Top 10 Ways to Waste Your Time in a Networking Group!

Membership in a good networking group can be worth a considerable amount of money. Especially if you calculate the time you spend each month and the business value of your time. Make your time and efforts worthwhile. Don’t squander your opportunity by doing the wrong things in those meetings!

Success in a networking group comes when the rest of the group members trust you enough to open up their best referrals to you. Until they’ve seen your work, you have to earn that trust by demonstrating your professionalism to them. Since I founded BNI almost 25 years ago, I’ve seen how people have truly succeeded in networks–and I’ve seen how people have totally wasted their time in them.

Here are the top 10 ways to waste your time in a networking group (avoid all of them):

No. 10. Go ahead, air your grievances among your fellow networkers and guests; after all, they really want to hear about your complaints.

No. 9. Wing it in your 60-second presentations; you’ve got plenty more chances anyway.

No. 8. Use one-to-one meetings to talk about your networking group’s issues instead of learning a lot more about each other.

No. 7. Focus your efforts on selling your services primarily to the members of the group.

No. 6. Don’t rush following up on a member’s referral. They know where you are.

No. 5. Use others’ 60-second presentation time to think about what referrals you can give that week.

No. 4. Why invite your own guests? Just focus on those who show up.

No. 3. Don’t worry if you get to the meeting late. No one will notice.

No. 2. Be absent; it’s no big deal. You can just call in your referrals . . . right?

And the No. 1 way to waste your time in networking groups . . .

No. 1. It’s OK, take that phone call or text message during a meeting. It won’t bother anyone, and it’s a real sign of professionalism that everyone admires.

So there it is–The Top 10 Ways to Waste Your Time in a Networking Group! Print this out. Memorize it. Share it with your fellow networking members. Above all–avoid these mistakes! You’ll get a lot more out of your group and so will your fellow members.

I’d love to hear some more ways that are big time wasters in a networking group. Please leave your comments below. Let’s add to this list.

Oh, and to visit a good networking group in your area, feel free to Click here.

The Brower Quadrant

These days the economy seems to be an inescapable topic of conversation. Whether you refuse to participate in a recession or not, people are still going to engage you in conversations centered around finances and the state of the global economy.  Chances are, they’ll be focusing on “how bad things are” instead of focusing on what we can actively do to make things better for ourselves.

I was recently involved in such a conversation, and all the other person kept trying to do was get me to agree that we’re all doomed and that everything is only getting worse. No matter what I countered with, he wouldn’t let go of this doomed-victim mentality he had. I suddenly thought back to a pretty powerful passage from my friend Lee Brower’s latest book, The Brower Quadrant, and I thought it might get this guy to finally see the light. So I paraphrased Lee’s ideas for him. leebrower.jpg

I said, “Look. I have a friend named Lee Brower who is an expert on wealth preservation and financial planning, and he puts it pretty simply when he says that when you let yourself get overcome with perceived barriers to your future dreams, you’re really writing the script for your future. How you spend your time each day–every choice, every thought, every action– is either a deposit or a withdrawal from your future. So there you have it. If you let yourself become paralyzed with the fear of dealing with an uncertain economy, then instead of doing what you can to promote a successful future for yourself, you’re actually making efforts to ensure a negative impact on your future.”

For the first time during our 15-minute conversation, the guy had nothing to say. I told him he should really read Lee’s book because it outlines strategies for what Lee calls “true wealth”–strategies that help people do more and achieve real wealth in all areas of their life instead of accepting a life of scarcity and struggle. I went on to explain that the strategies in the book are straightforward and very powerful, but that implementing them takes real commitment and real effort.

I completely agree with Lee’s ideas that anybody can create wealth in all areas of life no matter their current financial circumstances and that it’s done by making the choice to focus on what you can do with what you have, rather than to view yourself as a victim based on what you don’t have. It’s very true that that’s much more easily said than done but, like I always say, we can’t control the economy but we can control how we respond to it (even if it seems like the hardest thing in the world to do).

I really hope that my nay-saying conversation partner picked up a copy of The Brower Quadrant, and I strongly encourage all of my blog readers to pick up a copy as well. Not only will you learn how to cement yourself in true wealth, you’ll know how to respond to people when they try to convince you that you’re doomed. You might even positively change the course of their future because of it.

To learn more about Lee Brower and The Brower Quadrant, please visit: www.LeeBrower.com.

Let Me Introduce You to Bob

dsc02883.JPGWhen my daughter Cassie was only 8 years old, she made a little stick man, which she named “Bob,” from a small piece of red pipe cleaner and gave him to me. That’s Bob and me to the right by the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, last year.

