430) Character Over Reputation

Character Over Reputation

Famed basketball coach, John Wooden once shared, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation. Character is what you really are. Reputation is what people say you are.”

 

Wooden’s words are insightful. Your reputation is never truly accurate. It’s based on tiny moments of your life over time. These small snapshots or sound bites are only notable moments that others have chosen to seize upon as being important based on their limited perspective of you.

Your character, however, is true. It’s what you are. It’s who you are. It’s not a simple portrayal of some fleeting instant where facts and circumstances are limited. It’s what permeates your thoughts and actions even when no one is there to witness it. It beats in your heart 24 hours a day.

Yes, focus on character over reputation, as character is what you are. And not just what others think. If you do this, in time your reputation will closely align with your character.


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Networking And Stone Soup

In the tale, Stone Soup, stingy villagers have no interest in sharing their food with anyone but their own.

However, when a peddler offers to share some stone soup with them (essentially rocks in a pot of boiling water), one by one, the villagers begin to share – a head of cabbage here, some salt beef there – and before long a pot of delicious “stone” soup awaits them.

This tale suggests that generosity and altruism are contagious. Nicholas A. Christakis, M.D., Ph.D. and James H. Fowler, Ph.D tested this assertion and shared their results in their book Connected.

120 students were put into groups of four. Each group member was given some money to perform a series of tasks. Members both profited and lost in this capitalistic exercise. Afterward, members had the option of giving some funds to others at their own expense.

The exercise was repeated, with different group configurations. In the first few rounds, no money was gifted.

Unbeknownst to the participants, one of them was a plant — someone in on the experiment. This person was the “Stone Soup Peddler.” At some point, the Stone Soup Peddler started to give away some of his money to others.

In the exercises that followed this exhibition of generosity, the people who benefited from the gift gave more. Even people who had only witnessed the gifting began giving more. These altruistic gestures began to spread through the group.

In business, you depend on others giving to you. You look for people to give you information, and to share referrals, insights, and ideas with you.

But people don’t just give; they are somehow moved and inspired to do so.

As the tale and the study illustrate, you have the power to inspire generosity through your own generosity. Any simple gesture can be contagious – a simple referral, an introduction, or just sharing valuable information. This will inspire your network to give to you and to others.

Don’t Foul Up The 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.

Creating a Referral Machine: 4 of 7

keep the gearsOkay, there are lots of potential people with whom to establish a relationship. What about the “HOW”? How can you make this happen?

Yes, there are lots of people. That is generally not the problem. That is seldom people’s shortcoming in creating a referral machine. It is the “how” that trips people up.

In establishing relationships, there are three main categories of activities you need to consider making part of your personal regimen. (1) Giving or adding values to others; (2) Ensuring that you become involved; and (3) Making sure that you are dependable or reliable in what you say and do.

First, when people hear the term “GIVING TO OTHERS”, they tend to conjure up images of dragging out their wallets. That is not the case at all. There are lots of things you can do in giving or adding value to others.

  • Doing business with others.
  • Sending them referrals.
  • Providing them with information.
  • Spurring them on.
  • Introducing them to others.

Each of these things adds value to others. The key part of all of this, however, is that when you add value to others, they cannot help but feel they know you, like you, trust you. And somehow, they are quietly compelled to return the deed at some point in time.

Second, another means of establishing relationships, is getting involved with your community.

Trust this, no matter where you live, there are business groups, charities and civic initiatives that could use your time, talent and energy. When you get involved in your community, it raises your level of exposure and it demonstrates your commitment. With these things, people cannot help but feel they know you, like you and trust you, which is exactly what you need to start establishing relationships and create a referral machine.

Finally, adding value and getting involved are great for establishing relationships. You, however, will undermine the entire process, if you are not reliable. With even an innocent infraction of unreliability, you can kill your chances of getting referrals. Be reliable … be on time … do what you say… follow-up, as you promise. And if for some reason you are unable to do these things, alert the person who might be relying on you
as soon as possible.

This may all seem like common sense. It is. It is, however not common practice. It has tripped up even those with the best of intentions. Guard against this.

Nevertheless, once you have these relationships established, you can start to put your referral machine to work. That is the subject of Part 5.

30-Second Commercials: Part 2 of 8

TSilver modern Stopwatcho build a strong network of contacts that give you referrals, contacts and information, you need to have a concise, yet very compelling, 30-second commercial. The problem is that you have SO MUCH to say and 30 seconds is really not a lot of time.

