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Managing Distractions

Oftentimes I’m working on something when I get distracted — the phone rings, an instant message appears, I notice a new email — and then I completely forget what I was working on. I’ll get off the phone and decide to check email. Before long I’m off doing something else with the original task left hanging. Many people call this “multi-tasking” but most of us know that there are very few things we can really do at the same time. (…)
Read the rest of Save Time by Spending Time (358 words)

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One example of GROWTHco’s success with young people:

Pete Brock and James Desrosiers recently conducted a motivational workshop at Gillette Stadium, hosted by the Patriots Hall of Fame, and provided to 300 8th graders from Hanover. Students were motivated by Pete’s talk about using goal setting to achieve his goal of making it to the NFL and eventually playing in a Superbowl. Then, Jim described his life and how, even though his goal wasn’t to be a football player, he also used goal setting and achieved his “Superbowl” of owning a business and becoming successful. They then led the students through a goal setting exercise. Students identified goals for themselves along with steps they could do immediately to make those goals a reality. It was more than a motivational speech. It was an action-oriented experience for students who were inspired and coached to identify goals and create a gameplan to achieve the life they ultimately desire. Here’s one email Pete got from a student the very next day, along with his response:

“Hello, My name is *******. I was just wondering, do you have any tips on what I should do if I wanna be a dentist? I have had a goal to be a dentist since I was 4 and now it’s been 10 years. My grades are B&C&Ds. It is my life dream and you really spoke to me when talking to my class. If you have any suggestions, any at all, I would really love to know! Thank you so much for your time!”

Pete’s response: “Thank you for the email. You and your class are all fortunate to have the support of community, teachers and parents. Here are a few things you can do immediately to start becoming a dentist. 1) Set a goal to improve your grades – if you currently have a D average, then set a goal to get a C on your next test by getting extra help after school and studying every night from now until the test. 2) You can also put yourself in the environment of a dental practice. Make a list of 5 dentists in your area and list 10 questions you want to ask them. Then go see them. You could also volunteer at a dentist’s office to shadow the receptionist, technician, and even the dentist to see if you like the environment. These are just a few ideas. Let me know how you are doing and go get ‘em!”

Don’t just expect success from students. You must first teach them HOW to succeed. Don’t just motivate students. Coach them on how to identify goals, create a gameplan, and manage time to ensure their ‘dreams’ are turned INTO goals and ultimately…a reality. Finally, make sure it’s all about them. As long as students aren’t breaking the law or negatively impacting others, I let them choose goals that are important to them. It’s a lot easier to get kids to take action when they are working towards results that are important to THEM.

Get GROWTHco involved in your community. Call Jim Desrosiers at 978-827-3133 or contact him here. And thanks for reading!

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A 14-year old emailed me for advice on how to become an actor.  Here’s my reply:

Hi Leah,
Thanks for writing to me.  Pete and I enjoyed working with your class!  Having a goal to become an actress is exciting!  It’s a goal of many young adults and the amount who actually achieve success as an actor or actress is small.  This doesn’t mean it can’t be done.  But it will take a lot of hard work and practice.  Here’s my advice:
It will also take a full commitment by you in school right now.  In order to act, you must master the English language.  So do whatever you can to get excellent grades.  Also, you will need excellent grades to go to a performing arts college like SUNY, New York University, and others (you can Google “Best Acting Colleges in the United States” to find a huge list).
Of course, you should look for ways now to improve your public speaking and acting skills.  There are companies who train people in acting, but I suggest you first participate in school or local community plays first (if you haven’t already).  If there aren’t many available, then join your student council or other leadership group that will put you in the position of speaking to audiences.  Does that make sense?
The reason I don’t discourage this goal is because you will master incredible skills while pursuing acting that will help you in any other career, too.  Being able to write well, read, and speak in public are skills that too many people don’t have.  Your ability to present in front of large groups (like we did yesterday!) will separate you from most peers.  While mastering the English language you will learn how to write well.  While pursuing your acting career, you may also discover other passions you were unaware of.   Maybe you end up liking directing, videography, or screenwriting.  Perhaps you will like the business side of acting and become an agent or entertainment attorney.
The important thing is you explore things that you are passionate about.  If you love acting and the entertainment industry, then dive in and explore all the potential ways that you can do something inside that which you are passionate about.  Too many people don’t explore their passions and simply end up with a JOB.  Yuck!  If you have to work most of your life, you should and must love what you do!!!  Right?
Enjoy the journey and email me anytime!  And don’t forget…you can watch those free videos and download forms to help you set your goals on my website.  Talk to you soon!
Here’s some links to check out, too:

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Wow!  2010 for most of us was pretty rough.  The economy bottomed out.  It started to rise off the floor…barely…and has stalled.  Sure, there’s business being done and money still to be made, but only for those who are “playing to win” instead of “playing not to lose“.  You can win in 2011…here’s how:

#1 – People have a poor attitude about current conditions.  Remember the saying, “If you think you’re going to win, you’re right.  If you think you’re going to lose, you are also right!”  I agree, business has not been easy.  However, we need to stay committed to our beliefs that we can win, we have a valuable product or service with a beneficial value proposition to our clients, and that we will win…no matter what.  Question 1:  Do you &/or your team have the proper attitude and belief system to succeed?

#2 – People lack a game-plan.  It’s amazing to me that most people do not have written down goals for 2011.  Goals provide a crystal clear image of what you desire.  Goals should then be broken down into action steps.  Every action step should have a deadline date for completion and be scheduled into your calendar as a non-negotiable commitment.  This game-plan should also include a tracking system to monitor progress toward goals and allow you to adjust your actions or plan based on actual results. Remember, goals without a plan are just dreams.  And a plan without action is a lie!
Question 2:  Do you have your goals identified and game-plan ready to implement in 2011?

