Archive for March, 2013

Mar
21

Profit through Coopetition

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When the internet made its first inroads into the business psyche in the mid 1990’s, I was Director of a boutique advertising and graphic design company focussing on publishing magazines and other paper based media. It was apparent that the internet was not a passing fad and as such we decided to focus our business growth towards online publishing by offering our clients domain name registration and web hosting services. These two services quickly became our core business. Due to client demand we also offered several complementary services including graphic design, web design and development services, including e-commerce programming, IT training, networking and IT helpdesk services.

In early 1996 I was invited to deliver a keynote speech at my local chamber of commerce on how business could harness the power of the internet and email to reduce costs and find new customers. During open networking at the end of event I was approached by a lady who introduced herself as the Director of a company I knew as one of our main local competitors. After chatting for half an hour it was apparent that whilst they offered all the same services as us, they specialised in e-commerce programming but due to client demand they also offered domain registration and web hosting as complementary services to their clients.

She promptly invited me along to her BNI chapter which also had members in the fields of graphic design, web design and development, IT training, networking and IT helpdesk services. After being accepted as a member I quickly started to build relationships with all the members of my new “IT power team”. By focussing on our specialism we were now receiving domain registration and web hosting referrals from 5 new referral partners and in return we were happy to refer business to them in each of their specialist fields. We all obtained increased levels of business as a result and by working together to fulfil our clients requirements we reduced our overheads and increased our profits.

What I had engaged in was something called coopetition the basic principals of which received much attention in 1944 with the publication of the book “Theory of Games and Economic Behaviour” by John Forbes Nash. Coopetition occurs when several companies in the same market pool their resources and cooperate with each other to create a higher value than could be achieved if they acted alone. The result can often be higher quality products and services, reduced development costs and a shorter time to market than could be achieved if the companies involved had acted individually.

Occasionally, I get the opportunity to visit networking events where some members holding key categories run “full service” companies. Normally, these chapters are of average or below average size (between 15 and 25 members) and the reason they find it difficult to grow is because these key members do not have an abundance mentality and are not open to the philosophy of coopetition. As a direct result all members of the group are denied the opportunity to network as part of a larger group, and given that a members earnings increase exponentially as a direct result of the number of members and relationships in the room (Metcalf’s law), the earning potential of all members suffers as a result.

I recently visited a chapter in Brisbane that currently has 44 members and growing. Over the last 18 months they have embraced the coopetition philosophy and the result is annual closed business in excess of $4 million. As the members delivered their sales manager minutes I noted that they had four finance brokers (residential mortgage, commercial mortgage, vehicle finance and equipment finance), two interior designers (commercial and residential) and two photographers (video and wedding). Even though these companies could deliver similar services they had decided to cooperate for the greater good, they had embraced the abundance mentality and were happily developing highly profitable relationships not only with each other but also with other members of the chapter.

In BNI today, the objective is to develop New Generation Chapters, those that create $1 million in closed business in their first year. This can only be achieved if all members have the abundance mentality and are committed to coopetition.

paul_portraitThis article was provided by Paul Lomas who is the executive Director of BNI ACT & NSW Tablelands, BNI Brisbane CBD and BNI Brisbane South. Paul joined BNI in 1996 and believes in the power of teamwork, listening and accepting responsibility.

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Mar
20

Innovation can come from within

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As business owners we constantly need to be innovative in our approach to networking, referrals and relationships.  Heraclitus, the Greek Philosopher is credited with being one of the earliest creative thinkers.  Little is known about his early life and education, however he is regarded as self-taught, he was also known as the weeping philosopher.

He often said that delving into our own knowledge and intuition was a perfect way to gain insight.  If you compare this with our modern education system, there is little opportunity for reflection or insight gained from within yourself.  Our schools and universities are based on the “Gulp and Vomit” system.  That is you gulp down a lot of information and vomit it back out onto paper at the exam, in the exact same words if possible!

As a result of this process we come to believe that the best ideas are those provided to us from within someone else’s head, rather than our own unique thoughts and musings.  Heraclitus would like us to remember that there are many good ideas in our own heads, of course if we are willing to delve into the recesses of our brain.

We can with practice, develop our own innovation style.

Here are six ways that you can delve into your inner recesses to access your creativity and innovation skills.

