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Standing in line

In today's world, almost everything we do can be seen as networking. Every single person we bump into can have a hand in creating more business for us, yet I still see people at every form of networking event I go to do it wrong. I really want to help them and I think it can be summed up with the topic of this blog, "Standing in line."

Networking really isn't that hard. Most of us know how to do it, and most of us hate doing it. You probably hate it because you really don't have a game plan for the entire process of networking. You see, to me, networking has nothing to do with getting you business, it has everything to do with getting in the line.

There is no way someone is going to start to recommend your business after meeting them for the very first time. With the proper follow up, though, you will have at least "gotten in line." In my mind, being in line is just about as good as it gets.

You see, when you get in line, you may be the 6th person they know who does what you do. So there really is no chance of work anytime soon but there is a chance to get to know that person, to get to know their business and to have the chance to get them to know you a little better. Hopefully, with the right attention, you will move up in line.

Some lines won't move at all, some lines will be short, others really long. The name of the game is to at least get in some lines. Start the process of learning more about the people you meet at networking events. From there, you will start to see yourself moving towards the front of the lines you've been standing in.

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Make Time for Fun

One of the things I like to do is have fun around the office. Often, with all the work that needs to be done, the fun tends to fall by the wayside. To ensure that we make time for fun, I recently put two of our team members in charge of coming up with unique ways to get people out of their work zone, if only for 5-10 minutes a week. A few of the things we've done around the office include:

A crossword puzzle made up of words relating specifically to our company.

Paper basketball tournament.

Dolly cart bowling with one team member pushing another into empty water bottles.

Email hangman competitions.

Pictionary contests in the break room.

Sometimes the team members balk that they're too busy to join in on the game, but inventiably, when they do, they're happier and more productive afterwards.

What are some fun things you do around your office to give your team a break from their eveyday work?

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Get a kick out of them!

Our Marketing Manager, Jennifer, recently read the article "Comedy of Errors" by Katie Rich. She brought the article in and shared it with our entire team, and I’m glad she did. One of the tips that stuck out the most to me was, “Instead of being annoyed at someone, just try to get a kick out of them." I’m sure you can think of someone you may encounter who annoys you. Most of us can, and if you can’t – consider yourself lucky!  Many of us waste far too much precious time being annoyed at a certain person or persons. What does that get us? Instead, if we were to “get a kick out of them” as the author suggested, our day would go much smoother. The person that annoys you is not going to change, so you have to change how you view them. By changing how you view the person and the situation, you are taking control. It’s your time and energy, use it wisely! 

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Today for Tomorrow

Ask yourself if what you are doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow. You’ve set your goal for your business. What have you done today to work towards that goal? Many people get frustrated when another year comes to a close and they are still right where they were at the beginning of that year. If you do not actively take steps towards your goal, you will not get there. Think about what you’re putting off today that will get you one step closer.

  1. If it takes less than 2 minutes, do it NOW.
  2. Set a micro goal for yourself that you can accomplish in less than 30 minutes, and then do it (example: give a fellow professional a call to say hi).
  3. Find a local association event to go to TONIGHT and set a goal for a specific number of people to meet at the event.
  4. Send 3 clients/professionals thank-you cards.

Got it? Now stop reading and go do it!

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Showing Appreciation

We recently hosted our annual company holiday party. Typically, we wait to have our party until after the holidays so that our team can enjoy the party without worrying about missing it because they’re too busy working events.

It’s important for me to have this party to thank my team for all of their hard work and dedication to the company over the course of the year. Some of you may be thinking, “I don’t have enough people to throw a party as a thank you.” No matter how big or small your company may be at this point, I encourage you to have some sort of gathering to thank your team for all that they do for you and your company. In my early years as a business owner, my team was as little as 2-7 people. Those years, I took the team out for a nice lunch. The lunch gave everyone a chance to relax, unwind, and laugh together.

Now that our team is closer to 80 people, we do it big. We rent out a venue, hire a DJ (so our guys can have the night off), and party well into the night. We also make it a point to invite other professionals who we work with throughout the year. These professionals are responsible for referring many of our clients and without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today.