#3 – This one sounds self-serving, and to some degree it is.  On the east coast, less than 20% of all executives have a coach.  If you don’t use me as your coach, that’s fine.  But get a coach!  I’m a coach myself, and have a coach to hold ME accountable, to kick my butt when action steps aren’t completed on time, to share challenges and opportunities with a neutral, third party advisor who isn’t a part of my company or family.  The analogy I use is a Personal Trainer at the gym.  I know how to use the equipment and usually have a pretty good workout by myself.  However, when I use a Personal Trainer…doing the same exercises with the same equipment for the same period of time…I CAN’T WALK THE NEXT DAY!  A good coach or trainer will simply get you to focus on and execute the key things that continuously drive your goals and bottom line profits for your organization.
Question 3:  Do you agree that a coach can keep you focused and motivated to reach higher and higher levels of success?

So, there you have it.  Get goals.  Establish a game plan.  Invest in a coach.  Notice I said “invest”. GROWTHco programs are not traditional knowledge-based training.  You will pursue and achieve goals during the program that far outweigh the cost to participate.

Want to learn more? Join me and Pete Brock (former New England Patriot and new consultant at GROWTHco) at one of our free introductory workshops we’re conducting locally and we will put you through interactive exercises to get you started.  Call me at 978-827-3133 for more information or send me a message.

Prior to joining us, Pete Brock was a GROWTHco client working as a loan originator at Poli Mortgage Company.  Despite the poor economy, he tripled his sales within two months of starting our program.  Those results came directly from Pete’s willingness to invest in himself and his commitment to execute a winning game-plan that we created together.

Thanks for reading!

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You know, I could be way out of line in this assumption but prospects need creative solutions to the challenges they face in their world. More specifically they need your creativity.

Million dollar question coming atcha in 3,2,1 . . .

Do you demonstrate your creativity?

I took the liberty of putting together 35 ways for you to prospect more creatively. I won’t insult your intelligence by telling you that these are the definitive creative answers to your prospecting prayers. Heck, I’ll even go as far as to tell you that some of these ideas won’t fit your style.

But what if, only one of these ideas worked for you or even . . .

Sparked an even better idea of your own?

Oh and I’ve taken the liberty of putting all 35 of these ideas into a Free E-Book for you. It will be waiting for you at the end of today’s post!

1) Consider using a “Quirky Calendar” and leverage the power of a “National Thank God It’s Monday” day and numerous other reasons for you to connect with a non responsive prospect!

2)    Make a humorous Top 10 List as to why someone hasn’t returned your call or why they would want to do business with YOU!

3)    Give that boring calendar you give out a very cool make over. Have each month designed with a theme of you trying to get in to see your prospect (complete with your prospect’s name in the design) Example: One month you could have a hitch hiker holding a sign “Need to get to (Your Prospect’s Name) Office” Perhaps you could play the themes in with the seasons or non religious holidays?

4)    Get a giant cookie from your bakery and have them write “I want to take a bite out of your business” Note: This can also turn into a handy dandy Thank you when you get a new client or even an order from a client. You could change it to read “Thanks for letting me take a bite out of your business”

5)    Send a Telegram

6)    Send a personalized singing email.

7)    How about some Customized M & M’s ?

8)    Send a lottery ticket with a note that reads “Why gamble on (fill in what you do)” When you call to follow up have some fun and ask them if they won!

9)    Get some sunglasses, a cd with some good rock songs and print up some All Access Passes they can use for a tour of your facility. Play on that theme with a message like: “I take pride in making my clients look like rock stars!”

10) has a superhero starter kit complete with mask, cape etc. .Consider sending that to a prospect as a follow up to the rock star approach.

11)  Send some ice cream or one of these way cool sundae kits http://www.send-ice- Thank you Jamie McLennan !

12)  Try this two step approach: Leave a voicemail that you will be in the area on (date) and will stop by with some things of value and to say the worlds quickest hello. Take a gift bag and fill it with some literature, a pen with your logo, a pad, your business card etc. Drop by to see your prospect and present them with the goodie bag.

13)  Purchase one of those prepaid cell phones. Send it to your prospect and tell them a time you will be calling on it and give a specific day and time.

14)  Consider having the balls to send a ball (another cool idea from Jamie McLennan)

15)  Go to and order chocolate feet for .50 ea. Send them to your prospects with a note that reads “I’d like to get a foot in the door”

16)  Take that letter you were about to stuff into an envelope with your company name and logo and use a colored envelope instead.  Hand address that bad boy while you’re at it. It will resemble personal correspondence and have a higher probability of getting opened.

17)  Take a picture of you staring at the phone with a caption “Wondering if today is the day you will call me” Fed Ex it so it arrives separate from and doesn’t blend in with the other mail.

18)  For a more personal touch when sending information, place post its with handwritten notes.

19)  Consider sending something that is representative of your geographic area to folks who are out of the area. Example: I know someone who sends their clients and prospects Pretzels someone else sends Maple Syrup etc.

20)  Next time you are rejected on the phone, but you at least had a friendly conversation, send a handwritten thank you. Note: You obviously won’t win a creativity award on this one but you will stand out simply because hardly anyone does this!

21)  Sales Leadership: Send a note to your entire sales organization asking for at least 2-3 creative door openers. Compile a list of all the new cool ideas that get generated and send everyone a PDF!

22)  Send greeting cards at off holidays (July 4th, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving etc

23)  I know someone who drops off carnations for all the moms she has as prospects the Friday before Mother’s Day. How can you leverage a holiday in this type of fashion?

24)  Call the wrong extension and ask for your contact. Once they tell you that you have the wrong extension, ask to be transferred. Transferred calls look different on the caller ID than typical calls and you might just get through.

25)  Send your prospect a humorous letter with options as to why they haven’t gotten back to you. You can even create a while you were out message.

26)  Carve time out each day to think quietly. Ask yourself the following question “In what ways can I be more creative?” This is a great creative brainstorming question for you to ponder. You can even make it more targeted by rephrasing it like this “In what ways can I creatively approach (name of account).

27)  Go for a walk or exercise while asking yourself that same question.

28)  Study creative people. Pick their brain or just study them from afar. I won’t tell anyone!

29)  Have someone video you doing a quick 3 minute intro of who you are, and a kick ass elevator speech. Tell them a specific day and time you will call to set appt. Include popcorn and candy to make it festive.

30)  How about a “Mission Impossible” type of theme where you send a series of things including that 3 minute intro, a Fed Ex or Telegram and maybe even give yourself a kick ass theme song from this royalty free music site.

