March 31, 2016

Networker vs NOTworker, Part Four

There is a lot to be said about the old black and white films, particularly the classics. True fans of the monochrome form decry the colorization of the classics as sacrilegious. Black and white films do have a place in our world but adding color to anything brings life and delivers emotions. 

We discussed in the past two articles of Networker v. NOTworker first impressions, and lasting impressions, based on actions, hygiene and proper attire. However color is this article's last entry of making an impression while networking because your color choice and combinations could state who you are and how you are perceived because, yes, you can use color to influence others.

The Power of COLOR
Getting noticed in a business setting takes a certain splash, as in color. Let's look at the following colors and explore their meaning in relationship to this article. Keep in mind that not every single person views colors the exact same way. This is a guideline, not science! 

Blue indicates;
  • tradition
  • responsibility
  • knowledge
  • caring
  • trustworthiness
  • authority
Think job interviews (isn't that really like networking?) and negotiating. Brings out a soothing feeling.


Red indicates;
  • powerful
  • exciting
  • passionate 
  • intense
Stimulates faster heartbeat. Best utilized as an accent rather than a statement.

Brown indicates; 
  • earthy
  • genuine
  • sadness
Perceived as neutral, lacks sufficient authority.

Green indicates;
  • nature 
  • calming
  • refreshing
Could, however, elicit a negative response. 

Yes, even black, grays and whites are considered colors (don't tell the film critics);
Black indicates;
  • powerful
  • versatile
Could be perceived as overbearing or aloof. Implies submission.

Gray indicates;
  • docile
  • neutral
Could be perceived as boring and lifeless.

White indicates;
  • classic
  • understated
  • simple
  • sophisticated
  • innocence
  • purity
Could be a magnet for very visible stains. 

Some might say that I am going just a little bit overboard on first impressions by bringing color into the conversation. I do want you to look at the clothing color choices of your co-workers, business associates, even friends and family. See if their color choices bring out any feelings. If I am wrong, you'll view everyone the same. If I am right you'll never view first time meetings the same way again.

submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP


March 24, 2016

Networker vs NOTworker, Part Three

The first networking article, Networker v. NOTworker, explored the particulars you need to begin your successful home builders association investment. In Netwoker v. NOTworker Part Two the discussion outlined the ways to derail before you even leave the station.
Today's article will suggests ways to be memorable during your networking voyage. Let's be perfectly clear; we are always networking. Always proceed with the knowledge that the people you meet never forget...

How to Leave a Lasting Impression 
  • Be genuinely interested in the people around you. Listen to their conversation and don't try to upgrade by looking around for a better deal than the person or people in front of you.
  • Bring the best of yourself to each event. Smile, demonstrate a certain degree a warmth, dress for the occasion. If you are having a bad day, and you are letting that day get the best of you, head home. Relax and unwind; tomorrow you can right the ship but today or tonight you could give a side of you that's not for the public to experience. There will be many other events you can network.
  • In order for people to know who you and how you fit in the world they need to know why you are here and with a carefully crafted message you can brand yourself immediately and, more importantly, memorably.Have a "30 Second info-mercial" about you ready. 
    (click here to learn how)
  •  Please, be yourself. I have heard about these sales seminars where the "instructor" explains that you need to mirror the personality and traits of the person you are engaged with in conversation. This seems like sound advice but in reality it is misguided advice. You can certainly be a chameleon in one on one conversations but what happens when the many people who you have mirrored are all together? Who are you going to be? My advice is be yourself, always. People will like you or maybe they won't. But everyone dislikes a phony.
  • You should be sincere in your conversation. If you are going to be like an Eddie Haskell (for you old timers out there) in your compliments expect sharp people to distance themselves from you. If you say you will follow up, follow up. If you can't do something, say so. If you can help someone, help. If you can't, be honest but see if there is away to offer solid guidance.
  • Give away valuable information (unless, of course it's your competition). Helpful leads given will endear you to that person. Now, and this is very important, this will either bring to you valuable information in return (laws of reciprocity) or maybe will help you identify a classic taker with zero reciprocity.               
 The above will help you when people are gauging your worth to their network and likewise to yours. To build business relationships, which could evolve into business friendships, people need to know you are a good person who brings that proverbial something to the table.
Understand that first impressions are extremely important, for obvious reasons. Here is a reason that may resonate to amplify the need for a professional first impression;

"Marketing psychologists advise that

a lasting impression is made within

90 seconds

and accounts for

60 percent of the acceptance or rejection of an object, place, individual, or circumstance."

