In My Pinnacle Network, we refer to the elevator pitch as your verbal brand. For sake of clarity, we will use E.P. in this piece and over the next several weeks. Yet every one of us should not only reconsider what we call our elevator pitch but how we deliver it and what exactly we say.
If you fall into the camp that tries to fit as much as humanly possible into your E.P. before you run out of breath/pass out or the person you’re talking nods off or, worse, walks away, you are far from alone. Of course, you will eventually be alone because elevator pitches done like that do not work. That’s because the goal of the E.P. is to make the listener WANT to know more and start asking questions. If you attempt to tell them everything, you will not only run out breath and deplete their attention span, you take away their reason for wanting to know more.
One of the better ways to get people to list to their elevator pitch is to listen to theirs first. So, E.P. pointer number one is to come up with a conversation starter that creates a more comfortable opening than, “what do you do?”. My Pinnacle Network Founder Steve Dubin offers the following:
Do you know exactly where your next prospect is coming from?
Try it out. Yet be prepared if the answer is “I don’t know”. Then, you might have to jump in with your answer.

Ninja surprises

Last year’s Networking Ninja awards had a surprise award–an Unsung Hero honor for yours truly. This year will also have two surprise awards–Rookie of the Year and Lifetime Achievement. We will announce both at the ceremony on Tuesday, April 16 at the joint networking event of My Pinnacle Network and the South Shore Networking Professional Group, held at the Cask & Flagon in Marshfield.

Speaking of the Ninja awards, this is the FINAL week of voting. If you do want to cast your vote for the best B2B networkers you know, you can do so by clicking on the button at the bottom.

The categories for the Networking Ninja Awards are:

  • Best Connector – helping bring people together)
  • Most Ubiquitous (appears to be at every networking event)
  • Most Altruistic (does most for others)
  • Brightest Beacon (adds energy to networking events)

To vote, click here. Use the pull-down arrow on the far right in the Nomination Category to select the category. You may vote for My Pinnacle Network members or other B2B professionals in your network.

When you join a networking group, the benefits abound. Let’s start with having a quasi sales force out there looking for leads for your business. You also have a sounding board to run ideas and issues by. That can be a huge thing for solopreneurs. But one of the more under-utilized assets of being in a networking group is social media content.

Think about it. What’s one of your biggest issues with running a social media site? Coming up with content. By being in a networking group should give you access to fellow members’ content. It’s pretty simple to like someone’s page, connect or follow, right?

So, if you’re in a pinch and need some content, check out what your fellow networkers are posting. Maybe it’s something you can share on your page. Be sure to credit your fellow networker so you can introduce him/her to your audience as well. Who knows? That might lead to some business for them.

If you haven’t done so already, please connect with My Pinnacle Network on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Our posting habits vary. At the very least, we post this weekly newsletter you’re more than welcome to share with your audience.

Also, if you have a blog post you would like to share with our My Pinnacle Network list of B2B professionals and business owners, please forward to admin@mypinnaclenetwork.com.

When it comes to one-on-ones, F.U.

That stands for follow up. You can schedule all the one-on-ones humanly possible. Without following up on the action items discussed during your one-on-one, the entire meeting is pointless.

Last week’s e-newsletter talked about some of the musts for one-on-ones. One of those was concluding the meeting with next steps or action items. So, if you say you’re going to introduce the other person to somebody in your network that means putting a timetable on it—I will introduce Steve to Jonathan within three business days.

Part two of that timetable is if Steve doesn’t hear anything from me or Jonathan, then Steve should follow up with me and ask if I have done anything yet. This follow up on Steve’s part should be after three business days.

There’s two tips involved here. First, take action on your action items ASAP. As soon as you get back to the office if possible. Procrastinating on these things takes away from the positive momentum you will probably have from the one-on-one. It can also make you look like the person who talks a good game in a one-on-one but doesn’t back it up.

