Middletown, NY

August 4, 2009

Victim or Perpetrator?

Filed under: Clients,Coaching,Eclectic Tech,Information,Sales,Services — Crisses @ 5:02 pm

If you’re in professional services of any type, where you have to put a price tag on your time, this definitely happens to you. If you are not, it’s likely you’re doing this to people delivering professional services to you.

Let’s look back, for a moment, to my post “Thank You For Your Time” — are you expressing gratitude to people for their one finite commodity, their time?

Service professionals in all industries struggle with the question of pricing. The actual real value of the dollar fluctuates constantly, the purchase power of each greenback gets weaker by the moment, housing, stocks, retirement savings plans, investments, everything around us is bouncing around like a yo-yo on a daily basis, but we need to have a snapshot fixed hourly or service-based rate that we can quote to people. Or perhaps today we’re sending out a 20-page proposal on a 6-month contract and trying to gaze deeply into our crystal ball and project our financial needs for 6-months + the period of time we’ll be looking for the next contract + padding for inflation and emergencies over 6 months, and oh yeah a profit margin so maybe we can actually advertise.

But for some reason, people have little or no respect for time — our one finite commodity. As they firmly grasp and push forward the hands of our lifetime clock, taking our time that we will never get back, the mechanisms screaming protest in clockwork agony, they hold onto their wallets for dear life. Money, however, is an asset that you can quite readily get. Ask any affiliate marketer, you can get a residual income for an up-front investment. That up-front investment, again, is time. But it will continually pay off, the check’s in the mail from the company paying you a commission. If you ask law of attraction aficionados money is ready to come to you in great quantities once you free yourself from disbelief and actually act on your dreams, fulfill your mission in life and STOP WASTING TIME by getting in your own way.

Even as they lengthen our lives with medicines, cybernetic enhancements, nanoprobes, and everything that the creativity of science can leverage against the Reaper, lives will still run out. We can squeeze only so much out of life before it is gone. With the caveat of a few people on ice awaiting immortality.

So why do people “leak minutes” on the boob tube? (I don’t) Why do we often commit sins of robbing others of their time and being stingy on the compensation? While we should come at this with an attitude of gracious thankfulness, instead we hang on to our wallet when someone is willing to leverage their expertise, blood, sweat, and most especially precious moments to further our cause. It’s perhaps one of the leading causes of burnout amongst the experts, since we always have to fight for the right to feed our families, insure our business, plan our financial future. Hear the sound of clients crying in agony, clinging to their wallets like we were ripping out their heart, when what they’re paying for is the ransom for saving them that one absolutely finite commodity — time.

If you could do it yourself, in less time than it takes you to make that money, and with the same quality, then you should do it yourself. What you are hiring is higher quality than you can produce, with less of a <cough> commitment <cough> of your time (remember: the pig is committed*), far less stress, and the ability to “set it and forget it” with regard to achieving the results you need. You decide what price that’s worth to you, and PLEASE save the expert a lot of time by telling us up-front if there’s a hard price limit on what that’s worth to you. We shouldn’t spend 5 hours writing the 20 page proposal if we can tell we’ll need over $15,000 to do the work, but your hard limit is $10,000.

Below is a video message that’s absolutely brilliant. I think it was meant to be funny, but I didn’t laugh. I thought I would share it to help you understand the patent ridiculousness of arguing with service professionals who have set their fees, or poured over your RFP to give you a quote.

Are you the victim or perpetrator? Enjoy:

Perhaps this can help change people’s attitudes? Here’s my wishful-thinking:

If you’re in need of an expert’s services…quit haggling. If you must, ask if the price is final, or if there’s budge room, but don’t whine if the quote is final. Perhaps removing a few unnecessary items from a quote will lower the price to an acceptable fee for excellent service. You can save precious minutes, or hours if you keep requesting revisions to a quote — both yours and the professionals. And if you’re more interested in price than the high quality of the professional who gave you the quote, ask: “Do you know someone who can provide a comparable service for $1000?” Cut to the chase. Everyone can save some grey hairs on the issue.