31)  T.G.I.F. Kit: Create a kit of fun things for your prospect. Perhaps some candy, funny sunglasses, a funny book or comedy cd, etc. Drop it off nice and early. Write your cell number on your card so hopefully you get the thank you call before you are out of the area.

32)  Have some cheesy fun by picking up any or all of the following and tailoring a corny message: Payday candy bar, mints, Mounds, seeds, nuts etc. Example attach a note to a Mounds candy bar with a message centered around you saving them mounds of extra work etc.

33)  Add this phrase to any of the above “(name) If you think I’m working hard to get your business, you are 100% right. Think about how hard I’ll work to keep your business!”

34)  Sendout Cards has some really cool customizable cards you can send to your clients and prospects. You can also send starbucks cards and various treats along with your card! Note: That link will take you directly to Craig Wilson’s Send Out Cards site. He’s been a member of our Sales Playbook community from day 1 and I’d like to hook the guy up!

35)  Ask yourself this question every day: “How will I be memorable today?”

Here’s that Free E-Book with all 35 tips waiting for ya dude!

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I once worked for a company who’s CEO was awfully proud of the fact that he practiced “Management By Walking Around”. He was actually so proud of it, he mentioned it as if he were the inventor of the phrase. Kind of makes me think of that scene in Austin Powers when Dr Evil says (of his Father) “He would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark” but I’m going off topic.

What this guy didn’t realize is that behind his back, people made fun of him and would clarify that his style was more like . . .

“Management by rushing around”!

He would rush passed your desk, ask you how you were doing and move on. He wouldn’t listen to you, would barely make eye contact with you and did a great job of not connecting with you.

One day, he asked the wrong dude how he was doing. Here’s the reply (and the guy wasn’t being a smartass, it was the truth)

“Well I’ve been better, my Dad died suddenly of a heart attack 2 weeks ago and its my first day back”

The CEO (and you can’t make this stuff up) said “Alright. Gotta run” and he left. Note: In that moment I believe he took on the form of a ninja because he freakin vanished.

My co worker looked at me and I will never forget that look. It was the look of someone who just lost faith in humanity!

Now this is a really extreme example of  the lack of depth that many of us can become guilty of if we allow ourselves to.

In our defense . . .

Sometimes when we are skimming the 100 + emails a day, trying to get all our calls in, racing to appointments, trying to make quota, conquer the world and navigate thru what experts call “An overabundance of stuff”

We are putting life before depth and in the process

Miss an opportunity to be human.

It would absolutely blow your mind to know how many things might be sailing over your head on a regular basis.

I’ve said it before, and I will continue to say that everyone has a story and wants to be heard.

The challenge is that you have to

S    L    O    W           D    O    W    N

Listen (to learn and not just to respond)

Be present as in not multi tasking or otherwise messing around with your blackberry (guilty on this one until my wife set me straight 3 years ago)

And you have to care enough to at least try

Oh, and this isn’t some warm and fuzzy group hug stuff folks . . .

It’s a surefire way for us to stand out and reactivate our membership in humanity!

Today, we are all invited to slow down and refuse to let life come before depth!

Today’s News

My friend Nigel Edelshain (aka “Mr. Sales 2.0”) is launching the Social Selling Bootcamp today. I’d like to highly recommend this camp to you. As you know, I don’t usually do this but I’ve been one of the contributors of content so I have first hand knowledge and I’m very confident that Nigel is on to something important here.

The camp is all about aligning our selling to the new ways customers behave.  It’s about how we can use the new tools like social media and Web 2.0 to sell the way our customers want to buy. From what I’ve seen of the camp’s content and the format of delivery (highly interactive) the sales people coming out of this camp are going to have a serious edge in 2011.

The two-day workshop will take place on Feb 16 & 17 at Newark Airport, NJ so you can easily fly in.

Nigel’s offering a big discount to get you TO TAKE ACTION: a serious 40% off if you sign up by Dec 31. There’s also a 100% unconditional money back guarantee.

Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in this just playing matchmaker!

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In the spring of 2008 I addressed the Consolidated Graphics national sales force and told them they needed to get Linkedin! I told them it was the best thing since sliced bread and how their personal brand depended on a venue like LI. A month later, I scratched my head, clueless, wondering what all the fuss was about. 2 months later, I thought it sucked, wrote it off and moved on!

After some serious soul searching in November 2008, I had to face the hard, cold reality that I basically showed up to Linkedin, sat on the sidelines and expected the world to beat a path to my computer. I don’t think I’m the only one who went about it all wrong so it is in that spirit that I offer the following 21 tips!

Warning: This is gonna be a lengthy post. I wasn’t about to milk 3 blog posts out of this! I’ve made it all available in a Free E-Book because quite frankly, no one loves you more than I do :)

1) Change your expectation of Social Networking! There is no quick fix, instant gratification or get rich quick. This is a long term strategy to say the least. I tend to look at this like a courtship vs a “Hi I’m Paul let’s get married!”

2) Put some thought into your profile and make sure it does justice to the wonderful brand we call “YOU”!

Slow down and give thought to your profile. What do you want it say about you? What image do you want to present. Speaking of image, get a freakin picture. It’s not overly “social” to social network with the invisible man/woman. And please make it a real pic (of you) and not your dog (you get a serious WTF on that one) a logo of your company (not only does it seem odd that I’m connecting with the only living, talking logo, I think it violates some linkedin law or something) Also,  pics of you swimming in the ocean, partying or partying in the ocean might need to be rethought.

Want to improve your “Googleability”? Then by all means make your profile public by clicking here By the way, you Google potential clients, don’t you? Think they Google you? This will give you at least one good result that comes back. Consider using the privacy settings if you don’t want people to know that you viewed their profile. This way you can check out a potential client without them thinking you’re a stalker.

Tip: Do you want your connections visible to everyone in your network? Do you have some clients that may get a tad pissed if they find out you are doing work for their competitors? Then click on this link and change that bad boy!

3) Use a cool title or tagline to set you apart from the masses. Example: Craig Wilson is the Chief Appreciation Officer of his Sendout Cards business. Mi amigo Hank Trisler isn’t the President of The Trisler Companies . . . he’s the Supreme Commander! My favorite is John Hudson who is The Dark Lord of Staffing. Our biggest challenge these days folks is being memorable. These people get it!