Second, if you don’t hear back from somebody after the agreed upon action items and timetables, do not be afraid to give that person a call and ask what’s up. We all get busy. There probably was no intent to neglect. Still, you should make the call to continue the momentum of the one-on-one and demonstrate to the other person that you are serious about passing leads and referrals. That said, make sure you have acted on your action items as well before making that call.

Think of the follow up as the bit on the old Seinfeld episode when Jerry went to the airport and found out his reservation for a car rental did not guarantee a vehicle.

“You took the reservation but you didn’t KEEP the reservation. And that’s really the most important part.”

As a great of a meeting as you might have had during the one-on-one, you have to do the follow-up in a timely fashion for it to have real impact. That really is the most important part.

Give a kind word…or more

The season of giving often puts us in an awkward position with clients and colleagues. Should you give a gift? Is a card enough? Will it make others feel like they have to give a gift or send a card? Valid questions but really not what the season of giving is and should be about. So, when it doubt, give a kind word.

Huh?

A testimonial or recommendation can also be a nice thing to do for a client, colleague, vendor or other people in your network. If writing is not necessarily your thing, then leave a Google Review for their business. The review doesn’t have to be poetry. Just the appropriate number of stars and your honest recommendation of their business or service.

Will that make the recipient feel a need for reciprocity? Maybe. Yet that’s not really the point. The idea is if you want to give a gift and its something you have been meaning to do anyway, the season of giving is as good a time as any to share the love, admiration and respect you have for the people in your network.

Click here for info on how to leave a recommendation on LinkedIn.

Secrets to a successful one-on-one

The secret is it is not much of a secret to having a productive one-on-one. As mentioned during the Two-Minute Drill at this month’s My Pinnacle Network meetings,there are some tried and true keys to conducting a successful one-on-one:

  • After you schedule the one-on-one be sure to confirm the meeting the morning of the appointment. If it’s a morning meeting, confirm the day before. Things come up and you want to be sure the meeting is a go. It also shows the person you are meeting with that you do value the meeting and his/her time.
  • KEEP THE APPOINTMENT. Pretty common sense but in running networking groups for several years now, we have heard of people blowing off one-on-ones. Just don’t do it.
  • Agree to a certain time period for the one-on-one and stick to a set time period (30 minutes to an hour).
  • Bring an “Ideal Client Profile” sheet, cards and collateral materials.
  • Don’t lose sight of the reason for the one-on-one – Developing a business relationship (personal stories and talking about share acquaintances is fine but don’t get sidetracked).
  • Allot equal amounts of time for each person to talk about his/her business and the type of lead/referral/introduction he/she is looking for (be wary of the person who goes first taking up most of the time).
  • Before you end the meeting, determine next steps/action items and a time frame. If you promise to make an introduction or share contact info, do so before the end of that business week or within two business days.

By following these guidelines, you give your one-on-ones some structure, which makes it a good use of your time and that of the person with whom you are meeting.

Why we forget the basics

As a writer, I sometimes run into a mental roadblock over thing that should be second nature. Basics like:

Is it who or whom?

Are all titles always capped or only in certain situations?

Compliment or complement?

That why having a handy style guide—hard copy and online—provides necessary reinforcement of things I already know. In networking, it’s also helpful to get an occasional refresher on the basics. An article on networking that I came across recently, the 59 commandments of Networking, offers reminders of some standard networking tips. Those include some basics like:

  • Focusing on passing leads and referrals rather than receiving
  • Coming prepared to each meeting and arriving early (10 minutes before meeting start minimum)
  • Regular one-on-ones
  • Following up on the action items discussed in those one-on-ones.
  • Being specific about the types of introductions and referrals you want
  • When making an introduction or passing a lead or referral, make sure to qualify. Nobody wants to call a lead or referral and that person is not expecting the call or e-mail.

The commandments that stood out the most in the group included: don’t expect to receive referrals right away and do not expect to get until you give. If you are a seasoned networker, you know how long it can take to build relationships to the point where giving and passing leads and referrals happens. That’s not to say it could not happen right away. It just usually takes time and patience and plenty of nurturing through regular communication at meetings, between meetings and keeping fellow networkers front of mind as you make your way through the course of business.