On the service person’s end: if you’ve poured over pricing and you think it’s fair — It Is! Quit letting customers haggle. If you really feel that you want to work with them, level with them: “What exactly are you willing to pay?” Then decide whether you can remove some items from the list of deliverables to bring it down to their price, but don’t compromise. If there’s no equitable solution cut your losses, reclaim precious minutes and walk away. Someone so willing to haggle over everything is going to be a source of pain for every moment while you’re on the job. If you lower your prices, you will resent doing the work. You shouldn’t charge money if your very best will be tinged with resentment or regret. Don’t low-ball yourself by jumping the gun and offering lower fees if the potential client hesitates. Just keep your trap shut and wait. Either they want you or they don’t want you: they’ll speak with their wallet.

*In the making of the average american breakfast, the chicken and cow are involved, the pig is committed.

May 14, 2009

Someone Gets It

Filed under: Coaching,Design,Holism,Information — Crisses @ 6:44 am

This is a combination of beautiful insight & well thought-out graphic design. It gets the message across to our left & right brains through the choice of terrific affirmations and the graphical play-on-words. Watch it once for the beauty, then watch it again to really listen to the message. It’s the secret to wealth and happiness.

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allowfullscreen='true' width='320' height='265'>

April 3, 2009

As the Portfolio Unfolds (humor)

Filed under: Clients,Humor,Portfolio — Crisses @ 10:47 am

One day a nice Jewish Family girl named stopped for a Minute to check out some Superior Sheds. She had the Ways & Means* from her Scholarships & College Planning, in fact she was Beyond Rubies*! In a Spirit-to-Spirit meeting with Life Coach Sheila Pearl, she rediscovered her Sophistication & Abundant Life. This Lucid PEP talk revealed that every cloud has a Silva Lining, and was Simply Flawless. After the delivery of the Savvy Structures, she hopped on the Great Hudson River Water Quilt, powered by New York Solar Energy, and flew from Pine Island for her Luxury Sun Vacation. All this Independent Living made Emily homesick, so she hopped into a Newburgh Envelope and mailed herself to Weinert t-Shirts, a well-known Middletown Business. She got there Just In Time to SCORE 4.0 on her exams.

* website pending

So, can you come up with an interesting story based on YOUR client’s business names? My apologies to clients who were left out. I’ll try to come up with revisions that add more clients in!

February 6, 2009

Are we causing our nightmares?

Filed under: Coaching,Healing,Holism,Information — Crisses @ 9:07 am

“Fear knocked at the door. Faith answered. And lo, no one was there.” — unknown

May I coach you?

As individuals we have no control over our national or worldwide economy. Anything causing us to feel out of control is a source of anxiety to us. And anxiety is a perpetual level of fear.

I hear about people afraid to open their statements for investments. I hear about people afraid to part with their money. I hear about people living in fear of the economy.

Fear is an unsubstantial prison warden. When we fear, we shrink into ourselves. We no longer are self-actualized, although we continue to be self-determined. Look at those words, because hidden in them is the crux of the situation.

Actualization is the act of bringing dreams to reality, or in this particular moment, the act of facing reality. Self-Actualization is the realization of the basic human drive to become who and what we want to become, or the act of facing reality in this very moment and being at peace with it. As long as you are running away from your financial reality, you cannot be self-actualized.

Self-determined — we are all self-determined whether we like it or not. This is the act of determining or causing our own reality. “To be the decisive factor in…” is the dictionary definition I’d like to focus on. We are all the final deciding factor in our own realities. We each have the last say about who and what we are. Are we fearful? Or are we faithful?

So let me say this again: When we fear we are no longer self-actualized, although we continue to be self-determined. When we fear, we impose limitations on our ability to dream & grow. When we fear, we are making ourselves into something fearful. Often, even worse, when we fear we make ourselves into something to be feared. When we fear, we are bringing our fear into reality, but it is the reality of our nightmares, not the reality of our dreams.

I listened to an interview of a financial coach the other day who said (to paraphrase) that running away from our financial reality is only going to attract more financial uncertainty. We can’t get money unless we face the current reality of how much money we have. Guilty as accused, I immediately did as he suggested and made my financial map. I split a page into 4 boxes. In one, I put my current debts. In another, I put my current liquid assets & immediate accounts receivable (checks in the mail). In another I put my accounts payable (and in some cases a due date). In the 4th quadrant, where most people would put their investments & large assets (perhaps a home, retirement accounts), I jotted down decisions of where to move my liquid assets to cover bills. My whole financial picture fit on one page. My payables & debts far outweigh my income, but facing that reality is the important part. I’m not going to get out of my current financial conundrum from hiding from it or being afraid to pay the bills. The financial coach in the interview says that people who face their finances every week find that their finances correct themselves within 6 months. I’m prepared to do that, and I am prepared to remove fear from my life.