4) Join Groups: The biggest mistake many people make is joining groups in their industry exclusively. I think that’s great, but you better branch out. I mean how many widgets do you think other widget dudes are gonna buy from you Einstein!

Here are 5 types of groups you need to belong to

Industry Groups (don’t over indulge) . Always good to know what’s going on, perhaps you want to bounce things off of peers etc. Just know that at times, this can be like that familiar face you cling to at a networking event. It’s safe and can become a convenient excuse for you not to branch out. Don’t spend all your time here!

Vertical Groups you want to own. A Vertical Group is an industry that you are targeting. For example: If I am targeting IT, I would want to join a group from that industry.  Tip: Go where the money is! There are certain industries that are thriving right now such as education, healthcare, consumer food products etc.  By joining these groups you learn lingo, challenges, opportunities etc. You also begin to position yourself as an authority to your target audience.

Local Groups & Groups in areas you want to build up. For example, I live in NY so it would probably make sense that I belong to a few local groups. At the same time, I travel quite a bit to Houston, hence my membership in the InHouston group. Easy enough!

Professional Groups that help you hone your craft. As an aspiring sales rock star I belong to numerous sales groups, my recruiter friends belong to recruiting and HR related groups. Make sure you surround yourself with other professionals in your chosen line of work!

A Note About Sales Groups: Important on many levels. First, it will help you keep your finger on the pulse right now since sales people are pretty much out there on the front line. Second, you will pick up some good best practices and lastly, sales people can be a point of entry often overlooked in getting in the door.

Parallel Groups: These are groups that share the same target audience as you but are in different industries. Example: When I owned my sales training business, I networked with recruiters who placed high level senior sales leaders. I benefited because I had a newly anointed sales maverick who was open to my Jedi ways. My recruiter friends benefited because I knew sales leaders who needed talented sales Jedi. You can do the same in building your network through the various parallel groups!

Did you know . . . You can join up to 50 groups. When you share a group with someone you can usually send them a direct email without paying for inmails!

Cool Fact: Did you know that (according to a study published by Epsilon) emails sent through social networks have a 24% higher open rate than traditional email? Can you leverage that as a sales rep? Damn right you can!

5) Get off the sidelines! This is where I screwed up big time! I joined groups but didn’t participate. Get the feel of your group. Contribute! Add value! By the way, doesn’t this help make you more visible and help with the whole branding thing? If you do it right it does! Start your own discussions in those groups. This is how you stand out! What are some thought provoking, appropriate discussions you could start in your group?

6) Want to look like a Grade A A-Hole? Then spam the discussions with ridiculous infomercials on your company or start discussions that are blatant self promotions. That’s how you build a brand as a Jackass real quick!

Do you belong to a group that is littered with spam and self promotion? Tell the group manager and if that doesn’t work, then put your efforts in elsewhere. They aren’t worth your time!

7) Facilitate your discussions for God’s sake! This is by far one of my biggest pet peeves on LI. If you start a discussion and then disappear, you come across as an idiot. Its not only bad displays bad manners, you are allowing your discussion to go inactive sooner. Why wouldn’t you want your discussion up at the top of the first page of discussions? Isn’t that a great visibility position?

Tip: Don’t be so quick to start new discussions that you don’t your existing discussions an opportunity to bloom.

8 ) Show appreciation for those who contribute to your discussions 2 ways. First, you should always thank people publicly. By the way, do we all enjoy being acknowledged in front of our peers? Do you think acknowledging contributions encourages additional contributions as well as folks following you to other discussions and groups? The other way I show appreciation is by sending a TY in an email. Its a great door opener and helps me differentiate from the masses!

9) Avoid ninjas like your online life depended on it! It amazes me how many otherwise intelligent adults will attack someone online in front of thousands. Trust me when I tell you it will happen to you and if you are like me you will want to stick your virtual foot up their virtual assets. In a word DON’T! You can’t change stupid and you will damage your brand in the process. Doesn’t mean you have to like it folks!

Tip: Always be mindful of your “Main Thing” that is, what you want to be known for. Now if online ninja is your main thing, then by all means rock on bro chocho!

10) Use a hyperlink in your signature when you contribute to a discussion. If all you do is put the old “www” in it won’t read as a link (you won’t be able to click on that mofo) Here’s how you do it the right way: Put a handy dandy http:// in front of your domain and viola!

Caution: Be careful with this one! It borders on self promotion. I’ve seen some people really get carried away and stick every freakin bit of info into this and fall just short of blood type and their sign! Go light on this one folks!

11) Don’t use the automated invites. They are lame and you will sound like every other clueless person. Take a moment and make your invite personal! Think about the power of first impressions and more importantly, the power of being memorable. Reference something you have observed about them in the groups, a point they made, their company, some common ground or simply:

Dear Jake:

I would be honored if you would join my network!

12) Confucius Say “Just because clueless dude/dudette send you lame invite doesn’t mean you can’t be social” We’ll talk more about that one later! Meanwhile, reflect and discuss that one amongst yourselves. I’ll wait for you right here!

13) Start your own group! One bit of advice I always give in conventional networking is to get on a board in a leadership position. The same can be said for LI. I waited until I had enough involvement in the groups and started my Sales Playbook Group. It’s grown by more than 16,000 members and it has dramatically enhanced my brand. I’m also happy to say that I have done so by enhancing the brand of others. There’s some serious food for thought in that last statement if you care to embrace it!

14) Add value to your network! One of the best ways you can do this is to become a matchmaker to your network! Introduce people who need to know each other. With so many displaced workers in these challenging times keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities. Not a bad idea to have a recruiter or three in your network while we’re at it. Neil Wood replied to me privately when I asked for advice on some good branding books. He told me he had an extra copy of a really good book and sent it to me. I try to give of my time, unconditionally, whenever I can. When you do these types of things ladies and gentlemen, you don’t create followers, you create evangelists spreading the good news of your brand!

Tip: Do you think its more powerful when you promote yourself or when you have people who dig you so much they do it for you. Ponder that one sista!

