meaningless if we’re not working actively and diligently the rest of the time.

As you contemplate your goals, your work and your daily schedule, think about how you can tighten up your time management skills.  The first step is to eliminate the time wasters.  To help you know just what you are up against, here is my list of the “Top 10 Time Wasters:”

1. Television

2. Worrying

3. People interruptions when it’s time to focus

4. Procrastination

5. Inability to say “no”

6. Lack of planning

7. Perfectionism

8. Disorganization

9. Excessive social media, internet and video games

10. Too much socializing

Ultimately, no one but you should be able to control your time and how you use it.  If you allow people to abuse your time, they will do it happily.  People can be rather obnoxious when it comes to time usurping.

The colorful and controversial President Lyndon B. Johnson once said, “Heck, by the time a man scratches his behind, clears his throat and tells me how smart he is, we’ve already wasted 15 minutes.”

Decide that you are in control of your time and don’t let others take over.  Cut people off if you must or at least steer them away so they don’t siphon your time.

Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques. As a professional speaker, he delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide.

You are welcome to forward this article (with author citation) to anyone who might benefit from it.

Ten Ways to Market Yourself in 2011

By Jeff Beals

Here we are at the beginning of a brand new year. This is one of those years where many professionals are feeling more optimistic than they were at this time 12 months ago.

That’s refreshing. It’s a much better feeling than we had at the beginning of 2010. But while the stock market has been rising, tax cuts have been extended and business is picking up, these are far from ideal times. High unemployment persists, and the economy still has a cautious, uncertain feeling to it.

Today’s business environment remains perilous, but at the same time, there are great prospects for those who play their cards right. That’s why it is so important for you to build your brand and create opportunities.

Whether you want more/bigger clients or a better career opportunity, make a commitment to market yourself in 2011. To get you started, here are 10 items to consider:

Live actively and focus externally – Be active and involved outside your home or office. Show up at networking events. Go out of your way to talk to people when you are in public venues. Remember that 75% of all jobs are never advertised and a similar percentage of big clients only come from relationship-building.

Determine what is most interesting – You need an “area of self-marketing expertise,” something about your business or career that is fascinating to people outside your profession. Focus on this when you are networking or using social media.

Focus on results when networking – When you go to networking events, go in with a goal in mind. Sure, you should try to enjoy your conversations, but make it a mission to find a good lead or a golden opportunity.

Exploit social media – Don’t just have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Make sure you post material that is interesting and not just inane personal stuff. Use social media to strengthen your reputation by building on your area of self-marketing expertise.

Make people feel important – When you are talking to someone, make him or her feel like the only person in the world who matters to you at that moment. This will help you develop advocates, people you can count on when you need help.

Build your “Google trail” – Rest assured, that people are Googling you on a regular basis. A prospective client will probably Google you to know who he or she is dealing with before meeting with you. That’s why a Google trail is so important. If nothing or very little pops up when someone Google’s you, there’s a problem – they’ll assume you don’t have much going on. Therefore, Google your own name on a regular basis. If you’re not very visible on line, deliberately get your name out there to build an Internet presence.

Ask probing questions – Don’t just chit-chat and make small talk during networking conversations. Ask some questions designed to uncover the critical information that leads to new opportunities.

Refresh your elevator speech – Does your 20-second intro speech need updating? You need to be able to say what you do quickly, clearly and in a way that captures a person’s interest.

Listen to your clients and colleagues – When we get too busy, it’s easy to start making assumptions. Those assumptions can cause you to lose opportunities. Instead, ask the important questions and truly listen to the responses. Don’t just go through the motions. Let the other person’s words sink in and make an impression on your brain.

Never let up – When things are good, don’t let complacency stop you from perpetually marketing yourself. When things are going poorly, don’t let discouragement be an excuse for apathy.

May 2011 be your best year yet!

Jeff Beals is an award-winning author, who helps professionals do more business and have a greater impact on the world through effective sales, marketing and personal branding techniques.  As a professional speaker, he delivers energetic and humorous keynote speeches and workshops to audiences worldwide.   You can learn more and follow his “Business Motivation Blog” at www.JeffBeals.com.  To discuss booking a presentation, call (402) 637-9300.

You are welcome to forward this article (with author citation) to anyone who might benefit from it.