‘Just Listen’–Get Through to Absolutely Anyone

It’s no secret that a master networker has two ears and one mouth and uses them proportionally. But even if you think you’re a good listener, you may be surprised at how much you might still be lacking when it comes to listening effectively.

My good friend Mark Goulston’s new book, Just Listen, will not only teach you how to make a powerful and positive first impression by listening effectively, it will even show you how to turn the “impossible” and “unreachable” people in your life into allies, devoted customers, loyal colleagues and lifetime friends.

The point is, if you want to maximize your networking efforts and build the strongest network possible, the skill of truly listening is crucial for you to develop; and Just Listen is the ultimate, must-read guide that you need to get your hands on.

Mark is a bestselling author, a psychiatrist, a business consultant, an executive coach and a hostage-negotiation trainer for the FBI. Over the span of his career in these fields, he has found what consistently works to reach all kinds of people in any situation. Any guesses as to what he’s found one of the most powerfully effective strategies for getting through to anyone might be? . . . Yep, you got it! . . . LISTENING!

You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who could teach you how to listen more effectively than Mark, and I can guarantee you that you won’t have a problem focusing on reading his book (“listening” to his words as you read) because he’s not only a pretty darn interesting guy, he’s also remarkably entertaining! 🙂

CLICK HERE to visit Mark’s website

CLICK HERE to find out more about Just Listen.

Read reviews and purchase Just Listen on Amazon.com

Read reviews and purchase Just Listen on Barnes&Noble.com

Let’s Fix The Legal System; Does Anyone Have a Sledgehammer?

OK, let me start by saying that my real beef is with civil litigators, not all lawyers and though I may use the term “lawyer” in my blog, it is the litigators I am really upset with. I also understand that we need rules of law and people to help guide us through them, such as my colleague here on the Entrepreneur.com Blog Network, Nina Kaufman, who writes the Making it Legal blog (Nina, please don’t hate me . . . for what I’m about to say).

Not all lawyers are litigators. However, all litigators are lawyers and it is that particular group of people that I think have made a mess out of our legal system.

The most outrageous legal cases can make it to court and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend. I recently saw a case where a man decided  NOT to renew his services with a business, then sued the business for the loss of income he incurred by not renewing the service! That’s right. He chose to not renew, then sued because he lost income after not renewing the service! Sounds unbelievable, doesn’t it? Well, to just about any sane person, it is. Unfortunately, litigators can make the most incredible “legal” arguments out of the most outrageous claims, and judges feel compelled to let them go through the system.   Welcome to America!

All of this means that the defendants have to pay thousands–sometimes hundreds of thousands–of dollars to defend these insane claims.

This particular case that I mentioned above dragged on for years in the legal system and cost the defending parties more than $100,000 to defend! The primary defendant refused to settle at any cost. She was not going to buckle to extortion from this guy. However, two of the secondary defendants finally paid a few thousand dollars to make this extortionist and his litigator go away because they couldn’t afford the hundreds of thousands of dollars it would take to have this go all the way through court. The ONLY winner was the litigator.

When I hear stories like this, I can’t help but wonder if Shakespeare got it right in Henry VI when he said the first thing we do is get rid of the lawyers! (OK, I know, that’s not the exact quote but, I don’t want to be sued by someone saying that I was threatening bodily harm to this esteemed group of professionals).

In preparation for writing this blog, I did some research on Shakespeare’s quote and I read one legal website that wrote that Shakespeare’s statement was actually a defense of lawyers because the comment was made by criminals. Therefore they (the criminals) just wanted the “good guys” (the lawyers) out of the way.  Wow, and we wonder why the legal system is a mess. Sorry, only lawyers could argue that the quote from Shakespeare was a compliment!

Well, I believe in solutions and not just describing problems. So here are some possible solutions. First, I believe that there should be mandatory mediation between parties before any lawsuit can ever be filed (the litigators will hate this one)! From personal experience (and contracts that I’ve done), this often works). The problem is, anyone can sue anyone for anything before there is any face-to-face time with a professional mediator. Second, I believe that 100 percent of the time, the losing party should pay the winning party’s legal fees. Furthermore, I think the losing litigator should share in paying this fee! This will make the extortionists and litigators very cautious about the ridiculous lawsuits that are filed.  Watch how many crazy lawsuits cease if the lawyers pushing the process have to pay something if they lose!

Hey, these are only ideas–there may be many better ones out there. I just know one thing. Our legal system is a mess, and it’s going to take a sledgehammer and a lot of work to fix it. What are your recommendations?

OK, I feel better now.  Oh, wait–I forgot something important:

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If something offends you, lighten up, get a life, and move on.

People Are Talking About You–Are You in the Conversation?

My last blog, “Get Engaged,” brings up the point that dialogue about you and your business is going to happen with or without you. Whether it’s online or face-to-face dialogue, the basic point is that if you don’t participate in the conversation, you’re not in control whatsoever; if you do participate, then you can publicly say who you are and steer the conversation in a positive way.

If you’re interested in learning about this topic in more detail, I’d like to invite you to attend a free telebridge call that I’ll be hosting this Friday, Sept. 25 at 10 a.m. (U.S. Pacific Time); 1 p.m. (U.S. Eastern Time).

The topic of the call will be “People are talking about you . . . are you in the conversation?” and you can participate in the call by dialing 712-451-6150 at the above listed date and time. Be sure to use the access code: 585143# (don’t forget the # sign).

This is going to be a great call and I’d love for you to join the conversation and then come back and leave a comment about what you thought!

Get Engaged . . .

Get engaged in the conversation, that is! OK, OK . . . now that I have your attention, let me explain.