You can check out the full 59 by clicking here.

My Pinnacle Network recently announced a full slate of business-to-business networking meetings for November. My Pinnacle Network meetings are as follows:

My Pinnacle Network – Pembroke, Thursday, November 1, from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., ACTSmart Training Center, 70 Corporate Park Drive, Suite 1225, Pembroke, MA 02359.

My Pinnacle Network – Westborough, Tuesday, November 6, from 8 a.m. – 9:30 a.m at Digital Federal Credit Union, 18 Lyman Street, Westborough, MA 01581.

My Pinnacle Network – Mansfield, Wednesday, November 7, from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., Mansfield BioIncubator, 241 Francis Avenue, Mansfield, MA 02048.

My Pinnacle Network – Needham/Newton, Thursday, November 8, 7:30 a.m. – 9 a.m. at Bullfinch Group, 160 Gould Street, Needham, MA 02494.

My Pinnacle Network – Plymouth (Real Estate), Thursday, November 8, from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., Keller Williams training room, 91 Carver Road, Plymouth, MA  02360 (Ocean State Job Lot Plaza)

My Pinnacle Network – Braintree Third Thursday, Thursday, November 15, from 7:30 a.m. – 9 a.m. at 100 Grandview Road, 3rd Floor Conference Room, Braintree, MA 02184.

Only one B2B professional will be selected for each category. Those categories can be found at bottom of http://www.mypinnaclenetwork.com. Prospective members are encouraged to attend a My Pinnacle Network meeting before committing to join.

If you are interested in attending a meeting in your area, please contact Steven V. Dubin at SDubin@MyPinnacleNetwork.com or 781-582-1061 to RSVP. There is no charge to visit a My Pinnacle Network meeting.

One of the many benefits of a monthly networking group is that you have a month between meetings. That may sound like a Yogi Berra-ism. Yet the significance of having a month between meetings is you have a month of experiences to incorporate into your verbal brand at the next meeting. And that provides you fresh, new material to share with your networking group.

What can those stories include? How about?:

  • Who did you help during the past 30 days?
  • Did you land a new account? What was the story behind that? Why did they choose your firm?
  • Maybe you had a success with a particular customer? Or received a glowing testimonial?
  • Perhaps you have recently formed a partnership with a new vendor who will increase your capabilities to help your current customers and land new ones?
  • It could even be as simple as just doing what you do well and how that has helped your current customers.

There’s the old expression about how stories sell. Yet selling goes beyond new business today. If you provide your networking group with your success stories on a monthly basis, you add to their arsenal things they can share with their contact sphere. Quite simply, the more stories you share about the types of business you help and why your customers choose you, the more a networking group can help you.

All you have to do is bring “it” to each meeting.

My Pinnacle Network – Westborough, Tuesday, September 4, from 8 a.m. – 9:30 a.m at Digital Federal Credit Union, 18 Lyman Street, Westborough, MA 01581.

My Pinnacle Network – Mansfield, Wednesday, September 5, from 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., Mansfield BioIncubator, 241 Francis Ave., Mansfield, MA 02048.

My Pinnacle Network – Pembroke, Thursday, September 6, from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., ACTSmart Training Center, 70 Corporate Park Drive, Suite 1225, Pembroke, MA 02359.

My Pinnacle Network – Needham/Newton, Thursday, September 13, 7:30 a.m. – 9 a.m. at Bullfinch Group, 160 Gould Street, Needham, MA 02494.

My Pinnacle Network – Plymouth (Real Estate), Thursday, September 13, from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., Keller Williams training room, 91 Carver Road, Plymouth, MA 02360 (Ocean State Job Lot Plaza)

My Pinnacle Network – Braintree Third Thursday, Thursday, September 20, from 7:30 a.m. – 9 a.m. at 100 Grandview Road, 3rd Floor Conference Room, Braintree, MA 02184