Author Archive

7 Tips On How To Exit A Conversation – Gracefully

October 25, 2010

Luann Feehan, Vice President of Membership

How many of you have had that “zen” moment…you’re at a networking function. Started a conversation with someone. And after a few minutes you realize… ummm I want out of this conversation and don’t know how! And then you start praying for an even higher power?

We’ve all been there. Here are 7 tips on how to exit a conversation – gracefully.

You go to a networking function and suddenly find yourself attached to the “cling-on”.

Do you know what a “cling-on” is? It’s that person that you meet that is determined to never leave your side. Just like the dryer sheet that is attached to your pant leg because of static cling…on.

How do you make a clean get-a-way?

We generally stay in a conversation longer than we intend to because:

  • We are talkers and all wrapped up in what we have to say.
  • We feel trapped or don’t want to be the first to sever the conversation.
  • We are “comfortable” and don’t want to leave or be left. The fear of meeting another stranger or worse the fear of feeling like we will be rejected by a stranger.

Done properly, an authentic farewell will actually enhance your relationship.

Tips:

1.   THE GIFT OF  FREEDOM: Wrap up the conversation you are in, as if you were wrapping a present…bring it back full circle by recalling why you originally connected.

For example: John, it’s been wonderful talking with you and learning more about your business. I came today because and I would like to make the most of this networking opportunity and keep meeting people.

  • Here is my business card – – or
  • May I get your business card – – or
  • I have your business card and I’ll keep you in mind and hope to see you at other chamber events.

2.   HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY: I’ve enjoyed meeting you. I hope you don’t mind, I want to circulate and meet some other great people.

3.   LOOKING FOR THE TRIFECTA: I promised myself I would meet 3 new people before I leave here, so I have a couple more people to meet.

Or my favorite:

4.   DOUBLE-FISTED NETWORKING: Carry 2 drinks, if you find yourself talking to someone you want to escape from, politely excuse yourself by saying you need to deliver the other drink.

  • IF you find yourself in a good conversation, you can either share the drink with them, or just drink it yourself!

5.   SHARING IS CARING. Share the Cling-on…Be the bridge, not the road block. If you know you’re not going to do business with the person you are chatting with, ask them who they would like to meet and then introduce them to someone else. Now they become THAT person’s conversationalist.

 

 

6.   THE HAND-OFF: Or if they tend to be the know-it-all schmoozer, ask them for a referral… Do you know anyone here that might be interested in my product or service? And then ask them to introduce you.

 

7.   CLING MORE: It’s ok to say, I don’t want to monopolize your time, can we meet later? Is it OK if I contact you to schedule a time to continue the conversation and learn about each other’s business, maybe over a cup of coffee?  Or volunteering, I plan on being at next month’s “Schmooze.” Will I see you then?

As a Chamber person, it frustrates me to hear people say…”Yea, I went to one of your events but I didn’t meet anyone”. Or, “I went there to network and got nothin’” – Let me ask ya this…Who’s fault is that?

Did you find yourself trapped in a conversation? Were you brave enough to get out of it?

My challenge to you is to open your gate to networking. Allow others AND YOURSELF the freedom to walk up to a group and introduce yourself, and at the same time…allow others AND YOURSELF the freedom to move on and open up even more opportunities.

Here’s a bonus tip… try out your get-away this Thursday at Business After Hours. We’ll be at Studio Dan Meiners from 5 to 7 p.m. It’s a beautiful place and the networking will be great!

Got a good networking escape plan? I’d love to learn about it. Go ahead, add your comment to this blog and share the knowledge.

Advertisements

When networking, be memorable

August 31, 2010

Luann Feehan, Vice President of Membership

Whether you want to expand your circle of influence, increase your sales, raise money for charity or elevate your personal or business profile in the community, here are some realistic, tangible ideas to help you accomplish your objectives.

