Negotiating is Part of Daily Life (all day every day)

I attended a workshop recently on Negotiating Skills hosted by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. I was very interested in attending because I feel as if I negotiate something every single day and wanted to learn how I could be more effective. How to make sure I’m not leaving something (money) on the table.

Negotiating Requires Trust

Negotiating Requires Trust

I don’t know about your business and life in general but I would be willing to bet, you negotiate daily too. You may negotiate with your kids or your significant other, your employees, your vendors, your boss, your colleagues… the list seems endless.

One of the tidbits I found interesting was that even when both sides are in agreement the deal still falls through 45% of the time.

Why? Well, many times it is a lack of understanding of what the other side really wants to accomplish. The panel gave a number of examples of how deals weren’t made because of a lack of communication.

The reason “why” can make a huge difference in a negotiation. The panel discussed a recent real estate deal. The two parties; the building owner and a renter had been speaking for months trying to come to terms. They couldn’t and had to hire a mediator. The building owner had an opportunity to sell but the renter had a long-term lease. They just couldn’t seem to come to terms. Why? The renter finally explained that the seller kept insisting that they move out quickly when a deal was made. They just wanted to have 45 days to move. It wasn’t about price or buy-out or anything more than time consideration. They weren’t communicating. Each thought the other had a different agenda.

I recently worked on a custom product being produced overseas. I read the email from the factory incorrectly and sent them a very “questioning” email about their pricing and indicated that I was being charged too much. They came back with several reasons why that to me didn’t seem to add up to their increase. After a little give and take, they lowered the price. Now, yes, I could have made it work at the price they originally quoted, but in the end they not only made me happy on this order, I will be back again.

One of the best tips the panel provided was: “don’t get caught in a lie”. They indicated that is one of the worst mistakes you can make because then you lose the trust factor. Now, that’s not to say you have to give full disclosure from the beginning. Initially you may want to give an overview of what you are seeking and why it’s important to you and release more information as you get further into the deal. It’s not lying, it’s strategically disclosing!!

Another good point they made was that we all need to listen more than we talk. We need to exercise restraint and truly listen to what the other side may be seeking and ask open ended questions. If all you ask are yes and no questions the chance of gaining a full understanding of the deal in play is very limited. A good negotiation ends with both parties getting what they want.

However, in the end if you’ve reached your threshold and you still don’t have a deal that suits you, then you must be prepared to walk away. All you need to say is “I’m sorry, this doesn’t work for me”.

To Exhibit or Not at a Trade Show

As most of you know, I am very involved in the community and am a member of a number of organizations. For me, it’s a great way to stay connected.

I had two different groups recently host a combination type trade show and networking event. I exhibited at one and attended the other.

It really got me to thinking, what’s the best way to “work” one of these events.

At the event we exhibited I feel we got some great traffic and we met some quality people and we are already working with a few of them. So, definitely a win-win situation.

At the second event, I just walked the aisles and networked. Now, granted I feel I met more people and probably handed out more business cards but are these people ever going to do business with me? I am following up on those prospects that I met, but will I get the business?

It’s a dilemma I am sure we all face. What’s the best use of our time and money?

Have a Plan for Exhibiting or Networking a Show

Have a Plan for Exhibiting or Networking a Show

This year not exhibiting at the second event was due mostly to the timing. It was held on a day that was a busy one for me and I just knew I would be too tired to effectively work the booth.  But on the other hand having people come to me versus the other way around might have been better.

I think no matter if you exhibit or not you need to have a plan to get the most out of your investment (time and money). So many people forget about scheduling time after the event to follow up. Are you marketing materials up to date so it’s a quick and easy follow up. Also, don’t wait weeks to touch base – the lead is cold by then.

I don’t know about you, but I hate getting that email – so good to meet you at the event last month. Obviously wasn’t that great or I didn’t make much of an impression for it to take so long to get in touch. And, besides, by then I don’t remember who you were.

Also, if you have a plan and know who is going to be attending the event you can make a list so you make sure you get to everyone you need to. The worst is to find out that a key prospect was there after the fact. But it’s not a total loss, you can always send a note stating – “sorry we didn’t get to meet at the event but I wanted to introduce myself”. It’s worked for me.

So, I think it’s safe to say, there is no right or wrong in exhibiting or just attending. However, in both cases, follow up is key.

