Archive for the ‘Peter’s Thoughts, Updates & Announcements’ Category

Contact Strategies – Building an Effective Client Contact Campaign

October 19, 2016

How to develop and execute a powerful client communication strategy to maintain and grow your financial services practice.

How often are you in communication with your clients? Three or four times a year? What about prospects … do you contact them once or twice and that’s it? If so, you are not keeping up the kind of contact campaign you probably should be. Further, you could be missing out on client generation and income potential.

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Your Internet Presence as a First Impression

March 17, 2014

The humorist Will Rogers famously noted “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.” In the 21st century, we increasingly make that first impression online. Just like you wouldn’t want to see a doctor who keeps leeches in a jar, you don’t want to do business with a professional who appears out of touch or less than current in his or her understanding of their field.

Here are some tips for keeping the website looking fresh and interesting:

Show Your Work
It isn’t enough to tell people you’ve been in the business for umpteen years; everyone knows a professional in some field who has been in the game forever and, let’s face it, got a little lazy along the way. If you’re dedicated to your field, show it off in your updates by sharing articles you’ve been reading, passing along tips, noting quotes that have inspired you, and directing people’s attention to things that you are planning, such as events or seminars. Demonstrating that you are a vital presence, thinking and acting all the time, is a fine way to start a conversation with people.

Content, Content, Content
Creating a Facebook page or LinkedIn account in relation to your website only does you so much good if you aren’t engaging people. While you may have a blog, you may also lack the time and energy to create new material regularly. Don’t be afraid to look into a subscription to a service like our own MarketingLibrary.net or MarketingPRO for assistance with newsletters, articles, and social media content. If you’re too busy to write for yourself, that’s a good sign, right? Stay busy and enjoy the benefit of professionally written content, and then spend your time wisely, having conversations about the content you are posting with your clients and prospects.

Spring for a Face-Lift
Ever stumble onto a really old website that looks like it was uploaded before Y2K… very little in the way of graphics… very basic HTML? In terms of professional quality, it would be like turning up to a seminar dressed like Mike or Carol Brady. Here’s the hard truth: In five years, nearly every website you see now is going to look out-of-date in the same way. While you may have certain design cues that you want to keep, you have to be conscious about staying current in terms of functionality (ex: How does your website look on a smartphone? Does it have the same functionality?) Security should also be on the list if your clients and prospects have to log in in any way.

Keep an Ear to the Ground
Innovation is key. Imagine if you’d been the first person in your field to upload a podcast or post video of a talk on YouTube! We live in an exciting time where new and exciting ways of communicating ideas are cropping up every day. I challenge you to keep abreast of the new things coming our way and asking yourself this question every day: How can I apply this new idea to my business? There may come a day when YouTube is like an 8-track, so do yourself a favor and talk about technology with your colleagues, your friends, even your kids. Being on the cutting edge is one of the best first impressions you can make!

Starting your own networking group

February 25, 2014

Whether you’re a well-established figure in your community, starting out in a new town, or just looking to give your business a shot in the arm, leading or taking part in a networking group is a good idea. It’s essentially a group of like-minded business people who meet on a regular basis to strengthen relationships and build professional connections.

The biggest benefit of leading a networking group is self-evident: You’re seen as a leader. That perception means that, rather than asking for the referrals, the referrals will come to you. I feel strongly that someone building their business should belong to or lead at least four groups. The question is never “why network?” The question is “why aren’t you networking, and why aren’t you leading?”

Reduce the Excuse! If you’re driven enough to want to read this and improve yourself, you may also be the sort of person who puts in a lot of overtime and needs to be prodded to get out and socialize a bit. Excuses like “There’s not enough time” and “I’m too busy” are pretty common, but they are only excuses. Take charge! “Reduce the excuse” for yourself and your peers by exhibiting leadership; there are many successful professionals out there just like you, and they might be ideal participants for your group.

