The 10 Commandments of Business Networking

A friend of mine, Melinda Potcher, adapted some of my material and created the 10 Commandments of Business Networking.

She did a great job, and I thought I’d share it with everyone here on my blog.

 

1. Thou Shalt Not Sell To Me. If we’re trying to help one another get more business, you tell me your target market, I tell you my target market and when we are out in the world, we speak well of one another and refer one another. Do not try to sell me–I’m your referral resource. If I need your product or service, know that I will call you.  Use our relationship to sell through me, to get to those 250-plus people I know.

2. Thou Shalt Understand The Law of Reciprocity. If I’m sending you business, please keep me top of mind. Giving me a new client is the best thank you I can receive, and I will continue working to find you referrals if I know you appreciate me.

3. Thou Shalt Not Abuse Our Relationship. Sending me a bogus referral just to use me, my expertise or my resources for free without asking permission first is the fastest way to lose my respect.

4. Thou Shalt Not Be Late . If we have a meeting set to get to know one another and strategize how we can refer each other business, do not reschedule our appointment more than twice. I blocked a chunk of time in my schedule FOR YOU, and I respect you enough to be on time.

5. Thou Shalt Be Specific . Specific Is Terrific! If you tell me your target market is “anybody” or “everybody,” that means nobody to me. The more specific you are, the easier it will be for me to find you business.

6. Thou Shalt Take Your Business Seriously . As your networking partner, I need to know your intentions.If your company is a hobby business, it will be difficult for me to assist you. If it’s part-time, you are limited in the time you spend working on your business and working to find me referrals. However, if you’re working your business part time with a goal of making it full time, I am there for you, 100 percent.

7. Thou Shalt Follow Up On Referrals. When I send you business, please follow up with that prospect in a timely fashion–say 24 hours. If you’re going out of town or will not be available for some time, a quick e-mail or phone call to the person to let them know when you will be available will preserve your credibility and protect my reputation in recommending you to someone I know and care about.

8. Thou Shalt Communicate. If I do something to upset you, send you a “bad” referral or cause you to have ill feelings toward me, please communicate with me as soon as possible. I may not be aware I have caused a problem for you; if you tell me, I can try to fix it. Referral networking is about relationships! Relationships and referrals are at the heart of my business.

9. Thou Shalt Protect My Reputation. Most people would rather die than risk their reputations. If I receive feedback from a referral I have sent you that is disparaging or derogatory, it is as though you cut me off at the knees. Please do what you say you will do and live up to the ethical standards of your profession.

10. Thou Shalt Prepare For Success. If you really want to grow your business, then prepare to receive it. I will move mountains for my networking partners to ensure they get referrals on a consistent basis. I am a Ninja Networker–you may not always see me working on your behalf.

Thanks to Melinda. You can visit her website at: HomeLoansAlbuquerque.com

What do you think?  Would you add anything to this list (OK, I know you can’t have “11 Commandments,” but play with me here).

OMG, I’m an Introvert!?

OK, if you don’t know what “OMG” means, ask a teenager (that’s how I learned what it meant).  Now let’s talk about the introvert thing.

My wife and I were having a relaxing dinner one night recently.  We were sitting around the kitchen table talking when I made some off-handed comment about being an extrovert (it fit into the context of the conversation).  She looked over at me and said, “Uhh, honey, I hate to break it to you, but you’re an introvert.”  I smiled and said, “Yeah, sure, I’m an introvert (insert laugh track here).”   She then looked at me quite earnestly and said, “No, really you’re an introvert.”  I protested strongly.  I said, “Come on, I’m a public speaker and founder of the world’s largest networking organization–I’m not an introvert!  I can’t be.  I mean, you’re joking, right?”  She absolutely insisted that I was an introvert and proceeded to share with me all the ways that I have introverted tendencies.  Well, I have to admit I was taken back by this.  All the examples she gave were true, but I still couldn’t believe I am an introvert.  On the other hand, we’ve been married for 20 years. I mean, there’s a chance she might actually know me pretty well.

