Category Archives: Networking

A Different Perspective on Networking

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All business people are networkers whether they realize it or not. Some are more effective than others. Some work at it with purpose; others wander aimlessly through the process.

Every time you meet someone, greet someone, pick up the phone, send an e-mail message, engage someone in conversation, write a note (yes, some people still write notes), you are networking.

You don’t have to attend a community function, an after hours reception, a fundraising event or an educational conference to network. Anytime you interact with someone else you are engaged in networking. It can happen at the mall, the grocery store, the post office, walking the dog, riding in an elevator or waiting for your next flight to take off.

The purpose of business networking is to build relationships and grow your business, but you can’t be successful at networking if you don’t understand what it is. Some people think that it’s who you know and others believe that it’s who knows you. Networking is a
combination of those two, but it is more than that.

Business networking is also about what you know, and more importantly, it’s about who knows that you know what you know. (Try saying that fast three times in a row.)

It’s not enough to be famous if no one understands what makes you famous. As part of your networking strategy, be clear on who you are, what you do and what you have to offer. Your area of expertise and the unique skills you possess are what others need to know.

How can you be sure that people know that you know what you know? By being visible and by using, not abusing, every opportunity to showcase your expertise. Once people know that you know what you know, you become the expert and the “to-go-to” person. It’s a lot easier to have people come to you than having to chase them down.

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

Trade Show Etiquette – Free Mints and First Impressions

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Trade shows are big business today and the 2009 season is about to begin. In fact, you probably already have a number of invitations from upcoming conferences asking if you would be interested in renting space to hawk your wares.

Over the years I have resisted these invitations. They require money and manpower and the return on investment may or may not be there. In these difficult times vendors are looking at their budgets and struggling with that decision. Obviously, you can’t grow your business unless you are in front of
potential customers in person or online.

This past year I decided to participate in three vendor shows. All were exercises in salesmanship and people watching. I must confess that I enjoyed the latter most. I made a number of observations which I promised to share with you before the holidays. Here is a sampling of what I learned about
trade shows from vendors to attendees.

  • Start off on the right foot by setting up your booth on time. What kind of impression will you make with the trade show host and the attendees if you are still putting products and promotions out when the show opens?
  • Avoid eating and drinking in your booth. The message you send when you are munching on lunch is, “Oops, I don’t have time for you now. I’m busy.”
  • Stand up during the event no matter how bad your feet hurt and your back aches. A vendor sitting down appears lazy, disinterested and unapproachable.
  • Save your idle chatter with your booth mates until after the show. No one passing by will care enough to interrupt your conversation for a sales pitch.
  • Be considerate of the other vendors by saving your sound and light presentation for another occasion. During one trade show, the fellow in the next booth had so much audio and video going that it felt like half-time at the Super Bowl.
  • Draw passersby to your booth through your professional appearance and positive attitude. Wear your most professional attire and greet everyone with eye contact, a smile and a greeting. “Hi, how are you?” as a greeting will generate the classic response, “Fine.” There goes your prospect. Be original.
  • Pay attention to your body language and maintain open posture-no crossed arms. Stand forward in your booth with hands relaxed and at your sides.
  • Remember the 80/20 rule – listen 80% of the time and talk 20% of the time. Otherwise, you will never learn what your prospect wants, needs or thinks.
  • Wear your name tag, the one that everyone can read without having to squint.
  • Use the name of your prospect in conversation so they know that they are the focus of your attention.
  • Be consistent. You are your company. If you are selling a clown act, be funny no matter how grumpy you may feel at the end of the day. If you are promoting business etiquette, be gracious regardless of other people’s inconsiderate behavior.
  • And finally, stay out of other companies’ booths. Wandering into other people’s exhibit area is disruptive and gives them permission to barge in on you when they get bored.

When the show is over, the dust has settled and the aches and pains are subsiding, follow up with your prospects so that all that effort is not wasted. Turn your contacts into clients.

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

Lydia Ramsey’s Six Secret Sales Weapons

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If you are involved in sales, and who isn’t, you know the terms, techniques and tips for attracting potential customers, creating the desire to buy, gaining trust, closing the deal and maintaining relationship.

Each step in the process is critical to the desired outcome: productive and profitable customer relationships.

Acquiring a new customer costs more than five times as much as keeping an existing customer. Research validates the data, but good old common sense tells you this is true.

While you or your manager is spending time teaching salesmanship, one topic frequently overlooked is business etiquette, an array of skills that can set you and your product or services apart from your competition.

