Every week our Motivation guru Casey Hart educates and reminds us of how we can be better networkers. Below are some of his ideas and techniques. Reach out to Casey for more information or any questions.



Turning Lemons into Lemonade

It’s about turning lemons into lemonade.  Many of us faced sales “challenges” in the past like after 9/11.  Some businesses didn’t make it.  Others did.

Here’s a link to an article in Forbes about keeping your business going during the current crisis (I say “current” because there will undoubtedly be another one someday)

For our B2B members, here’s another thought: A famous bank robber, Slick Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks.  His response was simple:

“Because that’s where the money is.”

With so many businesses closed down due to the health emergency, here’s a list of businesses that actually are open: it’s the list of essential businesses in CT.

Some, like hospitals, elder care and trucking might be better prospects in the coming weeks than others…like airlines.

Business After the Shutdown: 8 Ideas to work on today, so you’re ready

Business owners are the “first responders” when there’s a change in the economy, and the current health crisis caused a major one.  So now it’s time to plan for business after the shutdown.

In the past weeks 250,000 US retail stores have closed their doors.  But not every business is suffering: some companies are benefitting from their competition being sidelined.   Walmart and Amazon alone are hiring 250,000 new workers to keep up with increased sales.

What’s your plan to grow as we all get back to business?

Things are slow for many of us.  Smart businesses are planning for life after COVID-19, because when things get back to normal (or the “new normal”) it will come fast.  And pent up demand will benefit those who took this time to plan.

How are you operating right now?  What has happened in your business?  More importantly what’s happening for your clients?  How have they changed?  What are their new challenges?  How can you change to meet those challenges?  Where are the opportunities?  For some of us that might mean big changes.

An ancient Greek philosopher said “The only constant in life is Change.”  Today we have two choices:

  1. Hope that life goes back to “the way it was,” or
  2. Think, plan, and work to make change work for you, to emerge stronger on the other side.

How can you work to make sure you prosper when business opens again?

  • Keep in touch with clients and prospects in every way that you can
    • Call them
    • Email them: individually, or with email blasts
    • Make recommendations: making referrals to customers about others in your network shows that you’re thinking of their future
    • Send email newsletters
    • Blog
    • Meet Virtually (Facetime, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, etc)
    • Podcast
    • Video Podcasts
    • Write Customer Testimonials
  • Review your digital marketing: your business listings, reviews, SEO, etc.
  • If presentations were delayed, make the better now so you’re prepared later
  • If you had a weakness before, work on strengthening it
  • Reassess your business: what’s been working, and what hasn’t
  • What’s your competition doing? Don’t lose sight of them.
  • Get help: you’ll find seasoned business advisors who would love to help you at And it’s free.
  • Are there new ways you can help your customer? Ask them.  Then figure out how to deliver.


Are You Registered With Google?

Why are we all in Stamford Business Network?  To make money.
And why do we have websites?  Again, to make money.

These days, with the Shutdown and Social Distancing, there are two basic ways to get look for new business: SBN and being found online.

The first step to being found online is being listed with Google.  If you haven’t claimed your Google listing, Google won’t show you in local searches.  One of the most popular online searches is “____ near me.”  It could be “Ice Cream near me,” or “Liquor store near me,” or “Sprinkler Systems near me.”  That’s one of the best ways for potential customers to find you, especially if you focus on local business.

Are you listed with Google?  The simple way to find out is to simply Google your company name (not your website), such as “Informer Messages on hold.”  What comes up?  Is there a “Google profile” on the right column of the page?  The Google profile show photos that characterize your business, your location and hours, as well as your all-important Google reviews.

If it’s not there, it’s time to get listed with Google.  Without it you’re missing out on potential customers. If you need help getting started, let’s talk by phone or set up a Zoom meeting to talk about it.

Your Reticular Activator

There’s an old favorite topic in my house that my kids always roll their eyes about: It’s their “Reticular Activator.”

The Reticular Activator is a special part of your brain that filters out most of the stuff we see and hear, so we can concentrate on what’s important to us. For example, if you’re looking for new convertible, it helps us notice convertibles we see on the road, so we can compare them. If you’re interested in dating, you focus on things like cute eligible singles…and notice engagement rings.

So why am I talking about it this morning? Because it works for referrals.

Here’s how: try this. Look around your “office.”
Now close your eyes. Think of all the red objects you saw. Can you think of any?
Now let’s try it again. Open your eyes and look for red objects around you.
Close your eyes again. Could you think of more of them?
Sure you could. That’s because your Reticular Activator filtered out all the unimportant stuff on your desk, and helped you focus on the one that was important: items that are red.

Ok, back to referrals.

I help businesses sound more professional. If my commercial today asks for referrals to businesses that should sound more professional, you probably won’t think of any, and probably won’t notice any during the week.
But if I ask you for any of your customers or suppliers who have trucks with their logo on them, when you’re driving down the road you’ll probably see one of your customers’ trucks with their logo. You might even think about introducing us. (That would be great)

What’s the difference? I put your Reticular Activator into action by giving it a specific focus. Do you give us something specific to focus on in your commercial, or something that’s general, like “a friend or neighbor”? Every week I plan my commercial in advance and make sure I talk about a specific type of business. That’s the only way to get you to really notice them.

Bottom line: put our reticular activators to work, and your network will work better for you.

How’s Everything?