Another piece of the puzzle fell into place last night. I purchased a book last night: “To Sell is Not to Sell” by Greta Schulz. One small section stands so apart from the others I flipped through so far. It’s about our civic duty in the midst of wars, famines, financial hardship. It is the duty of our soldiers to fight. It is the duty of our firefighters to protect. They face overwhelming decisions in-the-moment and simply have to plow ahead and do what they do — they cannot allow fear to immobilize them. They work to protect, to make secure. And they do not ask a leave of absence simply because they are fighting overwhelming odds, or because they may not live to see it through. In the aftermath of 9/11 Greta was immobilized. To paraphrase: How can business go on when the firefighters are digging through the ashes for survivors (I add, “or breathing toxic fumes that will haunt them for years….”), and our soldiers are being deployed? she asked. How can we do “business as usual” when our country is under attack?

Then a realization came to Greta — she realized that it is the duty of a firefighter to find the survivors, to fight the blaze. It is the duty of the soldiers to fight for our freedom & to protect our country. Surely they have a healthy fear, but — to get patriotic and pragmatic both — it is the duty of the business owner to go back to business as usual, to protect the economy that funds those soldiers, to contribute to the tax base that feeds those firefighters. I will take it one step further: It’s the duty of the consumer to continue to purchase services and products (no matter how much more choosy they will be about it) to complete that cycle.

Business must go on. We have a terrific country, and if you’re running from financial reality through fear, you are in the way of both the progress of yourself and others. You are contributing to the financial instability of our country. It is your civic duty to purchase goods & services, to provide goods & services, to give this country economic stability. And since we’re all self-determined, we must start with ourselves. We each can only change our own outcomes — that is self-determination. I refuse to buy into the recession: I continue to purchase goods & services.

To allow the fear to control us is a lack of faith. We have a “Chinese menu” of whom we are committing our lack of faith against: God or higher powers, our President, our country, our economic system, our state, county or town, even our children’s future employability. To quit spending money is a selfish act against our neighbors, it is entirely about thinking of ourselves and our family first before thinking of the needs of others. And lastly, spend it now because the value of your liquid assets may dwindle further if you don’t: what good is holding on to the money? If the money isn’t flowing, if people are holding on to their money, there is nothing that can stop the spiral. The only way for our money to keep its value is to keep it circulating, otherwise it’s a pile of empty promises & the bad debt our money is backed with, rather than a means of economic exchange.

I face my financial reality, that frees me up to be self-actualized, because to live out my dreams, I must not fear.

I have lived my life by this memorized chant by Frank Herbert, from Dune: “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn my inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

January 11, 2009

Boycott the Recession

Filed under: Humor,Sales — Crisses @ 10:40 pm
Click for images to spark the imagination on how to think differently about the so-called recession.

Click for images to spark the imagination on how to think differently about the so-called recession.

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t ask for a recession (or depression, or whatever….). It wasn’t on my list of “things to do” this year. It’s not on my resolution list. And it’s not even on my bucket list.

I’ve decided to boycott the recession. I refuse to buy into it. It’s like the guest you really wish you didn’t have to invite to your potluck — they don’t bring a dish and they eat for 20. And they pick the best dishes to eat. Nothing left for anyone else. Well, I’ve decided I don’t care if I piss off Uncle Sam, this person ain’t coming to my bar-b-que.

Maybe you’d like to join me. I have created a group of images, badges, stickers, funny sayings — stick them wherever you want as long as you keep to the “by” attribution requirement. Put them at the bottom of your email, on your blog, on a card in your wallet. Or don’t. If you find them offensive or silly, then move along. I don’t know what colors people need them in, so I didn’t get fancy with colors. It’s a boycott, not a Gala.