 The math works in reverse as well;
 It has been said that it takes at least twenty more interactions to change the initial impression. Twenty as in 20! That's 20 more general membership meetings or 20 more office visits just to undo the damage your first impression may have given. That's a lot of time wasted when that time could be spent increase your networking circle which will always increase your opportunities to succeed.


March 17, 2016

Networker vs NOTworker, Part Two

This is part two of my articles regarding Networking vs NOTworking. Networking has become, for some, a lost art or a forgotten skill. Some would say that today's networker in our home builders association lacks the vision of what could be if done with precision and tact. More importantly, and what can truly derail your efforts and possible loss of opportunities, what not to do. There is no reason to discuss successful networking tips and strategies if you can’t purge your system of some not so desirable qualities.

Today's article is derived by, admittedly, some pet peeves of mine and others by reading up on first impressions. If you want to fail at meeting new people who could possibly help you with your career, by all means please follow the...

5 Ways to NOTworking Success
1. The Physical Impressionist
Excessive Anything:

  •          Body Hair
  •         Tattoo
  •     Cologne/Perfume
  •     Smoke Breath
  •     Provocative vs. Professional
  •     DRINKING

Let’s go down the line…
Body hair; For the men, if you have a beard, keep it neat. If you need a shave, shave. For ladies, the 80s are long gone lose the volumizer and excessive hairspray. Don't judge me for writing this. I'm only letting you know that you'll be judged, right or wrong. It's your choice, though.
Getting a tattoo is a freedom of your expression, with the key word in this sentence being “YOUR.” Not everyone is into tattoos so if you have them, and you can somehow cover them up, please do. This may only apply to some but if your goal is to gain opportunities why, for the freedom of expression, limit your chances? Again, I’m not judging; I’m sharing what I have read on the subject and heard from others.
Go easy on the cologne and perfume. To each his/her own means exactly how it reads. When I shake someone’s hand I don’t need to smell like the insert of a magazine. Again, less, or none, is so much more. 
The same could be said for cigarette smoking. Most people are right handed and those that smoke will naturally utilize their right hand while smoking and will most likely have that "last" cigarette before going from the outside to the inside where general membership meeting is taking place. You'll be shaking hands and speaking with people because that's why you're there. However, your hand will transfer the smell of cigarette smoke onto the hand of another during the hellos. You will also be within two feet of the person so you don't have to shout. You see where I'm going here?
Unless I’m wrong, women, and men attending HBA/business events are not there for mating season. Sure, there are some exceptions to that statement but I would assume an extremely large percentage of attendees do not want to be “hit on” or be subjected to inappropriate behavior, such as blue jokes or leering.
Being in sales, and knowing that alcohol is a fixture at most HBA events, I will repeat again what I wrote above; less means so much more. Do you really want to be remembered as the tipsy woman or inebriated guy? You are there representing your company, whether as an employer or employee. If you do have a drink or two, drinking a glass of water in between should go a long way in keeping you professionally intact.

2. The Pathological Networker
  • Business card "pusher"
  • Talks to as many people as possible
This is the individual you see at the general membership passing out his or her cards in a frenzy, like a dealer in a poker game, obviously there for no other reason than to make a quick sale.They roam from person to person because they came with 50 business cards and by hell or high-water they are not leaving with those cards. Really, not the best strategy for long term success or short term.

3. The Interrupter
  • Barges into a conversation
  • Oblivious to their surroundings
This is an individual who, when spotting a person they'd like to talk to, walk up to that person, already engaged in a conversation, to say "hello." What they don't understand? The "other" person in the conversation could have been in the middle of an important point. Or they could have been ready to set up a continued conversation. You just blocked this person's networking. Do you really think you haven't just made a mistake and possibly soured your attempt at social capital? The "other" person just marked you as a roadblock to success. But if you don't care about expanding your network, please, continue with this rude practice.

4. The Monopolizer

  •  Latching onto a prospect and not letting go

This is an individual who is speaking to someone, at great length, that others might wish to meet and engage in conversation as well. But for some reason the monopolize stays in that conversation oblivious to his or her surroundings. Once again, this individual may cherish the protracted conversation with one person but during the process has sown the seeds of dislike by potential contacts waiting in line.

5. The Tunneling Mole

  • As in tunnel vision
  • Focused on one goal or person 
  • De-prospecting someone
  • Dismissing a "nobody"

They don’t understand one simple rule; EVERYONE in that room, in varying degrees, could possibly help you. Maybe not just yet, but why ignore possibilities? Short sighted tunnel vision is a trait that is not listed in successful people’s check lists.
“If you can’t help me, I can’t be bothered.” I have seen quite a few people like this in my time in the business world. Example – Several years ago I was speaking at an HBA event, one of my favorite HBA activities. There was a member, a realtor I believe, who came up to me afterwards and complimented me on my conversation with the group. He then wanted to know where I am currently building. When I explained that I am a building material supplier the look of disappointment stormed his faced. Realizing that I could not advance his “book of business” he said “great to meet you” and walked in the opposite direction to his next target.