Of course, networking these days means Social Media. There’s a reason they called that movie about Facebook “The Social Network.” While LinkedIn, Facebook, or just regular emails are no substitute for events or meetings, they can be a way to keep everyone thinking about the group throughout the month, not to mention update everyone on event locations and important personal updates (births, deaths, and other major changes). Make use of these standard social media options, but there’s another site I want you to check out, if you aren’t using it already.

MeetUp.com is a great resource for creating and joining networks. The site is very simple to use. The moment I loaded the main page, I was given a number of “MeetUps” in my immediate area to consider. From there you can search for particular types of groups, ranging from Arts and Culture to Sports and Outdoor Activities and everything in between. While there is a fee to start a “MeetUp Group,” it‘s a very reasonable expense; normally $12 per month, they are running a starting special (as of this posting) for $6.00 a month. Simply signing up and joining groups is free. You can even sign up with your Facebook account. MeetUp.com is growing and becoming more nationally known, so do yourself a favor and get familiar with it today.

How many people should be in your group? Where should you meet? What should you talk about? For one thing, a networking group is not like professional football, where you have rules and regulations and can only have so many players on the field. A networking group can start as simply as two people in a coffee shop, or five people having lunch. Invite each member to make a mini-presentation, or, if you have the resources, invite one of the members to give a longer talk. In these early days, you can be thinking about how to grow your network and, more importantly, the best ways to enhance the experience for your fellow networkers. Over time, you can build your friendly neighborhood touch football get-together into a full-fledged stadium game.

Like so many things in life, you must give in order to receive. As I mentioned earlier, the big prize in networking is referrals. While membership has its privileges, leadership is an advantage; the whole point of networking is pooling resources and making things happen. To that end, I suggest making the point of giving referrals as quickly as is sensible. You’re not just playing Santa Claus, though: tell your fellow networkers a story about the person you are referring and help them get to know the person with whom they will be speaking. When you are given referrals, always thank the person who is sharing the information with you. And don’t forget to follow up, preferably within 24 hours. Being the example others follow, in many regards, is the definition of leadership.

In terms of organization, identify the roles different participants can take on. Leaders plan the events and recruit other attendees. Members who can sponsor the meetings and events can help belay the costs involved, especially as you grow into the sort of group that might need larger accommodation. Other supporters foster the growth by inviting their contacts. It’s also important to keep in mind that some attendees are merely there to participate in the events and aren’t looking to take organizational roles, even if they would be suited to them.

Stay focused, but not TOO focused. Not every networking group will be solely business oriented. Feel free to get inventive, but also keep in mind that while too wide a focus can be a problem, too narrow a focus can be excluding. For example, I know plenty of people who have no interest in golf, but I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy fine dining with good company. Another thing to keep in mind is that you can do good for others while doing good for each other; networking and charity work go together like bacon and eggs, so organizing around a cause can be rewarding on many levels.

Leading a networking group has the potential to enhance anyone’s career. It’s also just a natural part of being a human being; you may have read over this piece and realized that you network all the time, whether you are aware of it or not! However, a conscious effort focusing on this all-important practice may prove to be one of the most rewarding and enjoyable parts of your professional life.

Five Referral Secrets

January 28, 2014

Referrals can be so important to your practice. If you’re not sure how to get them, or what to do once you have them, hopefully these tips can help. If you’ve had a little experience in this area, this may be a good refresher for you. I’m labeling this a list of referral “secrets,” but the truth is that once you make them your practice, you’ll think of them as common sense.

Leaders Don’t Have to Ask for Referrals
Don’t be the person who confuses “leadership” with being arrogant. You likely had someone in some aspect of your life who you’ve looked up to as a trailblazer and a leader; they led by being an example and by becoming a hub for professional activity. Organizing groups, events, and being the sort of professional with a reputation for bringing people together is the sort of thing that will cause your colleagues to want to make referrals to you, unsolicited, because getting people in touch with you will make them seem connected and important by extension.

