Are You an Effective Networker?

 

When I started my business, I thought the best way for me to get the word out about my company, was to join a networking group. So I did. I joined a few. After a while, it seemed like I spent more time NETworking, than REAL working. Not to mention, I was seeing the same people at every meeting. That was not a pivotal revelation.  The pivotal revelation came when I realized that every time they introduced themselves at an event, they said something different. That’s when it came to my attention that some people owned their companies, but not their businesses. What does this mean? It meant they didn’t control their brand. Here are a couple of tips I recommend when branding your company through networking.

One of the most important aspects of building a brand is consistency. Your message has to be consistent in order to become a household name. I once went to a networking meeting. A gentleman stood up and said he “helps bring the party from the inside to the outside.” I was thinking of throwing a party in the fall, and thus needed someone to do the event. Based on his slogan, I approached him after the meeting. Imagine my surprise to find out he  sold outdoor living furniture. In his attempt to be clever, his entire message was lost. Many believe you need to constantly reinvent yourself to not become stale. In many arenas I agree. However, the purpose of a networking group isn’t exclusively to sell to the people in the room. It is to establish a network of people that can speak for you, or your company, when you aren’t there. The audience should be able to pantomime your elevator speech when you give it. That is the only way they can repeat it, out in the community.

Networking at The Palm. It's important to engage in conversation to be remembered.

Second, networking isn’t about collecting business cards. Again, it’s building a group of people that can speak for you in, your absence. In order for that to happen, you must develop a relationship, which begins with an actual conversation. I am often asked for, and handed, business cards by people I have never even spoken with. When I network, my goal is to distribute/ receive 1-2 cards every 10 min-15 min. I seek out the individuals that I wish to speak to, engage them in a meaningful conversation, and then exchange cards. Often, I set up a meeting at the same time. This allows us to know who the other is when we make the follow up call. When I get home and look through my collected business cards, the cards I don’t recognize are placed on my mailing list, and the card is discarded. (no pun intended). I am not going to call them, or accept a meeting from them, unless they are looking to purchase clothing. If I don’t know who are you, why would I meet with you?  The exception is if they call me, and remind me who they are, but then again 90% of the time I am still not going to meet with them. My time is too valuable to waste in a meeting with someone trying to get me to sell Pre -Paid Legal. (Not that anything is wrong with it. I have it and I swear by it. If you don’t have it, get it- Facebook Fam, Carlos V. Davis can hook you up- and no, I’m not getting paid to say this, just trying to help you out). I am not going to tell my clients about any multi – level marketing company, or any other business unless they specifically ask for it. It will be unprofessional and unappreciated. If they ask my advice, then I will share your information with prior approval, of course. They pay me to provide their clothing, not diversify their portfolios.

The next time you are going to a networking event, have a plan. Successful businesspeople establish a plan, then adjust it as necessary. I hope I helped you out, if not maybe next time. And remember, you don’t have to agree with me. I’m William Wilson, and this is just my perspective.

God bless and dress well,

William Wilson

Shut Up Already! Give the Man Time!!!

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President Obama addressing Congress

I have about had more than my fill of media pundits and their daily criticism, gloom and doom about the way the President is handling the country. Every day there is a smorgasbord of negativity, second guessing and criticism. Even with things that aren’t even his issue yet.

I cannot tell you how sick I am already of the criticism he is taking for wanting to take more time before sending more troops overseas to die with no end game in mind. As a veteran that has been deployed in a forward area, I appreciate him taking the time to get this right. Why would you send 40,000 troops to Afghanistan to fight when they don’t have a stable government to take over, and let them come back home? Do they understand how this works. We send troops to establish peace, and the other directives they have, and once the government is stable, they take over, and we leave. Kind of like when the police show up at a fight. They don’t leave unless order is restored. Neither can we. Now I’m not about to get into whether we should be there or not, that isn’t the point. We are there now, and we have to deal with what we have. There is a rule. When you find yourself in a hole- STOP DIGGING! What exactly would we accomplish by sending more troops to fight, when we have no idea when we will bring them back home, or the condition they will come back in? Without a stable government to take over, we will be in this exact same place in no time. Except this time the body count will be higher. Now I understand that when we sign our names on the dotted line, we know we are putting ourselves in harm’s way. But we are also trusting the leaders above us to put us in the best position to come back home to our families.

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This is why he should take his time. How would you feel if this were someone in your family?

