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Ian Brodie

Ian Brodie teaches consultants, coaches and other professionals to attract and win their ideal clients by becoming seen as authorities in their field.


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The Secret Step To Getting More From Networking

Posted on 21st September 2015.

This week's 5 minute marketing tip is about a simple step you can add to your face-to-face networking that will make a big improvement in your results.

It's one of those things that's blindingly obvious when you hear it, but I bet you're not doing it.

I wasn't.

If you're like me and you don't do a lot of face-to-face networking, it'll make your time much more productive. If you do a lot of networking it'll help you get much better results.
 
Click here to watch the video »

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Selling

The REAL Secrets of Networking

Posted on 2nd September 2014.

There's lots of great training available about the skills of networking.

Crafting a compelling “elevator pitch”, learning how to break in to groups, hold conversations, ask for referrals.

All good stuff. But in a way, all very tactical. Personally I've found there are much more powerful principles that make a huge difference to your success at winning clients. Principles that most networkers tend to ignore.

Get these principles right and even if you're a networking newbie you'll do well. Get them wrong and no amount of skill will save you.

Click here to discover the principles »

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Marketing

Why Networking Doesn’t Work (for me)

Posted on 18th August 2011.

Are you a good networker?

I was pretty good. Invested in training. Read all I could. Went to some great events organised by some wonderful people.

I put the work into it. Practised and practised. Even got good enough to be asked to teach networking skills to others.

But it frustrated the hell out of me.

Perhaps you've experienced something similar? I used to go to events, meet people, ask them about their business, probe some of their challenges, tell them about what I did if asked.

All the stuff you're supposed to do.

I did OK. But nowhere near as well as I thought I should be doing.

After a few years it finally dawned on me what was going on.

You see networking, like any marketing, is a game.

And it's a game of skill. The people who do best at networking are the ones with the best networking skills.

Now that might sound like stating the bleeding obvious, but bear with me.

By networking skills I mean how well you interact with others, how good a listener you are, how well you can get across what you do in an interesting and memorable way.

Of course, there's more to it than that. But critically, success at networking is not particularly dependent on the depth of your expertise. On being the best in your field.

Don't get me wrong – you have to be good at what you do. Eventually your reputation will catch up with you if you're not.

But you don't have to be the best.

What happens is that when you enter that room, you're on a level playing field.You could be the world's leading expert in your field, it doesn't matter. No one knows you.

By the time they leave the room, the impression they have of you will be based on 5 minutes of interacting with you.

Even if they meet you multiple times over multiple events, their impression of you will be based on a very small amount of time.

Enough time for them to tell if you're a nice person. To tell if you listen to them and engage with them. Enough time for your networking skills to shine.

But nowhere near enough time for your depth of expertise and experience to show. For them to tell if you're really the world's leading expert or just a decent hardworking professional who does a good job.

And that's when I realised why networking wasn't working for me.

At the risk of sounding immodest – I really am an expert (in the rather limited field of marketing and business development for consultants and coaches – I'm pretty much a duffer at everything else).

My networking skills are good. But no better than dozens of others who've done the training and put in the work like I did.

Put me in a room alongside an averagely skilled marketing consultant who's a master networker, and he'll come out with the business, not me.

That's the nature of networking.

Nothing wrong with that. But it told me that I needed to find marketing methods that played on my unique skills.

For me, doing presentations at events rather than just attending them gave me a chance to showcase my expertise – and it worked far better for me at building relationships and winning clients.

As, of course, does my website, webinars, articles, etc.

Nowadays I only do marketing that showcases my expertise and builds my percieved authority.

What can you learn from this?

Whatever your personal edge – whether you're a technical expert, someone with decades of experience, you're a wonderful person to work with, you always get results, you're the cheapest there is.

Whatever it is – you need to use a marketing approach that showcases it.

Don't use approaches where you're just one of many like I did for so long with networking.

Focus on something that will let you shine.

So what approaches worked better for me (and will probably work better for you too)?

They're the strategies I outline in detail in Momentum Club. You can grab a $1 trial and start implementing those strategies right now by clicking here.

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10 Linkedin Tips for Professionals

Posted on 1st August 2009. Linkedin Tips For Professionals

Linkedin Tips For Building Your Professional Presence And Getting More Clients

My latest tips on building a Client Winning Profile for Linkedin are now on a free, short video – click here to watch it.

Linkedin is the “social network for business” and now has over 200 million users.

And many Linkedin users, myself included, have found new clients through it, and enhanced relationships with existing clients. But many others have found it to suck up a ton of time for very little gain. So here are 10 quick tips for getting the most from Linkedin.

1. Make your profile client focused

The first thing you do when you join Linkedin is to create a profile. And since Linkedin has slots for your previous job roles, qualifications, etc. there’s an almost overwhelming temptation to make your profile look like your CV.