In my book Truth or Delusion I bring up the point that word-of-mouth marketing is always working, it just may not be working in your favor. Believe it or not, you’re getting word of mouth every day. It just may not be the kind you’re thinking of–the good kind. The thing is, negative word of mouth has legs and the average dissatisfied customer gripes to 11 people about his experience, and these 11 in turn tell five others apiece.

Therefore, you need to get engaged in the networking process and the resulting conversation by formulating a strategic plan to control what’s being said about you. Among other things, this is done by focusing on good customer service to reduce negative word-of-mouth and ensuring that your marketing message is conveyed accurately so your prospects know what to expect.

It’s especially important to be engaged in the conversation when it comes to online networking. Take the headline of this blog, for example. Say somebody were to see it, not read the rest of the blog, and then begin posting comments on blogs and social networking sites all over the web claiming that “Ivan Misner has a new blog urging people everywhere to get married!”

You may be laughing, but occurrences like I just described happen all the time. And guess what? If you’re one of those people who refuses to get involved in “that online/social networking stuff,” then you aren’t engaged in the conversations that are being had about you online. And when somebody says something negative or incorrect about you or your business, you can’t redirect the conversation in a positive direction to save face or correct what’s been wrongly stated about you.

Whether networking online or face-to-face, the dialogue is going to happen with or without you. The basic point is, if you don’t participate in the conversation, you’re not in control whatsoever. If you do participate, then you can publicly say who you are and steer the conversation in a positive way.

Check out this recent blog entry by my friend Dave Goetz, “They are Laughing at You.” It’s a perfect illustration of everything I’ve talked about in this blog and it tells a GREAT story about a college professor who refused to engage his students in any way as he endlessly lectured to them for hours. It’s no surprise that the students found a way to engage each other in conversation during class but the professor lost all control of what topics were being focused on as well as what was being said . . . Like I said, the dialogue will happen with or without you.

Networking Now One of the ‘100 Best’ Entrepreneurial Blogs

Today I am happy to announce that my “Networking Now” blog made it onto Accredited Online Degrees’ list of the “100 Best Blogs to Hone Your Entrepreneurial Instinct” in the category of blogs that aid in growing your business.

You can find this blog listed as No. 32 on the list, but more than that, I want you all to know about the list because it is a fantastic resource! In addition to learning about different blog sites in the “Growing Your Business” category, you can find several different educational and informational blogs in the areas of Starting Up, Money, Marketing, Success Stories, Small Business News, Internet Entrepreneurs, Women Entrepreneurs, Social Entrepreneurship and Web Tools & Resources.

I spent some time clicking on the links to several different blogs I’d never heard of before, and I think the entire list of links is extremely useful. I encourage all of my blog readers to click here and check out the list because there are some truly great blogs listed that you’ll want to be sure to check out!

Like the intro to the list says, “Whether you’re already running a business, or just thinking of starting one . . . it is necessary to look at several areas of the entrepreneurial process and develop expertise to excel in each and every business venture.” This list provides you with links to information on all aspects of business and entrepreneurship–and it’s FREE. So what are you waiting for?  Start clicking! 🙂

Word of Mouth, a Growing Segment in Advertising

According to a recent PQ Media research report, many major brands are increasing their word-of-mouth marketing campaigns despite the worst recession in decades.

Last year, companies increased their word of mouth advertising efforts by more than 14 percent, to more than $1.54 billion. Furthermore, according to the report, spending on WOM campaigns is expected to reach as much as $3 billion by the year 2013.

PQ Media defines WOM marketing as “an alternative marketing strategy supported by research and technology, which encourages consumers to dialogue about products and services through various online and offline tactics, often facilitated by brand ambassadors.”

“The most invluential marketer in a consumer’s life is someone they know and trust, such as a family member, friend or colleague,” according to Patrick Quinn, president & CEO of PQ Media.

Developing WOM communities both online and offline is part of an emerging trend. What are you doing to participate in this trend? I’d love to hear your feedback on this important and growing element in business.

Networking–It’s More Than Just Talking Business

People often think that networking is all about talking business and exchanging cards, but that’s a definite misconception.

In a networking group, you should talk about more than just business. A referral relationship is more than just, “I do business, you do business, let’s do business.” A much better approach is to find common ground on a personal level, then relate your business to it.

The longer I’ve been involved in networking, the more I’ve seen the power of personal interests in making connections. Networking is about building personal relationships. If you remove the personal from the equation, you limit the amount of business that can happen.

In one networking group I worked with, I introduced an exercise called the GAINS Exchange, in which people share personal and professional information about themselves. Two of the participants in this group had known each other for more than a year but had never done business. During the exercise, they discovered they both coached their sons’ soccer teams. They quickly became close friends and were soon helping each other conduct soccer practices. After a few months, they began referring business to each other–two guys who had barely spoken to each other the first year because they seemed to have so little in common.

By finding a common interest and starting with that, we can make connections that have a very good chance of turning into business. Try this strategy out for a while and then come back and leave a comment to let me know what your experiences have been–I’d love to hear about them!

Take off Your Bib and Put on Your Apron

A few weeks ago I received a message from a BNI director in the U.S. It read:

“Ivan, I am working on a chapter kickoff in South Dakota. I had a salesman named Bill sit through the whole meeting then not get up to leave when I ended it. He sat there gazing into space. Bill is a 30-year veteran in the sales business. I asked if I could help. He said ‘you know this whole networking thing will never work if I am here for myself. I need to take off my bib and put on my apron and learn to serve these people.’ Now that’s a Givers Gain® aha moment.”

There’s not much I can add to that sentiment. Truly effective networking is about taking off your bib and putting on your apron. It is about helping other people succeed. Through the activities that go along with that process, you build your business and also prosper.

Thanks gentlemen. This was a great metaphor.

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