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        Into Every Life A Little Rain Must Fall

        © 2021 Elena Fawkner

        "Into every life a little rain must fall."  And into every business too.
        Don't have the luxury of surplus cash to fund a rainmaker for your
        business?  Well then, it'll have to be up to you.  As usual.  Here's
        how:


         
        YOU HAVE VERY LITTLE COMPETITION

        "Everyone wants to win on Sunday, but not everyone is willing to
        practice Monday through Friday."  Vince Lombardi

        If you asked all of your competitors whether they want to be
        successful, it's a fair bet that pretty much all of them would say
        "Yes, of course, who doesn't want to be successful?"

        But if you asked your competitors if they were prepared to do what
        it takes to develop their businesses so they could ultimately
        become successful, to pay the price in terms of effort, discipline,
        perseverence and patience, although most if not all would
        probably answer "yes, of course, whatever it takes", the reality
        is that very few of them actually would.

        Although everyone wants success, very few are prepared to pay
        the price over the long haul.  Oh, they may give it a good go for
        a little while but when the results don't come quickly, they decide
        their efforts aren't working and try something else.

        The cold, hard reality is that success takes hard work, lots of
        it, and lots of time.  Overnight successes are very rare.  That's why
        successful people say there's always room at the top.  It's because
        most people quit before succeeding, even when success is
        literally just around the next bend.   This is why you have very
        little competition.  Although you may think you have a lot of
        competition, in reality you're really competing against only
        ten percent or so because the other ninety percent will drop out
        before they achieve success.

        Think of your business as a garden.  The first stage is to
        decide what you want to grow, the second stage is to go get
        seeds and plant them, the third stage is to tend your garden and
        the fourth is to reap what you have sown.  The greatest challenge
        for most people is to sustain themselves through the third stage.
        This is where patience is essential because it may be some
        considerable time between planting and reaping.  Tending your
        garden also requires, in addition to patience, creativity, self-
        motivation, self-discipline, perseverence and resilience (all the
        better to bounce back with after disappointment, my dear).

        The good news, though, is that ninety percent of your competitors
        can't or won't stick it out long enough to reach the harvest stage.
        This is why you can be always be a success no matter how much
        competition you have.  So, let's get to it.


        DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT TO GROW

        Before you can plant your seeds, you need to know what it is
        you want to grow.

        "Communicating one on one is different.  This requires
        listening, never taking your eyes off that person, conveying the
        impression that this conversation is very important to you."  Rick
        Pitino

        The first step in communicating with anyone about your business
        is knowing with absolute clarity what it is you and your business
        are about.  You must decide what it is that you offer and to whom.
        This means finding your niche.  It is the kiss of death to any
        business to try to be all things to all people.  Accept the fact that
        not everyone is a worthwhile prospect for your business and don't
        waste your energies targeting anyone who is not a worthwhile
        prospect. 

        For example, let's say your business is about web site optimization
        for search engines.  You take your clients' web pages and you
        optimize them for each of the engines, tailoring the pages to rank well. 
        You don't design web pages, you don't create them, you don't offer
        credit card merchant facilities or shopping carts.  You optimize
        existing pages to rank well in the search engines.  Period.  This is a
        very specific niche within the broader market of those requiring help
        marketing their web-based businesses.

        Although that broad market will include people interested in web
        page optimization, it will also include people interested in learning
        HTML, looking for shopping cart assistance, looking for website
        design services or information on successfully promoting affiliate
        programs.  If you targeted this entire market, it would be like trying
        to find a needle in a haystack identifying those people interested
        specifically in web page optimization.

        Instead, narrow your focus to that niche of the market that you have
        decided to target and target ONLY that market.  Everything you
        do needs to be focused on web site optimization and nothing else.
        Every communication you make must be to that end and no other.
        Don't allow your message to be diluted by generalizing.  Don't
        allow your business to become fragmented.

        The most effective rainmakers are very skilled at differentiating
        themselves and their businesses from the competition because they
        know exactly what they are selling and to whom before they ever
        meet their first prospect.  They have rehearsed over and over in their
        minds what it is that makes them special and why a client would be
        smart to do business with them.  They relish questions such as
        "So what do you do?", "What makes you special?" and "Why should
        I do business with you?".  While ordinary mortals may stumble and
        fumble for effective responses to such questions, rainmakers have
        no such problem.  Effective rainmakers know, specifically and
        precisely, exactly what they do and who benefits from their services
        and they are ready with powerful statements about their skills and
        talents.