Follow Up the Next Day
Would you buy fresh bread, leave it untouched on the counter for a few days, and be shocked to find it growing stale or moldy? Referrals don’t stay fresh forever, either. Strike while the iron is hot. Following up quickly shows that you value your referrals and that you’re attentive when it comes to building business. The referral will see that you’re on task, and the person who gave you the referral will appreciate your attentiveness. Don’t leave it on the shelf!

Remember… Referrals Are People
Don’t give your colleague a name and number on a slip of paper. When giving a referral, you’re making an introduction between two people, so be sure to have information about that person handy to replay to your colleague. Inform them about their family, their professional life, and their interests. Conversely, when you get a referral, be full of questions about this person; ask anything you might want to know. Everyone has a story, and part of your job is to learn that tale.

Closing “Tricks” are for Amateurs
You might see the blogs and videos online with so-called business gurus offering you the sort of “Jedi Mind Tricks” designed to turn a referral into a business contact. Far be it from me to argue with success, but this sort of thing feels like a hollow victory, and more than a little disrespectful. Your business is in people, not symbols on a spreadsheet. Build your business on substantive human interactions and integrity rather than flimflam and illusions. There’s a reason stage magicians “retire” their tricks after a while; people figure them out and get tired of seeing them.

Ask Questions
I think this is a good tip for life in general, not just in dealing with referrals. Building any kind of relationship requires personal knowledge. Make it your goal in every conversation to learn something new.

Holiday Client Appreciation Event Ideas

November 20, 2013

In my previous blog post, I spoke to you about Client Appreciation Events and I mentioned Holiday-themed CAEs. Here are some more ideas for these events as you begin planning.

Traditional: Your clients and prospects will really appreciate a full-on holiday experience. If you have the resources, make the event seem like a Christmas card come to life. If you get snow in your part of the world, sleigh rides are unforgettable. Carolers in traditional Victorian garb give everyone a warm feeling, like the Charles Dickens story come to life. Even hiring a bus or limousine service to take everyone on a tour of the local Christmas lights after dinner can be a fun and enjoyable experience.

Let’s get out of the house: While winter’s a time for cozy homebody comforts, it’s also the middle of two major sports seasons. Think about a suite with your nearest NBA or NHL franchise. Or maybe a ski trip is more in line with your clients’ active lifestyles. Even renting a movie theater for a special screening of the latest blockbuster or a family favorite can be a nice surprise for everyone.

Honor everyone during the holidays: You should know your clients well enough to understand their various traditions and backgrounds… so introducing themes from several holidays to your event can make for an even more engaging and poignant evening, even for those who don’t share those traditions. You want to make sure everyone is recognized and honored, and that means more than just putting some inexpensive religious or spiritual objects/symbols in a corner… take time to learn the traditional greetings for each holiday your clients and prospects observe, and research their traditional foods and customs. If you’re based in a larger city, this is an absolute must, and it may prove easier than you think.

Food, glorious food: Regardless of what route you take, make sure that a quality meal is part of the event. Don’t be afraid to get creative and leave an impression. Remember that presentation is just as important as flavor, so make your expectations clear, whether you make use of a restaurant or caterers. If you hire musicians, make sure that their performance isn’t too loud or disruptive during the meal.

Beyond December: Don’t forget that holidays happen throughout the year. A Fourth of July barbecue… a Valentine’s Day concert… even a costume party on Halloween can be a fun and entertaining event for the people you do business with.

Quote of the Day

October 28, 2013

“If it never seems to be the right time, it’s exactly the right time.” – Peter Montoya

Quote of the Day

October 14, 2013

“If a good friend bumps into you it’s an accident. When a perceived enemy bumps into you, it’s an act of war.” – Peter Montoya

Quote of the Day

September 30, 2013

“Let emotion fuel your passion but drive your decisions with reason.” – Peter Montoya

Quote of the Da…

September 16, 2013

Quote of the Day

“People rarely truly appreciate or respect what they do not earn.” – Peter Montoya

“Being successf…

August 8, 2013

“Being successful is easy, becoming successful is hard.” – Peter Montoya