The 4 most important letters in Networking is W-O-R-K, because that’s exactly what it takes. I know, some make it look easy but truth be told, it’s like so many other things. The more effort you put into it, the more you get out of it.

Here are some ideas on how you can enhance casual business contacts and turn them into lucrative long-term relationships for you and your company.

Use memory hooks. These are excellent tools to use when you’re trying to make a positive, lasting, first impression. A memory hook is something in your introduction that so vividly describes what you do. People will be able to visualize it (or you) clearly in their minds’ eye.  And, people remember visually longer than intellectually.

This can be done by:

Personal branding the way you look:

For example… you’ve probably seen Garret Gardner with Full Voice or Andrew Kaplan with Commerce Bank at various chamber functions. They are always wearing their bow ties. Or maybe you’ve met Mary Redmond with Independent Lease Review; she’s always sporting a great hat.

What these people have identified is a unique way to become hooked in our memories because of their own personal branding.

Branding what you say cleverly with a bit of humor:

Using humor, not to be confused with rude or weird, is another great way to be remembered. When you craft your elevator speech, think about ways to say what you do in a fun, cleaver way. For example

  • Accountant – “When you’re ready to work on your taxes, give us a call because we’re the ones that count!” (Thank you John Scholtes with The Taylor Group.)
  • Chiropractor – “You’ll feel fine when your spine’s in line.” Or “We’re always glad to see you’re back.” (Nice work Dr. Robin with Your Wellness Connection.)
  • Electrical Contractor – “For your commercial and residential electrical needs…give us a call and we’ll check out your shorts.”
  • Plumber – “Remember, a flush is always better than a full house.”

This really works! A word of caution though. Make sure what you’re saying is truly funny and not perceived as insulting.

I’ll bet many of you reading this right now has ran into Christy Chester with Boyle Meat Company.  She has a wonderful…memorable…elevator speech that goes something like this…”I can put a steak in your future, beef up your business; help you out in lean times. And, it’s rare that we don’t have a sizzlin’ good time.”

These are just a few ideas of what other members are using to position themselves. And, by the way, they’re great networkers too!

These ideas may not be right for you, your personality or your business type. The point is: Think about what IS right for you. What can you be doing to become more memorable so people will think of you when they need your product or service?

I would love to get your feedback on what has worked for you. Go ahead, feel free to add your comments.

So now please get networking and meet someone you don’t know.

It’s easy, put a smile on your face and just say hello.

Connecting all your networking options

July 20, 2010

Luann Feehan, Vice President of Membership

So are you successfully juggling your social networking with your real face to face networking?

While I continue to believe the most effective long-term benefit comes from networking and building relationships face to face – – eyeball to eyeball. I do think those efforts should be complimented with social media.

So let me ask ya this… Have you taken your networking on-line yet AND merging it with your face to face networking?

Let me share three ideas with you.

1. ENCOURAGE A MEETING: Invite the people that are linked to you and invite “your friends” to meet up with you at a networking event, like Business After Hours…which is open to members and non-members. We have one this Thursday, hope you can join me!  This is a good way to strengthen those relationships. (And… it’s a great way to meet those” friends” that you’re not really sure who they are or how you know them. I think we all have 1 or 2 of those.)

2. POST NETWORKING: Use your social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn as a way to continue a conversation or relationship that begins with a personal meeting.  It’s a great way to build on a recent meeting and to keep the conversation alive. This is a way to follow-up and either “friend” someone or keep your name in front of them as a gentle reminder of your existence. Just so they know you’re still around when they need your product or service.

3. RECORD KEEPING OF YOUR ACTIVITY: Connecting with people on-line is a way to keep tabs on your networking activity and a refresher for where you were at in the connection.

In summary…Let me put this in different terms…

You can make your Doctor’s appointment on-line, however you still show up…in person…at the Doctors’ office so the Dr. can examine you. The Doctor’s office places the diagnosis in the computer system and that keeps a history of your activity and can provide great insight for future interface.

