Become a Must-Have Expert Everyone Wants to Work With

There are two assessments buyers make that can put you into nice-to-have status. First comparison: our insights vs. what they already know. I call this the invisible Vulcan mind meld. Decision makers invest in what they don’t already have. So the question buyers ask themselves is do you know something they don’t?

Must-have experts show the market that they have something not readily available. Many talented, nice-to-have folks focus on the clever title or analogy. Buyers see right through that. They are looking at the insight, the point you are making. The analogy, the story, and the cleverness make your point come alive. If your writing is better than your insights, you are a nice read but not worth reaching out to. If you give a speech and hear, “Hey, nice reminder of what I already knew,” you failed the invisible Vulcan mind meld and are in the nice-to-have category.

After passing that test, buyers make a second comparison: your high-end services vs. information they don’t have but can easily get from you. The second bias—all things being “good enough,” the low-cost or free route will prevail. Notice what I didn’t say: equal. Even if you are better than the free resources you provide, even when prospects have a budget, buyers want to make sure they are getting the best option for their money. So another question they ask is can they get your insights from other free sources such as your book or white papers on your website? Is that “good enough” help for them?

This economy has created a lot of free and low-cost education. And it’s good stuff. A must-have expert provides high-quality content but always leaves the impression that “there’s more where that came from.” My favorite example of this strategy is Steven Levitt, co-author of Freakonomics. His way of thinking appeals to so many situations that folks can’t get enough of him. And yet everyone knows that if they want their situation examined, they have to pay him his fees.

Some thoughts on better contact management…

I recently came across this post from my Internet buddy Brandon Henak and I’ve been thinking about it all week. It was about using Plaxo for unified contact management and it went like this…

“The people in your network and the relationships you develop with them are some of your most valuable assets as a young professional. You look to them first for advice, job opportunities or just to discuss the latest events in your life. How you keep track of all the contact information you have collected in your personal and professional life is crucial to your success.

Contacts Everywhere!

In the poll we took earlier today we saw an interesting breakdown of contact management solutions, from relying on a cell phone to store contact information to using Microsoft Outlook, Facebook and other online sites. Each one of the solutions have their advantages and disadvantages. I have tried every one of the solutions listed with various degrees of success but, what if you could use each of them where they work the best, Outlook at the office, Mac Address Book at home and Plaxo online, without having to manually update each? I recently found a way to centralize and standardize all my contact and calendar information across all the services I use, automatically!

Sync them up!

Enter Plaxo 3.0 beta with Sync Points. After setting up an account, all I had to do was click on the “Add Sync Point” link for each of the programs I wanted to use (in my case Google, Mac Address Book, Outlook, and AIM) and it walks you through the process of putting in your login information for Google and downloading small add-ins for Outlook and Mac Address Book. Now, all of my sources sync together and I can sync all my contacts to my phone through Address Book. Any addition anywhere flows across the systems and is easily accessible.”

This was particularly interesting to me because I’m a Plaxo subscriber, but I’ve experienced a lot of problems with contact management. So what’s the problem?

A little background info…

I’ve been in marketing, sales, and technology for 25 years now and I have collect over 5,000 vcards and thousands more business cards that aren’t documented. I use 7 computers spanning three platforms and I want to access my contacts on all of them.

The answer?

The answer for me, like Brandon, starts with Plaxo for the following reasons:

  1. It’s platform and browser independent.
  2. It offers ‘sync points’ for the tools I use or have access to; Outlook, Thunderbird, a Treo 700wx running Windows Mobile 5. [Many more are available…]
  3. Members can choose to link to give one another the latest contact information as soon as it changes.
  4. The duplicate merger/remover is among the best I’ve used.
  5. There is a growing social network component which is a cross between Facebook and LinkedIn.

So if Plaxo is the answer, what’s MY problem? In a nutshell, using Plaxo was causing, not eliminating duplicates. Or, better said, using Plaxo with ActiveSync was causing duplicates. When I made the decision to stop using two synchronization tools simultaneously, my problems went away and I got closer to the promised land that Brandon was describing…

More background. I’m currently in the process of moving to Linux; I don’t want to pay ransom to Microsoft anymore and although I’m a former Apple account executive, I don’t want to pay for Apple’s industrial design when I can have the benefits of a Linux based operating system on inexpensive Intel hardware. The answer for me is Linux.

