This Killing Time…Is It Killing You?

How do you manage time?

As I write this, my computer is being worked on to update things.  I say “things” because I have no idea what they are, nor do I want to.  The deal is that I’m highly dependent on being on the computer to do things like write articles and blog posts.

While Justin works on fixing the minor irritations I have with technology, I’ve pulled out my MacBook and started working.  I’ve read by RSS Feed, caught up on reading the newspapers online, updated my new forum, posted a Tweet for my Rotary Club, and am now writing this blog post.

Technology has made it simpler for us to work and be efficient in my time.  Too many of us don’t think big enough when trying to determine how to not waste time.  I used to bemoan the fact that my big “project” was losing momentum if I was delayed in accessing it.  Now, I realize there are several smaller projects I can complete and get off my table.  In the end, I’m being productive. What about you?

One tip is to always be prepared with a back up plan.  Carry a book, have an audio book on your iPod or MP3, keep a pad and pen to jot notes, or just have that next “to-do” handy in case something comes up to derail your plans.  It’s not about always needing to be busy.  Sometimes, you may just need to think.  That’s why you carry something to write down all those great ideas.

Don’t just kill time.  Make it useful.  Be prepared with your lap top, your book, or your iPod to be effective and efficient.  You will find you will get more done giving you more discretionary time in the end.

Cheers,

The Weedin Forums

I am very excited to announce that I’ve just launched my exclusive forums for my professional community and it’s available to join immediately.

The Weedin Forums will be a place where C-level executives, small business owners, business professionals, and business leaders can come to learn, grow, and be challenged.  The forums have many categories meant to discuss and debate with peers so you can learn and constantly develop your business or organization.

Topic you will find include:

  • Leadership
  • Insurance & Risk Management
  • Effective Communications Skills
  • Networking & Marketing
  • Current Events
  • Life Balance Techniques
  • Much, much more

There is also a forum for you to ask me any question that you need a quick response to.  I’ve been a member of my mentor’s community just like this for consultants and have benefited greatly.

Membership is a lifetime $500 one-time fee.  You will get a huge return on your investment just by being active and participating.  I encourage you to join and become active in my forums.  It will be good for your business!

Click here to register.

Cheers,

The Business of Golf: 18 Rules to Play By

Dan Weedin’s Best Practices for Winning the Business of Golf

If you’re anything like me, you love to mix work with pleasure. Especially, if it’s on the golf course. The links offers a great opportunity to tee it up with clients and prospects. Even if you don’t play a lot, charity golf tournaments make it easy for even the novice to take advantage of the opportunity to build business relationships.

But, it’s just as big an opportunity for embarrassment and I’m not talking about your game. You can find yourself in the worst bunker of all – out of a job or losing business. And in this game, there are no mulligans! So regardless of whether you’re playing a round with your boss, a client, a prospect, or some other VIP, make sure you know the rules of play.

Just like a golf course has 18 holes, I have 18 best practices that you can use to avoid the hazards and build better business relationships through the grand old game of golf.

Front Nine

  1. Never ever sell on the course. This is an opportunity to build a relationship and trust.  Nothing will turn off a prospective client more than hearing a sales pitch right before he lines up his birdie putt.
  2. Never try to schedule a meeting on the course. You can do this while you’re having a beer after.  If they can’t stick around, simply ask if you can call them the next business day to schedule an appointment.  Make sure you get their approval and their business card.
  3. Keep your temper in check. Never swear, mope, throw your club, or complain (even if your prospect/client/boss does).  They need to understand that you don’t take yourself too seriously and that you’re not a maniac.
  4. Make sure you know golf etiquette. If the game is fairly new to you, brush up online for tips on how to behave on the course.  Your client will have an expectation that you can carry yourself well in any situation, including the links.
  5. Do not over consume alcohol on the course. This should be a no-brainer but I’ve seen it.
  6. Offer to buy refreshments as the snack cart drives around. Make sure you have plenty of five’s and one’s available and don’t scrimp on the tip. They will notice!
  7. Be conservative in your dress. I know seasoned golfers have seen John Daly’s latest outrageous wear. This isn’t the place to show off your multi-colored pants. I’m not saying be a prude. Just be smart.
  8. Don’t play slow. I don’t mean that you have to be a good golfer. I mean don’t take seven practice swings before each shot or check every angle when lining up a putt. Keep the pace going.
  9. You don’t have to let the boss/client win. Really. Golf is a gentleman’s game, not a brown-noser’s. If you’re keeping score, as long as you are gracious either way, you will be a winner.

Back Nine

  1. Pick up lunch at the turn. The “turn” is going from the front nine to the back nine and always offers the opportunity to eat.
  2. Be willing to accept reciprocation. They may offer to buy you food or drink. Don’t embarrass them by refusing and forcing the issue that you buy. You might be at their club, or you might be their guest. Be willing to graciously accept.
  3. Don’t Crash the Cart. I’ve seen it. Really. Most charity golf events require a cart, as do many of the newer courses. This may go hand in hand in avoiding overconsumption of alcohol. Putting your boss in the hospital doesn’t lend itself to a stable long-term relationship!
  4. Play for par, hope for birdie. Here’s what I mean. Don’t try to do the spectacular like fishing out the client’s golf ball from the lake when you can’t reach it easily. You may end up all wet in the drink (seen this too). Looking for his or her ball in poison ivy – that’s a double-bogey! Be smart when making decisions that could impact the remaining part of your game.
  5. Ask Questions. This is your opportunity to learn a little something about your playing partner. Find out about family, hobbies, and even about their work. Be sincerely interested and listen.
  6. If they ask, go for it! I know I told you not to sell or schedule appointments earlier. But, if your prospect starts the conversation down that line, play on. It’s their prerogative to talk business, so if they want to, by all means take advantage. But remember to stop when they do.
  7. Shake their hand. At the end of the round, shake their hand as well as every other playing partner. I’ve always liked how Tiger Woods doffs his cap while shaking hands. I never seem to get the holding on to the putter and ball while shaking. Helps to have a caddy, I guess!
  8. Offer to eat after the round. The 19th hole is a great place to enjoy a burger and beer (moderately). If they can’t stay, don’t make them feel bad. It’s the right thing to offer.
  9. Have fun! This is the most important item. Don’t psyche yourself out, try to be perfect, or worry about business. People can tell. Enjoy the day, the company, and the game.