So off I went the next day to do some research.  I did an internet search and found a test that tells you whether you are an introvert or extrovert.  Was I in for a shock.  The test said that I was a “situational extrovert!”  It explained that I was something of a loner who was reserved around strangers but very outgoing in the right context.  It was at that moment that I said, “OMG, I’m an introvert!?” 

In the haze of my surprise, some very important things came into clarity for me.  It struck me why I started the BNI networking organization more than two decades ago.  I was naturally uncomfortable meeting new people. This approach created a “system” that enabled me to meet people in an organized, structured, networking environment that did not require that I actually “talk to strangers.”  OMG, I’m an introvert!

When I visit regions of BNI, I ask my director to have someone walk me around and introduce me to visitors and members so that I can connect with as many people as possible.  But in reality, it’s because I’m uncomfortable walking around introducing myself alone.  OMG, I’m an introvert!

I realized that the whole notion of “acting like the host, not the guest” and volunteering to be the ambassador at a chamber event or the visitor host at a BNI group were all the ways I used to move around more comfortably at networking events, not just ways that I recommended for those poor introverts out there to network.  OMG, I am an introvert.

Who would have thought? Well, OK, besides my lovely wife.  Now more than ever, I truly believe that whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, you can be good at networking.  Both have strengths and weaknesses.  If you can find ways to enhance your strengths and minimize your weaknesses, anyone can be a great networker.

How about you?  Are you an introvert or an extrovert, and how do you use that in your networking?

Read the Paper, with Referral Intent . . .

 

Most people read the newspaper to gain insight into local and world events and news–and that’s all.  I’m suggesting that you try reading the paper a little differently–to look for opportunities for referrals.

Pick up your local newspaper and scan the front page. Turn to the local section, then the business news, and then the lifestyle section. The paper is teeming with opportunities for you to act as a gatekeeper for the people in your network. Every page presents problems or significant issues of one kind or another.

What are people saying? Who is talking about problems or changes in her company or industry?  What is happening that could have a direct impact on you or someone in your network?  Who is in need of the services of someone you know?  Where are there networking opportunities for you and your marketing team?

So why not start out by reading the paper this week with referral intent for two people in your network?  Find each of them an opportunity or a lead that they might capitalize on through their network.  Then find your own business a lead or two on which you can capitalize, and begin to ask your network for help in making the connection for you.

Clearly, these are more “leads” than “referrals.” However, there’s nothing wrong with telling a business associate about the details you just read about relating to a new company moving into town.  It’s good to show your referral partners you are looking out for them and–you never know–it could turn into something good.

Try this strategy out and then come back and leave a comment to let me know how it worked out–I’m very interested to see what happens!

Become a Networking Mentor

As I was playing chess during my lunch hour yesterday and mercilessly dominating the game (Norm, BNI’s CEO, who I was playing against might possibly tell a different story but don’t believe him . . . after all, this is my blog), I was struck by the thought of how valuable of an experience it was when I coached my son’s school chess club a few years back.

It’s common knowledge that if you want to improve your skill, then you should teach someone else.  By teaching young people the rudiments of chess strategy, it inevitably made me focus on improving my own game.  It’s the same with networking.  When you become a networking mentor for someone else, it will improve your networking skills by acting as a refresher for what you’ve learned and it gets you to refocus your efforts on areas you may have forgotten.

Perhaps there is someone who already considers you a mentor, or maybe you know someone you’d like to mentor–someone who reminds you of yourself when you were just getting started in business.  If so, don’t let the opportunity to be an active mentor pass you by.    When you selflessly share your wealth of knowledge to help others succeed and help them avoid making the same mistakes you made, not only will they benefit greatly but so will you.

Do you have an inspiring story about someone who has been a mentor to you, or someone that you’ve mentored?  If so, leave a comment and share it with everyone else.

