Monthly Archives: September 2007

Network, Network, Network

It wasn’t just about the people who came to our booth and were interested in hiring us. That was really only a small part of the value we received from purchasing a booth at a state-wide business event. I went in with expectations of more than just one advantage, which allowed me to gain a great deal from the event that went far beyond those few potential contracts.

Networking is all about getting to know people, building relationships, and reciprocity. If you have something of value, people will recommend it, but only if they trust you to deliver. Trade events are a good place to meet people who may be interested in what you have. But they can also benefit you in other ways, depending on what your goals are.

You can meet up with people who might be considered your competitors. If you shun them, and treat them like the enemy, you’ve just cut off a potential advantage. If you get to know them, and learn the differences between what you do, and what they do, you may find that cooperation is possible, in a way that benefits you both. For example, two other web design companies at the first event were happy to take our card, with the intent of passing on referrals. They wanted big contracts. We wanted the small ones. We can help one another.

Those two benefits – potential clients, and potential cooperations, are two benefits that nearly every business can gain from networking, and from event participation. There is a third, which will benefit a business if they have goals that go beyond their own business. If you want to change the world, one more benefit is possible.

You can meet people who have the power to help you gain credibility to achieve great things. I’m not a power pusher. I don’t get into the games involving scratching and clawing my way to the top. But I do understand now how knowing the right people can help your business in ways you never dreamed.

I’m trying to define a new niche industry. To do that, I have a two-pronged approach to my business. It includes both DOING the job, in a service business, and TEACHING the job, in an educational environment. To teach it, I need more credibility than I do to just DO it. People with power can help me do that, and can help to grant me the credibility I need. They can refer me, put me in a position of being “the” expert to call on the topics I want to educate people about.

The events we attended did that, to a certain extent. We came to the notice of people who have an agenda of eliminating certain problems. The things we teach help to address some of those issues. In talking to them, once they finally understood the real difference in how we are approaching the industry, we were able to make an impression, and be remembered as the only people doing this one thing. Long term, that will benefit us. It already is on a local and regional basis.

No one else is going to build your business for you. They really don’t care whether you succeed or not, unless you are doing something that will benefit them also. People in power won’t want to help you unless it makes them look good too. You have to have your ducks in a row, you can’t just ride someone else’s coattails to the top. But if you DO have it together, and if you ARE willing to work hard at building a smart business, networking can help you succeed in ways you cannot predict.

The Intellectual Footprint of Your Business

She wasn’t getting it. I could tell that by the way she kept looking at me with this, “so… and this matters to me, why?” look on her face. It should have mattered to her, because my goal was to eliminate one of her problems.

All week I’ve been at trade shows, explaining what I do and where I am going, over and over. Some people get it right away. Some people don’t get it until you really tell them flat out, “I am not trying to just provide a service. I am trying to redefine an industry across the globe.” Then they begin to have a clue how big a thing I am trying to do.

I’ve decided to call it the “intellectual footprint”. And every business, or person, has one.

  • Consider Charles Dickens. What did he contribute to the world that was good?
  • Think about the safety pin. It forever redefined how we performed emergency clothing repairs.
  • The Frosty made people reconsider how they thought about ice cream in a cup.

Are you trying to build a business? Or are you trying to make an impact on more than just your little corner of the world? Why, exactly, are you IN business?

If you are out to change the world, are you documenting what you learn? Are you assembling a means of passing on what you learned to others who may want to follow in your footsteps?

Often, the real difference between someone who owns a business that serves a few people, and someone who owns a business that redefines the way a group of people think about something, is nothing more than the fact that one of them documented their knowledge, and shared the life-changing lessons that they learned. They left an intellectual footprint on the world.

How big are your shoes? Will people know where you’ve trod, not because of how loudly you yelled as you went by, but by what you shared that helped them to do what they do just a little better?

You have the capacity to change the world for good. How do you intend to do that?

Realizing a Dream

My class starts Monday, through the University of Wyoming. I am not TAKING the class, I am teaching it, through their outreach program. I am not a licensed teacher. I have no post-secondary education to speak of (well, a drama course I took at the local community college when I was in highschool, but I don’t think that counts!). So this is a cool thing for me, especially since I was originally approached by them to do a course in web design.

The class was not highly promoted, and we have just a few students taking it. The Outreach Coordinator called today to ask if I still wanted to do it, or if I thought there were too few students. I told him that I’d do it. It is a necessary step for me, I need the experience, and this opportunity will help me polish my courses and add value to them.

Besides, small classes are fun. With web design, when you are building an actual project, you can help the students in a more personal way. The lessons can be adapted to their specific needs instead of just generic. That is cool. They’ll get more out of it.

I’ve done a lot of teaching, but never something like this. I’ve done individual tutoring, and workshop presentations, and short classes. But this one is quite different. 12 classes, each one building on the next, and no supplied curriculum. I had to write it myself. Would have been an overwhelming task if I had not already had so much of it done.

I asked the Outreach Coordinator whether there were enough students to justify the class for the college. They said this class, they’d run anyway, because they do not have a web development degree program, or anyone who teaches it on campus. They want to offer this through the outreach department on a regular basis.

So now I just need to live up to their expectations. I know I have the ability, and the knowledge. I just have to be able to present it in an organized and understandable way.

And I know that I cannot do this without the help of the Lord.

Volunteering When You Don’t Have Time

Somehow I always seem to open my mouth and volunteer when I really DON’T have time to volunteer! But sometimes I just cannot let a job NOT be done.

We are in one of those phases where we have a lot of fish in the pool, sniffing the bait, but nobody is biting. Oh, we have several pending contracts, but we don’t really believe that the money is coming in until it gets here! Web Design is just like that.

