Monday, February 27, 2006

Books for Vacation

I'm on the 'get ready for vacation' track. My husband, Steve, and I will leave in about a week to go to our favorite spot in the whole world, Costa Rica. We land in the capital city of San Jose, and then take a flight down almost to Panama on the Pacific side of the county to a very small resort called Aguila de Osa. This area is so isolated, that until about four or five years ago, there was no road leading to this spot. Electricity only became available within the last year or so. There are NO TV's or phones. There is no store to purchase anything. With the hammocks on the porch it is a reader's paradise. Every year my challenge is to decide what books to bring.

Since most of my reading during the year is business related, in the past I have chosen more fiction than non-fiction to take along. Also, paperbacks are essential because of weight, although even with paperbacks my luggage is so overweight that Steve and I end up paying about $100 extra between the two of us for our luggage. This year I have a stack of books that are begging my attention. Certainly 'The Kite Runner' will be included. But I received so many books at the WOMMA conference that I really want to get started on. They are mostly hard bound. Usually I leave completed books behind for other guests and the local population to use. But these I'll want to heft home. What a dilemma.

Do you have any recommendations for books that are must reads for me?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

I Got the Shivers!

This morning at my regular weekly BNI meeting, one member brought tears to my eyes. It was Barry Van Hoozen's turn to deliver a ten minute presentation about the work he does as a State Farm insurance agent. On Monday of this week, Barry had attended a training I delivered about giving these very presentations. During the training we worked on developing stories to tell facts, figures and benefits of a business.

Think about it. Barry's talk could have been very boring, but instead he began by telling us about a customer named Fred who called Barry and said, "Get your checkbook out." Barry thought he was about to be asked to donate to a community cause and was ready to wisecrack back. Instead Fred said, "My house is on fire, please come quickly and bring the State Farm checkbook." The rest of Barry's story let us know his compassionate nature and his immediate knowledgeable estimate of what the damage claim was going to be. Finally even though he was able provide the financial resources for Fred and his family to rebuild their home, Barry shared his limitations. The family sold this home soon after moving back in, as they couldn't get over the death of their pet, Pepper, who had died in the fire.

The story brought tears to my eyes for the obvious reasons, but there was a second reason for tears to well up. For me, it is the greatest honor to have a student show me that a training I gave impacted their life. That happened for me this morning! After the meeting was over, Barry told me that he almost pulled the plug on this talk and instead almost gave his usual "this is what I do" talk. I have already told several people about his delivery today, and I know that he will be on my mind for weeks to come. Barry made it easy for me to tell others about him by stretching himself and giving me a peek at the real Barry. Thanks Barry, you made my day.

Who has made your day recently? Did you tell them?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Referrals; The Ugly, The Bad and The Good

This morning I provided a training to a group of people in Wauseon, Ohio. They wanted to be better at giving referrals to each other. One reason they had asked me to speak was that members were giving referrals to each other, but these referrals weren't very helpful. Actually what they were handing to each other was what I would call a lead -- a name and phone number. In the past I would have been ecstatic to receive that very information, but I now know that it is barely better than a cold call.

Here's what I've experienced when I've made that phone call after receiving the "name and number" referral. Go ahead, listen in to the conversation. "Hi, Joe, this is Debby Peters. I am the owner of the Certified Networker training program and Anne Smith said that you asked me to call you." S-I-L-E-N-C-E, thunderous silence. Finally, Joe said, "You are who and what do you want?" Now I don't know about you, but that is not the reaction I like to get when I am first trying to connect with people.

What I do now is to ask the person giving me the referral to make a personal introduction either in person or via a conference call. Gosh, I can't tell you what a difference it makes both in the amount of work I have to do and the outcome of the introduction. I used to be afraid to ask my referral sources to do this. Now, this is what I do for people when I give a referral. So I give what I expect in return. Yeah, it was scary at first to ask for this, but now it's just business as usual.

Do the referrals you receive mean that you still have to do all the work of contacting and getting in front of that person? How would you change that?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Mini Smile

It happened again today. I just got out of my little yellow and black Mini Cooper to go to the Post Office, and a person I didn't know came up and started asking me questions about the car. Scott Ginsberg, author of 'The Power of Approachability,' has really gotten me thinking about what I can do to be more approachable. While I think I can always improve, what I was missing was the welcoming message that is already out there. Ever since I bought this car almost two years ago, it has brought smiles to my life! I don't know whether it is the bright yellow color, or the design, but people are always grinning when they begin the conversation with, "Hey do you like that little car?"

What about you makes people smile and begin a conversation?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Stories, Stories, Stories

This morning I led a BNI training about delivering a ten minute presentation. BNI members have the opportunity to give such a presentation to members of their chapter. Depending on the size of the chapter, they may only get this chance once per year. Obviously, members don't want to waste this time by delivering information that others don't remember.

The one message I wanted to convey was that stories can make facts and figures come alive. I love being a trainer, because I always learn so much from the participants. Let me tell you what the students helped me to get in touch with this morning.

Descriptions, like name (use a fake one if confidentiality is an issue), age and gender help me to paint my own mental pictures. It sure does make it easier for me to remember the details later.

A benefit told as part of a story delivers the emotional power to catch my attention. For example, Julie Kuney, is co-owner of a local ComfortKeepers, a company that provides non-medical home care. During class she told us about Margie (fake name), a woman who needed to move out of the hospital because her insurance benefits had expired. When Julie talked with Margie, a former school teacher, Margie said," I just want to come home to live."

The challenge was that Margie is bedridden. Julie coordinated all the many details to get Margie's care handled. But the best part of the story for me was that the first dinner Margie had in her home was pizza ordered by ComfortKeepers. Julie told us that Margie said, "This is the first pizza I've had in 8 months. Thank you for making my homecoming so special." Now Julie could have just said, "We go the extra mile to handle the details of your loved one's care which means you don't have to think about it." But instead the story told me how special Julie really is when she thinks about the kind of care she will deliver.

Stories make it easy for me to feel like a presenter is having an individual conversation with me. Even though I already thought highly of Julie, her story this morning makes me want to help her even more. I will be on the lookout for friends and clients to refer to her. I can see that stories help to make a healthy bottom line. I knew that logically before class started, but now I really know it because of what I learned from the the participants. Thanks guys (and gals)!

Do you remember someone you've heard deliver a great presentation? What did this person do to make you remember them?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

CNP joins the blogosphere!

Blogging is going to be fun. I learned enough about it at the WOMMA conference to make me start this blog. Conversely, I learned just enough about it to probably make me dangerous. This will be a learning process but it should be fun.

What new things have you learned recently that will motivate you to do something that you've not done previously?