I don’t eat out at restaurants much. In fact, it’s a real pleasure when I do.

So I really appreciate when restaurants provide top quality and great service. A few years ago it dawned on me that I could “steal” a service idea from restaurants. You might be able to as well.

Service at restaurants tends to follow a basic plan: you’re seated and your server introduces him or herself, and takes beverage orders. Shortly thereafter they return to take your order. When the meal is served, they ask if there’s anything else you need.

But good servers don’t abandon you after that. About 5-10 minutes later they return to ask “how is everything?” This is perfect opportunity
– to fix problems before they become serious
– and to take additional orders that can increase the sale
Fixing problems is usually easiest when confronted and dealt with early in the meal. If you don’t hear about problems until the meal is finished, the problem can grow. Will the customer pay for the item they ordered, or will the restaurant have to deduct it from the bill. The customer is dissatisfied and the restaurant loses revenue. That’s “lose-lose” just to keep from alienating the customer.

I do the same thing with every new customer. I keep following up until the new Informer Messages are playing perfectly. Then I set a reminder to call them in 2 weeks to follow up and ask “How is everything?”

It gives the customer a chance to give me feedback, gives me a chance to correct any minor problems, and also to help them with additional work. That just happened again this week, and I nearly doubled the sale to a specialty supermarket. And if they’re 100% satisfied, I ask them for a Google Review (I just got 3 more this week, for a total of about 60 5-star reviews between my 2 locations)

Do you follow up after you’ve delivered your product or service? It could be a new opportunity to earn a lifetime customer, eliminate problems, and increase business.

What Kind Of Referral Would You Like To Get

What kind of referral would you like to get this morning?
We’re all here to grow our businesses, and we’ve learned that the best way to do that is with referrals.
So, what kind of referral would you like to get?  Not who, not what kind of job, but the referral itself.  I ask because we’ve all gotten referrals that were good, and others that were…not as good.

Does anyone remember the old BNI referral slips?  At the side of the slip there was a thermometer that measured how “hot” the referral was.  But originally it was used to measure how much effort you’ve put into the referral you’re passing, on a 1 to 5 scale.

For simplicity, make believe that you’re referring me to someone you know.  Filling in the thermometer:
There’s the “0” that doesn’t even show on the thermometer: it’s a name: no contact information, no way to follow up, and no introduction.  It’s just a name.
A “1” meant that you had shared my contact information with someone, and told them that I’d contact them.
A “2” might mean that you went further: you gave them my brochure, business card, or website
A “3” might mean that you could share a person experience about how I have helped you or my other clients
A “4” might mean actively taking part in the referral: setting up a phone call, or arranging a meeting.  It might mean an email introducing us and explaining why you thought we should talk.
At the top, rating a referral a “5” could mean setting up an in-person meeting, or today, setting up a Zoom meeting

So with this in mind, what kind of referral would you like to get this morning?  I know which I’d like.
The opposite side of the coin is the referrals you offer other members:  what kind of referrals do you pass?  If you’d like to get referrals that would rank in the 4 or 5 level,
think about any referrals you pass.  What level referral would members of the group like to receive?
Think about it when you’re passing a referral this morning

What Leads To Success?

We have a bunch of successful people here, and most of us want to be more successful tomorrow than we are today.
But have you ever wondered about “the secret to success”?

Actually there’s no secret, but here’s a “guest presentation” who has some ideas.

Less Than A Minute

We get less than a minute to tell us about your business every week. If you’re going to be successful as a networker at SBN, you’ve got to build your reputation in your short weekly presentations. If you waste a few seconds every week, you’re losing an awful lot.

Here are 8 proven steps to improve your networking
1. First of all show up: we have a bunch of no-show’s again today. They’re busy. But you’ve got to be “in” to “win” I’ll bet that the people who show up get most of the referrals.
2. Introduce yourself clearly and concisely. It’s basic, but it’s often overlooked. We have a few newer members, and guests. Let them know who you are.
3. Be specific about what you do: and if you sell several services, focus on one each week. Don’t give us a laundry list of services…we’ll never remember them.
4. Organize your commercial: Prepare an opening statement, an emotion based message that describes the benefits of working with you and leads into what you do for a living: Something memorable like: I’m a brain surgeon in Stamford. Last week I worked on an executive who was losing his mind from too many Zoom calls. I helped him recover and start earning an obscene amount of money again.
5. Inform us, Don’t Sell to us: networking is about training your sales force to get referrals. It’s not about selling us something.
6. Be yourself. I can’t say it any clearer.
7. Be an active listener: I’ve heard it said that we listen to respond. We’re all guilty of this. Try something different: listen to understand.
8. Follow up: this is the secret of successful salespeople. Most salespeople never follow up. Email is easy, so use it. But if you really want to make an impression send a thank you note.
Bottom Line: you only get one chance to make a great first impression. And networking opportunities these days are tough to come by. So make the most of the meeting today and every day.

Have You Ever Failed?

Have you ever failed?  Believe it or not, some of us actually have.  Some of us more than once.  But we’re told that failing might not be the end.  We can learn from failure, if we look at it correctly.  How?