Pay Attention to the Details

Have you ever got up early on a crisp winters morning and noticed the beauty of a spider’s web as it glistens in the early morning sun.  Or what about the precision with which ants leave their nest and return carrying a load of plunder from their day or hours of foraging outside the ant nest.  How do they know where to go to find the food and then how do they remember to get back, often precisely retracing their steps back to the nest.

I used to do this from natural wonder, now I ponder the detail and use this talent to observe detail in problems or challenges I face.

Become Detached

The best way to free up ideas is to let the best ones go.  That’s right, often times we come up with a good idea, which we want to use no matter what.  We literally fall in love with it.  Sometimes the pathway to enlightenment is rocky and we have to let go of love!  Leave that beloved idea to one side and explore other ideas.  Only after we let go, do we sometimes find exactly what we had been searching for all along.

Find Your Blind Spot

Johari Window, Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham created a four-quadrant model about relationship awareness.  In one of the quadrants, the Blind Spot, the two descriptors include that which is known to others, but not to ourselves.

Sometimes we are looking at a challenge or problem and we just can’t see a solution.  It’s at times like these that we may need to think of the Johari Window and ask someone else what is it that they can see that we can’t.  Looking at someone else’s challenge with fresh eyes is often enlightening and the blinding obvious stands out so clearly.

The Pressure Cooker Approach

The quickest way to cook vegetables on a kitchen stovetop is to use a pressure cooker.  It gets them cooked in half the time and makes the job easy.  If you are faced with a problem or challenge perhaps applying the pressure cooker theory may work.  That is set a short deadline and work hard and fast toward creating the perfect solution by the looming deadline.

This process works well with a group of people and the challenge to perform is often met.

Handle Rejection

Depending on the creative process being used, your ideas may be rejected by your work colleagues.  Be brave and let your ideas be tested, challenged and even rejected by others.  As part of the creative process, ideas need to be challenged.  Remember the best ideas often come out of a rejected idea.

Harness Your Ego

One of the worst errors we can make when we are searching for creative or innovative ideas is to let our ego interfere.  It’s our idea, so it must be good, it’s our idea, so of course it will work.  It’s our idea, so of course I’ve considered all the alternatives!  I’m sure you can relate to what I’m saying.

Let go of your ego, remain calm and go with the flow, you may be amazed at what happens next!

© Lindsay Adams 2013.  All rights reserved.

Article written by the Lindsay Adams National Director of the Referral Institue

Lindsay Adams National Director, Referral Institute The Referral Institute is a training and consulting company that specializes in working with business owners and sales people to help them develop referral their marketing vision, plans and goals, before they go to BNI to take action.  Find out more at www.referralinstitute.com.au or email Lindsay directly at Lindsay.adams@referralinstitute.com.au 

Categories : Education, Uncategorized
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Mar
19

Can You Make The Tough Decisions?

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fishingIt’s okay to make a mistake. Successful people make lots of mistakes – that’s why they’re successful. Even BNI members can make mistakes from time to time.

Being able to make a decision quickly and comfortably is one of the keys to great leadership and effective networking. Picture yourself at a business networking function, having a conversation with someone who you consider to be “well connected”. Spontaneously you are invited to attend a social sailing day, with only a limited number of people invited on the boat. If you are a confident decision maker you possibly asked a few key questions

  • time of departure
  • expected return time,
  • would it matter that you weren’t a “yachtie” and really ranked yourself as a beginner.

Based on those key points, you probably accept or decline on the spot.

Or did you hesitate?

If decision making does not come easily to you, you asked a few questions and then had a major or minor stress attack trying to decide whether to go or not. In the end, you may have asked if you could get back to them in 24 hours. Too late, unfortunately, the boat was filled before the function ended.

Another missed opportunity for you. Who knows what may have happened on that boat or who you may have met.

When the need arises to make a quick decision always consider, what is the worst thing that can happen? Once this is identified, then ask yourself, can you cope with that? If you can, then go for it. If not, it may be best to decline.

In the yachting scenario, the worst thing that could have happened may be that you had to reschedule a meeting, so you could attend and possibly make a fool of yourself on the boat. Big deal, you will never become good at networking (or sailing) or management if you are not prepared to make a few mistakes along the way.

Is fear your problem?

