Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Learn who you are: Turn "them" into your recruits, customers, and partners

Sometimes networking feels like there are a lot of "them" but not a lot of us. I'm seeking to build a model that creates more of "us" and turns "them" into our recruits, customers, and partners.

Yesterday I wrote about meetups and talked about the importance of having role clarity.  The different roles I discussed yesterday as being involved in a "business services" meetup are:
  1. Entre-ployee
  2. B2B Service Provider - be this
  3. Business representative - be this
  4. Self - be this
  5. Non-B2B Business Representative
Today I'd like to add the following roles to the list:

  • Employee
  • Contractors and consultants - be this
  • Job Seeker
The employee is an important role of course.  The entre-ployee is an employee and many business representatives are employees as well, but not necessarily.  Owners are not typically employees but might sometimes be.

Contractors are an interesting breed.  They are B2B service providers but may think of themselves more like employees; it just depends.

Job Seeekers are another interesting dynamic in the crowd.  They are "looking" and might need to find something.  They are similar to the B2B Service Providers in that they are looking.

Together these roles  make up our model and network.  Understanding each of their types and needs helps us navigate in this maze.  Identifying the roles that we do and do not play or desire to play is also a part of this dynamic.  

Setting our objective on being business services professionals we must exemplify business representatives, B2B Service Providers, ourselves, and contractors/consultants.  Really, we are sales people who are confident and not stuck in a system or brought down by our employment.  

The other roles of entre-ployee, employee, job seeker, and non-B2B Business Representative are also important and we may want to see them as our customers, partners, and potential associates.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Zen and the Art of Meeting Up for Professional Business Networking

Finding harmony in disparate but connected roles within the AppsJack Business Services Meetups.

I've written several times recently about the AppsJack Business Services Meetups and continue to put thought into the goals, purposes, and capabilities of these things.  Part of me wants them to be exclusive meaning they'll only involve the right people and no riff-raff will be there.  Another part of  me wants them to be inclusive and harmonious meaning that they're great and powerful for those who attend.  So, then, how can this community and these events be both exclusive to the right people and inclusive as to individuals needs?  Seems oxymoronic but the answer lies in role clarity.  I'll explain.

Renshi's Performance Blog defines role clarity as "everyone in the company understanding their role and why they are doing it."  I see this as a major part of what I have to do with these meetups.  The primary roles involved in the meetups are:

  1. Entre-ployee - People working at a place where they're kinda bored and looking for something more. They're not really representing this company, but more themselves as an entrepreneur, consultant, adviser or service provider.
  2. B2B Service Provider - These are people whose primary business is providing products or services *to* businesses, such as an attorney, software sales  person, consultant, or project manager.  Their market = businesses.  
  3. Business representative - These are people who represent businesses.  The Entre-ployee sometimes plays this role but sometimes does not.  
  4. Self - Sometimes you're just representing yourself.
  5. Non-B2B Business Representative - These are people who work for or represent a business whose primary customer is NOT businesses.  For example, they're dentists, hair stylists, or dog-walkers.  They do not sell directly to businesses typically.
So within these roles five roles, how do we gain clarity?  I think that's the issue that we need to address with the meetups and through dialog on the blog and in our communities.  Why does each role exist?  What are their specific needs?  Where are there synergies?  What are the capabilities of each?  How can they help each other create new opportunities without destroying existing ones?  How can they protect and help one another?  How can they act cooperatively rather than competitively when possible?  

These are the issues we'll be discussing within these meetups as they take off.  What are your thoughts?

Fixing the local food supply chain

Beefs: they're what's for dinner!

How I got interested in food supply.  My dad and his family have raised grass-fed Angus beef for slaughter since the 1940s.  I grew up on the farm where I stepped in doody, drove the tractor, and helped with the hay and feeding.  As I got older and moved away I was still interested in the operations and for graduate school did a project on the price of beef that helped my dad reduce costs and gross more through better practices and marketing.  The operation is still small and more of a hobby than anything--about 75 head of animals--but it's a fun one to monitor.  I like the scientific, dynamic, and operational natures of it.

Why not make a career out of it? The project of studying the beefs in grad school was fun and I've recently started thinking more of food-related business opportunities.  I thought, "Why not pursue one: I love food and why not make a career or at least a project out of it!?"  My mom has co-authored  two cookbooks and write a blog on French Dip Reviews so why not keep up with the trend?!

There's some cool stuff out there already.  I recently discovered a service called 5 Dinners in 1 Hour and have been quite happy as a user of it since January.  It's been a fast, reliable way for my wife and I to get good quality, reasonably healthy home-cooked meals throughout the week.  Briefly, with 5Dinners, you pay to get a weekly menu including the recipes, shopping list and recipes that you shop for and cook...but rapidly.  The dishes are chosen to be efficient to:
  • Choose (she chooses then for you), 
  • Shop for (she lays out the ingredients by aisle in the store), 
  • Prepare (she tells you what you'll need and what to do) and to 
  • Cook (she makes it so you "stage" everything in the refrigerator and can get out ready-to-cook items when it's time).
But it's just not good enough yet.  I really like the service overall but when I think about it I am disappointed that it is not more automated. For example, if I go to Amazon Fresh (which we do indeed have in my locale), I can browse recipes and then easily add items to my cart and they'll appear at my doorstep soon thereafter.  This is a good start but still not an integrated solution like the one I'm seeking.  What I want is 

an integrated, end-to-end solution for people who want to get good, locally-sourced where possible, 
home-cooked food fast and play a specified role in the delivery process

Let me parse this out for us.  "An integrated, end-to-end solution" to me means that it's software based, automated or some kind of cool, designed, customer experience with their needs in mind and not just a "niche play".  It's more of a platform or strategy, for example.  "For people who want to get good, locally-sourced where possible, home-cooked food fast" means to me that they care about good food, not just food or Doritos, locally-sources--they care about local suppliers for example, home-cooked meaning it's not done in too large of a batch or a true industrial output, and fast meaning that they don't have a ton of time to dedicate to the overall process.  "and play a specified role in the delivery process" means that they care and we as providers need to inquire with them as to what they need and want and prefer. 

Let's get involved.  We need to design a service or set of services around this premise and get going now.  Please let me know your thoughts and ideas.  Thanks!

Friday, March 14, 2014

A safe platform for entre-ployees: AppsJack Business Services Meetups

Letting employees pursue opportunities (safely) while working helps build the economy.  Here's how.

I've been thinking a lot lately about my desire to form a growing community of employees looking for "more" (excitement, opportunities, income) and mixing them with B2B service providers who are also looking for more.  I'm calling this the AppsJack Business Services Meetup.  I feel like these two groups can benefit each other in a few obvious ways if given a chance...and I'm trying to create that chance.

The employees want more income, more flexibility,  more freedom, and more growth.  For the employees participating in the group they get to meet new people, get help thinking about how to "sell" more change and things internally to their employers, and potentially get attached to fun projects and paid "finder's fee" projects that can result in passive income, helping these employees build their war chest and ability to leave their golden-handcuff situation.  The employees fear: getting bored, not making enough, being bored, being in a dead-end job forever, never realizing their dreams or full potential.

The B2B services professionals want more income, clients, capabilities, ideas, partners and freedom.  From the group they get to meet people within their target market, talk about strategies for selling within, and network with solid professionals who can advise on their businesses and help them think of and connect to new opportunities.  The B2B professionals fear: going out of business, not having enough leads, not being good enough or competitive enough, not having enough business, losing business.

Getting these people together is a win-win situation and further developing processes and services around helping them mix will be good for economic development.  Let's watch it happen!