        You cannot be effective in developing your business unless you have
        mastered service knowledge.  You need to know the features of your
        products or services so that you can tailor the benefits to the
        prospective customer's needs.  Be sure you know the difference
        between features and benefits. If you're selling bar stools, a feature
        of the stool is that it has three legs.  The benefit is that sitting on it
        will stop you hitting the floor.  Remember: features tell, benefits sell.

        Now, once you've identified the features and benefits of your product
        or service, develop a fifteen second commercial that you can trot out
        on cue whenever someone asks you, "So what do you do?".  Most
        people are unprepared to answer a question like this effectively and
        so it is a golden opportunity to set yourself apart.  Your fifteen second
        commercial will help you seize the moment and put your best foot
        forward.  Use your fifteen second commercial to let each person you
        meet know exactly what you do and why you and your business are
        so special. 

        A fifteen second commercial for our web site optimization service
        might go something like this:

        Prospect: "So, what do you do?"

        You: "I run my own business, "Web Site Optimization".  I tweak
        clients' web pages to optimize them for the various search engines.
        By creating a web page that appears in the first thirty search
        results for a particular search term, the client gets a huge
        increase in traffic to their web site and their sales go through the
        roof."

        When should you use your fifteen second commercial?  Each and
        every time you are introduced to someone new.  Get in the habit of
        delivering your fifteen second commercial to as many people as
        possible.  The more times you deliver it the more chances you have
        to create rain.

        You also need to develop a uniqueness statement to respond to
        the question, "What's different about your service compared to your
        competition?".  Use a three step format for your uniqueness
        statement.  Step one is to briefly overview the three features and
        benefits that you will elaborate on in step two.  Step two is to use
        three tailored features and benefits to explain your uniqueness to
        the potential customer.  Select one about your business's services/
        products, one about something your business has accomplished,
        and one about you personally.  In step three, summarize what
        you've just told the prospect.

        Here's an example of a uniqueness statement for our web site
        optimization service:

        Prospect: "So what's different about your service compared to your
        competition?".

        You:  "I'm glad you asked.  What's different about "Web Site
        Optimization" is the depth of our service, our results and our
        people.

        "Unlike most of our competitors, we don't just create one web page
        for all of the search engines.  Each search engine has different
        criteria for pages to rank well.  We create a different version of each
        page specifically designed for each main search engine.  For
        example, one of our clients' rankings on Alta Vista increased from
        the 75th position to 15th in less than a month.  He's experienced
        a 500% increase in traffic and sales as a result.  I have a background
        in software engineering for Yahoo so I have access to inside information
        about how the search engines work that most of my competitors just
        can't get.

        "So, in answer to your question, what's different about us is the
        depth of our service, our results and the unique experience of our
        people."

        It will take many rehearsals until you have your fifteen second
        commercial and uniqueness statement down cold.  At first it will
        feel unnatural to you to give people a rehearsed speech but
        over time it will feel less awkward and you'll be able to deliver
        it with an ease and assurance that will sound perfectly natural.


        PLANTING SEEDS

        "A network is an organized collection of your personal contacts and
        your personal contacts' own networks.  Networking is finding fast
        whom you need to get what you need in any given situation and
        helping others do the same." Harvey Mackay

        => Your Existing Network

        Now that you know what to say, you have to find people to say
        it to.  To establish your network, start with who you know.  These
        are your existing personal and business contacts ... the people
        who will always take your call and who can help you reach your
        goals.  Consider people such as your attorney, accountant, doctor,
        agents, sales people, family, colleagues, friends and vendors.

        Schedule a meeting with who you know for the express purpose
        of exploring ways you can help each other expand your respective
        networks.  If there's a fit, create ways to support each other.  You
        are not looking to sell the other person on your product or service.
        Instead, you are establishing a genuine relationship with this person.
        It doesn't matter that although you may be able to help this person
        directly, he or she may never be in a position to reciprocate.  The
        reason it doesn't matter is that this person has a network of his or
        her own and may therefore be able to put you in contact with
        someone else who can help you.

        Noticing the strengths in others and communicating them is one
        of the greatest relationship-building skills a rainmaker can have.
        Much more than just paying idle, often shallow compliments,
        effective networkers focus on helping others focus on their strengths
        by using evidence to back what they're saying.

        => Expanding Your Network

        Now think about what you need to do to expand your network.
        Think about where you should go, what networking groups you
        should consider joining and how much time you have available
        to invest in networking.   Ask people from your existing network
        where they go and what they do and start there.  Also think about
        groups such as alumni clubs, industry associations and social
        clubs and well as your personal hobbies and interests.

