Posts Tagged ‘business tool’

Leaving The Network Nest – Fly BNI Birdie, Fly!

February 21, 2010

Some people are natural networkers. They walk into their weekly BNI meeting and work the room during the open networking welcome time. They even get there early to have extra time with chapter members about referrals they have passed, to help out with Visitor Hosting by making the guests feel welcome and to help set up the room. If every chapter had people like that to volunteer extra time and services…

They go through the meeting and get to that most fun part of the week, passing referrals with each other to grow everyone’s business. Here is where we see a split between networkers and business people who come for the breakfast. The networkers pass referrals where the prospects are outside people that they know. It could be their clients, family, friends, co-workers, vendors, neighbors, etc. Occasionally they may even refer them self to another chapter member but the majority of the referrals are what are called in BNI as  Tier 2 referrals. These referrals are identified during the week and the contact information for each referral is written on a BNI Referral Slip before the meeting.

On the flip side is the Member Who Comes For Breakfast. They have their BNI membership on a low priority burner and don’t think much about BNI or their fellow chapter members during the week. They are ‘too busy’ and can’t get around to being proactive to find Tier 2 referrals. They show up at most of the weekly meetings but rarely take an important chapter job. They engage other members about the weather, sports and other non-business items but hardly ever talk to a visitor. When referral time comes along they pass referrals mainly about themselves (Tier 1 referrals) to fellow chapter members or even to a visitor even though they may know nothing about the background of the visitor. While a visitor is a potential BNI member, they are not vetted yet by the Membership Committee. Unless you have a previous history with them, you have no relationship to extract trust and confidence from as you do over time with other BNI members. Are these the best referral opportunities?

An analogy for these two types of BNI members is that of a birds nest. Each spring there is a new batch of eggs that get hatched. The parent birds feed the little ones and mentor them to learn the skills to grow. As the bond between the new birds and the mentor birds grows, the new birds get less dependent upon the mentor birds in dealing with each other. At some point they get strong enough to stop taking food from the mentors and they fly out to find their own.

But not necessarily all of them! Sometimes a bird just doesn’t get the training or have the skills or simply ignores the mentoring from the older birds. They refuse to fly out of the nest and just bother each other continually. No progress is made towards growing up as have the other successful birds. Mostly all you hear from them are complaints about why things aren’t as good as they could be. Eventually, the older birds must make a decision. Do they give up on training the new underdeveloped birds and just kick them out to see if they will fly? Do they tolerate the bad behavior that resulted from ‘failure to launch’? Do they continue the situation where a now very large new bird is consuming far too many resources and providing no return on investment? That is a tough love decision indeed. They like the young birds but there comes a point…

Membership Committees in BNI face this problem continuously. The fact is that BNI is a wonderful proven system of working with other business professionals for mutual benefit. It is not for everyone. Sometimes a business person does not understand how it works. They don’t place significant priority on the ideals and methods shown to them by other chapter members, network educators, Directors in training classes such as Member Success Program, etc. They make no effort to find the Tier 2 referrals that we all strive for, they are satisfied with Tier 1 referrals from themselves to others. They are not able or ready to fly.

Can they be helped? Of course, if they want to succeed and place proper respect for the BNI system in their business nest. If they accept the Givers Gain attitude, if they have a feel for BNI during the week, if they seriously listen to other chapter members about business instead of talking about other things, yes, they can change into a Tier 2 type of networker. They can fly from the nest and see the rest of the business world out there that BNI places before them. It really is okay to pass a Tier 1 referral when you need to but it should never form the bulk of how your chapter members think of you. Fly BNI Birdie, fly out and prosper!

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Is Your Company Prepared for an Upturn in Business?

June 16, 2009

Scenario: your company has managed to do okay during the general business downturn of the last year. The suits in the C-level offices decide that the economy is turning around for the better over the next six months and want to take maximum advantage. It’s time to open some new branch offices, hire some talented people who were let go by competitors and gain some market share. As they say in New Orleans, “Laissez les bon temps roulez”.

As plans are made for expansion, you know that technology is always a concern. You want to buy what you need but not overspend. You want to plan for future growth in phases. You want quality hardware, software, networks and connectivity that will be reliable and keep your productivity at a high level. You need quality technical experts to guide you along these paths.

You undoubtedly have existing phone systems at current offices. Do you want the same phone system to be put in the new branches? It is time to revisit the technology to see if it still is a good fit for your company. While it would be most beneficial to be consistent across all the company locations, if you know that your existing phone systems just don’t measure up anymore, why throw good money after old technology that is a drag on your productivity? Change it!

You hear that VoIP is the new wave of phone system technology. It is less expensive and offers more features and benefits than old key system units. Is there more than one type of VoIP? Do you understand the technical differences enough to make a proper decision on which one to invest in for the next 5 – 10 years? Do you have a key trusted phone advisor who can help you understand how to make the right decision the first time? You need one now more than ever.

VoIP is just a generic term for sending voice communication packets across a data line instead of a traditional phone line. There are many choices to make and most depend upon how you run your business. Never settle for a phone system that is not contoured to enhance your style of business. You are not like other businesses, you have your own ideas for call flow, for treating clients on hold, for following employees through the office and in remote locations. Make sure that your phone system can be customized exactly as you need it to work for you.