So to conquer the challenge of conveying lots of information in a short period of time, it is helpful to have a framework to work with. Here is an effective one:

  • Start with a basic introduction for yourself (this addresses the WHO you are) …
  • Add to that a Message (which addresses the WHAT you do) …
  • From there, you need to Inspire Confidence or create credibility (which tackles the issues as to WHY you over all the other choices) …
  • Then you wrap this up with a Strong Definite Request of what you need (this is the HOW they can help you).

Now, if you carefully draft each of these sub-parts and then piece them together with your own personal flair, you end up with a very effective 30-second commercial. For more, see part 3.

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.

I’m In A Conversation. Now What?

 

Before MeetingAs wonderful as chatting with a connection at a networking event is, do not burn out the conversation. This is not to say that you need to use the event to get out handfuls of your business cards and collect handfuls in return. That is not productive either.

It just says that you should attempt to connect enough with the person so that you are both comfortable continuing the conversation another time. Perhaps that is at the next event. Perhaps that is over coffee the next week. Whatever the case, talk for 15 to 20 minutes, get their contact information and pledge to get back to them.

This will allow you the opportunity to meet and connect with other people. To this end, when you find a lull in the conversation, simply suggest to them:

“I would love to keep talking, but …

  • “I don’t want to occupy your whole time …”
  • “There are a couple people I need to connect with before the event is over;” or,
  • “I promised myself that I would meet three new, great contacts today … you make one and now I need to find two others.”

“If you do not mind, however, I would like to reach out to you later this week (early next week) and arrange a time where we can continue this conversation.”

The Golden Rule In Action

J (Giving)No doubt, interacting with others at networking events you are hopeful of getting things … clients, important contacts, and other information. Understand this: They are too. You can make an indelible impression on them by finding some way of helping them – even if only in a small way. So as they talk, run whatever they are saying through a filter that queries: “How can I add value to them?” This is the Golden Rule of Networking – Give first and get second.

There is nothing that says that you have to help them right there and now. If you can help them in that moment, great. If not, do not despair.

Just understand that you make the most of building that connection by trying to find some way you can add value to them later. It might be a referral. It might be a contact. It might be important information for them.

Networking Conversation

R (Conversation)

At a networking event, once you have exchanged names, conversation will likely ensue.  Engage In It.

In so doing, do not start the conversation directly focused on business or professional aspects. That can be off-putting and serve to create an uncomfortable situation. Rather, engage in some small talk. Inquire as to the origin of their name. Ask them about their impressions on the event itself. Get them talking on anything other than business.  This will serve to make the connection comfortable.

After a few minutes (or even several minutes of small talk), segue over to more professional topics. Ask about their business. How long have they done it? What did they do before? How did they get started?

Once the professional discussion has run its course, segue back to small talk. You can reflect on something professional they said, and tie it back to something within small talk.

As you engage in conversation, be sure to listen to what they have to say. Focus on them, and not your watch, or who is coming through the door, or anything going on around you.

You should express a genuine interest in what they have to say, especially if it is a topic that you set in motion with one of your questions. To do this, face up to them, make eye contact, and:

  • Make sounds and comments to indicate understanding (or simply nod your head) … “Oh, interesting.”
  • Ask questions to clarify things … “Now, when you [blank], do you mean…?
  • Echo back what they have said in summary fashion … “So you basically got into business because …”

As they talk look for things you have in common, whether they are shared backgrounds, similar experiences, or ways to relate to them. You can use these to interject or ask questions, as a means of keeping the conversation going.

Building A Networking Relationship: 1 of 7

“How Do I Go About Getting Others To Know, Like & Trust Me?”In the world of business and professional networking, that is the $64,000 question.

One Answer is Never Stop Giving. The Golden Rule of Networking states “give first, get second.” In short, if you want to get things from your network, you need to give to it. Focus on giving to others … give referrals … give additional contacts … give opportunities … give information … give encouragement … give support … give, give, give.

When you give to others they cannot help but Know, Like and Trust you. As a result the people you give to will want to return the generosity. In addition, you will develop the reputation of being a “generous person.” This will inspire others to want to contribute to you, as they come to believe that you are likely to give back.

This is powerful and should become almost a daily habit.

  • Share information with others and they will share information back.
  • Give referrals to centers of influence in your network and they will go out of their way to return the deed.
  • Help your prospective clients with things unrelated to what you sell and you will be forever on the top of their mind (perhaps referring you clients down the road).
  • Be supportive of your clients and vendors and they will “rave” to others about you.

With everyone you encounter, ask yourself, “In what way could I help them?” When the answers come to you, take action. That will build Know, Like, and Trust like nothing else.

J (Giving)