1. There may be a better approach.  I had a windsurfing coach who had a simple rule: if it’s hard, you’re doing it wrong.  Every once-in-while I remember this.  Suppose you put in a lot of work on something, and it fails.  What do you do?  Maybe you’re doing it wrong, and it’s time to come up with different approach
2. You learn flexibility: Every time you try a different approach, you learn how to be resilient, and that’s a valuable skill…for the next time you fail.  And you probably will.
3. There’s no one “right” way. Life isn’t a math problem.  And Treacy showed me this week that even Accounting has different ways to get the numbers right.  So you may find that there’s more than one way to turn around a failure, and one of them might be easier than the others.

Failure can either make you or break you.  Many of us associate failure with defeat.  There are plenty of times I have as well.  There are names that we all know who have failed, and gone on to greater success
1. Jim Carrey: In his first job he was booed off the stage in a comedy club.  Then he was passed over for a spot on Saturday Night Live.  Eventually he did ok.
2. Oprah: the daughter of a low income teen mother, abused by her family.  But when she was sent to live with her father he helped her focus on school, and earned a full scholarship to college.  She tried to work in TV, but was fired as “unfit for television.”  Again, she ended up doing ok.
3. JK Rowling: jobless, divorced, penniless, with young child to support, she suffered from depression.  She was on welfare.  But she pushed thru.  And didn’t do a bad job eventually inspiring an entire generation, and becoming richer than the Queen of England.
Here are a few more you can look up:
1. Stephen King
2. Bill Gates
3. Henry Ford
4. Colonel Sanders
5. Walt Disney
6. And the best known: Thomas Edison: after 9,000 attempts to invent the lightbulb, he stated “Why would I feel like a failure?  I now know 9,000 ways a light bulb will not work.  Success is almost in my grasp”

A little failure never stopped someone who was determined.  
So what have you failed at recently?  Good.  Join the club.

Uncertain Times

There’s an ancient Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times. While this may seem nice, “interesting” is an “interesting” word.

Like it or not, we do live in an interesting time. Here are a few ways to succeed in spite of how interesting they are:

Make it an adventure: if you take this approach today can be more fun, and more inspiring. 
Interesting times are a problem for some, but an opportunity for others. Just ask Jeff Bezos. I heard that he could give every Amazon employee, all 860,000 of them, a $105,000 bonus. After that he’d still have the same net worth as he did on January 1.
 COVID has been quite an opportunity for him. What can you do to make the most of the opportunity?

If there’s no one buying what you sell, do some research? You’ve probably got a customer list. Ask them what their biggest problems are, and find a way to solve them. That’s what we’ve all come to know as “pivoting.” I’m impressed by Mark Speranza’s attitude in trying to do this.

Still can’t think of a solution? Why not set up a Mastermind group with a small group to brainstorm ideas. But be prepared to listen. Brainstorming is defined by never rejecting any suggestion during the session. 
I’d really like to set up a Mastermind after hours with anyone who’s interested next week.

What’s standing in the way of your success? Some ideas are: anxiety, hesitation, and procrastination. I’m probably guilty of all three. Got a good idea? Write it down. Then write down the steps to make it work. Small steps are easier to accomplish than big ones.

Who’s up for a mastermind group after work next week? Send me an email.

Goal Setting Part 1

It’s that time of year again. The end of the year is when lots of people start talking about goals. I mean how can you accomplish anything in the New Year without goals?

Listen to what people are talking about. You’ll hear about Smart Goals. Stretch Goals. Process goals. Performance Goals. And Outcome goals.

Do you set goals for yourself? You know, goals you write down? That you write in ink? I’ve listened to several podcasts about them in the past week, and I’ve heard how people who write down their goals accomplish 20 to 40% more. Sounds great.

I want to make 40-50 calls to clients and prospects every day. I’d like to win 50 new clients next year. I want to complete every project I start during the week by Friday afternoon. I just “know” about these goals. And I do them.

But I’ve always had a problem with formal goal setting. They either seem like I’m doing them already, or they’re just a “wish” with no way to reach. So this month, I’m going to try…or should I say “my goal is” to find the goals that will help you do more in the New Year.

Do you have goals for the New Year? I’d love to hear how goals have helped you in 2020, and how you’re planning to use them in 2021. And if anyone would like to, lets set up a Goal Planning Zoom for next week.

And that’s it for this week, but let’s see how we can continue this next week.

Goal Setting Part 2

Last week we talked about goal setting for the new year. This week, several of us got together on a Zoom to work on goal setting and came up with some new ideas.

I think the most challenging part of goals is what’s standing in our way, preventing us from reaching them..
Luckily, you probably already have a good idea.

Try this: listen to that nagging voice in your head. What’s it saying?

I should be make more sales calls
I should go to chamber meetings
I should do more networking

But the unspoken ending for each of these is “but I’m not”
The answer may be to “stop shoulding all over yourself.”
When you set goals, turn these around to say and replace “should” with something else, and this time write them down:

I want to make more sales calls
I want to go to chamber events
I want to do more networking

Look at what you’ve written down, and ask yourself if you DO want to…If your goals are important enough to make you want to do these things. If they’re not, you’ll never do them.

Do you really want to do them?

If not, it’s time to go back to what you really want in business, outside of business, and in life.
The New Year is coming. There’s never been a better time to set goals, and figure out how to achieve them.
And that’s all for today. So Good luck!

Saying Thank You

Whatever your definition of success, we all want more. That can distract us from what we already have, and should be grateful for.

This is our last meeting of the year, and we’re going to be talking about gratitude. All in all, we’re all doing pretty well. Oprah Winfrey said

“Be thankful for what you have and you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate of what you don’t have, you will never ever have enough.”