For now, however, my solution set consists of Plaxo, Microsoft Outlook 2003 [I only said I didn’t want to pay anymore – I’ll still use what I have], Gmail, Google Calendar and a Treo 700wx. I see myself moving off Outlook to Thunderbird/Lightning [Mozilla’s answer to contact and calendar management – Mozilla is only going to get better at this!] and off the Treo onto either a Blackberry or the Google Android platform. Thankfully [?], Sprint is forcing me to keep my current phone until September when the outlook on Google’s approach to cellphones should be known…

A big part of solving my problem was also to realize [thanks to David Allen] that some contacts are context sensitive, namely, that I don’t need to be able to call all 5,000 people from my cellphone – some I only need to be able to access when I’m sitting at a computer. I was actually synchronizing contacts for which I didn’t have a telephone number to my phone! Why? Because I was going to send them an email from the phone? Unlikely. In reality, I have found that after careful analysis, I actually need to synchronize less than 200 contacts between my phone and my computer and if I really were honest with myself, there are probably less than a hundred people that I call on a regular basis. So, I copied all my contacts to a folder called ‘Master’ in Outlook and deleted all contacts that I either hadn’t called or didn’t anticipate calling this quarter [there’s a copy of the deleted contacts in Master, remember?] As a result, I’m only synchronizing what I have to now. This is a HUGE savings of time and energy and silly as it may seem, actually represents a massive epiphany for me. Call me Captain Obvious?

The underlying idea here is getting closer to a world where it doesn’t matter what computer or platform you’re using – your information is accessible from anywhere! Plaxo can get you a good part of the way there…

By the way, if you’re not using Google Desktop, start! It can unify all the computers you’re using and allow you to search your Gmail and your computers in the same way you search the internet now…

I'm just sayin'…

Image representing Alltop as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

As a father of 6, parental analogies are always close at hand for me. It’s why I sometimes say that clients are like children in that when you see them take the things you teach them and they make it their own and excel, you can’t help but burst with pride. Recently, the AGCO blog was included in the agriculture feed at Alltop, the internet’s best source for news aggregation, becoming the only Farm Equipment manufacturer to do so…

AGCO’s success should rightly be credited to Jamy Johnson, a budding online community manager and social media practitioner who took the time to embrace the ‘e1evation workflow’ and make it her own. Last month, their blog had over 10,000 visits and it’s rapidly becoming a key factor in lifting the corporate website to new heights in search and traffic rankings as well…

Kudos to Jamy’s manager Sue Otten who had the courage to embrace social media in the ag space before ag social media was cool! If Jamy and Sue can rise to the top using “good, fast, and cheap” social media tools for agriculture, imagine what you can do in your industry!

Home bases and outposts…

Darren Rowse of ProBlogger has been reading my mail. Or attending my seminars. Or both. Seriously, he does a great job in this video of explaining some of the tactics that I use to drive traffic to my blog…

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Are you awakened or just an entrepreneur? | Duct Tape Marketing Blog

Here’s some great news…

“My friend Michael Gerber is at it again, Awakening another generation of entrepreneurs and showing people how to dream intentionally.

His latest book, Awakening the Entrepreneur Within is shipping this week and is a high level overview of his Dreaming Room experiences.

Companies that embrace the method and practices contained in this book can become extraordinary by pushing beyond what they thought it meant to be a company. I am in Phoenix this week presenting marketing workshops for the users of Infusion Software – this is a company that is truly infused with the Awakened Entrepreneur message and it is just so much fun to be around people and companies that are so alive with a vision.”

Click the title to read more…

12 Ways to Keep Your Business Relationships Alive

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Image via CrunchBase

“Every businessperson leads a busy life. There are marketing meetings to attend, RFPs to reply to, and client projects to finish. With so much work demanding so much attention, many of us never make the time to keep our business relationships alive, and wish we did: ‘What does he do again?’ ‘Does she still work there?’ ‘Didn’t I know someone at that company?’

Rather than regretting not staying connected, pick some of the twelve ideas below and use them to start conversations with people you’ve met before and want to speak with again.”

You might want to also check out the RainToday series on LinkedIn 101.

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Packers a golden brand

GREEN BAY, WI - MAY 1:  Green Bay Packers play...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Whenever the Green Bay Packers are in the playoffs, the suits in the National Football League and their TV partners smile.

It’s not because they’re pulling for the Green and Gold over other teams in the league. It’s because the Packers, one of the most storied franchises in sports, are a story line that never gets old.

“At NFL meetings, especially on the subject of television, I could always tell the importance of the Packers,” said Andrew Brandt, a former team vice president who now writes about the business of football for the National Football Post. “It was clear what a national fan base we had and how the brand drove ratings and popularity.”

“I think there are really special stories about it,” added Eric Shanks, president and executive producer of Fox Sports. “How many offices do you walk into around the country that have a framed share of the Green Bay Packers? That is a real special story. That’s a connection. Then there are the spectacular pictures of Lambeau Field on television that piques people’s interest.”

This season, the Packers are living large. In addition to helping bring in record ratings for the TV networks, the team also benefitted from a Broadway play about Vince Lombardi, and an acclaimed film about Lombardi that aired on HBO.

The Packers are one of four teams left in the NFC playoff. On Saturday night, they will meet the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta in a game scheduled for prime time on Fox Sports.

No one doubts the string of record ratings will continue.

You can follow the ‘via’ link above to go to the source and read the rest of the article if you’re interested in the rest of the article…