What type of capital budget can you allow for the purchase? Can you afford to pay for it all up front or do you need a lease-to-own plan with flexible payments? Are you more comfortable with top of the line name brand equipment or are you open to other brands that exhibit the same performance at half the cost? Don’t forget that you will have ongoing costs after installation as well. There will always be a monthly technical support contract because when your phone system is down or needs changes, you need it fixed right away by a competent phone vendor familiar with your system. Some phone systems also have licensing costs which can be rather pricey. Make sure that you get quotes for TCO, Total Cost of Ownership, from the phone vendor to ensure that you don’t have surprises later on.

When it comes to that decision time, make sure that you have all of the information you need. Don’t plan on employees, even onstaff IT employees, running your phone system if they have no experience in telecommunications. Your phone system is far too vital to company success to unfairly lay that burden on technical novices who will take a chance? Can you chance success?

Ask for your free phone system audit from Select Phone Solutions by calling 281-501-6464.

“Productivity Through Technology”

Why Was Select Phone Solutions Created?

March 22, 2009

Select Phone Solutions was created due to the overwhelming Voice Over IP (VOIP) phone system success by the parent company, Tech Services Group, which is an IT company. Splitting out the phone system work from the IT work performed by Tech Services Group made sense for the company and for its clients.

Tech Services Group was originally formed with the vision of managing all of the technology used by the typical modern office. That included computers, networks, phone systems, copiers, and anything else that makes your office productive.

While computers and such have become very important to running a business, the phone system is the critical human part. We all use it not only to give and get information, we interpret the other person’s voice and inflections as emotional indicators. We may not be able to see them but we can picture their responses in our minds and we change our own messages and actions accordingly.

The world is now not only going to digital telephony, it’s going to converged communications, a combination of synergistic technologies. VOIP phone systems are the backbone of that convergence. We saw the need for an IT company that understood the technology fundamentals to get the best out of those systems. Enter Select Phone Solutions as the experts in designing VOIP phone systems for SMBs, small and medium sized businesses.

Some new phone companies without IT experience can’t help a business coordinate their data networks with their phone system. A hardware salesperson can install a cookie cutter VOIP by reading manuals but they don’t know the underlying concepts of how to merge the capabilities of all the technologies an office needs and uses to provide a customized solution. They also don’t provide extensive technical support after the sale, except to refer you to an 800 number in Bangalore.

Select Phone Solutions inspects your:

  • cabling and can design and/or modify your infrastructure the right way the first time. Out with the CAT3 and in with CAT5e or CAT6 which are the current standards.
  • network capability to ensure that the VOIP phone system will work efficiently and effectively for crystal clear two-way conversations.
  • broadband service to see if you have sufficient bandwidth for your needs, if you should change to a T-1 line or add more of them.
  • office workflow to understand how your phone system should be setup to increase office productivity. We talk with the staff to learn what they do and how they do it.
  • service needs and fully customizes your VOIP phone system to fit your business, not the one down the street. After installation, we train the staff with a Lunch & Learn session.
  • technical support needs and arranges the level of service after the sale that fits your budget, your office time and your business, fully provided by Select Phone Solutions personnel in Houston.

Ask for your free phone system audit from Select Phone Solutions by calling 713-777-2400.

“Productivity Through Technology”

“Bad Phone Attitude is Bad for Business”

March 19, 2009

You are really busy at your desk. You have two or three deadlines to meet that day. Piles of papers are all over the place. You know that people are looking for you and you are avoiding them. The phone rings and you mean to say “Hi, this is Bob Jones with Basket Weavers R Us, can I help you?”, but it comes out “WHAT????” That’s attitude. We all try to stay away from attitude but it creeps into our lives. What we should strive to do is minimize attitude and present our normal cheery and professional business presence, especially on the telephone.

How easy is it to judge someone’s attitude on the phone? We all do it. Probably every day. It affects our conversations with coworkers, prospects, clients and family. What can we do to get away from attitude so that we can maximize our effectiveness on the phone? The first thing is to take away the stress that can be caused by being overwhelmed by your situation of the moment. The next is to make sure that using your phone is as easy as it can be, having features that are easy to understand when you need them.

Were you trained in how to use the phone features? A console full of buttons may not be easy to learn by yourself. Did your phone vendor take the time to show you how to use only the basics or did they make an effort to show the really cool stuff that can make you more productive? Did your vendor throw the phone on the desk at installation, see if you had dialtone, grab a check and was out the door? Are the controls and buttons confusing, which in turn makes you frustrated enough to develop a bad attitude?

If you are a business owner or an office manager, you need your staff to use the phone properly as the business tool that it really is. You know that it is a vital part of your business communications. You must have the staff able to use all the latest features and gadgets that enticed you to choose that phone system or you wasted your money. In the end, if the phone is used incorrectly through ignorance or attitude, it will cost you clients, productivity and money.

Select Phone Solutions believes that training the staff on how to use the new phone system is a critical part of the installation. A Lunch and Learn is always provided by Select Phone Solutions around installation time so that the entire staff can be trained the right way. Full user manuals are given to the point person in case they want to look up extra information on the system but everyone has the opportunity to learn the system. An online Phoneapedia is being developed as an extra aid to quickly resolve questions about a VOIP system.

Do you put up with poor performance from your phone system vendor? It may be time for the excellent care that is standard from Select Phone Solutions. Without it, our motto couldn’t work.