        Attend networking functions organized by these groups and
        when you're there, work the room.  Enjoy yourself, shake hands
        firmly and smile.  Show up early and leave late.  If you go with
        a friend or colleague, split up.  Play your 15 second commercial
        over and over again.  Have a 45 second version ready too for
        those who are interested in learning more about your business.
        Spend two thirds of your time with people you don't know.  Don't
        try and sell your services, focus on building rapport with the people
        you meet.  Collect business cards and make notes on the back
        of them to jog your memory later when it comes to making further
        contact with the people you meet.  Show genuine interest and get
        people to talk about themselves.

        If you get anxious when meeting new people, arm yourself with
        a checklist of conversation starters such as industry challenges,
        trends impacting your business, and questions such as "What
        brings you to this event?" or "Tell me about the customers you
        like to do business with".  End the conversation with "If there's
        ever anything I can do, please call" and exchange business
        cards.


        TENDING YOUR GARDEN

        As noted earlier, this is the part where most people drop out of
        the race.  Therefore, it's the part where you can gain your
        greatest competitive advantage.

        Failure to continuously follow through with people they meet is
        the number one reason most people never reach their full
        rainmaking potential.  Many people attend functions, meet new
        people, collect business cards, file them in a Rolodex and wonder
        why nothing ever happens.

        In order to succeed in your business, you must not only have
        a precise understanding of exactly what it is you are selling and
        to whom, you must also make a commitment to sell it over and
        over and over again, often to the same person!  The average
        person has to hear a message seven times before they will
        remember it.  Most sales are made after the fifth contact and
        only ten percent of people have the staying power to make the
        fifth call.  That means that out of a group of 100 competitors,
        you're only competing against ten of them.  The difference
        between you and the other ten will come down to the
        effectiveness of your system for maintaining contact with
        people who can refer you business. 

        Here's how to tend your garden:

        => Follow Up the Initial Meeting

        Following your networking activities, you will have in hand a stack
        of business cards from people you have met.  What do you do
        with them other than filing them in your Rolodex?  Write a short
        note to each person you met that you would like to develop a
        relationship with.  This note should be handwritten, and go
        something like this:

        "Dear Rosemary:

        Just a quick note to say how much I enjoyed meeting you
        at last week's trade association mixer.  I am particularly
        interested in your ideas for expanding into the export market.
        [See the importance of writing notes on the back of the card.]
        I have some thoughts of my own that may help you.  I look forward
        to catching up with you again soon.

        Best,

        Jack Horner"

        => Maintaining Contact

        Then, about two weeks later, call Rosemary and suggest a lunch
        or breakfast meeting to explore ways the two of you could refer
        each other business.

        Invite people you have met to attend social functions such as
        cocktail parties or other networking events.

        Make it a point to make contact with every one of your contacts
        about every two months or so.  This could take any number of
        forms, you need not always invite people to meet.  Sometimes
        sending someone a clipping of an article of mutual interest or a
        cartoon that you think they will enjoy is all you will do.  Other
        times, you may want to suggest lunch if you haven't seen the
        person for several months.


        => Working Your Network

        Over time, by following the above steps, you will develop a sizeable
        network and an organized way maintaining contact on a systematic
        basis will become essential.

        Establish a system whereby you perform a set number of network
        development tasks a day, preferably at the same time of day.
        For example, you could set aside an hour first thing every morning
        to do your networking tasks.  Let's say you have 200 contacts in
        your network and you want to make contact with each of these
        contacts at least once every two months.  At this rate you will
        need to contact five people every day (200 contacts divided by
        40 working days).  All you have to do is make five phone calls
        between 9:00 am and 10:00 am and you're done.  Or, you could
        make three phone calls, send one note enclosing a copy of the
        latest article you wrote for an industry publication and meet one
        person for breakfast or lunch.

        Some days you will have both breakfast and lunch plans with
        someone from your contact list.  Don't forget you can also kill
        two birds with one stone by inviting more than one person to
        lunch.  Bring together people from your network who don't already
        know each other but who could help each other.  Who knows
        who these people know that you haven't met yet?

        You get the idea.


        REAPING THE HARVEST

        As you can hopefully see by now, the key is to keep in regular
        contact with your network on a consistent basis.  Over time, these
        contacts will become a rich source of referral business for you and
        your business will grow in leaps and bounds as a result.

        _________________________

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