I refer to business etiquette as your “secret sales weapon” because it is not included in most sales training and because it can be the one element that distinguishes you from your competition.

A number of ways to use your secret weapon are:

1. Begin before you leave home.  Start your day by dressing for the activities on your calendar. If they range from business casual to business professional, you need a change of clothing along the way. It is always easier to take off rather than add on. For both men and women, wearing a jacket takes business dress up a notch. Removing it allows you to blend in to a relaxed environment. Dress in a professional manner that meets your customers’ expectations.

2. Prepare for the inevitable first impression. Each day is filled with first impressions that will last forever in the memory of those you meet. There is never a day that you can let down your guard regarding your attire, your grooming or your attitude. You have no idea whom you will meet, where and when. Don’t spoil an opportunity.

3. Practice listening skills. Successful sales people are adept at conversation. They love to talk. Many forget that being a good conversationalist means being a good listener as well. Paying attention to what your customers have to say allows you to understand their needs and gives you the advantage for closing the sale and continuing the relationship.

4. Learn how your customers prefer to communicate. The best way to do this is to ask, “How do you want me to contact you?” Some like e-mail; others opt for the phone; and a surprising number of people favor good old-fashioned face-to-face interaction. What works for you may turn off your customer.

5. Follow up. After your arranged meeting or chance encounter, reconnect with your customer. Your responsiveness will not only help seal the deal, but insure a continuing relationship. A short phone call or brief e-mail is an immediate affirmation of your agreement. The handwritten thank you note that you send afterwards requires little time, but takes the relationship to a different level.

6. Offer service after the sale. Check to see if your customer is happy with your product or service. If there is the slightest hint of dissatisfaction, handle it immediately without excuse. Letting customers know that their satisfaction is your highest priority will have them coming back again and again. Not only that, a contented customer will spread the word almost as fast as the unhappy customer.

Using business etiquette skills as your secret sales weapon won’t cost you a dime. Your only expenditure is the time it will take to listen and learn about your customers, to honor their preferences and to follow up with courtesy and respect.

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

Hand Shaking Around The World

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This month I decided to write about the handshake, an age-old tradition, that many people haven’t yet perfected. It doesn’t seem as if it would be that hard to get it right, but if your experience is like mine, you never know what you are going to get when you extend your hand.

Each time I offer a seminar on networking or first impressions, I discuss the handshake. I always ask the audience the same question. “What is the one word that describes the good business handshake?” The answer is always the same, and it is always unanimous. Everyone confidently says, “Firm.” Okay, I confess. Once I heard someone say “strong,’ but that is one out of thousands. How can there be so many variations on the handshake when it is one of the most significant gestures in the world? Especially the business world. It is the unspoken message that accompanies our words.

If you are interested in a little history, the handshake was most likely developed several hundred years ago in England as a method to communicate that you were empty-handed and unarmed during a meeting. Weapons were often concealed in the left sleeve so shaking was done with the left hand. As more people began to travel without weapons it became common to shake with the right hand. Certain historical figures took liberty with shaking hands and created their own custom. George Washington decided that shaking hands was for the common people so he bowed when greeting people in public. Did you know George was a snob?

The intent in shaking hands is to make contact “web-to-web” with the other person’s hand. The web of your hand is that part between your thumb and forefinger. Extend your hand with your fingers together, in a vertical position, with the thumb up and slightly to the side. Once you make contact with the web of the other person’s hand, close your thumb over the back of the hand and give a slight squeeze with your fingertips. This is where so many people go wrong. Some move in for the kill and give a bone-crushing handshake that brings tears to the eyes of the other person. Then there are those who stop at the first hint of contact and never add the little squeeze that indicates there is life and energy in the body. The result is the “wimpy” or “limp” handshake, sometimes referred to as the “dead fish.”

Every country in the world has its own customs for meeting and greeting. As always, you need to do your research on meeting and greeting before you embark on an overseas trip. If you are a woman, this is critically important since certain cultures do not allow women to touch a man who is not related to them.

It is considered impolite to refuse to shake hands but be prepared in case you meet someone who says “No” to handshakes because of arthritis, joint problems or illness. The one who is unable to shake hands should always offer an apology and a brief explanation so the other person does not feel shunned. Occasionally you may encounter someone who does not respond in any way to your outstretched hand. When that happens, simply withdraw your hand and ignore the snub. It’s the other person’s problem, not yours.

There are also numbers of people who simply don’t believe in shaking hands. To each his own, but if you want to succeed in business, shake hands and do it right.

Happy Handshaking!

 

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-604-0080. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.