Most Imporant Questions

What are the six most important questions in business?

Like journalism, the six most important questions in business are who, what, where, when, why and how.  It is important for you to ask them, but it is more important for you to answer them.

Recently I received an e-mail regarding a volunteer committee am on.  The e-mail was regarding an event.  It simply had the event name and date.  Only two of the six questions were answered.  And, when publicizing an event, wouldn’t it be nice to know a little more about it?  Such as, “Where is it?”  “Who can attend?”  “Why are they having the event?”, etc.

So it is with communicating to your customers.  Always keep in mind these six questions.

Like journalism, tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you’ve told them.  Repeating information three times helps it stick.  After you’ve answered these six questions, answer them again and again.  Oh, I don’t mean for your to repeat yourself, but it might be done in this way:  (1) you tell them over the phone, (2) you tell them in your face-to-face meeting, and (3) you tell them in a follow-up e-mail.

What are those six questions?

Who, what, where, when, why and how.

Let’s practice.  I would like to invite you to our Rochester Referral Network Meetings (just answered who).  We are a group of professionals and business owners that meet weekly to exchange well-qualified referrals (just answered what).  We meet at the Back Nine Grill on 31F, 3500 East Ave, in Rochester.  It’s just down the road from St. John Fisher College (just answered where).  We meet every Wednesday at 11:30am (sharp) and we’re done by 1pm (there’s the when).  This is a great way to get new business and clients through our referral sharing system (that’s why).  We do this by going around the table and each member tells about their business and the type of referral they are looking for.  Then, after a short presentation by one of our members, we go around the table again and everyone is given a chance to present referrals to fellow members (and there’s the how).

Any questions?

D. Brent Walton is author of the book 25 Things Business Owners Do To Undermine Their Business and How to Avoid and Correct Them (ISBN-13: 978-1620390047, available on and presents the education piece at Rochester Referral Network meetings.


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What is credibility all about, and how does it apply to my business?

There are several layers of credibility surrounding your business, and let’s list and describe them.

Financing – If your business has a credit card or a bank loan, the bank finds you have credibility and that’s why they loaned you money.

Suppliers – Suppliers find you have credibility if they will accept a purchase order and ship you the goods while they wait for your payment.

Business-to-business – Other businesses give you credibility as they do business with you.  They trust you will deliver a reliable product or service.

Peers – Your peers give you credibility by asking your advice and trying to emulate your business and practices.

Clients – Your clients give you credibility by paying you for goods or services.

You credibility can be effected by something as small as giving a client a thank you gift.  The right gift will keep them coming back, whereas the wrong gift can make them think you are insincere.  Jeffrey Gittomer gives an example of how he gets to know the customer a little before sending a thank you gift.  The example he uses is if a couple has small children, rather than giving a bottle of wine, he gives them children’s books.  Make sure your gifts improve your credibility.

D. Brent Walton is owner of photography by db walton and author of 25 Things Business Owners Do To Undermine Their Business and How to Avoid and Correct Them (available at  Walton is one of several members of the Rochester Referral Networker.  His business web site is

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Get Connected

Get Connected

Our networking group is great for face-to-face connections.  We live in an electronically connected world, and it is important for businesses to be electronically connected too.  To do that, here are a few suggestions:

  • Connect to fellow Roc Ref Net members on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter – Like, Connect, and Follow
  • Where possible, share links on your web pages.  This increases S.E.O. (Search Engine Optimization) and means there is a higher chance your business will be noticed through on-line searches using Google, Bing and other organic search engines.
  • Go to fellow Roc Ref Net members web sites and familiarize yourself with it.

Remember, givers gain.  Connectors, Likers and Followers get more hits.

So, get connected.  You’re bottom-line will thank you.

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Three Commandments of a Referral Network

Three Commandments of a Referral Network

In case you missed our meeting today, our educational moment dealt with our referral section of our meeting.  It is important to keep it positive.  Yes, kudos to the speaker are nice, testimonials about  members you have done business with are nicer, testimonials from other clients even nicer, but referrals are the tops.