This event lets my team know they are appreciated and they look forward to it all year long! Start thinking ahead to the end of 2016 to find some nice ways to show your team that they are appreciated.

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The Box

A few years ago, heck maybe quite a few years ago, people wanted you to “think outside the box.” Thinking inside the box was typical and we all had to figure out a different way to approach the daily things we did. Nowadays, I get a laugh because if everybody is supposed to think outside the box, shouldn’t we now be thinking inside the box to be different? Anyway, I digress

Before any of us can think inside or outside “the box,” we have to think about the box itself! We can’t think about cool ways to do things, neat new services to provide, or fancy slogans if the basic foundation of our business is built with flimsy, haphazardly created values and core beliefs. Trying to start or grow a business before you really think about the way you want to run your business will prove for a very challenging journey.

Creating your box doesn’t have to be hard. It needs to have a few key questions answered that you need to give some serious time to think about. The answers to these questions will help you build your core foundation that you can rely on and use to grow your business. Some example questions would include: 

  • ·         What is your business’s common goal?
  • ·         What are your values as a business?
  • ·         What is your company culture?
  • ·         What is it that you really do?
  • ·         Why do you want to do what you do?
  • ·         Why are you different?

 

When you take the time to answer these questions, as well as some others, you start to work on your business and not in your business. You begin to see your business from a 10,000 foot view, which is usually how your customer sees it. The more you can hone in on the answers to those questions, the more you can focus on how you can be different and how you can get your message to your prospects and clients.

For example, if you don’t know what you value as a business, how can you possibly find the right client to market to? As a DJ, you may want to value honesty. Because, to you, it is important that you are always completely honest with all your clients. This value of honesty will help you make particular business decisions, like never promising one DJ and then sending another or never changing the contract after particular details are agreed upon. These days, honesty would be a great value to convey to your prospects.

Another example answer could be to the question, “Why do you want to do this job?” The answer to this question really defines you and your business. If the answer to this question is “for fun,” then you have a whole different box to create than someone who might have answered “to establish a company with 10 DJs over the next 3 years.”

Whatever you do, don’t let other people choose the type of box you want to create. Sure, you can allow certain key people to influence the creation of your box, but only you can have the final say on how you want to do things. These are decisions you have to make, and as long as you stand behind your decision, no one can tell you it is the wrong way!

So how do you plan on thinking “outside the box"?

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Hours

Almost every business you deal with has set hours that they are open and closed. It is clearly marked on the website and their voicemail systems. You know when they open and when they close.

But, in the event world, it seems like that doesn't apply. Almost every company I look at is always open. They have their cell phone numbers as their work line and they answer it ALL the time. Even on Sundays!

I'm all for personalized service and being there for your clients or prospects, but I'm also all about having a life. Listen, you aren't going to lose a job because you didn't pick the phone up at 9pm. But if you make clear on your overnight voicemail that you open at 9am the following the day, the prospect knows when they can expect a call back.

Try setting up business hours to not only help your clients know when you are open and closed, but also for your own sanity so you know when to GO HOME!

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Your business

While I am in the business of helping your business grow, you must remember one thing. Only you know your business. You can't be worried about every other business in your market and what they are doing. Or what they may tell you what to do. All that will lead to is stress and worry. And that you don't need in your life. Stay focused on your goals. Continue your drive. Push to get what you want. People like to try and bring other successful people down. Don't let those people in.

The second you let those people in, you lose focus and they win. Make decisions that are good for you and your business and move on.

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Don't wait...

I find myself having a hard time practicing this one probably as much as you do. “Aah, I’ll get to it tomorrow” I say. And you know what happens, tomorrow turns into next month, into next year.

I find the best way to get around this is to start whatever project that you need to get done, even if it is just a small part of it. The simple task of actually doing it gets you in the right frame of mind to continue. Most of us don’t event attempt to start it!

It is usually the things that are out of your groove that are hard to start. You know your groove…the things you do every day, over and over, like clockwork. The predictable stuff. You usually don’t have time to try the new stuff or the different stuff. So you pick a date in the futrue that makes more sense. And then that time comes and what happens, the same process over and over.