While I believe social media will never replace good ole’ face to face relationship building and networking. I do believe it can enhance the experience and help to keep a relationship alive!

Wish you well, my “friend”!

4 Tips on how to plug into The Chamber!

July 12, 2010

Luann Feehan, Vice President of Membership

Did you know…if your company is a member then you’re a member too? Cool huh.

It’s true, when your company is a member of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce, that membership includes all of its employees too. We think it’s a great employee benefit to pass along to you.

So, now that you know this great news…you and your coworkers are encouraged to attend as much as you want and as often as you can.

Here are 4 tips to get the most out of your chamber membership…

1. Make sure our information about you is accurate and complete.

Well, if you’re reading this, then you obviously know how to access our web site, www.kcchamber.com, which includes a searchable online membership directory (the Marketplace) that is database-driven. That means that the information you see on the site is what we have in our database. Check your listing and see if the information is correct and up to date. If it’s not, give Amy a call at 816-374-5410.

2. Attend something. You get out of your Chamber membership what you put into it.

It might be an educational seminar like Business Brain Food, or a visit from a foreign ambassador in the World Trade Center of KC, a committee meeting (there’s something like 35 different committees to chose from), or a networking program such as Business After Hours. Whatever suits your fancy. Attend something and expand not only your mind but also your network of potential vendors and clients. Visit the calendar of events on our homepage to see what’s coming up.

What? You don’t have time to get out? No problem, we come to you weekly with Your Chamber at Work. A pithy newsletter that is a quick, informative read and it will keep you up to speed on what’s happening around The Chamber and for our members.

3. When you do attend something… look to make new friends.

Look for the yellow name badges that signify Chamber Champions. The Chamber Champions group exists to help make your transition into Chamber life easier; in fact, we’ve tagged them as “your friends in the yellow badge!” If for any reason you feel nervous or uncomfortable meeting new people, seek out a Chamber Champion to help with your introductions. They are great networkers and they know a lot of people. They’re pros at helping you get better connected. It’s important to us that you have a good experience.

4. Get to know us. We’re here to work for you. Let us know what your business is all about so we can spread the word.

Tell a staff person or a Chamber Champion what your business does. What part of the metro area do you serve? What is your specialty product or service? Who are your customers and more importantly who do you want to meet? When businesses join The Chamber they tell us what categories of service they offer, similar to their category in the phone book. Many times that is not enough information to make a qualified referral. The more information we know about you, the more we can pass along to the right people who are interested in making contact with you.

Share your “good news” with us when something really great happens to your company or when you get something new. And forward your news releases when you do something newsworthy.

If you would like more insight or detail on any of these tips feel free to talk to anyone on staff. We’re here to help you. Many of you have probably already visited with our Manager of Member Relations, Amy Fennesy. She is a great resource to help you get plugged in to The Chamber. We like to refer to her as The Chamber’s Concierge. Contact her at 816-374-5410 or fennesy@kcchamber.com.

A good place to get started and to meet up with us would be The Chamber’s Morning Schmooze this week. Wednesday, July 14th at Cerner Corporation from 8:45 a.m. to 10 a.m. –   the event is FREE for members only. And… it’s ok if you just show up. If you want more detail, click here.

One more thing. If you just want to get more insight on how to utilize The Chamber, then I invite you to attend Your Chamber Connection, a member orientation designed to help members identify how to utilize our programs and services. Just send me an email if you want to attend at Feehan@kcchamber.com.

I look forward to seeing YOU at the next chamber event!

Have a great Kansas City day!

Building Business…One Round Table at a Time!

May 17, 2010

Luann Feehan, Vice President of Membership

Breaking bread with other people is a wonderful way to meet people and to move a relationship forward. People tend to let their guard down and open up when a meeting takes place over a meal.

The Chamber hosts numerous events, with plenty of round tables and we know by the many stories we hear that relationships are built over meals and many result in sales!

