Posted on May 29, 2013
I’m proud to help launch OpenHub, an organization built on the the Boston World Partnerships tradition and designed to “Open Boston” for organizations and individual working to do great things!
OpenHub was founded to serve as a resource in developing economic growth and cultural prosperity of Greater Boston, Massachusetts, and New England. Read more…
Posted on March 18, 2013
I had the pleasure of breaking free from the New England cold for a trip to the fabulous Austin, Texas for SXSW. From the hype on past conferences specifically the tech portion, I was admittedly a bit concerned that I’d spend much of the time fighting the slight nausea I tend to feel when listening to techie hipsters engage in epic one-upsmanship on the latest trends in brand/media/tech.
While I’m sure it was there, but I happily found many sessions where speakers passionately spoke about the human side of technology. How they are making lives better through connections and shared experiences. I wanted to share a few highlights so you’ll check out these people and their endeavors for yourself. Read more…
Posted on February 17, 2013
How many times have you had a forgettable conversation at a bar, networking event or conference where the person’s “technique” consisted solely of a monologue about themselves? Actually, you probably can’t recall because it was indeed… forgettable!
Where many go wrong in both social and selling situations is that they assume you want what they are offering. Your main job in any interaction should be to listen…really listen, probe, question…to discover what you can do to improve the other’s condition. Only then can you present your offering in a meaningful and thoughtful manner that will matter to your new connection and help you achieve your goal (whether it be a sale or a hot date for this Friday night). Please just don’t forget to be authentic…
Try this next time you are out and about and let me know how it goes!
Posted on January 24, 2013
Are you looking for new ways to engage with your customers and expand the relationships with them? Have you considered how those in your personal or professional network could add value to your clients and deepen the connection? Resources such as your service providers, vendors or even other clients could be useful to your customers as they look to grow sales, streamline processes and cut costs. Unless it could harm your business, why not make the extra to effort to share? Here are some ways to do this: Read more…
Posted on January 15, 2013
As recently published on Boston.com’s Global Business Hub:
While you may appreciate cuisine and even consider yourself a foodie, you may not have contemplated the role food has played in building your relationships. The experiences shared while breaking bread are often the most memorable. Food brings people together in a most meaningful way. In business, however, we often lose sight of this little gem when organizing customer or employee related events. We focus instead on how to bring people in, whom to invite, even what content to provide – but the food is often an afterthought at best! Read more…
Posted on December 31, 2012
If you consider yourself shy or introverted networking may be a source of anxiety. To overcome this, I invite you to consider a different approach to reduce stress and even help you stand out from others in the networking scene. Instead of going in thinking you need to be “on” or provide a perfect 30 second elevator pitch, focus your energy on how you can help others. Make it about them instead of you and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results. People will remember you and will oftentimes work to help you in return. In addition, the connections you make- while fewer in number- will be deeper than those of quick card exchanges. It sets the stage for the strong relationships that lead to both personal and professional growth. Read more…
Posted on December 27, 2012
On Dec 13th, I presented concepts from my Art of Networking series to members of the Smaller Business Association of New England (SBANE) together with career coach Leto Papadopoulos from King & Bishop. We were assisted by Ann DeBiasio from Eastern Insurance and Neal Fey also from King & Bishop. The purpose of the seminar was to improve members’ networking skills and prepare them for SBANE’s Dec. Open House networking event that immediately followed. Read more…
Posted on December 17, 2012
5 Steps to turn a holiday networking event into a fabulous evening where meaningful connections are made!
1) Start with a warm, festive atmosphere……
Posted on November 11, 2012
As recently published in RebelWomen.com here are my Top 10 networking tips!
When you are starting a new venture, expanding your network is key to accelerating growth. Unfortunately, many view “networking” as an intimidating and time consuming endeavor and find every excuse to avoid attending such events. Networking should be an integral part of all new businesses’ sales and marketing plan. Here are the 10 ways to make the most out of networking events.
Posted on October 2, 2012
We all know that social media can help your business connect online with more people but it is important to think also about how to turn these into profitable connections. For B to B focused companies or many service providers, this means taking these followers offline to develop relationships and close deals. If your clients cannot purchase your product or service online, your marketing plan must include offline engagement strategies. Read more…
Posted on August 19, 2012
Ever start trying to explain what you do only to watch the recipient’s eyes start to wander? You can practically see their thoughts meander towards the bar as you proudly present the opening paragraph of your resume. Without an attempt to frame your skills in terms of value, you will quickly lose your audience. At networking events where time is limited and the pace is a bit hectic, you truly only get one chance to make a first and lasting impression.
Posted on July 30, 2012
Wonderful to host Chef Marcus Samuelsson @KitchnTable within the 3Scoops Cafe in Brighton while he was in Boston promoting his memoir Yes Chef. I look forward to reading his book and highly recommend you check it out as Marcus is a truly inspiring and gracious man with an incredible story.
Posted on July 28, 2012
Nothing is more satisfying than watching interesting and energetic people connect with each other. The folks at KitchnTable served up a fabulous meal while we talked about networking best practices and applied some of the concepts!
Some key tips: Read more…
Posted on July 23, 2012
Ever notice how injecting food into a situation instantly elevates the quality? You could be standing around at a boring exhibition, stale networking event or lame cocktail party but once that smiling waiter brings around some scrumptious hors d’oeuvres suddenly there’s something to talk about…
Great food has the power to bring people together and create long-lasting relationships like nothing else. This, of course, is nothing new. Food has been at the heart of strong families, communities and cultures since the dawn of civilization. It’s universal…think back to some of your most cherished memories…how many involve food?
So next time you develop an event or throw a party, think about how you can use the food to stimulate true interactions that can be the foundation of real connections. Read more…
Posted on June 27, 2012
What a wonderful night! Everything from the amazing food by Wheeler Del Torro & Marc Orfaly, chef and owner of Pigalle, to the music from the great Jose Ramos and his band made this evening truly special. The French Cultural Center served as a perfect setting to prove once again that fine cuisine and champagne are magical in creating lasting connections! Read more…
Posted on May 28, 2012
Have you ever finished a sales call and wished you could get a “do-over”? I had one recently where upon hanging up the phone I immediately thought of ten things I could have done better. We all have those days when we may not be on top of our game or perhaps we lose ourselves in the excitement of a prospective new client. A bad sales call, however, isn’t a failure IF we take time to learn from it. Here are some steps to benefit from a miss: Read more…
Posted on March 11, 2012
Raise your hand if you love to sell… who does? Trying to convince someone else to buy your product or service can be intimidating, nerve wracking and a bit painful at times. Hard selling can conjure up visions of the used car salesmen and instantly put people on the defense.
Instead of selling, try solving!
Solutions come from first understanding the problem so start by actively listening as described in a previous post. Next, and just as important, you must have a genuine desire to help. You may have a quota to fill or sales goal to reach but without truly caring about the individual’s unique requirements, your attempts to win them over will fall flat. People know when they are being sold to…and they usually don’t like it. If you focus your efforts instead on finding the person a solution and making their lives just a
little better, you will find that “selling” can be fun and rewarding. Now, of course, this might mean that your product/service cannot actually solve your prospect’s issue and (gasp!) you have to send him/her to a competitor. In the end, however, you will be remembered for your helpful behavior and the favor may be returned with a future sale or referral.
If you maintain this philosophy throughout your career, the rewards will far outweigh any sales you may have lost by being honest!
Posted on February 12, 2012
Upon learning of the passing of the great Whitney Houston, I watched again her amazing rendition of the American National Anthem, sung at the 1991 SuperBowl after the start of the 1st Gulf War. What makes it so great is not the flawless and pitch perfect singing or the fantastic styling but the emotion and passion of her delivery that radiates from start to finish. It stands out among the countless other high profile versions where it clearly is about the singer and not the song. With Whitney’s version, you really feel that she is proud of the freedom she has and thankful for the men and women of the armed forces risking their lives to protect it.
Here, watch it again: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wupsPg5H6aE&feature=related
So how does this relate to your business? With a true passion, you stand out from the presumed superstars who may be flawless mechanically but lack the emotion and authenticity that makes people want to actually work with them. When you truly believe that the product or service you provide can benefit your customers, it is easy to connect with them. It’s not about you, it’s about helping make your clients’ lives a little better….Just like it wasn’t about Whitney on that electric night in Tampa over 20 years ago.
P.H. Koules Consulting
One final note- you may not know that Whitney released the version of her National Anthem and donated the proceeds to helping soldiers and their families. After 9/11 she re-released it to help firefighters and the victims of the terrorist attacks. A class act indeed–Rest in Peace, Whitney.
Posted on January 18, 2012
In business situations and in life, it is quite easy to listen to a problem and quickly jump in with advice and answers that come oh so easily from your outside perspective. These solutions are informed from your experiences and seem clear as day to you… obvious even. But while you are seeing that proverbial forest, are the quick solutions right for your friend/relative/customer…and are you really in the best position to offer such advice? For example…do I really want dating advice from a friend who’s been married her entire adult life?
In business, it is important to consider such things before communicating with current and potential customers. When you offer a solution in the form of your product or service, do you truly understand your recipient’s unique perspective? While it may seem obvious, there is no better way to gain an acute insight into your customer’s perspective than to first listen. Your customers want to tell you about themselves and their problems….so let them! Not only will this foster a relationship but it will provide VIP access into their situation.
Now, here’s the tough part… it’s not enough to just hear them, you need to ACTIVELY listen. Here’s a definition found on WikiEd that I think sums it up perfectly: “Active listening is a way of listening that focuses entirely on what the other person is saying and confirms understanding of both the content of the message and the emotions and feelings underlying the message to ensure that understanding is accurate.”
In other words, you need to forget about yourself for a while and work to understand not only the message but the non-tangibles behind the message. Only then can you begin to truly grasp perspective to craft a helpful solution. Further, your suggestions have a stronger chance of being adopted, accepted and if you are in a selling situation- purchased.
Before offering a quick fix:
- Take some time to put yourself in your prospect’s shoes. If this proves difficult, ask additional questions to obtain a clearer picture. It is important to acknowledge the legitimacy of the issue and empathize as best you can. Don’t fake it, though. If you really can’t relate, you may not be the correct person to offer up a solution or advice.
- Look beyond the content and study the emotions behind the issue. If the person is asking for assistance, there is some level of emotional investment and potential consequence if the issue is not resolved. You can gauge this by listening for the “whys” & “whats” of a problem…. Why is it a problem? Why come to you and why now? What are the causes & potential effects? & etc…. Engaging the person with questions will help you fill in the gaps.
Don’t be shy; if he or she is coming do you for advice, you need to fully understand the situation. Ask questions and most importantly LISTEN to the answers!
Okay, now you are ready to start thinking about the solution….
Owner & Principal Consultant
PH Koules Consulting
Posted on December 20, 2011
So what do you get when you stick smart business owners in a room together with delicious food …well some great ideas for one! This was confirmed at the P.H. Koules Consulting Small Biz Connect event that was held on Dec 15th at the new Kitchn’ Table @3 Scoops Cafe in Brighton (. While the scheduled topic was “Growing Sales on a Tight Budget” we ended up spending most of the time on online marketing.
This is a pretty amazing time for marketing small businesses if you stop to think about it. Technology has enabled the average entrepreneur to reach people like never before. So throughout the night, we touched on inexpensive tactics for increasing visibility such as active Facebook and twitter use, PR opportunities, Linked in, blogging and etc. We debated the usefulness of social media in general and strategies for engaging with your fan base. We discussed concepts like:
- Social media engagement is like the holiday season motto- ’tis better to give than receive!
- Blogging is useful when establishing creditably and expertise in an area (and great for your website SEO- Search Engine Optimization)
- Facebook is an excellent means to establish brand affinity, a human connection with fans (i.e. sales prospects) and to continuously update them on the latest special or event
- Twitter is, of course, great for quick updates but also to enable referrals (retweets)
- Good press coverage is invaluable and can be obtained through more than just luck…online media sites & direct outreach to local/national press is essential. You never know what will be picked up until you try!
The group also shared specific tools with which they have had success. For example HARO for PR – (HARO stands for Help a Reporter Out. Love that!) , Shoptique & Etsy (online clothing boutiques & handmade items respectively)
Two common themes emerged that I believe everyone could agree to: First, when it comes to using available online tools, there is no “best” method. It mostly depends on your individual goals. Before jumping on any number of bandwagons out there, you need to think through what you are trying to accomplish and how to best reach your target customer. Second, top notch social media and online marketing is NO substitute for a great product or service. The businesses we had in the room that grew mainly from personal referrals could certainly attest to this….their products speak for themselves!
So as you look ahead, take time to celebrate your successes from this past year, think about what your goals are and never lose sight of providing your customers the best product or service you can offer!!
Happy Holidays from P.H. Koules Consulting!!
Here are some of the great businesses that joined us. Check them out!!
Angela J. Musi Certified Public Accountant: firstname.lastname@example.org
Boston Beauty: www.bostonbeautyonline.com
Chef Allan’s Inflight Catering Inc: www.chefallans.com
Image Conscious Studios: www.icscreative.com
Kango Gift: www.kangogift.com
Thirty Petals Boutique: www.thirtypetals.com
Verve Coaching: www.vervecoaching.com
Few final notes:
- If you would like to inquire about joining us for the next event tenatively scheduled for Jan 19th, please contact me: email@example.com)
- If you are interested in hosting your own event at Kitchn’ Table @ 3 Scoops Cafe in Brighton let me know or contact them directly http://www.facebook.com/3scoopsbrighton . They did a great job and the food was fantastic!!!