I rebuilt my Carry to Term site about two months ago. Stuck it in Joomla. Seemed to have more potential that way, and better options for encouraging people to talk to us and ask for help and support. I stuck a forum in there. It has not been used yet.

A few days ago, a lady who contacted me when I was pregnant with Sidney did so again. She is finishing the book she started then. She’d like more ability to reach people who have received negative prenatal diagnoses too. So it appears that the site that I rebuilt will be needed and used. Kinda cool, since I had just come to the conclusion that I had a site that needed a network of people to run it, and she comes and says she has a network of people with no site to run. Pretty cool how God works those things out.

And then I volunteered to build her a blog and a new site framework to sell the book. I’m sure I’ll find the time to fit it in, but the painting job we are trying to finish just may suffer a bit!

Now, if I can just give away a few more websites… anyone out there ready to raise a hand and shout, “Pick me!”?

Two New Experiments

Well, after making the decision to rebuild Megafamilies and Natural Diabetics, I finally got the job done. The new sites are functioning well, and are two of the best sites I’ve built in a content management system. We’ll see where they go now, since they have the ability to handle much more visitor interaction than the previous structure.

Taking a site out of a static HTML structure and putting it into a CMS is complex. It involves setting up the CMS, then transferring the content in page by page. In this instance, I also had to restructure the site layout for the Diabetes site – it had grown too large for the original simple link structure.

Once that was done, and the site ready to launch, I had to set up redirects for every link – old page to new page. That was not hard, just tedious. But doing that means that when someone tries to visit one of the old pages, they’ll get sent to the new one instead.

Google income dropped slightly during the transition, then picked right back up again. We’ll see if it gets better or worse, and how the changes affect the traffic, and income.  I’ve changed sites before, but they have not been ones with strong traffic trends or AdSense earnings.

You can see the results at:, or

The Difference Between Privilege and Responsibility

His eyes lit up as the knife was held out to him. His first chance to use the knife to divide something. He eyed the pie carefully, considering how he could cut it into six pieces while still reserving the largest piece for himself. He poised the knife to cut, just a little off center, and then froze as he heard his mother utter these words:

“You have to take the smallest piece.”

Suddenly his entire goal shifted. From the goal of getting more, he now has the goal of being scrupulously accurate! He now has a responsibility to be fair, added to what he thought was merely a privilege! He considers more carefully, and checks all options before he makes the first cut.

He learns more as time goes on, about being the one with the responsibility for the wellbeing of more than just himself. And much of it goes back to those words on the first occasion that he was entrusted with the knife – “You have to take the smallest piece.” He learns that even when he tries his hardest, sometimes inaccuracies WILL happen. And that he must accept the outcome even when there was no fault on his part. Sometimes there are consequences that we don’t intend, that we have to make up for anyway. We musn’t require others to do that for us.

Privilege is often thought of as something ungoverned. It is only as time goes on and we mature that we realize that it comes with a price, and that it must be earned. And that the hidden responsibilities that go along with it are far weightier than we had originally considered.

In business, this marks the difference between true integrity, and the mere appearance of it. The appearance considers only what they perceive that people will notice, while in the background, retaining the thought, “How can I get a bigger piece than they do without making it LOOK like I did it on purpose?”. True integrity means you always take the smaller piece when you were responsible for creating the pieces. That you look out for the interests of your clients, associates, and even your competitors. That the Golden Rule is carried through every level of everything you do.

The result is pretty awesome – customers who come back again and again because they know you will never cheat them. And beyond that, they know that you will consider their needs and situations as carefully as you consider your own. All other things being equal, such a business will always do better than the competition.

Gone to Seed

We planted, and watered, and watered, and watered, and weeded, and watered. And just the squash came up. We watered some more, and replanted, and some lettuce came up. The deer ate it. We put stinky fertilizer around it. The deer left it alone.

This summer was hot. And stormy. For three weeks we had blazing heat. Right about the time we planted, of course. So the seeds got cooked before they could sprout. The soil is clay, so heat just bakes it and the soil holds the warmth.

The zucchini bore fruit. So did the squash. But the squash did not pollinate correctly, so it did not mature. The cucumbers grew, and we had enough cucumbers to eat and give away. Ah… the feeling of wealth that comes when you have something everyone else wants, that you can share!

Finally the beans and more lettuce came up. Along with about 6 beets. And countless tumbleweeds. Not to be outdone by the tumbleweeds, the grass, of course, sprouted and hollered for attention. Grass always does.

It is autumn in Wyoming. It comes early here.  The storms are back, and the wind is picking up. The kids are a little less enthusiastic about watering the garden now, so it is not bearing as well. The weeds are attempting to come into their own. We are battling them, but it is a tough battle. And some of the plants want to go to seed. Growth, yes, but not USEFUL growth right now, since we don’t WANT seeds, we want fresh veggies.

Again the comparison to business is too strong to ignore. Have I let it go to seed – have I let it grow into something I did not want, and have no use for, at the expense of something I do need? Have the weeds of discouragement, disorganization, and distraction taken over and sapped the strength from the desired growth?

And if so, what do I do about it? I think it is easier to spot the problems than it is to actually SOLVE them. A plan. Some action. Good action.

Tomorrow WILL be better.

Grow a Garden!

Gardening doesn't have to be that hard! No matter where you live, no matter how difficult your circumstances, you CAN grow a successful garden.

Life from the Garden: Grow Your Own Food Anywhere Practical and low cost options for container gardening, sprouting, small yards, edible landscaping, winter gardening, shady yards, and help for people who are getting started too late. Plenty of tips to simplify, save on work and expense.