Just think about it this way. If you go to one round-table awards banquet event a month…you’re doing a couple of great things. First, you’re helping an organization achieve their goals and second you meet and network with 9 people per month…while you’re eating your lunch or dinner! How convenient is that?

The results for chewing and chatting with other business owners can really be a meaningful use of time. Now the next question is…How can you make your table be a successful networking table?

Here are a few hints and tips:

1.  Be sure to introduce yourself to everyone at the table. If someone arrives late, be sure you acknowledge them too.

 2.  Either hand your business card around the table so everyone can take one, or personally go back around and hand everyone a card. This shouldn’t be intrusive but simply a subtle way to state you know the value of networking. (You should never feel embarrassed by handing out your business card at a chamber event. That’s the #1 reason why businesses join – to network!)

 3.  Ask to get others business card. This is another way to start a conversation. Simply look at the card, show interest, and ask them a question, like…what exactly is your role at ABC Company?

 4.  If you go with someone you work with please don’t sit together. Double the opportunity to enhance your exposure. If you feel like you have to sit at the same table, at least don’t sit next to each other.

5.  If you don’t want to go alone, invite a prospect or customer to go with you. This is a great way to share the value and the experience.

6.  Have fun and convey energy. People are more likely to open up if they feel others are truly interested and are fun to be around.

7.  Listen to what your momma told ya…Try to avoid talking with your mouth full…and always have a breath mint readily available.

Sharing a meal helps to build trust and more solid relationships. People prefer to do business with people they like, and breaking bread provides an ideal opportunity for people to get to know each other.

Business professionals and executives in all fields are looking at new strategies and methods for achieving their goals. Budgets have been cut to the bone. Networking and entertaining clients, often seen as frivolous, are typically some of the first items to go.

 This is a big mistake. In fact, I challenge that perspective with the idea of doing more of them, not less. This is a wonderful way to get out of the office, learn something new, network with other professionals…and eat!

Creating quality face-to-face time with clients has never been more important.

There is a wonderful “round table” opportunity in front of you now. The Chamber is hosting our 24th Annual Small Business Celebration Luncheon this Wednesday. I urge you to make your reservation and work on building your business.  Get the details and register for the event here!

Please join me Wednesday!

Be Interested, Not Interesting

May 10, 2010

Luann Feehan, Vice President of Membership

I can hear your office chatter now.

BOSS: Jane, did you know The Chamber is having a Schmooze again this week?

JANE: What’s a Schmooze?

BOSS: A networking program put on by The Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce to help business professionals get better connected. We’re a member and we really should take advantage of it!

JANE: Do I have to go to it?…

BOSS: No, of course you don’t have to go to it. You could stay here and sit in your office. But if you choose not to go, you won’t have the chance to learn something, to help others, to get new ideas, or maybe even generate some new business.

JANE:  But Boss, I don’t do well at those networking things, I am too self conscious and besides, you know I’m shy.

It is true, some people aren’t as outgoing as others, but I highly doubt that anyone reading this is a hermit. We all like to be around people. (Most of the time.) Why do we have to be so timid about building relationships?

I hear all sorts of excuses for not going to networking events:

“I already know a lot of people.”

“I’m too busy I have other things to do.”

“Everyone there is in a clique – I won’t have anyone to talk to.”

“I hate those things.”

“I get scared.”

“The right people aren’t there.”

“I don’t know what to wear.”

“I don’t know what to say or talk about.”

“I never get anything out of it.”

That’s right – they are excuses, or they are based on misinformation about what networking is or can be.

You will have the most fun and gain the most from networking opportunities when you stop worrying about yourself, what you are going to say and what you are going to wear. (Here’s a hint, most people have those same causes for hesitation.)

Networking is about forming relationships and forming relationships works best when you remember Dale Carnegie’s quote, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

Or let me state it differently…be interested, not interesting.

Just so you know, many of the above excuses go away once you understand that networking events are for meeting and learning about others and their interests.