At times FEAR is the thing that stops us from making a decision. You may recall times when fear has frozen you in your tracks. Some of the FEARS or False Evidence Appearing Real that regularly occur for some people are:

  • Fear of making a mistake
  • Fear of failing
  • Fear of looking or feeling stupid
  • Fear of rejection
  • Fear of losing friends
  • Fear of not being liked

These fears are usually totally unfounded.

Maybe you’re a worrier?

Worriers worry about things that may never happen. What a waste of energy! This is not to dismiss these fears, because at the time they are incredibly real. Any of the above fears can actually manifest into headaches, pain, stress or a multitude of physical ailments.

However, if we look at the real reason these symptoms appeared, it is sometimes started by an imagined fear, similar to those listed above. The more we stay in the moment and stop the endless chatter in our heads, the more clarity we have around decision making.

With networking opportunities, not only act like the host rather than the guest, but also think like the host. If you asked people to a special event and they all declined without explaining, how would you feel?

Clear communication is always appreciated, even if at times it means you have to swallow your pride. With the sailing invitation above, what if you were actually brave enough to thank the host for their invitation and explain that you have never been sailing before and may feel you would let the team down. The host would rather your honesty than your silence.

Making the big decisions

With large decision making, a technique I have found to be useful is:

1. State the problem-or situation

What is the obvious problem? Or what are people implying the problem is?

2. State the facts

From a total outsider’s point of view, what are the actual facts?

3. State the real problem

Based on the facts, is it necessary to restate the problem or situation (with the yachting invitation, was it basically the invitee had not been sailing previously and was afraid of making a fool of themselves?)

4. List the options 

Both outrageous and mainstream. An outrageous option would have been that the person takes a crash course in sailing before the appointed date with the key player and pretend they were a seasoned yachtie.

A mainstream option may have been that the invitee made a phone call the next day. Basically just to clarify that they were not a competent sailor and did not want to hold the others back on the day and seek the okay on attending on that basis

5. Pick the best option 

Pick the option with the best outcome, based on the facts you have. It’s okay to make a mistake. Based on the facts you had at that time the decision was made. Time will tell whether it was a right or wrong decision. If you did make a mistake- that’s okay. Things are rarely irreversible – from every mistake you will learn, how not to do it next time.

Often the problem we think we have to fix is not the real problem. A company recently spent a large amount of money replacing an air conditioning unit. It was identified that staff absenteeism was caused by the faulty air conditioner – so it was replaced. The absenteeism continued until the real problem was identified – the new supervisor’s different style of management was alienating the workforce. The supervisor had been promoted from within and had previously got along well with the staff. Digging deeper it was found, that the supervisor was experiencing a serious health problem and did not want to take sick leave because it was a new job and he thought it would not look good to management. There were unlimited options available. However, the one that was chosen had definitely the best outcome.

A meeting for all employees and management was called. The supervisor bravely revealed his health situation and apologised for his unrealistic demands on the staff. Management agreed to the supervisor taking extending paid sick leave and an assurance that the supervisor’s job would be held for him. The staff unanimously agreed on a replacement supervisor (from their ranks) and agreed to give them 100% support. Absenteeism disappeared, productivity increased – everyone was happy.

Author, Sergio Bambaren tells us “Most of us are not prepared to overcome our failures, and because of this we are not able to fulfil our gifts. It is easy to stand for something that does not carry a risk.”

Networking is about risk. An about making mistakes, feeling stupid at times, constantly moving out of your comfort zone and making choices. May your decisions always be wise ones and your networking always lots of fun. BNI members certainly know how to have fun – sometimes they just have to move out of their comfort zone more regularly.

Article written by the “Australian Queen of Networking” Robyn Henderson

Global networking specialist, Robyn Henderson has authored and contributed to more than 30 books on networking, self promotion and self esteem building. She has spoken in 12 countries, presents over 150 times per year and has never advertised. All her work comes from networking, referrals, LinkedIn and her website www.networkingtowin.com.au

Categories : Education
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RobertMembers Details
Robert Churchley
Director
The Print Group
www.theprintgroup.com.au
BNI Midas in the BNI South Brisbane Region

Tell us about your business:

We print just about anything on paper. From business cards through to presentation folder and sofisticated specialty pieces. Our graphic designers can make even the most basic idea come to life. Whether offset or digital our production centre can cater for all run sizes and finishes.

