The 4 Cornerstones of Business Success

business-building, Business-building, Networking as a marketing strategy No Comments

In order for your business to succeed, it’s essential that you have an understanding of, and an appreciation for, the fundamentals of business. Having a passion about an idea is not enough. In fact, unbridled passion is one of the primary factors that can contribute to the premature demise of your business .

Successful entrepreneurs have been documenting the reasons for their positive results for hundreds of years. Adhering to these proven and yet time-tested business principles will not only guarantee your success, they will dramatically accelerate it. Adhere to these four cornerstones of business success:

The purpose of a business. One of the most common mistakes entrepreneurs make is to presume the ultimate purpose of their business. It’s NOT about sales. It’s NOT about profits. It’s Not about customer service, competition or collaborating with others. The singular purpose of a business, as defined by Peter Drucker, world renowned business expert for over 50 years, is to create new customers. Your primary mission as an entrepreneur and business owner, from the time you rise in the morning to the time you lay your head on your pillow at night, is to create new customers. Without them, everything else is irrelevant.

Marketing. Once you open the doors of your business (literally or figuratively), you must get the message into the marketplace. Marketing is the entire process that takes a product or service from concept to client. It encompasses every aspect of your business’ operation; from research to design to testing to manufacturing to client service. The fundamental premise regarding marketing, as it relates to a small business owner, is that it really only about two things: visibility and value. The success of your enterprise rest primarily on your ability to gain visibility in the marketplace (with right audience) and demonstrate the value your products or services represent.

Selling. Nothing ever gets accomplished in a business until a product is sold. Selling is a requirement for the success of your enterprise. There is no one who can speak to your value better than you. You are you best and most effective selling resource. The entrepreneurial graveyard is filled with owners who fought this reality and tried to abdicate this task to others. You must lead the charge about the value you represent. One of your most important tasks is to master the art of selling. Without it, you are doomed to mediocrity or failure. This one area can do more to catapult you in the success you want and need than any other factor.

Relationships. Success in business and in life is all about relationships. Read the biography of any successful business professional or entrepreneur and you’ll find that she/he attributes the vast majority of accomplishments on the ability to build and leverage relationships. If you’ve embraced your entrepreneurial dream for the long term (and I’m sure you have), make sure you incorporate a long term perspective and implement a three-step approach to relationship-building: based on an unshakable foundation of trust, built on mutual value and fueled by contribution to the success of others.

What can you do to anchor these cornerstones?
• Be unwavering in your commitment to creating new customers.
• Continually create new opportunities to be more visible to your highest-value markets.
• Get better at selling. Your success depends on this more than anything else.
• Build relationships with a long term perspective.

Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. Find out more about him and receive a complimentary copy of his ebook “Managing the Networking Experience” at

5 Secret Relationship Keys that Accelerate Small Business Success

building relationships, Business-building, Generating referrals, Networking as a marketing strategy, Networking for sales success No Comments

As a small business owner, it’s essential to recognize that, even in today’s wired economy, there is a simple solution that delivers all the elements of a successful small business marketing strategy. I said simple, not easy.

This secret strategy, simplistic as it sounds, is rooted in the most basic of business axioms: the majority of business success comes from, or through a small group of satisfied clients and helpful colleagues.

Your most valuable and valued asset as a small business owner, today more than ever, lies with the customers you have (or have had) and the professional relationships you cultivate. Implement these practical, proven strategies to better leverage relationships:

1. Over-deliver value to clients. Your clients make the ultimate commitment by sharing their hard-earned dollars in exchange for your product or service, in spite of all the choices they have. Ensure they walk away perceiving they received more value than they expected or anticipated. As well as being more confident about your relationship with them, you’ll be unleashing an all-too-often under-utilized resource that will have you standing above your competitors.

2. Leverage client relationships. Your clients represent your most powerful asset and your most productive resource. Confirm their satisfaction and collect client testimonials. Then, invest more time communicating with them to discover additional needs or requirements. Ask about their lives and what their interests are. By building your relationships with them, they will think of you first, even when bombarded with advertising about others.