Find an Accountability Partner

Last night at dinner, I asked my son the dreaded question . . . “So, Trey, how’s that homework coming?”  Needless to say, I received the typical, teenage, roll-of-the-eyes response and the standard “I was going to finish it after dinner” answer.

Even if you don’t have kids, at one time you were a kid so I’m sure just about everybody can identify with this scenario.  Being held accountable for completing your homework as a kid was never fun, but face it–when we’re held accountable for our actions, performance, and commitments it tends to heighten our awareness of what we are responsible for and what we have promised to do.

So it is with networking your business: accountability is important.  When you make a commitment to yourself to get out of your cave and attend productive networking functions, the reality is that sometimes other things come up and we forget those promises or push them to the back burner.  So why not find and accountability partner for networking your business?  That way, every time you commit to a new networking strategy, your accountability partner can keep you to the task.  Each week, perhaps by phone, meet with your accountability partner to identify your strategy for the week and because you have someone waiting to hear of your progress, you’ll be more inclined to focus on the task at hand.

To find the right accountability partner, ask yourself these questions:

1.  Who do I highly respect as a business colleague?

2.  Who would not be afraid to push me and keep me focused?

3.  Who would I never think of disappointing?

4.  Who is also interested in networking her business so that we can be accountability partners for each other?

5.  Who knows me–and my tendency to procrastinate?

6.  Who will follow through on this commitment to me?

7.  Who has the time to help me?

Think about it.  No one likes to knowingly disappoint someone else, and no one likes to waste her time or have her time wasted by someone else.  The urge to comply compels us to perform at a higher level and this leads to greater networking results.

Networking is a Verb Not a Noun

Today, I have a guest blog written by my good friend Frank DeRaffele.  Frank is a BNI Director and radio talk show host for the Entrepreneurial Excellence Radio Show.

Networking is a Verb Not a Noun.  What does that mean?  A verb, as described, by our 4th grade teachers, is an action word. A noun is an object or thing. That means that in order to network you must take action … do stuff … not just show up at things and be seen. If you go to a chamber meeting and just “be there” then you are a noun … you are just an object. If you go and actually participate and make things happen … you are now taking action … you’re a verb.

You are not going to find any form of marketing more important and probably more effective than your networking efforts during the next 12 to 24 months. That means that no matter what type of marketing campaigns you are doing they will be 5 to 10 times more effective if you are supplementing them with relationship networking.

If you are in a strong contact network (such as BNI) you have an advantage over every other businesses out there, especially your competitors. You have a group of like-minded people who believe in the development of relationship marketing and they practice the Givers Gain® philosophy.

There is no recesssion for you … so go take action … go BE A VERB!

Welcome to International Networking Week

Welcome to the third annual International Networking Week (Feb 2-6).

Now, more than ever, we need to ignore the doom-and-gloom headlines and focus on what we can do to promote our own business growth.

International Networking Week is about celebrating the key role that networking plays in the development and success of business around the world. It’s about creating an awareness of the process of networking.  Not just any kind of networking, but what I call “relationship networking,” an approach to doing business based on building long-term, successful relationships with people through the networking process.

Last year, International Networking Week was recognized by tens of thousands of people around the world, and it has garnered acknowledgements from several governmental agencies across the globe. It’s expected that the number of people participating in this year’s worldwide celebration of the week, through hundreds of large events and thousands of smaller events, will be double what it was in 2008.

If you belong to any networking groups, be sure to tell them that this is International Networking Week and let them know they can visit InternationalNetworkingWeek.com for more information.  Let’s join together in celebrating the things we can do do promote global prosperity, instead of worrying about the things we can’t control.

Watch this 10-minute video talking about International Networking Week 2009.  Share the video with anybody and everybody, and feel free to show it at your networking meetings during International Networking Week.

So what will you be doing to recognize International Networking Week?  Share it with us here–we’d love to hear about it.

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