Sunday, April 27, 2008

Personal Notes - The Key to Richer Relationships

We all know the power of personal notes. Yes, we all do whether we send them out or not.

Think back to the last time you were sorting thru your pile of junk mail and nestled in the middle of the disarray of fliers (trash), postcard ads(trash), bills(trash)(oops, better keep those), and circulars(trash) and a HAND ADDRESSED envelope with a note or letter to YOU (STOP)!

Maybe it was your birthday or maybe it was just for no particular reason. You STOPPED with an internal dialog maybe something like mine when this happens. (this is all before I even open it.)

WOW! Look at this.
Decent handwriting.
Don't recognize it.
Looks like a card of some kind.
Wonder who it's from.
No return address on the front.
Oooh...>Heres one on the back.
No name, just an address. 5656 Prarie Lane.... OKLAHOMA????
OK, let's check this out.
All that just for a quick note. Then you open it and IMMEDIATELY go straight to the END to see who signed. I guess that's why Paul and other New Testament writers put the "signature line" right up front. But I digress...

What an impact! And we know that these notes to our clients, friends and family have a powerful impact their lives, on our business , and on ourselves as we take the time to write them. Do you think they toss these notes with the rest of the JUNK MAIL... NO WAY. They keep them. Sometimes for years.

Doesn't seem to matter what's in the note as long as its handwritten and from someone you know. They're either wishing you HAPPY BIRTHDAY, 'How's it going', 'Congratulations on your recent _____', or 'Just wanted to say HI'.

We all love to receive notes. Maybe you've received one when you needed some encouragement or you'd recently celebrated some milestone. Or maybe you received one from a salesman thanking you for your time. Wouldn't you be more likely to talk to him again.

Maybe even send him a referral! AH-hah... Now I've got your attention.

I know the owner of a print shop. She tells me that she prints lots of personalized thank you notes. It's one of her most popular items. It's the development of relationships that will drive your business forward faster than anything else you can do. The key to richer relationships is becoming a remarkable value to your clients and contacts. Ultimately, effective networking that brings your business to the point of Working By Referral (only!) comes down to how much you give. Networking is all about becoming a PERSON OF VALUE for your network.

One of the tools that is at your disposal is the practice and habit or writing personal, handwritten notes to your network.

But you say, "I just can't write notes. I never know what to say or when to send them and really.... I don't have time for it." Let me encourage you to MAKE TIME for it. It will enrich your life beyond measure. Giving to others is the best 'high' of all!

Think on two levels when you are writing your personal notes.

  1. First and foremost, you are seeking to enrich the lives of the people to whom you write. (this is the PERSONAL side of your habit) Remember, true networking is about what you can give. Getting comes later...

  2. Develop a disciplined, systematic method of sending out your notes. Set a goal of 3 per day or 10 per week. (this is the BUSINESS side of your habit) Remember, effective networking brings you a constant stream of new leads and contacts.

So what do you write to them about.

The answer is just about ANYTHING and nothing. Certainly you will write them when a special event happens in their lives -- both good and bad ones. Celebrate with them and mourn with them. Any opportunity you have to encourage or edify them with your notes is golden! Don't miss it. Just go to you local stationery store or Office Depot or Staples and pick up a few packs of blank note cards. Usually what you'll want is a card something with a generic on the front. A nice picture of a landscape, ocean, forest, mountain cabin is perfect. You'll even find some with a nice phrase or generic quote either on the front or on one flap of the inside. That's ok too, but nothing more than that. Remember, the card is about what you write to them. Don't detract from that with too much going on with the card itself.


Simply write from your heart. Write what you'd like to hear. I know sometimes the words just don't come. In that case, I'd recommend a great little book for you.

This book is a tremendous desktop reference tool. Read it just once and you'll be on your way. Refer to it when you get that occasional Writer's Block. Personal Notes: How to Write from the Heart for Any Occasion

I've learned that notes are so much more than a TOOL TO GET REFERRALS (although it seems to work that way) Notes will bless and enrich the lives of the recipients. They will be possibly that one bright spot in an otherwise ROTTEN DAY.

I've been using this book for about six months now.
The author, Sandra E Lamb offers a step by step process to learn to convey the real you in your notes. This process is so helpful when you know what you want to say in your heart but the words just don't come out for you.

This is extremely helpful for me when i need to write a note of condolence and encouragement for a lost loved one, lost job, or onset of serious illness.

I keep it next to my desk now and pull it whenever I have a little WRITERS BLOCK...

Check out the book description page at AMAZON.

Personal Notes: How to Write from the Heart for Any Occasion


It's a Good Life !