3. Exploit the network effect. The majority of your “best” clients have similar traits and characteristics: where they live, what they do or what they like. Make it a point to ask about these important life categories. When you confirm one or a number these, check what groups or networks they belong to. This may represent a tremendous opportunity for you if you can access, then leverage this group of like-minded people. Why not ask to attend the next event they attend? What a perfect opportunity to get introduced to other like-minded individuals.

4. Invest in creating advocates. You have a network of partners and stakeholders who support and interact with you on a daily basis. Think in terms of your accountant, banker, professional colleagues or business neighbours. What have you done lately to incent these powerful resources to promote you to their contacts and networks? Referrals are reactive. Become the professional others think of first when it comes to your product/service, by contributing to their lives in some way. The principle of reciprocation is one of the powerful forces in the universe. Put it to work for you.

5. Focus on the five percent that matter. Research has consistently proven that a core network of relationships contribute the majority of our results in business and in life (roughly about five percent of your relationships). As a Small Business Owner, make it your mission to identify and nurture these high-value contacts. Once you’ve established who they are, make them a priority and invest more time, energy and resources to remind them of your value. Find a way to continually contribute to their success. They’ll be happy to refer to their family, friends and clients

Accelerate the success of your small business by:

• Confirming client satisfaction and collecting testimonials.

• Invest time to gain a greater insight into lives of your clients.

• Commit to asking about your clients’ networks and tap into these opportunities.

• Keep a written list of your highest-value relationships and invest in maintaining them.

Michael Hughes is known as Canada’s Networking Guru. Find out more about him at and download a complimentary copy of his 12-page ebook Managing the Networking Experience.

5 Guidelines to Maximize your Most Valuable Resource: Your Time.

business-building, Business-building, Guru thoughts on life, Job or career search No Comments

As an executive, business/sales professional or entrepreneur, your ability to manage and maximize the resources at your disposal will always dictate the success you achieve. This includes the people you come in contact with, the assets you have access to and, most of all, your personal productivity.

Time is a professional’s most valued and valuable resource. It is a constantly diminishing resource that is finite, measurable and unforgiving. Your ability to maximize its impact and minimize its constraints will dictate the results you achieve. Use these time management guidelines to increase your personal productivity:

Be prepared. A manager’s two important skills are to think and to plan. The more time you invest thinking about what’s important to success for both you and your enterprise, the more you will emphasize putting time and effort in those areas. In addition, the better your plan, the easier it will for you, and everyone else involved in your business environment, to know what activities will produce the highest return. A written plan is one of the most important time management tools you can create. Make it a point to think and plan every day.

Be strategic. Know the difference between being efficient and being effective. Being efficient is getting a lot done. Being effective, on the other hand, is ensuring that you get right things done to move your business  or career forward. Leadership, by its very nature, accepts there will never be enough time to get everything done. The key to professional success recognizes that focusing the most important and valuable tasks, and getting them accomplished, will always be enough. Your most questions should always be “what is the important thing I can do NOW to move my business or career forward?”

Be structured. As a business professional, especially in the early stages of your career or mandate, it’s common to get overwhelmed, then simply try to work harder as the tasks pile up. This strategy will only exacerbate the problem, adding anxiety and exhaustion to the mix. Develop the habit of creating a daily written task list and prioritizing each item relative to its importance and value to your personal and professional success. This will not only reinforce productive time use, it will also increase your confidence. If ever you feel uncertain or overwhelmed, simply find a quiet spot, and revise your list based on your current situation. This is one of the most powerful time management habits you can develop.

Be ruthless. Because you have accepted total responsible for your life, you are under constant time pressure. You must develop the skill and the discipline of being ruthless with your time while staying gracious with people. This is why being prepared, strategic and structured are important. They allow you to weigh a request for your time in the context of its value for you, your productivity and your professional outcomes. Accept that it will be necessary for you to say “no” to certain time requests. Prepare for this eventually by developing options that will minimize the negative impact. Replies like “looking at my schedule, I can’t see how I can do this”, or “check back with me tomorrow” can let you off the hook without damaging a relationship.

