Attending Networking Events

Experienced networkers know that the fastest way to expand and enhance their network is to regularly attend gatherings where networking takes place. Having many people with overlapping interests within arm’s reach facilitates the process of making connections based on mutual benefit.

While flipping recently through Masters of Networking, a book I released back in 2000, I ran across an article contributed by my friends Cindy Mount and Jeremy Allen. The article outlines a great, six-part foundation for success at networking events, so I thought I’d share their outline with all of you here.

Attending the Networking Event

As every good networker knows, one of the fastest ways to grow your business quickly and successfully is through word-of-mouth marketing. That’s the fundamental reason networkers attend networking events. And people who have made a science of systematic networking keep six essentials in mind. Each time they attend an event, they have 1. a purpose, 2. a goal and 3. a plan, and they make sure to 4. execute the plan, 5.  evaluate their efforts and 6. follow up on all contacts.

1. Purpose

What’s your reason for attending the event? Do you expect to show up, shake hands and exchange business cards just to be sociable? No . . . your reason for being at the event should be because you see networking as a complete philosophy of doing business and living your life, and because you see that helping others is the best route to helping yourself. Keep this in mind at all times.

2. Goal

What is your destination? What do you need to accomplish at the event? What do you expect the outcome to be? How many contacts do you need, and in what kind of businesses? Do you need to become a gatekeeper as a step in obtaining your desired outcome? Think of professions, trades or business owners who would most likely hear of or see people who need your service or products, and target these people for your networking efforts.

3. Plan

Once you know your destination, you need a map to show you how to get there. A good networking plan will include these things:

Research. Whom do you have to meet? Where do they have lunch? What do their company’s annual plans say? What are some of the trends within your target industry?

Competition. Who are your competitors? What is their market share, and how much market share do you expect to capture? What edge does your competition have? What are your strengths and advantages?

Resources. What resources do you need, and where will you get them? Do you need guidance? Are your listening skills good enough to get you your money’s worth?

Backup. Do you need to recruit new contacts or associates who can take over some of your duties or help you reach your goals faster?

Schedule. How much time have you given yourself to achieve your goals? Do you have contingency plans in case you encounter problems along the way?

4. Execution

Plans don’t work unless they’re implemented. To be successful, you must begin executing your plan. Use a time management planner and project organizer that can show you a week at a glance. Mark dates when you expect certain results, then work backward to monthly, weekly and daily completion of specific objectives.

5. Evaluation

As you reach each checkpoint in your plan, stop and evaluate your results. If you find that a particular networking group is not meeting your goals, adjust your plans. You may need a new way to work the group, or you may need a new group. You may also need to consider learning a new skill or getting some help to meet your goals.

6. Follow-Up

Make complete notes on everybody you meet, keep their business cards and brochures handy, and think about the potential of each new contact you’ve made. Begin making appointments to meet and work with these contacts as soon as practical. Don’t let a recent introduction grow cold and be forgotten.

The key word in “networking” is “work.” It takes time, effort and patience, but the payoff of powerful networking will be a personal marketing strategy that accelerates the achievement of your goals.

The Virtual Abundance Expo: July 27-30

I just posted a blog this past Monday on the “Seven Key Aptitudes of Abundance Intelligence,” as outlined by my good friend Kim George, and if you’d like to further your education on how to achieve and maintain an abundance mind-set, the perfect opportunity is coming up next week.virtualabundanceexpo.jpg

As one of the Expo’s speakers, I’m inviting you to be among the first to explore the Virtual Abundance Expo. From July 27-30, more than 12 of the the world’s thought leaders, teachers and inspirational luminaries will come to your home or office via the internet for an entire week.

You will hear from leaders such as Jack Canfield, Bob Proctor, Alex Mandossian, Marci Shimoff, Bill Harris, Scott Martineau, Lisa Nichols and more, all of whom will be sharing their wisdom and insight on creating more abundance in your life.

  • Get any question answered about any abundance topic imaginable.
  • Switch your mindset from scarcity to abundance in every area of your life
  • Create a greater abundance mind-set and improve your happiness, performance, networks, thinking, marketing, finance, values, beliefs and every other important area of your life

Go to http://www.TheVirtualAbundanceExpo.com to sign up for the Virtual Abundance Expo.

The Seven Key Aptitudes of Abundance Intelligence

Whenever I turn on the news these days, it seems the media are pushing all of us to embrace a scarcity mentality. Embracing a scarcity mentality, however, will get you nowhere; there couldn’t be anything more pointless and counterproductive than to let your thoughts focus on lack and worry.

Because of this, I’d like to explain a much more valuable concept–the concept of AQ (Abundance Intelligence) which my good friend Kim George introduced in her 2006 book Coaching into Greatness: 4 Steps to Success in Business and Life. AQ is different from IQ (intelligence quotient) in that we measure a person’s ability to perform at his or her optimal level consistently and authentically.