As a business owner you probably say “thank you” multiple times a day without thinking about it.

But did you know that simply saying “thank you” can actually grow your business? How many of you use social media? It’s the perfect place thank people publicly.

Like on Twitter or LinkedIn: Simply thanking people for “liking” or “sharing” your content is great. But it often gets them to follow you. People also want to see your “human” side online, and saying “thank you” is an important step.

Wondering when to say “thank you”? How about when your post is “liked” 50 times? Or when you reach 100 followers? It can be as simple as posting a message of thanks, or sending a personalized “we appreciate you” email.

If a customer gives you a “killer” testimonial, why not send a handwritten note, or send a free T-Shirt or sticker? John Schnefke can help you with that. Doing something “out of the ordinary” can strengthen your relationship with them.

So, the next time you’re looking for a way to improve your marketing, think about simply saying “thank you” and you might get some unexpected results.

Your 30-second Commercial

Mark Twain once wrote: “I apologize for such a long letter. I didn’t have time to write a short one”

That actually DOES make sense. Distilling your thoughts into a powerful BRIEF message takes a lot more time than just winging it and rambling on and on.

When it comes to our 30 second commercials, you know me: I love to tell stories. I know that stories are one of our most effective ways to communicate and get your message across. But in 30 seconds? That’s tough. I can only do it if I have enough time to work it out.

In a moment we’ll all give our 30 second commercials. We’d all like to get great referrals and that starts with a great 30 second commercial. But we’re all busy, so ending the meeting on time is just as important.

If you’ve prepared you commercial and have it down to 30 seconds, we’ll see that you invest your time in SBN. If you haven’t, today’s the day to start: think about your goals, and our members, and craft a message that will get you result: in just 30 seconds.

Questions? Let’s set up a Zoom to brainstorm.

Communicate Better

I heard something interesting this week: “The more you say, the less people remember.” That makes perfect sense to me, and it highlights the idea that Good Communication can prevent or fix almost any problem.

The power of communication can’t be underestimated. Communicating proactively can prevent almost any problem– by explaining things clearly, setting firm expectations and clearing up misunderstandings. Communicating well can also help you resolve any problem, whether it’s apology to your wife, which I always seem to have to do, coming up with a solution or explaining circumstances.

I’ve gotten many of my clients because they said it was too hard to communicate with their previous supplier…they just couldn’t update their messages on hold. So I proactively call every client on rolling 12 week schedule.

So here’s a question to think about: 
How can you gain more clients communicating better?

Quit Closing

I have this new, killer way to close sales. Everybody knows that “closing” is the key to profits, right?

In this world, 99% of salespeople are still trying to “close the sale”. They try the “presumptive” sale and ask “Would you like it in red or blue?” or “Would you like it delivered Tuesday or Wednesday?” This is just one of the 13 most popular “closing” techniques. There are a million books on “closing the sale”

So how do I do it? Which technique works for me?

Actually the best way to close sales is to stop closing.

Instead beat your customer over the head with value until they ask to buy. They buy because they can see that we can implement the plan we told them about. This week it worked twice: The customer stopped me from talking and asked:
ok, how do we get started?

Think about it: is it more powerful to ask for the sale, or for the customer to ask to get started?

How do you do it? First jump off the “product pitch” and “price comparison” and get onto value. Value is a combination of what you offer with what your customer needs.

So how do you show value?

There are plenty of little ways to show the value you offer:

  • Make it easy to do business with you: I email Yonis on Wednesday, and his guy was at my door on Thursday. Easy.
  • Make it easy to contact you: and that includes returning calls right away.
  • Make it easy to use what you sell. Do it for them or show them how!
  • Follow up to make sure the customer is 100% happy
  • Provide Easy Service if the customer needs you: this week a customer I hadn’t worked with in 4 years called me for help. We solved the problem in 5 minutes. No charge.
  • And finally, price: not the lowest price, and probably not the highest. Set a price that shows you’re reasonable, and still offers the customer the best value.

Bottom line: stop closing. And come up with a way to let your customer know about the value you offer. I do it every day, for myself, and for my clients.


Be Prepared

John F Kennedy said:

Public Speaking is the art of diluting a one-minute idea with a two-hour vocabulary.

Luckily, none of us has to do this, because each week when we come to SBN, we only get 30 seconds to talk about our businesses.

Your commercial is one of the main ways that you can help your sales team, everyone in the group, to know exactly what you do, exactly how you do it, and exactly who you’d like them to refer you to. And you’ve got to fit it all into 30 seconds.

I was a Boy Scout for years. And so I know how you do it. “Be Prepared”.

The best 30 second commercials are actually prepared in advance. The member comes in knowing exactly what they want to accomplish, and how they want to say it.

Try writing it out, and then revising it a few times. Read it out loud to practice it.

A successful elevator pitch isn’t long. You just capture your audience’s attention usually with how you can help someone, and follow it up with how you can accomplish it. Then, back up your claim with solid evidence, or show you’re better than your competition. Saying a little bit more about your prospects “hot button” issues is a great way to finish up.

Today, you can talk for as long as you want but Alex may “mute” you after 30 seconds.

Listen to this weeks commercials. I’ll bet you can tell who was prepared and who wasn’t.

Then, spend a few minutes next week to make sure that you’re prepared for your next chance to speak. Everybody will see the difference.