Be balanced. Entrepreneurship or management can be an all-consuming vocation. Before you know it, it can take over your life, sometimes at the expense of other equally-important life categories. Your life and your time require a holistic approach. The professional and personal areas of life are inter-dependent and inter-connected. Non-business areas like health, relationships and spirituality will always have an impact on your outcomes. For this reason, it is essential that you include all areas of your life in your time and priority management perspective.

The four cornerstones of effective time management.
1. Clarify your focus in your main life categories
2. Create a written plan that includes goals in all major life areas
3. Implement a daily prioritized action plan.
4. Review and revise your time management plan on an on-going basis.

Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To find out more about him, or have him share his wealth of knowledge at your meeting or event, visit

Networking Power Tips: Follow up – The Complete Recipe

building relationships, Building trust, business-building, Business-building, follow up, Uncategorized No Comments

The majority of entrepreneurs and business readily admit that they don’t follow up. In fact, surveys have confirmed up to 90% of people don’t follow up after a networking interaction. Yet, without following up, the spark created by the conversation will wither and die. There are three key components to a pro-active approach in following up and each has a contribution to make to overall success.

1. Preparing for Follow Up Success.  In order to gain maximum return of your follow up strategy, it is possible and necessary for you to prepare some areas of your upcoming networking interaction. This will make it easier for you to manage and lead the relationship-building process. Review these tactics to ensure you are properly prepared for following up.
Prepare your attitude. Appreciating that others want to meet positive, enthusiastic people is a key ingredient to follow up success. Develop and maintain a positive attitude about meeting others. Be sincere about finding out more about them and actively pursue how you can be of service to them.
Clarify your focus. Continually clarify your focus about who you want to meet and how you can bring them value. This will be extremely helpful in knowing who to follow up with. It will also be useful in allowing others to be helpful to you in more ways.
Practice your communication. You can facilitate follow up by preparing and practicing different parts of a conversation. Have an effective positioning statement and review three questions you can ask others to stimulate conversation and immediately begin building the relationship.

2. Maximizing an Initial Contact. Every person you meet has the potential to help you. Your mission is to discover how, even if this is not always obvious during an initial conversation. It may be necessary to create the opportunity to meet again. Check the following techniques and see how you can create more follow up during your initial communication with others.
Have a follow-up plan. Presume from your first moment of contact that you will want to follow up with this person. As your conversation continues and a need or issue arises, you can use a piece of information gathered earlier in the discussion to create a follow up contact. Look for common issues: Many times a networking discussion will uncover issues or interests that are common to both parties. This is an excellent reason to suggest a follow up meeting to explore the topic in more depth.
Expand a point of view. We all have a point of view, especially on topics that are important to us. Discovering what your conversation partner feels strongly about will perhaps allow you to suggest a follow up meeting to find out even more.
Enjoyable conversation. Sometimes we meet others and there is a strong connection. Compatible personalities often develop a powerful synergy. When you feel this synergy, suggest a follow up meeting. No other reason is necessary.
Interest in product/service. We are all consumers. As the discussion progresses, you may develop an interest in the other person’s product or service. When this happens, a follow up meeting becomes a natural extension to the networking conversation.
Specific information. Every conversation contains opportunities to help others. You will often find that you may have information that can be helpful. Sharing this information or suggesting a follow up contact to pass it on are excellent strategies to meet again.
Offer help. Nothing has more impact than a concrete action. Watch and listen for the other person’s pain and passion. Then find a way to offer help in either area. Simply offering is powerful but actually contributing to others will almost guarantee a follow up contact.