15) Use LI as part of your meticulous pre call planning process. I thinks its an incredible way for me to get inside my prospect’s head by getting a feel for how they think in the groups, perhaps they link to their blog etc. You can follow companies and the handy dandy RSS feed is a way cool way for you to organize your data via a reader! This a great way for you to get the inside track!

16) Let people get inside your head by using the applications such as amazon bookshelf, slideshare and links to your blog!

Tip: People buy from people they trust. One of the first steps towards trust is familiarity. Make sure you give your network every opportunity to experience “Brand YOU”!

17) Cross pollinate your efforts by putting a link to your LI profile in your email auto signature.

Tip: Whenever you connect with someone, always do your best to immediately connect with them on the other venues where you participate! Example: When I connect with someone on LI I immediately check their profile for their Twitter info and bring that freakin party over there as well!

18) Status Updates: This is a great way for you to stay on your prospect’s radar screen. Donna Highfill puts inspirational quotes in her status updates. Others will put a link to a timely article, links to article and/or blogs you have written. The key here is to stay on the radar screen by continuing to add value and avoidance of over saturation and taking it easy on the self promotion. You also need to use your head. Trust me when I tell you that your network doesn’t find value in a status update that informs us that a bottle of cuervo has your name on it or that you are having a “meltdown” (I don’t make this stuff up) Make sure you comment on status updates from your network. Example: If you see that someone was just promoted at the ABC Company, by all means comment, like and send a congratulatory note. People dig that stuff. Go figure!

Tip: Scan the home page daily. There are tons of opportunities for you there but you have to remember . . .

Everyone has a story and wants to be heard!

Your mission from this point on is to leverage that simple little phrase!

19) Be consistent! You won’t build your brand worth a damn if you show two days in a row, take two weeks off, come back for a day or two. This needs to be a daily investment. Remember, this is a long term investment. Don’t ever forget that Grasshopper!

20) Recommendations: Use your head on this one. Please! One of the quickest ways for me to yell Jackass is when someone I barely know hits me up for a recommendation. When I call them out on it, I’m usually given an explanation that they used the automated send to all feature which is just plain stupid if you ask me. Be selective in who you ask and be selective who you give recommendations to, Remember, it’s your credibility dude!

21) Ask and answer questions to further position yourself as a thought leader by clicking here:

Did You Know: That when you answer a question on Linkedin Q & A it allows you to share up to 3 links? Might be a cool opportunity to gently guide someone by the hand to some cool content you have written. You’re welcome!

Cool Tip: Want to get a better response and greater visibility when you ask a question? Choose the option to send the question out to up to 200 people in your network.

Hook a fellow Jedi up: by suggesting someone from your network as an expert to a question. This is a nice way for you to continue to add value to your network and encourage a really cool thing called reciprocation!

How To Transition Your Linkedin Relationships To “Real Time”!

As many of you know, one of my social networking strategies is to transition at least 5 of my “virtual” relationships to “real” time each week. Needless to say, the relationship is worth more, once I move it off the computer screen.

Let’s start with a quick statement of what I don’t do.

“The Linkedin Two Step”: This is when you’ve either agreed to connect with me or you commented on one of my posts and I take that as a buying signal. You immediately get an email from me in “Pimpmaster” mode giving you my best infomercial.

And just to get this one out in the open, I don’t like to have a virtual handshake with someone and immediately suggest a phone call. I’m sure its just me but that has way too much of a “Hi, Wanna screw?” vibe to it!

So What’s An Aspiring Linkedin Rock Star To Do?

1)   Get Social From “Hello” I never send someone one of those invitation templates. Seriously, could you get any F’n lazier. Take the 30 seconds and write a two sentence note. This positions you as different from the get go because apparently the rest of the world has gotten lazy too. When someone sends you an invite, take a minute to write an actual response (even when you get a template invite) Doing this inspires someone to not only remember you, but shoot you a note back. At that point you’re starting to get “social” and that puts you one step closer to real time!

2)   Get On Their Radar Screen: Update your status update daily (no play by play por favor) More importantly than your status update is theirs. You might want to circle this next sentence: Everyone has a story and wants to be heard. Seems like we’ve all gotten used to the world not having the time to hear what we have to say. That aint how Uncle Paul rolls! I make it a point to comment on status updates where appropriate. Sometimes I’m congratulating someone, other times I will agree with a statement publicly, if they shared a resource that I found useful, I let them know with a “like” and a comment.  You can also get on their radar screen by commenting on their discussions. How about inviting them into one of yours? If they contribute to one of your discussions, acknowledge them publicly and with an offline “thank you”. Here’s a freakin cool idea: When you see a discussion where someone in your network has the expertise to really shine, hook them up! I have this odd feeling that people really dig people who have their best interests in mind!

3)   Take Advantage Of “Social” Clues: I make it a point to see if my contacts use the feature where they list what they are reading. If I read the book or want to, that gives us something to talk about. If they use the tripit feature, I might wish them a safe trip or get real jealous that they are off to Europe. I might even compare notes with them about cool places we’ve both been to!

Time Out! Are you spotting a trend yet? I basically get “Social” before I transition to “real time”. Isn’t that more of a natural progression?

OK, I could go on and on about how to get “Social” but I still haven’t told you how to transition.

Once we’ve had some communication, I will do one of a few things:

–      Shoot them a quick email, suggesting a brief “get to know you” call. I tell them I would like to find out more about them and their business. Note: When I get on the phone with them, I rarely talk about my business which is rather counterintuitive  for a sales professional. I don’t talk about my business because quite frankly, most people as so busy trying to network their business that they aren’t ready to hear about mine. I could get ultra competitive and try to dominate our conversation, but it kind of goes back to my statement earlier “everyone has a story and wants to be heard” My mission on this phone call is to not only understand my “friend” its to think about how I can be a “matchmaker” for this person and leverage my network.

–      Get Embarrassed. Sometimes I will send someone an email telling them that I’m embarrassed that I haven’t reached out sooner. Note: Doesn’t work so well if they just accepted your invite 10 mins earlier!

–      When someone asks you a question via email, suggest a quick call instead. Nice way to move it to real time girlfriend!