Sometimes even with planning and rehearsal keeping to 30 seconds can be tough…so I’ll email you a cool form that can help you organize your thoughts.


Watch What You Say

What are you tell the world about what you do?
Do you talk about service?
Do you talk about professionalism?
Do you talk about speed of service or your great pricing?
Whatever it is you’re saying, be careful.
Because the things you tell the market about yourself can be deadly.

Most people out there know nothing about you. So you advertise, you network, you get a website from Pete, or place an ad with Mindi. Most people will listen to what you have to say, and take you at your word.  

So what’s the problem?
You might say you’re the fastest.  That you have lightning service.
So the people who hear this will expect it.
You might say you’re the cheapest.  “Watch for falling prices.”
So the people who hear this will expect it.   And that may not be in our best interest.

Can you deliver what you promise?
It’s always tempting to offer what people want.
But be careful of what you claim you can deliver.
Sometimes these claims can be dangerous.

If you say you’re the fastest…that you deliver with lightning speed…you’ll attract people who do things at the last minute.  You’ll attract procrastinators.  Because they expect that you’ll get them out of a jam.  And you’ll end up competing with companies like Dominos.
If you say you’re the cheapest, that’s going to cut into your profit.  That can be tough if the customer wants quality.  But you’ll end up competing with the Walmarts of the world.  Can you keep beating their prices?

Many times businesses make more than one claim: like cheap and high quality. And these can be at odds with each other.  What kind of quality do you expect at Walmart?
And do you really want to be seen as the Walmart of your industry?

So think about what you say you do, and how you do it.  We want to believe you. But businesses that get carried away with their claims often can’t deliver.  And at some point, the market catches on.

So let me ask you: what do you promise the world you can do?


Have you ever gone through your “sales pitch,” and put your heart and soul into it, and felt really good about it?
But then the customer didn’t buy?
It’s heart breaking.

So what happened? Did the customer have “objections”?

We’ve all heard them. We know them all by heart. There’s no such thing as a new one.
There are plenty of them.

So what can you do?

Here’s an idea:
You know all the objections, starting with “let me think about it”
Write them all down.
And think about them: what could you have said in your presentation that could have avoided it? To take them head on? So why not “script it out” and be ready for the objection?

Then, the next time you hear one of them…and you know you will…try your script. It’s an experiment. See how it works. If it does, awesome. If it doesn’t it’s time to tweak it.

Not sure what to say? Try one of these approaches:

  • think up a story of a satisfied client who had the same objection and bought, and how it all worked out in the end.
  • Pull out your testimonial letters…point to specific google reviews…or a customer video testimonial that Layne can shoot. Or a special web page Pete can create.

or, Show the customer statistics…a chart, or research about how your product works.

A few weeks ago I told a story about how to “Be Prepared”
This is just one more case where it might just work.

Follow Up?

Do you follow up?
I mean, when you’re talking to prospects, do you follow up?
Everybody knows that it’s important to follow up, but not everybody does.
In fact, they say that it takes 7 to 10 “touches” with a prospect to turn them into a customer. Yet the average sales person gives up after 2 to 3 contacts.
Is that you?
Maybe that’s something that you can improve.

Ok, maybe you do follow up. How often should you follow up?
That’s a tough question that we all grapple with. You don’t want to overwhelm them. But you don’t want them to forget about you and go with your competition.
My thinking is that it depends on what your communications are.

You want to make your communications with your prospects interesting. You want to make the valuable.
We all know that you can get someone interested in what you have to say for an hour…or for a day if you’re interesting enough. If your content is valuable. Talk with Keith about that. He’ll show you the value of interesting content.
But you can bore your prospects in just minutes if they’re not interested.

Most salespeople contact their prospects to ask: Are you ready to buy? Do you want to sign the contract? Should we take the next step? Why don’t we get going?
That’s annoying.

But if your communications are helpful and interesting…something that adds value, that helps them, that contributes to solving their problems…they’re going to be waiting with bated breath to hear from you.

So think about your follow up, and your content. And the value that you’re giving.
That will give you the answer to how often they want to hear from you.

The Most Interesting Person In The Room

It’s coming…we’re actually going to start networking in person again. Sooner than we know. So how will you handle it?
You’ve been there countless times. You walk into a networking event or social function and the some extroverted person asks the questions we’ve all heard ad nauseam:

What do you do?
Where are you from?

Predictable and exhausting. As you run through the scripted answer in your head, you wonder, “Is this someone I really want to talk to?”

The problem is, most of us are guilty of asking those dreaded questions that lead nowhere beyond the small talk.

Being the Most Interesting Person in the Room

Truth is, we aren’t consciously aware of when we bore others; in our heads, we think our topics are brilliant and the person nodding in front of us with that glazed look is fascinated by something interesting to us only.

Regardless of your personality type, there are several things we must do to have the kind of captivating conversations that will attract others like magnet.

So what should you do?