Why is Bob in a picture with me, halfway across the world from my home, eight years after Cassie originally gave him to me?

Well, it all started when one of my business trips prevented me from attending a Girl Scout event that Cassie was participating in. I felt bad that I couldn’t make the event, so I took a photo of Bob and myself in the mirror at the hotel and sent it to Cassie, telling her Bob and I were thinking about her and congratulating her on her achievement. She liked it so much that I started sending photos of Bob whenever I could.

Throughout the years of travel, I have always stowed Bob safely in my briefcase and, whenever possible, I have someone take a picture of the two of us to send back to Cassie.  More often than not, I can immediately see what the heck is this guy’s deal? written across people’s faces when I ask if they’d mind taking a picture. Once I explain what the photo is for, however, it’s amazing how people’s responses change.

You see, one of the great things about running a successful international business is that you get to travel a lot. Yet one of the really bad things about running a successful international business is that you have to travel a lot . . . when ydsc04437.JPGou have small children, that can be a real challenge. People, especially those with children of their own, understand that. So when I explain the purpose of taking a picture with a goofy little man made out of pipe cleaner, people realize I’m not actually nuts after all and that Bob is really a family tradition that keeps me connected to my daughter.

The thing is, we can all take a lesson or two from Bob.

First off, Bob is a great example of how the smallest gestures can forge powerful connections between people.

I may not be able to be with my daughter at times when I want to be, but the simple gesture of sending her a picture of Bob and me keeps us connected. This same concept applies to keeping you connected with your networking contacts. You may not be able to attend every event you’re invited to or have lunch with every one of your contacts on a weekly basis, but you can find simple strategies to stay connected, such as giving them a quick call to check in or sending them a card.

Second, Bob is a terrific representation of why it is so important to explain the value you (and your business) bring to the table, and not to assume that people understand.

Think about it. When my unsuspecting “Bob photographers” initially respond to my request for a picture with my tiny red traveling companion, they see a man who probably belongs in a room with padded white walls, holding a contorted piece of pipe cleaner and smiling like it’s his best friend. Why do they react this way? Because they don’t understand the value Bob brings to the table as a powerful connector.

Once Bob’s specific purpose and role are explained in a way people can understand, his value is undeniable and people want to help me and applaud my dedication to my family. This is the same with explaining the value you and your business present to your networking partners–assuming people know the value you bring to the table is simply to leave money on the table every day.

Cassie is now about to turn 18, and she graduated from high school last week. She’s off to college in September, but I still plan on sending her photos of Bob and me as we travel around the world.dsc04974b.jpg

Bob’s looking a little worn with his travels (and I guess I am, too), but as long as I’m on the road, Bob will continue to be my traveling companion, Cassie will see evidence of our adventures, and she will always know we’re thinking of her as we travel the globe.

For more photos of Bob and me, go to: Facebook Photos of Bob.

June 23rd Teleseminar with Keith Ferrazzi

Early last week, I posted a blog about Keith Ferrazzi’s new book, Who’s Got Your Back, and how the book outlines imperative success strategies for developing meaningful relationships through networking efforts and accomplishing any goal.keithferrazzi2.jpg

I got quite a few comments on that post from blog readers who are really interested in Keith’s book and the subjects he covers, so I wanted to invite everyone to a teleseminar that I will be doing with Keith on Tuesday, June 23 at 3 p.m. (Eastern Time). You can sign up for the teleseminar by clicking here.

Keith and I will be discussing the one key thing that the world’s top business leaders and entrepreneurs rely on to achieve extraordinary results and record-breaking success–building the right relationships and leveraging them at the right times. We will also be joined by Andrea J. Lee, bestselling author of Multiple Streams of Coaching Income and a leading entrepreneur who excels at building powerful relationships in order to accelerate success.

Even if you can’t make it to the live call, go ahead and register anyway because Elizabeth Marshall, host and founder of AuthorTeleseminars.com, will send you a recording of the call after it’s over. In the meantime, if you have any questions e-mail Elizabeth at host@authorteleseminars.com.

Click here to save your spot on the call and, whether you attend the live call or listen to the recording, come back and leave a comment. I’d love to hear your feedback!

