From Small Talk to Networking Success

talking gently

Let’s face it … “small talk” has a bad reputation. It probably dates back to the continual chiding our mothers did relative to talking with strangers.

While her warnings were intended to protect us as children from those who prey on our innocence, we are no longer kids. We are big boys and girls … We operate in the grown-up world where strangers become good friends, great clients and even reliable vendors.

Even still, however, “small talk” gets a bad rap. Far too often people see it as idle chitchat that has no productive value in the professional world.

Understand this, our entire personal and professional worlds are formed and held firmly together by networking … And “small talk” has a big part in successful networking.

Mining Networking Events

Networking events are generally not opportunities for closing business. Thus, you may not likely get clients as a result of them. You may stumble upon a client. Know, however, that is the exception rather than the rule.

As you embark upon networking at events, do not O (Paste)consume yourself with meeting as many people as you can. Remember, meaningfully connecting is about the quality of the connection and not the quantity. You are much further ahead in time to focus on really connecting with a small handful of people rather than simply collecting dozens of business cards.

Remember, networking events are everywhere. Business after-hours are networking events. Tradeshows are networking events. Business parties are networking events … so are social parties, tailgates, and really any gathering of people. Use each to expand your base of connections, from which you build relationships.

Was That Networking Event Worthwhile?

The burning question after most any networking event is “Was that worthwhile?”

In reality, the answer is “Absolutely!”. After all, every business competitionevent offers value. Some offer more immediate value than others. They all have value, however.

Track your results however you deem appropriate. Before you completely pass judgment on an event, however, remember that the benefits of any networking activity may not present themselves for weeks, months, or even years.

Don’t Foul Up The Follow Up

 

Q (Follow Up)Networking events are wonderful. The conversations can be exhilarating. And the whole experience productive.  Follow Up or Follow Through regarding whatever you promised to. If you pledged to reconnect, do so. If you offered to introduce them, make it happen. If you indicated you would send them something, get it sent.

Know this, so few people follow through on what they say they are going to do. That is a sad, but true fact. Given that, if you are committed to doing so, you immediately elevate yourself ahead of a significant portion of the networking population.

The Well-Worn Path

There is a place … a wonderful place … a place where most everyone wants to be. It is a place of wonderful natural beauty and worldly riches. It is a place of personal freedom and family security. It is a place where others sing your praises as someone of integrity and wisdom.

There are two paths you can follow to get to this wonderful place. The first path starts with a slow trudge, cutting a swath through 25 miles of dense, inhospitable swampy jungle. Then just outside the jungle is a raging river one must carefully traverse, testing leg strength and balance. Finally, once across the rapids, one must ascend a challenging mountainous 5,000-foot climb to the wonderful place.

A well traveled trail covered with footprints and hedged in by a wooden fenceThe second path is a well-worn one. This path starts on a well-defined trail that provides for easy passage through the swampy jungle. Then the well-defined trail leads to a sturdy, wooden footbridge that allows one to safely cross the raging river. Once across the bridge, the well-worn path leads you to a series of stairs that allow for a challenge-free ascent up the mountain to the wonderful place.

Whether you choose the well-worn path or the challenge-riddled path, you end up in the same place. Either path will take you to this wonderful place, where you can enjoy a magnificent life of reasonable freedom, moderate fame, and relative fortune. You just have to choose the path and begin the journey.

Like this destination, being in business for yourself is a wonderful place. It offers financial rewards, freedoms, and security, as well as accolades from family, friends, and peers in the local community.

Like traveling to the wonderful place, however, there are two paths to business ownership. One path is challenge-riddled. You will need to blaze your own trail … trudging through decision after decision associated with pricing, quality, and strategies to take on well-funded competitors … carefully traversing ordeals related to branding, marketing, and advertising … and handling the daily issues related to legal matters, employment concerns, and government regulation.

Or, on the road to business ownership, you could choose the well-worn path: Purchasing a Franchise. You will still need to take the journey, but on this path, most of the challenges, issues, and pitfalls along the way have already been worked through.

Either way, in the end, you still end up in a wonderful place. The question becomes, on the journey to get there how much risk do you want to take and effort do you want to expend?

If you are interested in the wonderful place known as “business ownership” and want to do it through AmSpirit Business Connections, contact Frank Agin, President of AmSpirit Business Connections, at frankagin@amspirit.com or visit http://www.amspirit.com/franchise.php.

A Piece of Cake: Business Success Through Franchising

Chocolate cake with piece take out, on white backgroundWho doesn’t love cake? No one, that’s who. Some might like one kind more than another – white, chocolate, sponge, angel food, upside down, or whatever. Nevertheless, everyone loves cake.

There are two ways of baking a cake. With the first, before you bake the batter you have to gather up all the various ingredients. You will need things like all-purpose flour, salt, milk, shortening, flavoring, and baking powder (not soda … very important). Then you will need to correctly measure each, being sure not to confuse cups, teaspoons, and tablespoons. Finally, you need to mix it all up in the right order.

With the second way, you buy a box of cake mix, add some milk, a couple eggs and you are good to go. Either way (after 25 minutes in the oven at 350 degrees and some frosting), you have delicious cake to enjoy. Yum!

Success in business is much the same. Who wouldn’t want to have their own successful business? Any reasonably intelligent person, like you, would. After all, who doesn’t love freedom, pride of ownership, and the ability to chart their own course?

Again, there are two ways to accomplish this. With the first, you need to develop the concept, including the product or service, pricing, as well as means of distribution. Then you work up the branding, such as logos, marketing materials and advertising programs, and diligently protect it all with copyrights and trademarks. Finally, you pull this all together in a process, which might include legal agreements, training and
development programs, procedures for dealing with employees and unhappy customers, as well as researching equipment, technologies and other infrastructure. Whew!