AQ measures masterful people by their prevalence of abundance aptitudes, patterns and beliefs. Successful people of all types have a high AQ. They believe there’s more than enough to go around and that the proverbial glass is not only half full but overflowing. They accept that life is not always easy and doesn’t always follow the straight and convenient path, but they don’t fight changes in the world or the economy. Instead, they adapt to those changes.

Based on Kim’s in-depth work with hundreds of business owners, here are seven key aptitudes you should adopt to gain a high abundance intelligence and resist being bogged down by a scarcity mentality:

1. Self-worth. Abundant people understand their uniqueness and how they add value to their customers, their networking partners and others in their lives.

2. Empathy. Abundant people do their best to understand and serve their customers in any given situation, and they sustain themselves through tough times by networking with supportive friends who are able to provide reciprocal support empathically .

3. Self-expression. Abundant people are convinced that they are the best with whom to do business and they retain a professional posture of sticking to their personal standards, which pulls people to them.

4. Actualization. Abundunt people don’t sit on the sidelines waiting for things to happen. They take action consistent with their skills and talents. They accept responsibility for their actions and don’t blame others for shortcomings. If they face a barrier, they ask for help and support to find an acceptable solution for all sides. They comfortably give and receive.

5. Significance. Abundant people are confident about their uniqueness, knowing they are the best person for a particular job. They demonstrate self-confidence when asking for business, building their social capital and following up.

6. Surrender. Abundant people don’t view surrender as a form of weakness, rather a sign of letting go of old habits, attitudes and behaviors that don’t serve them in a healthy way. They see potential opportunity in everything that passes by.

7. Inquiry. High Abundance Intelligence means high openness to other points of view. Uncertainty is a reason to thrive and be curious. Security in their curious and creative aptitude enables abundant people to move through all challenging situations. Learning while acting keeps them growing and improving while being pioneers in their industry.

Work the above characteristics into your own persona. Each of these abundant aptitudes contributes to purposeful actions and a well-defined goal orientation to the effort. Instead of being derailed by worrying about the past or the future, you will find inspiration and forward momentum in your immediate surroundings.

An Important Secret to a Great Networking Group

I was speaking throughout Japan last week to BNI networking groups and the public. Before leaving the country, I took my daughter to a little restaurant called Gonpachi, which was near the hotel we were staying at. It was a nice little place in Tokyo with great food and service, but what really got my attention was the reception we received when we entered the dining room. As we entered the room, one of the waitresses yelled “irasshaimasei!” Whereupon all the patrons joined in by yelling “irasshaimasei!” I asked my daughter, “What in the world?” are they yelling at us, to which she replied: “They are more or less saying, “Welcome to the restaurant!” I thought, wow, that’s pretty impressive. What a nice touch.

I sat back and watched as patrons flowed into the restaurant, and with each group of people the waitress and the patrons would yell out, “Welcome to the restaurant!” in Japanese. As people slowly trickled out of the restaurant, they yelled, “arigatou gozaimashita!” which means, “Thank you very much” to everyone as they left.

Isn’t that what a good networking group should be like? When you visit a networking organization and the members say (through their actions and words), “Welcome to our group” and “Thanks for visiting us” with enthusiasim and genuine interest, you just have to come back to the group again.

This truly is an important secret to a good network. Make visitors feel welcome! When people feel welcome, they want to come back.

OK, if you start yelling “irasshaimasei!” at them when they enter the room, you might not actually get the response I’m thinking about here but . . . you get the idea. Make people feel welcome, and they’ll return. That, my friends, is the sign of a great restaurant as well as a great networking group.

The Importance of Leadership in Networking

At a recent networking event, a woman approached me and told me that she had heard of BNI and was interested in joining a chapter but explained that she was hesitant based on an experience she had recently when she attended a meeting of another local networking group.  She had been very put off by the attitude and the comments of the meeting’s apparent leader.  Being new to networking, the meeting was the first of its kind that this woman, an esthetician, had ever attended and she said that she had expected something very different.

She had been told the networking group she was going to meet with was filled with positive, welcoming people who would be as interested in learning to help her promote her business as she was in learning to help them promote theirs.  What she found upon arrival, however, was that very few people took any interest in her at all because most were busy socializing in clusters reminiscent of high school cliques.  Then, to start the meeting, the group’s leader stood up and announced that he was in a crabby mood and urged everyone to find their seats quickly.  As soon as she sat down, a member of the group informed her that she needed to move because she was sitting in “his seat.”  Needless to say, she got up and, instead of finding another seat, headed out the door.