Resist that temptation.

When you first meet potential clients you don’t rattle off a huge list of companies you’ve worked for and the responsibilities you’ve had – that would bore the pants off them. So don't do the same on Linkedin.

Most effective introductions focus on who you help, and what problems you help them solve or results you help them achieve. Then if asked more, you say a bit more about what you do – perhaps giving a little backstory as to why you are uniquely qualified to help, or an example of the work you do.

Linkedin is for making connections – and for the majority of professionals that means clients and business partners, not recruiters.

You need to design your profile to have the impact you want on those connections. Treat it like your introduction at a networking meeting.

Think about the impression you want to make on your potential clients. What will get them interested enough to read your profile? Probably something telling them you work with people just like them and deal with the sort of challenges they have.

What will make them read on? Probably some interesting examples that spell out and “prove” the results they could get by working with you.

What would make them contact you? Well, at minimum a call to action with details of how – a website, phone number or email address.

Whatever you do, don't just stick your CV details in there.

2. Get connecting – but…

Linkedin works on connections. The most powerful use of Linkedin is to find new clients and business partners through the search function or directly via your contacts' connections. The more direct connections you have, the more opportunities you have to connect. I still see people who’ve made all the effort to set up their Linkedin profile – but who have so few connections that they don’t get any benefit.

The Linkedin toolbar for Outlook provides an easy way of inviting the your Outlook contacts and people you email regularly to connect with you.

However, there’s a catch…

3…Choose your connection strategy carefully

There are two very different strategies to connecting on Linkedin: “Open Networking” and “Trusted Partner Networking”.

In business networking generally, the value you get from your network is a product of the size of your network, and your ability to “convert” connections into productive business (work, a referral, etc.). You can grow the value of your network by getting more connections, or deepening the strength of each connection (getting to know people better, helping them out, etc.)

On Linkedin, one strategy for getting value is to be an “Open Networker” or LION (LinkedIn Open Networker). Open Networkers focus on growing the size of their network by initiating and accepting connection requests from as many people as possible. Open Networkers typically have many thousands of connections. This means that when they search for useful relationships (potential clients or business partners), for example looking for contacts in specific companies, or geographies or with specific interests or job titles – they are much more likely to find them (exponentially more likely because of the way Linkedin connections work).

The downside of this strategy is that with thousands of connections they don’t know many of them particularly well, if at all. They’re essentially using Linkedin as a giant Rolodex or telephone directory rather than as a way of making deeper connections. That’s neither good nor bad – it just means that if they find someone they want to connect with through one of these “shallow” connections, they’re unlikely to get a strong referral to them – they'll still have to initiate a relatively cold contact.

The other strategy is to have fewer but deeper connections – a “Trusted Partner” strategy. Here you only connect to people you already know and trust. Most likely from face-to-face interaction, but possibly from online interaction too.

With this strategy you have less chance of finding someone via a search because you have less connections. But if you do find someone, it'll be through someone who knows and trusts you – and they'll be able to give a strong referral to you and put you in touch with the person you’re interested in connecting with.

The downside to the “Trusted Partner” strategy is that it’s a bit like going to a face to face networking event and only speaking to the people you already know. You deepen your relationship with them – but you don’t build any new relationships.

Personally, I take a “middle way” and I recommend you do the same.

I don’t actively go out and connect with huge numbers of people. But if someone wants to connect with me, and their profile looks interesting – then I’m very happy to connect with them, even if I don’t know them. If they do turn out to be a “spammer” (I’ve only had this happen once with over 1,000 connections) then I can always disconnect.

This way, my network expands significantly. I meet new people who may turn out to be helpful to me, and I may be helpful to them.

I always try to take the time when people connect with me to send them a message to start a conversation rather than just accept the connection but never speak to them. That way we find out more about each other and it may lead to interesting and valuable discussions. At minimum, it means that if I want to ask a favour later, we'll actually have interacted before.

4. Use Search to find potential clients and business partners

This is perhaps the most important of my Linkedin Tips.

Many people get going on Linkedin but fail to use it to help their business. Absolutely the most effective way I've found to gain business value from Linkedin is to find potential clients and business partners. One of the things I do in my consulting practice is to help clients get more referrals for their business. And one of the key things I teach them is to be very specific in who they ask to be referred to.

Linkedin allows the ultimate in specificity. You can search for exactly who you want to be referred to – by company, by geography, by name, by job title, etc. And you can search across your entire network at once. Or you can look at the contact list of an individual to see if there’s anyone you’d like to be connected to.

Almost everyone I've taught to do this has been staggered by just how many people their contacts know that they'd love an introduction to. Yet before using Linkedin they had no idea that they were connected.

