Posts tagged - customer lists

Know who we are because you need a network to succeed

That’s right. You need to know others to succeed. You need to know and have guides or mentors. You need to know your peers. You need to know your competition. And you need to start knowing these people from day one. Or if you did not start then, start today!

There are many ways to go about this. You can network with others alone or at events, collecting business cards and email addresses. You can build your online and social media presence. These methods can be the first introduction people have to you and what you are about.

And this takes work. It takes effort. It takes learning how to reach people. If you don’t know how, it is like making phone calls without a phone book; You may get someone to answer, but it will be treated like a wrong number, not helping you move forward professionally.

So get to know us because not only is it important over time, but it makes life more interesting.

No Comments

Who is your customer or client?

Of course the answer to this question is dependent on what you do, but if you don’t start by answering this question you will miss out on opportunities. The answer, based on your line of work, may be a type or category of businesses or  categories or people.

Some sales people think the answer is anyone and everyone, but it isn’t. On the surface, if you are in pharmaceutical sales it is doctors or medical practices or if you are a pool installer it is home builders or homeowners. It is important to start with the big picture and then narrow it down so you can come up with reasonable marketing and networking strategies. If you are the pharmaceutical salesperson, your company may assist with this by assigning you a region of a city, state or the country and providing leads. If you are the pool installer, you have to choose the geographical area you can reasonably cover with your crew(s), let alone the number of projects you can work at one time without causing delay and upsetting customers, before deciding how to market to your audience of potential customers.

Some professions, including attorneys, accountants and financial planners, have a different answer. We all have the skills to help many types of businesses and people, but a wise man I know told me something years ago about who your clients are likely to be, which still holds true today: look in the mirror. What he meant is that you are naturally going to connect to people similar to you, whether in age range, family background, interests, etc. We all know personal connection helps or causes us to make choices a lot of the time.

Where this leaves you is to remember, no matter your business or profession, you need to have a plan and strategy for your marketing and networking. If you have no plan, you have no plan, and you will have hits and misses, though likely more misses, because you are leaving your business to luck or casting too wide a net (a wide net has large holes for potential business to slip through!). It also helps to put your plans on paper, with short term and long term ideas, plans and goals.

If you start by defining who is your customer or client and drill down from there you increase your chance for success. So start today because there is no time like the present!

No Comments

Are you all in?

We all know the saying “You are either all in or all out.” The meaning of this phrase is obvious, but when you think about it, it applies to all situations in business  or your personal life.

In your personal life, if you spend your time with your kids or significant other connected to a device, email, etc. they will know they don’t have your full attention, which means you are not all in. That email can wait when it comes to your time with your kids or significant other, can’t it? If not, you are better off explaining to them you have to work than letting them sit there assuming they are not your priority. Think about how you feel if your significant other is constantly on their phone or the Internet. Or , if you have teenagers, it is likely you know this feeling well.

Similarly, in business, if you are not all in, you are all out. You cannot kind of do something and be successful. You may not work as hard as you could have and get lucky by landing an account or client, but that is the exception, not the rule. If you don’t give it your all on a report for a supervisor and they know your usual level  of work product when you do give it your all, they will know. The inverse of this is that people you work with or for know when you give it your all. Of course, this comes from more than a report or work product, and includes your direct dealings with them in person, by phone or otherwise. Don’t you want people you work for or with to think you are all in?

If not, you should be questioning if you are in the right field or profession. It could be that something in your personal life is affecting you in your work or vice-versa. If so, you should meet issues and challenges head on because if not, nothing will change, and it could ruin relationships, your career or more.

So, are you all in?

No Comments

Do You Love the Life You Live?

The other week my wife was driving with our 10 and 7 year olds in her car. The 10 year old, out of nowhere, said “I am living the live I want to live.” Before my wife could say anything in response, my daughter asked her younger brother if he is living the life he wants to live. His response was “No.” That response was followed by the statement “If I was living the life I want to live I would be in Madagascar observing chameleons, lemurs and fossas.” No, I didn’t know what a fossa was either without looking it up (See below). But this conversation got me thinking about my daughter’s question as it relates to adults, business and life.

Work is about fulfillment more than money; at least it should be. This is one things millennials have right – the want to do something that they think matters. Of course what matters to each of us is personal and different, but it still should drive you to seek out work that fulfills you or about which you are passionate. Money helps, but not day to day with a career you don’t enjoy. Don’t envy those who don’t work because they are empty and unsatisfied at the core. Try to have a job and build a career you love, but don’t assume just because you are passionate about it you will get rich.

It’s okay to have a job others consider mediocre to support your life and hobbies if you are doing something you like. If you are not, then you have a mediocre job and likely a mediocre life. Some people don’t have a choice or access to a job or career with upward mobility. They really may hate what they are paid to do for work every day. When you have a choice, it seems obvious that someone will not take what they and others may consider to be a mediocre job unless it will fulfill them or otherwise let them live the life they want to live.