3. Managing On-Going Contact. A follow up contact creates an excellent opportunity. It confirms that the other person has perceived a value in your initial contact, and sees a benefit to meeting or communicating with you again. This is the step in the relationship process that is mishandled by most sales and business professionals. When you create, or are offered a follow up contact, use the strategies listed below to make sure you maximize all the benefits possible from a pro-active approach.
Genuine appreciation. One of the most powerful ways to maximize a follow up contact is to demonstrate your sincere appreciation for the opportunity being offered by the other person. Too often we take for granted the precious gift of another person’s time. Make it a point to acknowledge how much you appreciate their investment.
First of many steps. Relationships take time to develop and nurture. They require an investment of time, effort and energy. This normally happens over an extended period of time. By seeing your current contact as part of an on-going process you will resist the temptation to push yourself onto the other person.
Sincere curiosity. There is nothing more flattering than someone who is sincerely curious. Actively demonstrating that you are interested in the other person is one of the most effective ways to build trust and solidify a relationship.
Outward focus. Many people mistakenly try to use follow up as an opportunity to find more ways to convince others about their product or service. Follow up is an active part of relationship-building. Make this step a meaningful component by becoming a better listener and asking more questions.
Value. Use every conversation to discover new areas of value, for both yourself and the other person. Once you have discovered an area of need or a source of concern, you have created an opportunity to bring value. Find a way to help them solve a specific problem or achieve particular objective. This is where you can demonstrate the difference in your character and make the relationship even stronger.
Next contact. Each meeting or communication with a contact is a precious and powerful vehicle. As you dialogue with others, evaluate the conversations to elicit information, needs and issues. You will discover that others will want to meet with you again. Use each contact as a stepping-stone to the next phase in the relationship process.

These three components work together to stimulate and support the relationship process. When they are done sequentially and concurrently they build trust, establish value and set the foundation for mutual contribution; the ultimate reward of this investment. Which of these areas do you need to improve in the 30 days to accelerate your networking results?

Michael Hughes is known as North Amerrica’s Networking Guru. To find out more about him and receive a complimentary copy of his ebook “Managing The Networking Experience”, visit his web site at

12 Networking Hacks that Dramatically Drive Results.

building relationships, Business-building, follow up, Job or career search, Networking 101 - The Basics, Networking as a marketing strategy, Networking for sales success, networking tips No Comments

Networking is an activity that every professional is involved in, both formally and informally. How can you accelerate the results you want and need? Here are the top networking hacks you can use to help you minimize your effort and maximize your results.

1. Find the 5% that matter. Networking, in its purest form, is a strategic exercise. Knowing who to connect with allows you to zero in on the highest probability candidates for your product/service (about 5% of any network), allowing you to meet the right people by design as opposed to by default.

2. Be in the right circle. One of the biggest networking myths is that activity drives results. In reality, focus is the most effective factor in determining success. If you’re in the right network, you will eventually find people who want your product or service, even if networking isn’t your strength.

3. Use verbal judo. In martial arts, technique is more important than strength. It’s how a seemingly weak athlete can easily take down and submit a stronger opponent. You can do the same during a conversation by using “Tell me about…” It takes all the pressure off you and opens a conversational void most are happy to fill.

4. Cultivate this quality. One of the most powerful personal characteristics is sincere curiosity. It will separate you from the pack and help others perceive you as more personable and professional. It’s simple, but it isn’t easy. It takes intention, being in the moment and paying attention to a conversation partner.

5. Get the right ammo. Your key objective when networking is to get the other person’s contact info. It’s your most powerful ammunition to keep the relationship moving forward. Others anticipate and expect it, and will think you more professional for asking.

6. Find a link and leverage it. Even the briefest networking conversation can be converted into a relationship. All you need to do is listen better and ask more questions. Then, when you hear a topic or area that links you both, use it as a lever to re-connect and push the relationship forward.

7. Realize what others are really asking. Almost every networking conversation includes the question ”What do you do?” You need to realize that what the other person really wants to know is your value, not your life story. Prepare a 15-word elevator pitch that communicates your target market, primary benefit and the results you provide.

8. Cut to the chase. Most professionals have no idea how to communicate their value. Many will ramble incoherently about information that only confuses and annoys. You can bypass this whole issue by asking “Who are you looking to connect with?” It immediately unlocks the right info.

9. Eliminate the rejection factor. The single biggest business-related networking issue is failure to follow up. In fact, over 90% of professionals say they do no follow up (mostly due to fear of rejection). Minimize this effect by asking “Can I follow up?” before the conversation ends.