I say the hell with it. Just start it. Even if it is the smallest part of the bigger project, just start. Let the momentum build from that small start and grow into something even bigger. Who cares if it isn’t perfect. Who cares if it’s the right way. Break out of the predictability and do what you have been saying you will do NOW!

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Mistakes

Look, part of life is making mistakes. Some of the best things were made by making tons of mistakes first. You are going to make mistakes in your business. So you have to at least try things. And you have to at least learn. Then try again.

 

Successful people don’t actually see the mistakes as mistakes. They just keep doing things a little different until they get it right. But I think it is hard for people that aren’t exactly use to being their own boss. They get scared, they worry, and the scared and worried start to run the business. Trust yourself. Know that you will make a mistake, but trust me, it will be totally worth it.

 

This not only goes for you, but also for the people that work for you. They have to make mistakes to grow too. So let them make them, even when you know they are making them and could easily stop them. Let them learn themselves.

 

I have made so many mistakes. I will share them with you over the next few days. My third biggest mistake was trusting the wrong people. I had some early events in my career that I thought I had the right people on board. Trust takes a long time to build, but I was young and really thought all people had the same intentions as me. This experience made me get stronger at interviews, be more exact on what I wanted accomplished and make sure we have constant communication.

 

What were some of your mistakes?

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What do they expect?

I can’t begin to tell you all the little things that we do for our customers. And I couldn’t imagine not doing them, I mean, they make us who we are. But there comes a time when we simply can’t do all the things that we either are doing or want to be doing. We don’t have enough time and/or enough people to do all the “things” we think are important. So we have to choose to do the best ones.

Well, for a while, I never wanted to choose, until I was forced to. What do we have to keep and what do we have to be okay with letting go. So we let our customers choose. And boy was I surprised. Most of the thing we were doing, they didn’t event expect, nor did they care about.

And that really got me thinking, what do they expect? What do they really want from us? What don’t they care about? If I had these answers, I would be much more prepared to manage the systems in our company and be able to keep the most important things that we do.

How many things do you do that customers don’t really care about. I bet most of the things that you do, you do because you think it is the best customer service, or you just know that is what your customer wants. And by doing all those things, you might be going nuts trying to do them or spending a ton of money trying to get them accomplished!

Do what I did and find out what your customer expects from you. Obviously you want to go above those expectations, but you don’t have to shoot so far over them that your customer doesn’t even know you are exceeding them.

 

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Snooze Button

One of the biggest battles I have ever faced (since I was a kid!) was getting up in the morning. I am one who can easily sleep to 10 am EVERY day. But today, as I was just about to hit the snooze button, I realized something.

 

The more I hit the snooze button, the more I am putting things off that need to get done. I am supposed to be up early, I mean, I did set the alarm to get me up at that time to get things done. WHY then, do I hit the snooze button…and then hit it again, and then again.  

 

So this got me to thinking. If I am starting my day by procrastinating getting up, what else am I going to put off? This just isn’t good. And I refuse to let it get the best of me.

 

We all battle with the motivation to get things done that need to be done! Hitting a snooze button, Facebook, drama in the work place, etc. All these things and a 100 others all hold us back from doing the things that need to get done and yet we are the first to say, “I just don’t have enough time in the day.”  

 

So I am making a deal with myself. No snooze button this week or the rest of my life. I will wake up and get moving with life. What are some things that you battle with during your daily life? How can you start to get them out of your life or at least be more manageable?

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Change

Business owners can find change to be very difficult. But it is one thing that will always happen. And it will happen to you. It is how you deal with the change that will make or break you.

Businesses start out doing their one thing well. Then, after a while of doing that (and others copying it), they realize that something else has to be done to "stay in the game". Something fresh has to be brought into the mix. How long have you been doing the same thing? When was the last time you thought about bringing something new into the mix?

Business time flies by. Before you know it, 5 years have passed and you have not adapted to the new ways of doing business, treating customers or learning new technology. That will cause you to suffer.