Are First Impressions Still Important?

Are First Impressions Important?

In my opinion, a resounding YES!! And the thing is you can have a first impression in so many ways today. Of course, in person is the one we all think about. The old adage put your best foot forward holds true. I’ve been interviewing for a new assistant and I look at everything. Shoes (are they very worn), nails (guys too – I don’t want someone greeting people that have dirty nails), hair, make-up and of course the overall apparel look. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does need to be professional.

First Impressions Count!

First Impressions Count!

If you don’t care enough about your appearance in public then are you going to care about me and my business?

But today, you also make a first impression on social media. For many employers it’s the first place they look after you walk out the door. I had a friend of mine about to offer a position to someone and decided to do a quick google search. Lo and behold, he had an arrest record!! Now, she did the right thing and talked to him about it and he was shocked it was still on page one. It was a vindictive ex-wife (he had the restraining order and more to prove it) but he almost lost the job because of it. They had a long discussion about it and she hired him. But they developed a plan to concentrate on his social media posts so that her attempts to sabotage him would not work.

So, it may not even be your posts you need to worry about. Keep an eye on your pages and google yourself once in awhile. It might make you smile how far you’ve moved up in the pages or it may show you something that shouldn’t be there.

In today’s instant world your first impression in person or online may be the only impression opportunity you get. So make sure “your” brand is topnotch always. Make sure you the basics down pat. Great business card – check! Great overall look – check! Great handshake (I personally hate a limp handshake — no 3 finger touch shakes — full hand please) – check! And remember if you are wearing a name tag — it should be on the right chest area so when someone shakes your hand they can see your name!!

That is the point, right. Remembering you?

Networking Season Is Coming

It’s basically the end of the summer. Seriously, it’s almost August and everyone is already starting to talk about back to school and even Christmas plans! It’s also the time that many business organizations re-start their networking events in earnest. Over the summer months there are limited events, come September you could have multiple events a night.

So how do you choose what’s the best use of your time?

Of course, you probably have your core groups you like to interact with, but maybe it’s time to expand that sphere and venture

Seek out new people and introduce yourself

Seek out new people and introduce yourself

out to network with some new industries. If you’re like me and my sales staff we utilize these networking events to expand our business development efforts. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve struck up a conversation with someone at an event and it’s ultimately resulted in us doing business together.

I admit, I like going to events where I know people. It’s comfortable. But it’s not always the best use of my time. While it may be good to re-connect with some clients at these events, many times I might just end up schmoozing with friends. Fun, yes, productive, no.

So, picking new events and getting out of my comfort zone is one of my goals for this fall. When going to those types of events I make myself act as if I’m one of the hosts. By that I mean, I walk up to people that are standing alone looking lost and introduce myself. They are relieved to be talking to someone and I’ve made some great contacts that way.

I also look for events that may be out of my usual business area. Miami is big. We have many business organizations all over town, so I actually plan on hitting some of the events in a growing business area of town. I am sure I will know a few people and of course I will seek them out at the events and ask them to introduce me around. Another great tool to work the room.

No matter what, plan to get a bit more this fall. We all recognize business is moving again, but if you don’t get out and be seen and keep your pipeline full, you may just get left behind.

Hope to see you at an event soon!

Why Be Involved

I met someone today via phone that came through an introduction by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. We have very similar businesses and yet quite different. We came away from the conversation agreeing that we will complement each other’s services quite nicely and we expect to be doing business together in the near future. That’s networking at it’s finest!

However, in the course of our conversation she asked an interesting question. Why are you so involved at the Greater Miami Chamber? And it gave me pause because there isn’t just one answer. One, I do like to give back to my committee and being a business person it fits that I can help other businesses with their development. Secondly, I have gotten a lot of business from my membership. But it’s more than that. I enjoy it. I enjoy meeting new people and introducing them to others.

Yes, I spend a good deal of volunteer time with the Greater Miami Chamber. I am on the Board of Directors, a Trustee member, Chair of Business Excellence (that overseas three important task forces), an Ambassador and on the membership committee. Whew. That is a lot! But to me it is time well spent.networking

For one, I enjoy the camaraderie of the membership. I’ve met some amazing and inspiring people. Many of them have become friends. I enjoy the interaction with other business people. I enjoy learning from them and from the programs the Chamber puts together. I like staying well informed about my community.