10. Shorten the leash. While networking can ignite a relationship, it cannot sustain one. On-going contact does that. That’s why following up is crucial. The sooner you re-connect with a conversation partner (ideally within 6-12 hours), the easier the relationship process will accelerate.

11. Hedge your bets. It is a fact that not every person you meet will do hire, refer or do business with you. However, if you can discover a way to contribute to their business life, they will remember you and work on your behalf. Use the five minute rule to help you take action when you see an opportunity to contribute: If it can be done in five minutes, do it now.

12. Take the long view. Relationships take time, need to be nurtured and require investment. Commit to growing a relationship for 90 days without expectation of reward. Then evaluate your situation and either re-commit or cut bait.

Remember: Networking is a skill-based activity. These twelve hacks can help you accelerate your networking success, but they also involve skills that take time to develop. Which one should you work on this week to drive your networking results?

Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To get more info about his services or to have him speak at your next meeting or conference, visit his web site at


8 Guidelines on Receiving Feedback from Others.

Building trust, Business-building, Miscellaneous, Networking as a marketing strategy, Networking for sales success, networking tips No Comments

As an professional, entrepreneur or executive, one of your characteristics should be a willingness to grow and learn. One of the best ways to do this is through feedback from others. This information could be a response to your specific request or through unsolicited comments.

The problem with feedback is that it is subjective, carrying both the opinion and perspective of the other person. Sometimes, it can be difficult to hear comments from others and keep an open mind, even though you know you should. Use these feedback guidelines to help keep you focused and positive:

1.Become more objective. Every person has her/his opinion about any topic. It’s important to recognize that statements and comments in a conversation are usually made in a general context. Try not to become too emotionally involved in the comments of others, especially when they refer to issues that affect you.

2. Don’t ask if you don’t want to know. Sometimes we ask for feedback, yet aren’t psychologically or emotionally prepared to deal with the information. Recognize that if you ask for feedback you’ll get it, and it may not be something you will enjoy.

3. Listen. When others offer their opinion or perspective, have the courage and the courtesy to listen to their complete response. Remember that they’re giving you the benefit of their view of the situation, event or discussion. Listen to learn by appreciating the information you are receiving.

4. Say thank you. No matter what the comments are, offer a sincere “thank you” when your conversation partner has finished. This allows you to acknowledge the other person’s remarks without committing you to accept them. This neutral response also allows you time to review and assess the information received before commenting.

5. Dig deeper. One last important point in dealing with feedback is to expand your understanding of the other person’s comments. The two biggest barriers to effective communication are perception and semantics. Eliminate both by asking follow up questions to clarify your understanding of the information offered.

6. Review their qualifications. Before responding to feedback, invest a moment to review the qualifications of the individual making the statement. Ask yourself how qualified they are to make such a remark on this topic. This may allow you to immediately disqualify their words as mere conversation instead of taking them seriously.

7. Question their intent. When receiving feedback, it’s extremely important to assess the intent of the other person. Were their remarks intended to be helpful or hurtful? This simple question can go a long way towards helping you gauge the value of the information shared by your conversation partner.

8. The three feedback questions to ask yourself:
1. Am I prepared to accept feedback at this time? (say thank you anyway)
2. What are this person’s qualifications to offer feedback on this area?
3. What is this person’s intent in offering feedback (to be helpful or hurtful)

Every conversation, presentation or discussion is an opportunity to learn and grow. Are you investing in yourself by having the courage to ask for feedback? Most people will appreciate being asked. Are you looking for more support in this area? Email me at Let’s chat. I can help.

Michael Hughes is known as THE Networking Guru. To find out more about him and receive a complimentary copy of his ebook “Managing the Networking Experience,” visit his web site at


11 Ways to Develop Business at Social Events

Uncategorized No Comments

You’ve been invited to an event. It will include a number of friends and colleagues, along with their spouses. As well, you know there will be professionals from the business community, some of whom could well be prospects for your services.

