Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Importance of an Introduction

A few days ago, I received an email from a stranger. The subject line had the name of another relative stranger. I opened it anyway. It read:
Good Afternoon Nikki,

[Name Redacted] has shared your information with me in the hopes that the same positive working relationship s/he and I share could be developed between us. I would love to have a phone conversation to see if my services and connections would be advantageous for you.
I had to wrack my brain for a few moments to remember who the reference was. Then I remembered, it was someone that I had "met" a year ago on LinkedIn. I had a few brief email exchanges with the person last year and hadn't personally heard anything from the person since that time. Now, I'm getting an email from someone they know who thinks we can do business together.

How odd!

Look, I'm not opposed to establishing advantageous business relationships among your contacts, but I do believe there is a proper way to do it. I definitely don't approve of a person turning over their contact list to someone they kind of know or have done business with.

I had to email the person who had given out my email address and ask them who this person was that was emailing me, because as you can see, the email is pretty vague. I was told this:
[Name Redacted] and I work together and been friends for years. I highly recommend their payroll services. Hope you are well. 

See, this is what I mean. This is the reason why a proper introduction is important. Would it have killed this person to send me this email FIRST and asked if it would be OK for them to share my information with their friend/business associate instead of giving the business associate my contact information and what's called a "cold lead."

The way this happened left everybody to fend for themselves. Me, to ask who are you and what are you selling. The salesperson, who is trying to sell something to someone they don't know. And the person who should have done the introduction in the first place, because now I'm deleting them from my contacts. (After a year of no interaction, it doesn't really matter)

As I often say, don't be that person!

Giving out people's information for the purpose of helping someone else sell something feels kind of grimy and it doesn't sit well with most people (whether they tell you or not).

I don't know if there were any potential kickbacks involved or if there was any arm-twisting that went into it, but a little warning would have been nice. I had to explain that I'm not in need of any payroll services (a fact that could have been learned by asking me first) and politely thanked them for thinking of me and wished them well in their future pursuits.

If you know 2 people you think can benefit from knowing each other, it only takes a few minutes to either ask for permission to share their contact information or cc both parties on one email and introduce them to each other. I've only been "scolded" for doing the latter once, and I thought that was odd. I used the person's business email (which was publicly available on their website) to introduce them to someone I thought they'd like to know - especially because they lived a few houses away from each other and worked in the same field - and I got told off in an email for it. That's not normally the response, but I digress.

Your contacts and your relationship to them should be respected at all times.

How do you feel about it? I'd love to hear from you in the comments.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Personality Tests

A fellow-blogger friend Susan Wright-Boucher posted 7 free online personality tests that can be utilized to learn more about yourself. As she points out in her blog, these tests can also help with team-building.

As an entrepreneur, I think that they can come in handy when you're trying to learn more about the person you are planning to work with, as well as yourself. As Susan pointed out, she learned a lot more about herself while taking the tests prior to the blog post.

After a few personality mismatches, I've been considering implementing a personality test as part of the pre-screening/pre-qualification to work with a new client. But the clients I work with are super-busy people, so getting them to sit still long enough to complete this process would probably be a little bit like pulling teeth.

I think that when you are planning to do business, especially in one-on-one situations, you may want to know a little bit more about the personality of the other person in the equation. It can help you understand how they work and help you know the best approaches to deal with them on various topics that may arise.

A few minutes to answer some questions can save everybody some pain and miscommunication in the future. That's just my 2 cents. Check out the tests in the link above and let me know what you learn about yourself in the comments.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

My First E-Book

I am so flipping excited, I can't stand it!

I just finished my first e-book. It was a "labor of love" mainly because the new MS Word 365 or 2013, whatever, was giving me the BLUES! (No complaining) It wasn't as user-friendly as I would have liked it to be, but the MS support team was extremely responsive on Twitter and they helped me.

The book is simply the basics about becoming/being a personal assistant. My goal is to help someone who wants to know about this. So if you, or anyone you know is interested in being a personal assistant, feel free to share it with them.

Click here for the PDF.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

4 Lessons in Success from Millioinaires

Photo from FoxBusiness

An article recently posted in on Entrepreneur.com gives some quick and easy things to know and remember about business.

  1. Accept failure as part of the journey.
  2. Keep your eyes open for opportunities.
  3. When opportunity knocks, be ready for it.
  4. There's no set path to success.
I think these are great. Sometimes, we get too distracted by set-backs, we miss opportunities, we're not prepared, and we think there's only one way to get there.

You can read the full article here. I hope you're having a Happy Sunday and as always, I'd love to hear from you in the comments.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Lesson in Authenticity from Tree T-Pee

Last night I watched Shark Tank and live tweet (while cooking dinner) and the final pitch was probably one of the best and most emotional ones I've seen on there.

It was Johnny Georges, the owner of a company/product called Tree T-Pee. It's an irrigation system for farmers that helps them lower the amount they spend on water and protects the trees. It can save around 24,200 gallons of water a year.

The best way I can describe Mr. Georges is as a country man who just wants to do the right thing and help people. While I watched his pitch and I watched them ask questions, I realized that almost everything I thought I knew about being true to yourself or "authentic" can probably be tossed out the window.

He knew his product. He had answers for their questions and explained why he had a winning idea. He told a story about how he gave away 5 of his Tree T-Pees away to a woman who was initially reluctant because he was trespassing on her land. Soon after he left the products on her trees and she had a chance to actually see them in action, she called to place a rather large order.

Johnny makes these products himself. He doesn't have a large distribution involved. He is only selling in a 5 county area in the state of Florida because that's where he lives and I gathered from what he said, he's doing everything personally. He has a patent on his product and they last roughly 5 years, although he said the oldest one out there was made by his father in 1984.

It costs him $2.95 to make them. He's made 126,500 of them and he sells them for an average of $4.50 each. He makes $1.00 profit off each one he sells. That's when the rubber hit the road - when the sharks started asking him about distribution and taking the product outside of Florida, he looked a little baffled. He's clearly not a greedy man and Kevin O'Leary didn't understand that concept at all. Mr. O'Leary wanted Mr. Georges to go bigger, get distribution and raise the cost significantly.

Mr. Georges held his ground. He doesn't do this for the money. He does this for the farmers. It's something he holds dear to his heart and he believes in. He said he's always tried to be right and do the right thing.

In the end, John Paul DeJoria, a guest judge on the show, decided to give Mr. Georges exactly what he asked for because he firmly believed in Mr. Georges character and what he was doing. Everyone else was out for profit (rightfully so, because that's what the show is about). Sometimes, some of the other sharks have done the same and given money to people who are looking to just do something good.

I was reminded of quite a few important things during this presentation and deal:

  • You don't have to be who people want you to be in order to be successful. Your definition of success is a personal one.
  • When you do the right thing, all the time, it pays off in the end. Mr. Georges got exactly what he needed for his business.
  • You don't have to ask for or take more than you need.
  • Charging your customers/clients a fortune is one way to get to your goal, but it's not the only way and it's definitely not the best way. If Mr. Georges priced his product unreasonably, his customers wouldn't be ordering 5000 or 10000 at a time.
  • ALWAYS be yourself.