Sunday, December 28, 2014

6 Requirements for Business Meetings that Work

Whether you’re conducting a business networking group or an association meeting, you have the power to focus on the details that get professionals looking forward to attending every time. Although some of these details may seem trivial to some and common sense to others, here is a list of six characteristics the best business events have that produce productive meetings, attract membership and grow attendance.

Have an Agenda and Follow it. This first one might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s more important than you might think. I attended a business networking meeting as a guest recently, taking the place of a friend who was on vacation. At first I was delighted to see that they were using an agenda, but soon noticed that they weren't following it. A bit confused, I asked the person to my left, where we were on the agenda. His response was “We don’t usually follow it.” So I have to ask, why waste paper and ink if you don’t follow your agenda? Don’t risk losing credibility by ignoring details.

Successful Meetings: How to Plan, Prepare, and Execute Top-Notch Business Meetings

Start, Stay, and Stop on Time. It can be very tempting to start a meeting a little late to accommodate late arrivals or because you’re not ready to start, but you owe it to those who showed up on time to give them what you promised. Some attendees may even feel resentful if you don’t start on time. And even if there is great discussion going on at the end of the meeting, interrupt if for a moment to officially close the meeting so those who need to leave can do so, and invite those who want to remain and chat, to keep the conversation going.

Clearly Explain All Things. Never assume that everyone present knows what to do or what you’re talking about. I've been to meetings in which forms, phrases, names, or terms are mentioned, assuming that everyone knows. Take a few minutes at the beginning of your meeting to review procedures and processes. You may have guests, new members, or even folks who just haven’t come in a while so don’t be afraid to review. Your attendees will really appreciate it.

Provide Adequate Breaks if Possible. If you’re meetings run longer than 90 minutes, it’s very courteous to insert short breaks for networking, to allow people to check messages, or to use the facilities. If you promote people meeting each other, they aren't going to do that sitting in their chair listening to the speaker. One business meeting I attended included promises that we were going to meet our next business partner there, yet the organizers did not include any opportunities to meet others in the audience.

Turn the World Into Your Office

Create Atmosphere. Any marketing experts will tell you that it’s not really the coffee that packs the Starbucks stores. Instead, it’s the atmosphere that does it; the music playing over the speakers, the smell of the products, the attractive d├ęcor and the chance to relax with a beverage or converse with a friend. Holding your meeting in a cold gymnasium with metal folding chairs won’t necessarily inspire people to attend. Dig deep to figure out what changes you can make to your meeting atmosphere.

Participation and Fun. Finally, how can you engage your attendees in such a way that make them feel like they were truly a part of the meeting. People don’t want to sit and be spoken to the entire time. What activities can you implement that help people feel like contributors and in a fun way. Could you give away prizes, host a raffle, organize a contest, or some other activity that make your attendees feel important, and at the same time, allow them to have fun. When people are given opportunities to actively contribute, they feel a sense of satisfaction that they helped make the event a success. Look for unique ways in which your attendees can offer ideas or voice their opinions.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Six Things to do to Attract Success in Your Life

The most recent open networking event I attended became my last. I quickly realized that truly effective networking does not happen in a room full of people who come together to eat appetizers, mingle, and share business cards. I’ll remember that evening forever as the encounters became uncomfortable. It seemed to me that most professionals there were only interested in handing me their business card, hoping I would hire them or send opportunity their way. When they asked what I do and decided there wasn’t a match, their eyes began to dart around the room for their next victim.

How Successful People Think: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life

After that uncomfortable experience, I made the personal commitment to only offer my card if someone asked for it. I also make the commitment to always take a person interest in everyone I meet, instead of trying to get my point across. This personal commitment means doing the following things:

1. Remain quiet while the other person speaks
2. Use my entire face to smile at them
3. Look the other person directly in the eyes
4. Think of questions to ask them to invite them to share more
5. Ask for their card and takes notes on the reverse side so I will remember them
6. Connect with them on Linkedin and fill in the HOW I MET THEM section

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I have found that the more I make it more about them and less about me, the more likely I am to create lasting relationships based on sincerity and true engagement. Those I have connected with have actually come back to tell me (and more importantly, others) how important they feel in my presence. This has lead to wonderful opportunities that eventually came back to me in amazing ways. Author John C. Maxwell once said, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” I hope this inspires you to change the way you interact with others.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Power of Customer Testimony on Video

Have you ever found yourself about to buy a book or another product on Amazon, and then scrolling down to read the reviews? Have these reviews ever motivated you to complete or cancel the transaction? Customer reviews are more powerful than you might think.

What customers say about a product or an experience have a lot of merit. Before I book a hotel reservation, I find myself looking at reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor to find out what others experiences were like. I also leave reviews of places I’ve been to, to help my fellow travelers have a better experience.

How to Shoot Video That Doesn't Suck

What about your customers you’ve served through your business or your own services? Have you thought about taking advantage of using their comments to help others make the decision to use you and your company? Linkedin is one place where you can request recommendations from those you have served, or those who have seen you perform your service and can attest to the quality you deliver.

Recently, I asked the members of a group I started to, to give their testimony on video about their experience attending our organization meetings. At the conclusion of one of our network meetings, I recorded several members who were willing to speak on camera to share their opinion or our group. Below you will find that video to watch. Where could YOU use video testimonials to attract more customers?