We have all had occasion to attend a social function. As a business owner, you carry your business hat with you everywhere you go. After all, who knows where the next potential business opportunity will arise? It is always difficult to know how to handle this. Check out the tips below on how to manage a social event for best results:

1.Enjoy the experience. When you’re invited to a social function, focus on enjoying the evening. This is an opportunity to meet friends and enjoy life, so don’t expect to use this as an opportunity to directly promote business.

2. Develop relationships. Remember that every new contact, even in a social context, is an opportunity to demonstrate your professionalism, integrity and respect for others. Be on your best behavior as you enjoy the event.

3. What about business? Seek to develop relationships from a personal perspective. Stay away from business topics unless they evolve as a natural part of the conversation. At that point you can briefly discuss business and quickly move back to a social atmosphere.

4. Communicate effectively. Make your business communication more effective by having a short statement that identifies your target market, the top benefit of your product/service and the result of doing business with you.

5. When they want to talk business. If a conversation partner wants to move to a more serious business discussion while at a social event, suggest you get together after or the next day. This takes the pressure off and allows both of you to relax.

6. When you want to talk business. You will identify qualified prospects as part of your social contacts. Do not try to solidify a business relationship while at a social function. Rather, use this as an opportunity to develop the relationship and follow up later.

7. Creating a follow up opportunity. As the evening or event continues and your relationship develops, you will find that opportunities arise to suggest a follow up contact. You can then easily get or give a phone number and confirm a time.

8. Be pro-active. If a business opportunity does arise through your social atmosphere, don’t hesitate to follow up. Many successful business transactions have been the result of a social contact. Follow up within 48 hours for maximum benefit.

9. Don’t presume. One of the most common mistakes in following up after a social contact is to presume that the other person has agreed to buy. Reality is that she/he probably needs more information. Be prepared for this by linking back to your conversation and their interest before diving into a sales presentation.

10. Leverage personal contacts. The trust and rapport generated from a social contact can greatly enhance your business potential, but don’t expect that this will automatically lead you to doing business. be prepared to keep the relationship growing until the business component evolves as a natural extension.

11. The three secrets to leveraging a social contact :
• Make the conversation meaningful and memorable.
• Confirm the reason for following up.
• Re-connect within 24 hours

Remember we buy people first, ideas next and things last. Making your social experience more personal and your conversation more personable will always be a precursor to building your business and accelerating your professional success.

Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To find out more about him and receive a complimentary copy of his ebook “Managing The Networking Experience”, visit his web site at




Networking Power Tip: 9 Ways to Demonstrate a Positive Attitude

Uncategorized No Comments

Some networking conversations stay with you long after you’ve left the event. There’s that one person who left you feeling great and exuded positive energy. It’s a feeling that stayed with you and made you remember them, even days after your initial contact.

A positive attitude is much more a developed skill than a quality. The most successful people always seem to exude positive vibrations. want to know how you can have the ability to have other remember with fond memories? Here are some tips to help you demonstrate a positive attitude.

1.Accept the discipline of a positive attitude. Feeling and acting positive is a personal habit. Commit today to becoming a person who reflects positive energy no matter what your situation or circumstances.

2. Develop the skills of a positive attitude. Everyone likes to be around someone who has a positive outlook. By being positive, you will naturally attract others and make them want to spend more time with you.

3. Keep your smile up front at all times. A genuine smile literally radiates a positive attitude. Too many people get overcome by the stress of networking and forget how much their face tells others.

4. Have good news to tell others. Keep a list of good news to share with others. We are bombarded with negative news on a continuous basis. We all need more good news and injecting good news is a positive force.

5. Ask others for good news. Everyone has some good news to talk about. When you ask others to tell you about theirs, they will associate the good feelings that come up with you.

6. Try to find the good in bad news. Many people are negative and unhappy. You can help them by taking a bad news story and finding the positive side. People want to spend more time with someone who can find the silver lining in his or her dark cloud.

7. Be a problem solver. We tend to focus on the negative but really enjoy talking about the positive. When someone presents a problem, try to help him or her find a solution. In many cases you will lift their spirits and sometimes you may even help them solve it.

8. Empathize don’t sympathize. When someone presents a negative situation, we have a tendency to sympathize and stay focused on it. Empathize by listening, but don’t let it dominate. Look for a solution or a positive aspect to the situation, or move to another topic.