Once you’ve identified people you’d like to be introduced or referred to, rather than try to connect them directly, give your mutual connection a call and ask them if they can connect you. That’s much more polite than going directly, and it’s much more likely to be successful.

5. Give recommendations and endorsements to get them

Recommendations are very helpful to have on your profile. They’re a clear indication of the quality of your work and the relationships you form.

But begging for a recommendation isn’t a great strategy.

If you want to get recommendations, use Linkedin to give them to people you’ve worked with and who have done a great job for you. Linkedin will show them the recommendation to approve, then ask them if they want to reciprocate. They probably will.

Similarly with the new Endorsement feature, if you endorse someone, they'll be notified and you're likely to get a reciprocal endorsement in return. if you get an impressive number of endorsements you can move them up in your profile to just under your summary. So the first thing people see after finding about about you is that lots of people think you're great.

6. Have a helpful Professional Headline

Another one of my most impactful Linkedin Tips. When people find you in searches on Linkedin, the initial thing they see is a little box with your name, photo, and your “professional headline”.What most people have in their headline is their job title. “Owner at XYZ Company” or “Principal consultant at ABC Ltd”. By default, unless you change it manually, Linkedin takes the headline from your last job title.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t give people a clue as to whether you might be able to help them, or might be interesting to connect to.

You should treat your headline like your introduction when networking. Focus on what you can do to help people.

My headline, for example is “Straight talking advice for Consultants and Coaches to help them Attract Clients and Win More Business”. It’s much more useful in telling people what I actually do than using an “official” job title like Managing Director. That will get more people to click through to my profile and maybe begin to interact with me.

You can edit your Headline via the Edit My Profile option.

7. Join Linkedin Groups to connect and interact (but be careful)

Linkedin groups are essentially discussion forums for specific interest groups. They allow you to find out the latest news, and to join in debates on topics of interest. You can join groups both of interest to you professionally, and the groups where your potential clients “hang out”.

Some people have reported great success in meeting potential clients and building their credibility by being helpful and answering questions on Linkedin Groups. But be careful. My own experience is that far more people end up wasting hours of time in fairly idle chatter, or in trying to sound clever but with very little impact.

Before you join a group, click on the link to check out the group statistics and look at the activity stats. What you want to see is a lot more comments than discussions started every week. Lots of comments means members are actively engaging with each other. Lots of discussions with few comments means people are just posting their stuff and no one is reading or engaging with it.

8. Use Status Updates to subtly remind your contacts of what you do

Linkedin status updates are a nice way of helping to stay top of mind with contacts. If you were to call or email all your contacts any time you did something small but interesting, it would quickly become seen as pushy or spammy. But updating your status is an non-intrusive way of getting a gentle reminder out.

Depending on their settings, your contacts will get a regular email with a summary of the status updates of their contacts. And they will see the updates on their Linkedin homepage. Mostly it will just be “so and so updated their profile” type messages. So if your status update has something interesting in it (“Ian has just run a seminar on consultative selling skills”) it will remind them of the sort of thing you do and may even trigger them into action.

Recently, for example, I put up a status update saying I’d run a training course on Marketing for Consultants for the Institute of Business Consulting. That prompted one of my old colleagues to get back in touch and we came to an arrangement about sharing training material.

You can also share your latest blog post and other useful resources. Be careful through: Linkedin isn't Twitter and your connections won't appreciate you making dozens of updates a day as it will mean they can't won't anything from their other contacts.

9. Watch others’ status updates to initiate contact

Keep an eye on status updates from others – it can be a good opportunity to get back in touch – especially if they’ve changed jobs or have set out on a new venture. Even small status changes can help give you something to start a conversation – the sort of smalltalk needed to keep dialogues and relationships going in between more meaty topics.

These days many CRM systems like Salesforce and Highrise offer “Social CRM” features. They make it easy to find your contacts on Linkedin (and Facebook and Twitter) and track their activity on their profile page on the CRM.

10. Keep your use of Linkedin in balance

This is less a tip about using Linkedin, and more a tip about not using Linkedin.

Do bear in mind that Linkedin is just a tool. And it's one that's very easy to spend too much time on. Endlessly tweaking your profile to make it just that little bit more perfect isn't going to bring you any new business. Nor is chatting away on a discussion group to buddies you already know.

Be judicious in your use of Linkedin. Get a good profile. Make sure you're connected to people you know would recommend you, then harness that network to get introductions to potential clients. In a couple of upcoming articles I'll show you who to do that in the most effective way.

But make sure you're not sucked in to spending hours a week playing around with it.

More Linkedin Tips:

How To Optimize The New Linkedin Profile >>
The Number One Linkedin Mistake And How To Fix it (Free Video) >>
The Real Secrets of Linkedin >>

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Marketing

Know, Like and Trust – the Keys to Cross Selling

Posted on 8th May 2009.