Be interested – ask questions about people’s business, how they got involved, what sets them apart, what they love about it. Ask about their perfect customer, their interests and their family.

As you listen see what connections you can make for them to help them reach their goals.

By being interested the dread is removed. By being interested we become less self conscious. By being interested we form relationships.

Being interested means remaining interested and following up with people afterwards. If you promised to get them someone’s phone number, the name of that book you are reading, or introduce them to someone, do it right away. You will be seen as a person of your word, but you will reinforce your interest in the other person.

While it may sound contradictory, by being interested in others, they become more interested in our success and us as well. You will have created a double win – you will gain from the networking experience as much or more than you gave, all because you gave first.

It all starts with being interested. Invest in your success by investing first in others.

So now comes the challenge… Don’t let this great networking opportunity pass you by. Come Schmooze with me, this Wednesday, May 12 at the Kansas City Power & Light District.

I’ll be interested to hear your results!

6 Customer Service Tips to the Small Businesses Advantage

May 4, 2010

Luann Feehan, Vice President of Membership

Small businesses have a couple advantages that can really help them survive, and even thrive, in these demanding times.

One advantage is flexibility. Small businesses can make decisions and implement changes necessary to fulfill a customer’s needs. A small business owner can review the business strategy and quickly alter their tactics to achieve their goals. They can also be innovative and entrepreneurial in packaging their services and products, therefore beating the larger businesses to the market with new ideas.

Another small business advantage is the ability to offer exceptional customer service (they have a smaller number of employees to train) and the ability to use networking opportunities effectively. Who isn’t impressed when the business owner greets you, the potential customer, by name?

The people aspect of business is really what it is all about.

I ask ya this… think of customers as individuals. Once we think that way, we realize our business is our customer, not our product or services.

Here are some easy, down-home customer service tips to keep ’em coming back!

1. Lead by example. Employees take their cue from management. Realize that your people will treat your customer the way they are treated.

2. There is no way that the quality of customer service can exceed the quality of the people who provide it.

3. Know who your customers are? Calling someone by name is simple and lets them know you value them as customers.

4. Visible management is an asset. Do your customers know who you are? If they see you, would they recognize you? Could they call you by name?

5. For good customer service, go the extra mile. Include a thank-you note in a customer’s package. Give them a little of the unexpected.

6. If a customer makes a request for something special, do everything you can to say yes. The fact that a customer cared enough to ask means they’re trying to do business with you. In fact, pay attention, it might be something that others wanted too, just afraid to ask.

Want to learn more about great customer service philosophies from some of Kansas City’s best? I encourage you to watch what’s happening with The Chamber’s Small Business Celebration. It’s too late to register for tomorrow’s breakfast but there’s still time to register for lunch on the 19th.  Join us, and learn tips and tricks on how Kansas City’s Top 10 Small Businesses have excelled.

Is networking a waste of time for you?

April 12, 2010

Luann Feehan, Vice President of Membership

Recently I was talking with a member who made it clear they don’t waste time interacting with people who can’t buy their product. I found this to be an awfully short-sighted approach to meeting and interacting with other professionals.

Connecting to people you consider unimportant business prospects today could be a benefit to you in the future.

Networking is the foundation for successful sales, career advancement and business development. It is a required activity, regardless of a person’s stage of career or which product or service they are currently selling. If you’re questioning its relevance to conducting business today, may I remind you of the recent success of “social networking”.

A person’s network is something that is accumulated over time and, once built, can be tapped into to strengthen relationships or taken with them to their next place of business or as they advance in their career.

Failing to recognize the power of a strong network is detrimental to a person’s long-term success.

This discussion led me to reflect on the early years in developing my sales career. So, maybe it’s just time to get back to basics. It goes something like this:

Networking – You meet someone,

Suspecting – You think they may want your service,

Prospecting – They explain they are looking for what you provide,

Selling – You explain your features and benefits,

Closing – And they sign on the dotted line.