–      I’ll use tripit to see if anyone is visiting my area and offer to meet for coffee or a shots of Tequila (wanted to see if you were paying attention)

–      I’ll search my network for local contacts when traveling. The “I’m visiting your neck of the woods” thing is an easy way to transition.

–      I host “Virtual Mixers” once to twice a month.

So how long should this all take? Well let me ask you this. In a relationship, how long does it take for love to happen? Is it the 7th date, 7th week, 7th year? Why the hell don’t we have a definitive answer? Probably, because it happens, when it happens.

Think “courtship”!

Don’t screw with the sanctity of social networking by thinking this is a short term strategy. Take the time to get “social” and actually have a courtship and then watch how freakin cool the marriage becomes.

Confessions Of A Social Networking Snob!

So there you are minding your own business and low and behold someone sends you a request to connect , be “friends” or for the Twitterati, you’ve been “followed”.

Do you accept, “friend” or go off the deep and “follow back”?

Before we continue, you need to know something about me and its not easy for me to say so here goes . . .

My name is Paul (Hi Paul) and I’m a recovering Social Networking Snob.

And like anyone else who kicked a bad habit, I’m back, complete with some annoying self righteousness to point out 3 big mistakes I see when it comes to the burning question . . .

To connect or not to connect?

Mistake #1: You are engaged in a line of worked that has nothing to do with my line of work, so . . . See Ya!

I think this is a huge mistake for many reasons:

–       They might not be a part of my target audience, but they may know someone who is. They might also be able to get me in front of someone in their company who is my ideal prospect.

–       They might be someone I can connect to someone else in my network to further enhance my virtual real estate.

–       And what’s with the freakin selfish “What can you do for me” attitude? Would it bankrupt us to help someone unconditionally?

To All The Thought Leaders Out There  (the rest of you earmuffs)

You’re screwing yourself!

Seriously . . . you’re screwing yourself. Think about it.

You want to be visible. You write articles, blogs, perhaps a book or two. Someone approaches you and then you give them a virtual middle finger all because . . .

They basically aren’t relevant to you or (everyone else take your earmuffs off) there is a judgment that the person is just haphazardly collecting connections.

For those of you who feel that accepting a “stranger” is a possible security risk, think privacy settings but with a caveat: This idea of selfishly guarding our network like the Holy Grail goes against the grain of Social Networking. Note: I have over 2100 Linkedin connections and I’ve never had one person write me and tell me that some rogue member of my network defiled the freakin sanctity of their network.

Mistake #2: You approached me the wrong way so I won’t connect. This one has “Uncle Paul” written all over it because I hate, and I mean really hate those Linkedin invite templates. You know . . .

Joe Numbnuts wants to connect with you or

Because you are a person I value I’d like to connect

Because I’m mindless I’m sending you this template to show I’m a tool

I thinks its lazy and will be the first to tell you that you are so much better than that. I mean the only way we could get lazier would be if Linkedin had a template for a sound like a grunt or a high pitched “over here”.

So then we get mad and decide to fix the glitch by ignoring them.

Suggestion: Instead of taking this as a deliberate insult to your virtual ego, I would suggest that you look at it this way.

They just don’t understand the nuances of social networking yet and to that end, perhaps you could accept the invite and show them how a true professional rolls. Here’s how . . .

“Hi Mr Numbnuts (Awesome name by the way, bet you grew up tough) Thank you so much for the invite. Wishing you an awesome Wednesday or Wishing you continued success or rock on my social networking brother from a virtual mother!

The point is to be sociable!

Oh, and congratulate yourself because hardly anyone does this!

Here’s what happens next about 80% of the time. They then write you back with a sort of thank you and a few kind words and viola, you are connected and communicating thanks to your awesome lead!

Mistake #3: “I don’t see this going anywhere so I shall ‘un-friend’ that MOFO” In other words “What have you done for me lately” Wrong attitude! In fact, I’m curious as to what they were supposed to do for you? How quickly were you expecting this and What have you done for them?

Short of getting complaint emails that one of my connections approached the rest of my network and gave them all wedgies, I don’t see the point in parting ways just because we haven’t gotten anywhere.

Methinks building an army of evangelists takes time!

Let’s concern ourselves with how we are going to provide value to them and stop being so selfish. And let’s lose that scorecard while we’re at!

Oh and let’s remember that the irony of this whole limited mindset is that we’re supposed to be engaging in

Social Networking

Today, you are cordially invited to learn from my mistakes and become more Social in your Social Networking!

I want to leave you with a bit of a challenge. One that I wish someone told me about when I left Linkedin after only 60 days of half assed effort. Try these things that I mentioned for 90 days. Give it your all. Be consistent and do something daily to enhance your online brand. Give value to people unconditionally and don’t keep a scorecard. Learn everything you can and if at the end of 90 days of you getting off the sidelines you feel it was a waste of time, then move on.

I, for one am quite pleased with my results. The Castain brand is alive and ticking and as a bonus, I’ve made some wonderful friends along the way. Also been talking to a few publishers so its nice to be moving toward that important milestone in my life!

I want you to think about something else that many people don’t realize. Your linkedin experience is about community. All human beings want to belong to or be a part of something. Can you leverage that?

There’s your million dollar question to chew on!
Please forward this to your community and download the Free E-Book!

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A few weeks back I shared with you lessons from my 2 Year Journey To Brand Me.

I thought it might be helpful if I shared with you several random thoughts on the concept of building a community.

1)    Create places where your community can interact with your brand. Obviously a blog should be one of those places. A Linkedin Group, Facebook page, Twitter account, A Twitter hashtag, youtube channel etc. Note: Please learn from one of my mistakes. Just because you don’t like a particular social media venue, doesn’t mean your audience doesn’t want to communicate with you there. It isn’t about you dude. Its about where they want to interact with you!

2)    Once you create these places, you obviously need to show up there consistently. Note: I can’t tell you how many Linkedin group managers I see who have created groups and then go MIA. Once you build something why wouldn’t you want to stick around so people begin to associate you with the community?