We talked about the time spent. Yes, at times it can be quite a bit and at times it can be overwhelming to me. But in the long run I get so much more out of it. My business benefits from it and so do I.

If you are in the South Florida area and want to check it out, let me know. I’d be happy to help. If not, I encourage you to get involved with your local Chamber of Commerce. And once there and involved, don’t forget to ask for the business!!

Thank Those Who Refer You

If you’ve ever read this section of our blog before, then you probably know that the Gossett Marketing team is very involved with networking. We do so through our local chamber of commerce, running and golf groups, and more recently via Twitter and other online channels. You get it: we’re out there, we network, and we want you to do the same! So what if you are already a networking pro? How can we help you take it further?

Well, if you are networking successfully then certainly you are getting referrals. You’ve met so many business contacts through your efforts and you have made such a great impression on them that they want to help you grow. I sincerely hope that this is the case, and if it is, then kudos to you! Other than assisting the individuals and companies to whom you’ve been referred, what do you do when you’ve received a glowing recommendation from a business contact? One thing that I like to do is to say thank you with a hand written note and a gift – nothing extravagant, just a token of appreciation that makes me stand apart from the pack.

One gift that I’m loving right now is a nice metal pen inscribed with my referrer’s name. Sure, you can give them something that is imprinted with your company’s logo, but personalizing the pen helps to ensure that they do not lose it, plus it shows that you took the time to think about them – you’re not just giving out a promotional product that is taking up space in your gift closet.

If you know your referrer very well, then you can give him or her something more personal. Does he enjoy wine? Then what about a pretty corkscrew or bottle stopper? Or if she’s a golfer, then a ball marker would come in handy. Maybe she talks about her dog all of the time – get Fido a colorful bandana! The world is your oyster, I’d just be sure to have any of these items imprinted with your company’s name to keep you top of mind.

If an individual takes the time to refer you and your services to his or her business contact, then certainly he or she deserves a thank you. If a thank you and a smile go far, then think about how much your referrer will appreciate a thank you and a gift! And every time they use that present, you and your company will come to mind.

referral

Bolster Your Business Card

Business Cards

To me, networking events can be overwhelming. I meet dozens of new contacts in a short period of time, and, not being particularly good at remembering names or details of new people in general, I often find it difficult to recall too much about a person once he or she walks away. That’s why I love individuals with good business cards.

I like a card that gives me more than just a company’s name, person’s name, and his or her contact information. Give me a clue about what you do! For instance, my card tells you that I am an Account Executive at Gossett Marketing and that we deal in “Creative Promotions & Products.” It also indicates the professional organizations with which we are affiliated – Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, Advertising Specialty Institute, Promotional Products Information Center, etc. You get the drift.

Aside from content, I love unique designs that make me take notice of my new contacts’ business cards. I recently received one that had a space for notes on the back – no more writing tiny, later-illegible notes to myself! Some have beautiful graphics that are spot varnished. Those are always memorable to me. Others are in unusual sizes or shapes. That style of card isn’t my favorite because it won’t fit in my business card holder, but it does stand out, and there’s something to be said for differentiating yourself. And I actually once received a nail file that served as someone’s card: it’s still in my handbag!

Your business card might be the only thing that your new contact can remember about you, so it should make an impact. Keep that in mind the next time you re-order!

Do your cards stand out? If so, please tell us why in the comments below.

Connecting People via Twitter

Connecting People If you’ve ever read this blog, then you know that I love Twitter. I love that it lets me connect Gossett Marketing to people all over the world so that we can learn from one another. I love that, even though we don’t know each other in the real world, I interact with so many people who I consider to be friends. I just really love it! One of my favorite aspects of Twitter is the #FF mention. For those of you who are unfamiliar with micro-blogging, a #FF mention is a tweet that someone sends out to his followers to suggest that they follow you. These messages are typically sent out on Fridays, which is why the alliterative hashtag abbreviation was born.

Not to brag, but our Twitter handle, @marketngtidbits, tends to get a decent number of #FF mentions each week. The vast majority are from our aforementioned Twitter friends, and they often give a reason as to why they think their followers might be interested in following us. For example, last week someone #FF’d us and a couple of other Twitter handles and suggested that people follow all of us for marketing information. Another friend said that his followers should check us out because he thinks we’re engaging. These people use their #FF messages as min introductions, which I think is the best way to handle the hashtag.

