Leveraging Our Network: Introductions Etiquette

Making the effort to connect people whose relationship may be mutually beneficial is a habit of all great networkers.  The introductions you make add value for all players—you build your own value to your colleagues and connections, and simultaneously demonstrate positive regard for members of your network.   Making introductions is like corporate match-making.  When we meet a person who appears to have parallel interests with someone else in our network – we can determine if each is interested in the connection, then make the introduction.  Our effort compliments both people, regardless of the outcome.        

One important note: when a colleague makes an introduction on your behalf, do acknowledge that compliment by following up with an update.  I only learned how meaningful that update is when I didn’t receive one.

I’d met an accomplished executive when I added her to my engagement team.  She had a deep background as a subject matter expert in a specific field.  As I got to know her, I realized how important being selected for additional engagements was to her financially. With her permission, I introduced her to two former colleagues of mine—one who owns her own firm and often has work she outsources, and the other a highly sought-after consultant who is often in the position to refer subject matter experts.

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Lifelines

We’ve all experienced the feeling of hitting a brick wall.  Those periods in our careers (or lives) when we no longer have the energy to take “it” down brick by brick, we can’t seem to get over “it”, and “it” is just too big to get around. Whatever “it” is seems insurmountable.

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The Business Plan: Conduct A Competitive Analysis

A competitive analysis includes identifying the top competitors in your marketspace, comparing their products and services to yours, and planning how you’ll mitigate those risks.

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The Business Plan: Your Professional Bio

PREPARE TO WRITE YOUR BIO

Putting thought and energy into preparing to write your professional bio pays big dividends. Like the resume you provide when you’ve apply to a company, your business plan that includes your professional bio will hopefully be shared with people you haven’t met. You want to be certain it provides a complete picture of who you are and represents you well.

Your professional bio needs to demonstrate you have the specialized and general knowledge to launch and operate the business, explain why you’re qualified to launch and operate this business, provide examples of achievements pertinent to this business, and that you have the personal where-with-all and strength of character to be successful.

SPECIALIZED AND GENERALIZED KNOWLEDGE TO LAUNCH AND OPERATE MY BUSINESS

Think through and make a list of the specialized and general knowledge someone starting and operating a business of this type needs to have.

If you haven’t worked in this type of business go online and research businesses offering this or a similar product or service.

Here are some examples of the specialized and general knowledge you’d need for several businesses.

Example 1: A Virtual Florist and Gift Basket Service

  • Specialized Knowledge: Flower Arranging, Gift Basket Design and Assembly, Inventory Management
  • General Knowledge: Basic Business Bookkeeping and Record Keeping

Example 2: A Divorce Recovery Course, Community, & Coaching

  • Specialized Knowledge: Grief Coaching, Personal Change Coaching, Course Preparation, Writing, Public Speaking
  • General Knowledge: Basic Business Bookkeeping and Record Keeping, Online, Document Creation and Management Software, Online Marketing and Content Delivery

Example 3: A Consulting Practice:

  • Specialized Knowledge: Industry or Business Practice Experience, Project and Client Management, Change Management, Writing, Board Level Presentation Skills
  • General Knowledge: Basic Business Bookkeeping and Record Keeping, Business Software Applications, Basic Computer Skills

Example 4: A Financial Management Book and Course

  • Specialized Knowledge: Budgeting, Time Management, Personal Organizational Skills, Writing Skills, Coarse Preparation, Writing, Public Speaking
  • General Knowledge: Basic Business Bookkeeping and Record Keeping, Document Creation and Management Software, Spreadsheet Creation and Manipulation

WHY I’M QUALIFIED TO LAUNCH AND OPERATE THIS BUSINESS

There’s a reason you chose THIS business. You may have been working for a company doing this type of work. This might be this logical outcome of a long-time hobby. It might be you found a unique method or technique for solving a problem. Perhaps you developed a product or service that is needed in the marketplace.

Make a list of the jobs and positions you’ve held, events you’ve participated in, places you’ve volunteered, then match what you did that provides you the background necessary to be successful in this business.

Inventorying the specialized knowledge and general knowledge you have and comparing it to what you’ll need will help you identify your qualifications for launching and operating this type of business. It will also help you identify what qualifications you currently don’t have.

Just a note at this point: If you’re starting a business that requires specialized knowledge you don’t have or if you have no experience your prospective new business industry take the time to learn the skill or work in the industry.

EXAMPLES OF MY ACHIEVEMENTS THAT RELATE TO THIS BUSINESS:

Go back and review each of the jobs you’ve held.   What did you improve or achieve while you were there that made the business better? Articulate results you or a team you were on that are pertinent to something you’ll be doing in your new business.

Thinking through this reminds you of your achievements and gives you the confidence necessary to take the next step in launching your business.

WHY I’LL BE SUCCESSFUL LAUNCHING AND OPERATING THIS BUSINESS:

Just as important as specialized and general knowledge, pertinent experience, and achievements in a particular business area is your ability to deliver on the commitments you make and your character.

Examples might include service in any capacity, working while you were going to school, earning a college degree, helping to take care of siblings or parents, going to night school, helping a charity, belonging to an organization.

You may also have examples of what you learned by making a mistake. Take accountability and demonstrate what you’ve achieved since then. You don’t have to describe it.

Example 1: Diligence:   I learned to manage my time during the four years I worked full-time attending college to earn my bachelor’s degree in business.

Example 2: Fundraising, Marketing and Networking:  I organized an event to raise funds against domestic violence that included a “pass the purse” silent auction that collected enough to launch a 501(c)(3).

Example 3: Time Management: After repeated warnings for being a few minutes late, I lost a job and learned to be on-time and now ensure I’m always five minutes early.

PREPARE YOUR PROFESSIONAL BIO

With your information gathered, weave all the information together and write your story. The tough part is it only be between one and two pages.

When you’ve finished share it with someone you trust, get their feedback, and make edits. As with every part of your business plan you’ll continue to update and personalize it depending upon the audience and where your business is in its lifecycle.

Leah Ward-Lee is a management consultant and business writer based in Dallas, Texas and the author of $1,000 Start-Ups.  She’s currently developing a course and the $1,000 Start-Up Workbook to help entrepreneurs launch low cost business start-ups.