  • Don’t drag on Basically, make it a habit to be brief and get to the point.
  • Talk faster Speed up the tempo of your dialogue if you know you talk slowly and pause once in a while to gather your thoughts or process your own thinking; otherwise you’ll lose the listener as fast you as you can spell y-a-w-n.
  • Avoid polarizing topics don’t bring up touchy current events or race, religion, and politics, or even “masking.”
  • Show your emotions Loosen up. Don’t be so serious or talk in a monotone — display your emotions, laugh at people’s jokes (if they’re actually funny), and be animated when telling your story.
  • Be aware of body language We’re getting rid of the masks, so smile at people, have an open posture, make eye contact, nod your head to acknowledge understanding, and lean in (or forward, if seated) to show interest.
  • Be a giver, not a taker Some people show up with a taker mentality–hoping to get something from someone, rather than to add value to the interaction and serve someone else without the expectation of a quid pro quo.
  • Approach every conversation with a growth-mindset Come ready to learn from someone, rather than think you’re there to impose your “wisdom” on the other person. Approach the conversation with an open mind and see the possibilities of engaging the interaction to grow and develop as a person.

5 Questions That Lead to Great Conversations

The key to creating meaningful interactions? Take your eyes off of yourself and place it on the other person. By giving them the attention first, you’ll have a clear edge: People are naturally wired and looking for connection and positive affirmation — to be seen and heard.

And it all starts with asking the right questions. So kill the small talk and ban questions like “What do you do?” and “Where are you from?” in favor of these great conversational starters.

1. What’s your story?

This open-ended question is bound to trigger something interesting after the other person gets over the initial shock that you asked it. By opening up a conversation in this manner, you’ve given them access to speak from their hearts and share their life’s journeys, dreams, and goals.

2. What makes you smile when you get up in the morning?

A great question that gets the interaction hopping on a positive note from the get-go. Watch the other person’s wheels turn as she reflects on something for which she’s excited or deeply grateful.

3. What is that one book that has influenced you the most?

The brilliance behind this question is not the question itself, but the invitation for follow-up questions because of the book’s impact on that person’s life, marriage, career, or business. Asking it deepens the conversation (and the connection) as you learn more about how the topic has positively altered that person’s life in some way. If they’re not avid readers, ask about movies or famous people.

4. What absolutely excites you right now?

This question triggers passion. Who doesn’t like to speak from their most passionate space? It may end up being their thriving career, a new job, or an exciting new phase of their business. It could be personal: the arrival of a new baby, having beaten cancer or finding true love. Whatever it is, think of all the places the conversation will lead, and the possibilities of connecting the dots with the other person when it’s your turn to shine.

5. What’s the most important thing I should know about you?

In line with all the others, this question will elicit emotions to deepen the conversation and find connecting points. That’s what you’re after — creating space to discover what makes the other person tick, unique, or maybe frustrated so you can offer encouragement or make a difference in his or her life.

Finally, did you notice a pattern? It should be obvious. Here’s a hint: You take the initiative and make the conversation about the other person. People love to talk about themselves. This selfless act of putting the spotlight on someone else makes you the most interesting person in the room.

You've Got A Problem

Anybody in business? That’s a problem. Because problems are a part of everyday business…and part of life.
Entrepreneurs who figure out how to solve problems are more successful.

Brian Tracy, a well-known business speaker and motivational speaker, has a formula that may help solve problems faster and better.

  1. Take the time to define the problem clearly. Many of us are
so eager to solve problems that we jump right into them. 
I’m probably the best example of this type of problem solving.
But that can lead to bigger problems. Real clarity can expedite the path you should take.
  2. Remember that “doing nothing” IS an option. Some things that look like problems really aren’t. So they don’t have to be solved.
  3. Look at the problem in different ways, and you may find different solutions: for example if “sales are too low” it may be that your website stinks, your advertising isn’t targeted, or your salesperson isn’t doing the job. Each REAL problem needs a different solution.
  4. Once you find the right way to look at the problem, figure out the ROOT cause, or it’ll come back no matter what you do.
  5. Look for lots of solutions. Don’t be satisfied with the first one you come up with. Maybe you can find a better one.
  6. Settle on a potential solution: an acceptable solution that you can do right now is usually better than the perfect solution that’s more complex, takes longer, at a higher cost.
  7. Make A Decision. Don’t put it off. Set a deadline and stick to it.
  8. Evaluate your results. Did it work? And were there any unintended consequences that turned out worse than the original problem?
Politically Incorrect

I’m going to say something that’s not politically correct. The Pandemic was an amazing opportunity. Businesses that were positioned right, and others that just happened to be in the right place at the right time, made out like bandits.

Look at Jeff Bezos. His wealth increased by 87% in the past 15 months, to over $200 billion. On a smaller scale, think of Door Dash and Grub Hub. Think about Zoom. Microsoft Teams. Slack grew 37%…in just one week. And Netflix total worth nearly doubled to $235 Billion.

Closer to home? Realtors had a red hot market when families decided to move out the city. And then home inspectors, contractors, and trades have never been busier.

Today the Pandemic is winding down. If we’re lucky it was a once in century event, so we won’t live to see another one.

But there are still opportunities out there every day. They’re just not as “in your face” as a Pandemic. The new tax laws could be an opportunity for CPA’s and estate planners. The move to a “greener” lifestyle will help others. The ongoing retirement of baby boomers has been obvious for years, but what about the newest “dominant” generation: the Millennials.

Some opportunities come in disguise: for me, Cloud based phone systems seemed like a threat. They did hurt me in some ways, but helped me reach more and smaller businesses.

There are opportunities out there. The first businesses that spot them have the chance to profit most from them. What are the new opportunities you see out there? Email me…I’d be interested to know.

The Shortest Pencil

So we’re all here to help each other grow their businesses. For some of us, like Steve, it’s easy to refer members in our “sphere of influence” to the people who need them. For others…for most of us…it’s a bit more of challenge.