What are your top 3 networking tips?

Be genuinly interested in who you are talking to.
Talk about anything and everything especially if it is non business related.
Keep turning up.

What can’t you live without?

My wife and 2 beautiful girls.

Which Business Book Would Your Recommend & Why?

Understanding Ourselves and Others. Dr Phil Jauncey. I have had to learn so much about how to relate to people and this book helped me greatly. I like Dr Jauncey’s no nonsense aproach and was also fortunate enough to attend a coaching session with him.

How Did Your Find Out About BNI & Why Did You Join?

I was invited along by a member. I instantly saw the potential for my business. I loved the structure and the amount of experience in the room that I could learn from.

How Long Have You Been a Member For?

5 Years

What Position/s On The Leadership Team Have You Held?

Vice President, Membership Committee, Visitors Host

What value & benefit have you or your business gained by being a BNI Member?

Our business has benefited from many referrals going back to the very early days of our BNI experience. We are still working for companies who we were first referred to. On a personal level meeting so many like minded people has been a great resource for when problems have come up. BNI is also a great place to share our successes.

What Do You Wish Someone Had Told Your When You First Joined BNI? 

You only get out of BNI what you put in. Work hard at being a good member and the rest will happen.

Do You Have a BNI Story to share?

Too many to mention here. We have benefited over and over again from referrals dating back to our first year in BNI which have also led to us being referred on and on and on.

Your Dream Referral Is…

Liked minded companies, large or small, that appreciate the high level of customer service we offer.

Categories : Featured Member
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3895660_sKnowing a person’s level of competency was the most important characteristic for referring a person for women, and  women more than men felt that they needed to try the persons product or service prior to giving them a referral.

This is key information for you to know if your referral strategy is to gain more referral from women and their network of other women.  Many women feel that it is important to try your product or services prior to recommending or referring them.  However this isn’t possible for every product and service.  This is one of the reasons that Angie’s list (insert link) (and other review sites) became so popular, it made it easy for women to read what their neighbors were saying about the people hired to do work for them.  I was never a subscriber to the list but many of my friends were and I could call them and ask them who was getting the best reviews.  Unfortunately, many of my friends have dropped their subscription as the list went public, but I know that I can still call my friends and they will give me their opinion on local service people they or their friends have used.  I can count on it!

So, what can you do to help women trust your level of competency if they themselves have not used your product or service?  Here are 3 Tips that will help you gain trust and word of mouth with women in your network.

Samples, Trials And Reduced Cost

Give them free samples, free trials or a one time reduced cost.  Companies have been doing this for years when they are trying to engage females in a word of mouth campaign.  Women will often do this with products between friends.  I had a friend using a certain type of hair product called WEN that I was interested in but it was a little bit pricy so I was reluctant to order it with out trying it, so Lindsay gave me some of hers to try out.  Today I have a standing order for the WEN products. Companies like Mary Kay Cosmetics have always known that if you let them try it out first they will buy more later.

Testimonials

Get great testimonials!  Ok, I know you know this one but are you doing it?  Are you asking for testimonials?  When you get them what are you doing with them?  Go beyond the written testimonial, while they are great to have, the best ones are the ones where you ask your clients if you could interview them while you tape the interview.  When I go to a website and see video after video of testimonials from customers, I am more likely to choose your services over a competitors and this is more likely if someone I know has used the service and spoken highly about it.

Build Relationships

Don’t just sell to women, build a relationship.  If you spend time building a relationship of trust and goodwill even if she has not used your services, she will refer you.  The second most important thing to a woman is your character, if you take the time to build a relationship versus just selling to her, you will allow her to get to know your character and that too will help her be comfortable carrying your word of mouth message.

If your referral strategy is to create a business that includes women as your target market, I would strongly encourage both men and women to take the time to understand the way women refer business and how they want to be referred.  What influences them and what annoys them, women are relational and want to do business in a relational manner, are you prepared for that?

 

hazelGuest Post Written by Hazel Walker: A passion for learning, personal growth, and relationship-building has been invaluable to Hazels evolution as a woman, a mother and an entrepreneur. Find out more at http://hazelmwalker.com/

Categories : Networking + Sex
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