With the second way, you simple buy a franchise. Either way (after infusing commitment, energy, and enthusiasm), you have your own successful business. Cool!

The only question remaining is whether you want to undertake the incredibly complicated (and risky) process of building a successful business from scratch or essentially grabbing one ready-to-go off the shelf? Remember with franchising, business success is really a piece of cake.

If you are interested in exploring a unique, professional franchise opportunity, consider AmSpirit Business Connections. For more information, contact Frank Agin, President of AmSpirit Business Connections at frankagin@amspirit.com, or visit http://www.amspirit.com/franchise.php.

The New Corporate Alchemy: Gold Watches To Pink Slips

There once was a nobler time. You studied hard. From there you learned a trade or earned a degree, which you could parlay into that first job. It wasn’t just a job, however. It was the beginning of a career. Sure, you started at the bottom, but there was plenty of opportunity to work your way up. One rung at a time you climbed the corporate ladder. Associate. Senior associate. Supervisor. Manager. Junior assistant. V.P.

In addition, the environment was positive. Pay raises were always respectable. Time off was seldom an issue. Moreover, by working diligently from nine to five during the week, the evenings and weekends were yours.

After 40-or-so years of this, you had done your time. Surrounded by admiring co-workers, your service to “the company” was celebrated. Gold WatchSeveral heartfelt speeches from people who considered you a friend. A big cake. And a gold watch. Finally, an appreciative higher-up, walked you to your car and sincerely told you, “Be well … See you around … Don’t be a stranger.”

From there, you settled into retirement. Drawing on a well-funded pension, social security, and health coverage, you did not have a care in the world. It was a nobler time.

That nobler time, however, is not now. Somewhere along the way, the world changed. No one is to blame. It just did. Whatever the case, the change was not to your benefit. No longer is a degree or a trade good enough to steer you clear of a dead-end job. You might need additional certification or a Masters, if you are lucky enough not to have to start over because technology made your “stock in trade” obsolete.

Even when you find that job with career potential, you are not set. Wage freezes and shrinking benefits are now the norm. Moreover, you seem to be permanently stuck in a no-advancement mode. Any hope of change is the result of a lateral move, either internally or to another company.

While the overall compensation and opportunity dwindles, the work doesn’t. Even starting work at 0-Dark-30 does not immunize you from having to work into the evening and over the weekend. As such, you sacrifice time with friends, family, or whatever.

Moreover, no matter how hard you work (or how little you accept) the whispers persist. From behind closed doors in offices far away, these voices are the higher-ups you have never met. They’re pouring over nameless and faceless numbers, pondering as to whether “the company” can replace you with someone or something less expensive.

While today that answer may be “NO,” it won’t always be. One day, that “pondering” will not come out in your favor. In an era of downsizing, off-shoring, and automation, it is no longer a question of “If” but “When.”

A pink sticky note sitting on a computer keyboard You are firedAt that point, a stranger abruptly escorts you to the door. There is no celebration. There is no cake. There is no explanation other than, “Your services are no longer necessary.” Just like that in a perverse sort of alchemy, “corporate America” has transformed your gold watch into a “pink slip” and nothing more.

This is the new corporate reality, like it or not. While you have little control over it, you have options to avoid it. One is to become your own boss and acquire your own piece of the American dream. Statistics show that the best way of doing this is through franchising.

If you are interested in exploring a unique, professional franchise opportunity, consider AmSpirit Business Connections. For more information, contact Frank Agin (frankagin@amspirit.com), President, AmSpirit Business Connections or visit http://www.amspirit.com/franchise.php.

The Era Of The Franchise

Empty Conference RoomNearly one-hundred-some-odd years ago, in a dusty field, somewhere in middle America, a Son told his Father that he was no longer going to farm.

The Son announced that he was joining Corporate America. Although farming was the only way his generation ever conceived of earning a living, he knew that farming would no longer pay him what he was worth.

Even though those who continued to farm ridiculed his optimism about the potential of Corporate America, the Son believed that the World was changing. The demand for industrialization created a tremendous market for his labor, and the Son knew that Corporate America would pay him what he was worth.

The Son was right. The World was changing and Corporate America paid him what he was worth. However, those who continued to farm, believing that life would never change, were left struggling, earning only a fraction of what they were worth.

While the Son continued to labor, Corporate America realized that if it just paid the Son a little less than he was worth, then Corporate America would generate more wealth for itself. The pay reduction, however, was so small that the Son didn’t even notice. As the Son didn’t notice, the next year Corporate America held back a little bit more. Again, unnoticed, Corporate America held back a little more the next year. And then the next. And then the next. And then the next.

FranchiseOne-hundred some-odd years later, somewhere in a stress-laden office, a Son is telling his Father that he is not going to work for Corporate America. The Son announces that he is going to purchase a franchise. Although working for Corporate America is the only way his generation ever conceived of making a living, the Son knew he could no longer earn what he was worth working for Corporate America. Again, the Son was right.

Rapidly the World is changing before our eyes. Consistent pay raises have given way to ongoing wage freezes. The notion of lifetime employment is being replaced by downsizing, outsourcing, and off-shoring. It is no secret: to build wealth in America you need to build business. To ensure success, however, you are best to not go at it alone, which is where the notion of franchising comes in. We are now in the era of the franchise.

Knowing this, are you going to take advantage of a changing World, or are you going to let a changing World take advantage of you? In thinking about your answer, if you are interested in exploring a unique, professional franchise opportunity, consider AmSpirit Business Connections. For more information, contact Frank Agin (frankagin@amspirit.com), President, AmSpirit Business Connections or visit http://www.amspirit.com/franchise.php.