You have one chance at a first impression, don't sabotage your opportunities.

March 10, 2016

Networker v. NOTworker

Today's article, with the next few weeks dedicated to similar articles, will revolve on the most important tool your new members will absolutely need to start off their home builders association (HBA) investment off on the right foot, or in this case, the right hand. I am writing about networking and the least expensive of your marketing dollar line items.

 Networker v. NOTworker

Have you ever heard someone described as a person "with connections" or witnessed someone who is well received during a business function? If you haven't on either description then you definitely are on the outside looking in, meaning you are very new to the business "social" function and, going further, haven't had the impulse to start conversations.   
The descriptions above refer to a person who knows how to have conversations that bring value, is well respected and builds up their social capital as if he/she were deploying dollars into investments, which is exactly what old fashioned networking can do. 
Let's uncover the differences between a networker and a NOTworker as it applies to our home builders association as well as any other business function that incorporates a social gathering. This is not a "one size fits all" opinion but rather overviews with basics that should help your newest association members.
What do I mean by "networking?" I believe that networking is part of the process of developing your social capital. Building your social capital hinges on the development of meaningful relationships with other people. Since one should always be working on building meaningful relationships with other people, he or she should always be networking. However, that doesn't mean someone should always be trying to sell something to someone, because that rarely facilitates the development of meaningful relationships. This is the biggest misinterpretation of the practice of networking. Some people think that networking means to be constantly selling your products or services.

"There is no point going anywhere if people don't remember you were there"
What is the point of going somewhere to meet new people if you leave no lasting or minimal impressions? Or the other end of the spectrum; having others who meet you wish they never had?

Let's discuss the very basics of networking... identification.

The key to successful networking starts with the objective. Without the objective, you will wander aimlessly and then wonder why you are not feeling good about the gathering you're attending. What is your objective? Is it:

  1. Meeting new people?
  2. Meeting new people that can help you?
  3. Meeting new people that can help you while you help them?

Yes is obvious on #1, yes on #2 but beware of being a "taker" and a big YES on #3 which is what you're objective will be after you get a chance to meet new people or further develop relationships with ones you have met previously.

Once your objective is understood let's look at WHAT meaning what is it you are looking do accomplish. WHAT is gaining something. it could be:

  1. Developing business opportunities
  2. Developing a network of industry relationships that can help you further your business opportunities
  3. Developing a network of industry relationships that have you gaining and giving business opportunities

Again, yes to all 3 with the third being your ultimate arrival to successfully networking.

WHY do you need to network? Because business does not just drop in your lap. Going home after work is not an option for successful members. Going home means you have a 8-5 job and you are satisfied with your station in life. Why you decide to network is your passion for success and, the question for you is, how passionate are you about success?

WHO is the million dollar (or whatever ever your sales goals are) question. Who are your desired potential relationships. In our association of home builders the seemingly obvious answer would be "home builders." Right? How many new customers can you meet so you can build your book of business? Or for the builder, how many new vendors can I meet that will show results in my bottom line of building a home? Yes to both, after all success has many results and these are definitely two. Two, of many. Two trees that stand in a forest. The answer, when expanded, to WHO is everybody who has anything to do with home building. For associates, in addition to builders, other associates. Why? Because they have something that can help you; established builder relationships.For builders reaching out and developing new vendors is smart and developing relationships with other builders just as smart. No, unless you belong to NAHB Builder 20 Clubs, you probably want share business tactics but you will most likely develop new ways of discussing building "problems" that can either give you heartburn or nightmares and everything in between.

WHERE is the home builders association including all three levels; local state and national. You have at your disposal a vast "supply" of fellow members all looking to network with each other. General membership meetings are something no member, new or established, should pass up. Each encounter helps you with your overall objective of being successful or as successful as you'd like. Check your local's website for calendar of events or call your executive officer for a upcoming events. While you're on the phone (yes, phone. Email is not a great networking tool) ask about a list of committees that are available. Networking is streamlined when you work with others on initiatives. 

As a wise person once said, "there you have it, there you go." In order for you to hone your networking skills you have to understand above. Without understanding there is confusion. With confusion you lose time. Can you really afford to lose time?

submitted by Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP