What Kind of Client are You?

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I was having an early morning coffee with a client the other day. Today clients often have very early morning Starbucks because they have a lot to do with fewer resources to accomplish them.

He was sharing with me a story about one of his clients. Yes clients have clients if they have channels of distribution and they want to sell their products. He described a meeting he recently had. He said the room was full of people who could not approve anything but everyone could veto everything. Been there?  I have.

Welcome to the New Normal. Consensus decision making and often consensus indecision.

I had an early morning coffee with an agency friend the other day. He shared his story of working on a large multinational client. We all know their name and have all purchased their products. Because they are large they have numerous agencies for various specialties. Too many for one client to handle or even get to know if you are a marketer that works at a company that rotates you every 15 to 18 months. They had an ideation session that I am sure that every agency jumped to attention to attend. All present and accounted for Sir!  At the end of the day there were 50 plus ideas on the whiteboard.

How did the client decide which one was best? Let’s have a vote. Very democratic but not exactly fact based decision making that was drilled into my brain.

Are marketers still stewards of their brands? What is a client’s top priority today?  Managing the brand or managing their careers?

I do know that many clients that I meet today are looking for their next job. Riding the wave of their company, their title to the next big break. Many are not happy at work.

I hear from another type of client from time to time. They reach out to me when their things go awry at work and they may feel a little threatened. They want to want to have a Starbucks with Hank Blank because they know I am very connected. Then things settle down for them and all is good again at work. No more networking needed. When I reach out to them because I may have some opportunity to present to them many respond with silence. Silence is golden but my eyes still see.

I was checking in with a client that I think is very compassionate about her people especially when she has to let them go because she is told to do so.  I can feel her heart.  She shared that everything was extremely hectic in her world.  Lots of trade shows, a new acquisition, a challenging CEO.  She wished me calm in my life.

As a consultant who has to create a job for himself each and every day there is little calm in my life but I somehow offered the promise of that island. I wish I was there.

I had a chance to be a client once.  When I was 30 I was offered a job as the VP of Marketing for a major QSR chain in Canada. I agonized over it. I did a Robert Frost on it but I didn’t take it.  Was I wrong?  What do I know?  I am just writing this blog and watching the way the wind blows. In the end I know we are all clients.

Connect with Hank on LinkedIn, Twitter, & Facebook:

    

Watch: Why It’s Time to Change the RFP Process.

Read: Graduation Time.

Should Marketers Conduct their Own Agency Searches?

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It’s Graduation Time. Lesson One.

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It will be graduation time soon.

So what kind of world will you be graduating into?

There will be at least two worlds.

The first is one you can’t control and that world is called the New Normal.

The New Normal Started in September 2008 when the world almost melted when Lehman Brothers went away. You may have never heard of Lehman Brothers.  They were a 156 year old company when you were in your teens.  Those effects are still being felt today.

It probably didn’t mean as much to you then as it did to your parents.  But then again you may be graduating from a school neither you nor your parents wanted you to attend because of it.

It may have happened before you even entered college but it has defined the world you are graduating into.  Things are getting better but things are different and you will live in that difference unless it changes.

The New Normal affected your college experience.  Few courses and more competition for them. Larger class sizes. Longer graduation times.  I read an article in the New York Times that only half of first time college students graduate in 6 years.

What’s up with that?  I went to the University of Western Ontario which you have never heard of and I got two degrees by staying for 6 years.  That’s how I got to California.

In fall 2012, a record 21.6 million students are expected to attend American colleges and universities, constituting an increase of about 6.2 million since fall 2000. More people for fewer jobs.  I graduated into the kind of past.

The average student college debt will be $27,000. Yea.

The current unemployment rate in the U.S. is 7.7%  Better.

The unemployment rate among people under 25 is 16%. Ouch

The unemployment rate among people under 25 in Spain is 55%. That gets people into the streets. As the Rolling Stones sang in the 60’s the time is right for fighting in the street boys.

That world didn’t impact graduates much in the Old Normal but it is does in the New Normal.  As Marshall McLuhan said when I was going to school “It’s a Global Village”. You may have never heard of him and you may not have been to Spain but you are living his prediction.

You need a new lens to see in the New Normal.  In the Old Normal your parent’s friends were more old people.  In the New Normal they are data bases. Mine them.

The second world is the one that you can control and that is the world you personally create around you. How well resourced are you?  How well LinkedIn are you?  How resilient are you?  How well rounded are you?  What would make you interesting to a company? How wide is your network?

More on that in Lesson Two.  Soon to come.

You can connect with Hank on LinkedIn:

http://www.linkedin.com/in/hankblankcom

Follow his updates on twitter: @hankblank

Like Blank and Associates on Facebook

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How’s The Year Going So Far?

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So how are things going so far as we enter year five of the New Normal? Having a jolly old time?   The New Normal was created when the world melted in the fall of 2008.  Lehman Brothers went away.   Remember those days? I am sure that the 2.8 million people that lost their jobs that year do. Some may still be looking for the job that they lost. They may be working but they don’t have the job that went away never to return.

Are things getting better? Are you loving things at work?  Doing less with more?  Looking over your shoulder from time to time? Get a little nervous if your boss calls you into their office?  How do you like your recent yearly salary increases? Did you get one?

How’s the job search going?  Is it easier or harder? Do you often feel it’s all in vein? Do you think that everyone thinks that you are too old?  Don’t have enough experience?  Have been on the beach too long? Do you think that the people interviewing you are smarter than you?

How are your New Business efforts going?  Is New Business even harder or are leads coming in and your task is to separate fact from fiction?  Do you feel you even need more leads today? Does New Business take more time and are the budgets smaller?  Do you have to provide more for less?

How’s your networking going or is it the same? Do you view networking as an intention or a mission?  Do you connect with people that energize and are totally aligned with you? Are you just networking with people just like you?

Are you living large?  I network with a lot of people. I talk to 20 year old people and have drinks with the people who run multinational agencies. They all share their stories.  I shake the hand of my UPS driver at Starbucks while he sits with Fed Ex Driver and a couple of other guys talking music.  I talk to sales people at the same time that feel they are out of touch for today’s game.

I have lunch with marketing people who wouldn’t have met me in the past but now that their company is changing I appear more valuable because I am a networker with a large network. I am happy to help. Will they?

I text with the President of a prominent local company while I am going for a run.  Presidents are optimistic enough to relax a bit these days.  But bit is a short word.

I meet with marketing people that are looking for their next gig.

I meet with people who are waiting for checks. Are your clients slower to pay?  I can relate to that being a solopreneur in the New Normal.  Balancing the regular pattern of bills versus the irregular flow of checks.

I hear from people who have been downsized seven times. They called themselves a survivor and I certainly do agree.  There are many worst alternatives.

I hear from people who tell me how tough things remain.

I hear from people who tell me how things are good.

2013 is the 5th year of the New Normal.  This is the future and Leonard Cohen wrote a song about it in the Old Normal. The lyric said, “I have seen the future and it is murder”.  But then again this is the New Normal after all.

You can connect with Hank on LinkedIn:

http://www.linkedin.com/in/hankblankcom

Follow his updates on twitter: @hankblank

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/hankblank

Watch a video by Hank on Don’t Let Your Business Cards Weaken Your Personal Brand.

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Are You A Finder or A Grinder?

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Are you a finder or a grinder?  An inside person or an outside person?   I recently spoke to the Albuquerque AMA Chapter about How to Rise Above the Crowd.  I talked at one point about Finders and Grinders.

A couple of people followed up and said those descriptions resonated with them.  One person came up to me after the presentation and shared that she was definitely an inside person but knew she had to get outside more.

During my presentation I shared something I have learned during the New Normal. We have survived a melting of the financial world and have emerged but in a very tentative place. The fear of what we saw in the fall of 2008 and afterwards has created a lot of caution in the business world and a change I think in how people are perceived within organizations.

There is nothing wrong with being either a finder or a grinder. There are definitely a lot of different types of people in the world and I am a big proponent of networking with diversity in mind or else you will live in a homogenous world.

But finders and grinders can be valued differently when it comes to firing time. The decision of who goes and who stays is often a game of musical chair.  There is only one chair and two very qualified people to sit in that chair but only one person can sit down when the music stops.  It will be a short song.

These two people don’t even know this is happening. They are not at the dance. They don’t hear the music.  Their future is being decided by the perception they have created at their companies.  Some employees are very good grinders.  They work hard. They never miss a deadline.  They do all the right things but in the end it may not be enough.

Then there are people that are outside people.  They connect with people at work and they like to go to networking events and be connected in lots of ways. They are connected. Their networks make them well resourced.  They understand the value of social media to build their brand.  They are not superficial.  They are current with the new ways to engage. They have seen the changes that have come and have jumped on the train and often lead the way.

In this day and age the decision who stays and who goes is very difficult because the easy decisions have been made in the five years since the world melted in the fall of 2008.   One thing that had remained the same in the Old and New Normal is that that a person that offers the greatest chance for incremental revenue gets to sit in the chair when the music stops.  And that person is the outside person.

You see there are fewer outside people than inside people.  There are many more grinders than finders.  All are equally valuable but in challenging times the outside person will get the chair all the time.  It may be right.  It may be wrong. But it is reality.

 

You can connect with Hank on LinkedIn:

http://www.linkedin.com/in/hankblankcom

Follow his updates on twitter: @hankblank

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/hankblank

Watch a video by Hank on Networking Tips for Young People.

You may also enjoy these articles:

Are Solopreneurs the Future in the New Normal?

Networking in My Hood.

She’s Not a Great Networker.

Don’t Let Your Business Cards Weaken Your Personal Brand

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Your business cards are the foundation of your brand.  Make sure they project the image you want to convey.

Check out this video called Don’t Let Your Business Cards Weaken Your Personal Brand.

You can connect with Hank on LinkedIn:

http://www.linkedin.com/in/hankblankcom

Follow his updates on twitter: @hankblank

Like Blank and Associates on Facebook

Watch a video on When Is It Time to Fire Your Agency

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I’m Just Trying to Figure It Out

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“I’m just trying to figure it out.”

People often tell me that they are trying to figure it out. After all the books, blogs, free and paid webinars and seminars on how to get to the next place – yet the majority of people don’t have a roadmap on where to go next.

Just the other day, I heard a young person say they were trying to figure it out. They were rooms away from where I sat, but their lament traveled through the air to me. They were looking for a magic way, but life isn’t as organized as Disneyland. Young people are the slash generation that many elders don’t see; also the untrained generation. Institutions don’t invest as much in our youth as they have done in the past. The obligation of mentoring and nurturing youth may have been lost or abandoned.

There was a story on NPR recently, which reported the number one psychological issue in campus health clinics today is anxiety. Young people are anxious that if that they graduate today in the New Normal, they aren’t guaranteed a job, even with a college degree – maybe even with an MBA. They have no clue on how to provide the basics for themselves once they graduate with huge student loans. That’s a big worry that can become a heavy yoke.

I can see that. Many “Millenials” have by now spent a quarter of their lives living in the great recession. Their parents may have been downsized; their homes may have been in foreclosure. They may have lost trust in the safety net of their parents helping them out financially. Some, in fact, may be helping their parents.

I often have a Starbucks and listen to business owners that want to take it to the next level. They tell me they are trying to figure it out. I have some clarity for them on days that can even be blind for me. Such a paradox – or could it be an irony? A metaphor? Do we teach what we need to know?

I have met too many people over the years that have been launched into the world of transition they didn’t anticipate before. Some come to me with the weight of living in the New Normal, saying they are just trying to figure it out. They weren’t trained on what to do when one is jettisoned into transition. When they worked for somebody, they often did all the figuring it out, but nothing further.

Here are some ways to try to figure it out:

1. Stop worrying, because worry won’t make the road clearer. Instead, it creates a fog. The best worry buster is an intense workout, or whatever else may work for you. Anything that disengages you from your brain for just the right time can bring you back to it focused and ready to take on the task at hand.

2. Figuring it out can be simplified if you surround yourself with other perspectives; you’ll never figure it out if you surround yourself with yourself. The best way to train for a marathon is to talk to someone who has run one before. They will tell you that running tight to the curves will save you a lot of steps over the 26.2 miles or 42Km. The best way to figure it out is by talking to people who have walked the same struggle.

What do I know? I have lived in the New Normal all my life. I’m just trying to figure it out.

Connect with Hank on LinkedIn, Twitter, & Facebook:

    

Watch:  Networking Tips for Young People.

Read these articles:

Are Solopreneurs the Future in the New Normal?

Networking in My Hood.

She’s Not a Great Networker.

Have Any Networking Plans For The New Year?

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Of course you do, everyone does – but will yours actually happen? We all know that most New Year’s resolutions never materialize; change requires taking action. Intentions often get pushed aside when we choose expediency in our lives. So here are some networking strategies to kick off your New Year just right:

1. First and foremost, respect your network.

Since I have been networking for years, and professionally speak on the subject often, I am a target for people who would like to use my network. Many are strangers or mere acquaintances. I have never worked with them, yet they would like me to recommend them professionally on LinkedIn. Others, looking for a new job, will ask me to connect them with a key individual at their target company. I have no problem helping people at all – I just don’t think introducing a stranger is sincere, or what networking is all about. I just delete those who I cannot convert to reason anymore, because they simply will not understand.

2. Complete your networking loop.

Today, there are hundreds of millions of people on various social networking platforms. I often wonder how much real human engagement occurs. I remember a musical group in Toronto called Rough Trade, who had a song called “All Touch But No Contact.”  If you connect with someone on LinkedIn, but don’t interact with them after accepting their invitation, are you really connected?  Definitely not.

3. Be authentic.

This can also be referred to as being life consistent.  Over the last decade, the roller coaster that the economy has been led me to meet some interesting people. Some people have reached out to ask for my help only in times of need. I help them, see them make it, and from thereon out, I hear nothing but silence. Others I have helped are quick to be thankful and appreciative. These are the individuals who leave a better footprint, the ones I will not hesitate to help again as needed. Never underestimate the gift of gratitude – your reputation undeniably continues to gets passed along in networks, and you should always be sure to leave the right mark.

4. Remember: Networking is nuanced.

The art of networking is like dancing the tango – some steps are simple, while others are quite complex. Two dancers paired to form a single, intertwined complex in the ballroom reminds me of an expression I have heard many times in the boardroom: I know that half of my advertising is wasted, I just don’t know which half. The same applies to networking. Which of the people you meet will end up a networking dead-end? Which of them will end up creating wonderful new paths and journeys for you? You will never know unless you put yourself out there.

So here is my prediction for your networking strategy in the New Year:

If you have built your network well, it will provide you with revenue, social currency, human contact, and make your feel connected to life, which isn’t a bad place to be, even if some measures aren’t perfect.

Connect with Hank on LinkedIn, Twitter, & Facebook:

    

Watch: Networking Tips for Young People.

Read these articles:

Networking in My Hood.

She’s Not a Great Networker.