3)    Interact with your community regularly. That might sound like a repeat of item #2 but it isn’t. I can’t tell you how many people get so caught up in producing content that they miss the interaction. This includes your blog posts (truth be told, I’ve screwed this one up lately and need to get my butt in gear). I’ve seen it big time on Twitter where people become these broadcasters of “stuff” but no interaction with their audience. Why aren’t we living for that interaction? To me the content is important but we are getting way too obsessed with the content at the expense of the interaction. Besides, that one way communication thing used to be called a “website” No?

4)    Acknowledge your community: Dale Carnegie once said that the “sweetest sound, in any language is the sound of one’s own name” and the dude who sang the old theme song from the television series “Cheers” said something about “Where everybody knows your name”. It seems we are all running so fast these days that we forget to use names and acknowledge people in front of their peers. That’s how you encourage future participation. A good old fashioned offline thank you goes a long way too. People seem absolutely blown away when I send them an offline thank you. That tells me nobody is doing this! Might be a cool way to stand out!

5)    Give to your community upfront and without a scorecard. I’m not a big fan of requiring email captures in exchange for a free E-Book etc. If you are going to give something, give it. I have a full page loaded with tons of E-Books that require you to do nothing but download them. My email subscriptions tell me my audience digs this approach and quite frankly, I believe unconditional giving adds to the sense of community I’m trying to create.

6)    Be willing to stand for something! Standing for something attracts kindred spirits and adds a sense of mission to your community. In my Linkedin Group we have one of the strictest no spam policies on Linkedin and we are probably the most heavily policed group out there. We are also committed to fostering a high level sense of community by supporting our members and giving combative members the boot.

7)    Reward your community first and better than the rest. Starbucks did a really good job with this recently by offering a free gift card with the purchase of 1lb of coffee. They advertised this on their Facebook page and made us all feel like we had the inside scoop. How can you reward your community for (get this) being part of the community?

8)    Don’t punish your community with crap. I’ve seen people go over the top promoting their books. Side note: I once bought a book that I was really excited and started following the author on Twitter. The author went ape sh*t with the self promotion and by the time the book arrived I was sick of the dude. I stopped following several people on Twitter because they were injecting too many political views into their content. I’ve seen several bloggers get into pissing contests with other bloggers and use their blog as a weapon. Here’s a secret (don’t tell anyone) Once you decide what your “main thing” is going to be, stick with it.

9)    Don’t get caught up with “Internet Fame”. Please stop and reread that line (I’ll wait for you) If you allow this to go to your virtual head, you will piss lots of people off. One story, that I will continue to bore you with till the end of time is the one where I met Seth Godin. I was at a sales conference where he was the key note speaker. The dude is a complete rock star and I damn near went into my Wayne’s World “I’m not worthy” chant, but somehow I kept it together. As busy as this guy was, and as long as the line was to meet him, he took the time to meet everyone, look them in the eyes and something else that blew my mind. When I stepped up to meet him, I introduced myself rather quickly (and nervously) and I asked him a question which he promptly answered. I then asked if I could have his autograph. He continued talking with me while he scribbled something rather quickly. I thanked him and stepped to the side so the line could keep moving. I went to look at his autograph and I noticed he used my name which I had only mentioned once, very quickly. PS I didn’t have my name badge on. So if a rock star like Seth Godin could keep it real who are we to be a virtual A Hole? Your community is there for you to serve.

10)  Combine real time interaction with your online interaction. Consider offering lunch and learns at your place of business, seminars, webinars. I host virtual mixers twice monthly where I take 5 people from my Sales Playbook community and get them on a conference call. Host a tweetup, or meet up for your group. One of the speakers at a conference I attended talked about how his Linkedin group hosts a monthly conference call for all their members. Might be bit of a challenge for my group as it quickly approaches 20,000 but perhaps if a sponsor stepped forward we could make something like that happen. Just thinking out loud!

There’s obviously so much more I could write on the subject of creating a loyal community but now its time for me to leave you with something to think about.

How have you or could you create a community where your audience can interact with that incredible brand called “YOU”?

Please ponder that question. I believe there’s money in it for you!

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This is Part 1 of a 2 part blog post by Nigel Edelshain

By now you’ve probably seen the statistic from CSO Insights that shows 48% of sales people missed their quota in 2009.

The percentage of sales people missing their number increased over 2008. Now I, for one, would not be surprised if this number actually increases in 2010 even though the economy has improved a bit.

I would not be surprised if this number gets worse because I thoroughly believe the miss is NOT just a function of the economy. I believe there’s something far more fundamental going on: our customer has changed their behavior. Consider that recent Forrester research showed that 91% of B2B IT buyers are now involved in social media at least as “spectators”.

There’s a new sales game in town. In this new game sales people need to align their selling to the new way customers buy. In 2011 it will become clearer that sales people that master this new game are poised to become “linchpins.” And that those that don’t are set to become cogs in someone else’s factory. You know who is paid more – a lot more.

Customers Have Changed

Your customers are spending more-and-more time online. They’re searching on Google for information and their talking to each other on social networks.

But where are we sales people? Most have not yet caught up. Consider that research released last week by OgilvyOne (one of the world’s largest ad agencies) showed that sixty-eight percent of sales professionals say they believed that the selling process is changing faster than their own organizations are adapting to it.

What’s Your Brand?

The game is getting personal. In the past your customers only had your company website to look at, now they have social networks. You hear that “tap-tap” sound on the other end of your phone line? That’s your prospect searching for your Linkedin page. We humans are curious. We want to know exactly who we’re talking to. We’d much rather get the true skinny on you than read a boring sanitized website.

And if you don’t show up on Linkedin then we’re left wondering: who are you? Why aren’t you there? Are you hiding something? Or are you just way behind-the-times? You lose the chance to build trust either way.

It’s Broke so Let’s Do More

Cold calling working great for you? Is 1 in 200 an acceptable rate of success metric for what you need to get done to be a rock star in 2011?

That’s the kind of conversion we’re seeing from multiple sources for number of dials to number of meetings. It’s taking folks 20 dials just to get a relevant decision-maker on the phone. Then if you get 1in 10 of those to convert to a meeting then you’ve got 200 calls for every one meeting.

But there are ways to change those metrics significantly and the tools to help you do that are social media and Sales 2.0. Now it’s not the tools that change the outcome it’s YOU. By learning those tools and integrating them into your prospecting, you can dramatically alter your results.

Consider integrating trigger events into your cold calling can increase your success 3-5 x according to authors Craig Elias and Tibor Shanto. The tools are out there now to help you monitor these trigger events and gain that edge. Then plug in the “big daddy” of them all: referrals and our data shows you’re up 8 x at least in your prospecting results.

Big, big improvements and something that actually makes cold calling fun because you experience success and connect with people way more frequently than the old ways allow.

In-Person Calls: Do your Homework

A recent IDC study revealed only one out of six sales professionals were “extremely prepared” for an initial meeting with a customer. 57 percent were either not or only somewhat prepared.

You’ve got more information available to you via the Internet than ever before. There’s really no excuse for not being prepared for you sales calls (meetings). Showing up and “winging it” is just not acceptable to the vast majority of B2B customers out there. They know you can do your homework so they expect you to do so. Otherwise you could be in for a quick meeting.

Match your research time to the importance of the opportunity. As a rule-of-thumb, I’d expect to spend at least one hour preparing for a fairly important one hour sales call, half an hour for a half hour meeting etc. – increase or decrease to taste. But do do your homework.

Tune in tomorrow for Part II!

For more information on my friend Nigel Edelshain please visit his site and while you are there, make sure you check out his upcoming event “Social Selling Bootcamp” and take advantage of the hefty December discount. And just for the heck of it, stop by his Linkedin Group Sales 2.0

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This is Part 2 of a 2 part guest post from Nigel Edelshain.

In yesterday’s post I suggested we, as sales professionals need to change up our game in 2011. We need to grab hold of the opportunity to use the new tools out there (social media and Sales 2.0) to “level the playing field.”

Yesterday I asked “what’s your brand”? I asked if the way to build you sales pipeline might NOT be more cold calls (at least in the traditional manner) and I noted the need to be more prepared for sales calls than ever before.

But there’s more. There’s more we need to change in order to keep up with Customer 2.0:

Say You Just Don’t Happen to Get In

What?! They did NOT invite you in for a meeting. Unbelievable! Well not really. Let’s be honest this is the normal case not the unusual, especially if you are dealing with new accounts. So what’s your “nurturing” process? What do you do with all the target names and accounts where you approach them and you DON’T get in?

In a very lucky world all you need to do here is hand these names off to your amazing team in the marketing department and they nurture these contacts with excellent content until they are “sales ready leads” and pass them back to you like fresh croissant straight from the oven. But…If this is not the case, you will need to be very organized and disciplined to run your own “nurturing” effort. After all the research suggests as much as 77% of the people who might buy from you eventually won’t buy now, they will buy later. Which means if you want to 3 x your long term revenue you better nurture everyone that did not buy now.

You’ll need content for this. So you will need Marketing to step up here or you will get into the content development business yourself. (Yes, I do believe sales people can blog successfully). One smart move with content is to use content from other people – there are many legitimate ways to do this in the blogging world we now live in.

Are Your Bases Really Covered?

What happens if you do get a meeting and you unearth a real opportunity? Do you rush back to the office and write up a proposal as fast as possible? Then keep following up?

Research from Marketing Sherpa over the last several years shows that for a technology product of k ticket price being sold into a large company (1,000 employees +) that the number of people involved in buying is…21. Yes, 21.

So if you’re just selling to one person you’re taking a big risk. You have 20 other people that can nix your deal. Do you know who they are? Do you know their role in the decision process? Again you have more tools than ever before to research people. With just a name and a company you can look people up on Linkedin and Twitter and find often find their complete background and even what they are currently interested in.

Do you Expand or Just Land?

Money left on the table. Or it seems that way to me. So many companies have the situation where they are doing business with an account but only in one area.

What’s your account strategy? How hard have you tried to go from division A to division B? Yes, it’s a lot like prospecting but it’s easier than cracking into a new account. You have the ideal reference story – a story from within the prospects’ own company.

Your Biggest Asset

Let’s get seriously selfish for a moment. You know what the most asked question is on sales job interviews: “what is your Rolodex?” — or versions thereof. Employers in big and small companies alike ask this question almost without fail in sales job interviews.

Want to increase your personal value as a sales professional. Want to be a linchpin? Want to be able to name your price for hiring you? Then you need a “golden Rolodex”. Keep in mind recent research from IBM values each additional relationship in your Rolodex as worth 8 (i.e. 100 relationships are worth k to you.)

So what are you doing to improve your Rolodex? Do you have a “people plan”? Do you have a plan for which people you need to know to give you that killer Rolodex? What are you doing to get to know those people? Not pitch them but approach them in the mindset of helping of adding value. Not for closing a deal this month but for establishing a relationship that will bear fruit next quarter, next year or the year after.

Linchpin or Cog?

Hope this has given you some food for thought. Our customer is changing rapidly. My mission is to “shine a light on that” and urge you to join the movement of sales people that are committed to adapting to that and prospering in this new sales environment.

As Seth Godin says we’re already in a work world where you can choose to be a “linchpin” (invaluable employee) or a “cog” (easily replaced employee). It’s my strong belief that sales people that don’t pick up these new ways of meeting Customer 2.0 on their terms will be “cogs” but those that do adapt will be invaluable linchpins.

Nigel Edelshain (aka “Mr. Sales 2.0”) is launching the Social Selling Bootcamp in February.

I’d like to highly recommend this camp to you. As you know, I don’t usually do this but I’ve been one of the contributors of content so I have first hand knowledge and I’m very confident that Nigel is on to something important here.

The camp is all about aligning our selling to the new ways customers behave.  It’s about how we can use the new tools like social media and Web 2.0 to sell the way our customers want to buy. From what I’ve seen of the camp’s content and the format of delivery (highly interactive) the sales people coming out of this camp are going to have a serious edge in 2011.

The two-day workshop will take place on Feb 16 & 17 at Newark Airport, NJ so you can easily fly in.

Nigel’s offering a big discount to get you TO TAKE ACTION: a serious 40% off if you sign up by Dec 31. There’s also a 100% unconditional money back guarantee.

Disclaimer: I have no financial interest in this just playing matchmaker!

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