I’m especially fond of “While you were out griping…”

I’ve been saying it for a while, but avid networker Dr. Ivan Misner inspired me (in this YouTube video) about buying in to the recession. He met someone with a “I ABSOLUTELY refuse to participate in this recession” button. That’s what did it. Criss on inspiration. That means “Watch Out!” to anyone who knows me. If anyone is actually interested in my hastily-designed buttonfest, I’ll make this one easier on you and actually slice up the images so that you can post them individually on your website with a transparent background where warranted….but if no one wants the images, I won’t bother.

Keep working, keep thinking, keep dreaming big, keep your head above water, and don’t stop doing the doggy paddle. You know, all that law of attraction stuff, right? Don’t think fear. Don’t feed the mental commiseration going on. You’re running a business! Think of sales closing the way they should. Think of checks in your mailbox. Think of how much your business is going to grow. If your business is growing double this year, you have a lot of work to do — “Sorry guys, no time to gripe….” or, as one of my images says:

“While you were out griping ….you could have picked up a client.”

January 7, 2009

Maximize Networking Results in any venue

Filed under: Coaching,Information — Crisses @ 6:19 pm

How can networking events work for you if attendance is still dwindling? If you’re not looking at them as a small trade-show where you’ll get tons of leads, are they still worth attending?

Here’s 3 quick tips to use individualized invitations to markedly increase the value of any event you attend:

Invite referral partners: Stack the room. Your referral partner(s!) will get a little more face-time with you, which puts you at the top of their mind. If they’re a networkaholic, they’ll appreciate meeting a new group, and on the selfish side you get more kudos so they’ll want to do you a favor in-turn. If you received a referral from them, invite them AND pay for their fee to come to the networking event. How’s that for a “thank you!” gift? Note, you’re not taking them out to lunch — ask your accountant if you can tag it as an incentive gift for taxes.

Invite prospects: Suddenly you have a reason to reach out to a prospect without giving a sales pitch! This is for them — right? You can introduce them to your network, and they might get business from it. For you, the networking event becomes an opportunity for a high-touch contact with low pressure. Don’t talk about your services unless they mention their interest in your products, but do allow them a chance to get to know you and your other referral partners better. If you have clients or referral partners in the room, someone else may talk them into closing the sale! You have increased your value to the client without doing anything you wouldn’t have been doing anyway.

Invite clients: Another opportunity for a high-touch contact, which is excellent customer service and maintains top-of-mind awareness with someone who has already paid you. Talk them up to others, and play matchmaker for them. They’re living, walking, breathing proof that you do your work, and do it well. They’re an on-the-spot testimonial for your services. They may evangelize you to the group. If you do your 30 second or 1 minute presentation on a service they did NOT purchase (yet) or maybe don’t even know you offer, you may just be able to up-sell it to them later.

Work on making it a habit to invite one person to every networking event you attend — or invite 3 people to the QED luncheons to get $15 off your next luncheon. Shuffle these invites into your normal sales calls, schedule dance cards with referral partners before or after a networking event, and make these invitations a normal part of your ongoing customer service.

Let everyone know how it works out for you–I’ve been applying these techniques and I like how it has been working out.

For local networking venues see NetworkaholicsAnonymous.org — and make sure you join us at the QED Networking Luncheons and QED Hudson Valley Business Edge Conference events!

January 1, 2009

Don’t Panic!

Filed under: Clients,Coaching,Information,Technology — Crisses @ 12:42 am

or The value of thinking things through before someone gets hurt….

Has anyone else noticed that some people seem to be having a knee-jerk reaction to this so-called downturn in the economy? I want to talk about the value of thinking things through before you make moves that could jeopardize your business. I have started doing consulting, coaching and brainstorming with people, to help them come up with new ideas and plans for their business. This is in direct contrast to thinking about things on one’s own, and not planning at all. No sounding board. No opinions from anyone else.

An example is switching your branding. An overnight change of your branding is tantamount to wiping your marketing slate clean.

I went to a website I had been to before, and their design and overall “feel” to their website was so starkly different I thought they may have lost ownership of their domain name, or I misspelled it and landed on a “parked domain” page. If I was less familiar with the company, I would have gone back to whatever search engine I had come from. I scrutinized the links, clicked around, and found out that it was indeed the same business. There was no connection to the old website — no visual clue-in that it was the same company. The logo, gone. All the images, changed. The About Us page didn’t have the name of the people in the organization. It’s almost like they sold the company (they didn’t sell the company!). The only clue left was testimonials that mentioned people by name.