Of course, most of the time, that’s not how it goes. Sometimes, people are a part of your “network” for years before they qualify as a prospect and there are some people who will never buy from you, but having them in your network can enrich you in other ways. I can tell you I have many people that I regularly see, yet have never conducted business with them …but I sure have referred them on to others!

Potential customers who approach you and self-identify as a qualified prospect are few and far between. It’s been my experience that those who do usually do so because they have heard of you and your product or service through someone in your network.

This brings us full circle, back to the importance of having a strong network. Every successful business person knows that sitting around waiting for these easy sales is a fruitless endeavor.  Sales success is a process that starts with meeting and connecting with other people.

If you want to find more suspects and prospects who can lead to closed sales, focus your networking efforts in areas where you are most likely to meet your target market.

Without a strong network, you can’t expect to become a rainmaker. The skill of bringing in numerous qualified prospects, which leads to sales meetings, which leads to high close ratios has to start from the foundation of a strong network. Otherwise, what do you have to draw from?

So my best advice for you is to please don’t attend a networking function with the expectation of making a quick sale, rather view it as an opportunity to build lasting relationships that will lead to numerous meaningful outcomes.

5 Tips To Make Networking Work for You

March 23, 2010

Luann Feehan, Vice President of Membership

1. Always wear your name tag. We love sticky name tags at The Chamber, so come prepared to include your first and last name as well as your company name.

2. Take plenty of business cards with you. Don’t give them out as handouts. Instead, present them as gifts after chatting with someone you don’t know.

3. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself. Everyone is there for the same reason…to meet new people! Be prepared to introduce people you just met to others at the event.

4. Engage others in conversation by asking questions: What company do you work for? What do you do for them? Have a sincere interest in learning from other people.

5. Set a goal to collect at least 3 business cards from people at the event.

The main thing is just go and do it! The more you network, the easier it gets, the quicker the magic happens!

Good networking. Is it luck or skill?

March 15, 2010

Luann Feehan, Vice President of Membership

The arrival of St. Patrick’s Day has me thinking about the luck of the Irish, and just luck in general.

Why are some people luckier than others? Why do things just seem to fall into place for some people and not for others? Why do some people have more friends?

I don’t think it’s an accident. People aren’t just blessed with good fortune, though sometimes it might seem that way. I believe people who are lucky have mastered “The Go-Give-Get Effect.” People who are lucky build large webs. People who are unlucky do not build webs, they fall into them!

GO: Go network. Get out! Go get the office stink blown off of you. Think of it like the lottery. They say you can’t win if you don’t play. Well, networking is the same way. You can’t find new opportunities if you don’t network.

GIVE: Give of yourself. Show sincere interest in what others have to share. Listen to understand what people do well, listen to identify what they need to become better and then help them obtain what they need to advance.

GET: What goes-round-comes-round! The magic of networking is that you get what you’re looking for… when you help other people get what they are looking for.

There’s a great saying: “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” This definitely applies to networking and building relationships. The harder you work at making contacts…the harder you work at helping people…the greater the universe of people who have a strong positive feeling for you and the more likely you are to become lucky.

So, I guess what I’m saying is that you are in control of your own networking luck? The more contacts you build over time, the more likely you’ll be in the right place at the right time. And, when the time comes… one of your contacts will come across an opportunity that will be perfect for you…the chances are they’ll call YOU.

On the other hand, if you don’t make contact with other people, you probably won’t learn about great opportunities or be a part of great things. If you never make contact with other people, you’ll probably suffer a lifetime of what will seem like bad luck.

I’m just sayin’…the more relationships you build, the luckier you get. Your mission as a networker is to get to know as many people as you can. The best way to do that is to connect with them on a personal level. That is, walk-up, smile, say hello and start some small talk to get to know them.

Get started now…see ya at this week’s Business After Hours with the Small Business Showcase. Kansas City’s best networking opportunity!

Have a great Kansas City week!