Embrace change, all of it! Don't shrug off blogging. Don't get lazy with follow up and never think tradeshows are a waste of time. Be agressive on the learning front. Let's take something simply. When was the last time you read a book about marketing? Go by the newest and greatest marketing book and see if you don't pick up something to change the way you are doing things.

Change will keep you young, Change will make you see things differently and Change will allow your business to grow.

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Thoughts

I think everyday I’m faced with the moment where I can either open my mouth and say how I feel, or just keep my mouth shut and try and find a better way to deal with the situation. And every day, I choose to keep my mouth shut. Although some days, it is way harder to do than others.

And this can be in a few different ways. Some days, it is because things are being done the way I want them to be. Other days it is because someone has said something about me, my company or the people that work for my company. And then there are days where you hear something, you don’t know all of the story, and yet you still want to partake in the gossip.

Look, we are all human and we are going to fall victim to one of these pitfalls from time to time, but I have to say, sometimes you just can’t hold it in. Sometimes, you just have to stand your ground and defend yourself. But I’d like to think that most of the time, it doesn’t deserve your attention. People can say what they want, do things a little differently than you and spread rumors, but you have to be focused on what matters, growing your company.

Defend when you must, but don’t worry about the silly stuff. Let it be. Be grateful that people are even talking about you. If rumors are being spread about you, if people are making you mad and if you have a chance to continue the spread of a rumor, you must be doing something right, or at least be knowing the right people.

Instead, let them talk about you, heck, indulge the rumors.

Instead, talk to them about why it gets you mad.

Instead, don’t spread the rumor and call to find out the truth.

I say it a lot in my head, “Jason, it is better to be thought a fool then to open your mouth and be proven one.”

 

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Say what?

I really am beginning to think that DJs just don’t get it. I mean, it seems as if DJs think the goal in life is to offer as much free crap, no matter what, just to get the gig.

I met with a venue today that said a local DJ has dropped off up lighting fixtures that they can keep at the venue for free and if a couple books this DJ company, the up lighting would be free for the couple to use. And if they book another DJ company, the venue could sell the up lighting for $212. Say what….

So basically, up lighting has now become a commodity. I wish I could say that I didn’t see this coming, but c’mon, we are DJs.

I really just want to ask why!?!? You go out and buy something that costs money and gives you an opportunity to have another revenue stream, but you decide to offer it for free because why? To get people to book you? I mean, I could see if the company wasn’t good. But they aren’t. They do a good job. They have talented people that work for them. It makes no sense. Now the rest of the market has to adjust and it affects all of us. Jesus.

I really think some of us just shoot ourselves in the foot.

I have a great game plan to compete against this, so it should be entertaining. Good thing DJs can’t do much more than up lighting.

 

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The opportunities

So many times in life we pray (or ask) for some kind of divine intervention to help us with something. Patience with our kids, making better decisions, trying something different, whatever it may be. And yet, every day we are given the opportunity to actually help us with these things we are asking for help with, but we are blind to even notice it.

We really are never given the thing or thought we ask for, but we are the chance to start acting on.

For instance, the person that wishes they could get better at saving money, but yet every day they buy that Starbucks. Or how about the person that wishes they could get more done in a day, but find themselves updating Facebook at least 15 times an hour.

Don’t wish to be better at something and then never seize the opportunities that pop up in front you every day. Act on it and start the process of getting your wish today!

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Wedding Wire and The Knot "Awards"

First of, this is not an award. When they give the same thing to multiple companies in your area and across the country, it really means nothing. They give it to EVERYONE!

This is a marketing ploy so more brides go to there site. When they give this to you, you put it on your site and THEY get free advertising. Then they increase the pricing to you because more people are visiting their site. As we all saw this past season when Wedding Wire raised there prices!

I am all for promoting this on your site. What I don't think you should do is treat it like it is something special. They could care less about you! Keep this in mind before you go treating it like it qualifies you over someone else.

Keep your head down, focus and strive to get better in everything you do. Don't let things like this think that you can stop being on top of your game.

Your thoughts?

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