For instance, I know someone who, while actually highly educated and employed, spent the first decade of their career working enough to save money to travel the world, not to advance a career or earn more money. Those of us who were working to build a career at that time couldn’t imagine taking a year off to travel the world and then doing the same thing every few years to travel and be immersed in a foreign culture. But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous when I would get that person’s emails to friends and family during the various lengthy travels and read about great adventures and their time to think and do without constant pull on their attention.

So I think it is a good question to ask yourself: Are you living the life you want to live? I am thinking professionally, but obviously it can be about all or any part of your life. If your answer is no, will you do anything about it?

 

ps. The fossa is a carnivore that is related to a mongoose and looks like a cross between a puma and a dog. Fossas are nocturnal creatures that hunt almost any animal including insects, reptiles, rodents and lemurs. They also prey on chickens in and around Malagasy villages and are hunted by local people as vermin.

Fossa are active both in trees and on the ground and are excellent climbers using their long tails for balance and retractable claws for climbing straight up and down tree trunks.

 

No Comments

The 2015 version of why it is time for an annual “checkup” for you and your company

Last year, many of you probably read my blog regarding having a checkup for you and your business. This does not involve the doctor, but it does involve all the other professionals in your personal and business life. Since that time, I decided to make this topic an annual tradition. This is based in part on the range of feedback I received last year.

Some of you said “What a great idea. I am definitely going to do that.” Other said “Sounds like a good idea, maybe I will look into that.” Most of you were busy with the holidays and all that it entails, and probably ignored my advice. To be honest, any of these responses is okay and ignoring my advice may not have had detrimental effects to you or your business.

The point of the advice is that you only know what you know. If you do not check in with your professionals and, for example, make sure contracts or your estate plan remain enforceable and up-to-date, that is where the risk comes in. For example, I always check in with my accountant at the end of the year to ensure that all is right with taxes, i.e. to find out whether my wife sand I need to send the IRS a check before the end of the year.

This year I had a reminder of a different kind. My wife and I are having an issue with a vendor related to our home. In speaking with a client earlier this week who is in the same business, I learned that we have been over-charged for the last few years and likely will be able to lower the cost for the service in question. With the time constraints of life, it is sometimes hard for me to move beyond the higher-level checkup to things like home vendors, but it actually all is the same. Unfortunately, in our time-crunched world,  it expands the question of who to check in with at year end to possibly include shopping rates for vendors for your home or business too.

I know, I know, who has the time? None of us do, which is why the choices yours. Are your contracts up to date? Did you pay enough estimated taxes or withholding? Are you paying the cleaning service at your office or your lawn guy for your home too much? The choice of what professionals to consult, what costs to check or compare and what services to put out to bid is yours. Choose wisely!

And for those of you seeking a reminder or who did not see it last year, here is my blog post from last year on getting an annual checkup:

The end of the year is always a good time to take stock of where you are personally and professionally. This can be checking in with your personal accountant to make sure you have withheld/paid enough taxes during the year or planning for deductions to planning for large corporate expenditures on things such as upcoming projects, planned corporate initiatives or planned equipment purchases. But the one thing that is a constant is that we all should be doing this.

In the past I have mentioned why it is good to sit down with various professionals you or your company work with just to check-in, be they attorneys, accountants, insurance professionals, financial planners, investment professionals, etc. The list depends on you and your business.

This does not have to be a formal appointment unless you think that is appropriate depending on the nature of the planned conversation. Instead, it can be you offering to buy them lunch or a drink. The point is the better the professionals you work with know you, the more they are able to make recommendations aimed to benefit you or your company.

So don’t wait, start making plans today to meet with these people this year, or at least first thing next year. We all are busy this time of year, but if you take these actions it will help you now and in the future.

No Comments

Don’t Let Your Communication be an Illusion; Communicate to be Understood!

Communication is a singular important matter in all contacts between people. But it does not always happen in a way leading to understanding on the same level between the participants in the conversation. This is high-lighted by a quote that I like:

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place – George Bernard Shaw

Do the people you communicate with understand what you are trying to convey? If you think so, how do you know? Odds are the communications are not as clear as you think.

That is because it takes more than just you speaking. It also takes the other person listening fully. And it takes the other person understanding what you said.

Think about yourself. When someone is speaking with you, are you listening or thinking about what you are going to say next. If you are thinking about what to say next, you are not listening fully. If so, it is likely you will miss something the other person wants you to know and understand.

Listening fully is challenging whether in person or on the phone. In person you may be able to tell someone is not understanding or listening to you based on their responses (or lack of responses!) and body language. How can you tell on the phone? Maybe by the response. Or do you hear typing or mouse clicks, signaling the person on the other end of the line is focused on something on their computer, not what you are saying.

So actual communication where both people listen and understand each other is hard. This is true in business and at home. You can ask questions to make sure the other person understands what you are saying. Or at home, you can ask your child to stop texting while the two of you talk! And, you should look at how you listen in live conversations or over the phone to make sure you are not missing anything.