9. Laugh a lot. Having an easy laugh means you take life in a positive way. Others willwant to be around you because you generate positive feelings with you happy nature. Laugh more often and others will want to spend more time with you.

Having a positive attitude is a choice. Are you choosing to make others feel better for having spent time with you? It’s a skill that that only requires a small investment, yet will pay enormous dividends.

Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To get more info about his services or to have him speak at your next meeting or conference, visit his web site at

6 Little-Known Chamber of Commerce Member Myths & Facts

Uncategorized No Comments

In the early stages of my business, I came to realize that a steady stream of new prospects was a requirement for business success. By extension, I accepted the need to network. As I researched the most effective networking organizations, I quickly recognized the Chamber of Commerce as an ideal business-building vehicle.

Not only was it the largest networking group in the region, but I could attend a number of events in a month and meet different people. Quite frankly, at this point in my business evolution, I wasn’t thinking any further than this. After over 15 years of involvement, here are some insights that may be helpful to you.

FACT: History – default business network.  The Chamber of Commerce (and its sister organization, Board of Trade) concept has been in place for hundreds of years. Its original purpose was as a “local organization of businesses whose goal is to further the interests of businesses”, advocating on behalf of members in a multitude of areas.

It is recognized as the most respected business network in any community. In fact, in many smaller towns and cities, the Chamber of Commerce is the default business network, and joining the Chamber is a required step for every new business. More often than not, it is the largest business network in a region or community.

As a Chamber of Commerce member, you instantly leverage its years of organizational credibility, integrity and respect. A Chamber of Commerce membership carries with it instant credibility as a business person. You are immediately perceived as more professional and competent.

FACT: Opportunity – access to pre-qualified market sectors.  The Chamber of Commerce acts as a magnet for business. Its varied membership allows access to a number of markets with one investment. Because it appeals to such a broad base of businesses, it offers an almost unlimited basket of prospects over a longer period of time.

The Chamber of Commerce’s multi-pronged approach to supporting business means that you will naturally have more options to connect with other business owners or corporate professionals. Because it spans the entire spectrum of business involvement, it automatically creates additional opportunities to showcase or promote the talents, skills or value you have to offer.

One of the negative issues with more concentrated referral groups is that as your business grows, you can lose relevance. One of the Chamber’s most important benefits is that it can act as a marketing vehicle over a longer period of time as your business evolves and grows, leveraging your personal and professional credibility to new prospects and expanded market segments.

FACT: Member breakdown.  The Chamber of Commerce is, by its nature, a community of small business owners. In fact, the majority of Chamber of Commerce members are consistently in the small business category (less than 20 employees). This means that if you want to do business with this demographic, the smartest thing you can do is become a member and leverage its power and potential.

Even though small business makes up the majority of members, every Chamber has a nucleus of larger companies that see benefit of Chamber membership. There could be any number of reasons for this: being part of the Chamber’s advocacy role, targeting small business or good corporate citizenship.

The key point to remember here is that Chamber of Commerce membership can be used to target selected larger companies that are part of, or associated with, the Chamber’s membership or mandate. In fact, the Chamber can offer incredible opportunities for building relationships with these bigger member-companies.

MYTH: Beware the sense of entitlement. One of the most common mistakes made by business owners or professionals is to presume that Chamber of Commerce membership equals results. Too often, the decision to join is made with the mistaken assumption that the registration fee will automatically make the phone ring, cause others to beat a path to your door and make the cash register ring. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Chamber of Commerce represents a wealth of options and opportunities. Joining the Chamber is the first step; it’s the price of admission. Without your willingness and commitment to become involved, the investment will be wasted. Membership carries with it the requirement to participate, allowing others to become aware of the value your represent and the benefits your products or service provide.

MYTH: instant clients and referrals. One of the fastest ways to destroy personal and professional credibility is to presume that your Chamber of Commerce membership includes an automatic gateway to clients and referrals.