In a global economy, some of our intrinsic differentiating factors are where we are, the people in our business, and the personal connections we build with others outside of our organization. I panicked as a marketing maven, because in my mind they had just cut off all their current prospects by changing their design and market positioning so drastically. As a web designer & programmer, I can also say there is a problem created on the technical end: When people are looking for your website in a search engine, what they typed into the search engine in the past could stop working. Had this person taken a little more time, and perhaps consulted with someone (read: ME) before the change, there could be an analysis of keyword history for the website.  A plan could be created to shift the business branding & site design without so drastically alienating loyal followers. A graphic designer could have suggested visual cues intended for established clients or prospects to establish that this is indeed the same company. As it stands now, a complete change of the design and the content means that the website may very well be starting from scratch even with regard to prior visitors as well as search engine rankings. Ouch.

There are so many things to do to shift the focus of your business without metamorphosing into an entirely new entity. My business’ shifts of late have been happening slowly over time. My first “adjunct” website was NetworkaholicsAnonymous.org which would make NO sense as part of my main website — it’s intended to be an entirely separate entity and in many ways a business venture unto itself. LiberateYourWebsite.net is based on my tag line, and first showed on business cards as a website address that pointed directly to my website packages.  Now it is a separate website, and is hopefully a less confusing portal for information about my website packages & services — the packages didn’t change, just how clearly they were presented.  Eclectictech.net is my corporate website, and only still holds some straggling service/product information such as maintenance packages. Another domain was for pointing to the section of my website about brainstorming sessions, and is now a separate website (LiberateYourBusiness.net) to showcase my consulting, coaching & brainstorming services. It’s not an overnight shift — much of this was years in the making.

Perhaps I shouldn’t panic. Maybe other people have, like me, had a lull in business allowing them to put plans into action that they had on the back-burner for months or years. I hope so. But if you’re panicking and really feel like you need to change something — take some time to think it through, talk it over with people whose judgement you trust and who are willing to really tell you what they think. If you need impartial help to figure out your best possible future, come up with a plan of action, and to help talk you off the ledge of knee-jerk marketing, that’s where my business coaching & consulting services shine.

Here’s something I’ll probably have to explain for the rest of my life:

The difference between coaching & consulting:

Coaches sit in an interesting grey area between consultants and facilitators. They help you figure out where you want to go, and then helping you get there by way of fostering your own growth. Coaches may be able to give advice when you are stuck, but their main purpose is to open up choices for you, and help you accomplish your goals. You define the goal, the coach helps you get there by helping you draw a map.  When needed, the coach might tell you where the nearest 3 gas stations and rest areas are while they’re at it.

Consultants have answers. They don’t usually teach you how to get there yourself (there are moments a consultant can become a trainer  – and a trainer is more like a coach), usually they are brought into a situation to be or provide the solution to a problem. You OR the consultant defines a goal, the Consultant takes you there — by handing you a mapped route with specific rest points or picking you up and carrying you piggyback if need be.

Someone who is both consultant and coach can switch between the roles if needed.  At times they may give expert advice, or even roll up their sleeves and do something for you. At other times, it would be better if you learned about doing it yourself, or it’s a situation where you must be fully invested in the results, otherwise there are no results at all.

Ok, here’s an example of the difference:

You might need a technical consultant to help you install a computer network. You wouldn’t want a coach unless you are somewhat technically proficient, and wanted to learn how to do it yourself. However, you need a coach if you’re going to grow your business: you shouldn’t hire a consultant to come in and build your business for you or you won’t be able to maintain the changes. It takes a personal commitment and new habits from the top of your organization down. You can’t outsource that.  Consultants help change something. Coaches help you change.

My brainstorming sessions are a blend of consulting & coaching sessions. I usually spend a portion of the time helping you figure out where you want to go (coaching), and helping you figure out the next steps to get there. Then if needed I’ll give advice on marketing (consulting), since you might not have a lot of ideas on things to do to reach your target market (but defining it is coaching) &/or venues for inexpensive marketing to your target market (consulting). With some people, I help them define their needs in daily operations (coaching), or even mapping out cycles in their business workflow (a blend).