Here are Three Commandments of a Successful Referral Network:

  1. Be Loyal – Be loyal to the group by considering them the premier business in their field.  Show your loyalty by giving them referrals — even if it is a self-referral.  Self-referrals are a good way to learn about the other business.  Nothing is better than a satisfied customer.  Become customers wherever possible of members of the group.
  2. Be Trustworthy – When you receive a referral from a fellow network member, they trust that you will follow up.  They trust you will provide a great product or service.  They trust you will treat their referral as a golden client.
  3. Be Positive – Strike from your vocabulary, “I don’t have any referrals this week.”  If you do not have someone to refer, say something positive instead like, “I hope to have a referral for so-n-so next week,” or “Right now this is just a lead, but I’d like to talk to so-n-so about it after the meeting to see how I can turn it in to a referral.”

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Your 60-Second Presentation

Many of you may have heard about “Elevator Speeches”. An elevator speech relates to the concept of being in an elevator and being asked, “So, what do you do for a living?” The concept is you have about 30 seconds to sell yourself.

Here’s a not so effective example:

Person: What do you do for a living?
Me: I’m a photographer.

BUZZ! Wrong response. It doesn’t engage the person asking.

Here’s a better example:

Person: What do you do for a living?
Me: You know those photography studios that send you a coupon for a so-called free 8×10?
Note, I’ve already engaged the person!
Person: Yeah, I get those in the mail all the time.
Me: Well, I have a photography studio and we are not one of those types of studios who bait-n-switch.
Note, I’ve already established the type of business I run.

At this point, the elevator is getting close to its destination, and I’ve peeked their curiosity, so I slip them my card and say, “Our motto is that we capture the beauty in everyone. Give us a call if you’d like a good studio experience.”

Likewise, your 60-seconds should be engaging, to the point, and less than 60-seconds.

Here are examples of how we can learn from the pros in TV advertising. Complete the blank….

15 minutes can save you ____________ on your car insurance. (GEICO)
It’s not ___________________. Better is better. (AT&T)
People hang on his every word, even the prepositions…. He is the most _______________ man in the world. (Dos Equis)

Please don’t ramble during your presentation. If you find yourself stuck, just skip to your closing statement or tag-line and end it. Never say, “I’m not sure what to say”, or “I’m not prepared today.” (If you’re not prepared, it will show.) Please don’t use your 60-seconds to editorialize. This is your chance to win some business. Use it wisely.

Also, don’t use your 60-seconds to give testimonials for other businesses. When appropriate, you can do that when sharing referrals. And, they are most effective when a testimonial is given in conjunction with a referral. Example: I want every one to know I had a great experience at Bob’s dealership, and so I’m referring my brother-in-law who is looking for a new car. The two together adds emphasis to your relationship with Bob’s business.

Suggestions for making your 60-seconds work for you.

  1. Prepare. Prepare the night before the meeting.
  2. Practice. Practice saying it and timing it. If you have a hard time with words, write it down, memorize it, but don’t read it. Set up a video camera and stand in front of it and give your 60-seconds, and then watch it. Do this until you like what YOU see. You are your own worst critique, so if you get to where you like it, others will like it too.
  3. Ask. Ask and ye shall receive. Always ASK for what you want. Examples: I want referrals for people who have just moved to a new home? Or, this week, I need people who just had a try limb break. Etc.
  4. Tell. Tell us why we should refer you.
  5. Give. Give them something they will want to share with their friends. (Discounts, coupons, gifts, etc.)
  6. Be positive. Be positive and confident that your peers want to give you a referral.
  7. Be creative. This is hard for most, but come up with a gimmick if you can. Watch some TV commercials and see how they use gimmicks to help you remember them. Wear a silly hat, or a costume, or bring a funny prop that will help others remember you.

Your 60-seconds is yours. Sell yourself.

written by D. Brent Walton, author of 25 Things Business Owners do to Undermine Their Businesses and How to Avoid and Correct Them.

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Roc Referral Happy Hour September 26!

Roc Referral Network will be having an open networking event at the Back Nine Bar & Grill! Join us to meet other motivated professionals that are looking to build their businesses and energize careers!

Thursday, September 26
6 -8 pm
Back Nine Bar & Grill


Where should you network & advertise? It could be the same place now. has a great article and infographic that shows the statistics behind the online presence of men and women on the most popular social sites. Take a look below and draw your own conclusions. See the full article here.

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