Stop The Fear

While attending the iLearningGlobal.tv Launch Conference in Las Vegas this past March, I met a woman from San Diego, Calif., named Gloria Boileau. Gloria happens to be a very accomplished lady. Currently working as an executive coach, she is a former trial specialist who prepared witnesses and clients for jury trials. She’s also a renowned international speaker and image expert, and she has just published her first book.stop-the-fear-book.jpg

As Gloria and I spoke, she began explaining the concept of her new book, Stop the Fear. She started off with a good point: We are a society that has become so dependent on fear that it has permeated itself into nearly every aspect of our lives. All we have to do is turn on the TV or open up a newspaper to realize just how true this is. I am always emphasizing how important it is to refuse to participate in a recession, and the reason I drive that point home so often and so repeatedly is because everywhere we turn, we have people telling us that the “doom and gloom” state of the economy is only getting worse and that we should be afraid . . . very afraid, they say.  I say, whether it’s the media or it’s your friends and family, don’t listen to them and don’t be afraid!

The economy goes in cycles. It’s as inevitable as death and taxes. It would obviously be ridiculous to waste your entire life panicking about the fact that you know you’re going to die one day, or to spend your entire work day bemoaning the fact that the government is going to take a significant chunk of your hard-earned money. These are inescapable facts of life, just like economic fluctuations. Why, then, are so many people wasting their time worrying about how “bad” the economy is and cutting back on efforts to build their business when they should be focusing on networking and drumming up more business during what is only an inevitable, temporary financial downturn? Why? Because Gloria’s point is right–fear has permeated our society, and people are letting it paralyze them instead of focusing on taking control of what they can by taking positive action.

In Stop the Fear, Gloria explains, “Fear is a four-letter word which creates an emotion that weighs a person down and prevents them from realizing their potential.” In other words, fear is a choice. Whether you struggle with fear surrounding economic flucuations, or you fear something else such as failure, pain or embarrassment, we all fear something to some degree–and fear can keep us from achieving important goals.  Gloria’s book outlines 12 simple strategies for overcoming fear that can help anyone, anywhere, redirect his or her focus so fear doesn’t stand in the way of success.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Stop the Fear, please click here.

Looking for More Referrals? Remember the GAINS Exchange

So often, I see people who are frustrated about not getting more business referred to them. After all, they say, isn’t that what business networking is all about?

What many of these people don’t seem to realize, however, is that they need to actively share information about themselves with the right people before they can expect to have business referred to them by the people in others’ networks.

I discuss this very concept in my latest show on yourBusinessChannel. The fact is, it’s not enough that you’re great at what you do and can offer a lot of value to new clients. To win referrals from networking, you need to ensure that your contacts have all the necessary information about you and your skills so they can go out and persuade third parties to come and purchase your product or service. It’s amazing how many people fail to recognize this.

There are actually five key things that are essential for the members of your network to know about you before you can expect them to refer business your way. Equally, you need to know these same five things about them so you can reciprocate. I call this process of reciprocal sharing of information the GAINS exchange, based on the first letter of each of the five essential informational points: Goals, Accomplishments, Interests, Networks, and Skills (first discussed in my book, Business by Referral).

Goals: What are the objectives that are important to you; what are the problems you want to solve? Not just financial and business goals, but also personal and educational objectives.

Accomplishments: What big projects have you completed in business or as an employee? What are your accomplishments as a student or parent?

Interests: What are the things you really enjoy doing? The music you like to listen to, the hobbies you spend time on, the sports you like to play or watch? People are more willing to spend time with people they share interests with.

Networks: Each of your contacts is a part of many networks. Do you know what these are, how big they are? Each of us has the potential to connect with hundreds or thousands of people if we cultivate these resources.

Skills: What do you do especially well? What are the professional areas in which you excel? Don’t be afraid to share this information with your contacts, and learn about the talents and abilities of the people in your network as well.

These are not mysterious pieces of information. They are facts we are exposed to every day, if we look for them.

By remembering the GAINS exchange, you can make sure you don’t overlook this essential information about your networking contacts.

Who’s Got Your Back?

A couple of weeks ago, one of my employees attended the launch of my friend Keith Ferrazzi’s new book, Who’s Got Your Back, and she came into the office the next day raving about the presentation Keith had given. “You would have loved it,” she said. “He talked all about how success is created by developing relationships based on trust and how important accountability is to achieving goals–his stuff is right on point with everything you emphasize that effective networkers do.  Plus, the stories he told to illustrate his key points were really, really powerful!”whos-got-your-back.jpg

I’ve known Keith for quite a few years now, and I wasn’t at all surprised to hear that he gave a great presentation. After all, not only is he an extremely interesting guy, he’s the epitome of a master networker. He has one of the most diverse group of contacts of anyone I’ve ever known, and his first book, Never Eat Alone, is a bestseller. After I read Never Eat Alone, I found myself constantly referring to it in conversation and recommending it to people. Who’s Got Your Back is just as influential, and I have no doubt that it’s on its way to becoming Keith’s second bestseller.