Some new members misconstrue that others will buy from them or refer them to their clients, simply because of the Chamber connection. There’s a huge gap between professional courtesy and permission to buy. Remember this as you connect with other Chamber members.

MYTH: Membership buys personal credibility. Your Chamber of Commerce membership pre-supposes both professionalism and integrity but, like an introduction, it buys you short-term credibility. There is no question that you will be well-received by other Chamber of Commerce members when you approach or contact them, but the rules of business still apply.

We buy from people we know, like and trust. We refer professionals we know have value. Building relationships is still the single most effective business-building strategy. The Chamber of Commerce provides environment and opportunity. You must prove your worth, one conversation, one member and one relationship at a time.

Do you want more info an how to better leverage your Chamber of Commerce membership? Email me at with “Chamber” in the subject line to receive a complimentary copy of my Ultimate Chamber of Commerce Member’s Success Guide ebook.

Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To find out more about him or have him speak at your next conference or meeting, visit his web site at




5 Ways to Overcome Adversity.

Uncategorized No Comments

Every entrepreneur encounters adversity. It’s an inevitable part of the risk-reward equation that comes with this career choice. The question is not if you will face adversity, it is how you face and overcome it.

Adversity comes in any number of ways: an unexpected downturn in the economy, a business decision that doesn’t pan out or some external factor that negatively impacts your enterprise’s operation. Use these proven strategies to effectively deal with adversity:

1.Re-visit your passion. Adversity, whatever form it arrives in, usually brings with it a huge emotional impact. It can stop you dead in your tracks. Its partners are frustration, anger and denial, any of which can lead to a negative spiral. When you sense these emotions taking over, take a step back. Think about your reasons for becoming an entrepreneur. Review the steps you have accomplished so far. Remind yourself of the success you have achieved. Above all, put the current situation into its proper perspective: another issue to deal with on your path to success. Re-build your courage and your commitment. This is what entrepreneurship is all about.

2. Face the facts. As a business owner you have a bias for action, but continuing to implement ideas or activities that aren’t producing desired results is a recipe for disaster. One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. Is your business achieving its desired outcomes? If not, why? No matter the cause, being aware of both expected and actual results is the starting point of dealing with adversity. Getting to the facts, rather than avoiding reality, is the first step to overcoming adversity.

3. Clarify your situation. Less than stellar results can come from any number of business-related issues, areas or factors. They can stem from specific impact points. You need to clearly and objectively identify the source of the problem(s). Is this an external factor you had no control over? Is this an internal area that hasn’t worked out as planned? Is this a business decision, made with the best of intentions, that hasn’t worked as anticipated? Adversity often arrives as a huge wall that overwhelms and incapacitates. Work your way back, focusing on the individual criteria that created the situation. Focus brings clarity, clarity creates direction, direction fuels action.

4. Revise your plan. Determining a fact-based perspective is the single biggest step in overcoming adversity. Re-visiting your business plan and revising it to accommodate your current situation allows you to become more objective about the requirements for future success. Once your situation and its options have been set to paper, you can focus on the required actions or resources. This new tool acts as a barometer for current conditions, feeds your confidence and can be shared with others to gain input and feedback. Adversity is an indicator of a need for change. Confirming what you need to change, clarifying it as part of your plan and committing to positive action will dissipate adversity’s impact.

5. Redouble your efforts. Now that you have dealt with adversity’s emotional impact, clarified the realities of your situation and the reasons for it, and revised your plan to accommodate your current and future needs, it’s time to get to work. Adversity will always be a part of your entrepreneurial environment. Focused activity that uses adversity as part of gaining experience will always re-build confidence and accelerate results.

NOTE: Use adversity to your advantage by:
• Not wasting time and effort on its emotional content.
• Focusing on the facts of your adversity.
• Improving your planning.
• Committing to results-focused action.

Are you dealing with adversity? You are not alone. Let’s talk. Email me at with “adversity” in the subject line. I can help.

Michael Hughes is known as THE Networking Guru. To find out more about him and receive a complimentary copy of his ebook “Managing the Networking Experience,” visit his web site at

« Previous Entries Next Entries »

Bottom of Page