You will learn a lot about a person over 18 holes. Your client/prospect/boss will learn a lot about you.  Make sure you are giving the best impression you can.  This is a golden opportunity to build relationships and show that you are worthy of their trust. People do business with those they trust and like. Make sure they walk off the course with a “birdie” feeling about you.

© 2009 Dan Weedin – All Rights Reserved

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Saying Thank You Still Works

Not five minutes ago, I received a personal phone call from the head of a non-profit organization that I recently donated to.  His call was to simply say “thank you” by phone.  He acknowledged my contribution and said that in today’s economic challenges, every dollar counts.  He finished by reiterating his thanks and said goodbye.

That’s it.  Five minutes on a Wednesday morning and I will always be supporting that charity.

Think about it.  How a simple thank you can change how your business succeeds.  Whether you are a non-profit executive or a business owner, simply taking a few minutes to express your thanks with a phone call or card makes a huge impression.  I was most impressed that he called.  In today’s e-mail world, it would have been easy to just send it electronically, which in and of itself would have been nice.  By being “old school” and calling, it made it even more memorable.

How do you express thanks to your clients and customers?  Do you do it often enough?  This was a great reminder for me.  It should be for you, too!

Cheers,

Are You Willing to Push Back?

One of the biggest metamorphosis I’ve experienced since becoming a consultant in 2005 is the art of the “push back.”  As an insurance sales professional for nearly 20 years, I studied many sales approaches and most always preached that the client or prospect are “always right.”  You never wanted to cause any waves, take any chances on creating friction, or take an alternate view because you were scared to death of losing the sale.

For those of you in business, I have two words for you – STOP IT!

All this timidness ever produces is a “yes man” mentality and even worse, a relationship where the client or prospect is more important than you.

The reality is that your client and you are peers.  This doesn’t mean you should ever be rude, snide, arrogant, or bossy.  What it means is that you have a healthy enough relationship where you can push back in confidence, especially when it means your client benefits.

I’ve recently had several excellent debates on Facebook with friends on topics related to politics and current events.  We often don’t agree and respectfully spar with each other.  In the old days, I may have held my tongue in fear that someone “important” might read it, disagree, and never want to do business with me.  Well, my viewpoint is also important.  I may not always be right (as my wife often points out to me), but I’m willing to debate, learn more, and be interesting.  I’ve yet to lose a friend (as far as I know) and often develop a better relationship.

Your client or prospect doesn’t need a “yes man.”  They need someone to hold them accountable, challenge their ideas, help them to grow, create more opportunities, and in the end improve their condition.

Here are five strategies you can employ in your business AND personal life:

  1. Don’t be afraid to offer a differing opinon.  Someone may learn from the process or at the very least be better educated from it.
  2. Don’t be afraid to push back to a client or prospect.  If it’s in their best interest based on your expertise, they will respect it.  Think of it this way, if you are always agreeing with them, why do they need you?
  3. Challenge ideas.  Ask why they feel that a particular strategy will work; offer alternatives; find potential flaws.  Better in the beginning than when in motion.
  4. Become an object of interest.  My mentor, Dr. Alan Weiss always stresses this and I am a big believer in it.  Read newspapers, follow current events, have opinions.  In addition, ask questions and respond.  This is part of becoming intelligent and interesting person to others.
  5. Be provocative.  I’ve been thrilled that many of my blog posts have drawn comments, especially ones that disagree.  We can agree to debate issues while being respectful.  It adds value and educates.

Bottom line – in order to become someone of value to your market, then you need to stay away from being robotic “yes men and women.”  Commit to helping others by pushing back when you need to, creating a buzz, and becoming an object if interest and intrigue.  In the end, you will find that it improves your career and your life.

Cheers,

23 Best Practices for Business Communications

Here are my 23 Best Practices for Business Communications.  They are not in any priority order or all-inclusive.  They are a good start.  If you commit to all 23, you will go a long way into providing more value for your clients, prospects, and business associates.

•    Learn to anticipate potential questions from clients, prospects, and audience
•    Use role playing as a practice aid for sales calls and networking
•    Arrive early for your speeches
•    Always check audio visual in advance
•    Be prepared for technology malfunctions
•    Internalize your value proposition
•    Write out your introduction and give it in advance to your presenter
•    Don’t try to sell in networking events
•    Build relationships first
•    Ask questions and be an active listener
•    If you’re at a meal, don’t talk with your mouth full
•    Make eye contact on hand shakes
•    Hold eye contact in speeches
•    Use personal stories to advance your message
•    Never stop learning – use professional development opportunities
•    Avoid filler words like uhm, ah, and so
•    Don’t beat yourself up over mistakes – learn and move on
•    Watch great speakers
•    Repeat names to help you remember them
•    Learn to improve your vocal variety and pace to match your message
•    Be likeable
•    Provide value in all your conversations, writings, and speeches
•    Use “you-focused” questions and terms

Cheers,