No Comments

You must take action to expand your network and control your destiny

So my question to you is are you green and growing or ripe and rotting? No, you are not a vegetable or a piece of fruit, but you either are taking action to improve yourself and your business or you are not. The difference is like that between talk and action. Knowing what to do and doing it are not the same.

You also need to think about whether whatever your doing is achieving your desired results. If not, why do you keep doing it?

If all I can do is write about what to do, but not do it, that is to my detriment. Sure, I like writing on these type of topics, which is why you are reading this today. But my goal is not to be a writer, but an attorney who is constantly trying to expand his network and develop meaningful relationships with the people I deal with. By doing so I have better control over my professional path and create opportunities.

One of the things I like best about what I do is meeting and working with all different types of people including other attorneys (really), accountants and other professionals, business owners, and many others. The diversity in the people I deal with keeps me engaged, interested and energized to keep networking. It keeps me trying new things in my effort to expand my network and develop interesting work for me and my colleagues. I always say if we were all the same the world would be a boring place, which I truly believe.

So are you the ripening banana looking better day by day or the old one on the counter no one wants to touch? It may only be a  metaphor, but it is true that you either are improving yourself or not. If you do not do so you are destined to the life of the worker bee, which is not necessarily a bad place to be. But if you want to be higher up the food chain, no matter if it is in your profession, your company, or your industry, start by expanding your network and see where it can take you.

No Comments

What will be done eventually should be done immediately. Organize yourself!

Don’t be a sloth! Delay rarely helps in any situation. We know disorganization leads to disaster. It not only can make you late on your commitments, it can adversely affect your business and personal life.

We live in a “what have you done for me lately” world that demands that expectations not just to be met, but exceeded. You can do this by setting expectations you know you can meet and hopefully exceed, because you are the one in charge of setting the expectations. Don’t meet them and your clients, co-workers, your boss, will see it as a negative. Why isn’t it done yet? What did you not get to because of your delay on one project?

So how do you do this? It depends on you. Will lists and calendaring items keep you on track to meet or exceed expectations? Do you need another person, an accountability partner, to help keep you on track? There are many tools to better organize and keep on task. You have to know yourself well enough to know what will and won’t work for you. Of course, you then have to put what will work in motion and commit to it.

So what can you do today, this week, this month, to better organize yourself and set yourself up for success on meeting and, hopefully, exceeding expectations? Answer this question, work it and see how it benefits you in business and generally.

If you are not sure where to start, I suggest you find someone you know who is successful and organized and see if they will formally or informally serve as a mentor for you. For insight on mentoring, I suggest you review my recent blog post “Why Mentoring Matters?” http://businesslawguy.com/2015/08/26/why-mentoring-matters/

 

No Comments

I Can’t Thank You Enough!

Of course, you think, another person telling you to be thankful during the holiday season. Kind of, but not really. You should be thankful for what you have, but year round, not just because it is this time of year. But that is not what I am talking about.

 

This time of year is a good time to remember to show gratitude. Yes, you should do so year round, but it is better late than never, and should be done in both your professional and personal worlds. Lucky enough to have someone clean your home? Some extra money may be sufficient without a card or hand written note (yes, there are still times a hand written note is appropriate), and arguably will be more appreciated than a gift.

But what about the guy or gal who referred you the big lead or client? Arguably shouldn’t be money (think kickbacks!).  Here a hand written note and thoughtful gift is the right idea. Not sure what to get them? You should be because you want to get to know people better who help you succeed and earn your living.

So remember to thank timely and often, and do it throughout the year. If you haven’t lived this way until now, this is a good time of year to start.

And to those of you kind enough to have referred a client to me, provided me with a lead or trusted me enough to connect me to one of your contacts, thank you!! And who knows, you still may be getting that hand written note and a gift…

Happy Holidays!

No Comments

We All Need To Try Something New

If you’re not successful, you’ve got to change something. Funny thing is that if you are successful it helps to change something. Trying something new is good for all of us. It could be regarding how you generate or create business. It could be how you organize your workspace. It could be stopping at the corner coffee shop in the morning and meeting your neighbors or other professionals and business owners.

Back to if you are not successful or are on a bad streak. The problem is you, but not in the way you think. Odds are it is not your work product. It is that you are stuck in routine and maybe with things that used to work. We are in a new world: post-recession, surrounded by technology twenty-four hours a day, sucked into interactions with or through machines that used to happen in person, or at least by phone. Change something.

One idea is to reconnect with people. I know people thirty and younger may be rolling their eyes, but life previously didn’t involve texting, Facebook and twitter. Make a list and call someone from that list each morning. All it takes is three to five minutes a day, but that personal touch means something. If not that, change something else, regularly.

Don’t let lack of success or success define you. Interact with people. For most of us, it is those people and their memory of you that will define us, not a witty tweet…

No Comments