Dennis Volz Insurance Agency
10783 Jamacha Bl, Suite 1, Spring Valley, CA 91978
OFFICE: (619) 670-1000 - FAX: (619) 670-1121 - Cell (619) 339-1339
Websites: Company Site: DennisVolzInsurance.COM, Client Convenience Site:

My 'Other Blogs'

The San Diego Insurance Blog

Active Rain Networking Site

Musings from California
Read more!

Saturday, April 26, 2008


In Part 1 we discussed the philosophy of Working By Referral (WBR). Why you MUST work by referral these days.

Here in Part 2, we'll talk a little about the CAN DO of Working by Referral.

You CAN Work By Referral -- Because you have EVERYTHING you need to get started and be very successful.

Working By Referral generates the BEST QUALITY leads


Rate these leads on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best possible.

A phone call who asks for a price quote.

A return card with a name, address and phone number from direct mail.

Call from an ad or sign.

A referral from a friend.

A referral from your MOM.

Possibly you rated these in some kind of ascending order. Maybe not, but let me submit to you that by a country mile, referrals are the best leads you can receive. Why is that?

  • Referrals usually come to you from people you like.

  • Referrals come to you somewhat PRE-SOLD on YOU!

  • Referrals usually are not “price shopping.”

  • Referrals are more likely to then refer you because “they get” the referral process.

Now someone please tell me why the pursuit of referrals isn’t the PRIME DIRECTIVE of every sales person on the planet!

Why would you NOT spend the vast majority of your prospecting time, energy and resources in the generation of referrals?


So you may ask, “Where am I going to find these people to refer leads, prospects and clients to me?” ANSWER: You already have them. Let's do the math and see how it works.


If you look at the size of the average wedding or funeral, you'll see somewhere between 200 and 300 people in attendance. So if that's true, then you know about 200 people.

And, most important of all, each of these 200 people also know about 200 people.

That gives you first party access to 200 people (the people you know) It gives also gives you second-party access to an additional 39,800 people (the people that YOUR 200 people know!). That’s a total of 40,000 people!

What do you think the odds are that within a group of 40,000 people, there's enough business there for you to make a VERY DECENT living? Pretty good, I’d say.

You see each of us has a tremendous source of wealth literally right at our fingertips. But the big question is....


The secret to tapping into that wealth is in the relationships we develop with the people we know. Those relationships are nurtured by the value and the expertise that we bring to those relationships.

Please read that last paragraph again slowly. It’s probably the most important and powerful networking nugget you’ll ever read. Here, I’ll make it easy…

The secret to tapping into that wealth is in the relationships we develop with the people we know. Those relationships are nurtured by the value and the expertise that we bring to those relationships.

Consider if a friend of yours, Bob for example, had a plumbing problem in his home. If your very best friend on the planet, Pete, was a plumber, wouldn't you be completely comfortable even anxious (in a good way) to introduce Pete and Bob . The answer is... Of Course. Of course you'd serve as the connector to get them together. That’s just how simple it is to work by referral.

Pete was at the front of your mind because he’s your very best friend on the planet. You can keep yourself comfortably and continuously at the front of the minds of all your friends, contacts and alliances.

Developing meaningful relationships is rewarding on AT LEAST two levels. You'll enjoy the rewards of friendship and mutually enriching conversations along the way. And you'll get many more referrals as well.


The first step is to make a list of your friends, family and business contacts who:

  1. Would be very willing to refer you.

  2. Would be reasonably willing to refer you.

  3. Might be willing to refer you if you asked them and showed them how.

This is not going to be a mailing list or database. This is a LIST OF RELATIONSHIPS (relationships you have or those you’d like to develop). Don't worry about the numbers yet, just make the list. Some very fruitful lists have started with as little as 10 people.

Here’s a little list to help jog your memory…

  • Father and Mother
  • Father-In-Law / Mother-In-Law
  • Grandparents
  • Children
  • Brothers & Sisters
  • Aunts and Uncles
  • Nieces and Nephews
  • Cousins
  • Those you meet in organizations or clubs
  • Civic groups, Rotary, exchange, Jaycees
  • Political clubs
  • Lodge, Elks, Moose, Etc.
  • Missionary societies, brotherhood groups
  • Merchants or farm organizations
  • School groups, boosters, alumni, PTA, etc.
  • List of acquaintances already available
  • Christmas card list
  • Address book
  • Day timer, planner
  • List of fellow employees
  • Church directory
  • People who are decision makers
  • Business owners
  • Human Resources Directors
  • Office managers
  • Those who are your closest friends with whom you associate regularly
  • Friends and Neighbors
  • People you work with
  • Church members
  • Sunday school class members>
  • Those you have been associated with in the past
  • Schoolmates
  • Former co-workers
  • People in your home town
  • Military cohorts
  • Those you do business with
  • Doctor, lawyer, barber, merchants, grocer
  • Gas station attendant, dry cleaner, postal worker
  • Beauticians, jewelers, waiters/waitresses
  • People you know who are in direct sales
  • Business/office machine salespeople
  • Insurance sales people
  • Car salespeople

Now that you’ve got your list of relationships, you need to rate the people with respects to their potential to refer business to you. I like A, B, C, & P.