That’s why we start off each meeting with 30 second commercials. Because if you don’t know what’s a good referral for me, you can’t refer your friends and business associates to me. Right?

But do you remember what Ray asked for last week? Or Bernal? Or me?

Every week Gina and Pete send out the SBN Roster. Did you ever notice that there’s a place left blank on the right side of the roster? That’s for writing down what everyone asks for. That will help you remember what we ask for.

Did you know that writing something down can help your retention by as much as 70 percent. Every week I write down everyone’s “ask” so I remember it.

So last week Pete asked for Management consultants, and I referred two to him. But later on, I remembered Pete’s “ask” when I came across a consultant, and sent him a third referral. How many of you would like 3 warm referrals this week?

Years ago Ray told us that “the shortest pencil is worth more than the longest memory.”
It turns out that the shortest pencil does even more: it’ increases our memory, and can help you pass more referrals.

Do you write down what everyone asks for?

How to Post on LinkedIn

Does everyone here have a LinkedIn Profile? If not, let’s get together in the next week and fix that.

Assuming you remember all about creating your profile and connecting to others, it’s time to do something with LinkedIn. After all, you’re there to get noticed.

One of the best strategies is “posting”. It’s easy to create a link to your blog or a webpage. And it will help you get noticed.

The people who are most likely to see your posts are your connections, so I use this idea to stay “top of mind” with my independent reps around the country.

If your connections “comment” on your posts, you’ll reach a wider audience so Marek and Amy ask us to comment on their posts. But remember that “givers gain” idea, if you ask others to Like or Comment on your posts, don’t forget to do the same for theirs.

And while getting friends to “comment” on your posts helps broaden your audience, you want to be noticed by others, too.

Think about your target audience. What would they be interested in reading about? What are their problems? What are their interests? That’s a good starting point for posts: Mike’s posts are interesting to business people in their 60’s who will have to start thinking about Medicare.

I post about marketing and customer service problems and opportunities. I think that my target market is interested in these topics.

Talk about news: everybody wants to know what’s new. Marek posts about business with a new restaurant design, storefront, or office.

No matter what you’re posting about, think about the title. Not all titles are created equal. Headlines that get read, and shared include

The future of…
x ways to…
How to get…
and “How to make…”

Tailor your content to your audience, and entice them with an irresistible title.

Here’s something NOT to do: avoid is being “salesy.” Nobody likes to be “sold.” People on LinkedIn are generally interested in informative and educational content.

The opportunity is there: if you blog, if you just have interesting ideas about what you do, share them on LinkedIn, and you’ll start to get noticed. If you have questions, ask Scott, Keith, or me and we’ll be glad to help.

Double Header

I’m going to be pretty brief today, so I’m going to add something extra

Does anyone remember what I talked about last week? It was tips on getting noticed by posting on Linked In. 
So…how many of you posted on LinkedIn in the past week? 
Or at least posted on SOME social media for BUSINESS purposes? Posting pictures of kittens doesn’t count. Please raise your hands.
Ok. Put them down. Now…everybody else raise your hands. You’re the ones who missed a great FREE opportunity to get your business noticed.

Ok, so last week I had a guest. He’s a great networker. He always gives more than he gains. Always.

But when I listened to his 30 second commercial, it was filled with technical terms and how many gigabites, and lighting up buildings. Does anyone here, other than me, understand what that’s all about?

He actually helps his customers, a lot, but did any of you understand that?
We’re all here to grow our businesses, but when we give our commercials…or when we’re networking any place else…or talking with customers, it’s easy to fall into the trap: talking in jargon, “industry speak,” and technical terms that 99% of your prospects don’t understand, and so can’t react to.

Are you guilty of talking in Jargon Here are three steps to fixing it:

  • Think back to before you were an expert at what you do. How did you describe when you do way back then?
  • Try out a few words or phrases on friends and others outside your industry. If you want a real test, try them out on 12 year old!
  • And follow this rule: if you’d say something to your boss or an industry expert, just DON’T say it when you’re networking.

If you still can’t figure it out, let’s have a 1:1 and we’ll come up with a commercial that will get you results.

Life is like Tennis

So I’ve been watching a lot of the US Open Tennis, just about every night. There’s been some really exciting action, and some of the new names in the tournament are really impressive.

The other night I was watching two underdogs in action, who had gotten deep into the tournament. And I saw two things:

  • If you know what you’re doing, keep doing it. It will pay off.
  • But at the same time, maybe you should change what you’re doing.

Actually, this does make sense.

There was a great match with Bo-ek van de Zan de Schlup. For obvious reasons we’ll just call him “The Dutchman.” He had a way to set up a point that was great. He’d hit a few shots, and then get into a sliced backhand exchange with the #2 seed, Medvedev. They’d continue back and forth and eventually the Dutchman would get the opening he wanted and blast a forehand down the line for a winner. I saw him do it again and again. It just goes to show, if you do something well, trust your experience, and keep doing it. It’ll pay off.

But at the same time, don’t keep doing the same thing blindly. In women’s tennis, it’s best of 3 sets. So you’ve got to be alert to what’s working and what’s not. In a match between the favorite, Elana Svitlana, and Leyla Fernandez, a 19-year old from Canada, Svitlana had embarrassing first set. But then she “reset” and roared back to win the second set. Her change of strategy kept the final set as close as it could be. The 19 year old squeaked out a win in a tie breaker. It just goes to show that sometimes you gotta change your approach.