No matter what it is you want to achieve, building relationships with the right people–people you trust who will hold you accountable so you can’t fail–is the strategy for success. With this new book, Keith offers the blueprint for accomplishing any goal.  It’s a must-read for anyone wondering how to develop meaningful relationships through their networking efforts.  If you aspire to achieve more in business and life, Who’s Got Your Back outlines some imperative strategies to get to where you want to be.

To learn more about Who’s Got Your Back, click here.

Also, Keith is currently traveling throughout the U.S. promoting the book. If you’re able to catch one of his presentations, I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed.  You can find out the exact cities and dates of his book tour by clicking here.     

Ponder Pearls: Thought for the Day

Last year I started writing for a great company called Ponders & Principles, which publishes a “Thought-A-Day” software program called Ponder Pearls, and I’d like to offer all of my blog readers a free Ponder Pearls subscription.  ivan-giftcard.jpg

Ponder Pearls can be installed on any personal computer, and each day positive, entertaining and inspiring thoughts are delivered to you via a small window that pops up on the bottom right corner of your computer monitor.  The program contains a remarkable array of categorized thought series ranging from content by bestselling authors such as Brian Tracy and yours truly to sacred world texts, and you can also choose from a variety of themes such as “innovators and entrepreneurs,” sports coaches and athletes,” “Founding Fathers of the U.S.” and many, many more.

Hundreds of excerpted thoughts from my books and seminars are included in the Ponder Pearls software, and I’m in the process of sending in even more of my content to be distributed daily.  When I started using Ponder Pearls last year, I was so impressed by it that I invited Alex von Allmen of Ponders & Principles to come present the software at the 2008 BNI National Conference in Orlando.  The BNI directors and members who attended the conference loved the Ponder Pearls concept; I’ve had many of them contact me since then and say that they love getting my networking content and the other daily thought series they selected delivered to them daily.

So I invite you to take advantage of the free subscription to Ponder Pearls that I’m offering.  Once you’ve used the software for a few days, I’d love to hear what you think of it. So feel free to come back and leave a comment.

Getting your free subscription is easy:

1. Click on the gift card graphic above.
2. Enter “bni” in the “Gift Code” field (under the blue Ponder Pearls logo banner).
3. Create your free Ponder Pearls account by following the prompts.

Enjoy this FREE service. If you have any questions, simply e-mail Erin@bni.com.  

Let me know what you think.

Three Keys to Successfully Using Written Testimonials

We know what a powerful tool testimonials can be when it comes to building credibility and generating new business (see last week’s blog on this topic), but it’s also very important to know how to successfully use testimonials and how to ask for them.

First off, there are three keys to successfully using written testimonials:

1) Ask for testimonials at every opportunity.

2) Guide the content of your testimonials.

3) Update your testimonials.

So at what point in the sales cycle should you ask clients (or other contacts) for testimonials? This is a tricky question, but in general, ask for no testimonial before its time–which may be before, at or after completion of a sale or project,depending on your client, your product or service and your own needs.

Let’s say that one month before finishing a project, you call your client to ask how things are going. The client tells you that she’s very happy with the results and that her life or business has changed for the better because of your product or service. At this point, your testimonial detector should be pinging loudly. It’s the right time to make your pitch: “That would be a great thing for other people to know about my company. Would you be willing to write me a testimonial on your company letterhead by the end of the week?”

If the answer is yes, the next step is to coach your client in writing a testimonial that fits your needs. Ask her to tell why she chose to work with you, how she benefited from your products or services, how you solved a problem for her and what other people should know about your business. What things are most people concerned about when using a business like yours? Ask her to address those issues. Don’t be afraid to offer suggestions; you’ll make it easier for her to write an appropriate testimonial, and the results will be more valuable to you.

Finally, review your testimonial file or binder at least every two to three years to identify testimonials that are no longer valid or credible. Specifically, you may want to discard or refile a testimonial that:

  •  Is from a company that’s no longer in business
  • Is/was written by someone who has left the company
  • Represents a product or service that you no longer offer
  • Has begun to turn yellow with age or
  • Needs to be updated with new statistics from the customer

One more thing: Remember the law of reciprocity? It works here, too. If you want to motivate someone to write you a testimonial, write one for him or her first.

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