Then there are people who send out dozens of #FF mentions for no reason. These tend to be long lists of names – maybe a dozen if space allows – that give absolutely no reason for following the individuals who are included. When I see those lists, even if they’re from a fellow Tweeter who I respect, I almost always ignore them. If you don’t take the time to write down why I should follow them, then, well, why should I follow this huge list of people? If you’re at a networking event and you introduce one associate to another, do you simply state their names and walk away? Probably not – I’ll bet you give a little bit of background, even if it’s just a sentence or two. You should do the same thing on Twitter! You can say even less (literally just a couple of words), and it goes a long way towards making your #FF introductions more meaningful.

Remember, the key to being successful on Twitter is to act like a human. Just because you’re on a computer, your networking should still feel personal. So for #FF mentions or any other interaction, put the “social” back into “social media” networking!

Disconnect to Connect at Networking Events

Smart Phones We live in a very digitally connected world. I get it, we all have smart phones that allow us to talk, text, check e-mails, browse the web, post to Facebook, Tweet – it’s a huge amount of technology in the palms of our hands. I’m not going to lie, I’m addicted to my iPhone and find myself reaching for it more often than I should, and at times when I probably shouldn’t; however, there are certain times when I feel like playing on my phone is vastly inappropriate. One such time is at networking events.

I was at a networking breakfast not too long ago where a speaker was on the podium for far too long. I’ll admit that he was boring and that the information that he presented wasn’t groundbreaking, but I was there, and I guess my mom raised me right because I tried to give him my undivided attention. It’s the golden rule – treat others as you would like to be treated – and if I was giving a boring speech at the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce, then I’d want those in attendance to pay attention to what I was saying! Well, I guess that most of the attendees missed that lesson because the vast majority were bowed over the smartphones that they had quasi-concealed in their laps.

Once the presentation had concluded, we had the opportunity to continue networking with those around us and I have to say that I really wasn’t interested in connecting with the people who had ignored the speaker. My first impression of them was that they were rude and self-important – too good to spend 20 minutes away from their smart phones and pay attention (or fake paying attention) to the gentleman who was presenting to the organization – so why would they bother with the likes of me? And, more importantly, why would anyone from the Gossett Marketing team want to deal with them?

I know, I know, I’m on a soap box ranting about technology to which I freely admitted I’m addicted. I’ll get off in a second, but I just want to hammer home my point. There is a time and a place for everything, and a networking event is neither the time nor the place for your smart phone! Use these events as an opportunity to connect with other attendees – and to disconnect from the digital world for an hour.

The Business Pecking Order

photo from www.survivalmagazine.org

photo from www.survivalmagazine.org

One of my good friends recently acquired a chicken coop and, to go with it, two chickens. Those two yardbirds were doing great, so she got three more – and made her neighbors very happy because she shares fresh eggs. I know nothing about living with fowl but my girlfriend told me that she had to be careful introducing the new ones for fear that her more-dominant chicken would feel threatened and harm one of the new arrivals! She explained further describing the actual pecking order that is established among flocks of hens. I did not know this, but the chickens that rank highly in their groups often peck newcomers – and could possibly kill them if introduced incorrectly. Fortunately for my friend, though, chickens are pretty dumb so you can wait until the established birds are asleep, sneak new ones into the coop, and apparently they will all wake up the next day thinking that everyone had been there all along!

Businesses definitely have pecking orders. You have your boss/CEO who is the top bird, then various VPS, managers, account execs, all the way down to interns. None of these people will peck their inferiors to death, but it is important to have ranks within an organization – it would not be wise to sneak an unqualified person into the c-suite and try to pass him or her off as someone who is ready for that level of responsibility.

While I think that the so-called “pecking order” within an organization is important to have, that is not to say that I believe the dominant hen should ignore a lowly chick. No, unlike my girlfriend’s backyard chicken coop, organizations should be inclusive so that people on every level can contribute to the good of the company. A CEO should never blow off an intern because that low-level employee might have a great way to streamline the organization or a fabulous new product idea that could put the entire organization over the top.

Long story short, although there is a pecking order for a reason, businesses have flown the coop and businesspeople must behave accordingly. Respect employees at every level and they will contribute!

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