I notice that the people talking the loudest about sending more troops immediately, don’t have kids headed there. Their kids are in their nice schools, colleges, and jobs living off the protection that we provide. Maybe if their children were going in that next wave, they would appreciate him taking the time to get it right. That’s what we should have done in the first place. We are not sending “troops”! Let’s stop dehumanizing them. We are sending mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters. During the time that you have been reading this blog, some wife has just been notified that her husband has been killed, some husband just found out his wife is dead, some kid just realized he will never see mommy again, and at that same time, an 18 year old kid, fresh out out high school, who thought he had his whole life ahead of him, is ducking in a foxhole while a myriad of bullets pass over his head. That is war my friends. The victims aren’t just there. They are here. Don’t you think the 4 people I just mentioned are wishing their leaders had taken the time to get it right? I know I do. I’m not saying to not send troops. I’m just saying take the time to get it right. Lives depend on it.

Last Saturday night, I attended the Patriots Gala at Quail Hollow. They were raising money to help assist the wounded veterans that got injured in Afghanistan and Iraq. To the man, when asked if the President should send more men to fight they replied, “not if he doesn’t know when he’s going to bring them home.” Spend some time in a VA hospital or with a vet that has lost a leg, or an arm or his vision. Not watch it on television, spend some real live time. At my table, there were two mothers who’s sons were shipping out shortly. During the ceremony, the names of all of the military members from North Carolina that have died in these wars were named. These otherwise jubilant and vibrant women, were so upset and distraught that they had to leave that part of the ceremony. I wish you all could have seen, what I saw that night.

Now, I don’t agree with every decision the President has made. I don’t agree with every decision, ANYONE makes. I’m not a Democrat or a Republican. I am an American, and I believe you give a person a chance to do the job he was hired to do, before you throw him to the wolves. Wouldn’t we want the same for us.  He was getting criticized before he even got inaugurated. Give the man time! I wish DC was more about America and less about left and right, liberal and conservative, Democrat and Republican. Imagine if households were run like that. Mommy disagreeing with daddy just because, and vice versa. The kids would be a mess and the house would be too. This isn’t governing, this is political gang warfare.

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Rush Limbaugh

And to pundits like Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and the rest of the Republicans, Democrats, and whatever other parties, that have hours a day to judge and  bash the man for the job he’s doing. If you know so much and can do it so much better, stop hiding behind the microphones and keyboards! Either take a post, or run for office. Stop being instigators that just scare, anger, and confuse people. You are part of the problem. Scared people strike at everything, because they think they are defending themselves. They even hit the people that show up to help. If you have all the answers, get off your butt and run for office. Save the country since apparently, you are the only people in the world smart enough to do so. Serve your country by saving it. You have nothing better to do but cause confusion, anger and fear. To you I say may God bless you, now shut up!! I am doing the same.

Custom is the Only Way to Go

There is a common misnomer that if it has an expensive label, it has to be good. This isn’t always true. Actually, it rarely is; especially when it comes to clothing. Many of us get so caught up in the prestige of the tags that we have no idea about the true quality of an item. This is a brand manager’s dream come true. I’ll explain.

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Me working with my client Julius Hill

When I hear a man comes up to me like a baller and tells me, “This suit I’m wearing is Armani, what do you think about it?” My answer is, “Are you sure you want to know?” If he says yes, I tell him, “I think you got robbed.” And it’s true, he was taken to the cleaners. Heis wearing a suit that is worth about 15% of what he paid for it. That suit was manufactured in a suit mill along with about 30 other designers. The deciding factor between whether that suit goes to K&G for $199, Brooks Brothers for $899, or Neiman Marcus for $1995 is the tag that is applied inside. If you want really quality and prestige, buy custom. Custom is the ONLY way you can get quality, selection, and luxury. Any man that spends $900 or more for a suit, and it isn’t custom is throwing money away. PERIOD. I don’t care what the salesman (on commission) at Norstrom’s told you. He is supposed to make you feel good about spending too much money for a high production, mid quality,overpriced suit.  The tag in your suit should say Your Name, not a designer. I once wrote on my Facebook status that if you answer the question “Where did you get your suit?” with a store name, you were not a “Big Dog”. Real players have tailors, not store receipts. They have someone come out to their residence with a store full of fabric swatches and design his suits for him, then deliver them to his place of residence. If you still want to overspend on overpriced suits so you can brag to your friends that don’t know better, go right ahead. But if you want to graduate to the Big Boy’s Club, it starts with custom. After all why is some designer’s name more valuable to you than yours. This is just food for thought. Shop where you wish, but if you want to move up to the big leagues, go custom.