Never Forget Who Helps You
Remember, this is the life blood of true networking and relationships. As my good friend, James Palazza, who is one of the world's best salespeople and relationship builder's says, "I live by this rule. Always remember those who go out of their way for you."
As I sit in Starbucks and watch a city block of people clamoring in when there are three other coffee shops on the next block, I wonder, “Why am I here?” The coffee is strong and expensive, yet it is the aura or the mystique of the brand that brings me back. The other day when shopping at my favorite “local” Whole Foods—which is ten city blocks from me, I considered why there are always droves of people there. Granted it is the customer experience of being there—great food, conveniently and creatively displayed, yet again the brand drew me in. Even though it is expensive.
It reminds me of when I heard the founder of JetBlue speaking at a conference. He talked about how they built their brand on flawless execution and taking care of the customer. Like any organization, they faced many challenges over the years, and still do. As he spoke at the conference, I heard someone say, “He came here to speak to this group for free.” I thought about that comment. Here he was talking in front of a group of 200 executives about the airline's customer service. He gave everyone a JetBlue cap, and he shared different stories based on his mantra of taking care of the customer. He was fabulous. Each person in that room was talking about his speech and JetBlue when they left, praising it to everyone in sight. I know I did! Much of the new business JetBlue, Starbucks and Whole Foods get is from the buzz created and people telling each other . . . i.e. networking! So—did the CEO really speak for free?
Your brand is who you are and what people think about when they hear your name or think about you—very much like the “customer experience” of life. It is not just how you look to yourself, it is how do you “look” to others. It is painting in someone’s mind a word picture of you—and how you create that image. For example, what do you envision from the following example.
My friend Vicky Amon is an amazing chef, though cooking is her hobby not her profession. When I asked her one night what she was preparing for dinner, instead of saying the plain and obvious, she told me: “You can have “Fish, Corn and Salad” for dinner, OR, you can have pistachio encrusted tilapia, fresh corn on the cob with garlic/parsley butter, and a salad of Farmer’s Market romaine, sliced avocado, Parmesan croutons, pine nuts and dried cranberries with a Dijon Caesar dressing.”
Which would you prefer? Again—it is all in the presentation and the articulation. How would you create you? Think now about your own branding as you network. Here is how to get started:
- Write down Your USPs—Unique Selling Points—we all have them.
- Define what makes you “unique.” In my case it is: “I follow-up fast and efficiently.”
- Consider your positioning strategy—how do you like to be positioned?
- How do you “live” your brand? You must “walk your talk” so to speak.
- What do people think of when they hear your name?
Put together your positioning statement and continually upgrade it. It should answer the following:
- Who you are?
- What business are you in? Or what business do you WANT to be in?
- Who do you serve?
- Who is your competition?
- How do you differentiate yourself?
- What unique benefit do you provide so that someone says: You are the one for me on this project.
- A position is how you are perceived in the minds of others.
- A positioning statement expresses how you wish to be perceived.