I strongly encourage people to either take advantage of my brainstorming sessions OR to try my complimentary exploratory coaching session. Either one can change your outlook on your business permanently, but with a sense of excitement instead of panic.

Never make changes when you’re in a place of panic. If the changes are a reaction to the economic climate, and not what you really want to be doing with your business, the changes will be temporary at best and they will confuse your prospects. To make lasting changes that will have you happy to work every day, you need to spend more time planning, less time acting.

Call today so I can help you out. 866-993-8932 x 101.

December 26, 2008

Getting the most out of networking

Filed under: Humor,Information — Crisses @ 10:38 pm

Oh, no, not another one of those “networking” posts. Never fear — I have some ideas that are different from the run-of-the-mill ideas.

Hint 1: Manage your expectations. Do you expect the event coordinators to provide you with a room full of warm bodies to toss your business card at? If someone did that to you, would you be impressed? As the economy has declined, I’ve heard complaints from event-goers about attendance. Take the opportunity to connect with people who threw your business card out the first time you handed it to them: if there’s a connection, they’ll keep and remember your business card.

Hint 2: Bring a host-gift. Ok, so let’s say you DO expect your networking event host(s) to supply you with a room full of warm bodies to throw your business cards at. Return the favor to your fellow attendees and the event hosts. Invite your prospects, your entire mailing list, your clients, to any event you’re going to go to. You’ll get another moment of face-time with your warm prospects, which couldn’t hurt any, a chance to make sure your clients are happy with your services, and there will definitely be more warm bodies in the room for everyone else. If every other guest did this, suddenly you’d be at a standing-room-only event and have to fight your way to the bar. Don’t complain–contribute.

Hint 3: This builds on idea #2 — carpool. The host-gift is built-in and you end up with a captive audience for the drive to and from the event. Don’t be a boor, though — spend your time driving and listening without talking. They’ll think you’re the most brilliant person on the planet if you just listen. When you do finally speak, they’re sure to hear you if you heard them first. Talk about time well spent! You just networked during what would normally have been dead time.

Hint 4: Note who DOES show up. So there’s very few people at the event. Look around carefully. Have you cultivated a close relationship with the diehards in the room? This is your prime market! These are the avid networkers, the people who come early, stay late, form lasting ties with other networkers, and refer clients. Don’t be disappointed — be excited. Pick 3 people, make a point of looking them in the eye and asking if you can contact them after the event to do coffee (breakfast, lunch….). These are the people you need to catch. Get on their preferred referral list. They’ll be at the networking events you miss. These are the people who could be your unpaid sales force.

Hint 5: Play a game. Pick out a topic for information you want to know — something of importance or common experience to most people — and make a game out of getting an answer to the question from as many people in the room as possible before the end of the event. Here’s some ideas: Who was your favorite pet? Where did you grow up? What did you study in school? What is your favorite sport? Make sure it’s an open-ended question, and that you ask for more details (i.e. What was it like growing up in Brooklyn?). The best thing about this exercise is that you’ll definitely be taking your eye off the prize. You’ll get to have some interesting conversations, and maybe someone will actually ask you what you do, or ask for your business card.

Hint 6: Play matchmaker. This one is fun. Go to the event with a bunch of business cards for people you trust and can refer. If you’re new to business this could be your plumber, your beautician, or your brother. It doesn’t matter what they do, just make sure that you know their services are good and that they give great customer service. Now, while you’re at the event, listen for any opportunity to give out one of their cards. Talk less about what you do, and find out more about what people in the room are looking for. Turn into an opportunity ninja. When the attendee shows a moment of need, search your brain for the right connection. It can be someone in your card case — or it can be someone else in the room. The best black-belt opportunity ninja tactics happen when you can drag someone across the room and make a direct referral on-the-spot. If you don’t know the quality of the person’s work, and can’t give a hearty honest recommendation, just mention it: “Oh, I just met Jane, she said she’s a realtor. Here, let me introduce you to her.” — the person will know that it’s a cold referral, but it’s better than nothing. Note: The best way to give a referral is to hand the person the card for the vendor and ASK if you can give the vendor their information. “My brother John is a plumber. Here’s his card. If you give me your card I’ll have him get in touch with you about that leaky sink.”

You get out of networking what you put into it. It’s got “working” in the name — it’s not a free ride, business doesn’t just happen. It can take months before you see the results, but when you do see the results, they’re profound. Referred clients gripe less about your services and are usually your best customers, because they come to you with some measure of trust & faith. But for your referral partner to transfer that trust & faith, they need to know you and see you at work. Get to know your referral partners — that’s the real power of networking.

For local networking events, please see Networkaholics Anonymous — help increase attendance at local networking events!

December 22, 2008

The Fate of Promotional Pens

Filed under: Clients,Humor,Information — Crisses @ 4:27 pm

Melanie Richards of Prisms Promotions is considering starting a “How do YOU use promotional pens?” contest. Let’s see if we can start her off on t he right foot here….

If you hate when someone hands you a business card like someone handing out a leaflet outside a gentleman’s club, then you probably have an equal dislike for rinkydink promotional products that are worth virtually nothing and have no meaning behind them. Like a pen.

Oh, we all need pens. The idea behind a promotional product pen is wonderful — pens are things everyone carries around, get annoyed when you can’t find one, and some people actually do something important with them, like actually write something with meaning. Then again, those of us who are writers probably have a favorite type of pen. When it comes to paper & pens, suddenly we’re as obsessive-compulsive as Felix Unger. For us OCD writers, only our favorite pen will do. I won’t be caught without a pen, and if I don’t have pen & paper on me at ALL times, it’s like the Muses take it as a personal affront. I always keep pen & paper on or near my person — it’s like a charm to make sure that I won’t have ideas, inspirations, song lyrics, or poems suddenly overtake me. I take on a FAVORITE type of pen. Right now it’s Pilot G-2 5mm. I took a brief sojourn with the Uniball Signo RT Gel .38 because a really super fine line gets me every time — but the ink doesn’t last long enough, and I can’t find refills. So it lost and I’m back on the Pilot G-2 5mm even though the ink doesn’t dry fast enough for my moleskines.

Oh, back on topic — you can see I’m a real pen-obsessed person. I love my pens. Guess what? I don’t love YOUR pens. I don’t love them when I get 3-4 per event I go to, and I don’t love them when you try to give me them again at the next meeting. And I don’t love them when I’m doing the artwork to fit into their 1.5″ wide by .25″ high imprint area. You want to fit your business name, name, tag line and phone number — plus logo — into WHAT? I’ll try, but I need a shoehorn & a magnifying glass. But hey, you’re the customer, so you’re always right.

Pens. Why did it have to be pens? Sure they’re one of the least expensive promotional products you can get — but you get what you pay for. Please save your $.30/piece. Figure out your budget then get a real consultation on how to best spend your promotional item funny money with Melanie rather than just buying some more pens.

So what do I do with all those pens when I get back to my office (read: Home)?

Well, in my house I have a special place for those pens. It’s a pen jar in my office, as far from my desk as possible. It sits there and it’s convenient to point to when my son needs to do his homework. If the pen jar were in his room, he’d empty it under his bed. He “borrows” a pen and “brings it back” later — well, it works that way sometimes — but since you still give me more pens, the jar ends up with more & more pens in the long run anyway. Since I’m so anal about my pens, you can bet he’s not touching my pens. If he loses YOUR pen, what do I care? You have 500 more where that one came from and I’ll get another one next week, right?

I have to say, I make an exception for a few exceptional pens. Jellybean: I like the purple pen. I won’t use it, but as a designer, I have to say it’s awesome to have a pen that writes in your logo color. I have some admiration for your other ink pen, too. Nice choices. They’re in the pen jar for my son, but I do admire them.

Carol Garcia, Carole & Company — LOVE the light-up pens. Hours of amusement for my son. One stays at my bed for writing dreams or notes to myself in the middle of the night. You took “promo pen” to a new level for me. Thank you! Thank you! A pen I actually use — myself! I write in journals at my bedside with your pen, too.

The rest, I could take or leave — no actually I’d rather leave them, because I’m an environmentalist. But if I have to take them, at least my son puts them to good use — or loses them, chews on them, breaks them, tries to sharpen them in the pencil sharpener….better your pen than mine though!

Do you have any funny tales about what you do with promotional pens? Please feel free to comment, send the information to Melanie at Prisms Promotion or send them to me.

Last word: Do you really want your company associated with writing out checks to pay the bills, signing tax forms, or best yet, an item that’s eminently disposable? Does your company run out of juice just like the pen? Be careful what products you tie your name & image to.

December 15, 2008

Pack Rat and Synchronicity

Filed under: Coaching,Eclectic Tech,Holism,Humor,Information,Services — Crisses @ 5:30 pm

I’m an unashamed pack-rat. It’s my doom, especially in a small home. It’s also occasionally enabled those odd moments of synchronicity to occur. Right now is one of those times. Being organized is exceptionally important, mind you. But I get stressed out when I go on the occasional tossing streak, because at the time I collected something, I probably had a reason for it, whether conscious or subconscious.

Flashback to something like 2-3 years ago, when I was frequently combing Craigslist for what was going on in the Hudson Valley. My eye was caught by an ad for massage space by the hour. On the surface, I thought Maxine Ward, my favorite massage therapist could use the space for her practice. I gave the info to Maxine, but held on to it myself. It tickled my mind somewhere — I couldn’t let that paper go. I found it during a descavation (that’s to say the digging out of one’s desk under long-standing rubble). Try as I might, I couldn’t figure out how to categorize it, and I couldn’t figure out what to do with it. So, it being on a Post-It™ note, I just stuck it to my desktop almost under my keyboard — it was temporary. I’d do something with it shortly.

I did. A few days later, under the sounds of jackhammers, and exchange students with dust masks and brushes gingerly brushing the sand off the desktop, I got annoyed at said Post-It™ note. I have this wonderful saying captured from a judge from the MyDreamApp.com competition:

I welcome with open arms any tool that tries to make me more organized! But I have one reservation about this idea — and this is largely a personal problem — to me, Post-It notes are, in a way, the very opposite of organization. They’re 3 inch squares of pastel-packed institutionalized chaos, the paper product demon spawn of Lucifer himself. What starts with one simple Post-It note — “Don’t forget to e-mail Ged!” — quickly devolves into four hundred incomprehensible notes saying things like “magic beans” and “do thing”.

During the descavation, my partner Chris (yeah, Chris) laughs because I’ll find pieces of sticky note that are rendered completely undecipherable by time. The exchange student hands me something that might be useful, or beetle dung. I just exclaim “Magic Bean!” or “Do Thing!” and throw it out. My partner chuckles.

I was having a “Do Thing!” moment when looking at this note. I grabbed it, crumpled it, tossed it into the recycling with dozens of other Post-It™s. Then the little voice in my head said “Noooooo!” and it turned into a scene from Indiana Jones, with everyone rushing to the precipice of a newly uncovered chamber of some ancient Pharaoh’s tomb. I dove nearly head-first into my recycle bin and fished it out. I had it — I knew suddenly why I had been holding on to that piece of paper for Two Years. I was becoming a coach, business & life coach, and there was no way with my towers of pack-rat-itis that I’d have clients peacefully recline in my home office and tell me their dreams. No. Nope. No-way.

Suddenly the piece of paper was a string of rubies, the collar of the Pharaoh’s wife, a new sarcophagus. I could use this woman’s hourly massage room to coach clients. The heavens opened up, and pixie dust rained down on me. An epiphany.

Today she returned my call, and we’re meeting later this week. You can tell I’m a little excited.

Was this an epiphany, design of my conspiratorial subconsious, the world’s Abundance, divine design, or just a coincidence? I don’t care!! “What does it matter–you weren’t looking anyway.” (What Dreams May Come) I wrote to Cindy Marsh-Croll, professional organizer, just to let her know:

Score: 1 for being a Pack-Rat.

But then again, if it weren’t for Croll Organizing, there would have been no descavation at this site in the first place. Thank you, Cindy for teaching me that there might be some treasures, or even an ancient city, buried on my desk. I might even find Atlantis!

Note: Post-It™ is a trademark, probably registered, of its respective trademark holders and thus I didn’t manufacture or attempt to claim the label as my own….I just tried throwing it out.

Note 2: My son wants me to make another disclaimer. I disclaim my ability to make another disclaimer on his behalf. I’m just doing this because it makes him laugh.

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