I wish I could say this was the first time I’ve heard of an occurrence like this but, unfortunately, it’s not.  When a networking group doesn’t have strong, positive leadership to set a good example and enforce structure, the group runs the risk of turning into nothing more than a coffee klatch.  I encouraged the esthetician to seek out her local BNI chapter despite her bad experience with the other networking group and ensured that she would have a much better experience simply based on the difference in leadership.  Groups follow the example of their leaders and in the situation of the networking group this woman visited, the leadership set a very bad example and the group members followed suit.

The fact holds true that whether you’re talking about networking, business or life, people will follow the example of those in leadership roles, which means it’s imperative for leaders to be wise, positive and solutions-focused.  One of the most important aspects of a good networking group is the leadership team that runs the meeting.  These individuals should be chosen based on their ability to size up any situation, point in the direction that’s best for the group and lead the group toward the most positive path–they recognize the importance of leadership and the domino effect that both bad and good leadership can have.

Leaders, in any aspect of life, set the tone for how other people following their example will act. I encourage every one of you reading this, whether you’re in a networking group or not, to remember that whether or not you’re in a recognized leadership role, people are always observing you.  If the leaders in your life aren’t setting a good example, why not step up and act as a leader yourself?  If one or two members of the “high school clique” networking group mentioned above had done this, other members of the group might’ve followed their lead and the esthetician might not have walked out with such a negative view of all of them.

If you have any stories about how you stepped up and became a leader when those in leadership positions were lacking, I’d love to hear them.  Please leave a comment.

Networking From Tokyo

I am in Japan doing presentations on business networking this week and it has made me think about how word-of-mouth marketing is a concept that crosses cultural, ethnic and political boundaries. It resonates within entrepreneurs all over the world. It resonates in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas–because we all speak the language of referrals.

As I put together business development networks or referral groups in many countries around the world over the past two decades, I was frequently told that this type of networking won’t work in other countries. It was ironic to hear “this won’t work here, we’re different” the first time because it was said by someone in one part of Southern California talking about people who were 25 miles away in another part of Southern California!

Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I later came to understand that this person just didn’t want to do the hard work necessary to slowly build his referral business. Rather than say, “I don’t want to do that,” it was easier to say, “we’re different here” (even though “here was only a few miles away from “there”).

Over the years I was amazed to come across some people who absolutely refused to follow the tried-and-true fundamentals that proved to work in generating referrals as I developed networking programs through BNI across the  United States and later the world. In many cases they used the “we’re different” argument or said things like “that won’t work here.” When talking about self-development, I have a friend who often says, “When it comes to ourselves, we’re always the exception.” Everybody else should do what’s been proved to work. It seems that the “we’re different here” mantra that some people spout actually prevents them from following proven methods of self-development. Only truly successful people understand that everyone who has achieved success has succumbed to the basics.

Years ago, I began to dissect what we were doing to determine just what it is about referral marketing that makes it cross national and cultural boundaries so well. I determined that the lowest common denominator is that people want referrals! The public wants referrals, the business community wants referrals, everyone seems to want referrals. In order to generate referrals, people must build trust. Building trust takes time. Structured networking programs speed up the process in a safe environment, but they still take time.

Apparently, this concept does transcend cultural differences. One of the reasons this happens is that networking programs operate within the cultural context, not outside it. That is to say, the cultural differences can easily integrate within a structured program that takes time and is based on building trust among other business people. Structured networking programs may then embrace cultural differences while following an overlay or system that emphasizes relationship building and referral generation.

Now of course it’s true that people are different around the world, but normally all businesspeople want to conduct business more effectively. When harnessing the power of relationship marketing is the goal, driving businesses further and faster through business-to-business networking can be an effective result. Codifying the process of networking into a networking system helps businesses learn how to do that, thereby transcending our cultural differences.

My experience has shown that people in any entrepreneurial economy can use a networking system to improve their business. If this system is done within the cultural context and not outside it, I have found that the same networking concepts and techniques are almost completely transferable from one country to another. It is basically due to the truth that business is business when it comes to relationship marketing, no matter the culture, ethnicity or political persuasion.

This doesn’t change the challenges that occur when someone from one country networks or does business with someone from another country; however, networking techniques are simply business techniques. They work around the world–especially when they are applied within the specific cultural context.

 

 

America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, South Africa or Germany, different races and religions, different colors and cultures: We are all different–but we all speak the language of referrals. We are all different–but we all believe that relationships are the key to building a business. We are all different–but we all believe we can do better by helping connect people.

Networking is a great way to “get” business… but it’s an even better way to “do” business. While there may be many other things to divide and separate us–different countries and cultures, different languages and religions, different people and places, different races and accents–we are all united by one thing: We all speak the language of referrals. And that my friends, transcends our cultural differences.

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