Know, Like & TrustIt's one of the oldest (and truest) phrases in selling: people buy from people they know, like and trust.

But it actually applies much wider than buyer-seller relationships.

One of the emerging findings from my research project into law firm business development best practices is the importance of cross-selling – especially in today's economic climate. It's so much easier and better for professionals to sell more work to their existing clients – those who already know, like and trust them – than it is to hunt out new business. And it's also better for the client too – their risks are greatly minimised by doing business with people they trust and they know will be looking out for their best interests.

Yet sadly, most professionals aren't great at cross selling. My research has identified two main barriers:

  • Most professionals have very limited knowledge of the services their colleagues can deliver. They don't know who their ideal clients are, what to look for to spot an opportunity, or what to say to begin to engage with the client.
  • Sadly, many professionals also don't trust their colleagues enough to want to pro-actively cross-sell their services. By this I don't mean that they dis-trust them. Simply that they don't know what they do well enough, or have enough experience of working with them to feel confident that they would do a great job. And if they're not confident of that they will hesitate to recommend them and put their strong client relationships at risk.

So in fact, success in cross-selling is driven primarily by whether you Know, Like and Trust your colleagues.

How can we increase the level of knowledge and trust in professional firms? It's something I discussed over a few drinks with Will Kintish last night.

Will has come up with a great idea. As many readers will know, he's the UKs leading trainer and expert in Business Networking. He runs a lot of courses teaching professionals how to network externally: how to build relationships based on Know, Like and Trust with potential clients and external referral partners. But, of course, the same skills can be applied internally. By asking the same questions and networking internally, professionals can begin to break down the silos between their different units and teams. In Will's Internal Networking training sessions, not only do participants get to learn great networking skills which can be used to great effect externally; they also get to experience networking live with their internal colleagues. As part of the session they essentially “speed network” with many people from different functions and tak the first steps to building the trusted internal relationships which will give them the confidence to cross-sell.

Another approach to this I've used in the past is to hold an informal “trade show” event for staff. This can be an evening or Friday afternoon session where each practice area showcases its client work to the rest of the firm.

But it's not dry, formal, powerpoint presentations. Instead, each practice area or specialism hosts a “booth” – rather like at a tradeshow – with posters and charts giving examples of client projects they've done. Each example is in story or case study form:

  • Who was the client we worked with?
  • What was their business issue?
  • How did we help them? Did we do anything unusual or different for them?
  • What results did they achieve?

They close with talking about the sort of clients they're looking for introductions to.

The audience organises into small groups (preferrably mixed from across practice areas) and gathers round each booth for a 10 minute interactive presentation. Because the presenter is talking to a small group rather than presenting to the whole audience, there's a lot of interaction, questions and discussion. After 10 minutes, the groups move round to the next presentation which is repeated for them.

For a firm with 4 practice areas the whole thing can be done in about an hour. But be sure to add at least as long afterwards for informal networking and discussions as individuals follow-up on interesting things they've seen and areas where they've spotted opportunities.

They key is to keep it informal and client focused. No presentations about how great your team is, what revenues you achieved last year, or how you're better than that PI practice down the road. Focus on who your clients are, and what you've delivered for them.

By doing this, not only will staff get a much better understanding and knowledge of what each practice area does and how well they do it – but by interacting personally in small groups they'll begin to develop the level of trust between each other that's necessary for cross-selling to work.

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Networking: Start Early & Start Right

Posted on 25th February 2009.

Start Networking Early!I'm currently carrying out a research project into the most effective business development skills as percieved by North West (England) based law firms – and the best ways of developing those skills in staff.

Some of the results are a little surprising so far – but one thing which I had expected was the very high importance attached to the skill of networking for lawyers.

Participants are reporting that:

a) Networking is the most critical business development skill for lawyers

b) In order to build your networking capability – and in order to build a “mature” network of contacts which will bear fruit when you need it; you must begin networking early. Productive networks take time to build – almost always longer than the lawyers initially expected.

c) Networking skills can be learned from experience – but formal networking training can be a real accelerator. A number of participants highlighted the benefits they had personally received from attending networking training (e.g. from North West based expert Will Kintish) but highlighted that they had discovered and arranged funding for this themselves rather than it being part of a company sponsored programme.

While it was ecouraging to hear that most law firms are now making strong moves to encourage or mandate their young staff to go networking; there is a vital lesson to be learned about equipping them with the right skills to do the job rather than just throwing them in at the deep end and expecting them to sink or swim. The same firms that wouldn't consider for one second letting a trainee or associate handle technical aspects of a case without expert training or mentoring do exactly that when it comes to business development. It's time that interpersonal and business development skills were awarded the same degree of thought and investment as more traditional legal skills.

Ian