A's are the people who are your biggest fans – Your personal cheerleaders. They maybe have referred you in the past or would be eager to refer you now. Here’s where you might start with just a couple names. Keep this list sacred as it’s the people with whom you’ll spend the most time, energy and resources.

B's are people who you think would refer you if you asked them and showed them how to refer you. (YES, there are BETTER ways to refer than others. more on that later)

C's are people that you've either had a discussion about referrals and they weren't all that warm about the idea, but wanted to maybe try to help you. Or they may have been enthusiastic at first, but a good amount of time has elapsed and no referrals.

P's (Pending) are people you know or have just met but you're not really sure how receptive they might be to referring you.

DELETE - are people who are no longer on your list. Either you've decided that they're just not going to ever refer you and you can't afford to invest in them any longer or you really just don't like them. (One of great benefits of having an effective system of Working by Referral is that you don't have to work with people you don't like!

OK. STOP ! !

Yes, really. Just STOP HERE for a second.

Did you actually make a list? No, I don’t mean a mental list. Did you actually stop and write a list of all the people you know and sort them into A’s, B’s, C’s and P’s? If you didn’t, please stop and do that now.

Keep on reading after you’re finished.

Moving on….

You will always be sorting and qualifying your list. You must be continually striving to work people up the chain. Move your C's to B's, B's to A's and so on – But ONLY if they qualify for the higher designation. I’ll teach you how to get them qualified.

You will also want to constantly adjust people down who aren't responsive. You don't need to build and build your list until there are several hundred people on it. That would be way too much to maintain effectively. People can move down from B to C, and from C to DELETE! A good list of 100 GOOD QUALITY people will yield you plenty of business. Imagine having a list of just 50 people who averaged sending you just 1 referral a month!

So now we’ve got your philosophy of referrals in place (Part 1). That’s important because

Working By Referral is NOT a get rich quick scheme

FAR FROM IT. WBR is a slow burn. It burns white hot, but it’s not something that will yield amazing results in a week or two. (it could, mind you, but it probably won’t)

WBR is an ongoing PROCESS, not an intermittent PROJECT – its a few SIMPLE DISCIPLINES repeated (almost) everyday that yields a stead stream of viable and profitable leads, prospects and clients.

WBR is working like a hunter but thinking like a farmer. You work daily like a hunter because you’re focused, passionate and enthusiastic about your daily bread. You’re also thinking like a farmer because you know it takes planting seeds, watering, nurturing, cultivating and weeding until you harvest. It’s important to understand the philosophy behind the strategies we’ll learn to execute.

The Key word to successful WBR Is GENEROSITY.

Sure, I’ll say that again just so be sure you read that right. The key word to WBR is generosity. Be generous with your time. Be generous with your resources. Be generous with your expertise. Be generous with the YOU that you’re willing to invest into the lives of other people.

I know that may be not quite what you were expecting. This is NOT going to be about how much you can get out of these relationships, but how much you can invest. WBR is a process of giving to the lives of others… as an investment.

Now investments – Good Ones – yield returns. What kinds of returns can you expect from WBR. You can expect rich relationships, better friendships, more meaningful conversations, opportunities to really make a positive impact in the lives of countless people. And yes, you will get some referrals along the way.

Here in Part 2, we’ve talked about of creating your LIST OF RELATIONSHIPS. There’s lots of ways to structure this list. You can use any one of a number of computer platforms, 3x5 cards, paper and pen, but make sure it’s recorded. (we’ll get into the pros and cons of some of the various methods in other posts)

Now in the final Part 3 of this introductory series, we’ll go into the basic tools, activities and strategies of Working By Referral. There’s lots of thoughts and ideas there so let’s get to it.


It's a Good Life !

Dennis Volz Insurance Agency
10783 Jamacha Bl, Suite 1, Spring Valley, CA 91978
OFFICE: (619) 670-1000 - FAX: (619) 670-1121 - Cell (619) 339-1339
Websites: Company Site: DennisVolzInsurance.COM, Client Convenience Site:

My 'Other Blogs'

The San Diego Insurance Blog

Active Rain Networking Site

Musings from California

Read more!