The bottom line? Life is like Tennis: sometimes you stick to your guns. Sometimes you look for a new approach. The right choice comes from taking a close look at what’s happening and putting that knowledge to work.

Stories Sell

How do you introduce one of our members when you make a referral?
Do you say something like “I know a graphic artist. His name is Pete. Your website sucks, so you should call him.”

Or do you put a bit more into it?

Last week James mentioned that he installs gas firepits. It’s getting cooler in the evenings, and this is the season for gas firepits.

It just so happens that I have had a client for almost 20 years who sells gas fireplaces and firepits. He “sells” them. He doesn’t “install” them. Because I was listening to James’ commercial, the connection was a ‘no brainer.”

So I asked James about the install he did. Why? Because I could introduce him using just the facts: “I know a plumber who you could refer.” But I preferred to tell a story: and I did. I told my client the story of James installing a gas firepit, and how it came out. I did it to make more of an impression on my client, and make the referral a better one.

There are two types of referrals. You can just give me your referral’s contact information and be proud of yourself, or you can get involved, and do more, and make the referral a valuable one for both the member and the person you’re referring them to. They’ll both benefit.

I like telling stories. That helps the person I’m referring to get a “feel” for the member, and “feel” why they should use my referral.

Getting back to introducing Pete. If I’m introducing him to friend, I try to tell them about Pete’s experience in the same industry, or with the same problem. I tell them a story.

Facts Tell. Stories Sell. I use that idea in all of the messages on hold that I create. And it’s been so successful that I use the same idea in the referrals that I make. Think about the last time you send me a referral. Which kind of referral did you make?

The next time you send an email introducing someone, or a phone call, try including a short story. If you need some ideas on how to do it, let’s have coffee.

“Expose Yourself”

A few weeks ago I talked about posting on Linked In. If you’re still not doing it, we should really have a 1:1. I just showed a Chiropractor in Norwalk how to do it. If he can do it, you can do it.

But if you’re too lazy to do that, I want to help you “Expose Yourself” in another way…by commenting on other people’s posts.

When you see a post that’s interesting, it’s worth joining the conversation. I’m not just talking about commenting on Marek’s Posts, or Amy’s Posts. And I’m not talking about commenting on the posts that already have 2357 comments.

I’m talking about an interesting post that might not even have a comment yet. So be the first.

Don’t be the guy who makes a generic response like “Great Post.” Actually contribute something thoughtful. Show people you have original thoughts. Ask a question. Point out an idea that might be related, or wasn’t included.
Even better, if you’ve posted something that’s related, link back to it. That’s a real home run.

How does this get you exposed? When you comment it sends a notification to the original poster, and to anyone else who’s previously commented. That doesn’t happen if you just “like” the post.

Everybody thinks that LinkedIn is an “employment tool.” It might be, but since I’m not looking for a new job, for me it’s a marketing tool that helps me “get exposed.

Investing In Your Network

So we’re all here in a networking group. Isn’t that nice.

And most of us have been here for a long time…in fact, I looked at a roster from 2018, and an amazing 39 of our members were in the group three years ago. So we should really have this down, right?

There are lots of reasons to be in SBN, but probably the most important is getting referrals.

So I have a question: will you be getting referrals in another year? Or two?

Of course you will, right? Of course the gravy train will just keep on keeping on.

But “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” That applies to networking groups, too. If you want it to last, you have to invest in it…as BNI says, Givers Gain.

So what kind of investment do you have to make? Here are some ideas:

• Making the time to form good relationship.

How many of us have been asked to do a 1:1, but we were too busy? We all know that networking is “farming, not hunting.” 1:1’s are part of farming. They’re planting the seeds. Last week I played a video about 1:1’s that are actually valuable.
 Does anyone remember it? Has anyone tried having a 1:1 like that?

• A 1:1 where you don’t give out a referral is just coffee.

The recipe for a good 1:1 is where both members get something out of it. Like referrals. Have you had a 1:1 where you just talked about sports, or COVID, or about yourself, and never ended up offering a referral? 
It’s time to fix the problem.

I’m going to send out a link to that video, and it will have my phone number in it as well. Take your choice:
Watch the video and try again, or if you already know it all…

Give me a call, and let’s have a 1:1. We’ll practice what’s in the video, and keep at it until we both get a referral.

Daniel’s Story

Watch and listen as Bernal Mora of SBN+ goes above and beyond in this story of sacrifice and compassion shared by another SBN+ member, Daniel Kraus

"Have been building my business for the last 9 years, I’ve joined numerous groups looking for one that would really give me a return on my most precious commodity — time. Last year the search ended when I joined Stamford Business Network Stamford Business Network +!
Through the group I have not only grown my client base, but spend quality time with high caliber business professionals, which has made me a better owner, operator, leader for my organization."

Linda Kuppersmith
CMIT Solutions of Stamford


"Stamford Business Network+ accounts for a third of my business annually, it provides me with very accomplished peers who act as a Master Mind group for me (and others), and has brought great friendships along the way as well. Without doubt, my best investment in business!"

Jeff Roberts
Chief Vision Officer



"From a marketing perspective, this meeting is by far the most productive 90 minutes of my week."

Ray McClelland




Join us for:

Networking • Partnering
Referring • Socializing

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